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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for pretty much all of the Carnal Sins quest

Butch:

Ok, I’m about to talk to Triss. Really I am. I’m downstairs from her. I am.

But yesterday finished up with the mystery.

So we got to the same place right? It was the vampire, right? You didn’t stop and assume it was the sicko priest who likes to burn women, right? Cuz it wasn’t. It was the vampire.

So a couple things:

Again, I sit and kick myself cuz I really, really should have known. Really. But this game exploited yet another thing we’ve been trained to expect from a game (yesterday, we talked on that whole “bad things happening to NPCs” thing, here’s another): Taking shit at face value. Usually, an NPC says something, no matter how silly, and we’re all “Yeah, ok.” Cuz games. Games don’t mince words. So here, we had a situation where I was thinking from the get go “Man, that dude looks young,” and when his explanation was the patently absurd “It’s from the chemicals” I sort of went “Uh….silly….but this IS a game, so ok.” This quest was chock full of CDPR turning game conventions, and our reliance on them, on their heads. Of COURSE it was silly. It wasn’t true.

Also, they very deftly made him a vampire. This game has enough monsters that you aren’t tuned into one type. Games that have five or six major monsters, you think “hey, this reminds me of X” because you probably fought one recently. Here, only after the reveal I was like “Oh RIGHT this game has VAMPIRES, I totally forgot.” And, to make matters worse, when I went into the bestiary? To look up high vampires? The picture they use THAT THEY’VE USED THE WHOLE GAME is of the coroner. For real. The answer was right there, in the bestiary, the whole time.

AND then they gave you the option of falling for the game convention of seeing the really icky guy and thinking “and there’s the boss.” You could’ve just killed that priest. He WAS a bad dude. But if you had, you’d never know the truth. Most games, dude that bad would BE the bad dude. You SHOULD kill him. And, the dialog choices didn’t really indicate he wasn’t. Often, you get choices like “a) Die foul murderer! 2) Hey…..wait…..this doesn’t make sense….” and you, the player, thinks “Wait…..does this make sense?” and you poke and prod and get to the truth. Here, you could say “a) I’m gonna kill you, b) I have to know why, c) what, no formaldahyde this time?” None of those suggest, on their face, that this ISN’T the boss. Usually, that means it IS the boss. Not here.

But then…..then….. Pircilla gets better. Or she can talk. And she’ll probably be fine. And, while I like her, and I generally like happy endings, that didn’t jibe. I mean, we started this whole thing talking about turning conventions on their heads, by making something awful happen to an NPC. And then we end it by saying “Oh, wait, never mind. Wasn’t that bad after all.” And we’re back to nice safe conventions. I sort of wish they had let the bad thing happen, not out of some sort of sadism, but because that would have been more in keeping with the overall quest and the challenges to conventions it did so well.

Feminina:

Yes, I went through to the end and fought the vampire. Bad dude is not necessarily the bad dude you’re looking for. I never did trust the coroner, though, or find his explanation believable, so I was suspicious of him the whole time.

I was kind of dissatisfied with the way that Geralt apparently just strolled off and left the non-vampire bad dude in the room with that woman tied to a chair. I mean, he did say he wouldn’t do it again, and I suppose just because he’s a terrible person doesn’t mean he won’t keep his word, but I could have at least UNTIED her. I had to imagine that I stopped and alerted security on the way out or something, otherwise it was just too weird. Geralt is…just not that concerned about innocent bystanders, I guess.

It was a well-done mystery, though, and an interesting bit of game. More balls! More plays! More mysteries!

I thought it was interesting, too, that the vampire was not really the main villain BECAUSE he was a vampire: he had clearly been going unnoticed as a vampire for years, and then turned into a problem (for me and the city guard, anyway–no doubt the people in the slums, on whom he’s presumably been preying for decades, would argue) because religious fanaticism pushed him over the edge. His vampirism wasn’t the issue, the issue was that he attacked the wrong person–that is, someone with a connection to me (even though that’s not WHY he attacked her)–and it was his take on religion that drove him to that.

Although it was only peripherally about me, and probably the guards would have had to get involved once he killed Lady Vegelbud. Prostitutes and actors are one thing, but letting THAT slide wouldn’t be good for business.

Butch:

What did you say to the eternal fire dude? Cuz I got the notion you could fight at that point. I axiied him and said “You’ll untie her, drop your coin purse, go home and never return here” and he was all “Yes….yes I will….” But then, he was just standing there, she was tied up, or something. I’ll just assume that he did all that after I left. I trust my axii. I did get 40 XP, after all.

I wonder what would have happened if we had been wrong….

Good point about the villain’s vampirism being sort of incidental to his villainy in this case. Which, I think, goes to another overlaying theme: Choices are what makes monsters. We saw that with Junior. Indeed, the most angry and merciless I’ve seen Geralt are with Junior, the Duke dude I killed, this guy, and the corpse gatherer I hit. Now, granted, those were choices I made, but the reaction from Geralt was pretty brutal. None of this “Sorry, but it has to be this way” stuff we get with other choices. I chose to kill that werewolf who killed his wife, and Geralt still apologized. Not with these people that choose evil.

I did it for Dandelion. Friendship.

Feminina:

You could definitely fight the temple guy at that point–Mr. O’ did, and killed him, and never got to the vampire at all. So it’s possible to think you’ve gotten it right, but not to have actually done so…although I don’t think even in Mr. O’s game that the killings continued, at least not that he mentioned, so you never necessarily know you had it wrong.

Which I guess is OK as a plot, although it seems like it might be more interesting if you heard a few days later and that someone else had died. But maybe in that case you’ve scared the vampire enough that he figures “OK, my attempt to frame that other guy was successful, but now I have to stop killing noticeable people…at least until that witcher leaves town.” Maybe he does murder more people later and you never hear about it.

Plus, of course, he’s bound to keep killing SOMEONE just to eat, even if they’re just beggars and such that no one notices, so you did a good thing by getting rid of him.

But I picked the “no formaldehyde this time?” option and then was convinced by his puzzlement that even though he was a horrible person, he wasn’t the right horrible person at that moment. I really wanted him to pick a fight with me on the way out, so I would have had a reason to kill him too, but no such luck. I’ll just have to trust my axii (never mind that it wears off fairly quickly)–and my offscreen-but-totally-real-in-my-head tip to the brothel’s bouncers that they should get up there.

Butch:

Hmm. That is strange. I mean, we’re accustomed to thinking every choice matters, it’s weird to think that completely messing up a mystery wouldn’t……

Feminina:

OK, wiki says

“Ending one: If you say that Nathaniel “almost convinced” you, you’ll have to fight and kill Nathaniel. Afterwards, you can talk to Nettie, who leaves you with some doubts about the case. Later, you may find evidence of further murders, and you can proceed with the second ending, as described below.”

The other two dialogue choices apparently result in what we did. So I guess Mr. O’ must have picked the above, and then either didn’t talk to Nettie, or didn’t find the evidence of further murders (maybe he didn’t go back and wander around Novigrad much?), but at least it’s still an option to eventually solve the mystery.

Well, that’s good. I’m glad it followed up on that.

Butch:

Figures. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t have just left it.

Wonder what she said?

“Dude! What are you doing? We did that every Thursday! He paid a fortune! Great, now I’ll have to go be a washerwoman for a randit.”

Because you always pay for your assumptions in this game, you know.

Feminina:

Yes, I did wonder if maybe this was a consensual thing between this guy and a woman who might feel herself fairly compensated–she was screaming when we got there, but that could have been part of their scene–but you would have thought she could have said something at some point.

“Hey, don’t KILL him, he’s paying for this!”
“What the hell are you doing here, you’re ruining the mood?”

SOMETHING.

Especially since…did you do another bit that this is reminding me of? If not, never mind.

Butch:

Dude, she was gagged, or had something stuffed in her mouth. So ya never know.

As for the other thing that I may have done, the good thing about you being a million miles ahead of me is we no longer have to beat around bushes. I’m assuming you’ve done what I’ve done, so if I haven’t mentioned I’ve done something, I haven’t.

That made more sense in my head, but you get it.

Feminina:

No, I get it. This was just a tiny little encounter, so I thought it might have escaped notice, but if my vague allusions aren’t ringing any bells, you must not have been there.

Good point about the gag. The wiki entry didn’t say exactly what your dialogue with her was, but yeah…it does remain possible that this horrifying scene was actually just consensual kinky sex play, in which case I’d be glad I didn’t kill the priest. Although I still don’t like the eternal fire one bit.

…OK, I looked around a bit, but can’t find any other references to dialogue that you have with Sweet Nettie, so if there’s a twist there, it’s not being discussed online, and you’d think someone would have mentioned it. So I’m going with “he actually is a horrible person and I saved Nettie”–sort of, considering that I just walked out of the room and left her tied up with the guy.

Several people mention that they went ahead and killed him anyway after being convinced he wasn’t the murderer…I guess I just wanted to use axii too badly, and went that route instead.

Butch:

I tried to kill him anyway! I did! But igni and aard didn’t work and every time I hit attack I just did this to go punch but don’t move, all like “made you flinch!” Very mature.

Feminina:

Hm. Maybe once you axiied, you couldn’t attack, but if we’d decided not to axii, we could have killed him instead?

I just can never resist axii. I mean, 40 XP every time! Whereas at my level, killing some guy probably gives me 2. You can’t go wrong with mind control. Except that one time.

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