View Full Version : DM Help Making a Grim Jester a recurring villain

2017-05-05, 06:02 PM
Like in the title, I want to make a Grim Jester (the one in the Tome of Beasts 5e) into a recurring villain for the party. Right now, the players are going through a dungeon. In one of the rooms they went in, it was strange because instead of the straight-edged smooth stone the last couple rooms had been made of, this was ornate carved stone with a high, arcing ceiling, and arches holding it up. The arches had walls between them so that there were eight alcoves. In some of them were weapons with historical value, or statues of people who were important, with plaques explaining why. There was a statue of a regal knight with two dogs and a posing skeleton dressed in jester's clothes, among others. Then they went to the other side of the room to look at the weapons to see if they were useful. It was determined they were only of historical value and they went to leave, thinking it was an interesting break from kick-the-door-down encounters. But they were not so fortunate. They approached the door, and they saw that it was sealed shut, with what was apparently hurriedly carved into the stone: Wrong side, dumbasses. (It was in fact an illusion but no one made any checks) Disturbed and wary, only one of the party decided to walk to the other side of the room, and as he crossed the room, he noticed a statue was now missing. The skeleton jester statue. He walked back over to them and explained and they decided they should just get out now. They went to cross the room, but sitting in the center of the room was the jester's statue. (The Grim Jester had cast disguise self to make himself look like a statue) The fighter went up to the statue and waved his hand and stuff, but he didn't want to touch it. At that point I had them all pretty freaked out, so when he went to say something to the statue I yelled "BOO!" and startled them, then the jester returned to his normal self, laughing hysterically. After that a fight ensued that included a lot of jokes and taunts and confusion (the Jester actually tricked the fighter into dropping to wizard to 0 HP). It was the most enjoyable and roleplaying-filled fight that I've ever had, probably, and I'd like to bring him back as a recurring villain, since I'm sure the party 1) enjoyed the fight a lot as well and 2) wants the pleasure of killing him again.

I was thinking for future fights, he'd get magical items, or learn other spells. I also thought it'd be nice to put him in a circus/carnival style lair, and give him some minions to hinder the players, like other skeletons. Are there any thoughts on specifics? Also, can anyone think of a way to make him a larger focus in the future? I can only really think of him going around killing important people for fun.

Thanks in advance for the ideas!

2017-05-06, 11:03 AM
Since the Grim Jester died in his first fight, you're going to need a reason for him to be alive again. Are there any existing foes of the PCs capable of reviving him?

I agree that new magical items, spells, and allies would be a good way of letting him be a greater threat in later encounters. You could have him learn conjuring spells or Animate Dead in later encounters to give him a way to create minions.

2017-05-06, 11:48 AM
Since the Grim Jester died in his first fight, you're going to need a reason for him to be alive again. Are there any existing foes of the PCs capable of reviving him?

I agree that new magical items, spells, and allies would be a good way of letting him be a greater threat in later encounters. You could have him learn conjuring spells or Animate Dead in later encounters to give him a way to create minions.

The Grim Jester has a feature that basically says unless it is killed in a way that amuses the dark god that created it, it is recreated in 1d20 days in a place of the god's choosing. That will keep him coming back until they figure it out and manage it.

2017-05-06, 12:58 PM
Look up some of the Joker's schemes. IIRC Batman the Animated had a lot of Super Villainous Joker Prank episodes. Turn any high tech stuff into magic or find a fantasy analogue.

2017-05-06, 01:21 PM
Well, what's your Jester's motivation?

The insane Jester villain is one of the few villains that actually can have the "I'm evil because I want to be!" and have it actually work out. But you need to make that evil more tangible.

Three of the best evil jesters in fiction, in my opinion, are The Joker, Kefka, and It. In order of how well they work.

Joker wants to be evil for the sake of evil. But it takes a specific form, he wants to torment the hero, to make Batman break his morals. To realize that the morality system we have set up is completely fabricated and ultimately useless.

Kefka was turned insane by magic experiments. His big goal is to kill off the guy who did that too him, and then goes even further. He can no longer comprehend the things that make life meaningful to people, so he decides it must be pointless for everyone and decides to destroy the world.

It is the weakest of the three, he's powered by dead children, so he kills children. But it's a clear motive and it works.

So, what you should be asking yourself is, how does the clown's goals work to enhance your plot? How does his evil and humor manifest? Does he directly hate the heroes specifically, enough to make them the obsession of his humor? Or does he really want something else and they just get in the way?

And having him just kill random important people can work as a start. But you should maybe start hinting that there is more there, that the people he is killing are destabilizing the country. That the clown is spreading this chaos for a specific goal, maybe draw hints that it has to do with his unrevealed backstory or something.

Then when the heroes think they have him figured out, you can keep going that way, or just reveal. Nope, he killed them because they didn't laugh at his stand up comedy routine last week. Or whatever. Just go crazy with it.

2017-05-06, 09:54 PM
Maybe he could reappear leading a zombie army while dancing to "Thriller"?

Shark Uppercut
2017-05-07, 01:08 AM
I posted a thread like this a while back. In summary, I had an idea for a villain with a very strong theme (John Cena, as a Demon-worshipping Cleric) and every time he dies, his Demon Lord patron gives him a free True Resurrection.
The general thread response was, don't make your players feel helpless. I ultimately switched to the idea of, players will meet many low-level Clerics of the Demon Lord, and John Cena will use an alternative Magic Jar to possess his minion, play theme music and taunt the party. He will use the low-level spells the minion has, and not 1-shot the party with his own spells.
The party feels like they're making progress killing the cultists, as the cult has a finite number of Clerics. And once John Cena himself dies, that's it for him.

For you, consider giving the Jester a non-infinite number of lives. He was killed once as a normal human, so...

The next encounter, he is a fleshy corporeal undead. Give him some slight stat buffs or level ups, as appropriate.
The third encounter, he is a skeletal undead, even the power of his grim god couldn't restore his flesh.
The last encounter is him as a ghostly, incorporeal undead. Gives him any powers he would require, as it's his last and greatest performance!

2017-05-07, 08:49 AM
There's nothing wrong with infinite lives for the Jester as default, so long as you keep dropping clues as to his true nature such that when your players have finally had enough of him, they already have enough information in their possession that they can come up with the idea of determining his patron to find out the Jester's weakness and make plans to do so, and, once they have acquired that through yet another adventure or two if necessary, they can make plans for how they defeat the Jester for good next time they meet.

Any good plan, no matter how wacky, that fulfills the "would entertain the patron" clause should be allowed to function if the party carries it out - and perhaps even if it fails, killing the jester but in an unintentionally hilarious way that is better than anything the patron could have expected or the party planned.

Most important is to give the Jester some motivation that is fairly easily recognizable after two or three encounters, if you want to play him as an actual threat rather than merely comic relief. Players who begin to believe they might be able to anticipate the Jester and work against him will be much happier than players who feel they are just being toyed with.

Not that being toyed with is necessarily bad, so long as the players feel that they are gaining knowledge/experience/items that will ultimately enable them to turn the tables by their own efforts. As Shark Uppercut said, don't make your players feel helpless.

2017-05-08, 01:20 AM
For the "Evil Jester in a Carnival" atmosphere, watch the Star Trek episode "The Thaw". They actually used real circus artists as background characters!