Elemental Evil

04-06-16a interlude - discussing Leo's fate

  • Roan has issues with Leoric’s behavior
  • Seeker and Doran are more inclined to forgive him, for various reasons
  • Conversation about ethics and morality ensues.


Leo & Doran in the cell

“I hate the killing, Doran. I’m a musician. I don’t even know how I got to this place. I mean, what are we? Soldiers? Spies? I didn’t set out for this. …. But then she. She was my everything. Everything….and she just. Sold herself for the damned ‘eleven trance’. ….that what she called it. Wasn’t elf stuff. Just shit they made on the docks from hash and zipdust. "

His voice changes to a woman’s. Brash and harsh. The kind of voice that, if you heard it you’d automatically keep your hand on your money.

“A silver a go love, we can do it right here. Leo will look-out, won’t you dearie.”

He begins to cry more openly. And continued as himself.

“It made it stop. The spear made the pain stop. It was ok. It was ok that I don’t really care anymore. That I’m not going to go back. I’m not going to go back and save her. I could finally admit it to myself.”

He’d look into the dwarf’s eyes. "See. She chose it. She’s where she chose to be. And I’m not going to go back and save her.

She’s probably dead by now anyway. I’ve been ‘on my way back’ for, must be, 5 years now. The spear. It made me see. That I’m not going back."

“I didn’t feel guilty anymore.”

“I’m sorry for what I did yesterday. I am. But it was so nice to not be guilty anymore. To have a break from the pain. "

“Course it’s worse now. But that’s the way it works. It’s like drink, you feel great for now but each morning is worse than the last.

== Doran ==

Alone in the room with Leo, staring through the bars at his friend, Doran replies:

“I don’t have any fancy words for you. I can’t tell you it gets better, or that it don’t get worse. I can’t even tell you what to do that might help. Cause I aint you, and you aint me.”

He stares at his feet in silence for a moment, then continues without lifting his eyes back up. Almost as though he’s talking to himself.

“This world ain’t fair. It just ain’t. Evil, good. Selfish, giving. The indifferent or the sacrificial. None of these are guarantees for anything, one way or another. And the gods don’t care. What little help they give us is only so we dote our praise upon them. A handful of barbed gifts. So we’re left at the mercy of an ever-shifting chaos, an unending string of promises and lies indecipherable from one another. That’s it.”

He’ll look back up at Leo, his eyes fierce in a way reminiscent of his rage.

“I lost one family already. No sense to it, it just happened. You, Roan, Seeker. You’re all the family I got left. So I ain’t givin up on you. You can give up on yourself if you feel you gotta, but ask yourself if that’s what she would want. Who she was before the chaos took her. What would she want?”

== Leo ==

In character.

“You’re right of course. I try not to ask others to bear my burdens. But this is hard. I can pass by many temptations…. Not that I usually do, mind.” A wry smile.

“This wasn’t temptation. It was….release. Imagine it Doran. All that haunts you – it simply doesn’t matter anymore. The freedom from the pain.

I think we understand each other; better than the others. We’re older. Less naive. I care for them, but they are just boys. Playing at heros.

Ohhh" a groan of pain.

“I tried to give the spear to Roan. I didn’t want it: remember. Thank goodness I was the one. He’s so young it would have broken him. I’m already broken, it makes less of a difference I suppose.”


The rest of the party convenes
== Roan ==

“Look. I know you guys think I’m pulling you aside to blame Leoric and make a case against keeping him in our party. But truth is, we are all to blame for what happened back there. We’ve known Leo’s weaknesses from the beginning. Sure he like’s to act superior, the wise old adventurer, but really he’s still just that child abandoned on the streets of gods-know-where. Yes, he’s shown us staggering feats of heroism, but the next instant he acts out of complete self-interest without any thought toward the consequences for others. He’s tried to control and manipulate the group from the start and we’ve let him. That needs to stop.

“But here’s the hard truth. We’ve put up with Leo because, yes, we like having him around, but also, we need him. Or someone like him that we can trust. Leo is a powerful magician, we are going to need one of those in the coming conflict. And let’s face it Seeker, you’re too busy with your own quest for personal growth to develop your skills in a way that’s of utility to our group—not like Leo does, anyway.

“We need someone with Leo’s skills. We need someone who know’s his way around dark magic. But we can’t trust him. Think about this: Leo was the only one who had the ability to determine the exact nature of that spear. I don’t for one second believe that he attuned to it without having at least a suspicion about what might happen to him. It was a risk he took recklessly for his own aggrandizement, and we can never let him be in that position again.

“So here’s my point. We need to keep him close and we need to protect him from powerful magic. How do we do that? I don’t like the idea of having him locked in a prison cell. Besides, he’ll get bored and a bored Leo is not a good Leo. He’s better in the field. But he needs to be stripped of his magical items. He needs to agree to this and he needs to realize that, no matter what we find out there whether it’s a book or a ring or a stick, he doesn’t get to play with it. We, as a party, need to take better care of him, because he can’t be trusted to take care of himself.

“Now, level your objections at me and tell where I’m wrong.”
== Seeker ==

Seeker: “I can’t say that I was fond of having him around. I mean I could. Yes I could say that, but I would be lying. On a personal level that is. However, I also couldn’t say I was necessarily averse to his presence. The truth lies in a dangerously gray area.”

The imp on his shoulder’s eyes narrow to slits as she eyes him, as if waiting for something.

He pauses, dramatically, perhaps, but appears to get distracted by something for entirely too long, and any sense of urgency or drama is lost.

“What I will say – because I am actually saying it, so maybe what I should say is what I am saying, because that is more true – Is that I don’t feel that Leo has ever let us down when we needed him. Hold – " he says, if Roan moves to interject – "I’ll elaborate.

“Leo, as himself, as vain as he may be – whether that’s a shell or not I won’t speculate. But could!

“Leo, the person, callous as he may be in some ways, seems to have ultimately altruistic goals, at least in the sense of opposing true evil, captive though he may be. Who would not rail against their own prison? I hope he has not truly lost that, because then the Leo we know may truly be lost.”

“Circling back around… " His familiar does an actual circle over his head, although whether to illustrate the point or mock him is unclear.

“What Leo just came out of – I don’t believe to be his fault. You may scoff at possession and the like, but it is a thing, real and true as anything. You must know someone taken thrall by a vampire or malicious enchanter, and made to act against their own will? This is no different, although perhaps even worse, more insidious, as the power involved was greater, older than most.

“You are free to hold this against him, I will not hold that against you – but my piece is that Leo acted initially in our best interest, albeit in typical Leo bold fashion (which, I agree, we could do with less of). His plan was sound but ran into an unexpected hitch. It could have been any of us who attuned to Windvane in his stead – I know we all spoke of its potential uses after Leo’s divination revealed them.”

He looks each of you in the eye in turn.

“I mean, the shocking and the zapping and whatnot – not to mention the language….

The imp does another loop, this time definitely in jest.

“I want what is best for the people of this place and, by extension, what will allow us to function most effectively in freeing it of evil’s weathered grip.” The imp stops looping midair and cocks her head sideways at him.

“If that means we send Leo on his way, both to recover his own wits, and to allow our trust to bloom again (he says this to Roan directly) and if we need to bring in someone with a similar arcane bent (Of course I took no offense to your-

Here he launches into a longwinded ramble about the specifics of his spell choices and how they are tailored as best he can directly to the needs of the party – so what if we’ve never had a good spot for him to drop a cloud of fog – the mind reading came in handy, didn’t it? What about the invisibility breaking? Maybe that was useless too….so he doesn’t have a fancy ritual book, well he also doesn’t have a devil breathing down his neck, no nevermind what IS breathing down his neck and isn’t <name> useful too? He thinks so. She hovers down a bit and pats him on the head.

Eventually that ends, and he gets back on track. "-and If we need to bring in someone – perhaps temporarily – in his stead, then so be it. But, if we, as unit, would prefer Leo to remain (here he looks longer at Doran), then I am fine with that as well.

“However, I would argue that stripping a mage of magical items is akin to sending you out in the field sans blade and bow. Either you trust someone with weapons, or you don’t. Again, I’d bet my tail that any of us would have taken up that spear had we thought we had a better plan for its use than he.”

== Roan ==

Roan says: "Back up. Who says Leo was possessed? That’s your interpretation, Seeker. And possessed by what? A spear? No. I’m not buying it. And besides, that’s not what he says. He says he was set free to do what he really wanted to do. Let’s not pretend that trusting Leo is be an option now.

“I’m going to be honest with you guys. When I set my mark on Leo, I had no notion that he might be operating under any sort of foreign influence. His actions—betraying us and abandoning us in a desperate situation—I saw that coming a long way off. Let’s face it, every time he steps out on his own, we all hold our breaths hoping this isn’t that moment when he finally snaps and does something against us.

“Let me say this in no uncertain terms: I love Leo. Like a brother. He’s saved my skin and that’s the truth. Hell, he’s a lot of fun to have around. But trust him, I will not do. Not sure if I ever will again.

“I made the choice to attack my friend, and it was a terrible choice to make. If we take him out with us again, we all need to be ready to make that choice and the last thing we want is to put one more weapon in his hand to stab us in the back with.

“That said, we do need Leo. I don’t know where we’ll find someone to replace him. We have the magician we have. Seeker, you say he needs magical weapons, fine. But we can’t put anything else in his hands until we’re certain it’s safe to do so. He has to earn it. He has to prove himself. And we need to be ready—always ready—to take our friend’s life if he shows any sign of flipping on us again.”

== Seeker ==

OOC : Seeker recognizes that something is triggering you, and isn’t going to force, his point is just that, from his perspective, Leo wasn’t responsible for his own actions. He would add something about how his thoughts were clearly different during the atonement and after the break – this is not something he believes can be faked, but he’s not the type to force his opinions on others. From his POV, Leo’s actions (more than his words) when he was in his right mind, spoke loud enough.
== Leo ==

In all seriousness, Leo would be adamant that via his lady-friend they place his things in safe keeping in his room. He is quite distressed that they not “paw though his book” in particular. Raving is a word that wouldn’t go far amiss.

“If you won’t return it to me at once, along with my staff, then at least do me the favor of having Merribelle place them in my room. Seeker – the Imp is not to touch them. Nor are you we don’t want any more doors getting opened.

Without the owl to guard, Merribelle will do it."

It isn’t clear that the items can actually hurt you but it clearly causes him pain that they be adrift. This is completely in keeping with his practice. He’s never been away from his staff, that you know of, and this is the first time he has ever had the book out of his direct control.

If any of you miscrents wish to betray his long friendship by opening it let me know and I will tell you what you find. Or what finds you, perhaps?

Then he sits in his cell playing music and awaiting his judgement.
(With apologies to OCMS)

When I grew up fast I guess I grew up mean
There’s a thousand things inside my head I wish I ain’t seen
And now I just wander through a real bad dream
Feelin’ like I’m coming apart at the seams

== Roan ==

Roan would point all this behavior out and say to the others: “This is what I’m talking about. This. He pretends to be a wine sot and a womanizer. But he’s not addicted to drink nor women. He’s addicted the magic. I suspect that’s why he’s so good at it, but it’s also what makes him dangerous, reckless. If we take him out again—and I don’t see a way around that—we have to be on our guard. We can’t let him pocket every trinket he finds and expect that he has noble intentions. We have to do a better job of keeping an eye on him. Oh, and also, I’m teaching myself how to discern the presence of magic.”

== Doran ==

“Calm your fire, my friend. No one’s more hurt over this than Leo. If it’ll make you feel better, I’m sure he’ll agree to some oversight respecting magic-y shit. I got my eye on him as well, but more out of concern for his own well-being. He knows if things go south again I’ll just whack him even harder hahaha. I’m not worried about it. Not TOO worried, anyway.”

== Roan ==

Roan: “Mielikki! That’s all I’m saying! Just give him some fucking oversight! And it’s for his good as much as our own. We can’t just hand him any old magical item and hope for the best. I’m teaching myself how to detect the magical qualities of objects. Leo needs some accountability and the rest of the group needs a back up, because if Leo actually knew what the spear was capable of, I don’t care if he was possessed, Seeker, he shouldn’t have attuned to it.”


OOC INTER-INTERLUDE re: morality and such


Michael: I don’t think Leo would know any of this. We’re talking about a single conversation that should take maybe an hour. It seems fairly reasonable that the characters would need to blow off some steam after an incident like that. It doesn’t have to be definitive. But yeah, as a player I’m sure your a bit anxious. So sorry about that.

Andy: I can’t make heads or tails out of your character’s motivations. Seeker has been a huge antagonist of Leo’s and openly stated that he doesn’t trust him. Why the sudden reversal (other than protecting party dynamics status quo)? It doesn’t have to end in Leo getting ousted.

Cards on the table: I was hoping to keep the party intact while having this weird tension where we don’t know if someone is going to get possessed by a magic item. Of course that pressure falls on Leo at first. (Can we trust him? Because he does seem to have duplicitous motives, spear or no.) But then there may be three more opportunities for the other players to get temped. It seemed a natural next step. But if no one else sees the logic in it, whatever. Let’s just be like "oh he was possessed. His behavior was completely out of character " or whatever and go back to killing cultists one after another. But that doesn’t make any sense to me. Leo’s been a bit shady from the beginning and I think a natural response would be to be a bit cautious in the future. And that doesn’t mean Leo doesn’t get his share of the loot either. It just means we have to (gasp) role play some conflict around him getting new magical items.

== Seeker ==
I’ll jump super OOC and spell out what I’m going for here.

One of Seeker’s traits or whatever is judges people by actions not words, something to that effect. So Leo’s actual words sort of drive him crazy, and it frustrates him that Leo mocks him or whatever BUT, from his perspective, he’s been through worse so he just kind of ignores it because Leo’s actions, up until this point, have always resulted in the furthering of the party’s goals. So Leo is a net positive at this point.

Another trait of his is ‘not bothered by lies’, so the fact that Leo lies doesn’t even register for him beyond annoyance. Due to his past, he basically assumes everyone lies with their words, perhaps even to the point that they trick themselves – it’s the actions that tell you where they really stand. He doesn’t have to trust what he says to trust that the end result will be positive. Until Leo clearly, in his right mind, produces an outcome counter to Seeker’s goals, that lack of trust won’t be relevant.

He’s also very logical and distant, particularly as a facet of his investigator/knowledge seeker personality. He doesn’t get too emotionally attached to anything, because he’s been burned in the past and isn’t likely to open himself up like that again – although he’s starting to with this group. At this point, he views the trio as perhaps an adopted family of siblings he doesn’t get along with all the time.

This incident, to him, is clearly as episode of possession/outside influence. He was in Leo’s mind before and after and it was clearly a different place during the atonement than it is now. To him that’s black/white, open/shut, Leo was not responsible for his actions, therefor no negative points against him, so Roan’s actions look borderline crazy to him. However, he’s also not the type to force his views on others and understands that Roan is coming from a different place than he is (or may not even believe what he’s saying – again, the action/word thing), or may have a different view of personal accountability and possession than he does.

At this point he’s not particularly invested in Roan or Leo’s feelings, what he’s after is group cohesion.

His main goal here is to help the people of this valley, which is best served by having a cohesive party. If that is best served by Leo, then so be it. But if Leo’s presences would be a detriment (for any reason, whether it be on Leo or Roan’s side) and we need to bring in a replacement from the Order (maybe they operate in squads of 4?) and that would be more effective, he’s fine with that and would bear Leo and Roan no ill will, but be a little wary of Roan’s overly emotional (from Seeker’s perspective) thinking in the future. If he thought the best way to save the valley was to go it alone, he’d have no reservations about doing that either.

== Roan ==
Yes, Seeker and Roan have very different views on personal accountability. And the fact that Seeker might think that Roan is “crazy” or emotionally unstable for his views is absurd and again, makes Seeker a complete enigma. Net results = moral justification is a tenuous logical step at best. Internal motivations, regardless of the result makes the most sense when it comes to moral justification (in mine and Roan’s view) and that is exactly what Leo’s story has been about thus far. And it’s great for drama because internal motions have to be teased out over time.

But, Andy, more importantly, the problem is that you are ignoring the actual facts presented to you by the other players and the DM in order to play the game how you want to play it and this is undermining the actual story. Michael has painstakingly developed a duplicitous character. He should be commended for that. Everything he does prods the other characters in some way and pushes the story forward in unexpected directions. But Leo’s motives are not 100% pure. He vacillates between wanting redemption and wanting to embrace his evil side. This event, where he takes the spear and embraces his base tendencies, is the culmination of that internal conflict. I, as a player, was there when Leo described his mind set. He (Michael) described it as “freedom.” This was meant to be a clue as to the true danger of Leo being corrupted. It is not a stretch or illogical or crazy to say “Hey, we got to be careful with this guy. He might just betray us again if given the proper motivations.” That is the most natural conclusion to draw given the information Michael has presented to us. And not responding naturally to it robs Michael of the story arc his character was destined for. So, play Seeker how you will, but just know that it doesn’t actually make any sense when you take into account the other players. I’m just saying.

== Seeker ==

Totally fine with Seeker being a moral enigma, it’s just like real life ;) I’m not playing a Paladin here, bub!

Seeker read that “freedom” as temporary freedom from moral obligations, single or multiple, as a result of the artifact’s influence. Imagine how free you would feel if you weren’t obligated to do things for anyone else AND also removed of the moral compulsion that makes you feel bad about not feeling bad…yada yada.

Also, …are you reacting to stuff that Seeker learned from Leo and the GM and did not communicate to Roan and Doran? >.> He tidied up what he got from Leo and kept details to himself…we probably should have had that conversation out of earshot.

Also, we play one time a month and I am 8 years into sleep deprivation, so I may not remember everything Leo does! Hell, you can see from my notes in the web site thing how much I forget in the < week that passes from the session we just had until the time I make the notes…so I as a player may not be remembering everything Leo has done.

However, given what I do remember, the end results of Leo’s actions have been to further the cause of good, and the harm that he has caused to others has generally been evil people – I’m wracking my brain to think of a time when he has actually like, done something we would consider evil beyond lying and tricking bad guys?

== Roan ==

Re Andy’s statements: It was not clear to me as a player that Seeker had sanitized Leo’s mind meld… why would he even do that? But again, if you look at Roan’s arguments, whether or not Leo was possessed or impaired aren’t the crux of them. Here they are: 1.) Leo has been shady and secretive in the past, even tried to steal things from the people we were meant to serve, etc. 2.) In spite of his best efforts to keep it under wraps, he has consistently demonstrated that he has a dual nature and at the moment the pendulum is merely swinging toward the noble side of that nature, which makes trusting him a risk. 3.) Leo is the only one who has “detect magic” so he should have known the dangers involved in attuning to the spear and he should have given the group a heads up, but didn’t. 4.) The nature of Leo’s impairment revealed quite nakedly the evil half of his character and the potential of what might happen should Leo turn on the team. 5.) All Roan’s calling for is accountability. That the party acknowledge that they can’t 100% trust him and need to be careful what magical items they put in his hand. 6.) to this end, Roan is going to get “detect magic.”

All said, I think it’s not even that sticked a prescription.

That’s all. Carry on.

penn onefinemess

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