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Exemplars of Evil (3.5)

Villains for Your Campaign
Every memorable adventure needs a great villain. You know the type: corrupt, reviled, and rotten to the core. The villains featured in this tome are the best of the worst, sure to test the heroes' mettle. The canny pirate lord, the sinister lich, the tyrannical fire giant queen... your characters won't know what hit them!
This supplement shows you how to build memorable villains for your Dungeons & Dragons campaign and presents eight ready-to-play villainous groups of various levels. Each villain comes with complete game statistics, as well as adventure seeds, campaign hooks, statistics for minions, and a fully detailed lair.
For use with these Dungeons & Dragons products: Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and D&D Miniatures.

Product History

Exemplars of Evil (2007) is a natural companion to the world-ending devastation of Elder Evils. This book doesn't focus on world-ending threats, however; instead, it teaches DMs how to create and play an incredibly effective Big Bad Guy. That sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Think back over all the years you've played D&D, and consider how many master villains there are whose name, description, and methods you still remember clearly. Exemplars of Evil walks you through the process of forging a villain your players will curse for years to come. It then follows this advice with eight examples of devious, hate-inspiring villains that you can drop into a campaign immediately or alter at your whim.

Constructing Evil. The best villains are the ones players love to hate. Everyone's heroes have killed mediocre villains, bad guys with a funny accent and a powerful magic item who sit around in their crypt and wait for the adventurers to show up. The most interesting foes are much more motivated; they are proactive, motivated, following clear and reasonable objectives to crush their enemies and achieve their most hideous goals.

The first chapter of Exemplars of Evil shows how to put this theory into practice. Whether you're wanting a one-shot boss fight or reoccurring villain, it helps you pick your type of villain and then evolve him as the adventure continues. It gives villainous archetypes - disturbing villain, non-evil villain, rival, sympathetic villain, etc. - and lays out their classic plots and motivations. Developing and portraying the villain is discussed next, with ocupations and personality traits joining suggestions on how to best roleplay a villain. The organizational structure of villainous organizations is explained, complete with lackey rules, and stylish methods are suggested for first introducing your vilain.

New rules information in this chapter includes alternate class features (including feign death for when a bad guy really needs to play possum), villainous feats, villainous spells (from the simple alibi, which makes someone believe they encountered you recently, to a spell that turns enemies into a quivering mass of flesh jelly).

Ice-cold Enemies on Tap. After giving the reader information on how to construct their own villains, the book presents eight fine examples. 
  • Zargath Human-Bane, visionary orcish rogue and warmaster, leading his people out of savagery and into their rightful position as rulers
  • The Tolstoffs, a brother and sister who seek to free an ancient archmage and reinvigorate the world-devouring Worm That Walks
  • Captain Gnash, a bloodthirsty bugbear pirate who leads a ship of insane goblinoid reavers in search of a lost city
  • Calais Archwinter, elf priestess of Corellon Larethian, cursed to inhabit a drow body; she has spiraled into evil acts, all in the name of good
  • Emmara Ishandrenn, acclaimed adventurer, driven half-mad by a curse; she perpetrates acts of unspeakable evil to continue to live
  • Valbryn Morlydd, a murderous fire giant queen who uses her arcane might to uncover secrets in the bowels of a dormant volcano
  • Kastya Zurith-Movya, githyanki, former advisor to the lich-queen Vlaakith; he now labors for the great lich Acererak
  • Borak the Thunder Tyrant, an ancient blue dragon who lounges among ruins while minions collect obscure arcana for her
Each sample villain comes complete with Appearance and Behavior; Goals; game stats for low, medium, and high-level parties; assistants and minions; headquarters (including a gorgeous full-color map); and sample encounters.

Exemplars of Evil is a non-essential but tremendously useful book, whether you're playing Basic D&D, D&D Next, or anything in between. The game mechanics are for 3.5 D&D, of course, but the advice and ideas are timeless. This is a book that's recommended reading for any DM, from beginner to experienced. More than that, it's just plain fun to read - and that's something to be treasured in any gaming supplement.

About the Creators. Robert J. Schwalb is the Iron Man of game design, an incredibly prolific designer whose work can be found throughout 3rd and 4th edition D&D. His work can also be found in Green Ronin's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game, and innumerable other products.

About the Product Historian

History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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File Last Updated:
September 17, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on September 17, 2013.