15 Pathfinder Villains That Make Campaigns More Interesting

Interesting Pathfinder Villains
Mighty adventurers fighting the BBEG

The task of being the Games Master (GM) is one many find intimidating. Even those of us who choose to pick up that gauntlet are often wrought with anxiety over whether our players are enjoying our game each week or are just being nice. 

Today’s topic is the ever-dreaded villain, the big bad, the being who has the player characters waking up in a cold sweat over when done well and yawningly cliché when done poorly. Any of these villains can add interesting combat and plot elements to your Pathfinder campaign.


15. The Oinodaemon

A ram zombie covered in boils

The Oinodaemon, from Tome of Horrors Complete by Scott Green and published by Necromancer games is a CR37 NPC, making it second only to Lucifer, Prince of Darkness in the bestiary on D20PFSRD.

If I’d thrown Lucifer into this list, loads of you veteran DMs would be rolling your eyes about now so instead I’ve picked out something hopefully a little less recognisable.

The Oinodaemon also is much more visually interesting than Lucifer whom I think anybody can imagine without prompt. It’s described as a rotting ram corpse covered in boils, blisters, sores, and scabs. Absolutely perfect for parties who like some gruesomeness in their descriptions. 

The Oinodaemon also has an interesting stat block beyond it being extremely powerful. With greater teleportation, the fight could be a surprise. Perhaps they are expecting to go to him, or they could be unaware of the Oinodaemon’s existence. Or maybe you made them aware early on that he has greater teleportion and generate some paranoia.

With a huge range of spells and abilities, you as the GM actually have a lot of leeway to make this fight easier if need be. There’s a lot to keep track of so feel free to trim it down a bit for the sake of your own sanity.

But if you’re a highly organised GM, you may be able to keep track of everything, keeping this fight as hard as it can possibly be. With a CR of 37 you may be wondering how even a level 20 party would tackle this. The key lies in a little thing called homebrew. 

Being the final fight of the campaign, you don’t have to worry as much about homebrew items or abilities breaking the game because soon after your players will depart into the sunset (if they survive). Throw in all those awesome ideas you had without restraint and show your party that even at level 20 you still have a few surprises for them.

The most interesting part of The Oinodaemon’s stat block, however, is its staff. You can throw this at the party early as a hook for a campaign where they discover what it is. If you have a tiefling in the party with a daemon bloodline you can tie it into their backstory as their destiny to become the next Oinodaemon. Once the Oinodaemon is defeated, you give the party one last conundrum; what do they do with it? 

Oinodaemon details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/daemons/dae...


14. Mother of Oblivion

Mother dearest in her slimy green glory

Here’s an option for those of you wanting to run an aquatic or pirate themed campaign. Make use of those cool but generally useless animal companion options for druid like electric eel, octopus, or even shark. Or give the summoner’s eidolon the aquatic base form. They could even make use of the aquatic animals on the summon monster or nature’s ally spells. Make a mermaid ranger even!

She’s described almost like an eldritch horror, giving some awesome potential for a first meeting. Her form “spurns definable anatomy”. From what I can tell, she’s basically a mass of tentacles with a reptilian head on top, sort of like Medusa’s head flipped upside down!

She also has some abilities offering great narrative potential, such as her ability to cast dream, allowing her to commune with sleeping players. She can threaten them, tempt them, or pick out the weakest link in an attempt to manipulate them to her own ends.

On top of that, her trans-dimensional tentacles offer a great opportunity to have the players fight her before the final battle without the need of figuring out how she escapes or risking her being killed early. Have her minions board your players’ ship then add her tentacle attacks throughout combat, putting pressure on the players to finish things quickly and have her retreat once her disposables are dead.

She has several other scary abilities too, such as her all-around vision preventing her from being flanked. Sorry rogues, no sneak attack this time! She even has warp dimensions, preventing the party from escaping via a handy teleport, and stopping the magus from using dimension door to warp around the battlefield. 

The Mother of Oblivion details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/mother-of-o...


13. Clockwork Soldier

A loyal soldier, stood to attention

At only CR6, this clockwork soldier will work better for shorter campaigns or oneshots. There’s some cool potential for it depending on the level of technology in your world. 

In a world where clockwork constructs are common, your clockwork villain could be an older model who resents the attempts to dismantle it. In worlds where they’re less common, your party could stumble across it by accident while exploring a tomb and it’s nothing more than a guard continuing to do its job long after its creator’s death. There’s potential for a wide variety of themes and tones to be played with using this enemy, even if it is only for a brief story. 

This is also a much simpler statblock than the previous two, making it a good option for new GMs. You also have a lot more freedom to modify it by having it use different weapons or even adding a little bit of spellcasting if you want to give it a way to counter your party’s strongest abilities and force them to come up with new strategies.

If you want to be really cheeky, the clockwork soldier has a +19 to performing disarm combat manoeuvres. And with its latch it can grapple and disarm without provoking attacks of opportunity. It even gets a +2 to its CMD against attempts to disarm it. Have it steal a martial character’s main weapon and force them to use their backup for the rest of the fight. There’s some real potential to keep your party on their toes with this one.

Clockwork Soldier details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/constructs/clockwork/...


12. An Antipaladin

An antipaladin wielding his unholy magic

This entry is more broad than the others but writing your own villains gives you the freedom to make their motives a little more personal to the party. I recommend the antipaladin class as it can be used to create a recurring villain who runs counter to any religious caster your party may have.

An antipaladin is basically a paladin for an evil deity which is all well and good but you could make them more interesting by having your antipaladin villain be diametrically opposed to your religious party member’s god and beliefs. In doing this, you can create plenty of opportunities for character development within your party.

You can even make them a functional opposite of your party’s paladin thanks to antipaladin getting abilities that are already the opposite of what paladin gets. Instead of an Aura of Good, they get an Aura of Evil. Detect Evil is replaced with Detect Good. Touch of Corruption deals 1d6 damage per two caster levels instead of healing. 

Worth also noting it can be used to heal undead as can their Channel Negative Energy ability. Give them a horde of undead to heal and your party will be in for a tough encounter. 

Antipaladin class details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/alternate-classes/antipaladin/


11. Burning Child

A flaming spirit

Now here’s an entry you can make super personal to one or even several of your players. Chances are, you have at least one player with dead loved ones. We all know the classic rogue backstory; their parents were killed when they were but a child and ever since they were forced to kill and steal to survive on the streets. Maybe your alchemist was desperately attempting to cure a loved one of a grave illness. Or even your sorcerer with a sordid past once cast fireball to save her own skin burned her dearest friend to a crisp.

Reflavouring text is a DM’s best friend, especially for this stat block. Why limit yourself to only traumatising the players with dead kids? This could easily be a gnome or halfling. Increase the size to medium and it can be any creature you like. No need to be stuck with boring old humans (or do if that’s your jam). Make it an elf, orc, or even ganzi if you feel like it!

While we’re on the topic of reflavouring, by the basic description, this is a child abducted by orc alchemists. Again, you don’t need to limit yourself to this. Create your own reasons for this person from a player’s backstory to have been resurrected as a burning zombie. Tailor it to match your world and story.

This villain works very well for multiple encounters or as a pursuer of the party. Under their ability, final embrace, the burning child reforms after 2d4 days. If they want to put their dear friend to rest they need to embrace and calm them by passing three DC28 diplomacy checks in a row. You can always bring this down if your players does some really good roleplay. No need to ruin a nice heartfelt moment because this check is so high.

Burning Child details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/burning-child


10. Einherji

One of Odin's chosen warriors, wielding an axe and shield

Here’s a cool villain for any Norse mythology themed campaigns. In Norse mythology an Einherji is a warrior chosen by one of Odin’s Valkyries for their final act of bravery in battle. Their soul is then taken to Valhalla where they get to feast, drink, and fight for the rest of eternity.

But how would one of Odin’s warriors make for a compelling villain? I hear you ask. What if your party has found themselves on Odin’s bad side? Are they an evil party or is it some part of the real villain’s scheme to stop you thwarting their plans? 

Maybe the enherji are the ones who have been tricked or even convinced to turn traitor. They might be bored of waiting for Ragnarok and instead decide to bring it about so they can finally die for real. 

At CR10 this is a good enemy for higher levelled parties, either towards the end of a story or even somewhere in the middle (depending on what level they started at of course). During battle they gain fast heal 5 so your party had better be landing those attacks. 

Good luck slowing them down too as they’re both proficient in armour and have the ability freedom of movement. This bit of magic allows them to move and attack normally despite spells like fog, slow, or even web. 

They’re even going to be tricky for ranged or reach weapon users thanks to Step Up. If they try to five foot step away, the einherjar can immediately follow them. 

Even scarier is their challenge of single combat. They make an intimidate check to demoralise a single target and if they succeed get a bonus to attack rolls against them. However, they also take a -2 penalty to AC against other creatures so if the party helps the unlucky target, the einherjar is going to find themselves in a rough spot.

Einherji details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/einherji/


9. A summoner

A summoner and his draconic eidolon

Here we have another class recommendation. Without any alignment requirements (which for NPCs you can always fudge anyway) the summoner is a more versatile class than antipaladin in terms of writing their character. How they oppose the party is a much more open-ended question too. But that’s all for you as the GM to decide.

Where summoner gets much more interesting is in their ability to become a whole encounter by themselves thanks to their ability to cast Summon Monster as a spell-like ability. Or Summon Nature’s Ally if you’re playing the half-elf exclusive Wild Caller archetype. 

By being able to summon multiple creatures, the summoner can turn a small fight into a much larger one. And thanks to their summons sharing initiative with them, this encounter will have hordes of enemies moving before the party then move all at once.

Alternatively you could focus on the eidolon, the summoner’s custom-built companion, either by making one super powerful boss alongside the summoner’s lackies then bringing out the summoned monsters once the eidolon is dealt with, or by using the Broodmaster or Master Summoner archetypes. 

Both archetypes make the eidolon weaker while allowing the summoner to have multiple summons. The Broodmaster creates multiple eidolons while the Master Summoner can use their Summon Monster spell-like ability while their eidolon is summoned.

The Summon Monster ability also works very well if somebody in the party knows Dismissal or Banishment. Once they’ve dismissed the eidolon, thinking it’s going to give them an easier time, pull out the high level summons they now have to deal with.

But for a narratively interesting summoner, an idea I’ve had floating around for a while is to make the eidolon the real villain. Using the Synthesist archetype the eidolon could be flavoured to have almost entirely taken over their master and requires their body only for remaining on the material plane. 

By adding some homebrew the eidolon could work around the limitation of the summoner’s spell-like ability and allow them to use summon monster even while the eidolon itself is present. With a little more homebrew, the eidolon could have an ability that allows them to shift the effects of banish or dismissal to the summoned monsters.

For one final idea, you could let the summoner summon things not normally on the summon monster or nature’s ally list to make them that bit more unique and keep a more experienced party on their toes.

Summoner class details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/summoner/


8.  A Vigilante

A vigilante, keeping her identity hidden behind a mask

Here is one of Pathfinder’s stranger classes. The vigilante is much like Spider-man, Superman, or even Sailor Moon. They have a social identity then their vigilante identity. I think such a villain would work best in an Agatha Christie style murder mystery.

The vigilante can be a slippery character thanks to their dual identity which allows them to have two completely different appearances and even alignments. You could throw in a red herring by having an evil character present, making him seem a much more likely culprit than the neutral politician in the room.

But then you can sprinkle in hints for the party. Where did that hat of disguise come from? Maybe he’s a kitsune, skilled in illusion magic. This opens the possibility that maybe the figure the party saw slip through the window wasn’t in their true form.

Another twist you could run with is the vigilante faking their own death and using the Any Guise social talent is able to take the place of the true murder victim. You could have the party discover the body but for whatever reason aren’t able to reveal the truth until the right time without putting somebody important at risk.

A vigilante villain also generally works well for roleplay heavy campaigns. Maybe the party’s kind patron has other motives and the sneaky figure they’ve been tracking for several sessions is the person they took for a friend. Get creative with this class and you can build a thrilling mystery campaign.

Vigilante class details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/vigilante/


7. Evil Eye

An eye-conic villain

Ever wanted to include Sauron in your campaign? Well now you can thanks to the book Forgotten Foes from Tricky Owlbear Publishing!

Okay so the Evil Eye isn’t exactly like Sauron’s flaming eye. This is instead the eye ripped from some beast but as I’ve mentioned, reflavouring is an option. 

For those of you tired with Lord of the Rings copycats, let’s go back to the original flavour text which describes the Evil Eye as an 8ft big eye with optical nerves hanging from its back. Another potentially gruesome description here.

So what’s the potential of this thing if you don’t want to rehash Sauron? Well it’s an eye ripped from a large beast. Picture this: Your party has defeated a great beast, maybe a dragon. A tarrasque even. Or perhaps something more mundane like a dire lion with some odd abilities like casting Inflict Critical Wounds by simply looking at somebody. 

I would personally say it should be a creature your party is familiar with so they know for certain something isn’t right. Then, once the beast is dead, something happens. Its eyes could swell up if it’s too small. If it’s big enough it’s eyes might begin floating, dragging the corpse into the air with them until it eventually slides off and falls to the ground. Roll initiative.

Of course you could only have the one eye be an Evil Eye. This could even help give it away by having it look significantly different to its victim’s other eye.

Evil Eye details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/aberrations/evil-eye-ff


6. Androids

An otherworldly construct wielding an advanced weapon

Androids are one of the weirder races in Pathfinder. Finding this race for the first time had me in hysterics as I genuinely believed Paizo had jumped the shark with this one.

However, as time has gone by I’ve found my mind returning to this race and contemplating its possibilities. Maybe I will include it in a campaign someday.

But before you go including an android villain in your campaign I suggest you make sure it is compatible with your world and fits with the story you have in mind. Otherwise it can feel strange to have a relatively grounded fantasy world when suddenly androids arrive from space or the future.

Androids have one of my favourite features: racial variants, allowing them to have different stat bonuses and penalties. By base they have +2 dex and int but -2 charisma. Instead you can give it +2 wis and int but -2 dex or +2 wisdom and charisma but -2 strength. 

By playing around with the racial variants you could combine the strangeness of the android with the various villain classes I’ve proposed. Perhaps as a summoner the eidolon has altered their programming to take over and has learned to reroute magic throughout their circuits. 

As a vigilante, the android could be from an alien world looking to disrupt your land’s political system by offing influential figures. As an antipaladin they could be the emissary of some long-forgotten god, risen from ancient ruins.

One of the other interesting features of the android is their death. According to Pathfinder lore (which you can totally ignore if you have your own world) when androids die their soul leaves the shell to pass on to whatever comes next for them. After several days, a new soul will inhabit the shell.

By playing into this feature you can have a recurring NPC who changes drastically throughout the campaign. They could be the first villain of the campaign who, after his defeat, is reborn and becomes the party’s closest ally. Maybe they’re a long-time friend of the party but after some nasty rolls they’re accidentally killed (oops) and when they’re reborn their values steadily stop aligning with the party’s so they become more of an antihero or antagonist.

Android details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/other-races/more-races/advanced-races-11-...


5. Despicable Snowman

A classic cold-hearted villain

This is a much more seasonal villain but one that I think would be a lot of fun in a Christmas themed adventure, be it a one shot to give your regular GM a break during the holidays or a bit of fun during your main campaign.

The name is pretty self-explanatory. Evil snowmen. Three snowballs piled up, a top hat, scarf, and coal for the face. It’s easy to change details so each is unique. Could replace an arm for a sword to swap out its slam attack with a slashing attack. Maybe somebody changed an arm with a short spear. Give one a carrot nose too.

But what brought them to life? You could say they’re effectively just snow golems if you want to stick with serious lore. But if you want to go all in on the Christmas stuff you could say Santa has an evil being under his workshop which he keeps at bay with his aura of jolliness. But with Santa sick or wounded, his aura isn’t working so it’s up to the party to solve the problem. Classic Christmas stuff.

If you’re just running a campaign with an arctic setting you can very easily reflavour these to not be regular snowmen. Maybe they’re bodies frozen in ice? Maybe they’re ice sculptures that come to life? Either way they make for a good standard enemy in a snowy setting.

Despicable Snowman details and stats: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/outsiders/despicable-...


4. Bogeyman

Your sleep paralysis demon sitting on a chair in the corner of your room

From Tome of Horrors Complete, this creature is perfect for any psychological horror campaign. It’s base flavour text makes it appear rather ordinary yet unnerving in the hands of the right GM:

This creature resembles a man-sized translucent humanoid with delicate features not unlike those of a child. It wears flowing robes tied at the waist with a sash made of the same incorporeal stuff it is. The creature’s face shows no emotion.

Of course you can always make it more monstrous-looking depending on what fits your GM style and campaign but something like this I think has better potential to unnerve characters used to seeing goblins, zombies, and slimes.

Then there are the Bogeyman’s abilities. Being incorporeal your party needs magic weapons. Throw one at a low enough levelled party and they won’t be able to defend themselves yet. Have it come in and do something significant only to vanish. Then they go for a hunt and fight it properly once they’re equipped for the task. 

What really helps is the bogeyman prefers to torment than outright kill, meaning you can have it mess with a party for a while without having to cook up elaborate reasons for the party surviving.

Even once they have magic weapons, the bogeyman is a slippery figure with shadow shift. It can jump between shadows similar to the spell dimension door. Fight it in a dark forest and it’ll be warping around and smacking your players about.

Its most on the nose ability is frighten. Stop a player from taking actions for d6+2 rounds. Be careful about slinging this around too much or any suspense might be ruined by a general sense of frustration when nobody can move or make attacks, however.

Finally there’s bump in the night. Perfect to use while the players are searching for Bogeyman. It hides in the shadows, making players see and hear things that aren’t really there. One player fails a save and is convinced of a shadow lurking in the corner but the monk with their high save insists it isn’t there. Best used if you’re excellent at descriptions and your party has good chemistry and are keen roleplayers.

Bogeyman stats and details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/bogeyman


3. Criosphinx

A beast with the body of a lion, head of a goat, and wings of an eagle

Here’s a villain which I think can be useful for figuring out how your party will typically act in a given scenario while also giving each character an opportunity to show who they are. At CR7 the Criosphinx is best reserved for campaigns which start at a higher level if you plan to use it for what I am about to propose.

The Criosphinx is not like the sphinx from the myth of Oedipus (that would be the gynosphinx if that’s what you’re looking for). Instead of asking riddles, this sphinx values wealth. 

Your party has a few options here. They could hand over a valuable object (but we all know how much players love their magic items) or some gold. The Criosphinx may even demand a meal instead. If the players are protecting an NPC they don’t particularly care for they may choose to hand them over. They could hand over their mounts instead. Or they can fight.

This scenario gives each character a chance to show who they really are. If somebody suggests feeding the NPC they’ve been hired to protect, that can create tension among the party. Or maybe your party is just evil.

Handing over gold and magic items has its own set of consequences. I’m sure we’ve all been in the position where we’ve sold an item we’ve held on to for ages only for it to have become relevant later. If they hand over their money then there’s none left for buying necessities.

Throwing this choice at the players helps you as the GM understand how your party makes their decisions. It also helps to establish the party dynamic as well as future story beats which come from the consequences of whatever decision they make.

Criosphinx stats and details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/magical-beasts/sphinx...


2. Bad Wolf

The big bad wolf, following Little Red Riding Hood to grandma's house

Who’s afraid of this villain? A lot of things probably given the Bad Wolf has a mythic power and a scary one at that. Bottomless stomach allows the Bad Wolf to swallow creatures its size or smaller, transporting them to a pocket dimension in its stomach much like a bag of holding.

There’s a nice variety of hooks you can use to introduce the Bad Wolf. Maybe a village has had people go missing and they need a brave group of adventurers to defeat it. Once the wolf is defeated the missing villagers all spring out, much like the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Or your party might have a ranger friend who’s been tracking this wolf for weeks only to be devoured in the night. Your party then has to go rescue their friend. This could lead into something bigger or maybe it just establishes that their ranger friend owes the party a favour.

Another option is to make this wolf one of the real big bad’s minions who goes around gathering people of interest for him. A wizard whose research would be invaluable to the main villain. A summoner with a unique summoning ability. A swordsman who betrayed the main villain so it’s the wolf’s job to return them. 

Perhaps the wolf might even attempt to capture the party. It can hold eight people in its extradimensional stomach so you could throw a more difficult encounter at the party where if they lose they then have to escape the big bad’s lair or even have an early face off with the villain.

Of course, because of this wolf’s unique ability your party may be interested in its pelt. You could use this as an opportunity to give your party an ever-useful bag of holding (we all know how much calculating carry capacity sucks). 

Or you could create something special. If you run a campaign where death and resurrection happens a lot, you could turn the wolf’s pelt into a person carrier. Carry the corpses of any unlucky party members in the pelt so they don’t decay in the time it takes to find a priest who can resurrect their dead friend.

Bad Wolf stats and details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/magical-beasts/bad-wolf/


1. Juggernaut

Nobody can stop the Juggernaut! Well maybe except for your party (hopefully).

The juggernaut is a construct designed to protect places belonging to a particular faith. Even with its regular flavour text, the juggernaut has some interesting potential. It could have been created to protect the lair of followers of an evil deity. It could have been corrupted by somebody else to make it go out of control.

The villains could have destroyed the juggernaut’s shrine and without anything to protect it has gone on a rampage, killing and smashing everything in sight. 

You could even strip away the religious angle entirely and make it the creation of a magic user. An experiment gone wrong or something designed to stop that meddling band of misfits who keep getting in the true villain’s way.

While anything could fill this roll, the juggernaut has some abilities that can make it a unique challenge. Its primary ability is Soul Powered. This power grants the juggernaut a point every time it kills something with at least 5 hit dice and more than two steps away from its alignment (as an NPC you can eschew this. The players don’t know what’s behind the curtain after all). Each point grants a +1 to attack rolls, combat manoeuvre checks, caster level checks, and skill checks, making this foe scarier with every kill.

In the encounter you can give the players a group of NPCs to protect and may some others fighting alongside them. If any of them roll their knowledge check they can learn about how the juggernaut works, telling them it’s even more important not to die.

But to add an extra layer of challenge to the encounter, give the juggernaut allies as well as the ability to passively use the orison Discern Health. Whenever one of their allies is near death, the juggernaut may choose to go attack them and gain one of its points.

You can even give the juggernaut the animal domain so it can cast Summon Nature’s Ally IV. It could summon these allies solely for the points it gains with their deaths, provided their hit dice is high enough (and you didn’t choose to eschew this requirement).

Juggernaut stats and details: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/constructs/juggernaut

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From Twinleaf Town to Windhelm, I am a veteran explorer of worlds. My skills include monster taming/slaying, reckless driving, adept mage, and Lego builder/destroyer.
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