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Rebel Way to finish G5[G5]


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Astoria, despite being a shaper, is considered a rebel. There was a topic on the 5 factions earlier, but here is a brief overview:

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Astoria: Soft rebel, wants to bring a peaceful end between the two sides of the war. requires rebel reputation

Trakovites, led by Litalia: self explanatory if you have played GF4, they want to eliminate shaping, but allow fertile creations to live as ordinary animals, require rebel reputaion

Drakons, led by Gahldring (sp): they want to totally destroy the shapers, requires rebel reputation

Alwan: traditionalist shaper, wants to fight a legitimate war against the rebels and return things to how they used to be, requires loyalist reputation.

Taygen: plans to release a magical/chemical agent that would kill all creations, ending the rebel side of the war. Has established creation camps, believing that stricter control will prevent future rebellions. Requires loyalist reputation.

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She really is more a rebel than she is a Shaper in the traditional sense. The only difference is that she is able to operate through more official channels, being a council member. Her methods are still disapproved of by the rest of the council, and she can only convince them to follow her by undermining them first. She really is a rebel in every other sense of the word.

 

That plus the fact that I was forced to do terrible things for the rebellion simply to keep my reputation up with her faction. frown Probably my last favorite part of the new game.

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Originally Posted By: Sleeping Dragon
That plus the fact that I was forced to do terrible things for the rebellion simply to keep my reputation up with her faction. frown Probably my last favorite part of the new game.


I don't remember having to do any really terrible things when working for the rebels. The reputation requirements to join factions in G5 aren't very steep, so if you find some of the rebel quests distasteful you can skip them. If you find all the rebel quests distasteful, why are you allying with them?
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She may be a rebel, but she is clearly not a Rebel, a.k.a., part of the rebellion. Plotting for peace is not even remotely the same thing as leading an armed rebellion.

 

The ultimate proof here is the fact that Ghaldring asks you to kill her. Ghaldring has shown remarkable willingness to spare the lives of shapers who help him, in the past. So neither Ghaldring nor Shema seem to consider Astoria an actual rebel; she upholds Shaper law and lends her support to them in the final battles.

 

Ideologicaly she is no loyal shaper, although it's unclear how much is that is a genuine desire to see creations treated as equals, and how much of it is simply unbiased pragmatism. She's clearly a pretty practical woman.

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Originally Posted By: Sleeping Dragon
She really is more a rebel than she is a Shaper in the traditional sense. The only difference is that she is able to operate through more official channels, being a council member. Her methods are still disapproved of by the rest of the council, and she can only convince them to follow her by undermining them first. She really is a rebel in every other sense of the word.

 

That plus the fact that I was forced to do terrible things for the rebellion simply to keep my reputation up with her faction. frown Probably my last favorite part of the new game.

 

What would happen IRL if an event like the Secret Access Road was plotted by a member of a sitting government? Astoria is basically using insider information she has gleaned from both sides of the war to undermine her own people and effect an outcome to her liking. In fact, she causes the slaughter of her own people to justify that less people will die later if she gets her way and establishes the kind of peace she wants. When I saw Fort Rockfall, it made my stomach queasy. Who would want to follow someone like this? I would not.

 

If Astoria had done the right thing and resigned her post, since she could no longer support the Shapers whom she was helping to govern, she would have a chance of being the *good guy*. That would be a faction I could join. An honest woman standing up for what she believes in and willing to forgo her position of power to do what she believes is right. As it stands, she retains her lofty position on the Council while lying, backstabbing, and causing casualties among her own people. She sits in her little fortress hiding from Shaper assassins supposedly totally unaware that drakons who hate her are ferrying wretched rogues in and out of her territory. These rogues are killing HER people. Is there an excuse for a governing official being so out of touch with her own region? And why do the drakons hate her? Well, try weakness. Remember what was said by drayks and drakons about Astoria? Weak. The drayk in Helft Ruins even disrespects her for not going after rogues on her own lands, even though that permits him to encroach and live in a destroyed Shaper building. Even these oddballs, loners, and villains don't respect her no matter what side she is on. Remember Alwan's quest for talks with Ghaldring? If you gave a weak answer to the attacking drakon, Ghaldring wouldn't give you the time of day. So Astoria is ineffective as a leader on either side.

 

I know that life is not black and white and I don't believe the game should be, either. Where were the choices in G5 as far as factions go? I tend to be mostly Rebel leaning in these games, but there is a disservice to the Rebel side in this game because there is no *good guy* on their side. Alwan is clearly a *good guy* on his side. He would be someone I would respect whether I agreed or disagreed with his views. In G5, I only really respected the please-go-soon Takers, who really are just asking to live and be free. Give me a Takers faction here, and I'm a Rebel. As it is, I'm a combination of Shaper and Rebel in this game, depending on the circumstances, and wind up leaning Shaper because of the man who says what he means and does what he feels is right ... honorably.

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If Astoria had simply stepped down she would be dead. The war would continue and she would be killed by the victor. Ghaldring would not let her live and the Shapers would see her stepping down as a admission of guilt to conspire witht he rebels. Whomever came to power in her place would be more likely to attack the rebels and increase the death toll in the Mera-Tev.

 

Of course all the faction leaders are ruthless and seem willing to sacrifice whatever they must to acheive their worldview.

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I think Astoria could get away with Penta and not Kaz to prove her creation-friendly credentials. The fact that both seem to exist happily at the beginning of the game seems to show that under her pragmatism she has pro-independence leanings. Her level of cooperation with the Shadow Road also seems like more than what would be required just to keep up a plausible façade of compliance with serviles and rebels.

 

—Alorael, who thinks that continuing to view reputation as pro/anti creation rights makes Astoria make sense. She's loyal to the Shapers, if not to all their current laws and leaders. She's also loyal to creations, which most other Shapers aren't. Maybe what really tips her to the Shaper side rather than Ghaldring's is the fact that she has authority and can act to maintain peace in her own lands at the very least. That's only the case if she has power vested in her, and only the Shapers will do that.

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Astoria's exact underlying motives are not entirely clear. There are some hints, but the player is left to fill in the blanks. One possibility is what you mention: that she is weak, cowardly, and reluctant to give up her power -- basically a Rawal in less sheltered geography. The other possibility is that she genuinely wants to make things better for her people, and is willing to risk being assassinated to pursue a radical policy to this end. I think there is some good evidence pointing in this direction in the endings:

 

(1) If you help Astoria, the ending makes it clear that she is genuinely invested in achieving a lasting peace for all parties. This ending also disproves the assertion that she is an ineffective leader. (Note that this is not the case for all leaders with their own ending: see Taygen.)

 

(2) If you help Litalia, the ending states that Astoria sees "a chance to end the war" and is "willing to sacrifice much for it." When Litalia is before the council, it says Astoria is "willing to give anything for peace."

 

(3) If you help Taygen, when the Council votes to release the Purity Agent: "As he speaks, Alwan and Astoria look ill. To the Shapers, creations are like their children. To them, this is the greatest possible betrayal. Shema ignores them."

 

(4) If you help Alwan: "As for Councilor Astoria, the Shapers never forgave her for the peace she helped to bring about. Even as they suspected things would be far better if she had prevailed... And yet, she never apologized for her actions. Her belief in the rightness of her path never wavered. And she was thanked in the history books, if not in life."

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Originally Posted By: Blurb
I know that life is not black and white and I don't believe the game should be, either. Where were the choices in G5 as far as factions go? I tend to be mostly Rebel leaning in these games, but there is a disservice to the Rebel side in this game because there is no *good guy* on their side.


If you believe what you said above, you're not really Rebel-leaning at all.

Think about it. The rebels want to undermine the power of the Shapers. The Shapers have proven time and time again to be unwilling to listen to reason: look at how they exterminated the Awakened in the canonical ending of G2. There's a word for people who believe in opposing the Shapers but don't believe in using methods that will actually be effective in weakening the Shapers' power. That word, as Dahak has pointed out, is "dead".

If what you object to is Astoria's use of deception to achieve her aims, why not side with Ghaldring? He's fairly open about his goals, and he'll generally do pretty much what you expect him to do.
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Ghaldring's aims and values taint the Rebel movement. I don't blame the serviles in the movement for taking advantage of the protection he offers, but his presence is a hindrance. He's a blood-thirsty monster seeking only power and dominion over the "lesser" creations and humans.

 

Maybe what I really believe would be somewhere in the middle of the Shaper/Rebel sides. I don't think Shaping is bad or should be abolished, so that leaves out the Traks for me. Taygen is mad. Ghaldring is not really a Rebel but a madman power-monger.

 

There are definitely excellent arguments on both sides about whether Shaping should exist at all and whether it's a morally proper practice to Shape creations to serve. If it does exist, control is essential. Otherwise, what happens is what we see: regions filled with nasty rogues threatening the populace. I think Shaping is a highly specialized art and should be tightly controlled. So references to Shapers "hoarding all the magic" leave me a bit cold from that perspective.

 

Assuming that Shaping will continue to exist ... there aren't any real shortcuts to becoming a Shaper. Gobbling canisters doesn't really work as it warps you to the point of being erratic, unpredictable, and homicidal. In the game, we meet several mages who either were rejected for Shaper training because of temperament or just couldn't cut it during training. It's probably a very good idea to ensure that those who do wind up as Shapers are the best of the best. But then we have the arrogance of the elite that comes into play toward "outsiders." Even the use of the word "outsiders" rankles. The PC keeps running into the "you're not a Shaper so you're a nobody" response just like everybody else does.

 

The arrogance is where all the trouble started in the first place. If Shapers could simply have a role in society and not be the automatic rulers of the society, it would be ideal. You would still have the tight standards and they would be an elite sort of group, maybe similar to doctors (not a great analogy, but the best I would come up with), but not the governors of society.

 

Slarty, you make some excellent points, as usual. The problem for me is that the endings don't really jibe with what goes on during the game. Astoria is never even taken to task for being a traitor during wartime, not in any scenario. Alwan deciding to allow serviles their own island is another unexpected twist. Where did that come from? It certainly isn't expected from anything he said. It makes him less of a hardliner than he appears. The endings are strange to me and really don't match the stories.

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Originally Posted By: Blurb
The arrogance is where all the trouble started in the first place. If Shapers could simply have a role in society and not be the automatic rulers of the society, it would be ideal. You would still have the tight standards and they would be an elite sort of group, maybe similar to doctors (not a great analogy, but the best I would come up with), but not the governors of society.


I imagine it would be a lot harder to keep the political power of doctors under control if they were able to create fire-breathing monsters to do their bidding.

This is a common problem with trying to apply politics to the fantasy genre: when a few individuals have enough power to take on an army single-handedly, certain real-world assumptions break down.
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Ha! I can imagine: "The doctor is busy at the moment, sir. A rotgroth will take your blood pressure after which drayk will be conducting your physical exam today." smile

 

Very true, Thuryl. It really is about the power. After all, we're continually told that a good Shaper is an army unto him/herself. Telling folks with that kind of power that they won't be in charge is probably completely unrealistic.

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The fact that the power is personal makes a difference but not a huge difference. A shaper can level a town. A squad of soldiers with a tank can also level a town. Shapers working together are roughly equivalent to a modern army, though with fewer "soldiers." What keeps modern armies (or the governments that employ them) from autocracy? Some combination of altruism and the fact that there are other armies out there.

 

You don't really need to keep your doctors under control if there are enough different health plans that someone's doctors are behaving reasonably.

 

—Alorael, who admits that this metaphor pretty much breaks down as soon as it leaves the gate. It's still a reasonable way to think about it, though. Free government markets!

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It breaks down especially badly when you consider how many of the world's governments are in fact effectively controlled by their militaries. Even in the US, it's the exception rather than the rule for a president to not have a history of armed service.

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In the US, it used to be the exception rather than the rule for any physically capable white male to not have a history of armed service. Since all but one of our presidents have been white males and they tend to be very old, it wasn't until Clinton in 1992 that we actually got to the generation where military service became less popular.

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Originally Posted By: Blurb
Slarty, you make some excellent points, as usual. The problem for me is that the endings don't really jibe with what goes on during the game. Astoria is never even taken to task for being a traitor during wartime, not in any scenario. Alwan deciding to allow serviles their own island is another unexpected twist. Where did that come from? It certainly isn't expected from anything he said. It makes him less of a hardliner than he appears. The endings are strange to me and really don't match the stories.

The endings *are* a little different. Perhaps they reflect shifted attitudes during wartime; perhaps Alwan is less of a vengeful "island fanatic" when not being assaulted by rogues, and perhaps Astoria is more open and honest when people aren't trying to kill her because she wants peace.

The real explanation may be that Jeff wrote the endings, and Linda wrote some of the character dialogue in-game, or vice versa or some other permutation.
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I won't advocate for military rule, but I still think having different military governments beats having only one. Reasonably open borders would help a lot too, but even just competition forces either absolute totalitarianism or a slightly more reasonable government. There's at least the hope that the Shapers would come down on the latter side.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think shaper-based power could easily become victim to a coup d'état. The power already lies in the hands of those who have the military might. That leaves all non-shapers out in the cold, politically, but there's no democracy present either way.

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Originally Posted By: Slarty


The real explanation may be that Jeff wrote the endings, and Linda wrote some of the character dialogue in-game, or vice versa or some other permutation.


Honestly, there really is a disconnect in many facets of the script versus what the endings show.

The added bit in the Alwan ending about the Council not wanting to admit Astoria was right in some respects is also very strange. Does this tell the player they backed the wrong horse? I guess for the sake of the game and fairness to the player, I kind of feel like that statement really doesn't belong in a Shaper ending. The player has invested a lot of time in the game and deserves a strong ending for whatever sect they choose. The Alwan ending is still quite strong, but that statement in there just left me puzzled.

I think G5 is a good game. It's not the most playable game in the series, as evidenced by the fact that so many people have had to restart the game after learning that certain characters just don't work like they used to. I would venture to say that some characters are so weak (due to massive nerfing in multiple areas) that only the very experienced and expert player can do them. But I digress...

If I were to pinpoint a single problem in the storyline, it would be hands down the character of Astoria. I would rewrite her in a heartbeat. Okay, keep the Secret Access Road, as hard as it is to swallow. Surely, there are compelling reasons for committing such an act, but they are not revealed in the game. You can speculate why it needed to be done and justify or argue for or against it, but the script itself is not really enlightening, in my opinion. Her speech to the Council before they order the assault on Gazuki-Uss is so lame that I can't even buy that she has more influence with the Council, as it is stated that she does.

I have been an Awakened groupie from day 1. But not in G5. The drakons taint the whole picture and Astoria disappoints. And another thing: why should Alwan be the only one who really treats the PC with respect? He's willing to be open-minded and not judge appearances from the moment you meet him. He's the strongest faction leader in the game. Astoria deserves to be just as strong.

Okay, please don't be offended by what I'm saying here. I love the games. I think Jeff does a fabulous job. It's amazing the way he supports the player all through the game. Whenever you gain access to more advanced spells, along comes an item that will help you cast them. If you aren't able to get an ingredient in one place, he provides another outlet somewhere else. There are advantages item-wise to joining certain factions, but it balances out for the most part. Astoria's faction seems to be the most favorable for the more popular items due to the crystalline fibers, but that just means a slightly weaker shaping belt. What I'm saying is that there are things about the storyline that don't always match up and I don't remember feeling that way about the other stories.
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Originally Posted By: Blurb

If I were to pinpoint a single problem in the storyline, it would be hands down the character of Astoria. I would rewrite her in a heartbeat. Okay, keep the Secret Access Road, as hard as it is to swallow. Surely, there are compelling reasons for committing such an act, but they are not revealed in the game. You can speculate why it needed to be done and justify or argue for or against it, but the script itself is not really enlightening, in my opinion.



Astoria says:
"Then we must discuss General Alwan. He has done well. When the first of the Unbound came, we had thought that we would lose more ground than we did. He held them back."

"Then, after I approached the rebels, they stopped attacking me and threw their forces against Alwan. Still, he held them off."

"Now he has dreams of driving east and pushing the rebels into the sea. Alas, the Council has bought into his fantasies. They think that he can do it. I need him to taste a bit of defeat, to tarnish him in their eyes."

"It is difficult, I know. It will be costly. It will cause losses. However, the tunnel is narrow, and Alwan is fast. The rebels will only be able to get so many forces through. I believe that he will be able to limit the losses."

"It will simply cause a setback. That is what I need. I will deal with the consequences of my treachery after I have won."

"No. My plan is sound. It must be done. I will not think about those who will be lost. I will think about the many, many more that will be saved."

Also Dahak says:
"Just because you're a leader doesn't mean you're smart or wise. It means you make a decision you believe to the best option out of a bucket of bad options."

I picked Astoria as my first faction because she is the one willing to create a peace between the sides rather than having one side dominate the other.
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Astoria is to the Awakened what Litalia is to the Trakovites: somebody who is more practical than the idealists who founded the sect and willing to get her hands dirty for the greater good.

 

The analogy isn't perfect since Astoria doesn't identify as Awakened and is probably only mildly invested in Ellhrah's goals as an end in themselves. But, I think it basically fits.

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Yeah, the impression I get is that Astoria didn't actually expect Fort Rockfall to fall; she just wanted to make Alwan lose face by showing that the rebels could cross his "unbreakable" line. Unfortunately, she underestimated Ghaldring.

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No, Astoria was willing to let Fort Rockfall fall since she thought that she could repair the damage after Alwan was reduced in power within the Shaper Council. Astoria was more of a backstabber than even Rawal, who was gathering power, but not actively hurting the others.

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Except Rawal is candid about doing everything he does for himself, whereas Astoria does it for others. Granted, she benefits too, but that's not the primary purpose of her actions.

 

—Alorael, who won't try to argue that it makes her less backstabbing. It just makes her slightly better utilitarian.

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While she does benefit in the end if you ally with her, if you aren't in the picture I think the personal benefit of not having her territory besieged is probably outweighed by the assassination attempts.

 

Here's another analogy: Astoria's sort of the Shaper counterpart to Greta. Moderate, but willing to break eggs to make an omelette.

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If you go to the Secret Laboratory from the Middle Shadow Road and explore, you will eventually be attacked by one of these nasty bugs. If you take down the lab, you'll find another three of them. They were created by the drakons to be released and multiply and eat anything and everything in their path.

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Yeah, the unbound failed in much of the area. In Mera, you only find them patrolling the zones outside of their fortress, which the retreated to so the shapers wouldn't kill them.

Alwan, in the storm plains, decimated the unbound, forcing them back to the drakon strongholds.

Taygen... Taygen has no idea what he's doing, so the unbound run a muck through the dera reaches.

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Originally Posted By: Blurb
If it does exist, control is essential. Otherwise, what happens is what we see: regions filled with nasty rogues threatening the populace. I think Shaping is a highly specialized art and should be tightly controlled. So references to Shapers "hoarding all the magic" leave me a bit cold from that perspective.


If a man wishes to master his fate, he must first master himself. The self-interested consequence of shaper law was the assurance of shaper hegemony. The benefits of peace, prosperity, and security that accrued to those they ruled were secondary, but make for a nice rationalization of the status quo ante. At least to other shapers, and even many of those they have ruled.

On the whole, the shapers are hypocrites. But that might not be relevant.

Originally Posted By: Blurb
If Astoria had done the right thing and resigned her post, since she could no longer support the Shapers whom she was helping to govern, she would have a chance of being the *good guy*. That would be a faction I could join. An honest woman standing up for what she believes in and willing to forgo her position of power to do what she believes is right. As it stands, she retains her lofty position on the Council while lying, backstabbing, and causing casualties among her own people. She sits in her little fortress hiding from Shaper assassins supposedly totally unaware that drakons who hate her are ferrying wretched rogues in and out of her territory. These rogues are killing HER people. Is there an excuse for a governing official being so out of touch with her own region? And why do the drakons hate her? Well, try weakness. Remember what was said by drayks and drakons about Astoria? Weak. The drayk in Helft Ruins even disrespects her for not going after rogues on her own lands, even though that permits him to encroach and live in a destroyed Shaper building. Even these oddballs, loners, and villains don't respect her no matter what side she is on.


The drakons see the shaper hypocrisy, but do not understand it; they believe the profession of benefits accruing to the ruled to be merely a pose, since that's what it would be for them. In Astoria's case, her hypocrisy does not support the collective power of the shapers, thus their assessment of her. They see no threats to themselves beyond the shaper collective, a blindness which arises from their misunderstanding of the shapers.

On the whole, I find the drakons to be more honest with themselves and self-aware than the shapers. So much for honesty.
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This is a cool discussion, and I don't have a lot to add ... just one thought from the standpoint of fiction writing.

 

I think it's helpful to remember that these folks -- Astoria, Alwan, Litalia, and the rest -- are *characters*, not embodiments of Platonic ideals. That is to say, they represent individual people, with all their quirks and strengths and shortcomings, their obsessions and ambitions and egos -- the good, the bad and the ugly. And as we know, no one is perfect (and no one is perfectly awful). The test of a good character is basically how real that "person" feels to the reader.

 

In this respect, the game fairly represents real life. The fact that Astoria, for example, does not live up to everyone's expectation of what a perfect Awakened leader ought to be -- or fails in some other way to live up to some ideal -- is, to my way of thinking, a cool thing. A feature, not a bug. It makes her more credible as a *character*, by which I mean a fictional creation whom we can imagine to be a real living person. And that, in turn, makes this a richer and more interesting game.

 

GF5 in this respect might be said to be more "mature" than the earlier iterations. In those games, the characters were pretty much defined by what faction they represented, rather than (so to speak) what kind of people they were.

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