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Spoilers for Bairdotr’s storyline in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Turned down the difficulty. Don’t judge. I’m not proud. But it just wasn’t gonna happen if I didn’t.

So did that, got into Leandra’s place there, almost didn’t find the blood, which would have been an irony (what? I found a map or something and Roderick was all “We should tell our friends at the end of time about this,” so I ALMOST left, and then said “Well, maybe loot a little more HELLO!”).

And then went back to the end of time. And….stuff.

I’m gonna assume that a) you are not being followed around by a WHOLE LOT of imps at the end of time, b) a big fiery demon that will rearrange your ability points is not something you’ve seen, c) you still haven’t seen an elemental room and d) you still haven’t seen the first two cutscenes I’ve mentioned, and, therefore, haven’t seen the third.

And before you say “You’re insane,” there’s STILL nothing attacking the end of time, so YOU’RE insane!

So I have the paper and the blood. And imps. BOY do I have imps. And I have themes out the wazoo (HOLY HELL do I have themes) that I can’t talk about cuz you managed to magpie into some shit and found zixzax and got the plane attacked. Where the HELL were you when that happened?

And, as a tie back, if I can write this post, and we’re doing things so differently, and I can say “Where the HELL were you when that happened?” it’s an open world game.

Feminina:

Oh, well, OF COURSE you’re ahead on themes and cutscenes if you’re playing on EASY, like a HOBBYIST instead of a VERY SERIOUS GAMER like we are. Ha!

We played. We went back to Sacred Stone and found Jareth! You’re right, he was pretty much right there. We saw the bloody river the first time and kind of thought “gross” but didn’t investigate further. (Because hey, while gross, a bloody river is not the weirdest thing we see in any given day.)

So we got in the fight with Jareth and his gory beasts and Bairdotr (what the hell, Bairdotr?), and lost a few times, and were getting close to actually winning when Grigio woke up in a screaming fit and wouldn’t calm down for an hour, so…yeah. We didn’t finish that. But we saved where we were, almost winning we think (love saving mid-combat!), and will get back to that tonight with any luck.

We’re hoping once we defeat Jareth we can win Bairdotr back to our side, but if not, I guess she made her choice. She seemed kind of charmed there, though, didn’t she? All that “yes…yes Jareth.” She didn’t seem really herself. Although there was also “traveling with the Source Hunters has taught me the virtue of obedience”? It has? Because we’re so law-abiding, what with the picking locks everywhere and stealing everything we can carry the minute no one’s watching?

Is that what happened for you, that Bairdotr turned on you? Because I’m wondering if maybe it was based on our previous decisions, like if we’d somehow encouraged freedom of thought more, she would have challenged him and stayed with us instead. Honestly, I don’t know how we would have done that since I don’t remember any major decision points where we were like “yeah, doing as you’re told is the best!” or anything, but it could have been a bunch of subtle things. (Like how Geralt needed to have encouraged Ciri’s independence at various points in TW3, or she wouldn’t come back.)

We HAVE always tended to do what Arhu suggested, eventually, but he’s not even our boss, so is that ‘obedience’? I dunno, man.

Anyway, what did your Bairdotr do?

Interesting stuff. I hope we don’t have to kill her, that would suck. Although I suppose that would wrap up her story sufficiently that Mr. O’ would agree to travel with Madora instead. Ha.

Butch:

Ok, I set myself up for that.

I’m ahead of you because I don’t magpie so much!

Yup, Sacred Stone. See, I thought “Hey! Weird river! Loot!”

I’m surprised you didn’t.

Bairdotr: Uh…..what?

Well, remember, I did that chat, and I fought, and I died, and I didn’t go back, so I don’t know what happens after the fight either, so you’re on your own on that one. I’m curious to compare notes because:

No. My Bairdotr didn’t do that. She said some very, VERY themey stuff, but she pretty much said the opposite. “Traveling with them has shown me that I can stand on my own and [I’ll just say this as you’re not gonna get this dialog] TELL MY OWN STORY AND FORGE MY OWN REALITY.” I’m kinda cheesed you didn’t get that, as it tied into all sorts of things I wanted to say. So yeah, must be based on earlier stuff. I wonder what. I’ve been very dismissive of religion thus far, or anything spiritual really, as I am playing it as Scarlett refusing to accept there’s anything other than this because I’m clinging to that.

As for what happens after, we’ll have to talk. Later.

Hmm. This is making me think that someday either Jahan will bolt or try to kill me. Better leave him up there with Madora. I’ve pissed the hell out of him, I think.

Feminina:

Oh man, INTERESTING! Now I’m afraid we ARE going to lose Bairdotr. If she could choose not to turn on us, then probably once she’s turned, she’s going to stay that way. Although we’ll still try killing Jareth first and see if we can talk to her.

Whoa. Heavy, man. Suddenly all our decisions are much more important than we realized–even though we don’t know in exactly what WAY they’re important. It’s not one of those moments where we think, “I know Drack will be furious if I save the salerian pathfinder instead of the krogan scouts, but I think it’s the best call so I’ll do it anyway.” It’s much more like the Geralt and Ciri thing, where you don’t even realize that a choice is significant until much later.

Wow. Dude. What have we done to Bairdotr to make her think we value obedience? Something, I guess. No doubt something that is spread out over a lot of time and/or is much too far in the past to go back and undo.

Hm. I wonder what happens if we confront Jareth but Bairdotr’s not even with us? Would he just not be there? Or could we fight him and kill him and then…Bairdotr would turn on us anyway because we killed her cherished mentor when she wasn’t even around?

And when is Wolgraff’s big decision point going to come, and what choice will HE make based on random things we decided weeks ago!?

Hm. Heavy.

Butch:

Dude that would SUCK. I like Bairdotr! Wolgraff likes Bairdotr! (Has he gotten all moony over her yet? He’s moony over her for me.)

The delayed consequence is a great game mechanic. I think it is, anyway. I know some RPG purists would disagree, being all “But I want to be her friend and tell my story” etc., but the fact is that we do things that we don’t know matter all the time. If you’re going to make a dynamic world and let the PC be a part of it, then this is how you have to do it, even if it means losing a character you like. Bioware has always been too eager to make it easy for you to make so and so happy or romance so and so, which is good for interactive storytelling, but not so much for role playing.

Probably a lot of little somethings added up. And if it was so subtle you missed it, then you could reload a million times and not find out.

But…here we go again with the comparing notes. And let’s get some theme out of this:

I had no idea that her turning on me was a possibility. Had I been playing this without you, I would not be wondering what I did to make her do what she did. I would just assume that she was doing it, the way game characters do. There were no hints of that! Even when you talk to her, there’s never an end of the conversation that’s “She shakes her head at you in obvious disgust” or she says “I completely agree! I will so die for you!” Nothing that indicated you made the “right” or “wrong” choice, the way there was in, say, bioware games (DAO even had that plus/minus system!).

So keeping the player in the dark must’ve been intentional. The game didn’t really want you to know that what was happening there was because of you. You were supposed to chug through that scene blissfully unaware that YOU MATTERED TO THE OUTCOME. But you did.

And that’s not what games do, usually. Usually, the PC is the sole arbiter of everything that’s happening, and is aware of everything that’s happening, right down to “Ok, she liked that gift +4, and if I get her to +50 she’ll be into me.” The PC assumes that either a) he’s in control or b) whatever happened was bound to happen anyway. There’s never a wonder of “Wait….did that happen because of me or not?”

And now I’m wondering if anything else happened because of me. Not because of things like the charmed orc. Had we both made the same choice, it was obvious that was a CHOICE WITH CONSEQUENCES. But obviously there were not choices with consequences that presented as such. And that wonder is rare in a game.

I’m pondering how that fits into bigger themes, if at all.

See? Now we’re all wondering and stuff. But again…had we not been playing together, or if we had made the same choices, neither one of us would be asking that question. We wouldn’t know there would be a “Wolgraff decision point” because we wouldn’t have known we just had a “Bairdotr decision point.”

Very heavy. And good game design.

Feminina:

Hm. The internet says it may also make a difference whether the source hunter she’s attached to is more Independent or Obedient on that scale. Maybe WE’RE obedient (or Mr. O’, who runs Bairdotr, is–I’m the one who usually does all the stealing). I’ll have to look at my rating.

I mean, I guess we have pretty much tried to be law-abiding, other than all the lockpicking and stealing. We haven’t picked pockets or murdered anyone. We stopped the guy in the market from stealing a fish (did you get that choice?). Hm.

Oh–and the internet says you can keep Bairdotr if you just attack Jareth without talking to him, which doesn’t seem quite right (“yay, we just found my mentor, oh, we’re killing him, OK, no problem!”) but might be worth a try.

That’s if we want to cheat off the internet, of course.

Hm.

Butch:

I let the guy keep the fish.

I think that whole independent/obedient thing comes from the conversations you have with each other. Sometimes I see those words pop up (or “bold/cautious,” “spiritual/pragmatic” “romantic/…whatever cuz I’m always romantic”) after Scarlett and Roderick chat.

See, you are, once again, undermining everything cuz you’re playing with me. Again, if we were playing without the other, we wouldn’t even think of cheating off the internet as we would just assume this is a plot point.

I can’t recall a game that was so affected by playing it at the same time as you in terms of how we saw it/experienced it. It makes it both interesting and odd to talk about the game, because I don’t think the developers meant it to be experienced like we are experiencing it.

Feminina:

Well, true, they didn’t expect us to be playing it simultaneously and comparing notes, but cheating off the internet is rampant and I’m sure they know that. And we were kind of blindsided by Bairdotr’s decision, so I wouldn’t be surprised if, even if we were both playing it the same way and had similar characters so we got the same result, one of us might not think “I’ll check the internet and see if there was any way to convince her to stay.” If only because it’s super weird to have a companion travel with you loyally for months and then turn on you without warning as part of their unescapable character arc.

Butch:

Fair. That would be a twist worth investigating. Which would lead us to this.

But in terms of moving the plot forward, you don’t have the “spell” yet, do you? Because you don’t have the paper, right? Cuz now I have both, and a marking on a map, and another temple. Is that finally what’s gonna lead me through the desert and stuff?

I still have no idea where you were when the whole zixzax/attack thing went down. I certainly have not been wherever that is.

Feminina:

We were just wandering around in the desert, man! I mean, yeah, it wasn’t specifically ON the beaten path, but it wasn’t something we had to fight past 10 overpowered monsters and pull some weird teleportation tricks to get to. It was just out there, perfectly findable if you happened to be wandering in the desert fighting spiders. Which, I will note, were about the same level as us, so there was no strong indication that we shouldn’t be there.

You should be down with this, Mr. “I’m surprised you didn’t explore every corner of the bloody river.” I mean, yeah, I’m surprised we didn’t explore the bloody river too, because poking into things is what we normally do, and that being so, poking into things in the desert was a perfectly logical course of action.

Considering how not-difficult it was, I’m surprised more people don’t precipitate the attack on the end of time this early!

But no, we don’t have the spell. Although we do have a temple marked on the map. I guess we need to do back to the mines next, to get the piece of paper.

Butch:

Yeah, I get the sense that the spell is kinda key to the temple. I think.

Hey, I TRIED to magpie out that way, and got dead with some frequency. “About” the same level is not anywhere close to “The same level” in this game. I was level 12 when I went out there, now I’m 14. They were 14. Big difference. I don’t know how you’ve managed to beat things that are better than you.

Maybe you’ve been playing on easy all this time……..I’m onto you…..

The river made even less sense because there it was, and it lead to a fight that got you dead without any gating whatsoever! “Hey! Plot point! You’re dead!” WHAT?

Ironically, the trophy for it popped. So I have a trophy for stumbling upon something that killed me, then running. Games, man.

I’m sure I’ll find it soon.

Though I do wonder how all these fucking imps are gonna handle it. Did I mention there are a shit ton of imps, now?

Feminina:

You did mention the imps. We know something about the imps! But they aren’t following us. Yet.

Ha! That is pretty great that you got the trophy. So, in theory, you could get platinum in this game without ever actually going back and defeating Jareth! I mean, if there were any chance of either of us getting platinum anyway.

“Yeah, I saw him. That was enough.”

I’m curious how the imps will handle…something you’re bound to come across at some point, where you’ll learn something about the imps. We’ll talk. Later.

It’s possible we’ve been on easy all along. We’ve never changed it, so maybe we absently set it to easy when we started and never looked at it again. Could have happened.

And yeah, there were 14th level spiders out there, which we left alone, but there were some that were our level as well. We didn’t have to fight off anything absurdly difficult to find the place with Zixzax, is all I’m saying. There were no exceptionally heroic efforts made. We wandered, we fought some things, we ran away from some other things, we poked around, we found a big gatelike thing and there was Zixzax all “the end of time is under attack and you must do something to save it! Incidentally, it’s nothing you can do right now because you can’t use tenebrium, so good luck with that, come back later, bye.”

You know. Standard game plot development. Or so we thought.

Butch:

So you thought. Or I’m insane.

The imps are irksome. They’re doing that “saying dialog over and over at the same time” thing that this game does that is irritating. Which, I suppose, is in character, but it’s still irksome.

You can go into options and make sure if you want to check your settings. If you’re in “classic” mode, then you’re ok. But you likely are. Explorer mode is EASY. Like, you won’t get to half health even against things a level up on you. When I dropped the difficulty last night it was just “Bang bang! Dead. Bang bang! You, too!”

Ah, shit. Tenebrium, huh? Shit. I still am not sure how one learns to use that. I tried to add a level in it, like Bairdotr has, but couldn’t. I’d sure LIKE to use tenebrium…. I went to Brandon expecting him to teach me, and he only gave me a box and told me to go fuck with the troll king’s shit. Which I haven’t done, cuz I can’t figure out the troll cave, or I can, but I don’t want to deal with it yet.

Feminina:

Yes! That’s all Brandon did for us, too. We’re annoyed because we found some tenebrium somewhere else and took it to him, but he ignored it, so apparently it HAS to be specifically stolen from the troll king. Whose cave we haven’t figured out, so we haven’t gone in there either. But just FYI, if at some point you find some tenebrium somewhere else, don’t bother taking it to Brandon. He’s not interested.

But I think you must have to deal with the troll king and get his tenebrium and take it to Brandon before you can learn to use it. I.e., before you can fight certain things in certain places.

Oh man, the imps say things over and over at the same time? Ugh. I’m suddenly glad I haven’t found them yet. Though…potentially interesting in terms of some decision that’s probably going to come up at some point.

We have definitely not been experiencing any combat as “bang bang, you’re dead.” Wolgraff still dies in half our fights, and Jareth, who is either our level or one above (I forget if we’re 15 or 16), killed us three times last night. So either we’re not on explorer/easy, or we’re truly, stupendously bad at combat in this game. Which I suppose is always possible.

Butch:

Nah, man. Last night, like, Wolgraff did one Bang bang with a couple wands, as one does, and Mangoth was down a third of his health. If that ain’t happening, you’re in classic.

The troll king, well…..I know there’s a way in…somewhere else. I just don’t know WHERE somewhere else. I have a vague idea. It’s somewhere in a big place, let’s just say that.

Great. Just great.

I’ll settle for being able to use weapons! I found a MASSIVE bow that would wreck people, but only Bairdotr can use it and she’s not strong enough.

And interesting in that the imps are all bonkers. Like, not “cute little silly imp” bonkers, but creepy bonkers. They see stuff that isn’t there. One keeps asking “I wonder how to vaporize a human…” over and over. One is convinced she’s repeatedly flying to the moon and she’s too fast to see, and one keeps asking her “What’s the moon?”

See where I’m going here?

Feminina:

That definitely ain’t happening. We could have used a little of that happening with ol’ Jareth, but no. He has proved irritatingly resistant to losing a third of his health. And those damn boars with their ‘spit snot’ attack. Hate those things!

But lest we get too far afield, you mentioned you were going to get all themey about how your Bairdotr was glad that the PCs had shown her how to tell her own story, right? Which was going to tie into your insanity theory because…she could now leave your delusional world/story and make up one of her own? Where were you going with that?

Because obviously the thematic resonance is a little different since this is based on PC decisions rather than being something that happens in every game, but it could certainly still hook into your theory.

Maybe there’s even something there about how by demonstrating the values of obedience, the PC can encourage her to accept the word of the doctor (in your reading) and turn to fight on the side of ‘evil’, whereas your more determinedly insane PC, stressing independence, is trapping a fellow patient deeper in hallucination?

Or were you thinking something else there?

Butch:

That’s pretty much it. But I figure we’ll know more when we complete the quest. I think I’m making an assumption that she’ll just stay with me after it’s all over. We’re used to companion quests being, in some way, “loyalty” quests. Do it, and the companion is all “Thank you! I shall die for you and maybe bang you!” But, narratively, it would also make sense for her to say “Thank you for resolving this for me. I will forever be grateful, but my path is elsewhere” and going away anyway. Which I wouldn’t put past this game.

I’ve been suspecting that Bairdotr is also nuts. Or, I should say, a real person in our world who is nuts. Cuz we’ve seen at least one real person from our world (the guy who saw the snowmen, etc) who Roderick explicitly said “he is touched by madness.” We met Bairdotr when she was confined. We chose to bring her into our “story.” She is also the only character we’ve run with who is being targeted/has been targeted by the immaculates to be “cured” or whatever. And here we have her at a crossroads either to accept the “knowledge” and the “normal” and all that (and, thus, turn on crazy Scarlett) or accept Scarlett’s way and “tell her own story and MAKE HER OWN REALITY.” I mean, she SAID that!

And I think it’s telling that Jareth seems to have been an immaculate this whole time. I’ve been going on the idea that this whole “knowledge/truth/normal/destroying your world” is medicine, right? It would hold that a fellow real (in our world) person WOULD have her own relationship with her own doctor before meeting Scarlett, and this crossroads as to whether to listen to said doctor or not is the choice of either “dying” to Scarlett or to “embrace the right to make her own reality.” I have a feeling we’ll know more about this after we actually finish this shit. I have a rather dark feeling you’re going to kill her (thus her leaving Scarlett’s world, and you know how I feel about that). I’m curious what she’ll do when she goes off to write her own story in mine. She might leave anyway! We’ll talk. Later.

Thematic resonance being different…it is and it isn’t. Yes, our decisions affected her choice, but, in the end, it’s still her choice. There isn’t a moment when Jareth is all “Choose!” and she looks at us and we advise her. We influence/inspire her, the way an acquaintance/friend, especially one going through the same thing in life, would. So yes, gamewise it’s based on us, but narratively it isn’t, especially if we were blissfully unaware that our choices mattered at all, which we were until this morning.

Feminina:

Hm. That would be pretty interesting, if you defeat Jareth and then she says “thanks, bye.” Because you’re right, game companions pretty much never do that, and yet it would actually make perfect sense for them to.

“I had a problem, you helped me solve it, I’m going to go live my life now.”

Butch:

Plus it would make even more sense in this game, the idea that there is no “right” way to end the companion quests. You’re going to lose her either way.

Now I don’t want to go back there. Don’t want to break Wolgraff’s fragile heart.

Feminina:

My Wolgraff seems fairly indifferent to her, so at least we’ve got that going for us if we have to kill her. I’m not sure either of them has ever referred to the other.

*Wolgraff shrugs and moves on.*

Although I don’t know, he was pretty moody after we killed that goblin about whom we had the lengthy discussion the other day. Wondering if we were the bad guys or whatever. (Well might he wonder!) We told him “sometimes we have to do bad things! It’s complicated! There’s no pure hero!”

He may find this too much to bear.

Butch:

Really? There was one bit where Bairdotr was waxing poetic (I think it was when we first got to the desert, before we died often) and it went ***Wolgraff, as always, is enraptured by Bairdotr’s every word. He hopes that, someday, he can be as eloquent as she is.***

I don’t think Bairdotr has said anything about him, though. Poor guy.

Y’all’s some cold hearted source hunters.

Feminina:

Yeah, we’re all business. Probably why Bairdotr learned to be obedient from us.

“Stop mooning and do your job, Wolgraff,” we would snap, if he dared express any sentiment. I don’t remember that coming up, though. Maybe it was triggered by someplace we haven’t been yet? Except we have been to the desert, at some length, as discussed earlier today.

Maybe it happened and we were too busy cursing the fact that we were slowed to pay attention.

Again, cold hearts. All business.

Butch:

Dude, he CAN’T express sentiment! This was a thought balloon thing!

I’m still a romantic even after the canary in a coal mine pass. Must be my armor. And Bairdotr’s. Ahem.

By the way, did you try putting Wolgraff in an armor that said “Immune to Muted?” I did. Didn’t work. Worth a try, though.

Feminina:

I was assuming he was expressing it with soulful looks. There’s more to expression than speech, you know. Way to belittle the expressive contributions of every mute person ever!

Yeah, I wouldn’t imagine it would work. We’ve learned a little something about that too. Eventually we’ll follow up on it, and probably wind up having to kill Wolgraff.

OMG, I just realized how weirdly perfect this thing with Bairdotr is for the way the game has been going for us overall. EVERYONE winds up dead around us! Even our companions aren’t safe!

Damn. We’re poison.

Butch:

You’re awful.

By the way, do you mind the times Wolgraff “talks?” I was doing a button puzzle thing, and he said, upon pushing a button “Let’s see what that did” in a voice that sounded like his voice. It was odd.

Feminina:

We’re a harbinger of doom to all who encounter us. Stormcrows, they call us. Ours are the footsteps across your grave that send that sudden shudder down your spine. We are the black cat in your path, the ladder under which you carelessly walk, the broken mirror reflecting your imminent destruction.

FEAR US.

But we totally mean well! And Alfie survived, after all.

I don’t MIND it when he ‘talks,’ but it is a little odd.

Butch:

Shit. I didn’t fear you before but now I do.

But yes, you do mean well. You’re just bad at meaning well.

Feminina:

It’s not our fault! We are the unwitting pawn of some unholy force. Or maybe just the carriers of some very bad luck to which we personally are immune.

I’m sure Typhoid Mary didn’t MEAN to infect all those people.

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