|Lady Marilinev, The Early Years|
Employment by a Patron means consent of your conduct. If you discover the cultists beneath the old castle on the hill, its because you act on behalf of your Patron.
Apart from a good income, you can enjoy some degree of political immunity from prosecution while you get to stick a sword in Hamlet because he is 'in the way' and all for a purse filled with gold for your services.
But of course employment with a Patron has its own risks. You are choosing to sacrifice Neutrality and support a faction. A faction with enemies. You might be waylaid by agents of a rival Patron. Where your Patron might have afforded you some respect, some upstart rival looking to whisper in the Prince's ear and seize your Patron's wealth might send thugs to assault you in the streets. Or perhaps your own Patron has grown weary of you and decided they can no longer afford your incompetence. You might be given bribes to change sides and find yourself faced with a terrible choice that challenges your Alignment. Perhaps your actions result in your banishment from the city by its ultimate Authority.
This is a world of schemes, poisons, assassins, seduction, manipulation, wealth, and politics. Your tax coin hard at work...
The Dungeon Master is the Shadowy Hand
A significant problem is you dont know what is going on behind the scenes.
PCs sent into the sewers? Who are the NPCs following them? The 'B' Team? Some other Patron's agents? There are a million conspiracies and the PCs just found a single thread. While you as Dungeon Master might roll a handful of dice on a piece of paper and establish a network of conspirators, conspiracies, and how the Player Characters fit into the picture.
How capable is the Patron of the Player characters in being involved in a conspiracy? I suggest a point based system. add the Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma bonuses and call it their Machiavelli Score. the higher their capacity to interact with the conspiracy ball of thread, the greater the significance of the Conspiracy they may be involved with. That network of dice rolled on a piece of paper suddenly has meaning beyond abstract art.
Deus Ex Machina
An Empire of Mages with a million apprentices and crystal balls lying around most certainly has an NSA where those assets are merged to discern what Your conspiratorial Patron had for breakfast and are keeping it in a personal file in their massive bureacracy. Even an amulet of protection would not protect you from a wizard with a crystal ball and spells allowing them to listen to conversations in a room without targeting the wearer of the amulet directly. What are the odds that file gets handed to the Prince of some city revealing the conspiracies of its Patrons, and the involvement of the Player Characters?
Perhaps there are six crystal balls in your entire Dungeons and Dragons setting and Dragons use them to while away the centuries watching the Human Soap Opera into which your Player Characters have Stumbled.
You as Dungeon Master will decide what is going on in your Dungeons and Dragons game. If you want Patrons employing PCs in elaborate conspiracies then its up to you.
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