With Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes coming this month, I thought I would muse on some of my favourite foes from Dungeons & Dragons over the years. While this book is not going to be an NPC Codex, it will include variations on classic races, demons and other monsters as well as different planes and campaign settings, I have decided to highlight some of my favourite classic NPCs.
Vecna was an ancient wizard who had become a Lich, first referenced in the original edition of D&D. The most famous part of this character is the artifacts created from his body, the Hand and Eye of Vecna. To use these, the character must remove and replace that part of their own body. In later adventures Vecna would eventually obtain divine status as the evil god of secrets.
Orcus, the Prince of Undead is one of the original Demon Lords in D&D. Viewed by some as the most evil of the Demon Lords, Orcus uses his Wand of Death to spread chaos among the living. From the Throne of Bloodstone, Orcus is in constant struggle with other Demon Lords for supremacy of the Abyss.
Tiamat is the Draconic Goddess of Evil Dragons. She lives at the edge of the Nine Hells demanding reverence and homage, preferring the title “Her Dark Majesty”. Her overt hatred of her brother Bahamut, the God of Good Dragonkind has transformed into a twisted desire. When she chooses, she changes her five headed form to that of a beautiful dark haired human sorcerous to blend with mortals.
Strahd Von Zorovich is the lord of Castle Ravenloft. Once a noble warrior, protecting his lands in Barovia in the name of goodness, it would be jealousy of his younger brother and his love that would drive Strahd to make a blood pact becoming a vampire. As one the most fleshed out villains for a D&D setting, Ravenloft provides the best of gothic horror.
Acererak, the Demilich and ruler of the Tomb of Horrors was a truly horrible half demon half man and one time worshiper of Orcus and ward to Vecna that eventually evolved through being a lich until becoming the demilich. He created the Tomb as a test of cruelty. He would even move on to his own demiplane of Moil in the negative energy plane. He is a combination of the worst of his contemporaries.