Villains: The Conqueror, The Maniac, and The Corrupted

Artwork is a fountain of inspiration for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS players and dungeon masters. Countless quests, scenarios, and characters can be spawned from art, just as countless stories can be spawned by our said and written words; this article will showcase the former. On the Internet, one of the most valuable resources of D&D players, I’ve found three pieces of villain art. A desert-dwelling human, a crazed lizardfolk warrior, and a minotaur corrupted by earthen elements. Read on to see how each picture transformed from art to words.

The Conqueror

“Most humans are weak. They need someone to command them, to coerce them, to make them do what is right and necessary. I am that man; and no one shall tell me otherwise. To do so is death.”

This is a human man who grew up in the desert of Enoach, among elemental creatures like genasi and salamanders. He was shaped by the maelstrom of war and combat that came with these elemental creatures and the sheer domination they imposed upon humankind. Over time, he came to understand why humans were weak and lost nearly all the territory they once owned. Achai the Red ruled Imixia; he was strong, a good leader, and punished those who opposed him. Vigalok Thakume ruled Ogremocha; he was strict, unbending, but understood the changing times.

The human man knew what needed to be done. He needed to become like the giants that ruled those elemental realms. He needed to be strong and strict, a good leader and unbending. He took it to himself to amass an army, first of mercenaries then of individuals who resounded with his message:

“These lands were once ours; the elementals that conquered them are no better than US but because they were greater than our ancestors, they currently rule. Follow me, and we will rule again.”

Hundreds at first and then thousands flocked to the human’s call. From the elemental realms of Imixia, Ogremocha, Aqor, and Yanis to the outskirts of Enoach in the Stormsteps. The elementals tried to stop him, find him, assassinate him, but he would not be halted. And thus began his conquest in southern Enoach, beginning with an assault on the earthen realm of Ogremocha. Two days ago, the battles of the outer rings ended and already he is known as The Conqueror.

The Maniac

“Understand. Understand me! Understand it! We’ve existed since the beginning in the swamps and bogs and wet places of the world. Yes! Understand it. We’ve existed...forever, and continue to exist we will. Understand it and bow before it!”

Everything changed for this lowly lizardfolk grunt from the Rotwood when he stumbled upon a dark power. Lost for ages beneath the fetid bogs of the Rotwood, a tiny dagger he found changed her life for the worse. The blade broke her mind, convinced her that it was always hers and that it always would be hers. Then it made her turn against everything she had ever known. The lizardfolk slew her comrades who didn’t believe her, stole their spears, and rampaged across the Rotwood. From the bodies of those slain came will-o-wisps that obeyed the lizardfolk’s commands, but only because she wielded the dagger. She still roams the swamps to this day, creating will-o-wisps from all who fall to her cursed dagger.

This villain's main goal is to slay others and do whatever its dagger master commands it to do. Many see the lizardfolk as a maniac, and it is, but the true villain and maniac is the dagger that controls it.

The Corrupted

“It consumed me. From the inside out, my thoughts changed, my heart changed, my skin changed. Everything altered, everything consumed; for the better. And you, it will consume too.”

The minotaur nation of Bapho sits all to close to Ogremocha, the Domain of Earth. It was certain that, after a time, one of the creatures of elemental earth would corrupt and enslave a minotaur who patrolled too far east. A creature powerful enough to inhabit a minotaur, though, was a surprise. This minotaur now inhabits a body with another soul, that of a lost elemental spirit that gave it a new vigor, a new life. The minotaur gained a stoney exterior and powers to bend rock at will. He became a new being and graciously accepted the elemental spirit’s invasion; and now, he roams the few wilds of Bapho searching for more minotaurs to entrap within the stone spirit’s rough embrace.

For this villain, his main drive is to corrupt others. However, it's not out of evil intentions; he truly believes that those who are inhabited or enhanced by this stone spirit are better off. The problem is, from his point of view, is that people don't understand that it will help them.

In Summary

Art holds plenty of inspiration for DMs and players alike. I love to take pieces of art and turn them into villainous characters for my campaign or my world. You should try sometime, too! Search for one or two pieces of art online and then write a little bit about it. There's no need for it to be long, complex, or interesting; just enough for you to portray it as a character at the table.

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Check out Villain Backgrounds Volume I, a supplement that crafts compelling villains.

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  1. Sweet read here, nice imagination on the character development, neat to see how the artwork drove that imagination. Enjoy reading your commentary keep up the great work!

    1. I highly recommend using art as a grounds for imagination- especially the new Art & Arcana book. It's fantastic.