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First real disappointment with lack of RP elements


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Let me say first off; I really like this game so far. 45 hours in, tank paladin, with a pretty good party with Durance, Aloth, Hiravias, Sagani and Kana. I really like how the lore is set up and pulls me into some of the descriptions and interactions with the world. It was pretty easy for me to get into all the mechanics, having played the Neverwinter Nights games, so I felt pretty at home and nostalgic. I had to find out a few things for myself: like activating fast mode (D) for faster travelling, assigning hotkeys to abilities by pressing the key while hovering your cursor over it in the character pane, etc. Most of the quests have been interesting (haven't gotten into the main quest enough to comment on that) with most parties having a lot of lore and history and well fleshed out.

However, Cinders of Faith was the first time I really felt pulled out of the game. It started off well enough, talking to a lowly priestess who's faith has been shaken. At Durance's chastising of her, I was wondering why I couldn't take her with me to go along with Durance's point: it's not really worth the faith if she's not being tested. But whatever, I went off and snuck around to find a map to the searing falls. Eventually at around Lvl 8 I got around to it.

Right out of the gate, just going into this area breaks the immersion. Drakes are described as being hostile to each other without exception, as they can't develop near others. And yet, here are dozens of drakes of different ages ganging up on me like they're all best buddies. What? Why? This makes no sense. I was pretty annoyed at this glaring hole in the lore being unacknowledged nor explained.

Then we see a cave. Oh great, Xaurip everywhere, fire spirits, lava everywhere. Kana making a remark about being cooked by whatever beast lives here. I wonder what that would be.

Surprise surprise, a big red dragon shows up. (SPOILERS FOR CAED NUA) Though just like that drake in Caed Nua, this one can talk... OK. Let me see if I can avoid fighting it. It can talk, right? It's not too much of a stretch... WRONG. None of the dialogue options make any difference to the outcome, and none of the dialogue feels like stuff my paladin would actually say. I can't give an intelligent response about what the Spark is. The best I can do is give a feeble excuse as to why I (suspiciously) don't want that exact shiny rock you're holding. And once you're here, the only outcome is his death. I hate killing dragons on its own, and getting a shiny rock isn't a good enough reason to do this. And since the bestiary doesn't touch on the state of the drake population, I have no idea if going in and slaughtering 20+ drakes for a stupid rock is actually a very cruel act (in my opinion, it should be).

There are a few glaring dialogue options that should have been here for any role player, especially a benevolent paladin like myself. The most obvious and realistic choice would be a might or resolve check to intimidate Cail long enough to get the hell out of there. I tried running through de-aggroing, but that doesn't work, he follows you wherever you go. And then I should be able to return to that priestess and either honestly say why you couldn't retrieve the rock (a huge dragon for Magran's sake), or trick her into getting herself eaten by Cail by telling her exactly where the rock is. I'm sure Durance would approve of that choice.

Obviously a desirable choice for me should be to use perception to see Cail's giant pile of treasure in the background, then offer him some treasure to placate him. If you ask him for the shiny rock in the wrong way, obviously he'll attack you. But if you have enough skill with words there should be some way to get the rock without killing him. Or he might want some other BIGGER shiny rock that he'll trade for, since he seems to be such an idiot for loving this stupid rock so much.

It goes without saying that I'll be skipping this quest if I ever play PoE again, since this quest suddenly forces me to be a ruthless murderer who barges into a sentient beast's lair and kills if for a stupid rock. I'm actually really surprised Hiravias didn't chew me out in any way for it, being a druid and all. In fact, I felt like this quest had no consequences at all, and left me fuming at having to kill a named drake for apparently nothing. Exp and fame aren't worth this.

Anyway, anyone else felt they could improve this quest too? And how many more of these kinds of quests do I have to put up with without knowing about them in advance?

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I'd be nice to have different ways to finish some quests, maybe some way related to your class. In this case, for example, you should be able to steal the rock with your rogue or distract the Dragon with a Chanter.

 

I prefer to avoid too many spoilers for you, so let me just say this: there is at least one more situation like that. I was given the option to do something cruel and Hiravias made a comment that showed that he didn't like it. But when I did it he didn't speak anymore. It was really strange.

 

But there is also at least one situation that allows you to talk and solve things diplomatically.

 

The game has room for improvement, but if you enjoyed it so far, you'll like the rest. Especially the expansions. :)

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Expansions... I'm guessing you mean White March? Maybe. But I've already seen an achievement to kill ANOTHER dragon without any counter achievement for the same task, so my expectations aren't very high for that sort of thing.

It's just very aggravating to have dialogue that is pointless. You can interact with a brick wall more than you can this idiot dragon.

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It is too bad that this particular area doesn't have many non-violent solutions. It's just the standard sociopath adventurer strategy: stroll in, kill everyone there, loot their stuff. I would have liked more options too, but well.

 

I don't personally mind the dragon encounters though. Between the dragon on the fifth level of the Endless Paths and this dragon, it's become pretty clear that they're pretty dumb and aggressive; you can't reason with them, you can't sneak past them, you can't charm or distract them (I assume because they're huge and have great eyesight), etc. You can feebly try to talk to them for a bit before their hunger and/or aggression gets the better of them and they attack, but that's it.

 

Now, trying to reason with kith races? That's another story.

 

My personal first and most jarring disappointing RP experience was a minor quest in Defiance Bay. A guy who got kicked out of the Crucible Knights says his old rival kept his family armor when he was dishonorably discharged. Though he acknowledges his shame in getting kicked out, he doesn't feel it's right that this guy took a family heirloom that wasn't his. I went to the rival, asked him nicely to give it back, he wouldn't do it. I went to a soul scribe and found out he had forged his soul certificate, then came back and warned him that if he didn't give back the family heirloom I'd tell his superiors; he ignored me. On my way to his superiors's offices, he confronted me in the streets, begging me not to tell or else he'd get kicked out. At this point, there were a few dialogue options, "Your superiors have a right to know [he attacks]," "You're right, you shouldn't be punished for a previous life [hand it over]," "Don't care [he attacks]," "[Attack]," etc.

 

What I found jarring was the lack of option to say, "Give me the family heirloom armor and then I'll give you this document." You can ONLY give it back or refuse and have to kill the guy. The whole point of the quest was to use the document as leverage to get the heirloom armor back, and by handing it over right away you lose that leverage. In fact, right after handing it over my gal asked if she could have the armor now, and he refused. Only by being super nice (which I wasn't in a mood for by this point) was I able to convince him to "be the better man" and hand it over. Flip that!

 

I just personally found it so jarring because it goes against the whole point of the quest. "Please give it back." "No." "I found out you forged your soul certificate. Please give it back or I'll tell your superiors." "No." *goes to tell superiors* "OMG Please don't tell!" The logical progression of this quest is for you to say, "First, give back the armor, then I'll give you this." I don't know what possessed the writer(s) to think that having you just hand it over or just refuse and have to kill the guy was a good idea.

 

I'm playing the game again for the first time in about a year, so I'm hoping they fixed this with the new patches.

Edited by Faerunner

"Not I, though. Not I," said the hanging dwarf.

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You can convince pendhelm to hand over the armour through dialogue, you don't have to kill him.

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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@Faerunner: I just found it annoying that if those drakes can't be reasoned with at all, why have dialogue with them in the first place? It's like dangling a thread in front of a cat; teasing them with something they want but don't ever give it to them. Not to mention that having the ability to retreat from the area during combat would have solved the problem too, so long as you can go back to the quest giver and fail it without resorting to tricks. I eventually said to myself "screw it" and flat out murdered the priest that gave me the quest instead. My benevolent paladin chose cold-blooded murder instead of completing the quest. In this situation, I couldn't talk to the priestess any further about the quest, so the only way to finish the quest for me was to murder her. It goes without saying that this breaks immersion hard.

But yeah, I agree. Too many quests involving kith were missing a third option. Raedric vs. Kolsc, The leader of the Fang tribe especially come to mind. Especially as a Watcher; you'd think you'd be able to get more context and find a third option that doesn't involve flat out attacking one of the opposing parties by examining their souls, but this ability doesn't extend much into side quests for some reason.

By the way Fenixp; what's DM stand for?

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By the way Fenixp; what's DM stand for?

Dungeon Master. In pen and paper RPGs, there was a player who essentially acted as a storyteller and controlled how the game's going to proceed - since the one doing that was an actual person as opposed to a computer, he could allow players to do anything they wished whenever it made sense in context of roleplaying their characters. My point is that computer is, sadly, limited and you will only ever get presented with choices that writers thought of as opposed to those you'd actually need to roleplay - I'm pretty sure you've hit the same problem with most other RPGs you've played, not just Pillars. I know I have.

Edited by Fenixp
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Hmm... I have heard of the Dungeon Master, actually. Sounds like a neat idea, but yes, computers are limited in that field.

Strangely enough, though, Neverwinter Nights didn't really have this problem with roleplaying possibilities, at least for me. The problem with Neverwinter Nights was the endings. First Neverwinter game, though? I honestly liked it quite a bit more than PoE.

Writers seem to consistently assume that all players will kill all dragons they find regardless of the context. I think focusing on that a bit more would help alleviate this problem in the future.

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Writers seem to consistently assume that all players will kill all dragons they find regardless of the context. I think focusing on that a bit more would help alleviate this problem in the future.

Actually, most dragon encounters can be talked out of, especially when it comes to higher dragons, in Pillars. In fact, you mostly can avoid fighting many sapient species throughout the game. The way I interpreted the particular encounter you spoke of was that the dragon was mad - that there was no way of talking sense into him, and that he'd attack you regardless.

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Yes, true, PoE did redeem itself a little after my encounter with the Sky Dragon. However, this is slightly alleviated anyway due to the presence of an achievement to murder the dragon and wurm with no counter-achievement for the sake of balance. It goes without saying that I will likely never get 100% of achievements in this, so my normal completionist drive is just gone for this game. It's like the developers are saying "to complete this game completely, you have to compromise any morals you may have, regardless of what they are, or how prevalent they may be".

I would have been fine with Cail being mad and attacking you regardless if you had some sort of evidence or warning that he was actually mad and fully beyond reason. AKA context. That definitely applies to the drake in the Endless Paths, as it was likely driven mad with both power and sickness from the Master Below and eating diseased Xaurips.

The only impression I got for Cail was that he was stupid - up until you see him, you know nothing about him. Maybe having an unfortunate adventurer's journal, detailing him trying to reason with the drake, and then getting a ridiculously mad response and getting attacked through no real fault of the adventurer's. Or, maybe a bit more creative, have another drake in the area that you can actually talk to, ask you to kill Cail because he's too destructive for the Searing Falls to last long, and then once you kill Cail, this (not) mad drake takes his place (because that would actually fit into the lore) and not backstab you for no reason when you talk to him again.

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Yes, true, PoE did redeem itself a little after my encounter with the Sky Dragon. However, this is slightly alleviated anyway due to the presence of an achievement to murder the dragon and wurm with no counter-achievement for the sake of balance. It goes without saying that I will likely never get 100% of achievements in this, so my normal completionist drive is just gone for this game. It's like the developers are saying "to complete this game completely, you have to compromise any morals you may have, regardless of what they are, or how prevalent they may be".

To be fair, there's also an achievement for killing as few opponents as possible (called 'relative pacifism') - and especially in White March, you can avoid a lot of conflict using stealth. It's just a shame the original didn't have more bits like that as well, off the top of my head it was mostly just Raedric's hold.

Edited by Fenixp
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@Rosbjerg: Yeah that was my idea going in, seeing that the achievements were there, kinda reminds me of some of the Skyrim achievements. But like I said, my completionist drive was just gone for this game, especially when I hit the level cap with so many side quests left that I kinda gave up.

@Fenixp: I did notice the "super murderer" and another opposite achievement that I can't remember the name of. But these two were a different kind of thing; From the Clouds to the Depths should have a counter achievement similar to the "super murderer" achievement, and probably make it a bit more difficult to spare the two dragons. I never even found the Adra dragon, though I assume there's sufficient dialogue with it anyway.

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Nah, he's got a point - in a game in which diplomacy is as important as it is in Pillars of Eternity, you should absolutely get an achievement both for killing all dragons and for ... well, not killing any dragons (while at the same time meeting them tho). As it is, achieving latter is actually more difficult than achieving former, even if we only speak of the dragons you may not kill.

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@tinysalamander: It's Obsidian's catering to that kind thought (or lack of) process that led to this limiting of RP in the first place, where previous games did far better. Something being dangerous was never a good justification for choosing a violent option, given you can spare a gangly Vithrack and some undead warlord. Even the Witcher series, in which you roleplay Geralt, with a set amount of plausible actions for everything, has more freedom in roleplaying decisions than in Pillars of Eternity. Or at least it feels like it. A bit glaring considering how it would be easier to add some dialogue options in PoE without needing additional voice-acting, while the Witcher developers went the extra mile. Take notes, Obsidian.

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Take notes, Obsidian.

Oh please don't, Obsidian. First of all, writing a game in which you're roleplaying Geralt of Rivia is significantly easier than writing a game in which you're roleplaying whatever the player pleases - I know, it's difficult to see past your, personal roleplaying experience, but I already played trough the game with characters of three significantly different dispositions and I mostly felt I could do whatever I wanted. In fact, it's one of the things I had to praise about Pillars - that it allows you to roleplay what you want, within reason of course.

Secondly, achievements are not direct part of the game and are entirely optional for a reason - you may ignore them. If your roleplaying experience goes against what the game rewards you with achievements for, it's your own fault that you can't ignore them, not the game's.

Lastly, Witcher 2 and 3 had absolutely rubbish progression mechanics, so we'd be better off if Obsidian didn't look at it too hard :-P

Edited by Fenixp
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Mm, yeah, I didn't really mean take notes on EVERYTHING. Just the feeling of freedom, really, and in this specific example (a benevolent paladin) it was destroyed pretty badly, even for just one quest. I do presume that with all the different checks in the game including intellect and perception (which my paladin didn't have) a mage and thief character, along with all the different dispositions, it would have a good amount of freedom with what you could do with these things.

Okay, Obsidian, don't take notes on everything. Actually it would be a better idea to take some notes on roleplaying and freedom from Neverwinter Nights; it's a more relevant example. Put your character's roleplaying capabilities literally EVERYWHERE where it would help or be plausible. It's a shame, because most of PoE had quite a lot of effort and thought put into it, but some of these throw-away side quests weren't handled with the same attention. I'm not exactly sure why, either. Did they run out of development time or something? Budget? Who knows...

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I'm surprised then you didn't have a problem killing the "looters" aka poor people that ran up the cliff path and attacked you near the beginning of the game at the broken bridge? It's self defense even for a benevolent paladin (which I'm also playing). As the above poster explained, this particular dragon is crazy/mad so it's not going to listen to you about handing over it's favorite thing in the world no matter how high your stats are. Might as well try to separate Gollum from his ring.

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Now that you mention it, yeah, that looter thing was another problem that didn't have a third option; namely telling the truth and letting the two parties compromise (which wouldn't be that hard to do honestly). I just ended up lying to the first woman.

As I've already explained as well, assuming the dragon is crazy/mad without any evidence prior to the encounter is lazy writing and not good enough. And that doesn't explain why you can't just refuse to take the thing for the sake of that priestess. It forces you to kill him without any chance to reconsider what you're doing. At least with the kith two party problem you are given time to decide which option to take.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

@Faerunner: I just found it annoying that if those drakes can't be reasoned with at all, why have dialogue with them in the first place? 

 

When's the last time you played Baldur's Gate?

 

 

 Spoiler alert.

 

 

 

 

 Well, in SoA there are 5 dragons and you can speak to 4 of them without turning them hostile. The shadow dragon will always turn hostile but you have the option of sneaking past with the ward stone and you were warned about what would happen if you speak to the shadow dragon.

 

  ToB, of course,  was a different story due to the (poor) plot. In ToB (plus Watcher's Keep), if I remember correctly, there are 2 that you can speak to without hostilities (the one in watcher's keep and the green dragon) and 2 that you can't (Abazigal and Draconis) but the latter 2 are part of the plot (so, given the poor plot in ToB, that's about the best you hope for?).

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