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DMGR6 The Complete Book of Villains (2e)

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Description:

A paranoid warlord, a bitter drow priestess, a power-mad archmage, a sly dwarven assassin - not all the characters in the AD&D game went the way of the heroes.

Villains (beings dedicated to committing evil) are the most dangerous of all foes, and thus the most useful of tools a Dungeon Master has to create a memorable campaign. This book presents the most complete guidelines ever offered on creating villains for role-playing games. Miss this advice at your own peril!

*****

Product History

DMGR6: The Complete Book of Villains (1994), by Kirk Botula, is the sixth book in the series of Dungeon Master Guide Rules (DMGR) supplements. It was published in May 1994.

Continuing with the DMGRs. Though its name suggests that The Complete Book of Villains might be a "Rogues Gallery"-type of book, nothing could be further from the truth. Villains instead is a book of GM advice, all about creating and running great villains in FRPGs. As such, it nicely complements the other "DM Advice" books in the DMGR series: DMGR1: Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide (1990) and DMGR5: Creative Campaigning (1993).

As with the entire DMGR series, Villains is a prestige-format blue leatherette book that's meant to supplement the second edition Dungeon Master's Guide (1989). Unlike the previous books in this series, there's no actual "DMGR" code on Villains, for TSR stopped using that code in 1994; nonetheless, the book is widely accepted to be DMGR6.

Widely Applicable. Villains is sold as an AD&D book and has stats for a few AD&D characters here and there. However, the advice it contains is quite generic, and thus GMs have used it widely for all sorts of fantasy roleplaying games. Despite its focus on RPGs, multiple authors have even talked about using Villains to create characters for their fantasy novels.

Producing a largely system-independent GM book wasn't a first for TSR; in fact, DMGR1: The Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide was also mostly free of mechanics. That's probably why it and Villains are two of the DMGR sourcebooks that remain both well-lauded and widely appreciated even today.

Monsters as Villains. Chapter 6 of Villains covers an interesting topic: turning "monsters" into villains. The idea of using unique and individualized monsters as villains in adventures dates all the way back to TSR's first published adventures. Thus, the stone giant Chief Nonsra and his wife, who appear on the third page of G1: "The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief" (1978) are differentiated from standard monsters by their fighting capacity: "he fights as frost giant, she as a male hill giant." Similarly, D3: "Vault of the Drow" (1978) is filled with dark elves who have either character class levels or special fighting ability. However, the most famous monster-as-villain probably appeared a few years later: When Count Strahd von Zarovich shows up in I6: "Ravenloft" (1983), he gets a full page of stats.

For all of that, support for individualized monsters evolved quite slowly in the D&D books. The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide (1979) offers just a page on the subject; it focuses on monsters as PCs and concludes, "you are virtually on your own with regard to monsters as player characters." Basic D&D provided some rules for specific races in GAZ10: "The Orcs of Thar" (1988) and the "Creature Crucible" series (1989-1992). This might have encouraged second edition AD&D to provide better guidelines, which were expanded into rules for 30 humanoid races in PHBR10: The Complete Book of Humanoids (1993).

That was pretty much the state of the art for monstrous characters in 1994, when Villains was published: rules were limited, but extant. Mind you, Villains' suggestions are still ad hoc, related more to background than to mechanics. D&D would have to wait until 3e (2000) for monstrous villains to receive full mechanics. 

About the Creators. Botula wrote a handful of books for TSR in the 90s; his others focused on the settings of Dark Sun and Jakandor.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews
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April 3rd, 2007
Useful for making asventures, setting villains is the principal act of Dming. QUALITY: Acceptable VALUE: Satisfied [...]
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August 5th, 2005
A good book for those who don't have a lot of experience developing antagonists that will excite, involve, and entertain their players. There could have been a lot more written, but what's there is pretty good. However, the text scanning is a bit [...]
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Product Information
Author(s)
Pages
128
Edition
1.0
ISBN
1-56076-837-1
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2144
File Size:
39.99 MB
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File Last Updated:
November 02, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on June 18, 2013.
Publisher Info
Wizards of the Coast
Wizards of the Coast
Publisher Average Rating