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How do you manage your expectations when Forgotten Realms' theology has made BG's story moot?

SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 24
edited November 2019 in Baldur's Gate III
I raised this point in another topic, but I thought it deserved its own thread.

The Time of Troubles was a bold, inspired development, emerging naturally from the personalities of the gods, shaking up the pantheon by killing "The Dark Three," and introducing a few magical side effects, such as dead zones and wild magic. It also, of course, memorably provided the backstory for Baldur's Gate.

Which is why it's disappointing that the Forgotten Realms' theology has gone downhill since, veering drunkenly and suffering from a narrative indecision that has sapped it of meaning or impact.

A few examples:

Bane, Myrkul, and Bhaal were slain, replaced by Cyric, only to have the the first and third revived, while Cyric was written off--ahem, "imprisoned" for a thousand years.

Mystra was murdered--twice.

The Mulhorandi pantheon began as god-kings. Then they became regular gods. Then they just disappeared entirely.

Lathander was actually a Netherese god in disguise for his entire existence.

Lloth and Asmodeus became greater deities. (Really? How do the dark goddess of the drow and an archdevil acquire the millions of Faerunian worshippers necessary to maintain that?)

It just goes on like this.

But let's focus on what's relevant: the resurrection of Bhaal. What does this mean? Well, for all the difference Gorion's Ward made in Toril, he/she may have well just been assassinated by Shank.

I'm used to characters falling prey to rewrites and shifting license holders (R.I.P. Star Wars: Dark Forces' Kyle Katarn), and if the Forgotten Realms had declared a twenty year old game to be non-canon, fine. It happens.

But what do you do when the setting insists, no, the game's story is canon, and I'd like you to have a sequel that renders what came before absolutely meaningless. It's supremely cynical to cash in on BioWare's work while thematically undermining it in every conceivable way.

All of this is to say that I'm hoping Larian opts for a simple "Invasion of the Mind Flayer" module, leaving the Forgotten Realms' theology, and the spirit of Baldur's Gate, in the past. For those who yearn for a direct continuation, though, how do you reconcile these diverging plot points?

EDIT: Also, the more I read about the fate of atheists in the Forgotten Realms, despite the fact one would have to essentially ignore the obvious in such a world, the more uncomfortable I become with its treatment of the subject.

Seriously: the things that happen to atheists (being used as bricks in a wall or devoured by the aforementioned Asmodeus) sometimes make the Forgotten Realms read, ironically, like an evangelical tract.

Post edited by Sidonius on
BelgarathMTHButtercheeseEnialusMeliamnemlneveseArcalianWarChiefZeke

Comments

  • SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 24
    edited November 2019
    @Kamigoroshi

    I enjoy the Forgotten Realms' story of the divine through 2nd Edition, and I like that fantastic versions of real-life pantheons can rub elbows (don't get me wrong--I'm a big fan of the Planescape and Dark Sun settings, as well). Its "human" deities are relatable, and, though I think its internal cohesion started to unravel in 4th Edition, its failings certainly wouldn't have been enough to make me swear off the setting, or D&D, entirely. I would have even been okay with Baldur's Gate not being considered canon.

    My problem is how they seem to want to have their cake and eat it, too. You can't simultaneously make BioWare's story invalid while continuing to produce sequels to it.

    ThacoBellIseweinmlneveseArcalian
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    My greatest problem with any of the Forgotten Realms' deities is that they are nothing but oversimplified, one-trick ponies with the short fuse of a hysteric, attention seeking kid. None of them I consider worth worshipping even from the roleplaying point of view of a divine spellcaster. Worse still is that the campaign setting itself actively punishes characters for (rightfully) disregarding those godlings. Given that all atheists end up inside the Wall of the Faithless.

    Nope, nope, nope. Thank you, but no. Not really my idea of fun.

    Artonaleeuxmlnevese
  • SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 24
    edited November 2019
    Again, I don't think one is supposed to like Toril's pantheons: petty beings granted the power to unfairly rule the destinies of those beneath them ties the Forgotten Realms not only to ancient mythology but human history in a way that is, perhaps, intended to breed a healthy resentment of authority.

    I changed the title of the topic, since it was probably needlessly incendiary. I didn't intend to incite general hatred towards the Forgotten Realms (since its lore is essential for Baldur's Gate to even make sense, story-wise, and being partial to the setting is almost a necessity to enjoy the game), but, rather, I'd like to discuss how Baldur's Gate can even function when its narrative grounding has been ripped out from under it.

    A satisfying ending to the BG saga precludes Bhaal ever returning. The decision to resurrect Bhaal rendered that void, yet, here we are, anticipating a sequel. How does it, how can it, all fit together?

    ThacoBellIseweinmlneveseArcalian
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    It can't, which just makes me angry that this unrelated game with no respect for what came before is somehow the third in a trilogy.

    IseweinleeuxArcalian
  • billbiscobillbisco Member Posts: 361
    Baldur's Gate although I love the game series was always glorified fan fiction to begin with. Bhaal's essence was always described as being ressurectable from the murky waters of Boareskyr Bridge.

    Neither the timelines, nor the cameos, nor the characterizations of the NPCs and organizations accurately reflect the source material. And, let's be clear, Bhaal was a lesser deity subservient to Bane who himself was replaced by Iyachtu Xvim. A grand plot to ressurrect Bhaal as described in the games is illogical at best compared to other possibilities.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    The games should have stayed their own canon. If WotC wanted to make a P&P tie-in, which is clearly all that "BG3" is, they should not have marketed it as a sequel.

    Buttercheesemegamike15leeuxArcalian
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,223
    edited November 2019
    I cope by having my main D&D setting be a custom one that's totally unrelated to the Forgotten Realms. ;) When I do run other tabletop settings, it's usually either DarkSun or Ravenloft, two settings largely untouched in terms of lore changes via rule system updates.

    Forgotten Realms shares the same problem as Dragonlance; their lore is too strongly tied to big, world-changing events that makes it very hard to write compelling, meaningful drama and adventures for. There's always going to be someone out there that's bigger, badder and more influential on the world than you and your players, and as you've realized, it's far too easy to retcon at the stroke of a pen to suit (admittedly very real and understandable) real world needs.

    One point I'd like to address about Lolth and Asmodeus becoming deities though; remember that they are worshipped in many, many other worlds apart from Abeir-Toril. The reason why Corellon Larethian (and also Lolth) are so powerful is because they're worshipped by nearly every single elf out there in the D&D multiverse. The Greyhawk elves? They share the same elven pantheon as the FR one. So do the Mystaran elves, I believe, and imagine all of those small, neophyte DM worlds that use the default deities... All of them default to the Corellon Larethian pantheon as well. The same applies to beings like Asmodeus; there may be literally thousands of Sun deities in the D&D multiverse, but there is only one Asmodeus.

    EDIT: That said, personally I am NOT a fan of Asmodeus becoming a deity. I liked it better when he was just an Archdevil; supremely crafty and talented, yet despite that always unable to have that which he desired most. He was as much Baator's prisoner as he was its master, trapped in a hell of his own making that in his pride he couldn't see the truth of.

    ThacoBellIsewein
  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,293
    What actually happens in the new Canon modules precluding to bg3?

  • IseweinIsewein Member Posts: 376
    The wall of the faithless and the general setup of petty deities lording it over mortals are intriguing concepts, but the only time they were ever addresses is MotB, and they really render any other campaign ideas somewhat futile.

    Personally, I just ignore anything that came with the Spellplague and after, if only because there has been no interesting FR game since and I prefer other settings for p&p. The affection I do have for FR really stems from the games rather than the other way around - I wonder whether that's as unusual as you think it is, @Sidonius .

    ThacoBellleeux
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    This all could have been fixed if BG3 just took place in its own canon with the BG series, rather than dumping some of the most respected rpgs in history to push new P&P modules.

    Iseweinmegamike15Buttercheeseleeux
  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    @ThacoBell I agree, that would fix a lot of issues that would come up with trying to make BG3 work with both the series and the canon. We can only hope that WotC can be swayed. Honestly, I am not sure that the game can be a true successor to the series, if they retcon half of the stuff that happened in it.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    At this point, let's just call Pillars of Eternity "BG3". It already seems like it has far more incommon.

    Arcalian
  • GyorGyor Member Posts: 31
    Okay folks let clear up Forgotten Realms Theology.

    First off the events of the Bhaalspawn Saga still matter, it's just that they are in the moderately distant past. Bhaal dying, while not permenant, set back countless plots and now returning to life during the Sundering, he has to rebuild everything he had from scratch. He has to rebuild his church, he has to rebuild his afterlife, and he has to spread the word he not dead anymore. Still dying still matters a lot.

    Secondly the way the Gods of FR act depends upon the author and edition. During the Time of Troubles there behavior was inspired by the drama of Greek Mythology, but Paul Kemp for example made them more subtle and interesting, Erin M Evans made them more sympathetic, ect...

    Thirdly BG3 actually had nothing to do with the return of Bhaal. That happened because of the backlash against the huge pruning of the FR Pantheon and FR nations being destroyed. So WotC went hard the opposite way, and it brought back a lot of Gods, not just ones who died in the Spellplague.

    It used the Sundering to bring back Bhaal, Mask, Liera, Myrkul, Helm, Mystra, Nobian, Tyr, and a lot more. It brought back the Mulhorand Pantheon, but surprisingly Ra and Horus are seperate, which they haven't been since hundreds and hundreds of years in game time before 1e.

    And if that wasn't enough they merged the Faerun and Greyhawk Demihuman Pantheons in MTOF, creating an influx of immigrate deities. In none God form the Raven Queen now exists in FR. VGTM added Catlord as a deity (before he was just a kind of Planar Paragon for the Beastlands, now he is a Tabaxi deity).

    Also folks also forget that Kara Tur and Zakhara have very different religions. Zakhara in some ways is more like Eberron then Faerun. Kara Tur has religions that aren't focused on Gods as well as ones with much broader definition of Gods.

    Also FR deities aren't just Superhero/Villian beings like Marvel's Thor, FR deities are weird mix of occult Thoughtform, Neoplatonic Henads, and conscious laws of physics, that can create Avatars like in Hinduism (actually Hindu Gods are in FR, they are worshipped in Kara Tur in the Theocratic Keong Kingdom on Malatra Plateau, although they refer to Indra as a Goddess, making me suspect the writers confused the Male Indra, with his wife Indrani, who shares many attributes with her husband including riding an Elephant mount).

    When an FR Gods does it not like Comic book Thor dies, it the laws of Physics breaks as well. But as long as the fundlemental Form (ideas) that an FR deity represents survives, its really just a matter of awaking up their conscious and getting them a divine spark.

    And one of the strangest and most interesting elements of FR Theology is that of the Overgod and it's superior. AO is the most well known Overgod, but Fate in Kara Tur and the Jade Emperor in Kara Tur seem to act similarly to AO so it's been speculated that they are also Overgods.

    Later I will discuss and explore the Mulhorandi and Untheric deities and their complexity. This is a fun start.



    IseweinDJKajuruEnilwyn
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 2,617
    i just consider the ie and nwn 1 and 2 [ and fan modules set in fr] it's own canon separated from pen and paper canon.

    like how i feel about fallout [ only 1,2 and nv are canon] and how i will most likely feel about vtmb 2.

    leeux
  • IseweinIsewein Member Posts: 376
    edited December 2019
    I love that interpretation of the Gods, @Gyor , and would be excited to play a game in such a setting. thing is, that's not at all how I saw FR Gods being presented in BG and most other FR games. Even in MotB Kelemvor is miles away from this. It very much seemed like squabbling Hesiodian deities to me, which made for fun background to the whole godchild shtick - if not exactly for playing a person of faith.

    And WotC chaotic back and forth with major redevelopments of the setting just seems volatile and shows that they have no genius of creation that informs their world but rather see it as a commercial product aimed to please the lowest common denominator of the fanbase. Hence I would rather ignore newer editions and all their cataclysms. If Bhaal returns, then because Charname (or someone else for that matter) subsumes in the essence and for LL intents and purposes "becomes" the Father, as is warned so frequently in the games.

    leeuxButtercheese
  • mlnevesemlnevese Member, Moderator Posts: 10,160
    Regarding the Realms Pantheon I think that being murdered *IS* part of Mystra's Portfolio :)

    I can say I'm at least curious to see how all the changes will be portrayed in the game.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    I can just see a mortal striving to achieve godhood, and gets summoned by Ao or something.

    "Congratulations mortal! You have been deemed worthy of being the next god(dess) of magic!"

    Epic hero: "You know, actually. I think I'll just go back to my families' farm."

    MERLANCEmlnevese
  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876
    The Astral Plane is littered with the corpses of dead deities, right? (As long as WotC didn't retconned this also in the wake of 5th-retcon). Makes one wonder how many fish-eyed Mystras float down the gutter there...

    mlneveseIsewein
  • mlnevesemlnevese Member, Moderator Posts: 10,160
    edited January 2020
    The Astral Plane is littered with the corpses of dead deities, right? (As long as WotC didn't retconned this also in the wake of 5th-retcon). Makes one wonder how many fish-eyed Mystras float down the gutter there...

    The secret is
    almost all of them ARE Mystra :grin:

  • LemernisLemernis Member, Moderator Posts: 4,302
    edited February 2020
    I'm just hoping that Bhaal's schemes at the time of BG3's tale are indeed at the heart of the story, and that whatever Bhaal is plotting connects in a meaningful way with the story of BG/BG2/ToB a century ago. I believe that I could write such an adventure, in one form or another. A good DM could. So the developers here surely ought to be able to if they so choose. I just hope that's essentially what Larian/WotC did. So that it truly deserves to be called BG3.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 12,009
    Lemernis wrote: »
    I'm just hoping that Bhaal's schemes at the time of BG3's tale are indeed at the heart of the story, and that whatever Bhaal is plotting connects in a meaningful way with the story of BG/BG2/ToB a century ago. I believe that I could write such an adventure, in one form or another. A good DM could. So the developers here surely ought to be able to if they so choose. I just hope that's essentially what Larian/WotC did. So that it truly deserves to be called BG3.

    Larian has already confirmed that this has nothing to do with any of the events from bg 1 or 2.

    megamike15
  • LemernisLemernis Member, Moderator Posts: 4,302
    edited February 2020
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    Lemernis wrote: »
    I'm just hoping that Bhaal's schemes at the time of BG3's tale are indeed at the heart of the story, and that whatever Bhaal is plotting connects in a meaningful way with the story of BG/BG2/ToB a century ago. I believe that I could write such an adventure, in one form or another. A good DM could. So the developers here surely ought to be able to if they so choose. I just hope that's essentially what Larian/WotC did. So that it truly deserves to be called BG3.

    Larian has already confirmed that this has nothing to do with any of the events from bg 1 or 2.

    Thanks, I stopped paying attention last summer until something more substantial appeared such as the demo they just unveiled. If it's not too much trouble can you kindly post a link to them saying that?

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