January 9th, 2008

Days of No Trust 2

Mask of the Betrayer and other stories

Happy birthday to rpdom

Belated happy birthdays to stawberynvanila, buffydub, mylescorcoran, manoah, nisie, and strange_f

I haven’t spent much time on LiveJournal recently. I had intended to post the day before yesterday but our internet connection went down for a whole day, thereby frustrating that plan, and I spent the next morning doing everything conceivable to try to fix it. The problem was actually at the Manx Telecom end and they restored the connection yesterday afternoon. I went onto LJ yesterday and had to go back to Skip 200+ to even make a start on catching up. I haven’t done much writing either, although I have made a start on what should be the final chapter of ‘Life, Resumed’.

Mostly I’ve been playing ‘Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer’. I bought it in October, as a birthday present to myself, but I played only half-way through and then put it aside. Now I’ve finally finished it.

The story-line is quite astoundingly good. The primary in-game romance, Knight-Captain/Safiya, is almost up to the standard of Bhaalspawn/Viconia. The other companions are pretty good too; although the game mechanics force a choice upon you that would never happen in reality. When you get the chance to recruit Okku, King of the Bear Spirits, you have to drop one of the existing party members. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to dump Safiya and so the choice comes down dropping either Gann, whose role in guiding you through important dreams would be a huge loss to the protagonist, or Kaelyn the Dove, who is a hot half-celestial who looks rather like Jo Guest with wings. But hey, giant talking bear! It’s a tough choice, and silly; no actual Realms adventuring party would drop an existing member to make room for a newcomer because there is no arbitrary limitation on party size in real life.

The quest that faces the party is of truly epic scale. Unfortunately it has a logical flaw behind it which has started me thinking along some rather odd lines that I am sure that the game designers never intended. Specifically, about the application of the Peter Principle to Forgotten Realms theology.

The Peter Principle states that employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to, and remain at, a level at which they are incompetent. I’m sure that Laurence Johnston Peter never conceived of it applying to gods but, in the Forgotten Realms, it seems that it does.

Kelemvor, God of the Dead, was a human adventurer before the Time of Troubles. After the events of that chaotic period he ascended to godhood. ‘Mask of the Betrayer’ strongly implies that he is totally and utterly unfit for that position. He’s a total smeghead. A moron. A retarded slug would probably be better at recognising the colossal inherent fallacy behind his position on the issue that is the pivotal point of the game. “I don’t want to overturn any of the judgements of Myrkul (no matter how insanely stupid, counter-productive, and unjust) in case some future God of the Dead overturns my judgements”. Hello, either a future God of the Dead will overturn your judgements or (s)he won’t. You refusing to put right a glaring error (which the subject of the judgement has wriggled out of due to a loophole anyway) isn’t going to place any kind of binding obligation upon your hypothetical successor. I could rant about this for ages but I doubt if more than two of you would be interested and so I won’t bother.

‘Tabula Avatar’ didn’t win anything at the ‘Twisting the Hellmouth’ awards but it did get Runner-Up in ‘Best Miscellaneous Crossover’. I must say that some of the awards were... odd. I’m astonished that keswindhover didn’t win anything for her wonderful ‘Buffybot in Discworld’ story and equally stunned that ffutures only had one win; especially as the actual winner in a category that I would have bet a hundred pounds that Marcus would win was, to put it frankly, absolutely dire. I had tried to read all the nominees before voting, or at least as many as I could cram in before the deadline, and that was one of the ones that I gave up on in the first chapter. Actually after the first three paragraphs, which were so full of errors (you’re for your, loose for lose etc) that it was painful to read. I presume that the author must have an extremely large family.

George Macdonald Fraser died a few days ago. His reference book on the Border Reivers, 'The Steel Bonnets', was one of the primary sources for my story 'Days of No Trust'. I was never into the Flashman novels but I loved his Reiver novelette 'The Candlemas Road'.