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Some spoilers about the Crones/Crookback Bog plotline

Butch:

Whelp, found me some crones. That, once again, wasn’t what I expected. And that was creepy as hell. I maintain this feels like a game Mr. O’ would DM.

I freed the weird tree thingy. You? And I did NOT cotton to the fact that was Anna. Wow. That was…..one of the myriad unexpected things.

This game, man, this game.

I’m now Ciri again, running the hell away.

[Later]

Ok, so, finished up with the crones and all. What did I do? Met crones, talked a lot, did Ciri bit, went back to baron, talked a whole lot more, did other Ciri bit, baron went off to await me in Downwarren, I decided to take a break from the baron, went to pick up a witcher contract (The Merry Widow) that I’ve had lying around for ages, hit save.

Where to begin?

Well, we could talk about the horridly perverse version of love shown by the crones (both sexually and to the children).

We could talk about how the baron is both sympathetic and a piece of filth. But we did that, and he really tipped to the filth side when he was blaming Anna. Even if she did cheat, dude. Not cool.

We could talk about Anna being tragic or not, but I have a feeling that I’ll have more to say about that once I meet the baron in Downwarren and we go find out what happened to Anna.

We COULD talk about that weird tree thingy. I saved it, and put it in a horse. You? But I’m still not sure what that DID. I’ll see that again, I will. So I’m not sure what all that was about.

So maybe we should talk about Ciri. First, I found it very interesting that last night, I played for an hour. In that hour, I killed, what, a bunch of wolves, a bunch of icy dudes, and a baselisk. That was pretty much all I killed. And I did ALL OF IT as Ciri. An hour of game with a butch male hero, and all the fighty is a woman. Interesting.

Second, Ciri is an interesting mix of strong imagery and scared imagery. She sure does run a lot. Indeed, her whole shtick is running. She’s running, fleeing the Wild Hunt, and this big butch dude has to pursue/save her. She ran from the crones. BUUUUUT when there’s a werewolf to kill to save a kid, or a baselisk to kill to save a baron, she’s on it. I’m not sure what point CDPR is trying to make with that. Yet.

Third, Ciri is, in keeping with theme, a very caring, loving person. She saved Gretka. She wanted to save the kids. She tells the baron that she knows that she would be cared for at Crow’s Point, but she has to leave to protect them. But she’s caring in a way that subverts usual feminine, “motherly” love. Usually, we see women in media being the ones who clutch the vulnerable to them, hiding the kids at home while the MAN goes out and deals with heroic shit. Ciri shows love by doing the exact opposite: leaving. Running. Getting gone and staying gone. Usually, media looks down on women who run, who move. GOOD women, loving women, stay, and wait, and keep people close. Ciri does not do these things, yet she is the good woman.

It’s another reason I want to see how shit ends with Anna and Tamara. They ran away, like “bad” women. Anna sure looks like she got some karmic retribution for that, but then, I have a feeling when she gets to see the baron again, that will be more complex. I don’t expect a cliche ending, that’s for sure.

The crones were very well done. What did I tell you about this feeling like a Mr. O’ game at times?

But here’s one awful thing that happened gameplaywise: During the baselisk fight, one got poisoned. Right? So when that fight ended, it triggered a cutscene. So the first time I “beat” that thing, I had some poison, so after about a second and a half of cutscene, got the You Are Dead screen. During the cutscene. Merciless, this game.

Also, I like “You are Dead.” Straight. To the point.

Feminina:

I do like “You are dead.” As you say, it’s brief and to the point. No wasted words or beating around the bush there.

The crones! They are so awesomely horrible. Horrifyingly awesome. Mr. O’ loved them.

You put the tree thing in the horse! That’s what I did, and it does make a difference to something, later. Mr. O’ did NOT do that, so he was able to tell me the other side. Which will be an interesting discussion at some point.

Agreed, I was less sympathetic to the baron after his whole ‘explanation.’ I mean, yeah, it sucks if you go away and your wife falls in love with another man. I get that. But that doesn’t make killing the other man horribly and abusing your wife for the next however many years the right response. There’s a thing there with power, corruption, etc. He COULD do that, so he did. And at the same time, I do buy that his love for Anna is sincere–he just acts on that love in a horrible fashion. Love not only doesn’t conquer all, it doesn’t even necessarily inspire kindness toward the loved one. Again: tragedy. Love gone wrong.

But he was generous and fairly decent to Ciri, so in this case love, or the possessiveness that love rouses in him, is what makes him despicable. We like to think that love makes people better, but actually love makes the baron a worse person than he is to people he doesn’t love.

Maybe there’s a bigger question shaping here in the game: what does love do to Geralt? Does it make him better, or worse? He’s following Ciri to protect her, because he loves her, but is that even that ‘right’ thing to do? Presumably she could have contacted him if she’d wanted to: instead, she’s (potentially) putting serious effort into staying far away from him. I say potentially, because I don’t think (as far as we know) that Ciri knows Geralt is looking for her, so (as far as we know) she’ll be glad to see him, and might even come hurrying back to meet him if she knew where he was. However, we don’t know that: maybe she does know he’s looking for her, and has her own reasons for not making herself easy to find.

If this turns out to be true, than a love that disregards the loved one’s wishes, overrules her decisions because Geralt knows better (keeping her a child, basically), is not necessarily abusive the way the baron’s love is, but it’s not really what we’d call healthy when directed toward an independent adult.

Another thing to keep an eye on as the game progresses.

As for Ciri as a character…she is interesting. One could argue that she’s expressing independence using the only acceptable excuse a woman can have for abandoning her female responsibilities (that is, making sandwiches for the menfolk–obviously): she’s doing it to protect others. It’s OK for women to act in an unwomanly fashion as long as it’s for the sake of someone else. If she’d run off just because she felt like it, because she yearned for adventure and the open road, she’d seem flighty and irresponsible. You’re right that a traditional ‘maternal’ role would suggest she cling close to those she wants to protect, maybe go all ‘mama bear’ on her enemies when they show up (again, fine for women to be fierce in defense of children), and she’s not playing that role. It’s interesting that she’s shown expressing regret about not being able to do it, though. She seems sorry to leave, which is not that common in games that cover a lot of ground.

“I totally WANT to stay and be a proper nurturing woman (with badass fighting skills to defend my surrogate family), but, you know…for your own safety…gotta go” (meanwhile to herself she’s thinking “I so can’t wait to get out of this dump”). I don’t know if we would ever have expected Geralt, say, to regret not being able to settle down and be one of the baron’s men, even if he didn’t have the excuse of following Ciri (and completing 50 other quests) to pull him away. He’d move on because whatever, he’s a witcher, he’s got a job that involves traveling. So long, baron.

Butch:

Yup. Really, ‘you are dead’ is it. “Critical Mission Failure?” I mean, that’s nice on the ego, but c’mon. Synchronization failure? The hell? You are dead. Deal. That’s it.

Re: the horse/spirit, when big powerful characters say shit like “It will rise again” you pretty much can say “Ah, ok. I’ll blog about it then.” I guess it’s not SO later that you haven’t reached it either, unless you are now WAAAAAY ahead of me which is always possible.

Re: the baron: this is also a tactic that real abusers use. “Hey, if she hadn’t nagged me, I wouldn’t have HAD to hit her.” That and “it wasn’t me, it was booze.” That summer I worked as an ADA, I must’ve heard women with two black eyes tell me “But he’s so nice when he doesn’t drink!” about a billion times. And you think, “Even if that’s true, he ALWAYS drinks.”

I’m very curious to see what they’re going to do when they next meet. That I am. Not a good idea. I tried to tell him! But if he’s going to go, I want to see where it ends up. Later, though. Need a break from that damn bog.

I think possessiveness, and a lack of perceived equality, is the difference. He’s nice to Ciri, yes, but sees her as an equal, or even someone he owes something to, cuz she saved his life. Indeed, the last dialog option I picked as Ciri to the baron was “We’re even.” You never get the sense he valued Anna and Tamara as equals. He’s someone to whom respect is more important than love (Ooo! New THEME! I just now came up with that.)

By the way, one of these days (but not today cuz we’re doing well here) we have to do a bit on the mechanic of letting the player make some dialog choices for a character that isn’t THEIR character. TW games are the only games that snap to mind where I could make dialog (and, thus, vaguely non linear choices) for more than one character. We’ll dish on that later.

Given how women are in this universe, the latter: Ciri’s trying to avoid Geralt. Also, even though he’s a working guy, Geralt is not exactly hard to find. Check Kaer Morhen. He was an adviser to the fucking king of Temeria, in court and everything. Pretty out there dude.

Anyway, do we know how/why she went AWOL in the first place? I can’t recall.

That condescending love is not a good way to treat anyone, for that matter. Remember us talking on the depressing, icky end to TLOU? That was to a kid, and it STILL didn’t sit well with me. Maybe TW is taking TLOU and raising it: we treat everyone like that, not just our kids. Lovers, colleagues, etc. Ciri is interestingly designed. I’ve heard criticism of her sexualization, but I think it’s more than just Polish dudes liking hotties. She’s an amalgam of young (she has a slight build, not all muscular and buxom), yet she has tight pants and an unbuttoned shirt. She straddles daughter/lover in a way that I don’t think is ooky. Could’ve been ooky, but isn’t. Add to that the fact that she very intentionally looks like Geralt himself, and it’s a whole stew of metaphor.

Ciri does seem sorry to leave. You get the sense she doesn’t want that lot in life, BUUUUT we don’t really know what life she WOULD want. It’s not either/or. We can’t say “Ok, fine, she doesn’t want to be a wandering badass who’s being chased by freaky ice demons,” and add “Therefore she wants to stay at home and make sandwiches.” There’s other options, there, really. And we don’t yet know which of those she’d choose.

Anyway, I’m not buying that she’s just running FROM to protect others. I keep thinking on the “kings fear it” line. Just cuz she’s running FROM the hunt doesn’t mean she isn’t running TOWARDS something else. I think she knows damn well what SHE’S looking for and it ain’t a husband and sandwiches.

It’s part and parcel of how the game treats women: they’re all complex. Sure, the sorceresses are hotties in totally unpractical outfits who have sex…..but they’re also powerful, independent thinkers who keep trying to take over because they think they deserve to rule (and they’re probably right). Sex isn’t a man’s right or reward. It’s a tool they use to use men. All these women have tropey gender roles…..but in a way that subverts them.

I dunno, though. Geralt is spending pretty much the whole game trying to find/preserve connections. Yen, Ciri, Vessimir…. he wants that connection. I SO wish you had seen the elven bath scene, not because it was hot, but because the lead up, him clumsily telling Triss he loved her (and meaning it), wanting to say it and not really knowing how, was so relevant to this. Frankly, I think Geralt wants the house and the yard and the kids and all that far more than any woman we’ve met so far. FAR more. Yen and Triss want power. Anna and Tamara want out. Keira wants freedom. Geralt wants his true love and daughter.

Feminina:

I’m not that far ahead. I just hit level 12, and I’m in Novigrad, but the Novigrad “meet Triss” quest spawned about 10 other quests, because of course it did, so I’ll be here for a while. And then probably back in Velen, because I also picked up some quests on the notice boards.

I don’t know why Ciri ran off in the first place–someone was chasing her, I think? But not at that point the Wild Hunt, which feels more recent. Her initial disappearance is presented as having been quite a while ago. Aren’t there about 10 groups hunting her for different reasons because she’s powerful and important in all kinds of magical ways that are so far outside the scope of this game? I have the sense that she’s got plenty of things to run away from.

And, as you say, given her “kings fear my sword” determination, she probably has things to run towards as well. Everyone has their own agenda here, Geralt’s being perhaps the least complicated.

“I just want to kill monsters for money, collect cool loot, and find Ciri so I can protect her. If any attractive women want to have sex with me along the way, that would also be fine.”

You’re right, Geralt is the closest thing we have to a simple, straightforward character. He may be all gruff and growly, but he has simple desires. He just wants to know that the people he cares about are safe. He doesn’t seem to be interested in political power (he’s obviously a fan of power in the sense of better weapons) or personal glory. It doesn’t appear to particularly bother him when people call him a freak or spit when he passes. He’s comfortable with who and what he is, and by implication with what the world around him is as well, since he’s not actively out to change it by overthrowing one person or instating another. He believes that these things are just distractions, maybe–that no matter who’s in power, people will act the way they act, and nothing he can do is going to change that. All he can really do is take care of himself and the people he loves. And do his job, which is killing monsters for money.

Good old fashioned priorities, there.

Butch:

There are priorities. I mean, even in the last game, in which we dealt with big powerful people, he was on the fringes. I mean, we met three kings (even PLAYED as one for a while) in that one. Geralt was much more in the mix of shit. He was at that conclave at Loc Muinne you’ve heard mentioned, after all.

It’s hard to figure whether he isn’t bothered by stuff, or has become so jaded that he realizes things are just shitty. It certainly is true that he seems to have more sympathy for the monsters he kills for money than for the kings he failed to protect. That must mean something.

That and he DOES rather actively tell people to leave things alone. Esp. in 2. He tries to talk Triss out of the coup, tries to talk Letho out of his plans to kill….well….everyone….doesn’t buy Iorveth’s war tactics against…well…everybody.

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