View Full Version : What Should My Poor Little NPC Do?

2013-10-10, 09:38 AM
It's be creative with your NPCs time!

((Disclaimer to my players: If you see this thread, turn back now. Do not read the spoilers. You'll find out eventually. :smallwink:))

So I've been roped into GMing Song of Ice and Fire for my group (my first time GMing that system) and thought I'd start off with a published adventure. Now the published adventures in SoIaF are quite brilliantly written, but as usual there is the risk of the players going off on a tangent that has not been provided for. Which they officially have. So I can basically throw out the prewritten plot.

Now I need some ideas as to how a certain NPC could react. Further description in spoilers.

The basic premise is that an assassin is loose at a noble house's castle, targeting the (quite hapless) young lord. The players need to find him. And they've, well, found him. Days before he was supposed to start his final attempt.

They had him pinned in the ruin where he was hiding and asked him about the shards of the poison vial they found under his sleeping mattress. He managed to lie to them, saying he'd found it in the castle's kitchen. He succeeded on his bluff check. Now they want him to work for them, keeping an eye out for irregular occurrences.

I have to say, it's pretty darn ingenious, but now I'm at a bit of a loss.

The guy himself is not very bright. In fact, he's described as the worst assassin ever, and his past three or four assassination attempts have invariably gone wrong. (So much that almost no one believed that there even is an assassin and not just a rather unfortunate string of bad luck for the young lord.) I've had to scramble to not have the story end then and there when they had him. And I can consider myself lucky that they didn't search him.

So how do I keep him in the game now? Or should I even keep him? Of course, he's not working alone, and his employer not only knows about his ineptitude, but has furnished him with "evidence" to incriminate another house in the matter. (Which they would have found if they'd searched the guy.) His original plan was to poison the lord's favorite dish on his nameday, which IC is three days from now.

So I see only three possibilities:

The assassin runs away, having gotten cold feet after being interrogated by the PCs. (There was mention of having his arms ripped off, after all.) Maybe he'll try to murder the lord one last time, or maybe he'll just leave the incriminating letter and scram. The next part would then be the characters following that clue, dropping any ongoing interaction with the court completely.
The assassin stays (they promised him a lot of money, after all), but starts to act suspiciously because he wants to stick to the original plan. Maybe he's still going into the castle even after they promised to bring him food. Maybe he's found in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do you have any ideas for suspicious behavior? He's not the brightest candle in the chandelier, so to speak, so he's bound to make mistakes.
One of the assassin's employers decides to check on the proceeding of the plot, so the PCs get another antagonist to reckon with. And this one could be a bit smarter. Maybe he even kills the first one and takes over the plot.

What do you think? What should I do?

2013-10-10, 10:02 AM
If the whole thing is basically to frame another noble family and the employers know he's bad and want him to fail, then they should have more agents at the castle to watch how everything turns out. And they most probably would have become aware that the assassin was discovered before he could do the murder.
Now they will have to improvise.
If the PCs do not yet know that the real plan is about framing someone else for the murder, the plan is still salvagable.
What I would do is have the agents dispose of the assassin and try the whole thing again. Maybe murder the target and the assassin, but leave the fake evidence on the assassins corpse.

I would assume that the players will come to the conclusion that the employers knew the assassin failed and send another assassin to complete the job and also kill the traitor who has agreed to work for the enemy. They will search the assassins corpse and find the letters, which still point to the other noble family as his employees.

2013-10-10, 10:36 AM
If I were that assassin, I would (having made t it onto the PCs 'don't murder' list) bring the lord some water or other beverage in private, poisoning said drink. Then once the lord takes a sip, I slip out of there as quickly as possible, claiming that I need to use the outhouse or have some urgent business out of town (and also that the lord desires privacy for the next few hours). I then move for the stables as fast as possible (ideally having my getaway horse all ready to go beforehand), ride out of town at a reasonable pace (to avoid attention), then f***ing book it once I get out of sight of the castle.

2013-10-10, 11:21 AM
How "not bright" are we talking, and what are this inept assassin's motives for doing the deed? Is he loyal to his employer, or just to the money? Does he have something personal against the target?

If he's just kind-of greedy and took the money so now he's going to do it, he might be more afraid of the PCs now than his employers and honestly switch sides. Maybe he's dumb enough to ineptly play a few sides against the middle, and will plant the evidence and try to collect on the rewards the PCs have promised him for "helping." He may not even need to kill the lord at that point, especially if he's dumb enough not to fear his employers' displeasure.

If he's merely bad at being an assassin, but not a complete imbecile, he might be really worried and try to come clean. If he's making bluff checks, maybe he confesses but says he was threatened into it. Depending on whether he thinks he can blame the patsy for whom he has evidence to plant, or thinks it better to confess his real boss, he can claim to have been hired by either one and beg for protection.

Really, to figure out what he'd do, we need a bit more on just what precise level of smarts we're (not) dealing with, and what HIS motivations are, and what he thinks of the other involved parties (his boss, the lord, the patsy he's supposed to frame, the PCs, etc.).

2013-10-10, 12:59 PM
Well, he's described as a kind of guy who is good at nothing. He's too inept/lazy/cowardly to hold down a steady job and probably turned to killing people for money the minute someone asked him to. I guess he's found it to be an easy lifestyle up until now and fancies himself quite the killer. Not clear as to whether he has really killed someone up until now. (Not for lack of trying, though...)

Hmmm, I quite like the idea of his employer having people there to follow his progress. I just stumbled upon the idea of them manipulating another NPC (a guest of the house) into killing the assassin so the PCs are none the wiser... But then the lord would still have to be killed in order to create a rift between the houses, only the third party would have to do it themselves. Does that make sense?

2013-10-10, 01:07 PM
If it actually takes a successful assassination attempt as opposed to a failed one to make two houses hate each other, you're not really in Westeros.

2013-10-11, 05:20 PM
Have him continue to try on his attempts, but have him try to frame someone else as the assassin. Even not terribly bright folks would think of trying this. He just might not be very good at it.

Continue to have him feeding the PCs information, but have other facts that contradict what he is saying. Or if you're really devious, try to arrange things so that the PCs are checking against their 'informant' to verify what other people are saying. And have things not match up, forcing them to do more investigation, or jump to the wrong conclusions.

2013-10-11, 06:51 PM
If it actually takes a successful assassination attempt as opposed to a failed one to make two houses hate each other, you're not really in Westeros.


Or if you're really devious, try to arrange things so that the PCs are checking against their 'informant' to verify what other people are saying. And have things not match up, forcing them to do more investigation, or jump to the wrong conclusions.

I like being devious :smallamused: But I don't quite understand what you mean... Do you have an example? Like people saying "Oh, the cook was here all the time" and him saying "I saw the cook outside this night"? That would make him plenty suspicious if it happened more than once...