Endeavoring to stave off death may be, one way or another, the most common theme in roleplaying games. It's so endemic, in fact, that many people, DMs and players alike, never really think about its presence. Whether the heroes of the game are working to prevent the deaths of unknown innocents, valued NPCs, or each other, PCs constantly work to prevent the spread of death -- except among their foes, of course.
This installment of Recurring Villainy takes advantage of this universal subject by centering on the Aspect of Nerull as the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy). Nerull is the core game's god of death, though similarly evil deities from other pantheons are easily substituted.
Presented here are 20 encounters ranging from EL 9 to 15. Each involves the Aspect and/or its minions. Feel free to substitute other figures of the same CRs if you want more variety among the Aspect's lackeys or to startle players who visit this area of the site regularly. Only the Aspect and the Orog Warlord figures are rare. If you lack the Aspect of Nerull miniature, replace it with an Aspect of Lolth or Bane, a Glabrezu, a Lich Necromancer, or another figure of your choosing. Substitute a Fomorian, a Barbed Devil, or a Hezrou for the warlord figure.
DMs must ensure the BBEG of this (and each) installment of Recurring Villainy survives long enough to play a major role in the campaign. The referee is responsible for maintaining the flow of the story, and letting the chief villain fall too soon not only spoils the rising drama, it also ruins much of your planning and lets down the players with an anticlimactic climax. Be certain to have an escape route for your BBEG, give him or her a magic item that allows a quick exit, or simply don't let the PCs meet the villain until such time that it's dramatically appropriate.
About the Author
Dale Donovan is a 15-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited on every roleplaying line produced by the company (be it TSR or Wizards), and moved from rural Wisconsin to suburban Seattle and back 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. He loves games, books, comics, movies, and his wonderful wife and lovely daughter.
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