How The Gentlemen Lizard-Folk Broke a Party’s Morale Compass with Epic RP. Part 2

"I hope that all the gods will bless you my friends, and that our next meeting is over tea instead of over my work."

8 points

(Much like part one, this final part 2 is an edited version of the original reddit posting. Enjoy!)

When we last left off, our party had taken time to gather their bearings. Learning that the gentlemen Lizard-Folk PC that had helped them for nearly two real life years in game was actually a psychopathic serial killer that thought he was keeping the peace had taken a lot out of them. Some of the party agreed the NPCs that died by his hands were troublemakers, but no one in character agreed with Veetor's cruelty. The party was deadset on this guy being the BBEG, and still subscribed to the thought that if they beat him and showed him off to the lords and ladies of the country, peace would be restored. 

The party made their way North East to cut him off, and everyone had made their decision. It didn't matter what he was doing, there had to be a better away. But the genius psycho made sure the trail we followed was tailored to show why his ideology was right. He would hit every other town or city along the way we went. Where he struck, arguably the people did better and the nobles were less war mongering. The many were better taken care of, but only if you really stretched the meaning of taken care of, and the wealthy few were terrified and grew more paranoid. Wherever he didn't strike, the call for war grew, corruption was higher, and it got very grim dark. You know, as medieval politics were. We were never really sure what Veetor and the DM had discussed, but the lower castes of society really did not like us. Thieves guilds, homeless, urchins, and non-merchant guild members would ignore us or have plenty of hateful things to say.

Up to this point the party was mostly of good alignment. Lawful good, neutral good, hell the Barbarian was at least chaotic good. Our group was pretty much made up of cinnamon rolls or supportive individuals so it worked really well to be of good alignment. But after going town to town the characters began to break a bit. Our artificer started to question her own desire to please an academy of her peers when she started looking at their own dirty laundry. The Barbarian, having redeemed herself in her tribe, started to question why she worked so hard to please chieftains that often led them out to only destroy. The rest of the party was losing their grip, except Ora the Paladin and Tomin the cleric. They rallied the group with a rousing speech and the group pressed on. At least until the next nearest village.

The next village was a nightmare. You remember that scene in Mulan, where they're singing and then find that village and everyone just kinda gets hit with a slap of reality? That was it. The DM was very thorough in her descriptions, and by god the party definitely felt something then. Veetor had completely avoided this area, and the party hoped we could use it as a place to pick up supplies. Instead it had been neglected for months, maybe even years. The skirmish looks like it took place not too long ago, as fire still burned in the buildings. I won't lie and say everyone pushed on with their heads held high, the group hunted down the bandits that did this and wanted vengeance. Sadly though, it wasn't bandits. It was soldiers from a neighboring kingdom making moves on their rival. The group was allied with this kingdom and the soldiers belonged to it, and the party was considered local heroes. All the group could do was excuse themselves and deny the soldier's friendly offer for drinks. The party camped in the woods, hunting for local game and taking time to rp and rest.

The search continued, and the party only grew exhausted. Everyone knew things were getting worse, but we also saw that Veetor was getting worse based on what was being left behind. Up until this point, the killings were, as Veetor would argue "Art" in some way. They were calculated to not leave massive power vaccums. But as the group got closer to catching him the carnage grew worse and more savage, as he no longer had the time to plan things as he had up to this point. Entire noble houses would be wiped out. Peasant revolutions were beginning and only aggravating tensions in the country as a whole, and soon one city had it's upper area set ablaze. This was the nail in the coffin, and the entire Eastern side of the country we were trying to protect erupted into chaos. Kingdoms were entering into feudal war, alliances were being made and major factions started to cave in and make way for new giants in the playing field.

The group hoped maybe, just maybe if they brought this mad man to justice, made him explain it was all him, maybe everyone would stop. After all, you defeat the BBEG and win right? The party finally found Veetor, and discovered how wrong we were.

In a small clearing, in a long forgotten swamp, a camp of refugees huddled around a few bone fires. Elves, humans, dwarves, all manner of people had gathered. All in all there were maybe about three hundred people here just trying to survive, and many looked on the verge of starving. There were many hateful glances, but only a handful had some hunting bows, maybe a knife for skinning game, or pitchforks. But no one was a threat. That's where we found him, the lizard-folk with cold dead eyes tending to the wounded and helping give out meals with meager supplies. "This changes nothing." Ora immediately said. "You're putting on an act and I know it." She growled with venom in her voice.

"A moment, old friend." Veetor said as he bandaged the head of a child. He whispered something and handed her a small doll, sending the child off with a smile. At this point, our cleric in game was having a bit of a mental break. Veetor was a monster, but looking back the character never hurt anyone that wasn't some power hungry individual. Even with bandits, cultists, and the like he always specified non-lethal attacks. If the group killed regular bandits, or anything of the like Veetor would refuse payment for the job. He'd always take time to bury or burn the dead as well, and say several prayers to different gods both good and evil. I don't remember what god it was our Cleric was with, but he had a strict code for helping people too. His character wanted to smite Veetor for the brutal murders, but at the same time couldn't because of all the good the lizard was doing.

Ora stomped forward, feeling betrayed at someone who in her mind pretended to be good. She grabbed Veetor by his shirt and lifted him up. "You're going to pay for everything you've done, you cold hearted monster." She growled.

Veetor just looked down at Ora, and gave us chills with his next couple of lines. "What more shall I pay, old friend?"

"What?" Ora continued. "No, no more games, you're coming with us to face justice. You started a war with your murders!" She shouted.

Some of the refugees got up. "Leave him alone!" One shouted

"You're the murderes!" Another shouted.

"You lapdogs killed my brother!" One shouted before a rock was thrown at Ora. A quick dex check and Veetor caught it.

"You're the monsters!" A starving old elf in a wheel chair spoke up among the crowd. "I remember a time when heroes stood for the people! Not for kings, queens, and their glory!" He spat.

"We have helped people!" Ora shouted. "We helped everyone! We kept the peace!"

"Compliance." Veetor spoke. "Not peace."

"Stay out of this, we're leaving. No debates, nothing, I want to roll strength to knock him out." Ora's player switched to out of character with the last bit. Then a click that caught all of our attention stopped the roll. The artificer aimed her thunder cannon at Ora. "What are you doing, Liliana?!" Ora said back in character.

"I-I . . . I wanna hear what they mean." She stuttered.

"Compliance. Not peace." Veetor said again. "We did the work of kings and local leaders. Killing bandits, clearing monster lairs, tracking lost relics, and stopping cults. But as you looted the bodies, I held the hands of the dying. I heard their stories, as briefly as I could." Veetor continued. "Starving peasants turned to banditry would hit merchant guild caravans to get food to survive. Goblin and Kobold nests uprooted because some cities wanted to expand their mines or set up new quarries, desperate folk so far gone they turned to darker Gods in the hopes to be spared from further suffering. You butchered them all in the name of justice. Here, trying to get by, are many of their families, friends, and displaced loved ones. I have gathered them after rivaling armies, barbarian hordes, or hordes of monsters had destroyed their homes."

"Lies!" Ora shouted. "All lies! Monsters are monsters! Those cultists were trying to summon evil, and bandits never have more to it than that! They're evil!"

"You disgust me." Veetor finally said, with that same silky voice. "So blinded by vanity and your own self-righteousness you don't even see you are the problem. I am a necessary cruelty to combat evil, but you?" Veetor raised his head, still being held up by Ora, and looked down at her with hatred for the first time. "You're nothing more than a byproduct of it."

The party was smart enough to realize that not all these refugees could be lying. Everyone also knew that Veetor never lied either. The party didn't know what to do. "You . . . You can't be right." Ora shook all over. "You can't be right."

"Enough. Debating philosophy and ideals is for those that seek to validate what they do not yet fully believe. I know what I do is right. What's one more innocent death? Kill me." Veetor demanded before drawing a dagger, grabbing Ora's arm, and holding it up to her neck. "Do it." He demanded. "Because I won't stop. The world is on fire, but I will not stop. Now do it. You have a war to win after all, and we'd hate for any cruelty to come from a honorable war, isn't that right?" He didn't grin. He didn't even sound pleased, but he didn't sound tired either.

"I hate you." Ora said through tears. She stabbed Veetor through and through.

"And I . . . Will miss you . . . Old Friend." Veetor died then and there. The table was confused why he died so easy, but then the players sheet was revealed. See we had a rule. No one could see the other's sheet, we only knew each other's race and anything else was up to the players. The discovered then Veetor was a rogue, and his ideals and all that. However the group also learned that for the last few weeks, Veetor had pushed himself to the breaking point. Points of exhaustion, failed medicine checks, no time to buy poitions, starvation, and three hit points left. He essentially kept marching with barely any time to rest or heal. He was no BBEG, and no one knew otherwise.

The Cleric said we should bury him or give him a funeral pyre after nearly ten minutes of silence, but Ora stood there with nothing to say. "Bury him with his own kind." The older elf from earlier said again with a hateful gaze at the party.

"What do you mean?" Our cleric continued. The Elf gestured beyond the tree line. Sure enough a brief exploration and we found the ruins of a village. A Lizard-folk village. Veetor's village. The party buried him here and went their separate ways. Our personal demons were settled, but Veetor saw the world he wanted to save erupt in fire. There was no turning back now, it was too good a place to end, and we rolled up new characters for next week's new session in a new world.

As a side note, we discovered how Veetor had managed to get around so fast, as it was due to a near unquantifiable understanding of magic on his part. In his backstory, a wizard basically "uplifted" him to see how smart a Lizard-Folk could be with augmentation, and boy did the safety valves break on that. A massive intelligence score, combined with several custom runes inscribed on his body, and the guy was basically a walking super-computer for spell craft. But he never used spells. He would essentially trade his understanding of spellcraft, magic items and scrolls, pieces of his soul, or enchanted items he'd create, to Fae, Demons, and otherworldly entities in exchange for being ferried to and from places when it was time to strike. But near the end, they abandoned him as it was a sunk cost and he had little left to trade.

Also, in the epilogues, no one got a happy ending sadly. Our paladin became a recluse that took a vow of silence and lived as a hermit. Our cleric began to wander as a drifter, though did little to preach. Our artificer got into the academy she wanted to be in, and threw herself into study to ignore everything; and the once bright mind of an inventor that gave this world it's printing press, gunpowder, and penicilian never made anything again. Our barbarian wandered in the wildlands until she perished. The fighter sold himself to distant fighting pits and retired eventually drinking himself till he was no more. Finally, the ranger joined a cult as a body guard and faded into obscurity. No one could bring themselves to be remembered anymore, and faded away with what little honor their story had left.

And that's how a Gentlemen Lizard-Folk tore down an entire party's moral compass.


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