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Treacherous Quest Giver
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. Happens when the Quest Giver directly tries to deceive the PC/Hero for their own hidden purposes. They have managed to disguise their Evil Plan 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 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, Idealism 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. It is often a handy recipe for spicing up a boring Fetch Quest.

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 multiple kinds of plans: 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 Cannot Tell a Lie, expect the truth to be bent unrecognizably.

Contrast Enemy Mine, But Thou Must, or, An Offer You Can't Refuse, where the 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:

    open/close all folders 

     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 II.
    • A lesser example from the first game is Hulas of the Genoharadan. The player will know going in that it's a Dark Side quest, but that Rodian is just using you to kill off the other guildmasters and take control of the whole thing himself. Of course, a Dark Side player can just finish off the job...and the guild.
  • 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. You can confirm this by checking with the Shaperate, and if you confront Bhelen's lieutenant with the evidence he shrugs and tells you to just do it anyway.
    • The Dalish send the Player Character to kill a wolf named Witherfang in order to stop a contagious werewolf curse from effecting their entire tribe. As it turns out Zathrian, the leader of the Dalish clan, is behind the curse and could have lifted it at any time. He's just under the impression that carving out Witherfang's heart will provide a rememdy just for the Dalish, allowing the once-human werewolves to suffer.
    • Queen Anora has no problem ratting out the party that rescues her, once she suspects Failure Is the Only Option. If you decide her father is too dangerous to live, she'll also turn on you at the Landsmeet.
    • Flemeth is priming the warden to conceive a Mac Guffin Girl/Boy for unknown purposes.
  • In Dragon Age II an Antivan noble asks your help in arresting an elven assassin. This assassin turns out to be Zevran, a party member from the previous game, who warns you that even if you do arrest him, the noble will try to kill you because you know too much.
    • A much nastier one is when Anders, your own party member asks you to help him gather ingredients for a potion to separate him and Justice. They're actually ingredients for a bomb to blow up the Chantry.
  • 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 II 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.)
  • There area few instances in the Elder Scrolls game 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. Downplayed in that you already knew they were up to no good, you were just acting as The Mole.
    • In one of the Imperial City sidequests, there is a quest involving a group of vampire hunters called The Order of the Virtuous Blood. In a not-quite unseen twist, the leader of the aforementioned organization, the person who assigns you the task of killing an alleged vampire, was a vampire all along trying to get you to kill his only witness.
    • 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. this all ends happily.
    • In one of the Mage's Guild initiation quests, you're tasked with retrieving a ring from the well, that had apparently been lost down there by Vidkun, another associate. You enter the well to find... Vidkun's corpse, weighed down by the Burden-enchanted ring. After you return, Deetsan reveals she confronted Falcar (the quest giver) about Vidkun, and he stormed out; you end the quest by finding evidence that he is actually a Necromancer.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: 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 Zelda example is Blind The Thief in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. He disguises himself as the maiden for the 4th Dark World 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 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind the goddess Almalexia is in fact crazy and trying to conquer the city all along.
  • Ratchet and Clank spend the first half of the first 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.
  • Master Li in Jade Empire. After you kill the Disc One Final Boss, he reveals he's used you to obtain the Dragon Amulet and the throne of the Dragon Empire.
  • In Etrian Odyssey II, a couple of Side Quests were actually posted by bandits taking advantage of the noticeboard system to lure unwary adventurers into traps. The bartender who manages the request system is understandably pissed when he finds out, and warns your Guild when they take the second mission.
  • The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2, who feeds you misinformation about your former squadmates (he should know what Liara is doing, at least), leaks info about you to Alliance intelligence to further alienate you from old friends, and sends you, without your knowledge, to spring a trap.
  • The eponymous TaskMaker.
  • In Thief: The Dark Project, a client named Constantine asks you to find The Eye but it turns out he's really a Pagan God who wants to revert the world back to a wild state.
  • Pretty much the entire plot of Mortal Kombat Deception.
  • In Myst, the player is led to choose which of the two brothers is good and which is evil, both brothers presenting themselves as good and their brother as evil. The twist is that both are evil and if the player helps either, the player will be trapped in a book for eternity. The only way to progress is to view both as untrustworthy, listen for the one thing they agree you mustn't do, and do it.
  • The original Baldur's Gate included a textbook example with Koveras, a Paper-Thin Disguise of the game's Big Bad Sarevok, who initiates a Surprisingly Easy Miniquest that ultimately results in you being framed and wanted to mass murder across all of Sword Coast... just as he planned.
    • In the sequel, Jierden Firkraag sends the player on a side quest to kill some monsters menacing his land. It turns out he's actually trying to ruin the player's reputation, and the monsters are actually some paladins on the same fake quest under a disguise spell.
  • Last Scenario goes above and beyond on this one: not only was the Mysterious Informant trying to manipulate the main character in the guise of guiding him, but the entire "You are the descendant of a great hero and only you can defeat the demons" spiel was lies. Hilbert believed it because he was gullible. The player probably believed it because that's how RPGs work.
  • Radiant Historia barely even bothers to hide it. Heiss clearly has ulterior motives right from the start, but Stocke is still willing to follow his orders in order to find out what the hell is going on.
  • In Diablo III, Adria, the Witch of Tristram, sends you on a questline involving the Black Soulstone, which takes up the better part of the second act and all of the third, involving resurrecting the ancient Horadric betrayer who first created it, wresting the Stone from his hands, and then using it to trap the souls of the remaining Great Evils, Belial and Azmodan. The other five Evils were already marked and drawn into the stone by Adria herself. Now, why would Adria be so hell-bent upon getting all seven of the Great Evils into that stone? As it turns out, she's the agent of Diablo himself, and seeks to use the stone to resurrect him as the Prime Evil, the embodiment of all seven Evils in one being, in accordance with Diablo's grand plan. And the vessel that Adria uses for her master's resurrection? Her own daughter Leah, whose father is none other than the Dark Wanderer, Diablo's old host.
  • Demons Souls's Master Satsuki wants you to find his family's sword the magic sword Makoto. He's lying, and will try and kill you with it if you give it to him, and without it if you don't.
    • Shiva of the East from the spiritual sequel was originally going to have a very similar questline involving the Chaos Blade but it was cut from the final release.
  • The Beardy Baldy quest from Fable I, where a guy offers to let you marry his daughter if you change your looks into stupid styles. He then reveals he was just messing with you before running out of town, though it is entirely possible to simply beat the crap out of him without being charged for murder, because due to his status as quest giver he's immortal.
  • In BioShock 1 the player is following the instructions of a man named Atlas who needs the players help to free his wife and son from Ryan. But in truth he is really the crime boss Frank Fontaine, who has been controlling the player via mind control, and decided he no longer needs him.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has one that requires a ludicrous amount of work. In Searchlight, a completely irradiated town that everyone warns you to avoid, there's a storm cellar with three people in it. Talking with them reveals that they're planning on looting the town since it was a former NCR base, but they can't do it without radiation suits. One of them, Jason, offhandedly says to check the computer for their location. Doing so reveals that the shipment of radiation suits got waylaid in Nipton, so Jason tells you to go get them. In Nipton, its sole remaining resident tells you when directly asked that the cargo crate with the suits in them got moved north somewhere. Exploring the mountains north, there's a cave with an Average (50) lock that has the suits inside. Once you return with the suits, Jason's crew agrees to split the scavenged loot with you. You then go to the Police Station (that only Jason can unlock) and grab all the old NCR gear while Jason and his crew mill around. They won't let you leave until you pick up everything labeled NCR as well. Then you all travel to the Fire Station, and the process repeats. Finally, once you grab all the gear there, Jason says, "Good. Time to die, loser." and attacks you. Chances are, you'll be able to kill them all in about 2 seconds.
    • There's also a man near Goodsprings that tells you that his friend is trapped on a mountain filled with large geckos, but after you kill them and find nobody, he tells you he just wanted clear access to the loot up there, and attacks you.
    • This happens all over the place in the various Fallout games. A common setup is for one NPC to give you a quest to work against a personal enemy, the enemy to give you their side of the story if you stop to talk to them about it, and leaving it up to your conscience, playstyle, and desired position on the Karma Meter / Alliance Meters to decide which of them you believe. Taking any quest at face value is a mug's game, as it often depends entirely on which NPC you happened to bump into first.
  • It occurs quite a bit in the Tomb Raider series; most notably with the Big Bad of the first game, Jacqueline Natla.
  • In Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, the people who give directions on your next course of action are setting you up to be kindling for the First Flame. In the first game, the only character who is actually honest about what will happen to you if you go through with the quest and offers you an alternative option is also a lying bastard. His alternative will arguably end worse for you and will almost certainly be worse for the rest of the world.

    MMORPG's  

  • 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.
    • Abercrombie's questline in Duskwood. Abercrombie is a creepy hermit who sends you on several quests to gather an odd assortment of items from all over Duskwood, supposedly for completely innocent purposes. Short of actually flashing up on screen the words "Stop now before it's too late, you idiot!" the game does everything possible to clue you in to the fact that doing Abercrombie's bidding is not the smart thing to do. But will you listen? Like hell you will.
    • The crone you meet along the game's single longest questline who sends you to meet and revitalize Thorim was Thorim's evil brother Loken. Loken humbles and enslaves the full-powered Thorim and then dares you to do something about it.
  • Neko Matta of AdventureQuest Worlds at first appears to be helping you in your fight against Chaos Shogun Kitsune by giving quests to you. It eventually turns out that it was all a ruse as he was actually buying Kitsune enough time to summon O-dokuro, the gigantic undead youkai that serves as this saga's Chaos Beast battle.
    • The Great Godfather of Soul is another Treacherous Quest Giver, as he sets up Lord Ovthedance by claiming he cheats in dance contests and cons you into doing his dirty work for him so he can take the title of Dancing Champion for himself... and he would've succeeded if you hadn't won the /Dance Off Minigame, after which he vows vengeance against you with help from his manipulator, Chaos Lord Discordia... who was actually manipulated by the real Chaos Lord, Kimberly.
  • One of the quests of the Sharn Syndicate chain from Dungeons & Dragons Online has you working with Burgundy Tir, who has recently contacted an underlord of the Sharn Syndicate. He sends you on a run with his agent Zircon, a Warforged who has VIP access to the Lordsmarch Bank, in order to steal the Stormreaver Fresco, a piece of art from ancient times. Zircon, who it turns out is the underlord, betrays you during the mission, running off after getting his hands on the Fresco in hopes of framing you for the theft, leaving you to escape the vault and deal with Iron Sentinels and the city guard. Later, during a mission to kill Zircon and retrieve the Fresco for its real owner, a dragon by the name of Kear, you learn that Burgundy Tir was behind the whole thing. Since you can't kill Burgundy without bringing down the wrath of the Coin Lords on your head, you instead blackmail him into giving you an item of his in return for your silence after the mission.
  • Calder Cob is an early questgiver you meet in the introductory Archet quests for Hobbits and Men in The Lord of the Rings Online. The best soldier of the village leader, Captain Brackenbrook, Calder sends you to Bronwe's Folly, a ruin that turns out to have been claimed by the Blackwolds, in order to kill wolves. The wolves turn out to be the property of a Blackwold Wolf-master, who it turns out was tipped off about your arrival by Calder and who you then have to kill. The rest of the intro quest line involves proving Calder Cob's treachery and the truth of the Blackwolds' intentions to assault Archet to the Captain, who Calder has been serving as a Treacherous Advisor to, as well as making plans to defend the village from the assault in question. In the final instance of the quest line, where the Blackwolds finally do make their assault, Calder Cob becomes your final enemy.

Non-videogame examples:

     Anime And Manga  

  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyubey is not exactly upfront about what becoming a Magical Girl entails...
  • Kagihime Monogatari Eikyuu Alice Rondo: Turns out Alternate L. Takion's grandson is the real Takion, and he wants to use the wish from The Never Ending Story to keep him and Liddell eternally young. In the manga, it's so that he can add to his collection of stories and keep the Never Ending Alice from, well, never ending.

     Comic Books  

     Fan Works  

  • Jeft in With Strings Attached. Though the quest itself was real, he had no business getting the four involved with it, and had no intention of seeing it through to the end. He entangled them strictly For the Lulz.

     Film  

  • The Hierophant in The Gamers: Dorkness 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.
  • Played with in Fifty/Fifty: when Martin Sprue hired Sam French and Jake Wyer to help Akhantar overthrow General Bosavi, he is completely sincere, and genuinely wants to help the people of Tengara. Then Bosavi cuts a deal with the US government, and Sprue gets ordered to sell out Jake and Frenchie.
  • Oblivion (2013): Mission control at the space station Tet is in fact the Big Bad using clones of Harper and Victoria for their own ends.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Basic 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.
    • Although introduced in Pool of Radiance, Porphyrys Cadorna is a bit more severe in his treachery in TSR 9238 Ruins of Adventure. The video game only has the quest giver declared a traitor by the council as soon as the party returns from the remote keep, while the tabletop module has Papyrus also lock the players out of the city by framing them for a treachery.
  • The Ravenloft module Touch Of Death involves a Sinister Minister who uses the party to try and awaken a powerful Mummy.
  • There are so many examples in Shadowrun it's pretty much become an expectation. Standard adventure design seems to be "Johnson gives the team a mission, the team makes a plan, the plan goes wrong so the team shoots their way out, Johnson double-crosses the team."
    • The general assumption in all cyberpunk games is that whoever's hiring you has huge ulterior motives and may decide to shaft you. Some GM's have started throwing non-treacherous quest givers at their groups just to watch the expressions of total incomprehension on the faces of the players.
      • Outright lampshaded by the cover of one supplement, which showed an employer's palm pilot displaying a "to do" list. The last item on the list was "Betray shadowrunners".

     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.
    • Perhaps. We only really know for sure that it was the Black Guardian sitting on the last piece and letting the Doctor collect the other five.

     Western Animation  

  • Veggie Tales: The Lord of the Beans had the Head Elder of the Razzberry Forest be secretly in the pay of Scaryman.
  • Aladdin: A disguised Jafar send Aladdin to find the Genie's lamp, fully intending to kill him once he has it.
  • Kim Possible: Lord Montgomery Fiske got Kim to help him get a Mystical Monkey statuette... which he then used to become Monkey Fist, one of the series' more dangerous villains.

     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.
  • Name Of The Wind has Kvothe tricked by his Ruh knowledge of stories into assuming that one of these is a Secret Test from the Obi Wan. In the following book, he knowingly volunteers for one of these, playing up the drama of the first example to his bemused teacher for all it's worth.
  • In the original Arabian Nights version of Aladdin, the evil sorcerer was this to Aladdin, promising him riches in exchange for the lamp and trapping him underground when he didn't get it.
  • Happens in Star Wars: Scoundrels, when it is revealed at the end that the man who hired Han Solo to break into a Black Sun crimelord's vault was actually Boba Fett trying to get two bounties with one stone.

     Web Comics  

  • The Order of the Stick:
    • When the Order first meet the Linear Guild, Nale convinces them to help retirve the Talisman of Dorukan, claiming The Good King sent them to get it. When they do get it, it turns out it allows the holder to control all the monsters patrolling the dungeon — they needed the Order's help because only Good-aligned heroes could access the Plot Coupons, and the Guild is now able to get on with their real goal, killing Elan.
    • Later, 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. To his annoyance, the starmetal turned out to be real - he figured that the legend was such an obvious sidequest that someone would have already taken it if it even existed at all.
  • 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, let them rise to the height of their power and then take it all away to make them suffer.
    Sarda: It wasnt enough for me to destroy you, that would be too easy....
    Sarda: I made you what you are today so you'd know how insignificant you are when all that power fails to stop me from killing you.
    Black Mage: That's messed up, Sarda.
  • In Homestuck, the guide for both Vigilante Troll Terezi and "bluh bluh huge bitch" Vriska is the Black Queen, who they exiled via Operation Regisurp, guiding them to go against the plan with her own motives to destroy her prototyping ring so that Archagent Jack Noir can't get his hands on it.
    • Closer to Evil Versus Evil, given that Jack Noir would relish the opportunity (being Always Chaotic Evil), and Terezi said as much to Karkat, who was blinded by the fact that he considered Jack a surrogate father, despite the fact that Jack stabbed him in multiple instances.
  • In a Tempts Fate side comic in Goblins, Temps Fate gets stuck in a MMORPG and impersonates a quest giver. He then tells a bunch of PCs (who had previously been chasing him) that if they go into the water and wait until they run out of breath, they'll be rewarded with a secret room full of treasure and XP.

     Web Original  

  • In the French webfiction Les Aventures de Morgoth, when the eponymous mage with an Unfortunate Name is being briefed about adventuring, Vertu recounts a quest where the sponsor was not treacherous, before adding that it's the only known such instance in over a century (it's a Crapsack World Played for Laughs).


Treacherous AdvisorBetrayal TropesTreachery Cover Up
Total Party KillTabletop RPGTurn Undead
Trauma InnRole-Playing GameTrespassing Hero

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