Dante running from the three beasts, William Blake, 1824-1827, Source
After an uneventful night sleeping off the prior days’ foibles, Dorn and Riordan awoke, packed up their camp, and made their way to Umbrage Hill where the midwife and apothecary of Chauntea, Adabra Gwynn, needed to be warned of the white dragon. As the adventurers leave the forest and crest the hilltops, they see an old windmill surrounded by an aged iron fence. They soon spot a winged monster attacking the only door to the windmill. A middle-aged woman leans casually out of a second story window and hollers at them, “A little help?” while lazily pointing to the creature.
Dorn immediately recognizes it as a manticore, shouts to Riordan that they must help her, and casts the spell Guiding Bolt at the creature. A streak of dazzling light leaves Dorn’s hand and strikes the monster injuring him with radiant damage. The manticore, seemly unfazed, quickly turns and launches, flying swiftly at Riordan biting and slashing with his claws and spiked tail. Riordan manages to let one unsuccessful arrow fly before he is hit hard and knocked unconscious. The manticore then turns its attention to Dorn, lunges at and bites into him. In this moment, Dorn instantly reacts to this critical injury by casting Wrath of the Storm. The manticore is unable to escape in time and is struck multiple times with lightning, ending its life.
Dorn immediately rushes over to Riordan and stabilizes him. As he is administering aid, the midwife unbars her door and jogs up the hill to them. She kneels next to Riordan and pours the health potion into his mouth. As Riordan recovers, she uses Dorn’s shoulder to heave herself up, grabs his hand and firmly paces another health potion in it. She sighs, “Thank ye, lads,” and makes her way back to her windmill.
Dorn and Riordan slowly compose themselves and follow her path to the door. She has left it open and they peer inside. The windmill is full of potted live plants and bundles of dried ones hanging upside down from rafters. There are multiple worktables filled with mortars and pestles, scissors and knives, and leaf strippers. The grindstone of the old mill is covered in powdered root. Many tiny glass bottles and vials lay strewn about. A few hang from the rafters by their necks and clink softly in the wind. The midwife is bustling about busying herself with various tasks.
Dorn steps into the doorway, clears his throats, and speaks, “There is a white dragon. It is not safe here. Harbin Wester requests that you relocate to Phandalin until it is safe.” With her back still to him, she snorts and looks over her shoulder at them, rolls her eyes, and continues to fill a vial with a cloudy indigo liquid. “Here”, she scoffs as she sets down her task, waddles over to a writing table, and creates something small out of thin air. “Here is my seal,” she says as she hands the small wax disc to Dorn. “This will let Harbin know I am alive, but I am not leaving my home. Now leave me be to my work.” Dorn aspires to convince her, but alas she will not budge. She makes it quite clear that she would die there rather than leave! Plus, she was needed here. When there were no more answers of who needed her or why, Riordan shrugs and leaves while Dorn reluctantly follows. “To the gnomes?” questions Riordan. Dorn signs heavily and blows out a yes. They walk on.
In the gaming world, there are alignments. The alignment of a person or creature indicates their position in the spectrum of morals and ethics, i.e. good and evil, lawful and chaotic.
Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master.
These categories are placed together like so:
The manticore is a lawful evil creature capable of thought and communication, and Dorn seemed to know this. Why did he attack it without question? Why did he bring another person (Riordan) into it without telling him that he planned to kill it? As the DM, I do not know Dorn’s motivations behind his actions. I had planned to have an interaction, and if the encounter had at all gone that way, the players would had been able to know more details about the white dragon and its motivations. Also, they might have learned a little more about the (deceptively) good midwife if they had probed.
The lesson here is to talk to people. Moreover, do not let first impressions or stereotypes influence your actions. People who are behaving or performing poorly are doing so because of a situation (and not because they are evil or whatnot). Learn the system and how to identify what can be changed. Change the situation and change the behavior.
But what should we as leaders do with people who could be labeled as “lawful evil”? The people who meet standards, but are breaking down others around them? They follow all the rules, but no amount of working it out with them is helping. Cut them loose. You must. It doesn’t matter if they “technically haven’t done anything wrong” if they are breaking down morale and ruining the mental health of the team. These are the people who erode trust. How can other people be expected to perform in that situation? They won’t. Save the team.
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