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The Nisse (very big bad spoilers)


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Okay. Im at the last battle which like. Entirely kicks my ass repeatedly. I was rly futilely looking for a bed jeff might have sneaked into that tower so i can recharge and as i rage quit for the night. Heres some thots:

 

So i've been having entirely mixed feelings about the nisse in how they are written because. Essentially the whole underground powerfully magical people is very vahnathai to me(even doe it seems clear that the objective was more on the lines of evil fairies, but like aslo he knew the parallel would be drawn) . However in this case they seem to lack the depth the vahnathai had in that theres no real internal factions and their cultural identity isnt as 3 dimensional. And yet im not sure if i like that or dont. Having them as like categorically if incomprehensibly evil. Puts me as a player and as a reader. In a situation where i have to accept that there is middle ground that can be reached making them immediately inaccessible.

Which is new for jeff imo and particularly where u can diplomacy ur way even through  dragon fights. 

But i am thoroughly confused wrt their motivations which is both to jeff's credit and fault. Since it deff keeps me hooked but its also frustrating. Since rather than few selectively placed information that gives an air of mystery. It just gives a good amount of often conflicting information and im unable to determine whats what. 

 

Like we have they themselves expressing discomfort at being known. 

They also see haven as an invader rather than an enemy and stated they are an oppressed minority. 

 

We have the people of sacramentum truly fearing them with good reason. Cause like the whole eternal torture and damnation thing which is rly generously dispensed over the most tiny reasons.

 

Which reminds me im still not entirely sure if the ppl of sacramentum are forbiden to talk about the nisse in general or forbidden to do to the people of haven. And furthermore if it is in general how do the people *know*. I guess they just vaguely talk about the refuges. 

 

Finally we have a really complicated setting where much like the dragon cared about Ukat. The nisse do seem to care about the people? Which goes in direct contradiction to everything else. Is it just a god complex and the conflict is more on the fact that they dont want to share their playthings. Or is it a real care for their cultural identity and evolution. Cause one of the deals was literally dont interfere with them and let them grow independently. Which is honestly a fair and kind request since colonialism is ultimately entirely harmful to native communities. So....

 

I dont get them at all. And the information i am given is often times contradictory. So speculation is beyond me.

Also finally i can't marry the level of secretiveness and essentially running away from one prince and 3 soldiers with the amount of power at their disposal. Like if you are godly it would make more sense for you to flaunt it. Particularly if everyone around you knows so. Unless there is truth to what they said and they have been invaded and slaughtered and oppressed before. 

 

Anyway this is one of Jeffs most conflicting creations to me i rly  cant wait for queen's wish 2 to find out more and finalise my opinion on them. It would be sexy if jeff had put somebody we know on the nisse's world. For instance watcher chimera. If we had found him there it would have added weight to it.

 

I rly cant understand them at all this is like so frustrating on any other i'd say bad writing here. It seems deliberate.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Owenmoz said:

Essentially the whole underground powerfully magical people is very vahnathai to me(even doe it seems clear that the objective was more on the lines of evil fairies, but like aslo he knew the parallel would be drawn) .

 

Jeff seems to be really big on reusing good ideas. He's explicit about this when it comes to game engine and other game development resources, so it's not exactly surprising he does with narrative and world building as well.

 

They're only Vahnathai in the broadest strokes, though. It's really just the general aesthetic (tall, magically powerful, lives underground, unknown to the surface world at large). They are very different in practice, and provide a very different narrative function. The Vahnathai are largely isolationist, and only really lash out when invaded. They change their behaviour somewhat when it becomes clear that Avernum is here to stay, but over all they prefer to be left alone to their own devices. 

 

The Nisse are very much the opposite: they act more as a foil to slash fun-house mirror reflection of Haven. They're basically imperialists without the imperialism, laying claim to Sacramentum, and only really acting when that claim is threatened. They talk about protecting the people on the surface from Haven, but it's pretty starkly clear, to me anyways, that they're acting for their own interests more than anything, whatever rationalizations they might give. 

 

10 hours ago, Owenmoz said:

However in this case they seem to lack the depth the vahnathai had in that theres no real internal factions and their cultural identity isnt as 3 dimensional. And yet im not sure if i like that or dont. Having them as like categorically if incomprehensibly evil. Puts me as a player and as a reader. In a situation where i have to accept that there is middle ground that can be reached making them immediately inaccessible.

 

Honestly, I'm giving Jeff a lot of slack when it comes to world building here, because he's done a lot in a lot of different directions. There's four nations, each (besides Haven) with two mechanical factions, and each of which are themselves fractionalized into one or more groups with competing interests, plus the interactions between them all, and on top of that a secret underground nation screwing with everybody. It does sometimes feel like variety over depth, but it's the first game in a series, and variety is also valuable, so I don't really feel justified in being too critical.

 

If you prefer depth over variety, well, I don't think it's fair to say there's no depth here. The Ukat, for example, do a hell of a lot with the whole "external hatred internalized" theme they have going on. But if your preference is really that strong, I can see why you wouldn't like it as much. 

 

11 hours ago, Owenmoz said:

Finally we have a really complicated setting where much like the dragon cared about Ukat. The nisse do seem to care about the people? Which goes in direct contradiction to everything else. Is it just a god complex and the conflict is more on the fact that they dont want to share their playthings. Or is it a real care for their cultural identity and evolution. Cause one of the deals was literally dont interfere with them and let them grow independently. Which is honestly a fair and kind request since colonialism is ultimately entirely harmful to native communities. So....

 

So, here's my take: abusive parents often love their children. They often honestly believe they're acting in their children's best interests. They believe the abuse is justified, or not actually abuse. It's a horrible form of love, often one that places the child's needs below the parent's whims (often with some rationalization about why the child doesn't really need e.g. privacy, affection, to not be hit for being home after curfew), one that objectifies their children as objects or extensions of the parent, but it's usually sincere. You can debate all you want about whether that really counts as love, but that is the sort of "love" they mean when they say they love their kids. 

 

The Nisse care about the surface world. They don't really extract material value from them (besides the elixir from the Ahriel), and seem sincere in wanting to protect the continent from Haven. But it's the sort of caring that leads them to torturing people who go against their (to them, perfectly reasonable) whims. It's the sort of caring that implicitly values the well being of the Nisse over any concern the surface might have. Remember, a lot of groups on Sacramentum want Haven there, because they genuinely benefit from it. Haven is very good at benefiting its vassals and providing stability. But the Nisse don't want that, at least not long term.

 

Why, precisely? Who knows, they're a secretive underground race and this game already spend 30 hours exploring the surface, so I'm not begrudging the underworld being somewhat under developed. But, if I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with it being harder to maintain control over a stable and industrious continent. When you're a small group, and your power is threatened by a direct assault by 4 (admitting powerful) people, you don't want your plaything to have the stability and resources (and the military training Haven provides!) to start thinking that maaaaybe it's time to get rid of those underground manipulators who keep threatening to torture people for all eternity for what amounts to gossip. 

 

One path the player can take is to drive off the Ukat dragon, who has laid claim over the Ukat and consider them his vassal. The dragon, foolishly and arrogantly, does nothing to prevent this obvious eventuality. I think the Nisse are smart enough to want to avoid this. 

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Ok. Im on mobile so i cant quote specifics and i wanna be clear. I rly liked the whole story i do feel like both the vol and the arhiel could have used a bit more juice. (Esp the arhiel cause i love the concept). But in general this isnt to say the Nisse lack depth. Just compared to the the vahnathai obviously it will feel emptier bc its backed against 6 games worth of lore and clear immediately established motivations. That was more to draw the intro line on how i feel conflicted about them. Because i feel that they manage to achieve something i think only the corruption from avadon has lore-wise. And avadon, was by far not my fave game series to play. And even then the corruption was very much ignorable and didnt hold any power over the rest of the world.

 

Like as far as it goes w jeff it is refreshing to have something beyond your ability to comprehend  and something you can't trully beneficially negotiate with. 

Writing wise my main complaint isnt the lack of depth which is rly too early to make any big statements on. Its the conflicting information through all sources. 

 

I like the abusive parents take it would explain but i'd like to know in what way do they think or do they actually benefit sacramentum. Dreams and teleportation? Or keeping haven out? 

 

And on the part of them not wanting haven cause it would grant the surfacers independence from them; why be antagonistic towards the surfacers then?  Like wouldnt it make sense to make sure they are well liked and protected. Granted internal ethnic conflicts do not seem in favour of them but it was literally the exact same people that ultimately gave us the literal keys to the nisse's defeat.

 

And the ukatish dragon is exactly where i find the nisse novel. Because even with that dragon you get to dictate the terms. And the dragon also isnt necessarily maliciously harmful. Just greedy and entitled. So its easy to understand.

On that note the nisse were scared of at least one dragon. To what extent does their power get. they are capable of making eye beasts and tyrants. And other beings. They are capable of ravaging the entire land and destroying their cities as to avoid being learned of/about. Stealing souls etc... Why would a blind dragon prove worth abandoning an important city over. 

 

Their whole Schrödinger's power level and threat level is genuinely my main bone to pick with them

 

 

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Compared to other games and even exploring the lands in this game, what you know about the Nisse comes from one Watcher, the 6 Nisse at the refuges, and 5 other Nisse in their lands. That's a very small data base to work with in figuring them out. Even if you poke into every place below you don't find out that much more about them then what you are told. Consider it less information than you got visiting two Vahnatai cities in Avernum 2.

 

The Nisse are worse than the dragons that use humans to enrich themselves. Considering how long they have been studying and controlling the lands, they still don't understand the humans above them (see Charme) so they use fear to make them obey. The Nisse assume it's their divine right to control the lands and would rather destroy them before letting anyone else, meaning Haven, come in and rival them.

 

The abusive parent idea is a good view about how they go about it. They get to discipline their children however they like to make sure they are obeyed and lash out at any challengers.

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