A quality recurring villain must have staying power. That doesn't mean just being tough enough to absorb damage from the PC heroes' until the climactic moment when the player characters finally put their nemesis down for good (not to mention for Good), but the villain also must linger in the players' minds as such an engaging foe that the players can't wait to face him, her, or it again.
Over the 30-year history of the D&D game, few villainous races have held our collective gaming fascination like the drow. In honor of their infamy, this episode of Recurring Villainy features several drow figures (plus a few nondrow for variety) led by a Drider Sorcerer (Giants of Legend).
Presented here are 20 encounters ranging from EL 4 to 10. Each involves the drider and/or its minions. Feel free to substitute other figures of the same ELs if you want more variety among the drider's lackeys or to surprise players who might see this article. I've made sure that only the drider itself is a rare figure; if you don't have one, you can replace it with a second drow rogue (make them twin siblings who share a telepathic bond), a half-elf (as in half-drow) hexblade from Aberrations, or another figure of your choosing.
Although the drider itself doesn't fight until the last three encounters, that doesn't mean the characters shouldn't know what they're facing until then. Clues should be sprinkled along the way. The drider can even appear in earlier engagements, observing from a distance or taunting the heroes from a safe position.
It's important for the villain to last long enough in the campaign to become a major thorn in the sides of the PCs. Prepare for encounters with the drider ahead of time by devising at least one escape plan for the multilegged sorcerer. Having more than one plan is even better, because with player characters involved, things often go differently from your expectation. Make sure the drider has spells (scrolls are good for this) or a magic item to help it slip away mysteriously until you decide it's time for the ultimate battle.
About the Author
Dale Donovan is a 14-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited many Forgotten Realms products (along with every other roleplaying line produced by TSR or Wizards), and moved from Wisconsin to Seattle to Wisconsin. He's worked for Steve Jackson Games, Guardians of Order, White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, the Valar Project, Green Ronin, and Wizards, among others. Dale loves RPGs, horror and fantasy fiction, comics, movies, most every kind of music, and his lovely wife and wonderful daughter.
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