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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Know any good sinister deals?

    D&D 3.5:

    I've been reading about the Verdant Prince, MM4 pg. 172, and I find the character intriguing. I want to use him in a plot hook, but I'm not sure what kind of deals to strike that seem harmless enough for adventurers to want to take, but have consequences so vile, it may cause a crises of conscience halfway through the deal.

    I don't want it to be obtusely vulgar, like:
    "I'll give you what you want, but you have to rape 1,000 women!"

    Or even a cliched Devil's deal, like:
    "I'll give you what you want, for your soul in return!"

    It's got to seem harmless, but feel sinister. Like "You may have what you wish, but I require the plume of an [insert name of an exotic bird here]."

    I've been watching The Booth at the End on Hulu for inspiration, but this kind of thought process is, frankly, beyond me. If the PCs take the Oath Bond, they will, of course be sent on a mission for the Verdant Prince. But that mission should provide revealing hints that fulfilling the Oath Bond will require them to do something horrible, or possibly require them to allow something horrible to happen. But that's where I run out of steam...

    What would be the horrible thing?

    Has anyone here ever used a Verdant Prince, or some analog thereof, in their campaigns? What sort of deal did they make that formed an Oath Bond?

    Incidentally, for those of you who aren't familiar with a Verdant Prince:

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    They aren't all-powerful, like genies, gods, or devils, to grant just any wish, but they command a small army of fey who can accomplish most tasks or acquire most items that an adventurer may want. Once you make an Oath Bond with a Verdant Prince, both sides of the agreement are magically compelled to fulfill their end of the bargain. Either side of the bargain can refuse to finish the bargain, but they suffer severe penalties as if they were cursed, and the offended member of the deal becomes instantly aware of the change of heart, and the exact location of the one who squelched on the deal.
    Last edited by missmvicious; 2012-01-03 at 03:32 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Maybe if the verdant prince asks for a child?

    It's 100% wrong, and it would be evil for the PCs to complete such a bargain, but it's rather subtle. A PC might agree to the deal without realizing the implications.

    Any sort of deal that carries out the Verdant Prince's own agenda is good. it could be mundane, but it ultimately serves an evil creature.

    Secrets are another good one, as although giving a secret to verdant prince may sem harmless, he could trade it to the PCs' real antagonist.

    A unspecfied, minor favor, to be asked for later also works.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    This works best if there's a female character in the party who would be willing to give one of her fingers for whatever the fairy is willing to give.

    "(bows to kiss the female character's hand)

    Why my lady, it is a simple thing. Nearly one hundred years ago, I was served a special dish of food. I quite enjoyed it, and on the day exactly 100 years from that day, I will have that dish served for me once more.
    Fear not! I do not take your for a cook. I only require that you provide for me a special ingredient. In a southern land far from here a beautiful yellow flower grows to be as tall as the tallest man. Every year, a few weeks after the flowers bloom, a fruit forms in these plants that should be quickly harvested, when it resembles a slender finger in size and shape. Indeed, the locals call this fruit a lady's finger, and the lady's finger is the ingredient my soup requires. Remember, the flowers bloom only during (a specific time)!"
    The catch is twofold. The one the players are sure to catch on is that the plant he talks about is not the finger he wants. The second, the one the players might miss, is that it's not the PC's finger the Prince wants, but the finger of a real lady - a noble, possibly even the member of some royal family.

    If asked more about it, the fairy is willing to provide more detail about the dish: its taste, the story of the king who promised to cook a bowl of soup for the Prince, how he made the king cook his own wife's finger into the soup... or some other gruesome tale. However, unless specifically asked, he will NOT say that the PC is not "lady" enough.
    Last edited by endoperez; 2012-01-03 at 04:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Other things that would be sinister but not over the top:

    • The Holy Symbol from the high priest of a good god.
    • Unicorn blood (usually it's a big deal to kill a unicorn)
    • A strand of hair from an enemy of the Prince, like someone in the opposing fey court.
    • Books of lore from tombs or forgotten vaults or even the private library of the Head of the Arcane Order.
    • Teardrop of a virgin, blood of a saint, etc.


    The DMG II has a lot of big magical rituals that need several parts brought together to complete. Asking for one of those would seem harmless, but then the Prince could offer another favor for the second piece, giving the PCs a chance to see that it's all part of a bigger plot. Or make up your own, and have any of the above be a part of it.

    He could ask for the PCs to break one of his agents out of a prison, as the PCs prepare to do so, they realize exactly how evil the subject of the breakout is.

    And I just want to second the idea of secrets. "Find me the name of the Baron's current lover" would be an interesting mission. Not so much mechanically, but if the Baron is a good man and a boon to his barony, then supplying this info on him could destabilize his rule and hurt lots and lots of people.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    You could also ask for something that seems innocuous at first. Say, the Prince asks for a certain exotic bird, and they only later discover that said bird is a unique nature spirit without which the land will fall into decay. Or maybe he sends them to an out-of-the-way island to retrieve "an item of great magical potency, known as the Heart of Durmakon," and it turns out Durmakon is a benevolent dragon or somesuch.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    You could also ask for something that seems innocuous at first. Say, the Prince asks for a certain exotic bird, and they only later discover that said bird is a unique nature spirit without which the land will fall into decay. Or maybe he sends them to an out-of-the-way island to retrieve "an item of great magical potency, known as the Heart of Durmakon," and it turns out Durmakon is a benevolent dragon or somesuch.
    Building onto that idea, he could ask the party to slay the dragon that lives in the Valley of [Inster Mysterious Valley Name Here].

    The dragon of course, is a metallic dragon.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    Or maybe he sends them to an out-of-the-way island to retrieve "an item of great magical potency, known as the Heart of Durmakon," and it turns out Durmakon is a benevolent dragon or somesuch.
    I like this one a lot.

    On a similar note, if it's appropriate for the setting the request could be something even less obviously dangerous, but be tied to other deals or predictions: "...and in return, you must bring me the tears of Alichord Trevya, who guards the great gate of the Scarlet City."

    Which doesn't seem like TOO much of a problem until they find out that Alichord made a bargain with the Verdant Prince decades ago. For her part of the bargain, she was given the power to protect the Scarlet City from the fey-folk "until the Guardian of the City sheds a tear from laughter, grief or pain."

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Totally innocuous, yet with vast unpleasant consequences?

    "Tell Hjrolf the Mighty that his wife yet loves him." Evidently a simple task, made more difficult by the fact that Hjrolf the Mighty is jarl of a city currently under siege by the Forces of Boogityboo. The PCs have to find a way into the city, finangle a meeting with Hjrolf, and deliver the message.

    What they don't know is the Hjrolf murdered his wife decades ago while in the thrall of a berserker rage. The message sends him into a spiral of guilt and depression, culminating in him leading a suicide charge against the Forces of Boogityboo. The city falls as a result, and King Unpleasantius marches out of the frozen north into the lush vulnerable farmlands beyond.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Lord Tyger seems to have the right idea I think. Small things that seem harmless, but due to circumstances surrounding them, snowball into disaster.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    I've seen an enemy like this used very effectively before. Just think of it like a house of cards. The end goal doesn't have to be directly caused by the PC's actions. Maybe he needs them to convince someone else to agree to a "get rich quick" scam that really works! PC's get money, the other party gets rich, the scammed target has to fire workers, and that is the trigger which causes an employee snap and murder his family and self.

    It's like the PC's become a weather butterfly.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    A Verdant Prince came up in a game I ran, and the party became fairly tangled with deals as a result.

    The party wanted him to help a young woman who was essentially chronically ill to the point that magical cures had started to fail. They didn't quite know what they were dealing with, and when they first went to his grove they found him and two Banshrae there hosting a constant party.

    Through trying to be diplomatic, one of the PCs complemented the Banshraes' music. The Prince used this to his advantage, telling the Banshrae to give the PC a gift in exchange for the compliment - teach her the language of music. The PC accepted, and the Banshrae lost the ability to appreciate music so that the PC could appreciate it as a Banshrae would. The PC was horrified and tried to figure out a way to give it back, eventually entering into a deal with the Prince in order to do so. The deal was 'take this faerie with you, for he has worn his welcome out in my court'. It turned out to be a trickster faerie that could animate small objects and rope and the like, which got the party in trouble by pulling pranks at just the wrong moments but which they couldn't get rid of.

    Then, the deal for the actual thing the party went there to request was for another specific PC to spend a day in the faerie court as the Prince's guest. Even though nothing untoward happened, the fact that the rest of the party basically went ahead and accepted the deal without the other PCs consent created some friction. During that time, the Prince observed the PC and afterwards said 'your friend is interesting, and I have learned something deep and secret from watching him'.

    This lead to a third deal in order to obtain that secret, made by that PC himself, in which the PC basically gave the Verdant Prince a portion of something he had that he didn't know the value of in exchange for knowing the value of the rest of it. Again a sort of mixed deal, sort of a 'this item whole would have granted immortality and eternal youth; you have traded me half of the item, but I will let you choose which half you retain' scenario.

    One of the PCs was clever and made a deal for the right to leave peacefully and to return one day. This deal was a bit more mundane, involving dealing with a colony of weres that were annoying to the Prince. The Prince might have asked a bit much when he said 'end the phases of the moon within one year' as his first proposal for this

    There was also a fifth deal, somewhat offscreen, between the NPC who was the lover of the young girl and the Verdant Prince. The Prince's solution to her illness was 'she'll stay in the faerie grove where time does not pass', but of course that meant she was trapped there, so the lover had to make a deal to be able to stay by her side.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    ask for the macguffin (or part of it), it will create a plothook in itself :)
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    My favorite deal is for a lock of their hair or similar. Very old-school magic, and can be used to create ice assassins, or better yet, simulacrums. Doesn't look overtly horrible as a deal, but can be used oh-so-creatively.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Machinekng View Post
    A unspecfied, minor favor, to be asked for later also works.
    Which is right behind "sell your soul" on the list of conditions that would only be agreed to by people who are "too dumb to live".
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Which is right behind "sell your soul" on the list of conditions that would only be agreed to by people who are "too dumb to live".
    But it's only a small favor, how bad can it be?
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Good Sinister deal?
    A Kiss.

    It's such an innocuous thing to ask for. But depending on stuff, could lead to any number of consequences. The trick of course, is that he isn't after the kiss himself.
    You could be required to Kiss a long dead King (evil or otherwise) so of course as they no longer exist, you would have to first have them ressurected.
    You could be required to Kiss a creature that enslaves with a Kiss, thus basically agreeing to be sworn into the Princes direct command.
    The Kiss could be part of a terrible ritual, it could be part of a plot to destroy the marriage of a powerful king, or split up a similarly married pair of Gods.

    Or you could go the Dementor route, and have the person accidentally agree to have their soul destroyed in a magical 'kiss'. Of course, the point of deals like this would be so that the deal they make to get out of it is much less even than the deal they thought they were getting the first time.

    Asking for a Kiss is also genuinely a bit creepy in and of it's own right.
    I suppose you could always have some kind of double and/or triple bluff wherein the Prince really does just want a Kiss, though.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    The Dresden files have the Fae demands some interesting things

    A True Name
    Memories, a year's worth (All the memories a character had of another character)
    Love (Not that character would love the Fae, but the ability to feel it)

    Things that seem minor and ephemeral are important. Play up the weird a bit

    Dreams (no more, or perhaps no future ambitions)
    Nightmares (you will now have them)
    Time that will not be missed (days, years, rip van winkle style or even night time possession)
    Seven Words (The Fae will replace seven words at some point in a future conversation or replace the memories of seven words once said to them)
    Their tears (interpret this how you will, there are alot, but it obviously does not mean pull out a bottle, unless your setting uses sympathetic magic. Their ability to feel compassion? Perhaps to set an event in motion that will make PC cry?)

    Child is classic

    Also one the the things to remember about the Fae is that there is an equivalent exchange principle. The characters and the prince can accept nothing from the other party without giving something in return. Failure to do so gives the prince power over you or drives them to owe you one. This occurs even outside the bonds of an official pact.

    Other stuff from the tales and such...

    Do not eat any food at a Fae's table
    They are truthful, but not honest (word twisting and what not)

    Maddeningly impossible tasks are also in the purview of the Fae. Count the grains of sand on the shore. Find a specific flower in a field of nearly identical ones. These sadly do not translate well into a system like 3.5

    I once had a player bargain with a dragon for transport. The deal was that the player would travel to the farthest shore, an island at the very end of the world and there retrieve the foundation stone set there by an ancient archmage. The kicker was that it had weathered over time and there were no records of what this stone looked like, on a shore with thousands of broken rocks.

    Ideally, such a deal should instigate a quest of some sort. In the above story, it sent the player on a quest to the ends of the earth itself. In the others, it places them in a situation where yes, they do get screwed over a bit, but in doing so you set a quest for repairing it.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    You could also ask for something that seems innocuous at first. ... Or maybe he sends them to an out-of-the-way island to retrieve "an item of great magical potency, known as the Heart of Durmakon," and it turns out Durmakon is a benevolent dragon or somesuch.
    Careful with the wording of this one, smart players will just go ahead and bring the heart of Durmakon, and the chest, and the limbs, ect.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Random NPC View Post
    Careful with the wording of this one, smart players will just go ahead and bring the heart of Durmakon, and the chest, and the limbs, ect.
    If they work that out, then they should reap the rewards of their cleverness.

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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    I once sent my PCs to a crypt to collect the Skull of Jacob, they didnt realise until they got there that Jacob is an archaeologist.

    Loving the Heart of Durmakon idea espiecally if the PCs bring the whole dragon, genious PC work there.
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Wow! Great ideas, everyone!


    I really like the heart of Durmakon idea.

    And the plot of Hjorlf the Mighty sounds awesome! Though I may reword the names a bit.

    These are great domino effect scenarios that'll really help with the, "Wait... oh no... what did I agree to?" factor.

    And I also like the ends of the earth thing. It's a campaign within a campaign... although I wonder if my group will have the patience for that. Also, I have to figure out how to turn something like that into an evil thing. Verdant Princes have to execute their end of the bargain with integrity... unlike a Devil or an old-school interpretation of a Genie who always twists it into something you regret. With a Verdant Prince, you get what you asked for; the regrettable stuff comes from what the PCs did to get what they want, not how the VP gave it to you... kind of like in the show The Booth at the End.

    There's so much here to work with. Thanks a lot, everyone! My next challenge is picking which idea to build off of!
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    Default Re: Know any good sinister deals?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lapak View Post
    I like this one a lot.
    "...and in return, you must bring me the tears of Alichord Trevya, who guards the great gate of the Scarlet City."

    she was given the power to protect the Scarlet City from the fey-folk "until the Guardian of the City sheds a tear from laughter, grief or pain."
    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    one of the PCs complemented the Banshraes' music. The Prince used this to his advantage, telling the Banshrae to give the PC a gift in exchange for the compliment - teach her the language of music. The PC accepted, and the Banshrae lost the ability to appreciate music so that the PC could appreciate it as a Banshrae would. The PC was horrified and tried to figure out a way to give it back, eventually entering into a deal with the Prince in order to do so. The deal was 'take this faerie with you, for he has worn his welcome out in my court'.

    Thank you to both of you good sirs,

    i have used both these suggestions in my game tonight.
    I kept the city guardian's name as a tribute to you, but i might change the wording of the guard's deal (or my players will use an onion or something to make her cry). I'm thinking to make the guard a female warforged or a good natured stone giant, just to make things harder.

    I also used the Banshrae trick there :) And guess what, it was a paladin that received the gift, and he had NO idea the prince was evil until the banshrae told him he was a cruel person for stealing her music.

    Anyhow, now they must take the Banshrae with them, "until she desires to be with them no more". My Banshrae is an evil trickster that loves seeing good people try things and fail, so it will probably be some time before she grows tired of them :) Still she wants to be somewhat loyal to their new "friends", and already tried to kill someone that lightly threatened the paladin..
    Last edited by Madeiner; 2012-01-12 at 08:54 PM.

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