general

Neverwinter Nights 2: Something Awful and Inherent Flaws with the Alignment System

This person with his diploma in history and arts wrote up the most awesome essay of the Casavir/Bashop/FemalePC love triangle.

I can't believe I didn't see it earlier. But namely:

You see, Bishop is a transgressive bi-sexed cannibal queer.

...What?


I fell off my chair laughing at this point.

But he followed this statement with a very good point:

Okay, so that was a little post-grad. Whatever.

Nature's important to the fantasy genre. Hell, it's important to society as a whole, since it basically helps define what is and isn't society.

People are a bit strange when pattern-matching. To be honest, we're not very good at it. We have a tendency to insist on fitting a square peg into a circular hole at all costs, and even when we do get it right we're often putting it in sideways anyway.

A couple of years ago I read an interesting journal article (this is old news by now, by the way) about the Bible and the list of prohibited foodstuffs. The article suggested that in the original Hebrew, 'to abominate' something didn't mean to hate or revile a thing, but to simply shun or avoid it. When the scholars who wrote Leviticus compiled a list of animals to abominate, they weren't just making shit up, or somehow magically aware of food poisoning and vectors of disease transmission (which would only apply to a fraction of the animals listed anyway). No, what they were doing was warning against animals that were, well, weird.

Rabbits and camels and pigs chew the cud but don't have hooves. Eels and catfish swim in the sea, but don't have fins or scales quite like those of 'ordinary' fish. And shellfish - have you even seen them?!

This little anecdote is a very longwinded way of saying that humans don't like ambiguity. Stuff that blurs the line between two discrete categories. Cyborgs, mutants, mixed-race families if you go back a generation or two...

...or man and nature. That's a biggie.

The Island of Dr. Moreau. Werewolves and other lycanthropes. King Kong. The merging of man and animal loops into a long-standing insecurity mankind has about its place in the natural world. Animals that act like humans are unnerving - and the same goes for men that act like animals. Think of the caricature of the 'primitive savage,' the ooga-booga cannibal from darkest Africa. Or maybe think of The Most Dangerous Game, the man-hunter who preys on human beings, undermining our whole concept of the 'natural order' of things. Humans not being top dog is a worrying concept for us.

And that's what Bishop represents. He's the tracker-of-men, the race-traitor who'd betray his own species for a bag of gold - or maybe just for the hell of it. That's what's implied in Casavir's and Malin's warnings, what lurks in the darkness of Bishop's viciously pragmatic philosophy.

But more than that, he's also the inversion of the traditional archetypal Ranger, the Strider-character who walks with the animals and controls nature. I see no such control in Bishop; Bishop allows himself to be dominated by his primitive, animalistic urges. Civilisation is for dorks.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting Bishop is some kind of super-cool awesomely-written badass character, a Kreia for the Forgotten Realms. He's just playing to type, just like the rest of the main cast. I could've written a small essay on anyone else in the party, and how well they fit stereotype, but I don't think it would've been as interesting. We know who the Burly Brawler is, and the Teenager, and the Mystic, and the Honourbound Knight, and the Nerd, and the other Mystic... but the Shapechanger's always a little harder to find, right?


But I am not sure why author equates the potential proposition with love, because frankly I imagine these are quite separate issues for Bishop (but not for Casavir) - it comes down to that issue of reveling in base urges.

I tip my metaphorical hat to this guy for his very concise and humorous opinions. <3

Still, there's a few part I'd love to post up in rebuttal if that post didn't happen to be several years old.

Namely, this point:

Part of me wonders where all this is coming from. Casavir and Malin seem to think Bishop is some kind of Svengali, manipulating us into committing acts of evil. Sorry, Casavir, but we're evil of our own volition! The only manipulation Bishop does is having a hissy fit whenever we decide to help someone.


I am not sure they think he's corrupting the PC's character, from Malin's warning I felt she was more concerned for the safety of the PC not her.. moral high grounds or lackthereof.

Casavir might be worried that Bishop is manipulating the PC in unsavoury ways, but not to make her do unspeakable acts of evil. Bishop, I've always felt, kind of expects the PC to disagree with him; he knows people don't like the way he acts. So I've never really felt he was forcing you to be evil (although he'd approve); not in the same way Casavir expected you to be thoughtful.

Mind you, I did say 'evil.' Bishop still expects you to be... well, not sentimental. It's the kind of difference between snapping someone's neck and flippantly asking "I wonder how much it's worth" to Nya. One's evil, the other's just inconsiderate.

It's kind of hard to translate past the game mechanics.

The other point:

It'd be a bit more convincing if they weren't such polar opposites. I mean, that's part of the drama, but does Casavir truly think he has a shot with us? In order to gain Influence with Bishop, we basically have to act like massive assholes all the time - so what does Casavir see in us? And what would Bishop see in a Sister Maria figure? (Apart from the obvious, ohohohoho.)

Perhaps if they didn't adhere so strongly to their alignments. Perhaps if Casavir was a bit more of a dick on occasion, or if Bishop wasn't so goddamn aggressive at every moment, it'd be a bit more believable that they could be attracted to the same woman: a bit of rough for the Paladin, a blushing virgin for the Ranger. If wishes were horses, eh?


I agree. This is why I think the female PC, for this love triangle to make any sense, should be a neutral alignment or something deliberately midway between the two poles, like chaotic good. Lawful evil wouldn't work though. The Evil would repel Casavir too much.

Chaotic good should work well because then you can say their intents are in harmony, even if their methods differ (and Casavir is more good than lawful anyway). Bishop probably would approve more if you were evil, but face it, he doesn't really expect it so he won't miss it. In some aspects, he wants you to be the Hero so he can despise and desire you.

But personally, I find the alignment system doesn't even come close to analysing how a person thinks. It dumbs down the whole approach into a flat image; which just isn't true. People are basically complicated and many layered... like onions.

Maybe that's my problem, I'm trying to be too realistic about this and ignoring how the archetype works. Stereotypes are like... colors in a painting. No painting is just one color, and people aren't solely just one stereotype.