Thursday, March 1, 2012

March of Evil - Part I: The Nemesis

The dark side, the left-hand path, evil.

With a glut of fiction glamorizing the bad-guys it's no wonder evil is seeing a popular renaissance on the player's side of the screen. Recently the Way of the Wicked Adventure Path by Fire Mountain Games has captured the imaginations of GMs and players everywhere. There's never been a better time to be bad, even Paizo's new Adventure Path Skull and Shackles promises to be "evil friendly".

So since everyone has evil on the brain, I thought I might dedicate to "The March of Evil", where I'll explore Evil on both sides of the GM screen. Everything from how to handle playing an evil character in mixed company (that is to say a party with goody-two-shoes paladins as well as your own bad-self), to how to give your villains the evil edge to get your PCs to really get their hate on. I'll also be statting up a couple of villains and a new evil monster throughout the month for GMs to use in their own home games.

At the end of the month I'll release another Mapkin Adventure that lets players really "be bad".

I spent the last two blogs yammering on about friendship and love, in relation to my NPC cards. Now I'm going to flip things around and give a players a tool they need to really hate a villains with a fiery passion. To let players pick their own Joker, Green Goblin or Justin Morris (that's right Justin Morris from year three, I'm calling you out!)

The Nemesis Rule

During an adventure a PC may spend an NPC to card to declare a villain their Nemesis. The player need not have met the villain personally yet, but as long as they are reasonably familiar with the villain's work, or have faced the villain's minions then the Nemesis Rule is in effect.

As long as that PC's Nemesis is free or alive, the PC gains a +2 bonus to attacks, damage, saves skill checks and spell DCs vs that foes minions/traps and skill checks on any adventure dealing with the villain's machinations. The PC may not declare a new Nemesis until that nemesis has been captured or killed. This represents the power of the character's single minded determination to get to their foe. A PC may not change their Nemesis until the Nemesis is killed or captured. Only one PC may declare a nemesis.

A Nemesis gains the following abilities based on the APL of the party.

APL Any: Live to Fight Another Day - The GM may give the PCs a bonus NPC card at their next session to allow the Nemesis to escape either via a secret passage, magical means or by sudden hostage in a trap.
APL 1-5: DR = APL Minimum 1 Maximum 10/Nemesis (attacks made by the PC who spent the card deal normal damage, a Paladin's Smite Evil ability does not ignore this DR).
APL 6-10: Additional Action (Once/round at the Nemesis' intiative count -10 the Nemesis may gain an additional move or standard action)
APL 11-15: SR = CR +5, if a creature already has SR it gains a 5 point boost for that ability (the PC who chose the Nemesis may ignore the bonus SR).
APL 16-20: Auto-Resurrection (if the Nemesis dies from any effect that the PC who chose him is not directly responsible for the Nemesis returns to plague the PC another day).

Design Notes: "Wait," you ask, "Declaring a Nemesis means I get a minor bonus, and the nemesis gains a suite of cool defensive abilities What the hey?"
It helps to understand the intent of a rule. The Nemesis rule allows a PC to experience that wonderful moment of catharsis when they get to be the one to smite their foe once and for all.
By impeding the attacks of the other PCs, it's important for the GMs to give other objectives for the other characters involving the nemesis, minions, traps, hostages and the like.

In any case I hope you enjoy the Nemesis rule. As always I hope to hear some discussion either below, on my facebook page, or on This Thread at



  1. Question: Can a PC name an organisation as their Nemesis, such as a cult of witches that switch children for changeling?

    1. No, the reason being that the bonuses work against the "minions and machinations". If you can put more pieces together and figure out who is co ordinating the cult, essentially a suspect THEN you could declare a nemesis.