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  1. I just did some browsing on the P:E wiki (massive kudos to the people maintaining it, by the way). We know quite a lot about the world of Eora already, more than I thought really, since the lore has been coming out in dribs and drabs. I really like it. One thing that I thought was kind of "meh" about P:E back during the Kickstarter was that it seemed like very traditional pseudo-medieval western high fantasy. I've done that so many times, in games and books and movies, that I really wasn't all that keen to see another one. That's in fact the main reason I only backed at a relatively modest level (and why I backed T:ToN for significantly more). Now, however, it's clear that Obsidian's writers have put any number of really interesting twists on it. So much so that it's almost like it's only tradfantasy on the surface. Man am I digging it. Elves and dwarves. I didn't think there was a way to make them interesting again, but hey, they did it. Quite simple too, really. Stick 'em on the Antarctic ice cap. It's also arguably true to their origins, since Tolkienian elves and dwarves are to a great extent modeled on Nordic folklore. I'm especially digging the character concept of Sagani, and the notion of Pale Elves speaking an ancient language far, far away on endless fields of ice is exciting. Breaking the mold of culture=subrace. In tradfantasy, nonhuman cultures are monolithic. If there are different elven cultures, for example, they're different subraces, like the drow for example. Big points for breaking out of this mold, and making the elves of Dyrwood and Eír Glanfath the same subrace but different and antagonistic subcultures, and for the really interesting elven-human combined culture of the Aedyr Empire, complete with institutions like the haemneg. Social issues. Slavery seems to be an institution that the loremasters have considered carefully, since we know how each of the different cultures treat it -- practiced in the Aedyr Empire, abolished but lingering in Dyrwood, while the Vailians conduct a brisk slave trade. (I wonder if we're going to meet a Vailian slave trader? That could be explosive simply because they gave the Vailians dark skin... I hope we do actually.) We've also got a lot of information about the status of the Orlan, religious antagonism between followers of Magran and Waidwen, the complex relations between the Glanfathans, the Aedyr Empire, and Dyrwood, and so on. The aumaua. Polynesian-Japanese flavored semi-aquatic demihumans instead of slope-browed half-orcs with the occasional Noble Savage rising above his racial station? Yes please! Change. One standard trop in tradfantasy -- whether Star Wars, Tolkien, or D&D -- is that nothing much ever changes. Empires rise and fall, for sure, but there's no technological or real cultural change. If the possibility of change is present, it's always a threat -- a Dark Lord threatening to unravel the entire world. Fantasy, especially high and heroic fantasy, tends to be extremely conservative in its outlook this way. Obsidian did tell us that they were doing this from the outset, which I think was wise of them, since I think a lot of fantasy fans, perhaps especially IE game fans, consider this central to the genre. Firearms are symbolic of this -- I think a lot of the resistance to their inclusion springs from here: having them is a reminder that things are changing, which does break out of one of the most fundamental features of tradfantasy. I can understand that, even if I don't sympathize with it. Fantasy with change is much more interesting to me than static fantasy worlds where the Dark Lord rises, and is defeated, and Balance is Restored to the Force. Ancient history connected to the present. Okay, so we have to have a mysterious ancient lost empire leaving creepy ruins all over the place. It wouldn't be a proper fantasy game without them. Trope, yes, but a good one. I dig the twist they gave this too: figuring out what the creepy ruins mean for the people living among them. That they've become sacred sites for the Glanfathans, and a resource to plunder for the Aedyr Empire. (The former, by the way, nicely explains why the ruins we've seen look so clean and well-trafficked -- obviously their Glanfathan keepers have been taking care of them.) All in all, I've been enormously pleased with the direction Obsidian has taken with regards to the lore. The core tropes are there -- elves, dwarves, ancient empire, wizards, rogues, priests, what have you -- but just about everything has an interesting and new twist to it. This is much more interesting than, say, what BioWare did with space opera for Mass Effect, i.e. just put in all the tropes without examining and questioning any of it, which made everything incredibly predictable. I like it when writers keep me off-balance rather than feeding me something that's familiar and comforting. I'm getting increasingly excited about this game, and most of that excitement is because of the lore. Thank you for that, Obsidian.
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