I need a tip for an NPC

Hello again,

I need a tip for a Nonplayercharacter in my current saga. If you own GotF, you may know him: it is Lord Robert Schönburg. I´ll try to describe the situation from his point of view and maybe you can give me a hint, what you´d do in his place.

Lord Robert takes his domicile in a ruined castle on an island in the rhine. His father is a baron and he loves his son, despite his apparent faults (and one of them is, that he is illegitimate). His father provided Robert with a good education, afterwards he committed Robert with the task to collect tolls from the ships at the rhine, that pass his island.

Lord Robert is disagreeable. He gatecrashes social events and behaves silly. His duty charges are exorbitant. He is unscrupulous, comparable with the bundle of hoodlums he gathered on his island (12 men). And he is a diabolist – he learned the dark arts in cologne while studying. His hellbound path supplied him with the Premonition and the Entrancement ability. In a very limited way he is even able to cast simple spells (all spells are vis consuming and take time as rituals, only low level effects are possible). Robert enjoys himself to seduce women by his entrancement ability.

His father doesn´t know, that Robert´s a diabolist. He has only a few informations about Roberts criminal toll collecting (and isn´t sure if he should believe them). The entrancement-victims of his son doesn´t bother him. For the behavior of his son at social events he feels ashamed – but the baron is a weak father. He admonishes his son – and for now that´s all.

Now something happened: Robert went shopping and met a fascinating woman (a gentle gifted Jerbiton). He played the cultivated aristocrat and invited her to his castle. At the evening two of his men wanted to meet her at the inn she is staying. Here it emerged that the woman had five attendants (three grogs and two other magi). The men of Robert were wary, but good social skills of the foreigners led them to take all persons to the island. “Robert will know what to do with them”, they thought. At this time Robert had Premonitions: Some wizards could come and dispute his dominance over the island, his inner voice told him. At least, his men did their job. When they arrived at the island, one of them managed to have a drink (maybe two or three…) with the three grogs. The other man escorted the three magi to Roberts castle. Robert set the scenery: He placed all his men with bows on the battlements of the castle and prepared a candlelight dinner in the courtyard. When the strangers arrived, Robert knew at once that this is the danger, his inner voice was speaking about. Unfortunately his guests noticed his men at the battlements, but he had a good excuse: “They are watching for smugglers at night – a big problem at the rhine”. Then he managed to send one of his man with one magus to "a very interesting place", the other magus kept watch before the door of Roberts bedroom. At last he was alone with this beautiful woman. In his bedroom the next problem arose: Robert had to learn, that his entrancement is useless against the lady he invited. To his surprise, the maga proposed him a flat share: she´d like to move to the island together with some interesting friends. Her promising look expressed his reward: the maga herself… But Roberts bad feelings were too strong and he felt uncertain. He had to think about, how to go on. In the end he did some smalltalk and asked the lady to leave his island. Then he promised to answer her request in the next days. At last the foreigners left Pfalz island.

What does Robert do now? He knows, that trouble will arise, if the magi move to the island. He knows, too, that this group of strangers is stronger than he is. Perhaps he still wants the mysterious women, that resisted all his charms (but how to get her?). Perhaps he already quit her and wants revenge for his injured ego.
Possibility 1: Get the enemy off guard. Robert sends his men to the Inn and attacks the sleeping characters by night. He watches the scene nearby. If his men get beaten, he flees and could get back later as a more powerful enemy.
Possibility 2: Let them come to their shambles. Robert invites the magi and orders his men to kill them by night in their beds. The detriment is the magic aura of the island, that supports the magi more than Robert. The benefit is: Robert knows the place and is able to prepare it. Perhaps he spares the Jerbitonmaga to enslave her.
Possibility 3: What would you say?


(Why am I suddenly, and many years later, reminded of the BlackAdder pilot episode where he invites his guest to stick his head down the barrel of a VERY large cannon, b/c "I think you'll find this very interesting, m'lord...") :laughing:

Unless he 1) is utterly naive or truly deluded (and a diabolist may be), or 2) has some Major(!) Flaw driving him (Pride, Lust, etc)*, or 3) is an utter fool (not impossible), I would say that he should know that he's no match for 3 wizards. Not just "trouble will arise", but "he will LOSE". Even if he does not realize this, his Premonitions will get stronger and stronger - hint, Hint, HINT, DANGER YOU MORON!

(* If the Jerbiton has Curse of Venus, I do not believe that would be sufficient. That Flaw hurts the person with the Flaw, not others. No man will stick his favorite organ in a sausage maker because someone else has Curse of Venus.)

So without one of those pushing him forward, he would simply let the woman go, because she would have been the only thing keeping him interested, and he's not a fool - he may have regrets, but she's no one that special, nothing that someone else is not.

So his "best" (read: safest) move is... to do nothing. Simply send polite word that he's not interested in sharing his island, kk bb, done, and go find some victim that does not trigger Premonitions about wizards.

However, Story-wise, that means dropping the subplot. So if that's undesirable (or one of the above IS the case), the story should progress...

He is not alone - he does have his father to fall back on, and that is probably not a small safety net. He is the lawful lord of the island - the magi are not (and they should know that, that he does not exist in a vacuum, unless they somehow think he is just an outlaw).

I would think that, due to his Premonitions, he would not want to challenge them on his island (even if he started, he would abort the plan). Hit them while they're in town, off guard. Get them separated (at least one seems vulnerable to weak excuses), take them out one at a time, then kidnap the woman, simply rape her*, and then kill her too, done.

(* Or, with grogs and/or a mage (or two?) held hostage, blackmail her - "my bed or they die" - that works too, and might be more fun for the Players. Not as smart on his part, but...

Edit - smarter (and more complex) would be to let someone else do the "kidnapping" - the authorities. Frame the 2 male wizards for being witches - a diabolist should be able to do that - and let them be taken by the authorities. THEN proceed with the "my bed or they are burned" threat. And, of course, he has no intention of saving them.)

From what I understand, the magi are interested in founding a covenant on the island, and the reward is marriage. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Your NPC is no match for three magi, and he might realise it, as Cuchulainshound said. What if he doesn't wish to confront them, but to use them? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Association with magi could be a high risk, high reward move on his part. We know that some demons may lie to intellego magic. I think he could enter a deal with the magi to live together, have his marriage, and try to gradually include his new associates in his infernalism.

So, that would be my answer. I think that story is the richest if the NPC becomes an "ally" for the magi.

Heh heh... Marriage... I'm not sure that's exactly the part of the equation that a diabolist known for Entrancing women would care about. (Not that marriage to a seemingly powerful Maga wouldn't be useful or anything, but... Yeah...)

I'm inclined to agree that if he has two functional neurons he really ought to buddy up with them. Tempting them slowly with Infernal influences and power could yield amazing stories, too. However, this is politically buddying up with people who aren't necessarily constrained by politics, and your noble/diabolist should already get this. Proceed very cautiously; depending on how important it is to them to remain in good standing with the noble (admittedly, that does tend to be a huge priority for Magi settling an area) the Maga may stop caring to fulfill the noble's... Wishes... And one of two things happens: He tries to march them off the island and gets fried, or they meet up again and the noble is caught alone with his pants down (perhaps metaphorically, perhaps not) and subsequently gets fried.

So, yeah. Keep him cautious, keep him smart, and he'll be a very interesting frienemy and a great source of stories.

Alternatively, have him lavish luxuries on them. The Jerbiton seems to be a bit of a gold digger, so who knows? That may be enough in and of itself.

Robert is Avaricious. I think a maga wife is quite a catch for a hoarding diabolist, so I would say he goes for it. He will try to corrupt them all, eventually, but for the time being a first catch is ewhat he can go for. Turning them to his service is a medium term plan for sure, and he can expect to get a few more rewards if he presents his patrons with a covenant ready to be corrupted from its foundation.

I think "mariage" is not/was never in the picture, possibly for either side. OP will have to respond, but I'm with HnG.

However, if the Jerbiton is any good at Mentem, she could twist things around in almost any direction toward a "favorable" end goal - "marrying" this schmuck and warping his little mind to keep him happy - until his untimely demise - could be well worth the trouble.

And meanwhile, the Diabolist would try to corrupt them (or his demon(s) would - often the Diabolist is not the biggest threat!). What appears to be "the victim", some colorless NPC drudge, could turn out to be the true threat, a powerful demon of temptation. Surprise! :laughing:

That is indeed a driving reason for him to want 3 pet wizards, and the maga is just gravy on top.

With that in mind, he should approach them to become "court wizards" (by any other name), and help him with his lucrative island graft business. He would NOT (due to Avaricious) share that with them - on the contrary, he would want to profit from their residency, even to the harm of the overall bottom line.

In my opinion, Robert would first try to see if he can negotiate a good deal with these strangers.

What would they have to offer? Pleasure with a woman is not nearly enough for any lord to share his dominion with strangers - barring stuff like madness, True Love etc. Any person in Mythic Europe (including the PCs) should realize this. So Robert can legitimately say he's intrigued by the proposal, but obviously the beautiful woman has to offer something more than her body, no matter how enticing it is.

The reasons why I think Robert would attempt to strike a deal are twofold. First, all his personality traits point to that direction: he's greedy (+3), scheming (+2) and arrogant enough (+3) to think he can outsmart pretty much any mortal in a deal (and he does have an Int+3 to back it up). Also, his premonitions tell him that the strangers are dangerous; the smartest strategy against a dangerous entity is to see if you can subvert it into an alliance, not to confront it head on!

Note that it's quite likely that the 3 magi could strike a mutually profitable deal with Robert, if both parties realized what the other really wants. Robert is unlikely to share lordship of the island, but after all the magi probably just want to set up their labs there, enjoy the Aura and other magical resources, and avoid interlopers. And a little magic can go a long way to provide Robert a lot of wealth, chances to improve his status (as an illegitimate son his future is not too certain), protection from his enemies etc. A magic item or a longevity potion could really be a strong bargaining chip.

Hm. I try to imagine the most likely progression:

A few nights later, a ship on the rhine tries to pass Roberts island undetected - Roberts greedy duty charges are notorious. But Roberts men detect the smugglers. Robert requests the Magi (there are 5 Magi by the way, but until now Robert only knows 3 of them) to help him catch the boat. The players know about Hermetic Law, one of the Magi is a Guernicus. They even saw, that Robert acts without mercy against smugglers (there´s a gallow on his island). They will have to consider if they are willing to join a brutal business (quite apart from the fact, that they break Hermetic Law).

If they support Robert, they are nearly lost: they are quasi court wizards of a diabolist (I´m not sure, but I don´t think they´ll do it).
And if they don´t support Robert? Then Robert has a similar problem as to date. What does he do, if this arrogant wizards set up a laboratory in his castle and ignore his orders?

Yes, maybe. But remember, that he has demonic aid. I think his helpers from hell are willing to fulfill some of his wishes, too. Perhaps I should create something like a priority list: What does Robert want from the Magi? In the negotiations he starts with his biggest wishes and looks, what the opposite side accepts.

I can´t imagine a continous coexistence, but as a risky temporarily situation... maybe.


Like it or not, Robert is the appointed administrator of Pfalz island by its rightful owner. The magi will need to strike a bargain with him. This can be a (recurrent?) payment in something (items, vis) to have himself removed from the island, or maybe the deal is something else. They cannot really escape it unless they want to enrage someone that can do something about it and bring severe charges against them in mundane and hermetic courts. Having to strike deals with people youn are unaware that are diabolists is always FUN. :slight_smile:

Demons are gonna want more than just the noble's soul, right? I mean, he sounds like the kind of guy who would've been bound for Hell anyway. The demons might have been using his abilities and position to get smugglers into Hell faster and lure women into adultery, but now they have much juicier things to work with, aka the Magi. The interest of the prospect has gone up, so the potential rewards could go up as well.

Remember, being a diabolist doesn't preclude honesty. I would think they should discuss the terms of the agreement in full before any decisions are come to. After all, people trying to double-cross such a personally founded agreement isn't going to be resolved with lawyers speaking legalese, it will end with a diabolist being fried and the Magi fleeing the island with a small army in lieu. Not beneficial for either group.

"Hey, you guys have some really useful abilities. No is an acceptable answer, but would you mind helping me with enforcing the toll? Some people try to slip by without paying and it's expensive and sometimes pointless trying to pursue them since they generally have a head-start on my ships."

Easy, painless, takes like five minutes at most to get that discussion done with, and it gives the Magi some room to mention the punishment for people who try not to pay the toll. I don't know how reasonable this guy is, but that seems like the smartest way to talk to the Magi about it. Rather than "and you'll follow my orders as long as they don't conflict with your personal interests, right?" "Eh, sure." "Okay, go grab those guys so I can inflict the death penalty on them. They didn't pay the toll for coming through here." "Actually, I'd rather not..." "But you agreed!" "Nu!" Battle commences

Leave that to the PC's. At least give them the courtesy of being able to make the right/wrong decision for themselves, instead of you clearing the landmines out of their path for them.

Then he takes the lemons and makes lemonade - "Oh no!", he cries to the local bishop. "I took in some charlatans who claimed to be wise men - they are witches! Help me - they must be burnt!" Nothing as good for a diabolist's career as ingratiating himself to the Church by accusing a few witches that aren't him. :laughing:

In my experience, Player Characters tend to dig themselves deep holes all by themselves, even in the most "obvious" situations. :unamused: Hand them the rope, smile, see if they decide to hang themselves with it, and take it as it comes and play it out by ear.

What's the worst that will happen? Either the Guernicus will make the "right" call too late and then hilarity ensues as they try to extricate themselves from the situation, or they end up slagging a diabolist and abusive lord and having an illegitimate holding to try to claim. Either way, that's a plot arc all by itself!

And if they make the right call, the Noble could become bitter and track them - and a good enemy is a blessing to any Saga. :wink:

OK, thanks for your tips.

I´ll play an avaricious Lord Robert, who tries to use the Magi for his goals. First he´ll demand something big that is an obvious break of the code for the characters but a matter of course for him (help me collecting my tolls, for example). If the characters decline, he tries to benefit from the characters in another way. If the characters don´t offer him enough, he´ll be not willing to share his island with them. If the characters prove to be more cumbersome than beneficial, he calls for the bishop (or his father... I´ll see). If the characters move to his island and make themself comfortable as flat mates with Robert, I´ll show them at a progressive rate what kind of character he is.

The next session is at sunday. If you´re interested, I´ll tell you, what happened.



I'm certainly among the interested. Let us know what goes down! Knowing players, it may even be something nobody here expected, and either way it'll be fun to hear about.

Our last session brought no final decision in the topic debated.

Fact is: the Jerbiton-Maga asked Robert Schönburg for permission to move to his island, but when she met the other Magi after the conversation with Robert, they wasn´t as convinced as the Jerbiton-Maga that the island would be the perfect place for a covenant.

Robert invited the whole troupe to discuss his conditions for sharing his island with them, but as he noticed that the group is less surely as he had assumed after his discussion with the Jerbiton-Maga, he decided to wait.

The group then explored the site of the former Diedne-Covenant Oakdell, detected the faerie influence of this location and discarded it as the site of their future covenant. They talked about the city of Treves as a third opportunity, but nobody was convinced that a covenant in a city would be a good solution. Now they are on their way back to the island of Robert Schönburg.

For my group the noose tightens: I suppose that the next session will bring a sequel of the proceedings with Robert Schönburg.


If he wants them (and it sounds like(?) he does), he might use the time with his diabolism/demons to figure out how best to tempt them. It's not impossible that the right demon might be able to sense a Flaw, perhaps a Personality Flaw, that he (you) can use against them.

Being Avaricious does not prevent to be smart, so unless Sir Robert is also impatient, he could play it smart.

Instead of asking for something obviously in breach of the Code - in fact, how would he knows what is an "obvious breach of the Code" ? - he could ask first for seemingly innocuous services.

Step one: My dear wise and educated men and women, I would be glad to let you settle on my island as long as I can benefit from your councelling and that you pay a tithe (something reasonable, but if the magi did not have to pay it, they would be able to afford better labs & cie). Oh, and by the way, as I am the lord of this Island, I cannot let you have more than X men-at-arms. Don't worry, it is my duty to protect people on my island.

Step two (a few seasons later, once the magi are well settled and their precious and fragile lab are unpacked): My dear friendly neighbour, I am sure it did not escape your acute scrutiny that I have trouble enforcing my role, dully appointed by my father to collect taxes on this river. Smugglers are trying to escape and deprieve me from my rightful ownership. Would you have any means to make it more difficult to escape unnoticed ? And here subtle effects could be used to help him without making it an obvious breach of the Code (some ReTe could raise part of the River bed to force the boat sailing closer to the island or some ReAq). In exchange of this service, I would be willing to reduce your tithe by X% for the coming three years.

Step three (again a bit later): one ship try to smuggle this through my vigilant watch, and thanks to your "advice" (see above), I was able to capture him and rightfully seize his property. Then proceed to display various items, cloths, wools, and amongst them a few valuable items for magus (lab components which could reduce by half the maintenance cost of lab for a year or two, or even allow an upgrade of a lab), or even a few points of virtus in some animal body part. Here, he is trying to tempt them with greed. He will ask for another service now. "Since you help me solve the problem of the boat escaping my watch, I found that smugglers are resorting to hiding - rather well - items in secret place on their ship. They will only do that for item of obvious value. Would you have a means to detect such subterfuge ? I am willing to reward you by either sharing some of the profit or lower your tithe for a few more years.

As he is Avaricious, he might not be able to keep to his plan (or his demon's plan), but if he has a Intelligence of +3, give him the opportunity to come with some clever plan and as long as the benefits he is getting from the magus help far outweight the little reward he is given them, his Avaricious trait should be in control.

Step four: My dear friends, I heard that the nearby abbot would like to come here as he is investigating rumor that some pagan rituals are hold on my island. As member of the nobility I cannot oppose his request of course, and I have nothing to complain about your behaviour. But less informed people might misunderstand your congregation, or see some of your equipment as tools of witchcraft. I can help you hide that out and vounch for your pristine behaviour. My dear lady, I might even propose an alliance of some circumstances, what if I was introducing you as my bride, with obviously an undefined wedding date. If the wedding needs to be call out in six months or a year because a death in your family means a mourning period, it would be perfectly acceptable. Obviously, the rumors have been carried to the abbot by some of his men. So although he is not powerful enough to control the magus, he is using his status to provide something that the magi cannot: social and political protection.
But the twist can be that the abbot propose to marry the bride and the groom. Sir Robert will "try" to say that he would like to, but decide to respect his bride's wishes to let their love bloom (or some other poor bullshit that the abbot won't buy, but at least he is pretending to be on the side of the maga by delaying it). And of course, lots of good roleplay will be needed to prevent this from happening immediatly. Because once they are married under the sanctimony of the Church... well there is something saying "until Death part us"...

Good ideas and a nice program for tightening the screw. I´ll see what I can put into effect thereof.

Next session is 27th of July. I´ll inform you about the progress of the saga.

I like the idea that since he is Avaricious, his demon is a demon of Greed, and so promotes that sin in every way possible, including through this noble.

Of all the deadly sins, usually petty easy to corrupt Player Characters that way. :laughing:

(Late Edit / Afterthought: Of course, two things are true when you do something like this: 1) unless your Players are excellent role-players and highly motivated toward the abstract, there has to be some penalty that is more immediate than "your soul is lost after you die" - unless you're role-playing heaven/hell/purgatory, once the character sheet is retired, most players (understandably) have a hard time caring; and 2) you have to have an escape plan, they have to have some way to cheat the devil. Eternal damnation is all well and good, but to have "FAIL" stamped on the character with no way to remove it can be a buzz kill for the game.)