Created By: skzip887 on September 15, 2010 Last Edited By: skzip887 on November 14, 2010
Troped

Treacherous Quest Giver

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Trope
A common Plot Twist found in Role-Playing Games and Video Games, but also found in Adventure, Action, or anything that loosely resembles The Hero's Journey. When the Quest Giver directly tries to deceive the PC/Hero for their own hidden purposes. They have managed to disguise thier own Xanatos Gambit or Batman Gambit as the Call to Adventure. Upon finding out, The Hero must either change their goals , or simply go though with the evil-killing procedure that was so generously to mapped out for them in the first place.

These Blatant Lies are usually quite obvious to most Genre Savvy players, but playing the Unwitting Pawn is usually necessary to keep the plot moving. Demands for Darker and Edgier and Silly Rabbit I Dealism Is For Kids over the past few decades have also made this rather routine. Nearly an Omnipresent Trope in RPGs with multiple quest lines, if only because out of so many people bossing the player around, one of them ought to be lying.

A Treacherous Quest Giver may be:

NPCs qualifying for this trope MUST have a vital part in both sending the heroes on their quest and, intentionally, instigating the final conflict of the plot / quest line, even if they have outlived their usefulness and die long before said conflict takes place. This also has to do with disguising one's own identity or intentions from the beginning, from the hero if not also the audience. Having some Obviously Evil huckster pop up in the third dungeon and telling a Red Shirt to open the Sealed Evil in a Can because there's yummy cheesecake inside most likely does not count.

This is generally considered a plot twist and often a Twist Ending, therefore spoilers may be unmarked

Often overlaps with Xanatos Gambit, Batman Gambit, Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, The Cake Is a Lie, MacGuffin Delivery Service, and, clearly, requires an Unwitting Pawn, or someone who acts like one to further their own plan. If the Quest Giver is someone who Can Not Tell A Lie, expect the truth to bent unrecognizable.

Contrast Enemy Mine, But Thou Must!, or, An Offer You Can't Refuse, where he quest giver has openly disclosed their evil intentions and forces the hero to go through with it anyway.

If this was all a ploy by the Obi Wan to help, improve, or evaluate the hero, then it's a Secret Test

Examples

Video Games
  • The King in Retro Game Challenge's Guadia Quest RPG tells the heroes to go fight each boss, then turns out to be the final boss who wanted to bring chaos to the world by destroying the Balance Between Good and Evil.
  • Basically Kreia in Knights of the Old Republic.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has one quest where the player is assigned by Prince Bhelen to deliver documents proving his rival, Lord Harrowmont, has been ripping off his political supporters. the documents are forged
  • Deus Ex. In the latter half of the game, you kill the people you worked for in the first.
  • Starcraft Duke, Mengsk, I won't even mention the Z-word in episodes 2 and 6.
  • Guild Wars: Divinity coast, several prophecies mission before the last one, Possibly a few Palawa Joko quests.
  • The Pope in Grandia 2 sends you to go collect all of the pieces of Valmar, the god of evil, to be resealed. Unfortunately it turns out his god, Granas, is dead, and he's a bit insane, and is now trying to resurrect the god of evil.
  • Dungeon Siege 2: The old Azunite student ( turns out to be the real Zaramoth reborn.)
  • Two instances in the Oblivion:
    • In Dark Brotherhood, your correspondence containing the names of people to kill is hijacked by a traitor, who uses you to murder the entire top rung of the Brotherhood before your mentor catches up with you to reveal the truth.
    • During the Fighters Guild storyline, you infiltrate the Blackwood Company, which sends you to clean out goblins overruning the Water's Edge settlement. You've been drugged to see the legitimate residents as goblins and kill them, so that Blackwood can sell the now-empty grounds to their client. Partially Subverted in that you already knew they were up to no good, you were just acting as The Mole.
    • The mage's guild quest to visit the count to get a book back. His retainer tells you to meet him at a certain time. The retainer reveals that he's with the necromancers and attacks. The count turns up to save you. It turns out you had been sent under false pretenses to making sure he hadn't fallen in with some dark wizards, the retainer was trying to kill you to make the mages guild distrust the count (and thus be forced to fall in with the necromancers) and the count was using you to root him out. Three false quests in one (although only one quest giver was evil).
    • Where the spirits have lease; after digging around in a Haunted House, you find the body of an old wizard (killed for being evil). He says he's repented and asks you to replace his hand so he can make things right. Do I even need to explain what happens next?
  • In Phantom Hourglass one dungeon has an Escort Mission with some Obviously Evil Creepy Child girls. Needless to say, they're the dungeon's boss.
    • Another Legend of Zelda example is Blind The Thief in A Link To The Past. He disguises himself as the maiden for that dungeon and tries to prevent you from leaving. You have to trick him into a patch of sunlight to begin the battle.
  • Deadly Premonition has you running quests for both The Dragon and The Big Bad. Subverted in that some are rather benign fetch errands.
  • Would you kindly remember Bioshock?
  • In the Tribunal expansion for Morrowind the goddess Almalexia is in fact crazy and trying to conquer the city all along.
  • Ratchet & Clank spend the first half of the game trying to contact Captain Quark, who sends them to his hidden base planet in order to demonstrate their heroic worth. Or, y'know, kill them on the orders of the Big Bad he's been working for in exchange for corporate sponsorship.
  • Captain DeSanta from Red Dead Redemption, who forces Marston to Kick the Dog in the course of his mission path and, eventually, betrays him outright. Also Edgar Ross, who instead of letting Marston live a quiet life after taking out Dutch's gang sends the army to kill him.
  • Wario Land 3: The protector of the music box world sends Wario on a quest to retrieve five magic music boxes to restore his power. Turns out the "protector" was actually Rudy the Clown, an evil spirit to was trying to conquer the world, and the game's final boss.

MMORPGs
  • A number of contacts in City of Heroes do this, more notably in City of Villains. One who sends you on an "innocent" smash-and-grab into the Midnighter's Club, and then later informs you that you just stole a number of artifacts that will help your contact to free Rularuu, a god-like being who eats universes.
  • World of Warcraft Drakuru's questline in Grizzly Hills
    • An undead questgiver that gives a quest to collect materials for a "truth serum" to be used on a human prisoner held in the nearby Horde base. The serum is actually a poison that kills the prisoner, who was about to reveal to the orcs that the undead are not entirely loyal to the Horde.
    • The PC gathers items and eventually frees The Death Knight Teron Gorefiend. Players eventually fight him in the Raid Black Temple.. Known to be one of the hardest bosses in there.

Film
  • The Hierophant in The Gamers: Dorknes Rising definitely counts as this. Most of the players don't notice because acting like Munchkins has effectively rendered them Genre Blind.
  • King Pelias in Ray Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts (and probably the original myth) sends Jason on the quest to find the Golden Fleece in order to forestall the prophecy that Jason will kill him. As insurance Pelias sends his son with Jason's crew to assassinate him later. Naturally Jason survives and it's implied he will fulfil the prophecy.
  • The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. M, the person who gathers the League together is also the Fantom as well as Professor James Moriarty of Sherlock Holmes fame.
  • Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Walter Donovan, who sends Indy after the Grail, is actually a Nazi who wants the Grail for himself.

Tabletop Games
  • Basic Dungeons & Dragons module CM3 Sabre River. The Seer sends the PCs to retrieve the sabre's hilt so he can end the curse on the title river. In fact the Seer is the one behind the curse, and wants the hilt so he can recreate the sabre and become invincible.
  • The Ravenloft module Touch Of Death involves a Sinister Minister who uses the party to try and awaken a powerful Mummy.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Doctor Who story arc "The Key to Time", the White Guardian commissions the Doctor to retrieve the fragments of the Key to Time to keep them out of the hands of the Black Guardian. It turns out that it was the Black Guardian in disguise all along, using the Doctor as a convenient collecting tool.

Western Animation
  • VeggieTales: The Lord of the Beans had the Head Elder of the Razzberry Forest be secretly in the pay of Scaryman.

Literature
  • Sharon Green's The Far Side of Forever. The man who magically summons the protagonists together and sends them on the mission turns out to be the Big Bad behind the evil plot.

Web Comics
  • Order Of The Stick: Nale relies on Roy's willingness to accept a sidequest in order to send him on a useless quest for starmetal in order to slow him down.
  • Dungeons & Denizens: In one story the quest giver starts here and ends here.
  • 8-Bit Theater: Sarda sends the Light Warriors on a quest to collect the Elemental Orbs. That way he can use them to become all powerful, and kill the Light Warriors.

WebOriginals
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • September 15, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
  • September 15, 2010
    skzip887
    Nothing to do with the Main quest line. Also, they never really pretended to be good guys Reply is appreciated, though.
  • September 15, 2010
    AmazinglyEnough
    Closely related to Unwitting Pawn, Macguffin Delivery Service.

    Also, I think we might have the trope for when the hero knows he's being used by the badguys but has to go on the quest anyway.
  • September 15, 2010
    repicheep22
    A number of contacts in City Of Heroes do this, more notably in City of Villains. I recall one who sends you on an "innocent" smash-and-grab into the Midnighter's Club, and then later informs you that you just stole a number of artifacts that will help your contact to free Rularuu, a god-like being who eats universes.
  • September 15, 2010
    chee
    World Of Warcraft Drakuru's questline in Grizzly Hills
  • September 15, 2010
    Kayube
    The King in Retro Game Challenge's Guadia Quest RPG tells the heroes to go fight each boss, then turns out to be the final boss who wanted to bring chaos to the world by destroying the Balance Between Good And Evil.
  • September 16, 2010
    skzip887
    The Hierophant in The Gamers: Dorknes Rising definitely counts as this. Most of the players don't notice because acting like Munchkins has effectively rendered them Genre Blind.
  • September 16, 2010
    Nomic
    There's also a few others in World Of Warcraft, for example an undead questgiver that gives a quest to collect materials for a "truth serum" to be used on a human prisoner held in the nearby Horde base. The serum is actually a poison that kills the prisoner, who was about to reveal to the orcs that the undead are not entirely loyal to the Horde.
  • September 16, 2010
    Discar
    Basically Kreia in Knights Of The Old Republic.
  • October 7, 2010
    LeeM
    King Pelias in Ray Harryhausen's Jason And The Argonauts (and probably the original myth) sends Jason on the quest to find the Golden Fleece in order to forestall the prophecy that Jason will kill him. As insurance Pelias sends his son with Jason's crew to assassinate him later. Naturally Jason survives and it's implied he will fulfil the prophecy.
  • October 7, 2010
    Tiiba
    Suggested name: Suggested example:
  • October 7, 2010
    Pickly
    • Guild Wars: Divinity coast, several prophecies mission before the last one, Possibly a few Palawa Joko quests.

    Also, this page seems like it will involve a lot of spoilers, thanks to the amount of deceptions in the quests that are revealed later in the plot. Should this page have a "this page will contain spoilers" disclaimer at the top, or should examples directly include spoiler tags?
  • October 7, 2010
    AFP
    Dunno how well this name works, but maybe Quisling Questgiver? References The Quisling, and also has Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • October 7, 2010
    Dcoetzee
  • October 8, 2010
    Irrisia
    The Pope in Grandia 2 sends you to go collect all of the pieces of Valmar, the god of evil, to be resealed. Unfortunately it turns out his god, Granas, is dead, and he's a bit insane, and is now trying to resurrect the god of evil.
  • October 8, 2010
    Belfagor
    Dungeon Siege 2: The old Azunite student ( turns out to be the real Zaramoth reborn.)
  • October 8, 2010
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Basic Dungeons And Dragons module CM3 Sabre River. The Seer sends the PCs to retrieve the sabre's hilt so he can end the curse on the title river. In fact the Seer is the one behind the curse, and wants the hilt so he can recreate the sabre and become invincible.
  • October 9, 2010
    CaptainCrowbar
    In the Doctor Who story arc "The Key to Time", the White Guardian commissions the Doctor to retrieve the fragments of the Key to Time to keep them out of the hands of the Black Guardian. It turns out that it was the Black Guardian in disguise all along, using the Doctor as a convenient collecting tool.
  • October 9, 2010
    Raso
    Another Wo W example you gather items for and eventually free The Death Knight Teron Gorefiend. Players eventually fight him in the Raid Black Temple.. Known to be one of the hardest bosses in there.
  • October 9, 2010
    Koveras
    • Two instances in the Oblivion:
      • At some point in the Dark Brotherhood storyline, your correspondence containing the names of people to kill is hijacked by a traitor, who uses you to murder the entire top rung of the Brotherhood before your mentor catches up with you to reveal the truth.
      • During the Fighters Guild storyline, you infiltrate the Blackwood Company, which sends you to clean out goblins overruning the Water's Edge settlement. Turns out, you've been drugged to see the legitimate residents as goblins and kill them, so that Blackwood can sell the now-empty grounds to their client.
  • October 9, 2010
    Bisected8
    The Fighter's Guild may not count, since you already knew they were up to no good, you were just acting as The Mole.

    Other examples include;

    • The mage's guild quest to visit the count to get a book back. His retainer tells you to meet him at a certain time. The retainer reveals that he's with the necromancers and attacks. The count turns up to save you. It turns out you had been sent under false pretenses to making sure he hadn't fallen in with some dark wizards, the retainer was trying to kill you to make the mages guild distrust the count (and thus be forced to fall in with the necromancers) and the count was using you to root him out. All in all that's three false quests in one (although only one quest giver was evil).
    • Where the spirits have lease; after digging around in a Haunted House, you find the body of an old wizard (killed for being evil). He says he's repented and asks you to replace his hand so he can make things right. Do I even need to explain what happens next?

    • In Phantom Hourglass one dungeon has an Escort Mission with some Obviously Evil Creepy Child girls. Needless to say, they're the dungeon's boss.
      • Another Legend Of Zelda example is Blind The Thief in A Link To The Past. He disguises himself as the maiden for that dungeon and tries to prevent you from leaving. You have to trick him into a patch of sunlight to begin the battle.
  • October 9, 2010
    arromdee
    I don't interpret the Dpoctor Who story that way. The character who claimed to be the White Guardian at the end was a fake, but that doesn't mean the real one didn't send him on the quest in the first place.
  • October 10, 2010
    TheBigSock
    Spider-Man: Web Of Shadows has you doing a couple of quests for the Kingpin.
  • October 10, 2010
    Arivne
    Compare the Running Both Sides YKTTW, where one person is running two opposing organizations.

    Film
  • October 10, 2010
    BlackWolfe
  • October 10, 2010
    wackojacko1138
    Order Of The Stick: Nale relies on Roy's willingness to accept a sidequest in order to send him on a useless quest for starmetal in order to slow him down.
  • October 11, 2010
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Sharon Green's The Far Side of Forever. The man who magically summons the protagonists together and sends them on the mission turns out to be the Big Bad behind the evil plot.
  • October 12, 2010
    Starry-Eyed
    Veggie Tales: The Lord of the Beans had the Head Elder of the Razzberry Forest be secretly in the pay of Scaryman.
  • October 12, 2010
    CompletelyNormalGuy
    In the Tribunal expansion for Morrowind the goddess Almalexia is in fact crazy and trying to conquer the city all along.
  • October 12, 2010
    Irrisia
    Speaking of Bioshock, System Shock 2, and the revelation that your quest-giver for the first half of the game has been SHODAN.
  • October 13, 2010
    BlackWolfe
  • October 13, 2010
    shimaspawn
    Don't launch the trope with natter on it to start. That's only going to lead to the page being a mess later on. Clean up the examples before you post this.
  • October 14, 2010
    skzip887
    Not nearly done cleaning up the description yet. Launch a distant possibility at the moment.
  • October 14, 2010
    Freezer
    Puzzle Quest 2: The Mother, The Maiden and The Crone - who give you tips and guidance throughout the game, turn out to be aspects of the Big Bad.
  • October 14, 2010
    BlackWolfe

    Natter: I don't recall if he ever gave you any tasks, though, so he may not qualify.

    Also, please note that "original" only has one O in it, and is not spelled "origional."
  • October 16, 2010
    skzip887
    Also, not familiar with what's so offensive or "natter"-some. If there's some misplaced comma or semicolon that deeply offends The Powers That Be, go ahead and clean it up. Otherwise, please be more specific.
  • October 17, 2010
    BlackWolfe
    I don't see any natter in the description. When I wrote "Natter" in my post, I was actually pointing out that my clarification would count as natter, and shouldn't be included in a Rolling Update if my example is - which it probably shouldn't be unless someone can clarify that he does more than tell you about the damn wildlife. It's been about ten years since I played Metal Gear Solid, people. Little help?
  • October 17, 2010
    TheJackal
    Captain DeSanta from Red Dead Redemption, who forces Marston to Kick The Dog in the course of his mission path and eventually betrays him outright. Also Edgar Ross, who instead of letting Marston live a quiet life after taking out Dutch's gang sends the army to kill him.
  • October 19, 2010
    ReplisMonathin
  • November 13, 2010
    skzip887
    Is this solely a Speculative Fiction trope? There are plenty of mysteries where the detective's client is treacherous. For instance, Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon.
    • skzip887: That's such a well-loved device, it most likely deserves it's own trope. This one can be specified for adventure / video games/ speculative fiction. Thanks for bringing that up.
  • November 13, 2010
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    • Dungeons & Denizens: In one story the quest giver starts here and ends here.
  • November 13, 2010
    SeanMurrayI
    The speech bubble text in the picture is pretty small and is unreadable without pressing my face against my computer monitor.
  • November 13, 2010
    TBTabby
    Wario Land 3: The protector of the music box world sends Wario on a quest to retrieve five magic music boxes to restore his power. Turns out the "protector" was actually Rudy the Clown, an evil spirit to was trying to conquer the world, and the game's final boss.
  • November 13, 2010
    PaleHorse87
    • Eight Bit Theater: Sarda sends the Light Warriors on a quest to collect the Elemental Orbs. That way he can use them to become all powerful, and kill the Light Warriors.
  • November 13, 2010
    skzip887
    Lunches in 24 hours. Repair, Don't Respond until then.
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