I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. I’m starting a new series here about writing adventures and trying to get the flavor of Coldforged setting to come through. This week, I take a look at the types of villains, where they come from, and what might drive them.
Ironhearted Stalkers – The borders between the forest of Lev and the rest of the continent are harshly patrolled. The reactionary decree to separate themselves from the rest of the world made enemies of everyone who tried to enter the forest after 638.
The Individuals tasked with patrolling the borders of the forest of Lev for intruders have often become hardened and merciless killers, ruthlessly punishing any who would set foot in their sacred forest. Now, many years later and through the cloud of the Fey Plague, some of these border stalkers have taken a more active role, either perusing those who have come down with the plague, slaying potential intruders well beyond the bounds of the forest, or even slaughtering entire towns that stray to close to the edge, some that have interacted surreptitiously and peacefully with Levishans for years. These cold-hearted and broken stalkers can make an excellent villain who is hard to track, difficult to understand, and ruthless.
Deluded Mages – The Fey have always played in the shadowy realm of magic and esoteric lore, and their arcanists have been some of the most powerful the continent can boast. These Long lives masters of mystical intellect are sought out for both their ability to divine the future and to give excellent mundane advice.
However, after the Mage Blight of the Killbaruns, both of the Lich Wars, and the Fey Plague, some mages have become convinced that the younger, mortal races are simply their own form of disease on the planet and are no more worthy of the time of the fey than that of a pebble in a stream, or a grain of sand on the beach. Some, they feel, are more akin to the mosquito or a squeaking wheel; they need to be addressed and eliminated with the swiftest methods possible. Swift methods, though, for a nearly immortal race, are often lacking expediency and will take years to come to fruition.
Gloryseeking Champions – Thousands of Levishans were raised on the tales of their bloodline, heroic deeds, and glory gained against the enemy of their peoples, dire foes required to be stopped before they could cause untold havoc among the world.
Now, these same champions of Lev seek their turn at glory and honor, a chance to make their name and perform deeds that will echo through the ages to bring about the start of their own bloodlines. This is leading them to seek conflict and danger where others would instead find a chance to create a peaceful situation. Many of these brash and often powerful individuals are cutting their teeth against the survivors of the plague, even though many of the survivor’s families urge for peace and reconciliation. To these individuals, there is only honor and glory to be sought and gained, no time to spare for peace and mercy.
Bravado filled Pirates – The City of Brokensail is the home to dozens of pirates of all different stripes, and many of them ensure that their ensign is known, and that their reputation remains high, to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. Some, however, take it to a completely different level.
Some Pirates simply cannot get enough of themselves and must have their names sung about at taverns and inns by bards around the continent, and some hope around the world. These brave and audacious souls seek to one-up not only each other but themselves, completing more daring raids, more fantastic heists, and besting better and better ships at sea. These dangerous and often irresponsible captains looking to make a name for themselves can often be interesting and, from time to time, sympathetic villains
Hardened Killers – The Pirates of Brokensail harbor among their midst some of the most heartless and merciless individuals on the continent. These ruthless individuals seek other than the chance to take out their rage, frustration, or twisted pleasure on their next unwary victim.
When people think of a pirate from Brokensail, this is who they are, most often, thinking about. These rapacious and murderous scoundrels pillage the coasts, slaughter ship crews, and vanish into the night with little trace. these are the powerful and dangerous names that are whispered on the lips of those who live in towns both on the banks of rivers and the coast of the continent. Few are safe, as they have little motive other than feeding their desires, and they make great villains as their desire to be feared and remembered often leads them straight into conflict with devoted heroes.
Righteous Privateers – while Brokensail hosts despicable killers and blowhard captains, it also has a small yet dedicated host of captains who seek to right the wrongs of the high seas, who hoist sail against what they see as evil and tyranny of the waves.
These Privateers of Brokensail are often dedicated to retribution and retaliation against a single kingdom on the island. There are those who have crossed every single one on the continent, and no ship is safe, but the Killbaran navy is one that has created a strong loathing among the Brokensail, for good reason. Still, there are those who have been wronged by Levisha, Tyndaria, and even Aldashir, and seek their revenge against those who committed the acts, or at least the representatives of those who did. These righteous privateers can easily take the villains spotlight, going directly against whatever kingdom is needed for some perceived slight.
Dragonsworn Cultists -The Gray morass is a dangerous place, both physically from the standpoint that the swamp can easily swallow up a full-grown person and their mount, but also in that it is populated by some very fervent Children of Jet who want nothing more than to feed you to their dragon-god.
Many of the Children are lead by warlocks who’ve pledged their souls and that of their followers to the unknown powers beyond space and time that they believe represent the greatest interests of Jet, their leader. They have decided that in order to please both their distant masters and their more corporeal ones, that they should provide them both with numerous sacrifices, both in blood and material objects, and one of the best ways to do this is to raid, sack and plunder the nearby territories. They know their land better than anyone, and if great heroes come to try and stop them, fading into the swamp until they perish or confronting them with overwhelming force are both great options.
Hungry Hunters – Among the Children of Jet are leaders and warriors, but there are also those who seek to provide for their village, to be able to bring home the sustenance required to continue living in the desolate swamp that is the morass. These hunters are skilled and intelligent and pose a challenge to all they seek to hunt.
The Hunters of the Children of Jet are often seeking prey that challenges their skills and enables them to hone their craft further. While they often serve their leaders well, their role in society quires them to taken initiative to ensure the needs of the tribe are met and gives them the cunning and skills to not only hunt the beasts and others within the swamp but to go outside its boundaries to stalk and slay their chosen prey. While it is not often that they hunt or even consume a sentient being, they are not against taking livestock and other victuals that are readily undefended.
Incursionists – While the Hunters and cultists have specific directions, the Tribal chieftains and prophets who lead incursions into the greater world seek nothing but the destruction of their enemies.
Incursions from the Morass happen with regular frequency, lead by warriors, shamans, and priests pushing forth the boundaries of the swamp. No border settlement is truly safe, as the attacks often come without warning, and with no mercy. The Children don’t conceptualize mercy or compassion in the same way that the rest of the continent does, and are completely unable to grant it. The leaders who guide these incursions do so with both direction and zeal, either in retribution for some perceived slight or at the direction of their Warlock leaders, they see the task as their obligation, with no desire to explain themselves to their followers or others.
Petty Princes – The Alorans have a long and proud history, and they are often reminded of its downfall simply by living in the kingdom they do. This chafes many of the princes and barons of the land, who seek to claw back their power from the king who stole it.
The petty princes of Alora, the barons and counts and earls who’ve lived long enough within the remains of Alora, her successor kingdoms, and Tyrandall itself are often struggling against one another and other local nobility in a silent and often unseen conflict to gain the upper hand. Many see themselves as the true heir to Alora, and if only they could throw off the yoke of one power, would declare the Kingdom of Alora alive and well. Unfortunately, many peasants and commoners stand between reality and their future, but they don’t see that as too much a problem. There will always bee more commoners.
Determined Separatists – Unlike the petty princes, there are strong, underground movements to seperate the Alorans from all of the kingdoms that contain their people and build a new Kingdom in the glory of the old.
This movement is powerful and has both adherents and detractors are all levels of society, but those who are visible are not the ones to be wary of. Stepping into the separatist conflict is to instantly become neck-deep in treason, betrayal, murder, and hate, where those who seek to recreate Alora do so in the most brutal ways possible. It is not simply the assassination of a local Tyndarian, but the complete erasure of their family. It is not the burning of a local church, but the slaughtering of the entire clergy. The separatists are determined that Alora will once again be as glorious as her heyday, and see no reason why that shouldn’t start today.
Crime Barons – above the dark and bloody world of Aloran nationalism a princedom, the crime barons stand, somehow, in a more noble and prosperous position, looking to capitalize on events as they unfold to enrich themselves and live a comfortable life.
Alorans of all stripes are used to living under the thumb not only of their local noble but of the crime syndicates that rule their towns and cities. Since before Alora was absorbed into Tyndaria, it was known that the noble might own the land, but the crime bosses owned you. They run protection, smuggle highly taxed items, collect taxes, and charge tolls on roads with none. The Crime boss that lives within Alora is a privileged class that dislikes any sort of disruption to their way of life, feeling owed by the world its obedience and supplications.
Dire Necromancers – the unhallowed land of the Wraithhold is run by those who consort with the undead and the accursed, the foul beings who have given their souls to the demon queen and her accursed in return for corporeal power.
The Necromancers of the Wraithhold command great armies of undead to do their inscrutable bidding. These undead are often accompanied by the necromancer themselves or a trusted underling who can command the beings and ensure that they follow the correct instructions. These tasks range from gathering more materials for research and animation to the recovery of lost tomes and artifacts to the resurrection of a specific individual. It is easy to cross these necromancers, as they follow their own rules and do not abide by the quaint boundaries of mortal kingdoms in their tasks.
Undead Lords -While the Necromancers seek arcane power and esoteric lore, the undead lords gather their armies, both living and animated, and prepare to march to war.
Though their resources are infinite, their ability to command the dead is not, so they often have layers of subordinates below them to command units of animated dead to their positions. These undead report to the imposing kings of the modresto ziggurats, performing their bidding as needed, and protecting the territory and power of their master. They are intelligent and canny, able to interpret the King’s words and deeds in the best light possible either for the Lord or the King. When the Modresto march to war, it is often an undead lord at the command of a king who seeks a specific and tangible goal.
Imposing Kings – Towering above the insignificant lords and the minor necromancers, the Kings of Modresto oversee it all. originally 21 in number, they have been reduced to less than half, though none of them seem to mind, having absorbed the followers of the deceased kings.
These monarchs command the power of a might Modresto Ziggurat, and have dedicated themselves to a specific aspect of training and lore, becoming much more than simply undead or living, but transcending the boundary between through boons and gifts from their patrons, often an accursed to whom they have had specific contact. Though most of the kings are content to lay low for now and gather their power – they are few and their enemies are endless – they are also confident that the day will come when they will be able to rise up and carry out whatever fiendish plans that they have been hatching for decades.