My wife tried to kill me last night. I’d just saved her life and when I needed her to return the favour she stabbed me in the back. Literally. Then tried to convince everyone else I was beyond saving and should be left in the gutter.
Now this might sound terrible, but this all happened in a game of Dungeons and Dragons, and it was glorious.
For those not in the know, I’ve been playing an evil ranger in a party otherwise entirely formed of good aligned characters. My particular brand of evil isn’t the insane baby-in-a-blender kind but the “ends justify the means” kind of evil. Everything is permitted, no atrocity is off limits, as long as it is for the greater glory of nature, even if it means, albeit temporarily, allying himself with the enemies of nature to achieve his goals.
Daraja Dreyer, the ranger in question, has been plotting and scheming since the beginning. His plans are convoluted and full of ass-covering – often designed so that even multiple outcomes, even diametrically opposed ones, are of benefit to him in some way. In a city that was under siege by orcs and bugbears and other such creatures, some of the things Daraja has done include:
- Getting rid of the massive amounts of dead at the city walls (because there was fear necromancers would raise them) by selling them to necromancers of a different faction, under the agreement that they would take them against the source of the siege armies. Of course, the necromancers didn’t do that, but they didn’t attack either, so it’s still a win in Daraja’s book as it exchanges a known and imminent threat, for a known later one.
- Discovered not one, but two evil churches in the undergrounds of the city, made allies of them both.
- Sold an enemy who betrayed the party to sacrifice in one of the evil churches. Did so by hiring the betrayers own employees to betray him.
- Used his new employees, under the auspices of ‘helping the homeless’ to round up vagabonds and bums and sell them to sacrifice for massive profit (and thus draining the coffers of his evil allies).
- Used the money to buy several buildings in the city, began renovating, started a cleaning and renovations business staffed by peasants he is giving a second chance to. With the sheer amount of money he has, he can afford to pay them all for over a year before he runs out of cash.
- One of his properties is a possessed house that devours and enslaves souls. Threatening to burn it down gets him some free ghostly henchmen, which he uses to add another layer of indirection between himself and his less savoury activities. Some of his other properties are haunted, uses his ghost henchmen to capture and enslave the other ghosts, making the properties safer and more valuable and getting more workers.
- Uses his network of peasants as eyes and ears, behind the total legitimate front of his businesses. Also uses the adoration of his ‘outreach’ program to promote himself, move into larger, more influential circles. Many people will suffer if something happens to him, making him valuable to the forces of good.
- Uses his ghosts to reach out to a necromancer that remains hidden and secretive, using the sale of his soul-house as bait to draw him out. Sells the house, but because of his ghostly messenger, now knows where the guy is based.
- Reveals that he has discovered the necromancer who killed a famous paladin, plus his terrible allies, to the Church of Pelor, in order to gain more praise and fame amongst the good folk of the city.
- Also learns through his network that his fellow party now definitely suspect him of terrible things. Plans to get them killed in the same attack on the necromancer by the Pelor initiates in all the confusion (with a little help from the necromancers own ally, a dangerous criminal Daraja manages to persuade to work with him instead).
- Plan goes wrong, but he instead ‘arrives late’, kills the necromancers allies, destroys (mostly) the evidence of his deal with the necromancer but gets caught in an explosion.
It was after the explosion that Elowen, the officer of the City Watch he was in a party with (played by my wife), stabbed him in the back whilst he was injured and then tried to convince everyone it was too late to save him. Luckily the fools are good people and some of the initiates survived, initiates which think very fondly of Daraja due to his donations and good works, so the party was persuaded to try and save him anyway, which worked.
Of course, now he has some serious problems, but he has some powerful allies, both good and evil. While the rest of the party are little more than hirelings under the thumb of a politician, he’s been securing his influence and power base, so unless they plan on quietly trying to make him disappear whilst he is physically vulnerable, he has far more options than they do.