D&D General What are the Ultimate Villains of D&D?

I recal seeing this claim in discussion abotu who is the true Big Bad of D&D, attributted to Matt Collville - "Vecna is Ultimate Lich villain, Tiamat is ultimate Dragon villain, Orcus is ultimate Demon villain". Which is an interesting idea - let's take every type of villain or enemy in D&D history and try to assign which character embodies the "ultimate" ideal of this type of villain.

What does it mean:
  1. The enemy must embody a creature you can fight in D&D. It can embody multiple types but can only qualify for one. You can also include character class or get more speciffic with the definition of creature type. Embodying can also have its definition streched if you want to say, argue Baphometh and Yennoghu embody Minotaur and Orc.
  2. Must be powerful enough to be the final boss of a campaign, thought it doesn't necessairly mean the most pwoerful being of this caliber
  3. Must be a well-known villain, while also being popular with the GMs to use.
With those criteria so far I could point to few good examples:
  • Death Knight: Lord Soth of Dragonlance, who argurably redefined the Death Knight and made them all based off himself (when previously theiy were a bit different)
  • Demon: Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath. One of oldest villains, and also getting really popular since his return in 3rd edition, to the point of suffering some backlash. Yet even today you will see edgelord invoke Orcus at times when other demon lord would be better suited.
  • Dragon: Tiamat/Takhisis, who may or may not be the same entity, depending on the edition. Either way, thanks to both classic and modern campaigns, Queen of the Dragons became something everyone thinks, whenever trying to think of a biggest, nastiest dragon for PCs to fight.
  • Lich: Vecna, the Archlich, first and greatest of Liches, Vecna has been in four big adventures, in each embodying what a proper lich should be like - trying to upheve the fundamental rules of the world in pursuit of his twisted, undead ambition, a perfect example of wizard ambition gone horribly wrong.
  • Vampire: Strahd von Zarovich, created directly to flesh out the vampires and give them more than just being a random encounter, he argurably did such a good job, it changed the way we potray or play vampires overall.
 

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Larloch should probably get honorable mention as the Mastermind style Lich. Vecna is more like Skeletor, showing up and being incredibly memorable with fairly straightforward plans that would have succeeded if it weren't for you meddling kids. Larloch would never win a popularity contest against the highly visible Vecna, but he is the embodiment of the plotting mastermind lich moving all the pieces behind the scenes.
 
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In terms of setting it can depend. Like FR I would put Szass Tam as the big villain over Larloch (Larloch is more powerful, but he’s far more passive).
Szass Tam is literally an apprentice of Larloch, but I can see your point. Tam is highly visible like Vecna and would win a popularity context, while still being a known mastermind.
 

Szass Tam is literally an apprentice of Larloch, but I can see your point. Tam is highly visible like Vecna and would win a popularity context, while still being a known mastermind.
Yes Tam was subordinate to Larloch in the past, but he’s independent now and a much more active threat. Like the Sauron to his Morgoth.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I did a search for survivor threads, villains, and while it was ... hard to read ...

I can report the following.

The villains that were chosen were-

Acererak
Asmodeus
Bargle
Demogorgon
Graz'zt
Iggwilv
Iuz
King Snurre
Lolth
Lord Soth
Orcus
Rary
Szass Tam
Strahd von Zarovich
Tharizdun
Tiamat
Vecna
Venger
Vlaakith
Warduke
Xanathar
Zargon


And the winner was .... Iggwilv? Okay, then!

Personal choice? THAR.... Hush your mouth. We don't say that name. Second choice? Vecna, of course. Third choice?

ZARGON!


Also? We all need to remember- Bargle is not a villain.

Bargle was framed. By Aleena and one-armed man.

I fully expect a young Harrison Ford to play Bargle in the movie adaptation.


#ALEENASDEATHWASANINSIDEJOB
#JUSTICE4BARGLE!
 




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