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Spoilers for plot developments and combat very, very near the end of Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Done? You could be done. You were close. Are you done?

Feminina:

We are not. We were close! Yes we were! And we got even closer! But we did not finish the fight with the Void Dragon.

We went through the Portal to Eden, found the First Garden where Source was created and from whence we cast ourselves out for the sin of failing our companion (hardcore references to religious themes there, and interesting that we weren’t evicted for disobeying God, but banished OURSELVES for betraying a friend).

Fought those Death Knights, and handily dispatched them to the Void with the awesome, awesome wand we picked up. Did you say you’d cheated yourself out of XP with that? How do you figure? We got 5200 each for dispatching them: would we have gotten more by defeating them in hand-to-hand combat? Interesting…

Then we talked to that merchant who was conveniently there to buy our last-minute loot, and went down to the Godbox, and saw Astarte, and the Void Dragon showed up, and we realized that it’s immune to tenebrium and Delios had sold all his non-tenebrium weapons, plus it was already after 9:30, so we decided to start again next time, and buy another weapon from the merchant. Clever of the game to have us spend half our time looking for and learning to use tenebrium, only to have it turn out to be useless at the very end.

Anyway, speaking of big meaningful choices that we were speaking of yesterday? The decision we were going to get? Yeah. We never got that choice. It simply did not come up.

And here’s why: Icara is dead.

I believe she died in the final moments of that battle–I hardly noticed it because there was a lot going on and we were all focused on “look how low Leandra is, we’ve got this!!!”, and I really didn’t think anything of it because Zandalor had already died and he was all “I hate this part…well, see you in a bit” or something, so I kind of unconsciously assumed that Icara would be equally casual about death. I mean, WE certainly always have been!

But then we went poking around the battlefield looking for her, and…there was her body. Which we were unable to resurrect, although we tried. She’s just dead, man. Which means there was no soul forge to relink or not relink, and Leandra is also just dead.

So. Yeah.

I don’t know if that’s based on something we did (not high enough in the spiritual trait or something) or if it’s just that we should have protected Icara better–but who knew she needed to be protected!?

We thought about refighting that scene to see if she might live, but it would be annoying if we did it all over (that was a long-ass fight) and she still died because we haven’t been forgiven by Alessa or something, and anyway she didn’t have any of our good arrows, so we decided to just take it the way it rolled. It does kind of fit with our larger narrative, after all.

I’ll probably check the internet to see if we could/should have saved her, but not right now. We’ll play it out the way we got it and see what happens. If it turns out we can’t defeat the Void Dragon without her, I guess we can reload then!

But anyway, we can talk about that, I guess. What did YOUR Icara do, assuming she lived?

Butch:

So close!

Yeah, interesting, isn’t it? The Eden references.

But, you could make an argument that Eve did the same thing. After all, she wasn’t surprised that she was cast out. She knew she’d be cast out if she ate the apple, and CHOSE to eat the apple. Temptation aside, Eve thought, in that moment, “I’m choosing knowledge. I’m choosing that over Eden.” Which is, in a way, casting yourself out for not listening to a “friend.”

Interesting.

But also interesting in the sense that we cast ourselves out, then spend the WHOLE DAMN GAME trying to get back.

Death knights: Yes. 5200 each. Here’s how I cheated myself.

So they kinda respawned, right? Cuz the first time I killed a few, all was well, and then, like, four more showed up. So I killed a few more and, like, four more showed up. And yeah, 5200 XP each, but I died.

So I pondered, and noticed that I had the upper hand initiative wise. So I gave the wand to Scarlett, who nuked two of them, then passed the wand to whoever was next (which takes no AP), that person nuked two more, passed the wand, etc. They all died before they did a thing….and died before they respawned.

Thus costing me the XP of ALL THE OTHERS THAT RESPAWNED fuck how this game does XP.

Yeah, I kinda liked that about tenebrium. But the dragon is vulnerable to a lot of other things.

Anyway….before you DO go use your weapons to kill it….let Andrastae die. Just for bloggage. Won’t add that much time to your session. Did you let Andrastae die? Cuz….well….bloggage. Happens.

No shit, Icara can die? Wow. But, hmm. I guess she didn’t die in my game. I don’t recall having to resurrect her. Weird. I, too, assumed that as Zandilor seemed unkillable then she was too. Weird.

I didn’t know she needed protecting. I kinda let her be. Until…well…..

Here’s what happened. I had the choice of either using the forge repair spell or not. I was warned that, if I used it, Leandra wouldn’t really go away, but that she’d sorta share a body with Icara. They’d be more powerful, but Leandra would still be in there, somewhere. Icara was all “I can control her! I can save her!” and I figured, “Well, your sister, you body, all that, sure.” So I forged them, and cutscene. Leandra was NOT happy about this. Nice cutscene though.

So they became this weird floating womanthing with this deep voice. And yes, powerful. Very handy with the healing.

And I get to the void dragon and, for the first three or four rounds Icara is kicking MAJOR ass! But the Leandra took over her body….and Leandra was kicking major ass. And, instead of going after ME, she kept going after Andrastae (who can die, and you should let her once, for bloggage). And then she’d turn back into Icara for a few turns, then back. Which added a dimension to the fight.

But eventually a dimension where Andrastae was too low on health, and there wasn’t really anything I could think to do but to kill Icara/Leandra myself. And she CAN die in that fight cuz she sure as hell stayed dead when I killed her.

And then killed the void dragon, so you can very much kill the void dragon when Icara/Leandra is dead cuz I did.

Now, I can see that I didn’t HAVE to do that. The void dragon was/is also quite killable before/without killing Icara/Leandra, and I wonder what would have happened if things had gone that way. But I didn’t see a way to get there, so….

Which…again…an instance of doing what I THOUGHT was the right thing, on two levels, and having it backfire spectacularly.

In character: I will give the sisters what they want! Right thing! But if I hadn’t done that, and Icara had stayed just Icara, she likely wouldn’t have turned on me and I wouldn’t have killed her and she might have been alive.

As a player: Thinking “The game gave me this spell. I worked hard to get this spell. When you work hard for something the game gives you, when that quest to get the thing the game gives you is SO important that it’s in your quest list the WHOLE DAMN GAME, you SHOULD use it. Right?” So I did what’s “right” by the unwritten rules of RPGs. Thus putting her in a position where I pretty much had to kill her.

So once again: the best intentions lead to terrible, terrible things. And, indeed, BECAUSE I did what I thought was right, I pretty much HAD to be a bigger monster than you were. Your Icara just died. I killed my Icara myself.

Because I did the right thing, I had to sin to win. Literally. Because….

Well, let Andrastae die. You’ll see.

Feminina:

Dude. It’s Astarte. Greek name for an ancient Middle Eastern goddess. Old religious reverberations, etc. Andraste is the savior figure in Thedas, from Dragon Age. Different kind of religious reverberations.

And OK, well, that’s some quite interesting character development and battle mechanics that we’re missing out on by having Icara dead, but I guess we won’t worry too much about it. Hm. But yeah, it really seems like since the soul forge is a Big Deal thing that you can do in the game, then you should probably do it–but since it’s a choice, obviously there could also be a reason not to do it. Interesting.

Also interesting, Zandalor expressed not the slightest hint of sadness, or even awareness, at Icara’s death, or Leandra’s despite the fact that not 20 minutes ago he was saying earnestly “I love you both still!”

Not, you know, enough to notice when you both die, but there are feelings there somewhere. I’m just very distracted at the moment by this whole Void Dragon issue. (To be fair to him, the imminent obliteration of the universe IS a distracting issue. I should probably be saluting him for managing to stay focused on the main goal, instead of chiding him for being cavalier about the deaths of the women he loves. As if the feelings of one man matter at this moment!)

As for being cheated out of XP, I see what you mean. If it helps, we did that too, although not by cleverly passing the wand around (that is a good trick!), just by me sending a couple of them away with the wand on every turn, other people wiping out their invulnerability and whacking at them, and it all wrapping up JUST before they could respawn. We saw the pillars of light and thought “they must be coming back! Quick, eliminate this last one!” and we did. Because ours had…two or three turns before they started to come back, they didn’t respawn immediately. And in that two or three turns, we took care of business, as we do.

So I guess we also cheated ourselves out of XP, but by being effective at combat, while you did it by being smart. And thus we cling to our particular angles on the game.

Interesting thought, that Eve also in a way ‘cast herself out of Eden’ by eating the fruit knowing what would happen, and thus betraying her ‘friend’ God. I don’t know that most people would read the Eden story that way–I never got the sense that she knew she was going to be banished from Eden. She chose knowledge over obedience, yes, but did she know she was choosing the world over Eden? How could she have?

Obviously, open to interpretation, though, and that’s an interesting one.

I’m not sure I agree, though, that after intentionally banishing themselves, the Guardians have spent the entire game trying to get back to the Garden. I mean, we didn’t even know until a few days ago, game-time, that there was such a place to get back to.

I think our goal has been more to save reality (our version of reality, of course, since we may well be insane) than to return to any specific part of it. I mean, I guess we could assume that this was our unconscious desire all along, but it’s a weirdly oblique and late-breaking thing to have be ‘the main goal’. I guess I think our Big Goal (conscious or not) has been trying to right a terrible wrong…so more about atonement, than about us getting back to a place we once were. I’ve not had the sense that the characters really cared about the First Garden, or that they either expected or particularly desired to stay there forever once their work was done (though that does seem an obvious possibility).

Again, open to interpretation.

Butch:

Astarte. Right…right…right. My bad. Sorry. Been a while since I finished.

BOOM!

And what’s interesting about the Icara/Leandra decision is that I really didn’t give it any thought. Of COURSE you do it!

This, of course, despite the game, AGAIN, pretty much telling you not to in very explicit terms. Sorta like the “Piece of tale,” and all that. Zandilor just flat out says “She can’t control it. It’s a bad idea.” But I was still “But, QUEST!” and did it anyway cuz of course. And when she turned and killed Arastae I wasn’t even surprised. And I reloaded after…that…and was just all “Yup. Figured.” I did the thing the game told me not to do, wasn’t at all surprised when it turned out badly, yet STILL didn’t even think about doing it. Cuz games.

And, really, religion when you come right down to it. If you look at certain ones. Do it. Don’t think. Do. Cuz that’s the “rules,” right?

Fair enough. We both cheated ourselves of death knights in different ways. Take it from me: There would have been more.

On that, that also had an aspect of the tenebrium thing. We spent a great deal of the game finding/learning tenebrium only to have it not matter in the end (though, to be fair, the things it summons ARE very much adverse to tenebrium, so it’s not TOTALLY useless. It actually fucks those things up pretty good). But we also spent a whole lot of time being all freaked out about Death Knights (She has an army! They are invulnerable! Do this WHOLE BIG FUCKING QUEST so you can kill them!) only to have, at the end, it come down to “Oh, here’s a wand. It’ll wipe ’em right out.” In fact, because I was so sneaky and stuff, I don’t think I actually USED the whole death knight vulnerability skill once. Maybe once, but that was only because I picked a fight for the XP. I think you could have finished the whole game without using that particular skill, either. AGAIN, something you did all this questing for that could have been totally irrelevant.

Remember this. Finish tonight, and remember this.

As for Eve, well, “world,” no. But I’m pretty sure she’d know she’d lose Eden, and was thus choosing something “else” over Eden.

But ain’t it all open to interpretation? It’s how we do.

And all good stuff we’ll talk about Monday when we finish.

Feminina:

Good point about the big important Death Knight invulnerability spell turning out to not be that important. We did use it, because we fought the death knights in the Phantom Forest, because we just like picking fights and we could.

On a more comforting note, though, what do you really need XP for at the near-end of the game anyway? We actually did level up in the middle of that fight, but I don’t think it’s going to make a significant difference to the outcome of the final battle.

“Ooh, at last that final attribute point! Now I’m strong enough to wield the only weapon that can slay the beast!”

Nah. There are other weapons that can slay the beast. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get anything so amazing at level 21 that it’s going to make any real difference. So even if you cheated yourself out of XP, they were just boring XP you didn’t care about.

As for Eve, I mean, I’m no theologian (thank god, hahahahaha), but as I recall the story, God said “don’t eat the fruit of THAT ONE tree or you’ll die,” and the serpent said “you won’t die, you’ll get knowledge and be like God!”

So based purely on this, it’s highly debatable what Eve ‘knew.’ I mean, we could argue that she believed God and therefore knew she would die (lose Eden) but did it anyway.

Or we could argue that she believed the serpent, figured God was lying, and (mistakenly of course) thought she WOULDN’T die/lose Eden but would gain knowledge. I think this is the more common interpretation, although that’s just my impression.

I do kind of like the idea that she knew God was telling the truth and that she was going to die, but chose to know anyway. It gives her an interesting level of agency: in the traditional telling, she was ‘fooled’ by the serpent, so basically she was simply misguided and probably stupid (though, kindly, many tellers stress the serpent’s great charm and wiles, as if to say that it’s understandable she was tricked, could have happened to anyone, it’s not ONLY that she was weak and silly and vain like all women everywhere forever).

If we figure that instead she was thinking “I know God is totally going to kill me for this and that sucks, but I have to know the truth!” then it’s at least a choice. Believing a big liar and getting tricked out of paradise is less cool.

Still obviously a strong possibility, given what we know about how humans can believe big liars and get tricked out of stuff.

It all depends on the way you want to tell the story.

Butch:

Yeah, you could use it, but if you didn’t pick fights, the death knight spell was pretty pointless. And SUCH a big quest!

But really? Fucking REALLY? I cheated myself out of XP and you leveled? Seriously? I thought the game was insulting me before, but it, once again, managed to hit me with a double whammy.

For the manyeth time, there’s lots of stuff that can damage the dragon, and the weapons you have work fine on the summons. I didn’t buy a new weapon from that guy and managed fine.

You’re fine.

After all that looting, you have, like, two weapons? I had a damn arsenal.

Hmm. Fair about Eve. What can I say, I’m no theologian either.

What’s left unclear in the game is whether leaving Eden (in the game) had the same effect on Scarlett as it did on Eve. Well, the traditional, classical interpretation. Certainly, the art of several centuries ago (Mr. O would know what period) always depicted Adam and Eve wailing and looking generally unhappy when they were cast out of Eden. The game is rather silent on whether Scarlett/guardians/whatever had the same wailing and gnashing of teeth as the classical depictions of Eve. Maybe they did. Maybe less so.

Even “Cast out because of guilt” isn’t the same as “Punished.” They “cast themselves out” could just mean “left.” Or “fled.” I’ve been saying for months (And I stand by this) that Scarlett a) is nuts and b) wants to STAY nuts. In general, people who are really happy with their real world life do not feel this way. If there was something in the real world that made Scarlett very unhappy, or guilty or whatever, she could have “cast herself out” to get away from it. To hide. To avoid the thing that was causing her unhappiness.

It’s only the traditional Biblical interpretation that “cast out” is “punished,” and this game plays with traditional interpretations all the time.

It’s in how you tell the story, or in how this game twists things. In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.

And…well….finish the game. Cuz…finish the game.

Additionally, in the Bible, Eve chooses/gets tricked into knowledge. Here, leaving “Eden,” choosing Rivellon, is to reject knowledge, to convince yourself that the world of houses and cars and new decks and lawnmowers ISN’T REAL when it very much is (my aches and pains from mowing yesterday attest to that). If Scarlett IS nuts (and she so is), then she IS misguided, literally.

That’s the very way this game would twist something.

Feminina:

Oh, I have an arsenal! An arsenal of weapons I or Wolgraff might use. Mr. O’ did not maintain a backup arsenal of weapons he might use, and that’s on him.

A small way that cooperative play and having each of us identify with one character influences things. If it were just me, I would obviously have a small arsenal for each character. If it were just him, apparently every character would have one weapon and that’s it.

Also, wait…

“In the Biblical telling, “die” is bad. But if “die” is “stay in Rivellon,” then in game terms “die” is good. Scarlett wasn’t tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, not a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

When did your theory say that dying meant staying in Rivellon? I thought dying meant being cured and LEAVING Rivellon. That was supposed to be why we fight so hard to avoid dying, and why it’s significant when our companions don’t die/leave us…right?

You’re confusing me, man.

Butch:

Man, that’s SO on him. Like, dude, we’ve been switching weapons the whole damn game. First thing you do: check where it’s vulnerable and switch. Bad tactics.

Sorry, Sorry. I should say “In the Biblical telling, DIE is ‘leave paradise/the world you know/are supposed to stay in, and is, thus, bad’ But in this case, leaving Eden/paradise/the world you know/are supposed to say in/the real world means go to Rivellon, stinky, fishy, rainy Rivellon, which is where Scarlett WANTS to be and, indeed, is fighting to both stay in herself and keep her companions in. This place you’re not supposed to be, this delusion, this NOT paradise is good. Thus, Scarlett was not tricked out of paradise (or, at the very least, a paradise she wanted to be in), she chose Rivellon.”

Feminina:

Ah, I see…sort of. I mean, that assumes that the in-game Eden represents the real world (as in, our world of cars and lawnmowers), rather than the fundamental, pure heart and soul of the delusion.

We tore our threads out of the tapestry that is the foundation of the fantasy, right? We’ve spent this game figuring out who we are in the context of that background: who are we HERE IN THIS REALITY. Hints of our Earth-reality have been purely in passing–there’s no sense that the closer we get to the truth of who we are, the closer we get to lawnmowers and annoying office meetings.

I don’t think the tapestry represents a reality of garbage trucks and jumbo jets, I think it represents the origin myth of the delusion (assuming there’s a delusion).

And I agree that we could read the story as being about a later-regretted attempt to pull ourselves out of a delusion (erasing ourselves from the tapestry that tells the story of that fantasy), but if so, we initially cast ourselves out of one delusion (Eden, where it all started, the First Creation…i.e., the first delusion?) and into another (Rivellon).

The Void Dragon, perhaps, could represent subways-and-offices reality, since it comes to destroy everything, Eden and Rivellon alike, but the minor hitch there is the explicit references to other planes/realities and the note that the Void will destroy all of them too.

I dunno…I mean, yeah, Eden is innocence and I guess the PC could be seen as having been innocent back in Japanese toy swords reality and therefore that reality is now glorified in retrospect as the First Creation even though it was presumably terrible for the PC. That’s the twist and all.

Hm. It’s hard for me to totally buy it, though.

But I guess not every dramatic plot twist is completely believable. And if we’re going with insanity, then it doesn’t even have to make sense!

Butch:

AAAA! Ok, finish the game.

First…well, just finish the game. And let Arastae die once. Then finish the game. ALL of the game. WE’LL TALK LATER!!!!!!!

Because then this will all be less confusing. Or more confusing. But certainly it will have more context.

And we can move on to what I hope is a much simpler game.

Man, I miss sorceresses.

Feminina:

I certainly look forward to a great deal more confusion.

And booze.

Butch:

It’s not confusing.

Vague. And a little confusing.

Yeah. Booze and sorceresses. Soon.

Feminina:

Dude, I AM a sorceress. I’m still plenty confused.

Or maybe I’m a witch, I have a lot of levels in witchcraft to get that resurrection spell (totally worth it). Or an aerothurge…OK, I’m obviously still plenty confused.

Butch:

Are you scantily clad? No?

Then it doesn’t count.

You’re even wearing the silly underwear.

Really doesn’t count.

Feminina:

I wear a long flowing robe, thank you. Comfortable, practical, and the classic style for wizards.

So maybe I’m actually a wizard.

Also confused.

Butch:

I’m not into wizards, dude. Sorry.

Finish the game. All will become clear(er). Kinda.

And we can move on.

Feminina:

Zandalor is going to be so disappointed. He was passing me notes in class the other day about how cutely insane you were and how he hoped you weren’t seeing any other magic users.

Another broken heart.

Butch:

Hey man, me and Roderick are all…..

Finish the game. I’ll be very amused if you and Delios aren’t all….finish the game.

Hey….wait….I wound up with a brooding dude in heavy armor?

Didn’t we start this game wondering if WE were the same person?

Feminina:

FULL CIRCLE.

Butch:

Considering the length of this particular circle, I am impressed.

You know what we’ve earned? Pizza and booze.

Now finish the game.

Feminina:

Enh…I really feel we’ve gotten about as much enjoyment from it as we’re going to. Is it actually necessary to finish the last fight? Meh.

I guess we’ll do it if we get around to it, but I’m kind of in the mood to move on to Beyond: Two Souls.

Butch:

Stop that.

Finish this weekend, we’ll hit next week refreshed and ready to chew over the ending and then move on to a new and very different game.

Feminina:

Remember a month ago when we thought we were near the end and then I said “We’ll get another good month out of this, just watch”?

Called it.

Butch:

I blame myself.

And you. I also blame you.

Feminina:

Hey, what have we done!?

Oh, right. Nothing. That’s what.

I blame us too.

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