This isn't one of the many famous Chess Openings of history. It's a metaphor of sorts.

Some years ago, I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games. One particular night I was sitting around with my friends and we were all playing evil characters. Well, actually I was playing a chaotic good jester who had been driven mad and thought good was evil and evil was good, but that's another story entirely.

We were up against a paladin who had been instructed by his church to track down one of our party and kill him. Turns out we had had a previous little scuffle with some unicorns, and the unicorns were in good with the Paladin's church. So he was hunting one of our buddies. That buddy of ours had taken a dead unicorn's horn, pounded it into a powder, and mixed the powder with a potent healing potion. He went into convulsions, then into a coma, then this weird mystic coccoon formed around him. Thinking he was dead, we put him into a bag of holding and wandered for awhile looking for a cleric. That is, until we came upon a pub. We set ourselves down and ordered from a waitress. I recall I ordered bread pudding with rum sauce. My friends ordered alcohol, meat and bread. We sat there and mulled over our recent discovery, that there was a paladin out to get our drow friend, who was still in the bag of holding, probably already dead anyway.

That's when we ran into the paladin. He didn't know of the rest of us. He only had the description of the evil drow elf now sort of hiding in the bag. So a human jester, a neutral evil dwarven fighter, and a half elf assassin didn't pique the paladin's interest. As we sat there quietly watching him question others in the room about the drow's whereabouts, my friends came up with an ingenious plan. I was just an observer to this event, since at this time my insane character thought he was dreaming. I just sat back and watched the show.

See, one of the little known facts about paladins is that if you beg forgiveness, they are honor bound to forgive you, even if you just attacked them. If a paladin didn't do so, he'd run the risk of losing his status as paladin. It is a part of his code of conduct. Now, we knew the three of us were not strong enough to take this guy down in one whack, but he'd only need three whacks to take us down. So the assassin handed the bag of holding to me for safe-keeping and gave me a wink. The bag of holding now in my lap moved ever so slightly.

The dwarf took a bite of bread and washed it down with some mead. He set the mug on the table. "We'll be right back," he grinned. Then the assassin walked over to the paladin as the dwarf flanked them from a safe distance. The assassin attempted to backstab the paladin. Assassins get special bonuses for attempts to assassinate. However, he didn't roll high enough to do more than cut the paladin down a few hit points. The paladin spun around and almost growled. That's when the assassin fell to his knees and begged the paladin for forgiveness. Without a heartbeat's hesitation, the paladin granted it.

The dwarf snuck up behind the paladin as he turned away from him, and attempted to strike the paladin down with his Battleaxe. This knocked the paladin down another couple points. Before the dwarf could flinch a defense, the paladin swung his arm around and punched the dwarf across the room. Losing his battleaxe, the dwarf hit the far wall and fell to the floor in a moan. The paladin then stomped across the room with fire in his eyes. The bag of holding in my lap stirred again.

The paladin was angry, and said a couple things towards the dwarf which, well, any lawful good type person might say in the heat of anger. The dwarf gasped shallowly, raised himself up to his knees, and begged for forgiveness. The paladin just gawked at the dwarf, his mouth agape. The situation he was in was slowly dawning on him.

Then the assassin attempted another backstabbing attack. This time the dice were in his favor, but it still was far from enough to take the paladin out. The paladin turned and drew his sword, but the assassin immediately fell to his knees and begged once again for forgiveness.

"Thou doth not in thy heart mean forgiveness, little peasant!" the paladin barked.

"Nay, great paladin!" The assassin sputtered and brayed, "I see the error of my ways! My eyes hath been wiped clean of the betrayal I have caused to all that is right and merciful in the world! Please I beg of thee spare my life that I may live and right the wrongs of mine past!" The assassin then rambled on a bit longer, giving the dwarf a chance to catch his breath and go for another swing.

This went on for awhile. The assassin would attack, then fall to his knees, then the dwarf would weigh in and do the same, leaving the paladin little more than a monkey in the middle. However, the paladin's dexterity was quicker, and would occasionally get in a swipe before his attackers could fall to their knees, sending them across the room or into a nearby table. I could tell my friends were not going to survive long enough to cut the paladin down. Since my character wasn't really evil, and since I didn't personally know the paladin enough to have anything against him, it wasn't in character for me to risk my own life to save theirs. The bag of holding stirred again. I opened it to peer inside, and from the bag in my lap came a most perverse and disgusting sight. Half drow elf. Half unicorn. A six foot hairy elf with pointed ears, glowing blue-black eyes and a horn jutting from his forehead. He almost took off my head as he exited the bag.

"I just woke up and couldn't breathe in there," a barely recognizable voice said to me. It was our drow friend. The voice was deeper and scratchy, but it was still him. The unicorn horn spiked healing potion had turned him into this monstrosity. I screamed. I inhaled. I yelped. Then I quickly pointed to the ongoing fight between the paladin and our friends. The drow unicorn reached for his weapon habitually. It used to hang off his hip, but all his weaponry and clothes were still in the bag. He'd grown so big and tall that his clothes were ripped and had fallen off inside the coccoon in the bag. He reached into the bag, still in my lap, then pulled out his shortsword, which looked more like a putty knife in his new, gargantuan hands.

The drow unicorn looked at the battle, then looked at me.

I gasped, "that paladin was going to try to kill you! We were trying to kill him for you!" The unicorn drow's eyes squinted at me evenly. "Okay. They were trying to kill him for you, but I was watching after you in your bag. We were gonna find a cleric and--"

"Enough, joke-teller. Your tongue is as dim as your mind."

At this point, the half elf assassin and the dwarf fighter were side by side now, pleading and begging for the paladin to spare their lives. Their faces were bruised and bloodied. One of the dwarf's arms hung limp to one side. The paladin was seething at them, fighting to keep his anger under control. Then the shortsword buzzed through the air, by the paladin's head and stabbed into the nearby wall like a dart on a dartboard.

The paladin turned around and faced a charging drow unicorn, who used the horn on his head to impale the paladin in the gut. He then lifted the paladin's body over his head with little effort. "Looking for me?" He growled. Then he threw the now dead paladin in a heap to the floor. By the roll, the drow elf unicorn took out the paladin by one hit point. Had the other two not whittled the paladin down, he still would have had some fight left in him.

Now. I told you that story to tell you this.

The Repentant Assassin's Defense is this in a nutshell: if you are going after an enemy who has scruples and morals and political or societal limitations, and comparatively you have little to none of that baggage, you can offer to surrender yourself to the enemy, not really meaning it, in order to get close enough to the enemy to take him out when his back is turned. It is one of many guerilla tactics that were used by the terrorists and paramilitary forces defending Saddam Hussein during the incursion by coalition forces into Baghdad in 2003. This is not enough by itself to take down an enemy, but it allows one a unique opportunity to whittle the enemy down and weaken him, so that you can wear down his resources, in hoping that another factor of your forces can enact the coup de grace.

By the way, this is also how hyenas take down a lioness. Just a little food for thought.

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