Resources For Every GM: Characters Part 2
Good evening! Tonight I have another Resources article for you that isn’t for your shelf or your bookmarks. No, tonight I have three characters that you will probably recognize, especially those of you who come form D&D backgrounds. If you don’t, or if you are new to D&D, then that’s even better! In the D&D worlds there are countless gods and goddesses, beings of immense enough power that you can ask them to grant you daily spells (clerics). There are even well known Arch Devils and Demon Princes, as well as plenty of super-powerful Fey Lords and Ladies. Throughout the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse, though, there are beings that defy explanation and remain hidden in their origins. These beings have conflicting tales of their rise to power and their goals are unknown. That doesn’t mean we don’t know anything about them, however, and tonight I aim to share with you three such beings perfect to be present in some form at your table or in your world.
I will start with this one because, of all of them, he is the one most have probably heard of right now. Even new players will have heard this name as he has taken a prominent role in something many of you came to D&D through: Critical Roll. Of course the lord of secrets has been around much longer than that, dating back to the 70s. The interesting thing about Vecna is that the infamous hand and eye artifacts came first. Bringing only his name and whispers of what may have once been the most powerful lich ever. Over time, as things do, the owner of these body parts became legendary and his story developed throughout the editions. Each edition brought new info and/or a new take on the god, but each also kept the core aspects of Vecna. He was mortal and became a powerful mage and even more powerful lich. He was betrayed and his hand and eye removed. These things have not stopped Vecna, nor should they stop someone that could, in their own right, be considered a demigod. In fact, by 4E he was part of the edition’s pantheon and remains part of that pantheon (Dawn War Pantheon for the curious). What is awesome about Vecna is two-fold. One it shows that an amazing villain/being/NPC does not have to bring with it history and artifacts. Instead you may make an item with a name attached and from that humble beginning comes one of the most infamous of powers in the multiverse. Second, it brings with it a being that is apart from the rest. Want godhood or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he can greatly affect the world and has followers and power. This is a name that carries weight and instills fear into characters no matter how integral or forward in the campaign he is.
I like Kyuss over Vecna, despite some similarities in their lore silhouette. Both descend from the dungeon-crawling days of Greyhawk and both are bad ex-mortals. Powerful spellcasters of the undead variety with a cultish following are nothing to be trifled with and not the least common thing around. For me, Kyuss is different. He’s creepy, he’s made of maggots, and he might be impossible to kill. Just check out my article on the worm that walks and it’s follow-up. Similar to the way Vecna came about, Kyuss was but a name attached to something before he was developed. The sons of Kyuss were is “cursed” followers and later turned into the spawn of Kyuss. They worked to unearth ancient ruins that swarm with undead and have no hate for the beings themselves. Like other villains and evil powers, Kyuss and his followers are bad news that can work at the foreground or background of a campaign or even on the side as a name and a whisper. Different from Vecna, though, Kyuss is the type of thing that lends itself to potential-apocalypse. Just looking at information about the Age of Worms story line makes me want to run a campaign that builds to such things. Oh sure, Vecna can do the same, but Kyuss is just so much more doomsday-y. He (it?) is definitely worth checking out if you like having mysterious background powers that have cults following them around, apocalypse campaign or no.
I leave the Lady for last because she is different and better in many ways when compared to the other two. I also know the least about here, but she needs to be on this list. As the protector of Sigil, the donut city that sits in the center of the D&D multiverse, she is incredibly powerful. To run such a city where angels and demons walk the same streets, we are talking beyond powerful. I mean, I’d argue that her power rivals pantheons. The thing is no one knows how powerful she really is. They also don’t know where she comes from, why she is in Sigil, how old she is. Frankly there is precious little that is known. The image of her as a monolithine woman wearing a crimson robe and never speaking is off-putting. She is not terrifying and can even be considered wondrous to behold, but there lack of knowledge and air of unconcern are strange. Angering her is asking for trouble and will get you mazed. Essentially you end up in an endless maze with everyone else who has ever angered her. One where there is no way out except for death. It is tough to talk about her here due to the ambiguity of her, but it is also the reason I had to include her. These are the types of NPCs or powers I love. Beings that are there, known, perhaps even seen. But you never know too much about them. In fact the more you learn about them the less you know. They are a great add for any campaign world.
Let these characters remind you of what a world you create can hold and where those ideas can stem from. They can be everything to a game or nothing. Even both. They add mystery and solidity to a world you have created. What are some of your favorite unique beings from other universes? Have you created any yourself? Tell me about them in the comments below!!