Supplement Review: Villains II by Creighton Broadhurst and Martin Tideswell from Raging Swan Press

When is it as a GM that you go from suspecting that you have a good villain to knowing that you have a good villain? For me, it never happens the same way twice. Sometimes it is as simple as a rival with slightly looser morals or ethics. Sometimes it’s a catch phrase James Bond-style that crystallizes the concept. Sometimes it’s as simple as a sneer or the tone of a voice when it erupts in the heat of roleplaying. Sometimes it’s none of those things and some largely unidentifiable bit that just clicks.

And I know from experience that not every villain is worthy of a recurring role. Some NPCs appear in frame only momentarily while others find their way back with repeatedly larger schemes until they go from nuisance to someone needing to be dealt with. Some NPCs make great minions but simply don’t have the brainpower necessary to plot and plan something with deeper scope than simply getting another score. There’s a big difference between Holmes’ Moriarty and the morons from Home Alone.

But what do you do when inspiration doesn’t strike for a while and you need to introduce some larger, darker character behind the scenes to spice things up for your players? Well, Raging Swan Press has already offered one collection of inspired villains for your campaign in their earlier release – Villains – so why shouldn’t they return to save the day again with Villains II? In a scant 30 pages, Creighton Broadhurst and Martin Tideswell manage to offer a nice collection of minions and villains for your GMing pleasure.

These minions and villains here are a bit more substantive or more dangerous than those in the first collection. It’s almost as though they wanted to gradually introduce bigger and badder folks so they wouldn’t scare off the players right away. If that’s the case, I wonder if there’s a third act planned with some really evil bastards in store for folks…

The book starts with a Gargoyle Scout – always a nice touch in a medieval campaign where gargoyles are a part of the architecture of a place. Scouts with the ability to blend among other decorative statues would be perfect to act as spies in a variety of ways. Or iff you don’t like stone, maybe the cold, hungry faces of ghasts might be more up your alley. Ghast Hordelings would scare the crud out of me as a PC. The thought of a group of ghasts working in concert to first paralyze and then tear apart their victims. [shudder]

Or maybe you’re not looking for nameless, faceless minions for your villain. Perhaps Mr. or Mrs. villain is looking for something a bit smarter and able to be bound to their will. Guthseyr might fit the bill – an invisible stalker able to work as a spy and assassin. Or maybe Thothosk, a quasit with the skills of a fixer. Or perhaps a giant bodyguard fits the bill? But keep in mind that when minions start thinking for themselves, results aren’t always as certain as an employer might want…

Once the minions are done, the book dives into the main course… the villains themselves. Maybe a vampire noble who meticulously disposes of his victims – hundreds of them – might draw some unwanted attention to an area. Or perhaps a demon who feels the need to continue to adventure in disguise to gather more beautiful, expensive items for his collection. Maybe a werewolf druid or a pirate minotaur barbarian… There really is a good mix of evil to fit a variety of needs here.

But my personal favorite is one of the most traditional D&D-inspired villains – a lich. I have a soft spot in my heart for these ancient, wizardly undead. And mix one of these lovely folks with a draconic birthright and you have a downright nasty fellow, especially when he’s just discovering that he really wants to go collect a big pile of loot like his dragon ancestors.

Each villain has full stats for a Pathfinder RPG game, an overview, a bit about his personality, mannerisms, and distinguishing features, as well as a collection of adventure seeds to inspire someone with ways these evil beasties might make their way into an existing campaign. I was a bit surprised that all of the villains and minions described were male in this tome when there was a better mix of men and women in the first Villains. But each of these bad dudes should be more than capable of creating havoc
and raising cain for your intrepid adventurers.

Check out Villains II at Raging Swan’s website. It’s available for purchase from a variety of online retailers including RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. For this and other Raging Swan products, check out their publisher page at RPGNow.

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