So I was playing around with the character builder and made a changeling whisper bard with Keen Mind. Whenever he steals their form and gets some of their knowledge he can write down as much as possible then keen mind let's him retain it and because he is a changeling he can revisit personas.
I'm envisioning some kindly NPC (divergent persona) that helps the group and steers them to where he wants them to go and what he wants them to do but is actually a highly placed cultist for a BBEG. He can kill and impersonate others to keep the party focused on his goals.
Best example I can think of is if Gilmore from Critical Role was the right hand of Vecna and the party didn't know until the very end.
Sounds like a solid basis for a 'peeling the onion' type storyline. Wheels within wheels, maybe this changling is somewhat sympathetic to the group after all is said and done and dislikes betraying them later on. Or is just batshit crazy because he has too many personalities conflicting.
I kind of picture him beginning to permanently take on aspects of the personas he uses the most frequently. Almost like in iZombie where she begins to keep fragments of the brains she has eaten, personality quirks and traits that bleed over into her main personality.
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"Where words fail, swords prevail. Where blood is spilled, my cup is filled" -Cartaphilus
"I have found the answer to the meaning of life. You ask me what the answer is? You already know what the answer to life is. You fear it more than the strike of a viper, the ravages of disease, the ire of a lover. The answer is always death. But death is a gentle mistress with a sweet embrace, and you owe her a debt of restitution. Life is not a gift, it is a loan."
I'm just envisioning it trying to fight the party while transforming into their friends who they now realize are either all dead or never existed at all. That is one hell of a way to shatter a group's morale or royally piss them off.
I like the personality trait bleeding but I included the keen mind bit so they could access their information after the initial disguise had worn off. I'm not sure if they'd forget which trait belonged to which.
I know this thread is old and probably passed due but I am thinking a similar idea and if you still want to talk about it here are my thoughts:
To me I think the most appealing part of a villainous Whisper Bard is the Words of Terror. Being able to speak to someone for a minute and causing fear in them would be so powerful and so much fun to mess with your characters. Make them feel like it is some curse or something else happening that they wouldn't connect to the main NPC. Maybe have the NPC lie and use there high deception to tell them that some non magical item is actually a conduit that the fake villain is using against the party.
You could also really mess with the characters heads by having random old villains reappear for a moment using the Mantle of Whispers. Say the NPC helped them beat a former big bad and then the NPC captured the shadow and just used it to torture mentally the PC's as they were camping out. Make them think that the old bads are still around. They could even confide in the NPC who could tell them again that this must be the power of the fake villain.
Any way these are the thoughts I was having in my campaign of making a villainous character. If you still want to talk about this let me know I would love to chat.