[RPG] How to fool the players into being pawns for the villain



I want to get a generally benevolent party to unwittingly further the villain's motives. More than parcel delivery – I'd like to tap into their sense of right/wrong, justice, vigilantism, what-have-you. My idea for this is for the villain to be some sort of mobster and they'd recruit the characters to 'punish some bad guys,' when in actuality all they'd be doing is harassing his enemies and executing his dirty work. Think late '60s and early '70s CoIntelPro.


  1. How can I get them to see what they're doing as good?

  2. How can I get them to remain jaded against reasoning with their 'bad guys?'

  3. Lastly, how can I maximize the chances that they won't catch onto the villain's plans, and thus keep them in 'pawn' status as long as possible?

Best Answer

Well Lithe, I'll take a stab at your little problem as one of my favorite things to include in the game is a bit of moral grey area.

1) You have to remember that most of the time, people will automatically assume that those that work against them in anything but the most passive ways as the "bad guys" and usually even the good guys will do something morally ambiguous in order to make things turn out in their favor. Think ends justify the means. Your "bad guys" could have been doing that. Possibly they have been attacking businesses run by your Patron and in the process have harmed innocent workers or customers. Your Patron just happens to leave out that the store was a front for a drug ring or something. Its less about what your Patron tells the party and more about what he DOESN'T tell them.

2) In order to keep your group from turning on the Patron, the best thing you can do is to keep the interactions with the "bad guys" on hostile terms. Even if they were to capture one to interrogate, keep the captive insulting and spitting in their faces or something. Even the most patient of people will lose it after a bit of that and strike the captive or begin to torture him. Another good point would be to make the party somehow be harmed by the "bad guys". A drive by shooting becuase the "bad guys" have found out the Patron approached the party to do some work.

3)Make the Patron play the part of the victim. Any interaction that the party and the Patron have should be with the Patron imploring them for help or being slightly servile. If the man is older it would help to play the helpless old man. If you are in a situation with the Patron's power showing, say it is simply a gathering of political activists or community organizers. Thinly veiled terms for Mobster, but good enough that, if played right, the Party won't catch on. A charitable organization would be a good cover too.