Responding to the idea of "NPCs as Artifacts" on Telecanter's Receding Rules:
I like the idea of having some scalable NPCs handy. These are villains you can pull out that are more interesting than "Bandit Leader" but with plug-and-play features so the are just as fair a threat to level 1 PCs as level 20.
I specifically want to avoid just adding more underlings. I am cool with upgrading equipment or spells, but it should be iconic stuff - the evil sorcerer with a fetish for electricity would have some better, stronger electricity-based spells. I specifically do not mean that, if the NPC is reoccurring, they should scale - there are reasons when you might want to do that, but usually it cheats PCs out of the pleasure of going back and kicking the ass of the putz that sent them packing last time.
Not sure if this concept fits with Telecanter's original idea, but it's something I've been chewing on and the Artifacts thing made me thing of it.
Without further adue:
Phillip the Culler
Phillip's body is as tense and knotted as corded rope, and he has the charisma of a coiled viper. Few who knew him as a boy would be surprised to learn he became a highwayman, and a good one. When Phillip's crew are working a stretch, it's with a methodical grace that's yet to fail him. Phillip has established a near-mythological reputation for himself as "Phillip the Culler," through the clever combination of a fear-inducing poison, his talent at sneaking and hiding, and his expertise at fighting with the twin sickles handing from his best. His overriding preference for his iconic weapons may be his most exploitable weakness in combat.
Scaling: Phillip should always fight with his twin sickles, but how good he is at it is up to the DM. Without any help, a character is severely handicapped in most rulesets when they fight with two weapons. Increasing his skill with the weapons, with dual-weapon fighting, and the quality of the sickles themselves all incrementally strengthen Phillip's threat. The actual effect of his poison is also worth tinkering with - simple morale penalties, up to forcing characters to drop weapons and flee, or cower, on a failed save are all possible.