By Thilo Graf
Villains II, by Raging Swan Press, is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC (once again with a nice rhyme – I really like them!), 1 page advice to reading stat-blocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 21 pages of content, so let’s check it out!
What defines a villain besides being an enemy to the PCs? Well, for example the fact that they usually have minions and thus, the pdf introduces minions for the villains herein.
So, what kind of minions do we get? We get Gargoyle scouts (CR 11, ranger 7), 2 stat-blocks for Ghast hordelings (CR 7 and CR 9, fighter 2/rogue 3 and fighter 4/rogue 3) and three unique minions. These unique minions get the full-blown Raging Swan Press-NPC-treatment, i.e. they get background information, mannerisms, distinguishing features and hooks – impressive. Even more impressive, though, is that the minions have enough character to be villains of their own right. From an Invisible stalker rogue over a Quasit bard to an Ogre-mage fighter, the minions rock.
After 1 page chapter heading, we are introduced to the villains, the first being an elf wizard turned necromancer and vampire during his career- including the lost divination spells in the block. Next up is an extremely cool Incubus fighter who might very well be the centre of a whole campaign. Next up is a sorcerer lich who can tap into his draconic lineage to grown wings and use draconic breath weapons, but feels compelled to act on draconic greed and delusions of supremacy. Next up is a rather disturbing werewolf druid (in normal and hybrid form stats) that has succumbed to his bestial nature to the extent that he mates with his animal companion (who also gets stats) as well as 5 members of his demented circle of fanatics. On another note, we get a deadly Minotaur barbarian come pirate who lives only for the moment and has succumbed to alcoholism and his destructive bouts of anger. The final villain is a rather sad/tragic, a sorcerer/dragon disciple who has been lynched and mummified alive by an angry mob now seeks for vengeance and has a nice potential tie-in with “Fellowship of the Blackened Oak”.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice an mistakes. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly, simple and elegant 2-column standard set by RSP and the b/w-artworks were ok for the price. On the formal side, there is nothing to complain about, so what about the characters themselves? My main point of criticism towards the first villains-book was that some of the villains lacked unique characteristics. This book remedies that, and brilliantly does so – the villains get unique abilities, captivating backgrounds and always FEEL like characters – i.e. their reasons for their descent into evil is logical and concisely written – To the extent that each villain made me spontaneously come up with several plot ideas for adventures while still being easy to drop into any given campaign. Quite a feat, I might add!
With my lack of criticism, the flawless writing and the cool characters herein, I practically have to settle for 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. This pdf is worth each and every cent and continues RSP’s trend of awesome, almost perfect, high-quality supplements. Well done!
Villains II is available from: