View Full Version : The Whistler - a side-villain

Dread Angel
2013-01-10, 07:07 PM
So, as all my adventure ideas tend to, this one hit me while I was listening to music.

The entire campaign based around a few phrases in the song The Demon's Blade by 3 Inches Of Blood.

I was looking for something to draw the party away from the constant slog they're having of slowly making their way closer to being able to get a crack at the BBEG.

The song is called The Whistler, by Demons and Wizards. It is based off of the Pied Piper (no idea if I spelled that correctly...) tale. But some of the lines kept niggling at me, as did a faint recollection of the very first Terry Pratchett book I ever read, and this is the result so far:

As the party travels, they reach a town. It is a nice town, prosperous...but everyone is depressed, quiet, subdued and there is a distinct lack of childish laughter or children in general. The PCs will eventually find out that the village was plagued by rats that simply would not go away, until a youth of about 13 or 14 showed up and offered to deal with their rat problem, in exchange for X amount of cash. The grateful villagers all pitched in to meet his rather exceptionally high fee, and he pulled out his flute and musicked the rats away. But when the villagers went to get the money they gathered to pay him with, it was gone. They couldn't pay him, so he charmed all their children away...

The REAL Story: This "villain" is a child of 13 summers. Many characters would be very hesitant to cut him down just on that basis.

When he was an infant, he was abandoned in a gutter. The rats found him, but before they would eat him, they were stopped by a Rat-Queen, a creature made of seven rats with their tails knotted together. They form a kind of hive-mind, a telepathic creature that controls the rat swarm. The Queen sensed the potential for powerful magic within the infant, and instead of feeding it to her rats, she had it infected with lycanthrope, giving it just enough rat DNA to enable her to steer its thoughts.

The infant grew, nourished by the rats, and soon enough displayed a remarkable talent for bardic magic. And the Rat-Queen hatched a plot...

The swarm infests a village until they become deeply desperate. The young boy appears, offering to cure their plague in exchange for an exorbitant sum. The villagers cobble together the sum, and he removes the rats...but meanwhile, more of the swarm make off with the funds intended for the Whistler. He then takes their children as penance....and the clan eats well indeed.

So. The PCs will be about 11th level by the time they run into him, and he's a powerful bard, helped along by a telepathic creature he carries with him in his bag, as well as a swarm of hive-mind-controlled rats. An interesting fight anyway...throw into the mix that the players will likely have no idea the boy regards the clan as his family and humans as food for his family (himself included), that the boy is exactly that - a child...

...but on the other hand, he's just fed a village-ful of children to a swarm of rats. So he's obviously evil! Kill it with swords and fire!

...but wait! What's that I smell, says the party magic user... a mild-altering effect? On the boy? Why, he wasn't in control of his actions! He must be innocent!

So...what was controlling him? Search search search search hand in backpack YOW BITEY OWCH! What is THIS ugly thing...etc etc.

And when they try to reason with him he protects his Goddess first and foremost...the Queen.


2013-01-10, 09:31 PM
Always heard it as Rat King, from the Nutcracker suite.

Sounds good but at the same time, children in DnD for me usually end up dead.

What if they try and cure his Lynthrope would that cure hiim or would he still be indebt to the rat queen.?

2013-01-11, 09:17 PM
Oooh, this is dark....I like it!

What are you looking for here? It sounds like a fun encounter, but I don't know how to predict what your player's reactions will be without knowing more about the group, or the set-up. In all honesty, if I where playing anything than a down-and-out "evil" cut-throat, I'd probably favor giving him at least one chance to break away from the life he's lead and redeem himself.

Science Officer
2013-01-12, 12:24 AM
Yeah, Rat Kings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_king_%28folklore%29) are more common.

Aside from that, I just want to say +1 for basing campaigns on metal lyrics. :smallcool:

2013-01-12, 03:32 AM
Nitpick: I'm pretty sure the parties response, when learning that he's being mind controlled by a sack of rats, isn't going to be to reason with him, but rather to kill the thing mind controlling him.

ps this post brought to you by signal oil

2013-01-12, 04:23 AM
Nitpick: I'm pretty sure the parties response, when learning that he's being mind controlled by a sack of rats, isn't going to be to reason with him, but rather to kill the thing mind controlling him.

Yeah, then if/when he goes beserk, at least try not to kill him. If he survives, take him to get his lycantropy cured. Hmm, after that, it might be nessecary to weaken him long term. Something like inflicting permenant level loss, maybe? Give him a chance to relive (at least some of) his childhood in a more nurturing enviornment?

On the other hand, if he has loot, and letting him survive would entitle him to keeping that loot... :smallwink:

Kol Korran
2013-01-12, 04:47 AM
nothing to add, just wanted to say i like this idea. Maurice and His Educated Rodents was an interesting book to read, i'd like to hear how your "adaptation" of it came along.

if the party's smart i think they will just grapple the boy to kill the rat queen, I doubt the swarms will pose that much of a problem at their level, unless you're adding anything... special? :smallwink:

Dread Angel
2013-01-12, 02:42 PM
I do have a history of making swarms .... different.

I recently had them fight a swarm of tiny little demons. So it had swarm traits AND demon traits, which made them really need to think about how to even hurt it, seeing as they are level 6...