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Treacherous Quest Giver

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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; they've been Using You All Along. 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 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, False Innocence Trick, The Cake Is a Lie, MacGuffin Delivery Service, Uriah Gambit, 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 Trickster Mentor to help, improve, or evaluate the hero, then it's a Secret Test.


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  • AdventureQuest Worlds:
    • Neko Matta 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Baldur's Gate II: 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.
  • In Bendy and the Ink Machine, Henry becomes trapped below Joey Drew Studios and is looking for a way out when he meets "Alice." After some debate with herself, "Alice" pretends to be an ally to Henry in offering to allow him to "ascend and leave this place" if he runs some errands for her first. She then assigns him a series of fetch quests to get parts for the machines she has to use other being's ink to stabilize her own form. However, once Henry has completed his tasks, she sabotages the elevator he's in to bring him and Boris crashing down. Both Henry and Boris survive, but "Alice" kidnaps Boris, uses the machine Henry helped fix to make him Brainwashed and Crazy, and forces Henry to fight him.
  • BioShock:
    • The player is following the instructions of a man named Atlas who needs the player's 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 with the trigger phrase "would you kindly", and decided he no longer needs him.
    • Peach Wilkins in Neptune's Bounty allows you into his lair, on the condition that he is provided with pictures of spider splicers. Once you complete his task, he and his men try to kill you after he makes you give up your firearms, because he thinks you're an agent of Fontaine. Who is dead. Splicers aren't ones for logic. But Peach was Properly Paranoid all along, given the above spoiler.
  • Angel was revealed in Borderlands 2 to have been this in both that game and Borderlands. She was a pawn of Handsome Jack the whole time, manipulating events so that Jack got what he wanted. Following The Reveal of this in 2, she then betrays Jack on the grounds that he is a colossal asshole and throws her honest support behind the Vault Hunters.
  • You have to deal with two of these in Champions Online:
    • Professor Ratso is a Manimal who you rescue during a mission in one of Moreau's labs. He sends you to another lab to collect mutagenic chemicals so that he can begin undoing the effects of Moreau's work upon the Manimals. Or so he says. When you return with the chemicals, he reveals that he wants to use them to continue making Manimals out of humans so that he can overrun the earth, just before he seeks to kill you. You then have to take him down and fight your way out of Ratso's lab.
    • An even worse example leads up to the big Vibora Bay arc near the endgame. Valerian Scarlet comes to Millennium City and seeks heroes to help her stop a coming Apocalypse. But in reality, she's an agent of Therakiel, a truly powerful half-angel/half-demon that wants to kickstart the final battle between Heaven and Hell and rule over what's left when it's all over, and she's playing you for an Unwitting Pawn, as the items she has you collect are what she needs to start it — and to make matters worse, she then has you beat up Robert Caliburn, the only person who could stop this Evil Plan and put her in a position to steal his Flame Gem. All of this leads to a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero of truly epic proportions, as the Vibora Bay Apocalypse arc has you seeking to undo what you unwittingly helped to bring about, and resulting in things going so horrifically wrong because of both Valerian and Therakiel that you ultimately have to go back in time and start cleaning house in Vibora Bay so that the apocalypse can never happen.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The Bats' Tower chapter begins as a group of catfish ladies ask Conker to retrieve a money that is guarded in a safe, but unapproachable due to an angry bulldog-like fish; the reward, they say, is 10% of their fortune for him. After several hardships (including defeating a boss), Conker succeeds and retrieves the money... which consists of 10$, meaning that he'll only gain one dollar for having risked his life scaling a tower full of vengeful bats, dealing with a pervert cog who was sexually abusing other cogs, traversing a dangerous underwater maze, and fighting a living boiler piloted by fire imps who wanted to bully him. And then the bulldog fish breaks free and proceeds to eat the catfish ladies, aiming at Conker next. Only after barely escaping the hungry monster, does Conker receive a real reward (300$).
  • 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. Lastly, Shiva of the East was originally going to betray you over the Chaos Blade but the questline was cut from the final release.
  • Dead In Vinland has a mild example in Loki, who gives whatever player character approaches him a spiel about how they're The Chosen One destined to slay a monstrous beast. If you fall for it, slay the beast in question, and go back to him, he explains that there was no prophecy, it was just a large aggressive creature that was annoying him, and being Loki he laughs at what a gullible sucker you are. It's a Call-Back to the main plot of the previous game Dead in Bermuda, where numerous Greek gods pull the same trick on the party as a scam.
  • Deadly Premonition has you running quests for both The Dragon and the Big Bad. Subverted in that some are rather benign fetch errands.
  • In Chapter 2 of Deltarune, a shady salesman named Spamton will offer Kris a deal to become a "Big Shot"; all they have to do is bring him an empty disk to upload his consciousness to, then place it into a robotic body that was left to rot in the depths of Queen's basement. He's also insistent that they have to do it alone. After being transferred into his new body, he'll attempt to kill Kris, declaring he wants their SOUL, too. Thankfully, the rest of their party are able to rescue them just in time, leading to the chapter's Optional Boss fight.
  • Demon's 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.
  • Deus Ex. In the latter half of the game, you kill the people you worked for in the first half, though a Pacifist Run is possible. Additionally Maggie Chow is also a straight example.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Age:
    • 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.
    • Dragon Age: Origins:
      • There is 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 remedy 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 special child for unknown purposes.
  • 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.
    • Another quest sees a Silver Flame inquisitor, Gnomon, send you into a chapel to destroy an evil religious cult. The cult is harmless, and "Inquisitor Gnomon" doesn't exist - the NPC you spoke with is a monster called a Rakshasa in disguise, as you discover some quests later, and your quest was part of a plan to create unrest within the Silver Flame.
  • Dungeons of Aether's questgiver, Randall, is supposedly a good guy, but there's something off about him. The quests he gives are just an attempt to get more capable warriors to recover the Shards, and then get Fleet to steal them for him so he can fully corrupt the people who have received amsidian from him.
  • Dungeon Siege 2: The old Azunite student turns out to be the real Zaramoth reborn.
  • The events of Dusty Raging Fist, which is kicked off when Elijah, a young child, asks for the heroes Dusty, Kitsune and Darg to investigate a series of child kidnappings carried out by a mysterious entity called the Ancient Darkness, where every kid except Elijah has been stolen from their homes. Except Elijah himself is actually the Ancient Darkness in disguise, and is using the heroes as a distraction and remove all obstacles for his sacrificial ritual.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind:
      • Almalexia in the Tribunal expansion. Losing her divine powers as a result of the Nerevarine's actions in the Morrowind main quest has driven her insane, and she's trying to get you killed. That, along with her killing the other two members of the Tribunal will leave her as the only person left for the Dunmer people to worship. (And according to Vivec's post-main quest dialogue, there is legitimate power in the worship of their people which allows them to retain a trace of their divinity, so Almalexia may be less crazy than she seems.)
      • It is implied that King Helseth Hlaalu is this in the quest An Assassination Attempt, asking the player to help in protecting his mother from an assassination attempt when, as you find out when the assassins arrive, the real target is you and the assassins belong to a group you know Helseth has ties to. Amusingly it is only that specific quest — the Tribunal questline starts with him trying to have you assassinated, but that's before you start working for him, and waved away as a misunderstanding once you do. You get to do some of his dirty work, but not in a way that is negative for you, and once the second assassination attempt fails he easily slides back into the 'make use of you in a way that benefits both you and him' approach.
    • 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.
    • Skyrim:
      • Valmir, the army captain who sends you into Forelhost, turns out to be a Thalmor agent who tries to kill you once you emerge from the crypt.
      • Ralis Sedarys in the Dragonborn DLC; though it's ambiguous if he was brainwashed by the Dragon Priest in Kolbjorn Barrow or not.
  • In Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey In The Millennium Girl remake, there are several:
      • An enemy of local Sherlock Holmes Expy Austin impersonates Valerie, the quest giver, and sends you to find Austin with a note soaked in a chemical that attracts several waves of monsters. It's implied it was Barodeur, Austin's Moriarty equivalent.
      • An old man posts a mission to investigate the tales of a legendary thief's treasure, which just happens to be guarded by Golem, the first of the game's Superbosses. He knew perfectly well there was no treasure, but he wanted revenge upon the machine for killing his grandson. He did eventually feel remorse and tried to take down the quest, but it was way too late, seeing your team has already wrecked Golem's shit.
      • Gladsheim AI M.I.K.E.'s plan to activate Gungnir just so happens to consider Etria and the entire country expendable if the Yggdrasil Core's destroyed...
      • Visil originally has no agenda other than work for Etria. However, after a point, due to possession by Yggdrasil, he starts finding ways to try and kill your guild.
    • Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard: A couple of Side Quests are 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.
  • In EVE Online the player's can act as treacherous quest givers. One of the most common variants involves an insurance scam where a player puts out an order for a freight order with an enormous payout but also a hefty insurance fee (which the hired player has to pay to the client if they shipment is destroyed). Invariably, the shipment will take the contracted player through a dangerous part of the game if the client doesn't simply take the initiative to destroy his own cargo. The whole point is to collect the insurance fee.
  • The Beardy Baldy quest from Fable, 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.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • There's 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 New California Republic base, but they can't do it without radiation suits. One of them, Logan, offhandedly says to check the computer for their location. Doing so reveals that the shipment of radiation suits got waylaid in Nipton, so Logan 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, Logan's crew agrees to split the scavenged loot with you. You then go to the Police Station (that only Logan can unlock) and grab all the old NCR gear while Logan 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, Logan says, "Alright, thanks for the help. Time to die, loser." and attacks you. Chances are, you'll be able to kill him and his cronies in about two seconds.
    • There's also a man near Goodsprings that tells you that his girl 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.
  • Bambi "Buck" Hughes, a former Australian soldier turned mercenary, sends Player Character Jason Brody all around the Rook Islands in Far Cry 3 to find an ancient Chinese knife, in exchange for reuniting him with his friend Keith, who Buck's holding captive. When Jason finally finds the knife, he also finds out that Buck is a Depraved Homosexual who was subjecting Keith to abusive rape, and now that Jason's done his job, he plans on adding him to the collection. Their confrontation ultimately ends in a Knife Fight. Thankfully, Jason wins.
  • 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.
  • Guild Wars: Divinity coast, several prophecies mission before the last one, Possibly a few Palawa Joko quests.
  • 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.
  • Kirby:
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • The first game has 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.
    • The sequel has Kreia who acted as the player character's mentor for the majority of the game and provided them with the task of locating what remains of the Jedi Council. In the final act, it's revealed that she was using them the entire time to get revenge on both the Jedi and the Sith and to exploit their unique status as a Wound in the Force to destroy the Force itself.
  • 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.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • 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.
  • Downplayed with The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2, who leaks info about you to Alliance intelligence to further alienate you from old friends, and sends you, without your knowledge, to spring a trap. Unlike most examples, he's not doing this because he intends to screw you over for his Evil Plan; he's more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist who's fully aware that his moral compass won't always align with yours.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • Late in-game a salarian STG agent asks Ryder for help investigating the leadership of the salarian Ark, who he thinks have been darn suspicious. Eventually you find out he's one of said leadership, who's pulled a fast one, replaced the actual STG agent and left him on Elaaden to die. All the things he had you investigating was him covering his tracks. Whoops. Fortunately, Ryder finds the real STG agent and together they lure the imposter into a trap.
    • A minor quest on Kadara has a saleswoman offer Ryder the location of a weapons cache, anything they can find free of charge. They get there and are attacked by several outlaws. Afterwards they can confront her, and she defends herself by saying she can't help if she told other people and they just happened to decide the best way to stake a claim was murder anyone else. We should point out, pretty much everyone on Kadara is a lying asshole.
  • 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.
  • Putrefaction 2 begins where the first left off, as you enter the Void. Emerging from the portal, you're greeted by the Hermit, a talking, flaming, skull-like demon who possesses you and grants you superpowers, besides guiding and directing you to the source of the putrefaction to help you put an end to it. In the final cutscene, the Hermit reveals he wants the void's powers for himself, and is using you to get it, and your Final Boss is the Hermit's One-Winged Angel form.
  • 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.
  • Ratchet and Clank: The two main characters spend the first half of the first game trying to contact Captain Qwark, 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.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: It turns out the whole time, the man the duo have been working for was Captain Quark in disguise.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Happens very frequently in RuneScape. Stupidity Is the Only Option most of the time.
    • "Regicide" has King Lathas send you to assassinate his evil brother King Tyras. After completing the assassination, it turns out that King Lathas is the real villain and all the stuff you heard about King Tyras being evil was lies. Players should have already figured this out because you never actually see King Tyras, and in a previous quest you find out that the plague affecting half of the capital is a hoax and King Lathas's explanation for why he created the fake plague was very weak and didn't explain what really happened to the people who supposedly died of the plague.
    • "Icthlarin's Little Helper" has the quest giver, who turns out to be the evil goddess Amascut, mind control the player character into robbing a tomb for her.
    • "Smoking Kills" has a strange woman named Sumona sends you on a quest to rescue her sister, Jesmona, from a dangerous dungeon. It turns out the Sumona and Jesmona are both Amascut in disguise and trying to get you killed. She still rewards you for completing the quest though.
    • "Temple of Ikov" has a strange man named Lucien send you on a quest to retrieve the staff of Armadyl. When you get to where the staff is kept and the guards explain that Lucien is a villain, you can choose to either turn on Lucien, or steal the staff for him anyway.
    • Part of the way through "Legends' Quest" a ghost asks you to kill an undead wizard that he claims is holding him prisoner. The ghost is pretty obviously the demon you have been fighting in disguise. You can choose to follow his instructions, which makes the following boss battles with the demon more difficult, or you can go back through the dungeon to get help from another NPC to reveal the demon's true form, which takes longer and requires you to make the payment to get into the deeper level of the dungeon a second time.
    • "Devious Minds" has a mysterious monk ask the player to make a special weapon for him and then smuggle a strange orb onto the holy island of Entrana, which he says is a surprise for the monks there. It turns out the guy is an assassin who uses the orb to teleport to Entrana, where he kills a bunch of the monks using the weapon you made and steals a relic from them. Although a later quest reveals he was actually working for an ally of the player.
    • "What Lies Below" has the wizard Surok Magis ask you to create a special wand which he says he will use to make gold. It turns out he is planning to use it to control King Roald's mind. The player should have figured out something was suspicious because he also gives the players directions on how to find a secret tunnel controlled by a Zamorakian Cult which acts as a safer shortcut to the altar where the wand is made.
    • "Rag and Bone Man" and "Fur 'n Seek" have an Odd Old Man carrying around a suspicious sack he sometimes talks to ask the player to collect bones and other items which he claims are for a museum. If you complete both quests and collect every bone and other item he requests, it turns out he is actually being mind controlled by an undead monster skull he's carrying in his sack which is using him to collect bones to assemble a new body for itself.
    • "Kennith's Concerns" has a little boy named Kennith ask you to investigate what the slug-possessed villagers are up to but then strangely loses interest. It eventually turns out that Kennith has terrifying psychic powers and is using them to make the slug-possessed villagers do what he wants, all just so that he can get revenge on a girl for losing his favorite toy.
    • "Kindred Spirits" starts with Linza asking you to investigate some disappearances and suggests you go to Relomia, the emissary of the Big Bad Sliske. Relomia leads you into a trap by claiming Sliske has been kidnapped too. Sliske then puts the player and his other prisoners through a series of sadistic games. In the end it turns out Linza was also working for Sliske in exchange for protection.
    • "In Search of Myreque" has a mysterious man named Vanstrom Klause ask you to deliver weapons to a group of rebels fighting to free the nation of Morytania from its vampyre rulers. It turns out Vanstrom is a vampyre using you to find the rebels.
    • Parodied in "The Lost Toys" miniquest, which has a strange boy ask you to find several vampyre plush toys scattered all over Morytania. After returning all of the toys, he reveals he is a vampyre lord and the player character sarcastically pretends to be surprised. It should have been obvious since you meet him in the same bar as Vanstrom. The vampyre lord claims the toys are for childen, though the player character doesn't believe him and calls him a weirdo.
    • "The General's Shadow" miniquest has the villain General Khazard send the player character, who is in disguise and not recognized by Khazard, on a quest to collect reports from his scouts. After doing this he sends you into a cave to get your reward and you get attacked by the ghost of his pet hellhound that you previously killed. It turns out Khazard recognized who you were the whole time and was trying to get you killed.
    • "Desperate Times" has the player helping the Kerapac take control of a time manipulating artifact as part of a plan to stop the rebirth of the elder gods. The player finds out too late that he intends to sacrifice the entire planet to kill the elder gods.
    • The developers must really like this trope. "Azzanadra's Quest" has Azzanadra send you along with his agent Trindine to look for clues about the location of the elder gods' eggs. After finding the elder god eggs a strange voice in the player chatacter's head points out that Azzanadra found the location without the player's help and that it is suspicious that he sent you to a lot of dead ends with Trindine. Backtracking to the places you visited with Trindine reveals that she was actually secretly looking for information about Saradomin's crown while you were distracted, and had used you to summon Saradomin back to Gielinor to steal the crown from him. When the player confronts Azzanadra and Trindine about manipulating them they can even Lampshade this trope.
  • Lo Wang from Shadow Warrior 2 has to deal with a number of these throughout the game, but the biggest one is Ameonna, who it turns out knew all along about Kamiko and wanted to destroy her soul, even if it meant killing Lo Wang, Kamiko's current host, in the process.
  • Endemic in the Shadowrun Returns games, given the setting (see below under Tabletop Games). While your main questgiver is usually on the up-and-up, many of the sidequests involve your employer sending you in with inadequate information, a hidden objective, or with plans to kill you afterwards because you know too much.
  • The old man who gives you the treasure map on Takeshi's Challenge will appear just as you find the treasure and thank you for leading him to it before killing you. You have to kill him after getting the map to avoid this outcome.
  • System Shock 2, it is revealed that your quest-giver for the first half of the game has been SHODAN, the Big Bad from the first System Shock.
  • The eponymous ruler of TaskMaker assigns ten tasks to the player, all of which require standard RPG fare such as solving puzzles and fighting monsters. The tasks start innocently enough, including recovery of various magical artifacts throughout the land, but over time the tasks become more manipulative. For instance, one task requires killing a head rebal of unknown alignment, and the final one requires slaying a prisoner who is revealed to have a Good alignment. Killing the prisoner causes the TaskMaker to taunt the player for slavishly following him and instantly ends the game, while not killing the prisoner instead activates a final battle with the TaskMaker.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament: Darius, the merchant who asks you to find dragon shards, is actually an agent for Lord Nephron. He and Nephron want to reassemble the shards into Saphira's seal, allowing them to steal her power.
  • 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.
  • UNDERTOW: After forcibly recruiting Jason Rake into his service, Admiral Lancaster quickly turns on Rake after deceiving him into raiding the Nemonians for supplies, intending to hide his betrayal of the pact with Nemo by personally killing Rake and using the ex-pirate's reputation to absolve the Iron Marines of any blame. Rake has this to say after taking out the Admiral's sub.
    Rake: One less monster in the depths.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, you work for Prince LaCroix through most of the game, and he is the one assigning you the missions all along the main quest arc. Then at the end, he betrays you and is revealed to be one of the main antagonists of the game, and it becomes clear that most of the missions toward the end of the game, if not all the missions, were attempts on his part to eliminate you while keeping his hands clean.
  • 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 who was trying to conquer the world, and the game's final boss.
  • 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.
  • Valerian Scarlet from Champions Online kicks off probably the absolute darkest of the major storylines of the game by tricking you into obtaining all the items necessary to unleash an out-and-out apocalypse, and as an added bonus, tricking you into beating up the one person who might have been able to stop it, putting Valerian in a position to steal his Flame Gem, one of the items needed for the Evil Plan in question. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero would be an understatement once the truth is revealed.
  • Warframe: The various spirals of Duviri will see you working with one of five courtiers of Dominus Thrax, Lodun, Bombastine, Sythel, Luscinia, and Mathila to undermine his authority, serving as half of your Mission Control in their respective spiral. Inevitably, upon completing their six tasks they will lose their composure and transform into an Orowyrm and attack you, forcing you to calm them down via defeating them in combat.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Drakuru's questline in Grizzly Hills has you helping him cripple the aggressive Drakkari Trolls, not knowing that he plans to cripple the Drakkari's defenses so the Scourge can turn their entire Empire.
    • A troll sends players to summon Hakkar's spirit and trap it within a special vessel to prevent his rebirth, as laid out in a prophecy. In a follow-up chain a dwarf reveals there was more to the prophecy, namely that trapping Hakkar within the vessel was the first step in his rebirth. The troll mocks the player when his duplicity is revealed.
    • 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 in Storm Peaks who sends the player on a lengthy quest to meet and revitalize Thorim was Thorim's evil brother Loken. Loken humbles and enslaves the fully-powered Thorim and then dares you to do something about it.
    • Wrathion spent most of Mists of Pandaria guiding players of both factions in order to strengthen the world. Only after his plans are ruined does he reveal to Horde players he'd been using them to undermine the Horde war effort so the Alliance could unite the entirety of the world.
  • An inversion in Zeus: Master of Olympus, where the player sends heroes on quests at the gods' request, with the gods having treachery in mind.
    • One level has Atlas trick Hercules into holding up the sky long enough to do a little continental remodeling, though he takes his place back later.
    • Once everyone is heartily sick of Bellerophon's Smug Super attitude (and the player has sent him on several dangerous missions in unsuccessful attempts to kill him), Hera asks him to Olympus on Pegasus, intending to send a horsefly to knock him off in midair.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Eternal Alice: 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.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Kyubey is not exactly upfront about what becoming a Magical Girl entails...namely, becoming what is essentially a Lich, having the wish you made turn out in ways that serve to drive you to despair, which along with your use of magic serves to corrupt your Soul Gem, with the end result of you becoming one of the very monsters that you've been charged with fighting, all so Kyubey can use the power generated by your despair to stave off the heat death of the universe. Or something.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Four Castles, one of the Adventure Time Graphic Novels, the Guildmaster of the Heroes' Guild is actually a fake from a Thieves' Guild and his "quest" is just manipulating Finn and Jake into robbing people for him.
  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared is this to Siphon and the Pantheon when he sends them on a mission to the moon.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In issue #3 of the original run, General Ross has troops bring Rick Jones to him and tell him the US government has a brand new rocket they want to test, but only the Hulk can survive the possible G-forces, and they know Rick has a connection to the big guy, so could he bring him in? It's only once Rick has done that he learns it was a trap, allowing them to shoot the Hulk off into space forever. (Doesn't work, because Rick then futzes with the control panel, summoning the rocket back to Earth.)
  • The Quest For The Time Bird: Mara sends the heroes on a quest to recover the conch where the evil god Ramor is imprisoned, supposedly so that she can renew the depleted spell that binds him. Only at the very end it turns out that she actually intended all along to destroy Ramor and claim his powers for herself.

    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.

    Films — Animated 
  • Aladdin: A disguised Jafar sends Aladdin to find the Genie's lamp, fully intending to kill him once he has it.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • 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.
  • The 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 mentor. 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 Saga of Darren Shan, Mr. Des Tiny gave the two warring clans of vampires separate prophecies, ensuring that both sides believe that their survival depends on certain artifacts given to them by Tiny, and, in the case of the Vampaneze, that they absolutely follow the human that Tiny designates to become their Lord. In the end, it all comes down to single combat between Darren and Vancha, and the Lord and his protector the brothers, respectively, of the two Princes. The characters can see the prophecies falling apart when certain foretold events fail to come to pass, yet they continue to believe their lives, and the world, depend on adhering to Tiny's rules.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the pilot episode of Leverage, Victor Dubenich hires Nate to gather a team of criminals to steal back airplane plans that he claims were stolen from his company. It turns out they were never his to begin with, and he tries to cover his tracks (and avoid paying the team) by blowing up Nate and the others. They decide to get revenge, and by the end of the episode Dubenich is in FBI custody and his company is ruined.

    Myth and Legend 
  • Several Greek heroes were sent on quests with the full expectation that they would die, usually to avoid fulfilling some prophecy or other.
    • Perseus was sent to kill Medusa by king Polydectes, who wanted him out of the way so as to marry Perseus' mother Danae. Perseus ended up bringing the Gorgon's head back on his shield, which was so ugly Polydectes turned to stone on seeing it.
    • Jason was sent to retrieve the Golden Fleece by his Evil Uncle Peleas. When he returned, Jason's wife Medea became one when she persuaded Peleas' daughters to take part in a ritual that would restore their father's youth and vigor by killing and dismembering him, before boiling the pieces in a cauldron (she showed them that it worked by showing an old ram turning into a lamb, but sabotaged it for Peleas).
    • Eurystheus was charged with giving Hercules his labors, intending for him to die fighting them. He also claimed that two of the labors didn't count: the Lernean Hydra, since Hercules' nephew Iolaus helped by cauterizing the hydra's stumps; and the Augean stables, since Hercules diverted a river through the stables instead of mucking them out himself. Unfortunately for Eurystheus, Hercules kept bringing these giant hairy monsters back to his palace, and the terrified Eurystheus had to hide in a big storage jar until Hercules actually killed the beasts or let them go, culminating in the poor bastard begging Hercules to take Cerberus away and declaring his labors over.
    • Bellerophon was sent on several quests (including killing the Chimera) by his hosts, who could not violate Sacred Hospitality by killing a guest.
  • The evil sorcerer did this to Aladdin, promising him riches in exchange for the lamp and trapping him underground when he didn't get it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Defied in Blades in the Dark. The rulebook specifically states that while employer betrayals are a stock aspect of the genre, stiffing the player characters screws with several mechanics and is just plain no fun, and therefore best avoided.
  • 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 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".

    Web Animation 
  • Monkey Wrench: In the episode "Lythop Liberation", Dr. Agness hires the protagonists to help her evacuate an endangered species from its home planet, which will implode in a matter of hours. However, the good doctor is lying. The planet is in no danger, and that species is only endangered because she has been killing them to make weapons and armor from their remains. Once the surviving members of the species have all been gathered in one place, Dr. Agness reveals her true colors by slaughtering them all before trying to give Beebs and Shrike a Fatal Reward for their work.

  • 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.
  • Dungeons & Denizens: In one story the quest giver starts here and ends here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a menagerie of obscure monsters — they needed the Order's help because only Good-aligned heroes could access the Plot Coupons, and the Guild plans to deliver the Talisman to the Big Bad.
    • 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. Incidentally, the starmetal turns out to be a valuable weapon against the Big Bad.

    Web Original 
  • In the French webfiction Les Aventures de Morgoth, when the eponymous mage 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).
  • Noob: The first season of the webseries sometimes showed the players doing a Fetch Quest for an individual clad in a black hooded robe. The first novel revealed that the objects that had to be brought to these people each had a piece of a Dismantled MacGuffin embeded in them and that they were all working for one of the Fictional Video Game's villains.
  • In "The Tavern" by Door Monster, it turns out that the barmaid, the innkeeper and the mysterious old man are players trying to trick NPC adventurers into doing their quest for them. Once the adventurers return with the dragon's hoard, the players will kill them and take their loot.

    Western Animation