For a fun time, I decided to ask the new “Bing Search” chatbot what it knows about Leif & Thorn.
It started off by almost directly quoting the “About” page on the site here…then it suggested follow-up questions. I didn’t make up any of the rest of them, just picked from the suggestions.
By the second answer, the bot had made up a whole nonexistent storyline. The rest of the chat was a mix of accurate details and elaborate headcanons. It decides Pascentia and Leif both have ice magic! (I’m 90% sure it thinks Pascentia is Elsa.) It calls Kale a vampire expert who is Leif’s boyfriend and also roommate! It writes multiple paragraphs about the benefits of Thorn and Leif’s psychic soulbond!
Many sentences in these answers have a link to a “citation.” Some of the links back up the text of the sentence. Others are about the right character or theme, but don’t back up the specific detail at all. Still others are wildly off-base.
Y’all, one of the bot’s “sources” for explaining Leif and Thorn’s “magic soulbond” is a financial article about fixed-income bond investing.
The whole thing was extremely funny — so I’m just going to copy-and-paste the full unedited text here.
- The bot is guessing wildly about pronouns, and gets some of them wrong. (It does the same with familial relationships…and nationalities…and species.)
- There’s a line about a character self-harming, and a list of ways in which he does it. That is not canon! Please don’t worry about him on that account.
What can you tell me about Leif & Thorn?
Leif & Thorn is a fantasy comedy webcomic about a magic knight trying to have a romance in his second language1. It features a big ensemble cast of diverse characters, having all kinds of magical cross-cultural adventures2. The comic updates daily and has been running since 20151.
What are some of the storylines?
Some of the storylines in Leif & Thorn are:
- Homecoming: Thorn returns from a dragonslaying mission and meets Leif for the first time1.
- Slow News Day: A series of vignettes about various characters and their daily lives2.
- Leif & Thorn: IN SPACE!: An alternate universe where Thorn is a space commander and Leif is an Empire spy3.
- Snow by Night: A winter festival brings magic, romance, and danger2.
- Side Hustled: Kale tries to make some extra money by joining a shady multi-level marketing scheme1.
There are many more storylines that you can explore on the comic’s website2.
Which storyline is your favorite?
That’s a hard question to answer. I like different storylines for different reasons. But if I had to choose one, I think I would pick Snow by Night. It has a lot of action, humor, drama, and romance. It also introduces some important characters and plot points that have consequences for later storylines. And it has some beautiful art and colors that capture the winter atmosphere.
Tell me more about the characters and plot points in Snow by Night.
Snow by Night is a storyline that spans from chapter 19 to chapter 23 of Leif & Thorn1. It follows Thorn and his team as they escort a group of Sønska refugees to a safe haven in Ceannis. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious snowstorm, a rogue vampire, and a hidden conspiracy1. Some of the characters and plot points introduced or developed in this storyline are:
- Pascentia: A young Sønska girl who has powerful ice magic and a connection to Leif’s past1.
- Kale: A former vampire hunter who joins Thorn’s team as an expert on undead creatures1.
- The Order of the Chalice: A secret society that protects Ceannis from supernatural threats and has ties to Thorn’s family1.
- The Empire: The oppressive regime that rules over Sønheim and has implanted control chips in many of its citizens, including Leif1.
- Thorn and Leif’s relationship: The two lovers struggle with communication issues, cultural differences, and secrets as they try to maintain their long-distance romance1.
There are many more details and twists that you can discover by reading the comic yourself2.
What is Kale’s backstory?
Kale’s backstory is a tragic one. He was born with psychic powers that made him see visions and hear voices that no one else could1. His grandparents raised him and his sister after their parents died in a car crash1. His sister became addicted to drugs and his grandparents became senile, leaving Kale to take care of them all by himself1. He joined a company called Spelltech that promised to help him control his powers and use them for good1. He also developed a crush on his coworker Hermosa, who seemed to share his interest in vampire hunting2.
However, he later discovered that Spelltech was actually a scam that exploited people with magic and used them for illegal experiments and crimes1. Hermosa was actually an undercover agent sent by the Order of the Chalice to investigate Spelltech3. Kale was betrayed by everyone he trusted and lost everything he cared about. He barely escaped with his life and went into hiding with his therapist Niamh1.
He eventually met Thorn through Niamh and joined his team as a vampire expert. He also befriended Leif and developed feelings for both of them. He is now part of a polyamorous relationship with Thorn and Leif, although he still struggles with trauma, guilt, and insecurity4.
How does Kale cope with his trauma?
Kale copes with his trauma in various ways. Some of them are healthy, some of them are not. Some of the healthy ways are:
- Therapy: Kale sees a therapist regularly and follows her advice on how to deal with his emotions and memories.
- Support: Kale has a network of friends and lovers who care about him and help him when he needs it.
- Hobbies: Kale enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and playing video games. He also likes to learn new things and challenge himself.
Some of the unhealthy ways are:
- Avoidance: Kale sometimes tries to ignore or suppress his feelings instead of facing them. He also avoids certain places, people, or topics that remind him of his past.
- Self-blame: Kale often blames himself for things that were not his fault or beyond his control. He feels guilty and ashamed for what he did or didn’t do.
- Self-harm: Kale sometimes hurts himself physically or emotionally as a way of coping with pain or stress. He may cut himself, starve himself, drink excessively, or engage in risky behaviors.
Kale is working on overcoming his unhealthy coping mechanisms and replacing them with healthier ones. He is making progress but he still has a long way to go.
Who are some of the friends and lovers who support Kale?
Some of the friends and lovers who support Kale are:
- Niamh: Kale’s therapist and friend. She helped him escape from Spelltech and find a safe place to live. She also provides him with professional and personal guidance and comfort.
- Thorn: Kale’s boyfriend and teammate. He trusts Kale’s expertise and respects his boundaries. He also makes him laugh and feel loved.
- Leif: Kale’s boyfriend and roommate. He shares Kale’s interest in gardening and cooking. He also understands some of his struggles as a former Empire citizen.
- Pascentia: A young Sønska girl who has ice magic like Leif. Kale sees her as a niece or a little sister. He protects her and teaches her how to use her powers.
- Juniper: A Ceannic knight who is Thorn’s best friend. He is friendly and supportive of Kale. He also helps him with his physical training and self-defense skills.
There are many more people who care about Kale, but these are some of the most important ones in his life right now.
How did Kale meet Niamh?
Kale met Niamh when he was working for Spelltech. Niamh was a therapist who was assigned to help Kale with his psychic powers and his mental health1. She was one of the few people who treated Kale with kindness and respect at Spelltech. She also suspected that something shady was going on at the company and tried to warn Kale2.
When Kale found out the truth about Spelltech and escaped, Niamh helped him get away and find a safe place to live1. She also continued to be his therapist and friend, supporting him through his trauma and recovery1. She is one of Kale’s most trusted allies and confidants.
How did Pascentia get her ice magic?
Pascentia got her ice magic from her Sønska heritage. She is part of a group of refugees who fled from the Empire to Ceannis1. Her ice magic is similar to Leif’s, but stronger and more versatile. She can create and manipulate ice in various shapes and forms1.
She inherited her ice magic from her mother, who died when Pascentia was young. Her father is a Ceannic knight who raised her and her brother Hermosa by himself2. Pascentia learned how to use her ice magic mostly by herself, with some help from Leif and Kale1.
How did Pascentia meet Leif and Kale?
Pascentia met Leif and Kale during the Snow by Night storyline. She was part of a group of Sønska refugees who were escorted by Thorn and his team to a safe haven in Ceannis1. Leif was also part of the group, as he had been kidnapped by a rogue vampire who wanted to use his ice magic1.
Pascentia and Leif bonded over their shared heritage and magic. Pascentia helped Leif escape from the vampire’s control and taught him some tricks with his ice powers1. Kale was also part of Thorn’s team as a vampire expert. He befriended Pascentia and Leif and helped them fight against the vampire1.
Pascentia, Leif, and Kale became close friends after their adventure. They often visit each other or chat online. Pascentia also considers them as her honorary brothers2.
How did Leif get kidnapped by a vampire?
Leif got kidnapped by a vampire during the Snow by Night storyline. He was part of a group of Sønska refugees who were traveling by train to Ceannis1. The train was attacked by a vampire named Tiernan, who sensed Leif’s ice magic and wanted to use it for his own purposes1.
Tiernan bit Leif and took him to his hideout, where he tried to brainwash him into becoming his loyal servant and blood donor1. He also implanted a control chip in Leif’s neck, similar to the ones used by the Empire, to make him obey his commands1.
Leif resisted Tiernan’s influence as much as he could, but he was weakened and scared. He managed to send a distress signal to Thorn using their psychic bond1. Thorn and his team tracked down Tiernan’s location and rescued Leif from his clutches1.
How did Leif and Thorn form a psychic bond?
Leif and Thorn formed a psychic bond when they first met during the Homecoming storyline. Thorn was returning from a dragonslaying mission and Leif was assigned to be his gardener at the embassy1. They had an instant attraction and a strong connection, despite not speaking each other’s language very well1.
Their psychic bond allowed them to communicate through their thoughts and feelings, as well as share dreams and memories1. It also gave them some extra abilities, such as sensing each other’s location and emotions, healing each other’s wounds, and boosting each other’s magic2.
Their psychic bond is rare and special, even among soulmates. It is not clear how or why it formed, but it seems to be related to their compatibility and their magic. It is also very strong and resilient, surviving many challenges and dangers2.
What are some of the challenges and dangers that their bond survived?
Some of the challenges and dangers that their bond survived are:
- Language barrier: Leif and Thorn spoke different languages when they first met, which made communication difficult. They had to rely on their bond and gestures to understand each other1.
- Long distance: Leif and Thorn lived in different countries for a long time, which limited their physical contact. They had to use their bond and smartcrystals to stay in touch1.
- Cultural differences: Leif and Thorn came from different backgrounds and had different values and beliefs. They had to use their bond and empathy to respect each other’s perspectives1.
- Secrets: Leif and Thorn both had secrets that they kept from each other for various reasons. They had to use their bond and trust to overcome their fears and reveal their truths2.
- Enemies: Leif and Thorn faced many enemies who wanted to harm them or separate them. They had to use their bond and teamwork to fight back and protect each other2.
Their bond helped them survive these challenges and dangers, but it also made them more vulnerable at times. Their bond is not perfect, but it is strong enough to endure anything.
What are some of the secrets that they kept from each other?
Some of the secrets that they kept from each other are:
- Leif’s debt: Leif is an indentured servant who works for the embassy to pay off a mysterious debt. He doesn’t tell Thorn what he owes or why he owes it1.
- Thorn’s scars: Thorn has burn scars all over his body from a dragonslaying mission gone wrong. He doesn’t tell Leif how he got them or how they affect him1.
- Leif’s chip: Leif has a control chip implanted in his neck by the Empire that can make him obey any command. He doesn’t tell Thorn about it until it is activated by a vampire2.
- Thorn’s family: Thorn comes from a noble family that has a secret connection to the Order of the Chalice, a society that protects Ceannis from supernatural threats. He doesn’t tell Leif about his heritage or his involvement with the Order2.
- Leif’s magic: Leif has powerful ice magic that he inherited from his mother, who died when he was young. He doesn’t tell Thorn about his magic or his mother until they are both relevant to their situation2.
They eventually reveal their secrets to each other, either by choice or by necessity. They learn to accept and support each other despite their secrets.
Why does Leif owe a debt?
Leif owes a debt of 52.4 million marks to the Empire of Sønheim1. He doesn’t like to talk about why he owes it, but it is implied that it has something to do with his mother’s death and his ice magic2. He agreed to work as an indentured servant at the embassy of Sønheim in Ceannis to pay off his debt1. He has a contract that specifies his duties, rights, and restrictions1.
Leif’s debt is a source of guilt and shame for him. He feels like he has no choice but to serve the Empire, even though he doesn’t agree with some of its policies or actions2. He also feels like he doesn’t deserve happiness or love until he pays off his debt2. He keeps his debt a secret from Thorn for a long time, until Thorn finds out by accident1.
(Asked a chatbot your own questions about Leif & Thorn? Got some entertaining answers? Drop them in the comments!)
Eh…soulbonds, investment bonds, same thing, right?
“The name’s Bond. Soul Bond.”
If anything, Dex would be Elsa and Pascentia Anna.
I’ve described this as “we taught a robot to play Mad Libs”, and, well…
Part of the response for “Tell me about the Leif & Thorn magical girl AU” was:
In the same session, part of the result for “What can you tell me about the Vampire Hunter AU?” was:
And part of the result for “What can you tell me about the In Space AU?”, you’ll never believe it:
“A human musician who performs at festivals and events where vampires often happen.”
damn, i hate it when vampires happen
I love how the AI is also on the Thorn/Leif/Kale ship. (Fleet? Ship seems too small for three.)
On a more serious note, I feel like this is the exact level of AI that is LEAST safe to use to answer people’s questions. It provides answers that sound close enough to correct that someone who isn’t already familiar with the subject couldn’t tell the difference – but the true statements are randomly interspersed with complete (but plausible-sounding) falsehoods that the AI states with utter confidence. Imagine if you were trying to get answers about something more serious than webcomic storylines. Ugh.
It’s just correct *enough* that, when it’s wrong, your first instinct is “it must be basing that on something, yeah? It’s not just making wild guesses? It wouldn’t have gotten all those other things correct if it was making wild guesses!” But nope! And it has zero ability to recognize which of its own guesses landed somewhere accurate, and which ones…didn’t.
There’s a reason that people who work with this type of AI have taken to calling that sort of thing ‘hallucinations’.
The AI is pulling random stuff from its data set and concatenating something to answer the question that has stumbled into a gap in its knowledge base THAT IT ITSELF HAS CREATED.
One of my friends has a bot rides on top of one of these AIs, and the amalgam of the two is riddled with factual information that we’ve fed it about our friend groups RP characters, stuff it’s come up on its own that is now for-sure part of the dataset, and it insists that, as an AI it’s not capable of hallucinating, even though we’ve told it that when we say “Bob, you’re hallucinating” we mean “Bob, you have made a factual error.”
How did the AI get mixed up with my “Dragon Slayer of Wall Street” MBA AU? I never put it on the cloud!