Tropes: Why I Hate Alistair

[Content Note: Rape]

I haven't been getting much reviewing done lately, because some mad impulse made me decide that the Labor Day weekend was best spent running through all the possible origins in Dragon Age: Origins. Now, I am a reviewer at heart, so while I have already reviewed the game (back in the early days, when it was fresh off the shelves), I thought I would take the time to review one of your support characters - Warden Alistair, who is seemingly an incredibly polarizing character, judging from the fan forums. As you can tell from the title, this isn't going to be a particularly positive review, although it should be noted (in an attempt to deflect fan-girl rage) that I don't actively *hate* Alistair (he's a video game character, after all), but I *do* wish Bioware would give us girls a little more variety in the department of Romance Options. Frankly, I would have preferred to woo Sten, and I was disappointed to see that he wasn't an option. Spoilers ahead, although at this point so late after release it's very much an It Was His Sled situation.

1. Alistair's comic relief lines are immersion-breaking at best.

Now, I like me some good old-fashioned gallows humor. There's nothing quite like staring in the face of death and laughing heartily. And I have to admit that when you first meet Alistair, standing down an angry mage (who is incensed because Alistair has brought him a summons from the mother priest), I *did* laugh at Alistair's opening "Isn't it great how a Blight brings people together?" lines. Considering that he'd just been shouted at unfairly, I appreciated his willingness to let the tension roll off his back, and I warmed at his ability to laugh in the face of the upcoming battle.

It doesn't take too long to figure out, in fact, that Alistair is the designated comic relief in this Bioware game (although "designated" is a bit much - almost all your support characters have a laugh-out-loud punch line in their dialogue trees somewhere). And since Bioware's concept of "characterization" generally boils down to Planet of the Hats, but with Deeper Dialogue Back At Camp, this means that you're going to be hearing Alistair crack jokes on the road a lot.

At first I enjoyed the snarky (if sometimes a little dim-witted) remarks coming from over my PC's right shoulder, but I can't progress too far into the game without worrying about Alistair. Confronted with the grisly sight of fellow soldiers strung up and left to rot? It's time for a joke about excessive force - oh snap! Trapped in a cavern with slaughtered villagers behind us, a crazy and violent cult before us, and a dangerous and deadly dragon above us? Muse that the priest mother's head would explode if she were there - ice burn!

If you're into game immersion, like I am, it's difficult to cope with these shoe-horned "comic relief" attempts by Bioware - the only plausible in-game explanation for Alistair's steady one-liners is (a) he's too stupid to gauge situational severity nor to understand the seriousness of death, (b) he's a quite literal sociopath who feels no concern for the suffering of others, or (c) possibly a combination of both. None of those options strike me as the sort of person I want in my bed.

2. Alistair disregards the personal feelings of others.

Remember that mage that was shouting at Alistair when we first met him? Once you've played DAO a little bit, you may come to realize that mage isn't just a dick on a power trip. He's lived his entire life under the watchful eye of an order of religious fanatics who have carte-blanche power to kill him at any moment, for any reason, with no consequences. If they kill him from afar, via his blood stored for "safe keeping" in the capital, he won't even see his death coming. The head of this religious order is in camp right now, and she's using Alistair as her errand boy to push this mage around - he can either perform his camp duties, or he can report to her as ordered, and dereliction of either of those two could get him killed before sundown.

Alistair knows all this backstory, even when the player doesn't - he was raised by the templars. He doesn't like the templars (he considers himself lucky to have gotten out), and he certainly doesn't have to obey their orders now that he's a Grey Warden. In fact, his commanding officer pretty much scolds him for getting involved, period, so I don't know what to take from this except that he gets off on making mages scared. Considering how he goes after Morrigan and her mother, it starts to ring a little false that he didn't enjoy mage-hunting.

Think I'm reading too much into one incident? Shockingly (for a Romance Option), Alistair consistently doesn't care about the personal feelings of the PC. If you tell him - upon being conscripted against your will and taken from the only home you've ever known, by a man you barely know who is literally consigning you to a guaranteed death sentence - that you're not too thrilled with the situation, he'll take a disapproval hit. Yes, being a Grey Warden is traditionally a big honor, but that's largely because they are exotic and mysterious and no one knows what that entails. And, yes, it's a dream-come-true for Alistair because he hated being a templar so much. But your situation is different, and nothing you can say or do will ever get that through to him - if you want to romance Alistair, you'll have to agree with him on the collective awesomeness of Duncan and the Wardens, because in Alistair's world, there's no agreeing to disagree on this.

It's worth reiterating that almost all the origin stories involve your family and friends being raped or murdered in various ways, but don't bother trying to bring that up - at best, Alistair will acknowledge that you both have a lot in common, what with you losing your entire family and him losing a man that he knew for literally less than 6 months, and who didn't see fit to take him along on the two week journey to the starting origin areas.

3. Alistair expects the world to grind to a halt for *his* personal feelings.

Obviously I'm okay with characters who don't give a toss for my feelings, or I wouldn't have mentioned Sten in a positive light earlier. No, I don't have a problem with snarky stoics. I *do* have a problem with hypocrites, though. It's worth mentioning - again - that Alistair has known Duncan for all of six months, and he has good reason to feel ambivalent about the man. After all, Duncan didn't warn Alistair prior to taking him from the Chantry that coming along would be a death sentence. And, technically, by invoking the right of conscription, Duncan didn't give Alistair a choice in the matter. Considering that Alistair is technically some flavor of royalty (as is the Cousland human noble PC), Duncan is damned fortunate that Wardens get such a free reign, because he's practically committing regicide.

(And let's not forget that the Wardens recruit in times of peace, too. They have to, or the order would die off. If they've been recruiting since the last Blight, 400 years ago, and they only have 30 years to live, give or take, even if they keep their numbers at less than 25 Wardens at a time, that's a lot of people that died drinking Darkspawn blood.)

But Alistair has daddy issues, so he's remade Duncan in his mind into the perfect father figure, and not even the end of the world is going to stop him brooding over it. Expect Duncan's tragic death - a death that was going to come soon anyway because Duncan was nearing his expiration date on the tainted blood - to come up in no less than five separate conversations. Fine, I can dig a sentimental guy, Bioware, even if the sentiment is for the wrong reasons. Attempt to drag Ferelden kicking and screaming out of the Dark Ages by refusing to indulge in revenge-dressed-up-as-capital-punishment? That's the one thing that will make Alistair bail on this whole fight-the-Blight thing.

Yes, that's right. He won't leave the quest to run off and live happily ever after with the PC, but he will give the whole thing up if you refuse to chop off the head of a guy whose political wranglings resulted in the death of a guy who was going to die, one way or another, within less than a year.

Alistair is, in fact, so sensitive that for all his "fun loving, easy-going" pretensions, he's pretty much the easiest person in the game to lose favor with. Snark back at him? He disapproves - he can dish it out, but he won't take it in turn. Turn him down for sex after he turned you down? Good luck getting him to talk to you after that. Follow his advice on the Redcliff quest? He'll hate you for it. Let's not even get into the king-making. I won't say that all the juvenile pouting isn't in character for a child that had a less-than-perfect upbringing, but I will say that I prefer my Romance Options to have an emotional maturity greater than a twelve-year-old. Moving on.

4. Alistair can't imagine taking a third option.

Ferelden sucks. Even the people who live there will tell you so. The local nobility are a bunch of back-stabbing bastards, angling for more power after years of war. The Dalish elves patrol the forests, shooting anyone who trespasses too close to camp. You can't really blame the Dalish, though, because the humans round up whatever elves they find, toss them into city slums, and then openly rape and murder them without consequence. Given all this, you pretty much have to be a heartless evil bastard to not put Alistair on the throne, in the hopes that he might enact a touch of civil reform. Maker knows Anora isn't going to do it, and furthermore she's a commoner - her only claim to the throne is that the very young, very dead king slept with her a few times before dying in battle. In real life, the only way there wouldn't be some kind of civil war over her rule would be if she married a noble, and if they're all anything like the arl's son in the City Elf origin story, the best reform we could hope for in that case would be limiting gang-rape to wedding days only. So if you're playing, say, a City Elf, the only way to make sure that another cousin isn't savagely gang-raped is to crown Alistair, even if he's not confident in his abilities to rule.

And what does he do? He dumps your ass.

He's not racist, because That Would Be Bad, and the dark, gritty realism of this world couldn't possibly extend to the Creators' Pet. And while it may be true that some men have different standards as to who is beddable and who is wedable, Alistair isn't like that. No, he's concerned about your ability to bear an heir, and heirs are very Serious Business. But while I can get onboard with the fact that "no heir" spells c-i-v-i-l-w-a-r, I simply cannot get onboard with Alistair's insistence that his heir must be his magic sperm baby. If anything, a blooded heir causes even more problems because (a) any child of Alistair and Anora will be less than one quarter "noble" (Anora is a commoner, and Alistair's mother was a serving maid), and (b) tainted blood, anyone?

If only there was some precedent for designating an heir who isn't a direct descendant of the king. Some system of designating, in advance so that there can be no dispute or confusion, someone qualified - perhaps an uncle or cousin on the Redcliff side, or perhaps a relative of the previous royal queen, or possibly by some other established and trusted royal family, maybe even one elected or appointed by the nobles. If only that were possible! But, no, it's vitally important for the functioning of the kingdom that Alistair get a baby with tainted blood on the nearest blonde, with full knowledge that the political fight over who will be regent for the baby when Alistair dies an early death will likely be much, much more bloody than a calm power transistion to an older, pre-selected candidate.

But hey, the important thing is that Alistair's legacy will live on, and Ferelden's safety and health be damned. Priorities, people.

5. Alistair is relatively boring and shallow.

Alistair is a mopey Bioware Romance Option, so of course he has a tragic backstory. He lived a crappy life as an unloved, bastard orphan; was handed off at a young age to train in a monastic order that exists to hunt and murder fugitive mages; and his surrogate father figure just died tragically in a battle he wasn't even allowed to participate in.

It's hard not to feel sorry for Alistair... unless you're playing through the non-human noble origin story. Let's say, again for the sake of argument, that you're a City Elf. You've lived your entire life in a city slum, never allowed to leave the enclosure of the alienage. The orphans of your people weren't sent to scrub pots for the chantry - they got to starve to death, or they were worked into an early grave (Ferelden doesn't have child-labor or labor-safety laws). The "lucky" ones were sold into prostitution. Considering how quickly your pretty city elf PC is snapped up to be raped by the local lord's son, you can take it as read that this isn't her first time; and considering that the lord's son in question is no spring chick, it's probably not even her first time with him. Let that little depressing tidbit sink in for a moment.

Now look at your party members. Sten is a foreigner in a foreign land who can never return home. Morrigan believes she was most likely stolen as a baby, raised by a literal demon, and exists merely to serve as a shiny new body for her "mother". Wynne was raised under the templars' swords her entire life, and she is literally at death's door. Leliana and Zevran are orphans who were forced to be assassins (the kind who get killed when caught, unlike the templars who can say 'boo' to whoever they want) who have to use their bodies in order to get close to their marks. Kind of makes Alistair's story dry up a notch, considering that he didn't have to go through buggering training as part of his templar classes, no?

Unlike every other person in your party, Alistair has a home to go to after this. The Arl who raised him seems to truly like him, and now that his wife has her own precious snowflake child/heir, she doesn't mind Alistair's presence at the dinner table. Unlike every other person in your party, Alistair has some memory of a happy childhood - memories that aren't tainted by the retrospective knowledge that rape or death or betrayal was always right around the corner. Frustratingly, annoyingly, maddeningly, Alistair sometimes can't seem to shut up about how shitty his childhood was and his life is... unlike every other person in your party, the rest of whom seem to be fairly cheerful about their tragic pasts, all things considered.

There comes a point where the phrase "world's smallest violin" ceases to be appropriate.

Beyond all this, Alistair comes off as distressingly shallow, as Romance Options go. Agree with everything he says and he'll tumble into your bed without too much protest, but... then what? Dialogue options with him dry up immediately after, making him seem less like a viable relationship option, and more like a trophy to hang on the wall. Even Leliana and Zevran will, as friends, talk to you about the future after the Blight and dream about traveling with you and seeing the world. Alistair, on the other hand, will plan no plans, dream no dreams, and will shut you down if you try to  - which is perhaps in keeping with his childish personality, but again makes him seem like an empty cipher, post-sex.

Ultimately, for all his backstory and wangst and witticisms, Alistair doesn't have much of a personality. Whatever dreams of escape he might have entertained in the chantry, he never shares them with us; if he has any goals beyond the immediate threat of the Blight - rebuild the local order? constantly fight the darkspawn in the dwarven tunnels? travel to make new allies and see the world? - we never know them. He starts to feel like the standard Bioware Male Romantic Option: he only exists to tell the female PC that she's a wonderful, beautiful, strong, sexy goddess (with a nice ass!) - a big, strong meatshield who follows you around and says things like "Your desire is my command," in a voice that's apparently supposed to be seductive, but which I rather find terribly worrying.

You see, ultimately I like men who are human beings - ones that have depth, personality, and dreams. And while it might be nice wish-fulfillment to imagine a piece of beefcake following me around, doing my bidding, and worshiping my ass - at the end of the day, I can't help but feel that the "Romance Option" presented is really just a well-animated blow-up doll with a British accent stuck on a loop.

154 comments:

OrionJA said...

I really enjoyed reading this article, and it seems a shame you haven't gotten any comments.  I don't have anything really substantive to add though, so I'm just going to nitpick.  I guess I should start by saying that I really enjoyed Alistair, but as a male player my reaction may have been a little different.  I've found I rarely like the female love interests in Bioware games, but I often like the male characters.  So something I often do is play a female PC, but identify myself more with the male NPC.  This is especially true in the games where the PC is silent and the companions are voiced.  

Although I liked him, all your complaints are basically valid, but I think in some cases you've exaggerated to make your case.  1: All I can say is that because I identified with Alistair, I didn't really find his jokes distracting because I thought of Alistair as "me" as much as "a member of this medieval world."  Also he reminded me of Buffy.  Your point stands.2: "if you want to romance Alistair, you'll have to agree with him on the collective awesomeness of Duncan and the Wardens."  Is that really unreasonable, though?  I mean, your character may have good reason to resent the Wardens, but Alistair loves them, and his service to the wardens is his entire life.  A dispute over something that basic probably should disqualify you from a relationship, if you ask me.  It's also consistent with the behavior of the other love interests.  If you want to romance Zevran, you have to agree on the awesomeness of assassination and prostitution.  If you want to romance Morrigan, you have to agree on the awesomeness of Ayn Rand.  And if you want to romance Leliana, you have to agree on the awesomeness of the church. (This is the same church that tried to kill your best friend if you're a mage, and historically ordered a genocide on your people if you're an elf.)  To me is just seems like a reasonable compatibility test.(Also, although is doesn't matter in any way: The blood they collect from the mages isn't used to kill them, it's used to track them.)4:  I don't think the Alienage is supposed to be as bad as you're painting it.  You say that the assault from the City Elf Origin story is a common occurrence, but I don't think it can be.  I haven't finished the game as a City Elf yet, so maybe I didn't get the full story, but it's implied that the City Elf origin story resulted in riots and the deaths of the arl.  So it must have been seen as been seen as an anomaly by the residents.  Unless Loghain lied completely and there never were any riots.  Hmm...

OrionJA said...

Noo....

My paragraph breaks went away and now my comment is soooo ugly!

Ana Mardoll said...

Orion, I think I fixed the carriage returns for you. :)

I love your comment, and you've got a lot of good points. (I realized later that the blood is for tracking instead of killing, but didn't edit the post because -- let's face it -- my way is creepier. *evil grin*)

I think it's interesting that you say you as a male tend to identify more with the Bioware males and find the women to be stereotypes; as a female, I tend to feel the exact opposite -- the men seem very one-dimensional to me, but the women seem fairly nuanced. How intriguing! (Maybe ALL the characters are one-dimensional and the player is projecting extra complexity onto the similarly-gendered protagonists.)

I do disagree that the other characters also require so much agreement, though. You CAN soar to instant 100 approval with Leliana, Zevran, and Morrigan by agreeing all the time, but if you take the "Meh, I see it differently" options, they usually dish out almost as much approval and you can still role-play out a reasonable romance. (I like Sten best of all because -- in defiance of all this -- he likes you best when you DISAGREE. Ha!)

Whereas even the tiniest "um, I didn't ASK to be here" comment in front of Alistair gets you a big fat disapproval. It irritates me because I don't like people who think that the only viable romance is one where everyone agrees all the time. Ick.

I do think the Alienage is pretty bad, but maybe it's up to interpretation. The "riot" referenced in game seems to be your Player Character deciding that she isn't going to be raped (or -- if you are a male elf, that your bride isn't going to be raped), but the dialogue in the female City Elf opening makes it pretty clear that this is nothing new to the women who are kidnapped -- only the youngest wants to resist and the rest of the girls are very blase about it. One of them even says, basically, that fighting makes them hurt you more, and that if they all just get through this and don't talk about it again, it'll be for the best. Talk about HEART-BREAKING.

So, yeah, I don't think this is the first time the nobles have done a rape-run through the Alienage. Maybe the first time they've done it so blatantly (in the middle of the day, interrupting a wedding), but something like this starts out smaller and escalates over time, in my opinion. But, eh, leave it to Bioware to leave it iffy.

Also, THANK YOU FOR COMMENTING ON THIS LONELY POST! :)

Ana Mardoll said...

@OrionJA:disqus Oh, good, the reformatting via Disqus worked. :)

OrionJA said...

Hmm. I can't be sure without playing the game again, but are you sure you're judging all the love interests equally when it comes to difficulty of gaining approval?  Yes, there's lots of ways to lose points with Alistair, but I think it comes down as much to him having straight-up more lines and interaction than the others.  My experience has been that gaining approval with Alistair is so easy that it really doesn't matter if you lose some along the way.  Morrigan, the other flagship character, is very similar.  

Most of your comment is right on.  On another note, I'd be interested to hear who your favorite female Bioware characters are.  There definitely are some really cool ones, and I want to clarify that it's the *lead* female NPCs that tend to disappoint me, where lead is defined as some combination of joining early, being the "default" romance, being prominently featured on packaging, being plot-critical by nature, and having a lot of dialogue and interactions.

Basically I'm talking about Nathyrra, Bastila, Morrigan, Williams, Silk Fox, Mira, and Miranda.  I like some of them as characters, but I like Valen, Carth, Alistair, Kaidan, Atton, and Jacob more. Meanwhile, I love Aribeth, Leliana, Shale, Kreia, and Tali.  So it's not like can't write women.  

Who works for you?

Ana Mardoll said...

@OrionJA:disqus Pretty sure. I've been through the game something like eight times now and romanced all the characters a couple different ways. *grins* I also save-scum before and after conversations, so I'm pretty intensely aware of the approval trees in the convos. Can you tell I have too much free time? :)

The other romance options will definitely get upset with you if you're deliberately a jerk or cruel to them, but they have a lot more options for joking and kidding around, and usually you can take a third option, like, "Well, I don't see assassination as being terribly glamorous, but to each their own," or whatever. With Alistair, you simply can not say that about Duncan or the Wardens or he pretty much will get pissed off. It's annoying, and it's particularly silly because he's been a Warden for all of six months. Six months! He should still be upset about the OOPS DEATH SENTENCE switcheroo, but no, and you're not allowed to be, either. He's like a Gray Warden fanboi. Sheesh.

RE: BioWare Females: As far as my favorite, it's hard to say. I do stand by my statement that the women are generally somewhat nuanced (for a video game, anyway), but that doesn't mean I LIKE them. 

(Although I don't think of Aribeth as nuanced at all -- that's the fastest Face-Heel-Turn I've seen in a game in a long time. Well, except maybe Bastila who was also ridiculously fast to turn. Magic and/or Force Power hand-waving does not make it more nuanced.)

Morrigan is nuanced in that you really can't say at the end of DOA what game she and her mother were playing with you -- it's open to a number of interpretations. Leliana is nuanced in that she's got this really rosy outlook on life with this much darker undercurrent -- she strikes me as being a real person, but not one I'd necessarily want to hang with in real life. (Plus, I hate shoes.)

Kreia is interesting, but KOTOR 2 dropped the ball so badly at the end of the game, that her motivation is never really explored to my satisfaction (and that wasn't Bioware anyway, really). Bastila is more cookie-cutter -- she is either all-good or all-bad depending on which point you're at in the game. The "romance" option with her never made sense to me and didn't fit with her otherwise strict following of the Jedi rules. As a character, Juhani was far more nuanced, but since they decided to Bury The Gays....

OrionJA said...

I'll take your word for it about the Approval system, then.  

Oh, Aribeth was nothing special in the original NWN, for sure.  I like her for her turn in Hordes of the Underdark as a vengeful ghost.  Still not exactly nuanced, but delightfully *cool*.  

I have to disagree on Morrigan.  You say "open to interpretation" I say "maddeningly unfocused."  I just never felt I could get a handle on how I was supposed to react to her or even what she actually thought about anything.  

 

Onion said...

This is really quite great.  I think you've got Alistair nailed down perfectly.  That being said, I also played a Dalish who romanced him, and liked it (that man was never going to be a good king anyway)
I did like his banter with the Warden, but I hated listening to him talk with Wynne.
The biggest problem with him is that yes, he is actually very selfish.  The question of Loghain aside, I could see past that though.  I think in part that is because I know, and even am in a relationship with someone who is like that.  Essentially, the kind of "soft-selfishness" Alistair exhibits is the product of being romantically/ socially immature.  The reason why they think in terms of themselves, how they feel, what they are able to accomplish (like make it with a how Dalish chick) or fail to accomplish (like see the world though the lens "of Duncan is dead, poor me") is because they haven't had enough interaction with the world to develop empathy for others going through similar/equivalent joys and trials. 

Have any friends who are very socially inept?  Or better yet, family?  People who don't actually have friends but long for companionship?  When you talk to them, and try to offer an ear to listen, they often phrase the problem as "Why don't 'I' have friends.  Why do people hate 'me'"  What they need to do is think in terms of, "what does that person need to be made happier?" which is a precursor to "how can I be a friend to this person."  The reason why they do this is they haven't figured out yet HOW to empathize.  The brain hasn't made that connection, that in order to have a friend you have to be a friend.

But as I said, I see past this with Alistair, because I am friends and date someone like that, and after years of friendship/ relationship, I can say it gets better.  When you engage them, and give them that chance, they learn empathy (albeit slowly).  So I guess the bottom line here is my Dalish saw the promise of Alistair becoming more than that socially inept child.  That he is generally a good guy and as a result, it is really only his inexperience to blame.

Well, I felt that way until I followed the conversation tree where he would throw everything away, country and people, because of a personal vendetta against Loghain.  haha.

Ana Mardoll said...

@e4d7c5e65d663b44ec221e3a8d98c142

Hopefully he didn't run off with any expensive DLC when he left, haha. (http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/12/2/ )

I like your points about Alistair being emotionally immature. Goodness knows he has good reason to be -- he's an orphan whose adopted family kept him at serious arms-length, and the church he was eventually handed over to probably isn't known for their cuddly parenting style, either. For the same reasons -- as you say -- he'd probably make a crap king. *sigh*

It's kind of a shame that all the ruling families in Felderen (dwarves and humans alike) are all so terrible -- I like morally ambiguous endings as much as the next person, but after awhile the whole game feels Doomed To Failure in certain respects.

Heapha said...

Just to add to what you have already said, whilst the Human Nobel character had a very good upbringing, she just had to witness the entire distruction of her line, Everyone and everything she ever knew was taken away from her in one night. She is then made a warden. After duncans death Alistair lands it all on her shoulders to make all the decisions and spends his time moping about how his father figure died all the while ignoring the fact that her entire family was slaughtered AND she got to witness it first hand. But he does not give to shits, I think he refers to it Twice in all his moping and only if you choose an option that is politily saying "hey remember my family was massacred....

depizan said...

I'm beginning to think Bioware isn't so hot at figuring out romance options for people, just based on SW:TOR alone. (As I may have mentioned on some other thread here...or not. I babble too many places.) I'm fairly certain the companions my agent and smuggler currently have are meant to be romance options but I can't see it. I don't know why a good guy would want to get it on with an evil girl. (Though I do realize this might be some players' fantasy. And, of course, she'd make perfect sense as a romance option for a dark side agent.) And my smuggler has a pet sexist twit. Yay. -_- (Which also raises the question of why a dark side smuggler wouldn't boot his ass off of one of Coruscant's towers. Besides the fact that the game won't let you.)

It rather sounds like they've got some odd ideas of romance options, period.

Also, holy crap, I don't think I want to try the Dragon Age games. O_O Please tell me that the Mass Effect games aren't also super depressing?

Ana Mardoll said...

Those are some very odd pairings. I wonder if Bioware expects the player to expect three Romance Option to radically change personalities by the Power Of Love. (KOTOR 2, which was not Bioware, actually did this sort of well, in that your character's Force ability was basically assimilation of others.)

I've not played Mass Effect because I HATE dialogue trees where I don't actually know in advanced exactly what I will say. I've reloaded DA games simply because my character didn't say a dialogue choice in the right tone of voice. *sigh*

Izzy said...

I liked ME1, and the romance there. I also like DA and Alistair, but I also hadn't played enough to run into some of the problems Ana did. (Alistair did try and dump me when I crowned him, but I'd taken the "harden him" option and so cheerfully became his mistress instead.) Also, I got him into bed near enough to the end that the post-sex lack of conversation didn't hit hard.

Which makes the TOR romances irksome. Now, granted, I am shallow, and granted, maybe Jorgen will grow on me as romance-potential, but...at the moment, he seems to be doing a lot of lecturing me on how tough being a commander is. Which is not rubbing my trooper the right way, let me tell you. Especially coming from a hairless catboy.

As a Sten-equivalent "I will test your command but eventually come to respect you" friend, cool. As a romance option? Meh. (Also, aren't there regs about not sleeping with someone in your immediate chain of command?)

chris the cynic said...

I've only played the very beginning of Human Revolution* but it managed to piss me off in the first conversation because the options it gave me were ... not the options it gave me. It tells you what the option is in a general sense and what the exact dialog will be, but the two things didn't match.

So what happened was that someone said something really insulting to me on my first day back on the job after having spent six months in rehabilitation after being nearly killed, having much of my body replaced with mechanical prostheses, and watching my ex be murdered in front of me (yes, she was fridged, yes that makes me have serious doubts as to the quality of the game.) I was given the options to Ignore or Confront. I felt like I wasn't interested in getting into a fight right now. I'd had a bad life, I just wanted to get on with things without unnecessary conflict, so I was all ready to choose Ignore, until I read what it said.

"I'm going to ignore that," is not ignoring something. And, I think though it's been a while, there was actually more confrontational stuff in the so called "Ignore" option than just the passive aggressive, "I'm going to ignore that," that it opened up with. I think it there was even more to indicate that it was, "I'm going to ignore that because I'm so much better than you."

In the end I chose to go with "Confront" because I preferred being openly confrontational than being a passive aggressive ass. But I didn't want to choose that and I was pissed off that they lied about what my choices were. I wouldn't have minded the fact that I had to confront the guy nearly so much if they hadn't tried to trick me into thinking I had a choice in the matter. If they'd labeled my options as two different forms of confrontation, say Direct and Indirect, it wouldn't have bothered me nearly so much, but they claimed to be giving me an option they weren't giving me and that made me mad.

So, anyway, I definitely see what you mean with wanting to see what it is you'll be saying, and I know I've had times where I had a similar reaction to unexpected tone of voice.

-

* Which I will at some point play all of because it thinks it is a Deus Ex game, I love Deus Ex to the point of unhealthy obsession, and people have gone so far as to want to know what I think of Human Revolution as someone with an obsessive interest in Deus Ex.

Loquat said...

I didn't find Mass Effect 1 or 2 depressing (well, 2 CAN be depressing if you go for the ending where your whole crew dies in the final mission, but that's easily avoidable). The non-specific dialogue trees get annoying as hell, though. The most egregious example I recall is when a crewmate in ME2 comes to the realization that he hates Turians, and of the 3 responses you're presented with, only the "renegade" option mentions in its description the existence of another crewmate who happens to BE a Turian. Maybe the other two options turn out to include a "hey, btw, don't go starting fights with the Turian onboard", but after playing the SWTOR beta I wouldn't count on it. (Why yes, I DID play a Trooper and accidentally find myself covering up a report of corruption because I didn't realize the dialogue trees only had the one chance to report it, why do you ask?)

The Mass Effect romances are a mixed bag - I liked the human male available in ME1, and played ME2 being faithful to him (also didn't find the available men in ME2 to be better) - but if you enjoy guys who turn awkward in romantic situations I recommend Garrus in ME2. Sure, he's a Turian with totally incompatible biochemistry, and his face looks like a mashup of a cat, a velociraptor, and a lobster, but he has some of the most hilarious dialogue I've ever heard in a video game.

Will Wildman said...

Also, holy crap, I don't think I want to try the Dragon Age games. O_O Please tell me that the Mass Effect games aren't also super depressing?

Dragon Age 2 is, near as I can tell, much less depressing than DAO - it's still set in a rather brutal environment, but your companions are better people and even your enemies aren't running around in rape gangs. I haven't played DAO, but I liked DA2 a lot, and have rarely felt like I was being forced in any particularly awful directions. (Mass Effect is definitely more the shiny epic hero story.)

I'm beginning to think Bioware isn't so hot at figuring out romance options for people, just based on SW:TOR alone. [....] And my smuggler has a pet sexist twit. Yay. -_-

I have little hope that I will enjoy any of the romance options in TOR. One of my favourite characters that I've made so far is an Imperial Agent, and while she may be lightside, Pet Sexist would still get faceshot. No idea what options she'll actually get, though. (In one of the first quests, I convinced a gang thug to let someone's little brother go with a cheerful "Unlock the cage orrrrr I shoot you in the face!" and I have decided this is as good a catchphrase as any.)

OrionJA mentioned Silk Fox, from the Xbox wuxia RPG Jade Empire - there were only three romance options in there (the ninja princess and the slaver-hunter are both available for either gender, plus the childhood friend for dudes only) and I think all of them were designed to be more or less as agreeable as possible. Childhood Friend is still a depressingly shallow character; in comparison, the princess is basically Fantasy China Bat(wo)man and the dude joins your party because you already had the same goals as him (beat slavers senseless).

Ana Mardoll said...

Well, I'm pretty firmly against the death penalty in any case, so even if Loghain (sp? It's been awhile) was roasting babies every morning for breakfast, I still wouldn't be (a) in favor of executing him and (b) wouldn't like Alistair abandoning a quest to Save All The Remaining Babies because he was upset at my decision. I think preventing armaggeddon is the bigger concern there.

Kish said...

Believing Alistair is wrong is one thing. Distorting Alistair's position the way your post does is another, and, if I knew nothing about the game except Alistair's reasons for refusing to accept Loghain as a Grey Warden (setting aside the manifest logical impossibility of that), would cause me to take the rest of your post with enough salt to throw it out; if you don't care about accuracy there, why should I take your word for any of the rest of it?

Ana Mardoll said...

Hmm. Well... I don't feel like it's a distortion to be honest. But everything I post on the blog is my opinion and should be taken as such. Sorry? Not really sure what to say about this. :/ I don't think anything you added about Loghain is missing from the post in terms of content.

Kish said...

You think "political wranglings resulted in the death of a guy who was going to die, one way or another, within less than a year" is semantically identical to, "committed treason, regicide, slavery, and did his level best to kill Alistair and everyone Alistair cared about, and did get most of them"?

...Wow. I have no idea how to respond to that. Oh well.

Ana Mardoll said...

I pointed out in-post that Ferelden sucks and that pretty much ALL the nobility are treasonous murderous raping slave owners. I don't know why I should have to point that out again for Loghain.

The post is also written with a tongue-in-cheek ranting tone from the perspective that the reader is passingly familiar with DA:O and has played it enough to know a thing or two about the world. (See statements like "And let's not forget..." and similar.)

Also, the biggest thing that Alistair gripes about with regard to Loghain -- iirc, and remember I wrote this post almost a year ago -- is the stuff involving Duncan. So I take him at his word and referenced that.

I feel like you are saying that my post is inaccurate and offensive to you as such. That's your right to feel that way, and I've apologized for causing offense. But I feel like I'm being invited into a semantic argument that I don't really want to have. I'm sorry. I don't like Alistair's behavior in the incident in question and I described it from my perspective. No doubt other people have different, equally valid perspectives.

Izzy said...

Yeah--while the Alistair stuff doesn't bug me so much by and large, the Loghain flip-out irks. Dude, we don't have that many warm bodies, must less warm bodies that can fight with any skill. You're a Gray Warden, you know it's basically a really squalid death sentence...

...actually, I wonder if that ties in. Because if Alistair admitted that one death sentence was as good as another, he'd be admitting that he (and the Warden, who he's in love with or really respects or whatever by that time) is facing the same fate. Not sure if the game supports that conclusion or not, but it's an interesting way to go.

depizan said...

I've not played Mass Effect because I HATE dialogue trees where I don't actually know in advanced exactly what I will say.

SW:TOR has that problem, too. (Though if you hit the the escape keep before the scene finishes, you can start over, at least.) Usually, the dialogue is about what I expect from what's on the dialogue wheel, but - and this is going to sound straight up weird - a couple of times, I escaped out and chose dark side rather than light side for my Jedi because the light side options seemed deeply wrong. (But there are times when I find Jedi morality rather orange and blue. Or just plain WTF?)

It'd be lovely if the dialogue wheels showed you the entire line on mouse over. Still wouldn't guarantee it's said in the right tone, of course.

depizan said...

As a Sten-equivalent "I will test your command but eventually come to respect you" friend, cool. As a romance option? Meh. (Also, aren't there regs about not sleeping with someone in your immediate chain of command?)

Ergh. Not only would there be regs about no sleeping with your subordinates (or should be *eyes the sometimes odd ethical systems in Star Wars*), but while a friendship that begins with command doubts reads okay (at least at first glance), I can't help thinking there are piles of unfortunate implications when you have a romance begin that way. I'd even say especially when you have a man doubting a woman.

The fact that my smuggler is longing for a "thwap Corso"* option does not help. I'm becoming a little concerned that all of the romance options** for female characters are (or could be seen as, even if that wasn't the intent - as it sounds like with Jorgen) sexist.


*Or however one would label that smack to the head that Gibbs uses on his subordinates on NCIS.

**At least for the moment. I would expect the same-sex romance options won't be. That would be really bizarre.

chris the cynic said...

*Or however one would label that smack to the head that Gibbs uses on his subordinates on NCIS.

I just call it a Gibbs-smack.

I'd love to contribute something more meaningful, but my brain largely shut down twenty minutes ago.

depizan said...

Hey, at least that answered my question. I can now fantasize about my smuggler Gibbs-smacking her idiot sidekick using the proper terminology. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

The reason is obvious and is the same as the reason why you can't have Loghain thrown in prison: To force an artificial choice between Alistair and Loghain at that point.

Very true. Too often, a forced action for the sake of the plot/programming makes a character utterly unlikable.

Ana Mardoll said...

and this is going to sound straight up weird - a couple of times, I escaped out and chose dark side rather than light side for my Jedi because the light side options seemed deeply wrong. (But there are times when I find Jedi morality rather orange and blue. Or just plain WTF?)

That doesn't sound weird to me at all, ha. The KOTOR games had a few moments like that, iirc, where I was like "wait, that's the LIGHT SIDE option??" Buh?

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm glad your brain at least left us with Gibbs-smack. :)

Sorry about the politics at home. Hugs? :)

depizan said...

I can't remember if I responded over there, or not.

I don't know, the Jedi have always had some aspects that I found "wait...what?", so that makes a certain degree of sense, if one assumes that light side/dark side maps onto Jedi/Sith instead of good/evil. (Except this fails to explain why sleeping with people for information is a light side action if you're an Imperial Agent. Though, I suppose it doesn't involve love, so the Jedi side of the force is okay with it. Wait...what?)

It's on the Jedi quests that I've run into problems, and, so far, only those. There have been a few other Republic side quests that I didn't agree with the light side/dark side division, but it seems less weird to pick the occasional dark side option when playing a smuggler. And it would seem less weird to be picking the occasional dark side options on my basically good Republic characters if I weren't waltzing through effortlessly picking the light side options on my good guy Imperial Agent.

Or it could just mean that my personal idea of what a hero is for some reason maps best onto James Bond in a galaxy far, far away. Okay, he's too kind, reckless, and disloyal to be James Bond, but still...

chris the cynic said...

Hugs.

Loquat said...

I think the whole problem with Jedi morality is that the movies established them with this binary system where you're either a monk who's withdrawn from the world, much like stereotypical Buddhist monks IRL*, or you're on the path to PURE EVIL. There doesn't seem to be the possibility of a middle ground where you know how to use the Force, keep your emotional connections to other people, and still remain good; indulging any kind of strong emotion is assumed to lead straight to kitten-burning For Teh Evulz.

*Avatar: The Last Airbender plays with this, having a teacher show up and tell Aang he needs to let go of his attachments, including his love for Katara, in order to fully master the Avatar state. Unlike in Star Wars, though, that seems to be more a matter of rearranging priorities than giving up love altogether, and indeed it seems to be unremarkable for Avatars to marry and have children.

depizan said...

Actually, when you add in the fact that being force sensitive/strong in the force/whatever we're calling it these days runs in families, meaning it's genetic, the idea of Jedi not loving takes on a whole new dimension of WTF. I can only assume that I simply haven't come across the the Jedi whore house. (Seriously, there has to be something like that, right? The Jedi should be encouraging their members to have children, since that's how you continue to have Jedi, so there has to be some place for loveless sex. ... Aaaand I've just answered the question of why sleeping with people for information is light side. *facepalm* Loveless sex, A-OK, love, baaaaad.* At least it's consistent)

Avatar: The Last Airbender was great. I really should buy it one of these days. Support good fiction and all that. (I checked it out from the library to watch.)

*I should note that I don't actually have anything against people practicing sex, loveless or otherwise. It's when you throw in that love is bad that my brain gets an out of cheese error. If the light side was just sex positive, I'd think it was kind of cool, actually. You don't get much of that in fiction.

Ana Mardoll said...

There was a lot of discussion about this when the "new" trilogy really solidified the whole "no love" thing. (Which had not really been in the original there movies, so a lot of the fanbase wasn't aware of it.)

The Lucas Franchise people announced formally that SEX was okay but LOVE was not because furble wurble gobbeldy gook. I remember a meme going around for awhile that was something like:

Master: Where are you going, young Jedi?
Padawan: To the whore-house.
Master: The Force be with you.

By which I mean, a good many people were pretty furious that loveless sex was being held up as appropriate but LOVE MAKES YOU EVIL because emotions are bad.

depizan said...

It's not just not in the original three movies, it's not in any of the spin off stuff (role playing games, assorted official novels, comic books) until after the prequel trilogy. Unless it popped up in some Jedi centered thing I didn't read. In fact, in the sequel official novels, when Luke rebuilds the Jedi, he does take a middle path that says that love is good, and even gets married.

So far, in the game Jedi light side options have a bad tendency to be... er... obnoxious goody goody (there's probably a tv trope for it, but I'm afraid to go look). It's not just what your character does, it's how they do it. In the early stuff while you're a padawan, you come off like the sort of kid who just loves telling the teacher about anything "bad" the other kids are doing. Maybe it's the voice acting for the female consular, not just the lines, but it sure wasn't doing anything for my being a Jedi fan (something I've never been*).


*I suppose that should be elaborated on. I can kind of excuse Obi Wan lying to Luke - I can think of plenty of very understandable reasons why he didn't want to be honest about Vader. (Up to and including that he'd convinced himself that Anakin and Vader were two different people because furble wurble gobbledy gook while he was being a desert hermit.) Yoda, though... I don't like it when wise mentor characters claim certainty and knowledge they don't actually have. And Yoda either straight up lied to Luke or seriously misrepresented things to Luke when it came to Luke going to rescue his friends. He told Luke to let them die if he honored what they were fighting for and - shit, half the time I fast forward the Yoda/Luke parts *sheepish* - either implied or straight up said that if Luke went to rescue them the rebellion was doomed.

I have two issues with this. One, Yoda was wrong. Luke went, semi-succeeded, and the rebellion succeeded. It's even possible that the rebellion would have failed if he hadn't gone - we don't know, but Leia, at least was an important leader in the rebellion, and Han, Chewie, and Lando came in mighty handy in the battle. Hell, Yoda even admitted you can't bloody see the future for sure. Yet he was fine with telling Luke to sacrifice his friends.

Issue two is that Yoda is incredibly not good with people (as the prequels make very, very clear). He should've sat down with Luke down and talked over the situation. Okay, Vader's torturing your friends for the express purpose of capturing you, so you going to rescue them is extra risky. Perhaps we can figure something else out. Also, Obi Wan was an idiot and didn't tell you, but Vader's your father. Thought you should know. Or at least advise Luke to stick to rescuing his friends, not going off to face Vader, which is when the whole thing started going south.

(Granted, it is entirely possible that Luke's going accomplished nothing, since it was primarily Lando who rescued Leia, Chewie, and 3PO.)

In short, though, Jedi think they're a lot shinier good than they really are. (which makes the portrayal in the game pretty much how I've always thought of them, actually)

Ana Mardoll said...

Depizan, I swear. You post things and I just want to go THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hated Yoda until the prequel trilogy came out. Hated him. Rage button hate. Dad teased me about it. For all the things you say. I thought he was an absolute JERK.

Then the prequel came out and I was all, "Oh, he's not a wise mentor who is abusive and manipulative and being held up to be emulated, he's been utterly broken by the loss and murder of all his friends and he's a completely unreliable character who should not be trusted in any way shape or form! Woobie!" It wasn't a *redemptive* character change for me, but more of a "oh, I can see why he's toxic now. You still don't get to be a teacher, but here is your hug."

I've said several times that the ONLY good thing about the prequels (for me) was that they made me sympathize with Yoda instead of hate him.*

* Not Worth It, in terms of everything else the prequels took away, but ymmv.

I haven't read the novels -- though I own one and I've TV Trope read a lot of them -- but yeah, I'd gotten the impression that the love thing was prequel-only.

Which has the VERY AMUSING side effect that most systems have to rank Luke Skywalker as a "Gray Jedi" now, i.e., a middle-ground between Light and Dark. If I were a Jedi, that's where I'd be. Only I'd call it Grey.

Izzy said...

Right, but there's that bit where Wardens all eventually go to the Deep Roads and get, like, tentacled to death.

There is the reputation thing. But I'm all "...goddammit, Character X, suck it up and be practical!" as a general rule, so.

Izzy said...

Ugh, yeah. I'm not sure what Bioware was going for there, but...fleh.

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't really think the reputation thing matters. I mean the sequel makes it clear that Ferelden doesn't even remember your RACE and GENDER, right? :/

If history is written by the winners, I'm pretty sure Loghain can be pointed out as a Grade A Jerk to everyone's heart's content after the war is over. (Unless, you know, Alistair marries his daughter.)

Makabit said...

The Jedi, as they were portrayed in the prequels, just didn't seem like very nice, intelligent or ethical people.

Loquat said...

Another take on loveless Jedi sex: Do us all a favor, kid, and go bone yourself some whores.

My theory is that Lucas heard about Buddhism, and how you're supposed to strive for enlightenment and can't achieve it without detaching yourself from the passions and concerns of this world, and somehow twisted that into Enlightenment = Heaven = Good, therefore non-Enlightenment = Hell = Evil, therefore anything that keeps you from Enlightenment is keeping you from being Good and is making you Evil.

Dav said...

(Up to and including that he'd convinced himself that Anakin and Vader were two different people because furble wurble gobbledy gook while he was being a desert hermit.)

You can find a lot of fun hallucinogenics in the desert. I'm sure there's, say, a peyote equivalent on Tatooine, and herbalism is a totally legit profession for a hermit monk.

depizan said...

Ah, I'm not the only one who found Yoda seriously messed up in the original trilogy. Yes, he became a whole lot more understandable on watching the prequels.

As far as the game goes, I'm finding it highly unlikely that I can play anything but a Grey Jedi. Eh. If it's good enough for Luke Skywalker, it's good enough for me.

(Of course, I'm having far more fun playing my smuggler and my agent, anyway. My smuggler finally got her ship back! Yay! Except it came with another annoying person in it. (She's collecting them, it seems.) If Ms. Skavak's partner/girlfriend/whatever who keeps ordering my smuggler around is supposed to become a romance option for male smugglers, I'm beginning to think Bioware just plain Fails Romance Forever. So far the only companion I actually like* is Qyzen, who I'm pretty sure is not a romance option for my consular seeing as he's a lizard dude. But he is a cool lizard dude.)

(*Evil assassin lady is an interesting companion for my agent story-wise, but I wouldn't have a drink with her. Qyzen the awesome lizard dude, however...)

depizan said...

Right, but there's that bit where Wardens all eventually go to the Deep Roads and get, like, tentacled to death.

Tentacled to death? O_o While that probably isn't as horrific in the game as the place to which my brain went*, it still sounds pretty horrific. The world in Dragon Age is pretty completely messed up, I see.


*I have seen hentai. Nothing more needs to be said.

Kish said...

First, I'm very sorry you're in so much physical pain in real life.

Second, it was really unclear who you meant by "you." The sequel does not make it clear that Ferelden doesn't remember the race or gender of the protagonist of Dragon Age 1--quite the opposite. Yes, the "Varric always starts off claiming Hawke was white" thing is quite obnoxious. (Although that paraphrase is also inaccurate. Varric starts out blatantly lying, expecting and planning to be called on it, and indeed Cassandra does call him on it a few minutes in.)

Third, it has become very clear over the past day or two that you have certain views on subjectivity that I find impossible to relate to. If you want to claim that Edward doesn't actually, in Twilight text, sparkle in the sunlight, that Ophelia is the real protagonist of Claymore (I'm assuming here that I can take your description of something I haven't seen as accurate, an assumption I had no hesitation in making day before yesterday), that the text of Narnia (as opposed to speculations about what might happen off-page) indicates Susan is still in Aslan's good graces at the end of The Last Battle, or that King Harrowmont abolishes the caste system--or, as in this specific example, that Loghain goes down in history as a traitor and regicide rather than a hero even if he becomes a Grey Warden--well, if you want me to stop reading and commenting on your blog, say so, and I will. If you want me to pretend that whatever you say, even if it directly contradicts the text, isn't doing so, then you should say you want me to leave.

Dav said...

Yikes, Ana. My thoughts are with you.

Ana Mardoll said...

No, I do not want anyone to pretend that whatever I say is true. I have specifically said (http://www.anamardoll.com/2011/12/deconstruction-running-deconstruction.html ) that the best part of a deconstruction is when people disagree. But there is a very big world of difference between "I feel completely different about the text" or even "I think you're interpreting it wrong" and saying that my interpretation "ignores" the text and that I'm just making stuff up.

And in case it's not clear, and because it should be said directly, I very much do NOT want you to leave. I like you a lot and I value your posts. I'm just asking -- for my sake, not because you "should" or anything but merely because it would help me a lot -- that you could maybe be a little bit more polite. Or, you know, you can choose not to be. I'm not going to ban you or anything, but I may have to sort of mentally filter a little because of the aforementioned long week. It's 100% up to you.

Ana Mardoll said...

And I would like to add another thing.

A big reason why I ask people to be polite to me is to protect myself because I get very sad when people are not polite to me. Sure, who doesn't. That motivation is obvious. :)

But the other reason I ask this is that my stomach goes in knots when I see someone say I'm ignoring the text, or something similar, because I feel like I have to DROP EVERYTHING NOW and go answer before someone ELSE jumps in to defend me and then now there's two posters upset with each other. I would rather people be upset with me, than feel like they have to choose sides and duke it out.

So when I fling myself in here pre-coffee and say "look, I kind of feel like maybe you could phrase that better," I am -- yes -- trying to say "look, I do have feelings," but I am also trying to preemptively stop flame wars before they start because I would like this to be a relatively safe space.

I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but hopefully that helps clarify why I'm not just ignoring someone when I feel like they're calling me out. I worry that ignoring will allow a fight to fester that could end up driving them off. :(

Ana Mardoll said...

(And thank you, Dav. *hugs*)

Ana Mardoll said...

(And the question there wasn't sarcastic, btw. I genuinely do not understand why, when you can choose to reject Loghain going down in history as a hero, you aren't choosing to reject Alistair insisting on killing him.)

And to answer your question honestly, when I said "I'm pretty sure he doesn't need to go down in history as a hero", I was trying to speak from the POV that the Warden and Alistair have at the time they're deciding whether or not to let him live. I'm talking about what information Alistair had (potentially) available to him at the time of his choice.

Not what the epilogue mandates happened anyway. I've no control over that, but Alistair (in universe!) *did*.

If that makes sense. :)

depizan said...

Gah. That sounds awful. I hope another period of less pain happens soon.
Hugs?

Ana Mardoll said...

I ALWAYS love hugs, thank you! :)

Also, on the plus side, it sounds like Dad is getting better.

Rikalous said...

Hugs and good wishes for Ana and chris.

Concerning prequel Jedi and the unpleasantness thereof, I think that bringing them down was part of Anakin's prophesied role in bringing balance to the Force. He tears down, in large part personally, the emotionally repressed (and clone-slaving) Jedi Order, then he tears down, in larger part personally, the wicked Sith, then the fruit of his loins goes on (go on? I don't think Leia went into the Jedi-ing business) to found a more Middle Path style of Jedi. Naturally, the Sith pop up again there can be villains, but it's a step up.

I hadn't heard about the loveless sex thing, but it makes total sense. From a prequel-Jedi point of view, it's dealing with some distracting physical urges without any of those dangerous emotional attachments.

One thing about Yoda's brokenness that I don't think got brought up is that he's had the last couple decades to convince himself that running and hiding in a swamp to await further developments was the best move he could have made. He tells Luke he needs to sacrifice his friends for the greater good because Yoda's sacrificed however many people to the Empire because he didn't think Palpatine could be brought down until Luke was a trained Jedi.

depizan said...

He tells Luke he needs to sacrifice his friends for the greater good because Yoda's sacrificed however many people to the Empire because he didn't think Palpatine could be brought down until Luke was a trained Jedi.

Pity no one thought to toss him off a bridge before. (Palpatine, that is.) Granted, it might have taken a force user given that he was sparking at the time.

That's a really good point about Yoda's advice coming from justifying his own actions. Never thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense.

Rikalous said...

The fact that Vader was the person Palpatine trusted the most also helped.

Heh. His faith in his subordinate was his weakness.

Loquat said...

The Jedi Order as presented in the prequels was clearly badly in need of reform, though I think that's a problem shared by the whole governing system of the Republic. The Senate as we see it in Phantom Menace is largely ineffectual and easily led, and while we're never really told what motivates the Separatists besides Sith manipulation, there must be some sort of real issue that's winning the support of the rank and file.

The Jedi Order itself effectively works in concert with the Sith to promulgate the idea that having Force skill sets you apart from everyone else - both organizations maintain their power in no small part by making potential students pick one or the other and give up all attachments to family, home planet, anything else that might compete for their loyalty. I would not be at all surprised if both Jedi and Sith actively suppressed anyone who tried to teach the use of the Force independently.

Some author wrote an essay once about how Jedi should be setting up independent schools all over the place, like karate schools IRL, where you can go to learn self-defense or fitness or discipline or whatever you think karate might do for you, and nobody expects you to devote your life to it. I'm not looking it up atm because my raid expects me to help kill this ancient undead Titan now. That's what I get for trying to converse on the internet during raid breaks.

depizan said...

Silly Sith. If anyone should know better than to trust their subordinate, it is a Sith. Especially when the subordinate is also a Sith.

The interesting thing about Palpatine's death (at least I very much hope he died, what with the exploding and all) is that it's pretty much the first pre-prequel time we see, er, normal methods used to kill a force user. In retrospect, if we're counting the prequels, it's kind of odd it never occurred to Yoda that he didn't need a Jedi Knight. After all, the Jedi were wiped out by men with blasters.

And Sith can't be more powerful than Jedi or they'd have taken over the galaxy. Unless their in-fighting doomed them.

Huh, I just realized that it's lack of clarity and periodic inconsistencies actually add to why I love the Star Wars universe so much. Lucas somehow (possibly accidentally) made an extremely real world. I'd hate to live there for real, but it is hands down my favorite universe for role playing. Hell, the MMO has me contemplating writing actual fan fiction, not just silly blog entries.

depizan said...

I hope you get a chance to find that essay later, it sounds interesting. (Good luck with the Titan, by the way.)

Not only is the karate school model a really good idea, it addresses one of the odd things about force user education. We see in the prequels that force sensitive kids are taken very young for training. I mean, Anakin was what, nine? And Yoda thinks he's too old. This is creepy, guys. But it also suggests one of two things: either the Jedi run around checking toddlers for force sensitivity, or a whole lot of force users never get trained. (Because if they're not checking kids, they're mostly going to get kids from families that already have produced Jedi. We know the force is hereditary, but we don't know enough about the genetics to know how often it pops up in families that haven't had Jedi for generations.)

This is further complicated in SWTOR by the implication that one can get kicked out of the Jedi order while a padawan. WTF? I can't see any problems with half trained force users who might have reason to dislike Jedi running around. (Unless kicked out means shot in the head. Which is a different problem.)

It's also complicated - on the other side - in the game by the fact that there are escapee half trained Sith out there. You meet one, anyway. Now, given the power that the Jedi and Sith have, I don't think the various loose force users are likely to find one another and form their own force system, but it is an interesting idea. (Especially as the escapee you meet goes off with his force sensitive son, if you let him.)

Rikalous said...

The Jedi were wiped out by men with blasters who they trusted.

Since the Republic has handheld force sensitivity testers, a midiclorian test is probably routine in the "civilized" worlds. Out on the rim, they probably become legendary blasterslingers or pilots.

Makabit said...

I feel I must mention the existence of the Sith Academy stories, in case anyone here is not familiar with them. This is some of the funniest, and oddly, some of the deepest, Star Wars fanfic I am aware of.

http://www.siubhan.com/sithacademy/

"He focused his hatred of peppermint, his fear of women with two year old children, his anger at the seemingly eternal "Jingle Bell Rock" marathon, his suffering at the hands of his master... The Dark Side of the Force swirled around him like a cloak. He felt it consume him. He took the entire wretched Christmas experience, all the greed, hypocrisy and tinsel in to the biggest mind whammy he'd ever done. He roared at the top of his lungs:

"YOU WILL ALL GET OUT OF MY WAY!!! YOU WILL GIVE ME THE PINK FURBY!!! YOU WILL ALL LEAVE THIS PLACE!!! YOU WILL FORGET ABOUT CHRISTMAS!!!! YOU WILL... YOU WILL ..." He was at a loss. He'd never had such power before. He could do it! He could rise up and slay...

"--you will all vote for Palpatine," said a silky voice behind him, using a mind whammy that made his look puny.


"A vote for Palpatine is a vote for order..." The crowd was chanting.

"Let us go my Apprentice. That's quite enough Christmas spirit for you." Maul nodded, a little shamefacedly. Then Darth Sidious noticed the huge bag of cat toys and shook his head."

Izzy said...

The Jedi love-v.-sex thing came up at a party lately, and my response is still that it's the best excuse for not calling ever.

"Sorry, babe, had a great time, but...mystical order, necessary detachment from things of this world, emotions lead to the Dark Side, you know how it is. Also, I have an early meeting tomorrow."

...annnd now I need to create a Jedi alt on TOR.

Loquat said...

I don't know that there are a lot of escaped Sith trainees out there; if we can believe that guy from the SWTOR starter planet, it takes quite a bit of effort to get out of Sith training as something other than either a full-fledged Sith or a corpse. And I have no trouble believing that both Jedi and Sith have persuaded their respective mundane governments to enforce a ban on "unlicensed" Force trainers. (Also, does anyone else think that the dark side option on the quest is actually kinda dumb? Killing a guy in front of his kid and then sending the kid off to Sith training sounds like a good way to get revenge-force-lightninged several years down the road.)

RE the small children in Jedi training - you know how some governments IRL take little kids with athletic talent off to special training, to try and produce the best possible athletes for the Olympics? I suspect at least some of the planetary governments in the old republic are screening for potential Jedi the same way, and for pretty much the same reason. (Do Jedi ever do product endorsements? Collectible trading cards? It seems like the kind of career that could easily attract a large fan base willing to spend money.)

I believe it was David Brin I'm remembering - he has an essay about Star Wars and Star Trek here, though that doesn't seem to contain the karate-school analogy, and I can't find it anywhere else. That essay does have a number of good points about how Star Wars promotes the idea of heroes as unaccountable demigods, though.

Will Wildman said...

The Jedi in TOR are messed up for SO MANY reasons, not the least being their enormously haphazard approach to teaching. They also picked perhaps the worst bit to come out of the YA Jedi Apprentice series - that those who want to be Jedi but just aren't powerful enough are [i]forced[/i] into the agricultural corps. Other NPCs remark that some Jedi become diplomats and scientists and cetera, but apparently if you're not Forcey enough you absolutely must become a farmer. What in the actual hell, Jedi. No wonder the galaxy is full of Sith.

That's not quite as bad as their colonialism, though. We start out on Tython, the 'ancient homeworld' of the Jedi, which I thought was a fascinating idea until I found out that there were Savage Natives. Natives? Aren't we the natives here? Nope! Jedi apparently colonised this world right next to a major population of language-using bipeds and declared that it was [i]our[/i] homeworld because this is where the first Jedi Council formed.

We remain baffled at the violence of the natives attacking our settlements, but brush it off as being part of their inherent savagery. I hate us so much.

Ana Mardoll said...

I love this thread because I'm fully in resonance with the opinion that Star Wars is FULL OF FAIL and yet a wonderful, wonderful setting for fanfic. I used to write SW fanfic and had such fun doing it. I've often wondered if there's anyway to make a "real" book out of my stuff without someone immediately going STAR WARS!!

Maybe if I make everyone sci-fi monks with swords and mystical powers oh wait--

Gelliebean said...

I was going to link Sith Academy also - it's a collection that I never tire of re-reading. :-D Particularly, I like this paragraph from the Critical Afterword, where all I can do is continue to nod in agreement:

"You're nuts, I can hear you thinking. The Sith Academy is all about hot guys bonking. Everyone knows that. Well, that's certainly true. But as a phallophobic lesbian who finds it difficult to drool over any specimen of manhood, I've got to find some other way of explaining my fascination with this phenomenon. And I think it's the blasphemy that does it for me. What makes the Sith Academy so scandalizingly funny is the complete dissolution, perversion, and warping of the spiritual/ethical/moral system that supposedly structures the Star Wars universe. I say "supposedly" because part of the Sith Academy's appeal is the way it emphasizes--and then blows up into rampant, glorious excess--the basic moral bankruptcy of the canon universe. After all, how do we know from the movie that the Jedi are good and the Sith are evil? Well, because the Sith wear black, make dark threats in sonorous tones, and are allied with a bunch of aliens who talk and act like the villains in an old Charlie Chan movie, whereas the Jedi wear earth tones, talk like they walked right out of one of those pocket collections of pithy nuggets of Eastern wisdom that people buy to put in the magazine basket by the toilet in the guestroom, and are allied with a group of humans led by a young and beautiful girl (and, later, with a race of stupid but good-hearted 'primitives' whose clumsy antics are comic rather than sinister). It never really gets deeper than that. For instance, as has been pointed out in the Sith Academy, the Jedi don't seem to be too concerned about the fact that slavery is an accepted fact of life on Tatooine. In order to accomplish their ends, Jedi have no trouble whammying, cheating, stealing, or killing anyone who gets in their way. Nor do we ever see this 'Council' actually doing anything aside from training more Jedi and fighting the Sith. To make matters worse, we find out that one's Jedi powers are determined not by the strength of one's mind nor the purity of one's spirit, but by the concentration of midichlorians in one's bloodstream. The film wants us to believe that good and evil are metaphysical profundities; but what it really tells us is that they are cosmetic, superficial, at most skin deep."

I'm not great with the html-ness, but here's the link I took it from: http://www.siubhan.com/sithacademy/criticalafter.html

depizan said...

I've noticed several Dark Side options that seem rather short sighted. I can't think what they were off the top of my head, but I know I've thought some variant on "For the Dark Side does not think ahead" when mousing over Dark Side options. (And this is despite the fact that I'm playing a character, arguably two, who are quite capable of being, er, heroically unwise.)

But, yes, I doubt there are many escapees from Sith training. I suspect the number is higher than one, though.

depizan said...

Tython is a layer cake of wrong (or the Jedi are). You've got the colonialism (a problem other places in the Republic, too), you've got their refusal to protect the Twi'lek pilgrims (which leads to further problems), you've got their sometimes questionable teaching methods.

And that agricultural thing is not only WTFy on its own, but I'm suddenly appalled at the idea that, very likely, if you're force sensitive, you have to become a Jedi. They're better than the Sith how again? (Okay, they're marginally better. Just like the Republic is marginally better than the Empire. After all, the Republic people don't call my smuggler alien scum to her face. What they think privately...)

Will Wildman said...

"[...] For instance, as has been pointed out in the Sith Academy, the Jedi don't seem to be too concerned about the fact that slavery is an accepted fact of life on Tatooine. In order to accomplish their ends, Jedi have no trouble whammying, cheating, stealing, or killing anyone who gets in their way. Nor do we ever see this 'Council' actually doing anything aside from training more Jedi and fighting the Sith. To make matters worse, we find out that one's Jedi powers are determined not by the strength of one's mind nor the purity of one's spirit, but by the concentration of midichlorians in one's bloodstream. The film wants us to believe that good and evil are metaphysical profundities; but what it really tells us is that they are cosmetic, superficial, at most skin deep."

I'm actually not sure this is wholly accurate. There are approximately a million inhabited worlds that are officially part of the Republic at the time of the Clone Wars; there appear to be at best thousands of Jedi. They're not going to be able to ensure civil rights for all on every planet everywhere. It's debateable whether they should be taught to think bigger-picture on such a scale that they can visit a slaveholding world and not even really cringe, but sometimes it's possible that they really do have other concerns. Why isn't anyone else in the Republic apparently trying to solve the slaveholding on Naboo either? They're within a half-busted lightspeed jump from Renaissance World (Naboo). What's Amidala's excuse?

We only see the council as they related to the events of the movies; this strikes me as looking at any action movie that involves the US government and suggesting that the only concern of the president is deploying the army.

And I'm definitely vexed when people treat midichlorians as equivalent to Vegeta's >9000 power scouter - I mean, maybe a minute after we're told what they are, Obi-Wan says "Sweet sparkling Jedi undies, this kid has a count of over 20K! No one's had a number that high before - what does that mean?" And Qui-Gon replies "I don't know." If midichlorians were a raw measure of power, then this dialogue would indicate that Our Heroes are possibly the stupidest people in the galaxy - how could they not say "Big number equal more power"?

Midichlorians indicate natural Force awareness, yes, but this seems to me to be rather like saying that people with big ears are automatically better at cracking wartime ciphers because they can hear the messages better over their headphones. Even just offhand I could suspect that people with a high midichlorian count have a tendency to get dazzled by the Force and unable to concentrate, like trying to read a book via a powerful strobe light gleaming off a disco ball. For all we know, Yoda having a high count and being a powerful Jedi is really weird.

Brin Bellway said...

I have never watched more than ten minutes in a row of Star Wars. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should fix that, or if I should even bother. (Star Wars permeates our culture such that I can follow along with conversations like these just fine.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Does he ask "what does that mean?" I thought he asked, essentially, "how can that be?" I mean, Anakin is also (apparently) immaculately conceived, and so if I was to say "what does that mean?" after that, I would be saying "Flat What." but with less accurate words.

Mind you, I haven't seen that movie in so long. :/

Makabit said...

"I'm actually not sure this is wholly accurate. There are approximately a million inhabited worlds that are officially part of the Republic at the time of the Clone Wars; there appear to be at best thousands of Jedi. They're not going to be able to ensure civil rights for all on every planet everywhere. It's debateable whether they should be taught to think bigger-picture on such a scale that they can visit a slaveholding world and not even really cringe, but sometimes it's possible that they really do have other concerns. Why isn't anyone else in the Republic apparently trying to solve the slaveholding on Naboo either? They're within a half-busted lightspeed jump from Renaissance World (Naboo). What's Amidala's excuse?"

If the Republic can't ensure civil rights for people living on worlds that are part of their Republic, frankly, they need to get cracking. I'm not saying that it's specifically the Jedi's fault or responsibility, but if Tatooine is actually part of the Republic, I have no problem blaming the Republic for allowing it to be what it is, apparently without any kind of intervention or sanction.

Amidala doesn't have an excuse. Frankly, neither does Naboo. Any planet that elects a fourteen-year-old girl to be their supreme ruler pretty much deserves whatever is coming to them. (When I first got the notion that the pretty teenage girl was the queen of somewhere, I assumed that it was an inherited role, and that Mom and Dad had died in a tragic accident. No.)

The Republic is...well, I can't say that the Republic is disfunctional, because Lucas doesn't have the skill to adequately show a political process in any way. All the characters throw up their hands and dismiss democracy in action the second it doesn't give them exactly what they want.

depizan said...

The original trilogy is tasty popcorn. It's tasty popcorn one can have interesting discussions about, but they're basically pulp serials. They're fun. They also have a number of problems, beginning with the shortage of women and persons of color*. The prequel trilogy is less coherent - in my opinion - and has more plot holes. It also manages to have more problems, especially when it comes to race and gender. (I sometimes think Star Wars fans get the most fun out of the prequels arguing about what the wacky things added by them do to the universe. You've probably noticed that.)

So, if you like, or think you'd like, pulp serials, by all means, watch them. If that's not your sort of thing, well, you're probably not missing anything. (On account of it not being your thing.)


*Which would be why my SWTOR characters consist of seven women and one man, and include two aliens, and three definitely not white humans, and one somewhat dark skinned human. Only my two Sith (who I've yet to play) are definitely white. (Anything else felt like it had unfortunate implications, since one starts as a slave and the other is all about the rage.) The first place my brain went on character creation was "this universe needs more women. Also more non-white people."

Will Wildman said...

If the Republic can't ensure civil rights for people living on worlds that are part of their Republic, frankly, they need to get cracking. I'm not saying that it's specifically the Jedi's fault or responsibility, but if Tatooine is actually part of the Republic, I have no problem blaming the Republic for allowing it to be what it is, apparently without any kind of intervention or sanction.

I agree on this point - looking at my exact wording, I think it's grammatically okay but maybe not semantically clear that I'm saying "The Jedi can't be expected to enforce Republic law on every world", with the implication that this should be the Republic's job. From dialogue in Ep1 (Watto talking about currencies, Shmi talking about Hutt rule) I think it's implied that Tatooine is not a Republic world, but there's still wiggle room for 'this is a Republic world on paper but in practice they don't enforce anything and the mob is in control'.

---

I used to write SW fanfic and had such fun doing it. I've often wondered if there's anyway to make a "real" book out of my stuff without someone immediately going STAR WARS!!

Maybe if I make everyone sci-fi monks with swords and mystical powers oh wait--


I do this all the time. I start with 'how would I turn this old fanfiction into my own setting', start prodding at character origins and goals, fixing inconsistencies with magic/technology/whathaveyou, and before long I'm off to the races and the similarities have been buried under six layers of new worldbuilding.

There is room in the world for more and better sci fi wuxia, which ultimately Star Wars rather is. I think we'd have to ditch the lightsabers, and probably midichlorians too (oh noes), but Superhuman Monks In Space is plenty to get started with. Actually, the sci fi setting would be all the justification we need to introduce real sciencey sonoluminescence as a perk of the monks' superhuman powers: their mightiest spirit-infused strikes moved with such speed and force as to actually create flashes of light. Which then makes me think that I bet they look amazing when they dance. No one who dances will ever be mistaken for a canonical Jedi.

Loquat said...

The original trilogy is fun, albeit with occasional Fails like "if you allow yourself to feel anger or hatred for Space Hitler, you will become evil and join the Space Nazis".

The prequel trilogy is mainly good for mockery and deconstructions.

Will Wildman said...

Which would be why my SWTOR characters consist of seven women and one man, and include two aliens, and three definitely not white humans, and one somewhat dark skinned human. Only my two Sith (who I've yet to play) are definitely white. (Anything else felt like it had unfortunate implications, since one starts as a slave and the other is all about the rage.) The first place my brain went on character creation was "this universe needs more women. Also more non-white people."

At first I was bothered that the alien facial features were close or exact parallels of human facial features, but then I realised that there are ways in which this is awesome - it means that, aside from extremely alien shapes, aliens also don't have to look 'white'. I can make a Zabrak strongly reminiscent of a human from Africa, a Chiss strongly reminiscent of a human from Asia, et cetera. If we're going to have humanoid aliens, we really should have all the humanoid aliens.

My current favourite is a green-skinned, grey-dreadlocked female Mirialan consular, and I'm not sure if she has features associated with any particular human phenotype. Busy throwing rocks at people with my mind.

Makabit said...

Although, really, Tatooine's not such a bad place. I can't think of another place I'm aware of where the slaves of a junkyard owner have their own cute little two-bedroom apartment, apparently across town.

Makabit said...

That was written with massive 'worldbuilding you fail' sarcasm, BTW.

Rikalous said...

re: Midichlorians: My personal theory is that they aren't the cause of Force powers, just an indicator. The more connected you are to the Lifeweb, the more tiny things you have living in you cells. I'm aware that Qui-Gon says differently, but he's talking to an uneducated kid, and Qui-Gon has a loose relationship with truth anyway.

re: Tatooine slavery: Not only do they have that nice two-bedroom place, they're allowed enough food to be able to treat three strangers without any apparent worry about going hungry.

depizan said...

I've never been able to decide whether the slavery shown in the Phantom Menace is worldbuilding fail or an intentional bizarre representation. I have more sympathy for one than the other. And both seem quite possible given what a mess that the prequel trilogy is. Lucas must have decided that consistency was from the dark side.

The worldbuilding fail version goes something like this in my mind: I want Anakin to come from Tatooine. Okay, he's living there with his mom, and he's a genius with machines and he built 3PO. That's not very exciting. Something more should happen there. Oooh, let's have a chariot race with flying chariots! Wait, I need a reason for that. What goes with chariots? Oh, oh, I got it, he's winning his freedom. Yeah! And that's why mom doesn't come with them, too, she's a slave. Yeah. *scribble scribble*

It's fail, but it could easily have been averted if someone had pointed out that what's presented doesn't look anything like slavery. Perhaps a few tweaks to some type of contract employment that's illegal (or unwise if we're talking underworld figures here) to leave without buying off your contract would've been a better idea. Draw on sailing ships or mining or other sold my soul to the company store kind of thing.

The intentional bizarre representation version makes the assumption that the slavery came first and it not looking like slavery was because someone pointed out that it is massively WTFy of the Jedi to leave his mom in slavery. (How is that not a frickin' big dark side action!? It'd be one thing if they had no way to save her, but for frack's sake, just steal her. You're supposed to be heroes!) So, instead of changing any part of that (since he needed mom to stay in slavery to be fridged later), he made it shiny nice slavery so we don't all hate Qui Gon and Obi Wan with the passion of a thousand fiery suns for leaving his mom in slavery.

Makabit said...

"So, instead of changing any part of that (since he needed mom to stay in slavery to be fridged later), he made it shiny nice slavery so we don't all hate Qui Gon and Obi Wan with the passion of a thousand fiery suns for leaving his mom in slavery."

Except I do. They take her son, and they tell him, IIRC, that they'll come back for her, and they have no intention of doing so. And then they're SURPRISED when the kid murders them all in their beds?

I think that either of your theories about how the remarkably middle-class slavery of Tatooine came about in the script is entirely rational, but it seems to me that you could fairly easily write your way to a better version. I've got two or three ideas going right now, and I'm a high school teacher who writes historical fiction for fun.

Basically, Shmi's life story makes no sense at all, and her sole function in the movies seems to be to get killed so as to provide Anakin with story arc and character development. And she's just another nail in the coffin of "Wow, I wanted to be a Jedi when I was a kid, and I really don't any more. I mean, yes, I totally want a lightsaber, I just don't want to have anything to do with these wretched excuses for human beings."

depizan said...

To be honest, so do I. Hate them for lying to Anakin and hate them even more for leaving his mom there in the first place. After playing SWTOR, I just know that if I ever see the prequels again, I'm going to be imagining the red glow of dark side points for so many actions the good guys take. The game's morality is a bit messed up, but compared to the prequel trilogy... (Let's just say I can't see the game giving *Leave Shmi in slavery* as the light side option. Nor using the force to cheat at dice, for that matter, though that'd be a justifiable dark side action.)

You want to know what's really sad. Lucas could have avoided so much by simply having Anakin be the son of a poor (or even middle class) [insert Tatooinian profession here], put the pod race in to win money for the ship parts, and have Shmi stay behind because she had a job and a life there. I don't even know why she had to die - there was plenty going on that could've slowly driven Anakin to the dark side without that.

In may ways it would've been more interesting - and more dramatic - to have the Jedi take actions (starting with the ones they actually take in the movies - like the use of the clone troopers) that send Anakin to the dark side. Then you get the sense that the entire Jedi Order is on the verge of falling. (Which, realistically, I think it was.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't even understand WHY they left Shmi there! Apparently it would have been child's play to take her along. It's not like there were armed guards checking everyone going in and out. How is Anakin supposed to find peace and calm in his Jedi training knowing his mom is back home and still enslaved? Steal her and set her up in a nice place on Coruscant. Not that hard! o.O

Will Wildman said...

They take her son, and they tell him, IIRC, that they'll come back for her, and they have no intention of doing so.

They don't - Qui-Gon is pretty clear on the 'no, I only won your slavery, not hers; I didn't actually come here to free slaves', it's when Shmi and Anakin are talking that he says he believes he'll see her again, and she says that means they will, and the invisible caption says "CAN YOU TELL THAT WILL BE WHEN SHE DIES?"

I don't even understand WHY they left Shmi there! Apparently it would have been child's play to take her along.

All of the slaves are said to be implanted with scrambled explosive devices that are nigh-impossible to detect. And seeing as this is a universe where it's possible to Skype across thousands of light-years with no signal lag, it's not unreasonable to think that Watto can in fact detonate Shmi with his cell phone no matter how far away she runs.

---

Which is not to say that I wouldn't have been far more pleased with a movie that suddenly completely changed direction partway through. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan check out Tatooine to repair the ship, discover Anakin in all his propheceriality, look at the indentured servitude on the planet, and Big Q-G says in all his reckless wizard awesomeness "Hmm, I didn't come here to free slaves, but that doesn't mean the Force didn't bring me here to free slaves" and the rest of the movie is them using a combination of political wrangling, podrace gambling, and Saber Fu to devastate the local criminal empires and declare that the Jedi are now enforcing a moratorium on slavery on Tatooine. When Amidala objects, Q-G informs her that this would have been much simpler if her people had paid more attention to their neighbours instead of just lazing around electing pubescent monarchs and picking fights with the frogpeople. The rescue of Naboo gets pushed back enough that the Trade Federation can bring in an even larger fleet, forcing the Republic to start building its own armada in turn, thus beginning a process of escalation that fills the gap up to Episode II. By the time Ep2 does roll around, Amidala has been Queen-In-Exile of Naboo for several years and what was theoretically a police action of Republic-vs-Trade-Fed has instead become a watershed for anti-Republic sentiment around the galaxy, putting us on schedule to dive straight into the Clone Wars.

I think this would address one of the issues with Episode 1, namely the enforced happy ending. Of all the models to follow from the original trilogy, Lucas picked Return of the Jedi, with the lower-tech army winning out against the shiny armored soldiers, the day being saved by a single starfighter flying inside a big round thing, and a dead Jedi being burnt and mourned before a big happy celebration. If he wanted to bring fans on-side right away, he should have followed the Empire Strikes Back model and had the hero do the right-but-slightly-daft thing but have it blow up in his face, leaving the bad guys with an advantage and the good facing an uncertain future.

Ana Mardoll said...

All of the slaves are said to be implanted with scrambled explosive devices that are nigh-impossible to detect. And seeing as this is a universe where it's possible to Skype across thousands of light-years with no signal lag, it's not unreasonable to think that Watto can in fact detonate Shmi with his cell phone no matter how far away she runs.

I had forgotten about that hand-wave, thank you! That does at least make it less WTF.

Kind of a shame that Padme -- who is apparently relatively wealthy -- can't buy Shmi's freedom after she gets her planet back, but OH WELL. :(

depizan said...

I like your solution, first off. However, Lucas's explanation to why they don't steal Shmi has so many problems, I think I'll just list them.

1) We're back to dark side points, but Watto is immune to force suggestion, not lightsabers. He'd find it hard to explode anyone while dead.

2) How can Watto be trusted not to pull the petulant evil guy thing and blow Anakin up once they've left the planet? (For that matter, how can you have any kind of slave trade with these devices - you'd have to trust the former owners not to blow up your purchases. And the former former owner.) Worse, Anakin becomes a Jedi - you're going to have a Jedi running around that the wrong electronic signal can blow up? Whut? (Not that something good couldn't be done with that, there, but it's never mentioned. Or was Anakin somehow not fitted with one?)

3) It does not go at all well with nice apartments and ample food to feed guests. Consistency, what's that?

4) Why is Watto/the crime syndicates wasting money on this? Tatooine is not a particularly hospitable planet. You might lose the occasional slave to stowing away on ships, but I don't think running off into the desert is going to work out well. It also seems like the Hutts would quickly figure out one another's frequencies and wage war on each other by using them.

5) It makes it utterly unconscionable for our heroes to ignore this situation. Slavery is evil on it's own, but these slaves have ZERO chance of escape. A person can't even excuse their inaction by saying "Ah, well, they might free themselves."


Extra) We're back to the game having better morals than the prequels. There's a quest on Hutta, where you're supposed to spring (or kill) a guy who's been captured by the other Hutt. He says he won't leave if you don't save the other slaves, since they'll be killed if he escapes. Guess what the light side option is? Hint, it doesn't involve leaving the guys friends in slavery.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hmmmmm. Can we make this work if we all work together?

Ok, so let's say the device can be removed or deactivated on purchase and that Anakin's was.

And let's say that the explosion isn't big enough to take out anyone but the slave, so assassination doesn't work.

Though I would still think the Hutts would hack the codes anyway. Because they are dreadful people.

I can't justify it financially, though. Maybe it's a measure to prevent slave uprisings and not just fleeing, but it still seems like a lot of tech to burn. :/

Will Wildman said...

depizan: Regarding your point 2, anyway, there are a couple of throwaway lines about taking Anakin to Watto to have his doomchip removed or deactivated or something. Personally, I think we needed a scene of Q-G meditating over Shmi until he found the inanimate thing inside her that her body knew should not be there, and then disarming it with the Force, but if I start in on that I'll end up writing my entire Ep1 revamp.

I think the comfy slavery is very much intentional, so that they can simultaneously have slavery rhetoric while still making it seem maybe-not-awful to leave someone behind. That is not how slavery generally works, but - I don't know, would 'indentured servitude' have described it better?

We're back to the game having better morals than the prequels.

Star Wars is kind of funny in that the Expanded Universe frequently has vastly superior morality, philosophy, and cultural representation than the core movies. If ever we needed proof that it's a wonderful setting for fanfiction, we just have to look at the fanfiction that's canonical.

Will Wildman said...

Though I would still think the Hutts would hack the codes anyway. Because they are dreadful people.

I think that's a sort of scorched-earth policy (and an issue that would have to get tackled in my rewrite). I mean, there's little shortage of people, and slavers can always go raiding for more. Once you have the infrastructure set up to pump out these tiny unscannable detonators, it seems likely they're not that expensive either (depends entirely on how expensive the unscannable casing is). So replacing any individual slave is more of a mild inconvenience than a blow to the organisation. And if one Hutt starts blowing slaves up, then all the other Hutts have to start doing it as well or they will immediately get wiped out because they have no counterresponse. They all need that tech.

The logical conclusion, I think, is that even right there in the events of Ep1, the Hutts are in a cold war scenario where every Hutt has (or claims to have) sufficient signal hacking technology to start blowing up all the slaves they want, but none of them are going to do it unless they have jockeyed themselves into a position where they are sure that, if every slave everywhere gets blown up over the space of about ten minutes, they will be the Hutt in charge when the dust settles. Mutually-Assured Slave Destruction.

Once Big Q-G and party figured this out, of course, their next realisation would be 'we have to get into the palace of a Hutt that has this technology and then use it to simultaneously disarm every slave detonator we can'.

This movie writes itself.

chris the cynic said...

When Amidala objects, Q-G informs her that this would have been much simpler if her people had paid more attention to their neighbours instead of just lazing around electing pubescent monarchs and picking fights with the frogpeople.

For the record, that's awesome.

Loquat said...

I wish they'd done more with Anakin's family - Shmi definitely needed more connections to her life on Tatooine, and making the man who went on to raise Luke a step-brother who barely knew the guy seems like a huge cop-out, and don't even get me started on the whole virgin-birth deal. It would have been a lot more interesting if we'd actually gotten to see some kind of relationship - the dutiful elder brother who stays on the family farm versus the rebellious younger brother who goes off to be a Jedi/fighter pilot, for example, or the mom and step-dad trying to make a blended family work.

Loquat said...

I'm going to have to agree with Will that this seems like the kind of tech that, given a certain level of development, could be mass-produced cheaply and easily, making it attractive as a slave-control system. Individual owners might not even have the codes; it could very well be intended solely an insurance policy against slave revolts, rather than a means of preventing escape. Or perhaps that was the system's original purpose and then many years later owners started demanding the right to blow up escapees- because, hey, the ssytem was already in place! - kinda how some libertarians worry that if we put up video surveillance cameras in public places to catch crimes in progress we might end up also using them to monitor the general public and track people's movements.

Makabit said...

Re: Comfy slavery--it has existed to degrees, in various times and places, usually in bureaucratic imperial settings where a person can create a nice life for themselves while still being property, or in tribal settings where slaves become basically part of the extended family. Also, cultures where your behavior toward your slaves is controlled by law. (There's a throwaway line in the BBC medieval comedy "Dark Ages", where the protagonist's wife threatens to beat their slave if he doesn't do some silly thing she's thought up, and he informs her that he has rights, and she can't go around whaling on him 'like I was a penitent monk'.

What we're seeing on Tatooine does not make sense in any of those contexts. There seems to be NO law to protect anyone, Watto hardly seems to know why he has Shmi and Anakin around, let alone have a personal relationship with them--it just doesn't make much sense, culturally.

Really, simplest way out of this whole mess would be for them to promise to pay him a fair price for the woman, to be drawn on the Bank of Coruscant. They're Jedi, they're not going to stiff him. (Plus, he has the explody thing, which I blocked out of memory because, God, that's stupid.) She's probably not worth that much in the local economy, and I can't imagine that he actually needs her for anything, or, for that matter, would have any trouble replacing her. However, then they're stuck with Shmi.

The terrible thing is that them botching it all the way around makes the most sense in terms of the subsequent plotline, because what really, finally, pushes Anakin over the edge is the realization that no one gives a shit about the people he loves, and he can't protect them, despite all his ostensible power.

This is a tragedy about the moral bankruptcy and general psychological tone-deafness of the Jedi order. Perhaps it plays out in the only way it could.

Makabit said...

The easiest way out of taking Shmi with them that occurs to me is that the guy she eventually married emerges at this point, and offers to buy her from Watto, Shmi agrees to marry him, and tells Anakin that he should go be a Jedi, because she has someone else to take care of her.

Another way to do it, of course, would be to cut her completely out of the plot as a living character, Anakin only flashes back to her being captured by slavers along with him. He resolves to go back and get her when he's a Jedi, only to find evidence that she was killed by the Tuskens, goes nuts, etc.

But as much as I like all of these scenarios, they don't work. They don't work because this whole trilogy, whether Lucas knows it or not, is not the story of how Anakin went bad, it's the story of how the Jedi order tortured Anakin until he snapped. They took away his mother, and he couldn't protect her, and she died. He was immediately given a mother-replacement, Amidala, who he imprints on, but if the Jedi realize they are lovers, they'll take her away too, and he won't be able to protect her, and she'll die.

And along come the Sith, the only people in this universe who seem to have taken Psych 101, and all it takes is a gentle 'bloop'...

Any way I can change this plot makes the Jedi look like better people, but that destroys the story arc. Because this is not a story about how the Jedi are a force for good. This is a story about how the Jedi destroyed themselves.

It's still a badly put together mess, she said defiantly.

depizan said...

The terrible thing is that them botching it all the way around makes the most sense in terms of the subsequent plotline...

It makes sense in terms of the plotline, but the execution and world building are terrible. There's also the problem that while, yes, the trilogy is about the moral bankruptcy and psychological tone-deafness (among other bad things) of the Jedi order, we're still being presented with (theoretically) heroic characters in that order. The normal way of doing that is to make them better than their society. Qui Gon's actions here are not better than the rest of the Jedi.

Hell, buying Anakin and leaving his mom should have started Anakin off knowing that the Jedi don't give a shit about the people he loves. They prove it when he first meets them. Why does he view them positively at all? (Damn, I'm going to have to watch the movie again to see if any of this makes more sense than I remember it making. Wonder if we've got it at the library at present or if Netflix has it available for streaming...)

It also leads to the WTFery of Anakin having not rescued his mom either in episode 2. Surely Jedi have some money, never mind the money his girlfriend ought to have at her disposal. I can't even remember whether he had much (any?) contact with her before the dream that sent him off to find her and slaughter sand people.

I'm beginning to develop a theory that both the Jedi and Sith methods of force use corrupt and twist people. While the Sith embrace of dark emotions make them power mad stereotypical villains (with the power to revel in it), the Jedi have mistakenly erased the emotions that normally bind people together - they've made themselves into a order of civilized sociopaths.

depizan said...

Yeah.

And even if we need the Jedi to at some point fail Anakin's family, there are many ways to arrange that that don't lead to most of the audience banging their heads on their desks. I mean, Shmi's death wasn't even tied to her being a slave. You could just have Anakin having horrible (and prophetic, as it turns out) dreams of sand people raiding the family farm and have the Jedi dismiss them and refuse to let him go check on his family. You get to the same place with less WTFery.

Will Wildman said...

It also leads to the WTFery of Anakin having not rescued his mom either in episode 2. Surely Jedi have some money, never mind the money his girlfriend ought to have at her disposal. I can't even remember whether he had much (any?) contact with her before the dream that sent him off to find her and slaughter sand people.

No contact, which is why they start on Tatooine checking with Watto before learning that some years back Shmi fell in love with a farmer who paid Watto off to release her. Padme and Anakin also never see each other in the intervening years, for reasons only Thrawn knows, but given that Anakin saved thousands or millions of lives by taking out the droid army computer and ending the battle for Naboo, y'might think Padme would try to come up with some way of repaying him, such has not leaving his mother as a slave.

we're still being presented with (theoretically) heroic characters in that order. The normal way of doing that is to make them better than their society. Qui Gon's actions here are not better than the rest of the Jedi.

This is my thinking with the rewrite I've been sketching out here - Qui-Gon is presented to us as a relatively rogue Jedi, regularly defying the council's orders because he thinks the Force is leading him in a different direction. Episode 1 should be the story of him defying the council yet again to be incredibly heroic, and getting told off for it (and then dead by the end), giving Anakin the foundational figure of what a Jedi should be. Episode 2 then gets into the actual war and Anakin (and Obi-Wan) being frustrated with the council's total failures to resolve the separatist issue peacefully and their general stickinthemuditude, and then Ep3 becomes the showdown of Obi-Wan still pushing to fix the system from within and Anakin saying that it's time someone bullied everyone into doing the morally right thing. We should be presented with an Anakin who truly believes that people can't be trusted to do what's right on their own, not one who's so petulant that he thinks offing children is a reasonable tactic.

depizan said...

I thought I remembered that he hadn't had contact with his mom. Which makes slightly less than NO sense. Unless my theory that being a Jedi does something horrible to one equivalent to Sith corruption.

I'm gonna have to track down the prequels and rewatch them, now. Thanks a lot, guys. :P

Your rewrite sounds ever so much better than the real thing. If we're not careful, we're going to start some kind of Ana Mardoll's Minions Star Wars Fan Fic thingy.

chris the cynic said...

If there isn't an expanded universe thing where Luke finds the rules of the Jedi Order and says, "To hell with that!" there should be. Before the prequels there wasn't any call for such a thing, as far as I know, but now it would seem to fit.

I, Jedi addressed a lot of things all over the place and at one point has the main character present to Luke his personal theory that Luke has been manipulated his entire life.

Paraphrasing a bit it went something like this, "They made you into a weapon and intentionally set you on a collision course with Vader. For fuck's sake they sent you to live on your ancestral home-world under your actual name with your relatives. They might not have known what was going to happen exactly, but what do think was going to happen with a Skywalker from Tatooine applied to the Imperial Academy and it turned out he was living with Darth Vader's brother? They were making sure a confrontation was inevitable. They manipulated you toward a singular purpose and maybe that has skewed your way of thinking about things just a little bit."

-

Entirely unrelated to that, at one point I think there was an Expanded Universe thing that said that Owen was actually Obi-Wan's brother. Vader didn't have any siblings and Obi-Wan turned to his own family to raise Luke, but by the time Luke was grown up Owen had decided that he knew better than Obi-Wan what was best for Luke and tried his damnedest to keep Luke out of the entire mess that was the Jedi and the Rebellion and war and whatnot.

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh please, oh please, oh please do. :D

This thread has brought me SO much fan joy. It's a reminder to me why I don't like the blog practice of locking old threads. Who would have thought when I banged this out last year that it would turn into the World's Most Awesome Star Wars Discussion???

Will Wildman said...

If there isn't an expanded universe thing where Luke finds the rules of the Jedi Order and says, "To hell with that!" there should be.

Due to reconnery, it's only vaguely apparent how much Luke has learned about the old Order. In the 'romance novel with Star Wars labels slapped on' that is Courtship of Princess Leia, he finds the Jedi Temple - except it wasn't a physical temple, it was a vast starship that roamed the galaxy. This is the best idea in the entire book. (He also finds the remnant of its library, which would presumably have all the old rules tucked away.) But since you're read EU stuff, you know that Luke's new order does reject all the old rules, especially the 'no emotional attachments' one.

Paraphrasing a bit it went something like this, "They made you into a weapon and intentionally set you on a collision course with Vader.

This is the bit I like best when people say "So, wait, training to become a Jedi is like a week of saber practice, two weeks of telekinesis and calisthenics in a swamp, and a short philosophy exam?" Luke didn't get Jedi training, he got living-superweapon-designed-to-kill-Sith training. It's a reminder that Obi-Wan and Yoda were not nearly the wise old mentors they appear to be - they were the last soldiers in a sectarian war and they were determined to see the other side taken down no matter the cost.

---

I am definitely making a giant self-indulgent blog post about this tonight.

chris the cynic said...

I've read a very random scattering of Expanded Universe stuff, but it's enough to know that the the Jedi under Luke definitely do have and embrace emotions. I, Jedi is about someone training as a Jedi specifically so that he can help his wife, Luke gets paired off eventually, pretty sure there would be other examples if I could think of them but Corran and Mara are the only EU Jedi that come to mind right now. Well, there is Kyle Katarn who at some point falls in love with his longtime partner Jan Ors. But I'm not sure if the Dark Forces games really count.

Rikalous said...

I'm beginning to develop a theory that both the Jedi and Sith methods of force use corrupt and twist people. While the Sith embrace of dark emotions make them power mad stereotypical villains (with the power to revel in it), the Jedi have mistakenly erased the emotions that normally bind people together - they've made themselves into a order of civilized sociopaths.

Headcanonized. Oh so headcanonized.

I recall that Old Ben Kenobi was a hermit instead of someone who integrated into the larger society of Tatooine and became trusted or looked up to by young Skywalker. Now I'm wondering whether it was the PTSD or the aftereffects of the Light-as-the-Tatooine-suns side of the force that's behind it.
---
@chris: The smattering I've read includes Han and Leia's Jedi children, who certainly don't get separated from their families. They also get love interests, who are mostly fellow Jedi.

Ana Mardoll said...

That's the perfect word, "headcanonized". That's how I feel about practically this whole thread of SW awesome-sauce.

Makabit said...

"Hell, buying Anakin and leaving his mom should have started Anakin off knowing that the Jedi don't give a shit about the people he loves. They prove it when he first meets them. Why does he view them positively at all?"

Well, possibly because he's seven years old, and they're big and cool and scare the hell out of Watto. And once they have him, he's totally surrounded by their worldview, and that will get you some ways with a young child. And perhaps because Anakin has the self-centered, rather tunnel-vision quality he passes on to his son...I think that buys them some time until, like Luke, he starts to develop some maturity.

Darth Ember said...

Regarding the Shmi thing, I think it was featured in one of the books that a Jedi messenger of some sort did come looking to free her, but she was married and freed at that point. Not sure on the rest of it, but I do seem to recall that being a part of one SW book's plot.

depizan said...

And because Lucas doesn't really spend much time on character emotions. Except when they're the whole point and then he doesn't handle them all that well, especially when it comes to romance.

Ha! Of course the romance options in SWTOR suck! It's simply reflecting the universe accurately. Why didn't I see it before?

Loquat said...

Another perspective on why Shmi doesn't come along: Darths and Droids.

It's a screencap webcomic set in a world where Star Wars doesn't exist, except as a homebrew RPG world this one GM dreamed up. His gaming group has been playing their way through the events of the series, often for wildly different motivations than the characters had in the movies. In this case, Shmi was being played by a drama student who'd just joined the game, and Anakin was only an NPC, so the guy playing Qui-Gon had only bargained for her freedom - he'd already leaped to the conclusion that Shmi was some kind of slave mob boss, and figured Anakin could take over the family business, and besides, who cares about an NPC?

I highly recommend the comic - they've completed the full prequel trilogy, and vastly improved the whole thing.

Ana Mardoll said...

Seconding the Darths and Droids recommendation. I'm continually astonished at how they manage to make things make SENSE. Like the whole fourteen year old elected queen thing.

Rikalous said...

Darths and Droids also contains the first usage of the phrase "Jar-Jar, you're a genius!" throughout all the internet.

Rev said...

Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my. Thank you so much for this thread.

I'm ashamed to say that despite being a huge SW geek from about when I first played Kotor till maybe a year and a half, two years ago (approximately; the fangirling had a slow death) I never actually noticed a lot of this stuff. But since I stumbled on Slactivist about half a year ago, I was kinda oblivious to a lot things, so this is just one more welcome eye opener, even if I now feel a little uneasy.

So yeah, well, if I could throw in the two cents of someone who spent waaay too much time and money on the EU novels?

The Old Jedi Order Luke found in Courtship of Princess Leia got retconned to be a break away group of Jedi called the Altisians who basically called bs on the whole 'all emotions are evil' thing and instead regularly got married and had families. According to the SW Wiki: "Unlike the main Order, the Altisians were not all Force-sensitives; there were many non-Jedi that lived within their community. Leaving the Jedi Temple during the last decades of the Temple, Altis and his followers moved about the galaxy serving as relief workers on underdeveloped worlds and backwaters" (Randomly: One of my favorite RP characters happens to be Altisian.)

Also, while speaking of RP.... I again want to say thank you. Because I was in the middle of making two characters for an RP set in the Clone Wars and tied to a plot with Amidala, and I think they'll be ever so much more in depth now. And hopefully I'll be able to avoid, at least with them, some of the fail of the setting.

Asha said...

I know this thread has majorly moved on, but I love DA and DA2, and wanted to comment a bit.

I played all of the origins- except for the elves, and my favorite was a fem!Brosca. That colored my perceptions of the game, even when I played through as different origins, and that also effected my view of Alistair.

He's a kid. I think, canonically, he's about eighteen at the start of the game and he acts a LOT like a teenager throughout the story. My Brosca didn't romance him until the end, and did the mistress thing, but I saw him growing a bit as a character throughout the story. Especially when he was given the option to be hardened- you can either allow him to mature or not.

As for breaking immersion, I found him to be that guy who can't quite keep his mouth foot-free. In a world as dark as DA, I thought he was refreshing. There were lots of one-liners and places where the game leaned on the fourth wall that I had no problem finding him to be someone (unfortunately like me) with a sad talent for poorly time humor.

His daddy issues were annoying, but I don't think he was meant to be perfect. One thing I think is cool about Bioware love interests is that you CAN take them and leave them. If they aren't your thing, then that's fine. No one is perfect IRL, and you have to weigh the good with the bad. All of the love interests in DA were like that for me- Morrigan was creepy, Zevran enjoyed his job a bit much, and Leliana was always difficult for me to get a handle on. Alistair's maturity issues usually had me weighing him, if I needed him, but I liked who he was... once I married him to Anora. Oddly, I think that was the best thing you could do for him as a character.

Ana, I feel that when it comes to Loghain, we must disagree. I did think killing him was the right decision. What bugs me about DA is that there are no OTHER options for creating a Gray Warden. Why does it have to be Loghain? Why not Sten, or any of your other companions? I had read that it was possibility at one point, and the entire Loghain or Alistair thing was forced to the point I want to bang my head into a wall.

When it comes to SW, I haven't played TOR, so I can't say much. Overall, the Star Wars EU has had so many hit and miss moments, so much character derailing and fixing and utter confusion... I liked Timothy Zahn's stuff. That's about it.

As for Mass Effect and ME2? I am a complete fangirl.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hey, thanks for weighing in -- always good to have another voice in the thread. :)

I wouldn't want to make another party member a Grey Warden. I wasn't really thrilled at being made one myself -- my origins always went at sword-point. It's really the worst possible death sentence, especially for women, imho. :(

Izzy said...

As I make my way through Origins: Awakening, I will note that I like the metaplot for its spin on both the Always Chaotic Evil trope and the Defector From Decadence/Drizzt Do'Urden thing.

(Although the end battle...I like the *idea* of doing X thing to get Y event-specific special powers, but the fact that you only know to do this if you read the walkthrough...no. HATE.)

Nizacute12 said...

Actually Flemeth have give a hint

"you are required to do nothing, shut ones eyes tight or open ones arm wide, either way, ones a fool"

Flemeth say that about Alistair, meaning Alistair is a fool, and he have mental problem.

Alistair is a schizophrenic, he live in his own world and his own idea about being a Grey Warden. he can't accept "the end justify the mean" motto of Grey Warden, that is why he can't accept the responsibility and leave everything to the new recruit. He will rant and rant if the new recruit didn't follow his idealistic "Grey Warden". He even rant with the most senior Grey Warden Riordan after Riordan reveal "what is a Grey Warden" in the Landsmeet. He have his own version of "Grey Warden", but yet he don't dare to take any responsibility to live up his ideal and leave it to someone else to take all the blame...the PC.

Alistair is not sensitive to the PC because he live in his own world. He hang out with the PC because the PC is the only visible what is left of his dream world. Who want to remember him? His mentor dead, the King dead, the army destroyed...who want to remember Alistair? He can't accept that his dream world smashed and destroyed utterly at Ostagar. Actually he have no hope, and he just hang up with the new recruit because he have no where to go. He is actually like a parasite...

Duncan many times try to correct his attitude, we can see that in Ostagar, but Alistair is just a spoiled royal bastard Templar...

Romance? he is an irresponsible man, i wonder why fan girls adore him much?

Dav said...

Hey, could we not jump to the conclusion that people, especially characters, who are foolish or insensitive are mentally ill? Lots of people who are mentally ill deal fine with responsibility and are good romantic partners. I'm also really uncomfortable with the conflation of these attributes (or mentally ill people) with parasites. Thanks.

I think some people like Alistair because he's snarky. (Full disclosure: that is a big part of the reason I like the assassin.) He's also one of the first companions, which I've noticed tends to signal a "safe" romance option in these sorts of games. (People introduced later *tend* to be more interesting, less straight-laced, and more likely to kick the bucket or be a secret traitor.) He's not exactly your moral compass, but he does come from what I think of as a "Lawful" background - he was a Templar, he toes the line on company policy re: mage slaughter, etc. This is especially true compared to early companion Morigan. I also seemed to have him in my party rather a lot, at least until I got elf assassin on board - Sten was basically useless, I didn't like Morigan's magic, and Liliana wasn't quite buff enough to survive well. Never underestimate the appeal of a character who can fight his way out of a wet paper bag without babysitting. (Well, okay, he died a lot, but at least the party survived the fights.)

Plus, there's good roleplay reason to believe that your *character* might not be on board with the "ends justifies the means" bit of Gray Wardens. (My first PC wasn't, for sure.) That would make a romance option more appealing for role players.

Nizacute12 said...

I compare his mental state with other companions :-

Leliana---> she seems like crazy, but she is not, her dream about the Maker is a total lie. She is Orlesian spy, lies and deceit is her game. She joins the PC just because want to be safe from Marjolaine under Grey Warden protection. In the end, after she realize what actually she is getting into, she just can't lie anymore, when she see the PC is a good guy/girl (depends on your relationship with her)

Morrigan---> she have a strong character. She see the dark side of everyone and the dark side of the world. She is not a hypocrite, not like most of the party members. She don't like something she tell you the reason why she don't like it. She didn't complain, not like some party members. She know why she have to follow the PC, she have her own mission, that is to save the PC from being dead killing Archdemon. She is searching on "why i have to save this guy/girl?", is the PC worth it? That is depends on your relationship with her. The demon baby is actually nothing, either it is yours, Alistair's or Loghain's, who's baby is not the issue. She sacrifice herself for the PC sake, out of what reason?

Sten---> he is a guy from some race who have their own culture and it is different from everyone. You might agree or disagree with him, he just tell you as about his people. You like him or don't like him is like you like some race or don't like some race. Whatever your view about him, making you a racist or not. in anyway, it is the PC who want to bring him along, he didn't ask for it, he was waiting for punishment over his crime. Following the PC is a bonus for him as a Qunari spy. he is there or not there in the group doesn't make any different.

Zevran---> he is an assasin who failed to kill the PC. The Pc might kill him, let him go or invite him to join the group. he have an awful background but he do not whine, he have a strong character, he accept his fate. depends on your relationship with him, he is loyal to you when he see you are worthy.

Wayne---> she is a mage who want to escape the tower by joining the Warden, if the PC want her to come along. But if not, she didn't complain and accept the PC decision.

Oghren---. he is a dwarf who have domestic problem, and a drunk. he is not an important character actually, just like Wayne. he is there or not there in the group didn't make any different.

So you see, every party members are not mentally ill. They join the Warden with their own reason, they are NOT Grey Wardens. So when they agree or disagree with you/PC, it is out of their common people view. They appearance in the party is just as individual who want to help the Warden.

But alistair IS A GREY WARDEN, and he is a Grey Warden for 6 MONTH. By means all those 6 month with Duncan he don't learn anything from his mentor. he still think that a Grey Warden is like his own model of Grey Warden. So when the PC becoming a Grey Warden, he reject it, he can't accept it. The same way he can't accept Riordan. You see, he reject even the most senior Grey Warden who is about to be dead anyway. Alistair don't know about the Archdemon thing, but yet he feel he is a real Grey Warden than the most senior Grey Warden. What kind of attitude is that? His character show that he have mental problem.

His continously hate Morrigan is so un-Grey Warden-ish, from the begining appearance of Morrigan, he despise her, complaining and whine about Morrigan. he confuse between being a Grey Warden and being a Templar. I see more a Templar than a Grey Warden in him. he is not a real templar anyway as he himself admit it, he don't even taking the vow, and he only learn the first tier of the Templar ability.....

Ana Mardoll said...

Nizacute12, mental illness is more complicated than that. Evidence that someone is in denial, or has a warped view of reality, or is generally a jerk is *not* necessarily evidence of mental illness. Assuming that those things are correlated (a) buys into a mentality that mentally ill people are bad (when most of them are very nice, lovely people who also happen to have a mental illness) and (b) perpetuates the myth that mental illness is easily identifiable (it's not) and based on personality traits that a number of non-mentally ill people share.

Assuming someone is "mentally ill" simply because they are in denial or have a warped view of reality or generally a jerk is ableism and ableism is against the comment policy in this space.

http://www.anamardoll.com/p/comment-policy.html

This is me speaking as a moderator: do not comment further in this thread on the subject of mental illness until you have taken time to read up on ableism and why diagnosing mental illness based largely on someone's personality is inappropriate. I suggest starting here and googling further:

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/11/commenting-reminder.html

Ana Mardoll said...

(@Dav, thank you for jumping in and handling that while I was at work and unable to post links and html tags. I appreciate the work that goes into keep spaces safe.)

Asha said...

@Kish:

According to the epilogue, the best outcome for Fereldan seems to come if you marry Anora (Or Cousland) and Alistair. You don't hear about the elven riots, etc. I assume it to mean that doesn't happen, and the two characters balance each other out. I know that a lot of people were pissed with Anora because of her being conniving, but I kinda liked her for it. (Of course, I was spoiled for her betrayal. That meant I could avoid it.) She was pretty much on her own side and had no idea if she could depend on anyone else. My PC more or less knew they could use each other to their mutual benefit and was happy to do so. Including lying to her about supporting her for the crown. *shrugs* Again, I have usually gotten the impression that I'm in the minority about liking Anora- though I also figured I could never trust her. She's a politician, after all. But to quote Jack Sparrow, you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Of course, I also like Morrigan as a character but hated her as a party member. As far as utility goes, I love Alistair because he could nerf the enemy mages and let me get stabby stabby on them. ^_^ That made me happy...

I love stabby stabby...

Asha said...

@Kish:

What did I miss about Anora that made you hate her so much?

Nizacute12 said...

I don't think saying someone have a mental illness because he/she is a schizophrenic is a discrimination toward a group of people who have mental disability. There are sick peoples who are born with mental disability, but there are also people who got it out of any reason.

For examples, a mental disable child is not the same with a cold blooded psycho murderer. Look at the context the word is spoken. Telling the psycho murderer "you are psycho mentally ill!" is not a discrimination toward a mental disable child/people.

I use to work in that field before, so i know the difference. Working with disable people is part of my job before. So my assesment about Alistair character is based on what i have learned about a person who got "post trauma" and Alistair have the schizophrenia syndrome.

Mental disable people are not dangerous, but normal people who becoming mentally ill have the potential to become dangerous. So i hope you understand the context when i use the word "mentally ill" or "mental problem".

The same if using the word gay to a gay is not discrimination, but calling gay in the wrong place you may call it a discrimination, or downgrading people. And if you want to know, i also involving in these LGBT for years.

But i respect you, thanks.

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't think saying someone have a mental illness because he/she is a schizophrenic is a discrimination toward a group of people who have mental disability.

No, of course it isn't, but that's not what you said. You diagnosed Alistair as schizophrenic because he is "a fool" and because he rants a lot. Your point of fail was not "schizophrenic = mental illness", but was rather "fool = schizophrenic" and "rant = schizophrenic" and "irresponsible = schizophrenic". Those things are not correlated; many many many people are ranty irresponsible fools without being schizophrenic, and many people are schizophrenic without being ranty irresponsible fools.

You are also not helping your case one little bit by throwing around terms like "crazy" and "psycho" and "normal" willy-nilly -- you are being ableist without (apparently) realizing it, which is a VERY easy thing to do in our culture, but is also prohibited by the commenting policy.

I've asked you to step out of this thread. I understand the impulse to want to defend/explain your posts, but you've done that now, and now I am telling you to (a) drop the subject for now, and (b) step out of this thread and get some distance from the matter. I am saying this because I do not want this thread to be derailed by Ableism 101 when there are a number of existing resources for that elsewhere.

Tl;dr version: Step away from this particular, individual thread or I will start handing you spoons. Again, I understand wanting to defend/explain yourself, but I have to balance that against the needs of a safe space. You've had your say; now drop it. Thank you.

Ana Mardoll said...

Tangentially to the Romance Options topic, I just woke up from the best dream about 20 minutes ago.

I've been playing "World Cruise Story" by Kairosoft obsessively on my phone. Such a fun game for me. Anyway, my dream took those game mechanics and made an RPG "spy thriller" game where your character was starting out in the military and rooting out corruption, and it was pretty dang fun in my head.

But what was AWESOME was I got to the part where I had to pick a girlfriend for my character. These Kariosoft games give you a bunch of options to scroll though, with enough difference between the options that there's some personal preference at play. In my dream, I was all "ho-hum, girlfriend options" until I scrolled through. There were at least 5 fat women choices. There were transsexual people to choose from. There were people of various colors.

I just... I don't even... I was SO FREAKING HAPPY to see that in a game. I had just picked a fabulous fat woman for my in-game girlfriend when Husband woke me up 'cause he was leaving for work.

Asha said...

There had been something I objected to about Alistair being king by himself, but I can't find it. :/ I remember thinking that he just didn't have the talent for statescraft and something in the epilogue seemed to support that- but again, I can't find it. *shrug*

I came at this from the dwarf commoner perspective, which, as I said, colored my perceptions immensely of the game. Treatment of the elves didn't really play into it- from the DC's perspective, the alienage wasn't that bad, and it was definitely better than Dust Town. Anora was willing to screw my character over, but my character was quite willing to do the same to her. I suppose I was playing "Good is Not Nice."

My feelings about Loghain are mixed. I can see where he started out as a good man, but he seemed to be in the middle of a breakdown the whole time. He's tragic, but not sympathetic. Anora isn't as far gone, but she was definitely on her own side, but given that she's a politician, that seemed normal to me. I didn't hate her for it, especially given the circumstances.

Did anyone else get that experience of a very different game depending on the first Origin you played? Did it influence any of your subsequent playthroughs?

Ana Mardoll said...

Did anyone else get that experience of a very different game depending on the first Origin you played? Did it influence any of your subsequent playthroughs?

YES.

This was the thing I think DA:O did most successfully. They broke away from the Good Response / Neutral Response / Bad Response. Every dialogue tree has practically 5 options and most of them are morally wiggly. I really appreciated that as it allowed me to roleplay with more freedom than any other cRPG I've played recently, most of which I feel like I should just set my moral preference at character creation and go on auto-pilot from there.

So, yeah, my dwarfs (I had three!) all felt very differently about Fereldan than, say, my two elves. (One of which had her heart broken by He Who Shall Not Be Named and one of which was happy to let him die for his betrayal. Whoooooops, my Dalish Elf is not cuddly. Buhahahahaha.)

Asha said...

I think that, if anything, is what DA2 did wrong. It took a LOT of freedom from the player and turned it into essentially Mass Effect with Dragons. I enjoyed DA2 for itself, but when it comes to choices, it offered far less. It also lacked a lot of the moral ambiguity that I enjoyed in the previous game, and that bugged me. The ability to cant your view of the game so many different ways is why I loved DA:O, and being forced to play a human..? Yeah, really annoyed me.

So, yeah, all this subtle difference in background and motivation have a lot to do with why the game was awesome, and why it can influence the player's view of the game. I think that's so cool. ^_^

Nizacute12 said...

Okay, if that is the way you take it, but i don't like the way you try to demonize me. I just don't get it what is the big issue of using the word "mental illness' or "mental problem" and "a fool". But yet you try to make it an issue. I don't use insult or use any bad words, i don't defame, downgrading people, i am not a racist or whatever you try to portray me. i have every right to defend myself and i have every right to express my feeling and thought, i have a right to write here as long as you allow it. And you have every right to block me or whatever you want to do as an administrator.

I just don't like the way you try to show me a bad person, in which i am not. i don't like the way you treat me, but yeah this is your playground. Anyway thanks for alowing me to rant here. I am loathed to be here again. bye.

Beroli said...

According to the epilogue, the best outcome for Fereldan seems to come if you marry Anora (Or Cousland) and Alistair. You don't hear about the elven riots, etc.
"You don't hear about the elven riots" is connected to Alistair being on the throne. Nothing to do with him marrying Anora. Alistair doesn't improve Ferelden as much if he's married to Anora as he does if he isn't. So, no, the best outcome for Ferelden is Alistair on the throne and Anora...elsewhere.

And it appears you didn't miss anything about her. You just have a different view than I do on utterly selfish manipulators. :-p For the benefit of anyone else reading this thread--note, this is huge spoilers if you haven't played the game and are likely to:

Lbh svefg zrrg Naben jura na ryira freinag bs uref nfxf lbh gb trg ure bhg bs gur rfgngr jurer fur'f orra ybpxrq hc ol ure sngure, Ybtunva, cebzvfvat gung vs lbh qb, Naben jvyy erirny jung fur xabjf jura vg jvyy qb Ybtunva gur zbfg unez.

Lbh eha vagb n tebhc bs eblny thneqf yrnivat gur rfgngr. Vs lbh gel gb trg cnfg gurz ol gryyvat gurz lbh'er erfphvat Naben, fur jvyy pnyy lbh n oevtnaq naq gryy gurz lbh'er xvqanccvat ure, gurerol guebjvat lbh vagb na birejuryzvat pbzong. Jul fur qbrf guvf, lbh bayl qvfpbire yngre ng gur Ynaqfzrrg: Fur jnagf gb or noyr gb pynvz rvgure gung lbh erfphrq ure be gung lbh xvqanccrq ure yngre, naq vg jbhyq fnobgntr ure novyvgl gb pynvz gung lbh xvqanccrq ure vs fur gbyq gur tebhc bs thneqf gung fur jnf tbvat jvgu lbh bs ure bja serr jvyy.

Jura lbh trg onpx gb gur rfgngr jurer lbh'er fgnlvat, jvgu be jvgubhg Naben univat orgenlrq lbh bapr, fur nfxf lbh gb znxr gjb cebzvfrf: Gung lbh'yy fhccbeg ure pynvz gb gur guebar, naq gung lbh jba'g vafvfg ure sngure, jub vf thvygl bs gernfba, ertvpvqr, gbegher, fryyvat Sreryqra pvgvmraf vagb fynirel, naq fgnegvat n pvivy jne qhevat n Oyvtug, or chavfurq sbe vg.

Vs lbh ershfr gb cebzvfr gb fhccbeg ure pynvz gb gur guebar, fur gryyf lbh gung fur'yy fhccbeg lbh ng gur Ynaqfzrrg gb fgbc gur pvivy jne naq gur Oyvtug, naq vs gur guebar snyyf gb Nyvfgnve, "V jvyy or pbagrag." Guvf vf, nf Nfun nyyhqrq gb, n yvr; ng gur Ynaqfzrrg, fur gryyf gur tngurerq aboyrf gung lbh'ir orra fynaqrevat Sreryqra'f terngrfg ureb gb chg n chccrg ba gur guebar.

Vs lbh cebzvfr gb fhccbeg ure pynvz gb gur guebar ohg qba'g cebzvfr gb cneqba Ybtunva, fur dhvpxyl qebcf gur erdhrfg gung lbh qb fb, naq orgenlf lbh ng gur Ynaqfzrrg, fvzvyneyl.

Vs lbh chg ure ba gur guebar (naq qba'g crefhnqr ure gb zneel Nyvfgnve), fur vzzrqvngryl gevrf gb unir uvz rkrphgrq. (Lbh pna gnyx ure bhg bs vg.)

Svanyyl, jura fur jnf gelvat gb crefhnqr zr gb fhccbeg ure pynvz gb gur guebar, fur xrcg ercrngvat gung fur unq orra npghnyyl ehaavat gur pbhagel guebhtubhg Pnvyna'f ervta. Erterggnoyl, V qvqa'g unir n qvnybthr bcgvba gb gryy ure, "Vs lbh guvax gung'f n fryyvat cbvag gb na rys sebz na nyvrantr, lbh'er zber bhg bs gbhpu guna Pnvyna rire jnf." Fur'f...yvxr ure sngure: Fur hfrf "Gur tbbq bs Sreryqra" gb zrna "Zl crefbany qrfverf," naq fur gnyxf nobhg "gur tbbq bs Sreryqra" n ybg.

Beroli said...

I'm afraid I disagree with you completely here.

Some of the things you say just make me shrug. One--the thing about him insulting the mage--I don't entirely disagree with; yes, Alistair is prejudiced against mages, and it's a failing. This part, though:


Yes, that's right. He won't leave the quest to run off and live happily ever after with the PC, but he will give the whole thing up if you refuse to chop off the head of a guy whose political wranglings resulted in the death of a guy who was going to die, one way or another, within less than a year.

This is really not an honest way of describing the situation. He will refuse to continue with you further if you decide that the man who:
Committed treason and regicide.
Killed all the Grey Wardens in Ferelden except you and Alistair.
Killed Alistair's brother.
Sold the city elves your character was so concerned about when she could hold that concern over Alistair--including her father, though you presumably rescued him before he was actually shipped to Tevinter--into slavery in Tevinter, a place where slaves are treated as badly as they are in the worst historical examples, plus sacrificed for blood magic.
Used torture.
Sent assassins after everyone who he thought posed a threat to his grip on the crown, including you, including Alistair, and including Alistair's foster father (who is not a good man and wasn't a good foster father, but Alistair doesn't really realize that...and going by the rest of your post, you don't, either, so).

is, as a result, to be given an honor that would have been an impressive capstone to his career back when he was the universally-beloved teryn who hadn't done any of those things.

Beroli said...

SW:TOR has that problem, too. (Though if you hit the the escape keep before the scene finishes, you can start over, at least.) Usually, the dialogue is about what I expect from what's on the dialogue wheel, but - and this is going to sound straight up weird - a couple of times, I escaped out and chose dark side rather than light side for my Jedi because the light side options seemed deeply wrong. (But there are times when I find Jedi morality rather orange and blue. Or just plain WTF?)
This is something I posted on two other forums recently (one of them being slacktivist at patheos):

Bioware chose, in The Old Republic MMORPG, to make "Light Side/Dark Side" not equal good/evil. It's...a rather bizarre decision. It certainly has no precedent in any of their previous games; where they often describe a system more complicated than good/evil and implement it as simply good/evil (quick, think of a time in Jade Empire where the Closed Fist option is the more morally good option, or a time in Mass Effect where the Renegade option is the more morally good option), here they've taken a system designed to be as straightforwardly good/evil as you can get and implemented it as more complicated than good/evil.

Beroli said...

I don't really think the reputation thing matters. I mean the sequel makes it clear that Ferelden doesn't even remember your RACE and GENDER, right? :/
No.
If history is written by the winners, I'm pretty sure Loghain can be pointed out as a Grade A Jerk to everyone's heart's content after the war is over. (Unless, you know, Alistair marries his daughter.)
It's in the game. If you're going to ignore text...why not just decide Alistair doesn't actually insist on killing Loghain?

Beroli said...

You're a Gray Warden, you know it's basically a really squalid death sentence...
Not quite true. Being a Grey Warden is widely considered an honor, and clearly Alistair thinks of it that way, drinking poison aside. Riordan, for whatever reason doesn't tell you until after you make the decision about Loghain that one of the Wardens is going to have to die.

I don't agree with Alistair about the Grey Wardens. But it is a fact, from an external in-our-world viewpoint, that killing Loghain vs. having him die killing the Archdemon makes the difference between "he is remembered as a traitor, mass-murderer and all the other things I pointed out in my comments" and "he is remembered as a great hero with some minor peccadilloes shortly before his death."

Edited: Never mind "for whatever reason." The reason is obvious and is the same as the reason why you can't have Loghain thrown in prison: To force an artificial choice between Alistair and Loghain at that point.

Beroli said...

(Although the end battle...I like the *idea* of doing X thing to get Y event-specific special powers, but the fact that you only know to do this if you read the walkthrough...no. HATE.)
I haven't played Awakening in quite a while, and only once. (No, I didn't care for Awakening at all.) So I'm not sure what you're referring to. I do remember the powers with the selection wheel at the end, but I don't remember any of the powers being gained by any non-obvious method (though, of course, one was gained, or not, by one of the game's major moral decisions). Were there more powers I missed? (I didn't look at a walkthrough until I'd finished the expansion.)

Beroli said...

I liked who he was... once I married him to Anora. Oddly, I think that was the best thing you could do for him as a character.

And here I thought we might actually wind up pretty close to agreeing until I got to that point. :-p

Ironically enough, if I had played the pure-good character I usually do in CRPGs the first time I played Dragon Age, I probably would have talked Alistair and Anora into getting married and not thought twice about it. For Dragon Age, I chose to play a significantly nastier-than-usual character, who had his own reasons for not suggesting it. And thereby I learned enough about Anora to ensure that I never, ever will.

It is a pity that hardening him is only done by a hidden line which he reacts to in a very unpredictable way--I didn't harden him my first game because I didn't even know about it, but if I had known that some line in the game would make Alistair's personality change, I would still never have guessed that that line there was the one. It doesn't look like it should get anything other than an approval hit for being callous and dismissive.

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