The Choosing of a King

This idea is for a mini-campaign or series of adventures.

Begin with a desert kingdom, whose king has four children. Each, as they reached adulthood, were given a hefty purse of coins and sent off in a different cardinal direction to raise an army to come back and conquer the kingdom with.

Their father is completely sane, but bound by strict tradition and law (which even he cannot change) to pass the kingdom on to whichever of his children is the strongest. It is also required that they prove their worth in war, against their own father.

Oddly enough, he loves his children and wants them to succeed. However, because he loves them, he isn't going to make it easy for them, either. He's sending assassins to “toughen them up.”

He's hiring the PCs to do the job, starting with the weakest. He'll do whatever it takes to convince the PCs, having done research on them ahead of time. He'll claim that his sons have rebelled, or he'll tell the truth, depending on what he believes will work. In all cases, he'll offer an obscene amount of money for each success.

If they manage to kill all four of his sons, he'll adopt the PCs, shower them with (genuine) love and affection for a year or two and then start the process again.

The king is a huge bear of a man and has an extensive spy network. It was the means through which he conquered the kingdom in his own youth, because he wanted to minimize casualties. He has long logs of information on the activities of his children and uses it to prepare defenses unique to their talents and the armies they've raised.

Each child has a wildly different personality, owing to the areas they settled in. Each has also failed to make even a small dent in their father's defenses.

It's been five years since the last was sent away, so he's seeking to stir the pot a little.

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