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Thread: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

  1. #21

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by lr-hr-rh View Post
    But yeah, journalist reviews of the big ticket games do, from my limited experience, often seem to run up against the problem of just handing out platitudes as a reward for a game's marketing budget.
    I've noticed it affects the customer's side of things, too. 100s are thrown out like candy, and anything under 90 [by comparison] is seen as a "bad game", when that just doesn't make any sense (to me, at least).
    A 5/10 game is mediocre, so anything above that would yield more positives than negatives.

    We also live in an age where people get more fixated on the number rating itself opposed to the points within, so the effort gets undermined. On top of that, the more overzealous fans of the game would insistently point to its high score to validate their own opinion.
    Conversely, overzealous critics would dismiss any high score.

    It's why I check out GameXplain reviews. Sure they aren't analytic reviews like Joseph Anderson or Matthewmatosis but at the end there isn't a number, just how much the reviewer liked (or didn't like) it. Anyways I'm rambling now ^^;





  2. #22

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    GameXplain is disappointing to me in that oftentimes they simply are just not as good as I would want them to be, in the sense that sometimes their information is presented in ways that poorly represent the product (like when they do smash discussion videos and splatoon weapon tours)

    That said, I do highly respect that they are some of the few out there that are genuinely thorough as all hell when it comes to evaluating products, and even if they make it clear that the review "scores" are how they individually feel about the game, they still manage to provide such an onslaught of sheer information for the review to still be useful to everyone.

    It's extremely nice to see them do things like that, vs. the classic polygon angle of "game's too hard" "game made me cry because I died" etc.

  3. #23
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Huh. I've not actually looked in to GameXplain before. I'm rarely in the position of being able or willing to buy a game close to its release date (this year's been an exception with Persona 5 (an automatic buy) and BOTW (which I bought after reading the comments in the Zelda thread on here)) so I've never needed to do much digging in to which reviewers specifically are reliable/trustworthy etc. for early opinions, analysis and the like.

    One kinda interesting point I've come across (and wouldn't necessarily say I agree or disagree with it as it's just a different perspective) when considering game journalism is that it's kind of a thankless task for a lot of the reasons Meta points out. People that are huge fans of particular series, that seem to almost have parts of their identity attached to their favourite games can be really rabid and antagonistic towards journalists that are critical, and on the other side you have game companies that are willing to pamper journalists, fly them out for exclusive events and so on. Considering the process of reviewing that way (and it's a fairly simplistic way to think about it), where the incentive to be positive and not rock the boat can at times be a major one (both with regards to the potential rewards from industry connections and the avoiding of potential punishment from overzealous assholes) and the incentive to be honest and thorough can at times be provided only by an individual's sense of personal integrity (and in the more extreme cases their willingness to risk emotional harm -and potentially financial harm as we saw with the DDOS'ing of Jim Sterling's site for his 7/10 review of BOTW-), it might be said that it's not surprising we have the state of mainstream game journalism that we do given the community (on average) isn't always interested in incentivizing honesty.

    Now obviously that's a fairly simplified consideration of the mainstream review machine (part of why I don't really have an opinion on it either way). It might be said that the mainstream media play a complicit part in fanning the flames of "madness" that burn them with their contributions to the proliferation of "hype culture". I also don't know if this phenomenon of zealous asshattery is limited to (or at least more asshatty in) the gaming community or if it permeates all aspects of popular culture, and if it does how that affects the "performance" of the media in other fields. Whether they too are likely to bow at the altar of the most sacred or if there are more resilient institutional cultures of honesty that provide a collective bulwark against a general trend towards sycophancy. But I just thought it an interesting enough idea to be worth sharing.
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  4. #24
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Telling stories and conveying themes without cutscenes

    Hello again. Again.

    As per usual I’m going to be writing about something that is completely outside any of my areas of “expertise”. Obviously since that’s usual it probably shouldn’t need any sort of prelude but I mention it here to make it clear I’ve not actually done any research into this particular area. That means if it is known as an intractable problem or a trivially solved problem that only comes up in the mainstream games I play than I apologise in advance for my ignorance.

    Anyway. Basically what I’m hoping to do here is not to put forth some sort of treatise on how to tell stories in games without cutscenes, or on why this break with immersion or whatever is bad. I am agnostic on those questions/concerns. I am also fairly agnostic to the (potential) fact that, outside of some fairly story light game types, attempting to tell stories without interrupting gameplay is a fool’s errand. If you are firm of that belief then that’s fine, and you are free to tell me that if you wish, but know that it’s something I already acknowledge. What I want to do here for myself (and potentially encourage others to do should they wish) is to do some light-hearted messing around with attempting to figure some sort of pseudo story that could be delivered in a way that minimises the use of cutscenes as a crutch. And to do that I’ll be making frequent reference to the Zelda series, as one of my favourite series/whipping boys. :P

    Funnily enough the first time I ever actually gave any moderately sustained thought to this topic was when I was watching a video about Skyward Sword, and how it takes something along the lines of 15 minutes of cutscenes to get across its fairly trite character dynamics of Link, Zelda and Groose. And that seemed like a lot of time to me to get across what seems like a few fairly basic ideas: Zelda and Link have a thing, Groose is a dick, and so on. At least some of that feels like it could be folded into moments where you’re actually playing as Link. A fairly straightforward (and tbh kinda cheating) example might involve having Groose be the asshole dude who teaches you the sword mechanics at the start of the game, and you can have him sneering at you in between swing lessons or what have you. Taking it a bit further you could even have him give you the wrong instructions for the controls and, should you follow his advice, he proceeds to smugly beat you over the head for doing it wrong or something before giving you the correct control. You could even throw in a bit of player controlled variability here where, if you do the right control when he tells you the wrong one you get to smack him in his smug, unexpecting face. This of course is just a fairly basic example.

    But I’ve been thinking more specifically about how you could tell a Zelda-like story, or at least get across the emotions and motivations of the player character, without cutting to a cutscene where the characters emote at you while you watch for half an hour. This is just an aside but I really wish that, given games (at least the ones I play) do seem to prefer to go this route, they would at least put some more thought into some creative cinematography. I’m basically just watching segments of a movie anyway, surely it couldn’t hurt to hire some movie people to properly direct these segments?

    Getting back on track, you obviously give up *a lot* of control when you attempt to convey something fixed under heavily dynamic circumstances. What you get in exchange for that is the potential ability to convey story and character through the mechanics of the gameplay. Now that seems like a pretty crappy tradeoff, and I’m not going to pretend that it is otherwise, but hopefully in my attempting to mess around with what might be accomplishable by making this trade some others will be inspired to share their own ideas.

    So. We start out with our…opening cutscene. Yeah not off to a great start here but these seem to be a staple of the series (although I don’t think that BoTW had one? Well I mean they did but they just didn’t stick it on the front of the game. I think?). Tbh I only really like Wind Waker’s one. The one for Majora’s Mask is neat, but it seems like you could just start with you in control of Link riding Epona when suddenly as you’re moving along she gets spooked and bucks you for seemingly no reason (you don’t need to see why as Link doesn’t get to and it’s not super important). Short fade to black, wake up and some weird dude’s got your ocarina, you try for it, he steals your horse and it goes from there. Anyway not important. We’ll start with some opening cinematic.

    Cinematic over. Link wakes up. It was a dream. Or something. Zelda’s at the door. They live together in Tiny Village on the outskirts of Large Forest. I could try and be more creative than that but when you name half your locations in your huge open world in the most hamfisted fashion after characters from previous games I don’t think you deserve it. Anyway from this point you’re in control of Link, and Zelda wants to go horse riding in the forest. You go looking for the horse, Zelda has fun little lines of dialogue appearing as speech bubbles (or even voiced text if you’re not feeling cheap) as you wonder around. This text should hopefully serve to characterise her a little. They can be funny or quirky or jokingly condescending or whatever. You find the horse. Great. She tells you how to jump on. You have a short, learning as you go tutorial for how to ride it in the fairly safe space that is moving the horse from the stable to some road. You ride along Out of Town Road. You also have 3D character models here and can indicate the closeness and familiarity of Link and Zelda by their physical proximity and how their models interact on the horse when you aren’t performing any particularly complicated manoeuvres. You have a set speed on the horse so the devs know approximately how much time they have to include any pertinent dialogue while you’re controlling Link’s path down the road. When you get on the horse Zelda mentions she’s going to teach you how to use a bow today. She’s a real expert. They arrive at a clearing and dismount. There are some targets etched into the trees there. Zelda talks you through the tutorial for how to use the bow and again you can have the same basic idea of some light characterisation through dialogue as she teaches you how to shoot. You can even have her comment on how big and strong and manly Link looks, because fuck it. As you shoot Zelda wonders away from you further into the centre of the clearing. Once the tutorial ends you exit first person mode and the camera (taking you out of control for a second) fixates on Zelda, there’s a loud explosion, and some giant pig people burst out from the nearby woods and grab Zelda. She’s way too far away for you get there before this happens, so you run for your horse. You’re still in control at this point, and there’s no real way for you to catch them anyway so it doesn’t matter if the player panics and doesn’t think to go for the horse for a while. Either way you give chase. The mechanics change slightly here. Any indicators for stamina, either on Link or the horse, are removed. Here we have the mechanics changing to indicate Links frantic state of mind. There aren’t any limits to how long he can sprint or how willing he is to ride his horse into the ground. Eventually this section ends with either the horse buckling under him, exhausted, and throwing him prone, or Link just collapsing after running for way longer than he’d normally be permitted to by the games regular mechanics.

    After Link recovers you continue following the path of the raiders. The forest to either side of you is huge, thick with large trees that bar any deviation from the path before you. This could probably be one of the more controversial aspects of the story design as I’m outlining it here, but in order to actually convey the sense of urgency, in this specific context where urgency is an important emotion you want to get across in players, the option to fuck around and do side quests needs to be temporarily constrained. Not for the entire game, but at least for the beginning part. The part that’s interesting to me, but that might be very poorly received in general, is justifying this constraint in-character. If you accept the basic conceit that you *are* Link in this game, then what is available to be perceived by you is only that which would be perceived by Link. He is your vehicle in this world, and it is through the filter of his character that you are provided information about the world. So, when Link is in this mode of being completely fixated on rescuing Zelda, the world around him that isn’t relevant is not at all detailed. This means that you can have regions that are closed off to the player at the start of the game that are opened to the player later on in the game in a plot dependent manner in a way that, if conveyed correctly, actually serves to provide characterisation. The idea is that Link is more able to take in the details of the world around him when Zelda is safe and he is out of his one-track focus.

    So the first part of the game, where we’re trying to have the game world and the game mechanics reflect Link’s desperation, would be a lot more linear and closed off than other Zelda games (the tradeoff might come in a more relaxed second half, after Link has rescued Zelda). The aim of the first half would be to have Link do the standard “recover three key items” thing in order to open the magical gate to the fortress of the villain that kidnapped Zelda or some such. This information would probably need to be given in one of the standard Zelda lore cutscenes where the goddesses, the Master Sword and so on are explained. You could compensate for the stricter focus on linearity by having players be allowed to tackle these three areas in any order they want if some semblance of freedom is important, and/or have fairly open areas that lead into the dungeons that facilitate a fair bit of creativity in how Link gets to the main dungeon. Eventually Link does all that and some new rigid path opens to the Master Sword or something. Here you could have some fun with the perception stuff I was describing earlier. There might be some old sage or whatever (say the same one who told you about what you needed to open the gate) who’s there and basically just tells you that the Master Sword is the vanquisher of darkness and so on. But the monologue’s really short, and (to make clear the disconnect between reality and Link’s focussed mindset) you can even have the model’s mouth movements go on for a lot longer than the actual presented text does. You could even have him continue talking after you’ve exited the conversation, like he’s telling Link more information but dude just ain’t hearing it. All he needs to know is the sword will help him save Zelda and so that’s all you need to know. You can then have the actual details of the conversation filled in later (maybe even in some flashback to the same conversation with all of the actual information present this time). This information could be something along the lines of the person who wields the Master Sword is soul-bound to combat this great evil and must undertake some terrible journey to do so. This would basically just be some extra retroactive characterisation, conveying the idea that no potential future difficulty from his decision to take the sword was going to stop Link from taking that damn sword to save Zelda. Then he goes forth, busts into the fortress, rescues Zelda and escapes, thus kicking off the second half of the plot.

    There are a few other ways you can have this sort of characterisation of Link’s mindset (and how it changes with the story) reflected in the gameplay. Adopting TP’s combat system where you learn a bunch of awesome sword moves, you could have a split between the ones that are learned pre and post Zelda rescue. The pre-rescue moves could be much more aggressive and risky, reflecting Link’s lack of experience and his single-minded determination such that he basically compensates for his lack of formal training by being as brash and reckless as possible. The post-rescue moves might then be more defensive, refined and tactical as he matures once he loses his tunnel vision and learns to fight more strategically. The NPC’s that can be talked to within a given area can be moderated based on Link’s mood, with most every NPC you speak to pre-rescue having plot or adventure relevant information, to reflect Link’s selective focus on interactions that can help him achieve his goal. You could also combine this with the perception stuff mentioned earlier and have entire areas revealed to be, post-rescue, much more populated than was presented initially once Link is able to pay more attention to the world around him. You could even have some pre-rescue frenzy mechanic where Link deals more damage and takes less damage when fighting the pig warriors that kidnapped Zelda.

    After the dramatic rescue you can have Zelda travelling with Link if you want more opportunities to characterise their relationship outside of cutscenes. The dramatic events they both went through and Link’s obvious willingness to risk life and limb to protect her can change their character dynamic in ways that can be contrasted with the little bits of the more friendly relationship they had at the start of the game. Idk, maybe Zelda holds her arms around Link while they’re riding around together? If you’re willing to give Link an actual character instead of persevering with the, frankly quiet stupid, conceit that he is the avatar of the player holding the controller, they can even have nice romantic little conversations during lulls in gameplay. It could be the dialogue equivalent of all the adorable touches they gave Link’s character model in WW. In fact if the philosophy of the entire game was to squeeze more characterisation and story from all of the mechanics you could even adopt a visual design for your characters that allows for an easier read of their emotional state. Having Zelda actually travel with Link on his adventures could also give her some (admittedly metatextual) characterisation, with her willingness to be out in the fray helping out an indication of her character and her resolve to help Link as he helped her. Maybe she could hang back as some sort of expert artillery, with Link able to call in sniper arrow shots from her like Quiet in MSV (without the weird skin breathing bikini nonsense). I’m really not too sure on this part though. If you put such a strong focus on characterisation through game mechanics, having Zelda be little more than a pawn you the player move around like a prop is going to definitely give the wrong idea about your intentions for her character. On the other hand giving her a proper AI is unlikely to fly if the AI induces frustration at the poor decisions Zelda makes based on her crappy mechanics, again something that undoes the characterisation that is being tried for.

    I’ve not really bothered to think this through all the way to the endgame. I’m already a couple thousand words in here and hopefully all the nonsense I have written has piqued people’s interest, perhaps even enough to share some scenarios of their own :P.

    Before I sign off though I do want to leave some acknowledgement of how difficult this sort of approach would be in more story intensive games than those found in the Zelda series. I’m currently playing through Persona 5 and that’s a game with a huge focus on dialogue and scripted cutscences. I can’t even imagine how you’d go about trying to incorporate that style of game to shift the focus towards integrating cutscenes and gameplay more. That’s not to say that it couldn’t be done mind you, just that my imagination might be fairly limited. There are a few areas I think the developers could go if they wanted to go that route though. Less rigidity in scenes where are there long, back and forth conversations between the party could be interesting. You are in limited control of your character model and can move around the limited conversation space (say a room or a small section of a bar) with a few options to interact with the world. Maybe you can offhandedly leaf through a book or a magazine for a small stat boost, or stand near and have a small interaction with a particular character during a lull in the conversation. Or the conversations could be more branching, and you can choose to interject more (or even interject less) and have those interjections potentially speed conversations along, or lead them down short, humorous diversions. These options are fairly trivial, but I think a positive of them is that they allow you to better embody how you feel your character should be under certain circumstances. If they’re really attentive they just sit and listen, if they’re fairly chill or dispassionate they leaf through a book or practice crafting their thieves tools. Maybe you imagine they’re these things under certain circumstances, so if you imagine your character is generally diligent but has problems with conflict you can have them usually sit and listen but then maybe go off and fiddle with something if the conversation is too tense. That’s not to suggest these things need to be done, the games are pretty damn huge already. Just messing around with the idea.

    Anyway that’s all for that. *thumbs-up emoji*

    EDIT:

    Whoa. Somehow I completely forgot I wanted to include a little reference to the Doom Slayer in DOOM (2016) and his great characterisation by way of animation of his 3D model, his personalised execution of the game mechanics, how the game mechanics inform the player as to his character and so on. Now since I cbf actually writing up that in more detail, I'm just going to include an addendum video that covers the idea pretty well. I won't say it's comprehensive but it's good enough for my purposes

    https://youtu.be/AphprlpAVyE
    Last edited by lr-hr-rh; October 4th, 2017 at 01:17 AM. Reason: adding extra detail
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  5. #25
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    A short aside, preceding a longer rant to follow...some time

    One of the strange things I occasionally happen across in "serious (lol)" discourse about fiction that's always seemed strange to me are conversations about things like the risks associated with the presence of superheros, super-powered or super-capable individuals, vigilantes and the like. The most common (at least from what I've seen) form of this type of discourse tends to revolve around the idea that the problem of the presence of super-powered agents of good is that they create their own problems, inspiring, or by their actions causing, the creation of more powerful and dangerous villains than would be present had they not existed at all. This conceit is generally accepted at face value as some sort of inherent risk to those systems wherein powerful individual agents of good seek justice and the prevention of crime.

    Now this approach always seems strange to me because it poses a question to this sort of theoretical system that seems grounded in something entirely separate from the assumptions of that system. That is, to me the reason that Batman, Superman, blah blah and so on create recurring villains or stronger villains or whatever the fuck is that they are usually protagonists in serial works that have existed, and will continue to exist, for decades without any defined points of conclusion that might feasibly lead to a retirement of the character and their world.

    So what choice do you have writing-wise for creating conflict in a genre that is dependent upon very explicit, very external conflict except to constantly recycle the same basic arc of evil people who come into the world and seek to unleash violence and destruction and that need to be violently combated? And what easier way to create a new source of external conflict that is threatening and eye-catching to readers than by creating villains that are capable of even *more* violence and destruction than has been seen before? Combine that with the easy fan appeal of returning fan favourite villains, and you've got an easy formula for the "problem of heroes creating more powerful and/or indestructible villains" that is entirely rooted in the economics of driving sales of serial fiction. You can even add into that the fact that a lot of fiction in the action/superhero/whatever genre doesn't feel the need to pay a great deal of attention to deep world building of the complicated history of a world where individuals are capable of wielding world altering powers.

    But then of course when you can perfectly explain an aspect of your theoretical system (in this case the idea of a world with vigilante heroes capable of wielding superhuman power) by an appeal to the real world machinations of business and economics, what's the point of keeping it in when you attempt to ask questions of the system? The answer to the question of "why does *insert superhero here* face so many world threatening events, superpowered villains and so on" isn't "oh it's because the existence of heroes produces villains that are strong enough to match them" like some bullshit yin-yang nonsense. The answer seems to instead be "because fighting super-powered threats is what sells, and *insert superhero here* will sell until they can sell no more". So why bother including it in your analysis when you have no reason to believe that it would actually happen if these stories were developed in a context where the machinations of business and economics ran differently?

    But who knows, perhaps I'm just missing something.
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  6. #26

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    I don't read comics, and the only Super Hero stuff I've seen is some of the DC animated shows (Justice League, Young Justice) and movies. I can't go into detail about whether the reasoning is sound or not that hero's bring more problems when it comes to the stories involved. It would be dishonest to say that money isn't involved to keep bringing in new problems to keep a comic going.

    That said, I think there is some reasoning with those theories. There's already the history and current events in our world, where large countries with great power can easily sway smaller countries, and if a power house acted, it could cause quite a bit of problem. So even if you don't have plans to use it, trying to get more power to tip the balance can be enticing for others. So in a fictional world where guns are useless against certain people/beings, there will be a want to have the ability to go against them if need be. This can be a country having the ability to take them out if they feel the super powered people get out of line, to those in a crime syndicate needing a way to keep them off their back. I remember the JLA series having that type of conversation in the show, and I remember it being handled pretty well.

  7. #27

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Have you read Watchmen? That one somewhat touches on the roles of heroes, both human and superhuman, and accounts for the world escalating as a result of their existence.

  8. #28

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by lr-hr-rh View Post
    But then of course when you can perfectly explain an aspect of your theoretical system (in this case the idea of a world with vigilante heroes capable of wielding superhuman power) by an appeal to the real world machinations of business and economics, what's the point of keeping it in when you attempt to ask questions of the system? The answer to the question of "why does *insert superhero here* face so many world threatening events, superpowered villains and so on" isn't "oh it's because the existence of heroes produces villains that are strong enough to match them" like some bullshit yin-yang nonsense. The answer seems to instead be "because fighting super-powered threats is what sells, and *insert superhero here* will sell until they can sell no more". So why bother including it in your analysis when you have no reason to believe that it would actually happen if these stories were developed in a context where the machinations of business and economics ran differently?

    But who knows, perhaps I'm just missing something.
    You're criticizing the fact that superheroes always seem to be countered by villains they *feel* they make, when out-of-universe it's because the writers/editors make it that way, correct?
    Well.....I do like stories that touch on what it means to be a superhero, not just in the sense of power but how they contrast to the people around them. Perhaps they feel isolated because they're too different, perhaps others condemn them as, ironically, a monster/villain.

    They have room for more insights than just a supervillain attacking, y'know?

    But to expand on your criticism, it seems to be more a problem with western comics, where they keep heroes in seralization for literal decades, but they always have to reset some aspect of their lives to keep the character's brand strong. Contrast it to manga stories, where they.....end.





  9. #29
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Franky Tank View Post
    I don't read comics, and the only Super Hero stuff I've seen is some of the DC animated shows (Justice League, Young Justice) and movies. I can't go into detail about whether the reasoning is sound or not that hero's bring more problems when it comes to the stories involved. It would be dishonest to say that money isn't involved to keep bringing in new problems to keep a comic going.

    That said, I think there is some reasoning with those theories. There's already the history and current events in our world, where large countries with great power can easily sway smaller countries, and if a power house acted, it could cause quite a bit of problem. So even if you don't have plans to use it, trying to get more power to tip the balance can be enticing for others. So in a fictional world where guns are useless against certain people/beings, there will be a want to have the ability to go against them if need be. This can be a country having the ability to take them out if they feel the super powered people get out of line, to those in a crime syndicate needing a way to keep them off their back. I remember the JLA series having that type of conversation in the show, and I remember it being handled pretty well.
    I'd say I agree with your broad point about equivalents in our real world history and politics, but I don't think it can be seen to be clear cut in any one direction. Law enforcement has become more capable and organised over the last 200 years or so but we probably wouldn't say there's been an equivalent rise in the amount of crime that happens to "offset" the fact that the police of today are more capable than those of the 19th century. Crime "looks" different now for sure, but I'd be interested to see if there's any evidence that the development of modern law enforcement has made crime worse (or at least not made it better). I don't think international relations is a great example either. I can't think of many instances or circumstances during the historical periods I'm familiar with where we could ever claim that one state (or group of states) was the "good guy(s)", and even looking from the perspective of a single state there are plenty of examples of states or political actors that, while eventually finding their influence and ambitions checked by some opposing power(s), did manage to improve their situation from what it was before they acted. This idea of progression is at odds with the idea that the use of some exceptional power creates a desire for power in others that eventually undoes most of what was gained.

    Quote Originally Posted by Noqanky View Post
    Have you read Watchmen? That one somewhat touches on the roles of heroes, both human and superhuman, and accounts for the world escalating as a result of their existence.
    I've not read Watchmen no, although I have seen the movie (that probably doesn't really count though :P). I have heard that it has a grittier, more well-considered take on what vigilantism might look like in a more realistic world so I've always been interested in giving it a read.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    You're criticizing the fact that superheroes always seem to be countered by villains they *feel* they make, when out-of-universe it's because the writers/editors make it that way, correct?
    Well.....I do like stories that touch on what it means to be a superhero, not just in the sense of power but how they contrast to the people around them. Perhaps they feel isolated because they're too different, perhaps others condemn them as, ironically, a monster/villain.

    They have room for more insights than just a supervillain attacking, y'know?

    But to expand on your criticism, it seems to be more a problem with western comics, where they keep heroes in seralization for literal decades, but they always have to reset some aspect of their lives to keep the character's brand strong. Contrast it to manga stories, where they.....end.
    Not quiet :P. I'm not necessarily criticising anything, just using this as an example of the broader point about the importance of keeping the realities of the business of constructing fiction in mind when attempting to mine insight from it. You're going to have a harder time gaining insight as to our reality from something that was included in a fiction because it helps it sell.

    Most of the time it's usually just a little bug bear of mine though. There are a few necessary assumptions/conceits that people need to be willing to accept in order to have some sort of sensical discourse about fiction in general. One of the most obvious ones is when it comes to talking about characters. We all know that fictional characters don't "really" have any agency, that they act entirely at the whims of the writer, for example. So questions like "why did Character X perform action Y" in the most literal sense don't make any sense because Character X isn't a person and therefore can't be talked about the way we would talk about a person. The easy way around this is the accepted conceit that we collectively "pretend" that fictional characters are theoretical people with their natures (which are used to predict and explain their current and future behaviours) determined by the actions and traits ascribed to them in earlier parts of the accepted canon. However, by skipping out on constantly referencing this conceit before we begin any conversation about a fictional character as an "actual person" people can tend to forget they're making it, which causes problems when they're seeking an explanation for a character action in some aspect of their "personhood" when the actual explanation, when *all* aspects are considered, comes from some authorial failing or sales-based imposition.

    Not that that's particularly major mind you, but I find in general it's good to keep the importance of the casual assumptions that need to be made when talking about fiction in mind if you're the sort of person that uses fiction to inform you about some aspect of reality, or the human condition or something. =P
    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  10. #30

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by lr-hr-rh View Post
    I
    Most of the time it's usually just a little bug bear of mine though. There are a few necessary assumptions/conceits that people need to be willing to accept in order to have some sort of sensical discourse about fiction in general. One of the most obvious ones is when it comes to talking about characters. We all know that fictional characters don't "really" have any agency, that they act entirely at the whims of the writer, for example. So questions like "why did Character X perform action Y" in the most literal sense don't make any sense because Character X isn't a person and therefore can't be talked about the way we would talk about a person. The easy way around this is the accepted conceit that we collectively "pretend" that fictional characters are theoretical people with their natures (which are used to predict and explain their current and future behaviours) determined by the actions and traits ascribed to them in earlier parts of the accepted canon. However, by skipping out on constantly referencing this conceit before we begin any conversation about a fictional character as an "actual person" people can tend to forget they're making it, which causes problems when they're seeking an explanation for a character action in some aspect of their "personhood" when the actual explanation, when *all* aspects are considered, comes from some authorial failing or sales-based imposition.

    Not that that's particularly major mind you, but I find in general it's good to keep the importance of the casual assumptions that need to be made when talking about fiction in mind if you're the sort of person that uses fiction to inform you about some aspect of reality, or the human condition or something. =P
    Interesting. But if we operate on this logic, live-action characters in tv and movies don't really have agency *either*, since they're also crafted by the writer..?
    I suppose it's also a matter of *how* the character is written. If the writing is solid enough, then I think we become immersed into the story and can think "okay, X would definitely do this". When a character does something bad or wrong, the more critical often complain at the character itself, not so much that Joe So-and-So did it.

    Have any examples where it feels more natural to you, or this effect pretty significant?





  11. #31
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Interesting. But if we operate on this logic, live-action characters in tv and movies don't really have agency *either*, since they're also crafted by the writer..?
    I suppose it's also a matter of *how* the character is written. If the writing is solid enough, then I think we become immersed into the story and can think "okay, X would definitely do this". When a character does something bad or wrong, the more critical often complain at the character itself, not so much that Joe So-and-So did it.

    Have any examples where it feels more natural to you, or this effect pretty significant?
    Of course, they're fictional just as much as any other character is. It's not to say that there's a problem with the fact that they're fictional and don't have agency. To simplify a much longer point it just is the case. Perfectly neutral. It's just that the act of pretending that fictional characters are real agents is something that is engaged in whenever you talk about them as such, and therefore it's important to keep that in mind.

    A fairly short example of the problems that can come up when people forget this:
    I'm a fairly religious watcher of this show on twitch where a bunch of voice actors (Laura Bailey, Matt Mercer, Liam O'Brien and a few others) live stream their game of D&D. As actors they get really into the roleplaying side of the game, and they've developed a decent sized audience that are really attached to the characters, their emotional arcs, their dynamics and so on. And since it's live, and improvised and has been played for so long (they recently finished the current campaign at 115 episodes of about 4 hours of playing per episode), people get really attached to the characters, the actors get really attached to them, their arcs bleed into and influence the relationships that the players developed with each other and so on. It's great. But at the end of the day the characters are still fictional. They are consistent in their actions only to the extent that the actors who play them work to maintain that consistency. Now with that preamble out of the way, there were two particular, small incidents that were interpreted by some parts of the fanbase overly negatively because this fact was forgotten:

    1) during the earlier run of the show there was another actor who played with these guys. However, due to a lot of difficulties in his own life and his style of play being incompatible with the type of game the others wanted to enjoy he eventually left the show and his character "in-game" left the party under fairly amicable circumstances. Later in the campaign it was discovered that the character had been killed. This obviously affected the *characters* who had previously travelled with him. They grieved, held a small funeral for him and eventually moved on. Now some of the fans found the "treatment" of this *character* by the other *characters* to be problematic, especially as it, to them, didn't align with the way that the characters had responded to situations of death or tragedy or what have you when it came to other characters. Now the reason for this disconnect is obvious, if and only if you're willing to acknowledge that your facade of pretend agency is just that and that it sometimes falls down when pressed upon by the real world: it was difficult for the people, the actors, that remained on the show to separate their fictional characters concerns for their departed comrade from their own real world difficulties that eventually lead to one of their friends leaving the show. And that's all there is to it.
    2) one of the actors had essentially, in jest, trolled his friends with the reveal of a new character of his. In an episode he had his character get into a huge fight with, and eventually leave, the party to deal with his own personal difficulties. Now this was all consistent with his previous behaviour and the gradual development of his depression, but at the end of this really emotionally heavy episode the guy revealed his new character as a surprise twist. And this new character was this well-meaning, but smarmy rich guy who wanted to pay the party to go on an adventure with him. Now, in part to test out this new guys mettle (in-character) and in part to jokingly get back at their friend (out-of-character), the other actors had their characters ambush the new guy in a surprise test of his abilities. The cast all had a lot of fun with this while some of the audience...definitely didn't. See they saw it as a pretty evil thing for these supposedly good characters to ambush a stranger out of nowhere. They called out the *characters* as assholes and arrogant and so on. But of course what actually happened is that the veil between the real and the fictional broke down, and thus tore down any assumptions that "character" actions are always driven by "character" traits.

    If you don't acknowledge that you've made this unspoken assumption you're now, in such situations, left in a strange position where you have to engage in this weird mental wrangling that tries to bend these "aberrant" behaviours into your expectations of the character based on their previous actions. You might therefore conclude that the character is actually less sympathetic than they appear, or are assholes or secretly evil or so on. But the creators of the characters, the actors in this case, are willing, at least in this case, to accept that there is some separation between actions done "in-character" (i.e. in line with a characters established traits) and actions done by the character at the whim of the actor (and these actions might not always align with the characters established traits). So in pursuing such a course of interpretation you are likely to just create more problems in the future as you now view the actions of the characters through a lens of interpretation built on actions that aren't, and weren't meant to be, perfectly representative of the characters "established traits". This could've been avoided by taking a step back and acknowledging that your assumptions of character agency won't hold true in all cases.

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean with your last point though, sorry :/. I don't mean to give the impression that I watch fiction and am constantly thinking about actors and economics or any other external factors. I definitely do not do that, hahaha. To be honest questions about character actions and motivations and so on aren't really ones I entertain particularly often, I accept whatever is told to me about a character at face value and don't think too much about it otherwise. I'm pretty easy to please in that regard =P. Most of the stuff I write about usually comes up when I happen across other people's conversations about particular characters, and they've obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about some aspect of a story and have tied themselves in knots with convoluted nonsense because they've missed the obvious (to me) fact that fiction is a construct and is rarely perfect.
    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  12. #32

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    I've never really heard people argue that a character has agency, and I think it all comes down to perception of a character. Sorry if I am missing what you are trying to say, but I think those who say a character has agency most likely mean that a character will act a certain way, and come across as a normal person. So to use an example that fits this forum, in a given situation, we can expect certain actions from Luffy. If someone gave a friend of his shit, he will go after that person. No matter what the obstacle may be, he will do his best to help that person and have no regrets about it, even if it means certain death for him. In the same situation, we know that he won't just kill the person. As we've seen time and time again, he will beat the person to settle the matter, but doesn't kill. So if Luffy just started killing people, a lot of people would react negatively, because that's not who Luffy is, and unless there was a specific reason and it was laid out properly, it would be seen as terrible writing.

    Then of course, there is always the fact that people get attached to certain characters, and if they go outside expectations it can sometimes be hard. Going from my thread, I have in my mind what the character Estelle is, and how she would react in any given situation. For me, in the course of the games she never acted out of what you would expect her to do given her character. If she got mopey, there was a particular reason, and it was handled quite well. I think that's what your DnD example comes down to, as those who disliked what happened have a specific idea of what the character is like.

    I'm going to use an major spoiler from Persona 4 as one other example to try to get my thoughts across. This is from late into the game.

    Spoiler:
    You had the scene where Nanako just died, and both you and the characters are emotionally compromised. How the characters would usually would react are out of the window in a way. You go to the room where the guy who kidnapped Nanako is staying, and I believe it was Yosuke who started the idea. Nobody is around, and with your ability, you can rid of him without anyone knowing what to happen. Despite what you may think about Yosuke, he's not someone who would do this type of thing, but having lost someone before and now with Nanako, he feels the need to dispense justice. You do have a split in the group, where some are all too ready to do it, while others plead to not sink to that level.

    I think this moment works well in both situations, even if one is the correct choice. In an emotional moment like that, either thing could happen. Either emotions come over you and you decide to condemn an person who was a pawn and while did wrong, was ultimately not bad. Or, you can cling to the better you, and not make a huge mistake. So while ultimately you have the agency for what happens, in either case, it feels believable that something like that would happen. The one I would argue for what would get people mad is the new ending you can get in the Golden version. Even if the MC is basically you, there is no reason why the character would make such a decision and goes against everything else up to that point.

  13. #33

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by lr-hr-rh View Post
    A fairly short example of the problems that can come up when people forget this:
    I'm a fairly religious watcher of this show on twitch where a bunch of voice actors
    Critical Role? My brother LOVES that show, haha. I don't watch but it has all of my favorite VAs.

    2) one of the actors had essentially, in jest, trolled his friends with the reveal of a new character of his. In an episode he had his character get into a huge fight with, and eventually leave, the party to deal with his own personal difficulties. Now this was all consistent with his previous behaviour and the gradual development of his depression, but at the end of this really emotionally heavy episode the guy revealed his new character as a surprise twist. And this new character was this well-meaning, but smarmy rich guy who wanted to pay the party to go on an adventure with him. Now, in part to test out this new guys mettle (in-character) and in part to jokingly get back at their friend (out-of-character), the other actors had their characters ambush the new guy in a surprise test of his abilities. The cast all had a lot of fun with this while some of the audience...definitely didn't. See they saw it as a pretty evil thing for these supposedly good characters to ambush a stranger out of nowhere. They called out the *characters* as assholes and arrogant and so on. But of course what actually happened is that the veil between the real and the fictional broke down, and thus tore down any assumptions that "character" actions are always driven by "character" traits.
    I see. I'm not invested into the series, so all I go off is my reaction to this description, that it felt like a goofy fourth wall break? A not-so-subtle wink?

    If you don't acknowledge that you've made this unspoken assumption you're now, in such situations, left in a strange position where you have to engage in this weird mental wrangling that tries to bend these "aberrant" behaviours into your expectations of the character based on their previous actions. You might therefore conclude that the character is actually less sympathetic than they appear, or are assholes or secretly evil or so on. But the creators of the characters, the actors in this case, are willing, at least in this case, to accept that there is some separation between actions done "in-character" (i.e. in line with a characters established traits) and actions done by the character at the whim of the actor (and these actions might not always align with the characters established traits). So in pursuing such a course of interpretation you are likely to just create more problems in the future as you now view the actions of the characters through a lens of interpretation built on actions that aren't, and weren't meant to be, perfectly representative of the characters "established traits". This could've been avoided by taking a step back and acknowledging that your assumptions of character agency won't hold true in all cases.
    Okay, I understand: once you break this link, it's difficult to keep things as seemless for the observed watcher. I must say, you're very verbose and I wish I was the same way

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean with your last point though, sorry :/. I don't mean to give the impression that I watch fiction and am constantly thinking about actors and economics or any other external factors. I definitely do not do that, hahaha. To be honest questions about character actions and motivations and so on aren't really ones I entertain particularly often, I accept whatever is told to me about a character at face value and don't think too much about it otherwise. I'm pretty easy to please in that regard =P. Most of the stuff I write about usually comes up when I happen across other people's conversations about particular characters, and they've obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about some aspect of a story and have tied themselves in knots with convoluted nonsense because they've missed the obvious (to me) fact that fiction is a construct and is rarely perfect.
    Well, it's rather fitting that you're making ME think more because of your own musings. :P I'm trying to be more critical and observant when I see or watch things in media these days, but I'm often at a point where I'm like "wow [X] was really fun!" with nothing more and someone else goes "woow that sucked". Like I have to stop and really think about why someone could think that way, and usually I see more flaws in retrospect.





  14. #34
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Franky Tank View Post
    I've never really heard people argue that a character has agency, and I think it all comes down to perception of a character. Sorry if I am missing what you are trying to say, but I think those who say a character has agency most likely mean that a character will act a certain way, and come across as a normal person. So to use an example that fits this forum, in a given situation, we can expect certain actions from Luffy. If someone gave a friend of his shit, he will go after that person. No matter what the obstacle may be, he will do his best to help that person and have no regrets about it, even if it means certain death for him. In the same situation, we know that he won't just kill the person. As we've seen time and time again, he will beat the person to settle the matter, but doesn't kill. So if Luffy just started killing people, a lot of people would react negatively, because that's not who Luffy is, and unless there was a specific reason and it was laid out properly, it would be seen as terrible writing.
    Oh I'm sure there are people who argue whether or not character's have agency, just because people like to argue about everything =P. But nah, I'm not trying to suggest people argue *whether* a character has agency, just that it's an implicit given that they do in order to talk about them. You can see it in your example above. Literally speaking you can't expect certain actions from Luffy, or that "he" will won't kill anyone, or that "he" will help people and so on. But you and I understand that when you say that, it's fairly common shorthand for "Luffy will be written by Oda such that he won't be written as killing someone". And that's how you can have conversations about characters and it's all fine. But people can forget that saying "character X will do Y" is shorthand for "the author will write character X doing Y", which can cause problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Franky Tank View Post
    Then of course, there is always the fact that people get attached to certain characters, and if they go outside expectations it can sometimes be hard. Going from my thread, I have in my mind what the character Estelle is, and how she would react in any given situation. For me, in the course of the games she never acted out of what you would expect her to do given her character. If she got mopey, there was a particular reason, and it was handled quite well. I think that's what your DnD example comes down to, as those who disliked what happened have a specific idea of what the character is like.
    What I'm trying to get at isn't really about what a character may or may not be like. I'm just using character actions and agency as another example of how the reality that fiction is constructed can be seen and be seen to cause problems for particular types of conversations. Of course people are free to dislike, in my example, how the character's acted because it didn't seem to line up with what they expected from the character. But they need to remember that the character isn't *real*. What that means, in this specific context, is that certain character actions are going to be next to useless for predicting future character behaviour. This is because the actions that were taken were not chosen using the standard formula of appealing to the established traits of the character, but were instead chosen for other, real-world reasons (in this case the characters acted the way they did because their creators wanted to make a joke).

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Critical Role? My brother LOVES that show, haha. I don't watch but it has all of my favorite VAs.
    Yep :D. Tell your brother he has great taste.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    I see. I'm not invested into the series, so all I go off is my reaction to this description, that it felt like a goofy fourth wall break? A not-so-subtle wink?
    Yep, that's pretty much exactly what it was. But it wasn't really telegraphed as such and that caused problems for people that were too willing to forget that the characters are tools for the actors expression.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Okay, I understand: once you break this link, it's difficult to keep things as seemless for the observed watcher. I must say, you're very verbose and I wish I was the same way
    Yeah more or less. I'd say it's more that forgetting that there is a link there can cause more problems then you really need to deal with. Seeking in-character explanations for a glaring plot-hole can be a fun (if, tbh, fairly stupid-looking) exercise, but in general you'd probably cause yourself less grief if you remain aware of the fact that fiction isn't reality, and disconnects in the continuity, in character motivations and so on are sometimes just the result of a lazy or tired writer.

    Also thanks haha, I probably write more than I should in most replies thought. Oftentimes its good to step back and remember we're all just here casually shooting the shit =P

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Well, it's rather fitting that you're making ME think more because of your own musings. :P I'm trying to be more critical and observant when I see or watch things in media these days, but I'm often at a point where I'm like "wow [X] was really fun!" with nothing more and someone else goes "woow that sucked". Like I have to stop and really think about why someone could think that way, and usually I see more flaws in retrospect.
    Hahaha, well if that's your goal I imagine you'll get there with practice. Personally I prefer to just have things be "wow that was fun/sucked", at least when it's my goal to just enjoy something :). Most of my frustrations that produce posts like the ones you see on here come from reading other people who become hyperbolic in their praise. I read that sort of stuff and it produces this kinda critical allergic reaction. It's really not that fun most of the time =P
    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  15. #35

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    I feel like we agree overall with stuff, though perhaps there is one aspect we don't quite agree on? As far as I'm concerned, a characters action should fit into what we expect of them, and while the author made the character, going outside of that can lead to problems. Once again with the Luffy example, if Oda just decided to let him straight up kill a person with no build up or reason, then that would be out of character and not make sense. There can be surprises at a characters action, but there has to be a reason and proper execution of it. When this situation happens, such as with your DnD example, the reactions will vary. I would consider it fine myself, but that's because it's DnD, and people are doing things on the fly, so keeping things consistent can be very hard, and for something as small as a joke, it doesn't seem like it's too much of a problem for a one time thing.

  16. #36
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Ahh, I think I might not be conveying myself as well as I'd like to then (or since this internet, maybe we're conditioned to see most conversations as based around arguments or points of agreement/disagreement) =P.

    I don't really have an opinion either way on what author's or audience's *should* do. In the most literal sense they can do whatever they like, different actions will just lead to different consequences. I'm not trying to advocate for a particular way of doing things, just trying to point out that the way certain people choose to do things, for example the way they choose to interpret fiction (in this particular instance), can cause them problems. In this case that would be people who decide to interpret and consume fiction in ways that keep them deliberately oblivious to the fact that fiction is created by humans.

    Your example of Luffy killing someone, acknowledging that it would likely be, without some sort of proper buildup, bad writing on Oda's part isn't really what I'm talking about. So let me try and rework it a bit and maybe the sort of thing I am talking about will be clearer:
    Imagine the ratings for One Piece in Jump start to show a gradual, but consistent decline. People are getting sick of something in the manga (the creative team don't really know what), and that's starting to effect the sales of volumes and so on. During this slump you start to hear rumours from people in the know that the heads of Jump are starting to pressure Oda to try something new and bold to try and get the ratings out of this slump. After a few months of these sorts of rumours you pick up the latest chapter and in it Luffy beats some bad guy up and in a fit of anger he, pretty much out of nowhere, just straight up kills the dude. And the chapter ends on this huge, double page spread of this climactic moment.
    Now you, as a reasonable person, get the idea that what's happened here is that external market forces have forced Oda's hand and he's ended up including this sort of out of nowhere, out of character twist in a ham-fisted attempt to pick up the ratings. That's a fairly reasonable assumption given all of the information you've received.
    Now imagine a few days after the chapter you're checking the One Piece threads and you come across one titled something like "Proof that Luffy was secretly a killer all along", or something along those lines. And in that thread some poster has gone back over the series and, selectively choosing the ambiguous parts of the series that support their conclusion (that Luffy was actually an evil killer all along), they've put forth this long-ass essay about how Luffy is actually totally a killer and always has been.

    Regardless of whether or not what they've written is *actually* the case (whatever that means) you can see that whether or not you're willing to pay attention to the possible influence of external, real-world forces on how Luffy the character acts can have a very strong effect on how you interpret the One Piece that you read. Now obviously both of your interpretations are *fine* in most uses of the word. It's not like it's morally wrong to interpret it one way or the other, and it's not like it makes a grand difference to the direction of the story.

    But. If you truly wanted an answer to the question of why Luffy killed someone, it would likely require less highly selective reading of the prior One Piece canon to acknowledge that the story direction was likely a result of pressure from the higher-ups at Jump.
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  17. #37
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Nohrian scum

    So.

    This post was initially a lot more ranty.
    There are various things that interest me and for which I can willingly suspend the more critical aspects of my personality in order to converse about them. This (the Nohrian royal family in Fire Emblem: Fates) is one of those things that I have more "animated" feelings about =P
    And therefore my first write up of the basic points I wanted to make here was more ""humourously"" sarcastic and over the top and passive aggressive and so on.
    But upon re-reading it a few times I realised that the line between humourously ranty and just plain aggressive and hostile depends a lot on an understanding of the writer that I doubt most anyone on the internet is going to have for me. So rather than potentially alienating people I might like to have friendly interactions with in the future by shooting for a style of "humour" that probably wouldn't translate well I just decided to drop most of it.
    However, by the point I reached that conclusion I had also essentially lost the will to attempt to edit the post to make it more coherent without all the extra asides thrown in.
    So I'm just going to stick the sections that deal with the point I was kinda, sorta trying to make here and just redact the rest.
    So hopefully what I'm saying will still make sense, it just probably won't flow together particularly well. Oh well :/

    Anyway.

    Ok, so like, I can force about 95% of my being to understand that none of this actually matters. That I have no reason to believe that people treat their evaluations of real-life problematic figures the same way that they treat fictional characters. That it’s all make believe, willing suspension of disbelief, blah blah and so on. But that last 5%. Man that last 5% I just can’t budge. And occasionally I swerve into the mindset of that last fraction and just want to scream aloud in frustration at how willing some people are to fall about themselves fawning over a man like Xander, who is perfectly willing and determined to sacrifice as many “sub-humans” as necessary instead of ever asking himself any difficult questions about his blind service and devotion. Because seriously. That level of blind devotion and service to some figure of authority is fucking *terrifying* to me. It tells me that you don’t actually have any moral compass of your own, fixed to anything outside of what your authority figure can convince you is necessary, and therefore what is good.

    [Redacted]

    Now see, the way I see it, the idea of some sort of separation between the killing of a civilian and the killing of an enemy combatant during war time makes sense in our real world in the context of what the role of the soldier has typically been. Rarely is one state or political power ever a purely peaceful one. Political actors, back when war was just another tool of diplomacy, have throughout human history engaged in the wilful destruction of others for the pettiest shit imaginable. There are rarely what you’d call good guys and rarely would you expect to find a voluntary soldier who hadn’t in some time or other been involved as a member of an aggressor army invading a foreign land for whatever petty bullshit reason their lord came up with on any given week. So it makes sense you develop a sort of implicit code. No one is *really* in the moral right here, no matter who may claim otherwise (because obviously everyone does all the time). So enemy combatants come to occupy this strange moral grey area where it makes sense to differentiate between civilian and military casualties, despite the fact that all the casualties are human casualties. Are you *really* a killer if you kill an enemy combatant while on a tour of duty? Most people would probably say no (or at least I think they would. If you wouldn’t then I don’t even need to explain to you why I conceptualise the Nohrians as evil because they engage in the willful murdering of innocents).

    But there are circumstances where the boundary becomes more problematic. At least to me. Countries like South Korea require all…men? (or men+women? Idk. Cbf looking it up) to undergo military training before a certain age so that they might be capable of defending their country from invasion. A reasonable seeming strategy when you have a belligerent and hostile power within spitting distance. But if South Korea is invaded by some hostile power (not even necessarily North Korea) and these citizens join the defense of their homeland is it still *more* justifiable to kill them? Because why? Because they’re formally trained? Because they’re armed? Because they’re actively defending themselves and their homes by trying to stop you? I’d say it doesn’t. I’d say to kill such a soldier is as bad as killing any other civilian. That, if you joined your countries military voluntarily and now are marching to violently disenfranchise those who have not wronged you and yours, then you have a moral obligation to abandon that fight.

    But anyway. Maybe you think otherwise. Fair enough. So how far *does* this extend for you? If you break into the house of a soldier and kill him in self-defence as he attempts to resist your invasion of his property are you not a murderer because he was/is a soldier? If you break into the house of a civilian and kill them in self-defence as they, armed with a weapon, attempt to resist your invasion are you not a murderer because they were armed? If you break into the house of a combat trained civilian and kill them in self-defence are you not a murderer because they have the capacity to be a soldier one day? And I mean. There’s gotta be a line for you there somewhere. Eventually you’re at a line where you’re killing someone but it’s not really killing someone even though the only difference between the person you kill and a civilian is some aspect of self-defence, military training or something else. Which I mean. More power to you. But that seems super arbitrary to me.

    The thing is though, regardless of where you place that line I’d feel confident saying that 90% of the Hoshidan soldiers, at the *very* least are on the civilian side of that boundary before the start of the war. They’re people of a peaceful nation who have joined the military with the expectation of defending their homeland and protecting their loved ones. Now no one ever says that (and maybe you need that to be explicit for whatever reason), but it’s not an overly complicated inference to make when Hoshido is presented as this peaceful paradise. Joining the Hoshidan military to fight wars of conquest would be as stupid as joining the Swiss army for the same purpose.

    Now maybe the actions of the Nohrians seem justifiable to you because idk. Something about a famine or some whatever. But see, most countries aren’t usually flat out broke. The economics of international trade systems are beyond me, but the idea that a military super power might have the funds (or the credit) to facilitate the importing of foodstuffs from neighbouring countries doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me. Perhaps, oh I don’t know, some sort of reasonable trade agreement might’ve been made with the bountiful and peaceful neighbouring land of Hoshido? Oh but that might necessitate some more friendly acts of international relations on the Nohrians part. Shit even not constantly attempting to start wars with them might be a good start. But fuck if Xander was ever gonna be caught dead trying to facilitate more peaceful relations that might improve the flow of trade to ease the burden of his starving people. Nah never mind that. All of the monies to the military-industrial complex! All of the monies and more! Why are our mages killing themselves (and wasting material Nohrian resources and depleting Nohrian man power) working on the construction of twisted, murderous abominations instead of literally anything that is more fucking useful? Because why not? What better way to facilitate growth and prosperity than by taking away thousands of able-bodied men and women from the fields and stores and trades that support Nohrian society?

    [more redacted ranting]

    Anyway that's a pretty incoherent mess. But mostly I just wanted to make the point that the killing of Hoshidan soldiers, as they are presented to us as mostly members of the armed forces of a peaceful nation, might not be as distinct from the straight up murder of, and theft from, innocent civilians as it usually is in the simple morality of video game land. And that being the case I'd probably call the people in charge of such a war effort (i.e. Xander, Camilla, Leo) evil, for all that it matters. Because as I said, at the end of the day they're just fictional characters and none of it really matters. I don't think people who like them are secretly evil or in anyway immoral, just that in this case the (to me) blatantly evil nature of those three is conveyed deliberately (I mean deliberately in the sense that the text explicitly acknowledges that the acts and deeds that result in my considering them to be evil are actively ascribed to their characters, not that the writers wanted you to think that they're evil), and therefore I can't really bring myself to like anything about them. They are distinct in this regard, to me, from most of the Nohrian soldiers, whose (again, to me) implicit evil is just a follow-on consequence of the writers treating their killing of enemy combatants as fairly standard Fire Emblem fare.

    As a last aside, in thinking about this whole post I got to half-assedly reading (i.e. browsing through the AskHistorians subreddit) about the Thirty Year's War in the 17th century. When I used to be more interested in European history it was always a war that stood out to me given it's listed (in Wikipedia) as one of the most destructive wars in history. Taking place mostly in Central Europe by the end of it the population of what is now mostly considered Germany had been reduced by anywhere between 25-40%. I always found it strange as I had this, kinda romantic in hindsight, notion that medieval (or thereabouts) warfare didn't have as disastrous an effect on civilian populations as the militarised wars of the 20th century (or the genocidal wars...of the 20th century). So going back to it recently it was interesting to read the different accounts and explanations for how such a huge civilian casualty rate came about, and I found it pretty informative as to the complications of swords and bows warfare that are usually glossed over in fantasy fiction. So I'm just going to include some relevant excerpts that I found, if you want to get an idea of the more real world costs that might have followed from the moral cowardice of our beloved Nohrian royal family:

    A large number of casualties were civilian. Many of the forces involved, especially in the latter two-thirds of the war, weren't fighting in their own territory or even with their own forces (for example, the Swedish cavalry was largely Swedish/Finnish but the infantry were "mostly Scots and Germans"). Although the battleground was Germany and Bohemia, the German contingent prevalent from 1618-1620 and the early 1620s were soon overtaken politically by the Danish (1625), the Swedish (1630), the French (overtly 1635, sneakily from as early as 1618) and the Spanish (from the start). These foreign parties didn't care so much about the state of Germany as they did the geopolitical situation, particularly their own gain. Therefore looting was a common practice; it allowed states to remain at war with mercenary armies for decades straight at the cost only of foreigners', usually enemies', civilian populations. On top of that, many mercenary armies were undisciplined any many commanders didn’t really care. Many civilians tried to feed themselves by joining in the plunder as well, worsening the situation.

    Although this looting often did not involve straight-up murder, it did sometimes. This was most notable at Magdeburg when, in May 1631, an imperial army escaped the control of General Tilly and looted, raped, and killed at will. During the sack the city caught fire somehow and the city, which was one of the largest in Germany, was effectively destroyed. On top of the 20,000-some civilians and defenders who died the city's grain was either stolen or lost in fire and so survivor's were left with little food and little shelter, meaning that casualties could be much larger.

    Other than Magdeburg, looting usually comprised the illegal seizure of food and money, something which was not punished because there was never a single authority recognised throughout the entirety of the Holy Roman Empire. This seizure of food to feed armies left many regions starving, not only in the countryside but in towns in which armies were garrisoned. On top of that, the concentration of people in cities worsened by the income of armies, especially armies who had come from far away, and the general amount of travel in Germany at that time allowed the plague to blossom. In 1625, before the sack, Wallenstein brought the plague to Magdeburg/Halberstadt, killing up to 40% of the population.
    What I wrote so far [on the evolution of logistic strategies for the long-term maintenance of armies in the field] may seem simple and brilliant. But to peasants in Germany, it was nothing but. The early 1630s probably saw the worst in terms of looting and rampaging the countrysides, that is still remembered today. But commanders and soldiers weren't ignorant of the challenges. They knew that hungry soldiers tend to steal, and hungry peasants tend to flee, and then all left would be hunger and death. As such, at all levels commanders knew to...[make] a systematic survey of food stocks in private hands in the city, requisitioning them stage by stage until there was little left.

    At this point there was a lot of negotiations done, captains paying off peasants to send his soldiers food, asking peasants for contributions either in money or in kind, and colonels pawning off their assets to keep their regiments intact. Threat of force went a long way, up to and until peasants gave up their dwellings and fields and went elsewhere.

    When the Swedes left again on 17 September [Maillinger] summarises his complaints ‘of such bestiis’ who ‘not only filled all the streets with filth and rubbish but also damaged the houses beyond all measure’, and who ate the populace out of house and home as well as stealing whatever they could (Ma.574). His memory seems to have been short, as five months later he complains that friendly troops quartered in Freiburg ‘caused great damage and inconvenience, the like of which no enemy had done before’ (Ma.583). In his briefer account of the later war years Mallinger does not return to this theme, making no complaint during the six-year occupation from 1638 to 1644.
    But for the sake of examples, here is one. Gallus Zembroth was mayor of Allensbach, right near Lake Konstanz in the border between today's Germany and Switzerland. This meant that Allensbach was threatened, and switched hands, several times. It was sacked several times, but on two occasions passing troops ignored it….troops from Hohentwiel attempting to surprise Constance marched through Allensbach in 1642 without troubling it, and they also twice marched through in 1646 during an attack on Reichenau, Zembroth specifically noting that this was ‘in fact without any harm being done’ on the first occasion, and that on the second the troops had ‘done nothing to anyone, apart from a little damage to two houses in Cappel’

    However, when friendly troops from Bavaria came and expected to stay awhile…[t]here a payment of 10 000 florins was called for as a contribution for the Bavarian army … . This had to be delivered on three occasions, the first in eight days time, the second in four weeks and the third three weeks thereafter.

    It was then up to Zembroth to divvy up the responsibility. For his own family it came out to be 160 florins, he made the first two payments but the third was deferred indefinitely as Swedes came near and the situation changed.

    Of course, the Swedes too wanted payments.

    There were six fine silver goblets in the town hall, which were put towards this, and the full balance was made up in cash by the citizens.

    So there was collective effort made to hide such assets to use in dire times, and a corporate sense to collaborate in keeping harm away. The extortion was bad, but nowhere near the worst (yet).

    The French passed by and similarly extorted some payments too. The tides of war switched back and forth until the Imperialists became content with threatening Allensbach to stop their payments to the Swedes, and not demand any more money. Unfortunately, this meant raids by both the Swedes and Imperials to punish the poor village. Until come such time that,
    ‘as we had nothing more, no-one sought much from us. They left us to live in misery.’

    The next few years were still bad for this village, but the expected contributions were limited to billeting troops from both sides depending on the tide of war.

    From the above one thing is clear, commanders knew they needed local assets to keep their troops fed, so they evaluated the well-being of villages and peasants and to a large extent adjusted their level of extortion. This is the so-called contributions economy of the 30YW.

    One aspect of German memory is the Schwedentrunk, literally translated to "Swedish Drink," whereby…the robbers and murderers took a piece of wood and stuck it down a poor soul’s throat, stirring and pouring in water, to which they added sand or even human excrement, thus pitifully torturing the victims for their money. This befell a citizen of Beelitz, David Örttel by name, who died soon afterwards as a result.

    All this to force peasants to disclose their hidden coins, food items, clothes; anything of possible value.

    However, in many cases outright looting and sacking happened, at horrible levels. See for example the infamous Sack of Magdeburg. Many inhabitants flee villages to escape the violence, which seems to be the most common way that peasants attempt to survive the horrors.
    ‘From Basil to Strasburg, from Strasburg to Heydelberg, from thence to Marpurg, I scarce saw a man in the Fields, or Villages.’

    But when there is nowhere to go, and famine is all around, then what is there left to do but to do desperate things? As Peter Thiele of Potsdam wrote of 1636:
    The poor people ate outlandish things, which they were forced to do in order to satisfy their hunger. They ground up beechnuts, linseed residues cabbage stalks and especially nettles, anno 1636, 1637 and 1638. The people were starving and many died because of these unnatural foods. In Beelitz there were often more than a hundred poor souls on the streets.

    As noted above, they became refugees either in the countryside or in the cities, begging for alms.
    And just to end (and kudos to you for reading through all of that :P) we have a very short account found in the bible of a peasant family from 1647 of the fun to be had when militaristic assholes wage petty war for decades on your doorstep:

    We live like animals, eating bark and grass. No one could imagine that anything like this could happen to us. Many people say that there is no God.
    Good times.
    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  18. #38

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by lr-hr-rh View Post
    Nohrian scum
    My court now, boi

    Hidden:

    And occasionally I swerve into the mindset of that last fraction and just want to scream aloud in frustration at how willing some people are to fall about themselves fawning over a man like Xander, who is perfectly willing and determined to sacrifice as many “sub-humans” as necessary instead of ever asking himself any difficult questions about his blind service and devotion. Because seriously. That level of blind devotion and service to some figure of authority is fucking *terrifying* to me. It tells me that you don’t actually have any moral compass of your own, fixed to anything outside of what your authority figure can convince you is necessary, and therefore what is good.
    So I think I can guess where this post is gonna go, and I'm happy to oblige. Xander is my favorite Fates royal, but I'm not gonna pretend there's a bit of a divide between what he is (supports) and what the story makes him (in well, the story)
    When you think of characters in the game that actively give people ire, he, Azura, and Corrin all seem to fit the bill, for differing degrees.

    Also I'm almost 99% sure Xander never calls the Hoshidans "sub-humans", we Tellius now? :P

    Are you *really* a killer if you kill an enemy combatant while on a tour of duty? Most people would probably say no (or at least I think they would. If you wouldn’t then I don’t even need to explain to you why I conceptualise the Nohrians as evil because they engage in the willful murdering of innocents).
    I don't think you are, because I assume you're framing the context of "killer" as someone that wantonly indulges in taking other lives in a setting where it isn't acceptable (civilian life). If you're fighting a war, you may kill people, but it could be in self-defense or to achieve victory. Not that veterans don't face some PTSD that doing so, as well, it's not *easy* to take a life. Hell, Xander's support with Nyx focuses on this very topic.

    But if South Korea is invaded by some hostile power (not even necessarily North Korea) and these citizens join the defense of their homeland is it still *more* justifiable to kill them? Because why? Because they’re formally trained? Because they’re armed? Because they’re actively defending themselves and their homes by trying to stop you? I’d say it doesn’t. I’d say to kill such a soldier is as bad as killing any other civilian. That, if you joined your countries military voluntarily and now are marching to violently disenfranchise those who have not wronged you and yours, then you have a moral obligation to abandon that fight.
    Well, wouldn't you say it's a matter of setting? It's one thing if you're joining the fight when the country is *directly invading yours* and shooting and killing, you're just trying to fight back and not die. It's another to be a country that well, crosses the sea to fight.

    Now maybe the actions of the Nohrians seem justifiable to you because idk. Something about a famine or some whatever. But see, most countries aren’t usually flat out broke. The economics of international trade systems are beyond me, but the idea that a military super power might have the funds (or the credit) to facilitate the importing of foodstuffs from neighbouring countries doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me. Perhaps, oh I don’t know, some sort of reasonable trade agreement might’ve been made with the bountiful and peaceful neighbouring land of Hoshido? Oh but that might necessitate some more friendly acts of international relations on the Nohrians part. Shit even not constantly attempting to start wars with them might be a good start. But fuck if Xander was ever gonna be caught dead trying to facilitate more peaceful relations that might improve the flow of trade to ease the burden of his starving people. Nah never mind that. All of the monies to the military-industrial complex! All of the monies and more! Why are our mages killing themselves (and wasting material Nohrian resources and depleting Nohrian man power) working on the construction of twisted, murderous abominations instead of literally anything that is more fucking useful? Because why not? What better way to facilitate growth and prosperity than by taking away thousands of able-bodied men and women from the fields and stores and trades that support Nohrian society?
    I don't disagree with these points, but it's egregious to blame this solely on Xander. We're talking about the timeline where Mikoto is killed, the war is launched, and while we have scuffles on the western side of the continent, things take a focus for the worse when the "invade Hoshido plan" begins.

    1) Garon. Are we forgetting he's still alive, and exerts more power? I assume you could argue that doesn't excuse the Nohrian siblings from being "cowards" and not opposing their father, which is fine, but you have to try to reason with the circumstances. Even though he's possessed, they don't know until it's too late (i'll get to that), so for them, he's still their own father. Elise, Leo, and Camilla all openly express fear of his wrath, but they still try to defy him when they can (Elise sneaks off to help Corrin, as does Camilla, Leo plays the save in Nestra, etc.)

    2) Azura. Azura is the one that starts the Garon-throne plan, and while you can rightfully call Corrin a moron for not opposing it, you can't turn around and say "it's JUST Xander's fault" etc.

    3) I would imagine the Hoshidan-Nohrian relation had gotten so bad that simply organizing a "trade" wasn't going to work. Things had already been tense since Sumeragi's death, adding the queen's death only put fuel to the fire - Takumi lashes out at Azura and Corrin when they didn't even *directly* kill her, Ryoma prevents Elise's recovery, etc. Hoshido has the narrative problem of being portrayed as *too* good, which hurts the story, but they're not 100% saints after the fact either.

    But mostly I just wanted to make the point that the killing of Hoshidan soldiers, as they are presented to us as mostly members of the armed forces of a peaceful nation, might not be as distinct from the straight up murder of, and theft from, innocent civilians as it usually is in the simple morality of video game land. And that being the case I'd probably call the people in charge of such a war effort (i.e. Xander, Camilla, Leo) evil, for all that it matters.
    Being a royal /=/ giving out direct war orders. Xander I can't really disagree on, since we see cutscenes post chapter 22 that point to him taking a sort-of command under his father's march, but when in the hell do we see Camilla and Leo do that? The former goes around Garon to join up with Corrin. Perhaps you're arguing that they might as well be doing it for being complacent or something, which to me, is a different argument. We'd be here all day arguing semantics, and even I can't exactly muster the tightest defense without shrugging my shoulders and going "the story's bad". If we resort to just blaming everything on the writers, then that takes the fun out of arguing motives, character development, and so on; we'd have to attribute everything good to the writers and not the characters.

    So I'm just going to include some relevant excerpts that I found, if you want to get an idea of the more real world costs that might have followed from the moral cowardice of our beloved Nohrian royal family
    Alas. Fire Emblem is at its most interesting when we consider political intrigue, and even today, people always lament the potential CQ could've had. Espionage, more twists and turns don't make me start plugging my fic now.





  19. #39
    Stranger in a Strange Land lr-hr-rh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    My court now, boi

    So I think I can guess where this post is gonna go, and I'm happy to oblige. Xander is my favorite Fates royal, but I'm not gonna pretend there's a bit of a divide between what he is (supports) and what the story makes him (in well, the story)
    When you think of characters in the game that actively give people ire, he, Azura, and Corrin all seem to fit the bill, for differing degrees.

    Also I'm almost 99% sure Xander never calls the Hoshidans "sub-humans", we Tellius now? :P
    Hahaha oh don't worry, I gave Corrin a lot more flack than I included here. That stuff mostly got redacted out though :P.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    I don't think you are, because I assume you're framing the context of "killer" as someone that wantonly indulges in taking other lives in a setting where it isn't acceptable (civilian life). If you're fighting a war, you may kill people, but it could be in self-defense or to achieve victory. Not that veterans don't face some PTSD that doing so, as well, it's not *easy* to take a life. Hell, Xander's support with Nyx focuses on this very topic.
    Well I think you've kind of skipped past my point there :P. You frame it as acceptable in certain circumstances, I'm trying to get you to ask *why* it is acceptable, under certain circumstances. Achieve victory seems a strange reason to say that killing someone is *more* justifiable. War is a social construct afterall, the basic actions of attempting to take, by force, the possession of others is essentially the same. So I'd like to hear why you think it would be different to break into someone's home and kill them as opposed to invading their country and doing it? To me a killer is someone who kills someone. Pretty straightforward. We assign moral culpability to their acts depending on the circumstances. You are suggesting there is less moral culpability when killing happens during war, I am trying to get you to tell me *why* that's the case. Why are you a killer if you break into my house and kill my family but you aren't if you willingly invade my country and kill them as they try and defend their homes? In both instances you could just...you know...not do that

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Well, wouldn't you say it's a matter of setting? It's one thing if you're joining the fight when the country is *directly invading yours* and shooting and killing, you're just trying to fight back and not die. It's another to be a country that well, crosses the sea to fight.
    Indeed, but Nohr is the one that crosses the sea. The South Koreans are the Hoshidans in this example :P

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    I don't disagree with these points, but it's egregious to blame this solely on Xander. We're talking about the timeline where Mikoto is killed, the war is launched, and while we have scuffles on the western side of the continent, things take a focus for the worse when the "invade Hoshido plan" begins.

    1) Garon. Are we forgetting he's still alive, and exerts more power? I assume you could argue that doesn't excuse the Nohrian siblings from being "cowards" and not opposing their father, which is fine, but you have to try to reason with the circumstances. Even though he's possessed, they don't know until it's too late (i'll get to that), so for them, he's still their own father. Elise, Leo, and Camilla all openly express fear of his wrath, but they still try to defy him when they can (Elise sneaks off to help Corrin, as does Camilla, Leo plays the save in Nestra, etc.)

    2) Azura. Azura is the one that starts the Garon-throne plan, and while you can rightfully call Corrin a moron for not opposing it, you can't turn around and say "it's JUST Xander's fault" etc.

    3) I would imagine the Hoshidan-Nohrian relation had gotten so bad that simply organizing a "trade" wasn't going to work. Things had already been tense since Sumeragi's death, adding the queen's death only put fuel to the fire - Takumi lashes out at Azura and Corrin when they didn't even *directly* kill her, Ryoma prevents Elise's recovery, etc. Hoshido has the narrative problem of being portrayed as *too* good, which hurts the story, but they're not 100% saints after the fact either.
    Huh? There's time travel shenanigans in Fates too? :O Or by timeline did you just mean BR/CQ/RV? Because I object to the Nohrians in all of them, and I think Mikoto dies in all of them too? I'm not sure about that though. Anyway I don't really think it matters whether or not Garon is possessed. I mean, to me it doesn't. An evil act is an evil act. That's why I included the pre-amble about Xander's (and by extension, the rest of the royal children's) one-eyed devotion to their father. To be willing to kill people that I believe to be as innocent as any other civilian because your dad told you to is not something I think a good person should do.

    And to be fair I deliberately didn't include Elise in this discussion :P. Besides, while I do believe that Leo eventually grows into something resembling a human being (sorry if I'm really harsh on him, but I *really* hate the way he treats Forrest), that is after he has been willingly complicit in the murder of Hoshidans, that is to say he has been, without initial reservation, actively involved in the war effort.

    And I think that's where you and I are having a lot of differences here: to me, each and every Hoshidan killed by one of the Nohrian royals is the active murder of an innocent. So when you point out that they *eventually* decide to resist, in some ways, to me it reads as; "sure they may have killed, 50+ perfectly innocent people, but they eventually learned the error of the ways." To which my only response can be that I wouldn't need to wade through the blood of more people than I can count on my hands before I realised that killing innocents is a bad idea :/. And so it confuses me that eventually learning so basic a lesson is held up as a positive in their regard.

    But I agree with your point that Corrin and Azura are also to blame, I just use Xander as he's the one who seems to most directly tie his actions to his loyalty to his father, a position that bugs me a lot.

    And of course trade is unlikely to be feasible, the point is it is unfeasible *because of the actions of the Nohrians*. There is therefore, to me, no moral justification to be found in appealing to some sort of economic hardship suffered by the Nohrian people as a just cause for war because they might not be suffering so much if their leadership hadn't been so god damn belligerent. That Xander and co are willing to support the man who, by his bone-headed, ridiculously aggressive, foreign policy decisions has made things so much worse for their people does not make me think of them any more positively.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Being a royal /=/ giving out direct war orders. Xander I can't really disagree on, since we see cutscenes post chapter 22 that point to him taking a sort-of command under his father's march, but when in the hell do we see Camilla and Leo do that? The former goes around Garon to join up with Corrin. Perhaps you're arguing that they might as well be doing it for being complacent or something, which to me, is a different argument. We'd be here all day arguing semantics, and even I can't exactly muster the tightest defense without shrugging my shoulders and going "the story's bad". If we resort to just blaming everything on the writers, then that takes the fun out of arguing motives, character development, and so on; we'd have to attribute everything good to the writers and not the characters.
    Being a royal to me means being in a position of influence and authority and, in the world of FE, being a person with great martial power. I fault all of the Nohrian nobles (sans Elise who is, regardless of what the localisation team says, somewhere around 12) for lending their considerable power and influence to the war effort in any regard. They are born into a position of great privilege and using that in active support of their father's war effort is a failing of that position both to their people (who are dragged into a pointless war at the whims of a madman) and as a moral failing more generally. Plus the fact that they are angry and resentful of Corrin (even initially) when he decides *not* to support their obviously ridiculous invasion of a perfectly peaceful nation makes things even worse in my opinion. Blind loyalty, to your family, to your state, to whatever, like that displayed by Leo and Camilla in their resentment is deeply problematic to me. "How dare you not want to kill innocents sibling?" is a deeply problematic attitude for someone to hold, again in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by MetaMario View Post
    Alas. Fire Emblem is at its most interesting when we consider political intrigue, and even today, people always lament the potential CQ could've had. Espionage, more twists and turns don't make me start plugging my fic now. [/hide]
    Oh I agree that CQ could have been a lot better than it was. Just making the Hoshidans an even approximately equivalent belligerent in the whole war would've fixed loads.
    Also you wrote a CQ fic?

    Btw is there a particular reason you spoilered your comment? I ask because I (obviously) didn't spoiler mine, but if you had a particular reason in mind I should probably edit mine in the future :O

    Anyway, going back to where we started, perhaps separate from FE for a second, I'd like to hear your answer to the question I posed in the OP. In the scenarios of armed robbery I described, when do you think the person who kills is no longer a killer in the same regard as someone who, say, just randomly stabs someone in the street?
    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

  20. #40

    Default Re: Elahrairah monologues as his water ship goes down...

    Funnily enough, the last episode of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged pretty much emphatized everything I felt about Xander.

    "You don't have to follow the orders of your leader if he is acting like a half-***"

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