The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing

Part 48: Cleopatra Jones and the Forced Violence

Cleopatra Jones and the Forced Violence

Last time on Tyranny, we had a long chat with Barik about his love of Graven Ashe and how the Disfavored are basically just fascists running on cognitive dissonance, racism, and a desperate need to ignore how the real world works. Today we're going to visit the Blade Grave and interact with some much more grounded people.

Nah, I'm kidding, everything's about to go to shit.

First things first. Killsy is going to sit out of this one and we're bringing in Sirin. Tyranny actually does have XP catchup mechanisms, so Sirin here is at Cleopatra's level. But wait, there's more!

Sirin's lore was respectable, but we're going to respec her to minmax it.

With Sirin's respec she has enough lore to use the Focused Rain spells, allowing us to actually get through fights in a reasonable amount of time. We're still stuck with minute-long cooldowns, but oh well, you can't have everything.

I then dump training into Verse and Barik to get their level closer to par. They're not terrible unusable characters, but they're not nearly as good as having another mage in the party, and their job is going to be to tank while Cleo and Sirin do all the hard work.

Anyway, welcome to Sentinel Stand! It sucks!

The main attraction is this intense wind storm.

That's a name we'll hear again.

: The storm didn't leave much behind.

: Tell me about the Regents.

: They were bureaucrats and diplomats, all drunk on their own self-importance. Straydus Herodin never impressed me, but the people of Stalwart revered the man.

We never do get an explanation of who the Regents are holding power for. The title of Regent implies a temporary position, usually because the actual monarch is too young to rule. We'll get more into this later.

Last update posted:

: Before the uniting of the Northern Empire, Graven Ashe served as a warlord in the service of one of the local kings that defied Kyros' rule. Incredible as it may seem. Ashe stood against Kyros' rule.

Yeah, shut up, Barik. The Unbroken are a mirror of the Disfavored - whereas the Disfavored surrendered and joined the tyrant, the Unbroken continued resisting in a ruined homeland fighting for a less than great ruler. We'll see how this ends for them.

: You were at Sentinel Stand during the war?

We know the answer, but maybe we'll learn something new.

: Regrettably. The General's daughter and members of her cohort were captured in the second year of the war. By the third, we had tracked her to Sentinel Stand. We knew that the Edict was coming, but thought it worth the risks. The battle dragged on longer than it should have, and we got caught in the storm. He sights, and a cascade of sand escapes his shoulder joints.

I give Barik a lot of shit but I can't hate him. He's one of the Disfavored, but every so often he does something that shows that he's not completely terrible (like objecting when you beat up Bitter Quip at the Matani crossing) and he often comes off as someone who makes these protestations about how much he loves Graven Ashe and the North and the Disfavored to convince himself that his suffering is meaningful rather than a true believer asking if we can kill all the Stonestalkers or if he could maybe keep one of the local women. There's a hell of a lot of repression, is what I'm saying.

It's really kind of sad.

: The sword Dauntless no doubt carved many a foe at this battleground. We should continue our search.

: Do you hear that? Barik cups his gauntleted hand to his ear.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: It's still the same...this is the same storm that killed the Unbroken and my friends alike. Thank you for including me. Anyway, the Stalwart Regent, Straydus Herodin, is hiding in that castle and we can't get him through this storm. So many awful memories...

: This sure is a wasteland. Know anything about the regents?

: Local leaders who thought they were the shit. I always thought Herodin was kind of a dumbass, but the people loved him. Worthless coward is hiding behind the storm in his castle watching the country fall to pieces. A real leader would have died for his people.

: Didn't Graven Ashe make the same choice? Eh, later. You were here during the war, right?

: Yup, Ashe's daughter got captured, we got ordered to march into the Edict, it turns out we overestimated our own prowess again and got completely destroyed. That's how I got trapped in my own armor and shit. Literal shit. That came out of my ass.

: Well, I bet Dauntless was here, let's get looking!

: Look! Trash mobs!

So the Bane attack. As this foreshadows, Cleopatra is going to be introduced to some new ideas about power and the nature of the Kyrosian regime. What revelations? Read and find out!

Or play the game, that works too.

We learn this ability I forget to use because I can call down lightning from the heavens to strike down all who oppose me. Also, geez, Barik sure has some complicated feelings toward us.

I am playing on Hard difficulty, and we are really past the point where anything can challenge us. I'm not devoting more to this fight.

We need to talk to the guy to proceed, so on we go.

This guy is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.

: You handle the Bane well enough, but what brings you to this forsaken place? He pauses as recognition dawns in his eyes.

: You're the Fatebinder of Tunon, are you not? Pretty far removed from your perch in Vendrien's Well. What brings you to Sentinel Stand? He glances to the left and right. Not the weather, I think.

: The air is cleaner, but also thin - unsatisfying.

Has any of this power-seeking nonsense made Cleopatra actually happy?

: I'm looking for the sword they call the Dauntless.

: Then you're not here to end the Edict like you did in Azure? I knew that hope was a mistake.

We actually are, and I wish we could say that.

: Aye, I've heard of it, but the task sounds like a fool's errand to me. One of Stalwart's Regents carried the Dauntless during the war, but either the winds or some battle swept the sword to places unknown. Hardly surprising. At their full strength, these winds can take skin from bone.

: He gestures to a stripped body at his feet. Come up here if you doubt it. Not a pretty sight.

This is where the game really slams home that the artifacts represent legitimacy. The Dauntless was carried by the Regent as a symbol of authority. The Unbroken want it for reasons we'll get into soon. We want it to add it to the legend of Cleopatra Jones, rightful ruler of the Unified Tiers.

The Edict is worded thus:

Kyros posted:

Those who, in pride and arrogance, stand against the peace and order of Our Empire shall be ground beneath the stones of their land. Let those who call themselves Unbroken, who embrace the chaos of war in defiance of Our Order, be broken in the storms of Our Rage. Let Our storm rage until the last blade be broken, or the line of Regent falls.

Hence the Unbroken want to hasten along Herodin's death so that all the storms stop ravaging their homeland and then they know what, I'm not sure anyone thought that far ahead.

: [Edict of Fire] I resolved Kyros' Edict in the Burning Library. That ought to count for something.

I wonder why the game is tracking these edicts? Oh well, I'm sure it's not important.

It's actually a little strange he says this, as no one outside the empire is questioning Ashe or Nerat's ultimate loyalty. Tunon and Mark are, sure, but the average guy in a ruined fort is not going to be talking to Tunon or Mark.

: Why are you here?

: I drew the short straw. He chuckles and shakes his head. The Unbroken make a habit of patrolling the outer fortress in case the storm breaks or someone happens to emerge from the keep. If we could find a way to cross the windwall, we could take back Sentinel Stand and defend our country from a position of power.

Seeing as no rebel fortress has actually managed to withstand Kyros I'm not sure why this would be any different. No, Herodin hasn't fallen in the fortress, but Kyros has turned it into an unlivable wasteland and the Unbroken into puppets. Remember, Kyros wants the Regents destroyed, she said so in her Edict!

So I screw up and end the conversation early here, but I think we have enough answers to all these questions. The Unbroken are not going to help us with the Bane because they're not very good at critical thinking.

: So how can I find the Dauntless?

: You likely won't, but you weren't the only one looking for the legendary blade, either. Our leader, Mattias, aimed to get his hands on Dauntless, too. We haven't seen him in some time.

Mattias desperately needs to lend some legitimacy to his rebellion which is based on "ending the rulers of his country at the behest of the foreign tyrant who destroyed it."

You question Cleopatra Jones, Heir to the Sages, Inheritor of Azure, Wielder of the Magebane Helm, and ruler of the Unified Tiers in the name of Tunon and Kyros?

This might sound like we can negotiate with the Unbroken as we've negotiated with most of the other factions in the game. Sure, the Stone Sea villagers were unreasonable racist assholes, but they didn't force us to slay them all and we did well by them. We had a profitable trade with the Stonestalkers and we eliminated the assholes stealing their stuff and hunting them on their own land. The people of Lethian's Crossing remember us as the cool lady who saved them from Raetommon's idiotic plot. Just you wait.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: What brings you here? Oh, hey, the Fatebinder of Tunon who took Vendrien's Well. What brings you down here? Does your power make you happy?

: Nope. I'm here for the Dauntless sword.

: Awww, maaaaaaan! I thought you were here to break the Edict like you did everywhere else! This sucks! Anyway, I've heard of it, but our leader Mattias is also looking for it to lend our movement to kill the leader of our country some legitimacy. Storms probably got it. Anyway, since you're not getting involved in our pointless civil war to break the Edict we won't help you.

: I've broken other Edicts tho?

: Meh.

: Why are you here anyway?

: Well, we all watch this fortress in case the storm fails or Herodin comes out - then we could take Sentinel Stand and defend our country better from the immortal tyrant who can rain fire from the sky and has so many armies she's willing to blast away two of her own legions to send a message. It's gonna work this time! I know it!

: Do you know where I can find the sword?

: Here, let me point out our camp. My commander is having Disfavored problems, if you could get rid of them he might help you out!

We loot the area offscreen and leave.

Things are about to get dumb now.

We get another berry encounter that just results in me leaving the damn berries alone. I've kind of soured on the DLC events, to be honest.

We'll have to swing by later.

I think things are breaking down here.

Barik! It's not irrational, they're racist incompetents! Present company excluded from incompetence, of course.

: Everything you know about Duskwatch. Now.

:hist101:: Throughout the war, the Unbroken kept this fort locked up against Kyros' forces. It might not be much to look at, but the folks behind those walls are a spirited bunch. Not even the storm has broken their nerve.

If the game hasn't been clear about that, the Unbroken are doing exactly what Kyros wants. Remember, the game opened with Kyros trying to destroy the Disfavored and the Scarlet Chorus. Kyros doesn't give an impolite epithet about how many Disfavored died here. Hell, we even got this little exchange with them earlier:

Earlier in the game posted:

That is not the quote I would expect from a man sworn to free his country from Kyros.

: Tell me what the Disfavored are doing here and I might spare you.

:hist101:: Ashe ordered us to take the fort. Commander Osmios also says there's a Northern prisoner behind those walls. He swallows nervously, his attention darting from you to the palisade.

It's kind of weird that the Disfavored are still running around the Blade Grave doing things, as they have a civil war to fight and Stalward legitimately has nothing of value right now. The land is ravaged by storms and I have yet to see a single farm or natural resource. I get their duty is nominally to suppress rebellion, but if the Scarlet Chorus moves into the area and the Disfavored aren't there that's a net win for the Disfavored. Worst case scenario, the Chorus diverts needed troops from the front and coexists with the Unbroken. Best case scenario, they fight each other.

No one outside the Disfavored ever accused Ashe of being smart.

: [Dismiss him.] Go on and get out of here. I'm tired of your face.

:hist101:: Thank you! Never meant to get in the way of the law! The young sentry stumbles on his feet as he departs in haste.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

:hist101:: It's the Fatebinder! Oh shit! Oh fuck!

: Fatebinder, I know you hate the Disfavored, but he's just a kid. Please let him go?

: Give me the lowdown on what's happening here.

:hist101:: WelltheresthisfortfullofUnbrokenthatAshewantsustotakebuttheirkickingourassesandI'msupposedtoberacistagainstthembutthat'skindofstupid

: Cool, bye!

I guess the "supply caravan" is the answer to how the hell this fort stays supplied. As for Sentinel Strand, don't think about it too hard.

: I'm actually just seeking the Dauntless. I'm presently between loyalties.

I really wish the writers had given us some other options besides "attack" and "say stupid shit about being disloyal to Kyros, the person of indeterminate gender who can order us recalled and executed".

Ok. Let's interrupt this conversation for a minute, fascinating as it is, to talk about the Dauntless, the Regents, and the Unbroken. Bleden Mark describes the blade as the finest in all Stalwart, but it's pretty clear from what Janos just told us it's more than that. Per Janos, the blade was carried by the Regents of Stalwart into combat, and it's clear that Agathon holds the sword to be a symbol of his country. Who are the Unbroken?

Earlier in the game posted:

So the Unbroken are the army of the Regents of Stalwart. The blade Dauntless is described as being carried by the Regents into combat against the enemies of Stalwart - but now that Kyros is calling for the fall of the Regents, the Unbroken have decided that the best way to defend their country is to reclaim the symbol of their country to support their new claim to legitimacy over the regents. It's literally the same thing we're doing, except Agathon is throwing the same kind of bloodline crap - a la the Disfavored - in our face. It's also a very strange confluence of symbols, as traditionally Dauntless fought for the Regents! No other rulers of Stalwart - to my knowledge - are mentioned in the game, and it's up to interpretation of whether the nineteenth/twentieth century nationalism displayed by Agathon here is enough to bind the country together in the absence of the founding myth of the regent.

All this said, the Unbroken absolutely have more right to the sword and the symbolism than we do. We are a foreign conqueror trying to ingratiate ourselves with the locals to convince our masters that they're be better off letting us rule the tiers because we were thrust into a power struggle where we either triumph or die.

: Janos told me that Mattias was searching for Dauntless.

I can't really blame Janos for trying to be optimistic about the cause, to be honest.

: You're taking this sword business awfully seriously.

: You were the one who brought it up. Agathon sighs. Look, you seem nice enough, and if it weren't for everything that brought you here up to this point - yes, including the war - I'm sure we'd be fast friends.

You can befriend Agathon on the rebel route, in which case the Unbroken all think it's really cool that you took Dauntless.

The irony is that, though he talks about not losing Sentinel Stand, the country has lost it anyway. No one can get in or out because of the storm. Herodin, a man the Unbroken have decided to kill to fix their country, has control of the fortress. Ultimate we are not going to solve this with words, because we need Dauntless to perpetuate the myth of Cleo of the Tiers, and the Unbroken want to perpetuate the myth of a unified and strong Stalwart.

: What can I do to persuade you?

The irony is that while the Unbroken have a better moral claim to Dauntless than we do, we have a better claim. Stalwart is dead. It is a wasteland full of broken lives, no food, and a bunch of people fighting in the hopes that killing their former leader will magically make Stalwart not a ruined wasteland full of dead people and invading armies. For all their independence, Diocles was happy to offer cooperation to Tunon's Court.

: [Glare silently.]

: [Attack] So be it. You have my permission to die.

You really have no idea who you're dealing with, huh.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Who are you, and what do you want?

: Dauntless sword? Pleeeease?

: No! We need that sword to reinforce our myth of a new Stalwart completely divorced from old Stalwart using a symbol of old Stalwart to do it! Go away, foreigner!

: Pleeeeease?

: No!

: Pleeeeease?

: No!

: :commissar:

Captain Agathon demonstrated the heroism that would have come to define New Stalwart by running off like a coward and leaving his men to die. That's going to be a recurring theme with the Unbroken commanders.

We can break down the front gate by just...hitting it with a sword repeatedly, making me wonder what the hell the Disfavored were doing when they assaulted the fort.

It's a Tyranny battle. Nothing interesting happens and we ragdoll these idiots. Barik and Verse have gotten extremely hard to kill, and Sirin and Cleo can put out a ton of magical firepower.

Cleo levels up, and after this level I legitimately have no idea where to put talents from future levelups.

We are given the objective to kill everyone in the Unbroken camp.

Instead of say, rallying his men to the gate, Agathon just kind of hides, leaving his men to stand around and get murdered by us one at a time.

We'll be back for this guy.

This is usually the part of the game where I find the gameplay just drags, and these filler combats are not interesting enough for me to care.

Having the entire camp swarm us in waves would be a moderately interesting and intense fight, but randomly leaving these guys out to die is senseless, especially as this combat system doesn't have resources that can be exhausted a la D&D and we can recover all of our nukes by sitting around for a minute.

If Captain Agathon is a Battlestar Galactica reference, we are the Cylons. It's very nice of him to wait for our cooldowns to reset and for us to pre-buff.

They all die.

The next step is to go talk to our prisoner.

: Before you can answer, he blinks up at Barik, and the echo of a smile reaching[sic] his lips. I should have known that Barik of Battle's Rest couldn't stay out of Stalwart for long. Graven Ashe protects.

Considering that Graven Ashe's protection is literally sealing Barik in his own armor and shit, that is an unknowingly cruel thing to say.

: Graven Ashe protects. Barik nods. You can trust the Fatebinder here, within reason. Are you well, countryman?

: No, in truth, but seeing you has given me the first glimpse of hope in years. With a little help, I... Callias cuts off his speech. His gaze moves past you as heavy footsteps grow in unison.

Oh boy.

Seeing as Cleopatra and friends slaughtered the entire garrison that held you up so long, I don't know why you think this is going to work.

: I'm not giving up this fort, but we need not come to blows.

I see the Disfavored aren't even trying to pretend to follow the law anymore.

One tedious combat later...

: I'm looking for a blade called Dauntless. Know anything about that?

: I saw that sword raised in triumph during the Stalwart campaign. The Unbroken rallied around it the way we cluster around Ashe. I can only guess at how much it means to them.

: Why did the Unbroken need you?

: Ashe's daughter survived the storms?

: Amelia didn't die on the field that day. We were both taken prisoner, but I was moved here and made to suffer. The Edict hit shortly after, and I assume stymied any effort to recover us. If Straydus isn't a fool, then he's keeping her alive as a hostage for some future negotiation ploy.

Barik. Barik, no! This confirms that Ashe pissed you guys away to save his own family!

: For all we know, Amelia is dead.

: If the Unbroken don't have Dauntless, who does?

: I'm sure these Stalwart wretches are asking themselves the same thing. As far as I can tell, the sword went missing after the Edict hit.

: He grunts. The leader of these Unbroken, Mattias, spoke of it at some length. He must have been confident in my capture, or else he would have used a lower tone.

Wait, what? This is the first of anything we've heard of that allows someone to directly defy Kyros' Edicts. Ever. We've been breaking Edicts, sure, but as Myothis says, the Overlord wouldn't include a termination clause if he didn't at least benefit from someone doing it. This is the first time we've heard of anything that lets you just ignore the full power of an Edict and walk through the flesh-stripping storms.

: You've been very helpful. You can remain here as I found you.

It's kind of annoying that we're given the opportunity to be so cruel, but he's kind of not bound apparently and he can just walk out of the ca-

I guess he's tied up again. This makes no sense! Over the last two screens his model was gesticulating like he was freed! Just go wander out and find that sentry we sent away. Whatever!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Friend or fo - Barik! My old war buddy! It's so good to see you!

: Praise Graven Ashe! The Fatebinder is trustworthy, are you alright?

: No, but seeing my old friend Barik made me believe I could -

: Hi! I couldn't successfully attack this weak fort that is both made of wood in a dry environment and has a door that is breakable by hitting it with a sword! Now, I think the Fatebinder who wiped out three entire town garrisons is going to die by my hand!

: It's my fort, but you can leave if you want.

: No! Now I am going to commit the crime of trying to murder a Fatebinder, but I will also implicate Graven Ashe like a big dumb idiot!

: :commissar:

: Hey, prisoner guy, do you know anything about the Dauntless?

: Yeah, it's a big cultural symbol the Unbroken are trying to use to rally their troops. Mattias, their leader, is a big dumb idiot who talked about his secret plans in front of me, so I can tell you to go to Rust Canyon and ask for Elia. Oh, by the way, I got captured with Amelia Ashe, she's alive!

: Amelia's alive? This means that all the torment and survivor's guilt wasn't for nothing! Graven Ashe is totally vindicated somehow despite his nepotism!

: Um.... should I kill this guy, or leave him? Well, he looks like he can walk on his own, and he's moving his arms like he's free, so I think we should be OK if we part ways? You can stay here, we're leaving.

: Suddenly I am tied up again. Woe is me! I am going to die slowly, but I will stoically accept it, because I am very cool.

: Oh shit! Is Barik going to be mad that I left his war friend to die? I thought it was OK to let him go!

: And when I find Amelia, she'll be all "Oh, Barik! The one thing missing from my life is a man who smelled like shit!" Then I'll finally get to see a titty! And then Graven Ashe will be all "you are like, my real son in spirit, Barik, and I would never betray you by having illegitimate children with a random Tierswoman." Then Tunon will show up and say that Kyros changed her mind, I can get out of the armor, AND she'll even give me a free pony! It's gonna be the BEST! DAY! EVER!

Seriously, I don't know why Barik doesn't ask us to spare his old war buddy when he successfully talked us out of murdering that poor kid. Is he distracted by Amelia? That's the only explanation I have.

On a higher level, we can see exactly what we're up against in the Blade Grave and it's not pretty. The Unbroken and the Disfavored deserve each other - they both have a long military tradition bound up with various fictions about their heritage, their commanders are equally inept and cowardly, and they're running their entire society as a militarized hierarchy based around nationalistic myths. Callias even compares the Unbroken rallying around the Dauntless to the Disfavored rallying around Ashe. Both factions remain out of touch with reality - the Unbroken believe they're going to "free" Stalwart somehow by doing exactly what Kyros ordered them to do, and believe that Stalwart is somehow worth fighting for despite it being a deserted country with no civilians, no food, no resources, and a giant fuckoff storm summoned by Kyros. If Lethian's Crossing is about how Kyros' laws are an absolute failure as a moral and practical system, the Blade Grave is all about how playing by Kyros' rules means that Kyros always wins.

Fatebinder Myothis posted:

Kyros' most powerful weapon is not the Edict, it's her ability to hand us rope that we willingly use to hang ourselves - never forget this.

We see the Unbroken here trying to get Dauntless so they can rally themselves not just against the Disfavored - whom Kyros wishes to destroy - but Regent Herodin as well, the nominal leader of their country and so far the only Tiers leader who is offering any resistance to Kyros. Now, Herodin has his own problems which we will see later, but once again, a running theme in this game is that a house divided gets bulldozed by Kyros. The Unbroken cannot win this. There is no Stalwart to save, no people to protect, and nothing keeping Kyros' armies out of the area once the storm goes down.

We also confirm once again the ineptitude of the Disfavored. All Osmios had to do to take the fort was to just wait for us to leave. Cleopatra and friends are powerful, but they're also four people with no standing army. Once they leave the fort there's nothing stopping Osmios from just walking in there and seizing it. The best excuse I have is that they want to save Callias, but Osmios never mentions him or asks if they can have their man back. He just wanders in, makes a speech about how Graven Ashe wants the Fatebinder dead, and then gets executed for his trouble.

Next time: If you had a low opinion of the Unbroken and Disfavored before just wait until we make it to the Rust Canyons!