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D&D NPC of the week: Arius Holdt

Updated: Jan 23

Introduction: D&D NPC of the week: Arius Holdt

If you're writing a D&D campaign and you need new D&D villain ideas, we've got something pretty special for you with our D&D NPC of the week: Arius Holdt. You can place this character in our 5th Edition homebrew universe, Arclands (you can get both our core rule books for free on this site - see the popup that should be coming any moment now), or adapt Arius Holdt for your own setting. Be warned, he isn't much fun, but as a villain, we don't think he'll disappoint.

Arius Holdt’s face is an inscrutable mask, he learned long ago that his emotions were his greatest weakness and would betray him to his enemies; Arius Holdt has some very dangerous enemies. He lives and works at the heart of the great Library of Harenis, where, to his fellow scholars and archivists, he is a mystery. Nobody is ever quite sure what Arius is looking for in the vast archives and stacks of the library, but he definitely seems to be driven to find something.

From Skaris to Harenis

Arius is a Skarisi by birth and has managed to mask his accent successfully, though some of his more astute colleagues have guessed he has a Skarisian background. Skaris is the paranoic theocracy of the Arclands, a walled city in the heart of the Blackbriar Forest, whose rulers believe it is the source of all spiritual authority across the continent of Aestis. Skaris eyes other cities with intense suspicion and punishes traitors and heretics mercilessly.

Arius was originally a master of the Perendian Dycrit, a secretive chamber of Skarisian religious knowledge, where monstrous experiments were permitted by the city’s founders. The Dycrits were unlike any other aspect of Skarisian society, and were able to cross boundaries that most Skarisi were completely unaware of. Arius and other members of these secretive organisations swore an oath not to use the secrets they uncovered for their own ends, but ultimately the lure of forbidden power was too much for Arius, who spoke with a mysterious and cunning entity from the realm known as the Red Waste, which called itself Nalmut.

The Perendians had attempted to create a map of known dimensional doorways, after spying on the cartographic order, the Carathenes. They were far less cautious than the Carathene Order and did not understand that by finding and observing a doorway, one could cause it to open. They also failed to understand that powerful entities on the other side could sense when an opportunity to cross over presented itself. The creature Nalmut sought out the highly intelligent but flawed Arius, knowing that he was weak and vulnerable to the creature’s beguiling words. At first all Arius heard was a whisper in the dark, cold chambers and cells of the Perendian Crypts, but slowly he began to realise something was speaking to him, calling him, enticing him with an offer. After days of this relentless voice, Arius, on the edge of his sanity called back, demanding that the voice show itself, and in doing so he fell into the Nalmut’s trap; his words opened a door into Arius’s chambers from the blistering, choking Red Waste and Nalmut, a grinning fanged mouth etched from fire and surrounded by a thousand burning, shifting eyes, introduced itself.

Terrified, Arius collapsed to his knees and shook uncontrollably in front of his guest, who told him that his veneration of the Aruhvian god, The Keeper was at an end. Nalmut would now be his master, and Arius would be his eyes in the Mortal Realm, and would serve whatever purposes wished. Nalmut told Arius that he had lived the wrong life in the Dycrit, and that he had something within him an ‘akarue’ (which after research, Arius realised was an Old Vannic word for ‘sacred spark’). It was this akarue that Nalmut was most interested in, and he left a helper, a creature called Falwynd, which chose the form of a salamander to help guide Arius. With that, Nalmut vanished and Arius was gripped with a new fear; he knew that Skaris, a city of watchers and whisperers would not be safe for him. The city’s inquisitors, the Skargoline, could were feared precisely for their ability to see the slightest wavering of faith in the eyes of those they patrolled. With help from Falwynd, Arius escaped through the city’s storm drains and into the wild and dangerous Blackbriar Forest. Arius discovered his power, the ‘akarue’ that Nalmut spoke of, when he was drawn to a hidden Spellforge in the forest and created a spell he called Light Surge, which dazzled and blinded the malevolent creatures of the forest, the Blackbriar Fey.

After years of hiding and evading the Skargoline, who search for him endlessly, Arius has now found a hiding place in the great Library of Harenis, where he searches endlessly for a book called the Lynykari, which contains something of immense value for Nalmut. His master urges him to delve ever deeper into the darkness of the library and Arius emerges from the darkened districts of the vast city sized archive ever closer to madness each time.

Arius Holdt Stats

Name: Arius Holdt Race: Human Class: Marauder (3 levels), Vowbinder (7 levels) Strength: 15 (+1 Human racial bonus = 16)

  • Dexterity: 14

  • Constitution: 13 (+1 Human racial bonus = 14)

  • Intelligence: 12

  • Wisdom: 10

  • Charisma: 8

Background: Skaris native, hailing from a family of artisans

Marauder Abilities:

  • Ambush Strike: 1d6 damage bonus on successful ambushes

  • Brigand's Quarry: Can mark a creature as his quarry, gaining advantage on tracking and information gathering against them

  • Ambuscade: Can use a bonus action to hide when a creature misses him with an attack

  • Fighting Style (Two-Weapon Fighting): When engaged in two-weapon fighting, Arius adds his ability modifier to the damage of the second hit.

Vowbinder Abilities:

  • Vowed Familiar: Arius' familiar is a Quadrupedal form, chosen for its hardiness and speed in combat. This familiar is a magical parasite that has bonded with Arius. It has a stomp attack dealing 1d6+1 damage.

  • Spellforging: Arius can spend FP to create spells at a Spell Forge.

  • Spellcasting: Arius can cast spells, with the spell's effects depending on the level of the spell slot used. His casting stat is Charisma.

  • Familiar Evolution (1): At level 5, Arius' familiar became more dexterous, gaining +2 Dexterity.

  • Familiar Evolution (2): At level 10, Arius' familiar gained an extra pair of legs and 10ft additional movement. It also gained a +1 bonus to Strength.

  • Synergy (Marauder Integration): At level 7, Arius gained the ability to make his familiar don an appearance that matches his. This gives the familiar the same active AC and weapon as Arius, along with half of his ambush strike dice and the benefit of his combat-based class features.

Hit Points: Based on d8 hit dice, with 3 levels in Marauder and 7 levels in Vowbinder. Armor: Light and medium armor proficiency from Marauder. Weapons: Proficient in simple and martial weapons. Skills: Skilled in Acrobatics, Perception, Stealth (from Marauder) and Arcana (from Vowbinder). Tools: Thieve’s Tools proficiency from Marauder. Ability Score Improvements: Arius received 1 Ability Score Enhancement at level 4 from his Marauder levels. Please note that exact values for stats like hit points, armor class, and ability scores would depend on how you have chosen to distribute Arius' initial attribute scores, any magical items he might possess, and decisions made during the leveling process. If you provide the base attribute scores and any specific magical items, I can give you more specific stats for Arius.

Spell 1: Name: Pyroblast Target: Raohn (1 FP) - A single enemy within 60ft. Effect: Teir (1 FP) - Fire damage. Effect Value: Gromor (4 FP) - D10 damage. Duration: Soffahns (0 FP) - Instantaneous. Action: Gnition (1 FP) - Action.

This spell costs 7 FP total.

Spell 2: Name: Frost Armor Target: Fehin (1 FP) - Self. Effect: Cuireid (2 FP) - Resistance to cold damage. Effect Value: Bein (2 FP) - N/A (Effect does not require a value). Duration: Dluthtrier (1 FP per round) - 3 rounds of concentration. Action: Honas (5 FP) - Bonus Action.

This spell costs 11 FP total.

Spell 3: Name: Electric Touch Target: Berren (1 FP) - Touch. Effect: Elain (1 FP) - Electric damage. Effect Value: Biozig (1 FP) - D4 damage. Duration: Soffahns (0 FP) - Instantaneous. Action: Gnition (1 FP) - Action.

This spell costs 4 FP total.

Spell 4:

Name: Thunderous Roar

Target: Kon (1 FP) - All within 15ft Cone from you.

Effect: Tairner (2 FP) - Thunder damage.

Effect Value: Bein (2 FP) - D6 damage.

Duration: Soffahns (0 FP) - Instantaneous.

Action: Gnition (1 FP) - Action.

This spell costs 6 FP total.


Nalmut is an ancient and malevolent dimensional entity that hails from the realm known as the Red Waste. It manifests as a grinning fanged mouth etched from fire, surrounded by a thousand burning, shifting eyes. Nalmut exudes an aura of darkness and chaos, radiating an overwhelming presence that can inspire fear in even the bravest of souls.

Origin and Nature: Nalmut is a being of immense power and manipulation, drawn to individuals who possess untapped potential and vulnerability. It seeks to exploit their weaknesses and bend them to its will. Nalmut's true nature and origins remain shrouded in mystery, but its connection to forbidden dimensions and forbidden knowledge is undeniable.

Abilities and Powers:

  1. Dimensional Manipulation: Nalmut possesses the ability to traverse and manipulate various dimensions, opening portals and warping reality to suit its whims. It can summon creatures from other realms and harness the energies of different dimensions for devastating effects.

  2. Mind Control: Nalmut possesses potent telepathic abilities, enabling it to invade the minds of others, manipulate their thoughts, and implant suggestions. Its whispers can influence decision-making, exploit fears, and push individuals toward darker paths.

  3. Fiery Aura: Nalmut is surrounded by an aura of scorching heat and flames, causing immense damage to those who come too close. The mere presence of Nalmut can ignite objects and scorch the surrounding environment.

  4. Forbidden Knowledge: As a being with access to forbidden dimensions, Nalmut possesses profound knowledge of dark magics, ancient rituals, and secret arcane secrets. It can share glimpses of this knowledge with those who serve its will, granting them access to powers beyond mortal comprehension.

Adventure Hook:

The PCs are hired by a wealthy merchant called Losian Kaas to kidnap Arius Holdt. They are told that he is former servant of the Kaas who has lost his mind and needs to be brought back to safety from the Library of Harenis.

Losian Kaas is in reality Master Sorian Dacah, Skargoline interrogator, who wishes to plunge Arius into the darkest dungeons of Skaris and to torture him until he reveals his connection with Nalmut. Dacah intends to kill the PCs when they deliver Arius, but can’t risk the Skargoline being caught directly meddling in the affairs of Harenis and its library. The PCs find Arius, just as he is about to find the Lynykari, a book that will give Nalmut much more power and influence in the Mortal Realm. Once the book is discovered, Nalmut sends its own minions to retrieve it.

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