Novellas

For general trilogy discussion not specific to one of the games.
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Drool
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Novellas

Post by Drool » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:24 pm

Anyone read these yet? They're... something else...
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Post by thebruce » Wed Sep 26, 2018 3:27 pm

I'm not sure if I want to print them and read them, or drop'em on the phone and read them more conveniently :P
Tough part is finding the time. I haven't actually heard anything good OR bad about them yet, only vague "interesting" type comments that could go either way, lol
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Post by Drool » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:07 pm

My opinion is... rather venomous. I've been holding it back in public, but...
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Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:18 pm

Based on the samples they gave us early in the KS campaign, I lost all interest in reading the collected works of Longinus the Mad.

Would like to hear your opinion, though, to decide whether I even want to take time out of my life to look at them.

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Post by Drool » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:25 pm

Copy/pasting from my comments elsewhere:

So I finished the three novelizations of the games and... I'm not pleased. From errors to retcons to just... it's hard to explain, but I originally just thought that Nathan hated the source material, but now I think he just resents the games. I'll try to explain as I go through them, but Thief of Fate actually made me angry, which a piece of written fiction hasn't done in probably twenty years.

Not sure how constructive it'll be, but at least it's in a private forum?

The Bard's Tale

Many of the changes seem somewhat minor to me, but they represent a trend that would continue, namely the forced introduction of BT4 elements into the earlier games. The addition of the Fatherites seems especially bizarre as the material for BT4 implied they didn't come about until after the defeat of Tarjan. In addition you have the elimination of the Gnomes and Halflings in order to wedge in the various races of man and the Trow.

Also, the ending really kind of rubbed me the wrong way with the main POV character closing the story by being an absolute dick. I know he has his reasons, but it was an odd note to end the novella on.


The Destiny Knight

I'm the least familiar with this game, so I can't make too many comments about its accuracy, but I'm guessing the end didn't involve a stand off with crusading Fatherites (that that, 13th century Holy See!). A lot in this one feels like some serious axe-grinding. We get it, Nathan, Christians suck. Get a blog or something.


Thief of Fate

Hoo boy. There is a lot wrong with this one. There isn't a single chapter without some change or error. Sure, some of them are minor (the Old Man was in the Review Board, not the Adventurer's Guild), but others... others just radiated loathing and disdain.

The changes came early. Geomancers were not something the Dwarves came up with; they were wholly the creation of Urmech. The heroes of old weren't heroes; they were gods. Nobody knew they were dead until the party goes to each realm and discovers them as dead.

The first truly WTF moment came in Gelidia: Cala was Lanatir's freaking daughter, that's why her name worked when the password requests the name of his blood. I don't know why Nathan felt the need to make Lanatir into a jerk who fucks other men's wives.

Lucencia was an absolute mess and everything in that section just screamed disdain for the source material. Maybe it was an attempt at clever meta commentary, but it just came off as someone smirking about how stupid the whole thing was.

Tennebrosia's structure could have been an interesting way to handle things, but it just came across as if the author was sick of the whole thing and wanted to be done with it. Or wanted to rush past the boring stuff so he could write his big epic battle.

The fight with Werra felt so strange, with him making Werra into a dick, but the reasoning became clear later on. At the time, it just felt like a way to show how awesome the new god Nathan came up with was, as opposed to those stupid old ones from the game.

The discovery of where the old man hid the relics seemed clever at first (even though they were originally in the storehouse). The whole, hiding in plain sight thing. But in light of everything else, I'm more thinking it was just a way to call everything garbage and spit on the game a little more.

And then finally Malefia. That's where it all came together for me, and what pissed me off more than anything. Everything before -- specifically Lanatir and the downright shameful treatment of Hawkslayer -- came into sharp focus. Nathan decided to work in a final humiliation for the story of the original game by making the old gods possess the party so they could steal the glory. And then, as if that wasn't enough, they had to be completely incompetent so they could only be saved by Nathan's Amazing Party Of Awesome Awesomeness, led by his Completely Badass Waifu. And then, instead of the party getting the reward they earned, he gives it to the characters he clearly hates as a finally example of their selfishness because the whole thing needed a final "fuck you" to the reader and the original games.

This novella was awful. The whole thing felt like a gigantic middle finger and left me feeling angry and insulted. I don't know if he thought he was being funny or clever, but it didn't work. And this is me trying very hard not to get carried away and to be charitable.

The Ghost novellas changed things in Wasteland, and I could probably write a few hundred words on the changes, but they didn't have the mean spirited feel of these. I don't like assigning motivations and feeling to people I have no way of knowing their minds, but this really, really felt like something written by someone who truly hates the world he's working in.

Or perhaps that he resents it. That Nathan wanted to tell his own story of his own people and mythology, but was forced to bolt on the trappings of another property.

Oh, also, once again: Tarjan wanted to unmake reality, not usher in a new Age of Man by calling in super demons from Beyond The Gate. Really not sure what the hell that's all about, except maybe making the shiny new bad guys tougher by diminishing the old bad guys.


Promises Made by Moonlight

Promises took a little while to get moving because nothing in it clicked with anything else. The nations and peoples mentioned didn't even line up with the new tribes introduced in BT4, so it left me rather adrift. That said, Sybale was an interesting character. Also, I'm stubborn. It was somewhere around chapter 5 when I started getting invested.

That said...

It doesn't feel especially like Bard's Tale. I mean, there's nothing in this story that couldn't be in any number of generic fantasy settings. It wasn't bad, but... it honestly made me think more of the Kinsman Chronicles by Jill Williamson than Bard's Tale, but maybe that's just me. All in all, not bad, and I don't even the author (or the other two authors).

See, these novellas all have the same issue (I assume the Song Thief shares it; haven't read it yet). They have to be in a world where epic things have happened, they have to deal with things in that world, they have to somehow connect to the events of the games, but they can't be truly epic themselves so as not to overshadow the games.

That said, those Charn artifacts seem to be everwhere.


Paladin

This is a very frustrating novella. I'm enjoying it despite itself. I like the characters, I find them interesting. Unfortunately, since it deeply involves the Fatherites, the whole thing is also very grating. Oh, look, it's the Hypocrisy Hammer. Again. Take that! western religion! Ha-ha! We sure showed you!

I think I've just grown to really loath the Fatherites as a conceit, so every time they show up I get more annoyed. They're the most hamfisted strawman I've seen since... well... since the last presidential election. They are cartoonishly, pointlessly, patently evil. As I've said elsewhere, they are exactly the sort of biting commentary I'd expect from a 15 year old who just discovered both satire and atheism on the same weekend and was going to really stick it to the church.

Which is why Paladin is so damn frustrating, because Bryan's crisis of faith could be really interesting if the freaking church wasn't Snidely Whiplash's less subtle cousin.

The Song Thief

It's the best of the lot. Gratuitous Fatherites-are-dicks mentions aside, I've been enjoying it, and it feels very "Bard's Tale-y". The stakes are kind of small, but they fit nicely. It's well written and I actually like the callback to the original trilogy Novellas. This felt like a story well seated in the world of Bard's Tale. Far and away my favorite.
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Post by _noblesse_oblige_ » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:13 pm

Thanks for the detailed critique, Drool. Think I'll just skip these. I'm not a religious person myself, but I think people can overdo it a bit in their critiques of religion - sounds like this guy is one of them. If I'm reading fantasy, I don't want to be preached at by religious or anti-religious bigots - I want some escapism from the real world not a proxy for the conflicts of it.

I wonder if inXile was afraid that some of the Christian religious references in the originals (particularly the first two) were going to be associated with the series and tried extra hard to distance themselves from them. (Kind of reminds of that one Silicon Valley episode where an openly gay web site operator gets outed as a Christian and everyone starts shunning business relationships which involve him.)

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Post by Drool » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:14 pm

I mean, I'm a deist, so I'm about as laid back about it as you can be without being a Unitarian. That said, it just felt excessive, especially in Long's books and in Paladin (the non-game based ones each have their own author).

That said, being novellas, they aren't terribly long, and not awful bathroom reads. I would say The Song Thief is probably worth reading on it's own. I think the Fatherite moments that annoyed me were more because I'd just slogged through five other novellas.

And because Thief of Fate left such an awful taste in my mouth.

All that being said...

If you could give Bard's Tale a quick read (or if theBruce can give Destiny Knight a read), I'm curious as to how those compare to the source material. I'm morbidly curious as to if Thief of Fate was especially bad, or if they all were and I'm just not familiar enough to notice.
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Post by thebruce » Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:15 am

Very interesting input Drool! Thanks for all that. I'm certainly not as up to date on game lore by memory as I should be... I'm hoping the lore writeups will help with that, especially for DK and TOF.

I feel like I want to allow some sway for retcons since it's been so long, and it's more like a reboot than a sequel, but really, it's never been intended to be a reboot. What's happening is not the revival of a series, but more like looking back at an old set of stories, and thinking "Let's bring it to this generation as a new property inspired by the originals," rather than continuing where they left off. :(

That is, they have BT4, and want to have a story that's in their mind more coherent and open for additional content, which also meant adjusting some backstory from the original content to make it all work; but that then ain't a sequel.

There was a lot of similar debate about Halo when 343 Industries took over from Bungie. The original games were never really intended to be as fleshed out and expansive as the Halo Universe has become, and in taking over with the intent to keep the storyworld growing and expanding, 343 retconned a number of key elements -- or at least added enough to it that the changing history would "make sense" with the new information. That upset a whole lot of hardcore fans. I think the same is happening here with BT.

Don't know how I feel about that.

But, what will be interesting, is when the lore gets to writing up game content side by side with novella content, the changes and contradictions will certainly be more obvious.
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Post by Drool » Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:55 pm

I mean, I don't always object to the inclusion of BT4 stuff in the novellas. The Paladin in the Trilogy was a Fatherite and she was okay.

The problem was the apparent desire to kneecap the originals to make the new hotness look better. It's simply tragic what they did to Hawkslayer: basically made him a self-obsessed moronic frat boy.
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