Ted's RPG Rant

A place to rant about RPG games, particularly the Temple of Elemental Evil. Co8 members get a free cookie for stopping by. Thats ONE cookie each, no seconds.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I have really been getting into Erfworld lately. The current comic is a beauty - we get plot advancement, humour (that look on Jillian's face as she trashes Lord Whats-his-face's girlfriend is priceless) and the battle scenes with the dwagons running amok on the teddies. Fabulous! I wasn't sure I was going to get into Erfworld - it is certainly not as accessable as OotS (which is idiot-proof in its appeal - brilliant plot combined with great characters and endless gags) but I am really enjoying it and hanging to find out what will happen next.

I must say, I am NOT enjoying some parts of the current OotS thing. A siege, desperate battles, sacrifices - these make for a good story, but unfortunately, we are not getting that. What we are getting is the noble paladins and the desperate defenders of Azure City dying to throw-away lines, cheap (if clever) gimmicks and basically just for gags. Maybe thats fair enough in a comic, but it grates on me. The central plot of the comic is that Roy, the hero, is fighting Xykon, the baddie - on several occasions (including in the recent fight atop the undead dragon) Roy gives long speeches about how he doesn't want to have to fulfill his manipulative father's blood-oath, but he is going to anyway, for one simple reason - Xykon is bad, letting Xykon win would be bad, and stopping him is the right thing to do. Roy fights for that: and ultimately, Roy dies for that.

Roy's death was magnificently portrayed, and the full emotive impact was achieved because of how it was handled. This was the death of someone who died beliving in what they were doing - it was sacrifice.

But that sacrifice is diminished (it seems to me) when the context in which it is made - the defence of Azure City - is all done purely for laughs. Not just the appearance of the Linear Guild - they are MEANT to be comical villains, as is Xykon - but every defender, strip after strip. Starting with the wholesale massacre of the Sapphire Guard, through the soldiers who stood their ground at the wall, to the cleric of the Twelve Gods, we see defender after defender die with no recognition of their sacrifice other than a punchline.

As I said, it grates after a while. There should be more to the siege than this. Its like Krusty said to the ill-fated Sideshow Cecil - it only works if the shmuck's got dignity. The defenders of Azure City haven't been allowed any of that in a loooooong time.

In a similar vein, I am not enjoying Goblins at the moment either. I like the comic, but watching the Goblin party butcher a room full of 1st level humans - nah, don't like it. And aren't the Goblins only meant to be about 2nd level themselves (except maybe Thaco)? They are punching way above their weight and have been for a while. I've never liked any sort of entertainment where you are meant to cheer for people getting killed just because they are in uniform - Aeon Flux, for instance, where Charlize Theron goes around killing a galore of soldiers whose only crime was doing their job. Its an unhealthy attitude that reminds me of a lot of unhealthy world events in recent years (NOT a comment on the current situation in Iraq). Sometimes the guys in the uniforms may well be goose-stepping bastards, other times they are just people doing their jobs who may well have joined up for the best reasons. It feels too much like a body count just for the sake of it.

Which brings me back to Erfworld: by making the enemy Teddy-bears and marshmallow peeps, the 'slaughter' can be kept on a comic level. Teddies can be put back together, after all (at least in theory), and they don't look like they feel any pain whatsoever (though the early Heavy who was lost did seem to create grief among his comrades). In Erfworld we actually are cheering for the bad guys, but there is no feeling of evil or anything because of it.

This reminds me of something that struck me about Episode I. I think it was very shrewd of George Lucas to have the Jedi in the prequels fighting armies of droids: it meant we could see what we all wanted (heaps of light sabre action) without actually seeing people getting hacked to pieces in all directions, which would be icky. Instead, we get lots of droids - pretty comical ones too - getting smacked around: great! When the people got sliced, it was the ubiquitous 'cut off arm' stuff like with, ummm, that assassin chick in Episode II, or else it was killing that was clearly in the wrong: the massacre of the Sand People or the decapitation of Count Dooku (2 occasions when Anakin took clear steps toward the Dark Side). Using Droids (or, in Episode II, weird insect-like Geonosians) meant you could have the action and lots of baddies getting 'wasted' without the impact of the death of people being lessened.

Bugger - I have no idea how to end this rant. Well, I've said what I wanted. Go Lord Hamster!


At 8:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ted, this is Ioannis from co8. Quite interesting stuff you are writing, I had never heard of Erfworld.

I just wanted to make a minor comment on this
"Starting with the wholesale massacre of the Sapphire Guard, through the soldiers who stood their ground at the wall, to the cleric of the Twelve Gods, we see defender after defender die with no recognition of their sacrifice other than a punchline."

hey isn't this somewhat realistic? I mean, in real life there are scores of heroes who die without even the punchline recognition of their sacrifice.

Speaking of "realistic fantasy" (what an oxymoron) have you read any of the late David Gemmel's books? I was particularly fond of the Legend series; I only now learnt that he passed away and I am really sorry to hear that. Anyway, his characters where more "realistic" than other forms of fantasy, and perhaps some part in this is due to the fact that there are only humans in the legend series.

At 3:02 am, Blogger ShiningTed said...

Nah, never read them. Heard of them though. :-)


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