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The case against Redbeard? (spoilers for A1, 2 & 3)


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I'm in the middle of A3 now, and I'm honestly surprised at just how weak the case is for killing Redbeard. This seems to be a major theme in the series, yet it never comes across to me as an option I should realistically consider. Am I missing something?


The Wayfarer is unconvincing

The Wayfarer's quests are all intended to weaken the Pact and motivate you to oppose Redbeard. The problem is that what he largely exposes is the player's own corruption. Following his quests means stealing privileged information from your allies, framing an innocent man for treason, accusing an innocent man of crimes to help out his competition, etc. Unwittingly, he reveals that the main problem with Avadon is actually undisciplined Hands like you. While it's certainly fair to criticize Redbeard for not keeping a tighter rein on his underlings, are you really going to kill him off because he didn't stop you from abusing your authority and betraying the Pact for a little coin and some paltry loot? Your PC doesn't really have much room to talk, especially if you are complicit in murdering people for your party's self-serving agendas (and you probably did if you're fighting Redbeard).

Your companions' motivations aren't compelling either
Sevilin wants to murder the pardoned protectors of a destitute settlement of his own people because revenge > all. Shima wants to murder loyal allies of the Pact in cold blood AFTER he tried to kill them and they spared him. Nathalie is pissed because she ran off to fight a drake on her own, which is somehow Avadon's fault. Dedrik was banished from his tribe for supporting the Pact, then decides to murder fellow Pact warriors and possibly ignite civil war between the Wyldrylm and the Kva just to visit his family, since apparently them visiting him isn't good enough. Khalida in A3 wants to kill a camp full of friendly NPCs because it will piss off Redbeard and get his attention. (No comment on other A3 quests because I haven't gotten them yet.) Do these things for them, and your merry band will cheerfully assist you in killing Redbeard. If your PC wants to reform Avadon, s/he should probably start by curbing the party's homicidal tendencies.
 

Dhorl Stead is the fault of two selfish, cruel, and cowardly men

The Wayfarer repeatedly tries to blame Redbeard for the fate of Dhorl Stead. Right, because Redbeard totally put a gun to Moritz'Kri's head, forcing him to experiment on his own people to turn them into a bizarre horror army. Yep, it's definitely Avadon's fault that Moritz'Kri decided to brainwash all those Khemerian soldiers to fight you to the death and summon a demon lord capable of destroying the world. Forget Avadon and politics for a moment--Moritz'Kri is clearly evil and would be killed by the PCs in basically any RPG setting ever. The self-defense argument is completely bogus, as demonstrated in the ending when the city holds off invaders just fine without either Moritz'kri's horrors or Carsta'Arl and his men. They wanted an army to invade the Pact, not to protect themselves. The player gives Carsta'arl the chance to turn himself in to spare his people, but instead he uses his own wife as a human shield, not to mention his blacksmith and many of his soldiers. And that is Redbeard's fault how? It may not be fair, but it just goes to show that Avadon is justified in restricting the Farlanders' ability to arm and learn forbidden magic.

Avadon is necessary to keep the Pact together
In Avadon 2, there is a wretch blacksmith in Rockridge Keep with sixteen little wretch children running around. They are constantly trying to bludgeon each other to death, and the wretch dad is constantly breaking up squabbles between them. It's an apt metaphor for Avadon and the Pact. Many people express the opinion that Avadon has too much power, but what happens when Avadon's power gets reduced? The squabbling children all start killing each other, and we have both civil war and war war. Many, many more people are harmed and killed by this, both Pact and Farlander, than were ever harmed and killed by Avadon. All of Avadon 2 and what I've played of A3 so far is just one non-stop proof that Avadon is necessary to defend the Pact. Yoshiria claims in A2 that Avadon is redundant with the Pact army, but guess who does all the heavy lifting in A2? That's right, Hands of Avadon. Even the narration at one point notes that it's a common story for the Pact army to fail at something then call Avadon in to clean up the mess.

Your PC helping Farlanders makes very little sense
Do the Farlands have legitimate grievances with the Pact? Absolutely. They pay heavy tribute and don't even have the right to self-defense against Pact citizens. Are their actions in the game justified? Nope. Dheless in A2 claims that all he wanted was to remove the Pact's boot from their throats, but this is BS. If all he wanted to accomplish was deterring Pact/Avadon aggression, the Farlands could have made their own pact for that. But what did they do? They engaged in repeated, deliberate acts of war against the Midlands Pact. Sending armed spies and saboteurs into Pact lands was an act of war. Assassinating Monitor Shigaz was an act of war. Attacking Avadon was an act of war. They don't want freedom; they want to crush the Midlands under their heels like in olden days. Your PC has been fighting for the Pact all this time, so why would they decide to suddenly switch sides? From a moral standpoint, a role-play standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense to ally with the people invading your homelands.

Redbeard is neither saint nor demon

Redbeard is made out to be a cruel dictator, but as far as I've seen, he is never shown to be cruel for cruelty's sake. Instead, he is coldly pragmatic. If murdering someone will stop a war from happening, he will murder the one to stop the war. If he can neutralize a threat to himself or the Pact without killing them, he often does. He spared a lot of people that a truly cruel and selfish tyrant would have killed, such as Cahil and his men (much to Sevilin's dismay), Eye Leira, Heart Miranda, and many people in the dungeons. Ironically, it was his mercy toward and trust of Miranda that led to his undoing. Pretty weird for a guy who's been billed as ruthless and tyrannical. You could argue that the cause was actually the death of Miranda's husband, but it's hard to fault Avadon for executing a man who tried to murder a high-ranking military commander.

 

Keeper: a thankless job with impossible standards

Many people are quick to find fault with Avadon and Redbeard without acknowledging that it was Avadon who brought the Pact out of the Black Age, that Redbeard presided over decades of peace and prosperity, and that Avadon's loss of funds, influence and manpower gave us the Age of Chaos. A1 tries to spin a narrative that Redbeard is somehow at fault for the decline, apparently for not checking his crystal ball to correctly predict Miranda's betrayal and Dheless's plans to start a war. And God forbid that he show signs of exhaustion or stress during an extremely chaotic time when he's short on both funds and manpower; why, that is clearly grounds for immediate assassination and removal. Looking out for number one is also a crime, even though the overwhelming majority of people join Avadon for wealth and power. If Redbeard was a truly selfish person who only cared about his personal comfort and wealth, he would have been another fat, lazy bureaucrat like the toll collector in Castle Vebeaux. In A3, he would be less focused on work and more focused on amassing wealth and creature comforts for himself. But that's not the case.

 

There's no real alternative

We're justified in assassinating Redbeard for failing to check his crystal ball, but it's totes okay that Hanvar's Council is so plagued by infighting and indecisiveness that they completely ignore multiple clear and blatant acts of war from Tawon for years, up to and including the attack on Fort Foresight. Everything will definitely be totally fine if we trust these guys to run the show instead.

 

Miranda is an evil villain, full stop
In all three games, she causes countless deaths, many of them innocent, for the sole purpose of revenge against Redbeard. We learn a little more about this in A3, but it honestly doesn't change the picture that much. Yes, it was morally wrong that Miranda and her husband were tricked into murdering innocent people to gain wealth and power for Avadon. You know what's more morally wrong? Getting lots of people murdered who had nothing to do with your husband's execution, purely to avenge yourself against one man. By her own admission, she purposely manipulated the A1 PC for the entire game, hoping to goad him/her into a seemingly impossible task that would most likely get them killed. It is highly unlikely that her husband would want any of this. Are we really supposed to kill Redbeard because of anything she says?

If you are loyal to the Pact, the timing (in A1 and A2 at least) makes it a bad idea

Even if you have quibbles with how Redbeard runs things, why the heckin' heck would you decide to kill Redbeard when Avadon is being overrun by foreign invaders? Unless you are actively trying to harm the Pact, this makes no sense whatsoever. It's even worse in A2--sure, let's go kill off the only military commander who predicted this years ago and is prepared to respond right now.

 

In the end, it really seems to boil down to personal dislike

Disliking Redbeard's character or wanting the top job for yourself seems to be the only realistic motives, and neither really speak well for your PC's character. If you will murder people out of personal dislike or to get their job, you are very likely to be a far worse Keeper than Redbeard ever was. Acting Keeper Protus has so far instituted some reforms, but at the same time he threatens you, jails dissidents like Laria, and can also be overheard casually ordering the murder of an Eye.

 

tl;dr: I'm partway through A3 and still haven't seen a reason to kill Redbeard yet. If anyone has one please let me know!

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I can think of two basic angles of attack to justify removing/killing Redbeard ideologically.

 

First, the internal one: I think it's possible to decide, from the perspective of a Pact loyalist, that Redbeard is a danger to the long-term health and stability of the Pact. He willfully arrogates a ton of power from the constituent states of the Pact, and isn't meaningfully answerable to the Council or the states individually. A Pact loyalist might decide that it's wrong for anyone to have as much unaccountable power as Redbeard has amassed. Prior Keepers evidently didn't have as much power as Redbeard has managed to gain, and a player might decide that they (or Protus) might, as Keeper, better play by the rules. I think it's also possible to conclude that Dheless's rebellion, and many other troubles the Pact has with the Farlands, are the results of Redbeard's harshness and cruelty to the Farlands- refusing to deal with them as equals, constantly reaffirming, in diplomacy, his and the Pact's superiority and right and ability to destroy them, refusing to even consider allowing anyone else to join the Pact ever. One might also draw the conclusion that the Council's instability is perhaps at least partly due to Redbeard's deliberate destabilization of and lack of cooperation with it.

 

Second- a more external argument. Going further than the above criticisms, I think it is entirely possible for a player to conclude that the Pact is wrong and unjustifiable in toto. Its military and economic dominance over the Farlands, its rigid exclusivity, its racism against outsiders and nonhumans. Going forward from this, one might conclude that Redbeard is integral to holding the Pact together, and desire to remove him in order to weaken the Pact. Alternately, even if one doesn't think he's crucial in that way, a player might desire to take his place in order to exercise the powers of Keeper to undermine the Pact.

 

From a role-playing perspective... the player character doesn't really have any sort of internal life or existence independent from the player. Any option the player is given (loyalty to Redbeard, disloyalty but declining to challenge him, siding with Protus, killing him oneself, etc) can be plausibly explained in in-universe roleplaying terms.

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Thank you for replying to my topic! Much appreciated! :)

 

Deciding to murder someone because of something they *might* do doesn't strike me as a very compelling argument, though. Not to mention that Hanvar's Council did have meaningful leverage over Redbeard the whole time (they control the purse strings). It's true that Redbeard did pull shenanigans to get some Council members favorable to Avadon, but I can't remember anything in the game indicating that any of the problems with Hanvar's Council (namely, the infighting and refusal to respond to Tawon's aggression) actually stems from this meddling. Do you remember something I don't (or never saw in the first place)? It's not as if Hanvar's Council was full of nothing but Redbeard's puppets--out of the two Council members we meet, one is neutral and the other is actively hostile to Avadon, both without any fear of retribution. Nor do I recall anything indicating that the "Open Arms In, Stone Wall Beyond" philosophy originated from and was driven by Redbeard, though he certainly upholds this philosophy. The in-game Codex indicates it is the underpinning of the Pact's laws and actions, so isn't it a huge stretch to blame Redbeard for this? And even if one thinks the Pact is unjust, I can't see that the Farlanders are any better. All the criticisms of how the Pact has behaved toward the Farlanders are serious and 100% valid, but I would argue that invading a country is far worse, and results in worse outcomes for both sides. Dheless united the Farlands, and that would have been sufficient to deter aggression from the Pact, especially while they're busy squabbling. Redbeard did not force Dheless to invade the Midlands.

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I think it's possible to come to certain conclusions (which are up to interpretation) that support alternate readings of events. I think some of the particulars are impossible to know with certainty, given the limited view the player is given of the gameworld, and I think this uncertainty is deliberate, to allow a player to plausibly interpret events in varying ways in order to justify the different options they're given.

 

I'm not sure I agree that Hanvar's Council has meaningful leverage over Redbeard. Their underfunding of Avadon is definitely part of its lack of preparedness when the war breaks out, but they don't really have any way of holding Redbeard accountable- Redbeard would absolutely reject and probably try to disrupt any attempt to form another unified security/counterintelligence organization to take Avadon's place; underfunding Avadon too much would leave the Pact totally defenseless; and Avadon 2 retcons things so that a Keeper can only ever be unseated by assassination, with their assassin taking the position. It's only in 3 that (at least part of) the Council is willing to resort to the last option, and their ability to do so depends entirely on the capability and sympathies of a random Hand- the player character.

 

While the Council is indecisive and fractious regarding Dheless's war, I think part of this, at least, can be attributed to a) Redbeard himself admittedly not seeing Dheless's preparations until too late, and b) not cooperating with the Council, which probably extends to withholding what information he did have from them.

 

Redbeard didn't originate the "Stone Wall Beyond" ideology of the Pact, but he definitely interprets it in an especially hardline way- in particular his willingness to actively disrupt the affairs of the Farlands isn't necessarily implicit in said ideology. His willingness to meddle in internal Pact politics could also be seen as rather contrary to "Open Arms Within."

 

I don't think one has to believe the Farlands are superior to the Midlands states to think the Pact should be destroyed- just that they aren't any worse. There are also nationalists of the Pact states who want to see the Pact disbanded.

 

All the Farlands united probably wouldn't be able to withstand the Pact if it chose to become aggressive or expansionist. They're geographically dispersed and just as fractious as the Pact states, while the Pact states are bunched together, meaning the Pact could pick them off one by one at will, even united, which is indeed what happens in 3. Dheless I think knew this, and thus he counted on destroying the Pact in a swift war while the Pact was weak, and before his allies fell to infighting. Further, from Dheless's perspective, there's really no other way for his country to escape the hegemony of the Pact. If the Farlands tried to unify politically or economically to counterbalance the Pact, Redbeard would absolutely disrupt this. The war is an act of desperation on the part of the Farlands, rather than a considered act of malice.

Edited by googoogjoob
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I'm probably not being fair, but in the context of current U.S. politics, this is pretty much how I read some of these points:

 

8 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

Your PC helping Farlanders makes very little sense
Do the Farlands have legitimate grievances with the Pact? Absolutely. They pay heavy tribute and don't even have the right to self-defense against Pact citizens. Are their actions in the game justified? Nope. Dheless in A2 claims that all he wanted was to remove the Pact's boot from their throats, but this is BS. If all he wanted to accomplish was deterring Pact/Avadon aggression, the Farlands could have made their own pact for that. But what did they do? They engaged in repeated, deliberate acts of war against the Midlands Pact. Sending armed spies and saboteurs into Pact lands was an act of war. Assassinating Monitor Shigaz was an act of war. Attacking Avadon was an act of war. They don't want freedom; they want to crush the Midlands under their heels like in olden days. Your PC has been fighting for the Pact all this time, so why would they decide to suddenly switch sides? From a moral standpoint, a role-play standpoint, it makes absolutely no sense to ally with the people invading your homelands.

 

"Do the protesters have legitimate grievances with the government?  Absolutely.  Are their actions justified?  Nope."

 

I realize that the Farlanders do things far more serious than just protesting, but the above paragraph contains lots of elaboration on what the Farlanders do, and zero elaboration on what the grievances are that lead to them taking these actions.  You're trying to say their actions aren't justified, that they're disproportionate, but without any consideration of what the proper proportion actually would be.

 

If complaining about their grievances doesn't lead to change, their options are either to say "oh well" or to escalate things.  Since you agree the grievances are legitimate, what do you think they should do, given that their complaints are shut down in a second when they are even heard at all?

 

 

8 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

There's no real alternative

We're justified in assassinating Redbeard for failing to check his crystal ball, but it's totes okay that Hanvar's Council is so plagued by infighting and indecisiveness that they completely ignore multiple clear and blatant acts of war from Tawon for years, up to and including the attack on Fort Foresight. Everything will definitely be totally fine if we trust these guys to run the show instead.

 

"All we've done for the last 20 years is elect men, mostly old men, who reject policy changes that a majority of the population supports.  There's no alternative!"

 

This is a ridiculous fallacy.  The game only depicts one political situation and one government structure, therefore it's the only thing that could exist?  There's no possible way to set up a council that works better than Hanvar's?  There's no possible way for a Keeper (Redbeard included, but presumably someone replacing him, since he is unwilling) to address any of the grievances at all without the Pact falling apart, just because Redbeard thinks there isn't and therefore hasn't tried?

 

You might think the alternatives won't work, but that's basically pure speculation, and the alternatives certainly exist.  And they certainly aren't any worse for the people who die, or whose loved ones die, under Redbeard's regime.

 

 

8 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

If you are loyal to the Pact, the timing (in A1 and A2 at least) makes it a bad idea

Even if you have quibbles with how Redbeard runs things, why the heckin' heck would you decide to kill Redbeard when Avadon is being overrun by foreign invaders?

 

"We were just attacked, if you are loyal to the U.S. you can't question anything the President is doing"

 

Again, I realize that "question" and "kill" are very different, but Redbeard basically makes "questioning" unavailable as an option, by being so unresponsive, and suppressing dissent to the degree that he does.

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You've hit on many of the reasons/points why the Avadon series is my least favorite of all of Jeff's/SW's games.  But the moral ambiguity/chaos isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Most games are fairly black & white - you're a hero who sniffs unicorn farts to build up your strength (Avernum 3 excepted...) to go out & battle the monsters who are drowning puppies in outhouses.  The side you 'should' be playing is pretty clear cut (there are of course the occasional people who want to act completely chaotic evil & kill everything in every town/dungeon they come across...).  Avadon is one of those reasonably rare games/series that makes you actually think about what's going on/deeper issues (which isn't a good thing for the real life player who just wants a bit of escapism for a few hours).

 

It's been a couple of years since I've visited the Avadon universe so I can't give specific examples, but for me personally, the way I got through things was to just play it as presented & let events unfold as they do.  You're essentially a low ranking foot soldier acting on a tactical level with essentially no impact/input on strategic issues (the ones that Redbeard is dealing with)*.  It's not perfect, but I can at least internally justify some of the actions that my character is forced to make.

 

(I do wish though that there were other response options in some encounters (such as helping out a poor farmer clear out some local monsters) where you could just have done what you just did as a matter of building goodwill with the local populace rather than accepting the meager payment offered or demanding even more.

 

*Think of it as you being a rookie police officer joining a fairly corrupt big city's force.  If the corruption/shakedowns run all the way up your chain of command, there's really not a lot that you, as someone on the bottom of the totem pole, can really do to change things.  If you don't accept your portion of the (extremely small at your level) kickbacks, nobody who is corrupt (a significant portion of your day to day work partners) is going to trust you/have your back in dangerous situations & might even think that you're an undercover Fed looking to break up the corruption (which could be very dangerous for you even if it's completely wrong).  Sometimes you just have to go along to get along until you can get yourself out of that hellish situation. 

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Another thing to keep in mind (if I'm remembering my Avadon history correctly) is that over the decades, Redbeard has eliminated/exiled/killed pretty much anyone who showed up who was smart/ambitious enough to potentially be a threat to him.  So you wind up with a powerful leader surrounded by unthinking toadies willing to do most anything asked because their Dear Leader told them too...

 

So while a significant portion of the population may hate who's in charge & are willing to revolt, there's nobody in the opposition strong/smart enough to do so through the systematic elimination of those who might be able to over the years.

 

It was into that maelstrom that you were just dropped as a common soldier/Hand

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Everyone, thank you so much for taking the time to reply! I'm really happy to see so many different perspectives :) There's a lot to reply to, so I hope no one minds if I quote the parts I'm replying to:

 

  

11 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

I'm not sure I agree that Hanvar's Council has meaningful leverage over Redbeard.

The Codex, probably the most neutral and unbiased source in the entire game, states that "He (Redbeard) has an uncanny ability to recognize the limits of his power." Redbeard is indisputably the most powerful man in Lynaeus before being driven out, but he never had completely unchecked power. I'm still not seeing any evidence that he deserves most of the blame for the Farlands' situation or that he's behind the petty quarreling in the council--by his own admission, all he did was pull shenanigans to get a few council members friendly to Avadon's purpose.

11 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

All the Farlands united probably wouldn't be able to withstand the Pact if it chose to become aggressive or expansionist. They're geographically dispersed and just as fractious as the Pact states, while the Pact states are bunched together, meaning the Pact could pick them off one by one at will, even united, which is indeed what happens in 3. Dheless I think knew this, and thus he counted on destroying the Pact in a swift war while the Pact was weak, and before his allies fell to infighting. Further, from Dheless's perspective, there's really no other way for his country to escape the hegemony of the Pact. If the Farlands tried to unify politically or economically to counterbalance the Pact, Redbeard would absolutely disrupt this. The war is an act of desperation on the part of the Farlands, rather than a considered act of malice.

This is a really good point, thank you. The game does prove that the Farlanders can organize and unite without getting Redbeard's attention, but even if simply destabilizing the Pact and uniting would be enough to deter Pact/Avadon aggression, from the perspective of Dheless and his allies, they can very reasonably conclude it might not be enough or the alliance was too fractious to be long-lasting.

6 hours ago, Sealing Librarian said:

I'm probably not being fair, but in the context of current U.S. politics,

It's absolutely not fair to try to superimpose real life politics on a fictional medieval fantasy setting. The situations are completely different, and nothing I've said here has any bearing on my political beliefs.

 

6 hours ago, Sealing Librarian said:

"Do the protesters have legitimate grievances with the government?  Absolutely.  Are their actions justified?  Nope."

 

I realize that the Farlanders do things far more serious than just protesting, but the above paragraph contains lots of elaboration on what the Farlanders do, and zero elaboration on what the grievances are that lead to them taking these actions.  You're trying to say their actions aren't justified, that they're disproportionate, but without any consideration of what the proper proportion actually would be.

 

If complaining about their grievances doesn't lead to change, their options are either to say "oh well" or to escalate things.  Since you agree the grievances are legitimate, what do you think they should do, given that their complaints are shut down in a second when they are even heard at all?

I mentioned a couple of the injustices, but didn't elaborate because I'm assuming everyone reading has played the games for themselves. Like I said in the first post, I believe they should have united to make their own Farlands Pact. If you want me to elaborate on this suggestion, I think they should have expelled or killed all Pact/Avadon aggressors like the bandits you see in A2, then declare to the world that they will not be allowing Avadon/Pact soldiers into their lands anymore, nor will they be paying tribute anymore. If Avadon/the Pact respond to this with military aggression, that's an act of war and the Farlands Pact is now completely justified invading the Midlands in self-defense.

 

6 hours ago, Sealing Librarian said:

"All we've done for the last 20 years is elect men, mostly old men, who reject policy changes that a majority of the population supports.  There's no alternative!"

 

This is a ridiculous fallacy.  The game only depicts one political situation and one government structure, therefore it's the only thing that could exist?  There's no possible way to set up a council that works better than Hanvar's?  There's no possible way for a Keeper (Redbeard included, but presumably someone replacing him, since he is unwilling) to address any of the grievances at all without the Pact falling apart, just because Redbeard thinks there isn't and therefore hasn't tried?

 

You might think the alternatives won't work, but that's basically pure speculation, and the alternatives certainly exist.  And they certainly aren't any worse for the people who die, or whose loved ones die, under Redbeard's regime.

I'm basing my analysis on what information is specifically in the game. If you have any ideas how they could plausibly set up a better council given the situation in the game, I'm all ears. The in-game Codex indicates that Dharam's democratic republic is viewed as quaint, and specifically states, "Fortunately, it shows few signs of infecting other countries in Lynaeus." The in-game Codex also specifically indicates the mistreatment of Farlanders is an integral part of the culture in the Midlands Pact and not solely Redbeard's fault. Even if he hypothetically wanted to treat the Farlanders better to avoid war, he would doubtlessly meet with great resistance from the Pact army and Hanvar's Council. They largely dislike Redbeard, and they're not going to be happy to see the military domination and economic exploitation of the Farlands end.

 

6 hours ago, Sealing Librarian said:

"We were just attacked, if you are loyal to the U.S. you can't question anything the President is doing"

 

Again, I realize that "question" and "kill" are very different, but Redbeard basically makes "questioning" unavailable as an option, by being so unresponsive, and suppressing dissent to the degree that he does.

Now that is a huge fallacy right there, not to mention you're comparing apples and oranges. While you, a lowly Hand, can't question orders, you report directly to a Heart of Avadon whose job description is to speak frankly to Redbeard. The game may not give you the option, but hypothetically you could raise any concerns you have with Miranda/Protus or Callan. Jenell also indicates that she argues with her superiors all the time, and has never gotten into trouble for it. And there are times when Redbeard asks the PC for their input on something. Realistically, if your PC wanted to reform Avadon, you could work your way up to become a Heart of Avadon and use that position to effect change. Miranda in A1 talks about how Redbeard makes the big decisions, but she makes lots of little decisions and that gives her quite a lot of power. Acting as if assassinating Redbeard is the only reasonable option if you oppose his policies is simply not true.

 

6 hours ago, TriRodent said:

(I do wish though that there were other response options in some encounters (such as helping out a poor farmer clear out some local monsters) where you could just have done what you just did as a matter of building goodwill with the local populace rather than accepting the meager payment offered or demanding even more.

I 100% agree with this! I happily did Elder Oakan's quest for free when I had the choice in A1, and really wish we could do things like that more often. I try to be nice to everyone I meet.

 

6 hours ago, TriRodent said:

Another thing to keep in mind (if I'm remembering my Avadon history correctly) is that over the decades, Redbeard has eliminated/exiled/killed pretty much anyone who showed up who was smart/ambitious enough to potentially be a threat to him.  So you wind up with a powerful leader surrounded by unthinking toadies willing to do most anything asked because their Dear Leader told them too...

 

So while a significant portion of the population may hate who's in charge & are willing to revolt, there's nobody in the opposition strong/smart enough to do so through the systematic elimination of those who might be able to over the years.

I don't remember any mention of Redbeard killing people just because they might pose a threat to him; do you know where that's said? Hearts of Avadon are also specifically tasked with speaking their mind frankly to the Keeper (whether Redbeard or Protus). They're not supposed to be yes-men and women, though we aren't told how often Redbeard takes their advice or ignores them. But considering that a Heart is the highest position you can earn, I would think that Redbeard does value their advice and opinions.

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27 minutes ago, Alfaerin said:

I 100% agree with this! I happily did Elder Oakan's quest for free when I had the choice in A1, and really wish we could do things like that more often. I try to be nice to everyone I meet.

 

Nice certainly is ... well, nice & a good attitude/default setting to have towards others.  I look at it as more a practical, goodwill building exercise.  Who was it who said "Quantity has a quality all it's own..." (Stalin, Mao, one of those who didn't care about taking casualties).  You're three (granted, highly skilled & armed) Hands all by your lonesome (maybe with an Eye on the far side of town).  If you piss off enough of the locals, they 'will' eventually be able to get to you (you've got to sleep sometime, even if you're rotating guard shifts).  And then when the inevitable investigation into your disappearance starts, the town will just say "I dunno, they said something about having to go see some Titans, maybe they got eaten..." (for a real life example of this - Ken McElroy).

 

37 minutes ago, Alfaerin said:

I don't remember any mention of Redbeard killing people just because they might pose a threat to him; do you know where that's said? Hearts of Avadon are also specifically tasked with speaking their mind frankly to the Keeper (whether Redbeard or Protus). They're not supposed to be yes-men and women, though we aren't told how often Redbeard takes their advice or ignores them. But considering that a Heart is the highest position you can earn, I would think that Redbeard does value their advice and opinions.

 

Again, it's been several years since I've delved into the Avadon universe (perhaps while waiting for Geneforge...) so no specific examples.  I do think that him eliminating true threats/rivals was implied if not specifically mentioned.  Yes Hearts are 'supposed' to speak their mind/give good advice.  Redbeard however comes across as a "I know better than you" narcissist.  The Hearts have been with/observed him for years.  They know him well & probably tailor their advice to be somewhat along the lines of what he wants to do (for self preservation purposes) even if they don't agree at all (think of North Korea now or Iraq under Saddam, the people around the dictator have had a long history of stroking his ego/telling him for the most part what he wants to hear - to do otherwise gets one tossed under the bus and run over).  They may argue with him, but again for self preservation, they're going to agree with him more often than not.  Redbeard may think that he's open minded enough to listen, but bear in mind that he's been in place for decades, in a job where the previous occupants were assassinated on a fairly regular basis.  Paranoid suspicion of most everyone isn't just a job description, it's a requirement.

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46 minutes ago, Alfaerin said:

The Codex, probably the most neutral and unbiased source in the entire game, states that "He (Redbeard) has an uncanny ability to recognize the limits of his power." Redbeard is indisputably the most powerful man in Lynaeus before being driven out, but he never had completely unchecked power. I'm still not seeing any evidence that he deserves most of the blame for the Farlands' situation or that he's behind the petty quarreling in the council--by his own admission, all he did was pull shenanigans to get a few council members friendly to Avadon's purpose.

 

I'd say the Codex is mostly reliable, but a) it only includes information which is public knowledge at the time of the games, and b) it's written from the perspective of an observer within the Pact. I'm not sure I'd say Redbeard recognizes the limits of his power in the sense of knowing what he can or cannot do, but that he recognizes that the Pact is only capable of withstanding so much internal meddling without flying apart- if he quashed ALL dissent, and ensured EVERY Councilmember was friendly to his causes, then the Pact would likely tear apart at the seams, with no other outlet for its competing nationalisms and regional interests. Further, one might argue that arranging the composition of the Council at all is intrinsically destabilizing, and likely contributes to the instability and indecisiveness of the body- especially if the other Councilmembers are aware of Redbeard's manipulations.

 

Personally, I don't think I'd argue that Redbeard is primarily to blame for the Farlands' issues regarding the Pact. I think most of the issues are intrinsic to the hegemonic, exclusive nature of the Pact. I do also think, though, that Redbeard is sort of a keystone in the Pact's structure, and that he is personally/morally complicit in its injustices. He's the sternest public face of the Pact, even if its workings are mostly impersonal and systematic.

 

47 minutes ago, Alfaerin said:

I think they should have expelled or killed all Pact/Avadon aggressors like the bandits you see in A2, then declare to the world that they will not be allowing Avadon/Pact soldiers into their lands anymore, nor will they be paying tribute anymore. If Avadon/the Pact respond to this with military aggression, that's an act of war and the Farlands Pact is now completely justified invading the Midlands in self-defense.

Redbeard absolutely wouldn't allow the Farlands to get that far. Any counter-Pact would have to be a public alliance- and in the unipolar world of Avadon, any non-Pact association of that sort would be perceived, by Redbeard and by the Pact more broadly, as not just a non-Pact association, but necessarily an anti-Pact association. Avadon would deal with it thusly, regardless of its actual stated or implicit intentions. It's not possible to deal in good faith when one party holds hegemonic power over the other. Probably the only sort of Farlands association or alliance that the Pact would countenance would be one that the Pact itself is party to, as enforcer or observer.

 

Further, I don't believe a Farlands Pact is really especially possible. The Tawon are the only Farland that seems to have anything like a centralized government capable of contracting such an alliance. Khemeria seems to be a patchwork of petty chiefdoms, who are capable of acting in concert in wartime, but don't seem especially interested in unifying into a nation-state. I don't recall what Svorgald's mode of governance is, but it doesn't seem particularly interested in being a part of anything on the mainland. The Titan Peaks seem to be another patchwork of competing warlords; the Wretch Lands are the same, on a smaller scale. The Corruption obviously can't be much a part of anything. The dragons are too selfish and aloof to be bound to anything for long.

 

48 minutes ago, Alfaerin said:

The in-game Codex also specifically indicates the mistreatment of Farlanders is an integral part of the culture in the Midlands Pact and not solely Redbeard's fault. Even if he hypothetically wanted to treat the Farlanders better to avoid war, he would doubtlessly meet with great resistance from the Pact army and Hanvar's Council. They largely dislike Redbeard, and they're not going to be happy to see the military domination and economic exploitation of the Farlands end.

This is broadly true. However, the position of Keeper clearly has wide latitude in conducting both foreign and domestic operations- and can only be removed by being killed, limiting their accountability- and someone who wanted to undermine the Pact could reasonably want to take the position in order to exercise that power against the Pact's interests, or to work to change the political culture within the Pact. Just because the Pact was founded on an exclusive model doesn't mean it must always be so. In particular, I think it's plausible that someone living in Lynaeus might feel that it'd be reasonable to let the non-Pact human nations to join the Pact- not even necessarily on unduly favorable terms to them, but at all.

 

A lot of speculation about alternatives is outside the text of the games, in that the particulars of the player character's reign as Keeper aren't really detailed in the endings of any of the games. But I think the endings are vague precisely to allow a player to imagine that they work to further whatever their ideals are in whichever way they see fit.

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15 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

Personally, I don't think I'd argue that Redbeard is primarily to blame for the Farlands' issues regarding the Pact. I think most of the issues are intrinsic to the hegemonic, exclusive nature of the Pact. I do also think, though, that Redbeard is sort of a keystone in the Pact's structure, and that he is personally/morally complicit in its injustices. He's the sternest public face of the Pact, even if its workings are mostly impersonal and systematic.

This.

 

But even moreso:

15 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

It's not possible to deal in good faith when one party holds hegemonic power over the other.

This.

 

I think the "options" being imputed to the Farlands (as well as discontents with the Pact) in this thread are incredibly unrealistic in light of the power dynamics at play.

 

As for this:

16 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

It's absolutely not fair to try to superimpose real life politics on a fictional medieval fantasy setting. The situations are completely different, and nothing I've said here has any bearing on my political beliefs.

The worlds are different, the circumstances are different, even some of the laws of nature are different.  No question.  There's no 1:1 relationship of anything here, and you're quite right that you can't just blindly superimpose one on the other.  But system dynamics are system dynamics; power and ethics are about applications of principles, and those principles are abstract -- they apply across different instances, real or imagined, and can certainly apply across different worlds.

 

I drew analogies above because I was struck by some similarities in the power dynamics, in particular.  There may well be circumstantial differences extreme enough to lead you, or anyone, to draw different ethical conclusions about those situations -- I even noted some while making the comparisons.  If you want to say "Despite the similarity in power dynamic, I evaluate these completely differently because X" I'd be genuinely interested.  Or "I think you're off your rocker about the power dynamics being similar, because Y."  Those would be great conversations.  But "fantasy can't ever be applicable to politics" is just baloney.

 

(It's also, FWIW, just historically untrue of modern fictional medieval fantasy settings.  Tolkien famously objected to allegorical reads of his works, while stating that they are applicable to the politics of his time; he invoked structural sociopolitical problems that culminate when "some Orc gets hold of a ring of power".  Other authors have been more explicit.)

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16 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

Now that is a huge fallacy right there, not to mention you're comparing apples and oranges. While you, a lowly Hand, can't question orders, you report directly to a Heart of Avadon whose job description is to speak frankly to Redbeard. The game may not give you the option, but hypothetically you could raise any concerns you have with Miranda/Protus or Callan. Jenell also indicates that she argues with her superiors all the time, and has never gotten into trouble for it. And there are times when Redbeard asks the PC for their input on something. Realistically, if your PC wanted to reform Avadon, you could work your way up to become a Heart of Avadon and use that position to effect change. Miranda in A1 talks about how Redbeard makes the big decisions, but she makes lots of little decisions and that gives her quite a lot of power. Acting as if assassinating Redbeard is the only reasonable option if you oppose his policies is simply not true.

 

We could argue how much room there truly is for a "lowly Hand" to question Redbeard's choices, but I'll grant that the player, at least, can do that to his face a few times without anything bad happening to you.

 

But that "lowly Hand" is expected to be treated with absolute obedience by those outside Avadon.  Those outside Avadon clearly fear retribution being visited upon them if they too openly express disapproval of Avadon's actions.

 

No matter how "lowly" you may feel within Avadon as a Hand, the PC is not Everyman within the Pact.  This is emphasized so heavily in the games.  The PC's power situation, including their ability to speak and express opinions freely, has no bearing on the power situation of the vast majority of Pact citizens -- certainly including the malcontents.  And, um...

 

16 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

Realistically, if your PC wanted to reform Avadon, you could work your way up to become a Heart of Avadon

I mean, I'm not sure that option is "realistic" for every Hand -- there are after all only three Hearts, and many Hands.  But it's certainly zero percent realistic for Pact citizens who are not an appendage of Avadon.

 

You're going to hate me for saying that this immediately invoked, for me, "the solution to poverty is to work your way up from nothing" -- but the system dynamics are exactly the same.  If the grossly unfair situation that puts you at a great disadvantage isn't being addressed, you should simply work your way up to the top of the system from that point of great disadvantage.

 

"Realistically."

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Thanks again for all of the replies! :) I've really enjoyed reading what everyone has to say.

  

16 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

I'm not sure I'd say Redbeard recognizes the limits of his power in the sense of knowing what he can or cannot do, but that he recognizes that the Pact is only capable of withstanding so much internal meddling without flying apart- if he quashed ALL dissent, and ensured EVERY Councilmember was friendly to his causes, then the Pact would likely tear apart at the seams, with no other outlet for its competing nationalisms and regional interests. Further, one might argue that arranging the composition of the Council at all is intrinsically destabilizing, and likely contributes to the instability and indecisiveness of the body- especially if the other Councilmembers are aware of Redbeard's manipulations.

You're assigning a LOT more power to Redbeard than the game ever indicates he actually has. It's easy to do because Redbeard is this larger-than-life character, both in-universe and in the player's imagination. If he actually had the power you suggest though, he would have exercised it in A2 when he desperately need funds and manpower to quash Dheless. Instead, he had to secretly divert funds to build Fort Foresight. A willingness to fund Avadon and turn a blind eye when necessary are not mutually exclusive with advancing your own country's interests/squabbles. The game repeatedly indicates that the problems in Hanvar's Council stems from Pact states not getting along and only caring about their own interests. Kellemderiel and Holklanda hate each other, the Wyldrylm takes serious issue with major Pact laws, and the Kva want Wyldrylm land for themselves. The game also indicates that pulling shenanigans to get friendly officials in high places is standard politics in Lynaeus, particularly Kellemderiel. If it was as destabilizing as you suggest, the Pact would have fallen apart long before.

 

16 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

Redbeard absolutely wouldn't allow the Farlands to get that far. Any counter-Pact would have to be a public alliance- and in the unipolar world of Avadon, any non-Pact association of that sort would be perceived, by Redbeard and by the Pact more broadly, as not just a non-Pact association, but necessarily an anti-Pact association. Avadon would deal with it thusly, regardless of its actual stated or implicit intentions. It's not possible to deal in good faith when one party holds hegemonic power over the other. Probably the only sort of Farlands association or alliance that the Pact would countenance would be one that the Pact itself is party to, as enforcer or observer.

 

Further, I don't believe a Farlands Pact is really especially possible. The Tawon are the only Farland that seems to have anything like a centralized government capable of contracting such an alliance. Khemeria seems to be a patchwork of petty chiefdoms, who are capable of acting in concert in wartime, but don't seem especially interested in unifying into a nation-state. I don't recall what Svorgald's mode of governance is, but it doesn't seem particularly interested in being a part of anything on the mainland. The Titan Peaks seem to be another patchwork of competing warlords; the Wretch Lands are the same, on a smaller scale. The Corruption obviously can't be much a part of anything. The dragons are too selfish and aloof to be bound to anything for long.

I don't really think this is a fair argument. We know from the games that the Farlands are perfectly capable of making secret alliances and organizing a massive joint army to invade the Midlands without being thwarted by Redbeard. They kept this alliance together for years until they were losing the war, then it began to splinter as each side became more concerned with survival. If Wyldrylm with its nomadic tribes can be part of the Pact for hundreds of years, there's no reason that their stone-building cousins in Khemeria can't be members of a Pact too. Same with Svorgald, the titans and wretches. As for dragons, they are famously greedy and could be easily bought with Tawon's wealth. Don't forget that Vardegras in A2 makes a deal with Miranda to assist Dheless, only to renege on it when Miranda fails to stop the PC (she had told him that Avadon was weak and its Hands were largely incompetent, but he decides she's lying when she fails to stop the PC). I do agree though with the previous point that from the Farlanders' POV, just making their own Pact might not be enough and invading was justifiable self-defense.

 

1 hour ago, Sealing Librarian said:

But system dynamics are system dynamics; power and ethics are about applications of principles, and those principles are abstract -- they apply across different instances, real or imagined, and can certainly apply across different worlds.

Certainly it's fair to apply our modern sense of ethics to fictional worlds. And certainly we can draw lessons from fiction applicable in real life. But analyzing a fictional work, and making assumptions about it through the lens of real-life politics the way you're doing, distorts what's actually presented in the work. If you and I were to talk real life politics, I'm sure we would agree on most issues. But how long has it been since you played the games? I've played through them very recently, and based on the facts presented, I think your comparisons to real life are a stretch. Your arguments essentially boil down to, "Redbeard is a symbol of the US's systematic oppression both domestic and abroad, so I'm going to murder him." I mean, that's fair if you want to do that, and I don't disagree about US oppression & imperialism. I just don't find that to be a very compelling argument for assassinating a fictional character who has nothing to do with the US, especially through the eyes of my character.


Don't forget the context in which you're making this argument, either--we're talking about the justification for assassinating someone, which is generally considered morally wrong. You're applying real world political comparison to argue that it's okay to murder Redbeard for his politics, and that suffering human rights abuses (racism, economic exploitation, etc.) gives you a moral license to inflict greater human rights abuses (the massive death, displacement, poverty, and general mass human suffering caused by war). I don't see assassinating Redbeard as justified because it won't create less human suffering and rights abuses, and I see war as causing even greater human rights abuses and suffering. Even Dheless isn't sure his war was morally justified--if you call him a villain near the end of A2, he actually agrees with you and expresses doubts about the wisdom of what he's doing.

 

1 hour ago, Sealing Librarian said:

But that "lowly Hand" is expected to be treated with absolute obedience by those outside Avadon.  Those outside Avadon clearly fear retribution being visited upon them if they too openly express disapproval of Avadon's actions.

If you read my first post, I already said that Hands abusing their power was a huge problem and Redbeard is culpable for not reining them in.

 

1 hour ago, Sealing Librarian said:

I mean, I'm not sure that option is "realistic" for every Hand -- there are after all only three Hearts, and many Hands.  But it's certainly zero percent realistic for Pact citizens who are not an appendage of Avadon.

This is not correct. There are three named Hearts, but many generic "Heart of Avadon" NPCs. I understood you to assert that killing Redbeard was the only reasonable option for the PC to reform Avadon, but that's simply not true. Becoming a Heart is also a realistic option for the PC, one you can actually do in the game. Hearts of Avadon make the day-to-day decisions, and they also give Hands their orders. Even if Redbeard is set in his ways, the PC could reasonably convince their colleagues that it's in Avadon's interest to rein in Hands abusing their power. The average Pact citizen can't become a Heart, but Avadon allows just about anyone, Farlanders included, to stay indefinitely for free and petition whomever they can get to listen. Remember Svarl the wretch? Laurella the Khemerian? Svorgald and the Tawon Empire also had envoys present in A1. If Dheless can buy off people like the duke of Kellemderiel, he can certainly buy important people off to advocate for better treatment of the Farland. That's something that should have at least been tried before concluding that war was the only option.

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10 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

You're assigning a LOT more power to Redbeard than the game ever indicates he actually has. It's easy to do because Redbeard is this larger-than-life character, both in-universe and in the player's imagination. If he actually had the power you suggest though, he would have exercised it in A2 when he desperately need funds and manpower to quash Dheless. Instead, he had to secretly divert funds to build Fort Foresight.

Redbeard almost certainly has more power than anyone else in the Pact- more than any Councilor individually, probably more than the Council collectively, and probably even more than the heads of state of the constituent nations of the Pact. He has the authority to conduct diplomacy with foreign powers with no real oversight from the Council. He has the authority to destabilize said foreign powers and even conduct de facto warfare with them. He has the power to run an effective and omnipresent spy network not only without, but within the borders of the Pact. He has the authority to basically disappear, torture, and sentence any Pact citizen, or even any Farlander citizen, at will. He can sentence any such person to having their mind and will broken, and probably also to death. He can overrule the justice systems of the Pact states- eg in protecting the Dharamite who framed Khalida.

 

The only real legal check on these powers is that anyone has the right to kill him at any time- if they can. The Council at least theoretically controls Avadon's budget and recruiting quotas, but Redbeard has the ability to manipulate the makeup of the Council, and the Council is dependent enough on Avadon for counterintelligence and defense that they wouldn't be willing to cut funding to it too harshly. (And if they tried to, I imagine Redbeard would further manipulate the Council's makeup, and functionally arrogate more of its powers.) Redbeard has to divert funds to build Foresight- but a) he is in fact able to divert enough funds to build and staff a fort, and b) he's able to do so without the Council being any the wiser. Its existence is more proof of Redbeard's power than the circumstances of its funding are evidence of his weakness.

 

Redbeard has, in practice, the ability to bend all the state power of the Pact to whatever end he chooses. The reason he isn't totally omnipotent isn't because he couldn't try to do so, but because trying to amass so much more power, or to do so openly, would almost certainly mean civil war between Avadon and the Council and nations of the Pact, and because Redbeard is deeply committed to preserving and advancing the Pact.

 

10 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

We know from the games that the Farlands are perfectly capable of making secret alliances and organizing a massive joint army to invade the Midlands without being thwarted by Redbeard. They kept this alliance together for years until they were losing the war, then it began to splinter as each side became more concerned with survival. If Wyldrylm with its nomadic tribes can be part of the Pact for hundreds of years, there's no reason that their stone-building cousins in Khemeria can't be members of a Pact too. Same with Svorgald, the titans and wretches. As for dragons, they are famously greedy and could be easily bought with Tawon's wealth. Don't forget that Vardegras in A2 makes a deal with Miranda to assist Dheless, only to renege on it when Miranda fails to stop the PC (she had told him that Avadon was weak and its Hands were largely incompetent, but he decides she's lying when she fails to stop the PC).

There's a difference between getting a bunch of (what amount to) warlords on board with, functionally, a giant free-for-all loot/conquest expedition, and contracting a confederation or political union. The games don't go into a ton of detail about the governance of the Wyldrylm, but they must have some sort of centralized authority capable of acceding to the Pact and enforcing its laws. Khemeria is demonstrably a patchwork of petty monarchies, who are willing to work in concert when it means loot and land, but it'd take a lot of cat-herding to get them all to agree to surrender any of their powers or prerogatives to unite into a coherent nation-state, let alone accede to a supranational organization with its own laws. The same goes for the Titans, Ogres, and Wretches, and probably Svorgald.

 

The dragons could maybe be bought off for a bit, but they are not remotely reliable as allies, and are too selfish and arrogant to engage in any sort of binding union. Redbeard goes to great expense to buy Zhethron's assistance in the war, and Zhethron basically does the bare minimum of what's expected of him, and begins looking for angles to advance his own interests even before the term of the alliance is up.

 

11 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

Your arguments essentially boil down to, "Redbeard is a symbol of the US's systematic oppression both domestic and abroad, so I'm going to murder him." I mean, that's fair if you want to do that, and I don't disagree about US oppression & imperialism. I just don't find that to be a very compelling argument for assassinating a fictional character who has nothing to do with the US, especially through the eyes of my character.

Saying the argument "boils down to" the comparison, saying, basically, "you hold these opinions about the gameworld and its implications because of your personal/ideological/emotional investment in such and such topical real-world matters," and implying that this reading is therefore less-valid or correct, isn't right. Avadon isn't a 1:1 allegory, and explicitly dealing with the themes of power, hegemony, oppressor vs oppressed, etc in literature goes back at least to the Melian Dialogue. But by the same token, by engaging with these themes- and by having the protagonists of the games be tabula rasas with the freedom of action to approach these themes in differing ways- the games deliberately invite comparison to real-world happenings and principles, and engagement in those terms. The games let you play as a disloyal servant of the Pact for a reason.

 

11 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

Becoming a Heart is also a realistic option for the PC, one you can actually do in the game.

Becoming a Heart is possible in all three games, but you have to be a brown-noser who never actually contradicts or substantively disagrees with Redbeard to do so. He doesn't want you as a Heart who'll give him honest advice, he wants you as a Heart who will reliably carry out his will in your decisions without needing constant oversight. You could, I guess, try to pull a Miranda, and get to the position by lying constantly and doing his will even when you disagree with it personally- but that's an awful lot less reliable and riskier than simply becoming Keeper yourself.

 

11 hours ago, Alfaerin said:

If Dheless can buy off people like the duke of Kellemderiel, he can certainly buy important people off to advocate for better treatment of the Farland. That's something that should have at least been tried before concluding that war was the only option.

By this logic, Dheless could/should have legitimately tried to pay off somebody to kill Redbeard... which he does, but which you evidently think is immoral. Remember that killing Redbeard isn't actually "assassination" per se: not only is it not illegal, it is actually, apparently, the legally-provided-for means of succession to the position of Keeper (at least if another Avadon employee does it). Redbeard himself almost certainly murdered his predecessor. In the world of Avadon, that really is the legal route of last resort.

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59 minutes ago, googoogjoob said:

Redbeard almost certainly has more power than anyone else in the Pact- more than any Councilor individually, probably more than the Council collectively, and probably even more than the heads of state of the constituent nations of the Pact.

Yes, I already said this. However, "more power than anyone else" does not mean he can do anything he wants or has no checks whatsoever on his power. The Codex specifically states he has limits on his power, and those limits are what he can get away with without pushback from the Council. Heck, you yourself wrote that you believe the reason he can't amass more power because it would cause a civil war--while that isn't said anywhere in the game, that would DEFINITELY be a legitimate and serious check on his power. Canonically speaking, Hanvar's Council legally has authority over Avadon. They use it in A2 to deny him manpower & funds as well as sending envoys/council members to monitor them. Why did Redbeard let that happen if there aren't significant limits to his power and he could have replaced the whole council? Can you point to anything whatsoever in the game that backs up your argument?

 

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

He can overrule the justice systems of the Pact states- eg in protecting the Dharamite who framed Khalida.

I don't remember ANYTHING like this being said, either about overruling the justice system or protecting Xenophon. Xenophon himself certainly never states that he's protected by Redbeard and instead indicates he's been expecting to be murdered in retribution. Additionally, if you inform Heart Callan about what you did, she doesn't indicate that you defied Redbeard--she says you were within your rights to do it though she's not happy about it. Can you tell me where any of this is said?

 

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

There's a difference between getting a bunch of (what amount to) warlords on board with, functionally, a giant free-for-all loot/conquest expedition, and contracting a confederation or political union.

 

A mutual defense treaty is really not that complicated. It's a lot less complicated than coordinating a years-long war effort, which they certainly did. Don't forget the Arena of the Warborn mission in A3, where the Tawon, titans, ogres, and wretches were all having a war council.

 

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

The games don't go into a ton of detail about the governance of the Wyldrylm, but they must have some sort of centralized authority capable of acceding to the Pact and enforcing its laws.

This is not correct. The in-game Codex description specifically states that they are a bunch of individual tribes, and this is what leads to the Wyldrylm rebellions. The individual tribes are always fighting each other and are only very loosely organized.

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

Saying the argument "boils down to" the comparison, saying, basically, "you hold these opinions about the gameworld and its implications because of your personal/ideological/emotional investment in such and such topical real-world matters," and implying that this reading is therefore less-valid or correct, isn't right.

I am a huge believer in Occam's Razor. When real world comparisons require making assumptions about the game we have no evidence for (or even completely contradicts the available evidence), I do not find those arguments compelling. You're trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

 

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

Becoming a Heart is possible in all three games, but you have to be a brown-noser who never actually contradicts or substantively disagrees with Redbeard to do so. He doesn't want you as a Heart who'll give him honest advice, he wants you as a Heart who will reliably carry out his will in your decisions without needing constant oversight. You could, I guess, try to pull a Miranda, and get to the position by lying constantly and doing his will even when you disagree with it personally- but that's an awful lot less reliable and riskier than simply becoming Keeper yourself.

Not true. In Avadon 2, you become a Heart by performing five out of nine specific tasks. Please point me to any event or line of dialogue in the game that says Redbeard never wants honest advice, because the game explicitly states in multiple places that it's the job of a Heart to speak their mind freely to the Keeper.

 

1 hour ago, googoogjoob said:

By this logic, Dheless could/should have legitimately tried to pay off somebody to kill Redbeard... which he does, but which you evidently think is immoral. Remember that killing Redbeard isn't actually "assassination" per se: not only is it not illegal, it is actually, apparently, the legally-provided-for means of succession to the position of Keeper (at least if another Avadon employee does it). Redbeard himself almost certainly murdered his predecessor. In the world of Avadon, that really is the legal route of last resort.

Again, you are not remembering the game correctly. The Codex specifically says that Redbeard was appointed to his position by Hanvar's Council. "Legal" and "moral" are two completely different things, or do you believe that the perfectly legal mistreatment of Farlanders is morally acceptable?

 

Unless you can point to something in the game that provides a basis for any of these arguments, I think I'm done here.

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On 11/22/2020 at 3:12 AM, Alfaerin said:

Again, you are not remembering the game correctly. The Codex specifically says that Redbeard was appointed to his position by Hanvar's Council. "Legal" and "moral" are two completely different things, or do you believe that the perfectly legal mistreatment of Farlanders is morally acceptable?

 

Unless you can point to something in the game that provides a basis for any of these arguments, I think I'm done here.

Okay. I think this is a point of misunderstanding which a lot of this disagreement stems from. In Avadon 1, the method of selecting a Keeper is not made entirely explicit. Several Keepers in the past disappeared or were assassinated, and it's implied that their successors may have had a hand in these happenings. At some point in the writing of Avadon 2 or 3, however, Jeff decided to change things, or at least make them more explicit, and retconned it so that Keeper is a lifetime position, and that succession to the position is determined by whoever manages to kill the sitting Keeper. (Presumably if the Keeper manages to die of natural causes, the Council can step in to appoint someone.)

 

The Codex text does not reflect this, as the Codex texts in 2 and 3 are almost entirely grandfathered in from 1, where this rule was not explicitly established. However, it is a major plot point in 3. Redbeard refuses to accept the Council's right to depose him and appoint Protus Keeper, as nobody has managed to kill him. When Redbeard returns to Avadon at the end of 3, he

Spoiler

murders Acting Keeper Protus in front of the Council's representatives in order to reaffirm his right to the position.

Killing Redbeard is necessary to get the ending where you become Keeper. Redbeard has no plans of retiring, and it's not even clear if that's something a Keeper can do: if you let Redbeard live at the end of 3, he's

Spoiler

eventually murdered by another Hand- implicitly allowing himself to be murdered because he feels his job is done.

Redbeard himself claims he doesn't remember whether he murdered his predecessor, but given that that's the normal means of succession, it seems almost certain that he did.

 

The murder of a sitting Keeper of Avadon isn't just legal, it's the expected, necessary method by which succession to the position is determined. Is this moral? No, not by the standards of the real world. It seems unconscionably brutal and unstable. But that is, canonically, the way things are in Avadon. Part of the drama of the games is that, if you substantively disagree with Redbeard's ideas or actions, you're supposed to kill him- or, if you don't think you can manage it, meekly submit in the face of his greater prowess.

 

ETA:

On 11/22/2020 at 3:12 AM, Alfaerin said:

In Avadon 2, you become a Heart by performing five out of nine specific tasks. Please point me to any event or line of dialogue in the game that says Redbeard never wants honest advice, because the game explicitly states in multiple places that it's the job of a Heart to speak their mind freely to the Keeper.

This is only true of Avadon 2. In Avadon 1, and especially in Avadon 3, you absolutely have to suck up to become a Heart. This means never insulting Redbeard to his face, never telling him you think Avadon is corrupt or wrong or weak, and repeatedly agreeing with his decisions and ideology. Your other decisions (other, obviously, than whether or not you choose to try to kill Redbeard) have no bearing on whether you become a Heart in these games- it's entirely down to how hard you suck up to Redbeard. The game claims that it's the job of a Heart to give the Keeper honest advice, but game-mechanically, in 2 out of 3 of the games, Redbeard really does just want a yes man (or at least- and perhaps more valuably in terms of authority-delegation- someone who will reach the exact same conclusions as him independently). Unless you're meta-role-playing as a Miranda type who's consciously, constantly lying to Redbeard, you cannot become a dissenting voice in his decisions.

Edited by googoogjoob
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