The Baron Trotha is responsible for most of the recent trouble in Vallermoore, and yet not even his most trusted minions have ever seen his face, as he wears crimson robes and a skull-like mask of black-painted steel. Why he is attacking the Kingdom is unknown, as he has never bothered to explain his actions. But with the kidnapping of King Montor's daughter, he may have gone too far this time...
After the death of Queen Yocasta and the forced abdication of Queen Amber, Chancellor Montor was chosen as king in the hope that he would be able to bring some order back to Vallermoore. And with the help of the White Knights and the support of the people he managed to do so. Yet almost no sooner had the crime wave been brought under control then a new threat arrived, Baron Trotha. Clearly a sorcerer of great magical power and skill, the Baron’s first act was to cast a spell that trapped the Chancellor’s most powerful royal wizard, Edward Holgate, within the walls of Castle Roquat, shocking him nastily if he tries to leave it, be it by magic or just walking out.
Having done this and commandeered the remains of an old disused castle, which he and his minions fixed up, the dastardly, Trotha next sent a wave of Ironbones into the kingdom, slaying no less then seven major nobles and dozens of knights and royal officials. As if that was not bad enough, his minions managed to somehow get into Castle Roquat and kidnap the King’s only daughter, Princess Faith, from right under the noses of the 30 Guards that patrolled her wing of the castle. Furious, the King sent a third of the Royal Army after him, only to find that a magical force field similar to the one that trapped Edward Holgate within the walls of Castle Roquat was preventing them from getting close enough to Castle Trotha to besiege it.
Recently, one of the King's lesser wizards has almost managed to Spellbreak a small part of the force field, and rather then send in the grunts of the army, the King has sent in a small number of mercenaries...enter the PCs...
Unknown to everybody, the masked and seemingly totally evil Baron Trotha is, under his mask, none other then King Montor's most powerful royal wizard, Edward Holgate!
When he joined the Inner Circle of the royal wizards long ago, like the others he took an oath to protect the then Queendom (as Montor had not yet become the King) from all those who would bring it down. After he became the King's most important wizard, he decided to use scrying spells and also set up his own secret spy network, without telling even the King about it. All he wanted to do at first was use it to ferret out spies and assassins that had sneaked across the borders from other Kingdoms.
He found very few of these, but what he did find shocked him. Whilst the majority of the major nobles of the Kingdom and their knights were good people, no less then seven nobles of high rank and dozens of knights and lesser royal officals were seriously misusing their powers.
Some of them overtaxed those under them and embezzeled the extra money gained, others were deeply in league with organized crime, still others raped and murdered those who they were supposed to protect, or sold royal secrets to the highest bidder. There were far too many of them in high places for even the Chief Wizard to expose and bring to justice; if he tried he knew he would either be sacked and banished from court for attacking the King's best friends, or maybe even assassinated.
And so he masked himself and created the false identity of the Baron Trotha, secretly casting a spell that seemingly trapped the King's most important wizard within the walls of Castle Roquat. This made sure that he could not be ordered by the King to hunt down Baron Trotha himself. Of course, since it was in fact him who had cast the trapping spell on himself, he could remove it and put it back whenever he wanted,and it gave him the perfect alibi.
After taking over a disused and semi-ruined castle, that he could teleport to with ease thaks to the gate he set up there, he used his mighty magics to create Ironbones and sent them on seemingly random raids across the kingdom. Except they were far from random, and the good nobles and knights who ruled fairly, along with the honest royal officals, had nothing to fear from the raids, although they didn't know that of course.
Those nobles, knights and others that were cut down by the Ironbones were those who were corrupt, or consistently misused their powers to mistreat people, or who were actually evil. Not a single good person who did his or her job honestly or well was murdered by an Ironbone assassin. As a result of this purge, the Kingdom could now be ruled far better then it was in the past.
It was then that Edward Holgate discovered a couple of things about the royal family. The first was that Princess Faith was secretly as evil as Queen Yocasta and should she become the Queen, she would be many times worse then Queen Yocasta, as she was planning to attack a nearby Kingdom for the sole reason of getting hold of the royal jewels of that kingdom, something that would cause a long and pointless war with many thousands of deaths on both sides.
The second thing was that King Montor had a kind of cancer that even at an early stage, was one of the few diseases that even magic could not cure, and would fall sick within a few months and die not long afterwards. He chose not to tell the King about this, as he did not want to ruin his last few healthy months of life.
This raised the problem of what to do about Princess Faith. He didn't want to kill her outright, as this would destabilize the kingdom, possibly even to the point of civil war, which was the last thing in the world he wanted to happen, so he has kiddnapped her whilst he tries to find a way to change things.
Every seemingly evil act of Baron Trotha has in fact strengthened the Kingdom of Vallermoore. He is very careful to ensure whenever possible that no good, honest people are killed unless there is no option and they have to be killed (eg; honest guards protecting an evil noble.) He takes great care in the selection of his targets for assassination, only sending his Ironbone assassins out when there is clear evidence of serious wrongdoing. Should the PC's kill him, they will in fact have done the Kingdom a great disfavour without even knowing it, as evil and corruption will be able to creep once more into the nobility, knightly orders and the royal officaldom.
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? Responses (10)-10
No votes at all? :(
Starts off like a proper villain and then the twist! Edward is kinda like a kgb boss who snapped and took matters into his own hands meets zorro. Good tale, and good (no pun intended) 'adversary' for the PCs.
I have to admit that this is one of the best examples I've seen of 'looks like a bad guy, smells like a bad guy, sounds like a bad guy, wait it's actually a good guy'. It makes sense and provided the PCs are new to the kingdom and don't know that Duke Zipperisdown really deserved death by the Ironbones, they could play the wrong side for quite some time. No flaws stood out to me. 5/5
Nothing to add except to say that this is a perfect way of making would-be-heroic PCs end up looking like total villians when they slaughter the Baron. The story is also quite well-written and this is certainly an NPC who would make an interesting adversary. Nicely done indeed.
A good one, Cheka!
This is solid.
But I would not be so quick to call this man a good guy. Sure he is motivated by a desire to see his black and white views of morality realized throughout the kingdom, but does that make him good or does that make him just another tyrant? This man is a murderer, a liar, and kidnapper who has no respect for the dignity of the people he condemns. Furthermore his murders are not visibly the result of any moral consequence. Thus Trotha's presence would scare the honest just as much as it does the dishonest, and furthermore why not report the crimes he is punishing to his king? I do not think this detracts for the piece, but rather this contradiction adds to it.
If I were to run this piece I would have the PC confront the Trotha once without knowing his identity. Three options; he bests them and spares them, they best him and he escapes but they get a hint of his true self or they are rescued by a 'evil noble' or the princess. Second Trotha carries out another assassination, they stop or it or try to stop it but either way they learn that the target is a bad man and has bad associates. If they stop it they have to decide what to with the bad man. Third: They go confront Trotha again and on this trip they don't meet him directly but they encounter an item that they think will let them kill Trotha from a far without meeting him face to face and without bringing him to justice. Fourth: Go rescue the princess, find out she ain't so nice....what do they do with her? Fifth: Discover or are informed of Trotha ID and his mission.
Then what do they do, stop him from taking the princess again, help him take the princess, and do they let Trotha control the destiny of kingdom once the king is gone, which is his design? A good adventure should have both the PCs and DM surprised by the ending.
Interesting character - a form of Batman incarnation.