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Old 05-15-2017, 01:21 AM   #151
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Default Re: Bible Study

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Really? Still?
Sure. As long as Chase is still alive there is hope he'll do something really stupid and up tragically cut short.

:P



Also what Rathbone said. Anti-Heroic doesn't mean uninteresting. And I'm a sucker for subverted tropes.
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Old 05-15-2017, 02:51 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I was pretty sure I'd ruined everything by taking pretty much every single heroic adventure trope out behind a shed and shooting it, ending the central conflict with Warden Tyrrell in a terribly anti-climatic way and then going on to execute the Big Bad before he even had time to launch into a villainous speech.
This might be considered "ruining" for film or TV, but what it actually did for an RPG was to make things stranger and less certain, which is just fine.

What Taylor did was take terrible risks with his future to settle the situation as quickly and thoroughly as possible. He was a character responding to his and his friends' needs and situation, not the desire of a distant audience to have entertainment that's easy to process.

This has been the best thread for years on these forums, and its lack of trope-driven behaviour on the part of the characters is a major part of that.
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Old 05-15-2017, 12:58 PM   #153
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This has been the best thread for years on these forums, and its lack of trope-driven behaviour on the part of the characters is a major part of that.
I rank Facets and Jade Serenity as the best stuff I've read in a forum since John Rogers stopped posting his "Darkmatter D20: Drunk Southern Girls and Zombie Babies" campaign write up on ENW.
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Old 05-15-2017, 01:35 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post
Yes, still very gripping. And it is that very anti-Bond trope that is part of what I like so much about the story.
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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Also what Rathbone said. Anti-Heroic doesn't mean uninteresting. And I'm a sucker for subverted tropes.
I'm pretty sure Taylor is even further from being a Darker and Edgier Anti-Hero than he is from being a cool, action-movie, hard-bitten, promiscious James Bond type. Though, of course, modern Bond is an Anti-Hero, more or less, the Knight in Sour Armour kind.

Of course, after realistic Green Beret training and more than a decade of experience in Afghanistan and Latin America, even a Wide-Eyed Idealist or Knight in Shining Armour becomes a Combat Pragmatist. In any remotely realistic setting, chivalry and a sense of fair play toward people who are trying to kill you and your friends isn't received warmly at all by said friends or the officers responsible for keeping you alive.

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I won't argue that it was not anti-climatic but I will say that I see it as having a series of climaxes with each having it's own importance.
Seriously, are we not doing phrasing?

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Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post
I want to see what happens to the team at each one. How they handle the success and/or failure at each hurdle. And clean up is one of those. It can be extremely fun to play through.
Fair warning, though, before everything went to Gehenna in a hand cart, Chase Taylor was fully planning on cooking enough fried, breaded, boiled and soulful snacks to feed two football teams and then watch the Super Bowl. With friends, if he could find them, with any strangers who seemed not actively unfriendly, if not.

Depending on the breaks, there is a possibility that there will be a significant chunk of game time (or at least description) devoted to scrounging, requisitioning and improvising in order to be able to cook Southern cuisine in Maine. Assuming, of course, that Taylor is feeling well enough to even fake cheerfulness by Sunday (it's Friday night / Saturday morning in the current write-up). And, you know, allowed to handle knives.

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I once GMed a scenario where one of the PCs also took out the Big Bad almost immediately upon meeting him at a formal dinner. Technically the rest of the adventure was cleaning up that situation and all the events that the Big Bad had already put in motion but was no longer around to control. It was a lot of fun to play even though it was not what I had expected.
According to the GM, the entire adventure on Jewell Island and Manhanock Asylum was shockingly sidelined in the very first session. I've no idea how things were supposed to go down, but a) our characters were not supposed to press for an immediate meeting with Cherry Bell instead of getting shown to our quarters and b) having been conducted to her cell, we were absolutely not supposed to turn off the recently installed, off-the-book surveillance there.

That panicked Warden Tyrrell, caused him to react in a way that he couldn't cover up and started the entire mess.

I don't know what it was that was unpredictable about our actions, whether it was O'Toole having a skill he didn't plan for at a very high level (EO: Surveillance) or whether I'm the guilty party.

I'm guessing that Taylor smelling ejaculate on a guard in Bell's wing, immediately fearing the worst possible interpretation of that and consequently reacting to the guards as enemies almost from the beginning might have contributed. If it hadn't been for that, maybe the GM was relying on our PCs being too polite? / diffident? / intimidated? to buffalo the guards into doing things our way.

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So, I look forward to seeing how the remaining events unfold.
I couldn't post spoilers if I wanted to, as I am not really that far ahead from the write-up as regards Taylor. There is actually a lot of stuff that I haven't written, but it's mostly administrative trivia for O'Toole and exposition courtesy of Dr. Anderson.

I'm actually wondering how much of it people can stand. I've written down some of the 'conversation' between Dr. Anderson and the hypnotised Chief Administrator Dr. Vernon Findlay and, surprise, surprise, people in a trance are shockingly boring conversationalists. In actual play, Dr. Anderson's player talked to a lot of other hyptotised subjects and then explored the dreams of several dozen people.

I'm pretty sure I want to summarise his interviews with other hypnotic subjects, rather than write it out, but should I attempt to do justice to some four or five hours of psychadelic dreamweaving? There were monkeys...

Actually, the monkeys were probably the least of it. Imagine the dreams of a bunch of people living in an insane asylum, many of whom have been hypnotised and mind-controlled into believing that they were living in some kind of bizarro world, and all of whom were deeply traumatised, disturbed and mentally scarred. Oh, and add the wonderful Dr. Dreamweaver, who somehow made things so much worse.

Also, OOC, it has been established that Dr. Anderson is definitely a vampire. An oneirovore, to be exact, but once you steal dreams for your titilation and to invigorate your depleted carcass, why quibble? Vampires is as vampire does.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Sure. As long as Chase is still alive there is hope he'll do something really stupid and up tragically cut short..
The fact that you expect Darwin-award level stupidity from Chase Taylor, rather than his fellow 'heroes' is genuinely hurtful. He belongs to an 'adventuring party' which includes someone so tactically inept (O'Toole) that he was called out for reckless and indisciplined room-clearing by an actual crazy person with Impulsive!

Taylor is only at risk from doing something stupidly noble. Well, that, or because nostalgia, guilt and an inability to let go of people is causing him to exhibit feelings for somebody less capable of a healthy relationship than the bunny Glenn Close boiled. Though she's unlikely to kill him. I hope. At least not deliberately. Getting him killed through neglience or a temper tantrum, totally on the table.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This might be considered "ruining" for film or TV, but what it actually did for an RPG was to make things stranger and less certain, which is just fine.
I suppose. But poor Warden Tyrrell. Didn't even get to draw his fancy fighting knife, let alone launch into a "we're not so different, you and I" speech. Just died alone with voided bowels.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
What Taylor did was take terrible risks with his future to settle the situation as quickly and thoroughly as possible. He was a character responding to his and his friends' needs and situation, not the desire of a distant audience to have entertainment that's easy to process.
Hmmm... while sensible players and PCs would, of course, argue that risking anything to protect Cherry Bell is legitimately self-destructive behaviour and that the proper place for her is actually in an insane asylum, I note that all three PCs unanimously decided that they wanted to help her get off the island. Of course, what they want her to do next and their motives for deciding on this differ significantly.

Well, I'm assuming they differ. I actually don't know what O'Toole wants or why he's willing to protect her, but I'm betting it's for a nefarious reason. Either she's blackmailing him or he's blackmailing her. I somehow doubt that Danny O'Toole was suddenly filled with overwhelming love for his fellow man, well girl, at any rate. And I don't think Broken Birds are his type.

And nobody actually knows why Dr. Anderson demonstrates affection toward Chase Taylor and Cherry Bell. Maybe he considers them pets. As his functional intelligence is too high for any test to measure, the difference between him and Taylor is probably similar to the IQ difference between Taylor and a smart chimp. At least from Dr. Anderson's perspective, though Taylor and the chimp might both be hurt and offended.

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This has been the best thread for years on these forums, and its lack of trope-driven behaviour on the part of the characters is a major part of that.
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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
I rank Facets and Jade Serenity as the best stuff I've read in a forum since John Rogers stopped posting his Darkmatter D20: Drunk Southern Girls and Zombie Babies campaign write up on ENW.
Well, thank y'all right kindly. I reckon any artistic merit or flashes of brilliance oughta be credited to whoever'll claim 'em, whereas any errors are sure enough mine.

Tropes aren't bad, as such, but what is bad is a character who's only a two-dimensional archetype and never comes across as a person. That's bad character design, whether you're a novelist, screenwriter or just a broke-down roleplayer at a table.

As I told the GM, I'll willingly design a character who'll leap head first into every adventure hook, catching them straight in the eye, but I'll take care he does it from motives integral to the character, not because the story calls for him to be holding the idiot ball this particular time.
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Old 05-15-2017, 08:44 PM   #155
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Seriously, are we not doing phrasing?
Oops. Unintentional Double Entendre. From now on I must remember to re-read my posts from a slightly different angle before I submit them. Hopefully that will succeed in limiting my phrases to just one meaning.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I'm actually wondering how much of it people can stand. I've written down some of the 'conversation' between Dr. Anderson and the hypnotised Chief Administrator Dr. Vernon Findlay and, surprise, surprise, people in a trance are shockingly boring conversationalists. In actual play, Dr. Anderson's player talked to a lot of other hyptotised subjects and then explored the dreams of several dozen people.

I'm pretty sure I want to summarise his interviews with other hypnotic subjects, rather than write it out, but should I attempt to do justice to some four or five hours of psychadelic dreamweaving? There were monkeys...
I could probably stand quite a lot. But summary works, for both.


I find the possible motivations and actions of the 'Heroes' very interesting.
I look forward to learning more about all the motivations as the story moves forward.
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Old 05-16-2017, 01:02 AM   #156
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Taylor is only at risk from doing something stupidly noble.
Sorry, I meant noble stupidity. Which I consider even worse than regular stupidity because very often the offender actually knows better but is insisting on doing so anyway!
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:55 AM   #157
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Over the radio, the guard named Pat Whittaker claims that the sprinklers in C Wing are out, but someone with mechanical skills might be able to fix them. Whittaker is clearly trying to be helpful, but neither he nor the other guards with him have the first idea how to do it and they are asking if some of the janitorial staff can be sent to help them. As Special Agent Danny O’Toole has no idea where the janitorial staff is located and expects that their quarters are in some other building, he tells Whittaker that he, that guy Arden and Randall are just going to have to figure it out on their own.

Agent O’Toole: “Find a [fornicating] janitor, learn to fix it yourselves or [urinate] on the fire, I don’t give a damn! Just [fornicating] stop it from burning down the whole complex!”
Whittaker: “Hey, easy, man. Randall has already gone for more fire extinguishers, we’ve rigged up a hose and we’ve stopped it from spreading. We’ll have it out in no time. I just thought I’d ask if we could get the sprinklers on to do it faster.”
O’Toole: “Well, [excrement]. Maybe I’ve got other things to worry about besides a fire that isn’t even in an occupied part of the asylum. I’m putting you in charge of it, use your goddamn initiative. And don’t call me unless it’s a [fornicating] real emergency.”

Rubbing his forehead and wishing he could take more painkillers, O’Toole orders the orderly waiting in front of him, a wiry, alert African-American named Robert, to find his own team among those not doing anything else and return with all he can scavenge from the snack machines. As Bob the orderly leaves the Deputy Warden’s office, O’Toole realises that he didn’t ask his last name, which he’ll need for the reports he’ll no doubt have to file about all this, but finding out Bob’s full name can wait until he’s back.

Bob is just one of more than fifty people, orderlies, medical staff, kitchen staff, patients and guards, who seem to be O’Toole’s headache now. About ten of them are seriously hurt and another ten have minor injuries, pretty much everyone is either traumatised or hopelessly confused and all of them are tired, hungry, thirsty and otherwise not at their best. The staff kitchen cook, Gaspar, was a good, level-headed bloke and could probably have gotten his people to feed everyone easily enough, but as Doc Anderson had said he suspected that mind-affecting chemicals had been introduced into the food or water supply on the island, O’Toole had forbidden eating anything not in sealed packages until tests had been run.

Hence, Bob the orderly’s mission, to systematically empty all the vending machines of snacks, soft drinks and bottled water, in order to have at least some food and drink for the survivors. O’Toole was still looking for someone trustworthy who knew how to take samples from the food and water supply, so they could confirm or rule out Doc Anderson’s hypothesis about chemical contamination. According to Dr. Emma King, there were supposed to be two or three other nurses on duty over the weekend, as well as one or two doctors.

The schedule O’Toole had found on Warden Tyrrell’s computer appeared to confirm that, showing Dr. Roy Frasier and two nurses, Arthur Reilly and Lily McRae on duty during the day shift, with the night shift consisting of Dr. Bruce Cotton and the nurses Judy Cunningham and Justin Foreman. Nurse McRae was the creepily hypnotised one in Warden Tyrrell’s office, the one who’d drugged the patient tied down in a chair. She was still there, sitting on a chair next to the drugged patient, her expression nearly as empty as his slack-jawed, comatose face.

Judy Cunningham had been found sitting in a makeshift infirmary in the rear annex of the central building, over a bunch of guards beaten up by that crazy Green Beret, Taylor, and one who got caught in a flashbang explosion. Dr. King, Dr. McKinney and any spare orderlies they could find were supposed to figure out how to move the injured people to the actual infirmary building, so that they could be properly treated. The people who didn’t show any physical trauma, but were nevertheless out cold or otherwise useless, like Chief Administrator Dr. Vernon Findlay, were placed on couches somewhere they could be observed.

According to Dr. McKinney, the burnt guard was most likely going to die if they didn’t get him to surgery pretty damn quick. After Taylor’s rampage in the corridor of the central building, there was also another burnt guard and at least two beaten badly enough to require immediate hospitalisation. Deputy Warden Tyrrell was confirmed to be dead, which was a piece of luck. Crazy, scary [fornicator], not to mention someone who’d have been really hard to try for his crimes without revealing a lot of secrets that Onyx Rain wanted kept dark. With him and Dr. Cotton dead, maybe there was a chance at a decent cover-up, blaming everything on the dead. For a change, it would be true enough, just not the entire truth. But who’d say any different?

Most of the guards claimed not to remember the last few hours or even the last few days, but O’Toole isn’t sure he can believe that. In any event, they don’t seem too hostile and none of them have refused to accept the fact that Homeland Security, in the person of Agent O’Toole, has taken direct control of the facility. When ordered, they turned their guns in to the armoury and O’Toole had high hopes that soon all the guard force would be disarmed. Of course, the circling helicopters and flotilla of Coast Guard vessels surrounding Jewell Island may have something to do with their docility.

What O’Toole had no intention of allowing the guards to find out was that while the Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) was in position to assault Jewell Island, they wouldn’t be landing for the next three hours. To the incandescent rage of the Coast Guard Incident Commander, Captain Michael Baroody, orders from Washington had come down to the effect that no one was stepping on the island without full NBC suits and HazMat gear.

A couple of Coast Guardsmen with EMT training had made the case that delaying assistance to the wounded was insupportable and were being allowed to land with what protective gear they had, but after that, no one would be allowed on Jewell Island except as part of a full quarantine effort. To that end, the Coast Guard were sending up the Atlantic Strike Team from Fort Dix, NJ, part of the National Strike Force, subject-matter experts in nuclear, biological and chemical response.

The Coast Guard would be only there to provide manpower and support, however. The new Incident Commander was from the Onyx Rain task force, their Chief of Operations, Curtis J. Ford, and a lot of Onyx Rain people were coming with him. From what O’Toole heard Townsend discussing over radio and phone, there were medical staff arriving from the DHS Office of Health Affairs and HSARPA, investigators from HSI and other agencies and specialists from various obscure offices.

Agent O’Toole was sure that Director Vani Gujarat was behind that sudden switch in policy. Cam Townsend had spoken to her several times since the shooting stopped and to her subordinates while she was closeted in meetings. Director Gujarat had an office at St. Elizabeths Campus, the Washington DC headquarters of both the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard. O’Toole felt sure that she’d met with senior Coast Guard Admirals over the matter and perhaps with Secretary Kelly himself or someone close to him.

Actually, she probably met with some senior bureaucrats with wide-ranging powers rather than the Secretary himself, as the Onyx Rain task force appeared to avoid coming to the notice of political appointees as much as possible, preferring instead to work with the apolitical experts, with decades of government service, who could be relied upon to retain their power and influence regardless of elections and party politics.

O’Toole was pretty sure that any Onyx Rain reports that made their way to the Homeland Security Council, the Secretary of Homeland Security or the President would be heavily edited. He wasn’t even sure that Director Gujarat regarded any politician or political appointee as qualified for the kind of security clearance that the task force was shrouded in. It seemed that she viewed their function as providing the public with something to be angry about while she and others like her got on with the actual business of providing Homeland Security.

O’Toole supposed that was arrogant, illegal and exactly the sort of thing paranoid right-wing militias worried about. On the other hand, as far as he could see, Director Gujarat was less likely to abuse her position for personal gain than any politician he could name. The problem was that if she saw someone as a threat to American security, there wasn’t a single thing she would blanch at doing to neutralise that threat, if she truly considered it necessary.

At the moment, she saw the former test subjects from Project Jade Serenity as potential security risks, but also potential sources of scientific data important to American interests. O’Toole really hoped that this debacle wouldn’t result in her threat estimate being reassessed, resulting in orders to terminate all subjects associated with Project Jade Serenity or its precursor programs. That... couldn’t be allowed to happen. Not when O’Toole was so close to finding Vargas, getting some answers.

O’Toole would be a part of the team that was sent to Mexico after this, wouldn’t he? They’d have to send him, right? It obviously wasn’t his fault how things went to [excrement] here and he’d done good work getting everything organised.

On that thought, he glances over to Townsend.

O’Toole: “Hey, I’m going to have to check on that fire. You take over here.”
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Old 05-17-2017, 08:54 AM   #158
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Default Re: Bible Study

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Oops. Unintentional Double Entendre. From now on I must remember to re-read my posts from a slightly different angle before I submit them. Hopefully that will succeed in limiting my phrases to just one meaning.
Not the least need. I adore doing phrasing. Unintentional double entendres are even better than deliberate ones. And "having a series of climaxes with each having it's own importance" is accidental poetic genius.

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I could probably stand quite a lot. But summary works, for both.
Very well. I'll try to figure out how to do it without it taking until the heat death of the universe. Five hours of talking produces a lot of material and even condensed and summarised, it's going to be long as all hell.

I mean, in the conversation between Chase Taylor and Dr. Anderson in 'Bible Study, I actually shortened the written version quite a bit from the one that happened in play. To be perfectly accurate, I would have had to make the dialogue at least three or four times longer.

We actually spent an hour talking in character, mostly about the Episcopalian practice of confession, whether or not it was a sacrament and the theological differences between Baptist and Episcopalian doctrines of salvation, by grace, through faith or good works. Granted, we had to stop occasionally for Dr. Anderson's player to look up stuff about Christian theology, as I do not believe he is religious and even if he were, he has not, to my knowledge, ever visited an Episcopalian church or had any occasion to learn any of their doctrines.

To fit into one post, I got rid of nearly all the theology and left only the lesson Dr. Anderson imparted at the end of a long theological discussion, i.e. the blasphemous arrogance of believing oneself uniquely irredeemable, beyond the reach of divine grace and forgiveness.

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I find the possible motivations and actions of the 'Heroes' very interesting.
I look forward to learning more about all the motivations as the story moves forward.
I have to say that I'm curious myself. Note that the GM has ruled that I and Dr. Anderson's player are not allowed to know what O'Toole did for 15-20 minutes of the time we were away, we already do not know what he did for several hours when the characters were seperated and during last session, the GM sent O'Toole's player notes on Skype while we were playing.

Our characters now officially form more than one faction within Onyx Rain. And Cherry Bell, of course, is at least one faction all by her lonesome. Probably more.

Oh, and we'll be getting an extra player. New one. No details known about his character, but given the setting premise, probably a former test subject of Project Jade Serenity or a precursor program. Possibly a scientist with permissive experimental protocols, having indulged in some test chemicals himself. Well, or herself.

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Sorry, I meant noble stupidity. Which I consider even worse than regular stupidity because very often the offender actually knows better but is insisting on doing so anyway!
Granted, granted.

The real kicker is that selfless love without limit or reason is actually a pretty powerful motivator for evil acts, even if the character is far from being 'evil' in nature. If you would do anything to protect somebody that otherwise reasonable, decent people believe should be imprisoned or killed for the public good, well, you can find yourself doing... anything.
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:44 AM   #159
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The real kicker is that selfless love...
Ah, true love that force that can bring men back from the dead. Well, mostly dead.
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:48 PM   #160
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The real kicker is that selfless love without limit or reason is actually a pretty powerful motivator for evil acts, even if the character is far from being 'evil' in nature. If you would do anything to protect somebody that otherwise reasonable, decent people believe should be imprisoned or killed for the public good, well, you can find yourself doing... anything.
"When you have seen as much of life as I have, you will not underestimate the power of obsessive love..."

Prof. Horace Slughorn, on why love potions are so dangerous (from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
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