Zhentarim Agents of Cormyr / D&D Villains

In the adventure The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar (written by Ed Greenwood) there is a villain mentioned named Ruathgrym (real name is Nieilor). In the module it is really left up to the DM what to do with Ruathgrym. He isn't even in the dungeon. He is simply mentioned in various ways and it is left as a possible quest hook for future adventure if the party decides to explore that.

In my Forgotten Realms campaign I decided to make Nieilor an important part of the game. During the first session PCs entering the village of Eveningstar were greeted by Purple Dragon Knights searching for Ruathgrym (complete with a wanted poster of his likeness, hawkish nose, black hair, curly villain mustachios).

Note - I am running the original HHoE module published in 1992, but I am converting everything to 5th Edition D&D.

Every time they returned to Eveningstar from the Haunted Halls the Purple Dragon Knights would still be asking around, still looking for the mysterious man. When asked who he was the knights would say he is a dangerous killer, which is true, but he is also a smuggler.

During their adventures they came across various clues about Ruathgrym/Nieilor, but never caught sight of the man - until finally Monday, January 23rd 2017, when they caught a glimpse of him in the HHoE and briefly fought with him. The game started back in June and they finally saw him over 6 months later.

Which means I need stats for him. But there aren't any listed in the module by Ed Greenwood. And when I checked online there is oddly no mention of either Ruathgrym or Nieilor, except for the module itself, and past meetup.com postings for (you guessed it) my Monday Forgotten Realms game.

You would think someone before me had bothered to create stats for him and share them online, but apparently nobody else has done so. Not even Ed Greenwood himself - who likely has the original stats for him stashed away in his records.

So below are the stats I have created, for 5th Edition D&D, for Ruathgrym/Nieilor, and also for a number of other Zhentarim Agents and their Allies. They are not official Ed Greenwood stats, but they will have to do.

I am not planning on using Nieilor himself very often. As mentioned below, he prefers to let others do his dirty work because he has a schedule to keep. This means that the PCs will most often be dealing with minions sent by Nieilor or sent by Nieilor's allies. And when they defeat those minions, they will likely find a letter from either Nieilor or the ally, telling them to go kill the PCs in some manner.

But if the party does somehow run into Nieilor again, or his allies, I should have his stats handy.

To me Nieilor should be the villain who is always unseen. He is a smuggler after all. He is always skulking about and transporting goods. So if you don't see him, it is because he is off smuggling something to somewhere. What the PCs find instead are traces of him being there. Clues. Notes. Letters. Books he left behind. Enemies following orders. Hired thugs. Only on special ocassions should I ever need to look at Nieilor's stats and have him involved in combat - over time he might even level up. So these are just the base stats.

If you don't find what you are looking for here, check out the book "Ruins of Zhentil Keep", which outlines the history of Zhentil Keep and all the major baddies from there (both before and after it is destroyed).

Zhentarim Agents and Allies

Nieilor, aka Ruathgrym the Zhentarim Agent, Human Fighter 9, NE

Str 19
Dex 13
Con 16
Int 12
Wis 14
Chr 13

HP 103 (113 when Inspired)
AC 18
DR 3

About - Nieilor is a devotee of Myrkul and serves Zhentarim Keep as one of their many agents in Cormyr. Mostly he acts as a smuggler, but when he runs into trouble he can usually kill foes with his impressive fighting skills. Nieilor believes in being well prepared and doesn't like getting into random fights. If such happens and it looks like the enemy has a chance of winning, there is a 90% chance that Nieilor will seek to escape and plan his revenge. He favours complex ambushes which places enemies in a state of extreme disadvantage. eg. Unarmed, unarmoured, intoxicated, unable to flee, or a combination of all the above. Generally speaking Nieilor likes to travel light and prefers to leave his most of his magical loot in hiding places close to his smuggling route. Although skilled in combat, he usually prefers for others to do his dirty work as he has a schedule to keep and clients to keep happy.

Background / Proficient Skills: Smuggler - Athletics 8, Deception 5, Perception 6, Stealth 5, Thief Tools 5.

Abilities - Dueling (+2 dmg with one weapon), Second Wind (bonus action, regains 15 hp), Action Surge (Extra Action), Champion: Improved Critical (19), Remarkable Athlete (+4 to Str/Dex/Con checks), Heavy Armour Master (DR 3 vs non magical weapons), Tough (bonus 18 hit points), Inspiring Leader (10 minute action, allies and self gain 10 temporary hp from being inspired), Extra Attack, Indomitable (reroll failed saving throw, 1/long rest).

Items - Knightslayer* (Antique Bastardsword +1/+3 vs Humans), Chainmail +2, Torch (sometimes held if offhand), Potion of Hill Giant Strength (21), Potion of Greater Healing (4d4+4), Black Candles x5 (used while praying to Myrkul), adventurers garb, thief tools, crowbar, forged adventuring charter (the forgery is so good that Purple Dragon Knights have disadvantage to spot it is a forgery). He typically carries 100+1d100 gp on him and will have a horse with additional gear hidden nearby.

Allies - There is an 80% chance that Nieilor is traveling with one or more companions: Eklon, Brelani and Szissamor the Red. Ruathgrym is well connected and can also call upon the aid of Zhentarim agents in Eveningstar, Arabel, Suzail, etc. Under his guise of Ruathgrym he can also call upon other smugglers as criminal contacts.

* Knightslayer might be sentient and LE. I have not decided yet. It feels like it should have some unique unknown properties seeing as it is extremely old.

Brelani, Human Cleric of Myrkul 5, NE

Str 12
Dex 12
Con 14
Int 14
Wis 16
Chr 14

HP 38 (48 when Inspired)
AC 18

About - Of noble stock, Brelani fancies herself a high priestess of Myrkul, but she has a long way to go. She bosses around Eklon and other underlings, and has earned the nickname "Bossy Brel". In combat she employs both undead, spells and poisoned weapons. As a devotee of Myrkul, she sees death as a means to an ends: Power for herself. Poison, Necromancy and Animating corpses are stepping stones towards that power. She has allied herself with Nieilor because he has many contacts and she hopes to use those contacts to build her own power base.

Background / Proficient Skills: Noble - Ancient Thorass 5, History 5, Insight 6, Persuasion 5, Religion 6.

Abilities - Spellcasting (4 cantrips, 4 x 1st, 3 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd), Divine Domain (Death), Channel Divinity (Command Undead) 1/rest, Bolster Undead (attempts to Turn Undead you command are made with Disadvantage).

Items - Black-Steel Mace, Light Crossbow, bolt case with 25 bolts, Curved Sacrificial Dagger, Unholy Symbol of Myrkul, Spell Components Pouches, 3 vials of serpent venom (DC 11 Con, 3d6 damage, save for half), Half-Plate Armour, Shield with Skull of Myrkul embossed on it.

Favourite Spells - Resistance, Sacred Flame, Command, Cure Wounds, Detect Magic, Protection from Good, Hold Person, Protection from Poison, Prayer of Healing, Animate Dead, Glyph of Warding.

Allies - Brelani always travels in the company of Zhentil soldiers and/or in the company of Nieilor, Eklon, Szissamor, or undead she has created. She almost never travels alone. She can call upon the aid of Zhentarim, Zhentil soldiers, necromancer allies, and Zhentarim agents.

Eklon, Human Cleric of Myrkul 4, NE

Str 16
Dex 10
Con 16
Int 12
Wis 14
Chr 14

HP 35 (45 when Inspired)
AC 16

About - Eklon is creepy and is obsessed with death. He regularly draws cadavers and is quite good at it. He is secretly in love with Brelani and follows her every order obsessively. He is the strong, brooding, quiet type, although he does have some skill in battle, relishes bloodshed, and hopes to impress Brelani with his bravery. He carries on him a sketch book depicting Brelani having lewd acts with zombies and other types of undead.

Background / Proficient Skills: Guild Artisan - Insight 4, Medicine 4, Persuasion 4, Religion 4, Artisan Tools (Artist), Elvish.

Abilities - Spellcasting (4 cantrips, 4 x 1st, 3 x 2nd), Divine Domain (Death), Channel Divinity (Command Undead) 1/rest.

Items - Gore-covered Mace +1, 3 Javelins, Curved Sacrificial Dagger, Unholy Symbol of Myrkul, Spell Components Pouches, Sketchbook, Charcoal/Chalk, letters of writ from various artisan guilds, Breastplate Armour, Shield with Skull of Myrkul embossed on it.

Favourite Spells - Resistance, Sacred Flame, Bane, Bless, Protection from Good, Cure Wounds, Hold Person, Silence, Spiritual Weapon.

Allies - Eklon is usually following someone he considers to be his superior, which is usually Brelani or Nieilor. He will sometimes travel alone under the guise of a merchant artisan (with the drawings to prove it).

Szissamor the Red, Human Wizard 4, CE

Str 12
Dex 15
Con 14
Int 17
Wis 11
Chr 14

HP 26 (36 when Inspired)
AC 12

About - Szissamor (if that is his real name) likes to style himself like a Red Wizard of Thay, but if asked will say he has no affiliation with them. He claims to just like the colour red. He favours spells of that colour too, whether they be fire or illusions or whatever. Often his spells will have a red hue to them. eg. Cloud of Daggers will be red flying daggers. Szissamor is not a pyromaniac, but he does enjoy setting fire to things sometimes if it gains him a tactical advantage. While he considers himself a trickster, he is also a coward. If things go badly against him, he will cast Invisibility and run away.

Background / Proficient Skills: Charlatan - Arcana 5, Deception 4, Insight 5, Sleight of Hand 4, Disguise Kit 4.

Abilities - Spellcasting (4 cantrips, 4 x 1st, 3 x 2nd), Arcane Recovery (2 slots), Arcane Tradition: Evoker, Evocation Savant, Sculpt Spells (1 or more allies automatically succeed on saves, take no damage if the spell has 1/2 damage).

Items - Dagger with Ruby-hilt +1, Fine Red Robes, Disguise Kit, Spellbook, Spell Components Pouches, Book: Deciphering Ancient Thorass (this horribly written book gives the reader a Disadvantage roll to attempt to decipher Ancient Thorass, whereas normally no chance would exist unless the person speaks the language).

Favourite Spells - Dancing Lights, Fire Bolt, Minor Illusion, Burning Hands, Chromatic Orb, (Red) Magic Missile, Mage Armour, Cloud of (Red) Daggers, Flaming Sphere, Invisibility.

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