A player character turns to the dark side

I had an interesting session in the online D&D 4th Edition game I was running this evening. This is my main online campaign of the War of the Burning Sky that I’ve been running using MapTool and Skype most Friday nights since last July. It’s a great group of people, and tonight we had the whole group – the original five players plus the two new players we added over time when some of the original folks were unavailable.

The interesting part of the session was about a character who really didn’t get to do much during the session tonight. Fudrick the Gnome started off the campaign as a Shaman, but it became clear to Fudrick’s player at some point that Fudrick was really a darker character. So, when we hit someplace around level 9 and were reshuffling the lineup of players, I offered everyone the chance to significantly change their characters if they wished, and Fudrick decided to become a dark pact Warlock.

This was fine. Fudrick wasn’t evil exactly, but perhaps a bit more ethically flexible than the rest of the party. Hilarity ensued when the two new characters in the campaign were both lawful good and had to put up with Fudrick.

Fast forward to our previous session. The party was in a big city and had an audience with the king, after which they were taunted by the ambassador from their enemy country. Fudrick decided that he wanted to try to infiltrate the embassy from this enemy country, Ragesia, so he paid them a visit. No one was home when he first knocked, but he came back later, alone, and was invited inside.

He convinced the Ragesian ambassador that he wanted to switch sides, and so the ambassador had him go through some dark initiation rituals involving blood and chanting and so on (I think I did a pretty good job of improvising that part). He was welcomed into the fold and went to bed in the embassy.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party was attacked in their inn during the night by non-Ragesians and were more or less forced to flee the city. They made a rescue mission first, though – go get Fudrick. Some awesome stealth on the part of the naturally sneaky tiefling and naturally not-so-sneaky minotaur led the two of them to Fudrick’s room. They woke Fudrick up and got his stuff and started heading downstairs… whereupon Fudrick flubbed a Stealth check badly.

The three of them heard the bad guys stirring upstairs and decided to run. But then Fudrick decided to try a bluff – he wanted the bad guys to think he was on their side and chasing off intruders, so he yelled out that there were intruders in the house and took a shot at the tiefling and minotaur, intentionally missing – but bluffing well enough that the tiefling and minotaur (and the bad guys) believed he was really trying to kill them. They left, and the party left the city, with Fudrick in the welcoming arms of the bad guys. He’s an NPC now.

To be clear, I’m not punishing Fudrick’s player or anything like that. I talked to him between sessions to see how he wanted things to go, and he basically wanted to go with the flow. It was his decision during this session to bluff the bad guys into thinking he was still with them, having his allies run away. And he’s not necessarily a lost cause, either – after all, he’s ostensibly a double agent. But there’s that ritual and oath that he underwent…

In the end, Fudrick’s player will be creating another character to join the party, and Fudrick has the potential to become an interesting villain (with his alter ego provided by an accidental typo from another player, FUDKIRC). I didn’t expect the campaign to go in quite this direction, but I’m completely fine with it.

Have you had any experiences with PCs joining the bad guys? How did you handle it when it came up?

2 thoughts on “A player character turns to the dark side

  1. Something similar happened in my own game this evening when the party cleric began negotiating away the life of another player to get himself out of one bad situation and into an undercover position with the big bad of the first half of the heroic tier. Can’t wait to see how it all gets resolved next week.

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