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ID: 140


November 4, 2005, 7:38 am

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When a Lord Goes Mad


What do you do if your employer begins to go mad? Particularly if you’ve managed to build up a long tradition of working for him.

Note: - this plot will only work with a reasonably lawful group, with some sense of loyalty and honour.


Lord Niavon is the supreme ruler of the country of Torridon, having taken power in a miitary coup 11 years ago. Since then he has shown himself to be a just though harsh ruler, and has ruled successfully, including making several succesful foreign campaigns against neighbouring countries. He is not disliked, though he is respected rather than loved.

Enter the PCs (who can be of any level). They will be hired by Niavon to perform a task of some sort; assuming they complete it succesfully they will be well rewarded, and offered another. Give them a little time there to build up a tradition of working for Torridon, to build up some contacts in the city and time to feel that this is becoming a familiar area.

Next, Niavon launches a major invasion against Torridon’s traditional enemy to the north, the kingdom of Siluria (this can all happen “off screen”, though the PCs may be iinvolved in some aspect of it). His army is routed, his first major defeat since coming to power. After he returns, everyone can see a change in him: he has become obsessed with conquering Siluria, is raising taxes steeply and devoting the entire resources of the kingdom to it (which is naturally unpopular). Furthermore, his behaviour is beginning to border on the psychotic - he has slain a couple of servants who have displeased him, and is increasingly irrational. This can be brought home to the PCs by sending them on a mission, preferably a difficult one. When they complete it, Niavon refuses to pay, claiming they didn’t do it properly, and driving them from the throne room by force.

At this point, the PCs are faced with a dilemma. Should they stay and hope things get better, or should they leave, abandoning all their contacts and a town and region that they’ve got to know well. Furthermore, where would they go: if they go to Siluria or another neighbouring country, they potentially have much knowledge of Torridon to offer, but they may also be assumed to be spies.

Interesting possibilities.

-Niavon’s psychosis could be natural; on the other hand maybe it has been induced by someone. Potential people could be the Silurians, one of his advisers who wants to gain power, or a random third party who wants to exarcerbate the conflict between Torridon and Siluria.

-Whatever the case, one of his advisers may hire the PCs to investigate the cause. They may or not find it, depending on whether or not it is natural. Perhaps two adivisers hire them, each claiming the other is a prime suspect.

-The Silurians can’t be too happy about the madness, given that it has resulted in Niavon devoting his army to attacking them, even if they caused it. Of course, if they did, they couldn’t admit it. Maybe they approach the PCs asking them to investigate and see if there is a cure. Is it treason to work for your arch-enemies when the task they want you to do is to cure your lord’s madness?

-Of course, the longer the PCs stick around investigating things, the more they’re going to have to put up with Niavon’s madness. And, of course, it may be totally natural in which case all their efforts will be to of no avail.

Note - I will put up a link to Torridon as a setting once I have written it.

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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

January 28, 2004, 8:44
I like this plot very much. It has a number of ways it can play out, depending on DM whim. I personally would use the "third party trying to cause problems" with the added idea that the third party is another kingdom's ruler, intending to swoop in once both Torridon and Siluria have been battle-fatigued and weakened. Though adding in the "two advisors both blaming each other" idea could help as a distraction, keeping the PC's away from the real plot. A very good job
January 30, 2004, 13:38
Glad you like it! I'm actually in the middle of it in a campaign I'm running, and haven't fully decided what the real cause of the madness is myself. Hopefully the npc post I've just done on Niavon will make this a bit more complete.
Barbarian Horde
February 21, 2005, 9:14
Really good, I hope I can use it. I would prefer that the cause be forced upon him by a third party as Alec said, that would be AWSOME!

Dragoon God
Voted Anebre
July 17, 2005, 9:50
Great idea. You can base a whole campaign on this story. This is an idea, not a scenario, and that is why I'm giving it a 5/5.
Voted Strolen
January 22, 2007, 22:23
Easy to plug-n-play this background into any game. Use it as the background to push them any number of ways and then when they are getting comfortable with the arrangement, spring the madness.

I thought they could be declared enemies of the state and get a bounty on their head, somehow meet the 'resistance' and they learn that the Silurians understand the reason for his madness and may be the reason for it. Not sure what it is, but yet another twist seemed appropriate.
January 22, 2007, 23:20
Another twist on Niavon will be forthcoming! check back in a week, manfred and I are using Ol' Niavon in a it thickens. :)
Voted Wulfhere
May 9, 2007, 12:42
Not bad. I liked the way it slowly builds into the meat of the plot, introducing the various elements naturally. It's a good sketch of a developing conflict and how it impacts the adventurers.

I'm curious: In your game, how did the situation develop? What WAS the cause of the King's madness?
Voted Silveressa
January 21, 2011, 6:18

An interesting mini campaign for those who want to focus in a small area and add in a touch of political intrigue. 

Voted valadaar
April 4, 2014, 9:58
I came to this sub from the Lord Niavon submission, this is a good plot for the late campaign. I like it!

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