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POE story inspiration (spoilers)

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Has anybody thought Pillars of Eternity's story is reminiscent of Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Frederick Nietzsche?

 

Ivora is very similar to Zarathustra preaching gods do not exist the same way Zarathustra preaches god is dead.

 

It's ironic Ivora preaches the gods do not exist when you communicate with the gods on several occasions and priests use the gods power to invoke spells. It seems her objection is more semantic as to what word to use besides god rather than the existence of entities known as gods.

 

How do you feel about the conclusion of the story? Did you feel like you had to kill Thaos even after several friendly discussions with him reliving past lives?

 

I thought Obsidian should have abstained from the friendly interactions between the protagonist and Thaos because by the end of the story I felt sympathetic towards Thaos and didn't want to fight him. Especially since Woedica seems like the most noble of the gods being the god of promises and justice.

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The Gods being synthetic creations of ancient animancers dosen't really affect much I'd think. They still grant boons to followers and can make your existence hell if you cross them. I convinced that Euphoric Fedora atheist to let me destroy her soul if she wanted to renounce the gods in any meaningful way. 

 

Woedica stealing all those souls to fuel her own power was monstrous and Thaos needed to die for doing that. 


For Firedorn all the Lads grieve

 

This Adam woke up next to Eve.

 

But beneath leaves of Fig,

 

He found Berries and Twig,

 

So Himself off a cliff he did heave.

 

 

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I think there is more than a bit of Philip Pullman  - the "Golden Compass series" in the story - which is a very good thing indeed.

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"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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Ivora is very similar to Zarathustra preaching gods do not exist the same way Zarathustra preaches god is dead.

 

I'm going to have to dispute that. Atheism is not some wacky novelty that Nietzsche invented. There have been plenty of atheist philosophers who come closer to what Iovara is saying than Nietzsche does - and plenty who are farther from it. Insofar as there's any philosophical grounding to PoE, it's, "man created god in his own image," taken to the farthest extreme.

 

I'll give you the extremely oversimplified version of Nietzsche here, for reference: "God is dead," refers primarily to the belief in God and to God as a source of values. Nietzsche asserts throughout his body of work that religion, and Christianity in particular, no longer functions as a source of social values (due in part to the realization of scientific truth, and due in part to what he views as Christianity's own death-worshipping nature). The more we know about the universe, in Nietzsche's mind, the more clearly we can see that we are specks of dust in an uncaring, unthinking universe. The quest for capital-T Truth doesn't end with God, Nietzsche says, but with death. The reason Zarathustra is happy (sort of) about all of this is that it represents a golden opportunity for humanity to live up to the immensity of the murder of God that it has committed, become divine, and recreate itself (morally) in its own image ... or something.

 

Unfortunately, Nietzsche died before he had a chance to complete a more thorough treatise on the subject, A Reevaluation of Values, and his notes were used by his much-despised, anti-Semite of a sister to create the bastardized proto-Nazi handbook known as The Will to Power. That said, we have The Gay Science, which is fantastic reading and is probably essential to even begin to follow Zarathustra.

 

Woedica stealing all those souls to fuel her own power was monstrous and Thaos needed to die for doing that. 

 

Yeah, pretty much. It's nice how Woedica keeps promising justice, but she and her servants have caused untold quantities of suffering, and they intend to do it over and over again. Stopping them was kinda the only remotely good thing that could be done.

Edited by gkathellar
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If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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Yeah there have been many philosophers who dealt with the god question. One of the earlier ones and also possibly an influence is Spinoza. But I'm not sure the writers were influenced by any one writer/philosopher, more likely they were influenced by a hodge podge of people/ideas. The idea that you have to be religious to be good is also something that has really made an appearance in the mainstream audience in the last decade or so. I reckon they are probably just well read on a number of topics. Which any writer should be.


"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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The reason I suggest the Friedrich Nietzsche influence is because unlike other atheist philosophers that have been suggested in this thread Friedrich Nietzsche chose to use a story about a prophet named Zarathustra similar to how Pillars of Eternity's story is about a prophetess named Ivora.

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The reason I suggest the Friedrich Nietzsche influence is because unlike other atheist philosophers that have been suggested in this thread Friedrich Nietzsche chose to use a story about a prophet named Zarathustra similar to how Pillars of Eternity's story is about a prophetess named Ivora.

 

Yes, but the actual things they are saying have almost nothing in common.

 

Also, Iovara is not the main character.


If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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At certain points you can have your character pretty much quote Buddhist doctrine. The title Buddha itself means awakened one. 

Rymrgand reminds me a bit of Schopenhauer.

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At certain points you can have your character pretty much quote Buddhist doctrine. The title Buddha itself means awakened one. 

Rymrgand reminds me a bit of Schopenhauer.

 

Now I'm imagining Rymrgand misinterpreting Buddhist doctrine and babbling for hours on end about music.

 

And I have you to thank for that.

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If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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Yeah, I'm not denying that "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" by Nietzsche was an inspiration - it clearly was and probably an important one, but I reckon they have taken quite freely from many sources. And overall, they have done a good job, the writing is good, the story as far as fantasy goes is fairly original.


"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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Who says there are no real god/gods in PoE?

 

All we know is that there are false gods. We have no idea if there is something beyond them outside of the natural order of The Wheel.

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The Gods being synthetic creations of ancient animancers dosen't really affect much I'd think. They still grant boons to followers and can make your existence hell if you cross them.

Ah, but it does make a big difference. The problem is not in the gods themselves, but in the fact that to keep up the charade, civilizations that exceed the abilities of the ancient animancers have to be destroyed. During the final confrontation, if you tell Thaos that nothing is worth stealing the souls of babies, he'll tell you that this isn't even close to the worst thing he has ever done -- he had previously instigated a civil war in a peaceful kingdom, replaced an enlightened, benevolent ruler with brutal despot, etc. etc. It is also implied that he's behind the mysteriously disastrous animancy demonstrations throughout the ages (i.e. the stunts he pulled in Defiance Bay weren't the first time).

 

In Eora, the mechanics behind souls are a part of natural laws or what we would call science. I can't think of any societies that have advanced very far in science while being mostly ignorant of one part of it, this more or less sets an upper limit on the development of civilization, particularly since the means of preventing study seem to be widespread destruction and civil war.

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I definitely saw the Buddhist vibe. People believe the gods control the fate of your soul, but reincarnation seems to basically be driven by ... karma. 

 

AFAICT, it's your own search for redemption from whatever you did in your past life as a religious zealot that drives the plot. (I find it interesting you worked for ... an Inquisition, and Dragon Age Inquisition seems to have a similar reveal of elven gods who are also-not-really-gods-but-something-else.) 

 

I kept wondering what Iovara meant by the gods not being real. Heck, they grant spells and abilities to their priests. You communicate with them. If you're a priest, your relationship to their ethos affects your powers. However, I thought it was really interesting that in that chamber where you communicate with them, they seem to be ... constellations of stars. 

 

But then you realize they really are a) not the creators of the world of Eora and b) created themselves by the Engwithans. They would seem to be what Tibetan Buddhists call tulpas, or thought forms. And much like Buddhists feel about the Hindu gods, they are actually helpless in determining what happens to your soul after death. The Engwithan machines make it seem that way, but they are essentially used to fool people into believing the gods can control what happens to your soul. 

 

I got the impression they can FEED on souls to increase/restore their power ... basically soul vampirism ... that's what you're choosing if you give the souls to Woedica. 

 

The powers of all the various spell casters in the game show what is the power of one soul ... what the Engwithan gods seem like to me is the power you'd have of a being that feasted on and joined the powers of thousands of souls. But maybe still not what people would think of as a 'god'. 

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AFAICT, it's your own search for redemption from whatever you did in your past life as a religious zealot that drives the plot

That doesn't drive the plot at all. You only get hints of it in Twin Elms, then it gets laid out at the final railroad stop for the last few minutes of tedious navel gazing. 

Most of the plot is driven by wandering around aimlessly, then briefly stalking a not-so-secret society on the ramblings of madman, then killing someone who deserves it for entirely the wrong reasons.  {not saying you shouldn't kill him, but you're forced to kill him to get a perfectly obvious answer to a stupid question, which has no effect on anything, not because he's a genocidal maniac who can't cope with reality).

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AFAICT, it's your own search for redemption from whatever you did in your past life as a religious zealot that drives the plot

That doesn't drive the plot at all. You only get hints of it in Twin Elms, then it gets laid out at the final railroad stop for the last few minutes of tedious navel gazing. 

Most of the plot is driven by wandering around aimlessly, then briefly stalking a not-so-secret society on the ramblings of madman, then killing someone who deserves it for entirely the wrong reasons.  {not saying you shouldn't kill him, but you're forced to kill him to get a perfectly obvious answer to a stupid question, which has no effect on anything, not because he's a genocidal maniac who can't cope with reality).

 

Every time anyone asked me why I was going after Thaos, I had multiple options, and always answered that it was to undo the evil he'd caused.

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AFAICT, it's your own search for redemption from whatever you did in your past life as a religious zealot that drives the plot. (I find it interesting you worked for ... an Inquisition, and Dragon Age Inquisition seems to have a similar reveal of elven gods who are also-not-really-gods-but-something-else.) 

 

Yeah, I don't see that at all. Especially since you're given the option to side with Thaos, condemn Iovara to the Wheel (destroying her knowledge), and empower Woedica. My character was not repentant at all as I agreed with Thaos and Woedica.

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mmm what's a god. Surely just another name for a powerful being that a particular society, in a particular time doesn't have an answer for but needs. Hence the Elven gods in DA who aren't, by an admittedly narrow definition of godhood (supernatural powers), actual gods at all. Just powerful and manipulative mages. All gods have to be creations of mankind. Mainly to make sense of the world. That's what's interesting about the story. Thaos asks a good question, does mankind need gods, not just for religious reasons but for societal reasons. I might also add that while I am a devout atheist I also know that religion has played a huge part in our history and I'm not talking about the last couple of thousand years but rather going all the way back. Without religion, bogeymen and scapegoats, which religion convienently supplies would we have got this far?

Edited by rheingold

"Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them."
"So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?"
"You choose the wrong adjective."
"You've already used up all the others.”

 

Lord of Light

 

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Yeah, I don't see that at all. Especially since you're given the option to side with Thaos, condemn Iovara to the Wheel (destroying her knowledge), and empower Woedica. My character was not repentant at all as I agreed with Thaos and Woedica.

 

 

 

... I agree that is a choice, perhaps I really should have said the tension in your soul is over your former role in Thaos' Inquisition ... but yes, the endgame does give you the choice to re-embrace your destiny again, and do his bidding. 

 

... I must admit it's hard for me given the weakness, rationally, of his argument for the need for belief in the Engwithan gods, not even so much the horrors he was willing to work to maintain that belief. But then [Rational] is not the only way characters in Eora evaluate things, nor [benevolent]. and this is where I remember the separation between player and character. 

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mmm what's a god. Surely just another name for a powerful being that a particular society, in a particular time doesn't have an answer for but needs. Hence the Elven gods in DA who aren't, by an admittedly narrow definition of godhood (supernatural powers), actual gods at all. Just powerful and manipulative mages. All gods have to be creations of mankind. Mainly to make sense of the world. That's what's interesting about the story. Thaos asks a good question, does mankind need gods, not just for religious reasons but for societal reasons. I might also add that while I am a devout atheist I also know that religion has played a huge part in our history and I'm not talking about the last couple of thousand years but rather going all the way back. Without religion, bogeymen and scapegoats, which religion convienently supplies would we have got this far?

 

As to the question whether society needs religion for morality, ethical philosophers beginning with Kant have started to suggest "not necessarily". Ethical humanism has been a thing since the Renaissance and Enlightenment. There are people who make Thaos' argument today ... well, religion might not be wholly true, but it gives people morality. However, I question whether it's a necessary component - increasingly for societies who seek ethics through reason. 

 

That said, that's OUR world. I admit, perhaps on Eora, which is qualitatively different in terms of technology, society, and being full of monsters  magic & mayhem, Thaos' point of the necessity  for the Engwithan gods makes sense, because one of his arguments was in their absence, people previously worshipped things which were probably less real but more savage.  All of the Engwithan gods seem to embody higher, abstract principles and an ethos instead of just being "the nymph of the lake" which mirrors the evolution of religion on our world, from animism toward small-pantheon polytheism/henotheism. 

 

Priests definitely DO get some benefit from their gods: spells and powers. The rest of the worshippers, well, that's debatable. Again, the key point seems to be people feel the gods control the fate of their souls, but it seems in the absence of Engwithan machines feeding them their souls, that isn't true. Instead, something like Hindu/Buddhist "karma" seems to drive how/when/as whom you reincarnate from the Wheel. The point I was trying to make earlier, if clumsily stated, is it is your former relationship/role with Thaos that seems to be having you reincarnate and re-encounter him. 

Edited by CybAnt1

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If you pick the right dialog options, Iovara tells you that while she thought the actions of your past self as an Inquisitor towards her may be the cause of your current disturbed state, now that she has met you, she sees that this is not the case. The real issue that is bothering the Watcher is the nature of the gods -- the Inquisitor came really close to it in that dialog with Thaos, but didn't dare to go far enough.

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Basically, in your previous incarnation, you weren't ready to take the red-pill and leave the Matrix (of god-reality).

 

But now you are, although you have the option, like Neo, of re-insertion. (Keep Woedica fueled, keep Thaos alive, keep the illusion going.)

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