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21 June 2021

Two Ready-to-Use Demonic Villains For Your TTRPG Game


Who drives our Dungeons & Dragons games forward? Boiled down, the drivers are two conflicting sides: the player characters and the villains. The PCs are usually heroes, though they can be mercenaries, out-of-their-element individuals, soldiers in a great army, or adventurers of necessity. Those that oppose them can be anything from vicious, starving wolves in a dreadful forest to destroyer gods rampaging from world to world.
 
Every successful D&D campaign contains compelling PCs and interesting villains who conspire against them. Sometimes, our imaginations falter and fail to provide our tales with antagonists. I know mine does. However, today I'm here to help.

I used to have problems with villains. Mine weren’t unique or gripping; they were people the PC's needed to fight and kill to end the adventure. That’s uninteresting. Over time, I evolved how my villains interact with the PCs and the world. They live. They breathe. They entice the PCs to pursue not only their own goals, but goals that affect the greater world.

A good villain reacts to the actions of the PCs and causes them to react to their own consistently. A good villain is also at odds with the party: their goal not only conflicts with the PCs’ primary goals, but their personal ones as well.

The adventurers of Caught in Galen might seek an end to the Worldshift Crisis carried out by their enemies, but Jason Urso wishes to understand the Accursed Archive that caused his house’s downfall. The villains want the opposite: they want Jason to remain unconnected to the Archive—and they want to wield the Archive for their own gains, while continuing their spree of worldshifting.

Caught in Galen's villains are diverse and cunning, acting against the PC's and their other competitors in unison. Among them are Loogodramin, a slaad of immense power and premonition, Marenzo Katel, an abominable drow aberrationist, and Nailen the Ancestral Cleaver. Each of them personifies the tenets outlined in this article, as opposed to my past villains.
  • Loogodramin plays with the PC's minds, jumbling their memories, personalities, and much more from a space outside the Material Plane.
  • Marenzo Katel puppeteers far more powerful players from the background, pitting personal friends and formerly friendly rivals against each PC.
  • Nailen the Ancestral Cleaver slyly corals the PC's goals with his own, leading some of them to believe in the path of the villain.
A bracharian humanoid with a staff in his green hand and a large pack on his back.

I've learned how to create compelling villains, mostly with the help of others. You can learn as well!

This article outlines two villains of extraplanar origin, beings outside the bounds of the Material Plane or mortal world. Their names are Taruga, the Wise Dretch and Poxa Nesh, the Dracofused Destroyer

They are fully-fleshed out, ready to drop in your campaigns as foils against your PCs. Assuredly, they will help you pit enthralling foes against your PCs and can even form the basis for an entire D&D campaign! In the end, their designs should assist you in creating compelling baddies all on your own.

Let me know which villain of the two is your favorite in the comments below! 

Now, let’s get villainous.

Taruga, the Wise Dretch


Most demons of the Infinite Abyss pursue fulfillment of primal desires. When their brute strength and gluttonous drive turn to ulterior wants and needs, all mortals should tremble. This fact especially applies to the weakest demons: dretch. 

These disgusting, self-loathing fiends usually gather in great mobs and tear apart what they can find in their abyssal homes. They lack sharp minds and a sense of wisdom, but they are strong of body and usually large in number.

But Taruga wields all four facets: an inquisitive mind, a semblance of foresight, a powerful form, and a horde of beasties at her disposal. Taruga is a dretch summoned to the Material Plane by an evil, dying wizard. A party of adventurers in the wizard’s crumbling home, he flung a host of dretch from the Abyss at the would-be heroes. As his tower collapsed, it crushed his body, killed the adventurers, and smashed all but one of the dretch—Taruga.

A dretch.

Taruga scoured the tower’s ruins. She looted treasures of all sorts, some held by the wizard, others by the fallen heroes. Of import was an amplified circlet of intellect, designed to boost not only the intelligence of its wielder, but their wisdom as well. The minor demon affixed the circlet to her head and attuned to the item, becoming a hyper-intelligent and wise dretch.

Inside the tower ruins, Taruga carved out a lair and gathered followers. Her command of words drew two goblin tribes to her side, all of the crag dwellers worship her as a lesser deity. Her sheer strength bent four fierce ogres beneath her. Her foresight enabled the capture of a pack of blink dogs from the Feywild, all in the process of domestication. 

The minor dretch is becoming quite the force in the hills around the wizard’s tumbled tower. But what is her plan?

The Traits of Taruga


Taruga is of the Unexpected villain background, a sneak peek into Villain Backgrounds Volume II, the sequel to Villain Backgrounds Volume I. Before her plan becomes clear, let’s list her special character traits.
  • Personality Trait: Lots of people underestimate me and I always take advantage of it.
  • Ideal: Destructive Xenophobia. One day, the world will burn and I will rise as the only survivor amongst the ashes.
  • Bond: An artifact of great power created me. I can never lose it.
  • Flaw: I hate what I can not understand.
With the help of the roll tables in Villain Backgrounds Volume II, Taruga evolves. We spoke of her past, let’s arrive at her present.

Despite her huge intellect and power, people still underestimate her. She’s fine with this. Every time another tribe wanders into her domain or an adventuring party in search of glory seeks out her abode, she enslaves, imprisons, or kills them with ease, usually because they assume she’s a glorified green mass. 

Each of these idiots adds to her eventual goal: the domination and reforming of the world. She knows every conquest begins somewhere. Hers starts in the rolling hills a dozen miles from the nearest settlement. 

Under her leadership, her hordes will grow and she will achieve her goal. However, if the enhanced circlet of intellect ever leaves her slimy head, she knows she is doomed. Time after time, she has reinforced the bindings of this artifact, both physically and magically. She is confident it will never be removed. 

Amidst all of this intelligence and foresight, though, a semblance of Taruga’s demonic soul remains: she despises what she can not understand and will lash out at whatever it is, even if it’s the wrong move for achieving her ultimate goal.

As previously stated, she lairs in the ruins of a wizard’s tower in an isolated hill range. She commands about 60 goblins, four ogres, five blink dogs, and a willing human cultist, a woman who previously followed the commandments of Orcus. 

Taruga’s eyes lurk on the town of Edgewater, a lakeside settlement about 12 miles from her lair, where a beautiful temple of Tyr leads the townsfolk forward—and safeguards a relic of the mythic past, when demons ruled the Material Plane. The hyper-intelligent dretch wants the relic in her clawed hands and Edgewater to burn.

Taruga's Monster Stat Block


Taruga’s origin, background, and current goal defined, it’s time to look at her in-game presence. For Taruga, I am using the dretch stat block in the fifth edition Monster Manual (page 57) as a basis and Matt Colville’s action-oriented monster as an enhancement. Huge thanks to CritterDB for making these stat blocks possible to craft.


Use Taruga, the Wise Dretch, at your own risk. She’s sure to terrify any low-level table.

Poxa Nesh, the Dracofused Destroyer


In the pits of the Abyss, plenty of balors strive to become demon lords. They follow in the steps of Yeenoghu and Orcus, Demogorgon and Zuugtmoy, enslaving their lessers, conquering entire abyssal layers, and spreading corruption across numerous realms. Some turn to dark arts abandoned by even the most wicked denizens of the evil worlds, such as soul fusion.

Following this sinister path created the formidable balor Poxa Nesh, called the Dracofused Destroyer. Poxa Nesh served dozens of demon lords and princes in the Abyss and survived battles beyond number. His hunger for dark ascension never sated, he leaped at every opportunity to surpass his greaters. One day, during an assault on an angelic citadel in Celestia, his destiny arrived.

A balor.

Alone at the apex of the structure dueled Poxa Nesh and Yenariel. Sadly for the solar lord, Poxa Nesh’s galvanic sword sliced him through, electrocuting his shivering shell. Dead, the angel’s secret unveiled—a page from the Book of Vile Darkness. The balor snatched it, flew over the remaining battlefield, and commanded his horde back to the Abyss. 

Swiftly, he began to study the page and learned it detailed a spell of fusion. If cast correctly, the spell could weld two souls together, with the caster maintaining control but gaining the knowledge and strength of the secondary soul. After decades of practice, Poxa Nesh perfected the spell and sought a second. He knew just the place.

Orcus’s dead fortress imprisoned an ancient blue dragon, Igyrnakithask, and Poxa Nesh knew how to access her. Through wits and power, he reached the old dragon, shackled with abyssal chains. In the depths of this vile lair, the balor conducted the ritual and fused his soul with the dragon’s. He gained information known only to this draconic creature, various spellcasting abilities, the resilience of a wyrm, and much more.

With great ease, he escaped Orcus's rotting fortress and became a wanted enemy of the demon prince. Immediately, he began work on overthrowing the Prince of Undeath. But where does he go from here?

Poxa Nesh's Traits


Poxa Nesh is of the Rebel villain background in Villain Backgrounds Volume II. Let’s learn his traits before discussing his current status.
  • Personality Trait: I try to prepare for every misfire and fume if something does go wrong.
  • Ideal: Aspiration. I pursue my goals because they’ve never been accomplished before.
  • Bond: I will die for supporters of my cause.
  • Flaw: Deep down, I know I’ll never achieve my ultimate goal.
Assisted by the Villain Backgrounds Volume II roll tables, Poxa Nesh grows! We explored his past, let’s peer into his present.

Poxa Nesh is like a beholder: he prepares for everything. Also similar to a beholder, he goes wild if a part of his plan goes awry. Luckily, he’s aspirational and never gives up. He seeks Orcus’s downfall because Orcus has never been surmounted. Poxa Nesh, the Dracofused Destroyer, will be the first demon to knock Orcus off his throne and tear apart his wand. 

Alongside this, Poxa Nesh is a unique fiend. His supporters hold his complete devotion, he will die for them and with them if the situation demands it. Perhaps this is because the balor believes he’ll never overthrow the Prince of Undeath. He will never admit this fear to anyone—unless forced to.

The creatures who know of Poxa Nesh's soulfused status quietly question how much of his personality is that of Igyrnakithask, the ancient blue dragon he fused his soul with. None of these entities in the know would say this to Poxa Nesh directly.

As it stands, Poxa Nesh resides on the 79th layer of the Abyss. He lives in the massive, hollowed out skeleton of a corrupted tarrasque, presiding over thousands of demons from within. In addition, he has a large draconic following in the mortal world, including priests of Tiamat, some dragonborn, and even a few true dragons who take demons as consorts. 

The adult blue dragon Iqarithanya and the adult green dracolich Sithgirakonus are two such dragons.

Poxa Nesh yearns to strike soon at Orcus, and has planned an invasion of the mortal realm to recover a vital creature for his battle with the demon prince: a twin-headed red dragon fanatic of Poxa Nesh captured by servants of Celestia. The soulfused balor will not let the dragon go.

Poxa Nesh's Monster Stat Block


Now, let’s overview Poxa Nesh’s statistics, using the balor stat block from the fifth edition Monster Manual (page 55) as a foundation.


Poxa Nesh should be quite the challenge, even for a high-level group. Have fun running him!

Lessons Learned


Good villains are essential for good D&D games. It took me awhile to learn that, don’t be like me. Steal these demonic villains and use them in your campaigns—or look at how they’re crafted and take bits and pieces to place in your games. Remember:
  • A good villain has a big goal that conflicts with the party, and several smaller ones that go against the minor goals of each PC.
  • Every villain needs a background, however short. They give context to the villain’s actions and motives. Don’t skimp out on villain backgrounds!
  • Demons are terrifying.

Until the next encounter, stay creative!


Art in Order of Appearance:

  • Belaphoss and Tasyllys Ch'fyr from Sword Coast Legends
  • Green Slaad by Rudy Siswanto for Conceptopolis
  • Dretch from the fourth edition D&D Monster Manual
  • Dretch by Muhamad Faizal Fikri for Conceptopolis
  • Balor by Conceptopolis
  • Balor by Arnie Swekel

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous21 June, 2021

    I really like both of these villians! I feel that I prefer Taruga just a little bit. I am always a fan of normally weak creatures finding a way to become a threat. Keep up the cool articles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. If I'm honest, Taruga, I also favor Taruga.

      Delete
  2. Nice read, great content here good vs evil, chaos vs law, this basic conflict is at the center of every well run adventure the juicer the better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many adventures do indeed boil down to these basic concepts.

      Delete

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