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Mask of the Betrayer and other stories - Words in the Heroes' Tongue
I have a variable-sword. I urge calm.
speakr2customrs
speakr2customrs
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'.

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13 comments or speak 2 me
Comments
ffutures From: ffutures Date: January 9th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Buffybot story was another of my nominees, though I think there were others. I'm telling you, it's the kiss of death...
ffutures From: ffutures Date: January 9th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to add that before they started the nomination process I lobbied for a "no award" vote to be added to the ballot in all groups (e.g., not just a "don't vote for anything" but a "I don't think there are any worthwhile stories" vote that is counted.) I couldn't get anyone to agree. I'm going to push for it again this year.
jedibuttercup From: jedibuttercup Date: January 9th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, that would be interesting. Kind of to take the place of just not voting in a category? Because I did that with some that were for fandoms I didn't know, or categories in which I could find no story to approve of. I'm sure some of the categories posted winners with far fewer voters than others, and having a "no vote" vote would give a truer picture of audience opinion.
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: January 9th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I made an effort to read the nominees in fandoms that I don't know (apart, of course, from the Anita Blake-verse) and in some categories I found (or had already been aware of) stories good enough to overcome the disadvantage. If I couldn't make an informed judgement I didn't vote. However in at least two of the 'Best portrayal of character X' categories I didn't think that there were any deserving nominees at all.
jedibuttercup From: jedibuttercup Date: January 9th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
> ‘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'd agree. I won three, but one of them was a really odd win (the Illyria one), and some of the others I had up on noms were much better stories. Even in that category. You should definitely have won one for Tabula Avatar, and ffutures should have won more, too.

It seems as though, if someone's not already reading the story, then when they're skimming for awards things like brevity, sexuality, and humor are what attract attention, not quality. Which is a total shame.
speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: January 9th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I voted for the Illyria one! 'Moonfall' would have been my second choice in that category.
jedibuttercup From: jedibuttercup Date: January 14th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grin* Well, thank you! I guess it just caught me by surprise, since it was shorter and was from Buffy's POV instead of Illyria's. I just couldn't resist the idea of her with McKay, when I saw the prompt.
mythichistorian From: mythichistorian Date: January 9th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Tabular Avatar' certainly got my vote - along with a few for Marcus too, although one drop clearly does not an ocean make. :-(

My lonely nomination came nowhere, although I wasn't surprised, as it's a story I've received only one review for ...

Will think about picking up 'Mask of the Betrayer' on your recommendation. I've not yet been tempted, as I'm not entirely enanmoured of the NWN2 interface - but I can put up with that if the storyline is good!

(And isn't the problem with the FR theology the existence of 'The Time of Troubles' in the first place? Shaking up your pantheon in order to reflect a re-design of a game system is questionable, to say the least ...)

speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: January 16th, 2008 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't know your TtH name until now. So the Tarzan story was yours? I read it when I was preparing my votes and I did like it a lot. Unfortunately it was up against Marcus' brilliant 'Modesty Blaise' story, Kes' hilarious Buffybot in Discworld story, a wonderful Jeeves/Buffy crossover, another story that did very well despite being riddled with spelling and grammatical errors because it's a cracking good yarn, and of course the story that inexplicably managed to win the category.

The one I feel sorriest for is the story that came last in that category with only one vote. It's actually very good indeed, a delightful parody of the Mister Men books, and it deserved to do much better.
mythichistorian From: mythichistorian Date: January 16th, 2008 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I'd totally forgotten that 'Tarmangani' had been nominated - probably because it was up against such great competition that I knew I had no chance! The one I was talking about was 'Death, August and Royal,' but I didn't really expect much to come of that one either ...

I think the problem with the 'Literature' category is that it's so wide - and that people only seem to connect with the books they're familiar with, so the voting is bound to be patchy right from the start. The Mister Men parody was excellent - but I don't know how widely known the originals are in America, and I suspect that's where the majority of the votes are coming from.
gillo From: gillo Date: January 9th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
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'.


I linked to your Border stories in my review of his last book "The Reavers" - you never know, it might point a new reader or two your way.

speakr2customrs From: speakr2customrs Date: January 16th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I saw it. Thank you!
manoah From: manoah Date: January 9th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the birthday wishes and I do look forward to reading (and re-reading) you again soon.
13 comments or speak 2 me