March of Madness: Baphomet

Baphomet is savagery incarnate. He divides all things into two categories, predators and prey, and he is the alpha predator. He has no love for the trappings of civilization, and his perfect world is one in which everything succumbs to its bestial nature. He seems like a boring, one-note monster, but his strength belies his cunning. He can be calm and patient, biding his time until the perfect opportunity arises, and only when his prey is weak or desperate will he fall on them with all the fury he can muster.

As such, Baphomet seems like the type of villain who waits in the background until he suddenly doesn’t. When he moves, it’s with alacrity and disproportionate force, and he intends to have sufficient power or minions to score a decisive victory the first time he makes any attempt. This bleeds down to his minions. Baphomet’s followers must think themselves better than their opponents, both stronger and smarter, slowly drawing their prey into an inescapable trap.

Typical Followers: Baphomet created minotaurs. He’s basically a large minotaur himself. They’re perhaps the most obvious follower any demon lord could have. But they’re just one CR 3 monster, so fill out their ranks with members of the minotaur PC race. You can slot them into any of the existing NPCs, and suddenly you have minotaur bandit captains, minotaur knights, even minotaur nobles or assassins if you’re feeling fancy.

Look also at creatures who might brush against savagery by turning into animals. Druids may spend a little too long in beast form, eventually succumbing to its pull, and anybody who can cast polymorph isn’t too far behind. Lycanthropes are especially potent because they have the power to spread their curse, turning entire groups or towns into monsters more in tune with Baphomet’s call.

Atypical Followers: All creatures who prey on the weak can see the merits of Baphomet worship, and he’s not picky about whether his followers hunt alone or in packs. While there’s an obvious place here for the low-level savage humanoids, shadows specifically target creatures who hide their base impulses, impulses Baphomet wants out in the open. Hell hounds and worgs are smart enough for religion, and any evil dragon would love crushing its enemies under its heels. Avoid creatures who work best within civilization, like doppelgängers; while there’s some merit to collapsing a society from within, deception and politics aren’t blunt enough instruments for Baphomet.

Plots: Any situation in which a person thinks themselves better than some other is ripe for Baphomet’s touch, but pride alone is an insufficient justification for the worship of a demon lord, nor are all predators worthwhile candidates. His aims are broader and they need the touch of savagery he provides. Instead of just a lone orc picking off the citizens of a remote village, have several orcs capture a dozen people and set them loose in the forest as part of a hunt in his name. At low levels a single rampaging minotaur could be the result of a ritual gone wrong (or right), and at higher levels a supernatural serial killer might stalk the streets killing anybody who thinks too highly of themselves.

Also consider situations in which he can act without his worshipers. If a wizard is experimenting with making the perfect creature, Baphomet might grant some of his essence and turn it from a controlled guardian to a bloodthirsty beast. Any mazes might attract his interest, and an artifact lost in a cave can provide a sufficient foothold for him to corrupt the animals around it.

From the Vault: 5E has three main types of goblinoid: goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbear. Older editions had other options, and one well-suited for Baphomet is the varag. Introduced in the 3.5E Monster Manual 4, varags are a magical amalgamation of hobgoblins and dire wolves. They’re dumb as a post but quick as the wind, and they’ll chase prey for miles if that’s what it takes to bring it down. When under the guidance of another creature they’re agile hunters who use armor and weapons to supplement their natural strength and speed. When alone or endangered they revert to an animalistic state, clambering on all fours and employing guerrilla tactics to destroy any organized defenses.

To make a varag, start with a bugbear. Remove its shield, decreasing AC to 14, and its brute trait, decreasing all damage by one die. Add the benefits of the Mobility feat from the Player’s Handbook, increasing its speed to 40 feet and granting it other powers relevant to their hit-and-run style, and the keen hearing and smell trait from the dire wolf. Varags favor finesse weapons like scimitars, and at your option you can give them natural armor instead of hide. You can then apply this customization to higher-level NPCs to make varag minions, bosses, and even spellcasters, each suited to a different sort of hunt.

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