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Who is Gareth?

by Hervé Musseau

With the two previous option, Gareth was indeed a good guy (either young old Benekander or redeeming Rad) who really wanted to improve the mortals' life and change the immortals' way. In the case of Gareth = Loki, we obviously end up with something entirely different, way more nasty and twisted (i.e. interesting).

Brizio already mentioned the possibilities of Gareth being sponsored by Loki's, something he qualified as twisted and that I could have come up with (thanks - BTW I did, though I don't know if I had shared my thoughts on the matter before) and prompted my series of posts about Gareth. I'll try to come up with some really cool, if twisted, ideas, and hope it'll spark some DMs' imagination. Though I, surprisingly enough, will probably not use this IMC - despite my love for twisted plots, behind the scene, and plots that at first appear local (sometime insignificant events) but later appear as being part of an even greater scheme (look for such in the almanacs, you can recognise my touch here and there ;) - I for once think Gareth should indeed be a good guy. Anyway, I prefer to have Loki himself posing as Gareth rather than a young immortal he just sponsored. There are many reasons why he would do it himself, while I can find only one he would let another one. So, why would he use a novice immortal? Easy, if he's caught, he can deny his involvement, and let the poor novice suffer his fate. But why would the apprentice accept the deal? Sure, he owes to obey his sponsor, but that doesn't mean he's to do everything Loki wishes. It would seem obvious that Loki could easily betray him (and Entropics are not prone to trusting each other, especially considering Loki's betraying nature). Besides, starting your immortal career under another name and, worse, ethos, is quite dangerous. If you are uncovered, you may quickly lose your following, and be left with no worshippers. Which is always bad for immortals.

On the other hand, Loki could take the position himself. Sure, it means that if he's uncovered, he would have a harder time getting away with it (though he may have contingency plans if that would happen, and may be to hide his involvement some other way). But if that were to happen, the loss in worshippers wouldn't hurt him much at least, as he has many other worshippers everywhere (especially in the Northern Reaches, and of course Hule). And as long as he's not uncovered, he gains an artificial boost in worshipping.

Obviously, in such a scenario, Loki's smile in PWA2 is easily explained. Though one may wonder, why did he give himself away like that? Well, remember that Loki is a subtle, mischievous pal. So he played it second degree, loosing his fellow immortals even more. He smiled, so that the other immortals would at first believe that he knows. But upon reflecting a bit, the wiser immortals would remember Loki's tricks and assume that he was again lying, and his smile was in fact a grin because he didn't know what was going on either, but was trying to make them believe he did. Sounds complicated? Well, immortals commonly have 80 INT and WIS scores, so it's clear to them ;) You pitiful mortals with mere 10s... :)

Now to the point. Why would Loki create an alternate immortal ID as Gareth? And why in Sind, which is occupied by his own minions, the Huleans?

Well, Loki is a cunning Immortal. As I said, if his involvement was discovered, he would spend a bad time at the hand of the other immortals (and lose some levels). Striking in Hule occupied Sind is a guarantee that he can't be so easily compromised : After all, if he really was Gareth, why would he have had his two groups of followers fight each other, and why would he have loosened the grip he had on Sind? The very arguments we can find against his involvement, he will use if questioned by the immortals. He was in full control of Hule, in full control of Sind, strong enough to take over the SC, why would he have undermined his own power in these territories?

So, as this undermines his power, why do it? Well, first of all, he's an immortal of mischief and betrayal, and this is definitely his most brilliant hoax. Imagine his plan is ultimately successful : mortals abandon worship of immortals, because they are only arrogant beings who only use them as pawns (this would take centuries or more, obviously). All immortals but he lose a lot of power, some even fade away. And he reveals his hoax, plunging Mystara into its darkest age since the GRoF, with no immortals to save the day as no one worships them anymore... And of course, he would himself have kept a good part of his like minded following, either in Hule or elsewhere.. Sure, it is a long-term plan, but one that does not cost him much if it fails and could be a great victory if it succeeds. And even if it fails, he is partially successful as the uproar brought by the discovery of Gareth being fake would be a lot fun in itself. The more that goody faith is followed when it falls apart, the more chaos his hoax will have brought, and the more fun and glory he will gain from it.

As I said, Bozdogan is the first hit by Gareth, which makes him a good excuse for faking surprise if he's accused of any involvement. Of course, this a bit risky, as that faith may spread into his own backyard. However, he believes he's in full control, and even if Gareth's faith gets a good hold in Hule, this isn't so bad as, when he throws the mask away, the Huleans will recognise their true patron's way of deceiving and fall back into his fold. Then, though he's the first hit, next come his enemies: Ixion in Sind, Halav in the City States, Ixion again and Vanya in the SC, and others probably as well as the faith spreads. So he accepted to take a light blow at first, hoping that others would be hurt even more soon enough. Besides, Hule's grip on Sind was not so strong anymore, and Loki had lost interest in keeping the country by force (I remind you that he took Sind during WotI on the behalf of the BoS though he was not part of the group). Now, he wants to use a more devious strategy. So, that puts two groups of his followers at odd? Well, Entropics are not beyond that if that further their goals (even if it doesn't, just for the fun of it, in Atzanteotl's case). Some Immortals are likely to be upset at the appearance of Gareth and his earthshaking philosophy. Especially Ixion or Vanya. So at the same time that he's spreading his alternative faith on Mystara, Loki hopes to wreak havoc among the immortal ranks, maybe even fury, as the immortals see their following dwindle and try to find the culprit, in vain. As Loki assures that it can't be him because he's the most hurt by Gareth, the Immortals may even, with a little additional work, turn on each other...

So, a twisted, evil, fiendish scenario (I had warned you) but so interesting, so full of potential adventure. A campaign in itself, in fact.