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Spoilers for the murder quest in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Ok! I think it was either just a bad cold or I have a great immune system! I feel fine! And I got some playing in! Made good progress on the murder, but we’ll talk on that later. Here’s what I did:

Read a play (another thing games need more of, really. Didn’t Geralt do that, too?), did all that stuff and now I’m carrying headless Nick around, who is kinda funny (Best line, when Roderick stole something: “Ooo look at you getting all edgy. Wish the girls from the Source academy could see you now, eh?”).

And then before I made progress with the murder, I got confused.

Now, games have a certain language, and a certain way of guiding you. When you’re looking at your quest list, and the number of quests that you can move along where you happen to be is getting short, you usually have a number of quests that you can move along in the same place somewhere else. This is, at present, my situation. My Cyseal list is getting rather short, and I have three quests that explicitly mention beaches. Now, one would think that when the mayor’s staff quest (he’s leaving from the beach), the cat’s quest (I lost it in the sea, must’ve washed up on the beach) and headless Nick (my body’s probably ON THE BEACH) all mention the fucking BEACH the game really wants you to, when you’re ready to leave Cyseal, proceed to the beach.

So, after checking the “tranquil” beach and making sure I didn’t miss any of this stuff there, I said to myself “Well, the O’Ladybrains have said that they have been out fighting…maybe they’ve done all that beach stuff. I shall go out the gate and onto the beach!” And the guard was all “Uh…you sure?” and I said “Yes!” and then the TUTORIAL comes up all “This area is meant for people with a higher level than you….”

And I said “Game? Getting mixed messages here. You give me all these beach quests, and now you’re explicitly saying DON’T go this way.”

So I ignored the game and went anyway.

And didn’t find much of anything. I found an undead merchant and bought a couple things. I found a crying orc who I decided to leave to his grief. I found some traps. I found some big footprints where the game AGAIN was all “I don’t think we can beat that yet!” I did not find a) anything to do with any quest I had or b) any monsters I had any prayer of beating. So I went back to Cyseal to work on the murder.

So where the fuck IS all that stuff? Did I miss it on the tranquil beach? Where does the game want me to go? What am I supposed to do? And, more to the point, where the hell have YOU gone where you’re finding all these fights you can actually win?

But work on the murder I did, and found a stinky thing that has solved it for me and now I’m going to confront the baddie. I have not yet confronted the baddie, but that’s where I am. And, again, we differ because the dog was absolutely vital to me solving this and I have no idea how you did it.

Feminina:

Yay no flu!

And hey, good for you actually making some progress. We have not made any progress, and are getting kind of frustrated. So the answer to “how do you solve it without the dog?” is “hell if I know.”

I think maybe part of the issue is that we were trying to do it while being law-abiding and not stealing anything (other than some plates and hams as practice for Wolgraff) or breaking into any locked rooms, and it seems like maybe we actually HAVE to sneak and steal and break into places we’re not supposed to go, if we want to find information.

So we decided to try being sneaky and stealy, with mixed results. We read the mortician’s book, and learned exactly what he already told us when we talked to him (yay?), and then we got busted trying to check out the Mayor’s living quarters. A bunch of guards came charging in, we decided to ‘flee’ and avoid the combat, then went tentatively back later all “hey guys, no hard feelings right?” and the guards were…all dead. Despite the fact that we ran off before a single blow was exchanged.

So either someone else is roaming through town killing the same guards we pick fights with, or else we broke the game somehow by fleeing that combat. It’s highly implausible that ‘flee’ is SUPPOSED to kill all your enemies (although hey, how handy would that be?), so we thought maybe in town in general, or that fight in particular, they didn’t program anything other than “if PCs are alive after combat, guards must be dead”? Maybe there’s no mechanism for “we made the guards mad but ran off before fighting them, but they’ll probably remember us next time and still be mad” because that would mean we couldn’t do business in town anymore?

Anyway, we were a little perturbed by that, but I think now we can loot the mayor’s office with impunity since everyone seems to be dead (possibly including the mayor, I don’t know, we couldn’t find him), so we’ll try that next, and then go poke around in the inn and stuff, I guess. Work on going through more locked doors and taking more things that don’t belong to us.

We did meet the old elf in the inn. That was…interesting. We couldn’t get behind his desire to murder Victoria, who was just a baby when his own tribe was horribly murdered. I mean, I get why he’s upset, but this one now-peaceable orc wasn’t personally involved and her death will solve nothing. We tried to convince her to give us her amulet so he’d THINK she was dead, but failed to persuade her, so we just left. I guess he’s still going to try to kill her, but at least we warned her, right?

And while we were there we still didn’t recruit the irritable wizard, so our party composition remains the same.

I enjoyed the play and the jokes (did you tell the jokes?), and Nick’s head is pretty funny. He gave me that same line about the girls at the Source Hunter academy.

As for the beach…we haven’t been to the beach. We turn back when the guards say “you have the right number of people in your party, but you’re lacking experience!”

There are…I think three gates out of the city, and at two of them the guards do that “ooh, I wouldn’t if I were you, you really need to pick up a few more levels first” and at one of them they just say “be careful out there,” so that’s the one we’ve used. I believe it’s the one over on the upper left of the map, that leads to lots of undead. Try that one. There are some winnable fights out there (although also some not-that-winnable ones).

So yeah…we accomplished little, possibly because we’ve been too respectful of locks and other peoples’ property. Just like in real life!

Butch:

Yeah, I had to get over that. Finding the things to smell (or have the dog smell) involved a lot of breaking and entering and opening chest and cupboards that were red.

Man, that’s weird with the guards. I haven’t had to flee yet, so I dunno. Weird.

I did hear that a knock on this game was that it was a tad buggy.

Though a tip:

Pretty much everywhere has keys. Not everywhere, everywhere, but most places. For example, the mayor’s key was by the door, and the key to his chest was in the bathroom.

Stealing is really just a matter of timing. People will wander back and forth, like good Kevins, so you just time it for when they’re not there.

OR, and I learned this with the mayor, separate the party. I broke Wolgraff off, then started a conversation with someone I wanted to distract. When the dialog ended, the person was still facing my PC, with her back to Wolgraff, and boom. Grabbed the key no problem. Rinse, repeat. Get them to look at/talk to one character, use the one that’s split off to grab a little here, go through this door here…..

All set.

Ok, I checked for you. All I can tell you is that you’re fine, the quest isn’t broken, you’re still on the right track. Mostly. Keep poking around places. I could tell you more if you ask.

Yeah, that elf was a jerk, and, again, I do not condone violence against librarians.

Couldn’t you ask that the elf be arrested? I dunno, cuz I did persuade her to give me the amulet, which turned out to be rather handy.

I found the joke book, but couldn’t figure out where to tell the jokes! Dammit!

Upper left, huh? By the graveyard? I’ll check it out.

Don’t just try to get through doors you don’t think you should go through. Go up and down stairs to places you don’t think are any of your business.

Just sayin’.

Feminina:

All right, we’ll continue to work on overcoming our natural reluctance to breach the scary red “forbidden” outlines.

That is a bit of an interesting morality theme there, isn’t it? If you literally cannot complete quests in the game while obeying the social rules of the game world? Some sort of “you’ll never get anywhere playing by the rules” message. Or, rather, we are in fact playing by the rules of the larger game (which allow–and even require–us to steal), but not by the rules of that town, so the message is that there’s some HIGHER law which we obey (because we have to, since it is literally encoded into the universe), while the puny laws of man do not apply.

Hm. Anyway, yeah, we’ll follow up on that. And you follow up on the gate by the graveyard and see about killing some undead outside the city!

Speaking of the laws of the universe, this could get very interesting…you’re getting ahead of me/us! Maybe the rules are different when I’m playing with Mr. O’. We both play faster than you individually, but together we cancel out? Anything could happen here.

We told the jokes on the same stage where we did the play: just tell the guy that you want to do a one-person act. We probably didn’t have to do them both–well, obviously we didn’t have to since you didn’t and you still got the head–but we didn’t want to miss anything. I think the stagemaster or whatever he was called gave us some coins for it. And we’re still definitely in the “we don’t have enough money to buy anything cool” stage, plus we’re always running out of resurrection scrolls, so every coin helps.

Butch:

That is good themeage!

The puny laws of man are rather puny. But our characters also obey a “middle ground” law, and that’s of Source Hunters. We’ve shown up to investigate this shit right here, and we’re gonna do it. We don’t particularly care what the legion thinks or does. We answer to..well, whoever source hunters answer to (whoever that is). Shit, the captain of the legion is a suspect!

But I do like that. It starts to answer something I’ve been pondering all this time: why is the game called what it’s called? Divinity and Original Sin both have rather weighty meanings behind them. While it’s true that we’ve gotten some heavy stuff with the whole time thing, the idea of sin, and original, unavoidable sin at that, is something that hasn’t been explicitly touched upon yet.

Unless we start looking at things like here, where you HAVE to be a “sinner” in order to play the game in the first place.

Hmm.

I knew we’d get to some theme sooner or later.

I don’t really think I’m “ahead” of you, per se. I’m only one click ahead of you on the murder (if you find, like, one thing you’re with me, and it’s there for the finding), my “source hunter’s journey” hasn’t updated in forever, and I’m still on level 3 (though Bairdotr leveled up to four yesterday and no one else did. Weird). Yeah, ok, I have a quest cuz I talked to a cat, but you probably have a couple that I don’t have because you’ve been out of the city.

I think that “source hunter’s journey” is the key thing, here. I think this murder thing is a “you’ve gotten out of the hinterlands!” moment. Much like the hinterlands, this quest, though long, does seem to be a “get your bearings for everything else” deal. Get used to some fighting, some talking, some sneaking. Learn the rules of the game world. Start thinking like you have to think out there. Cuz in the hinterlands in DAI, there was a lot of that. There were a BUNCH of quests there, all designed to let you practice stuff you’d need when the game really got going. This murder sure feels like a quest where, when finished, it’ll be all “Yay! You go, you! Now here’s a sword and some XP and now go play the game for realsies.”

Ah, man! I just did the two person routine on the stage. And I didn’t get the head that way! Just a bunch of coins. I got the head by paying the dude in the crowd to go cheer for the other guy. Then everyone left the guy with the head and voila.

I haven’t bought anything cool, though I do find that a magnifying glass and a point in loremaster makes a HUGE difference. Being able to identify all the shit you just come across is really key.

Of course, I haven’t been outside the city and I may find in my first fight that all my identified gear is really shitty, but hey. I identified it!

Feminina:

We’ve been paying people to identify things for us, but we just got a magnifying glass, so I can do that myself in future.

Ah, see, we got the head by paying the guy to go cheer for one of us who was telling jokes, while the other one was lurking around to grab the head. We did initially hope that just the jokes or the play would draw the crowd away based on our awesomeness, but no, we had to hire a cheering section. Ah well.

Yeah! Good point about the heavily themey title! I was idly thinking about that the other day, but didn’t connect it to my thoughts on “hey, maybe we can’t actually do this unless we do some things we’re not supposed to.”

And, as you say, there’s game law, and town law, and in between there’s Source Hunter law, whatever that may be. We haven’t explicitly been told that it approves breaking and entering, but neither of the characters has expressed any objections to the other about any of the things we’ve done so far in that area (despite the fact that both of us are very strongly on the ‘righteous’ side of that meter), so it seems we must find it perfectly acceptable. Source Hunters care not for the laws of the town! We have our orders!

Butch:

By absolute dumb luck, the very first thing I paid to identify was a ring that gave me a rank in loremaster. Then I was all “And I’ll buy that magnifying glass and bye now!”

Wonderful investment.

Ah, man! But we were so good in the play!

A nice touch when I did it was that, somehow, I flipped the genders in the play, and the dialog said “The crowd wasn’t quite used to your spin on the play, but they ended up loving it!

I didn’t think about the theme/title either until you said it! We make a good team.

But yeah. Usually games have titles that are just vague and sound good (Uncharted, Fallout), describe the main character (The Witcher, Tomb Raider), or mention something in the game (Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mass Effect, Dragon Age). When games don’t do that, they often put some meaning in the title (Gone Home, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture). So you see something like “Divinity: Original Sin,” someone’s trying to say something. Whether it works? Well, that for us to decide. But someone’s trying to say something.

We do have our orders. And we aren’t the types that go in to where there is no law in order to impose some. The legion is fucking everywhere in Cyseal. We’re here being all “Uh, yeah, nice legion you got here….now fuck off.”

It sort of reads like the templars in DA. They’d stroll into places that had guards and stuff, and then be all “Yeah, nice, where the apostates at?” Which is really what we’re doing. We care about Source, and had this murder not involved source, we wouldn’t care a bit.

And it’s true: No one seems to care about the stealing. I’ve spent time with Bairdotr, Wolgraff and Madora, and none care. Even Madora. Though it was interesting when, the first time I stole something, Wolgraff passed me a note expressing some surprise, like “So, you steal?” But he approved, obviously. As did Nick the Head.

Feminina:

Yeah, true. We answer to a sort of scary higher law, and others respect that and kind of applaud us for it (“thank the seven you’re here, Source Hunters!”), although, interestingly, they don’t respect it to the extent that we can just say “hey, I’m going to take this key and open this locked door and root through your stuff” and everyone will just say “oh, OK, whatever you want!”

So I guess we answer to a scary higher law but are expected to pay lip service to the puny laws of man? And the puny lawkeepers of man aren’t aware that it’s just lip service? People believe we’re required to respect their rights to private property, but in fact (according to our own rules) we aren’t. Unless they catch us, that is.

Again, very interesting implications in terms of who answers to whom/what. I wonder if we’ll eventually meet our ‘boss’ and what that will be like?

Butch:

Well, if anything, people seem honored we’re around. “I never thought I’d see source hunters here!” Everyone, that is, except the legion. Aureus doesn’t like us. Or anyone, really.

Feminina:

Yeah, people think we’re cool and helpful. Fending off evil. Yay us!

As you say, our role could be much as same as that of the Templars in DA, who aren’t necessarily beloved by mages, but are probably seen as valuable forces for the protection of order by the average person who doesn’t want to be accidentally (or on purpose) set on fire by some demon-possessed magic-user.

Sure, in theory we should be obeying the law, but hey, if a few houses get broken into and someone’s smelly panties go missing or something, it’s all in the name of a greater good, right?

Butch:

Or smelly boots. Or a smelly coat.

C’mon people! I’ve seen washtubs and washboards! Work on that!

Of course, that would make the mystery harder….

Thought really, I kicked myself because it’s not really that hard. Everything is pretty much there for the finding. You just have to be naughty.

Feminina:

All right, naughty it is.

Source Hunters answer to the quest alone! We have no other master!

Butch:

We have no master! We do not!

Or pride!

I mean, why did we sign up for this? Being sent to fishing towns to root around in cellars, carry around heads and collect things that smell.

Actually, why DID we sign up for this? Has that been mentioned?

Feminina:

I don’t think we know why we signed up to be Source Hunters, no. The glamor?

I guess it’s probably more exciting than whatever other career was available to us. I mean, it’s this or fish, paint pictures of roosters, sell something in the marketplace…rooting around in peoples’ smelly garments may not be a high point, but at least we can travel. See the world, collect some loot.

We don’t know, though, we might be more like Gray Wardens than Templars: not so much recruited as drafted. I could totally see Duncan coming through, “hey you, get over here, the Source Hunters need you!” (Also, we never discussed the term ‘sourcery.’ Clever or too cute? I found it amusing enough that I was willing to allow it.)

Butch:

Oh come on! Everyone loves the cheese vendor!

Hmm. Good point about the Grey Wardens. I hope that gets resolved. Everyone loves a good backstory!

As for sourcery, clever, but been done:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourcery

Feminina:

Ah, Terry Pratchett! Of course. Well, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best, as they say.

Everyone loves the cheese vendor, but do they understand the cheese vendor’s yearning for adventure? For new horizons, and undead people to meet and battle? Yes, I could have had a rich, satisfying life as a cheese vendor, beloved by all, but there would always have been something missing.

Something dead, and even smellier than my weirdest cheeses.

Butch:

I dunno, man. He’s gotta be the most popular guy in the market.

As for battling, I’m curious as to how I’ll feel differently about combat here. I haven’t actually fought orcs yet, and the only undead I’ve fought were down in the well there. Now, I know people don’t really like either, but I’ve met three orcs who were pretty ok (Victoria, the one I killed cuz love potion, sorry about that, and the dude on the beach last night who really just wanted to bury his dead and be left alone). Even the merchant I met last night was undead, and was pretty zen about it (“Oh I’ve been like this…what…years?”) and really just wanted to make a coin. I really haven’t had an OMGFIGHTBADGUYS! experience with these dudes as of yet.

And I do find it very suspect that the one time I did fight orcs was early on there, before even getting to Cyseal, and I was a) late to the party and didn’t start it and b) they had some human mage there who might have been pulling the strings.

I’m not eager to pick a fight with these guys.

Feminina:

We have also not yet fought orcs aside from that introductory battle. We’ve gone outside and just fought a bunch of undead. They were definitely bad guys in that you’re walking along and suddenly you see the word “FIGHT!” pop up, so I think in this case we don’t really have to ponder whether we’re jumping the gun or assuming hostility without evidence or whatever. The universe made us fight, so we’re fighting!

We’ve also talked to some undead who seemed OK, so, as you say, there’s not a uniform rule there. Wandering near some undead will prompt immediate combat, and some others are just hanging out. I’m not sure what the reasoning is there. Did you dig up all the dirt piles in the graveyard? Because yeah: some just chat, some immediately try to kill you, and there’s no predicting it.

Perhaps some logic will be revealed as we proceed, or perhaps (likely) it’s just a matter of sometimes a game needs a chat and sometimes a game needs a fight.

Butch:

Sometimes games do need a fight.

I did not dig up piles. Murphy has been so helpful!

Murphy’s the dog.

I’m not gonna kill Murphy.

Feminina:

Can’t you shoo him away somewhere so the undead don’t get him when they rise?

Or, you know, you could dig up the piles the are outside the wall…if he stays inside the wall, he should be OK.

There’s some combat XP in those piles! Plus a bit of loot. I mean, nothing you can’t live without, but loot is loot.

Butch:

No. He won’t leave the grave. Because even though it’s not his master, he seems to like the smell of rotten lamb chops, which he says over and over.

He’s done right by me, has ol’ Murphy.

On that, this game is rather vegetarian, gotta say. There’s meat, right? Lots of meat. And yet, you can talk to every animal. It’s like we’ve mentioned on things like Curious George going to a sausage cart. A little off.

Though there was that one time I was able to ask the cow nicely for milk. So it’s all relative.

Feminina:

I did notice that–if all these animals could be talking to me, how am I supposed to feel OK about eating them! Maybe that’s why I choose not to get Pet Pal. Because I do eat meat, if I have some and it’s the middle of a fight and I really need some hit points. I’m not that dedicated to my principles.

Maybe you can go back and dig up the graves later, when you’re many level higher and can easily defeat whatever emerges before it slaughters poor Murphy with a single blow.

Butch:

That’s why I remain deeply concerned about that chicken I ate when it was obviously trying to tell me something…before I had Pet Pal….

It’ll all be worth it when I meet the were-sheep.

Seriously.

Feminina:

And see, I let that chicken go, even though I didn’t know what it was saying, because I knew chickens COULD talk and I just thought “I’m not getting involved in this.” Then the cook was peeved, but perhaps someday I’ll run into that chicken once I can talk to it and it will share some valuable information.

Or maybe I’ll never see it again, but the entire legion will become disgruntled because they didn’t have chicken for dinner. It’s hard to say.

Butch:

Yeah, I knew something was up. But see, I was staying in character. Character. Role playing. Playing a role.

Hopefully, you’ll meet it and it’ll turn out it was a serial killer that was turned into a chicken or something and I was totally right.

Feminina:

I was playing a role! The role of someone who knows animals can talk and doesn’t want to get involved in their demise.

I mean, unless their demise is a result of my digging up some random grave. I own my part in that.

Butch:

So very ironic that the one animal you kill is the one who could’ve helped you.

Feminina:

I feel an Alanis Morissette song coming on.

Also, there are undead animals out there. They’re pretty nasty. I’ve killed a few of them.

Butch:

You just had to get that song in my head.

Maybe Murphy will come back and mess you up.

Feminina:

You started it!

And the undead boars will handle messing us up, no worries.

Butch:

You know, maybe that’s the way to deal with the guilt of eating sentient animals. They’ll be back! And all they’ll need is bones.

Feminina:

They’ll be back, but they’ll be in a very, very bad mood.

Butch:

Well, this got weird, didn’t it?

We started so well.

You know, if we ever do make T SHIRTs, the first one we make, and the most appropriate, should be “We started so well.”

 

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