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Working out a dastardly plot: Forcing a good man's hand

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  • Working out a dastardly plot: Forcing a good man's hand

    Got a story element that I'm playing with.

    A cultist is following an old ritual to make himself powerful, but he believes that he needs a counterpart to oppose him to make it work properly. He's selected a guy he is pretty certain will oppose him once he understands what's going on, because he's an upright and upstanding sort, but he needs the guy to kill a few people, first. For himself, the solution was easy: he murdered the few required people and disposed of the bodies carefully. This new guy, though, is going to take more work to get through the hoops.

    This cultist is inhumane, but not stupid. Cops could kill or stop either of them, so everything needs to be plausibly deniable to the authorities and preferably not even bring him up as suspicious. He would greatly prefer if the chosen foil gets away, as well. He really doesn't want to start over.

    So where I'm stuck, at the moment, is twofold:
    1. How would a clever cultist set up his foil to kill a person without any suspicion on himself or why it matters? (and this needs to happen multiple times and, preferably, with, at most, modest risk to the survival and freedom of the chosen foil.)
    2. What sort of clues seem reasonable for a fairly clever but occult-ignorant person to start working out such a plot? (The villain's plot needs to be pretty bulletproof.) What I mean by this is that he figures out the the guy wants him to kill, that he's working out a ritual, or both. (Pretty sure the former will help answer this one)
    Note, this cultist is a deadly personal combatant, but not supernatural. He believes that the ritual, if finalized, will turn him into a powerful being, but for now, he's basically just your run-of-the-mill sociopaths with a nifty book. He is moderately wealthy.

    Figured I'd brainstorm a bit on here since it's intended to become a plot involving a monster hunter with a horror theme... just seemed the right place.

    Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.

  • #2
    A lot is going to depend on specifics regarding the characters and the rite. How involved with the deaths does this man need to be? Can he press a button he thinks might save a room full of people but would actually gas them to death? Is he someone who is combat capable, or would they struggle to kill the weakest of human murderers?

    You call the antagonist a cultist, which implies he's just a member of a cult, but the fact that he has a ritual to make himself powerful implies, at least to me, that he is the leader or at least high up in a cult. If this is the case, one potential method would be to use lesser cultists. They could be convinced that martyring themselves at the hands of the other party would allow them to 'ascend' or whatever. Alternatively if they didn't trust the cultist that much, they could be sent to kill the other party and promised a reward upon completion, without knowing their gun is empty or otherwise disabled, while the antagonist has forewarned the other party and perhaps armed him appropriately, leaving him a working gun for self defense. If they're not part of the cult, the cultist might find people down on their luck, willing to do anything, and give them a chance, promising wealth and other benefits as long as they're willing to kill the target, sending them into a similar trap as described above. For hunters, the cultists or other hirelings may have some marking that designated them as part of the ritual. Gun afficionados might notice the cultists gun and the other were likely paired together, originally.

    Alternatively you might be able to encourage him to kill. Find people willing to crash into his life and turn it upside down. One person paid to hassle them at work, complaining to their boss and making up accusations until they're fired and blacklisted. Another to hit on the man, maybe drug him and take pictures of themselves with him, to make it look like he's cheating on his partner, which all gets unfortunately leaked. Or someone could be paid to seduce and steal their partner away. Basically hiring other sociopaths to chip away at the person's life until it's not a life at all. And at that point the cultist sweeps in and offers a helping hand, shows him what it's like to be powerful, wealthy, and that he too can be like that. The first step, however, is getting revenge.


    • #3
      Ah, good points. Thanks.

      The cultist is certain that melee killing works as well as direct manual killing, but he isn't even sure that ranged weapons count. Intent and state of mind matter, as well. An accidental/unknown killing wouldn't cause the proper mystical woo, he's pretty certain. (The thing is "alchemical", crucibles et alis. In absence of that detail, misdirection is a good approach.)

      "Cultist" was mostly a shorthand for the personality type, since my notion was that he'd found an ancient book of secrets from an ancient (presumed defunct) cult, and was just starting off but that is a good approach. He would absolutely be willing and probably able to sucker a few folks. If the cultist dude has already made some demonstrable progress it would be much easier to convince followers to emulate and listen to him. I just reorder the progress a little and that works fine.

      He could let an acolyte be the fall-guy---er... cult leader---in his place and they could be responsible for performing a few ritual sacrifices, one of which would "have to" or "happen to" be this guy. (as far as they are told.) That does solve most of the problems, including reducing the chances of the big guy being caught and allowing more room for him not being the source of the stupid mistakes.

      I was leaning towards making his life miserable, already, but was trying to figure out how the main baddie could convince folks to do that without revealing his involvement; a cult makes that much easier. I can see it: " If you can't destroy a life you can't rebuild one. If you can't then face your prey in battle and claim their life, you aren't worthy of your next evolution."

      All this could work with a tiny cult of 2-3, which is a plus.

      Grump, grouse, and/or gripe.