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Some spoilers for the beginning of the Carnal Sins quest

Butch:

Ok, we’re back on the beam cuz I played last night.

But I didn’t talk to Triss.

Why? Well, I started by doing two question marks (Wyvern nests, level 21, killed ’em both without dying or turning down the hardness. Woot), then thought “Well, this caberet quest is almost over, I’ll go talk to Dandelion, watch a play, I’m sure it will be light and funny, then off to Triss.”

So yeah.

I should have known better, I should have known.

So I got caught up in all that. I’m up to where I have to charge off to the Vegelbud estate, so I’m not done, and I don’t know who the bad guy is, don’t tell me.

So a couple of thoughts:

This game certainly has no problem doing awful things to established characters. I was downright shocked at what they did to Pircillia. Shocked. Just as I was with the Baron. Which got me to thinking, why is that so rare? I mean, games are chock full of violence and awful things, and yet NPCs (or at least friendly NPCs) are so often insulated from those awful things. Bioware? They just get up when they “die.” Even in Mass Effect, where people did die, it was because of your choices. You picked the wrong team at the end of 2, or told Mordin to go up the tower in 3. Stuff didn’t happen just because shit happens. Shepard was never there, dumbstruck, because something just came out of left field and did something horrific to one of his pals. Ditto Hawke, Evelyn, the warden. Even in TR, you knew, I mean you KNEW that Sam was going to be ok. There was one little moment there where I was thinking “Wow, they’re really going to kill her? Really? That never happens in a game…oh, ok, she’s ok.” And she was ok. Because, in games, people are always ok unless their death has some sort of gravitas.

Which, now that I’m playing this game, makes me think all those other games are being rather cowardly in their storytelling. And it took the Baron and Pircilla to make me notice that.

Second: We need more real mystery in games. Not in the Sherlock Holmes sense, but in the real “Figure this shit out” sense, with consequences of being wrong. This particular quest is interesting and, dare I say, fun because of the tension. It’s TENSE man, but in a good way. Games should have more confidence that their players like TENSE.

Feminina:

Yeah, you should have known better.

But also yeah, that was kind of a heavier plot than I think most people would have been expecting right then. I mean, we should know by now that if you think something will be a quick jaunt, it will turn into a lengthy wander, but when it turned into THAT lengthy wander…I agree that it was shocking to see that happen to Priscilla. Both because she’s an established character and because it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Geralt, if that makes sense.

It’s like, people I don’t know get attacked by random monsters/bad people, and then I get called in: if people I already know get attacked, it’s for specific, targeted, plot-related reasons. When people I know are attacked, I kind of expect it to be about me or at any rate part of my overall plot/story. But this seems like a basic monster/bad person attack, not directed at me, even though I know Priscilla and wrote a play with her and everything. So it feels both plausible (in this actual world, with people getting attacked so often, odds are sometimes I would know them), and kind of extra personal even though it’s not in fact personal. I dunno, but I was genuinely concerned about Priscilla, and upset that this happened to her.

It’s also a decent story as it develops over the course of your investigation, which was an interesting bit of game about which I’ll say no more at present.

Butch:

Makes perfect sense, the ‘not being related to Geralt’ bit. NPCs have this habit of being totally dependent on the PC, from Varric to Garrus to Sam (both Sams in TR and TLOU, for that matter).

It’s a pretty damn lengthy wander. Lots of talking. I’m a good hour into this particular wander.

It’s a SIDE QUEST.

I, too, am upset about Priscilla.

But that distinction between people you don’t know being hit by randomness but not people you know is par for the course in games. That’s why it’s so shocking here. But really, it should be more common.

I think the concern is also amplified by the fact that this is the one side quest I can think of that you can’t refuse. Most side quests, even the Now or Never one, have a dialog option to say “no thanks.” This one didn’t. You hear she’s attacked, Dandelion says “Help,” and you say “ok,” no choice. You’re in. You’re upset. That was striking, because I have noticed that quests that really shouldn’t be declinable (like all the Triss ones) are. I’ve actually been annoyed by that. “Why would Geralt say no here? There’s no earthly way he would, why give him the choice?” So to have this be the one time you couldn’t refuse stood out.

Feminina:

That’s a good point, that you couldn’t turn down this quest. A nod to how important Dandelion is to Geralt? He could conceivably have refused anyone else who ever asked him for something side-questy, but he can’t refuse Dandelion in his hour of need? (Although he could have just never gone back to the cabaret to talk to him about it, I guess.)

Their bond of friendship is just that powerful, that it literally could not cross Geralt’s mind to say ‘no,’ or ‘maybe later’ or any of the things he has the option to say in order to put off people who ask him for help.

This being so, we wonder if some of that is Dandelion as the narrator: it doesn’t cross HIS mind, telling this story later, that Geralt could have refused him, whereas he always leaves open the option for other people.

This is a tangent and I don’t want to diminish the intensity of the Priscilla story, but speaking of Dandelion, I’ve also been meaning to talk about the dramatic difference between his voice in-game and his ‘narrator’ voiceovers on the load screens. It’s SO different. I assume that the narrator voiceover is how Dandelion hears his voice in his own head, all deep and formal and self-consciously MOMENTOUS, which is not at all how he actually talks, or how I can even really imagine that character sounding. It’s another interesting reminder of Dandelion’s role as the narrator, and a hint that he’s perhaps more into drama than realism.

Interestingly, though, one could argue that this evidence of him as a ‘unreliable narrator’ actually suggests an essential truthfulness for the narrative of the game itself: if Dandelion wants to present himself as the deep-voiced narrator in the load screens, but we’re still hearing him as this much different character in the game, then perhaps his attempts to embellish or polish the truth are confined to load screens and codex entries. He may be an unreliable narrator, but we can trust our own eyes/experiences.

Or is he a clever enough narrator to let us see him as rather silly and with a normal voice, the better to make us believe that the things he tells us about other people are equally true?

Dandelion was not presented as the narrator of the short stories in the book I read (or if he was, it was too subtle for me to remember it now), so it would be plausible that he’s not necessarily in control of the story in the game either. Maybe it’s true that all he writes is the codex.

Butch:

But you could say no to Triss? Bizarre disconnect, especially as Dandelion wasn’t as big a character in 2.

Yeah, maybe it’s a nod to the fact Dandelion is “telling the story.” No way he’d make it seem like Geralt would blow him off in his own story. Trick ending set up, maybe?

I HAVE noticed the difference in Dandelion’s voice/voiceover. I also think there’s a possibility that the narrator Dandelion is “present day” Dandelion, or a Dandelion who is old. We see him in his younger days, whereas “now” he has the deeper, gravely voice of an old man.

It is hard to believe that CDPR, who seems very detail oriented, would just do this cuz they couldn’t pay the voice actor or something. There’s gotta be some reason.

Heh, funny you find your own eyes more believable, cuz there I note that I seem to trust the “narrator” voice more. Here’s how he sounds when he’s TELLING the story, as opposed to how he sounds IN the story. If what we’re playing IS the story, then who we see is fictional.

I also lean that way because the narrations are all past tense. “Sent her on her way….” etc. “Here’s how it HAPPENED,” as opposed to seeing it happening.

We shall see. I very much expect the last scene, or the post credits, to have an old man spinning his yarn in a bar.

Feminina:

Interesting that you trust the “narrator” Dandelion voice more than the in-game Dandelion and/or the in-game representation of the facts.

I dunno, I find the narrator voice a bit too over-the-top, and sort of DON’T trust it as a totally reliable source…it just seems like the type of voice that would exaggerate things for dramatic effect. Sort of like sure, the basics of the story it tells are probably true in that some things it talks about happened, but the details about HOW things happened may or may not be recognizable to people who were actually there at the time.

It comes across as a movie trailer voiceover, you know?

“In a world devastated by [monsters], our only solace is [Geralt of Rivia].” (Thank you, Cards Against Humanity.)

I also don’t hear it as an ‘old man’ voice…gravelly, yes, sure, but don’t voices tend to get less deep with age, rather than deeper? Perhaps this isn’t true for bards, who work hard on their delivery. We are, I suppose, seeing Dandelion in his feckless youth, and he probably gains in gravitas as he matures.

I do definitely agree that it feels deliberate, and not as if they simply couldn’t be bothered to pay the same voice actor. I mean, if they wanted to be consistent they could at least have paid an actor with a SIMILAR voice. This isn’t even close, and you have to figure that was intentional. For what reason is hard to say yet, but perhaps we’ll have some theories by the end, when we’re listening to some old guy in a bar.

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