The Let's Play Archive

Torment: Tides of Numenera

by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 5: Divine Incoherence!

Divine Incoherence!

When we last left our...questionably groomed heroine, we had to choose from one of three generic and unexciting abilities!

By popular demand, we became a Clever Jack with a Silver Tongue.

As soon as we pick a focus it opens a doofy mind portal.

Because there are so many portraitless yet named NPCs, I'm going to try this format for transcribing the game. Yell at me in the thread if you hate it.

Villon: Does this mean we can go back to the real world?

And then we are released from the conversation.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Cultists: The Deathcheater! Yay!

: Does anyone know anything useful about the Sorrow, a Resonance Chamber, or my tattoo?

Casmeen: Nope. Are you the Changing God?

: Hell yea I am.

Casmeen: If this were a Bioware game we'd be fucking like rabbits.

Mimeon: Really? You're the Changing God?

: Yup.

Mimeon: Well, the real Changing God could....fix that clock over there. Yup. Go!

: Do you remember those three memories from the tutorial? Yes? Good. Now go back to the spooky mindspace!

: Ok, who the hell are you three?

Kamose: I'm foolish!

Divaticu: I'm a fishman!

Villon: We're here because character creation isn't done yet! You can pick one more ability once you navigate these dialogue menus! The Changing God gave you a great gift - you can have a shield, talk good, or get sneak attack like a D&D rogue! Aren't you grateful?

: This is bullshit! Callistege gets "who pierces realities" and can summon herself to powerup in combat. As the last body built to deal with the sorrow, wouldn't I have a unique ability that you guys wouldn't?

Kamose: No.

:...Fine, uh, Silver Tongue!

Divaticu: We're free!

: What have I done?

Uh oh.

It's the black sperm! Who wrote this shit, R Scott Bakker?

It does a doofy jump that would make Thorn Brenin proud and knocks us into the portal. I don't know why it did this, because this event triggers when you're trying to leave.

: What did happen?

It blasted you out of that part of your mind.

: His voice is somber. "The Sorrow must be gathering its strength, taking spaces in your mind to keep you from reaching your full potential. I don't know why it doesn't just destroy you. Maybe the fragments aren't strong enough... yet."

: Are you always here?

: I found the resonance chamber, but it's broken.

If this game turns out to have the twist that the magic blue ghost who claims to be part of us is actually an external enemy I won't be shocked.

: How did activating the clock in the real world open that other fathom?

: Could other fathoms open like that?

: How do I get back again?

: If this is my mind, why don't I remember this place?

But we're not in control. We never have been in control here. Is he lying? I don't know, as I said, I'm trying to keep this a semi-blind LP.

: Is there anything to do while I'm here?

I take this option to see if he trips up.

: Tell me who you are again.

: I think I'm ready to go. Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Oh no! The Black Demon Seed helped you do a thing you were going to do anyway!

: Got any helpful advice?

Nope. Door's that way! Remember, this is in your mind, you're in control here, and I'm just a friendly little mental projection!

Huh. I bet our cultists have something to say, right?

: I met Kamose, Diviaticu, and Villon.

Mimeon: You sought answers about who might repair the resonance chamber. I wish I could tell you that, I truly do. We know that you built it with the aid of one of your vessels...but we don't know his - or her - name. Perhaps one of your children might know where to find him. Or her.

Note the phrasing here - we have called fire onto the altar with our successful clock repair. Instead of rounding up the priests of Baal we just want to fix a plot device to get the black sperm out of our head.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

Casmeen: So who was in the clock?

: A moron, a fish dude, and a generic rogue.

Mimeon: Awww, man! Those guys suck! I guess I have to tell you now that you've proven you're a real god. We have no idea how to fix the resonance chamber, but a castoff built it. There's one other castoff in the city, a dangerous assassin named Matkina in the Underbelly. Good luck!

:I...sure, why not.

Naturally we're going to fuck around this update and...not do that.

Anyway, we can level up now!

This is giving me flashbacks to, of all things, Dungeons and Dragons Online where to go up a level you had 5 sublevels of various perks and whatnot.

Dungeons and Dragons Online was not a good game.

We can increase out stat pools (might/speed/intellect), our edge (I think this is free energy points we get in an encounter. So with 2 might edge we'd start a smashing challenge with 2 free dots filled in), extra effort (the cap on how much of our pool we can dump) or we can improve an ability or skill.

I go for an improvement to our infuse weapon, which increases its accuracy by 15%.

While we're here, I sneak a peek at our friend Callistege.

She can teleport around and shoot transdimensional bolts. She has some kind of projectile weapon, but yes, as her focus implies her whole shebang is that her weird mirror image clones are parallel universe versions of herself.

We'll talk to her in an upcoming update, I promise.

I mistake this guy for someone else and go talk to him.

: You are exquisite as well.

Every so often we get tide changes in dialogue, which I believe is supposed to show your dominant personality? And they maybe effect the ending?

: For a moment that stretches uncomfortably, you feel the cold scrutiny of the philethis upon you. At last, it speaks again.

Philethis: It is the nature of flags to fade.

Yup. It's time for cryptic foreshadowing of...something.

: [Persuasion] Tell me about yourself.

I dump our intellect pool hard!

: Do you know anything about the Sorrow? About the resonance chamber built by the Changing God?

The Last Castoff is a video game protagonist first and foremost, and understands that when someone is spewing cryptic nonsense that means they know the plot, and not that they're just your standard mentally ill homeless person ranting about demons.

You know, if you wanted to convey a long silence maybe don't stuff it in to the same sentence as the robot speaking..

: Please - tell me about yourself in a way I can understand.

Ok, writers, that was pretty good.

: What do you want from me?

: I assume it placed me in a better position.

I assume this is foreshadowing the situation of the Changing God somehow and how we remember nothing. Is this deep? Are you tormented yet?

: What more do you want from me?

Fuuuuuuuuuck this!

: I don't know.

: Do you have any more questions for me?

this is meaningful foreshadowing, you know!

: I have no idea.

I looked up "eremite" and it means "a Christian hermit or recluse". Where is Christ?

: Do you have still more questions?

...oh, shit, I think I know who wrote this segment.

: You've been following me?

: Why are you so interested in my choices?

...sure, why not.

: What do your questions mean? What do you want?

: You don't know what you want.

: Farewell!

: As you step away, the philethis swivels to keep its glass face trained on you.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:


: Same to you, pal! Who are you?

I am the walrus.

: Huh, sounds cryptic. Do you know what I'm supposed to be doing, or what this game is supposed to be about?

When you saw the ending of Lost, how did it make you feel?

: Uh, what the fuck?

The Proper Noun is Proper, yet a Noun. Do I shadow the fore, or does the fore shadow me? Truth lies in the close of the tautology.

: What do you want from me? Do you even know?



So I mentioned earlier I think I knew who wrote this, and I'm 99% sure it's Patrick Rothfuss. How do I know this?

This asshole strongly reminds me of Elodin from The Name of the Wind. Now, if you haven't read it, I recommend not buying it and reading something more worthwhile, like the script for Gigli or the manual for a 1992 Toyota Camry. Elodin's role in Rothfuss's series is to be the cryptic, eccentric teacher who asks questions like "what are the seven words to make a woman love you?" and rambling on about the subconscious mind which knows the secret knowledge Elodin is trying to teach.

The secret knowledge is the magical name of the wind, which (as BravestOfTheLamps pointed out in his exhaustive Name of the Wind review) isn't a mystical new way of seeing the world but rather a weapon the protagonist of the novel turns against high school bullies.

Moving on!

Oh this ought to be good.

: What are you?

Ah, yes, better welcome our new masters!

: So you said you were the last of your kind. Why?

: You said you had to answer if I asked. Why?

: From within the helmet, you hear a grinding noise, the sound of teeth gnashing, amplified. Then, the voice again, bleak. "We sat at the river's edge and we wept for the time that was. We saw nothing more to conquer, and yet our fears still drove us. We had conquered the land, purged its impurities, made it ours. Still we wanted more. When we heard that humans had come to carve a home, we rejoiced to have a new foe, a new test of our truth. We rode against them."

: Can you tell me about the nano who trapped you here? How did he stop you?

: The Genocide raises his hands in defeat. "He found old knowledge and made it his own. He created defenses that we could not penetrate. Most telling, most effective-the shield generators. He created three barriers around the heart of the city, and the last unmoored the city in time. When our constructs touched it, they flashed to stasis. We could not reach the city...but the city could reach us."

This actually has a much better literary inspiration than our robot buddy, but "flashed to stasis" makes me cringe.

: Let the memory come.

: It's a patchy memory, coming in still images and moments - the relentless beat of the war machines as they approached the city, the reavers in the sky on their dirigibles...

: You seem very calm for someone who has been imprisoned for centuries.

: He leans in closer. "I do not die. I cannot be wounded. I am held like a beetle in sap. Why would I not be... serene?"

: He settles back. "The Underspine spoke of my destiny."

: How did they stop you from trying to escape?

The Genocide: The nano who raised the city's shields created a device. He called it the Mindseer. With it he violated my mind, my memories, and everything that was at the core of my being. In a fit of vengeance, he tore truths from me. He made me betray my people. He rewrote my mind. He gave me perfect clarity into the past, and gelded my ability to shape the future.

It's a curse, got it.

: The nano who defeated you was the Changing God. He and his children still live.

: His voice is flat and dead. "Others have claimed this. I do not know if they say this to torment me. But if our enemy was a god, even if he was once but a man, then to stand against him is to spit in the face of the divine. The Tabaht were a holy people. Humans do not believe it, but our rites were as sacred to us as they were profane to you. We accepted the will of the ineffable.

: You mentioned the Tabaht. Who or what were they?

But wait! Isn't literally owning your god spitting in the face of the divine?

: You mentioned the names of some Tabaht. Can you tell me about them?

: Why did the Tabaht fight so much? will is only good if you choose to give it up, got it.

: Can you tell me more about the Underspine?

The Genocide: Our slave, our god, our prize. It kept us holy, kept us pure and unchanging, anchored to a fixed point. The world turned around us, but we remained constant. When the world brought inconstancy, we fed it blood.

: What was the Underspine?

So the Tabaht had a robot city that made them worship it as a god and it sent them out to kill people. These are the guys from the tutorial flashback who were attacking the Changing God's city - this city of Sagus Cliffs, which we are in right now.

: What are the benefits of an absolute path?

This is literally just the "benefit" of being able to claim you were just following orders at the Nuremberg trials.

: What happened to the Underspine?

: You can hear the frown in his voice. "Sabotage. Or failure. One of those under my command told me that it had whispered defeat into his ears, as if it had sickened, lost sight of the true path. Given the question, the Underspine denied this. My soldier was cast out, and I suffered the barb for his doubt. It was later, years later, that the Underspine broke. After our failure. And I have never been sure if the seeds for our defeat were planted in those days.

: If your path was unbending, it's no wonder you broke.

: Let me ask about something else.

: You mentioned the shield generators. Can you tell me about them?

The Genocide: I told you their effect. They unmoored the city in time. They severed our supply lines. They left us vulnerable, and defeated us. The Underspine's strategy failed us. I began to doubt.

: He shifts slightly. "The generators are unused, abandoned, their purpose forgotten. Though the people of this city still swear by our name, and our terrors are fresh in their nightmares despite the passage of centuries, they have forgotten the means of their salvation.

: I have no more questions. Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Who are you?

: I am the Genocide, bound here for eternity to answer the questions of passing travelers.

: What? Why? How?

: I am the last of the Tabaht, a warlike species who concluded that thinking was just too hard so we made a robot we called God do it. A long time ago we attacked this city because our God commanded it and we wished to test ourselves against you. Unfortunately a powerful nano destroyed our legions, trapped me here, and exterminated my people and our god in revenge. Anyway, at least I'm immortal and can watch all these fucks die.

: That sounds suspiciously like the Changing God, and he and his completely unrelated children are still alive.

: Well, then I guess I had it coming, because if he's a god he doesn't have to follow any kind of law. Man, I remember my god. It was great and did all the thinking so I didn't have to. Then the Changing God kicked its ass, and I began to doubt. That makes me sad.

: How the hell did your people survive in the wild?

: Fuck you. Also, there is a shield generator powering that clock that those "deathcheater" morons keep talking about. I'm friggin immortal and that hot Casmeen chick won't even look at me! I hate this place, but this generator keeps me imprisoned and no one knows about it.

: Cool, bye.

So I'm being flippant because the prose is long and could be written better, but there's some actual literary meat here that actually does a pretty good job characterizing the Changing God. You could write this off as a stupid sci-fi version of parading prisoners through the city before execution, but there's a bit more of a literary basis than that.

Tolkien's Silmarillion posted:

Therefore Húrin was brought before Morgoth, for Morgoth knew that he had the friendship of the King of Gondolin; but Húrin defied him, and mocked him. Then Morgoth cursed Húrin and Morwen and their offspring, and set a doom upon them of darkness and sorrow; and taking Húrin from prison he set him in a chair of stone upon a high place of Thangorodrim. There he was bound by the power of Morgoth, and Morgoth standing beside him cursed him again; and he said: 'Sit now there; and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom thou lovest. Thou hast dared to mock me, and to question the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes thou shalt see, and with my ears thou shalt hear; and never shalt thou move from this place until all is fulfilled unto its bitter end.'

And even so it came to pass; but it is not said that Húrin asked ever of Morgoth either mercy or death, for himself or for any of his kin.

Now, Morgoth aka Melkor is Tolkien's take on Milton's Satan. Both are prideful and convinced that they deserve to rule in place of God, and both rebel against God and are cast out. Really, they're the same character except Milton's Satan tempts Adam and Eve out of spite, while Melkor twists God's creations in a vain attempt to create never realizing that true creation is beyond him. While we're on this topic, let's take a look at the codex entry for the Changing God.

The Tabaht:

So, yes, the Changing God was once a simple man who found a way to become immortal and mastered ancient technologies. The game is nominally asking "what does one life matter" but currently the more intriguing question it's dragging out is "what does it mean to be a god?" The Changing God creates life from nothing. Does that make him a god, or merely someone playing with tools he barely understands?

Unfortunately this discussion is rudely interrupted by incoherent "worldbuilding." The Tabaht Underspine is nothing more than an AI that is somehow God and slave (huh? What?) that they freely abdicate their free will to serve (sure) that is nothing more divine than the asshole computer we tricked into giving us a grenade.

Unfortunately, looking it up, the Genocide cannot join our party which is a damn shame as he is literally the most interesting part of this game so far.

Oh well. I will assuage my sadness by talking with this random guy.

Jesus Christ! We're right back to the boring physical description of things that could be animated, but won't be. Giving these characters portraits would do a lot to avoid this.

: You seem nervous.

: What do you know about the creature over there?

The game suddenly remembers Callistege is in our party.

: You're planning something, aren't you?

Oh, is he a worshipper of "the Deathcheater" too?

: You'll set it free?

: You want me to kill it for its brain? Isn't that murder?

: This sounds too easy. I just walk up, plant the device on the creature's cage, and activate it?

: All right. Give me the device, and I'll see what I can do.

Alright! We just scammed some dumb guy out of his teleport device! I'll be putting whether or not we do the quest or I try to find a way to fuck him over to a vote.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Yo don't talk to me, I'm not suspicious. Oh wait, you're an RPG protagonist. Do you mind sticking this teleporter on that robot in the glass there and teleporting it out so we can murder it and steal its brain?

: Why not.

Anyway, that homeless kid told us that this guy was being tortured to death.

This guy has a real name, as opposed to the hordes of "horrified man" and other generic people making up this crowd.

: What kind of help do you need?

: Who are you?

: Why is your friend being executed?

: But you did, right?

: If you were part of the scheme, why aren't you up there with him?

: Why are you helping Ris?

: I want to talk to your friend.

: All right, forget it.

: What's your plan?

: This sounds like an extremely risky plan.

: Would it be simpler to talk to the crowd at the execution? Convince them to rise up and free Ris?

The Last Castoff, ladies and gentlemen. "What if I started a revolution to free a guy who was part of a treasonous conspiracy?"

: Where can I find the Council Clerk?

: Alright, I'll help you.

: Excellent! Then you will need a proper story and a badge of office. Fortunately, I have the first and you can buy the second from Sangolin, the clothing merchant in Government Square.

: He folds his arms. "Once you have a badge of office, you will tell the Council Clerk you are from the Judicial Oversight Committee, looking into corruption in the commutation of capital sentences. The stay you're asking for is that of a notorious gangster named Col Cardin, who was mysteriously set free a few years ago."

: Thanks I could use the help.

: It will be my pleasure, but let's hurry. There's not a moment to lose. Ris hasn't much time.

Tybir, incidentally, is a Cagey Jack who knows how to take care of himself.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Yo wanna help me break my friend out of execution? He's in there for the treason I committed!

: What does this entail?

: Oh, nothing much. Just you and your extremely distinctive tattoo impersonating a government official. Hell, that last guy recognized you as a castoff on sight so this shouldn't be a problem.

: Eh.....

: Oh, and I'll join your party.

: Sold!

Decisions lie before us!

Which of these sidequests should The Last Castoff attempt? And should she help the questgiver or turn them in?

If you know any cool alternate routes you want to see vote for those suckers in spoiler tags.