The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 2: Cleopatra Jones and the Unfair Edict

Cleopatra Jones and the Unfair Edict

Anyway, on to Conquest mode! A lot of people showed up in the thread to tell me what Cleopatra should do, so we need to try to balance out the legions (roughly) and go forth and conquer for Overlord Kyros!

Every time you go to a new place in Conquest the token gets pushed onto the board by the Kyros stick here. It's a nice touch.

We get two of these tokens at every node. I'm going for infiltration here, the other one is fighting on the front lines with the army.

I'm honestly just going to show off the options we take. Most of the options are going to be either favoring the Disfavored or the Scarlet Chorus, either by giving them the good assignments or meditating when they inevitably start bitching at each other over stupid shit. This is going to be a running theme in this game.

Moving on!

We have some fire mages.

The Disfavored want us to kill them all, but the Scarlet Chorus want us to turn them over to Nerat so Nerat can absorb their minds and use their magic. We toss the Chorus a bone.

This is a fate worse than death, but we are the bad guys! I want to point out what the game is doing here - it's desensitizing the player to these atrocities their character committed by presenting it in this stylized text adventure section. We don't get graphic executions and crucified victims (yet), but we are just as responsible for these elders' deaths because we gave the order. Well, I am. You all voted based on incomplete information I gave you.

We take the Scarlet Chorus option. The actual event changes based on which of the two events you picked at the start. This game is incredibly reactive.

The little playing piece collapses and we zoom out.

The thread voted to go to Apex, so I omit that choice here.

The mountain nation of Apex, ruled for generations by the Queen of House Vendrien, stood at the heart of the Tiers. No army could bypass the landlocked realm without leaving their flank open to attack. By the second year of the war, the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus had pushed deep into the Tiers. Elements of both armies were dispatched to conquer Apex. Tunon assigned you to accompany them, tasked with bringing Kyros' law to the territory as well as keeping an eye on both armies.

We have a bunch of water mages I turn over to Nerat to make future sigil acquisition a bit easier.

I'm sure this will never come up again.

We are going to help out the Disfavored here because we need to balance our rulings.

The Scarlet Chorus is all in favor of bloodshed but they also just kind of throw trash peasant hordes at problems. Somehow this actually wins them fights against disciplined, well-equipped opponents and they never manage to run out of peasants in the Bronze Age world where an entire peninsula with multiple nations has a population of "thousands".

This is the Cleo option. The Scarlet Chorus option is taunting the Queen of Apex until she challenges you to a duel and then killing her.

Thus ends Apex. The goons picked Vellum Citadel as their last destination, so we will go there for the last year of the conquest.

The Vellum Citadel was an archive and library of massive scale. Its inhabitants were known as the School of Ink and Quill, a circle of mages that, centuries ago, carved out their own mountainous refuge on lands unsettled by the other major realms.

Legends said that the Citadel housed a treasure trove of arcane knowledge. The Overlord's spies infiltrated the school and confirmed as much.
The time was ripe to send a detachment to the great library fortress, and force the scholars to yield to Kyros.

A detachment of Kyros' army marched on the Vellum Citadel expecting an orderly surrender. As they neared the main gates, a blast of arcane energy struck the commanders dead. Suddenly the highest ranging officer alive, Kyros' forces looked to you for the next steps. The call weighed on your mind, as it had an immediate influence on soldier losses.

Oh, this is a fun one! Instead of picking which army to favor, you pick which army to thoroughly piss off by throwing them into the meat grinder to hold off the enemy. No, you can't send a mixed detachment, fuck you!

This is also politically the safest option - Nerat views his soldiers as expendable trash while Graven Ashe actually cares about the Disfavored.

Unfortunately we can't really replace Disfavored for reasons that will be shown after the conquest.

The Disfavored learned of a hidden enemy enclave, and sent scouts to locate it. They never returned from their mission. The remaining Disfavored soldiers demanded that you send the Scarlet Chorus to retrieve their scouts, but the Scarlet Chorus flatly refused to fall into the same trap. They recommended that the scouts be treated as wartime casualties.

We send the Scarlet Chorus out anyway.

Anyway, it's time to end the conquest by showing how powerful Kyros is.

Crestfallen by the preferential treatment you showed the Disfavored, the Scarlet Chorus retreated deeper into the mountains - leaving your detachment with a skeleton crew.

Tunon sent word that Kyros' patience had run thin - the Overlord would cast an Edict of Fire on the enemy.

The parchment arrived in a slender case of engraved iron. Written on it, the words of a spell powerful enough to destroy the Vellum Citadel.

You had the chance of when to read the Edict. Reading it at sunrise would offer your enemies no warning of the devastation to come. You could also wait until sunset, giving them ample time to flee or make amends.

Yea, I kinda messed up the balance a little by thinking the Chorus icon meant Chorus. We can fix this. Sorry, crazy murder peasants.

I, uh, fuck up again here and apparently completely missed that the Chorus was "crestfallen".

of the enemy fortress. Kyros' will be done.

RIP Sages.

The armies of Kyros left the devastation of the Vellum Citadel in silence. From that day forward, the Tiers came to know the once-noble citadel as the 'Burning Library'.

This was an undisputed loss - of resources, knowledge, culture, and life. But a message had been sent: the Overlord will not tolerate defiance.

You didn't have long to rest before Tunon called you into service once more. You were one of the last to depart from the mountains, and as you journeyed off, you spotted a few campfires in the mountains. They were mere specks, dwarfed by the inferno, the last gasps of survivors, or perhaps looters from Kyros' armies bored and daring enough to pick through the ashes.

We are given the option to replay the conquest again, but we have a whole game to get through.

This is how you got butchered without mercy in antiquity.

In summary: Either Ashe and Nerat stop bitching and work or Kyros kills everyone with a magical explosion. Don't think about it too hard.

Cleo's reward for loyal service is Kyros telling her she's expendable. This is entirely keeping with how tyrants have treated their "friends" throughout history.

By transitioning from stylized propaganda art to the realistic 3D Unity models, the game is telling us that we are returning to reality now instead of the sanitized narrative of Kyros' conquest. It's a little fuzzy given who our narrator is (though we know she's obviously with the Tiers instead of Kyros) but now we actually get to get our hands dirty.

The game is going to throw tutorials at me, and I'm going to click the X to make them go away.

Here we see Tyranny in a nutshell. We're doing some legitimately great things here, and some bad things. I absolutely adore the little models in dialogue, because the developers can make them so expressive by having them gesture and convey the mood of the conversation instantly.

On the other hand, the Tyranny devs have fallen into the trap of "describing shit we can clearly see" like Aurora giving us the salute that her model is obviously giving us.

The other great thing Tyranny does is let you click the hyperlinks to get explanation of any proper noun, so we don't need to have Aurora explain to one of Kyros' judges who Kyros is. It's legitimately great, and I think both Pillars of Eternity and Pathfinder Kingmaker ripped it off. Like I said, this is a game made by people who obviously knew and cared about their craft dragged down by some mistakes.

Oh, yes, the Disfavored are vaguely racist and will only recruit from one part of Kyros' empire. There aren't a lot of them either, and it's part of another of the game's running themes that evil fucks itself over. If Graven Ashe had recruited loyal Tiersmen and trained and equipped them as Disfavored he would be in a better position both by denying the Scarlet Chorus recruits and having more soldiers to put down the insurrection.

Of course, this would make him a bigger threat to Kyros as well. He already commands a formidable legion of loyal troops who are ultimately loyal to him moreso than Kyros, so I imagine Kyros encourages all this idiocy to maintain control.

: [Lore 20] Can you hear that hum in the air - that glow around the rocks? The avalanche is Kyros' magic - the Overlord has sealed the valley.

Always take the skill options, that raises your skills which raises your level which lets you get cool stuff. Also Lore is legitimately awesome, especially for a mage like Cleopatra.

: I come bearing an Edict of Kyros, our soldiers will complete their task or die.

Tyranny. Stop it. You have the great model, you have her dialog, please do not describe her slackening posture.

: [Subterfuge 20] Your first instinct is to blame the Scarlet Chorus, no wonder Kyros resorts to an Edict to enforce order.

What Aurora is not saying is that she realizes Cleopatra could have her killed for this shit.

Incidentally, the text for oathbreakers:

Oathbreakers posted:

In 'honor' of the Vendrien Guard reneging on the surrender of 429, soldiers in both the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus now refer to these Tiersmen as 'oathbreakers'. It is, perhaps, one of the few points of agreement between the Disfavored and Scarlet Chorus.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Fatebinder! It's been a while! Thank Kyros you made it to us, I thought you were sealed outside the valley.

: Nope, just Kyros' magic sealing us in.

: You'd know more about that nerd shit than me. Speaking of, you brought some of Kyros' magic to blow up the rebels, right?

: Nah, Kyros is gonna kill us all if we don't crush the rebels.

: What the fuck? Why? Why are we targeted when it's all those Scarlet Chorus poopy heads? Oh, shit, uh, I know you're in the secret police and all so please don't have me killed.

: You're really blaming the Scarlet Chorus, huh? No wonder Kyros is pissed.

: Oh shit! Oh fuck! I'm gonna get it now! Uh, yeah...that's really bad...we totally deserve this edict...I should really not say dumb shit, and I apologize. I'm going to go away now...hey, look! Rebels! Let's get them! Aurora escapes again!

So, we have our first tutorial combat, but I want to talk a bit about the conversation with Aurora. She's the first person you talk to in the game, and she sets up both who your character is and how life in Kyros' Empire works. Aurora is a loyal soldier of the Empire who put her life on the line and her reward is Kyros threatening her life. Her indignation is enough to overcome her absolute terror at being hauled before Tunon's judgement until she realizes that Cleopatra could have her executed for treason against the Overlord. Now, you might notice that Aurora's perspective might be somewhat useful for someone like Cleo coming in from the outside trying to resolve whatever's going on, and that the Disfavored troops blame the Scarlet Chorus is actually pertinent information for anyone trying to get the armies to work together. For all we know she's right and it actually IS the Scarlet Chorus' fault.

Unfortunately rather than listening to her we drive her away and we can see her desperately trying to prove her loyalty by yelling loudly about Kyros.

Thanks to setting the Bastard City on fire we have this lone spell. It's a fire spell with a two meter range, that does a bit of fire damage and also sets people on Magefire. What does that do?

Damage over time and people start flailing wildly and skip their turn. It's a DOT stun, it rules!

That hit chance. Nice.

Unfortunately our way to the next combat zone is blocked by a boulder, and Aurora tells us we're going to need to squeeze through.

Because we have 30 Athletics, we can just push the boulder onto this guy, instantly killing him and saving us the time of hacking through his giant pile of HP.

Remember kids, riots give you magical powers!

Nothing interesting happens in this fight because it's the tutorial and these guys are flammable.

Oh, who are you? Scarlet Furies are the Scarlet Chorus elite.

: [Join the battle] Save something for me.

This gets us tutorial combat, but Verse here is our first party member.

More idiots get set on fire.

: You fight like a storm. What's your role in the army?

: A Scarlet Fury - one of the elite killers of our ignoble gang. You'll see more than a few of us around camp, but don't let that fool you. We're a rare breed.

: Most of the 'soldiers' in the Scarlet Chorus are little more than farmers and children armed with rusted forks. Makes them easier to control.

: Why are the Vendrien Guard attacking now?

: [Join the battle] I'm ready if you are.

We are an RPG character, Verse. We also live in a preindustrial society where armor is rare and valuable so stealing it is an excellent idea.

: I see your point. Nice and practical.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: It's time to murder!

:hist101:: Look out! This crazy woman has lead poisoning!

: Hey, do you want to join me?

: Yes!

: Horrifying ultraviolence!

: You fight really well! What do you do in the army?

: Oh, I'm a Scarlet Fury! It means I'm one of maybe 20 people in the entire Scarlet Chorus who can actually fight! The rest are just trash peasants who are easy to control if they're incompetent and die in droves against trained soldiers! Ha ha!

: Why are the Vendrien guard attacking?

: The Voices of Nerat said there was something important here but he's literally called the Archon of Secrets. Good luck getting him to talk. Anyway, how do you feel about looting dead people?

: Girl, I'm an RPG protagonist.

: Cool, let's go kill more dudes.

Before we let Verse and Cleopatra revel in their mutual bloodlust on their eternal quest for loot and XP, I want to show off the magic system.

We took this off one of the dead Vendrien guard soldiers. This lets us upgrade all our spells for an addition 2 meters of range. Now, none of those guys were mages, so I assume the guy who had it was carrying it to propose to his sorceress girlfriend by getting her something nice and we ruined everything. Oh well, all in a day's work for the secret police.

The way spellcrafting works in this game is awesome. You have two mandatory components: a Core, like the fire sigil we picked up in the conquest, and an expression like Focused Intent up there. We will be getting more of each of these this very update. The scroll we just picked up was an accent, and we can layer those all over our spells to add things like faster cooldowns, more damage, a bigger AoE, or unique effects that do silly things. The downside is that the more accents you add (and the more complicated your expression is), the more lore you need to use the spell. We will be raising Cleo's lore like it is awareness of breast cancer.

Verse also has enough lore to cast the spell, so...there you go. You're a wizard, Verse. Try to use the power responsibly.

Before Verse can revel in her newfound power these guys run up. we have a clash between the image of the low-held falx and the description here.

Look, our Conquest choices are showing up already! This is going to be a recurring pattern, as we run into the people we aided or ailed during the conquest and they react appropriately.

: Drop your weapon and perhaps we can settle this without bloodshed.

You might notice we've gained favor with the rebels. This might come in handy later on.

: Fatebinder - did I hear that correctly? Maybe you misunderstand why we're here.

: As he signals his men to charge, the sound of chanting rises from the south, drawing his attention.

: "Scarlet Chorus reinforcements! Hurry!"

: "Hold position, all of you! You there - keep to the path!" The warrior gestures along the canyon trail, but his soldiers turn their attention to the Scarlet Chorus, roaring challenges.

: "No! Don't engage them, we need to run!" His orders falling on deaf ears, the warrior reluctantly readies his weapon.

This isn't a long fight. The two guys at the bottom get overwhelmed by the mage and her trash pack, but there's no rest for the wicked unfortunately.

You know, all those "glare silently" dialogue options are beginning to make a lot of sense.

: "Skewer him! Worry not for me, Graven Ashe will protect!" The Disfavored officer winces, blood seeping from the seems of his bracers and cuirass.

: [Conquest] I'm Cleopatra Jones, my name should be known to you, and it should be an honorable one. Please, give me the knife.

I can't think of a better screenshot that shows how fucked up this offensive has gotten.

: I offered that man mercy and you made a liar out of me.

Ah, yes, there's that Disfavored racism.

: The fault lies with the oathbreaker for forcing our hand. Just clean up this mess.

:hist101:: The warrior nods, clapping her gauntlet to her breastplate in salute. "At once!"

: "Kyros be praised! That oathbreaker fought with the rage of Cairn himself!" Drastus slides a trembling hand along the cut on his neck. "Thank you Fatebinder, I thought today was my last."

If you take the second option the Disfavored get even more pissed at you. The green text, incidentally, states that most Northern Imperials (like the Disfavored) can't read, but that the nobles of the Tiers absolutely can and have been using this to pass along messages the Disfavored can't decipher. It's hilarious, as if you go back one screen the Disfavored soldier is screaming about "mongrels" but their commander is incapable of reading a simple letter - and they can't actually learn to read because that's conceding that the "mongrels" are better than them at at least one thing.

: [Examine the parchment]

: Recruitment material - they were trying to bring more traitors to the fight.

: "Well from the look of it, we kept them from slipping out of the valley. Whatever they hoped to accomplish, I think their plan died here."

This is the game indicating that the Disfavored are idiots blinded by racism. Remember, the Disfavored can't read and their enemies are distributing recruitment pamphlets. The rebels could be giving these to random merchants with instructions to lie and say that they're shipping manifests or romance novels or whatever and Kyros' army would have no idea that the merchant is blatantly a rebel recruiter because they can't read! If we'd taken the right encounters at the Vellum Citadel we'd see that the Disfavored enjoy burning books. We didn't find a rebel scribe or a rebel printing press, we found some pamphlets on a courier team and Drastus is painting it as a glorious victory that crushed the rebel plan forever.

: The Archons are expecting you. When you're ready, leave by the gate to the southeast, and follow the trails downslope for a few hours - you'll see the camp fires leagues away - can't miss it.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Alright, men, time to break through!

: Throw down your weapons, this doesn't have to end in bloodshed.


: Oh, it's you! The peacemaker! Sorry, but we need to break out and Kyros will show us no mercy. Nothing personal.

: Horrifying ultraviolence!

:hist101:: Come quickly, they have the commander!

:clint:: Ok, so I have this hostage, so now you're going to back off or I stab him.

: Nah it's cool, you don't have to save me, Graven Ashe protects!

: Ha ha! He straight up said to stab him! Do it! DO IT!

: You should remember me. I made the peace during the war, please put the knife down and -

:clint:: You're an honorable woman who made peace. I will -

:freep::godwin::rant::: STABBING TIME!

: I offered him mercy and you killed him.

:freep:: But he was a mongrel! You gotta keep em down!

: Ok, just...clean up the mess. Have a lie to feel better about yourselves. Fuck.

: Wow, thanks for the save! Despite being a high-ranking military commander of the master race I can't read! Help?

: This is recruitment material to draw more traitors to rebel against us. These could be everywhere, and these illiterate morons would never know! We might be fucked!


:...I'm leaving now.

I'm cutting the update here, as it's gotten really long. Suffice to say I'm impressed with how well Tyranny is holding up to my analysis - it's actually laying out what it has to say early on, but it's not beating the player over the head with it or anything. This intro tutorial map is giving us all kinds of juicy information:

-Despite being a comrade who fought in the war with us, Aurora still has to kowtow to us because we can arbitrarily have her killed and is too terrified to offer her legitimate opinion that the Scarlet Chorus is fucking things up. The Scarlet Chorus confirms her opinion by literally cheering for allied troops to be killed.
-Kyros is a bad leader who relies on literal magic to keep their troops in line, and is so terrible that when Aurora asks "why is Kyros killing their own loyal troops" we literally cannot provide a good answer
-The Scarlet Chorus, despite being led by an individual called "the Archon of Secrets", is an undisciplined rabble that cannot stop killing long enough to act as an occupation force. They have the numbers to be a serious threat, but squander this on idiotic human wave tactics because the Archon is unable to impose military discipline and cannot effectively train them into a useful army (unlike, say, Hannibal).
-The Disfavored are blinded by their racism against the Tiersmen to the point where their enemy shows up with easily concealable propaganda they can't actually decipher and stop, and they declare victory because they stopped one squad from spreading a handful of pamphlets. Despite being Kyros' elite they will throw military discipline out the window the minute they feel challenged at the top of the racial hierarchy. Go look at how angry they became because their commander got beat by a Tiersman. It captures racism perfectly - the racists simultaneously need to believe they are inherently better, but also need to keep their victims down. If the racists actually were better somehow they wouldn't need to actually oppress their victims and ban them from reading and whatnot, they would just rise to the top on merit. The American South banned slave literacy because they recognized a literate black man like Frederick Douglass would be on par with their elite, but they also tried to convince themselves they were inherently superior because of who fucked whom. This leads to cognitive dissonance, which we see perfectly with Drastus convincing himself this was a glorious victory that made Kyros' armies look strong when in actuality they killed 12 dudes when in reality it showed that the Tiersmen were willing to fight, better organized, as heavily armed as the Disfavored (early iron weapons are worse than bronze), and have a better communications system. This further fucks the Disfavored because every loss at best requires reinforcements from the homeland and at worst is irreplaceable because they're literally too racist to recruit Tiersmen, and they will take losses because they can't interact with the locals.

We'll see if the game sticks the landing!