How to make the PCs work with a bad guy?


Advice

Editor

I'm currently running Iron Gods, and I created a bounty hunter to kidnap one of the PCs. My hope is to turn him into a recurring villain, occasionally sending him against the PCs as he gets hired out by whatever enemies the heroes manage to make.

However, I think it would be awesome to engineer some scenario or side mission wherein the PCs are forced to work WITH the bounty hunter, albeit temporarily.

What are your ideas for this? I was thinking of some kind of cooperative escape mission—maybe the PCs get caught and tossed in cell alongside the bounty hunter—but other than that I'm coming up short.

Please help me brainstorm some other scenarios!

Paizo Employee Designer

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You could also go all Samus with the bounty hunter and have her always come after the PCs in this imposing Numerian armor suit but then need the PCs' help without her suit (for instance if captured, she wouldn't have it). The PCs then won't even recognize that it's the same person, at least at first. She could say mysterious things like "Getting to know you like this...is vexing."


does that seem right to you


There are so many ways to do that. You could have the team meets the bounty hunter and about to fight, but then houses around you are on fire. Bounty Hunter saves many people and children, then offer to release the kidnapped PCs if they help him catch whoever started the fire. Now you can have some kind of backstory for him. Maybe someone started the fire to kill the bounty hunter because he killed a family member of his for bounty. Or someone wants to get the bounty from killing the PCs? It shows that the Bounty Hunter is more than just a guy who's after bounties, he has reason to do things that other would normal think he wouldn't.

Also just get some gang to blackmail or force the PCs to work with the Bounty Hunter to kill someone or they will kill an important NPC. Then after the job's done, the gang decided to kill the team and the NPC. Now Bounty Hunter can decide how he want to do this. To save the NPC and take the gang down because they might end up killing him as well, or to join the gang because it's safer this way. Doing so add some sense of humanity to the Bounty Hunter.


If you're just about to introduce this bounty hunter then set them up as a "punch-clock villain", and also maybe a bit cool or likeable. This guy doesn't want to steal their stuff and kick their dog - kidnapping that PC is just a job and aside from the fighting they're civil enough. Maybe they even have a sneaking admiration for some of the PC's exploits; "Did you really take down a Lich? Not bad."

This way when you finally do the "And now you must work together!" reveal the party are likely to be on your side. If the bounty hunter has annoyed them from the get-go then they might just kill him.

Editor

ooh, these are great suggestions!

Corvino wrote:
[...]If the bounty hunter has annoyed them from the get-go then they might just kill him.

Er, about that...

The ambush/kidnapping has already happened, and went off very smoothly—I even had him whisper "nothing personal!" before teleporting away—but one of the PCs took the abduction of his friend VERY personally... to the point that he lost his warpriest spells for the extremely un-Sarenite way he treated a captured ally of the bounty hunter.

Needless to say, the PCs (and especially the now-atoned warpriest) HATE this guy, which was my intent. I like Siuol's ticking clock idea here... if the villain isn't attacking them directly during a crisis, they might find themselves working alongside him while dealing with the more pressing threats. What other kinds of threats would you all use?

Mark's suggestion of an unrecognizable disguise (or...un-disguise?) might work, as the kidnapping took place in an obscuring mist. I've already established that he can use dimension door, so it's harder to get him "stuck"... but maybe the source of that power is indeed an item or armor that he loses somehow, and then he has to pretend not to know who the PCs are when they come to his rescue.

My players are unlikely to buy it, since they tend to (rightfully) distrust my NPCs, but maybe it'll work if he really seems helpless.

More! More!


SiuoL wrote:
There are so many ways to do that.

Indeed there are.

SiuoL wrote:
but then houses around you are on fire. Bounty Hunter saves many people and children,

And the moment the fire is out, the bounty hunter attempts to take the party back into custody.

The bounty hunter might resent his employer for some reason, and so when he delivers the party, he delivers them fully armed and ready to fight his employer.

The bounty hunter might be hired next time to help the party by the same person who gives the party their next quest.

The bounty hunter might be going after something else that is right next to what the party wants, say the party is trying to stop a group of bandits, and the bounty hunter is trying to find one particular bandit to force him to marry a girl he got pregnant.

The bounty hunter may require the party's services, and may ask nicely, make them a good offer, or blackmail them into helping him.

I could go on and on, but why don't you (OP) tell us more about your party and the the kinds of trouble they get themselves into.

Editor

Scott Wilhelm wrote:
I could go on and on, but why don't you (OP) tell us more about your party and the the kinds of trouble they get themselves into.

Sure! They're a pretty CG group overall, but I've learned that hit-and-run encounters often turn into hit-and-chase-them-down fights with them. If I didn't have the baddie teleport away, they'd have chased him across the city, even if he wasn't carrying one of their own. They're tenacious and vengeful. Paradoxically, though, they're usually not the ones that shoot first, preferring to find other solutions, and they always try to interact with the map features—definite button pushers. Under normal circumstances, I'm pretty certain that they'd try to take a known enemy like this down, or at least capture him for interrogation.

Without getting into Iron Gods spoilers, the PCs are making trouble in Numeria, which always brings down the wrath of the Technic League. They've also been disrupting the kind of scum and villainy that prefers to remain undisrupted (the bounty hunter was originally contracted by a gang leader).

Ideally—and I know that no plan survives contact with the enemy PCs, but ideally—I'd like to let this guy remain mostly a villain, rather than doing the "well, he's not actually such a bad guy" thing and redeeming him to become a cohort or whatever (but I'll let it happen if it works out that way). Most of the PCs' contact with him throughout their careers will likely be hostile. What I'm trying to do here is set up a situation where the players don't like him and don't trust him, but find that it's in the PCs' best interest to work with him anyway, toward a common goal, however temporary that may be.

Does that clarify everything you were hoping for?


Well, luckily, this is a bounty hunter- a sword/gun for hire. So it is easy to manufacture reasons why he would be in a noncombative position with the PCs.

Hostages usually work fairly well. A rich merchant's kid got himself into trouble, and daddy started getting fingers in the mail. With the cash put on bringing what is left of the kid back for a regeneration spell, your bounty hunter can be put into a position where he may look for some assistance.

Putting the party into a position where they don't shoot on sight. Perhaps they are being contracted by another party to target the same gang (since they are likely causing problems for every town in the area), and bounty hunter came looking because he heard about that offer too (aligned interests and such).

Keeping him in the adversarial position might be a problem though. Maybe, that rich man's son was dragged into this by an idiot friend... and the employer was not happy about this. Turning one of the hostages into a target at the same time would give conflict for this CG party, which would spring right at the end. Have him shoot the idiot friend and grab the kid, and dimensional door out. It is enough to keep him on the wrong side of the moral spectrum.


A damsel in distress is an option I have yet to see. The party is asked to Presque some, if they are tied to the party that is awesome. The bounty Hunter is the guide. This should have a time limit. Or that the bounty hunter is the one getting rerescued


^Who says this has to be a damsel in distress?

Why not this?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One big piece of advice - don't make the bounty hunter a GMPC. Make sure if the bounty hunter contributes something, it isn't something that is the strength of any PC. If that happens, the PCs might have to work with him, yet the players will not enjoy it.

The easiest idea is the bounty hunter is hired for a mission that the PC group would be motivated to work towards. Easiest example is rescue an NPC that is a friend or relative to one of the PCs.

It doesn't sound like the PCs have thought of hiring the bounty hunter for any reason. Some groups I have run would eagerly buy off their more mercenary opponents.


If it is possible, have the Bounty Hunter temporarily betrayed by his normal 'handler' who kidnaps someone the hunter cares for, perhaps their child. You said bounty hunter and not assassin so it is possible I assume he is a neutral alignment doing the job for pay?

The BH, knowing the group is pretty tough since he/she needs to keep running from them, 'hires' them to help free the child knowing that him hiring his prey would be something his old boss would never suspect and that the players good alignments would make them consider the siuation.

He/She should do this through an intermediary or while disguised or under Alter Self or some such to so the players do NOT know who is hiring them. He can even use the true story and their alignments to possibly guilt them into doing it for free. Have the contract legally 'ratified/registered/notated/whatever' by the local law so it is legally enforcable.

Then have the Bounty Hunter meet them in broad daylight in a good aligned temple or some other such secure area as themselves to start the hunt for his/her loved one. If they balk have the BH suggest a conditional curse/Geas/Quest on them all to prevent betrayal of each other so they know they can trust each other.

Once the being the BH cares for is freed, they are all released from their compulsions and free to act as they wish.

Ideally your BH would be female and freeing her 4-5 year old daughter to play on the heart strings. Adjust as needed for your players ages, genders and psychological make up.

If the BH is the sole parent it will work even better when the players fight him/her later knowing that if they kill them they orphan an innocent child.


You could have the players' next quest-giver send the bounty hunter to apprehend all of them and bring them to him or her. Everybody is railing against being held prisoner, but then, Surprise! you just have another quest

Silver Crusade

The Hunter becomes the hunted...but this time by 2 different groups (your PC's should have a boss that wants him alive). Have the BH separated from his gear. Maybe one group has the guy and the other group gets the gear. Maybe they get holed up in a keep/temple/tower and they have to defend it from waves of attacks.
Will your PC's trust him enough to hand him a blade? Will your PC's turn him in to their boss? Will your PC's help him get his vengeance?

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