🎨 Creative Help me brainstorm a BBEG for Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Barbatruc

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Validated User
#22
I'm not up on any of the newer canon (like post 1999, *ahem*) but a big-ass mad-wizard dungeon in search of a thematically-appropriate villain just makes me think of Eli Tomorast from a mid-1980s module (WG 5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure).
 

vitruvian

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Validated User
#23
I'd probably bring it down a bit from deity level, and have it 'just' be a cabal of powerful liches and other necromancers behind the Afterlife organization, treating the business of souls kind of like predatory subprime lenders looking for a chance to foreclose. Great clerks of necromancy, you could even say... take inspiration from parts of Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence. They might have ambitions to build up to acquiring shares in divinity, but they should be mainly aspirational... unless maybe they are one of the factions sending adventurers to take out the macguffin in Tomb of Annihilation, but in their case to appropriate it and turn it to their own purposes.

But I tend to like the idea of at least the lower level functionaries the PCs encounter at first presenting themselves as entirely business-like and reasonable, with it being a slow reveal that the organization is actually Wolfram & Hart and the party's customer service rep is a corporate sleaze like Paul Reiser in Aliens.
 

Calypso

Bunny With a Glock
Validated User
#24
I'd probably bring it down a bit from deity level, and have it 'just' be a cabal of powerful liches and other necromancers behind the Afterlife organization, treating the business of souls kind of like predatory subprime lenders looking for a chance to foreclose. Great clerks of necromancy, you could even say... take inspiration from parts of Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence. They might have ambitions to build up to acquiring shares in divinity, but they should be mainly aspirational... unless maybe they are one of the factions sending adventurers to take out the macguffin in Tomb of Annihilation, but in their case to appropriate it and turn it to their own purposes.

But I tend to like the idea of at least the lower level functionaries the PCs encounter at first presenting themselves as entirely business-like and reasonable, with it being a slow reveal that the organization is actually Wolfram & Hart and the party's customer service rep is a corporate sleaze like Paul Reiser in Aliens.
That's a really cool idea. And I love the Wolfram and Hart reference! One of my original inspirations was to make it like the logging camps that would take advantage of its workers by overcharging for basic supplies, because they had a total monopoly. So an adventure goes out and gets themselves dead, but can't afford to be reformed, so one of the "account specialists" comes along and says "we're happy to loan you a body... if you do something for us!" So for the cabal of lich/necromancers benefit either way - either another soul for the mill, or they continue to extort favors from down and out adventurers.
 

vitruvian

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Validated User
#25
That's a really cool idea. And I love the Wolfram and Hart reference! One of my original inspirations was to make it like the logging camps that would take advantage of its workers by overcharging for basic supplies, because they had a total monopoly. So an adventure goes out and gets themselves dead, but can't afford to be reformed, so one of the "account specialists" comes along and says "we're happy to loan you a body... if you do something for us!" So for the cabal of lich/necromancers benefit either way - either another soul for the mill, or they continue to extort favors from down and out adventurers.
If you want to go even further the Wolfram & Hart route, you could always get into Warlock-style Pacts and deals and involve this concept... http://empowered.wikia.com/wiki/Infernal_Service_Provider

Although in this instance it could technically be the Raven Queen or Undying Patron types rather than Fiend behind the resurrection cartel.
 

Calypso

Bunny With a Glock
Validated User
#26
So I thought I'd circle back and share what I put together based on all your suggestions.

The short version: When the elves spirited Aelinthaldaar away, it left a Knot in the weave. Halaster Blackcloak, former lover of Selune (goddess of moon etc.), jilted her and fled to Undermountain, using the Knot to hide. He's been there a long time, but the warping effect of the Knot has slowly driven him mad. He is now putting into effect a plan to use The Machine! to undo the Knot in the weave and recover his sanity. The Machine! needs powerful mages to power it, so Halaster has turned Undermountain into a crucible, using it to winnow out the weak and bring the strongest to him, whom he will drain for the ritual. Unfortunately, undoing the Knot will cause Aelinthaldaar to return and probably whisk Waterdeep away into some alternate dimension. This ritual has to take place during a total lunar eclipse, so that Selune will be blind during the ritual. Selune knows this, and has, through her church, hosted the Dark Contest, which will handsomely reward whoever brings her Halaster Blackcloak before the next total lunar eclipse.

 
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