They say the quality of your story is defined by your characters. Then we must speak of the Awesomeness that is WARDUKE! First seen by me in the 80s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. On the episode in question (In Search of the Dungeon Master, season 1 episode 5 ) Warduke cast some evil magic on the character Dungeon Master while he was sitting on a tree branch, immobilizing our wizard in solid crystal! I sat on the couch eating a bowl of frosted flakes peering into that demon horned helm and at those powerful red glowing eyes, I saw first hand a quality Villain!
Warduke has an excellent over the top aesthetic that you want in your fantasy villains. From the darkness encompassing his face to the gladiator-esque mismatched armor only on one side of his body. I've used him recently in my D&D campaign at the comic shop. My take on him for the campaign is that he is a million gold piece bounty hunter for hire, recently taken residence in the Forgotten Realms. A Boba-Fett of this D&d World! However that is not how he was originally presented to us in the tabletop world.
In the Quest for the Heartstone Ad&d module Warduke has his role playing game reveal! He was a pretty seemingly normal Fighter dude until he and his Buddy Strongheart came accross the heartstone. And then much like The Joker from Dc Comics He has his Falling into the Toxic Vat moment. The Heartstone when activated brought out the true nature of our Evil Fighter! However this moment also made Strongheart a greater paladin of good. Anyways most of that you can find in the module, i did dig the tragic villianous origin story though. Also his stats first appeared in the Shady Dragon Inn (Armor Class of 2!! how rad!!) Along with some amazing art by Timothy Truman! Warduke will forever rule my D and D realms as a badass fella, and my sketchbooks too!
I highly recommend throwing This fella in your D&D campaign! obviously if you want to make your own stats that's cool and all but i also found this easy reference dnd wiki with some stats avaialable if you want to use that, for 5th edition (https://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Warduke_(5e_Creature)
And if all else fails, go hit youtube and watch the same episode of Dungeons and dragons cartoon that i watched. sit on your couch and eat some frosted flakes, and peer into the dark omnious helm of warduke and truly experience this villain.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Guy,
And while you are at it go Check out Scott Cherrys Super Rad Warduke Sculpt!!! So Freaking Awesome!!!!