Friday, July 12, 2019

Darklands: Heaven Help Us

Praying to a saint causes direct damage to a demon.
          
If you were designing a real religious system from scratch, this wouldn't be a bad way for it to work. The world is governed by a large number of mini-gods, or "saints," each in charge of a different portfolio of existence. When you need to get something done that exceeds your normal abilities, you call for a saint's aid. But doing so requires that first you have been studious--that you have taken time to learn about the saint and his life, and the lessons that his biography has to impart. It also requires that you are virtuous, or the saint simply won't listen to your prayer. Finally, you can't over-rely on saints by calling for their help too often.

This is what people in the medieval period believed, and so it's what the game runs with--a system of divine magic entirely unlike anything presented to us in other RPGs. Perhaps the closest is The Dark Heart of Uukrul, which contrasted a system of deterministic arcane magic with a system of divine magic that basically put you at the god's whim. But things are more deterministic here. The saints operate on a specific formula. You have to have a minimum virtue to have any chance with them at all. Once you've crossed the threshold, your virtue determines the probability that the saint will act on your behalf for a specific amount of invested "divine favor," a statistic that is replenished largely by doing good deeds.

First you have to know about the saint in the first place. There are about 140 total saints in the game. Each town's kloster (most towns have one) teaches three or four of them, and your party can study in each kloster about once a week, imparting knowledge of a saint to a single character. You can also learn about saints at universities and from wandering hermits.
        
Part of the very long list of saints that one character has learned.
       
Once you know a saint, there are two ways to call upon him. The first is situation-specific. The game describes a situation and offers "call upon a saint" as one of the options, if you know any saints that might help. Hovering over this sub-menu gives you a list of saints that might offer something in the current scenario. For instance, St. Lutgardis might assist if you need to levitate over something, such as a city wall where the guards are looking to arrest you.
        
St. Boniface is a good one when you need to purify something Satanic.
        
But you can also call on saints at your own whim from the character menu, praying on behalf of one of your party members. For instance, the same St. Lutgardis will temporarily improve perception, virtue, and charisma for the prayed-for character. Every saint has a selection of attributes and skills that they improve.

I find myself using some saints repeatedly. If it's important that I visit a city's political leader without getting kicked out, I pray to St. Alcuin. He raises the "Read/Write" skill, intelligence, and "Read Latin." But he also makes noblemen more disposed to see you instead of kicking you to the curb. More important is St. Gregory Thaumaturg, who among other things increases the "Artifice" skill. It's only because of his help that I've gotten through the doors and chests in most of the indoor areas. None of my characters do well with this skill.
          
Praying to St. Gregory gives Bianca more "Artifice" skill.
        
I was frankly hoping for more from St. Crispin, whose day I know as sure as my own birthday. Every 25 October, patient Irene listens to me recite the speech from Henry V, though in the last few years, in the interests of time, I've taken to doing it in the shower. Anyway, I was disappointed to find that all St. Crispin does in this game is improve the quality of non-metal armor. 

In case you're curious, St. Edward the Confessor is the most laissez-faire saint in the game, responding to prayers from people with virtue as low as 5. He increases endurance, intelligence, perception, all the weapons skills, and "Riding." On the other side, St. Ita is the biggest prig. She won't give you the time of day unless you have a virtue of 85. She performs some pretty significant healing, but there are lots of saints who heal.

In my last couple of entries, I mentioned that I was trying to find information on St. Wenceslaus, to whom I needed to pray to end the constant aggravation of Wild Hunts. When I started this session, I made a list of all of the cities in the Empire and crossed them off one-by-one as I visited their monasteries and found no information about St. Wenceslaus. At first, I tried to thread these visitations with quests, but eventually I got so impatient that I abandoned all other pursuits and just ran from town to town. I finally learned about the saint at the kloster in Marienberg, in the far northeast of the map.
       
At last!
        
When I invoked Wenceslaus against the Wild Hunt, it had a satisfying ending--but an annoying promise of return.
           
That's all right: I know all the saints by now.
          
This occurred after about 6 hours of random adventuring, building my finances and my fame. I ended the session with the party's fame at 615, or "legendary heroes," which is the highest classification that you can get. Other than the usual--robber knights, artifact quests, Wild Hunts, boars, spiders, wolves, schrats, bandits, pilgrims, towns full of witches, and so forth--the only new experience was an encounter with a knight, where I had the options to challenge him to either a race or a joust. Since my characters suck in both "Polearms" and "Riding," the result was predictable.
         
A fancy game for fancy lads.
             
I solved another mine quest. This one involved a bunch of "vulcans"--basically, fire elementals--who had managed to open a gate on the lower level of the mine. I had to battle my way through them and close it. The creatures are particularly annoying because they degrade armor quality, and by the time I was done with the adventure, I basically had no armor left. If I'd had a few "Firewall" potions, the monsters would have been easier, but I just fought through them rather than leaving the mine to go buy some.
          
I want to call attention to the skillful use of dactylic octameter here. You can sing this verse to the same tune as "Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso."
         
During these experiences, I tested and confirmed my theories about armor. Specifically, I think it's better to have everyone wearing plate, top and bottom, accepting the consequences of over-encumbrance, than to equip lesser armor and remain below the encumbrance limit. With all my characters in plate, hardly any enemies do any damage at all, so it hardly matters if the characters are slower on the swing. To ameliorate the effects of encumbrance during tougher battles, I invested heavily in "Ironarm" and "New-Wind" potions, which raise maximum strength and endurance respectively.
          
My party hits new heights of fame and wealth.
       
In fact, I spent nearly every coin I made on potions, buying roughly three "Essence of Grace" potions to every one "Ironarm" and "New-Wind." I sold my ingredients and stopped wasting time trying to make my own. Yes, I know that you can theoretically make more powerful ones if you make your own, but it's easier just to buy two. 

I kept firing a couple of handgun volleys before each combat, and before long my characters all had near-99 skills in "Impact Weapons," "Edge Weapons," and "Missile Weapons." The handguns are a lot of fun. They're very slow, but they take the edge off demons and Templars nicely at the beginning of a battle. 
         
The temple had multiple combats with multiple plate-clad Templars.
         
When I thought I was ready, I tried my assault on the Templar compound again. The building is large and multi-leveled, with about 20 battles against knights, soldiers, hell hounds, and bears. (The random battles with multiple enemies were much harder than the two "boss" battles, described below.) There were lots of chests with treasures, including three holy relics (I hadn't encountered any until now): St. Olaf's battle axe, St. Hubert's bow, and St. Raphael's water. Is it blasphemous to equip the first two as actual weapons? Are they particularly good weapons? I guess we'll see.

It's fun to reflect on the game's treatment of Templars and witches. The manual is unapologetic about basing its depictions on 15th-century popular ideas of witchcraft. It draws a distinction between this kind of witchcraft and benign neo-paganism of the 20th century. Similar, the idea that Templars were actually Satanists comes from 14th-century persecutions of the order by the Avignon Papacy. Hundreds of Templars were arrested, tortured, and forced to confess to homosexuality, Satanism, and the worship of a demon named Baphomet. The authors of the game of course knew that none of this was true, but the average 15th-century commoner didn't, and thus that's how the game treats the order.
          
The party comes across a gathering of evil witches . . . which is ridiculous 'cause witches they were persecuted, Wicca good and love the Earth and women power and we'll be over here.
           
The battles in the Templar headquarters were difficult, but I kept the party going on enough potions to have purchased my own kingdom. Eventually, I found the chambers of the order's Preceptor and heard him talking about the seals that protect the castle of their "Master." The Preceptor attacked me alone and died quickly, leaving a high-quality set of plate armor.
          
My first two characters fight the Preceptor in melee combat while my rear characters shoot him.
           
At the top of the fortress, I met a demon in a hot room full of smithy fires. I prayed to St. Dymphna ahead of the ensuing battle, and the demon was significantly weakened. He died very quickly, and afterwards we broke the seal on the holy book that we found in the room. "Suddenly," the game told me, "you know that your ultimate fate lies south of Salzburg." I already guessed that from having stumbled upon the castle when I was searching for the witches' High Sabbat.
          
Another step solved in this quest.
        
Miscellaneous notes:
           
  • I really enjoy the puzzle doors in the mines. Here are a few if you want to try your skill:
            
Hope you have a Bible handy!
Svir'f fgngrzrag vaqvpngrf lbh arrq na rira-ahzorerq snpr gb bcra gur qbbe. Guerr'f rafherf gung gur guerr rira ahzoref unir gur guerr anzrf. Bar'f fgngrzrag ehyrf bhg Qbbe Gjb, yrnivat Qbbef Sbhe naq Fvk. Fvk'f naq Sbhe'f fgngrzragf gbtgure zrna gung Qbbe Fvk vf Tbyvoreg, juvpu pna'g or gur evtug qbbe orpnhfr Gjb fnvq gb bcra vg. Gung yrnirf Qbbe Sbhe.
Snprf Bar, Gjb, naq Sbhe unir qrcraqrag fgngrzragf, fb gurl'er rvgure ylvat be gryyvat gur gehgu gbtrgure. Fvapr vs Bar naq Gjb jrer obgu ylvat, gur nafjre jbhyq or qvssrerag qbbef, gurl zhfg or gryyvat gur gehgu. Fvapr tbyq pnaabg bcra gur qbbe (Snpr Sbhe), Snpr Svir vf ylvat naq guhf fb vf Snpr Guerr, fb cre Snpr Sbhe, gur qbbe zhfg or fvyire.
             
  • I figured out the nature of the bug that has prevented me from collecting any robber knight rewards in Flensburg. It's not just Flensburg. If the town doesn't have a "town hall" and the only political leader is located at a separate castle or burg, he never acknowledges that you've completed his quests.
  • I haven't played an Infinity Engine game in over 10 years, but I constantly catch myself hitting the "equals" sign (=) because that was the "select all party members" key in those games. This game doesn't even have a comparable key. 
  • I started spending more time storming robber knights' castles in this session instead of just calling them out or sneaking in and fighting them one-on-one. You get more wealth that way.
  • Going into this session, Bianca was my character with the highest "Artifice" ability at about 25. Somehow, she lost all of it--her skill is at 0. I don't think there's a non-bug mechanism that would account for this. 
  • I found yet another witches' High Sabbat and again destroyed it, but I didn't learn anything new. 
  • You can tell when a town is full of Satanists when they get something screwed up about Catholic doctrine. 
         
Basic Christianity: knowing good from evil is a bad thing.
        
Selling all the equipment that I looted in the Templar fortress netted me nearly 300 florins, which is about as much as I need to restock my potions and go for the castle south of Salzburg. I've been assuming that the witchcraft/Templar/demon plot is the "main quest" of the game, but feel free to tell me if I'm on the wrong track or if there's anything I should do before heading to what I assume is the endgame.

As I came to the end of this session, I became determined to track down a dragon. I keep hearing rumors of dragons north of one town, east of another, but every time I've searched in the stated direction, I haven't found anything. This time, I started in Flensburg, where rumors around the political center said that there was a dragon ravaging areas to the south. I rode south to Hamburg and heard the same rumors, but this time to the southwest. In Bremen, I heard south again. 

A few klicks south of Bremen, I encountered a message that "the land is sere and lifeless," the trees nothing more than "blasted stumps," a ruined village in the distance.
            
Darklands segues smoothly into Fallout.
          
Not far away, I came to the destroyed village:
              
They shouldn't have killed Missandei!
          
But I found no sign of the dragon. In Osnabrück, they said it was south. In Soest, southwest. There, I got another message that the creature destroying the landscape had also poisoned the waterways. In Köln, rumors had the creature to the east, so I felt I was closing in. But I still found nothing, and suddenly I stopped hearing rumors of dragons when I visited nearby cities. I hope I get a bead on one again. I was looking forward to seeing what dragons look like in this game.
       
Time so far: 59 hours

45 comments:

  1. I want to call attention to the skillful use of dactylic octameter here. You can sing this verse to the same tune as "Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso."

    Hahaha. That's brilliant. It goes right along with the song.

    Wicca has no connection to medieval witchcraft. It was invented out of whole cloth by a male British postal worker back in the 1930s and 40s.

    You get thrown in jail yet? Or caught by witches? Or any of the other "bad" outcomes which have whole decision trees and unique artworks associated with them, and are usually escapable?

    The dragon quest is invisible and cannot be walked into. You have to patrol around the desolation of the dragon, or set an ambush (F7). There are many unique random encounters associated with the dragon's desolation. Every year or so there will be a new dragon in one of eight locations.

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    1. Don't you have to walk into the exact location of the lair (which can't be seen on the map)? I thought walking around or setting an ambush just triggers dragon-related events.

      The Holzfrau always mentions a saint you don't know yet for the wild hunt, so I'm not sure what happens when you know all the saints.

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    2. BTW I love the artwork of Darklands. Especially the pencil drawings in the manual are fantastic. The box cover on the other hand is pretty awful.

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    3. “You get thrown in jail yet? Or caught by witches? Or any of the other "bad" outcomes which have whole decision trees and unique artworks associated with them, and are usually escapable?“ not really. I’ve mostly just been playing it safe and paying the fine. I guess I should try to experience some of those things before I retire the party.

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    4. Fair warning, those generally result in you losing all of your equipment and money. I always just reloaded when I got into those situations because having to rebuild all of my resources from nothing isn't exactly my idea of fun in an RPG

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  2. Nice logic puzzle - just the right difficulty for an RPG too. You don't want them to be crazy hard, but you want them hard enough to have a sense of satisfaction from solving them.

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    1. And you can always brute force the puzzles if you're really stuck, since they're multiple choice. Much better than just hitting a brick wall with a game expecting text input, especially in the pre-internet days.

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  3. "When I invoked Wenceslaus against the Wild Hunt, it had a satisfying ending--but an annoying promise of return."

    Honestly, I'm not sure it's worth bothering with the saint. The Hunt isn't a major threat, and with each encounter you have a chance to meet a schrat, saving him to gain his strength-enhancing fruit.

    "Is it blasphemous to equip the first two as actual weapons? Are they particularly good weapons?"

    Nah, no one cares. They're quality 45 weapons (iirc), but have no special properties other than the usual +1 damage per 10 quality bonus.

    "But I found no sign of the dragon."

    Well, this is the part where having the music off worked against you. The game notifies you when you're getting close to the dragon's lair, and starts playing some ominous music. But the only indication that you're still in the correct area is that this music is still playing, nothing else.

    There's also no rhyme or reason to the whole thing. You just get random events in the area, some of which lead to the dragon. If you don't mind a little exploiting, you can even save the game when you encounter something. Each reload then rolls a new random event.

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    1. I like that between his colourblindness and his no-music preference, Chet is actually doing a good deal of testing of how disability-friendly some of these old games are.

      It would probably be of service to people somewhere to be keeping a dedicated track of this - maybe in the games list. For each game: friendly for red/green colourblind (Y/N), friendly for hearing-impaired (Y/N).

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  4. I understood that hermits would occasionally teach saints not available in any city, so I enjoy the occasional hermit encounter.

    Now that I know most of the saints, though, the hermit compares notes and realizes he has nothing to teach the selected character.

    After a few of those outcomes, I'm starting to lean toward alternative hermit options.

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  5. when you mentioned being to bremen i actually downloaded this just to see how the city was reprecented and the presentation is pretty boring and after some horrible combat i decided to stay away of this one

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  6. Once you basically triangulate a Dragon, which it sounds like ou have, the only way I found to find it was to tediously go back and forth like a lawnmower diagonally until you find it, and I wasn't always able to. The loss of your artifice skill is almost certainly a bug, one of the last versions of the game sold had a character editor to fix things like that, no idea if its still available.

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  7. If you want the exact location, you could use this. Spoiler
    https://darklands.fandom.com/wiki/Dragon

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  8. Hope somebody find this interesting.
    French magazine Generation 4 covered the winter CES celebrated in january 1991 in their 30th issue and showed a bunch of screencaps of a very early Darklands version: http://download.abandonware.org/magazines/Generation%204/generation4_numero030/generation%204%20-%20N030%20-%20fevrier%201991%20-%20page156%20et%20page157.jpg

    And here is a visit to Microprose's offices in Marylind. I think this was recorded in the late 80s because they are working in the Amiga and Atari ST versions of Silent Service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3bDbjBLl2U

    You can see Sid Meier at 6:18 and Arnold Hendrick (Darklands main designer) at 7:25.

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  9. I never really had issues with alchemy or artiface, but I also realized early on that you pretty much have to raise them during character creation to get any real use out of them. Personally, the fact that you can make 3 potions at once before your success rates start being impacted, along with it being significantly cheaper in the long run caused having trouble finding some ingredients seem like a decent price to pay

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  10. You are on the right track, and the biggest hurdle to completing the endgame is having as many saints as possible, so it looks like you've got that covered as well.

    However I will warn you that the final dungeon has some unpatched bugs. Keep backup saves.

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    1. I finished it the other day. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any problems.

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  11. Two things:
    Kudos to Irene, sounds like a patient and understanding woman
    Nice reference to the dark heart of uukrul, it's a game that deserves more. It was in the top crpg lists in Spain until way 1995

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  12. One thing that keeps me from trying this game is that the font looks *really* hard to read, especially on the backgrounds that have big pieces of art. Is it just the screenshots?

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    1. Before the screen changes or before you have to make a selection, the graphics typically fade, leaving an almost-blank screen on which you can read the text. I've been taking the screenshots while the graphics are still present.

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  13. stepped pyramidsJuly 14, 2019 at 1:59 AM

    I wonder if this is the first reference to Genesis 3:5 in video games. Xenogears referenced it ("ye shall be as gods") six years later.

    I was kind of amused to learn about Darklands, a game that I had only vaguely heard about before, because "an RPG set in late medieval Europe with a fairly realistic but mildly fictionalized depiction of period theology and social attitudes" has been pretty high on my list of game ideas for a long time. Although for me it'd be a strategy RPG. I feel like this is still a pretty rich terrain for exploration by games.

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  14. I always thought this blog needed more Marty Robbins references

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  15. The "depict things as they were seen in the 15th Century" makes for an interesting game world but it's also a little problematic.

    I'm not sure that anyone living is greatly personally invested in the reputation of the Templars - although I could be wrong - but persecution of witches still has some modern consequences. And to extend the "as they were seen at the time" logic, you could imagine a 15th Century game of this sort portraying Romani as thieves and Jews as misers and manipulators, which of course would be Not Okay.

    Which isn't to say that what Darklands does can't be done well. If it explicitly acknowledges the disconnect in the manual or elsewhere, that's a pretty good start...

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    1. Your comment made me spend a good 15 minutes amusing myself with different offensive scenarios MicroProse could have developed if they'd gone whole-hog with the idea.

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    2. I can imagine there's dark comedy gold in that... :-)

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    3. I’m not sure I’m seeing what’s “problematic.”

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    4. It's axiomatic.
      "Everything is Problematic."
      https://www.mcgilldaily.com/2014/11/everything-problematic/

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    5. Creating a 20th-century game in which the characters are rewarded with virtue points for slaughtering "Moslems" and must defeat the evil machinations of a Jewish-Lutheran cabal would indeed be "problematic." The fact that the word is overly-used in some scenarios doesn't strip it of all meaning, nor does it make all uses invalid.

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    6. The big difference, of course, is that those are all current, relevant prejudices, while the ones in Darklands are not. The only element that still holds relevance today is witches, and the actual witch hunts of the era bear so little resemblance to the pop-culture version (for one thing, the vast majority of historical "witches" were male) as to be two entirely different things.

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    7. I'm with CB on this.

      And while I avoid the word, because it grates on me, but at the same time, I understand why there are people out there who kinda feel that basically everything is 'problematic'.

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    8. So “problematic” is problematic?

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    9. We deliberately use "problematic" because it doesn't immediately assign value judgements. It suggests there are things to discuss here, that we can discuss, and perhaps find regrettable, without throwing out the work as a whole.

      If you've ever been frustrated by an internet discussion that goes, "Work X is rubbish because it (gets continuity wrong / has no women in it / is written by a convicted criminal), and you're rubbish for liking it" - then you are exactly who the word "problematic" is for.

      It's basically saying, "Hey, there's a lot of reasons you might love this work, and maybe a bunch of things it does really well, that we should pay attention to - but we should also note that it messes something up, in a way that people who are interested should pick apart, so that when we hold this game up as an example in the future, we keep the good things about it without importing the bad ones."

      And also so that we understand that particular people might *really hate* that work for reasons that are reasonable and which we should respect, even while we ourselves may love the work because of different aspects of it.

      It's a good word because it starts a discussion neutrally - "Hey, can we talk about this? I think there might be an issue here" - rather than starting it with an attack on someone. (i.e. "God, how can you like that sexist piece of rubbish?") If you don't want to have that discussion, you can walk away without needing to feel personally involved (although I'd usually suggest you'll learn something if you stay), in a way that you can't if the discussion starts by questioning your taste, your values and your identity.

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    10. The only ways I've seen it used are either as a warning ("this work contains element x, which you might find problematic") or else as a condemnation ("This element of this work is problematic, so it and everything by the same creator MUST BE DESTROYED").

      The neutral way you're suggesting is something that I have quite literally never come across.

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    11. I don't see any distinction between what GregT describes and Gnoman's first use of the word.

      It's just a word. It's been in the language for a long time before someone decided to write an article called "Everything is problematic" that people like to share everywhere. GregT's original point was that the Darklands approach, if taken to a logical extreme, could have ended up with some characterizations that would have reinforced damaging stereotypes. I don't think he was arguing that it actually DID that--at least, I certainly wouldn't argue such--but the it briefly amused me to think about what the creators might have considered and then cut.

      Since there's no "it" here--nothing that we're actually arguing IS "problematic"--there's no need to further this discussion.

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  16. A note regarding Christian theology and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: it is generally agreed that the ability to know good from evil wasn't the actual problem there; disobeying the direct order was. :) There is quite a lot of theology behind the Garden of Eden part (which is unsurprising), but that's probably not the time and place to discuss it...

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. I'm no theologian, but it always seemed obvious to me that the consumption of the fruit was a metaphor for humankind's evolution of a brain capable of ethical decision-making. Animals exist in a state of innocence in which they hunt, fight, kill, reproduce, and simply survive based on instinct alone. Humans have the ability to make a choice about such issues--to think about their place in nature in a meta-cognitive sense. Thus, we can no longer live wholly WITHIN nature (i.e., the Garden of Eden). If theologians "generally agree" that no, it's just about disobeying a direct order, it seems to me that they're adopting the most boring, literal interpretation.

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    2. It's been proposed, as early as the second century A.D., that the forbidden fruit was wheat. Setting aside the problems that wheat isn't a fruit and doesn't grow on trees, wheat seems like the perfect metaphor for agrarian society, and the end of hunter-gatherer times.

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    3. Of course, that's just my modern interpretation of ancient bronze-age philosophy, and is probably about as on-point to the original intent as those Buzzfeed lists about interpreting Pac-Man as existential horror.

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    4. The interpretation of the consumption of the fruit as evolution of the more advanced brain would have one major flaw: that would mean that humanity was _not_ supposed to grow into ethical decision making, and thus commit a sin by getting smarter. That would seem contrary to the fact that a) human was made "in God's image" - what with God being able to make ethics-based decisions and all; and b) that human was explicitly told to go subdue the Earth, and to take dominion over animals and plants (including "herb that bears seed", Gen 1:29).

      That being said, disobedience against the God's commandment is not _a_ sin, it is _the_ sin; thus it makes sense that the original sin is breaking the only "commandment" that was given the the humans at the time.

      Also, it is perfectly possible for a biblical story to have multiple meanings; it's just the fact that knowing good from evil, in particular, is very much _not_ a bad thing for Christians (or at least, Catholics; I can't speak for the craziness that is Protestantism). :) If it was, nobody would bother sending missionaries to other lands to teach other people how to discern between good and evil. ;)

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    5. My 2 cents:
      There was only one rule in Eden: not to eat that particular fruit. When that rule was broken, of course there had to be consequences.

      Also, I think the phrase "to be like gods" is important: Adam and Eve tried to assume devine prerogative. Their sin was not only disobedience, but also hubris.

      I think that what sets mankind apart is free will. Because of free will, man _is capable_ of doing evil. That's necessary, because doing good is meaningless if doing evil is impossible. Of course man is not _supposed_ to do evil. Man is supposed to do good voluntarily. But to do good voluntarily, you need some notion of what is "good". I guess (and that is just my guess) is that in the original design, man was supposed to rely on God for that. Man was supposed to do what God asks of him, because Gods asks him to do it. The premise is that God is good. So, if God asks something of you, that is bound to be good. That should be enough. In that way, one can be good as well as innocent.

      Of course, for Adam and Eve that was not enough. By eating the fruit, they gained their own ethical judgement. By doing that, they could not be innocent anymore, and they could not be creatures of nature anymore.

      When the fruit was eaten, the damage was done and since then man has to rely on his own ethical judgement, aided by the Holy Ghost. That's why it is necessary to spread the Gospel over the world and to send out missionaries.

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    6. It's only natural that the first rule is 'don't disobey the rules' :p

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    7. My question has always been: how could humans be punished for disobeying anything when they had no concept of wrongness? Seems like they lacked the ability to make any moral decisions until it was too late.

      So yeah,I tend to like the evolutionary or agricultural interpretations.

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  17. I think the theological problem is in the first half of the sentence: "You shall be like the gods". There are two errors from the Christian point of view: (1) there exists only One God; (2) the worst of the seven deadly sins is pride, that is believing you are as "good" as God in anything. This is what should alert the player about satanism, not the later text.

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    1. The more serious problem with the line, which I didn't say explicitly when the conversation got a little derailed, is that it's a direct quote from Genesis 3:5, spoken by the serpent while tempting Eve. So you're obviously not "following scriptural sayings" by taking direction from the serpent.

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    2. But yes, your analysis does get into WHY the serpent's encouragement goes against Christian ethics.

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

As of January 2019, I will be deleting any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.