NewbieDM Review: Portrait of a Villain – The Desire by Nevermet Press

Posted on December 16, 2009 by

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Nevermet Press is a publisher of RPG material, made up of the RPG community at large.  In their own words:

Nevermet Press is a creative collective made up of scores of writers, artists, and game designers. We are a herd of gaming cats and dogs, running aimlessly from topic to topic. We leave sweet creativity in our wake. We are a meta-mind of game masters and players who love to give back to the community at large. At our website, you’ll find dozens of free articles chock full of system independent game content. We relish in recasting our creations into a myriad of derivative works. Our goal is to spur your imagination onto a new journey, wherever that may lead…

Its founders are Jonathan Jacobs, whom you may remember as the man who brought us Open Game Table, and Michael Brewer of madbrewlabs.com, two men whom I consider to be friends and colleagues the  world of RPG blogging.  I’m very excited that Nevermet has taken off the way it has for them, as they are both very passionate and creative gamers.  But this article isn’t about them, but rather, their first eBook, “Portrait of a Villain:  The Desire”.  This book revolves around a single villain, The Desire. Her backstory is detailed in the first chapter, by Michael Brewer, with 4e system stats by Jacobs and Wyatt Salazar from the Spirits of Eden blog.  I won’t get too much into what she’s about, but she has a neat backstory dealing with suffering which sets her up nicely.

From there, things get interesting, as the following chapters are made up of content inspired by Desiree Turpis, The Desire.  It’s worth mentioning that these articles were originally published at the Nevermet Press website with no system stats accompanying them, so one could say they were purely fluffy material revolving around The Desire.

Illustration by James Keegan

So in the first chapter we are given 4e stats for The Desire, and mechanically, they seem sound.  She is a 9th Lvl Elite Controller, and the only thing that stood out for me was that she was missing her +2 bonus to saves from her elite status, and that her basic melee attack did too little damage.  Otherwise, it’s a finely crafted opponent, in my opinion, although admittedly, I’m no expert on monster design.

Next we are introduced to the city of Highcourt, a city sitting on the edge of a swamp, where The Desire makes her domain.  The city is your typical fantasy city, made up of a series of wards.  The mayor of the city is given a stat block and some lore detailing his relationship with The Desire.  We’re also given some hooks for using the city in a campaign.

Following Highcourt we are given 3 encounters, one of which includes a version of the chandelier trap from the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2.  I’ll be a nitpick here and say that I’d rather use the official one rather than this one.  For one, it has a glaring editing mistake where first the trap says it does Blast 3 damage, and further down the stat block it says Burst 3 damage. Which is it? Blast 3 is 15 feet away!  That’s a huge chandelier!  Overall, the encounters are okay, with a battle in a warehouse being the standout, and watch out for the giant mechanical crane that’s involved!

The pdf also details some organizations revolving around The Desire, along with a Paragon Path.  It’s worth noting that one of the requirements of the Paragon Path is being a female (and martial class), so right away that limits plenty of characters from choosing it, in my opinion, although maybe I’m underestimating the number of female characters at the table.  Either way, dividing up requirements in terms of gender is a slippery slope, and not a too interesting one for me.  To put it in proper context, the Paragon Path is titled Sword Sister, and it’s meant to be women who have been ruined by The Desire.  Also, it requires the PC to be a martial based one, yet the powers granted by the Paragon Path are called spells.  I found that odd.

The book is rounded out by some magical items, and a short story centered on The Desire, with accompanying stats for use at your table.

Overall, it’s a fine looking book.  I’m not going to delve too deeply into the mechanical aspects of the book, because I haven’t had a chance to playtest it, and chances are I will not any time soon. My limited D&D available time makes it hard for me to veer to far from my campaign.  I will say this though, the idea of building an entire book around a single individual, like spores from a wheel, is pretty neat, and very creative, but I can see where some would be turned off by this.  If the intro chapter doesn’t do it for you, then why would you care enough to continue reading when all the content is based around that person detailed in the opening?

This puts the pressure on the creators to continue crafting compelling characters if this is the direction the books are going to take. Overall, I enjoyed the book, although I will not be using it any time soon, not for a lack of quality, but because my campaign is pretty laid out and planned towards its eventual end, and none of the material surrounding The Desire fits.

You can purchase the PDF book here: RPGNow.com & eJunkie.com

Visit Nevermet Press at nevermetpress.com

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Posted in: 4e D&D, Gaming