View Full Version : [R6/PF] Help me dupe my players!

2010-04-02, 05:38 PM
Hello, all! I've come across an interesting dilemma in my campaign that I'm currently running regarding the metaplot.

Basic story is this. Right now, the players are tied up in a story about Gallece, the small nation they are currently residing in - the noble in charge of the nation is being threatened by a revolutionary bandit leader who claims to be the rightful ruler by birthright. The only problem is, this revolutionary is telling the truth - his father was the true king of Gallece, and the noble currently in charge is the son of one who took over the country a generation ago. Problem is, the current noble is a just, competent leader, and the bandit king is a hot-blooded adventurer without much of a mind for politics. This is the challenge they are currently facing.

After they help resolve this conflict one way or another, the nation of Gallece will be beset upon by the empire of Segat, an ambitious, ever-expanding territory on their Northern border. The emperor of Segat is a power-hungry general of sorts who seems to have an insatiable desire to expand his territory to the entire continent. He has only been stopped from doing this by his chief adviser and ambassador, a pacifist bard named Rizon, who is chiefly responsible for expanding the empire's borders via negotiation and peaceful means.

Where the conflict occurs is that the progress Rizon has been making has been slowing to a standstill - the rapidly-shrinking nations that have not been assimilated entirely are no longer giving up any of their territory to the Segatan empire, no matter what the ambassador offers them in return. The emperor is losing his patience, and is all but ordering an invasion of the smaller countries on his borders. Rizon, concerned, eventually looks to the PCs to inform them of his lord's ambitions, and secretly assists them in undermining the emperor's efforts.

Here's where the dupe comes in - Rizon has been pulling the strings the entire time, and nearly everything he's been presenting about himself has been a complete lie. He's not a pacifist, and he's not even human - he's actually a one-of-a-kind hybrid spirit being that's been exiled to walk the Material Plane, as he could not find a home in either the realms of the earth or the realms of the sky (statistically, he's a Janni with 6 Bard levels and a liberal smattering of extra feats). He seeks to unite the nations of this continent under a single rule so that there will be no obstacles to completing his master plan - to merge all planes of existence together into one world, giving him a true home.

I will say he is not irredeemable, and it's not out of the question that he could be convinced that he does not need to carry out his plans - this is likely, considering the very RP-centric nature of my players. But all this plot is for naught if the players figure out too soon that he's the one behind it all.

The players have not met him yet, but I've already taken a few steps to conceal his power and importance. Taking a page from Super Paper Mario, I've made him part of a "mini-boss squad" type ensemble to the emperor with the appearance that they are all equal in power with the emperor as the most powerful. I've also made sure that these characters are as well developed, though I'm not finished with all of them yet (so far I've only made one other character, an evil Inquisitor). I've also made pains to make sure that he never uses any of his unique Janni abilities until his true nature is revealed - he will not fight, fly, turn ethereal, or do pretty much anything but play music and cast buff and summon spells, making him only as effective as a 6th level bard.

But here's where I need help - if Rizon is well developed as a character and the emperor is a typical conquer-the-world-because-I'm-evil villain, my players will probably get the feeling that the ambassador is much more important than he is.

How can I turn the emperor (or maybe even empress?) into a deep, believable character, while still keeping the "take over the continent" plot intact? What other methods can I use to hide the ambassador's motives, power, and importance?

2010-04-02, 06:22 PM
For the emperor, I have a few suggestions. Perhaps he believes the world should be united under him because he was ordained emperor by his god. Or maybe he believes peace is best obtained under one world government. These are fairly cliche, but they do provide some motivation outside of conquer the world.

Maybe you could have a prince or princess run away and join the PCs. They disagree with their father's goal of taking over by force, but they also know his good side and will defend their father when his motives are impugned by others. Make them see his human side at home through these important NPCs to further develop him. In terms of what they can offer the party, you could consider having them be well trained and covering a party weakness, or you could have them able to provide the PCs with extra resources while needing to be defended if they get caught in a pitched battle. I recommend the 2nd to avoid stealing the PCs thunder, but both can work if done well.

I think you seem to be doing fine with keeping the bard under wraps with regard to having him limit his power use to what the PCs recognize as about the power level they would expect for his fake level. I don't really have any other suggestions there.

2010-04-02, 06:27 PM
There's an idea - perhaps the emperor isn't even evil, and is coerced into ambition and violence by the bard's enchantments, all while the bard plays the part of the concerned one.

I like the idea of the runaway prince / princess - perhaps this heir could mention that the emperor has not been himself lately. Rizon will also give them this information (that he seems to be acting strangely, and he wasn't always this ambitious and violent), deflecting suspicion.