Hello! We're working on a new book for 5th Edition. You might have guessed from the title of this post that the book is about villains. Like the Total Party Kill Handbook, it's going to be full of content designed to save time and help Dungeon Masters (that's you) play more games. I'll be writing a series of blog posts all about villains to both prepare myself for writing Tyrants & Hellions, and to engage with you (and other Dungeon Masters) and talk about what makes an amazing, memorable, and effective villain in a tabletop roleplaying game. So what is Tyrants & Hellions, and what can you expect to find in a book of villains?
For purposes of this book, we've broadly split villains into one of two categories: Tyrants and Hellions. This is where the name of the book comes from, and it offers, at a glance, an idea of how that villain operates.
A Tyrant has resources of some kind at his or her command, whether this is political (such as a corrupt monarch or other ruler), military (a villainous general leading a loyal army), or something else entirely. It is this resource that is the main threat of a Tyrant. A Tyrant is not personally dangerous, and if the heroes make it to a showdown with them, the Tyrant has already lost. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings is a great example of a Tyrant, because the threat comes primarily from his armies and the corruption caused by the rings of power. Sauron is thus defeated by destroying the one ring, rather than by fighting him directly.
Hellions, on the other hand, are the threat. A powerful dragon, a lich with ancient and terrible magic, or just an incredibly skilled warrior would all make good Hellions. Hellions generally act on their own, though they may still have minions, and if the heroes are unprepared when the Hellion arrives, they're playing right into the villain's plans. Look to Smaug from The Hobbit as an example of a Hellion. He doesn't have any allies, and he doesn't need them. Without a good plan, some knowledge about their foe, and a lot of cooperation, the heroes aren't going to win a head-on fight.
Can a villain be both a Tyrant and a Hellion? Of course! Voldemort, from the Harry Potter books, is a great example of both. With a bevy of minions at his disposal and a powerful command of magic, he makes a potent adversary in any situation. There will be a few of this type of foe in the book, and while I haven't settled on a name for them yet, Nemesis, Archvillain, or Scourge all come to mind. Do you have an idea for a good name for these villains? Drop a comment here and let me know!
So that's your intro to Tyrants & Hellions, I'll be putting up another post every weekday for the next two months, so check back often for more insights into how we build these types of villains!
Steven Gordon - 2CGaming Team