The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 25: Cleopatra Jones and the Rocky Retort

Cleopatra Jones and the Rocky Retort

Last time on Tyranny, we were deciding the fate of Essa, a farmer who had lost both her daughters to Kyros. As Verse was the one who proposed revenge, the thread decided to let her decide.

: This is your dance, Verse. Pick the tune.

The achievement in the corner is "Inspiring Leader", for reaching maximum loyalty with a companion.

: We came here because Irissa... she killed one of my sisters. I always thought I needed to avenge them, to make it right, because I'd failed them.

: But actually talking to you... it's cleared some stuff up. I guess what I'm saying is I miss my sisters, and you miss your daughters, and that's just the way of things.

: Essa nods numbly, turns, and shuffles toward her squat farmhouse.

: That was some uncharacteristic hesitation on your part.

Since when has Verse brought morality into...well, anything?

: Irissa and Clea are dead. What does that mean for your sisters?

: I'm sure Whispers would have something clever to say about frustrated ambitions. Verse shakes her head and chuckles darkly.

: You ever have a friend who almost never speaks? But then every once in a while she slips in the perfect word at the right time, and it's the only thing you remember? That was Three Whispers.

: She was our wary, flickering shadow with hair like crow's feathers. Preferred close up work. That was her name, for her three knives and the sound of air from a punctured lung.

: And yet?

: Her old favorite... THAT I remember. She'd trick a soldier into gutting his own comrade, then open his throat while he was in shock. Beautiful move, and I saw her dance it a dozen times.

: Whispers knew her histories and letters, knew borders and houses and heraldry. Even knew a few sigils, and kept us from bleeding out more than once. She runs a hand over her feathers.

: Sounds nice.

: Let's go.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Who are you? I warn you, I have nothing worth taking and I know how to fight.

: We're looking for Clea.

: Clea was my youngest daughter, what do you want with her?

: Was? Shit, are we too late for my murderous revenge?

: No swearing on my farm you little bitch!

: Yes ma'am!

: What happened to Clea?

: I'm Essa, this is my farm, and who are you again?

: I am Cleopatra Jones, Fatebinder of Tunon.

: A Fatebinder? Oh n - wait, the Peacebinder! That was a good thing you did! What do you want with me? I've broken no law.

: We came to fulfill Irissa's dying wish, but now that Clea's dead...

: Irissa too? What happened?

: She was killed in Stalwart fighting Kyros.

: This is all my fault! I taught those girls to fight! How was I to know Kyros would come with a stone giant and a bunch of wizards and shit! Fuck!

: Do you know anything about Krokus and Catorius?

: Oh, that guy. I knew him by a different name, but he was always a lying sack of shit. There's no justice if he lives while Irissa is dead. Catorius was a very smart older man.

: Ha ha we murdered Krokus ass.

: Aww yiss. Anyway, I, uh, broke a lot of laws! Like every law! I said Kyros was a poopy head, and I sold food to my neighbors! For money! Yea! Like, uh, I broke every law! I even broke the law about not breaking the law!

: Oh come on, you're just trying to commit suicide by Fatebinder.

: Ok Verse, it's your call, what are we doing?

: Suddenly after being characterized as a murderous psychopath who enjoys inflicting pain for fun I'm going to develop a case of empathy. You can go! Anyway, Three Whispers was my metaphorical sister. She was really cool! She was a great warrior, and a good fuck-buddy. Anyway, let's go, Fatebinder!

As we can see, Verse's loyalty is maxed out.

If we had elected to spare Essa ourselves, we would have gained Wrath with Tunon for allowing the terrible travesty of "Kyros the Overpig". However, by pushing the decision off to Verse, we completely avoid having to take responsibility. There's even a precedent for it, with Tunon pushing decisions (such as the Forge-Bound inventor) onto us.

The gloves are even an artifact that...

Yeah, I have some problems with this quest. The free artifact is nice (and makes me wonder if our companions aren't about to become Archons in their own right) but the characterization of Verse is kind of odd and inconsistent.

From the moment she's introduced, it's made clear Verse has poor impulse control as one of the first things she tells us is -

Very early in the game posted:

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

The game clearly shows this is an extremely hazardous course of action, as we're able to get characters to back down by asking if they question our authority as a Fatebinder. Verse tells us within a few hours of meeting us that she has very little respect for the dead.

Earlier in the game posted:

Heck, have some more quotes.

Verse explains morality posted:

Verse is describing herself in the third person

Verse never really gives us an account of trauma. Yes, she lost her sisters in the war, but the animal mutilation and "red vengeance" takes place before any terrible traumatic event. She didn't like her mother, but there's never any indication her mother did anything more terrible than make her take care of a valuable messenger bird. If anything, her mother was extremely lenient when Verse hacked up all of the expensive and valuable farm animals in a society where food was hard to find. If we take anything away from Verse's behavior, it's that she loves violence, has a superiority complex, tortured animals as a child, seeks to dominate others, enjoys causing pain (see how excited she gets about the prospect of killing Clea) - but now we're supposed to believe that Verse has enough empathy to recognize that Essa's loss is similar to hers and suddenly develop a measure of morality. By her own admission, Verse enjoys killing but apparently only the people who deserve it. Huh? Verse has never been particularly moral, and outside this quest there has never been a "softer side" of Verse that has had someone to care about. She suddenly cares about the poor drugged girl, but she'll gain loyalty if we beat the shit out of Bitter Quip at the bridge. We don't have a conversation with Verse where she suddenly starts questioning her ideals, it comes out of nowhere after she asks us to help murder a bunch of people. I really do get the feeling this quest was written by a completely different author than the person who originally wrote Verse.

There is much more to this quest we will see later. We need to get back to Lethean's crossing.

We end up having a dagger-throwing competition with a random lady and win some cash. It's not very interesting so I'm skipping it.

We get to Lethean's Crossing. This merchant lady wants to leave because everything sucks and is terrified of us. It's really not important, we need to get to the forge so we can steal a magic hat.

We get the animated intro because we are on the quest explicitly to steal the hat.

: What have you brought to protect Lethian's Crossing?

: Why did you create a helm?

: I've come for that helmet. Give it to me.

I don't actually like any of these dialogue options. The first one has you idiotically announce you're working potentially against Kyros to a servant of Tunon. The second one has you lie that Tunon sent you, which is the kind of thing that gets him extremely angry. There is no actual subterfuge option to back down, apologize, and steal it later, so...

: And what would you do if I just took it?

Not a fan of how all the options make Cleo look like a dumbass.

: She gives a quick nod to the other Forge-Bound before leaving the forge behind you.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Greetings Fatebinder! Good to see you!

: What do you have there?

: I have a magical hat that protects Lethian's Crossing from the Bane!

: Why a hat?

: We make practical things around here, missy!

: Give me the hat.

: No.

: What if I just took the hat?

: Then I'd beat your ass. Bye.

Eldian accosts us but he immediately goes to his regular dialog after this screen. We let him go.

We leave. Our next assignment is to check on the Magebane Helm, which is a powerful magical artifact displayed outside the city in an easily grabbable location. We can just grab it and run to Bleden Mark, quest over.

I seem to recall singlehandedly murdering all of you the last time you stepped to us.

God that's clunky AND inaccurate. You approached us! Just say "To arms! The Fatebinder must die!" Straight, short, and to the point.

Our passive buffs trigger and we get a new quest to once again butcher every single Bronze Brother in the city.

I just want to point out Kills in Shadow does stupid amounts of damage. There are three ways your attack can be resolved - a graze which deals less damage, a regular hit, or a critical. That 53 damage was from a grazing blow.

We find more idiots and butcher them.

We are able to start combat by launching spells off the high ground here. The only way to get to us is through that chokepoint Verse and Kills-in-Shadow have walled off. Incidentally, the intellectually challenged man on fire is the commander of this attacking force, which so far has spent its time dispersing around the map waiting for Cleo to come put them out of their misery.

They all run up the ramp and attack. It's not a memorable fight. If someone put a gun to my head and asked me to describe these enemies' abilities accurate or die, I would tell them to pull the trigger because all these idiots did was get stunlocked and burst damaged to death.

Unfortunately there are more of the world's worst pillagers hanging around town, so we have to go searching. Along the way we pass the now empty Helm Pedestal.

Eb and Killsy reflect on the nature of gullibility.

These men kindly wait for us to finish casting our fat buffstack before we run in and burn them all to death.

Cleo has an AoE haste spell now! The downside is that the entire party needs to be touching a central member so we can hit them.

We slaughter all these men and Cleo gets a level. She gets a buff talent that increases party damage by 15% and a point in wits. After these four fools die the game wants us to go check on Eldian, but Raetommon has other ideas.

Oh no! Raetommon stole the helmet we were planning to steal!

Wait, why did he send an entire armed party instead of just walking into the town, grabbing the hat, and sneaking out?


: [Athletics 49] [Throw a rock at Raetommon]

Ok, this is funny, but his head is covered entirely by the Magebane Helm. How are we seeing this gash?

It's an interesting little exchange. On one hand, it characterizes Raetommon as a literal clown and the butt of slapstick humor - but on the other, the Bronze Brotherhood left the corpses of villagers all over the map. This ties right back into our themes about how with enough power even a clown can ruin the lives of the innocent.

The anarchist path really shows this the best, but Raetommon is a coward and a bully. He literally has this woman tied up and is wearing a powerful magical artifact coveted by Archons, and he's still recoiling in terror because she beat the shit out of him.

The moral here is that this is what happens when a literal clown comes into power and has no idea how to achieve his goals.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: But Fatebinder, I am Pagliacci!

It's really easy to look at Raetommon here and be very confused. That last line is the line of a clown in a slapstick comedy, and so far Tyranny has presented a very serious and dark story. Why do we have slapstick lines such as "if you'll excuse me, I have a town to endanger so I can save it" and the rock? Because Raetommon is the joke of a man who gains a little power and thinks he can challenge the big leagues. Let's take a look at Raetommon's plan so far.

-Attack and kill a Fatebinder as a diversion. Now, we know that killing Fatebinders is the surest way to earn Tunon's enmity and a painful death, and Tunon has the resources of the entire Kyrosian empire at his beck and call including Bleden Mark. Unless you're an Archon, this is not a fight you can win, and even the Archons would rather subvert a Fatebinder than kill her. Off to a bad start. This plan is even worse when you consider this Fatebinder wiped out an entire garrison single-handedly. Cleopatra then

-Kidnap a Forge-Bound master, but leave the rest of the Forge-Bound in place in the town you're supposedly trying to control, while killing a bunch of civilians. Terrible! The Forge-Bound aren't just smiths, they're powerful warriors and sorcerers. They also report directly to Tunon and control the flow of iron. Now, messing with Kyros' iron is a matter that Bleden Mark gets involved in. Remember the Act 1 quest to find the stolen iron? If you steal it, you gain wrath with Bleden Mark.

-Steal an artifact made with Kyros' iron that belongs to Tunon's Court. We can forgive Raetommon for not knowing that Bleden Mark has a personal interest in the artifact, we can't forgive him for stealing something that all of the Archons want or possess. The artifact belongs to Tunon. Bleden Mark wants us to have it. Ashe and Nerat want it because they're in a civil war and the artifact's power would help one of them get an edge.

-Announce to said Fatebinder you're going into the Oldwalls so you can piss off Tunon more.

-Somehow defeat all the Bane so everyone in town will forget the townsfolk you murdered, then, despite having lost two entire garrisons of troops fight off all of Kyros' forces both inside and outside the town because you took over the local iron supply.

Raetommon is the classic example of someone with more power than sense overplaying his hand. He has a fairly decent asset in the form of a well-equipped and loyal personal army, and he is doing everything possible to screw himself over. He's losing the loyalty of his men and his second-in-command via poor leadership, he's stepping too high and painting a target on his back for people with real armies and actual sorcerers to come in and mess him up, and it's clear he's gained confidence from his initial success in holding Lethean's Crossing which Ashe and Nerat allowed because they had bigger fish to fry and Tunon had a foothold in the town anyway. There is no possible way this plan works. Let's be generous and assume that Raetommon had killed Cleo, stolen the helm, and kidnapped Zdenya without a hitch. We'll even be far more generous than Raetommon deserves and assume he triumphs over the Bane in a glorious staged attack that preserves his remaining forces. This ends either with him facing a major attack from the Disfavored or Chorus, or getting brutally murdered by Bleden Mark for pissing off Tunon. There's no way to win this for him.

He further underscores this point by throwing more loyal men into the meatgrinder. Remember Welby, and how she's the band's second in command who is also publicly casting aspersions on Raetommon's leadership ability to passing strangers? Do we really think throwing away the men loyal to him is going to somehow strengthen his position against the inevitable challenge?

We have to go visit Eldian because he knows the area.

Again, the game wants you to know that Raetommon's plan is bad because he's an incompetent idiot who needs an armed escort to prevent him from drowning in a toilet.

: Raetommon stole the Magebane Helm and captured Zdenya.

Eldian is the leader of Lethian's Crossing and is the only faction leader who is not a complete asshole.

: I know it's asking a lot after everything that has happened, Fatebinder, but without the helmet or Zdenya, we are in the same predicament as we were before.

: The Bronze Brotherhood have a camp near the Oldwalls at Twin Rivers and use Deserter's March as a travel route. Either one of these places would be a good place to start looking for Raetommon and Zdenya. Please find them.

It's a refreshing change to see somehow who actually cares about his people and doesn't have some horrible ulterior motive.

: What can you tell me about Deserter's March?

: What can you tell me about Twin Rivers?

: Anything else going on in town that I should know about?

: I hate to add a request upon a request, Fatebinder, but I would ask one more thing of you. The recent attack was horrific and there are a lot of folks that are in a bit of trouble now. Lohara lost some of her men in the attack - she was stretched thin before it all, so I'm sure she's going to need all the help she can get. Some townsmen have also gone missing, I've no doubt your assistance would be useful to all of them, so if it wouldn't be too much trouble, please ask the townsfolk for your help. He makes a formal bow.

: I know we have no right to ask this of you, but I know you can help where no one else can.

Respect? From Tyranny NPCs who aren't terrified of us?

It is incredibly convenient that Raetommon did his dumb plan before we stole the hat ourselves and pissed everyone off.

: The safety of this settlement is all that matters to me. I hope we're of similar minds on this, Fatebinder. Since you're clearly capable of handling threats, otherworldly or not, I'll see to it that the Oldwalls remain open to you. The passageway leading to the base of the Spire will be unsealed upon your return. If accessing it can help you in any way, please use it.

Now, the interesting thing here is that Eldian is basically telling us to break the law and probably risking being hauled before Tunon.

Notice that Cleopatra no longer cares.

: Farewell.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Fatebinder! The Magebane Helm disappeared, putting the entire town in danger! What happened?

: Raetommon stole it and kidnapped Zdenya to execute an extremely stupid plan, and I say this as a person who used to talk to Graven Ashe.

: Dammit. Just when things were starting to not suck. Can you please track them down? They're either at the swamp Deserter's March or the Oldwalls at Twin Rivers.

: Anything else?

: If you do the sidequests in town, it would really help the townsfolk and I know they'd have loot and XP.

: You left the hat lying around outside! What did you think was going to happen?

So Eldian here is finally getting to why I chose Lethian's Crossing first. We are going into the Oldwalls, and rather than complaining about the law or threatening to bring poor Eldian up on charges Cleopatra is finally recognizing that the law of Kyros she's sworn to uphold isn't some transcendent noble wisdom but a collection of self-serving bullshit. This is a huge transformation! In fact, it ties in with the name and design of the town. "Lethian" looks a lot like Lethe, doesn't it? The river Lethe was a river that ran through the underworld and those who drank from it forgot what they knew. That's somewhat symbolic of what's happening here, but the river was also associated with rebirth. Virgil writes in the Aeneid that the dead must drink of the river to be reincarnated, and Dante built on this further by having the waters cleanse the sinners before they ascend to heaven. Thus, Cleopatra is metaphorically reborn in Lethian's Crossing by abandoning the laws of - and unthinking loyalty to - the Law of Kyros.

Next time: We do some more sidequests!