The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 40: Cleopatra Jones and the Poorly Thought Out Ending

Cleopatra Jones and the Poorly Thought Out Ending

Last time on Tyranny, we had a choice between a competent leader and two identical clowns. The thread voted that we should support the Beastwoman Archon Reef-Talon over the two clowns Jaspos and Wagstaff. Today we'll be seeing how the great clown battle plays out.

So I mentioned this in the thread, but there's actually a sidequest I missed. Unfortunately, you have to do it before triggering the judgement here, and there is no way I am reloading to do anything in the trash mob hell dungeon again. The sidequest takes place on the farm - one of the characters thinks that the farm's water supply is being sabotaged, and asks the Fatebinder to investigate. Fair enough, we are the local law enforcement, we look into it. It turns out that BOTH Wagstaff and Jaspos sent guys to sabotage the farm, and we can report this to the quest giver and get both the patsies shanked. This, of course, falls into the question of "why the fuck do we have both Wagstaff and Jaspos if they're the exact same person," and the answer, I suspect, involves cocaine.

I guess you can confront them about it at this trial, but literally nothing here actually matters. Mell is the self-appointed court reporter despite conspiring to commit political assassinations to preserve an illegal settlement, and despite this being our judgement we can't do anything about it.

: Reef-Talon will lead Bastard's Wound.

There was one vote for Cleo to take it herself and then everyone else voted for Reef-Talon. As far as I can tell there is absolutely no reason for the player to support Jaspos or Wagstaff. They don't even offer to do anything like craft you overpowered equipment or teach you secret magics or even just give you money. It's pathetic.

: The Beastwoman steps forward hesitatingly. Is Fatebinder certain? Many human kith do not accept Reef-Talon as Prima. Wagstaff and Jaspos do not accept. Beastwoman only wants to help Wound tribe. Does not desire fighting amongst pack mates.

There's a vaguely running theme through this whole thing where the game wants to emphasize that the people who don't want power are the best leaders, which the game already shot in the foot with Bleden Mark and Tunon. Neither one of them sought power for power's sake, but are forced by Kyros or deluded into doing abhorrent things.

: I sure hope this is a wise decision. If we return to a den of Sleepless, chances are we screwed up.

It's kind of odd to me that Lantry seems skeptical, as he's not really an appreciator of cruelty and both Jaspos and Wagstaff have proven themselves amoral and cruel. Hell, Lexeme was Sleepless and she seemed fine! Yes, the text assured us that she had a bunch of delusions, but she was able to function on a decently high intellectual level when Lantry was around.

Was this really written by the same writer who wrote Sirin sobbing in horror at the sight of the blood farm?

: I daresay, she's probably the best hope for this place.

Oof! Remember, Eb is classist and racist against Beastmen. She doesn't mean to be, but despite her prejudices she's the only one of the party members we brought with us who can see this situation clearly. She knows Wagstaff well enough to unmask him as soon as we meet him, and she seems smart enough to realize that Jaspos is a big, worthless fuckup.

The other thing is that both Wagstaff and Jaspos tried to kill Eb, Sirin, and Lantry too, but the game doesn't seem to recognize this or have them think to ask us if maybe we can execute them for the crime of attempted murder of a Fatebinder.

Mell you're a fuckin murderer man.

: Reef-Talon, you've gained control over your powers. There's no reason to be apprehensive anymore.

: Fatebinder's words are right. Reef-Talon HAS tamed mystic-strength. Wound tribe will grow strong with mending-rites! Scourge-beasts and outside tribes cannot harm Wound warriors with Beastwoman as Prima.

Good thing Bleden Mark took the day off, because eliminating rogue Archons and their followers is exactly the sort of thing he is supposed to do.

It's extremely weird that no one suggests actually punishing Jaspos and Wagstaff for their many, many crimes. Now, by doing this we have made most of the merchants inaccessible (as they're Jaspos and Wagstaff cultists) but we don't actually care because we got everything we wanted from the Wound merchants and we're never coming back to this shithole.

: Fatebinder... I hope I've shown the Court that I'm a reasonable man, but I must protest this decision! I find it difficult to understand how you can advocate on behalf of this deserter of a Beast! She abandoned us, and now we are to view her as a leader?

Again: this stupid dumbass put a hit out on a Fatebinder, and we have no option to call him out on it! This isn't even a super oppressive evil Kyros law, this is the basic law in any society! If you try to kill a United States federal judge, you are going to jail for a very long time! Yet here he goes rambling on about his respect for the Court.

The problem with having two identical clowns is that there's just not that much to discuss. Wagstaff, you ran an operation where you kidnapped people and drained their blood because you were too fucking stupid to boil water. Now, we do have the [Attack] option, but the wiki says that if you don't use Athletics they fight you. I want them provoked into attacking Cleo so she can kill them in self-defense without pissing off Reef-Talon, will this work?

: This decision is not open to discussion.

I'm sorry, what? Both of these men tried to assassinate Reef-Talon and Cleopatra. They brought a bunch of followers, and everything we've seen of their followers is that this is basically a cult where the followers provide sexual favors, sabotage the food supply, and kidnap and murder Wound citizens. Why are they backing down now? We are in an isolated area where they could try to kill Reef-Talon and Cleopatra with absolutely no repercussions, and they have shown no respect for Cleopatra's ability or station.

: With a pained expression, Jaspos bows his head and speaks with an uncharacteristically restrained voice. I'll abide by the Fatebinder's judgment. Your word is law.

Are you shitting me???? Look, I could see this if Wagstaff and Jaspos were clearly outmatched by force here, or if the trial had been anything more than us telling Jaspos and Wagstaff they were bad men while they yelled "la la la I can't hear you". If somehow we were actually able to prove to the clowns that they were inept clowns, I could see them doing this. However, because nothing in this DLC makes sense, they meekly submit to the judgment of the women they tried to assassinate.

Isn't your entire system of magic and school of magic about commanding the se- fuck it. Wagstaff has the problem where he could also launch a coup but doesn't, or even do a temporary team-up with Jaspos against Cleopatra and Reef-Talon.

: The gathered crowd seems to finally released their collective breath. Shoulders slacken, as do the grips held upon various hilts and handles. Mell slowly lowers the scroll held up to his face with the look of a stunned battlefield survivor. So... the matter has been settled. Thank you all for remaining calm during these trying times. Folks, please return to your homes and give yourselves time to accept the steps we must now take for the Wound's future.

: And Fatebinder, thank you for bringing this matter to an end. This settlement's prosperity will rest upon the wisdom of your decision. A small smirk appears on his face. Kyros... help us all. The crowd slowly breaks apart, returning to the settlement with nervous talk of the events that just unfolded.
Soon, the crumbling overlook is bereft of commotion, and the tranquil sound of waterfalls fill the area.

The game fades to black and all the crowd leaves. It's kind of insane that despite being on edge and ready for a fight, none of these people actually do anything during these arguments. No one steps up to curse Reef-Talon for driving their loved ones sleepless, no one asks for proof that Reef-Talon is better, no one steps up to defend Wagstaff or's just an incoherent mess all around.

: Am ready to be Prima once again. Fatebinder has helped Reef-Talon find purpose, clarity - will always be grateful.

Now this sounds like something we could actually use. Reef-Talon did give us an artifact knife and that probably paid for all the time we wasted here, but Reef-Talon is also a secret Archon no one knows about. We have two powerful Archons as enemies, maybe we could enlist Reef-Talon as our ace in the hole? Maybe we could ask her to requisition some of those extremely powerful sorcerer mercenaries to use their forbidden arcane knowledge on our behalf? That would make this entire waste of time worth our while.

: Must apologize, have little time to discuss. Best warriors die hunting Reef-Talon. Best mystics no longer motivated by chase to make many-many things. Beastwoman teach-show new pack, and loom over lazy humans until chores done.

This is fair, but maybe we could borrow some of your warriors in the future? We could really use some warriors trained personally by an Could we maybe copy your sigil for new spells at least? No?


TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Welcome to this trial! I'm apparently running the show now, despite other trials being run by the actual Fatebinder who was invested by Tunon, but this Fatebinder is coming from outside with little knowledge of our community to pick our leader. Also, Reef-Talon's back.

: BAWWWWW!!!!!

: Shut the fuck up, the adults are talking.

: My fellow Americans, out of the three choices, I'm the only person with actual leadership skill who is not a clown. I would like to do actual leadership and unfuck this garbage settlement.

: BAWWWWW!!!!!

: Ok, Jaspos, you stand accused of conspiracy to murder a F- what do you mean, I can't ask that? What the hell? Fiiine....uh, you committed mass murder to filter some water, and also you're a lying sack of shit who's not actually a master craftsman and you tried to dupe me into stealing tools.

: I'm not...I'm not a sack of human shit...*snif*...why are you so MEAN, Fatebinder? I'm not a clown! I'M NOT A CLOWN!

: Well, Wagstaff, apparently I'm not allowed to just execute you for your crimes because the Archon of Bad Scripts cursed me offscreen or something, but you're a lying sack of shit who ran a torture farm against the Beasts of the Wound. Why should I trust you to run a McDonalds?

:thaoldme:: Hmm...Brie Larson or Aubrey Plaza? They're both pretty hot. Good thing I'm busy daydreaming about hot women instead of paying attention to this boring ass trial I'm sure has no bearing on my life.

: Sometimes a leader has to lie, like if he really wants to lead the country into a pointless quagmire because people expect him to solve their problems and he has no idea how to get out of this. It is cool and good, and I will not have you questioning my leadership skills because of my displayed incompetence! I thought you liked me! I even drew a little heart on this card! See? "I wish you were my apprentice, so-"

: This might shock you, but I have standards. Anyway, I've come to a decision: as Reef-Talon is the only competent leader and you two are dumb clowns, she gets to be in charge.

: This makes me vaguely uneasy, despite the fact I should be able to recognize clowns.

: I will imply this wasn't the greatest decision despite being visibly horrified by the results of Wagstaff's leadership.

: I'm going to go against the party trend by pointing out this was the best decision as the other two are incompetent clowns.

: Hell yeah! I've learned to control my powerful magic, so now I can use it to help everyone and we can destroy the Bane AND intruders as my power will make us invincible. Now, this pointless bickering is going to stop, because I'm in charge and I will smack a bitch.

: BAWWWWW!!!!!

: Are you questioning my authority?

: Suddenly, despite having no respect for you all game, we've decided to fall in line and be good little bitches.

:freep::thaoldme::2bong::smugdon:: Oh shit, was something happening? We've come to a consensus, and we're all Morena Baccarin fans now. The Jennifer Lawrence faction had some good arguments, though.

: You guys! You were SUPPOSED to be preparing to fight over which clown is best! No bonuses for you! Well, now that the tension is gone, thank you, Fatebinder, for judging Clownvision 2000.

: I'm forever grateful to you, Fatebinder. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to do a complete overhaul of this place - I personally killed all the warriors here because they were sent after me, and the mages gave up making stuff to go argue about clowns. Let's never speak again.

Now, you might be thinking that because we're done with the DLC, we can go find Jaspos and Wagstaff and levy a sentence against them for their numerous crimes.

Nope! They won't even talk to us, and that means we can't attack them! Now, there are limits on a Fatebinder's power (and we're going to have a bonus update soon on this) but none of them apply here! We HAVE plenty of crimes for these assholes! We are under no obligation to actually leave because they tell us to, and we have the legal authority to interrogate anyone in the Tiers for whatever reason! This is not a valid excuse!

The game won't even let me open up with a stealth icicle spike spell. Let's just go talk to Lexeme and leave.

The DLC is about to make it abundantly clear that the DLC writers didn't understand what the main game wrote.

: I have the texts you wanted me to gather.

: Thank you, Fatebinder. She bows deeply, her face turning red as she looks toward Lantry.

: Lies! And the worst kind, too! Falsities strewn about a bed of facts! Grains of poison in the rice!

I've kind of hinted at this, but this is an extremely anachronistic response for a Bronze Age historian! Herodotus famously made up all his own dialog. Ramses II made everyone pretend he totally destroyed the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh when it was at best a draw and as far as our records indicate, no one cared. Hell, let's check Johannes Fried's excellent book about Charlemagne:

Fried posted:

We are thus confronted with an alien world, and with people whose social and technical knowledge is utterly strange to us, who spoke a wholly unfamiliar language, and whose entire mode of speech and thought and logic is far removed from our own. We do not share their emotions, we no longer have their skills at our fingertips, their aspirations and plans appear backward to us, and to us modern citizens of the world who are still grappling with the onset of globalization and its consequences, their values and ethics are utterly meaningless. For instance, no one in the age of Charlemagne wrote or drew cariacatures, instead, both the common people and the ruling elites were in the habit of demonizing all opponents, heretics, or anyone who thought differently. Nor was irony common intellectual currency in this period. One notable feature of the time was the king's claim to exclusive sovereignty over the past. This "authoritative memory" was evident throughout society and yielded to different perceptions and interpretations only in the rarest of cases.

This is the Middle Ages, and not the Bronze Age - but the principle applies! We can go back to Ramses and his totally successful conquest of the Hittites - he at least got a princess out of it - or Herodotus' made up dialog, or Thucydides explaining that the guy who beat him was totally the best general ever, but historians of the period were generally not running around trying to present an unbiased perspective! This is a modern morality being once again thrust into the Bronze Age!

Just wait, it's about to get exponentially worse.

: [Glare silently.]

Sometimes, when you don't know what to say, glaring silently at the idiot is the best course of action.

: So... so you're justifying your lies now? This is not how proper Sages behave! Tell the whole story - the good parts and the bad - is that not our way?

: Our way ended with Kyros. Our School is gone, I'm but a pale shade of what I used to be. All that we can do with our 'record' is maybe, just maybe, save some lives.

This is a terrible instrument for that and Lantry should have different lines here. More on that after this dialog.


This is a stupid waste of everyone's time.

: [Remain silent.]

Can you spot the flaw in her reasoning?

Loyalty to Kyros means nothing! Graven Ashe was Kyros' "most loyal general" and Kyros is still trying to kill him. Ashe literally gave his son for Kyros, and Kyros passed the Edict of Execution on him anyway! Nerat has dedicated his life to leading armies and spying for Kyros, and Kyros is planning to dispose of him because he's no longer useful. Lexeme is not some random dumbass, she's supposed to be a professional historian and the intellectual equal of Lantry. We can't even blame her curse for this, she conceived of this plan before turning sleepless and running into the Oldwalls.

: You spent all this time building credibility. That credibility can be used in Tunon's Court to help your fellow Tiersmen.

No. It can't. On the rebel path, Tunon advises you to dispose of all the Tiersmen who help you after they swear loyalty to Kyros. Yes, the Vendrien Guard are oathbreaking rebels, but they never actually try to betray you in the rebel path unless you betray them first and they act as your loyal personal army throughout, maintaining the laws of Kyros.

We've also talked about how the false Chronicle ties the Tiersmen to Ashe and Nerat, and we know that those aren't winners you want to associate with. Kyros wants them AND their followers both dead, and we know this because she sent us to do it. By tying Ashe and Nerat to the Tiersmen, you involve the Tiersmen in Kyrosian internal politics and if Nerat goes down, all the people listed as celebrating the stupid Nerat Festival get hauled before Tunon and interrogated. Good luck defending yourself from this "impartial" record.

This part is even dumber and out of character for Lantry. Let's finish this conversation before I rant more.

: Your sentence is to keep living, and learn more of your 'Sleepless' condition. Perhaps you could help others.

: I am sworn to the Fatebinder's side but... I will endeavor to return to you if and when I can.

: Forgive me, I had been readying myself for the end but, if my punishment is to live to help the other Sleepless... well, I shall not defy such a merciful ruling. Thank you, Cleopatra Jones, for everything.

You know how Lantry has his quill knives he throws at people when you wish he would cast spells instead? Circular Reason is one of those, but it's an artifact. This retroactively justifies this whole quest, and adds more to the legend of Cleopatra, including when we give it to Lantry to drive home the narrative that we can grant legitimacy like a powerful feudal lord.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: I brought back your scrolls.

: These are all lies! You changed history! I, a totally objective Bronze Age historian, am super mad!

: I had to do it! Everyone knows that if you say you're loyal to Kyros, Kyros won't hurt you! It's not like Kyros has a history of executing loyalists or anything! Ha ha, wouldn't it be funny if Kyros tried to kill Graven Ashe and the Voices of Nerat for everything they did for her? That would be funny!

: What the fuck? That's not how proper Sages behave!

: Yes...but, lives saved! TOOOOOT! TOOOOOOOT!

: I...sure, yeah, that's good, can we never touch this DLC again?

: Makes sense to me. Sure.

: You can judge me now, Fatebinder.

: You can live, but you have to help the Sleepless.

: Thank you. Anyway, here's an artifact knife that would be much more useful to you than my garbage fake history, but I never mentioned it until now even though it'd have been a much better motivator. Oh well.

: We'll do great deeds in the name of the tyrant Kyros. Thank you!

It's kind of amazing that this is part one of Lantry's personal quest, because it shits all over Lantry and makes him look like an idiot. Lexeme is convincing him with the premise that we can use this fake history to make Tunon and Kyros think the Tiers was loyal the entire time and convince them to be less harsh. Lantry should know this entire setup is nonsense. Let's go way back, to the very beginning of the game, when we first met Lantry.

Lantry is being tortured in the Scarlet Chorus camp. At the time, he told us that he was a "hired quill" for the rebellion and running messages and whatnot. As we know now, that's not true:

Lantry worked for Nerat for thirty years, and his reward was to be tortured and executed. This isn't a game that Fifth Eye and Lantry are playing to insert him as a double agent in your party, either - if you don't help Lantry, Nerat eats him. The game is quite clear that being devoured by Nerat is a fate worse than death and that Nerat is a completely irredeemable monster. Lantry should not be smiling and nodding when Lexeme is babbling about saving lives by proving some Tiersmen are loyal to Kyros, Lantry's character arc is all about how his loyalty to Kyros and Nerat fucked him over at every turn. He's not even alone in this. Barik's quest is all about how Barik gave his loyalty and everything he loved in the service of an overlord and a general who repaid his loyalty by killing all his friends with lightning, making him unable to have romantic relationships with the people he loved, and entombing him in iron to trap him with his own shit. Tunon further repaid his loyalty to the overlord by forbidding him from receiving help on the grounds that the myth of infallibility was more important than not punishing Barik for his service. The game is absolutely clear that real or professed loyalty to Kyros is no protection from the whims of the Overlord or being a bad politician, and the game is going to continue to be crystal clear that you can be loyal to Kyros and the Overlord will show no loyalty to you. Graven Ashe is the self-proclaimed true disciple of Kyros, and Kyros wants to kill him anyway and just lets Nerat murder his son. Nerat has served Kyros much longer than Graven Ashe and instead of being rewarded for his service, he's put into direct competition with Ashe for rulership of the Tiers. I cannot stress this enough. The reward for loyalty to Kyros is being screwed over by Kyros, and we will see even more examples of this by the end of the game.

Lexeme is supposed to be a genius professional historian. The game tells us she's Lantry's intellectual equal and has Lantry wax less-than-eloquently about how he enjoyed fucking her because she was very smart, yet she does not seem to understand this basic tenet of authoritarianism. This isn't unique to the Kyrosian regime, dictators of every stripe including Stalin and Hitler viciously disposed of loyalists they had no use for in events like the Moscow Show Trials or the Night of the Long Knives. It's not even a twentieth century thing, witness the fate of Thomas Cromwell. This is not new! Are we to assume no tyrannical king in the Tiers did anything similar? We know the Sages had contacts with the Kyrosians, because they were attending Forge-Bound lectures and mediating between the Disfavored and the Chorus. Yet suddenly Lantry and Cleopatra get railroaded into accepting this justification about how this fictitious history will encourage Kyros to spare the Tiers, despite professions of loyalty never swaying Kyros or Tunon in the past. This entire DLC is terrible and poorly thought out.

Cool artifact, I guess. Whatever! Let's see if the next trial at Tunon's triggered yet.

Nope! It's a shame! If I can't get it to trigger this playthrough, I do have another save where I will show off that trial in a bonus update. It's kind of important, as the accused is a Fatebinder. I also owe you a DLC postmortem, but that is getting written tomorrow as it's 3am over here.

Next time: We actually go to the Stone Sea like we told Bleden Mark we would.