Friday, July 27, 2012

Jafar, the Ideal Villain?

Any discussion of wizards brings to mind Jafar from Disney's Aladdin. In most ways, Jafar is my ideal villainous wizard.

Others might think I'm way off base here, but I see Jafar as coming from the same mold as R. E. Howard's Thoth-Amon and Yara. Most of the villainous (and some of the non-villainous) wizards I've used since 1992 started out as Jafar and were refined from there.

Much of Jafar's power came from a single, potent magical device--a cobra-headed charming staff. Clearly he had mojo that went way beyond the staff, but the cobra stick was the one thing he never left the palace without.

Jafar is a solid hook. His menace comes from a melding of cruel mind and wicked implements and he fits my style of game.


  1. It's interesting, but Jafar isn't even really a wizard in the traditional sense of the term -- he's a crafty man with a bevy of tricks, both magical and mundane, that all come from outside objects.

    It's not until he wishes to be an "all powerful sorcerer" that he can really be said to become a wizard at all in terms of personal ability.

  2. Let me withdraw that; perhaps he is, in a sense, a MORE traditional wizard than most fantasy wizards (D&D included) since he doesn't necessarily know any "spells" but rather is replete with arcane and bizarre learnings that allow him to manipulate others.

    Definitely more in the vein of REH or the Arabian Nights.

    1. Which is probably why I'm so drawn to him as an archetype and why he reminds me so much of the wizards featured by Robert Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. No one could write wizards as crazy as Smith's.

  3. In my Flashing Blades campaign, my model for roleplaying Cardinal Richelieu is Jafar: obsequious to the king's face, the master manipulator to everyone else.

  4. I've been playing Pathfinder for a while now and I think they've been doing a good job of covering a lot of these cases. I think if I were to build Jafar I'd either do him as an Enchanter with a Bonded Staff or as a Witch with the Half-Elf specific Bonded Item archetype just because I think there would be an interesting story in him being corrupted by the magic staff.