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Spoilers for the Iconoclast storyline on Monarch in The Outer Worlds

Butch:

I actually did a lot last night, but I’ve been fighting with kids about homework all fucking day. Fuck this.

Anyway….

Didn’t see having to kill Graham. Or, not having to kill Graham, but having to kill Graham to get peace, which is what I did and what you probably did.

That’s what I did. I’m up to having to go to talk to Zora and Sanjar about peace.

Got the module, talked to Sanjar, went back to Cascadia (which was ALSO a get in get out deal), talked to Sanjar, talked to Zora, killed Graham.

I’m still not entirely sure how Graham fits into the themes of the game. That even people who look like they’re trying to help you are just selfish, self centered assholes? Maybe? Or was this just another case of a game that takes place in an alternate place feeling the need to add the theology of that place and barfing some religio-babble into the game? I’m sorta leaning towards the first one, but then, how does Zora fit in?

I don’t know. They obviously wanted Graham to have some DEEP SHIT attached to him, maybe even making us think we just martyred him or something, but I don’t know. Seems like another case of a game thinking “It’s deep cuz RELIGION, man! RELIGION!”

What’s your take?

Feminina:

I felt like Graham was the idealist. A messed-up, flawed idealist who let bandits into his city to murder everyone, but still an idealist. A guy who, himself, maybe fell prey to the idea that “it’s deep cuz RELIGION, man!” He was clearly in love with his own philosophy, to the point that he was neglecting practical issues (like not letting tons of people be murdered, or making sure the people who weren’t murdered had food). I think in a way it’s saying that the Board with its ideals of corporate excellence and progress is clearly not great at taking care of people, but swinging around and adopting some alternative idealism is not the answer.

Maybe the answer is not in deep ideals, it’s in just doing the work in front of us right now, whether that’s fighting mantiqueens or using corpses to grow vegetables, or collecting supplies for a group of people.

Which does make one wonder, is the game completely amoral? Does it actually have any position on what’s the ‘right’ thing to do as a ‘good person’? And being a video game where you can make various choices…maybe it doesn’t. As most games that let you choose to be good or bad don’t, really.

Arguably, it genuinely doesn’t suggest that it’s any better to fight and kill the cannibals than to lure someone else back for them to eat. I mean, I know what I chose, but that was my choice. The game doesn’t take a position.

Anyway, yes, I too killed Graham to put Zora in power, because I wanted to broker peace between Zora and Sanjar. The amusing thing was that I killed him, then absently looted some stuff nearby (as one does after a fight) and then a bunch of iconoclasts came running in shooting and I had a huge battle and in the end Zora was dead and all the Iconoclasts hated me so I was left having to sneak out of town. And I thought “damn, that went badly! Maybe if I kill him more quickly so they don’t notice he’s dead until Zora has time to talk to them and convince them it’s cool?”

So I reloaded and killed him again and then stood there tensely, waiting, and everyone went about their business and no one said a damn thing about it. So it appears that the first time, they really didn’t care about Graham being dead, they were just mad I stole those bottles of purpleberry wine from the bar. I have to salute those priorities.

Butch:

HA! That’s kinda funny. But wait….you killed him before the BIG TALK? I went in after talking to Sanjar, Zora pulled me aside and we talked, we went up, BIG TALK, we tried to get Graham to stand down and accept things, he refused, he pulled a gun, gunplay ensued, we killed him.

You had no BIG TALK?

As for his idealism, well, yes, but there was also the suggestion that he a) let everyone die because he wanted to be the man everyone followed and b) he is only running things the way he is because he feels guilty. Zora pretty much accused him of being selfish, not wanting what’s best for his people, but what was best for his psyche. Even Graham was all “This is a place to get a fresh start, I needed a fresh start” and you and Zora call him on it, all “This is about YOUR fresh start?” So yes, he’s an idealist, but just as selfish as everyone else, and just as insecure.

It’s interesting that he was set up as the disorganized leader with Zora propping him up as the practical one, and now we’re in a situation where Sanjar (the inspirational doofus) is going to be propped up by Zora. Has anything really changed?

True, it doesn’t take a position, but I’m OK with that in a choice based game. Games are at their best when they make the player reflect on why they did what they did. Being completely neutral allows for some Socratic moralization on the part of the game: “Well, WHY did you do that? How did that make you feel?” Once the game steps in all “this is the RIGHT thing,” then a) it influences player choice and b) doesn’t really let you think about why you did what you did.

Feminina:

Oh no, we had the Big Talk. Twice, since I reloaded to try killing him without getting into a fight with the entire town.

Butch:

Oh, OK. It wasn’t one of those “HA! I shall randomly kill you to exploit the game” deals.

I still like the idea of “Kill my leader, but hands off my booze!”

Art imitating life, really.

Feminina:

Indeed. Especially in these trying times. They made the right choice.

I mean, seriously, which loss would have a more crushing effect on the morale of the nation right now: our leader, or our booze supply? It’s not even a question.

Butch:

Not a question at all.

Which reminds me, I need to order more booze. LOTS more booze.

Feminina:

And, contemplating the relative value of leaders and booze and returning for a moment to the more intellectual discussion with which we began the day–maybe the whole bit with Graham is meant to be one of a series of moments that casts doubt on the whole concept of ‘leader’ as a role that is really meaningful.

We kind of looked at that a few days ago, with the discussion of how it’s easier to see Lilya at Sublight as a ‘strong leader’ than it is Adelaide, because Lilya’s got a bunch of guns at her command, but does that really say anything about how GOOD she is at leading people? How likely the people she leads are to have happy, productive lives?

And every leader we’ve met has been similarly flawed and unlikely, and maybe the game’s take on it is simply that leaders in general are not all they’re cracked up to be, and we shouldn’t rely on them.

An interesting counterpoint would be, well, aren’t we, the PC, a leader, with companions who express how glad they are to be on our team, with us as the captain?

And this is true. But it’s not as if our goal is to wake up all the Hope colonists and rule them–we just want to wake them up and, presumably, let them live their own lives.

Leaders: really think hard about how they compare to booze, before signing up with one.

Butch:

Sorry. We were doing so well. Then there were children.

Sigh.

At least I have toilet paper. And booze.

Feminina:

That sums up so many disasters.