How The Gentlemen Lizard-Folk Broke a Party’s Morale Compass with Epic RP. Part 1

"People call my work evil, but think Knights trampling conscripted peasants is honorable. No, my friend. I am not evil. I am but a necessary cruelty to combat evil."

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Warning, there are brief descriptions of gruesome in game events in the following story, character sheets were harmed in the process. This work has been edited and transcribed from reddit with some minor changes, as I didn't know there was a website. Enjoy.

How a gentlemen lizard folk shattered the party and it's moral compass through epic RP. The group had been together for nearly two real life years in a homebrew game, and the Paladin and Cleric both had made it a sort of sub-mission to find and capture a serial killer secondary BBEG known as "The Painter," since we couldn't seem to find a big lich or end of the world event quite yet. Every town we went to would have stories from weeks before. This serial killer targeted nobles, and especially went out of their way to kill Knights, Generals, Royals, or high ranking officers in the army. There was even an incident years ago where an Elven Prince had been murdered. But never anything less, only prolific people. The worst part? It was the bodies. They'd be left mangled like some kind of art piece, with depictions of violence or nature-like scenes made with well…. You know. Meanwhile all across the country tensions would rise with calls for war, so we really were at our wits end trying to keep the peace and find who we thought was the source of all of this.

Our Rogue was…. Unique you could say. Both cold and calculating, yet warm and caring. They were a lizard-folk named Veetor who, thanks to an extremely complex backstory I'll get more into later, had achieved a higher level of intelligence than any of his brethren and even most wizards we'd argue. He spoke like a proper noble, dressed well, and was often confused for a misshapen dragon-born due to his charisma and eloquent speech. The paladin, named Ora, came from a renown family, but even she found herself always at the Veetor's side as a friend. Why you may ask? Because the Rogue never admitted they were a rogue. They also exclusively used A rapier, constantly helped those in need, and never performed any criminal tasks while people watched. As far as the party was concerned, the Rogue was actually a Noble gentlemen Dragonborn skilled in fencing, even the players didn't know the player was a rogue. Veetor helped them in their investigations, and with his intelligence and perception score being out the yin yang, he was a master at breaking puzzles, finding clues, and solving crimes.

The party was immersed in the world. It was beautiful, full of life, and the party itself had such colorful characters. Everyone after many sessions happily shared their backstory and through the games our characters got a lot of closure, and still kept adventuring till we hit that sweet level eighteen. We were in it for the long haul. Started at level four, and one day we'd see level twenty. We wanted to prevent a major war in the country our game took place in, and man did we do our very best. Every session had some semblance of cloak and dagger, mystery, combat, and character development we didn't even know we had left. Everyone talked about their past and grew the character to its fullest. But Veetor? Veetor never talked about himself. When asked questions he'd basically dance through them with words and stories or excuses. Veetor never lied though. He was a lizard-folk still, and so if he did answer something straightforward it was always honest. The party rather enjoyed the blunt nature of his responses. They made him seem normal despite the air of sophistication. You honestly ask him his opinions on anything, a dress, food, the weather, even complex political and religious things in game. He'd always have an answer and was always quite convincing in way he believed certain things. But ask him if he had family? Friends? Maybe what he did as a kid? Nothing. 

Hell despite that, Ora the Paladin honestly felt like she could call Veetor her best friend. Because he helped her with her own goal of trying to track down The Painter, and she appreciated his effort. He was almost a bit like Zuko from Avatar the Last Air bender, helping everyone with their emotional journey into their characters. For Ora, he helped her achieve her dreams of cemeting her family into legend with the slaying of a great lich and a few dragons. He helped the Cleric come to terms with the loss of his family through an epic side quest. He helped the fighter track down and let go of his lust for vengeance on the slaver that owned him as well as free many other slaves. For the Barbarian he helped track down her tribe and make amends, even helping them complete an ancient rite of passage. Our Ranger was able to avenge her people by killing a Demon that had destroyed her home and she even set up a new village in the ruins to rebuild. Our artificer had an extremely emotional moment as Veetor helped her set the grounds for getting into an academy with her inventions. The artificer had always dreamed of getting in, but sadly the characters parents couldn't see it. Veetor played older brother and made a feast that day that the party would never forget, to celebrate. Basically, he was a wingman you could rely on. A brother even.

But no one knew anything about Veetor. He was a Lizard-Folk, always dressed to impress, who basically danced through combat and royal politics. He was a poet who always knew just what to say, and seemed to always have stories or legends to keep the campfire interesting, and was always lore friendly. The DM basically let him create folklore on a whim at one point. But something felt strange after a while. He was always so cold and distant when discussing himself and that never changed even after two years. The only thing we pulled out of him at one point with strong drink was he came from a village far to the North, but it was off the beaten path and he hadn't been back there in ages.

No matter how often the party insisted we go to visit, he would always tell them we had more to worry about, and that everything was as it should be. His smile was described as intoxicating, and if we ever tried to see through if there was deception, we could never pass the DC, or he simply wasn't lying as he would say. Then one day our party, which usually was moving from place to place to help the whole country and it's major factions that had rising tensions, finally got stuck in one place. The most recent murder from The Painter happened here, and now unlike in other places, the nobles had had enough. Martial law was in effect, and no one could enter or leave the city. Trade was still permitted, but extremely monitored so supplies wouldn't go down. There was no way anyone was getting in or out. To make matters worse, tensions only got higher in the country without our constant Player Character nonsense helping somehow.

It was only a matter of time before war was finally declared among all major factions and kingdoms; and for the first time ever the party saw Veetor get angry. He yelled and shouted that the king of this area must let us leave, as we had to help stop this needless violence. The party had no idea what to do. Veetor had been some calm, so cool, this sudden change in character was not what the party expected. The DM for her part was amazing and played the part of the King like a boss. The King threw us out back into the streets, and for weeks we lived on a dwindling coin purse. Every time we tried to escape we found that guards were ready in case The Painter struck again. A prominent noble that had suggested the peasants be put in the sewers was found in the main plaza covered in rats amid a bed of flowers and coins for the masses to take.

Supplies were becoming difficult to get. Some people tried to escape, and were brought down with bow and spear. That night after that incident, the party heard the scream. The Painter struck again, killing the King's closest advisor. The body covered in melted gold, with the word "Parasite" written in blood behind him, and a brief painting of the kingdom behind him on a wall. This made the nobles squeeze tighter on the populace of this major city. It didn't help that armies were on the march, and soon this city would be attacked. 

The Painter struck yet again, this time the Captain of the Guard that had ordered the death of several peasants stealing food. He was found hanging from the front gate, with red paint made to look like broken wings on the wall behind him.

We couldn't catch The Painter. We learned he'd send his next victims a paintbrush dipped in blood. Even with that, no matter how many times we staked out the streets or guarded a target, at some point we would have a brief moment of weakness and The Painter would strike. It was demoralizing, as even our own party got letters of threat. Ora's family was at risk, the cleric's church was at risk, everyone had something to lose.

But then it happened. An army was marching on the doorstep of this city, and by the next day war would come to us. We were under-equipped, our characters were hungry, and hopelessness was strong in the air. We split up during the night to patrol and find this bastard, and then we heard a scream, followed by Ora shouting. The group quickly gathered on her in the upper rings of the city and found a sight that would not leave us ever.

Another art piece. Unfinished, with the body of the Lord of Coin, The Kings brother. Standing there in front of Ora, gazing right into her, were the cold uncaring eyes of Veetor. "What is this?!" Ora shouted. "W-Where'd the killer go?!" She demanded to know, refusing to believe what she saw.

Veetor, covered in blood, merely held the knife. "Ora," he started.

"No, where's the killer?!" She demanded again, describing as her body shook all over with tears in her eyes.

"I'm right here." Veetor's words flowed like silk. None of the party knew what to do. There was no denying it. He was covered in fresh blood, he had the murder weapon, and he admitted to it. But how did he get around so fast? How did he accomplish this? All in due time everyone would learn.

"No, I refuse to believe it, I refuse. You're lying, we don't have time for games. We don't have time for them Veetor!" Ora shouted as her greatsword shook.

"When have I ever lied, though, my old friend?" He said without blinking.

"But," Ora didn't know what to do. Even the player had no idea how to respond.

"Did you know," Veetor continued as he looked up at the wall where he had mounted the body. "This particular area is easy to see from the throne room?"

"Why?!" Ora finally shouted. Her character couldn't stop shaking and crying. "Why did you . . . All those people?"

Veetor looked back at her. "Why? The Master of Coin is responsible for draining city finances, dunking them straight into the pockets of nobles and spending it on luxurious wines, exotic dancers, and food stores hidden beneath his and many other's estates. Without him, now the peasantry may take what is rightfully there's, and eat before tomorrow." He pulled out his pocket watch the artificer had made him as a gift. Looking over it he soon nodded and put it back in his pocket. "I should still have time to deal with the enemy general and his leadership, which should dissuade any further conflict in this area for at least the next harvest. The Painter will have walked free outside the walls, and then martial law is lifted. Now if you don't mind, I've work to finish." He twirled his blade up and turned towards the body.

"Stop!" Ora commanded. The cleric joined in as well. "Stop, you . . . You need to face justice."

"Justice?" Veetor inquired before turning back. "Is this man not facing justice? Do you know how many he has killed alone by taking money needed for grain stores and buying wine instead? Because I can list the first and last names of hundreds that have died of hunger in the past two weeks, if it pleases you Ora."

"But this is insane! T-This is cruel! This isn't like you Veetor! Are you possessed? You must be possessed!" Ora stammered, trying to make sense of it.

"Cruel?" Veetor questioned. "Ah, I suppose it is." He said as he gazed at his work. "But it is necessary. My works ensure the poor do not suffer needlessly. My actions are my own, I understand them fully."

"But you're . . . You're making others suffer." Ora really wanted to fight him on this. But Veetor had been her closest friend in this game. No one expected this. The party expected a blood crazed tiefling, or maybe a feral animal with a twisted slasher flick persona. Not Veetor. "How does this help people?" Ora demanded to know. "How does being a monster help?!"

Veetor was silent for a while before sighing. "Monster? Hm . . . As my father would always say. We are born with no gods and no masters. We are what we make ourselves to be. I am a healer and will never turn any in need away, as it will bring strength to the village for me to know our ally and foe, so to should you heal the world as you see fit, hatchling. Help your tribe as you see fit." Veetor held his knife by the end of the blade now. "He said that to me before an Elven prince marched on our village. My people were simple. Unlike many of our neighboring sister tribes, we found peace in our solitary pacifist life. This Elven prince wanted a great battle with monsters, and forced us to fight him. It wasn't enough. He crucified our shamans, forced our men to duel his soldiers, and the rest were skinned for leather. I survived though, by hiding. I tracked the army for days after that, watching the destruction they left behind, and with a single knife I brought a theater of war to it's knees. I carved the little prince into the shape of a monarch butterfly, and the king wept until he died. Soldiers returned to their families. Conscripted peasants returned to their farms, and hope returned as a new governing body emerged. One knife and an act of cruelty stopped a war that would've swallowed thousands more for someone's honor." The party was silent, as Veetor spoke with a tone as if he was describing the weather. "You know what I did afterwards, Ora? I returned home. I lay in the pit where they threw my mother and my father and I waited. I waited, and waited, wishing for whatever Gods watched over me to smite me for breaking our vows of pacifism. But they did not. So I rose up, set fire to the pit, and left my home behind. The poor of the world became my tribe. And I will ensure that whoever thinks to call themselves their masters understands just how little they are worth."

"You," Ora couldn't speak. That was part of the lore of some of the Elven kingdoms, and Ora was an elf. it happened nearly fifteen years ago, and no one knew why the Elven conquest of the Wildlands near their kingdom suddenly stopped. Now we knew. At least we thought we did.

At this point Veetor approached the party. His back was straight, his eyes cold but alert, and he wiped blood off of his face with a handkerchief before stuffing it in his shirt pocket. No one tried to stop him, but he stood next to Ora for a moment. "A war can breed tales of Valor among Knights, Kings, and Paladins alike. But wars bring stories of desperation in the millions that fall by their swords. Tales of stealing from the old and the sick, of selling ones body and soul for moldy bread. You've chopped down hundreds of bandits, cultists, some I would assume are doing what they can to survive, but that is not justice is it? I bring justice in my art, so that those that think they can throw the lives of others at their enemies realize how vulnerable they are." With that he started to leave, walking like a refined nobleman that was so sure of himself. "My work on this world is never truly done, my friends. I pray to all the Gods we will meet again on better terms."

No one stopped him. The group was too stunned. The next day the enemy army was in disarray. Their general and his officers were found dead, killed in The Painter's signature style, and Veetor was no where to be found. That was until days later the party heard rumors, rumors of more killings heading East and then North, and they knew they had to put a stop to it. Thus the Elven Paladin Ora, the Dwarf Cleric Tomin, the Human Fighter Joirk, the Goliath barbarian Amara, The Half-Elf ranger Tulip, and the Tiefling Artificer Liliana set out to do what must be done. The shock was gone, and they knew they couldn't let Veetor do as he had been doing.

(Thumbnail by TamLin123, not actually veetor just the closest I could find)

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