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SoD story discussion

24

Comments

  • NightingaleNightingale Member Posts: 59
    edited April 6
    @UnderstandMouseMagic

    Thank you. I'm glad you found the post interesting. :)

    Again though, I've got to ask where you're getting this notion that CA kills people who come to her looking solely for money in exchange for their services. I've seen no evidence of this any of the times I've played the campaign. The closest thing I can think of are the people being sacrificed in the Shadow Temple, and those were slaves taken by force under Hephernan's orders without Caelar's knowledge or consent. Again, everything I've seen points to the opposite being true: Caelar not only doesn't kill the mercenaries that come seeking employment, but she accepts them into the fold despite her more morally minded followers and confidants disapproving of the act.

    I don't claim to know all the ins and outs of the campaign, but I just haven't seen anything to back up your claim. Is there a scene or an in-game text you can point to that shows CA actively killing or approving the execution of mercenaries solely because they didn't buy into her divine rhetoric?
    ArtonaThacoBell
  • VitharVithar Member Posts: 64

    Is she a fallen paladin? *-) I mean, her intended quest is selfish and many people die from it.

    I thought it would've been better if her uncle had been trapped along with others, although in a particular dangerous area of hell (i.e., with a particular high ranking devil nearby), which makes the attack sheer folly but still gives her a small amount of justification in her actions.

    As for the start of the game, I'd have to read the chapter introductions again. However, I could imagine she would be going from town to town forcing people into her army. Also an army needs food, so out of necessity they would be taking (stealing! forcing!) food from each town, causing food shortages. Now, to me, that would make a good explanation of the refugees running to Baldur's Gate.

    She is a Warrior(Fighter) but she uses ''heals'' like the ones Palas and Clerics have.
    Later she can become something ''else as a class'' that i won't mention coz ''spoilers''.

    Here are her stats http://baldursgate.wikia.com/wiki/Caelar_Argent
    Nightingaletypo_tillysemiticgod
  • DurendalDurendal Member Posts: 23
    She genuinely believes herself to be in the right. Her true goal was always the same, but she choose her words in such a way to promise more than she had actually planned. I believe she -hoped- it was possible, but she wasn't entirely sure, whereas her actual goal she was certain was attainable.

    She seems to honestly care for her followers, as evident by her writing the letters, but she also believes it's all for a good cause.
    Maybe this isn't the right word for it, but she seems to have something like Survivor's Guilt. She wants to fix her mistake at any cost, and believes Aun, her savior, to be worth -more- than the people who's lives she's throwing away. He may very well be to her, considering what he did for her.


    I think her motivation and hypocrisy are "realistic" enough, and certainly a lot more sympathetic than the other major villains in the series.
    ThacoBellNightingaletypo_tillysemiticgod
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    @Nightingale I think of a case UnderstandMouseMagic mentioned about killing those refusing to join, it's Edwin, who narrowly escaped, one of his follow red wizards joined, two of them got killed.
    ThacoBell
  • NightingaleNightingale Member Posts: 59
    edited April 8
    @islandking Hmm... I've yet to use Edwin in SoD (I tend to play good characters who don't appreciate his superiority complex) so it's possible that you're correct. I'll have to check him out during my current run. However, are you sure that whole incident doesn't have more to do with the fact that they're Red Wizards (i.e. an evil organization)? I mean, the crusade IS being lead by someone who once aspired to be paladin (and you can see from BG2 how well Edwin gets along with their ilk). If they came into confrontation with the crusade and made it clear who they were, I could totally see the crusade offering an ultimatum: Join and repent for the various crimes you've committed, or face summary execution. If the situation played out like that, it's actually a fairly reasonable position for the crusade to take (can't have serial meddlers mucking things up, especially ones of evil intent, like the Red Wizards of Thay. That they offered them a chance to join at all makes them more merciful than groups like The Order of the Radiant Heart) and definitely NOT the argument the UnderstandMouseMagic was making.

    What they were saying is that mercenaries, lured by the promise of coin made in the various Crusade recruitment fliers, were coming to the Crusade looking for employment and being executed because they refused to buy into the moral/religious aspect of the crusade and worship the ground Caelar walks on. I've yet to see anything to support that argument and in fact, have seen plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    Again though, I've got to check out Edwin's quest to be sure.
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    @Nightingale According to Edwin, they were ambushed on the road, so I think of it more like a bandit raid than evil purging. Edwin mentioned that when you first met him(or his biography? can't remember exactly where sorry)
  • NightingaleNightingale Member Posts: 59
    @islandking Fair enough. If that's the case, either they realized they were Red Wizards and attacked immediately (not likely, since they later recruited one) or some of the less savory elements of the Crusade were doing unsavory things (something that was never in question. I mean, just look at what they try to do to Skie when she was scouting out Castle Dragonspear).

    Again though, still not the argument I was taking issue with.
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,241
    This is what Edwin says to you after you recruit him (there's a bit before which isn't relevent.

    "Some weeks past we recieved word that CA sought magicians to bolster her crusade.
    We had little interest in the patchwork theology she espouses but she was willing to pay handsomely for our talents".

    "We journeyed to DS and met the "Shining Lady", experiencing her fabled charisma firsthand. Vichand and Ahdzekherrin joined her on the spot. I and Rowena were not so easily cowed. When Rowena refused to kneel before Caelar without appopriate explaination for such an indignity, she was killed by one of her lieutenants."

    (There's a bit more afterwards answering what Charname says then)

    Hope that clears it up.

    I think @Nightingale gave a very good explaination for CA, far better than shown in game.
    Right from the start I have always said, it's the writing of the main campaign of SOD that is the weakest element. And some of it is downright poor/bad, especially when you get to the whole Skie/soultaker dagger business.

    All of course, only IMO.
    islandkingNightingale
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    Actually I never questioned Caelar’s good intent, and I agree with @Nightingale most of the part that she’s just a good, naive angeling who suffered too much from her childhood experience even it’s caused by her own arrogance and greed, all in all, she’s just a victim, a puppet who is semi-willingly to be played in big schemes of some powerful devils.

    One thing I find SoD story big-flawed though, is that it’s quite unrealistic for people living near DS castle to willingly join the crusade who just raid their land, their home, took their family apart. Sure Caelar promised to bring back their DS taken dead, but so devoted to her? Start to kill and raid homes right after they themselves become homeless, loneness just for that promise? Sounds like they are all brainwashed to think in Caelar’s way: bring back the dead, whatever the cost. Which can indeed happen in some teenagers’ comics, but shamely so under dnd settings.
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    edited April 8
    @UnderstandMouseMagic Looks like I was wrong on some Edwin details :)
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,241

    @UnderstandMouseMagic Looks like I was wrong on some Edwin details :)

    No problem, I luckily had a save just before you meet him so was able to look it up.
    islandking
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    And the Skie/soultaker thing is just…I don’t know what to say, seems to me that writers are desperate to find a way to drive the Bhaalspawn out of city :/

    Just weeks before, people in Sword Coast learned a big lesson, that this Bhaalspawn seems destined to be accused of murder under somebody else’s conspiracy, but still they made the same mistake as if they’ve no memory of what just happened. Not to mention that they treat the city hero, DS savior as if it’s s/he who has to pay for every suffering they have and super quick to judge him/her to death :'(
    Artona
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,241
    @Durandal

    "I think her motivation and hypocrisy are "realistic" enough, and certainly a lot more sympathetic than the other major villains in the series."


    Maybe that's why the SOD writing fails?

    Sarevok/Irenicus are allowed to be monsters, as player you think of them as monsters.
    But, at one point for both of them near the ends, (Sarevok in TOB, Irenicus at the Tree of Life) the suggestion is made that they also had motivations that you could sympathise with. And it's left entirely up to the player how they decide to react or think about that.

    CA is a monster, just as bad judged by her deeds. But SOD tries too hard to paint her as sympathetic, a victim, rather than allow the player to come to their own conclusions. And that's for me where the inconsistancy arises.

    So very bad things are allowed to slide (the sheer amount of people killed, without food/livesock people (the peasantry) would die in big numbers to rioting, breakdown of order ect.). Yet we get a scene with her writing letters to fallen crusaders' families when it's quite possible that family has already been wiped out because of the crusaders themselves as they rampage across the countryside?
    Inconsistant.

    Then we get the idea that charname could decide to join this righteous cause.
    Unless you are playing "evil" how exactly?
    When the large part of BG has been set against a rural setting where you have seen firsthand what rampaging mobs do to the people.
    To the average powerless peasant, how is this "crusade" any different to the bandits?
    Just as you come across the slaughtered family of Colquetle (Beregost) it's possible you would come across another slaughtered family, but this time it's the crusaders.

    I'm just playing the Boarasky Bridge part. Lot of dead people around in the fort with poor old Khalid. Hmm, but that's not supposed to make you see CA as a monster?
    Then I have to sympathise with her, see her as a victim?

    ThacoBellislandkingSkatan
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 3,023
    Yeah I never saw Caelar as sympathetic. Even with Hephernaan nudging her on, she is full aware of the pain and suffering her crusade has caused. Like charname has the chance to say to her at one point, "Her pride and her arrogance is her downfall"
  • filcat88filcat88 Member Posts: 115
    edited April 8


    Then I have to sympathise with her, see her as a victim?

    It is how your character is roleplayed that determines how you want to see Caelar. You can choose to see her just a the worst monster. Or you can choose to be sympathetic with her.
    After all:

    "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
    ArtonaThacoBellsemiticgod
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382

    @Durandal
    I'm just playing the Boarasky Bridge part. Lot of dead people around in the fort with poor old Khalid. Hmm, but that's not supposed to make you see CA as a monster?

    There's option for you to
    surrender the sieged fort to crusade, and when people begin to walk out of the fort, you have an opportunity to ask the crusade's half-orc commander, who claims that it was Caelar's influences on him to let him know sympathy to let you live, were he before, he would kill all enemies on sight, Corwin even approved this and offer an invite for him to join the FF
    ThacoBell
  • TheGreatKhanTheGreatKhan Member Posts: 104
    I was under the impression they were destroying the bridges and infrastructure in certain regions because they didn't want to get flanked.

    They needed to siege an area that was bordered on the north and south by two cities who declared war on the crusade. It probably meant defeat if they got attacked on both sides during the siege, destroying bridges and supply routes would buy them time. It's very hard to move an army and even harder to move supplies without bridges, roads, and everything else.

    I also don't agree that Caelar is evil. She's clearly a good character, she does truly want to redeem herself and save another. Good people can mess up and be selfish at times. I viewed Caelar as a desperate person who was using probably the last realistic option she had to accomplish what she wanted. I do like that you can reason with her and that she is not railroaded into one path. I definitely think she should be brought back into BG2EE as another character with a story arc as they could do a lot with her.
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,241
    @TheGreatKhan and @Durendal

    Every tyrant in history has not believed they were evil and were in fact working for a "good" end goal.
    They can always justify their actions, that's why/how they end up with followers.
    They are the worst and the most dangerous.

    Caelar is one of them IMO.

    History has taught us this, over and over again. The bodies mount up but the cause is for "the greater good".
    And when it's all over, people turn round and say "how could anybody have believed that" until the next tyrant comes along and persuades them that their cause is justified.

    Give me straightforward selfish and evil goals any day of the week.
    ThacoBellsemiticgod
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,054

    Give me straightforward selfish and evil goals any day of the week.

    Why?

    I've always found that kind of bad guys to be very shallow and therefore uninteresting. I prefer bad guys to have plausible motives and relatable thought patterns. As you said, IRL nobody think of themselves as "the bad guys"; they all think they're the good guys. The same should apply to game antagonists: They should have their own, plausible motives that aren't shallow pretexts for the game/story/animosity to exist, but rather understandable/sense-making goals in their own right. You, as the protagonist, may disagree with them or perhaps just with the way the bad guy chose to pursue them—or perhaps because their pursuit of them harms you directly or indirectly in a way or another (e.g. Irenicus.)

    Why would the old, trite "evil for evil's sake" bad guy be better?

    ThacoBellfilcat88semiticgod
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 3,023
    edited April 9
    "Why would the old, trite "evil for evil's sake" bad guy be better?" For me it depends. If they are all like this, it gets very samey and boring. But a villain like this every now and then is simply FUN when juxtaposed with the more complex villains.

    I believe I've heard the term "force of nature" and "narrative" villains to describe the different tones. Caelar is a narrative villain and Irenicus is a force of nature villain. I believe Sarevok is somewhere in between. His appearance in BG1 is very force of nature but his backstory that we get in ToB has strong shades of the narrative variety. Probably why Sarevok is my favorite villain in the series.
  • AndreaColomboAndreaColombo Member Posts: 5,054
    Imo Irenicus was relatable enough. He doesn't hate the protagonist and has no unfinished business with them after taking their soul, which was a refreshing change of pace from the typical "I hate you with a passion" villain who makes the story personal. He also had the whole "romance gone wrong" thing with Ellesime which I thought added depth to the character, along with his seeking revenge for a wrong he knew deep down he actually deserved. I didn't think he was evil for the sake of evil.

    To clarify, "evil for the sake of evil" to me means someone who just wants to spread suffering because suffering; e.g. a demon who wants to conquer the world so they can subjugate everyone and torture them for all eternity for no reason other than "I love Satan." (metaphorically, since Satan isn't really a thing in the FR—but you get the picture.)
  • islandkingislandking Member Posts: 382
    Events change people, by the time we encounter Irenicus, he's not the same person before exile, he doesn't feel guilty anymore, he's completely changed.

    But Caelar hasn't fallen as deeply as him, which was clearly observed in the scene before entering the elevator area, as well as a possible ending (if she survive the final battle) in which she volunteered to sacrifice herself stay behind to guard the portal neither Irenicus nor Sarevok could do.
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Irenicus was written with a clear throughline and an eye towards avoiding internal contradictions. Caelar, not so much. Case in point:

    The first time you meet Caelar, you can accuse her of sending assassins after you, and she'll openly admit to it with the caveat that they were supposed to kidnap you:



    Then at the parley, you make the same accusation and she has no clue what you're talking about, and even acts surprised that someone in Baldur's Gate took a shot at you at all:



    She's a misguided aasimar with good intentions who becomes a blackguard after literally one line of dialogue with you (Aribeth di Tylmarande she is not); she's a caring commander who threw away hundreds or thousands of lives for her own personal gain; she's a side-project for Irenicus even though he barely bothers to investigate where her divine blood comes from; she's an inspiration to the common folk despite recruiting Red Wizards, half-orcs and necromancers. Like most Beamdog characters, she was pretty clearly designed first and foremost for the sake of plot contrivance, not because there was actually a story to her. Small wonder she doesn't hold up under the barest scrutiny.
    SkatanUnderstandMouseMagicsemiticgod
  • filcat88filcat88 Member Posts: 115
    shawne said:

    Irenicus was written with a clear throughline and an eye towards avoiding internal contradictions. Caelar, not so much. Case in point:

    The first time you meet Caelar, you can accuse her of sending assassins after you, and she'll openly admit to it with the caveat that they were supposed to kidnap you:



    Then at the parley, you make the same accusation and she has no clue what you're talking about, and even acts surprised that someone in Baldur's Gate took a shot at you at all:



    She's a misguided aasimar with good intentions who becomes a blackguard after literally one line of dialogue with you (Aribeth di Tylmarande she is not); she's a caring commander who threw away hundreds or thousands of lives for her own personal gain; she's a side-project for Irenicus even though he barely bothers to investigate where her divine blood comes from; she's an inspiration to the common folk despite recruiting Red Wizards, half-orcs and necromancers. Like most Beamdog characters, she was pretty clearly designed first and foremost for the sake of plot contrivance, not because there was actually a story to her. Small wonder she doesn't hold up under the barest scrutiny.

    What you say here is debatable. here few examples:


    1)she's a caring commander who threw away hundreds or thousands of lives for her own personal gain

    The history of our world is full of people just like Caelar, charismatic for some, monster for others.

    2)she's a side-project for Irenicus even though he barely bothers to investigate where her divine blood comes from

    The entire SOD plot is a Irenicus' experiment to choose which one is more suitable for his needs, CHARNAME or Caelar.

    3)she's an inspiration to the common folk despite recruiting Red Wizards, half-orcs and necromancers

    You are problably right about the Red wizards but not about half-orcs and necromancers. Being an half-orc or a necromancer does not mean being evil. But, the very fact that Caelar has evil humanoid in her army means that she is a troubled aasimar and that is the whole point. A religious leader with a most noble goal but, for her, the purpose justifies the means. Again, our history is full of similar example.


    With this, I am not saying that Caelar is the best written character of the RPGs history, but her story make sense.
    ThacoBellsemiticgod
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    filcat88 said:


    What you say here is debatable. here few examples:

    The history of our world is full of people just like Caelar, charismatic for some, monster for others.

    D&D is not our world. Fiction follows different rules. The story of the game asks us to believe that she's an ambiguous, complicated antagonist - she isn't. Her actions don't line up with her characterization.
    filcat88 said:


    The entire SOD plot is a Irenicus' experiment to choose which one is more suitable for his needs, CHARNAME or Caelar.

    Uh... no. The Crusade wasn't Irenicus' plan, it was Hephernaan's. We know this, because when they meet it's explicitly clear that they're not working together. At best, Irenicus is taking advantage of an existing situation to test for... something? And at some point he realized Caelar wasn't suitable? Because reasons?
    filcat88 said:


    You are problably right about the Red wizards but not about half-orcs and necromancers. Being an half-orc or a necromancer does not mean being evil. But, the very fact that Caelar has evil humanoid in her army means that she is a troubled aasimar and that is the whole point. A religious leader with a most noble goal but, for her, the purpose justifies the means. Again, our history is full of similar example.

    I don't make that argument, though; the game does, because you have the option of accusing Caelar of having a cult of specifically evil necromancers under Dragonspear Castle. The Barghest is a war criminal. And yet, despite that, not only does Caelar openly accept their service, her followers do too. They speak of "the Shining Lady" as if she actually is a force for Good-with-a-capital-G, like the alignment. And nobody calls her out on that incongruity.
  • filcat88filcat88 Member Posts: 115
    edited April 10
    D&D is not our world. Fiction follows different rules.

    I would ask why. What are these rules the fictions must follow? A story is a story, there is the freedom to characterize the characters as complicated as one wants.

    Uh... no. The Crusade wasn't Irenicus' plan, it was Hephernaan's. We know this, because when they meet it's explicitly clear that they're not working together. At best, Irenicus is taking advantage of an existing situation to test for... something? And at some point he realized Caelar wasn't suitable? Because reasons?

    You are right here it was Hephernaan's. Irenicus wanted to see who was the strongest between the two. The one who came victorious from the Abyss was the most suitable obviously.

    They speak of "the Shining Lady" as if she actually is a force for Good-with-a-capital-G, like the alignment. And nobody calls her out on that incongruity.

    Not all the followers see what charname see. For example, the witch and the bodyguard from Rashemen (side-quest) they support Caeler untill you prove them otherwise. We, the players, have a very different point of view of things which most of Caeler's followers do not have.

    P.S.: @shawne, I hope I dont sound rude to you, I m just answering your points for the sake of the discussion.
    ArtonaThacoBelltypo_tilly
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    filcat88 said:

    I would ask why. What are these rules the fictions must follow? A story is a story, there is the freedom to characterize the characters as complicated as one wants.

    One of the most basic assumptions of fiction is that stories have an internal, causal logic we wouldn't expect from real life. In any situation where the rules of fiction conflict with the rules of reality, the rules of fiction will prevail - characters will convey exposition because the story demands it, for example. Things that happen in our world can't be translated one-to-one to a place like Faerun.
    filcat88 said:

    You are right here it was Hephernaan's. Irenicus wanted to see who was the strongest between the two. The one who came victorious from the Abyss was the most suitable obviously.

    Why is that obvious? Irenicus had no control over what happened in Avernus: suppose Belhifet had killed Caelar and the Bhaalspawn? Why would he risk the possibility that no one would come back victorious?
    filcat88 said:

    Not all the followers see what charname see. For example, the witch and the bodyguard from Rashemen (side-quest) they support Caeler untill you prove them otherwise. We, the players, have a very different point of view of things which most of Caeler's followers do not have.

    Right, but remember, my objection here isn't to what specific individuals see or claim they see, but how the overall story presents her. Based on how your character is scripted to interact with her, we're clearly meant to think of Caelar as a complicated, multilayered character; but in reality, nothing about her makes any kind of sense, up to and including how her story ends (or rather, doesn't end).

    I mean, we have a useful template for comparison in Sarevok. He did exactly what she did in broad strokes: manipulated a whole lot of people, maneuvered himself into a position of power, all as part of a meticulous plan to achieve his own goals. But Sarevok getting his way didn't require everyone else to behave irrationally or stupidly for the sake of the plot.
    filcat88 said:

    P.S.: @shawne, I hope I dont sound rude to you, I m just answering your points for the sake of the discussion.

    Not at all, I'm doing the same. :)
    typo_tilly
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 3,023
    shawne said:

    Irenicus was written with a clear throughline and an eye towards avoiding internal contradictions. Caelar, not so much. Case in point:

    The first time you meet Caelar, you can accuse her of sending assassins after you, and she'll openly admit to it with the caveat that they were supposed to kidnap you:



    Then at the parley, you make the same accusation and she has no clue what you're talking about, and even acts surprised that someone in Baldur's Gate took a shot at you at all:



    She's a misguided aasimar with good intentions who becomes a blackguard after literally one line of dialogue with you (Aribeth di Tylmarande she is not); she's a caring commander who threw away hundreds or thousands of lives for her own personal gain; she's a side-project for Irenicus even though he barely bothers to investigate where her divine blood comes from; she's an inspiration to the common folk despite recruiting Red Wizards, half-orcs and necromancers. Like most Beamdog characters, she was pretty clearly designed first and foremost for the sake of plot contrivance, not because there was actually a story to her. Small wonder she doesn't hold up under the barest scrutiny.

    Those are actually two separate things. The 'assassins' were sent directly by Caelar to capture charname. Later you find a general bounty for just some of charnames' blood. Caelar was unaware of the bounty, why would she post one if she can just send personal agents? Hephernaan is probably responsible for the bounty.
    typo_tillysemiticgod
  • ArtonaArtona Member Posts: 700
    Why is that obvious? Irenicus had no control over what happened in Avernus: suppose Belhifet had killed Caelar and the Bhaalspawn? Why would he risk the possibility that no one would come back victorious?


    I think there are two suitable answer for that question: he would either start look for new subject (probably Imoen), or intervene. From what we know about a guy from SoA, Belhifet wouldn't be a threat for him.
    SoD emphasizes Irenicus' knowledge, if not control, over Bhaalspawn actions. He appears freely whenever and wherever he likes. It's safe to assume that he at least had full knowledge of what was going on in Avernus.
    That's how I see it. ;)
    ThacoBellfilcat88typo_tillysemiticgod
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