Villain Design Handbook

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Big Mac
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Villain Design Handbook

Post by Big Mac »

Eight years ago the Villain Design Handbook got brought up in Havard's topic, where he asked about iconic villains in the Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign setting.

Angel Tarragon thought it might be a good book for finding a list of KoK NPC bad guys, but I wondered back then...and am still wondering now...if it was more of a generic D&D book aimed at GMs that might be designing villains for multiple other campaign settings.

Knightfall surfed by a year later and was kind enough to post some useful information about the contents of the book:
Big Mac wrote:
Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:07 am
Knightfall wrote:I think the best way to look at the book is to compare it to the Book of Vile Darkness, but that it isn't as over the top.
I avoided the Book of Vile Darkness, as I saw a bad review of it. Do you think the Villain Design Handbook actually does what the OP asked? Does it include actual example villans?
Knightfall wrote:Evil outsiders, for example, aren't the focus of the book; its more about "mortal" villainy. Here is list if its chapters.

Chapter 1: Stereotypes and Beyond
Chapter 2: Archetypes
Chapter 3: Inside the Mind of a Killer
Chapter 4: Where Monsters Dwell
Chapter 5: The Head of the Serpent
Chapter 6: New Villainous Rules
Chapter 7: Prestige Classes
Chapter 8: New Spells
Chapter 9: Wicked Things
Chapter 10: Dangerous Denizens

And it is v.3.5. :cool:
Thanks for the list of chapters. would you give a brief summary of what each chapter does, please. I can guess what the Prestige Classes and New Spells chapters would be about, but The Head of the Serpent and Wicked Things could be pretty much anything and most of the other chapters could be pitched in several ways.
But there hasn't been another bump since 2012.

I'm still wondering about the Villain Design Handbook, but rather than continue to bump Havard's old topic with more off-topic questions, I thought I'd make a new topic and flat out ask: What is the generic advice/Kalamar split in this book?

How much generic advice (that is not connected to Kingdoms of Kalamar) is in this book?

How much specific advice (that is connected to Kingdoms of Kalamar) is in this book?

(I am actually interested in this book, for both reasons. But I'd like to know the split of generic/specific advice, so I can work out how important this book is on my wishlist.)

Are there specific example villains, that illustrate the various chapters? If so, would they be like a KoK version of The Iconics?

How about the Prestige Classes? I've noticed that 3e PrCs are generally split between the extremes of:
  • A generic PrC to be "the dude who is good at shooting arrows while stood on the back of a moving horse with one eye shut" (which is a bit "meh!" to me or
  • A specific PrC tied into an in-character organisation, where the PC/NPC needs to join that organisation in order to qualify for the PrC.
For me interesting PrCs are things like the Red Wizards of Thay, Purple Dragon Knights or Haprpers (of Forgotten Realms) or the Wizards of High Sorcery or Knights of Solamnia (of Dragonlance).

A PrC like that is based on storytelling (rather than min-maxing). So are any of the PrCs in the Villain Design Handbook tied to iconic Kalamar organisations? Will Chapter 7 allow me to get inspiration for villainous organisations that might vex the PCs?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Re: Villain Design Handbook

Post by Princess Strega »

I've always been keen on picking this one up, but never heard rabble about it. Hopefully someone can shed some light on it.

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Big Mac
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Re: Villain Design Handbook

Post by Big Mac »

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Thu Dec 19, 2019 11:45 pm
I've always been keen on picking this one up, but never heard rabble about it. Hopefully someone can shed some light on it.
I looked on RPG Geek and they have two pages for this: The 3.0 version has more screenshots of pages than the 3.5 version.

It looks like Kenzer & Co put out a third version, with the "Dungeons & Dragons" logo removed, after the above two versions (that both have the D&D logo). So if you see a hard copy in a shop, and it has the D&D logo, it could be 3.0 or 3.5.

This is still on sale, both as a PDF (via DriveThru RPG) and as Print on Demand (via Lulu). It looks like they needed to pull the D&D logo off of the cover to keep it on sale. But I'm guessing that all three versions are mostly the same book.

Here is the back cover blurb:
Villain Design Handbook back cover blurb wrote:The 140-page book is the ultimate guide to designing the perfect scoundrel PC or villain NPC, and a must have for any player or Game Master. This book is loaded with new rules material including:
  • A step-by-step guide to villain design
  • 7 new prestige classes
  • 24 new villainous feats
  • revised rules for anti-feats
  • 81 new evil spells
  • vicious new combat options
  • new monsters and undead templates, detailing the rituals for creating all kinds of intelligent undead
Additionally, this tome includes information on: breaking stereotypes; detailing the villain's motivations, obsessions, goals and schemes; and choosing the villain's alignment (and why good-aligned villains are not only possible, but plausible). Detailed emotional archetypes, suggestions for villains and experience, supernatural villains, familiars and many different types of villainous organizations (including assassins' guilds, black marketers, raiders and more) give the evil PC, or the Game Master, a wide variety of new ideas and role-playing insight.

Furthermore, this supplement provides an abundance of information with which to customize any campaign setting. You can make use of the many features of this book in your Kingdoms of Kalamar campaign or any other campaign world. New information on summoning outer planar creatures, becoming undead, hiring henchmen and lackeys, or building a lair ports easily into any campaign. An abundant source of material of the high quality you've come to expect from Kenzer and Company, this is one product you don't want to miss.

Remember, great heroes need even better villains.
They are certainly talking the book up. :)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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Allen Varney
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Re: Villain Design Handbook

Post by Allen Varney »

I just offered the Villain Design Handbook in last month's Worldbuilder's Toolkit 6 Bundle of Holding offer!

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