Zombie Murder Mystery

Grandeur In Plain Sight

Written by Scott - Published on January 26, 2010

Mansions Not Lairs

Secret lairs and gloomy castles, villains and bad guys always seem to have some hidden fortress or base of operation hidden in remote locales or within ominous monster infested dungeons. One evil being has become bored of hiding his presence from the world and over the years has built a dominated army of ever-loyal followers and a highly fortified and respected position within a city. Silva is an ancient lich of untold years, with an influential presence and extremely potent subjects. Disposing him from his seat of power is a task suited to only the greatest of heroes.

The Handsome Lich

A well toned, raven-haired man of his middle years, Silva is considered by all to be extremely handsome. His extravagant clothing is always of the best make and cut, usually violet or red in colouring. His mysterious auburn eyes hold untold wisdom and their gaze can swoon maidens or chill the greatest warriors. The lich’s origins are unknown to any alive today apart from the lich himself. Silva’s unlife counts back innumerable years, he has seen mighty empires rise and fall, and cataclysmic events remake the world several times over. Close to two hundred years ago the necromantic master began to desire more power and influence than he could achieve from his onyx spire on a remote island. Since that day Silva has worked tirelessly to achieve his substantial influence and power over the denizens of the city. Silva’s entrepreneurial presence within the city earned him a powerful presence within all guilds in the city, especially the Thieves and Merchants guild. Manipulating these two guilds Silva obtains any priceless and powerful artefacts he desires, while secretly usurping control of the economic trade away from the royal family and their advisors. His powerful presence within the city has not gone unnoticed, but through careful diplomacy and constant use of his mental abilities, Silva has become a close and trusted friend of the royal family, especially the young prince who unwillingly sees Silva as a spectacular role model and second father. The queen also sees the manipulative lich as a very suitable bachelor for the young princess.

While being a diplomatic and strategic genius, the lich is also a master of necromantic magic, Silva has a dominating grasp over the dark magic with access to countless spells and rituals. He uses this ethereal magic to maintain his handsome exterior and appearance by draining the youth and life essence from orphans within his personally owned orphanage, as well as young adventurers new to the city. On top of his necromancy, Silva’s greatest talent are his psychic and mental abilities. Powerful seers and psychics have effortlessly succumbed to Silva’s commands and dominion. He uses these abilities to prevent curiosity into his agelessness, while he quietly achieves his endless goals. Silva’s grand plan is to be chosen and accepted as the suitor of the young princess. Then dominate the prince into assassinating the king, removing the prince from contending the throne in the process. Dominating people into such drastic actions requires finesse and years of subtleties to allow onlookers to willingly believe the actions. Once king of the powerful nation, Silva’s dominated and undead army will go forth in search of a rumoured crystal relic that is said to exponentially amplify psychic powers. Once found Silva plans to dominate the entire world continuously in a sort of morbid puppet show.

The Rebellious Consort

Anyone who discovers Silva’s true identity will more than likely seek the aid of the lich’s only known adversary. Dalarist is a powerful merchant queen who has built a powerful empire in open resistance to Silva’s death grip on the city. A waif like woman, Dalarist’s pale blue eye’s pierce through souls, while her seductive smile warms and coerces hearts. A blessed figure is hinted and teased at through suggestive yet respectful clothing of the highest quality. When away from her mansion, Dalarist always wears a silver scaled mask that perfectly hugs half her face. This odd silver scaled mask is said to be a magical item that wards off any mental intrusion, thus allowing Dalarist to openly oppose the influence and power of Silva. Many men within the city of all walks continuously seek to court Dalarist, yet all have been turned away as the powerful woman already has a secret consort.

The sinister truth behind Dalarist is quite disturbing and closely linked to Silva’s plans. Dalarist is an exiled and hunted, ancient Silver dragon that has been the lich’s partner for over five hundred years. After committing an inexcusable crime against Bahamut and her other dragon kin, she was sentenced to death. Barely escaping with her life and magical abilities drained, the silver dragon sought refuge and possible ways of regaining her former power. Silva and Dalarist entered a now ancient agreement, whilst he protected and hid her from her draconic pursuers, she would serve him in any way he desired. Since then they have become partners and almost implicitly trust each other. Dalarist’s role within the city is to provide an open and obvious source of rebellion against Silva, so that anyone who either opposes him or discovers his true identity, will more than likely seek the aid of the merchant queen. Only to be double-crossed and swiftly dealt with. Over the years, Dalarist has regained many of her banished powers and abilities, whilst also gaining some more nefarious necromantic ones. However her ability to shift into human form has not completely returned to normal and several parts of her body maintain silver scales whilst in her human form. The only visible place being the ‘mask’ she wears.

A Secret Seer

Silva’s most ancient ally is a vampiric nymph, who lives in a misty grove within a dark and dangerous jungle half a world away. The once pure nymph, Ha’Rih was sired thousands of years ago by a vampire within Silva’s army. The beautiful sight of the nymph blinded the vampire while the pure blood burned the unholy creature to death from within. Ha’Rih’s turning unlocked some very powerful and useful abilities that has saved and served the lich extremely well over the years. Ha’Rih has become a very powerful seer and telepath in her vampiric form. It was Ha’Rih that originally unlocked Silva’s mental powers and still to this day the lich uses her formidable abilities to read minds and find people. Whilst the nymph continues to serve Silva from her mystic grove, the lich will always know what his enemies are doing. Disposing of the blindingly beautiful vampire is not an easy task. Within her jungle, countless animals and birds have been infected over the years and anyone that wanders across her grove is hunted relentlessly by swarms of vampiric creatures. Facing the nymph is all but impossible, with her beauty intact, blindness is almost a certainty to any intruders but the affects of undeath cause the added effect of insanity on any that view her, combating her telepathic abilities will also require heroes of enormous skill and ability.

Where do your villains reside? What is your favourite city intrigue moment? How would you combat Silva’s dominating presence? Leave your ideas and feedback in the comments!

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Written by Scott

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5 Responses to “Grandeur In Plain Sight”

Zombie Murder Mystery
  1. Noumenon Says:

    I actually like this one. The villains are on such a big scale they need a lot of detail to match.

  2. Will F Says:

    Yet another great article, i could base an entire campaign off of this. Thanks Scott

    @Noumenon, They deffinetly are on a epic scale aren’t they. That being said i enjoy the detail that Scott puts in all his articles even for the members of the Watch he posted last week. I’m not trying to start a flame war, just stating that some people like high doses of flavour in their NPC’s compared to four dot point lines. As i said, just providing my opinion not disagreeing with your earlier comment.

  3. Hermeticgamer Says:

    This is the kind of campaign background that I would love to play in or GM. Lots of room for different adventures from low level up that would center on the city but have opportunities all along. GREAT work!

  4. Scott Says:

    Thanks everyone.

    @Hermeticgamer. Thanks, that was my intention to provide something that could be a 1-30 campaign idea, or just a one off adventure hook.

  5. Lia Tsashu’s Guilds and Guild Politics : Guang Keshar Says:

    […] Grandeur In Plain Sight (dungeonmastering.com) […]

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