Monday, March 12, 2018

Humble Peasant, The Greatest BBEG of All Time

Lots of DMs wrack their brains for great bad guys. Villains that will make their table tremble in fear, and whose very name will only be spoken in whispers. However, there is a potential for truly horrifying antagonists all around them. All you need to do is read the tale of Humble Peasant.

Never get into an arms race with the DM. Never.
For those having trouble with the font in the attached image, the concept goes as follows. An arrogant adventurer tried to take something from humble peasant, because what is he going to do? He's just a peasant, after all. Well, humble peasant kills that adventurer for trying to steal from him, then keeps his magic weapons, armor, and associated gear. That adventurer's party tries to revenge itself upon the humble peasant, and through luck, determination, and the use of the first dead adventurer's gear, humble peasant slays them as well.

The problem is that humble peasant now possesses a huge amount of wealth, and high-quality gear. More adventurers come to try and take it from him. So humble peasant puts up fences, and traps, to keep them out. He buys exotic animals, and even makes deals with local monsters to protect his property. In time, humble peasant has accidentally become the lord of the black hill, where dozens of bands have gone to die.

Who Is Your Game's "Humble Peasant"?

You don't need to have humble peasant in place when your game begins (although that is totally an option). However, keep an eye on how your players treat the NPCs around them. Are they courteous, and kind? Do they give their gold to noble causes, and to help rebuild destroyed settlements? Or do they attack people for no reason, and get their way through bullying and brutality? Keep track of who your PCs wrong, and what patterns they display. Because those patterns may come around to bite them.

Who knows what lengths peasants will go to for vengeance?
As an example, say one member of the party got into a bar fight with a local over a disagreement. The local was unarmed, drunk, and not a threat to the PC, but he pulled his sword and ran him through anyway. The law was notified, and the party has guards looking out for them, but what kind of avalanche did that one action cause?

As a for instance, the peasant's son may have dealt with his grief by going off to war. Something he never would have done, were his father there to stop him. He molds himself into a great warrior, becoming an unparalleled scout, and a vicious slayer of men. After his discharge, he begins hunting for the adventurers who killed his father that night. Maybe he comes on them in the shadows, but he might befriend them first. Get them to trust him. Then, when he's on watch, he cuts their throats one by one. As Garrick the Great chokes on his own blood, he looks into the hard face that was so much like the forgotten drunk's as the son whispers, "Tell my father hello, when you see him in hell."

That's just one example. It's possible the dead peasant's wife takes all the wealth they have, venturing deep into the woods where it's rumored a powerful witch lives. She gives her everything to curse those who slew her love. Perhaps his daughter decides they can't rely on such bloodthirsty mercenaries as a nation any longer, and gets involved in politics. She eventually rises to a position of prominence, and uses all the resources of her office to hunt down the party who was involved in this crime. There are a hundred different courses a single action could end up taking. So watch who your party is kind to, and keep a tally of who they attack, who they kill, and what unkindnesses they perform. For it is those actions that will be the genesis of the antagonist once referred to as humble peasant.

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post. Hopefully it got some of the DMs' wheels turning, and it's got players going back over their PCs' actions in their heads. If you'd like more content from yours truly, then check out my Vocal archive, or head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I and fellow gamers offer advice, lore, and a few laughs along the way. To keep up on all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, or click this link to Buy Me A Coffee! Either way, you'll have my eternal gratitude, as well as some sweet gaming swag as a thank you!

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