Quest of the Brokenhearted has a lot of monsters since Lacarsis is known as the city of evil. That means there has to be one that’s above all the others and pulls the strings that keep the story going. I had a few early versions of a terrifying master that ranged from a vampire to a demon and then a ghost. At one point, I even had it be a projection of Dariana that has gone insane, but that got tossed pretty quickly. In the end, I came up with the Shadow Earl and everything else fell into place.
Much like many of my characters, I began with a name and role when I finally cleared my head of failures. The Shadow Earl was rather self-explanatory in terms of abilities and general appearance. I was still trying to decide between ghost and demon, but I felt the latter was a better way to go. This made him more tangible and helped him evolve a more fearsome persona that would eventually be tempered. A unique tactic I took with this character is that I came up with his abilities first because I thought that would reveal the way he acted. As expected, the Shadow Earl can create and control shadows to do various things. Not the most unique power, but it works for him because everything has a shadow and I added another quirk that is a spoiler.
Similar to Baron Kernaghan, the Shadow Earl depended a lot on his personality because he could only be used once for a battle. The way the story was coming out, it couldn’t function for very long after he faced off with Kira. Either one winning is basically the end game, which means I needed him to play the villain that stays on the sidelines until he has no choice. Thankfully, the Shadow Earl wasn’t locked away like the Baron, so he could still interact with Kira. Not an easy thing to do when you’re working with a demon, which meant I needed to work on his personality. Typically, these guys are written as ridiculously evil or bestial, which doesn’t always work when you need a bad guy to keep the story going as much as the hero.
This is where the rage-fueled personality that I originally gave the Shadow Earl got changed. He comes off very much like a host with the way he talks to Kira, but he still has this murderous edge. I ended up giving him a casualness to life and death, which one can almost say is the sibling of Kira’s mentality. While she has become apathetic to her own existence, the Shadow Earl feels that way towards the lives of others. If a person dies then they die with only a handful of monsters being exempt from this rule because he has a use for them. There’s also a pretty big ego on this character, but it’s oddly hard to find in some scenes. He brings attention to the various competitors, but only because they are going to give him what he wants. The attention they get as they move up the ranks makes this demon think that people are complimenting him. He’s the one who made the game, allowed the mortals inside, chose the champions, and set everything up, so it’s all about him.
It’s in that ego and desire for attention that I found the Shadow Earl’s true goal. I considered how an immortal demon would feel after so long and the idea of boredom came up. Due to Lacarsis’s reputation as a city that nobody comes out of, the big names in adventuring don’t bother going near. All you have to do is not enter since the monsters don’t attack cities. This means the Shadow Earl hasn’t had a fight in hundreds of years and that upsets him. His desire is for someone to defeat all of his champions and earn a right to face him. One could say this is a suicidal goal, but he doesn’t believe he can lose and simply wants the challenge. There’s also a fear that his citizens are going to doubt his power if they don’t see him flex his muscles for more than flicking a weak adventurer into the graveyard. This is another odd pairing with Kira because she enters wanting to die and the Shadow Earl looks at her as another chance to live.
Well, that’s the big baddie of Quest of the Brokenhearted. Wish I could say more, but he holds all the secrets of this tale.