Hey, I’d love some help with coming up with a new big bad for my campaign.

Hey, I’d love some help with coming up with a new big bad for my campaign.

Hey, I’d love some help with coming up with a new big bad for my campaign. I’m just feeling in a kind of creative deficit right now and would appreciate the help. Here’s the setup for the boss. Basically the group raided an ancient dungeon, and after being warned by countless premonitions, stole this skull and ran. They were told later that the prophecy said that if the skull was removed from its resting place by human hands that it would unleash a beast unimaginable.

Sooooo, any ideas.

21 thoughts on “Hey, I’d love some help with coming up with a new big bad for my campaign.”

  1. A creature which inhabits the spaces between reality and our perceptions of reality, rendering it literally indescribable. It seeks to break down people’s ‘false perceptions’ and show them the Truth, which of course is immediately destructive to an unprotected mind.

  2. Microbes.  The skull has dungeon cooties.  The PCs start showing symptoms. People around them start showing symptoms as they are now carriers. Severe cooties outbreak takes over the realm.

    Play to find out:

    What is this disease?

    Did this disease wipe out the ancient dungeon’s creators?

    What are its symptoms?

    Can it be cured, and if so, how?

    Will the PCs avoid contact with others, to prevent spreading the disease?

    Will an NPC authority learn it’s the PCs spreading the disease, and attempt to enforce a quarantine (or kill and burn them)?

  3. The big bad is magic itself. At first the skull grants incredible magic powers, but it is slowly revealed that the skull is the last physical vestige of a creator god that the other gods bound in place and spread its essence throughout the area/world/cosmos thereby creating magic. As they use the skull it gets more and more degraded, and naturally it can be wrecked and damaged through hard/soft moves. Once it’s gone, the god re-coalesces as a mad and wretched version of its former self bent on unmaking the world. The only way to stop it is to replicate the scenario it was kept in (forcing them to do some big rituals and either rebuild/stock the dungeon it came from or build a new one). Naturally, word gets out about this thing and everyone wants it for it’s crazy powers and it’s very tempting not to use it.

  4. Try something unexpected. Maybe the skull was the keystone to an exra-planar portal, and now Something is trying to get through. Something Else is trying to prevent it, and is hunting down the PCs to get the McGuffin back.

  5. The Biyune-Colored Centipede

    It’s as round as a man and a half, long as a minor duke’s wagon train, and spews,  drips, and slobbers a frothy fluid that dyes whatever it touches biyune for several days.  Biyune, of course, is a terribly hard color to see.  So hard, in fact, that the body will go out of its way to avoid looking at it unless forced to do otherwise.  Light itself treats biyune with disgust – it takes an extra second to reflect off objects or creatures colored thusly, so when the Giant Centipede is seen it is being seen a second out of true time.  This tends to make the first encounter with it startling…

    Digs through soil and softer rock, diurnal, mildly acidic (and staining) froth.  Has a surprising amount of animal cunning – will retreat, set up counter-ambushes, rest until healed, etc.  Eats about two people or one horse a day/night cycle. 

    The skull housed the power of an ancient mage, who treated his own body with warding spells when he ascended to another plane of existence to trap the things he’d inevitably let slip through during his transformation.  Touching it was like grabbing a sensitive electronic component with a static charge built up.  Its ruined now, and somewhere, far off, the Biyune-Colored Centipede breaks free of its prison. 

    Possible solutions are to ignore it (it does only undermine the occasional habitation and eat a dozen or so people a week), to kill it in combat, to trap it, or to make the dangerous journey to the mage’s tower and find a way to recast the ward onto something different, something of serious power able to handle such a binding.

  6. The Dungeon was designed to contain the remains of the beast within its walls.

    Now that it’s been liberated, the skull is free to let the “beast unimaginable” regenerate around itself.

  7. I find the phrase “by human hands” specifically interesting. If it’s fitting, you could make the prophecy hail from some ancient civilization of a race with a deep grudge against humans. Perhaps the humans created this beast and the ancients sealed it away? Or the other way around.

    As for the beast itself, I feel like the mantel of Big Bad requires a certain level of sapience and malevolent purpose. So what do you get when you combine the feral nature of a beast with that? Dragons are very solid, as suggested. I actually love the headless horseman suggestion, even though it’s not quite a beast. It would be really cool if the skull’s owner were scrying on the PCs, taunting or subtly corrupting them while they sleep, etc.

    I think something eldritch would be appropriate, what with the premonitions and prophecy and ancient seal. Body of a Tarrasque, mind of an Illithid, sort of thing

  8. I went with Stefan’s idea, and made this composite monster that created itself from the castle and the bones scattered throughout the castle. It became this huge towering rock monster that started moving and demolished a small nearby town. In order to kill it, the players will have to climb up it and place the skull back into its head, which will cause it to fall apart.

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