Impressions from Thrilling Tales Axis of Evil Vol 1

I got this as part of the Adamant Print bundle that was going on at drivethru over the holidays. Based on my reading between the lines, I think that each of the chapters was originally a stand alone PDF for the line that was later grouped together in a single volume.

I haven’t yet looked to see if there are any other volumes for this line, but this one was pretty darn good even if I wouldn’t use all of the villains introduced in it.

Introduction

This is a two page blurb about what this book is about. Basically it is a bunch of pre-created villains that can be dropped in an ongoing campaign or be the focus of a full campaign in their own right. In each of the section we are given stat blocks, background, personalities, goals, and ideas for how to incorporate them into your game.

Violet

Violet is the first villain, ane while she is an incredibly good one, she is also the one that I am least likely to make much use of. She is a manipulator, poisoner, and master of disguise. Her story and how she operates are well done, I just am not sure that I could do her justice in an ongoing game, but I could see how to make use of her as a character that comes in, screws things up for the heroes and disappears possibly quite well.

Count Shadau

Count Shadau is an occultist from Romania who wants to take over first Romania, and then the rest of Europe. This is the most horror themed villain in the book, and the first of several villains that have access to some sort of arcane power. He also is the one that has an in character way of bring back dead allies to trouble the heroes again after they have been defeated once. He is one of my favorites in the book, and lends himself easily to being the focus of a campaign with his large cadre of minions to use as primary threats early on before finding your way to confronting his inner circle and finally himself.

The Yellow King

This is an interesting take on the Yellow King, and aside from being unsure about how I feel about that, he is a strong villain in his own right. Instead of the supernatural menace that he is typically portrayed as, he is an alien super science menace who uses gadgets. He is also served by a large number of minions from his cult, and also could easily be used as the focus of a campaign where you have to work to peel back the layers of conspiracy to find out what is going on.

Von Keiner

Von Keiner like Violet is a good villain, but to me doesn’t feel like he could support an entire campaign focused on him. He is an air pirate raiding those that supported the allies during World War 1 from his dirigible. He could definitely be used as a re-occurring menace for the heroes and could also be combined with the final two villains of the book to make a greater threat.

The Subterranean Monarch

This is my least liked villain in the book. Basically he is a con man who found a subterranean group that he could trick into believing he was their god. He then uses them plus mercenaries that he hired along with super science tech that he stole/discovered to build tunneling machines to rob vaults and armories with the end goal of taking over the world. Again like Von Keiner and Violet, he doesn’t feel sturdy enough to hang a full campaign plot on him (of the three though, I think he would be the one it would be easiest to do so), but he also can be combined with Von Keiner and Baron Korga to make a more well-rounded campaign.

Baron Korga

This is the last of the villains, and he is quite a good one. He like the Subterranean Monarch makes use of stolen super science and like Count Shadau has a large minion force. So he feels sturdy enough to support a full campaign by himself, and we are given the suggestion in one of his plot hooks to use him with Von Keiner and The Subterranean Monarch as a rulers of the Air, Land and Sea, but it is not something that you need to do. He also makes use of 8 foot tall robot soldiers as part of his fighting forces. Who doesn’t want to send their heroes against large robots? In his write-up it was given as an option to have him ally with Von Keiner and The Subterranean Monarch, but I kept thinking about how it would be more fun to have to have the players make allies of those two to be able to defeat him, and that is probably the way that I would go.

All in all, there are some really good bits to work with from this book, and I am glad that I got it as part of the bundle, because I am pretty sure that I would not have gotten it on its own. I also don’t know that there are any updates between what appears to be the original published versions of these villains and this one, so I can’t tell if it would be worth it to get this book if you have the previous books. I can tell you if you don’t have them, this is a good resource that can be used to give you ideas on how to think about re-occurring villains in your own games and maybe a guest star villain or two.

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Author: Hours without Sleep

I am a professional software tester, who has an interest in programming, computers, role-playing games, history, and reading in general. This is my third attempt at keeping a blog, and I am going to try putting all of my thoughts in one place, and see how it goes.

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