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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default [Template] Evil Mastermind

    During the DMing of my latest tabletop game, I found that sometimes I needed a simple formula for turning a mundane monster that could never fulfill the role of supervillain into something far more sinister. Furthermore, I didn't want him to be getting this ascension via being an otherworldly bastard child (such as snapping on a half-fiend template).

    Thus, I began looking around for some sort of template that did just that; making mundane creatures into evil masterminds without giving them supernatural abilities. Finding none, I decided to make my own. Its rather unrefined at the moment, since I haven't had a chance to playtest it yet, so any advice on shaping it to be better/balanced would be appreciated. Criticisms are welcome as well. Oh, and additional special attacks and qualities to be added to the list would be good too.


    Evil Mastermind

    Sometimes the most devious and awe-inspiring villains arise from the humblest (and sometimes most comical) of places. Whether the case is of a human who manipulates an entire town to unwittingly build him a doomsday device, or a badger freak-of-nature that was born with more smarts and ambition than 99% of mankind and successfully leads a ragtag group of woodland creatures to overthrow their humanoid masters, an evil mastermind is always a dangerous and cunning foe not to be taken lightly.

    Creating an Evil Mastermind

    “Evil Mastermind” is an inherited template that can be applied to any creature. Player Characters taking this template must have a 16 or higher intelligence score.


    Size and Type
    The creature’s type remains the same unless it was previously “animal”. In that case, it becomes a “magical beast”.

    Special Attacks
    An Evil Mastermind has one of the following special attacks, decided at their creation. All special attacks are extraordinary in nature and have a DC of 10 + ˝ the mastermind’s character level + their intelligence modifier.

    Machiavellian Wordplay: With this ability, an Evil Mastermind can speak in such a way as to disrupt the psyche of others. He chooses one target that is capable of hearing him, and, through a careful process of manipulation, utterly destroys the target’s self-confidence. The target must succeed on a will save or be stunning for as long as the Mastermind continues to speak to them, plus 1 round. If the save is made, the target gains a +2 cumulative bonus on all saves made to resist the same Mastermind’s wordplay in the future. For every failure, the target gains a -2 cumulative penalty on all saves made to resist the same Mastermind’s wordplay in the future. This is not a fear effect, nor a mind-affecting ability, and can affect any creature with 3 or more intelligence with the ability to hear and understand what the Mastermind is saying.

    Treachery: An Evil Mastermind with this ability gains +1d6 Sneak Attack (as the rogue class feature) and deals a number of extra points of damage on a successful sneak attack equal to their character level. This bonus does not stack with the Craven feat from Champions of Ruin.

    Sadism: Sadistic Masterminds are invigorated by the pain they inflict on others. For every 5 points of damage they deal in a round, they gain a +1 morale bonus on all rolls made in the following round and 1 temporary hit point that lasts until the end of the encounter.

    Adaptive Strike: As a standard action, a Mastermind may place a melee touch attack in such a way as to reveal his foe’s general defensive style. The target may attempt a reflex save to ruin the information divulged. On a successful save, the Mastermind takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls against the target in the following round. On a failed save, the Mastermind can take 10 on all attack rolls against the target for the remainder of the encounter.

    Xanatos Roulette: Once per day, as an immediate action, after the Mastermind witnesses one of his enemies perform some sort action, he may activate this ability by uttering something like “Just as planned” or “All according to the plan”. This causes that action to be part of the Mastermind’s elaborate overarching scheme in which the target has played right into his hands. Sometime during the next 1 hour per character level, the Mastermind can gain a +10 bonus on one roll of any kind before he rolls the die so long as he is able to explain in a lengthy aside a sequence of events that would logically relate the target’s action to the roll being granted the bonus.

    Special Qualities
    An Evil Mastermind has one of the following special qualities, decided at their creation. All Special Qualities are extraordinary abilities.

    Arrogance: A Mastermind with the Arrogance ability is so sure of his own eventual success that problems of the present don’t seem like that big of a deal. He is immune to fear effects, pain effects, and morale penalties so long as his hit points remain above ˝ of their max total.

    Narcissism: A narcissistic Mastermind is very self-assured in the fact that he is too pretty to die. He is created with a +2 Charisma bonus, and gains a dodge bonus (minimum +1) to his armor class equal to his Charisma modifier.

    Lucky: Masterminds with unnatural luck may reroll one d20 roll a number of times per day equal to their character level divided by 4 (round up). This reroll may be activated after seeing the result, but must be before the DM declares whether it was successful or not.

    Obscure Death: Sometimes a Mastermind is just fated to die in a way that is inconclusive to his murderers. If left alone in a dieing state (-1 to -9), the Mastermind will always succeed on his checks to stabilize and recover before hitting -10 hit points. In addition, if he is falling from a place high enough to cause enough damage to kill him, the Mastermind is immediately effected by a feather fall extraordinary effect. Furthermore, if there is ever a chance of him rising as an undead after death, the chance is always successful. Regardless of the type of undead, the Mastermind still recalls his prior ambitions and the memory of those who contributed to his death. His mental ability scores can never be lowered by becoming undead.

    Trivial Pursuit: Some Masterminds have an obsession with knowledge of all kinds and soak up information like a sponge. Those with this special quality always count all Knowledge skills and Gather Information as class skills and gain an ability identical to Bardic Knowledge, with the exception that the bonus on the check is equal to 1/2 the Mastermind's character level + his intelligence modifier instead of his Bard level + intelligence modifier.

    Paranoia: Paranoid Masterminds always assumes that around every corner is an assassin, anyone standing behind him has a knife out, and that every 5ft square he steps on could potentially be an inescapable death-trap. After a long time of this, he's trained himself to never be caught flat-footed, effectively giving himself the Uncanny Dodge class feature. In addition, Sense Motive is always considered a class feature for Paranoid Masterminds, as they spend much of their time worrying about whos word they can trust.

    Abilities
    Intelligence 18 or +2 bonus, whichever is higher. -2 Wisdom.

    Skills
    +4 racial bonus on Bluff, Sense Motive, and Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering)

    Feats
    Evil Masterminds gain one of the following as a bonus feat: Improved Initiative, Stealthy, Persuasive, Iron Will

    Challenge Rating
    Base Creature +2

    Alignment
    Any evil

    Advancement
    By character class

    Level Adjustment
    Base Creature +2
    Last edited by Xefas; 2007-07-19 at 01:34 PM.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    I can't say I like it. Because it would be an understatement, I love it.

    I do have a suggestion for Obscure Death, though. Would it be too much to say that he always raises as an intelligent undead with full knowledge of his past life and a thirst for revenge? (The plot hooks abound!)

    I also think it needs more skill bonuses. Diplomacy and Gather Information might be appropriate, though Bluff and Sense Motive would get more use. Some sort of Knowledge might also make sense. Knowledge (Evil Lairs)? Knowledge (The PCs) would be handy. "Yes, he DOES know everything I know about you, he has Knowledge of you".
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeejimbo View Post
    I can't say I like it. Because it would be an understatement, I love it.

    I do have a suggestion for Obscure Death, though. Would it be too much to say that he always raises as an intelligent undead with full knowledge of his past life and a thirst for revenge? (The plot hooks abound!)

    I also think it needs more skill bonuses. Diplomacy and Gather Information might be appropriate, though Bluff and Sense Motive would get more use. Some sort of Knowledge might also make sense. Knowledge (Evil Lairs)? Knowledge (The PCs) would be handy. "Yes, he DOES know everything I know about you, he has Knowledge of you".
    Alrighty, the thing with the undead does seem plausible. I mean, there isn't much use with having a BBEG come back from the grave with no intelligence or recollection.

    Also, I gave him a bonus on Architecture and Engineering for use with the construction of evil lairs and such.

    Oh, and I got the term "Xanatos Roulette" from here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...anatosRoulette

    I know you didn't ask, but I figured it warranted mentioning, since the character reference might be slightly esoteric.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Ah yes, excellent website.

    I love it. If it was MiTP, I would Vote: Yes.

    I think that Paranoid would be more likely to give Spot/Listen bonuses, or something that helps it win initiative, though.

    Ooh! How about something like the Loremaster's Lore? You know how villains are always hearing about obscure myths and artifacts...
    Last edited by Inyssius Tor; 2007-07-17 at 05:43 PM.
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    I really like it, but considering that it is LA +4 shouldn't they get more than one ability from each category. A lich has that and gets a frikin' true rez for each death, along with a few other abilities. I think it could get more abilities or LA +2 or 3

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Quote Originally Posted by Inyssius Tor View Post
    Ah yes, excellent website.

    I love it. If it was MiTP, I would Vote: Yes.

    I think that Paranoid would be more likely to give Spot/Listen bonuses, or something that helps it win initiative, though.

    Ooh! How about something like the Loremaster's Lore? You know how villains are always hearing about obscure myths and artifacts...
    Actually, I named it paranoia because I couldn't come up with a word that more accurately described "stab people in the back before they have a chance to betray you" mentality. If I had a better word to represent this, I'd probably use the word Paranoia for a different ability involving excessive contingency plans or some such.

    And I actually thought about lore-ish abilities, but then figured with a minimum intelligence of 18, they'd have more than enough skill points to purchase whatever knowledge skills they need, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to include such an ability. I'll do so after I post this.

    I really like it, but considering that it is LA +4 shouldn't they get more than one ability from each category. A lich has that and gets a frikin' true rez for each death, along with a few other abilities. I think it could get more abilities or LA +2 or 3
    Point taken. I'll change the LA to +2, though I still worry that might be a little powerful. Oh well, I suppose if noone says anything about it, its okay.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Traitorous? Treacherous? Perfidious? Backstabbing?
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    You forgot DR 15/Protagonist
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    I see a problem with potentially allowing players to grab this template because as written the could dump a 3 into Int. and have it come out an 18. And thats not right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inyssius Tor View Post
    Traitorous? Treacherous? Perfidious? Backstabbing?
    Okies, its done. Thanks =)

    You forgot DR 15/Protagonist
    I thought about that. And then I came to the conclusion that I wanted to allow players to concievably be this class, and the party being the protagonists would kind of screw that up. But then I realized that about 50% of the PC deaths in my game are caused by other PCs, so it might be worth including anyway.

    I see a problem with potentially allowing players to grab this template because as written the could dump a 3 into Int. and have it come out an 18. And thats not right.
    Ummm...you're right. What do you suggest?

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    "Evil Mastermind" is an inherited template that can be applied to any creature with an Intelligence score of at least 12.

    Abilities
    +6 Intelligence if the base score was less than 18, and +2 if the base score was greater; Wisdom -2.
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Quote Originally Posted by Inyssius Tor View Post
    "Evil Mastermind" is an inherited template that can be applied to any creature with an Intelligence score of at least 12.

    Abilities
    +6 Intelligence if the base score was less than 18, and +2 if the base score was greater; Wisdom -2.
    Well, for one, this would defeat my original purpose. The entire idea was originally started by me wanting to turn a Hydra into the evil mastermind behind the latest villainous plot I had thrown at my PCs, not because Hydras do that kinda thing, but because I think it'd be totally awesome to have a 7-headed snake monster manipulate its own evil organization. But...a Hydra's intelligence is 2. Now, I know, as the DM, I could have just said "Well, I'm the DM, I say he has X intelligence, and it is so." but that seemed quite lame to me. So, then I started making this template and realized it could be used to make plenty of things into awesome adventure hooks; a haunted house where the trouble is all stemming from an Animated Table who got a little too smart for its master's own good during a freak arcane mishap and learned to take class levels until it could animate the rest of its furniture buddies; a familiar whos the real brains behind the operation; a rat who knows enough of the Dark Speech to make his buddies into Hivemind Swarms...

    Really, the easiest solution might be to just get rid of the LA and not allow PCs to take it to prevent abuse.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Quote Originally Posted by Xefas View Post
    Well, for one, this would defeat my original purpose. The entire idea was originally started by me wanting to turn a Hydra into the evil mastermind behind the latest villainous plot I had thrown at my PCs, not because Hydras do that kinda thing, but because I think it'd be totally awesome to have a 7-headed snake monster manipulate its own evil organization. But...a Hydra's intelligence is 2. Now, I know, as the DM, I could have just said "Well, I'm the DM, I say he has X intelligence, and it is so." but that seemed quite lame to me. So, then I started making this template and realized it could be used to make plenty of things into awesome adventure hooks; a haunted house where the trouble is all stemming from an Animated Table who got a little too smart for its master's own good during a freak arcane mishap and learned to take class levels until it could animate the rest of its furniture buddies; a familiar whos the real brains behind the operation; a rat who knows enough of the Dark Speech to make his buddies into Hivemind Swarms...

    Really, the easiest solution might be to just get rid of the LA and not allow PCs to take it to prevent abuse.
    Easiest. of course you could apply the elite template to the hydra (see MM) and then add a few class levels... then it would qualify for evil mastermind.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Ohhh. Well, you could implement a more detailed scale (base int less than 6, creature gets +10, base int less than 10, creature gets +8, base int less than 18, creature gets +6) or something...

    EDIT: Or you could go the Incarnate Construct route. Just give nonsentient creatures a base Int of 10, and apply from there.

    Eh, might be too complicated.
    Last edited by Inyssius Tor; 2007-07-17 at 07:25 PM.
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    *giggles like a school girl at this*

    If I ever do a farce campaign, I'll be tempted to apply this. On many, many characters.


    I can't believe I'm saying this as I hate alignment restrictions, but I'm not sure that alignments other than lawful evil are appropriate for an evil mastermind? The Chaotic Evil High Priest of the Cult of the Followers of Squiggy (the vaguely evil Dark God) doesn't really seem to fit as an evil mastermind. Nor does a cultist that actually seems like it could be actually intimidating :P

    Neutral Evil I'm not particularly sure of as I don't know how a character like that works.

    Still, the typical 'evil mastermind' seems like the type who by definition has to be fairly organized.
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Quote Originally Posted by Inyssius Tor View Post
    Ohhh. Well, you could implement a more detailed scale (base int less than 6, creature gets +10, base int less than 10, creature gets +8, base int less than 18, creature gets +6) or something...

    EDIT: Or you could go the Incarnate Construct route. Just give nonsentient creatures a base Int of 10, and apply from there.

    Eh, might be too complicated.
    That wouldn't solve PC abuse. Int 5 => 15, Int 9 => 17, Int 17 => 23

    Easiest. of course you could apply the elite template to the hydra (see MM) and then add a few class levels... then it would qualify for evil mastermind.
    I believe that wouldn't exactly work. Even if I threw the 15 of the Elite Array into Intelligence, the Hydra still gets -8 racial adjustment to intelligence. 7 Intelligence isn't exactly anything to write home about, and certainly not in the range for being called a mastermind of anything.

    *giggles like a school girl at this*

    If I ever do a farce campaign, I'll be tempted to apply this. On many, many characters.


    I can't believe I'm saying this as I hate alignment restrictions, but I'm not sure that alignments other than lawful evil are appropriate for an evil mastermind? The Chaotic Evil High Priest of the Cult of the Followers of Squiggy (the vaguely evil Dark God) doesn't really seem to fit as an evil mastermind. Nor does a cultist that actually seems like it could be actually intimidating :P

    Neutral Evil I'm not particularly sure of as I don't know how a character like that works.

    Still, the typical 'evil mastermind' seems like the type who by definition has to be fairly organized.
    My first impulse was to make it "Always Lawful Evil" but then I realized that, while the majority of evil masterminds would be lawful evil, one could potentially conceive of someone a little more reckless than that being a corrupted genius fellow with his own schemes. They might not be as meticulous and pseudo-ethical as a Lawful Evil person's, but evil schemes nonetheless. I, for one, would not underestimate the simple and brutal, yet wholey ingenius methods of a Chaotic Evil Mastermind.

    ---

    Anyway, back to the "Intelligence is automatically at least 18" problem. What if I just ammend it to say:

    “Evil Mastermind” is an inherited template that can be applied to any creature. Player Characters taking this template must have a 16 or higher intelligence score.

    Could that work?

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    I see no problem with saying that. I would ban PCs from taking it anyway, unless it was in a rather silly campaign to begin with.

    Also, Neutral Evil is, in my opinion, the most efficient evil, because they're organized enough to plan, but not ethical enough to even think they have a code they follow. As St. Bogy put it, "Neutral Evil is the kind of person who says 'No backstabbing' and then stabs you in the back."
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Yeah, the only real way to prevent PC's from taking this would be DM fiat. I can't think of an in-game restriction that couldn't be worked around rather easily.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Then there shall be two evil mastermind kobolds conspiring against one of my party.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    My favorite's Obscure Death.
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Wow...

    I've GOT to show our DM this...

    AWESOME work, man!


    I'm really interested to see what plot twists will occur when the heroes fights a party of Evil Masterminds... hehehe...

    mmm... come to think of it, that might be a fun campaign to play.
    Kind of like a Dungeon Keeper version of D&D, the PC's plays Evil Masterminds and have to work together to make their 'plans' succeed. And now and then the odd hero arrives in an attempt to thwart your evil plans.

    Sounds fun
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Thank you all for the compliments.

    As an update, I recently made use of this template in conjunction with Vorpal Tribble's Rat-a-tat prestige class.

    The crux was that, inside a mansion of sorts that had once been occupied by some magic users of old, a desk became animated via the decay of ancient magical items that had held the equivalent of an Animate Object spell. Empowered by the magic seeping from these withering arcane widgets, the desk became an Evil Mastermind. The house was empty, and the desk had no idea what it was or where it was or why it was. It slowly drove itself into madness (hince the evil part), training itself in Perform (Precussion) by knocking around on the house itself.

    Over the years, the surrounding village casually accepted that it was haunted. Occasionally a few people entered, never to be seen again, and all that unearthly banging was certainly a sign of wayward spirits.

    Eventually, the desk discovered more secrets that the long-dead arcanists had hidden in the house, and became versed with worldly and magical lore. Using this lore, he became a Rat-a-tat, and using the magic therein, gained newfound mastery over its mansion domain. He shaped parts of the house more to his liking, he spoke with the house itself and uncovered secrets that it had witnessed that had never been written down, and it began to animate other objects in the house to supply itself with minions.

    Enter the PCs many years after. They surmise it's simply a ghost or similar, and decide to just bring the party cleric up there for an exorcism. The problem is, they can't seem to find any traces of undeath...and, after giving up, they realize they also can't seem to find a way out. The desk had trapped them there using its mastery of shaping the landscape to eliminate all exits. The PCs panic, but can't find anything specific to panic at.

    Whats more, as they wander about, strange things happen. Wardrobes collapse onto party members, and the clothes within try to strangle them to death; silverwear clatters in swarms along the ground, attempting to mince them into bits; the stairs have an odd habit of letting them climb to the top, before going smooth as a board and shunting them to the ground.

    The cleric continues to try to turn, destroy, or even just detect signs of possession, but he can't! But that's when they begin to hear voices. Deep rattling voices, not unlike some twisted version of treants'. At that point, the PCs begin to realize what's wrong. The house itself is a big monster, and they've already climbed into its mouth...

    The desk laughs maniacally.

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Awesomeness drips from every letter. Great template, man! (BTW, I'd like to see a version that allows taking multiple abilities/attacks. That'd be tasty. Maybe +1 CR for each additional set, since they're pretty nasty. Or maybe +1/2? Not sure.)

    And that haunted house is just plain awesome. Way to screw with the party.
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    I would give this to an ettin in a silly campaign, make him all aristocratic with monacles and everything.

    but as is I am probably going to apply it to a gnome in my current campaign, he is an inventor that has grandois plans to rid the realm of inteligent life except for himself and his wizard companion, together they create nameless horrors both clockwork and magical in nature. His fortress is a clockwork "city" housing an army of thousands of clockwork warriors and magical monsters.

    I think this class could do with abilty that improves your leadership score, you know, so that they have more nameless minions for the heroes to cleave through.

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    Xanatos Roulette: Once per day, as an immediate action, after the Mastermind witnesses one of his enemies perform some sort action, he may activate this ability by uttering something like “Just as planned” or “All according to the plan”. This causes that action to be part of the Mastermind’s elaborate overarching scheme in which the target has played right into his hands. Sometime during the next 1 hour per character level, the Mastermind can gain a +10 bonus on one roll of any kind before he rolls the die so long as he is able to explain in a lengthy aside a sequence of events that would logically relate the target’s action to the roll being granted the bonus.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    This is awesome. I was just thinking of an NPC today and wondering how to make a smart orc....

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Troll in the Playground
     
    The Demented One's Avatar

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    I'd rename "Xanatos Roulette" to "Just as Planned" or "Cunning Ruse" or similar, although it is a nice reference.
    I no longer actively read the forums, and probably won't respond to any PMs. I'm fine with people using my homebrew in anything, including fan-compilations and wikis, as long as you credit me.

    Homebrew by The Demented One.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Mewtarthio's Avatar

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    Somehow, I imagine an Evil Mastermind PC running around with the kidnapped princess in tow, and announcing, "Yes, everything is going according to plan!" every time she does something just to keep the Xanatos Roulette active:

    *poke* *poke* *poke*

    "What are you doing? Stop that!"

    "Ah, yes, exactly as I planned!"

    "What? What are you talking about?"

    *disguise* *disguise* *disguise*

    "There! By listening to the precise wavepoint frequency of your voice, I have analyzed the relationship modulations that describe your love for the late prince! Since he's... indisposed at the moment, I will take his place at the royal ball! I'm certain the king will be most delighted when his son-in-law arrives to take that MacGuffin off his hands! And I couldn't have done it without you, sweetheart! Mwahahahahaha!"


    "That's the stupiest thing I've ever heard of! Really, there's no way you'd be able to convince the lowliest commoner that you're the prince, much less the king."

    "Ha ha! Your ignorance is a testament to my genius! For you see, you've just made a fatal slip of the tongue: By describing the commoners as 'lowly', you have given me all the information I need to know about the prince's personality to pull of the most brilliant impersonation in the history of mankind!"
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    DracoDei's Avatar

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    Default Re: [Template] Evil Mastermind

    How would that work since it only applies to one roll per day, and you only have to explain it ONCE in a lengthy aside, and it can only be used once per day?
    [Public Service Announcement]P.E.A.C.H stands for Please Examine And Critique Honestly[/Public Service Announcement]
    Extended Signature
    My Homebrew is meant to be used, but, if you do, PLEASE tell me how it goes.

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