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[SPOILERS] Protagonist vs Antagonist

[Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0
edited August 2013 in Off-Topic
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Post edited by [Deleted User] on
Aedanlolien

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  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    For me, to be immersive a story has to be at least mostly plausible. Which is why I greatly dislike the type 1 protagonists. It's just the classic James Bond villain, or the evil empire's convenient Achilles heel. I can get a bit of arrogance and gloating, but enough with the frickin' laser sharks. Just shoot him the face already. Repeatedly.

    It almost invariably feels like bad writing: the protagonist gets backed into a corner, the villain's power gets built up to mythic proportions, and then the writer has to pull some deus ex machina to give the protagonist the win. That just really kills the story for me, suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

    So yeah, I like me a more balanced fight. Preferably also with some shades of gray rather than the classic 'goody-goody' vs 'charicature of evil'.

    [Deleted User]Awong124
  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 629
    Morte50 said:

    It almost invariably feels like bad writing: the protagonist gets backed into a corner, the villain's power gets built up to mythic proportions, and then the writer has to pull some deus ex machina to give the protagonist the win. That just really kills the story for me, suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

    I have to say, I don't think this describes BG2, specifically Irenicus. First he's blindsided by the Shadow Thieves and has to improvise the whole taking Imoen and rebuilding his lab bit. Not at all Plan A, as I doubt he gave a **** about the Cowled Wizards, and was probably planning on simply leaving them alone. So it's clear from the start the while he's much more powerful than you, he's not unstoppable.

    Then, after he's gotten Imoen's and your souls, he DOES try to kill you. It's Bhodi that ***** that one up, admittedly very much in typical Bond villein style. So no gloating, no leaving you to suffer. As soon as he no longer needs you, he (tries to) kill you. His mistake was not indulging in sadism or underestimating the hero, but in thinking his second-in-command could execute a few helpless prisoners while he made preparations for the attack on Suldanessellar.

    Finally, you don't exploit any kind of exposed exhaust port to get to him in Suldanessellar, you just march in and kill everything between you and him. Irenicus (understandably) thought an army of Demons and Drow would keep him safe. He was wrong. And even then, unless you're fairly good at the game and know what to expect, he's still going to mess you up once you reach him.

    Basically, at no point did I feel I was fighting a hopeless battle that the game saved me from, or that I was totally helpless. I feel the writers did an excellent job of presenting a powerful, threatening villain, but not making him so powerful they had to go to unbelievable lengths to "save" the PC.


    TL;DR
    I liked the plot of BG2, and don't think it stretches suspension of disbelief at any point.

    DJKajuru
  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 7,953
    An interesting series of questions. I noticed that when playing SoA...
    The point at which you reach Spellhold and Irenicus steals your soul I start to feel really outraged at him.
    This is likely because I am immersed and the writing is good and he is an easily hated character and such. This makes me enjoy finally getting to take him down all the more.

    I will now take this a different direction with Kirby. I noticed that in some of his games (specifically Kirby Super Star Ultra) Kirby is greatly feared by many of the antagonists. It in this case it feels very fulfilling to play the role of the conquering hero who foils all the villain's evil plans and can strike terror into evil by his reputation alone. Similar situations to this take place in ToB which is why I like the theme of the story there.
    I'm coming for you Sendai!!!!


    I guess my answer is that as the writing is done well enough; either case is good. I do prefer that if the protagonist is to lose it doesn't happen too often otherwise it just doesn't seem right. Even so, I tend to prefer the role of the conquering hero as described above.

    [Deleted User]
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  • ZanathKariashiZanathKariashi Member Posts: 2,867
    edited August 2013
    @Malicron

    Actually the shadow thief attack was all according to plan, they just attacked a little bit sooner then he expected, but not badly enough to derail his scheme to move everything to Spellhold (he mentions in his journal that his lair was insufficient for the ritual and he was eying spellhold from the beginning, and was simply figuring out how to get in and take it over).


    The only mistake Irenicus made in the whole series was letting his high of stealing your soul make him too arrogant to kill you himself immediately, which pre-soul Irenicus would've done so in a heart-beat. Leaving Bodhi to do it ultimately ruined everything.

    Pre-soul Irenicus was calculating, almost to the point of being mechanical, and if he'd remained that way, you'd have died immediately after the soul-stealing. Gaining a soul and that new surge of power also restored his extreme arrogance, which ultimately got in the way of his plan. And after learning his pre-souless history, is totally in character.


    I felt that both stories were handled well. And both have their place.

    Irenicus was actually well explained. Destroying the parasites restored Rilafain's power which restored Ellesime's power, who then stripped Irenicus of his elven high magic while he was also weakened by the feedback of the parasite's death (likely why he didn't just one-shot the party with Sins of the Father), leaving him "merely" a maximum level mage with a spell list built around efficiently destroying enemies.



    As long as it's well done, I like both. If there aren't justification though, I like it much less, or even dislike it, if there's blatant asspulling going on.

  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 629
    Fair enough. I'd agree that the quality of the writing will make or break a villain. I'd honestly forgotten that Irenicus planed on taking Spellhold from the beginning, though. Need to load up BG2 again, I think.

  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,279
    I just wish we had the chance to use their loved ones (tamoko, ellesime) against them a bit more. That would have exposed their vulnerabilities , providing interesting dialogues before the inevitable final combats.

    Malicron
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    @Malicron
    I must agree, BG2 wasn't actually too bad in that regard. As mostly going into the more general distinction @Shandyr made in the OP. Actually, one could argue that BG1 is worse in that regard: Sarevok manages to find you and Gorion only hours into your escape, dispatches Gorion quite easily and then... just wanders off? He's looking specifically for CHARNAME, but then doesn't bother to go look for him/her after the ambush? It was quite brief and CHARNAME isn't exactly an expert woodsman capable of disappearing into his surroundings, couldn't have been hard to find (after all, Imoen found CHARNAME by walking down the road out of Candlekeep).

    Anyway, I'm generally more forgiving of games in this regard than of movies (and books, for that matter). For games at least, the plot must ultimately be subservient to the gameplay; movies have no such excuse.

    Malicron
  • KenKen Member Posts: 226
    Morte50 said:

    @Malicron
    Actually, one could argue that BG1 is worse in that regard: Sarevok manages to find you and Gorion only hours into your escape, dispatches Gorion quite easily and then... just wanders off? He's looking specifically for CHARNAME, but then doesn't bother to go look for him/her after the ambush? It was quite brief and CHARNAME isn't exactly an expert woodsman capable of disappearing into his surroundings, couldn't have been hard to find (after all, Imoen found CHARNAME by walking down the road out of Candlekeep).

    You have to remember, that even a single diseased gibbeling was a deadly foe for the protagonist at this point! Sarevok must have concluded that with his protecter Gorion gone, the bhallspawn would be dead in no time...

    Aedan
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    edited August 2013
    @Ken
    He may have, but that's exactly the Bond-villain thinking that gets him killed in the end. It's the annoying "I have you captured and at my mercy, bring on the laser sharks" logic, with the added wrinkle that he cannot really know your exact capabilities (at least as a fighter, some gibberlings or hobgoblins are hardly a threat anyway) or whatever backup plans Gorion put in place (at the very least, from the letter Gorion carries he knows Gorion isn't acting alone, and in particular he knows about Khalid and Jaheira in the Friendly Arm Inn). For all he knows Elminster is waiting in the wings ready to swoop down and protect CHARNAME after Gorion's demise. He's come all the way, done the hard part in killing Gorion, and then just lets you walk off and only posts some low-level mooks in nearby patches of civilisation. It's just not a particularly believable scenario, in my view.

    In terms of plot, there would of course be a fairly straightforward fix: Gorion is a powerful mage after all, even though defeated he still could have severely injured Sarevok to the extent that he couldn't pursue and his surviving cronies were mainly occupied with keeping him alive and getting him to safety. That'd still leave holes, for example why he doesn't organize a more vigorous pursuit (by himself or by proxy) later on, but it would be far more convincing.

  • karnor00karnor00 Member Posts: 679
    In relation to Irenicus not killing you immediately after draining your soul, this may also be down to the fact that you simply aren't very important to Irenicus any more.

    He asks Bohdi to kill you and forgets about it. After all he has what he wants from you and doesn't regard you as a threat, particularly now that you have lost your Bhaalspawn powers (or at least Irenicus expected them to be lost based on what happened to Imoen). If Bohdi wants to have some fun with you first, it's no big deal.

    From Irenicus' point of view you aren't his main threat (or even a threat at all). He doesn't even harbour a particular hatred for you - you are just a convenient route to more power. Irenicus is after the elves in Suldanessar.

    MalicronDJKajuru
  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 629
    karnor00 said:

    In relation to Irenicus not killing you immediately after draining your soul, this may also be down to the fact that you simply aren't very important to Irenicus any more.

    He asks Bohdi to kill you and forgets about it. After all he has what he wants from you and doesn't regard you as a threat, particularly now that you have lost your Bhaalspawn powers (or at least Irenicus expected them to be lost based on what happened to Imoen). If Bohdi wants to have some fun with you first, it's no big deal.

    From Irenicus' point of view you aren't his main threat (or even a threat at all). He doesn't even harbour a particular hatred for you - you are just a convenient route to more power. Irenicus is after the elves in Suldanessar.

    You know, that actually fits his character rather well. I could easily see that being the case. From his dialog, he also seems to assume you be dead soon regardless of your escape as a result of being soulless.

  • ZanathKariashiZanathKariashi Member Posts: 2,867
    edited August 2013
    @Ken

    This is why I dislike the new ambush scene. In the original, Gorion goes full out alpha strike on his ass, and just about kills him (and very rarely, actually could before armored figure had it's HP boosted higher then end-game Sarevoks) while also leaving his cleric disabled. He's in no condition to come after you and has to limp back to head-quarters until Tamoko is able to heal him.

    Between then and there, he's become too busy with his campaigning for a position as Duke (which is FAR more important to his overall goals, then his bhaalspawn massacring hobby), and been forced to rely on his other minions, who after failing, he then tries to frame you for murder, which would've at least kept you out of his hair until after his promotion, had unforeseen circumstances not come into play.



    Sarevok is one of the most realistically portrayed villains I've ever seen in any media. And despite being just a fighter, was almost a match for Irenicus as far as being a chessmaster was. (I mean hell..you could slap a helm of opposite alignment on him, and he'd basically be OotS's Roy)

    MalicronKen
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  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 629
    Shandyr said:

    It all comes down to that he doesn't think it is necessary because the mainchar could not possibly harm him anyway. And that is exactly one of the attributes of a villain that I dislike.

    True, but it's quite common in IRL villains. People, as a rule, are arrogant. Most of us think, on some level, that we're invulnerable. Give a guy the ability to shield himself with magic and toss lightning bolts around, and I'm sure that natural arrogance would just get worse. All things considered, Ol' Jonny Boy is quite level-headed and on the ball.

    The fact of the matter is that Irenicus had no reason to think you could even reach him, none the less pose a threat once you did. He was on the cusp of victory, and if it weren't for a certain pirate betraying him, you'd never of been able to get to Suldanessellar in time to mess with his plans.

    Not to mention the fact that CHARNAME and Imoen were never him primary goal, just a means to an end; he got what he wanted from them, now he's moving on to his actual objective. I suppose you could say he ignored his untied shoe sprinting for the finish line, and ended up tripping on his laces. Not so much a Bond Villain moment as it is simple impatience and poor prioritization.

    In short, it wasn't so much that he didn't consider CHARNAME and company a threat, it's that he didn't think you'd be in any position to interfere. As such, you could wait until his revenge was complete.

  • Awong124Awong124 Member Posts: 2,643
    edited August 2013
    I personally hate plots with Type 1 protagonists. There's basically no way the protagonist should defeat the antagonist. It usually ends up being some sort of deus ex machina plot device that allows the protagonist to win, and the story doesn't really make a whole lot of sense and is not satisfying. And also in these type of stories I end up not wanting the protagonist to win, because I think the antagonist is more deserving of victory (smarter, more capable, etc).

    I find plots with Type 2 protagonists are usually more interesting, and very satisfying emotionally.

    My favorite type of protagonist/antagonist are where the two are more or less evenly matched and have an intense rivalry with each other. Then it becomes interesting to see who is more clever, or more capable each step of the way, and we can see how each responds to the other's actions, neither having an enormous advantage at any one time.

    [EDIT] I just read the second post by Morte50, who said pretty much the exact same thing as my first paragraph. I didn't copy him I swear!

    Morte50
  • Morte50Morte50 Member Posts: 161
    Malicron said:


    In short, it wasn't so much that he didn't consider CHARNAME and company a threat, it's that he didn't think you'd be in any position to interfere. As such, you could wait until his revenge was complete.

    But why wait? He is a powerful mage, it should hardly be any trouble to wipe out CHARNAME + party then and there and be done with it. I agree it isn't nearly as bad as the typical bond villain, but it is still rather needlessly sloppy.

    [Deleted User]Malicron
  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 629
    Morte50 said:

    Malicron said:


    In short, it wasn't so much that he didn't consider CHARNAME and company a threat, it's that he didn't think you'd be in any position to interfere. As such, you could wait until his revenge was complete.

    But why wait? He is a powerful mage, it should hardly be any trouble to wipe out CHARNAME + party then and there and be done with it. I agree it isn't nearly as bad as the typical bond villain, but it is still rather needlessly sloppy.
    Given the way he described Bhodi after taking Imoen's soul and what he writes about how he feels after taking yours in his journal, I get the feeling he's basically high. I doubt he'd be irrational for long, but all of this takes place, like, ah hour after the aforementioned soul-steeling, so Irenicus probably isn't at his best.

  • DrugarDrugar Member Posts: 1,566
    Shandyr said:

    It all comes down to that he doesn't think it is necessary because the mainchar could not possibly harm him anyway. And that is exactly one of the attributes of a villain that I dislike.

    To be fair (as mentioned above), he was winning heavily.

    After decades of waiting, he finally had a soul and could take his revenge on the Elves. High on Soul and eager to get things moving, it's not really a surprise he'd let someone else snuff you out. Especially when he knows that someone else is just aching for some bloody murder while he doesn't really care. Why waste time when someone else (supposedly competent) can do it for him?.

    From his perspective;
    -Charname is dying with no soul
    -Bodhi has (presumably) massacred tons of people, is a powerful vampire and hungers for blood, she should have no problem taking care of the party.
    -Irenicus is more powerful than he's been in a long time and is in familiar territory with a few minions.

    And after Spellhold;
    -He's made his way into a magicly hidden Elven city which is impossible to enter.
    -Charname is stuck on the island and must fight either the angry pirates for a ship or head into the Underdark, where everything gets killed quickly enough.
    -Charname has no idea where Irenicus went, his chances of somehow meeting the Elven people who are not busy getting slaughtered by the dozen are small.
    -The Rhynn Lathorn is safely stashed away, making entry into the city even more unlikely.
    -IF Charname were to find his way into Suldanesselar, there'd be an army of demons and golems and a massive dragon to stand in his way.
    -And even then, if Charname (who is still supposed to be weak and dying) were to overcome all this, it only needs to slow him down since Irenicus is moments away from absorbing the Tree of Life and ascending to godhood. If the game wasn't bound by Video Game Time ('everything happens when the PC shows up'), Irenicus would have more than enough time to ascend and crush all opposition beneath his divine boot.

    It's perfectly valid that he doesn't give a shit about what you do. All he needs is a little time and you're too far away and dying to do anything.
    He's clearly a Type 1, but it makes sense in context.

    I do still prefer the plot of BG1, exactly for the reasons mentioned (the letters growing more and more annoyed with the party with more new names revealing themselves are a very good indication of your growing power).

    [Deleted User]
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    MalicronDrugarlolien
  • ZanathKariashiZanathKariashi Member Posts: 2,867
    edited August 2013
    I like the amount of freedom to interpretation you're left with in both stories.

    They tell you some parts, but others require some meta-knowledge to realize. Like Sarevok's reason for not hunting you down immediately, which always bothered me, until I actually sat down and figured up how much damage Gorion was smashing him in the face with. Then it suddenly became clear that he had to give up the chase because he was near death in the wilderness, with his cleric KO'd and having to limp back to the bandit camp until he could recover, at which point he had to abandon the hunt completely to deal with much more important goals.


    Irenicus's plot though tends to spell things out much more for you, but if you miss certain bits of info, like not finding his journals, not talking to Imeon a lot in the prelude, not paying attention when the elves are talking about him, or even not paying attention to his very first conversation, it's easy to miss that justifications for all the apparent deus ex machina existing in his plot, and requires much less leaps of logic or meta-knowledge to realize.


    There's a fine line between someone acting realistically, and someone needing plot armor to justify why they're able to keep winning.



    I'd actually go so far as to suggest that the fact that your character seems so obsessed with finding Irenicus and Imoen, despite there being many other routs you could've taken without going to Spellhold is a result of a suggestion he implanted in you at the beginning of the game, when he was zapping you. (Imeon's various conversations during the prelude back up this theory (her dialog is consistent of someone under a suggestion spell) as she was clearly programmed, in-game, to be a catalyst to get him into Spellhold and to be one of a series of contingencies to lure you there).

  • ajwzajwz Member Posts: 4,122
    For me, Charname vs Sarevok and Charname vs Irenicus are not actually the main story behind bg1 and bg2 respectively.

    I think that in bg1, the main theme is about charname rejecting his heritage (running away from Sarevok)
    and bg2 is about charname accepting his heritage (chasing Irenicus)
    The main theme of the series being the nature vs nuture question

    Drugar
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