The Devil’s Assassins is a fantasy scenario of deception, betrayal, and action in five short scenes for an adventure or a story, using the format in a previous post regarding creating fantasy roleplaying game adventures.
The scenario outlines a narrative with branching plot points and moves forward regardless of the characters’ decisions. Each plot point will need development as you adapt this story to your characters and world. Names and places are generic for you to modify, and the outcomes of each scene are open to encourage improvisation.
The Devil’s Assassins assumes an urban setting and is an opportunity to explore the city with some investigation and a few fights. The scenario can develop in many ways and add color to the overall story. The scenario begins when the local Merchants’ Guild believe they are under attack by unknown enemies, need reinforcements, and contact the characters and attempt to hire them to solve the problem by any means necessary.
The Merchants’ Guild, the patron of the scenario, is targeted by a devil cult and has so far suffered a few non-lethal attacks and some property damages. The guild fears escalation and need more guards, investigations, and perhaps more “proactive measures” to deal with the threat. The guild has every intention of paying an appropriate reward, but will not admit any prior involvement with the cult or wrongdoings by the guild.
A local Devil Cult, the antagonist of this scenario, have many agents and work from a secret shrine in the city. The cult is preparing to summon a devil in as their next move in a local power struggle, and this will spearhead the cult’s next attack. The cult is acting on their own, but carry out the implied will of their secrets masters. This makes finding evidence of the larger conspiracy difficult and divination magic unreliable since no direct orders were given. The cult is careful, meticulous and looks for weaknesses. They are slow to move but strikes efficiently when they have the advantage.
Set-Up: A Plea for Help
A few agents of the Merchants’ Guild need help and contact the protagonists. They explain that the guild has suffered aggression from random thugs and sabotage, and they fear someone is targeting them. They need guards, investigators, and someone capable to strike back at the aggressors.
- The characters may choose to accept the mission and begin their investigation. The guild is thrilled about this and has every intention of paying the characters, as long as they follow the implied parameters of the mission.
- The characters may choose to turn down the mission. A professional Merchant’s Guild gets that all the time, so there should normally be no harm done. However, the cause of the attacks is extraordinary, and rejecting the guild may have unforeseen consequences
Investigation: The Growing Darkness
Sensible characters will want to do some research regardless if they accepted the mission or not. This is where the characters explore options and possibly involve additional factions. Any number of suspects, motives, and complications are possible.
The Devil Cult will not sit idly by when someone begins asking questions. They have no way of knowing whether the characters accepted the mission or not, so the scenario may (and should) change course from character actions, but will advance once set in motion.
- The cultists are always looking for anyone asking questions, and report back to the cult if anyone is investigating. The characters become marked as threats by the Devil Cult. Successful perception and shadowing skills allow the characters to detect anyone watching and perhaps find the Devil Cult hideout, or question any spies.
- The city’s criminals have picked up new interest in their assets in the city, and want to get rid of any competition and prying eyes. The criminals know about the location of the cult, although with few details. Dealing with criminals is dangerous, but maybe the lesser evil. The criminals may attempt to kill the characters or decide to help them. This is both beneficial and dangerous for the characters and should open new story possibilities.
- The city watch is investigating the attacks but has so far come up with nothing. Checking up on the investigators may reveal they are tainted by devilish corruptions and lead to the cult. Questing the city watch are also likely to put the characters on the suspect list.
- The Merchant’s Guild’s rivals may claim the guild itself caused this, and the true villain is involved in the guild as well as the cult. The attacks are a smokescreen to get rid of the competition. Following up on this thread will sour the relationship to the Merchant’s Guild regardless of what actually happened.
Counter-Attack: The Devil’s Assassins
The Devil Cult attacks the protagonists. The attack can take place anywhere appropriate, and the cult is careful and will look for weakness. If an actual devil depends on your world’s cosmology and what kind of story you want.
- The cult attacks someone close to the characters, incriminating the characters as violent killers. The characters must deal with the mess, either by hiding the event or undoing the damage, if possible. Law enforcement is also likely to take notice, possibly prodded by the cult to the location.
- The cult are likely to have infiltrated one or more criminal gang in the city as well, and will throw them at the characters is necessary.
- The guild has changed its mind, and now believe the character is the problem. Perhaps the cult has more influence in the guild as first assumed, and the guild is duped to attack the characters. Perhaps the characters themselves provoked the attack. Regardless, the guild will send other mercenaries, the city guard, or perhaps even assassins.
- The cult has infiltrated the city government and the characters find themselves under suspicion, and the city watch is asked to keep an eye on them.
Surviving characters will hopefully be able to strike back at this point. Otherwise, more rounds of investigation are required.
Climax: Dealing with the Devil Cult
The characters have tracked down the devil cult and are ready to strike at them.
- The cultists has set up a provisional shrine in an abandoned warehouse. The cult has servants guarding the warehouse both inside the warehouse and from the neighborhood.
- The conspiracy comes crashing down on the characters, and they must fight their way out through criminal gangs, the city watch, and misguided heroes.
- The cult has found a forgotten vault below the city, where they hide some of their secrets and perform rituals.
- The cult has claimed an old arcane stronghold in a forest a few days from the city. The ruin has been deserted for centuries and the locals shun the area. The cult has recruited ogres and may have an uneasy alliance with a green dragon
The characters should be allowed to enjoy their rewards (or an early grave) after dealing with the Devil Cult. This should open up new adventure opportunities as one cult cell rarely operates on their own, and there is always the diabolic lords hoovering in the background.
- The characters may question why the conflict initially started. The cult if clearly evil, but is the guild an innocent victim?
- Why is a devil cult allowed to thrive amidst the good folk of the city? Somebody knows and they let it happen. Why? Who are they?
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How could I prepare and play a scenario like Devil’s Assassin without the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play The Enemy Within Campaign in the back of my mind? The revised reprint is not released yet, but I am super-exited about this one. The original is available on DriveThruRPG.