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On character concepts and more (SPOILERS after third post)

CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
Every time I play an RPG (and I do that a lot), I have a certain concept of who the protagonist is in mind: 'a ruthless villain', 'a true paladin', 'a dashing rogue', etc.. Yet I can't remember if even once it was a 'me'.

Why is that? Well, I guess all major RPGs put the main character in a set of circumstances where I wouldn't do anything even remotely like what the plot requires me to do. A great plague ravages the city and for some reason only young graduates from the local hero academy can save the day? Screw that, I'd grab a beer, my fishing rod and take a hike muy rapido. Hellish demons attack the village looking for some silverware and a hungover farmer boy does what? Right: pawn the silver, grab a beer, go fishing. To hell with the locals - I'm not much of a people's person anyway. A blight upon the land? Ok, one silver chalice of beer, please, and a one-way to Anderfels. No, thank you, I'll buy my tackle there. Not everyone is hero material.

Surprisingly, Mass Effect was way better in that aspect. Give me a stealth cruiser, an armed to the teeth crew, a sexy promotion and an even sexier Chief Williams - well, that's a world I might consider saving. Also, it didn't look all that hard at first: a little field testing here, some detective work there - it only turned ugly much later. Also, there's beer. And potential fishing WORLDS. Hell, sign me up!

What do we have in PS:T? You simply wake up in a state of complete 'WTF?!'. I admit, I drink. So the start of the adventure is all too familiar to me - that already makes it easier to become the dude on the other side of the screen. Then what does he do? He does exactly what I think anyone would do - he tries to figure out what the hell's going on. And the game allows you to do that in any fashion. Be good. Be evil. Be trustworthy. Be shady. Be naive. Be suspicious. The main goal is morally neutral. The roads toward it are different and quite well balanced. The narrative is well written - actually, PS:T is one of the very few titles where evil actions look exactly that - evil. Yes, BioWare, I'm talking about you and your MWAHAHA-villains and bullshit heroes. And absolutely moronic dialogues. Oh, here I go again..

Anyway, back to the subject. I've always wanted to play PS:T without any character idea ready, see where it takes me. Even tried once - it was brilliant, but I didn't have the time to complete the game, only got to the Wards. Still, I knew too much of the game, which in turn led to some power-gaming decisions, like starting wisdom, choice of weapons, order of visiting locations, etc. This time will be different.

So, rules for the next playthrough:

1. Starting attributes loosely based on how I see myself: base STR, 14 CON, 13 everything else.
2. No intentional power-gaming, unless makes perfect sense.
3. Class: thief. We want to know the truth. Thieving skills come handy. Also, IRL I don't cast spells. Not to my knowledge, anyway.
4. Weapons: fists and clubs. Either you punch them quick or you hit them hard. Good knifework requires a lot of skill and training. Yes, I know, but choosing knives wouldn't be my choice were I to wake up in similar circumstances. Knuckleduster in my back pocket and a tire iron in a backpack - that's how I would go. Axes and hammers - too heavy to carry around. Not to mention unavailable to thieves per game rules.
5. No telling people about immortality - pretty obvious.
6. Acting like I don't know about immortality before first 'death'.
7. No combat saves, which leads to point 8.
8. No reckless moves: no attacking abishai, no toying with dolls resembling powerful people, etc. Act seriously. Not sure about joining the disciples of Aoskar.
9. Saving before dialogues allowed - I'm not a native speaker, I might misunderstand something and accidentally screw up.
10. No max hp scumming on level-up.

Obviously, this approach will close a lot of doors, especially points 5 and 8, and lead to a quite different from the usual experience. Thoughts? Additions?

Post edited by Cyeh on


  • Gamey_JamieGamey_Jamie Member Posts: 22
    Hey Cyeh great write up. I like the concept and PS:T absolutely gives you the freedom to do what 'you' want and doesn't punish you for those choices in the same way we see in many other games. I like that we can be someone else in games and have a little escape from our ordinary lives - but I do like the idea of playing with the 'what would I do?' concept. Let us know how it goes!

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 1,049
    Sounds like this will be an entertaining run-through! Will you choose your companions based on whether they'd get along with you IRL rather than whether you know their XP/item rewards are decent (thinking of Ignus and Vhailor here)? Also, how will you choose where to put level-up stat points? With PST defining wisdom in part as the ability to discern truth, I can see you potentially wanting to put most of your points there to be most consistent with your rule #3.

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    Some comments after first day of playing:

    1. It feels much more comfortable to play not having to think about 'what would Jesus do' all the time. Usually I tend to doubt if I've chosen the right dialogue options for my chosen character concept, reload saves, then reload again - you get the idea. This time it feels much more natural. Good.
    2. The game is a bit vague on who knows about TNO's condition and who doesn't. Deionarra basically explains everything to YOU the first time you meet her, but at which point do your COMPANIONS realise you're immortal? Because at some point it seems that it's common knowledge in your party, but there's no coming out, so to speak.
    3. Cut page from the log book. Who cut it? Dhall to preserve your secret? Doesn't sound like him. Hmm.
    4. Vaxis the disguised anarchist. Is there a legit way of finding out he's not a zombie? His description doesn't give any hints even after reading Penn's note. I remember I've had this problem every playthrough - you have to attempt to talk to him, which doesn't make any sense. So far no Vaxis for me.
    5. Haven't talked to Soego. By the time I've talked to Deionarra I'd accidentally noticed the portal - when she explained to me what it was, I felt it was reasonable not to contact any more Dusties and just jump through.
    6. A detail I've never paid attention to: the Dustmen's investigation into Pharod's affairs is mentioned very early in game - both in the cut page and in Penn's note. The importance of finding Pharod is emphasised right from the start too. This gives solid motivation to join the Dustmen - at least to find out what they know. Good.

    Now to jsaving's comment:

    7. Yes, improving WIS seems like a way to go. Also, DEX. Seems consistent with how a rogue would advance in his craft. I'm still on the fence about INT and CHA - don't see how a person could 'train' these qualities. Still, raising them a bit, say to 16 could be seen as recovering from trauma.
    8. Weird, but I haven't thought about companions. First of all, Dhall advised against inviting any at all. And he seemed like a trustworthy guy. And the less people know - the better. Now, according to the game, Morte doesn't hear you and Deionarra having a chat. But he behaves as if he knows, so I'll treat him as a security risk and keep close. Especially after the tomb. Annah is required to proceed and I like her. I guess my TNO could have a crush on her. After that it gets difficult. Dak'kon? Well, he's useful and his loyalty is absolute, but you don't know that when you meet him.. I hope he presents me with a reason to take him aboard when I talk to him. Ignus? I very much like the character, but the guy's insane. And he burns. Should I keep him close for the same reason as Morte? I'd say I'll learn from him and then.. Well, he's got a short temper. Fall-From-Grace? Never liked her. No reason to take her aboard. I wonder if it would make sense to complete the Brothel quests if I have no intention of taking her with me. Hmm. And no upgrades to Morte. Or should I get rid of him after learning of his treachery? Or could I be persuaded to get rid of him by a certain book? Nice twist, but I'll have to sell someone to slavery first - and that doesn't sound like something I would do. Nordom obeys orders, so no reason not to take. Vhailor? He's awesome and his dialogues are fantastic, but usually my party is full by the time we meet. This time though.. I guess I could enlist him for the same reasons he was kept alive by previous incarnation. That gives me Annah, Nordom and Vhailor. And a lot of questions.

  • Gamey_JamieGamey_Jamie Member Posts: 22
    Hey Cyeh really enjoying reading your playthrough. To point 2. I'd always just thought the majority of the party either knew you before the game started (so in a past life) or saw you come back from the dead during the game and knew that way. You're right though - I don't remember any of them stopping you and making a big statement about it (although I could be wrong). 3. Is a mystery to me too.

    As to your last point, if I'm reading it right you would only have a small party. That's absolutely fine and it just struck me that I've never thought to have less than the full compliment of characters once 6 were available. Makes complete sense for your playthrough and wouldn't affect combat too much given this is PS:T so would work on any other run-through too. Personally I always have to go into the maze and get Nordom. That little muddled cube needs an immortal friend. Also never thought of kicking Morte out even when he reveals his secret. I suppose he is the Babu Frik to TNO's C3PO - the oldest friend that he's just met.

    Giving me food for thought and I thank you for that 😊 keep it going

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,247
    Yeah, a fair number of the companions in PS:T have actually journeyed with you before.
    Morte, Dak'kon, Ignus and Vhailor (although Vhailor seems to have forgotten this) have all met TNO before. Of the four, Morte and Dak'kon have both been adventuring companions and know about TNO's condition. It's unclear just how much Ignus knows about TNO's condition, as Ignus' own sanity is somewhat, shall we say, thin. Annah, Fall-from-Grace and Nordom are new companions, as far as I know.

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    Regarding companions: it is true that a lot of them knew you from before, but you find out about it quite far down the plot. Until then it looks quite weird to me - you dying and resurrecting every once in a while and they don't raising an eyebrow. Still, the fact that I've noticed that more than 20 years after the release.. Well, ok, I guess it's implied that the companions know at least what you know (and more).

    Gave a long thought about quickly going for Pharod or exploring. The tattoos said to find the journal first to get some info on yourself, but there are no useful journals around at that point. I compromised: found the exact location of Pharod, made sure, so to speak, that he's not on the run or something and then went on to gather information and learn some skills. After all, everything hints on this Pharod being a powerful and important person - one should be prepared before facing him.

    Also, I sort of cheated and didn't switch to thief the very moment I could and waited for level 6. Shame on me. The rest goes according to plan. Still not sure about hiring companions though.

    On a side note: the timeline of the game is a bit hard for me to grasp. I mean the whole business goes on at least for centuries: the tombs, the number of shadows, the ancient languages.. Yet the story hangs on the fact that you need to find a single normal mortal guy, whose name is tattooed on your back. Or did I get it all wrong? Sure, the Alley was burned not long ago. The tomb is also not particularly ancient. But how then did TNO grow so powerful, if it's just been some decades? And so many shadows.. Weird. Thoughts?

    P.S. I've also died twice, so now I officially know I'm sort of immortal.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,247
    Yeah, the timeline in PS:T is a bit difficult to piece together. Without spoiling too much, TNO has been around a long, long, looooong time. Presumably the tattoo telling you to find Pharod is a relatively recent addition, since time flows normally in Sigil and a day could very well come to pass when Pharod dies and the tattoo is no longer relevant. (Although the TNO could just have it tattooed over.)

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    edited April 2020
    I get the impression that the whole TNO story is kind of spiralling to its end - going faster and faster every day with TNO's mind getting weaker with each incarnation. As you were stronger and more resourceful you could spend centuries scheming and planning and hiding and acting and so on. But with each 'amnesy death' you lose more, which makes it easier for the Adversary to hunt you, which in turn leads to even more frequent memory losses. So I guess my only way of explaining the whole business is that later incarnations were aware of their time running out and took desperate measures for you to at least get an overall grasp of the situation, hence the tattoo pointing to Pharod. After all, without it (no thanks to Morte) TNO would remain absolutely clueless and be an easy target. Kind of like the events of Vampire: the Masquerade. Bloodlines take place during a single night, but put an end to a centuries old conflict.

    Oh, and I've joined the disciples of Aoskar - after all, by that time I knew nothing of Lady's power (haven't asked around much) but witnessed the power of Aoskar firsthand - he did banish the demon from the box just like that.

  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,247
    That's actually not the case about having more frequent memory losses, because by the time the player gets dropped into the seat, you'll notice that you (as TNO) are no longer losing your memories whenever you die. This is due to something the last incarnation immediately prior to you did, and I believe you'll find out about it as the game progresses. (It's worth noting that in the PS:T novel, the final incarnation also no longer lost their memory, but the NPC that caused it was entirely different in the book compared to the game.)

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    Hmm. I'll try to keep an eye for any info on that.

    In the meantime, the lizards at the Smoldering Corpse who've recognised TNO specifically said that it's been 'many hundreds of years' since they'd last met.

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    I've ran into a problem with Pharod. When you first meet him, you've got two lines of questioning. The first one is a straightforward 'I want answers'. Then you either tell him about your memory loss or you don't - doesn't matter, he sends you after the sphere. I've always been puzzled by this - why in hell would he send you after something he absolutely doesn't need and doesn't even know what it is? How should you know that you need to come back for the sphere after Pharod's murder? How should you know the importance of the sphere?

    The second line of questioning is much more interesting: you bluff him and ask about arrangements. This way you learn about why you always end up in the Mortuary relatively unmolested and learn that it was you who asked him to find the sphere. Now after that it would make sense to go after it since it was important to a previous incarnation, but you can't continue that line of dialogue after questioning! You can only take your leave, come back and proceed with option one. I would grudgingly accept it, but now it absolutely doesn't make any sense to give the sphere back to Pharod, since it was you who needed it in the first place.


  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,247
    It's been a while since I played the game, but I was under the impression that a former incarnation of TNO tricked Pharod into thinking that the sphere is what he needed to escape his fate. In truth, that incarnation just wanted Pharod to obtain the sphere to keep it around in case a future incarnation needed it, but he never told Pharod just what the sphere actually was. (What exactly the sphere is is something you'll find out much later in the game, if you have it.)

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    That looks right, but gameplay-wise I'm at an impasse. Even if I abandon the whole idea of acting smart and proceed with the regular 'I have questions' line - then I have little reason to pay any special attention to the sphere, because that way it's just some trinket an old man wanted. It's not even connected to me in any significant way. Although, for some reason TNO has memories regarding its appearance - alright, I'll go this way.

    I still don't like how a perfectly reasonable conversation tree was abandoned.

  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    You know what? I remember now why I quit my previous similar play-through. I've hit level 11 and reached Clerc's Ward. There's a long way till level 12 and a lot of boring quests (Brothel, Festhall). My thieving skills are all around 100. Also, I've suddenly become chaotic evil - probably after the catacombs business. Well, sorry, but I don't like being abducted for no reason. And being cheated afterwards into doing endless errands and others' dirty business. The latter is what bugs me the most, since PS:T's alignment scales were always exemplary for me.

    I guess I'll go play Divinity - haven't yet.

    P.S. If anyone's still interested: you can spot Vaxis legally if you try Stories-Bones-Tell on him.
    P.P.S. And I've sold the f-ing skull into slavery. Was going to give it another chance, but when random shopkeepers start telling me he's a lying bastard - no way.

  • Gamey_JamieGamey_Jamie Member Posts: 22
    edited April 2020
    Oh no have you really given up on the game?! Was really enjoying your write-ups.

    Lol'ing that you've actually sold Morte into slavery - something I've never tried. And I quite enjoyed the brothel and festhall segments. They were a definite change of pace but lots of rich conversation to have with the various residents and experiences through the sensory stones. Can see that your playthrough wouldn't really suit this kind of sidequest indulgence though.

    Thanks for sharing what you'd done so far.

    If you're on twitter and will be sharing your Divinity exploits hit me up @gamey_jamie

    Post edited by Gamey_Jamie on
  • CyehCyeh Member Posts: 11
    Well, the endless sensory stones were actually not that bad, it's just that the whole segment of the game was mired in endless running around: Dreambuilder, Godsmen joining, 10 students of Grace (argh!), Festhall quests (getting tutors to work and all the lections), Deionarra's legacy, portal to Ravel's Maze.. I'd say it's a poor game design choice. In the Hive you have your clearly defined main quest and lots of little secondary ones. You decide how much time to spend on which and streamlined your process is. But then you're dumped in a sandbox-ish environment where you don't really know where to start and what is essential, but one thing is true: lots of running. And huge amount of experience required to at least get some satisfaction from level-ups doesn't help. And the fact that your skills are all almost perfect too. Yeah, I know that level 12 luck boost would gameplay-wise make me a lot more powerful, but still.

    And the damned thing with becoming chaotic evil really was a letdown. I'd agree to become NE after selling Morte, but CE after Catacombs? WTF? It's about just as silly as executing orcs for their raids being one of the worst single chaotic and evil acts in the whole NWN 2 campaign. Only joining the King of Shadows was worse, IIRC. Anyway, it defeats the whole point of trying to act natural if the game interprets your actions unfairly. Maybe I'll start something entirely different like super-lawful STR-INT-CON-CHA fighter with a huge hammer, but then again: for the first time I tried the Many-As-One way and it was so logical. If the game thinks it's CE - it will spoil me all the fun of a lawful playthrough. I guess I'll have to search for some alignment guide to see what's what in the game files.

    Anyway, I'll take a brake and think what to play next. Being a royal lizard in DOS 2 sounds like fun, but I'm not sold yet. Maybe the patches for BG or NWN come out..

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