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Picture this: there is a high fantasy world with a majority of humans, but in recent times there have been other, monster based species gaining traction (i.e werewolves, naga, harpies). In this current environment, we have our villain, a Dracula-esque, supernatural corrupt noble who has magical power at their fingertips and essentially wants to build a base of power.

Now if your first thought from my question was Castlevania, you'd be correct. I always wondered how exactly so many variety of creatures came under Dracula's castle, and why they were willing to work together, at least long enough to impede the hero, rather than getting at each other's throats due to cultural differences. However, my goal isn't to ape Castlevania entirely, as the focal figure wouldn't be Dracula, nor share his same motivations or even species.

As far as magical limitations go in this world I have, mana is best produced through living beings, though any solid object can contain it. The more magic cast by volume, the more mana it depletes, so large scale magic either requires a lot of people, an artifact of densely packed magic or someone of massive size. Draining magic through the same target over a longer period of time grants more magic than draining them to death, unless there needs to be a lot of magic in a very short time (e.g holding open a dimensional rift).

Assume that this figure is a relatively powerful humanoid but not human. They are long lived enough to know a variety of spells, have a hardier body than the average mage, relatively attractive and have plenty of charisma, and does not need to worry about aging. If not killed correctly they will revive in a short time or will even reincarnate. A combination of pragmatism and xenophilia prevents them from being downright heartless, but they are willing to stir any level of mayhem to get what they want, whether it is new minions or to assess the character of anyone they deem interesting or a threat.

As for the castle, assume that it is essentially a 'living being' that absorbs magic from its residents in turn for offering protection in order to maintain itself.

What would the villain need to both create this castle and provide for their minions in order to follow them and work to further expand said villain's influence?

EDIT: to narrow the focus so I have an objective question, I can add the following details:

  • The castle itself should initially be large enough to house about 200 humanoids, with room to expand. The villain will naturally prefer a high but not too high spot, like a low mountain, cliffside, or large enough hill with good moonlight.
  • The castle walls should be able to withstand most high level spells, so in case an angry calvary notices and attempts to attack, they would not have any luck.
  • The castle should look appropriately spooky and strange, especially at night. Aside from the gothic tones from Castlevania, I'm willing to experiment with other styles, like how Great Zimbabwe was built, or even a blending of said styles.
  • The castle should be able to house a variety of environments for humanoids. Rooms can be lined with magic to mimic environments that aren't possible in the local area (like deserts or areas of extreme cold).
  • Not refined yet on my end, but there are metals that store elemental energy (fire, water, earth, wind, light and darkness; first four more common than the last two) better than known metals here. They can be blended, with certain exceptions that oppose each other (light and darkness, fire and water).
  • A minor side note: non-magic technology is closer to early 1900s America, and indoor plumbing would be a possibility for this castle, cities, and rural nobility.
  • Just like Castlevania, this castle is a 'creature of chaos'--i.e, living being that can change itself. Unlike Castlevania, it did/does not start off at castle size, buildings and/or materials are needed to be added before it can maintain its size and change it however it wants. For this exercise lets say it starts off the size of a two story house, with a shrine that holds the creature's 'heart'.

I recognize that some of these aren't realistically possible, but the hero of this story studies magic and how artifacts are put together, so I would like something that could be consistent and more than 'the castle was magicked into existence'. What materials should the villain get, and who would they need cooperation from?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Doctor. You have a good proposition here, but I have a question: Are you looking for ideas concerning construction materials and villain psychology? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 24 '15 at 23:44
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry to say that this then feels like idea generation, which is discouraged on Worldbuilding. However, buildings are on topic, so I'm a little torn. Could you provide some additional specifications for the castle in terms of location, defenses, and the like, so there is an objective judging criteria for different answers? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 24 '15 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ Looks better. Just one more point: Are there any materials unique to your universe we can use in construction, or do we limit answers to known substances? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 25 '15 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ You seriously need to consider pest control, how bout Abraham Lincoln or Van Hellsing? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jul 25 '15 at 1:41
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    $\begingroup$ Note that Castlevania is not just a magic castle: it has been described as a creature of chaos that can change itself. Is the castle you are looking for alike, or is it different? $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jacobs Aug 3 '15 at 11:18
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Alright I'll take a brief crack at this multi-faceted question.

You're right in saying any villain needs to provide a reason for his minions to stick around. The villains are probably motivated by the same things his master is, they just may or may not want to be in charge of it. So Dracul-esque's biggest appeal is the power he could achieve through cooperation.

Given these criteria, I would have to say your villain needs to be able to make promises to a lot of people. In a gang, or even the United States congress for that matter, people need to be able to trade favors. So your villain needs to make promises, but ALSO be intimidating enough to make others believe he can and will keep those promises whenever he ends up winning his conflict with the hero.

Maybe he will provide land for the werewolves to roam, or thralls to other vampires, or sacrificial victims to the Aztec warriors if that's the case. If they want these things they will cooperate and your villain can always threaten to kick them out of the club if they don't cooperate with each other.

As for building a magical castle...

That can be easy or hard.

Easy: You have a gang of villains and supposedly a bunch of land they feel comfortable building HQ on. So what's keeping them from using slave labor to build the castle and use the slave life energy to infuse the castle with magic? You could mark it as the bloodiest construction zone in the history of the world.

Hard: If the gang builds the castle themselves, who is designing the castle? Who is doing the labor? Who sets the schedule? And why would they want to put in the physical labor themselves? It would seem a lot harder to convince a bunch of magical thugs to build something like a castle than to simply participate in the overall plot. But maybe this turns into a team-building exercise? Or all the werewolves get pegged for labor duty and become disgruntled employees.

Hope this helps!

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting in using promises. Though being selfish our villain does like to look after their minions. They wouldn't foist it on just the werewolves--if anything, they'd likely recruit a combination of golems/undead, who'd tire far less and have slaves powering their energy without too many of them dying. The minions might have to have a say in the building to better tweak their living quarters to their tastes (dark mermaids might not trust peons with their decorating, but servants they actually like they'd rather keep alive and not mistreat too badly). $\endgroup$ – Doctor Ansem Jul 28 '15 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ Might be worth mentioning that vampires can play with the minds of others even if just in a minor way. $\endgroup$ – Terry Mar 6 '17 at 13:14
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A villain of this capacity (a long, near immortal, life) has a unique flaw that will help define the how and why of his castle and minions; intense boredom. The ultimate solution to this is, of course, humans. This castle is only one part of this creatures mechanism of entertainment with the town in it's shadow central to the control of the minions and the relief of his boredom.

Having already lived a long life full of seducing the rich and powerful, killing them and pilfering their most treasured and potent magical items, your villain, tired of always having to flee, looks for a place to settle down. They locate a small fiefdom with a pretty castle on a mountain with a nice little town below.

Posing as a travelling curio merchant selling 'cures' for various illness will provide a simple way to get into the lords favor (poison member of family a few days before they 'arrive' and offer cure. Gifts of cursed jewelry should provide an invisible way to turn and control the lord and his family members as the castle is slowly twisted into a bastion of fear.

Meanwhile his work in the town below is not done. Anyone with any influence and intelligence is quickly isolated and removed from the town but at the same time the every day folk of the town find fortune on their side; crops are bountiful, livestock healthy, their families healthy and large, all influenced by the various magical trinkets provided by our curio merchant.

The town booms and the castle darkens.Using the lord and his family as proxy he lures various lower level necromancers and other dark magic users to the castle, bribing them with items from his collection, allowing them to twist the castle further to their needs.They will of course bring and create their own minions. Their motivation is the thriving town below full of resources, the protection of the warped castle and the shear number of magic and evil entities that call it home.

The castle is now a twisting evil hulk constantly torn from within from the experimental magic of it's insane occupants. It's halls and dungeons inhabited with escaped magical creatures and tormented experiments. Some of which will of course find their way out of the castle into the surrounding area and even into the outskirts of the town.

Having built his influence in the now terrified but highly successful town the villain now finishes his master plan. He declares the town independent of the lord (who now openly terrifies the town) and announces that he personally will fund a protective wall (or magical device) for the town and fund a regiment of guards for protection (corrupt of course but not necessarily evil) and builds himself a manor and shop front right in the middle of town.

Now as one of the most respected merchants in town (one of the first any adventuring types will visit should they wish to assault the castle) he can feed information to the lord on any incoming threats (as long as the castle and the lord stand he is completely invisible) and is free to mess with the lives of the towns inhabitants with blame conveniently landing on the castle and it's horrors (as a fair number of the disappearing people would be taken by the lord and his corrupted knights/house guests).

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One possibility is to make it that magical creatures of all types need to feed off of mana to exist. Any place that is saturated with mana will therefore tend to attract magical creatures naturally.

Mana can be powered by society's belief in magic. The archmage could have began as an ordinary (politically powerful) human, who acquired enough notoriety that people began attributing magical powers to them. This caused them to accumulate mana and gain increasingly stronger magical powers, which also enabled their castle to attain magical qualities as people began attributing magical qualities to it as well. Of course, since magic is now happening around them that would further reinforce the belief of the people, gaining the archmage even more power over time.

With all this magic accumulating in one place, monsters and spirits would be drawn to the castle from miles around, eager to maintain their own existence by feeding off of it. Since it is ultimately powered by the archmage (or rather, by the people's belief in and fear of the archmage), he can ask whatever he wants from the monsters and they have no choice but to obey. Without the archmage's power bringing it together, it would simply degenerate into an ordinary haunted house.

This would also explain why the castle needs to have a spooky aesthetic, and why it has to be in sight of ordinary humans. It is the fear humans have of the castle that ultimately gives it its power. The archmage has to maintain a delicate balance of striking fear into the hearts of the villagers so they continue to believe in him, but also give them enough leeway that they don't start sending whip-wielding vampire hunters after him.

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