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Critiquing The EEs: A Pure Story Perspective 1/6

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  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited September 2014
    @Gallowglass You're mixing the issue with metagame information. Dorn doesn't know what you do, namely that his storyline will not change with the freedom gained. For Dorn, there's all the motivation one can have.

    shawne
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    @shawne - not really. Yes, it's implied that he must go to the Gorge to save his own skin, but the choice he makes at the end of the Gorge episode is no longer about saving his skin - by then, he's already saved his skin whichever choice he makes, be it either of the patrons or the illusory "freedom".

    Incidentally, there's another reason for choosing the Azothet option - baatezu are canonically bound by their word (although of course they can be tricksy in their interpretation!), whereas tanar'ri are not. Azothet is the default assumption in ToB because neither other choice really makes sense, although actually I tried sticking with Ur-Gothoz for RP reasons (because we know that Dorn is a stickler for loyalty, and therefore might even be loyal to a demon) ... and lo, indeed Ur-Gothoz no longer tries to send him on a suicide mission, proving that Dorn's choice at the end of the Gorge episode made no difference to the saving of his skin.

    Jace
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356

    @Gallowglass You're mixing the issue with metagame information. Dorn doesn't know what you do, namely that his storyline will not change with the freedom gained. For Dorn, there's all the motivation one can have.

    The point of this thread is surely to discuss the development of the story, which is wholly a metagame perspective! Of course none of the characters know what's going to happen, but we do.

    The one thing which Dorn ought to be able to figure out is that rejecting both patrons might well cost him his special powers (as indeed turns out to be the case), since he's well aware that his powers were originally granted by his patron. The plot-hole is that, once Dorn has won assurances of not being wasted on a suicide mission (and of course he must already have those assurances before making his final choice, else he'd always reject both patrons), he then has no reason to risk losing his Blackguard status. That's why the game needs to give some actual consequence to his "freedom", some significant difference in Dorn's story or in his development, and Dorn needs to have some knowledge (or at least a strong hint) about that difference, so that he has a plausible motive for choosing no patron.

    There's another plot-hole as well, concerning the very possibility of any mission actually being the "suicide mission" which Dorn fears. After all, in ToB he ends up storming Lunia itself ... yet, because he's got the protagonist with him, he nevertheless emerges triumphant. If not even that turned out to be a "suicide mission", then what the heck could be?

    If Dorn isn't given any concrete (and fore-known) meaning to his "freedom", then the only way I can see to make it credible for Dorn to choose no patron would be for it to be impossible (and for Dorn somehow to know at the time of the decision that it will be impossible) for Dorn to stay with the protagonist whilst still a Blackguard - if he chooses to remain a Blackguard, then either he must eventually leave the party (permanently), or he must inevitably die (permanently). Perhaps this could be implemented by having Dorn's encounter(s) with Mercy Whitedove occur in-game (instead of being described in Dorn's epilogue), and having it scripted as a forced win for Mercy (either by death or capture) if Dorn remains a Blackguard.

    Jace
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @Gallowglass: I think you've missed @FinneousPJ's point about metagaming - you are applying your foreknowledge to the characters, and treating that as a fault in the story (ie: Dorn shouldn't be afraid of suicide missions, since as long as he's with the protagonist no mission will actually end in their deaths, because the player will always win). Insofar as the PC and Dorn know, invading Lunia may very well be a one-way trip.

    As for the Gorge, you might want to take a second look at how the sequence of events plays out. Once the ritual is complete, you have the option of summoning Ur-Gothoz or Azothet. The former was Dorn's objective all along, but the PC can see Azothet as the greater threat at this point for the simple reason that you don't know a single thing about her. "Better the tanar'ri you know", etc.

    It's only when the first binding is complete that you have the option of performing the second, but before that happens, one of two exchanges take place:

    1. If you bound Ur-Gothoz, Azothet will reveal her true form and assume the role of Dorn's patron, making a binding promise to treat him better.

    2. Ur-Gothoz will be impressed with Dorn's defeat of Azothet and will conclude that he's too valuable to throw away on a whim.

    Either of these scenarios technically fulfills the purpose of Dorn's quest, which is to end his patron's callous disregard for his life. However, it's at this point that the second binding is presented as an option.

    This is where it's abundantly clear to the player that if Dorn takes out the second patron, he will lose his blackguard powers. And the only justifications are story justifications: you don't trust the remaining patron (Azothet may be a baatezu, but her promise technically only extends to Dorn and not, say, to you), or you can point out that Dorn is basically selling himself into slavery again (even Edwin - Edwin - will advise Dorn to avoid fiendish pacts).

    It doesn't matter that you already know certain scenarios won't play out - that if Dorn remains a blackguard, he won't actually be commanded to kill you at some point - at that precise moment, you are roleplaying your character as if he or she does not know this. Do you keep a powerful party member whose master could turn him against you at any time? Do you accept a loss of power if it means Dorn will be loyal to you and only you? These are the considerations you face within the context of that specific point in the storyline.

    EmpyrialFinneousPJKaigenNonnahswriter
  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    I think the problem lies in the fact that the whole scenario is perfect for a P&P game where you can't have any knowledge of what exact consequences each of your three choices will have in the future, so you make a decision based on reasonable assumptions and information that you glean from that specific point in the scenario.

    However, this is a game, so you can learn what each choice entails in the future by reloading and trying out a new choice, or reading it on the Internet or whatever. And once you know, you can't un-know. Some people aren't bothered by it, but others get grumpy when choices that each seemed extremely important and life-changing at the time turn out to make no difference at all on how the story progresses. Personally, I expected freedom to be accompanied by evident alterations to the story, but when I learned that it doesn't change anything other than the fact that Dorn isn't compelled to corrupt the tree in Lunia (I may be wrong, but @shawne should correct me I hope), I was like... blergh.

    FinneousPJ
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    shawne said:

    @Gallowglass: I think you've missed @FinneousPJ's point about metagaming - you are applying your foreknowledge to the characters, and treating that as a fault in the story (ie: Dorn shouldn't be afraid of suicide missions, since as long as he's with the protagonist no mission will actually end in their deaths, because the player will always win).

    I don't think I'm missing it. To analyse the story, which you started this thread to do and discuss, is inherently a metagaming exercise. (And really, I do like your analysis, it's good work.) A coherent story must make sense in the contexts of both what the characters would know at the time of each incident and what we know about how all the incidents string together into the whole ... although perhaps I haven't been sufficiently clear about when I'm talking about the former and when I'm considering the latter.
    shawne said:

    Insofar as the PC and Dorn know, invading Lunia may very well be a one-way trip.

    Yes, so far as they know it might be so, but that's not a mission from Dorn's patron (if he even still has a patron), so it's not relevant to Dorn's fear (in SoA) that he might be sent on a suicide mission by Ur-Gothoz.
    shawne said:

    As for the Gorge, you might want to take a second look at how the sequence of events ... [snip] ... Either of these scenarios technically fulfills the purpose of Dorn's quest, which is to end his patron's callous disregard for his life. However, it's at this point that the second binding is presented as an option.

    This is where it's abundantly clear to the player that if Dorn takes out the second patron, he will lose his blackguard powers. And the only justifications are story justifications: you don't trust the remaining patron (Azothet may be a baatezu, but her promise technically only extends to Dorn and not, say, to you), or you can point out that Dorn is basically selling himself into slavery again

    I think it was already obvious that Dorn might lose his blackguard powers if he proceeds, and at this point it's pretty much confirmed. And I see no plausible motive ("story justification" or otherwise) for Dorn to do so, because at this point he's already resolved his "suicide mission" worry, and therefore all he has left to choose is either "have a patron and keep my special powers" or "don't have a patron and lose my special powers", which is a no-brainer: Dorn is not aware of any advantage to not having a patron (and with metagame knowledge we happen to know that he's right, there is no advantage, although of course our metagame knowledge is irrelevant to his in-character decision), whereas he's acutely aware of the advantages of his powers.

    The point of my argument is that the game needs to offer Dorn some reason why he might choose to give up his special powers (even after he has already resolved the "suicide mission" issue), so that he might credibly choose that option on some occasions. I suggest that the way to provide such a reason is for there to be some significant difference in what will happen afterwards, and for Dorn to be aware of this difference (or at least a potential difference) at the time of his decision. Otherwise the only credible decision for Dorn, every time, will be to keep his powers rather than throw them away for no reason.

    As for the player or protagonist not trusting the baatezu ... well sure, of course they're slippery customers, and our protagonist probably knows that and other companions (e.g. Edwin) will also know that ... but how much should we care? We're surely not afraid of fighting them if the need arises, because defeating enemies is how we progress in this game, it's what we're here to do. If Azothet has revealed herself, then that's because we've just beaten Ur-Gothoz to pulp, so we know (and so does Azothet) that if she crosses us then she'll be the one who needs to worry.
    shawne said:

    It doesn't matter that you already know certain scenarios won't play out - that if Dorn remains a blackguard, he won't actually be commanded to kill you at some point - at that precise moment, you are roleplaying your character as if he or she does not know this. Do you keep a powerful party member whose master could turn him against you at any time? Do you accept a loss of power if it means Dorn will be loyal to you and only you? These are the considerations you face within the context of that specific point in the storyline.

    I reckon that's pretty thin. There's no in-game reason to expect that Dorn's patron might pick on us as a future target ... in fact rather the contrary, since we've just helped Dorn to defeat our patron's enemy. No, it seems much more plausible to "guess" that so long as we continue to help Dorn on his missions (setting aside our metagame knowledge that actually there are no more patron-missions), then he'll continue to help us with our quest, since that's mutually advantageous, not only for the protagonist and Dorn, but also for Dorn's patron (because his patron can see that our help gets the job done). Thus, even in the context of what our character knows at the time of the decision in the Gorge, there's not much of a RP reason for us to want to deprive Dorn of his patron and his powers.

  • EmpyrialEmpyrial Member Posts: 107
    I can easily see an evil Charname encouraging Dorn to give up his powers. Charname knows Dorn is powerful and rebellious, so while he'd be less useful to the party you would be guaranteeing his allegiance to you instead of another power. Why gamble on the whims of his patrons when you could ensure you'll have a strong arm next to you? Yes, he may be less powerful but some may believe a lesser but controllable Dorn is better than one who can be a threat to you.

    I also think that Dorn could've decided that his freedom is worth more than his power. Remember, he originally made his pact to get freedom from the jail. Later, that power gave him the ability to act as he wanted. I think once he lost more and more freedom he begins to see that the power isn't worth it. He's highly interested in power, but I think his core motivation is freedom.

    AndrewFoleyFinneousPJNonnahswriter
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Empyrial said:

    I can easily see an evil Charname encouraging Dorn to give up his powers. Charname knows Dorn is powerful and rebellious, so while he'd be less useful to the party you would be guaranteeing his allegiance to you instead of another power. Why gamble on the whims of his patrons when you could ensure you'll have a strong arm next to you? Yes, he may be less powerful but some may believe a lesser but controllable Dorn is better than one who can be a threat to you.

    I just can't see [Charname] getting very worried about Dorn's loyalty. Dorn has few moral virtues, but loyalty is one virtue to which he is fully committed - he detests betrayal. Look what he did to his own former companions (who had betrayed him) in BG1ee! Betrayal is the one thing I can't see Dorn doing, that's not his character. If Dorn says "I'll stand by your party", then [Charname] can rely on him. Of course we know by metagame knowledge that this is true, but I reckon it'd also be pretty obvious in-game to [Charname] because of what happened in BG1ee.
    Empyrial said:

    I also think that Dorn could've decided that his freedom is worth more than his power.

    "Freedom" from ... what? "Freedom" to do ... what? He doesn't actually get any concrete "freedom", he merely ends up with no patron (and no powers), for no gain. Once he's settled the question of no suicide missions, there's nothing on offer for Dorn to prefer, nothing to be "worth more", no reason for him to give up his powers. That's why I'm saying this is a story fault, the game needs to offer Dorn some actual freedom to do something differently, in order to give him any motive to give up his powers.

    Sure, keeping his powers "might" (even though by metagame knowledge we know that actually it doesn't) involve being required to go on more assassination missions ... but heck, this is Dorn we're talking about, he was a mass murderer even before he was a Blackguard, he likes killing.
    Empyrial said:

    Remember, he originally made his pact to get freedom from the jail. Later, that power gave him the ability to act as he wanted. I think once he lost more and more freedom he begins to see that the power isn't worth it. He's highly interested in power, but I think his core motivation is freedom.

    Getting out of jail, yes, there was an actual freedom to gain, a credible motive - and in that case, his choice was to get both special powers and more freedom, not trading one against the other - the price in that case was agreeing to kill on behalf of Ur-Gothoz, which was no problem to Dorn. Later, when he was getting revenge on his former gang who had betrayed him, Dorn was simply making use of his special powers to ensure that he won his revenge fights, and that revenge was the third component of his motive for seeking the pact in the first place.

    So in the background story and questline from BG1ee, we see that Dorn originally ended up making his pact because he got three specific benefits (powers->freedom->revenge) which were valuable to him, for a price which he was very happy to pay. That all makes sense.

    It's at the end of his SoA questline where the story stops making sense, or at least it stops making sense if he chooses the option to give up his powers. He's still out of jail and he's already completed his revenge, so those benefits he gets to keep, but the third benefit of his pact (i.e. the special powers) he now considers giving up, in return for ... er ... well, not really anything. (Remember, his purpose in going to the Gorge is to extract a promise of better treatment from his patron, but he's already got that by the time he has to decide about giving up his powers, so the promise isn't part of his decision.) So of course he'd actually decide, every time, to keep his powers. That's the problem.

  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    edited September 2014
    shawne said:

    "Freedom" from ... what? "Freedom" to do ... what?

    I mean, the dialogue during the questline makes this very clear: freedom from obeying his patron's every whim.
    Insofaras this might include taking a suicide mission, yes, Dorn is worried about what his patron's whims might involve. On the other hand, simply requiring Dorn to go on killing people is hardly going to bother him, since that's what Dorn does even when his patron isn't demanding it. I get the impression (although it's a couple of months since I've played Dorn's questline) that Dorn is only bothered about his missions becoming too risky and is otherwise quite enjoying his work.

    Therefore, once he has extracted the promise of better treatment from his patron, I'm not convinced that he still has any objection ... certainly his objection will at least be much less severe, and it'll be more like his position in BG1ee, where he certainly believed that his powers were well worth the price.
    shawne said:

    Neither Ur-Gothoz nor Azothet are inherently trustworthy, and their promises to treat Dorn better should be taken with a grain of salt, since those promises don't extend to you (and you already know from previous encounters that Ur-Gothoz really doesn't like you, and that Azothet has been very careful to avoid offering any guarantee of good conduct to anyone but Dorn). Taking out one patron removes the initial impetus of Dorn's quest, but doesn't solve the larger problem: whichever master he ends up with could still conceivably command him to betray the PC (and, as you yourself pointed out, Dorn loathes betrayal - but he wouldn't have much choice if ordered to do so). By removing both patrons from the equation, you are guaranteeing that Dorn won't have to do anything he doesn't want to do.

    Granted, but (as I've already argued above) I can't see [Charname] being very worried about this risk. It's not likely that Dorn's patron will cross us, both because it's to his patron's advantage that we help Dorn with his work, and because we've no reason to be afraid of fighting Dorn's patron.

    Also, the exact force of Dorn's compulsion to obey isn't made clear (so far as I recall), but I don't think he's actually under a geas, I think he's merely under a threat of unpleasant punishment if he doesn't do as he's told. Dorn obeys because he mostly likes the work, and because if he rebelled alone he'd probably lose in a fight against his patron ... but if Dorn turns to [Charname] and says "My patron is trying to make me betray you! You know how much I hate betrayal, I'm refusing to do it, but my patron is coming to punish me. Help me fight! Prepare!", then as soon as his patron appears we'll beat the crap out of him (her) - one tanar'ri (or baatezu) against a mid-SoA-level party is an easy fight.

    Of course, in the unlikely (as it would seem to me) eventuality that this comes about, then that's a mechanism by which we end up again with a Dorn who has no patron and loses his powers, but it seems to me a much more satisfactory way to arrive in that situation: Dorn loses his powers because he refuses an order to betray, quite consistently with what we already know about his character - that's a far more credible motive for Dorn to make such a choice.
    shawne said:

    Again, on a replay your metagame knowledge would tell you that it doesn't matter either way, but since that's literally true of any choice you could ever make in a video game RPG, it doesn't factor into an evaluation of the story.

    Agreed.
    shawne said:

    There should be an alternate outcome to Dorn achieving his freedom, but it can't come in the form of a gameplay reward that makes him more viable than he was before.

    Again agreed! I'm arguing for some known difference of outcome which could give Dorn a reason to sacrifice his powers, and I reckon a gameplay difference would (unfortunately) be far simpler to implement than a whole alternative section of storyline, but yes, I do agree that the sacrifice of Dorn's powers ought to entail a net loss - there can be a gameplay reward of some sort, some significant change which we could therefore RP ourselves into believing he might find attractive for some reason, but it mustn't be too much, it mustn't outweigh his loss of powers.

    I still think my earlier idea of enabling a class change for Dorn (if he gives up his powers) would be a suitable solution, and it could include (for example) losing a level in the conversion process - that'd make sure that there was a definite sacrifice involved.

  • KaigenKaigen Member Posts: 1,567
    It occurs to me that while in BG1 Dorn has a definite agenda of his own which he is pursuing, in BG2 he seems to be doing little else apart from following Ur-Gothoz's whims. It's been a while since I've played his storyline myself, but I recall getting the impression that he was getting tired of having to jump whenever his patron said as well as the increasing danger of the assignments. He seems to be having difficulty figuring out what to do with himself now that his revenge is concluded, and being bound to a demon's whims is getting in the way of that.

    Honestly, I don't think Dorn needs anything in the way of gameplay reparations for losing his Blackguard powers. I played through with an Ex-Blackguard Dorn, and he's still plenty dangerous. He's still got fighter THAC0, fighter weapons, 19 strength, and Blackguard HLA's (and once you start getting those, the Blackguard abilities start to become redundant). If you wanted to give him some kind of trade-off for choosing freedom, I wouldn't go so far as to change his class. Perhaps a stat bump to represent him relying on his own abilities instead of granted powers?

    shawne
  • IllydthIllydth Member, Developer Posts: 1,641
    edited September 2014
    @Jace:

    While I appreciate that what I'm about to do is introduce a mechanics discussion into an emotional / game play conversation, I'll do it anyway.

    AD&D Has always penalized alignment shifts and major occurrences such as loss of deity, and those penalties have always been harsh. To a class, "fallen" has always equaled "massively gimped". While I appreciate game play over mechanics, I also understand that there are universal rules to a system and a universe. Not following those universal rules creates a different universe and an entirely different game. This IS a D&D Game, not some generalized fairytale world theorized by the game developer. The universal rule in AD&D and in Faerun is that like it or not, a "holy" class falling away from it's patron deity leaves them much less than they were before and a character who goes against his or her base alignment does not live a happy, well rounded, powerful PC existence.

    The AD&D system SPECIFICALLY disallows fallen paladins/rangers pursuing the fighter class from learning additional weapon specializations. While doing so for Dorn might make sense for his character it is entirely and explicitly against the rules of the universe Dorn exists within. The original intent of these rules from TSR and WotC and the rest who designed the game and game system was to force players to play within the rules of the character they chose to create and play with. You do not get your cake and eat it too...you cannot create an evil character and then chose, as benefits you, to be good sometimes and not others. I apologize for preaching, but too often players feel that choosing the unlawful and/or evil route creates a character that can do anything the player wants at whatever time the player wants...and this is simply NOT the case. The evil characters are under as many restrictions in game play as their Lawful or good counterparts are...evil is not a license to ignore the rules of the system.

    When a character is created, the player DOES NOT get to ignore that character's base instinct without penalty. Let me put it this way: Why would Dorn the ever powerful and ever power concerned ever allow himself to be divested of a patron deity fully knowing he will never again achieve the same levels of greatness he once was? Even the base of the conversation is at odds with his personality, regardless of the player choices...the draw of the power provided by being entrapped would be much more important to the character of Dorn than the entrapment itself. His answer to being manipulated would not be to divest himself of the manipulation, but to overcome the manipulation by REPLACING the manipulator. Until Dorn figures out how to BECOME a God, he would never divest himself from being beholden to one if it meant a loss of his power to do so...he would simply seek more power to get through the increasingly more suicidal missions he's sent upon.

    Switching from patron to more powerful patron to more powerful patron, destroying the last patron in the process prefferably, would be Dorn's solution to his problem. Destroying all of his patrons so he can be "free" I don't think would even be a thought in his head.

    You state that your party values freedom more than anything else, yet that is NOT Dorn's motivation based upon the story of the game...Dorn's motivation is and always has been more power.

    As a table top player, if I am playing an evil character but cannot stomach entering a village and wholesale slaughtering the innocents, I am allowed, instead, to have my character save babies from fires and let widowed women run free to the country side before being raped and pillaged.

    And when I do so, my GM is also at liberty (and should) force an alignment switch and strip me of my alignment based powers and my XP progression in making that choice...if I didn't want to play an evil character, I shouldn't have created one to begin with.

    The Dorn quest is the same concept. You as the player can choose to force Dorn to act and react as his base instinct would not, but the price that you will pay for doing so is well defined within the AD&D franchise rules...he becomes a shell of his former glorified self. Allowing Dorn to then turn around and acquire status as another class, to re-buff himself to similar or even close functionality, is not the intended path that the AD&D Rules, system and mythos lays out for Dorn. "Falling" from a class is not intended to be a Gateway to playing a different class.

    Instead an entirely different quest line would have to open for Dorn to attach himself to yet another massively evil and horrible entity who would manipulate him for it's own gain before Dorn would gain even a fraction of what he lost.

    The problem in this discussion is Dorn is a blackguard...that is what Dorn is. We, as players, don't like the definition of an evil paladin having to be attached through a horrible relationship to a manipulative evil. So we attempt to free Dorn from the definition of what being a blackguard is...and we can succeed in doing so!

    The suggestion you and others are making would open the door, however, to making a BETTER Dorn. A Dorn with power and ability who has overcome the hideousness of the costs of his power. If you can take Dorn, divest himself of the manipulation, schemes and a life of being controlled, and then make him not only his own person but a person with power and influence...

    Why would Dorn, himself, not have gone down that route to begin with? If there was another path to power that Dorn could have taken without the side effects, why would he not have taken it to begin with?

    The system defines what will happen when you make the choice to make Dorn free. Any option to "ungimp" him is simply un-D&Dish.

    If you cannot take Dorn as either a manipulated pawn of some uber-powerful dark force or as a character playing in the shell of his former glory, don't put Dorn in your party. That is, after all, what being a blackguard means. There is NOTHING fair about being a blackguard...the power you get MUST come at a cost far higher than the power you obtain...that is the definition of evil after all.

    Or play a paladin, their deities are slightly less abhorrent. :)

    To sum up this entire book of mine: @Gallowglass‌ states:

    "I disagree, I think the loss of his patron and powers could have been presented as a credible reason for Dorn to stop and think "This is where my Evil path has led, and I don't like the outcome ... maybe there's a better way"."

    It could, story wise, but there is no basis for this kind of reconciliation of self within the rules of D&D. Consider this a system flaw if you must, but the system is very clear that once chosen, you cannot change your base character without severe penalties. Allowing Dorn to "remake" himself through divesting himself of both deities and then regaining power in another class would be strongly against the D&D world as has been played within for almost 60 years.

    The choice to play against your created concept comes with consequences, and those consequences cannot be "worked around". That is one of the hard basis points for the class/race/alignment system within D&D and one of the things that makes D&D Stand apart from the much more genericized and ambivalent "fantasy" concepts of today's RPG worlds.

    GallowglassshawneEmpyrialSophia
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Thanks for that, @Illdyth, and +1 Insightful to you.

    I'm not a PnP guy myself, so I wasn't aware that my suggestion would be so contrary to the fundamental constraints of D&D. I'm glad you agreed that it was a plausible plan from a story perspective, but I'll abandon the idea now that you've explained why it's incompatible with the D&D universe.

    The consequence of the main thrust of your comment, however, is that the basis of Dorn's "freedom choice" in BG2ee is likewise contrary to the ethos of D&D. On top of my own argument that Dorn would never choose to forego his powers in the context of his own storyline, you've added the argument that Dorn could never voluntarily forego his powers in the context of the D&D universe.

    Maybe the only solution, therefore, is to simplify the choice: Dorn should keep the existing option to stay with Ur-Gothoz, and he should keep the existing alternative of binding Ur-Gothoz and accepting Azothet as his new patron ... and that's it. The option to bind Azothet as well (and thereby lose his Blackguard status) ought to be deleted altogether, instead of trying (as had been the thrust of my argument) to devise some way to make that third option a credible choice.

    I suppose that'd at least be a simple and tidy solution, although I suspect that @LiamEsler might not be very enthusiastic about deleting the "moral point" he ascribed to this story.

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Well said, @Illydth, though I'm going to disagree with you on one point: the D&D alignment system does allow for a certain measure of flexibility for the purpose of roleplaying. Even Evil characters are allowed to have principles - you can RP an Evil character who despises the notion of slavery, and for that character there's no contradiction between burning down a village while freeing every slave in that village beforehand. Korgan is as Chaotic Evil as you can get, but even he balks at the idea of murdering children.

    This flexibility allows for the possibility while Dorn's primary motivation is acquiring power, his Neutral Evil alignment suggests that self-preservation would take precedent to that if there was no alternative. Let's not forget that he initially aligns with Ur-Gothoz while stuck in a Luskan prison awaiting execution.

    To say that Dorn would never consider destroying all his patrons so he could be free overlooks the fact that his blackguard missions are constantly escalating, and that continuing on this path will quite likely get him killed. That is, I think, the only consideration that would trump the pursuit of power, even for Evil alignments (since there is, after all, such a thing as the distinction between Smart Evil and Stupid Evil).

  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    Illydth said:

    @Jace:
    The suggestion you and others are making would open the door, however, to making a BETTER Dorn. A Dorn with power and ability who has overcome the hideousness of the costs of his power. If you can take Dorn, divest himself of the manipulation, schemes and a life of being controlled, and then make him not only his own person but a person with power and influence...

    I am under the impression you are putting words in my mouth. I don't want, after the blackguard release, a mechanically better Dorn. Plus, how wide this metaphorical doors opens is still under the jurisdiction of the developers.

    What I want is...
    1. A credible and believable way to make a fallen Dorn a wee bit better than than just a gimp, but still worse than he originally was, because I believe it fits.
    -or-
    2. Some evident alterations to the subsequent story (not in the freaking epilogue, thank you) as a result of his freedom (or adherence to his patron), preferably involving Mercy Whitedove.

    I see you feel a strong adherence to how the creators envisioned the rules of the forgotten realms as written in their books, but to me, Baldur's Gate adheres somewhat loosely to those rules. Just as a DM can house-rule certain advancements for fallen paladins/rangers, so can Baldur's Gate. And that in no way means that you play a completely different game or world.

    So, if I understand correctly, one of the main reasons you oppose some advancements for fallen classes is not because it doesn't make sense on conditions, but because of some sort of ideological stringency?



  • trinittrinit Member Posts: 685
    interesting read so far. in any case, i think we can agree that resurrection gorge is a significant enough event whose repercussions should extend beyond mechanical modifications. having an infernal entity as your boss should impact the RP aspect significantly.

    however, seeing that additional quest and rp content is implausible, things could much improved with additional epilogues since current ones fit with dorn remaining blackguard.
    extras could take into account dorn being free and as such capable of becoming disciple/avatar of charname, which doesn't seem plausible if he remains blackguard, and/or surviving if there is no ascension, thus giving the player some RP satisfaction and sense. after all, it would be easier to avoid justice if you have full control of your own decisions.

  • EmpyrialEmpyrial Member Posts: 107
    @Gallowglass‌

    Sorry, I'm awful with quote formatting so I'm just going to respond old school style.

    "I just can't see [Charname] getting very worried about Dorn's loyalty. Dorn has few moral virtues, but loyalty is one virtue to which he is fully committed - he detests betrayal. Look what he did to his own former companions (who had betrayed him) in BG1ee! Betrayal is the one thing I can't see Dorn doing, that's not his character. If Dorn says "I'll stand by your party", then [Charname] can rely on him. Of course we know by metagame knowledge that this is true, but I reckon it'd also be pretty obvious in-game to [Charname] because of what happened in BG1ee."

    Dorn's already challenged your leadership as well as physically attacked you by this point. I think that Dorn would stand by a party, unless his patron ordered him otherwise. He even explicitly warns you about this.

    ""Freedom" from ... what? "Freedom" to do ... what? He doesn't actually get any concrete "freedom", he merely ends up with no patron (and no powers), for no gain. Once he's settled the question of no suicide missions, there's nothing on offer for Dorn to prefer, nothing to be "worth more", no reason for him to give up his powers. That's why I'm saying this is a story fault, the game needs to offer Dorn some actual freedom to do something differently, in order to give him any motive to give up his powers.

    Sure, keeping his powers "might" (even though by metagame knowledge we know that actually it doesn't) involve being required to go on more assassination missions ... but heck, this is Dorn we're talking about, he was a mass murderer even before he was a Blackguard, he likes killing."

    Dorn may also be interested in being free from possible conflicts of interest. Look at it this way, he might figure your team is stronger than his patron and better able to make him powerful. He's seen what you can do. If his patrons force him to attack you he knows he's going to die. The ultimate route to power still lies with your group, even if he has individually less power. Of course, this sort of dependence on others in completely out of his character, but perhaps Dorn is willing to get more personal freedom from demonic whims for it.

    "Getting out of jail, yes, there was an actual freedom to gain, a credible motive - and in that case, his choice was to get both special powers and more freedom, not trading one against the other - the price in that case was agreeing to kill on behalf of Ur-Gothoz, which was no problem to Dorn. Later, when he was getting revenge on his former gang who had betrayed him, Dorn was simply making use of his special powers to ensure that he won his revenge fights, and that revenge was the third component of his motive for seeking the pact in the first place.

    So in the background story and questline from BG1ee, we see that Dorn originally ended up making his pact because he got three specific benefits (powers->freedom->revenge) which were valuable to him, for a price which he was very happy to pay. That all makes sense.

    It's at the end of his SoA questline where the story stops making sense, or at least it stops making sense if he chooses the option to give up his powers. He's still out of jail and he's already completed his revenge, so those benefits he gets to keep, but the third benefit of his pact (i.e. the special powers) he now considers giving up, in return for ... er ... well, not really anything. (Remember, his purpose in going to the Gorge is to extract a promise of better treatment from his patron, but he's already got that by the time he has to decide about giving up his powers, so the promise isn't part of his decision.) So of course he'd actually decide, every time, to keep his powers. That's the problem."

    Since Dorn's revenge is done, he's lost a motive for his pact. He still likes power and freedom, but these are becoming less and less available through his patrons.

    @Illydth‌

    I didn't know that the system was so hard-line about alignment. Thanks for the info!

  • IllydthIllydth Member, Developer Posts: 1,641
    edited September 2014
    @Jace‌
    Jace said:

    Illydth said:


    So, if I understand correctly, one of the main reasons you oppose some advancements for fallen classes is not because it doesn't make sense on conditions, but because of some sort of ideological stringency?

    That pretty much is exactly it. And before you (or anyone else) looks sideways at me for that, I go back to my main point of WHY the rules are so stringent.

    A ranger, blackguard, paladin, monk and other classes of the such are pretty powerful...they are given the leeway to be more powerful than the "base" classes in the game because a player who plays those classes is locked into a certain play type.

    Evil campaigns can't play paladins or rangers, monks must follow the path of law regardless of the situation they are put in, etc etc. ad nauseum.

    The point of this is balance. A GM/DM that creates a tabletop campaign where you can take a fear of heights for extra bonuses and then doesn't force you to fight a bad guy on a swinging rope bridge is a DM that's allowing players to get away with a bit much.

    And when you're talking about ideological stringency: Why can't a mage learn to swing a longsword? Why can't a thief learn to poke with his dagger so well that he becomes uber specialized in it like a fighter? Why can't a cleric learn to smack someone in the back with the same precision as a thief? Do we all have some kind of moral objection to allowing a fighter to pick up a wire and jimmy a lock open? Do you really need to have some kind of special training to see a tripwire strung across the entryway of a door?

    If all you're looking at is story and real-life-ism to justify why a fallen paladin can't gain fighter proficiency, I recommend a different gaming system than D&D. There are several that allow you to build what you want to build with ALOT fewer restrictions.

    I can't do much more than re-make the same points over and over at this point. A fighter can't pick locks...there's nothing in the game or the game system or the story or the semi-real-life that doesn't allow this, it's simply a rule that this class cannot provide that skill. There's no logical reason for that...it's a skill like any other. There's no justification for this and there's no apology either. Fighters cannot pick locks. Clerics cannot use edged weapons. Mages cannot swing longswords...

    And fallen paladins do not get to "recoup their losses" and become something other than gimp player characters for the rest of their lives because to allow them to do so breaks the balance of the game.

    And I do not agree with you when you say "you're not in a different world". You change the rules of the system, disrupt the balance of the classes and allow things that were not only never intended but explicitly denied by the creators of the game system you are playing in and you really are in a different world.

    Imagine playing a D&D campaign with machine guns and nuclear missiles sometime, you'll get what I mean.

    Edit: I want to be clear a moment: I have NO objection to the requests of making a better story outcome for Dorn. I have no objections to making his "freedom" mean something to him and to the narrative in general. My argument is ONLY in the mechanics of allowing Dorn to be a "more playable" character through the game after divesting himself of his patrons.

    Post edited by Illydth on
    shawne
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,712
    edited September 2014
    @Illydth‌

    The IE games are heavily based on AD&D, BUT they do not copy the rulebook word for word. Rangers aren't supposed to have a berserk ability, but Minsc does. I'm pretty sure that not every spell in these games is exactly the same as in the rulebook, either (some of the spells are probably different simply because they wouldn't be able to work the same way in the games as in the rulebook, but other spells (such as Feeblemind) didn't have to be changed but were anyway). Forcing the games to be strictly defined by AD&D in every way possible would take away a lot of the creativity. Yes, I know, the protagonist in Bg2 can't be a paladin and then later become a fighter after falling from grace. But can he or she be created as a half-orc blackguard simply because Dorn is? No.

  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    @‌Illydth

    Do the following cases offend you for "breaking the balance" of the game and creating "a different world"?

    Coran is a fighter/thief, but has got 3 pips in longbows and 20 Dexterity. Illegal, unless he found a tome.
    Kagain has got 20 Constitution. Illegal, unless he also found a tome.
    Haer'Dalis has 2 pips in short swords. That's illegal for a bard.
    Dorn is a half-orc blackguard. It is illegal for non-humans to become blackguards.

    If you are fine with the above, but feel so uneasy with just one fallen NPC even recouping with just 1 extra proficiency point in a weapon of his choice, then I am befuddled with where you draw the line, if you are even content with drawing any line that is.

    D&D with machine guns and nuclear weapons is the most hyperbolic example I have ever seen here. You took one idea that has a infinitesimal significance or impact in our perception of the world we play in you want me to believe it is as meaningful and severe as introducing super advanced technology?

    OlvynChuru
  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,712
    @Illydth‌

    Another thing I'd like to mention is that in Icewind Dale 2, fighters CAN pick locks (they're just really bad at it), clerics CAN use edged weapons, and mages CAN swing longswords. Now, was there some sort of cosmic event during the time of Icewind Dale 2 that made these classes able to do these things? No, it's not a "different world" from the other IE games; it's just how the games were made. And how the games were made included many changes from what is in D&D rulebooks.

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @Jace: The point you keep glossing over, though, is that giving Dorn any kind of mechanical/gameplay remedy to compensate for the loss of his blackguard abilities contradicts the whole point of the story. You are making a mutually exclusive choice between freedom and power, not power and a different kind of power.

  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    shawne said:

    @Jace: The point you keep glossing over, though, is that giving Dorn any kind of mechanical/gameplay remedy to compensate for the loss of his blackguard abilities contradicts the whole point of the story.

    Perhaps. But I was mostly arguing with Illydth's point of view regarding rules stringency there, rather than story contradictions.

    I wouldn't insist in a "recoup the losses" style if his freedom induced distinct changes to Dorn's story, or as Illydth eloquently put it, if it "meant something for him and the narrative", but I have no faith to believe that Beamdog can actually fulfill the latter wish.

  • Glam_VrockGlam_Vrock Member Posts: 277
    It's also still a game. If the point of your story hinges on crippling a character while offering no incentive for the player to do so, maybe you should write something else.

    Besides, I think most people can accept that patronless Dorn is "weaker" in the context of the universe, even if he can now put five pips in a weapon slot or whatever.

  • scriverscriver Member Posts: 2,061
    @OlvynChuru - ID2 uses 3rd Ed rules, though. BG uses 2nd. That's why fighters can pick locks.

  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,712
    scriver said:

    @OlvynChuru - ID2 uses 3rd Ed rules, though. BG uses 2nd. That's why fighters can pick locks.

    I know. My point was that characters in games based on AD&D don't need to be defined by that particular ruleset. The fighters in Baldur's Gate could just as easily have been able to pick locks; it doesn't matter that the game is based on a ruleset that doesn't allow fighters to pick locks. Though you probably already understood what I meant and I'm just repeating myself stupidly.

  • IllydthIllydth Member, Developer Posts: 1,641
    Lots of great discussion here. Thanks all of you for including me in this and actually giving me things to think about. :)

    Let me start with @Jace:
    Jace said:


    "Do the following cases offend you for "breaking the balance" of the game and creating "a different world"??

    EXCELLENT ARGUMENT. (Not being sarcastic here, well thought out). All of those cases do, indeed, break the rules of AD&D and are just similar enough that it causes me problems in arguing my case. It also helps me understand where my communication is not coming across properly.

    My objection is SPECIFIC to Paladins/Rangers/Monks and other "alignment locked" classes. Hear me out here: I do not object to a Paladin getting a third pip in longswords, I object to a FALLEN Paladin getting a third pip in longswords.

    Here's the most important point to understand about my argument:

    The AD&D Game system makes a conscious effort to separate "illegal" from "discouraged". In AD&D 2E a mage cannot pick up a longsword and use it effectively. There are no reasons or discussion for this, it's just "not allowed". This is a balance call by the game system creators...and it's easy to "re-balance" to allow it also.

    HOWEVER, and here's where the REALLY fine line comes in, the game system DOES recognize a "crisis of conscious" as a story element. It DOES allow for a change in alignment and fallen classes. The game system highly DISCOURAGES this with penalties but recognizes a case where this can legally happen within the system. This alignment shift/fallen class is an RP ELEMENT of AD&D not a game mechanic. You're not just screwing with numbers here, in this case the numerical hindrances are not there for game balance, they're there to represent a significant role playing event and it's effect upon the player character / player. The numerical disadvantages provide 2 points:

    * They discourage PLAYERS from making RP Decisions that benefit the player/group/goals of the party but which are far outside the CHARACTER'S personality. (A paladin standing by and watching someone be tortured for information may be beneficial for the game, story and party, but should not be within the possibility of playing that character...even if it means the loss of the campaign).

    * They encourage players to either seek to resolve the fall (by questing to regain their former status, an event that leads to additional adventure and more story, which is good for any RPG Game), or to function within the definition of the fall in an RP capacity...in the case of Dorn to come to grips with the choice of Freedom over Power.

    All of the examples you mention above are ILLEGAL within the AD&D game MECHANICS. The suggestion you make for Dorn is Illegal within the AD&D game MYTHOS.

    I don't have an objection to numerical changes within AD&D. I have an objection to ignoring RP mechanics and the effects of role playing decisions. Dorn deciding to divest himself of his patrons is a HUGE step for Dorn...and that kind of step should have huge consequences.

    I guess I probably should have just pointed up at @shawne's point, since, that is the crux of it. Just as the paladin's ability to cast clerical spells and use Holy Swords is part of what you are getting into when you choose to play a paladin, so too is what happens when you "fall"...it's a cornerstone of what playing that class means and that's what makes me object to any changes to the power structure of a fallen class. I don't care that Haer'Dalis has 2 pips instead of 1 in longswords.

    An additional pip is not a problem within the game system, it doesn't define or reduce that class as you are playing it. Allowing a fallen class to be anything more than the definition of what the fallen class is described as does change the class, it re-defines the possibilities of the class choice, and in this case makes for a MUCH more powerful class as a whole.

    @Glam_Vrock‌


    If the point of your story hinges on crippling a character while offering no incentive for the player to do so, maybe you should write something else.

    If you have no incentive to cripple Dorn, why are you crippling Dorn? No incentive? Why are we even having this discussion? Of COURSE there is an incentive...choosing to divest him of his patrons is the RIGHT THING TO DO within the story.

    Dorn is in a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario...he has the CLASSIC choice of choosing between two worst case scenarios. Look at the entire story: Dorn is a power hungry evil guy...he's done anything and everything for the power he has...including literally selling his soul to evil. From the moment you meet Dorn in BG1 it should be clear that this will NOT come to a good end.

    By the very definition of a Blackguard, Dorn is un-saveable. His story crescendos in an event that ultimately shows that in his insatiable quest for power, it is his own base need for that power that has enslaved him. Dorn is the ULTIMATE pawn and in needing all the power he possesses he enslaves himself deeper and deeper. The farther he quests for more power, the less powerful he becomes to ultimately save himself.

    His final choice, to ultimately save himself from or embrace this cycle is the incentive itself...the story element is your incentive. How do you want the character of Dorn to be? Who is Dorn in your eyes? Your ability to make that choice is your incentive.

    Your complaint is not that there is no incentive for the player to make the choice to ultimately gimp Dorn, your (and others) ultimate complaint is that there is no NUMERICAL JUSTIFICATION for making the decision to free Dorn. If there were no MECHANICS penalties, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

    And as I note above, there isn't SUPPOSED to be a numerical justification...there is fully intended to be the exact opposite. The decision for Dorn to divest himself of his Diety and thus his power is ultimately supposed to be just as painful as it is, or it wouldn't mean anything to make the decision.

    The more power you give Dorn after he falls the more and more inane the decision to allow Dorn to fall becomes...adding power to Dorn trivializes the weight and depth of the choice you as the player makes.

    The decision is supposed to be agonizing for you to make. Everything you are feeling about the choice is what the AD&D System INTENDS to create in you, the player, when you are forced to confront a decision of this magnitude within this game system. That's WHY the penalties are there. The anger, the frustration, the uselessness you feel at having to play a Dorn after his fall is exactly what you're supposed to feel when choosing a "holy" character to fall from grace. This part is NOT a story decision, it's MUCH DEEPER than that.

    And that feeling of needing to take a shower when you don't choose to make Dorn free? That feeling that you just violated some kind of internal belief system of your OWN when you chose to make those pixels on the screen stay enslaved to a master that you know full well will eventually kill him, just so that you, the player, don't have to play a gimp character through the rest of the game?

    Yea, that was intended too.

    You picked up a power hungry definition of ultimate evil enslaved to a demonic entity into your party. Did you really expect it to turn out well in the end for anyone? :)


    My point was that characters in games based on AD&D don't need to be defined by that particular ruleset.

    I don't understand. If a character in AD&D is not defined by AD&D's rules, what is it defined by?

    What is the definition of "Mage" if you remove the AD&D rules? What does it mean to play a "warrior" or a "paladin"? Why not create 6 characters in full plate mail casting meteor swarm and heal wielding +5 Holy Swords?

    Further, if you remove the rules system, what defines the parameters of the story? Why doesn't Zeus come down out of the clouds to smite both of the evil demons and take Dorn into his service? Why didn't Dorn decide to suddenly open his mind, learn Psionic powers, and become the Pharaoh of Egypt?

    Of course he might have had to fight Voldemort and Darth Vader for the opportunity, but I'm sure with his laser gun and rocket ship he'd have had no problems right?

    Yea, OK, I've now ventured into the ridiculous, but rules and systems are there for a reason.

    Stories only work within the definitions of the universes they exist within. Why was Highlander 2 such a horrible movie? Because It re-defined the laws of the universe the characters existed within differently than it was originally defined. We call this "jumping the shark" when it happens within TV shows, and it generally signals the death of the series.

    Does allowing Dorn to gain power outside of his Blackguard status cause this game to "Jump the Shark?" I don't know, but for those of you who say no, what would? At what point does the choice of whether to make Dorn Free or not become just one more "Non-Choice" in the story? These games and other RPGs like them are full of non-choices...elements where you can "chose" one path or another path only to find that regardless of the choice they all merge together at the end into the same thing.

    I'm not suggesting strict adherence to rules is the only way a story can live, (above we have several examples of places where modifications to the AD&D rules have happened and have gone largely unnoticed) but to take that and suggest that a story based in the Forgotten Realms can do away with the AD&D Rules set and still be a story based in the forgotten realms is not a position I can agree with. If you agree with that, then the discussion starts to become "how many rules can be broken before we hit the point where the system is no longer the system?"

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Well-said, @Illydth. Very well-said indeed. :)

    There's another way to think about this: let's look at Keldorn's quest. The righteous, heroic paladin finds out that his wife has been cheating on him, and goes to confront her lover, Sir William. There are several possible outcomes to this encounter, but one thing you can't do is persuade Keldorn to murder Sir William.

    But suppose that was possible, and that if you chose this option, Keldorn would lose his Inquisitor powers and become a fallen paladin. Would you then argue that this version of Keldorn needs some kind of gameplay compensation?

    What about an Anomen that fails his initiation, and doesn't get the six-point boost that makes him a viable cleric? Should he be able to get that 18 WIS some other way if he becomes Chaotic Neutral?

  • IllydthIllydth Member, Developer Posts: 1,641
    edited September 2014
    Maybe I can put it better this way:

    Changing the ROLL Numerics for any given character (1 PIP or 2 PIPs max for a sword) only changes the ROLL portions of the game. So long as you balance the ROLL Mechanics so as to keep the ROLL portions of the game a challenge, it doesn't matter what ROLL mechanics you muck with...they all amount to the same game and the same system. You could change the entire system over to a D10 or D100 system if you wished to...ROLL mechanics are simple mathematics...so long as you keep the proportions the same you end up with the same system at the end. This is why all of your examples are not problems for the game.

    What this thread is asking for, however is to change the ROLL effects to a situation caused by ROLE decisions. The ROLL Effects caused by the ROLE Decision are well defined within the system. You cannot enforce proper ROLE play except through ROLL numerics...thus certain ROLE actions must have ROLL consequences.

    Asking for better ROLL numbers to mitigate the effects of a ROLE decision crosses the line between mechanics and system definition. You change the ROLE decisions through changes to the ROLL numbers...making certain ROLE decisions more palatable or not. By changing ROLL numerics for ROLE actions, you actually change the definition of what it means to play within the system.

    Empyrial
  • JaceJace Member Posts: 193
    @Illydth That really made your argument more refined and understandable.

    So, if you allow me to probe into your mind a bit, we could say that Dorn, by being a non-human Blackguard, also violates an aspect of the mythos which states that only humans can be championed as Blackguards (or Paladins). If memory serves me well, that's because ideals such as extremist righteousness (or extremist sell-your-soul-to-a-demon) only exist in human mentality and culture. As a result, Dorn crossed the line way more than any Coran or Kagain.

    Or I'm just wrong and I misunderstood where the line is crossed.

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