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"I put out my hand, and the fish swam right into my net—as they always do. It's all in the brightness of the lure you offer."
Fzoul Chembryl, Forgotten Realms

  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Demon Lord Graz'zt is theorized to be an archdevil who carved out his own territory in the abyss and decided to reside there, and it is easy to see why. Graz'zt is stunningly intelligent for a demon, plotting and scheming against his fellow demon lords while seeking to take the title of Prince from Demogorgon, and is known for making deals with mortals, as well as being disturbingly charismatic to those he encounters. In one instance, Graz'zt even captured the goddess Waukeen and held her hostage in his nation of Zelatar, even using this to pervert part of her clergy to his own worship later. When he was summoned and imprisoned by the witch Iggwilv, Graz'zt seduced her, with the two having an intense love-hate relationship ever since.
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    • The Witch Queen Iggwilv once manipulated a group of adventurers, seducing her magical master with them, to bind a demon, steal all its forbidden knowledge and then abscond with magical items. Becoming a powerful witch and authority on demons, Iggwilv enslaved a powerful sorcerer to enhance her strength and even bound the aforementioned Graz'zt to her, resulting in a stormy love-hate relationship between the two. Even after being defeated, Iggwilv comes to prominence in Savage Tides when she helps the heroes defeat the Savage Tide and even the monstrous Prince of Demons Demogorgon... only to steal Demogorgon's own essence and use it to revive a kingdom for herself, becoming a new power to be reckoned with.
  • Forgotten Realms:
    • Asmodeus, the Lord of the Nine Hells, is the Wicked Cultured, Affably Evil, handsome and brilliant Archdevil who, ever since his fall from heaven, has been running a grand chess game that few can even begin to understand. Asmodeus knows every plot against him by the other archdevils and delights in thwarting or subverting them to his own benefit while making his own plots that can take centuries or even millennia to come to fruition in ways that benefit him. At one point, Asmodeus was even deposed from his throne in Nessus, only to later reveal it was simply a ruse to root out potential traitors. Since becoming a god, Asmodeus has only increased his power and effectiveness with some fearing he is perhaps the greatest threat to all the forces of good in existence.
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    • Bane, god of Strife, Tyranny and Hatred was once a mortal man who achieved godhood. A brilliant Chessmaster and strategist who frequently plays other gods against one another, forming and betraying alliances as proper, Bane even leaves a way to return post-mortem after his death after the Time of Troubles, being reborn from the body of his own son. Learning from his defeat, Bane promotes understanding and cooperation among his clergy who are now likely to settle conflict with reasonable debate to stay united against their enemies. Bane shows himself to be as brilliant and dangerous as ever, even subjugating the goblin pantheon to him, stopping at nothing to dominate all other powers before him.
    • Jarlaxle Baenre, third son of Yvonnel Baenre, survived his birth and sacrifice against all odds, growing into a talented mercenary leader who thrives off the chaos of Menzoberranzan. Constantly hiring out his forces, the Bregan D'Aerthe while playing multiple sides in any conflict, Jarlaxle later goes to the surface, manages to win over nearly everyone he comes across and even uses an attempted coup from his underlings as a way to buy himself a vacation, eliminating the worst traitors and leaving the one Drow he can trust in charge of the group before manipulating powerful kingdoms, ancient dragons and monsters into doing what benefits him most. Jarlaxle is so successful and talented at his games that there are those who wonder if he is actually blessed by the normally virulently misandrist Lolth as a chosen of chaos.
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    • Gromph Baenre is the archmage of Menzoberranzan and a genius manipulator who is the undisputed master of the city's wizards. Keeping control through his own power and constantly playing his rivals against one another, Gromph showcases his penchant for manipulation by being one of the powers behind his sister Triel's throne and when the Priestesses of Lolth lose their power with the Goddess's absence, Gromph takes it upon himself to guide the city in the meantime. After being defeated by the evil lich Dyyr, Gromph is captured by a mind flayer and shows he prepared for a possibility with an impressive Memory Gambit that even programmed his own reactions to achieve it. He then attempts to eliminate one of the architects of the invasion of his city by fusing his hand to a crystal that burns like the sun when the other drow slips into the plane of shadow, trapping him there. Mixing an odd nobility with a ruthless ambition, Gromph repeatedly demonstrates just why he is one of the oldest and most powerful Drow alive.
    • Mask is the god of thieves and shadows. A master of intrigue and scheming, Mask orchestrated the death of the god Bhaal during the time of Troubles with himself as the weapon in his guise as the sword godsbane. Working to undermine the mad god Cyric, Mask helped to arrange Cyric's defeat and later works to defeat his mother Shar, the goddess of nothingness and darkness. Mask helps to foil her plots to reduce all to nothingness while leaving his essence behind in anticipation for when Shar absorbs him, even sending his Chosen Erevis Cale's son into the future with a plan to bring about his own revival in the end.
    • Vhaeraun, the Masked Lord, is one of the Dark Seldarine, the Drow pantheon. Wanting to conquer the surface and defeat his mother Lolth, Vhaeraun appeals to many male drow with his focus on gender equality, as opposed to his mother's fierce misandry. An exceptional schemer, Vhaeraun nearly destroyed Lolth during the Silence and upon her rebirth formed a plan to assassinate his chaotic good twin sister Eilistraee, gain her followers and destroy Lolth. Stopped by the goddess Mystra, Vhaeraun later returned and formed a peace with his sister, the two working together against their mother with Vhaeraun organizing his clergy into doing good deeds and appearing respectable, all to work to their true goals of domination and freedom for the drow, no matter the cost.
    • Fzoul Chembryl, chosen of Bane, joined the Zhentarim and steadily converted it to being a branch of Bane's church. Overthrowing and destroying his mentor Manshoon and many of Manshoon's clones, Fzoul later even helped to undermine Cyric after Bane's fall. Upon Bane's return, Fzoul happily takes his place at his god's side again, reorganizing the church and devoting it to conquest and schemes to advance Bane's aims upon the world. Even after dying in defense of Zhentil Keep, Fzoul is raised as Bane's Exarch, dedicated both to his own power while retaining his charisma and faith.
    • Hunter's Blades: King Obould Many Arrows is a brutal orc chieftain who unites the fractured orc clans into a single, unified army and unleashes them upon the north and Silverymoon. In a series of brilliant campaigns, Obould carves out the Kingdom of Dark Arrows, becoming the personal chosen of the orc god Gruumsh in the process. Obould also completely subverts a group of Drow who think they can use him, killing their priestess at the end after she attempts to murder him. Later even assisting the heroes against another army loyal to Gruumsh's old ways, Obould then sues for peace from a position of strength, knowing it will be too costly to dislodge his people from their new home. Peacefully dying later in his sleep and being made an exarch by his god, Obould is without doubt the most successful and ingenious arc to set foot on Faerun and remains one of Drizzt Do'Urden's most deadly foes.
    • War of the Spider Queen:
      • Pharaun Mizzrym is the son of House Mizzrym who became a powerful wizard. Well known for his ostentatious, clever manner, Pharaun helps to outwit the Illithid Lich leader of a slave revolt and destroys him after scheming and investigating his way to the bottom of the plot. Pharaun proves himself just as capable in helping to defeat a conspiracy in Ched Nassad, outwitting and destroying a powerful demon later on and even seeing through the machinations of his own ostensible leader Quenthel Baenre. Upon revival from his previous death, Pharaun even begins bonding with his son Kael and shows no hesitation in sacrificing his existence for him at the end.
      • Nimor Imphraezl, a drow-Shadow Dragon hybrid, and Anointed Blade of the Vhaeraunite Jaezred Chaulssin, is a ruthless assassin out to overthrow the order of Lolth. Manipulating the Menzoberranzan slave revolt, Nimor forms an army to invade Menzoberranzan and throws the city into chaos by assassinating a high-ranking Matron Mother. With his clever strategies and diversions, Nimor nearly arranges for the city to fall before Lolth's return. Later establishing his own fosterage in Menzoberranzan, Nimor continues his schemes to bring down Lolth's order by weaving clever plan after plan and achieving whatever victory he can manage whenever he can.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: August Tiberius Roman is the game’s Lex Luthor analogue, and the archenemy of the late Centurion, the setting’s greatest and most powerful superhero. Starting out as Freedom City’s most feared mafia don, Roman bought a pardon from the US government in 1943, and went onto frustrate the Centurion and the Freedom League for decades to come, first as the secret financial backer of the Crime League, and then as the city’s “Emperor of Crime.” By the 1950s and 60s, Roman controlled almost every mafioso, gangster, and street criminal in Freedom City, and was receiving a cut of near every crime committed in town, with only truly depraved organizations like Alister Usher’s falling outside his purview. This culminated in his outright buying Mayor Franklin Pierce in the 90s, and running the city in everything but name. When Pierce was brought down, he tried to take Roman with him, but the mafioso simply divested his underworld holdings and survived, broke, but free. Now retired, Roman has outlived all his allies and most of his enemies, including the Centurion, and supports himself in his old age by running the Circuit-Maximus, an illegal underground fight club featuring superhumans. No longer an active participant in most of the city’s criminal life, the elderly Roman is still a figure to be feared, and one that no hero or villain in their right mind aims to cross.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Asmodeus, Lord of Hell and the God of Sin, was the first traitor in history. Born the twin brother of the god of Goodness, Ihys, the two different on Ihys's insistence on imbuing mortals with free will, causing a war among the gods. Asmodeus committed the first act of treachery and slew his brother, but honored him by letting free will remain. Asmodeus will work with the gods of good to outwit greater threats such as Rovagug, but remains a deceptive and brilliant archdevil who will manipulate everyone to his end goals, even acquiring entire kingdoms via clever dealing. Asmodeus is also believed to have authored the contract around all creation, perhaps even writing in an extra clause to ensure his victory in the long run, never being at a loss for a clever ploy, even if he refuses to ever tell a direct lie.
    • Skull & Shackles: Admiral Druvalia Thrune is the Big Bad, The Woman Behind the Man to Captain Barnabas Harrigan, and the source, directly or indirectly, of all the misery experienced by the player characters. Determined to escape the accusation that her career has been advanced by nepotism alone, Druvalia uses her catspaw, Harrigan to undermine the Shackles' defenses, while her great-uncle's vast wealth enables her to finance a private armada, which her deal with the archdevil Geryon enables her to sail through the Eye of Abendego and strike at the Hurricane King's domains. With only the players even aware that her invasion is about to take place, and the support of one of the rulers of Hell, Druvalia seems to hold a winning hand, and if the PCs do not bring their best game, she is easily capable of running the table and reducing the Shackles to a Chelish colony.
    • Ironfang Invasion: General Azaersi is a brilliant and overambitious hobgoblin general who dreams of building a new homeland for her people atop the bickering human nations of Nirmathas and Molthune. Recruiting dozens of Molthune's monstrous mercenary regiments to her service, securing the alliance of the dark naga Zanathura, the greater barghest Azlowe, and the legendary dragonslayer Kraelos, and rallying hobgoblins from across the continent and beyond, Azaersi builds her Ironfang Legion into one of the deadliest fighting forces in Avistan, and with the aid of a powerful magical artifact, is able to deploy them wherever she sees fit. Rendered all but invincible in the field, Azaersi overruns most of Nirmathas and a large part of Molthune, with the players the only ones who are able to even check her. Unable to best her army in the field, the PCs will likely have to resort to a decapitation strike to remove Azaersi from the head of the Legion—unless they can present her with evidence of treachery from her comrades, in which case, much to their surprise, they may find themselves negotiating a reasonable peace with the hobgoblin generalissimo.
  • Ravenloft: Baron Strahd von Zarovich, ruler of Barovia, is a powerful vampire and Darklord of the Land of the Mists. Having killed his brother when he became a vampire and losing his love Tatyanna, Strahd lurks in Barovia where he zealously guards his territory to defend his food supply and out of a shred of noblesse oblige. Strahd is well known to a charming, manipulative and dangerous man, constantly playing his enemies and outwitting them, with many who enter Barovia to defeat him never leaving. Strahd is able to defend Barovia from outside enemies with his own strategic brilliance, constantly demonstrating why he is one of the most dangerous and charismatic figures to lurk in the Mists.
  • Warhammer franchise:
    • Warhammer:
      • Khazrak One-Eye is the most brilliant champion of the Beastmen who ever lived. Taking over by defeating his mentor, but sparing him and keeping one of his horns for respect, Khazrak organized a series of raids on the Drakwald villages, luring out human forces and eventually losing an eye to Count Boris Todbringer. Khazrak proceeded to return the favor by defeating Boris and taking his eye in turn, but let him live because he loved matching wits with the man. Khazrak was responsible for the brilliant Battle of Grimminhagen where he lured in a huge force of the Empire and completely wiped them out, before resuming his brilliant raids and tactics. Uncommonly intelligent and even possessing a sense of honor not often seen to his race, Khazrak meets his death in the End Times at the hands of Boris, but not before he lures out Boris's forces to leave his city undefended and ripe to plunder by the armies of Archaon.
      • Count Vlad von Carstein is a powerful vampire and the progenitor of the von Carstein bloodline. After freeing himself from the control of Nagash, Vlad resurfaces centuries later to seize control of Sylvania and uses brilliant tactics and intimidation to keep his hold, constantly coming out on top via his brilliant military tactics and political machinations. Despite his evil, Vlad deeply loves his wife Isabella,, and is one of the few villains to drive the Empire to its knees. Even in the End Times, Vlad never loses his style or redeeming qualities and ultimately dies with Isabella in a Mercy Kill when she is corrupted by Nurgle.
    • Warhammer 40,000: Even in this Grimdark future, some characters are truly impressive:
      • Eldrad is perhaps the most powerful Psyker the Eldar have ever produced. Having once attempted to warn the Empire about Horus's treachery, he has spent his time ever since weaving complex plans to benefit the Eldar, and has perhaps even made the entire Imperium of Man his pawns. Eldrad was responsible for several Eldar raids that produced the eventual rise of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka and the Armageddon Wars, solely so Eldrad could ensure 10,000 Eldar escaped death at the cost of millions of humans. Eldrad frequently conducts daring plots and schemes to benefit his race, even to ensure the eventual triumph of a new god of the Eldar to defeat Chaos and save his race's souls from Slaanesh.
      • Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, the Beast of the Apocalypse, is the most successful Ork warboss in history. The self-proclaimed Prophet of the WAAAAGH!, Ghazghkull puts together daring crusade after daring crusade, bringing new advancements to the orks and being a tactical genius even by the standards of other races. Ghazghkull has become a blight on the Imperium, leaving whole worlds burning behind him and constantly outwitting all enemies save for only Comissar Sebastian Yarrick, the one human Ghazghkull truly respects. Ghazghkull frequently inspires other Orks with his sheer charisma and force of will, planning on bringing out a war so great that his deities Gork and Mork come to join the fun personally.
      • Azhek Ahriman is the mortal champion of Tzeentch. A former member of the Thousand Sons Legion, Ahriman is driven to save his legion and correct all his past mistakes by overthrowing Tzeentch himself and becoming a new God. To his end, Ahriman is a brilliant schemer, crafting and "seeding" new cults on a myriad of worlds to find and approach new knowledge while manipulating entire new conflicts so he can swoop in, take all their work and bring himself closer to the Black Library and Tzeentch's true name. Time and again, Ahriman demonstrates why he is worthy of being the champion of the Changer of Ways.
      • Trazyn the Infinite is an ingenious Necron, who is equal to any of the great Phaerons in wit and skill. A collector of rare, historical things and people, Trazyn frequently outwits others to steal things for his collection. Trazyn performs daring heists and uses his fellow Necron lords as body doubles for himself without informing them, manipulating events so he can benefit. When Abaddon launched his 13th Black Crusade on Cadia, Trazyn even joined in on the side of the Imperium, wanting to play the hero for fun, and also to steal Abaddon himself for his collection, though he decided to make due with the Lord Castellan of Cadia instead. Trazyn is even banned from the Necron throne worlds due to his habit of stealing their priceless artifacts, a ban he is well aware of and flaunts for fun whenever the mood takes him.
      • Asdrubael Vect is the evil Lord of Commoragh, the master of the Dark Eldar. Scheming his way from ignominious slavery to rule the Dark Eldar, Vect has shown a vicious tendency to outwit and destroy his rivals. At one point, Vect seduced the daughter of a rival Archon and had her deliver her father a box with a portable black hole inside. In another instance, Vect seized a Salamanders cruiser to lure in the Space Marines against his rivals, letting them be wiped out in the fighting to solidify his own authority. In his most daring move, Vect even faked his death when a rebellion occurred and then proceeded to drop a miniature sun to wipe out the rebels and anyone in their area, making himself the undisputed master of the Dark Eldar once more.
      • Lady Aurelian Malys is a ruthless Dark Eldar and the Archon of the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue. Once banished by her former lover Asdrubael Vect, Malys has returned to Comorragh where she proves herself Vect's equal in scheming, amassing an exceptional power base and working to undermine her former paramour to seize his position. Malys once initiated a war between humans and orks to steal an STC known as the Panacea, solely to keep it in her room and deny humanity the chance to cure any disease. Since returning to Comorragh, Malys has shown an uncanny ability to detect Vect's schemes and was one of the few Archons to survive his plotting, with it being whispered that if Vect ever falls, Malys is sure to be the one holding the knife.
      • Duke Traevelliath Sliscus is a wicked Dark Eldar corsair known as "The Serpent". Bored with the decadent courts of Comorragh, Sliscus stole the ships of several Archons, fooled them into coming out to fight him and summarily destroyed their forces. A feared pirate lord, Sliscus's daring exploits have made him a legend to many of the Dark Eldar, and he frequently performs incredible, daring raids, notably being the only opponent to get the better of the infamous Lukas the Trickster by catching him, cutting out his heart and throwing him from his airlock. Well known for how he presents himself, Malys once described Sliscus as "amoral, despicable and impeccably dressed in the bargain".
      • The mysterious Cypher is a former member of the Dark Angels who supposedly fell to Chaos. Since then, Cypher roams the galaxy, pursued by his former Chapter, where he resurfaces, lures the forces of Chaos and the Space Marines into conflicts and lets them fight it out. His methods are utterly brilliant, even if his plans are inscrutable. Cypher is just as likely to hinder Chaos as the Imperium, assassinating Inquisitors, tyrants, Chaos lords and others in bold, daring manuevers before alerting the Dark Angels to his presence. Cypher will event inspire revolutions against tyrants and whenever captured, he performs bold escapes. Whatever Cypher's true plan is, it is clear he is working to an end that he's had in mind for a long time and repeatedly shows himself as nearly untouchable.
      • Lukas The Trickster, or Lukas Strifeson, is a infamous member of the Space Wolves chapter of the Space Marines. Well known for his wicked pranks, such as poisoning a superior with bloat toad venom, Lukas is known for his shocking effectiveness when deployed against the enemies of the imperium. Lukas has caused a civil war among orks with faked transmissions, lured a WAAAGH! to a planet that he then froze solid, tricked a group of Word Bearer traitor marines into landing on thin ice to drown the and has outwitted the Dark Eldar, even the infamous Aurelia Malys herself. Even after Duke Sliscus carved out one of his hearts, Lukas simply replaced it with a stasis bomb to insure whoever kills him will hear his laughter forever. Notably, Lukas has even managed to outwit Magnus the Red, Daemon Prince of Tzeentch himself, always ready with a laugh and a jest against the enemies of his Chapter.
      • Cegorach the Laughing God is one of the few Eldar deities to survive the birth of Slaanesh. In the past, Cegorach even convince one C'tan god to devour others to weaken the pantheon in one of his finest schemes. Worshiped by the Eldar Harlequins, Cegorach is a mad genius with a habit of forming audacious schemes, especially in the pursuit of fighting Chaos. Defending his followers from Slaanesh's hunger, Cegorach organizes schemes to lure the forces of Chaos into doing his work for him. One of the best schemers in all the universe, Cegorach even manages to take a hold in the Dark Eldar to potentially manipulate them, willing to stop at little to ensure the fall of Slaanesh in the end.

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