... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, February 24, 2012

GM-Ordained Betrayal

I've been thinking about mind-control effects, possession, doppelgangers, or other situations where one member of the adventuring party is either forced to betray the party or is actually a monster/villain who is masquerading as a trusted colleague. The standard solution is note passing or taking the player aside in secret, which I find annoying. Is there another way?

I think the approach I outlined in I Meant To Do That would work here. Don't tell anyone anything; let them play their characters exactly as they would in any other circumstance. However, any time the player of the co-opted character makes a suggestion or takes an action not suggested by other party members, roll a d6, adjusting the roll for the intelligence of the controlling magic-user or spirit, or of the monster impersonating the PC: on 5+, the player's actions were really part of the villain's plans. For example, if the player says "I think we should go this direction," on a 5+ the villain knows this is the location of an ambush arranged by its allies

Improvise appropriate details whenever the roll is a success so that bad stuff tends to happen. Add new monsters or traps, for example. If there is a trap, include the intelligence modifier on the roll to avoid the trap; the villain might still get caught (or pretend to get caught) in a trap, but has an advantage of knowledge. In fact, if you normally let players make their own saves against traps (as I do,) you can tell a player of a co-opted PC who failed the roll by a small amount "... but for some reason you were able to escape." Let the players fret over why that character was special. Doppelganger? Or was the PC blessed by a cleric?


  1. I like this. It's a really cool way of dealing with these sorts of situations.

  2. I think I might still use the old enlist-the-player trick when their character has been *completely* taken over by someone or something.

    But I think I'll probably use your idea when a character is merely under the influence of someone or something. That way, even the player of that character isn't sure what's going on, just like their character isn't.

  3. This is a really interesting idea. I wonder how the potential reveal would work though. It seems possible that the players might never discover the betrayal (especially if it was something like possession or mind-control rather than actual replacement by a doppelganger).