The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Sword of Truth sounds really horrible. I am kinda glad I haven't read it, now. (Wasn't that fantasy, though? I am not quite sure how communists fit into pseudomedieval fantasy
    It starts off with the relatively fun and simplistically amusing. But after a few it just gets weird, man.

  2. - Top - End - #122
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    The Sword of Truth has a weird setting. The bad guys are mostly inherited bio weapons from the super-war, who hate magic but also have most of the magic users. The good guys are also bio-weapons, but they like magic so there are very few of them.

    The real central conceit is the main bad guy has crazy mindcontrol powers and is essentially the Human Overmind. Only by worshipping the protag can people avoid this terrible fate!
    Last edited by Tvtyrant; 2019-11-14 at 10:17 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #123
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    Sword of Truth is primarily a political and ideological diatribe in the form of a poorly realized facsimile of Robert Jordan-esque fantasy. To which the author expresses his views in increasingly lengthy sermons voiced by his protagonists while the villains are contemptuous strawmen representing dumb-as-bricks and evil-as-evil-can-be versions of his perceived ideological opponents. This also makes the setting rather vapid because there's no verisimilitude to it, it merely exists to house a series of thinly veiled allegories.

    Sword of Truth is the height of protagonist-centred morality because the stance the series takes is exactly that, the protagonist is Right merely by virtue of sharing the author's beliefs, not because he acts in any way different from the villains he's fighting but merely his general intent is different. I mean, aside from rape, which seems to be the only moral event horizon the author appreciates as almost every villain is marked via committing casual sexual assaults which are described at length.

    It would be a shining example of parody if it had any sense of irony.

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    Sword of Truth is primarily a political and ideological diatribe in the form of a poorly realized facsimile of Robert Jordan-esque fantasy. To which the author expresses his views in increasingly lengthy sermons voiced by his protagonists while the villains are contemptuous strawmen representing dumb-as-bricks and evil-as-evil-can-be versions of his perceived ideological opponents. This also makes the setting rather vapid because there's no verisimilitude to it, it merely exists to house a series of thinly veiled allegories.

    Sword of Truth is the height of protagonist-centred morality because the stance the series takes is exactly that, the protagonist is Right merely by virtue of sharing the author's beliefs, not because he acts in any way different from the villains he's fighting but merely his general intent is different. I mean, aside from rape, which seems to be the only moral event horizon the author appreciates as almost every villain is marked via committing casual sexual assaults which are described at length.

    It would be a shining example of parody if it had any sense of irony.
    The fact that Goodkind cannot write any characters different from his set protagonist (I read one of his prequels) means that they evolved into their own parody in a way.

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    Sword of Truth is primarily a political and ideological diatribe in the form of a poorly realized facsimile of Robert Jordan-esque fantasy. To which the author expresses his views in increasingly lengthy sermons voiced by his protagonists while the villains are contemptuous strawmen representing dumb-as-bricks and evil-as-evil-can-be versions of his perceived ideological opponents. This also makes the setting rather vapid because there's no verisimilitude to it, it merely exists to house a series of thinly veiled allegories.

    Sword of Truth is the height of protagonist-centred morality because the stance the series takes is exactly that, the protagonist is Right merely by virtue of sharing the author's beliefs, not because he acts in any way different from the villains he's fighting but merely his general intent is different. I mean, aside from rape, which seems to be the only moral event horizon the author appreciates as almost every villain is marked via committing casual sexual assaults which are described at length.

    It would be a shining example of parody if it had any sense of irony.
    On that note, The Sword of Good very deliberately picks apart the notion of protagonist-centered morality. Maybe the title is a sly "take that" to The Sword of Truth.

    Though generally, I feel like protagonist-centered morality is something of a default. Maybe it's partly due to the dominant POV being more sympathetic? I know that when I relate RPG anecdotes folks tend to assume that I'm acting like a reasonable, fair-minded player. Even when the point of the story is that I was behaving like an idiot who derailed the campaign and got other player characters killed.

    Also, a trend I've noticed in movies is that pacing and mood influence how protagonists are read. For example, there's some debate on whether Ryan Gosling's character in Drive is a good guy. Drive has a rather slow, deliberate pace, and the character does some things that are at least morally questionable. Just about everyone that's seen Drive has their own take on whether the character is a good guy or not. Meanwhile, most people that have seen Dusk 'Til Dawn are comfortable in saying that George Clooney's character is the good guy. At least until it's pointed out to them that he does some pretty shady things in the story and is arguably one of the worst people in it.
    Iop brain.

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    A Practical Guide to Evil has a Villain as the main character; that is, Cat, the main character, gets her powers from the literal gods of evil (at first). Now, she's a good person (more or less), who generally strives to do the greatest amount of good for her country, her friends, and to a lesser extent people in general as she can at any given time. As the audience, we get to see all that first-hand, but at least a few of the commenters don't seem to be able to figure out what that looks like from the perspective of her enemies.

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    She's often in or around cities that mysteriously catch fire, causing massive collateral damage. She owes fealty to, in order, the Black Knight (her mentor), the Dread Empress (his and her boss), and the Gods of Below (nominally in charge of all Villains and Evil countries). She regularly works with orcs and goblins (orcs are actually for the most part unfairly maligned in the setting as of present, but goblins... not so much, they tend to prize character traits along the lines of "murderous" and "arsonistic"). She seized power over her country by leading the main army responsible for crushing an uprising within it. She was a major participant in a mysterious (to the outside world's perspective) battle/series of battles that involved massive plagues of undeath, opening literal Hellgates, and wiping one of the largest cities on the continent off of the map, including all of its inhabitants. Oh, and she's killed all of the heroes that have tried to take her down since.


    As readers, we know that she's been mostly on the right side of history (and steadily improving besides), but to an outsider... that does not paint a pretty picture. Yet the comment section can get a little harsh on the Heroes in the story for refusing to work with her. (Which is not to say that a lot of the heroes aren't stubborn *******s who refuse to accept that their view of the world isn't exactly correct; I'm merely pointing out that their initial views of the protagonist are usually not that unreasonable given what they know/have heard).
    Last edited by PoeticallyPsyco; 2019-11-14 at 11:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    I've only ever read the two or three passage of Sword of Truth that get commonly quoted to show how bad it is, but those are hilarious. Especially the Chicken of Absolute Evil.
    I solemnly swear,
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    To defend the Constitution of Man,
    And to further the universal rights of all sentient life.
    From the depths of the pacific, to the edge of the galaxy.
    For as long as I shall live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I've only ever read the two or three passage of Sword of Truth that get commonly quoted to show how bad it is, but those are hilarious. Especially the Chicken of Absolute Evil.
    Man the Chicken of Absolute Evil wasn't even that bad. I mean, it was a demon possessing a chicken. That has nothing on the ridiculousness that was the main character converting an entire city to his way of thinking by making, and then destroying, a really good statue.
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  9. - Top - End - #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    The original Half-Life has this problem pretty bad. Gordon Freeman's actions throughout the game are less concerned with making moral judgements about the right thing to do in this situation, and more concerned with puzzling out how to progress - which can often involve an absolutely absurd number of bullets spraying both directions, but sometimes is literally just platforming. Gordon is in a situation where "where he is" isn't safe or secure, and what's behind him isn't either...leaving progressing forward as his only option. NPCs you meet along the way verbally hope that Gordon will send help for them once he's reached safety himself, but as you progress through the game, not only is there no indication that Gordon ever intended to do so, he never really reaches a point where he's able to do so at all.
    To be fair these are supposed to be people that he knows and who know him. Presumably they have seen enough of him to have good idea of his character, even if very little of his character is revealed to the player, to the point where he seems to have the personality of an inanimate block of cement. The real problem here is that the game tells but it doesn't show

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    Man the Chicken of Absolute Evil wasn't even that bad. I mean, it was a demon possessing a chicken. That has nothing on the ridiculousness that was the main character converting an entire city to his way of thinking by making, and then destroying, a really good statue.
    That was the other one that was always quoted. That and the Anti-War Protesters of Insufficient Moral Clarity.

    I mean, I understand that it was a chicken possessed by a demon. I understand that. Sure, that's an evil thing. But the way it was written...
    I solemnly swear,
    To devote my life and abilities,
    In defence of the United Nations of Earth,
    To defend the Constitution of Man,
    And to further the universal rights of all sentient life.
    From the depths of the pacific, to the edge of the galaxy.
    For as long as I shall live.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fury View Post
    On that note, The Sword of Good very deliberately picks apart the notion of protagonist-centered morality. Maybe the title is a sly "take that" to The Sword of Truth.

    Though generally, I feel like protagonist-centered morality is something of a default. Maybe it's partly due to the dominant POV being more sympathetic? I know that when I relate RPG anecdotes folks tend to assume that I'm acting like a reasonable, fair-minded player. Even when the point of the story is that I was behaving like an idiot who derailed the campaign and got other player characters killed.
    I would argue that the default is narrative-focused morality. As in, the story as a whole has an implicit or explicit moral stance - often so normative as to go without scrutiny - and it will often use the protagonist's flaws to present it.

    For a simple example, an average sitcom will have the main character(s) act foolishly to provide the basic conflict - usually based on dubious and selfish motives - and the comedy comes from their hyperbolic experiences as they face the consequences of their actions. Depending on the tone of the comedy they may amend their ways in the final act and offer some form of penance/restitution/apology in which a lesson will be learned like a Full House, or if it's a darker comedy like Seinfeld they focus the story on how their poor decisions only made them more unhappy than they were to begin with by the end.

    A more dramatic work would push for higher emotional stakes - usually - but they're usually not that different. On an average episode of House, Gregory House might be right in the literal factual sense, but he's often presented as being deeply in the wrong in terms of achieving his own personal happiness and responding to the emotional needs of those around him. This puts him at odds between what he wants and what he needs, and is the driving conflict of the series.

    Most media is this of some sort. There are numerous exceptions of course, but we tend to sympathize with characters not because they're always fully justified according to the writer, but that they are flawed beings in a way the narrative acknowledges and thus have reason both to be more dynamic and grow as individuals as well as for us to recognize ourselves in them.
    Last edited by Kitten Champion; 2019-11-15 at 03:28 AM.

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    I'd like to take a moment to plug Wildbow's Worm. One of the most compelling things about it is how thoroughly it subverts protagonist centered morality; in between each arc is an interlude from a perspective other than the main character's, and my god do they do a good job of making those side characters sympathetic. Even the most despicable villains get their views and the reasons for why they are who they are broken down, all without actually detracting from the immorality of their deeds.

    Fair warning, though. This web serial is dark. Not to the point of grimdark, and it does get better once it transitions from contemporary high school to the comparatively uplifting setting of a city at the mercy of a roving band of serial killers.
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    There's also the considerably lighter postapocalyptic sequel.
    I solemnly swear,
    To devote my life and abilities,
    In defence of the United Nations of Earth,
    To defend the Constitution of Man,
    And to further the universal rights of all sentient life.
    From the depths of the pacific, to the edge of the galaxy.
    For as long as I shall live.

  14. - Top - End - #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    Sword of Truth is primarily a political and ideological diatribe in the form of a poorly realized facsimile of Robert Jordan-esque fantasy. To which the author expresses his views in increasingly lengthy sermons voiced by his protagonists while the villains are contemptuous strawmen representing dumb-as-bricks and evil-as-evil-can-be versions of his perceived ideological opponents. This also makes the setting rather vapid because there's no verisimilitude to it, it merely exists to house a series of thinly veiled allegories.

    Sword of Truth is the height of protagonist-centred morality because the stance the series takes is exactly that, the protagonist is Right merely by virtue of sharing the author's beliefs, not because he acts in any way different from the villains he's fighting but merely his general intent is different. I mean, aside from rape, which seems to be the only moral event horizon the author appreciates as almost every villain is marked via committing casual sexual assaults which are described at length.

    It would be a shining example of parody if it had any sense of irony.
    I believe ( only read somebody else's read through of the books) there's a bit where the Protagonists gorgeous (of course) wife sends her Sister to a place where she knows she will be tortured and raped because the sister would not support the Protagonist. Which is of course presented as the right thing to do
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    That was the other one that was always quoted. That and the Anti-War Protesters of Insufficient Moral Clarity.

    I mean, I understand that it was a chicken possessed by a demon. I understand that. Sure, that's an evil thing. But the way it was written...
    It was pretty silly and melodramatic, but it's a demon possessed chicken. I feel like that was always going to be the case with most writers.
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  16. - Top - End - #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    It was pretty silly and melodramatic, but it's a demon possessed chicken. I feel like that was always going to be the case with most writers.
    Probably. But I have a feeling most authors would recognize the inherent silliness and not write it. Or make the scene incredibly eerie demonstrating how the farm animals arenít acting normally.

    But Goodkind? No he goes for high melodrama. About a chicken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by comicshorse View Post
    I believe ( only read somebody else's read through of the books) there's a bit where the Protagonists gorgeous (of course) wife sends her Sister to a place where she knows she will be tortured and raped because the sister would not support the Protagonist. Which is of course presented as the right thing to do
    Not quite. The half-sister withdraws her military support from the protagonist's wife, and the protagonist's wife then withdraws military support from her half-sister. Said half-sister's country being left on its own, it falls to the BBEG, and so does the half-sister. Unless I'm forgetting something.

    I still don't recall the military charge through anti-war protesters. Been a while since I've read them, though. I rather liked the first one, but they got way too preachy after that.

    Edit: I found especially funny the bit where the main character goes vegetarian, and then 4-5 books later gets sick in the magic, and makes the ethical case for why he should eat meat to fix his problem.
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2019-11-15 at 11:05 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    When and where? In the US? I heard US-Americans are perhaps the least polite culture in the world (as perceived by other cultures) but still ...

    Public proposals are so unbelievably rude (if not planned by an actually already engaged couple as publicity stunt) that I don't think they ever were much of a thing in real life. Europeans aren't as concerned about "saving face" as Asians, but most still wouldn't like to be rejected in front of everyone they know - or reject someone in public.
    I always assumed that it was meant to leverage the public location as a passive-aggressive way of increasing one's chances of getting a 'yes'. Because a 'no' also looks bad for the person being proposed to so they're therefore less likely to give a 'no'.

  19. - Top - End - #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    To be fair these are supposed to be people that he knows and who know him. Presumably they have seen enough of him to have good idea of his character, even if very little of his character is revealed to the player, to the point where he seems to have the personality of an inanimate block of cement. The real problem here is that the game tells but it doesn't show
    While I don't imagine most scientists or guards at the base new Gordon specifically, at least a few of them most definitely did (primarily, the ones at the earliest parts of the game who return in the sequel and send Gordon off to get help), so that's still a pretty solid point, but...yeah I kinda wish they'd shown it better. Heck, it wouldn't have even been that hard. Most of the scientists Gordon meets, Gordon can shoot them without repercussions, but a small handful are vital for getting out, so shooting them results in immediate failure due to "terminating necessary assets". If you got that game over for intentionally murdering any scientist or security guard or whoever at Black Mesa, that'd be the mechanics of the game clearly stating that playing that way, isn't accurately playing Gordon Freeman, and would be making a statement about his character. EDIT: You see that kind of thing in the Assassin's Creed games as well; while the game is perfectly fine letting you plot your own course for history most of the time, even if it's perhaps not accurate that Altair or whoever spent 5 hours parkouring around for the sake of doing so, if you accidentally kill somebody who's gonna be important later, or murder to many random innocent citizens, you get destabilized.

    (Of course, if we're talking "changes we'd make to Half-Life to reflect the story better", I'd probably start with tweaking the mechanics of Gordon's weapons so that they start out with lower damage, worse damage fall-off, and worse bullet spread, but as he gets more kills throughout the game, he gradually gets better and better with his weapons. Certainly it makes sense that by HL2 Gordon Freeman has become a violence savant, but with this change somebody picking up HL for the first time and somebody replaying it for the 1000th time are both still having to deal with Gordon's in-universe lack of true experience. Yeah I know he had the training course, but unless he was training like that all the time rather than minimum corporate mandated like I'd expect, the "actually fighting for his life" parts were what turned him into a badass.)
    Last edited by AvatarVecna; 2019-11-15 at 11:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chen View Post
    Is it really protagonist centered morality here though? The antagonists in the series were so ridiculously over the top evil (and communist!) that it didn't take much for the protagonist to be in the right.
    The antagonists are mostly also ridiculous, but the protagonists do some pretty strange, evil stuff as well.

    The first book is mostly okay. Some of the flaws are there, but are excusable as a one off thing. It's mostly when you read further into the series that things start getting increasingly strange. And after having read one decent book, most people want to see how the whole series goes, yknow?

    It's rough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Sword of Truth sounds really horrible. I am kinda glad I haven't read it, now. (Wasn't that fantasy, though? I am not quite sure how communists fit into pseudomedieval fantasy.)
    In one book, he defeats them via football. In another, by carving a statue of himself and his girlfriend so pretty they break into tears.

    There's a lot of fantasy involved. Some of it is even the kind with swords and magic.

    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticallyPsyco View Post
    I'd like to take a moment to plug Wildbow's Worm. One of the most compelling things about it is how thoroughly it subverts protagonist centered morality; in between each arc is an interlude from a perspective other than the main character's, and my god do they do a good job of making those side characters sympathetic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    That has nothing on the ridiculousness that was the main character converting an entire city to his way of thinking by making, and then destroying, a really good statue.
    That was the book I stopped at. The continued beating over the head how the enemy nation was bad and how they were like identical to russian communists just got to be too much. It also had the obnoxious "person has to hide or not use his power for stupid convoluted reasons just so the story can happen".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Themrys View Post
    Sword of Truth sounds really horrible. I am kinda glad I haven't read it, now. (Wasn't that fantasy, though? I am not quite sure how communists fit into pseudomedieval fantasy.)
    I don't know how close the communism in the book compares to 'real' communism, and that's not a topic for this forum. In-book, the 'communism' mostly revolved around needing to consider the needs of others before your own, and following that line of thought to its 'logical' conclusion. There were hints of it in the first book (farmers had their crops confiscated for "redistribution" by one particular ruler), but it became much more blatant in the later books.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    The original Half-Life has this problem pretty bad. Gordon Freeman's actions throughout the game are less concerned with making moral judgements about the right thing to do in this situation, and more concerned with puzzling out how to progress - which can often involve an absolutely absurd number of bullets spraying both directions, but sometimes is literally just platforming. Gordon is in a situation where "where he is" isn't safe or secure, and what's behind him isn't either...leaving progressing forward as his only option. NPCs you meet along the way verbally hope that Gordon will send help for them once he's reached safety himself, but as you progress through the game, not only is there no indication that Gordon ever intended to do so, he never really reaches a point where he's able to do so at all. About the only way for your choice to actually cause some kind of change to the story (outside of "Freeman refuses to fight, and dies as a result") is at the very end of the game (and it's simultaneously a non-choice that has no real impact on the story of that one game, and a non-choice in that the next game begins assuming you chose a very particular path. This is even lampshaded in a scene later in the series, a scene that mimics the first non-choice where the same character now remarks "rather than presenting you with the illusion of choice, I have take the liberty of choosing for you".
    You have to remember the technology back when Half Life came out was very limited compared to today and such a branching narrative really could not be done. And really HL isn't about moral choices, it's about survival. Gordon is an empty suit that the player inhabits and we the players get to imagine what kind of person he is. You want moral choices in a game, that would be BioShock.

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    This is even more clearly on display in the Portal franchise; once more, a silent protagonist is put in a situation where they have the singular goal of survival/freedom, are trapped in a scenario where following that goal leads down a single path with no true deviations, and where interactions with others are even more limited than in Half-Life - between Portal and Portal 2, there are only really two "people" who Chell interacts with in-universe, and both of them are extreme personalities that are more...theoretically capable of reacting to Chell, than actually doing so. It's made explicit at a couple points in Portal 2 that Chell's actually mute in-universe (which could be lampshading, but is still canonical, and far different from most Silent Protagonists), and the closest we get to a trustworthy statement about Chell's character is in a line from Wheatley ("you know what you are? Selfish") who is at least designed to be stupid and wrong about everything. Some semblance of moral fiber is attributed to her by Wheatley early on (in a "the human who beat Glados must've been pretty good person" kinda way), but even ignoring Wheatley's general incorrectness, the actions so praised were actions taken in service of her own survival; she wasn't saving anybody but herself. That's not to say she's not a good person, merely to say that it isn't a sign of her being one. The next closest we come to an objective measure of Chell's personality is a single page in the Lab Rat comic labeling her tenacity as beyond 99th percentile. Tenaciousness isn't inherently moral or immoral or amoral, it's literally just "being stubborn". Unlike most shooter-games, Chell's gun doesn't hurt people, it's merely a mobility tool (yet another thing lampshaded within the text - "you need to find a gun that shoots holes! ...not bullet holes!"). And yet, if you read most any fanfic that involves Chell interacting with other people, she's presented as this remarkably nice person who prefers nonviolent solutions.
    Actually we know a fair amount about Chell. For one thing she isn't mute. She refuses to talk because she doesn't want to give GLaDOS or any or the other AI's the satisfaction. In other words she is being stubborn. Chell actually is an orphan (we don't know when) but she was the daughter of a fairly high ranking researcher at the Enrichment Center and was there on "Bring Your Daughter To Work Day" when GLaDOS was turned on. The massively overgrown potato plant you find in the game is actually her science experiment (she used some of her dad's work on it.) For some reason Chell came back to the Enrichment Center and was a test subject, willingly. While GLaDOS does not remember Chell, Chell does remember GLaDOS and is presumably the reason she came back.
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by HandofShadows View Post
    You have to remember the technology back when Half Life came out was very limited compared to today and such a branching narrative really could not be done. And really HL isn't about moral choices, it's about survival. Gordon is an empty suit that the player inhabits and we the players get to imagine what kind of person he is. You want moral choices in a game, that would be BioShock.

    Actually we know a fair amount about Chell. For one thing she isn't mute. She refuses to talk because she doesn't want to give GLaDOS or any or the other AI's the satisfaction. In other words she is being stubborn. Chell actually is an orphan (we don't know when) but she was the daughter of a fairly high ranking researcher at the Enrichment Center and was there on "Bring Your Daughter To Work Day" when GLaDOS was turned on. The massively overgrown potato plant you find in the game is actually her science experiment (she used some of her dad's work on it.) For some reason Chell came back to the Enrichment Center and was a test subject, willingly. While GLaDOS does not remember Chell, Chell does remember GLaDOS and is presumably the reason she came back.
    I don't really disagree with any of this. Half-Life is most definitely a game of survival, with Gordon Freeman (the player avatar) as the obvious protagonist, and it's much the same in Portal. We can learn a great many things about these characters by looking into some of the smaller details sprinkled through the game. But my larger point was that, while these characters are undeniably protagonists, there is nothing within the original narratives that clarifies that they are heroic - instead, the player base tends towards assuming they are good people, but that collective opinion is based on nothing except the fact that Gordon/Chell are protagonists. It's not quite the same as some of the examples in this thread, where the work of fiction itself considers the protagonist to be in the right despite being obviously wrong in the audience's eyes, but "Protagonist=Hero" without textual support is still falling under that trope's umbrella. And while Gordon in HL2 and on probably had some opportunity to do the wrong thing in order to save himself, and didn't, Chell's never had an option like that. 100% of both games is her fighting for survival, and while we learn some things about her (as you pointed out) none of it really informs us about her worldview.

    Also, your first point about "avoiding blank mask being amoral requiring branching paths", that's not really what my point was either. Even in a railroady plot, things could be done that make it clear Gordon is a good person in-universe even if the player isn't. Depending on the technology at the time, it might not be feasible to do a "you can't bring yourself to leave the area until all X scientists are out of harm's ways" kind of objective, but at the very least the designer's could've caused the game to automatically end if you shoot/kill any innocent scientists/guards. They already built it in for when you kill scientists/guards that were absolutely necessary for the game to progress, after all, it wouldn't be that difficult to have that trigger on any death. That one small change on its own would ascribe some moral agency to Gordon.
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    I would contend the first book of Sword of Truth is no less blatant, just the agenda behind it wasn't so clearly established that you just assumed you're reading a conventional fantasy novel. Sort of like thinking you're eating a beef hamburger only to learn later it's really plant protein and come to think of it it never really taste like beef and you just assumed it was because is matched the basic expectations of a hamburger. Then you learn later the restaurant you were in was actually vegan.

    For instance, the very first chapter is the protagonist's half-brother - or was he his step-brother? I guess it doesn't matter - convincing the locals in heroes' journey starter zone townspeople to stop using fire. Like, at all, just stop using it. Employing teary-eyed maudlin arguments about how people have been killed by fire in the past and thus it is an evil that must be prohibited.

    This is 100% a thinly-veiled strawman critique of anti-firearm advocates, whats more you learn later that the big bad has actually been pushing for it out of his personal pyrophobia and his brother was secretly an agent for him so this brother is just a big hypocrite and tool of Evil.

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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    I would contend the first book of Sword of Truth is no less blatant, just the agenda behind it wasn't so clearly established that you just assumed you're reading a conventional fantasy novel. Sort of like thinking you're eating a beef hamburger only to learn later it's really plant protein and come to think of it it never really taste like beef and you just assumed it was because is matched the basic expectations of a hamburger. Then you learn later the restaurant you were in was actually vegan.

    For instance, the very first chapter is the protagonist's half-brother - or was he his step-brother? I guess it doesn't matter - convincing the locals in heroes' journey starter zone townspeople to stop using fire. Like, at all, just stop using it. Employing teary-eyed maudlin arguments about how people have been killed by fire in the past and thus it is an evil that must be prohibited.

    This is 100% a thinly-veiled strawman critique of anti-firearm advocates, whats more you learn later that the big bad has actually been pushing for it out of his personal pyrophobia and his brother was secretly an agent for him so this brother is just a big hypocrite and tool of Evil.
    Huh. I forgot about the whole "No Fire" bit. Well, there's a reason I don't reread those books. And it's not just because of the "It's the Wizard's <nth> rule, because it's the most important" that pops up regularly.
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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    I would contend the first book of Sword of Truth is no less blatant, just the agenda behind it wasn't so clearly established that you just assumed you're reading a conventional fantasy novel. Sort of like thinking you're eating a beef hamburger only to learn later it's really plant protein and come to think of it it never really taste like beef and you just assumed it was because is matched the basic expectations of a hamburger. Then you learn later the restaurant you were in was actually vegan.

    For instance, the very first chapter is the protagonist's half-brother - or was he his step-brother? I guess it doesn't matter - convincing the locals in heroes' journey starter zone townspeople to stop using fire. Like, at all, just stop using it. Employing teary-eyed maudlin arguments about how people have been killed by fire in the past and thus it is an evil that must be prohibited.

    This is 100% a thinly-veiled strawman critique of anti-firearm advocates, whats more you learn later that the big bad has actually been pushing for it out of his personal pyrophobia and his brother was secretly an agent for him so this brother is just a big hypocrite and tool of Evil.
    I have seen you highly critical of this series (which I have not read, perhaps partly because of your criticism of it) before. Can I ask which of the following (or to what degree each of the following) drives your disdain:
    - that it is protagonist centered morality;
    - that you disagree with the morality bring promoted;
    - that you think that the morality is being promoted in a ham-fisted manner which is to the detriment of the story; or
    - something else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquor Box View Post
    I have seen you highly critical of this series (which I have not read, perhaps partly because of your criticism of it) before. Can I ask which of the following (or to what degree each of the following) drives your disdain:
    - that it is protagonist centered morality;
    - that you disagree with the morality bring promoted;
    - that you think that the morality is being promoted in a ham-fisted manner which is to the detriment of the story; or
    - something else?
    Some of it is certainly that I disagree with his positions. Even if I was more receptive to his ideology, that it's couched in the idea that if you're in the right nothing you do is truly immoral and you should never feel any sense of guilt or doubt because of that... is a horribly corrosive idea to me.

    It also means the villains need to be so unrealistically egregious in their actions as to justify the righteousness of the "hero" that you get mindless - and often sexual - sadism that's just unpleasant to read. That's my second biggest hangup, it's the kind of portrayal you'd see in early 20th century propaganda just masked with the fantastical somewhat. The forces of Mordor are more sympathetic, and a great deal less dumb.

    Aside from the villains, no one in the world acts realistically. They're often either infantilized into needing the protagonist to enlighten them or else he dismisses them as a waste of space and their lives lose all value. This world exists for him to preach to it, and anyone who doesn't listen? Screw'em.

    The third major thing is that as the series progresses the author starts dropping the narrative entirely to rant for pages on end. It loses any semblance of a fantasy novel and is just the author expressing his philosophy directly to the reader. You can find some fun in the camp and purple prose-heavy silliness of a lot of his writing - and people have - but by then it's not even fiction anymore, you're just reading his essay through the mouth of an arrogant blowhard. Anyone not into that and who were reading these as fantasy books can... I don't know, skip dozens of pages until the next thing actually happens?

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    It occurs to me that The Princess Bride is an example of this. The protagonists are two mercenaries and a pirate with a notoriously bloody reputation. And even though it is explained that this reputation is partly the result of a long con it's unlikely that the entirety of it is.

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    Default Re: Protagonist centered Morality/Reasonability

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    It occurs to me that The Princess Bride is an example of this. The protagonists are two mercenaries and a pirate with a notoriously bloody reputation. And even though it is explained that this reputation is partly the result of a long con it's unlikely that the entirety of it is.
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