Unexpected Inspiration: Poetic Apotheosis Villain
Ideas can come at the oddest times. As I started to write this, I was staring at the words “Poetic Apotheosis”, hastily swiped on to my phone’s notes app.
A couple days ago, I read an article called More Spells from Vecna’s Grimoire from Brandes Stoddard’s Patreon (also available on his blog). In his article, Brandes creates several spells. One, called Eradicate Lore, removes “one fact about a person, place, or thing” from the memories of all creatures and makes it nearly impossible to research. Read the whole article, it is full of story-generating gold.
A few days later, I was listening to a podcast called The History of the English Language. In one of the episode, Kevin is explaining one of the major challenges of Anglo-Saxon poets, their style required alliteration but this was difficult in a language with few unique words (compared to modern English). They overcame this challenge by inventing a rich stock of compound words (whale-road, sword-play, etc). These were so popular, many endured into modern times, sometimes in a forms we no longer recognize as compound words (daisy, bridal, steward, etc). Sorry for the double-pitch, but it is a great series, listen to it.
Finally, while mowing the yard in the heat and humidity, my smartwatch buzzes, helpfully suggesting “Bruh, based on your temperature, heart-rate and local weather condition, you may want to take a break”. Sitting in the shade, all this starts swirling around in my head and comes together. Thanks for getting this far.
In my take, a major villain has achieved enormous power and effective immortal over the setting/land by invoking a legendarily powerful version of Eradicate Lore. So much so, that people cannot remember a time before his ascension, let alone any of the old lore on how to overcome his power and reign. Even if they acquire some bits and pieces, these revelations fade with the next rest. There is an exception though. Much like poets, skalds and lorekeepers used poetic techniques to memorize huge amounts of information and preserve tradition orally, a similar weakness exists in the overlord’s enchantment…
- Players can keep any information they have converted in a traditional poetic form (no prose, free form or spoken word).
- An obscure order of monks have been repeating the same chant continuously in shift for a century to preserve some information
- Snippets of this information are preserved piecemeal in far-flung rhymes, songs and sayings throughout the land.
- At the deepest part of a haunted gorge, a vital piece exists as a slowly fading echo from the before time.
The heroes must collect and combine these to unravel how to overcome the overlord’s enchantment, while still bound by its effects.
I even dabbled with the idea that the overlord is aware of this flaw and has instituted persecution and prohibitions on these sorts of arts, and/or fostered alternative forms which do fall under the effects of his enchantment. Might be a bit too high concept / high fantasy though. I’ll let it slosh around in my head a bit more, but wanted to at least get some of it down.