Please enjoy submission #13 for our latest contest: Your Best Worst Villain! See the rules and prizes here!
My best (worst) villain has been a Tiefling Rogue named “Nowhere”, in my 4e Campaign. He is an agent of Nihilism and Chaos who has a long standing rivalry with one of the major plot NPC’s whose tale is intertwined with my party’s.
The two grew up together, sharing many tricks and practical jokes, owning their small city as young thieves. But as they grew, they grew apart, with the one developing a social conscience and deciding to use his gifts to change the world… while Nowhere held onto his sense of one-upsmanship and grew resentful of his former friend’s abandonment of their games in favor of larger social concerns.
In his efforts to “win” the game he and his rival began so long ago, he has become a capable Shadow Magic practitioner, but he rarely uses these skills unless physically threatened – at which point he pulls off devastating tricks designed more for misdirection and escape, than outright attack. However, it is clear to the party that, if truly threatened, he will be more than an adept opponent.
He serves Chaos, and has developed a twisted worldview that grants that there is no difference between good and evil – only events colored by the feelings of those that experience them. And who are the members of the party, to tell him that his enjoyment of their suffering is intrinsically inferior to the irrational and selfish preferences they hold?
The party first encountered Nowhere when they were to have dinner with one of the Generals who has been trying to restore stability to the dangerous land. Nowhere told the party that he was the child of one of the General’s soldiers, and begged them to let him join their party during the meeting, so that he could get “face-to-face” answers as to why his father’s stipends had stopped coming. The party, being a person short that session, assumed that he was a backup NPC, and allowed the accompaniment.
During the dinner, he staged an assassination attempt on the General’s life, and escaped, leaving the party, who had vouched for his behavior as their guest, to deal with suspicion in the aftermath.
Nowhere reappeared in Vor Rukoth, the Tiefling Capitol, attempting to sway the city’s leaders against the party as they sought to rekindle a dormant magical weapon. His meddling shed doubt on the player’s actions, though when they were vindicated by the results of their efforts, he respectfully withdrew his accusations, enjoying his protected status under his political connections.
Later on, after the players’ adventures had taken them to a new continent, he reappeared, and after a lot of grandstanding, gave each of them a feather. He told them that these feathers were enchanted with the blood of their loved ones and, should they fail to assist him in his schemes, great harm would come to those they cared for – indicated by a creep of red across the pristine white feathers. Little did they know, he was using Shadow magic to interfere with their attempts at communication to verify his claims. After they had played into his hands for a time, they called his bluff – which he readily dropped, and beat a hasty retreat, laughing all the while as the authorities closed in on the party.
He is such an effective villain at getting the party’s ire because he seems to care so little about anything, including his own goals. His only drive is to interfere with his rival, who works with the party, and create problems for them as they work to fulfill his agenda. He is collecting the same dangerous and ancient magical artifacts the party pursues, any of which would be dangerous enough in responsible hands. In his, they represent an unimaginable threat. Yet, all the while, he seems eager to convince the party that their benefactor may not be as noble as he seems…
The part that gets the party into trouble is the fact that, once you get past the malicious anarchy, Nowhere is almost a tragic, romantic figure – all he wants is an end to the game his old friend stopped, just when he was beginning to get ahead. A number of times, the party has tried to use his pain against him, or reconcile the pair, but unfortunately, Nowhere is too far gone down his dark path. It becomes increasingly clear that his game will only end when he pulls off the ultimate trick, to which there can be no rebuttal – the extinction of all existence, by one means or another.
Nowhere always seems just one step ahead, but in the end gladly reveals his hand has been empty all along. Nothing is as frustrating to the party as wondering if, each time Nowhere appears, will his boasts be empty, or will he finally back up his idle threats? They would love nothing more than to wrap their hands around his lean red neck, but know from defeat after humiliating defeat, they have a lot of growing to do before they can take him in as close to a fair fight as they can get!
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