View Full Version : How do I Motivate this Character?

2013-10-12, 02:10 PM
I'm running an open world game, and I try to be as accommodating as I can. One of my players has asked to play a "pact fiend", essentially an infernal bureaucrat. I've been thinking about it, and I can't come up with a plot hook that would interest such a character to go risk life and limb adventuring. Maybe I'm overlooking something. What do you guys think? Here's the relevant information, as written by the player. The trouble is that he doesn't really have the power to make a typical "deal with the devil", but it feels like that's what the player is going for.

Elizabeth is someone whom views herself as a neutral party, separated from the good and evil and instead weighs them on a scale. To her neither can exist without the other and the goal to obliterate the other is something that could never be achieved.

As such she will admit that she does both evil and good things in her life, that she has both killed and saved during the years she has lived. But one can always be sure that her word is her bond. If she makes a deal with someone than she will stick to it for as long as the other does.

She treats evil both evil and good creatures with a certain level of distrust since for a pact fiend none of them can be trusted. The good could be tempted to smite her just because of the lasting taint of her creation while the evil could devour her or lie and abuse her binding word.
There are some things that creatures are never able to do right, either because of stubbornness, stupidity, racism or their own shortsightedness. No matter how hard they tried the only thing that could come about from negotiations would be even more fighting between the two parties as they dig into their own morals. This is where the life of a Crossroads Broker comes in, although it is not always to settle agreements or petty squabbles. If a creature needs help with a goal they might use one to strike a deal up with a more powerful force to grant them what they desires.

For Elizabeth this line of work suited her perfectly and naturally drew her to it. As a pact fiend her deals were her shackles, shackles that while they restricted her opened up the opportunity for much greater things. When a personís deals are absolute they not only close the door on breaking them but open up whole new windows of trust that can form lasting alliances or relationships where all of the parties benefit.

Ever since she was birthed it was expected of her to follow this path of life under one deity or another. However the prospect of working solely for evil creatures seemed to be tiresome for her, the constant lies and manipulations they would attempt to pull would be an annoyance to deal with every time. The gods of good on the other hand would most likely smite her on the spot, not wishing to directly employ such a tainted being, thus leaving only one goddess to work under in order to have the most diverse set of customers.

Serving under Traloon, a goddess whom many can trust to stick to her word, opens up the best chances of having variety with her assignments. Her agents are expected to stick to the rules and as a broker it makes perfect sense to serve under the deity representing law when their way of life revolves around contracts and deals.

When she is not currently being employed or have requests made of her Elizabeth tends to try and spend her time in other, more productive ways. Either through making binding deals for herself with others or taking up requests in the material plane to gain more influence and power. By obtaining wealth, contacts, and power she can raise up and be able to obtain more rewarding requests that require a more powerful broker to achieve. While she is content with her situation as it is, to be able to have powerful beings bound to a contract is never a thing to pass up.

2013-10-12, 02:50 PM
well, judging from what i read, this character is motivated by wealth and power. money, boons, authority all seem like things she is striving to get, so that would be my first idea at motivation

The Oni
2013-10-12, 02:57 PM
Maybe she's adventuring because she herself made a pact with one of the other PCs, and has to honor it to its completion. Whether she fully understood the ramifications of the contract at the time is up to you. It could've been made under duress (as in, another character saved her life or something) or perhaps the other character just worded it in a clever way to make the obligation last much longer than normal.

For added lulz, maybe the PC she owes the contract to is on the high end of Good and is attempting to "redeem" her from her fiendish career, with little success.

2013-10-12, 03:04 PM
I can try putting her in a situation where she has that opportunity, TF, and that seems like my best bet at this point, but she was really vague about it so I'm a bit hesitant.
That sounds like a pretty fun narrative, LS, but I don't like the idea of forcing a player into having made a restrictive agreement before the game starts.

2013-10-12, 03:39 PM
I'm assuming her combat stats are up to par, yes? As long as she's a functional party member, it matters little what her job description is.

As far as I can see, this character's quest is straightforward; find people with problems, bring them to the negotiating table, and fix the problem at the highest profit margin and whilst killing as few potential customers as possible. She's a peacemaker... she has to go FIND her clients, because the whole point is they're usually too caught up in things to think to find her. Hence, she is an adventurer.

The problem arises only when the rest of the party gets bored of the negotiation process... which will definitely happen from time to time. This can be handled a number of ways, and you'll need to use all of them, probably.

1. Let her have the power to force a negotiation sometime, but not all the time.

It is crucial that you figure out ways where she has sufficient leverage to force your bored fighter to sit and wait while she talks, and equally crucial to allow him to stab her customer in the face sometimes and make her live with it. She must have a place in the story, but you can't let it be just about her.

2. Have three-way disputes, in which only two parties can possibly agree.

Simplistically, there are enough supplies for two factions, not all three. Pact fiend gets to run negotiations, odd man out gets stabbed by the party. Or they go stab stuff to bring him supplies, I guess.

3. Have things for other party members to do that can make her job easier.

Gathering information, repairing useful equipment, scrounging for supplies, getting in good with a faction's second in command... give them something to do while she's talking.

4. No deals are possible with the big bad, but those favors will come in handy...

Likewise, let her pacts help with what the rest of the party's doing.


As you can see here, the important thing is balance. Let her do her special thing, but leave something for everyone else to do that isn't just supporting her. If you do it right, everyone can celebrate each other's awesome moments. Do it wrong, and you'll get Miss Devil Mary Sue and her four flunkies... until the flunkies stop playing.

2013-10-12, 06:36 PM
Does she have any superiors, or some level of status? If so, fear is an excellent motivator. Fear is what drives a Devil's ambition, at least partially.

Fear of losing hard earned trust, power or respect. Fear of becoming useless in her profession, fear of failing her deity or superior, fear of a client's or victim's reprisal. Etc.

2013-10-12, 06:49 PM
How about you tempt her with clients? Adventuring is great for advertising!

There are people in need. Someone has a lost lover. Another's child is lost to the demons. Someone sold his soul for money, and is trying to get out of the collection. Villages are in need of saving!

Every quest-giver is a potential client for a Pact Fiend.

2013-10-13, 02:48 AM
I would recommend asking the player "what kind of things would you like to do with your character? What motivates her, or might compel her to adventure?"

No need to give her specifically what she asks for, but that ought to give you an idea of what she's hoping to get out of the game. If you ask all your players this, you can even find out how much they are on the same page, and prevent some inter-party conflict, like the fighter stabbing her client in the face, before it happens.

2013-10-13, 10:55 AM
If she's a bureaucrat, then perhaps her boss has ordered her out into the field with a mission from Collections.