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Spoilers for Bairdotr’s story in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

I got nothing. Mrs. McP has had early meetings every day this week. Up at 445 every day. Again today. It caught up to me last night. I love this game, I do, but I was half asleep and having to think about where I was supposed to go and planning fights and processing bloggage just made me go…..no.

It happens.

Hopefully it gave you a chance to get the spell.

So very tired.

And, on top of it all, the kids are home tomorrow! Ain’t that just the specialest thing?

Feminina:

The very specialest! O’Jr. has a half day, and then the grandparents are picking him up for the afternoon, but Grigio will be home all day. Therefore, so will I.

Gave us a chance to get the spell…hahahahahaha. No. We were in Hunter’s Edge, so we thought “hey, let’s check in this hatch that’s full of exploding fire! Oh, and let’s go visit the prison and get in a big fight with the guards!”

Turns out we CAN do separate combats on the split screen, but it’s not really a very good idea. So yeah, we played, but we accomplished little of note.

Although we could talk about what we did the night before, which was finish up the fight with Jareth. We didn’t discuss that at all yesterday.

I was willing to accept the way the dice rolled, as it were, and lose Bairdotr figuring she’d made her choice, but Mr. O’ said no, we’ve spent too much time with her developing her skills, and she has all of our good arrows.

So we restarted the fight and instead of having that conversation, left Bairdotr outside and just attacked Jareth. Unprovoked, other than the fact that he was standing there with a heap of bleeding corpses. So, circumstantially provoked, although he COULD theoretically have just been a horrified passerby, or even a grieving relative looking for a lost loved one, or something.

Anyway, Bairdotr came in, helped us defeat him, and had absolutely nothing to say about it afterwards, so it looks like we’ve basically lost the chance to ever get a conclusion to her story (she’s just saying the same “I’m on the trail, Source Hunter!” stuff she always does). On the other hand, we didn’t have to kill her. Sooo…a mixed bag, I suppose. I like closure, but then, I also like not killing my companions.

And I feel a little bad about it because we robbed her of the opportunity to make that choice, but then, it was totally the wrong choice! But then also, how patronizing and controlling of us to assume that we know the absolute correct choice and have the right to make it for someone if she doesn’t make it for herself.

Doesn’t a functioning, adult person have the right to make their own choice, even if it’s a bad one? (And Bairdotr is at least physically adult, although one could argue her lack of experience in the human world makes her comparable in some ways to a child…for whom we might have the right to make decisions.)

And it absolutely is the wrong choice, in the game-world (setting aside your insanity theory, which could have her breaking free from delusion). Jareth’s comments made it clear that he didn’t actually care about Bairdotr, he just saw her as a sort of amusing pet. He also seemed to suggest that he was intrigued by her immunity to rot and might be going to experiment on her, making her not even a pet but a lab animal. It’s objectively a bad choice, to go with that guy! It’s not just that he’s OUR enemy: he’s not really her friend, either, no matter how she thought of him.

And then, too, since apparently we inspired the commitment to ‘obedience’ that caused her to make that choice, maybe it’s actually our responsibility to interfere before she suffers the consequences. It was our fault she was going to go with him, so arguably we’re justified in making sure she doesn’t get the chance…to make the bad decision we somehow convinced her to make…

Ethically, the whole thing is a bit of a mess. But we didn’t have to kill her, and we still have access to all the good arrows, so I guess I can’t feel too much regret.

I feel a little guilt for having cheated off the internet, but I think Mr. O’ was perturbed enough that if we’d innocently fought it through and had to kill her, he would likely have come up with “let’s reload, leave her somewhere, and go try killing him before they get a chance to talk” anyway.

Butch:

Oh you’re kidding? Mr O? He of the “D&D is pure and sacred and no do overs and I killed three of you but fuck you cuz story?” THAT Mr O?

Jeez. Mr O, I barely recognize you anymore.

Dude. You guys are metagaming in an almost [name I won’t say but you know who I mean]esque way.

We talked about how COOL it was that unknown actions have consequences and you just completely took that out of the game!

Now I’m all riled up.

Look….all that’s true about how he would have wanted to reload even if you hadn’t checked the internet. But I’m still riled and here’s why.

The game itself was designed to take that “choice” out of your hands. By just deciding “Well, I’m gonna take control here to get what I want,” you fundamentally changed the intent of the game BOTH in terms of narrative and emotional impact on the player. The game wanted you to feel what you felt the first time: horror, maybe guilt that your choices led to this. You surgically removed that from the game itself, and, in so doing, altered it as a piece of art.

I mean, if you took out and rewrote five chapters of Moby Dick, it would no longer BE Moby Dick. If Mr. O went to an art museum and said “Well, that painting is nice except for the upper left part, let me just take out my paint and fix that….” that would change the intent of the artist. You might not LIKE what the artist did, but that’s art for you.

Cuz this wasn’t cheating on the internet. Cheating on the internet is being stumped on a puzzle and checking for the solution so you can move on. This is saying “I don’t like the end to the story that the writers wrote, so fuck it cuz I’m perturbed and she has my arrows.”

And before people get all “But games are interactive so I should be able to do what I want how I want,” no. SOME games are like that. Minecraft is like that. Skyrim is like that. But this game isn’t like that.

And yes, you could game the game and get the result you want, but just because the Louvre might say “Well, I GUESS you can touch up the Mona Lisa,” that doesn’t mean you should. If you don’t like her smile, leave it be, and bitch about it on a blog.

Naughty, naughty Mr. O!

Ok, I’m done being riled.

Naughty Mr. O.

Feminina:

I’m kind of hurt on Skyrim’s behalf that you apparently feel it’s totally fine to rerun scenarios forever until you get the result you want in THAT game, but not THIS one. People worked hard on Skyrim, you know! And at least it occasionally gave you quest markers to give you hints about where the heck you should go next for what.

Also, I do get what you’re saying, but I think there’s a level of flexibility that comes from the fundamental difference between almost any video game and D&D, which is that in a video game you expect to fail and re-do things. You expect to lose fights and die horribly and then keep trying until you win them.

Again, I don’t really disagree with you about there being some things you’re ‘supposed’ to reload until you get what you want and some things you aren’t, but inherent in the fact that you don’t have to accept death, is the argument that it’s reasonable to refuse to accept other unfavorable outcomes as well, if the game provides a way to avoid them.

And sure, “why are you playing the game at all if you’re not going to follow the rules” is a very fair point, but the ‘rules’ themselves are so flexible that it’s hard to draw a very clear line. It’s much more a “we know it when we see it” sort of thing, which will necessarily appear in different places to different people. Mr. O’ runs Bairdotr, so I figured it was his call. We’ll see what I decide if this comes up with Wolgraff.

It’s also interesting to look at this in terms of the game’s major “sin” theme–we’ve talked a bit about how something might be a sin only if you know it is (we didn’t know we COULD talk to the zombie troll, so we just killed it: was that as wrong, since we acted in ignorance, as it would have been if we’d known we could talk to it but chosen not to?). In this case, we’re really only talking about this being ‘wrong’ because we knew what we were doing.

If we had, say, been traveling with Madora instead of Bairdotr and wandered into the cave, thought “this Jareth is obviously a bad dude, let’s spare Bairdotr the trouble of learning he wasn’t the loving mentor she imagined” and killed him, without knowing that she would have a choice to make if she were there, and then we later found out–we certainly wouldn’t blame ourselves for cheating to get the outcome we wanted. Even though it was essentially the one we did get.

The ‘sin’ here is in knowing what you’re doing, not in the actual deed. And it’s probably a stretch to read this into it, but we could even wonder if that might not be something the designers intended, as a larger point on sin. I mean, they COULD have just made Jareth not show up unless Bairdotr was there, or show up but merely murmer about how he wondered what had happened to her and not be able to be attacked unless she was there. If they’d wanted this to be something big and inescapable, they could have. I kind of wonder how much they really expect people to do ‘alone’ and how much they’re assuming people will be looking things up, and whether they’re intentionally allowing things to be ‘cheatable’ to let you think about that. We’ve talked a fair bit about how our characters are only dubiously ‘good’–maybe the game is intentionally also allowing for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices for the player AS A PLAYER. (And it turns out, we’re no better than the characters in this sense.)

Again, that’s probably a stretch since that’s a lot to have in mind when you sit there making your game. In reality, they probably just didn’t care that much about this particular story, so they let it do whatever. But reading into things is what we do, so there it is.

Anyway, you can have this argument with Mr. O’ when you bring a gallon of booze to our house someday! It’s going to be great.

Butch:

I think I’ll decline that argument with Mr. O. I’ll stick to the booze.

Good stuff on sin. We’re doing well today!

As for Bairdotr/character death…I agree about games letting you reload when YOUR CHARACTER (more on this in a minute) dies. It would be either impossible or very frustrating to make a new character each time. And I get that personal connection to YOUR CHARACTER.

What’s weird is that I don’t think of Bairdotr, Wolgraff, Madora and Jahan as MY characters. Sure, I like them, and I control them, but I don’t feel they’re “mine” any more than Garrus or Drack or Nick Valentine or or or. While the loss of those characters would be said (remember poor Mordin?) it wouldn’t be the same hit as losing MY character.

So the fact you said “Mr. O runs Bairdotr so its his call” imparts some degree of ownership in the sense of attachment to a character, in the same way we get attached to Evelyn or Jessica or Ryder (man, I DO play a lot of women). That line you guys have, that “I’ll play her, you play him” dynamic, I think, makes them feel more “yours” and, thus, more attached to them in terms of wanting them to live than you would be in a bioware or bethesda game, where we were sad about Mordin, but didn’t reload and do all sorts of shit in order to make SURE he lived. Shit, you left Leliana dead for your first playthrough of DAO!

As I am playing this alone, much like one plays a bioware game, I have the same relation to the characters as I have in those games. So I think, once again, this is a co-op vs. solo dynamic, which is pretty cool.

Oh, and screw Skyrim.

Feminina:

Ha! Poor Skyrim. Never any love from Butch.

Let’s all stick to the booze. But yeah, I think there’s probably something to that theory. We really do each have “our” companion that we always run and that we’ve carefully equipped and built up over the levels. We kind of randomly got the ones we have because he was the one who started the conversation with Bairdotr and so when we took her on she ‘attached’ to his character, and then I started talking to Wolgraff and he joined on my side of the screen (in co-op, even when you’re not in split screen, one PC and companion icon are displayed on the right, and the other on the left). And we’ve pretty much considered those to be our second characters ever since.

We tried swapping once, but it was just odd. Like, “I don’t know any of her cool tricks! She’s not fighting as effectively for me!”

So yeah, the automatic “no, I’m not letting her die” reaction may have been partly based on the sense that she’s HIS character, in a way that, you’re quite right, you never really feel that Drack or Peebee or whoever is YOUR character (even though you give them skills and levels too). And yeah, I can easily imagine that this dynamic would not be the same if it were just me with four characters to run.

Hm.

Butch:

It’s funny how there are all these very subtle differences in how the game works for us.

Cuz I would have been sad, but that would be it.

I think the only time I’d really try to reload/redo is if I thought I’d be missing A LOT of story. Even though there was a way for Mordin to live, I knew his story was up, so letting him end it was ok. I did redo the end of ME2, but that was because I didn’t want to miss sidquests in three. Here, Bairdotr’s story is likely over no matter what, so I’ll be ok with whatever.

But again, she doesn’t feel MINE.

Feminina:

Yeah, it’s interesting for blog purposes that we’re doing it both as a co-op and a solo game. I mean, you’re probably right: if I were playing it alone I wouldn’t have a particularly strong connection to any one of the companions, because there would be two of them and two of me and it’s hard enough keeping a sense of connection with the two of me.

And that’s is an angle of the game that we don’t have–it must be a lot easier to get your head around the idea that these two are the same person when they are, in fact, the same person. I intellectually suspect that we’re the same person, but just running around getting in fights and stuff, it’s obvious to me that we’re not, so there’s an interesting disconnect.

So just as well Mrs. McP isn’t into it, I guess. Better for the blog!

Butch:

Ah but I think it’s a cooler twist if they’re the same person if you’re playing coop. “You thought you were independent? Ha!” Whereas I am the same person in real life (I’m so tired that sentence makes perfect sense), so it won’t be as heavy.

Mrs. McP is never home so I’d still be in Cyseal beach.

Feminina:

It makes sense to me too! We’re probably both insane.

Butch:

I’m just very, very tired.

So, you know, fine line.

I thought we did quite well today, though! Despite the fatigue and insanity!

Which will only compound tomorrow. You’re just chillin’ at home. I am not, because I am not a vegetarian. See, the best ham on earth is at this place in Groton. I want ham. And I want to fill my freezer with stuff you don’t eat. So I’m dropping Meaty off at school, then taking the other two way the fuck out to Groton to wait in line for a ham, probably behind a whole mess of Greek people buying whole lambs (it’s one of the few places in MA that does whole lambs, you see, so they come from far and wide).

It’s gonna be great.

Worth it for the ham, though. And the bacon. And the steaks. And the…well, it’s worth it. Trust me.

Despite my sinful, hedonistic, heathen lifestyle, I can celebrate ham.

Or because of my lifestyle. One or the other.

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