Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ragitsu

[Plot Hook] Oil, beauty, and danger.

Recommended Posts

While in a tavern or other sufficiently public venue, an NPC tries to kill one of the PCs. Before they're able to react, another NPC steps in to defend the targeted Player Character. In the process, the savior NPC gets shanked pretty damn hard; in fact, his wound ends up being mortal. No one knows it, but the dying fellow is a recently retired assassin that wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of his days in peace. The PCs are handed a key to the assassin's villa and are told to "Enjoy the spoils accumulated from a lifetime of indifference and misery" before he shuffles off his mortal coil.

 

Although the main building is handsomely furnished (the PCs can acquire a fair bit of wealth selling off mundane yet expensive objects), most of the interesting stuff is placed within a seven-story hexagonal tower that sits adjacent to the residence. What makes the tower so special is that its foundation/walls incorporate meteoric iron; as such, it cannot be breached by mystical attempts to spy within. One of these floors contains a room that is equal parts art gallery and library/study. Mounted on the wall in this connoisseur's delight is an oil painting of a beautiful woman wearing a short gown adorned with bits of precious metals, semiprecious stones, and a few belts...who also appears to be in a state of distress. Further examination reveals slightly pointed ears which indicate she is half-elven. It turns out that the subject of this artwork is a living being trapped inside by a powerful spell. There is a solution to free her hidden within the room, but doing so poses a great risk to the party. Unbeknownst to them, this lady is minor nobility and a sorceress of ill repute; she used her talents to enchant and subsequently enslave others to follow her will. Once freed, she spends some time reeling from the aftereffects of magical suspended animation while pleasantly lavishing quiet praise on the PCs for saving her. In truth, she is observing each one of them in order to determine their value and whether she should charm them, kill them, or attempt to escape sight unseen.

 

What i'm having trouble with is deciding the why; specifically, why she is locked into a painting in the assassin's villa. One thought that comes to mind is that she was a "mark" that the assassin couldn't kill (either because she was too tough a nut to crack or because he had a minor crisis of conscience) but could sequester away thanks to a single-use artifact he had on hand. Another explanation is that she was a client whose cruelty disgusted even the hired-killer who, at the time, had started growing a conscience. He ended up pushing her into a prepared painting she planned to use on a victim (a nobleman's daughter) the assassin had brought to her (she knew of his underworld reputation as a man that could find anyone, but also sensed that he lacked the subtle ferocity he formerly possessed, and so used him to bring the offspring of an aristocratic rival to her domain). After freeing the daughter, the assassin took the painting back to his sanctuary for safe keeping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorceress was going to betray him, she whiffed, he shoved her into the painting before she could use it on her intended target (who he had trussed and ready).

 

He didn't know how to destroy it without risking releasing her, so he kept it. Probably also some pleasure in taunting her given that she tried to betray him. Even if he changes his mind later when he realizes he wants to change his ways, he was riding the tiger - he can't let her out because she will not let the grudge go.

 

The advantage of this route is that it creates another source of information/investigation - the PCs can find her name among his affects in relation to the painting, they can find the former target whose initial reaction to them dropping the assassin's name is something like "I want nothing to do with him/glad to hear he's dead" but when the PCs mention the sorceress, this contact will likely change her tune and want to be more helpful...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Manic Typist said:

Sorceress was going to betray him, she whiffed, he shoved her into the painting before she could use it on her intended target (who he had trussed and ready).

 

He didn't know how to destroy it without risking releasing her, so he kept it. Probably also some pleasure in taunting her given that she tried to betray him. Even if he changes his mind later when he realizes he wants to change his ways, he was riding the tiger - he can't let her out because she will not let the grudge go.

 

Fantastic! That nicely justifies his continuing possession of the two-dimensional prison 👍.

 

1 hour ago, Manic Typist said:

The advantage of this route is that it creates another source of information/investigation - the PCs can find her name among his affects in relation to the painting, they can find the former target whose initial reaction to them dropping the assassin's name is something like "I want nothing to do with him/glad to hear he's dead" but when the PCs mention the sorceress, this contact will likely change her tune and want to be more helpful...

 

Did you have a specific end or goal in mind that she might assist the PCs with completing, or did you leave the ultimate value of her potential assistance somewhat open-ended?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about this...

 

Decades ago the Sorceress used her powers to slowly kill her way up the hierarchy of a neighboring kingdom. The people all hated her, but she was too powerful to stop. At her coronation she wanted her royal portrait painted by the greatest artist in the land. This artist happened to be an elderly Bard who knew a powerful spell involving painting. He came and had her pose while he painted her portrait, but the portrait was also a spell/trap. When he was finished and she looked upon the final work she was transported and trapped inside it. 

 

The painting was taken and given to a powerful mage in the next kingdom over to safeguard and prevent her from ever getting free.  The powerful mage happened to live in " a seven-story hexagonal tower that sits adjacent to the residence. What makes the tower so special is that its foundation/walls incorporate meteoric iron; as such, it cannot be breached by mystical attempts to spy within." and he kept the painting safe for many years until he was killed by an assassin who them took over the tower as his own domain, without ever knowing the the beautiful painting in the study was actually a magical prison for the Sorceress. 

 

The PCs free her and was she recovers she takes off, with the goal of reclaiming her old kingdom leaving a path of destruction in her wake. 

 

PCs have to follow her and stop her from punishing the descendants of those who imprisoned her and killing everyone currently ruling the kingdom and taking her throne back. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Ragitsu said:

 

Fantastic! That nicely justifies his continuing possession of the two-dimensional prison 👍.

 

 

Did you have a specific end or goal in mind that she might assist the PCs with completing, or did you leave the ultimate value of her potential assistance somewhat open-ended?

 

Thanks, glad to help.

 

End goal: Not really, as the specifics are too tied up into everything else in your story. I'd say the narrative point would be to give the PCs a clear direction as to the stakes, the nature of the threat, and which way to go to find a solution. I can see them being potentially confused by one this woman attacked them/fled them, etc. so this NPC can explain the backstory and give them a clear direction to go if they want to pursue putting the genie back in the bottle.

 

It is easy for players, after all, to not see the things we think are obvious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×