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All In, Enderal [Travelogue of Skyrim Total Conversion Mod, Enderal]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Guile, May 21, 2017.

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  1. Threadmarks: Update 57
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - Just as a side note, it’s weird that the same old Keepers that have always taken up guard positions at doors or in the hallway leading to the Big Table are all ‘Leave this to us, but hurry’… yet are still guarding random doors. You’d think they’d be over there, holding the gates to the Sun Temple.
    Who knows, I’m not some kind of expert in heroic last stands.

    - There’s a brief aside with Jespar, who wants to know if I’m really down for Tealor’s glorious symbolic surrender.
    Since there’s sadly no ‘But it would be funny watching Coarek’s face turn purple wouldn’t it’ option, I have to admit if there’s a way to duck out before the curtain call, I’m for it.
    Hopefully Jespar isn’t going to try and cut a deal with Coarek or something, that never ends well.

    - So down into the depths we go, finding something like a small three-way war between the possessed, plunderers out for a quick buck, and Coarek’s army.
    Everyone has taken a level or three in badass when I wasn’t looking; even the rando plunderers are pretty hearty. Deathstorm’s self-damage tick is too high and its output too mediocre (albeit area-of-effect), so I have to leave that to Sha’Rim and wade in, swinging swords and popping potions.
    It does a pretty good job of proving the wisdom of Tealor Arantheal not sending us all out for some last glorious sally like Commander What’s-Her-Face wanted; even fighting like 15 of these guys is pretty hard. Trying to fight a city full of them would be impossible.

    - There’s also quite a few ghosts, wisps, and ghost-serpents here and there.
    Life in the Undercity must be hard as hell. Not only are you probably suffering from flesh-maggots, not only is the orphanage run by Vatyr, but goddamn ghosts all up in your business.
    Oh, and everything is on fire.

    [​IMG]

    - There's this cool mini-cutscene on the way, with a Nehrimese soldier standing over a pair of Undercity dwellers with an axe. It's not just murder, though; it's like a religious debate, just with axes.
    This guy came fucking prepared for this, okay? When the girl begs, 'We're a peaceful order!' he actually has his bible or chant of light or whatever the heck the local holy book is called, and he can quote it chapter and verse. All the parts where the Radiant Being Which Was Malphas decided to smite some heathens, you know, 'And thousands of lightning bolts crashed down onto the wretched city, destroying everything,' like that.
    This small piece of dialogue is actually what I love about Enderal. Because look, make no mistake; this Nehrimese guy is wrong, because people who invade their neighbors and put them to the torch are never right.
    But SureAI was confident enough in its players' intelligence to allow him to have a point. You can see where he's coming from; the average Path-abiding citizen is a good person (/occasionally hateful xenophobe), but the Order is a monolithic entity that rules much of the world, and that's a situation ripe for abuse. And the Light-born were apparently of the 'rain of fire' variety of conversion strategy, as you would do if you were some kind of near-omnipotent wizard-god-king.
    The Nehrimese are murderous assholes, but widespread revolution doesn't just spring up without a cause. They got that way in response to systematic abuse from a strict caste system that allowed slavery and who knows what else under its rule.
    This? This right here? This is my jam.

    - I ding Level 58 on the way to Sha’Rim finding just the right rocky wall to entropy into dust to get access to the City of a Thousand Floods.
    … How exactly did you know to do that, Sha’Rim? That map we got from the Star Fathers would have to be really specific.
    Also, you know… I’m wondering about that name. City of a Thousand Floods. Why would you name your city that if I’m not going to have to be doing a lot of swimming and/or drowning?
    Or some kind of Noah parallel, I dunno.

    - Solid art (architecture) direction for the City of a Thousand Floods. SureAI doesn’t just throw a crumbling city at you when they can throw an overgrown crumbling city full of waterfalls at you instead.
    The waterfalls kind of remind me of the building complex beneath the Living Temple; it makes me think this was just an architectural style for the Pyreans, rather than rising water levels or climate change during the 50,000 years in between their time and ours, or something.
    The Pyreans just appreciate a good waterfall.

    [​IMG]

    - Now that we’re in the Pyrean city proper, there’s rather a lot of Lost Ones down here, which the High Ones possess and fight us with.
    I don’t think these are Pyreans, since those appear to have charcoaled into black carbon statues all over the place.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I wonder if these are the remains of adventurers and grave-robbers that have found their way to the Pyrean city only to meet their end, or if the High Ones have been secretly moving Lost Ones down here to use as a small army.
    Either option presents pretty interesting follow-up questions: ‘How’ and ‘Why’, respectively.

    - All the way down here, Tealor has been the pillar of strength. When the visions cause Sha’Rim to wonder if we’re still part of the Cycle (oh hey, by the way, the visions are back), he refutes him. Tealor is certain: We’re closer than any have come before to lighting the Beacon. We will succeed. The High Ones are running out of tricks, reduced to throwing possessed corpses at us.

    - So of course, that’s when the High Ones show up to throw a trick at him. They tune up the video reel, all the carbonized Pyreans’ eyes light up (are they a power source? Is this the Pyrean High One speaking to us?) and it’s movie time.
    Apparently, Young Tealor (with a glorious head of hair) was a bit of a dick. He had a kid with one of the Light-born (and boy, wouldn't that be a story all on its own), and rather than taking the child away himself as she asked, he refused to abandon his position and title and had one of her assistants raise the kid instead.
    And didn't get smote for his arrogance. I wish I knew literally anything about this Light-born Indara. I don't think this is the one that managed Qyra, where Tealor accidentally a war...
    This kid, of course, is the one (Narathzul?) who killed all the Light-born, including his mom I guess?
    So the child Tealor refused to abandon his position for made his position superfluous by killing all Tealor’s gods (plus throwing him in jail for like 10 years).

    - Tealor is… upset. ‘Swinging greatsword at phantom of younger self’ upset.
    I wish there was time to talk to him about this, because holy cow would that be a conversation. Young Tealor is such a different person. Not all the way, Current Tealor is still pretty arrogant and high-handed at times and he would be an inflexible and implacable enemy. But these days he couldn't give a fuck about the office and his high position. A decade or two in prison really mellowed him out, and taught him more humility than the average Keeper. He takes the long view, but he's at least aware of the cogs that make up the grand design.
    The High One clearly thinks this was the 'and that was when it all started to go wrong' moment, and I wish I knew if Tealor agreed. Given the way he just about bisected his younger self with a greatsword, I'm thinking he does.

    - And then, having gotten the last laugh by dragging out Tealor’s dirty laundry, only then does the High One try to kill us all with red glowy phantoms. I mean, why just murder a guy when you can fuck with him and then kill him, amirite? I’m right.
    So we start fighting our way up the stairs to the Pyrean temple in a pretty badass sequence. Most of the phantoms are swinging ghostly swords, but there are at least two lich-type guys (like the Darkhands) and a giant.

    [​IMG]

    - And then, while we’re all congratulating ourselves on being stone-cold badasses who don’t give a fuck, the High Ones bring in their Heavy: a phantom dragon who spits very real fire.
    The front façade of the temple collapses on us (the game takes away control to have the Prophetess look up as the giant cyclopean masonry blocks come crashing down), and then… darkness. Darkness and fire.


    The Takeaway:
    I’m really digging this segment so far. Going from secret passage to afire Undercity to the picturesque (if corpse-y) City of a Thousand Floods keeps things visually interesting, and each leg of the trip is only three or so vistas (fights or scenes or whatever) so it doesn’t feel like a slog.
    The enemies look really cool, both the Lost Ones with the glowing eyes and the red smoke monsters.
    They're still fleshing out their goddamn characters with unique, interesting character beats, even this late in the game. Hopefully Sha'Rim gets something next, because I can never read that guy.
    But my favorite bit is probably that one little conversation between diametrically opposed viewpoints, irreconcialable differences settled with the axe. I'm not sure if SureAI has something concrete to say about all these themes they're throwing around, but even if they're just using them to flesh out their world, this is the good shit, fam.
     
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  2. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    You didn't mention who you went down into this sequence with. Tealor, Sha'Rim, Jaspar? Where is Calia?

    The main takeaway from (anti-)religious crusades in Enderal is simple: "Don't."
     
  3. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Tealor, Sha'Rim and Jespar, yeah.

    It's been a little while since it happened, but I think Calia bashed her head on a rock when we were coming down from the Star City and never woke up.

    Hopefully I didn't just forget to go back for her and could have brought both Love Interests down here with me.
     
  4. silvananoir

    silvananoir Getting out there.

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    You only bring your love interest, so don't worrt. Yeah this segment is amazing. The High Ones are really good at sticking the knife in at twisting it. I loved Tealor's reaction to his shame being shown.

    I think if you lived this part them the philosophical discussions coming up will also be interesting to you.
     
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  5. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Doing one update at a time:
    I feel like you may have missed some kind of shortcut.

    Alteration's a pretty variable school, isn't it? It was like my second or third highest ranked in Oblivion, but I don't think I used any of its spells for more than testing purposes in Skyrim.
    Also, have you considered that other people noticed earlier but this is just the first guy to gather the will to say anything?

    Alternately, he means that was the prevailing scholarly wisdom but the Keepers have suspected it was someplace else for a while and now they finally have proof.

    I mean, to be fair, both statements are probably true, in that there's a demonic Black Guardian you'll have to kill and the 'screams' are actually the wind because his voice doesn't carry that far.

    This is a common flaw in video-games and TV shows but these guys don't have the excuse of not being able to get the actor back.
    Also, looking at that picture... Is that a Dark Souls protagonist kneeling down over to the left?

    This juxtaposition is hilarious.

    Yeah, I honestly have less respect for her than I would if she were doing it out of greed or spite, but I can see how several months of this threat hanging overhead would make someone irrational. Those twenty days where no one knew where you were probably didn't help.

    The Sigil Stone stuff at least provides several possible explanations for what's going on now, even if it's not certain which is true.

    Okay, there's literally no reason for this unless it's because they're going to do something with Natara later. Otherwise, it's just poor story-telling. I can easily forgive them not remembering to reuse some minor character from early on in the Novice scene but having a major character die off-screen when you need someone to die an onscreen dramatic death in the same incident is terrible.

    Maybe it's the surrendering part that makes it a statement? Like "Fuck you, we've ruined your plans so thoroughly we'll just give up and let you do whatever you want, none of it will get you what you want"? Anyway, I still consider stopping the High Ones to be the meaningful part, death afterwards is meaningless but less bad than death beforehand.

    It didn't seem like the main bulk of their army was in the city last time, though they didn't really explain why. Were those some kind of faster forward units or pre-planted infiltration cells suddenly activating to try and weaken your defenses from within? Who knows?
     
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  6. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Thinking about it, it seems pretty unlikely that Coarek isn't going to show up before the end somehow, so I do have my fingers crossed for Natara to show up with him then in some capacity. He has that weird cultist guy that can tear out people's souls on his staff after all, Undead Disapproving Order Mom would probably make a pretty good miniboss.
    There were definitely a handful of 'Nehrimese infiltrator' units in the marketplace at that time, in normal clothes and wielding twin daggers, so there's probably some truth to that. And then the troops in the city during the first invasion pretty clearly sailed into the harbor.

    But at the same time Coarek strolled up to the front door after Sha'Rim put the entry barriers up, to have a chat with Tealor Arantheal and warn us that if we weren't going to accept Sweet Reason he was going to crucify everyone he could catch outside the walls. So I suppose the bulk of the army landed along the beach next to Ark, expecting to be able to punch in Ark's front door for a two-pronged assault, only to get locked out.
     
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  7. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    I bet he didn't expect that half of all farmers in Enderal are Vatyr, heh. Crazy fanatics, amirite?
     
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  8. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Maybe they don't think they'll make it in time to matter, so they're just going to force the invaders to engage them in brutal, room-to-room urban combat? Or they're worried about infiltrators slipping past the main force? Otherwise, it's just poor writing.

    I feel like if you don't learn from the last person to try that, you deserve what you get. And yes, the surrendering afterwards part seems pointless, unlike the screwing over all his plans beforehand part of the plan.

    Well, assume the guys you're fighting now that got ahead of everyone else are probably elite units, but a handful of them and a city full of lesser troops would really ruin your day. I assume the plunderers are all badasses because they spend their spare time invading haunted ruins and the ones that didn't level died.

    Hey, that Vatyr was the best caretaker that orphanage ever had (the previous caretaker moved to Skyrim). Also, I doubt it's usually all on fire.

    Hey, I... Yeah, probably.

    I do like that the guy took the time to memorize a bunch of relevant holy passages. It's a nice touch and you're right about the conflict having shades to it making the whole thing richer.

    Consistent art design on ruined cities that are from the same civilization is nice. But, hey, the waterfalls are probably both. I suspect the water isn't all going where it was supposed to originally any more.

    Maybe they're the Looters who didn't take a few levels in badass. Alternately, some of the Pyreans (the mages?) turned into Lost Ones instead of charcoal.
    I can see where you get that, but I think it came from the other direction and everyone was running AWAY from it.

    Oh, you thought of one of the same options I did for the Lost Ones, you just typed it later.

    That would be really cool. Also, Tealor's backstory, while awesome seems to suddenly arrive a bit out of nowhere. Still awesome, though.

    When you're an immortal who rarely interacts with the world directly, you've got to make your fun where you can. Actually that's a good point... What the hell do the High Ones do most of the time? I mean, every so often they murder everyone but the rest of the time they do.. what?

    Huh.. Maybe raising Lost Ones was a hobby for one of them and you stumbled into his ant farm.

    Hell, even if they're just saying 'discuss', it's more than a lot of stories.
     
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  9. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    At least they do something with Arantheal's martyr complex in the next bit!
    I wish they would color code their elite mooks like Stormtroopers, that's all I'm saying. These guys look like average Nehrimese army mooks but they never skip leg day.
    Yeah, that's fair. I have this pet theory about lighting the Beacon causing the Cleansing, and sometimes I get over-eager to jump on anything that looks like it might be evidence.
    True on both counts.

    Maybe the 'Oh by the way Arantheal fucked a wizard-god-king' reveal was only a surprise to those of us who didn't play the Oblivion mod they made before this, since I think that starred his kid Narathzul?

    On the upside, that kid being part god-wizard on his mom's side would explain how Narathzul killed all the Lightborn in the last game.
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Update 58
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - We wake up on the other side of a pile of rubble, Tealor, Sha’Rim and I. Their models are spattered with blood, looking pretty cool. Jespar is nowhere to be seen.
    Tealor tries to soothe me that we’ll look for him on the way to the Pyrean Beacon, but I get the feeling it’s mostly a sop to my feelings. Tealor’s a rock; the only part he cares about is that we’re down one of our four-man party, I think.
    I’m not sweating it, though. I’m pretty sure Jespar is on the same immortality train as Calia and I. I’d be pretty damn surprised if he died offscreen like a mook (poor Natara).

    - The ruins are largely empty save for dozens of the carbon-black human figures, almost all looking or running forward in the same direction I’m going. It gives a weird feeling of being dragged forward to your destination, like you’re a salmon swimming in a school of fish.
    Whoever on staff was responsible for cute skeleton placement is getting to flex his design muscles here, I bet.
    For example, I appreciate the one guy who, when the world was ending, said ‘Fuck it, Imma have a seat.’

    [​IMG]

    - The ruins are empty except for the black figures, one Conjured Guardian and approximately three Mad Rats. The ghost-like guardian, sure, no big deal. But what the hell have the rats been subsisting on down here all this time?
    I guess SureAI just wanted to get us to flex our trigger finger now and then, to remind us during this cutscene-and-walking segment that we were playing a video game instead of a movie, but still. Why rats?

    - The lighting is weirdly good, considering we're in the ruins underneath the Undercity which is underneath Ark. The purple braziers are a given (although I wonder where the crystal that has always plagued Pyrean ruins until now got to), but also there's a lot of light streaming down through cracks in the walls and ceiling.

    [​IMG]

    I'm wondering how far the City of a Thousand Floods extends. Are we under Ark at all anymore?

    - This close, it’s not just me getting the visions. Everyone does.
    That’s inexplicable, but neat. Something something approaching the endgame, something something Cycle, something something the time-space dimensions are thin, I guess?

    - So we wander on down to a Beacon, identical to ours save for the ravages of age. And Tealor tells me I need to induce myself into having a vision here, and somehow that’ll provide the connection to the High One for us to do our thing. I’m kind of just going along with things, now.
    Also I feel like he’s maybe not 100% sure how being the Prophetess works, but that’s fair I guess. Neither do I.
    So I wander around the room for a minute, point-and-click adventure style, clicking on discarded helmets and interesting bits of crystal that provoke bits and pieces of visions. Mostly just reiterating how eerily similar the Cycle is to the one that came before it. They had a Coarek, and a Natara who let him into the city, and a female voice who has more than a bit of a Tealor vibe to her.
    And off we go! Tealor directs Sha’Rim to use the Word of the Dead, now that I’ve got the right Echo.
    There is a scream, not endless, but fading in and out of existence, intercut by a woman weeping, or maybe laughing. A heartbeat begins to sound, slow at first, before getting louder and louder.
    And then… well.

    [​IMG]

    Kansas, it ain’t.
    The High Ones are apparently weird red stuff all the way down. It is pretty interesting that we've taken on a similar ghostly red glow to the way the High Ones appear.
    Also it sort of looks like Tealor has black hair again, like he reverted to a younger self, but I think that's just the weird lighting.

    - Tealor orders Sha’Rim forward to try and collect the High One’s consciousness in the Word, but Sha’Rim has decided it’s time to get some character growth up ins.
    The thrust of his question is: ‘Do you regret it?’
    The thing with his son. I am suddenly reminded that Sha’Rim, as with all the other Nehrimese mages, was a follower of Narathzul first. And that Sha’Rim, as the last living member of that order, might have something to say about that at last. I can’t say he didn’t pick his moment, standing on the cusp of triumph or defeat for all Enderal and going ‘Now let’s talk about our feelings, Arantheal.’
    Sha’Rim is of the opinion that that Arantheal doesn’t regret. That it was agitation at being reminded of his failures, not true regret or anger, that colored that exchange with the High One in front of the temple.

    - That’s a pretty strong and subtle point about Tealor’s character.
    Anger at the High Ones for throwing his failures in his face, absolutely. But regret… yeah, I think Sha’Rim’s right on that. Tealor feels like the kind of guy to regret a lot about everything that happened, but regret at the result, at the fallout his choices had, rather than regret at ever having made the choice in the first place.
    For a guy who recognizes he’s made as many mistakes as he has, Tealor doesn’t tend to doubt himself much. Equal parts virtue and vice.
    Okay, Sha’Rim, where are you going with this in the end? I feel like this is the prelude to a betrayal, but I’m not sure if there’s room for vengeance here, at the end of the world.

    - Of course, turns out there’s always time for vengeance.
    Sha’Rim was the one who hired those mercenaries to set fire to Lishari’s research, and then he killed her when she caught on. He’s been working against us from the start, and even before then.
    Huh. The man’s a better actor than I thought, that’s for sure; he seemed genuinely distraught back then.
    I thought this was about Narathzul, but it’s not: it’s about Tealor, and his fuck-up in Qyra that led to the civil war. Apparently, Sha’Rim was one of the very few survivors of that first purge, when the farmers were whipped into a rebellion and Young Tealor commanded them to be put down; his wife and daughter weren’t so lucky.
    Why Sha’Rim brought his wife and daughter to an open revolt against the tyrannical god-kings, I have no idea. Presumably there’s at least a little more to this story than I’m getting.
    The point is, Sha’Rim has been trying to sabotage Tealor all this time and has been mostly failing at it, Wile E. Coyote style, thanks to yours truly.

    - Now this bit is clever. Tealor straight up asks why the hell Sha’Rim is doing this when Coarek would be killing Tealor within the day. Why kill the whole goddamn world just to kill a guy who’s going to die anyway?
    Sha’Rim though… he thinks, doesn’t it taste sweetest this way?

    [​IMG]

    Tealor wants to be a martyr. Tealor Arantheal, savior of the world. What a nice ring to it.
    But, uh oh, look who’s here right at the very end to spoke his wheel at the cusp of his great triumph against the High Ones? Fucking Sha’Rim.
    He could have exploded Arantheal in his sleep years ago if he just wanted to kill the man, probably. Sha’Rim is stupidly strong; he’s been holding off the Nehrimese invasion by himself for weeks.
    But no, Sha’Rim doesn’t want Tealor to die. He wants him to hurt.
    You kind of have to admire spite like that.

    - So Sha’Rim does… something or other. Merges with the Numinos, or wakes it up, or… something. He vanishes in an explosion of energy, the red of the High Ones with a touch of the green lightning of Sha’Rim’s Entropy magic, and we get kicked back out into the waking world.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, also, Sha’Rim is possessed by the High Ones. Just now? All this time? Hard to say.

    [​IMG]

    What’s easy to see is that this High One is one of the sassy ones. Some High Ones just have such a good time fucking with the mortals. Lots of good sneers and smirks and such in the conversation ahead.
    We must make this guy’s millennium.

    - Arantheal reckons he’s not out of this race yet, though. See, we’re doomed. Sha’Rim won… up to a point. We have no Numinos, so we can’t aim the Beacon. What we can still do, though, is turn it on.
    That’s going to basically nuke Enderal. But Tealor reckons that’s a risk he’s willing to take.
    He believes – hopes – that there are other people out there like us. Somewhere, on some other continent-nation, there’s somebody who can figure this High One thing out.
    He thinks there’s a reason the High Ones sent Coarek here, that if he gets to the Beacon he can somehow steer it into the ending he/the High Ones want, and birth a new High One. But if Coarek and the Beacon and everything else are wiped off the map, maybe the High Ones won’t be able to complete the Cleansing on their own, and we buy the rest of the world time to get its shit together.

    - I’m feeling not so good about this course of action, of course, but I’m still mostly dead and Tealor has no time to drag me to the surface with him. He needs to get to the Beacon and activate it before Coarek punches through our guards up topside. It's a cause worth dying for, but Tealor is sounding just a little too eager, you know?
    I have a couple of conversation options, the ‘Go on, Tealor, you can do it!’ or the ‘Are you fucking nuts?’ option, neither of which quite fit what I’m thinking. Which is that he's basing a lot of his reasoning on guesswork and hope, and he came up with this plan in about 30 seconds while being heckled by Sha'Rim's corpse. But Tealor doesn’t really care what I think, anyway. Tealor has a plan.
    We? We are gonna be heroes, Tealor assures me.
    All aboard the Martyr Express, I guess.


    The Takeaway:
    I do feel like this would have more punch if we knew more about Sha’Rim prior to this. If we'd previously talked about his family, or life in Qyra, or something that would make us go, ‘Ohhh’ in hindsight. Instead, most of his conversation options around the Sun Temple were questions about how various disciplines of magic works.
    I mean if this was Archmage Lexil pulling this betrayal, I’d be feeling it more. But it’s still good stuff.

    Tealor’s character pivot was even better. Because I still like him, even if it’s starting to look like we’re going to have to duke it out over the Beacon. The character traits that made him such an unflinching badass in the face of the Red Madness, the Reapers showing up and the end of the world are the same ones that are causing all his problems now.
    ... Well, not that I think Sha'Rim would have stopped his 15+ year revenge plot if Tealor had seemed more sensitive and regretful, but you never know.

    That edge of martyrdom that was in Tealor's heroic speech up in the Temple has broken open and revealed itself to be just as much vice as virtue too. It’s kind of like a depressed person thinking suicidal thoughts about how the world would be better off without them. When you can’t see any other way out, then dying well doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe people will think well of you, afterwards. Is it a legacy thing, I wonder? Or is he so sure it’s the right thing that he's getting tunnel vision? Or is it just that in this floundering Order dedicated to a God-king that no longer exists, with all his old friends and lovers turned traitor or dead, you might as well go out with a bang, saving the world?
    What a Hero, they’ll say of us after we die saving the world. Tealor almost can’t wait.
     
  11. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Well, we are finally at the best hour of Enderal. Better enjoy it while it lasts.

    You remember this one, I hope? It was from the series of visions when you were washed ashore in the beginning. Nagged me through the whole game, very expressive exclamation.



    As always, this one helps me to feel the story better. Enderal's OST is amazing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  12. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    I didn't, actually! The downside of this format is that the opening of the game was like a year ago.
    Amen! They're a talented bunch.

    They could have packaged this as an indie game and I would have been perfectly happy. I guess they didn't have a game engine, but I've heard you can get some perfectly serviceable engines on the cheap these days.
     
  13. silvananoir

    silvananoir Getting out there.

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    If you talk to Sha'Rim during the game, he is constantly mentioning a girl's name. Having a conversation and listening to him muttering, it's easy to guess that something really and happened to the girl. He doesn't explain everything but when I hit that scene my mind immediately flashed back to those times. This is Tealor 's commupence, not only for what went down in Qyra but what he did to his son. But like you said he never regrets the right thing.

    I think if Tealor wasn't so stalwart, so self assured maybe Sha'Rim would just kill him. But Tealor being the way he is, Sha'Rim chose the right way to hurt him.
     
  14. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Because of plot armor, sadly, rather than being an undead abomination like the two of you.
    In Tealor's defense, it is inconvenient trying to do the final dungeon without a full party. More seriously he's got bigger things to worry about, as cold as that sounds.
    Fred probably realized he wasn't outrunning the danger and decided there was no reason to put up with aching legs before being burned alive. Also, judging by the way he's sitting, he was probably overcome with depression about this fact. But it is a nice detail.
    Or the High Ones are messing with you. That's an option at this point, after the last guy.
    Well, it's not like anyone's succeeded in what you're trying before. There's going to be some guess work.
    That seems like a really damn bad sign. Like... Maybe the High Ones like things going this way or at least are prepared for what you're doing since it basically happened before and they've had ages to think about it.
    I really love eerie effects where you can't tell if someone's weeping or laughing. Like that one track, I think it was Nightmare Rooms from Shadow Man. Look it up, it's on Youtube.
    Well, if it's a mindscape, maybe that's the age he thinks of himself as.
    If fits nicely with your own observations so far, too. He's a rock.
    That was vengeance's slogan in it's wildly successful superbowl commercial.
    Sha’Rim was the one who hired those mercenaries to set fire to Lishari’s research, and then he killed her when she caught on. He’s been working against us from the start, and even before then.
    Either he's really dumb or the purge was one of those 'whole village' affairs or 'burn everyone who ever supplied the rebels with... er... supplies... and their whole families' or something.
    Well, I mean, you'd die but you'd die a winner if he did it the other way. And Sha'Rim seems to be long past the point of caring about other people's lives, considering he just admitted to murdering someone who'd never wronged h
    Yeah, it's hard not to, even though I think it's a waste. He could have killed Tealor and gone out and remarried. It's not like I'm against destroying your enemies but there passes a point where you're basically letting them control your entire life. Still, that level of devotion is amazing. Spending all those years working with someone you hate, holding off from exploding him in his sleep for this one moment. So he has my sad respect. Like Olympic gymnasts who burn out before they hit 15. I respect your effort, but I feel like you'd have been happier doing something else.
    Probably just now. He might have deliberately let himself be possessed at the end there, he certainly did his best to get their attention.
    I really do wonder what the High Ones do when they're not fucking with you.
    It's probably all of the above. It's some damn fine characterization, anyway. Kind of like how Gul Dukat went from enemy to ally to enemy again on Deep Space Nine without changing in character one bit (well, until the end where he went to pseudo-anti-christ, but that was because the writers chickened out of killing him at the appropriate time and then had nothing to do with him).
     
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  15. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Ah, but he was resurrected by the Veil Woman, same as I was, after his sister Adila killed him!

    We're all weird undead down here, you see.
    At this point it's kinda like that webcomic about the pirate captain getting so into revenge against his British seacaptain that it gets weirdly homoerotic, and he goes to sleep with the captain's picture on the other pillow, so he will dream of vengeance.
    At this point I'm wondering if they're just really lonely. Like, what if there's only like 20 High Ones total? You'd eventually, given a span of eons, get hella bored talking to the same 20 guys on your aetherial plane. Even if you're also civilizations. We're still talking about tens of thousands of years in between Cycles, that's a lot of time to play I Spy or Guess The Number I'm Thinking Of.
     
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  16. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Just wanted to share it with you. No spoilers in the video, obviously.

    Apparently, the abundance of narratively empty dungeons was obvious to SureAi too. Also, combat crafting, for some reason? Huh. Still, the Veiled Woman as a narrator fills me with a great hope.

    One day. One day...

    EDIT. There it is.

    Added in Forgotten Stories:


    • Two “crafting classes” that utilize alchemy and enchanting for combat – use potions to shapeshift into a werewolf, use enchanting to craft spirit companions.
    • Improved performance and stability for a smooth experience.
    • Twelve new side quests plus two non-linear guild questlines: Work your way up the Golden Sickle, Enderal’s merchant’s guild and infiltrate the ranks of the Rhalâta, the enigmatic cult ruling over the Undercity.
    • Reworked and improved crafting, spells, and much more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  17. Threadmarks: Update 59
    Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    - When I jump back into it, the loading screen helpfully informs me that gamblers that win at the card table only take a portion of their winnings home with them.
    SureAI is sure that anyone who loses at the gambling table is going to follow the winner home and beat them to death in an alley, and is warning them that they will only get part of their lost money back.
    That’s kind of awesome.
    But now, buckle in, children. We’ve got some heavy exposition to work through.

    - So Tealor leaves and I fall over and presumably die again, only to wake up to the Veiled Woman doing her hoodoo.
    She informs me that it all begins with dreams, which is clear as mud, but about par for the course with her.
    She throws up a portal, and in the process of heading to it there’s some visions – well, auditory hallucinations – that make it pretty clear that last time with female Tealor is exactly the same as this time. They headed down here, they were betrayed, and female Tealor resolved to set off the Beacon without the Numinos.
    Looks like we’re doomed, probably. Ah, well.

    - At first I think the portal takes me to the surface, or perhaps to the Great White North, since it appears to be cold enough for snow.

    [​IMG]

    - And in the depths of the earth I run into this.

    [​IMG]

    And I thought Horst was a big fella.

    - The giant centurion talks, too.

    [​IMG]

    It’s a good thing his voice has something of the quality of melting chocolate – possibly the best voice talent in a game packed with it, or at least the most attractive voice – because this is a looooong conversation and you can’t skip any of it.
    He’s kind of our Star Kid, to go back to the kinda unavoidable Mass Effect comparison. He’s here at the end to exposit all over the place and wrap up any loose threads.
    Well, most loose threads. Still no word on what the hell the Aged Man was about.

    - And he’s the Black Guardian. God damn it.
    I wonder if he sometimes passes the time in between the endless aeons with mindless howling in the depths, or what. It kind of sounds like he was asleep, but then he also claims that with the “Eye” (his equivalent to my Echo, so he's also an Emissary I guess?) he can see all things on the surface and he certainly knows enough about what’s going on to have been watching all along. Well, he says it's more of a 'seeing schemes and feeling emotions' thing rather than sight, but whatever. Close enough for government work.
    Back in the day, he was planning to hide from his cycle’s Cleansing and be a glorious golden god-king for the next, to protect them from the High Ones.
    Basically, this is last cycle’s Yerai, or possibly their Pahtira? Well, not last cycle. Many, many, maaaany cycles ago, perhaps the very first cycle. So if it’s been 50,000 years since the Pyreans, and he claims there’s been 1,000 cycles... he’s been down here for in the ballpark of 50 million years.
    How he’s not mad as a bag of clams by now, I have no idea.

    - I can't remember, do normal centurions have the Guardian's bitchin' 3-4 inch long goat? It makes him look all old and distinguished and stuff.

    - He’s shocked I’m here. Apparently, the Prophet always dies after the Emperor leaves her.
    He knows of the Veiled Woman, but as far as he’s concerned she doesn’t even have a mind, so he has no idea why she would be helping out this time.
    I really wish I could probe him for more information on the Veiled Woman, but along with the Aged Man she’s the other big hole in his block of exposition.
    Anybody who can hold up a conversation like she did after Jespar bit the dust and during Calia’s backstory certainly isn’t mindless. But he talks about her, the brief amount he does, like a force of nature rather than a person.
    I suppose it’s more realistic that even the giant robot that’s been watching everything all along can be wrong. It marks him as an unreliable narrator, and that you should at least take even his version of events with a grain of salt.

    - The Prophetess seems weirdly shocked when the Black Guardian explains that she’s dead. Like… people told you you were dead, and you saw your own corpse. What did you think happened?
    The actual news here is that the Black Guardian claims that the Emissaries are all dead people – which he calls Fleshless – that the High Ones turned into projections indistinguishable from other people. The Prophetess died in the ocean, obviously. Tealor died in prison. Coarek probably died during the rebellion or something. I wonder how many other Emissaries – and therefore undead – are kicking around? I never got a list or anything…
    This doesn’t seem to be a ‘High One puppet’ situation, more of a ‘jumpstart the corpse and watch it go’ thing. They don't appear to control us from the inside out, it's more of a top-down kind of thing where they poke at us from above until we do what they want.
    And this isn’t a Veiled Woman versus High One setting like I half expected, but rather the High Ones orchestrating both sides from the beginning.

    - There's an actual cutscene right around here, except that my computer can only barely chug its way through it; I get audio but no video, and if I touch the keyboard during the cutscene Enderal crashes.
    So it goes.
    Skipping ahead...

    - See, the Black Guardian has noticed that the High Ones don’t have any powers at all, besides kickstarting Emissaries and talking to people. Uh, and the Red Madness I guess. And raising the dead as Lost Ones, and there was that thing with Rynaeus where the High Ones portaled in an Oorbaya or something. And they’re behind the dreams, of course. And then just outside the temple, when they summoned like 20 wraiths and a ghost-dragon to bully us.
    So really, that’s a lot of powers.
    But they don’t have much in the way of physical powers. You’ll never see the High Ones throwing down, themselves. There will be no High One boss battle.
    And they can’t start the Cleansing. The Beacon will either deliver salvation or doom, and it has to be activated by human hands. Tealor Arantheal works just as well as Coarek for their purposes. The second someone turns on the Beacon with all the Black Stones but no Numinos, the Cleansing begins and the world dies again.
    The Black Guardian sees this whole thing, the High Ones and the Beacon and the Cleansing and so on, as a sort of trial from some ineffable higher power. Which, I guess? The rules for this thing with the Beacon and the High Ones feels too artificial to just be a natural part of the world. If the world reset every 50,000 years and the High Ones were just some aethereal parasites sponging off the process somehow, that’d be one thing. But the Beacon itself coming pre-built and the whole ‘save the world / destroy the world’ dichotomy feels too structured.
    And a little bit rigged. This is some Mortal Kombat-style Earth Realm/Outworld tournament stuff, here. Except Shao Khan won 1,000 times to our 0. And our Raiden is completely inscrutable and possibly non-sentient.

    - Which, by the way: Tealor was under the impression that turning on the Beacon was effectively a nuke, but the Black Guardian explains that what actually happens is a light begins to shine from the Beacon, the sky will open up in response, and everyone on the planet will begin to burn from the inside out.
    Which is way more metal.

    - We can’t ask about the Aged Man or the Veiled One, but we can ask about the Ancient Starlings, or the 'Yalam-Rashai' as they were known back in the day.
    Although the Black Guardian cautions that their floating city is at the very outermost edge of what he can perceive, so he doesn’t know everything.
    He knows that they survived their cycle in the same way he did; by refusing to play. He turned into a robot; they tore their city out of the ground and flung it into the sky, and protected it from the Cleansing, somehow.
    For a time, their city was the light of civilization; the greatest and most enlightened and the most advanced humankind has ever been.
    But then the societal rot set in and they started getting overpopulated, so they started setting strict birth limits and mind wiping and exiling anyone who committed crimes back down to the world below. As you do.
    That’s where our Starlings come from, of course. Their drive to return to the stars is a kind of race memory of what they lost.
    And the Black Guardian doesn’t know why the Ancient Starlings died, either. Way to blueball me right at the end of the story, man. The ending is the best part!

    - Also, the Black Guardian’s plan is to put me back in the ball and send me up to the Starling City. The escape pods can do that, apparently; he has seen the Ancient Starlings use them that way.
    So I think my headcanon of the Ancient Starlings hitting up Riverville on beer runs is true!

    - So yeah, it looks like we’re coming to a binary choice. Let’s take it piece by piece, shall we?

    - The Black Guardian’s recommendation is that I flee to the Star City, to survive and live an ageless and endless life until human life returns in the next cycle, and then guide them into being a better people, who will not fall prey to the machinations of the High Ones by dint of being morally superior.
    This is a load of bollocks, frankly. I have zero faith that I could take the selfishness and greed out of a human civilization, no matter how many centuries I had to plan it out. Trying to create a world of nothing but altruism is a foolish dream.
    On the upside, this means I would survive the Cleansing. I'm in favor of that.
    On the downside, this means I would survive the Cleansing to live for 30,000+ years alone in a crumbling sky-city, alone except for occasionally murderous robots.
    He says he’d contact me once I got there, so maybe I wouldn’t be totally forever-alone.
    Except that he also finishes the conversation by requesting I throw this lever and kill him because he’s tired of an endless vigil with no hope of change.
    I’m not sure if that’s a screw-up on SureAI’s part, or if the Black Guardian has gone a little screwy all alone down here for 50 million years after all. Could go either way.

    - The other option is to run on up there and break the Beacon.
    Tealor has activated the bloody thing, but it’ll still take a little while to start burning people from the inside out, and me one of the last of all.
    I’d die. I think maybe Enderal would die too? Maybe just the city, since the Black Guardian is sure this plan would kill Coarek too. And he’s of the opinion that what humanity needs is a knowledgeable immortal looking down from on high to guide them more than a few previous years before the High Ones start whispering in the ears of Kileans or Qyrans or whoever, to swerve back around and take another crack at this Cleansing thing.
    Of course, this is also the guy who tried to become the Enlightened Golden God-Robo, so of course he would think that.
    Uh, but just going by my own personal experience here, yeah, this would probably spell doom for humanity too. There’s always going to be a Coarek out there willing to do horrible things for the promise of some vague ascension, or whatever other lever the High Ones need to use. That’s just humanity for you.
    The High Ones are 1,000 to 0 on this plan working.

    - Oh, but maybe I’m not going to have to worry about any of this, because when I flip the switch I start to get sucked into the robot and the Black Guardian wants my body. And not in the fun way.
    Yeah, that’s a thing.
    Today has just been one thing after another.


    The Takeaway:
    The simple fact that they needed some rando to show up and fill in the gaps in the plot all in one exposition dump is something of a hammer, writing-wise. Nothing’s perfect, though, and this joker is leagues above some other examples I could name from AAA titles.
    This isn’t some villain expositing about his master plan; the Black Guardian is a victim of the cycle as much as I am. I don’t hate him, even as he tricked me into the robot. I’d do the same to him in a heartbeat. That’s just how humanity rolls. This ‘ha haaaa, now I will be the immortal god-king of humanity!’ nonsense at the 11th hour is just playing into the same themes this game has been working with for ages. This is Sigil Leader Jorek and Natara and Sha’Rim all over again.
    Though he’s been present for many events in ‘history’ he’s still fallible. Because he’s fallible, it’s no big deal if he can’t answer the innumerable questions a player might want to ask and the writer can’t anticipate (‘What was up with that Living Temple, seriously’ or ‘But what about Natara tho’). Although he still does a better job of answering pertinent questions than Mass Effect’s Star Kid ever did.
    And unlike Star Kid, we don’t have infinite power at our fingertips only to boil it down into simple choices; we might be a lich and a giant robot, but we have limited choices because we still only have the limited power of humans.
    He was properly foreshadowed as a part of the world, too, which is pretty nice. I even said last week that I was probably going to end up having to fight a Black Guardian, and boy if it isn’t looking like that’s going to be true. I even kind of like that he’s a giant robot, because that’s established as a thing people can do in this setting. Yerai was maybe smarter than the Guardian, even, since he made a much smaller robot but at least that one has working legs. This isn’t really coming out of left field at all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  18. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    I think its safe to say at this point that some plot holes will not be filled. Like the existence and role of the Veiled Woman for example. She will not appear, nor will she be mentioned until the end, and that's just sad. I sure hope they will expand on her a little in the DLC. As of now, she is a plot device, plain and simple.

    On the other hand... As you have noted, the Cycles don't seem to be a project of the High Ones at all. Its more like the structure of the world itself. It seems like Veiled Woman is the device of enforcement more than anything. The High Ones don't create the new iterations of people, they just have fun in the grand scheme. Meet new guy, induct him in the scheme. Can they give Veiled Woman orders? She seems to be operating under the notion of "I do what I have to do"... Until she doesn't. Because she developed morals, somehow? And that allowed her to just do what she wants, without care or consequences? Huh.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  19. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    I wish I remembered her lines from Jespar's quest better. I think she did it because she didn't want me to think she was doing things unfairly, or something? But of course, the Prophet only wins because she pushes her along, so the game is rigged from the start, and in our favor.

    I dunno, maybe the robot learned how to Love.
     
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  20. silvananoir

    silvananoir Getting out there.

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    The Veiled Woman is a player in whatever game. Is she a main player, a rep of something else. We'll never know because she is unknowable. Why did she interfere this time? Is this the first time that she did interfere, I mean it is highly likely that the Aged Man is a former Prophet or Emissary.We'll never know his story either. I kinda like that. We are not a chosen one, we don't get to know the big secrets of the universe. Like the Black Guardian ( who is unreliable) said, we weren't important before we died. Everyone has told including Tealor that before we were the Prophetess that we were insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    Our choice become a God ( which will probably kick off the cycle for the next group) or destroy the Beacon (which is a delay at best because the High Ones will try again) are awful choices. The only chance to win is to not play. But that's not human nature. The Black Guardian was right about one thing we like to have an enemy, someone to blame. There are plenty of Tealor's out there in the world. There's Qyra, Nehrim, other people.

    The Veiled Woman has been helping us, if the Black Guardian is right. Why? Who knows but I wonder if whoever the chessmasters are just wanted to change things up a bit.
     
  21. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Her lines were about the way she sees all Eventualities (which is a callback to the Sea of Eventualities, the reason for the magic system in this world), which is supposedly normal for her. For what she is.

    Oh, btw, here is a nice little detail from Enderal Wiki.

    Basically, "go play the previous game like a true fan, noob". Also, this.

    So... Yeah. Not sure that I will ever play the game again, even less about its predecessor, but this DLC sure looks more attractive every time I learn something new about it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  22. LBW995

    LBW995 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    Just wanted my first post to be in this thread. I love Enderal and this LP is such a good read.

    That's Dave Fennoy, the voice of Lee from those Telltale Walking Dead games. Pretty awesome they managed to get him to do a voice, basically, for free.

    The thing which really makes the High Ones work, is something Shamus Young explained in his Mass Effect retrospective, talking about the Reapers:
    Where Mass Effect 3 went wrong with the whole Star Child reveal is forcing the Reapers to 'make sense' basically. Like Vigil says in ME1, the Reapers are 'alien, unknowable' and IMHO, they should've remained as such. What makes the High Ones work as really ominous adversaries is that the game takes the H.P. Lovercraft approach and sticks with it. This late game conversation works because the reveal makes the High Ones even more mysterious and alien, in my opinion. Like it implies one Civilization was the first... What led them to 'cleanse' in the first place? Why would the High Ones feel need to create more of themselves?
     
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  23. Malorius

    Malorius Not too sore, are you?

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    Actually, it explains the process of creation of more High Ones directed by a concentrated effort of existing High Ones and whatever interdimensional mechanics the Veiled Woman represents - but remains silent about the roots of High Ones as an entity. We know that they exist, they play with mortals, they take a certain pleasure from it even, that they operate under some kind of restrictions, that they have outliers like Living Temple and Aged Man... But it explains what they are, not where the hell do they fit in the genesis of the ever-repeating recreation of human species (and isn't that a mind-blowing concept, whew).
     
  24. SolipsistSerpent

    SolipsistSerpent Endlessly Devouring

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    Wow, they're like "Better warn the murderhobos, so they don't complain."
    Well, you had a bunch of weird hallucinations towards the start of the game, I suppose. Unless she means the whole High One ascension thing started with dreams.
    If I was the High Ones, I'd probably send hallucinations like that, even if they weren't true. However, this seems like the kind of game where it is true and you are, as you say, doomed.
    Cool undead guy by the portal.

    I like that Giant Centurion thing is down with talking instead of just attacking you. It always makes boss monsters more memorable when they're also sort of people. Like the Master Below in Pillars of Eternity. I'm assuming you have to boss fight him, by the way.

    Well, that's probably really useful for reducing boredom when you're stuck in place. He's probably still bonkers, though.

    They do have goatees, yes. They might be slightly smaller, though.

    It's good writing when someone who's meant to be an unreliable narrator has a couple 'tells' so the audience doesn't just completely trust them.
    De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt, I guess.
    That's a cool twist. Although, are you sure the Veiled Woman isn't a rogue High One?
    It's seems like they mostly create illusions and animate the dead, really. You can put almost all those powers under those categories. Hell, maybe they didn't even portal that Oorbaya in, maybe they walked it in under an invisibility illusion and dropped it dramatically. Dream manipulation. Illusion. Raising Lost Ones, Raising Prophets. Animating the dead. Ghosts: Either animating the dead or an illusion. Etc. Everything except the Red Madness. That's an outlier.
    I'd kind of assumed the first race to transform into a High One built the Beacon. Because, yeah, it's totally artificial.
    Nice. It made sense, they'd have to do supply runs occasionally, I doubt the city could have been truly self-sufficient for eons. If nothing else, maybe they'd run out of water occasionally. (Although... magic).
    Speaking of going as mad as a bag of claims...
    Well, yeah, when you can target all of humanity with convincing illusions, you're pretty much guaranteed to be able to convince someone to do what you want unless you're a total fuckup.
    Oh look, the Black Guardian's a crazy liar you probably have to fight. I'm not saying I told you so, but... I told you so. At least this resolves the fact his dialogue was a bit contradictory on the future, since he was lying about that. He's not going to contact you and he's not committing suicide, he's just bad at keeping his lies straight.
    All cogent and well-reasoned points that I find I quite agree with, both in foreshadowing and in having your limited choices actually make sense rather than giving the player a sense of 'wait, why can't I do something else with this'. I'd say Bioware should take notes, but honestly, I'm not sure how much 'Bioware' is left under EA.
     
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  25. Guile

    Guile Clothes That Kill Virgins

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    Unfortunately, I still don't know what the hell the Veiled Woman is. She doesn't have the ghostly red look of a High One, and she says she isn't, but of course that's probably pretty subjective...

    It may be relevant that the Black Guardian mentions her, but the High Ones never do. Not sure what it all means yet, though.
    Honestly, the Red Madness mostly just drives people (and animals) homicidally bonkers, which you could probably accomplish with illusion and dream manipulation just fine.
    I'd honestly been kind of lulled into a false sense of security after the long, unskippable conversation. So when I threw the switch and started getting sucked in I was just like, 'Oh yeah, huh.' Didn't expect it at all, really.
    Yeah... I wish we knew what was going on under the hood, there. There's still some good people working at BioWare I think, but it's like they can't string together a good, coherent story anymore.

    With Activision-Blizzard taking a nosedive and who-knows-what going on with BioWare, it feels like a lot of my favorite IPs are on life support.
     
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