Many roleplays are set in a world where much of the land is held by barons and other nobles serving under the King or Queen. Sometimes the PCs may need to meet these nobles to ask for help in their Quest, at other times they may be caught for breaking the law and end up with their lives in his hands. Yet nobles are different;some may be good people who care for those underneath them and are loved in return, others may be unpleasent tyrantts hated and feared by their underlings, and still others a bit of both. With this in mind I present thirty nobles
1-The Common Touch
Whilst the vast majority of nobles consider themselves to be far above the concerns of those who are beneath them in the social order, not all of them feel that way. If the Kingdom or Queendom was created recently by war, then somebody who was brave in battle, luck, and fought on the winning side could end up ennobled through being a battlefield hero. Or perhaps the noble is curious about those in the lower orders or just really wants to do the right thing. It may be that he decides to *go slumming* in places where no noble would normally set foot, taking with him only enough bodyguards to ensure his safety. It may even be that he decides to go *undercover* so he can uncover local injustice or just find out what is going on in his fief. What is far more likely is that the Court Etiquette-Do's and Don'ts are far less strict at his court then they would normally be. Unless he is undercover (in which case it is most unlikely that any of the PCs would know who he really was) then it should be remembered if asking for help at his court; he may possess the common touch, but he is still a noble. Whilst the PCs might not have to prostrate themselves and genuflect as if he was a living God come to Earth, they do still need to be polite and remember their place if they don't want to be ejected by his servants.
How was I to know?
The PCs get into a fight in a bar as PCs tend to do and end up injuring or even killing this noble whilst he and a few trusted bodyguards are out slumming it. The next thing they know, they only have a short time to either go into hiding or ride like hell for the nearest border as every City Guard/armed noble retainer in the place goes looking for them and a heavy price is placed upon their heads for this outrage. If caught, they will face prison at best, and summary execution at worst, their bodies gibbeted as a warning to others who would repeat their crime of attacking a noble.
I need a hero!
Whilst he was undercover as one of the common people, one of the few close enough to the noble to know of this has decided to seize power and take the noble throne for himself, declaring the true noble to either be dead or on a pilgrimage to a very far away place. To have any chance of removing the usurper, the noble must first prove that he is indeed a noble to the PCs and then persuade them to help him regain his throne. Success will mean that the PCsÂ get all the help that they possibly need for their main quest; but failure will very likely lead to their deaths.
2-The Proud One
Unlike the noble who has the common touch, the noble of this type is excessively conscious of his nobility, and enforces the Court Etiquette-Do's and Don'ts at his court rigidly. Asking for help at his court means undergoing a minefield of social etiquette;the slightest accidental slight to his name or title when addressing means that he will refuse to help the PCs at best, and challenge the offending to a PC to a duel or even have the PCs hurled into prison at worst. Behind his back his own servants are fed up with him and joke about him and so pompous and stuck-up is he, that even fellow nobles of his own rank dislike him as when holding court he thinks himself better then they are,and makes them bow like peasants if they want his help. If in a country where dueling is either legal or winked at he is an expert duelist, having dueled so often with other nobles that he is as good a fighter as any individual PC. Of course, should he meet a noble of higher rank then he, or meet with royalty, he will willingly bow and scrape as much as any commoner, as he does think the rules apply to him too.
In the jailhouse now.
The PCs have said the wrong thing whilst the Proud One was holding court, and his bodyguards have grabbed them, stripped them of their weapons and equipment and thrown them into the local lock-up. Now the PCs must find a way to escape from their cell and get their stuff back. Depending on the PCs, they might either flee from his fief or decide to seek revenge by either sneaking past the guards and murdering him, or by tricking him out of money in some spectacular fashion. One that will not only steal his riches, but make him a laughing stock amongst his fellow nobles or royalty.
The Government Inspector
The PCs have managed to waylay a wealthy noble of a higher rank then the Proud OneÂ on the road and have either killed him or kidnapped him and left him bound and gagged somewhere. They have taken the fine clothes of this noble and anyone traveling with him and impersonated them.Now this mighty noble will fawn upon them, bow and scrape to them, give them almost whatever they want in the hope of advancement at the royal court. Should the impersonators make any mistakes that reveal them not to be noble, however,he will seeÂ through their disguisesÂ at once, and they must flee for their lives from his armed retainers.
A lot of nobles enjoy hunting, but this noble takes it to extremes and when in his fief is most likely to be found on horseback out hunting. His prey might be foxes, deer, bear or (insert highly dangerous monster here.) He might invite the PCs out to hunt with him, and prowess at the hunt, providing it does not get in his way, is one very good way to catch his eye. He bitterly hates poachers and trespassers in general, and his woods have more foresters and gamekeepers then woods elsewhere, and captured poachers are blinded or suffer some other horrible punishment. PCs being who they are, are highly likely to get into a fight with his well-paid gamekeepers, which will not at all help them if they end up seeking help at his court. He is very unpopular with his peasants as he has stripped them of most of the minor rights they used to enjoy in the forests, such as gathering winter fuel.He sometimes finds holding court a burden as it gets in the way of his favorite pastime of hunting.
The PCs are out poaching in this noble's forests, when they come face to face with the noble, six of his friends. and a pack of loyal and fierce hunting hounds.Outraged beyond reason with their poaching , the noble will try and kill them outright. The hunters will be mounted whilst the PCs will most likely be on foot, but a clever PC will for example bend a branch back and let it go flying into a rider, knocking him from his horse, or use magic (if there is a magic user within the group)Â to frighten one or more horses into bucking the riders. Should only one or two of the hunting party remain alive, they will attempt to flee; should the PCs be able to prevent this they can rob and bury the bodies knowing that it is a long while before the hue and cry will be raised.
The PCs are hired by the noble to help him to find and slay a really dangerous monster living in hard to traverse terrain, a sub-quest in it's own right. Only if they agree to help himÂ hunt and kill this monster will he agree to give them the help they need for the main quest that they are on. The problem is, the noble wants to slay the monster personally, and the PCs must tread a fine line between babysitting the noble and letting him get into danger.Too much of the first will see them dismissed from the hunt in ignominy, their chance to get his help gone. But if he gets himself killed by the monster that he is hunting he will not be able to help the PCs. So they have to be careful to make sure that the hunt goes according to plan. For complications if desired, there is a would-be assassin amongst the noble's friends who would love to disguise a murder as a hunting accident and/or blame it on the PCs. Or the monster turns out to be a baby dragon fresh out of it's egg, and the fully-grown mother dragon is not very far away. Either the PCs must try and talk the noble out of making the kill and risk antagonizing him, or they must flee for their lives from a furious dragon.
4-The Religious Zealot
This noble has become a recent convert to, or is a very devout follower of (insert name of God or Goddess here.) If many of his subjects follow another religion, this means that he is a pain at best or a threat to their lives at worst. Perhaps he only taxes churches and temples of other religions and their followers to the hilt. Or perhaps he goes further and announces that everybody living in or even only passing through his fief must convert to his religion or face confiscation of all their property and burning alive at the stake.It could be that a Holy Inquisition has been allowed to set itself up in the fief in which case everybody passing through who has a different religion or no religion at all is in dire danger.Perhaps the PCs come across a long sad line of refugees felling his fief in fear of their lives.Â At his court there is an idol of his chosen God or Goddess and a large number of priests/priestesses, and it is the leading clerics of the faith whose advice this noble will pay the most attention to. To gain his support the PCs must be or pretend to be fellow members of his chosen religion and perhaps get involved in a complicated and dangerous theological debate where he tries to catch them out. The atmosphere at his court is like that of a church or a monastery.
The PCs must rescue an important NPC from one of this noble's prisons, as the NPC has vital information about their quest and has been sentenced to be burnt at an auto-da-fe in the morning. And this is not the typical small town lock-up where it is easy to break somebody out but a secure prison with stone walls and plenty of guards. The PCs must either scale the walls and be prepared to dodge guards and pick locks, or smuggle or bribe their way in and then find a way to get the NPC out as well, which will not be easy. Should they fail, their vital information and perhaps they too will go up in smoke and flames in front of a jeering crowd.
The Holy PilgrimageÂ
Before the noble will even agree to speak to them, let alone help them, the PCs must go on a lengthy holy pilgrimage to (insert name of church or temple here.) It is a sub-quest in itself, with the PCs facing bad weather, the risk of bands of brigands on the road, and having to pass through a forest known to be inhabited by atÂ least 30 Treemen (Although in the last case they should be safe if they keep to the road that passes through the forest. They then need to get a symbol from the clergy to prove that they have gone on the pilgrimage. And all of this will be a waste of time if they manage to anger the noble by mistake.
This noble is rightly or otherwise terrified of being assassinated, to the point that he has banned weapons from being carried within his capital or even within his entire fief. In which case the PCs must either disarm or risk getting into a fight with his guards. When he holds court he has a magical weapon at his side and far more guards then would normally be present, and yet despite all these precautions he is still clearly scared. It could be that he has become the target of assassins because of something that he did or said, and has a good reason to be so worried. Or it could be that he is just a coward in a big way. Or perhaps he fought in a war and saw so much violent death that it left him with post traumatic stress disorder. Perhaps in exchange for his help he wants the PCs to serve a term of bodyguard duty. His bodyguards are watching the PCs with great care for any sign of an outburst or a hidden weapon; they are very well paid and trained and loyal as if he dies they will lose a great money source. Perhaps he has even granted his bodyguards the right to interrupt him whilst he is holding court if it is to keep him safe. His hand often strays to the hilt of his weapon, and although he tries to hide his fear it is clearly visible.Â
In exchange for some pay and a promise of help in their main quest, the noble hires the PCs as bodyguards, because of their combat skills and/or magical abilities, despite having a large number of bodyguards already. Shortly afterwards the noble is attacked by a large number of very dangerous assassins and the combat skills of the PCs are tested to the limit.If the GM wants to the PCs could then be sent by the noble on a sub-quest, to find whoever ordered and paid the assassins, and either kill him or her or, if the person is too well guarded or too high ranking a noble to slay, to try and deal with the problem by diplomacy.
You have nothing to fear but...
Not every single subplot has to be about hacking things to bits with swords. The PCs have to convince the noble that he does not have to be so scared. Perhaps the noble's ancestral sword turns out to be The Sword of Fear and he used it once too often. Or the captain of the bodyguards has cast a Fear spell on the noble, or just talked him into feeling terrified with whispers of assassination plots. If the PCs do lower the noble's fear and some of his bodyguards are paid off and dismissed from his service, they might wait outside and attack the PCs later out of revenge. Or maybe the noble had good reasons for his fear, and after the PCs talk him into lowering his security level he is later found murdered and the PCs are now the main suspects in his death.Â Â
The Spider is a noble with ambitions to be King someday. As such, providing he can do it without getting caught and disgraced or worse, nothing is too underhand;from sending out assassins to murder someone, to spreading nasty rumors about them to deliberately goading them into committing a faux-pas in the royal court. A master of gossip, innuendo and knowing who is who in the noble pecking order, the Spider is a courtier born and bred. Provided he is treating with respect, particularly when holding court, he is always polite even to those beneath him in the social order and not of noble birth. After all, one never knows when that lowly servant of a rival noble can deliver a useful piece of gossip that can really hurt that noble's reputation in court. Or when that man-at-arms, for a large enough bribe, can let an assassin in to bump a rival noble off. The Spider thinks politeness and discretion to be the highest possible values, and can often be seen sitting upon his throne stroking a small white cat. If he does agree to help the PCs he will want something to be covertly carried out by them in return. And if they mess it up and end up in prison or worse, they are on their own. The Spider always takes great care with anything illegal so it cannot be connected to him.
The noble wants the PCs to help them, so he sends them and a servant with a sealed message to deliver it to somebody. The servant will try to tempt the PCs into breaking the seal and revealing the message in transit. First he will try and tell the PCs that the message is one asking that the PCs be disposed of. If that fails he will try to bribe the PCs to open the message, or even try and grab it. Assuming the PCs resist these urges and deliver the message with it's seal unbroken it will say You have discretion and can be trusted, congratulations. Please return, I have need of you and will pay well. Should the seal be broken, the annoyed noble will refuse to help the PCs. Ever.
The noble hates the Paranoid who is his greatest foe at Court, to the point where he wants him killed. As the Paranoid has so many bodyguards around him, a simple murder is out of the question, which is why he has hired the PCs. They, he hopes, will have the combat skills needed to get into the Paranoid's castle or fortified manor house, evade or kill his bodyguards, and murder the noble, without leaving a trail in the process that will implicate him and lead to his death on the executioner's block. It will be a minor quest in itself;it certainly won't be an easy thing to do.
There are few open signs in this noble's fief or at his court of his secret obsession with raising the dead, as neither the common people nor the royals and other nobles would think well of it, and it is the sort of thing that if done too openly can get even a noble in trouble with the law. He recently banned cremation, officially the reason is that an Urn Beast went on the rampage a few years ago and he never wants it to happen again. In fact, whilst this indeed happened he used it as an excuse to ban the pyre. When the graveyards swelled and threatened the common space, he gave his consent to bury the dead outside graveyards as long as it neither caused disease nor blocked the roads. As a result, there are plenty of dead buried legally along the roads and in woods as well as several large graveyards. At court, a couple of his children seem oddly subdued, in fact they are The Empty Children. After two of his children died of disease, he had them reanimated and preserved. His wife knows this and supports it, as she can imagine that her beloved children are alive again. On the surface he is a worshiper of the Goddess Ulmania, and the worshipers of Jove despise him as they have to either leave his fief for a funeral or cremate their dead in secret. Around his neck is the amulet of the death-god that he really worships in secret.
The PCs are walking through one of these large graveyards when they trigger something and from every grave the dead rise. Some are fresh bodies, buried recently, some are swollen and decomposing, some are reduced to skeletons, and the whole graveyard whales on the PCs. Few if any will have weapons, although a noble or two might have been buriedÂ with a sword; by themselves the undead are sword-fodder, but in such large numbers even the PCs will have real trouble chopping them up and hacking them down. Of course if the PCs have a powerful magical artifact that can control the undead, the PCs now have their own undead army to do what they want with. After the battle is over there is a lot of Funeral Gold and Grave Silver to loot, but doing so might give the PCs some trouble in the future and/or bad luck.
Get Rid Of Him, Please!
A lot of people, some of which are willing and able to pay the PCs, want to rid themselves of this noble, either by having him assassinated or by getting proof of what he is doing to pass on to the royal family so that they can act and remove him. Anyone who prefers to cremate their dead because of religion or choice is annoyed, so are those that suspect the noble of having dark secrets, and those that just want him removed for their own purposes.If the PC's try and kill him, he will have secret undead bodyguards such as Ironbones and may turn out himself to be a powerful Lich. If the PC's try and get proof of what he is doing, they must capture an Undead without hurting it and then transport it to those with the power to remove this noble from the ownership of his fief and bring him to justice. Neither is an easy thing to do.
Something (it could be the death of his wife or child, financial problems, or anything that the GM can plausibly think of) made this noble plunge into deep depression. In his fief it is causing various problems;crime is on the increase and buildings and are in disrepair, as he rarely bothers to hold court anymore. He and his servants dress in black and at court there is a decidedly funereal atmosphere, with silence not only when the noble is speaking but at most other times as well. If the depression was due to a death, then there will be a big picture of the deceased hanging on the wall behind the noble's head. Getting an audience at this noble's court will be a difficult thing to do, and pointless if a way cannot be found to cheer the noble up. If the PCs can manage to lift the noble's depression then he will be so pleased that he offer the PCs almost any help that they ask for. Lifting it will not be an easy thing to do and might even need a sub-quest in it's own right. The price of failure will be the refusal of the noble to help the PCs in any way.
Bring on the Clowns!
Sometimes even sensible games need silly interludes to lighten things up and this is one of them. The PCs must act as jesters to cheer up the noble, using jokes and whatever other funny/silly things they can think of to cheer up the noble depending on what he thinks is funny. Perhaps they start at a score of -5 and have x amount of time to bring this up to a score of +5 or more. Depending on the noble, certain things will cheer him up, and raise the score, whilst other things will lower it further as he finds them very unfunny. If the score lowers to a -10 or more the noble will burst into tears and dismiss them from his sight, and they will have failed.
The noble has by chance seen somebody who looks just like the dead person that he is mourning for.And he wants the PCs to bring him that person so he can try and mould him or her into a replacement for the deceased. The PCs might need to persuade the person to come along with them, or they might need to use force and kidnap the person without causing death or serious harm in the process. If the PCs have some morals, this could be a hard thing for them to do if the person objects. If the person kidnapped is also noble, it will also make a new enemy of the noble in the next fief, a fief that the PCs might soon need to pass through.
Now and again history throws up strange rebels of noble birth, like Lord Monmouth or Saigo Takamori. Although they have everything seemingly going their way under the currant system of government, they decide to risk losing everything and stake everything that they have on a rebellion.And sometimes they get the common people involved in their rebellion as well. Their motive for doing this varies, from aÂ (rare) desire to help those beneath them on the social ladder, to a selfish wish for more power for themselves for it's own sake. If the rebellion has started or is on the verge of doing so, the noble will be desperate to gain more support and might well ask the PCs to get involved, promising them something big in return. Even slaves may be promised their freedom in exchange for joining him. If the rebellion is in the talking and planning stage, the noble will be a lot more careful who he talks to, as his title and his life and perhaps the lives of his family are at risk if the revolt fizzles out or otherwise fails. He may not mention the revolt at all to the PCs, but they may sense signs that things are subtly different around them.
You have nothing to lose but your chains!
As many PCs have combat skills/military experience, the noble wants them to serve as a cross between officer and training sergeant to help train his new army, compared of raw and perhaps reluctant peasants and townsmen to turn them into a real fighting force. Only then can he hope to take on the royal army. If they agree to help him, the PCs have the chance to become generals and perhaps, if the noble is successful, dukes or even earls. However; getting involved may mean the delay or abandonment of their main quest; if the rebellion loses, they will become wanted fugitives with prices on their heads; perhaps they feel that the noble would be a worse ruler then the king he is fighting. If they turn him down outright, he will likely have them thrown into his castle dungeon or worse, to keep them quiet. Perhaps the best thing to do is to pretend to join him and then sneak away when the time is right...
Rescue the Damsel in Distress
Everything is ready for the revolt, and the one thing that stops him launching it is that the King has his only child, a daughter, locked up as a hostage. She is not chained up; she lives in comfort with the deferenceÂ given to her rank, but will be beheaded if her father does notÂ behave himself. So he asks the PCs in exchange for much gold and some help with their quest, to break or trick their way into where the daughter is held, free her and bring her alive and unharmed to him so he can launch his bid for power.
This noble is
OOC-Unfinished, but put into work anyway as I don't know what more to do with this.
Items • Melee Weapons • Combat
This weapon is a fine basket-hilted broadsword, with a long sharp iron blade and an aura of power about it that can be sensed faintly by everybody. Those who pick it up for the first time feel safer with the sword in their hand then without it.A large purple amythest jewel is set in the sword's basket hilt. The user senses that if they press the emerald, others will become scared of them...
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? Responses (5)
Ooh, the timing of this is great- I will be voting on this later for sure.
All of these are just enough of a framework to build a more developed character off of- and the plot hooks are definitely icing on the cake.
Given some time and motivation, I might add a few to this later.
This shows the danger of letting a 30 grow too much. I have a couple in work in this state.
If you can't describe some item with a single paragraph, it probably should not be a 30. If you follow the above to its conclusion without about 3 paragraphs per entry, you have 100 paragraphs and a sub many people would gloss over. Right now at 1/3 done you have nearly 5000 words.
That said, the entries provided are quite good. I just don't think this is how 30's should be.
This is more like a '10 Noble Archetypes' submission. Trying to shoehorn this much info into a 30 is just sadism to your readers. That said, I like the plothooks you attach to each one, and I think the piece could work well if you went over it and tightened it up a bit. Remember, this site is here to help gamemasters, who are usually time-crunched to begin with. If you can focus on saying just what you need to say about each type of noble and nothing more, you will increase the usefulness of this piece.
This could have been a great sub, but it fell victim to the mighty Mathom.