The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 13: Tyranny (In Progress)

Welp, I'm in act III now. I actually stumbled into it last night - I'd forgotten that it was possible to *not* hit all the areas in act II depending on your choices - but I backtracked in order to tackle Bastard's wound first. I'm sure I could've done it in act III, but since it's more urgent, and I had a save just befor the trigger, I decided to do it when a detour felt more natural.

(Hey, I'm on vacation all week. Am I supposed to do anything besides play videogames and drink mulled wine all day?)

Spoiler:

I handed Lethian's Crossing to the Bronze Brotherhood, just because I like Welby. She actively tried to do the right thing under a sh*t boss, she deserved her shot.

Then I headed to the Stone Sea and became a member of the Beastman tribe - and left Cairn to eternal suffering. Sorry Cairn, but it's what my packmates want, and there was an achievement for it.

Then it was time to cozy up to the unbroken, Break the Edict of Storms while lawyering my way out of infanticide.

As for Bastard's Wound, I gave the job to Reef-Talon like I did last time I played. The other aspiring leaders are such colossal f*ckups I think I'd rather enforce Kyros' laws and kill everyone than hand the reins to them.

As I recall, the last act is pretty short, so I'll probably polish off the rest sometime later tonight.

Nice work, everyone! And I think I've got everyone playing listed in the first post, welcome and let me know if that's not the case.

I played another 45 minutes or so yesterday, got to the first real quest after visiting the camps. Combat went okay. I wiped once when things tilted against us early on, but other than that we did pretty well in the fighting.

I can't say I'm a fan of the combat yet, which reminds me a lot of Pillars of Eternity. I still feel pretty lost with regards to skill selection, combat tactics, and weapon/armor selection. I mean, I get the basics, like Basik is our tank and can use skills designed to draw attention to him. Verse and my main character are DPS fighters, and the old guy is a healer type. But evaluating skills to choose at level up feels pretty random other than general type, evaluating armor and weapons hasn't sorted itself out yet, and my combat tactics are pretty basic. But I'm hopeful things will start to be clearer as the game progresses, and it doesn't look like I can gimp my characters too badly with poor choices.

Moreso than the combat, I'm having fun trying to play a character with any sense of morals. It definitely is creating tension with both of the main Kyros' factions. I really like that choices in the game seem to matter a lot, and people are remembering events that happened in either the Conquest or early stages of the game.

So I'm about four hours in, clearing the first rebel village out now. I went for a mage again.... being a tank means you can be more flexible about your companions (you don't have to take Barik everywhere), but I like Barik fine, and playing with the magic system is fun.

I didn't think to take a screenshot during character creation, so here's an ingame shot, cropped down a little to save some space:

IMAGE(https://www.malor.com/gamerswithjobs/tyranny_char.png)

I don't always name characters after myself, or even play a male, but felt like doing it this time.

I should have taken notes during character creation. I tried to do different stuff this time, but I don't remember exactly what I did before, so I suspect the world will end up pretty similar to my last playthrough. I made sure I preserved the Burning Library, because that's a fun zone, with a neat toy at the end. But other than that, I have no idea what the world will look like, yet.

I agree with the comments upthread that the Disfavored and Chorus strongly resemble D&D alignment. The Chorus is obviously chaotic evil, you couldn't possibly find a better exemplar, but I think of the Disfavored as being more lawful neutral than outright lawful evil. They don't scheme enough, and they're not trying to use the law as a weapon to achieve other ends. Rather, they focus strongly on honor and the law itself, which makes me think of them as neutral, with evil tendencies because of who they work for.

I've been mostly being polite and/or merciful, but I've been having a lot of fun with glaring silently whenever that's an option. I'm hoping to ally with the rebels this time around, I've done the Chorus and the Disfavored already, but I'm not sure if I'm successfully navigating my way to that goal. If I fail, I'm not sure if I'll start over again or not... maybe I'll just play it through.

Aaand I'm done.

I didn't have a shot from the character creation, so one here's from the very end of the game, of my guild apprentice with a carefully hidden bitter streak, just waiting for the opportunity to f*ck things up:
IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/f7hkkEM.png)

As for what happened in act III:

Spoiler:

After repelling the Scarlet Chorus' attack and dutifully defending my new subjects in Lethian's Crossing, I went to Tunon's court, where I proved The Voices of Nerat's undermining of the whole campaign beyond the shadow of a doubt - I could've done the same for Graven Ashe, and from what I recall his boss fight is harder, but seeing Nerat helpless and cursing in front of his execution is just funnier, because he's such a monster, that is so sure of himself.

I then proceeded to logic bomb Tunon into acknowledging that yes all my actions were well within the bounds of the law and my authority as an agent of the court even though I was subverting Kyros all the way through and oh dear I guess the way to resolve this is to serve me instead.

Bleden Mark did not take this in stride, and wanted to throw down then and there even though we had already scheduled a murder-date. I know he's way into you doing an anarchist run, but is it possible to get enough into his good graces when siding with the Tiers?

Anyway, that left Graven Ashe as the only Archon in my way. So made sure Barik was in my party and went to that particular showdown - look, the poor boy is basically Stockholm Syndrome'd and seeing Ashe slaughtered before his eyes will be *good* for him, and this has nothing to do with getting that max companion fear achievement, I swear.

One of the harder fights in the game later, I paused to strip Barik out of his shell and forced him to bathe, and then threw an edict of storms in Kyros' face. Fin. Roll Creedits.

So yeah, Tyranny. I like it a lot. The end of a bronze-age era is neat setting, and it gives the mechanics of Kyros' conquest a technological as well as a magical reason it succeeded - cold hard iron and tecnological supremacy, and gives a solid foundation for bickering between factions.

Tyranny also feels like something that's been reduced to minimum viable product in some ways, but that gives it a focus you don't see in most rpgs. The reactivity and divergent outcomes feels like the closest we've seen to another Alpha Protocol.

On the side of things I don't like - the old walls and the bane. I just don't find anything interesting there. I guess there's some ok puzzling to be had there if you're feeling generous, and the Havocs make for decent boss fights if you squint. It's a shame the most intricate maps are also the least engaging narrative content though.

A thing that more games should steal: Missives. It's not unique to Tyranny, it's basically the same thing they did with emails in Alpha Protocol, but passive-aggressively sniping someone over text messages is such a satisfying and low cost way to develop the world and relationships.

^Wow, super fast work! Congrats ALG. You wasted no time at all there. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do you have an idea for how long it took you?

Just wrapped up the first act, I think.

Spoiler:

I sided with the rebels and claimed the spire for myself and the court of Tunon. The Chorus are awful. The Disfavored are annoying. Telling them both to sod off seemed like the fairest compromise to me. Plus, the Vendrien Guard have consistently acted honorably in my interactions with them. Barik is pretty pissed but hasn't outright left me yet. Verse found it very entertaining when I kicked the Fifth Eye off the top of the spire. I kind of like that she doesn't really have an issue with betraying the Chorus so long as you do it with style.

This is one, like Banner Saga, where the first time I tried to play it, I immediately bounced off and didn't go back. But going back to it now has been grand. I can see where it could be increasingly enjoyable on multiple playthroughs. The prologue and opening act ask you to make a lot of decisions before you really know who the players are and what they're like. Makes it hard to parse critical decisions, not knowing what kind of character you can really be in this world or where you can go. But now that I'm feeling a bit more grounded, my enjoyment level is going up with each session.

So many rpg's start you out as a nobody farm hand who everyone ignores. I love the fact that in this game I can lift traders by their collar and threaten them in a "do you know who I am" way. Reminds me of Greedfall in that way.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

^Wow, super fast work! Congrats ALG. You wasted no time at all there. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do you have an idea for how long it took you?

Hmm. With the caveat that there was a *lot* of of mulled wine on Monday when I made my way through act 2, I'd say more than 20 hours, and less than 30? I have played Tyranny before though, so I have an advantage on newcomers.

I'm plugging away in Act 2 now, and I found out what I'm doing: gathering macguffins! Artifacts really, but that's what it feels like. The actual story reason for it is still pretty interesting, though. Spoilers since it's in reference to what I did in act 1.

Spoiler:

Since I went lone wolf and took the first tower for myself, I hacked off the Unfavored and the Chorus, but they're now devolving into a civil war and aren't focused on me. This gives me the opportunity to go gather these artifacts to gather power so that they can't just squish me at a glance. But as with the first artifact, when we resolved the issue at the burning library, I also absorbed the edict of fire into myself when it was ended. If we keep gathering power through artifacts, plus the edicts, I can't help but see that opposing Kyros is an option in the end. And since the Court Assassin is feeding me all the details, I can't wait to see what his ultimate angle is in all this.

Now, why my character can absorb the edicts, plus what connection we have with the towers (I've now activated a second one) remains to be seen, so hopefully there will be a good justification for it down the line.

One thing I'm finding is I'm actually sort of enjoying the combat in this one, and I can't really explain why. I tried playing Pillars of Eternity with the club back in the day but bounced off after like 6 hours. This is in the same engine as PoE, but for some reason it's clicking with me in a way PoE didn't. I also like the magic creation system, although it took awhile for me to get it. My mages never quite have enough Lore for me to do the spells I want to, though.

I knocked off one side quest from the Scarlet Chorus camp, and did the Echocall Crossing encounter. I have two or three party members at level 4 now, and I think I'm kind of getting a handle on combat, even if it's an odd mix of "slow-yet-intense." Specializing my characters is already kind of addicting, even if I have a feeling I may have screwed up my Fatebinder's initial stat allocation based on how I'm going with her abilities. Still, I'm enjoying the magic system, and I'm really enjoying the world-building and writing. The text has a novelistic quality to it, adding details that the game engine can't clearly display, and it feels like a best-of-both-worlds solution combining computer graphics and text descriptions. Also, reading the Malazan novels concurrently, the game keeps reminding me of that series with its dark tone mixed with black humor.

So I fought my way into Lethian's Crossing and found the obligatory brothel. Now stuck under the tower trying to figure out how to solve a floor puzzle. By the way if you get the chance try sampling a certain sages collection of inks...

I think I'm going to have to start over with my character. I played a little last night and my combat skills just suck. Ran into a group of Vendrian guards talking with some mercenaries, talked the mercenaries out of combat, then repeatedly got owned by the guards. It was my party of 4 vs. theirs of 5, and I just couldn't get enough damage output to stop them from picking off my guys.

I think I need to commit to damage-dealing mage, or melee fighter, but I'm not good enough at any one thing right now to be effective.

One thing I really starting to notice in my run is that a huge chunk of Act 2 is a complete murder fest, since very few people want to deal with me. I imagine it has a lot to do with what route I’m on

Spoiler:

Lone wolf, so obviously the Chorus and the Unfavored don’t like me

, but there’s a lot of people who lived in the Tiers (the Bronze mercenaries, the Unbroken, and several other factions) who I never seemed to have an option to negotiate with them or be at peace; all options led to fights, then all their buddies got word that I'm not nice and won't talk to me, and so now I’m just having to cut a bloody swath across the entire landscape. I’ve got a feeling that another route would let me interact with a lot of these people with something besides my fists, but that’s not the case in my run. That may be enough to coax a second run out of me somewhere down the line.

That's fascinating, and makes me really interested to see how Act 1 pans out for me. Of those groups, I've only met the Bronze mercenaries, in the game I just abandoned to create a new character:

Spoiler:

On my way out of the Scarlet Chorus camp, I ran into a group of Vendrian Guards. I used stealth to avoid them, and watch them, and it turned out they were meeting with the Bronze mercenaries. They lied about my Edict in an effort to bring the mercs to their side; remembered that I had honorable dealings with the mercs as the governor of Lethian's Crossing, so I chose to step out of the woods and tell the mercs the truth. The mercs respected me and left, and I ended up fighting only the Vendrian guard -- and lost, over and over, which was what prompted me to decide I needed a new build. I wonder what impact this would have had on the story.

The Bronz mercenaries dared to block my way so I killed them.

Fair. How else are you going to crush all who oppose you?

Well, that's one way to go. My encounters tend to go like this, much to the chagrin of Verse and Barik.

IMAGE(https://64.media.tumblr.com/322b65ddb4a0e100273e4e452eab74aa/tumblr_nhvg86rT3l1u0k6deo6_250.gifv)

To tag onto my previous comment, the part where no one likes me has also resulted in quite a few 3 way battles, where I rolled up on two other factions fighting over something, and then no one even humors the notion I might side with them against their enemy to further my own goals or possibly consider my demands. Everyone just declares a free for all, and away we go. And considering there are a lot of named characters on both sides of many of these battles, I'm getting a feel for how different other routes could be.

A bit late to the party here, but I just saw this thread and I'm in. One of my goals for this year is to finish a game from at least one of these GWJ game clubs. Another is to give some backlog games a chance before buying something new, so this game fits in nicely. It also helps that this game is relatively short, given my limited gaming time these days.

The only thing I remember from my brief attempt at this game a year or two ago was that I hated my character. It'd help if I could remember why so that I could make different decisions this time, but I don't. Hopefully going through the character creation and intro stuff reminds me.

LastSurprise wrote:

Fair. How else are you going to crush all who oppose you?

Actually I just getting the job done. Working for Tunon to bring peace to the steps and supporting the Disfavoured when they behave.

Just started properly and starting to explore and find out what’s going on. And there’s a countdown timer? Is that for the whole game or just the beginning?

The timer is just for the first act (or at the very least, it’s not in the second act). And time only advances when you travel from location to location or rest. You’d have to do a lot of time wasting to run out. I think I only passed 2 or 3 days in that act.

Ok, not worried about time limit, thanks.

Back to trying to get my head around the various characters and factions.

Started late night and am trying to decide between a Chorus mage and a two handed Disfavored warrior. I think I’ll like the straight melee combat more but the mage seems more fun from a role playing perspective.

You could always play a warrior who supports the Chorus.

Finished Act I last night. I've been more-or-less intentionally siding with the Chorus the whole time, under the theory that trying to play both sides won't really work out or lead to interesting story-beats.

Combat has been fine thus far, with the last fights of the Act feeling appropriately tense.

Going forward

Spoiler:

I don't particularly care about the civil war between Chorus/Disfavored, but I am intrigued by the whole Spires thing.

Ok, so I've decided on my first character - meet Jorndal. Former champion pit fighter turned Disfavored commander.
IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/GQsmg15/jorndal-1.jpg)

Here are my choices from Conquest:

First Year

Spoiler:

Jorndal led the initial assault against the Bastard City, scattering their mercenary army and leading the charge against the city gates. He suffered grievous wounds but through the archon's magic and his own will to survive, he persevered. However, he refused to take slaves as he was once a slave himself. Survivors would be given a chance to prove themselves as he had done in the arena. This angered some of his Disfavored comrades who wanted the slaves for themselves.
IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/yfqGFtZ/jorndal-year-1.jpg)

Second Year

Spoiler:

Jorndal was sent to capture the city of Apex where he immediately created a row between the two armies. The Scarlet Chorus had been scavenging weapons and armor from fallen Disfavored warriors. Given that only true warriors may wear the purple, Jorndal had the perpetrators flogged for their insolence.

IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/0DPH7rw/jorndal-year-2.jpg)

This created such rancor between the two camps that Jorndal realized he had to put a quick end to the siege. Jorndal saw his opportunity while meeting with the enemy queen under a banner of truce. Having been a former pit fighter, Jorndal was both good at baiting his enemy. His insults caused the queen fly into a rage, giving him a pretense to kill her and take the citadel with no further loss of life.

Third Year

Spoiler:

The last bastion - Stalwart - would prove the toughest to take. The enemy burned crops and left both armies starving. When Chorus soldiers began taking food from the Disfavored, Jorndal had them all impaled. But he was willing to show mercy to enemy villages who surrendered, refusing once again to take any slaves.

Jorndal was then given the Edict of Storms to end the siege. The last rebels would be shown no mercy as Jorndal read the edict during an assault. It was a calculated risk that resulted in the destruction of the enemy but also the deaths of some Disfavored warriors who couldn't escape in time. Sacrificing his own warriors greatly troubled Jorndal, but the battle was won. The ruined fortress would now be known as Blade Grave due to all the weapons that were scattered by the cyclone.

IMAGE(https://i.ibb.co/vq25Z4Y/jorndal-year-3.jpg)

I just finished the first act and am significantly invested in the game now.

I find the Scarlet Chorus and Voices of Nerat pretty cool as a concept, but my character can't really tolerate their ethos, so I've been mainly supporting the Disfavored or chiding them both. It looks like I made one ambiguous decision just before taking the citadel that maybe locked me into siding with them permanently. I suspect I'm locked out of assisting the rebellion now. I thought that decision might come later.

So... a restart is in order I guess? Or maybe I'll just stick with Disfavored.

I'm still stuck below the tower trying to solve the floor puzzle.

I'm back in. And I immediately found my second character much more effective than my first. Meet Evram, a fists-and-magic fighter:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/Lyogd7T.png?1)

In terms of build, I again chose to be a lawbreaker, and I chose unarmed combat twice. As you can see, I prioritized finesse (6 points), with a little investment in wits (2 points); the point in vitality is from the torc you can find at the beginning. I can never bring myself to subtract points to min-max. The extra finesse (both the raw boost to accuracy, and the stat's connection to unarmed combat), plus the extra investment in a fighting style, boosted my accuracy by about 20% right out the gate. I think it also will help that unarmed fighting uses dodge to defend, so I won't be splitting my skill gains between dodge and parry.

I distributed all my bonus skill points between athletics, subterfuge, and lore. I engaged in a little bit of metagaming here:

Spoiler:

Raised subterfuge to 39 because I knew that's how much it cost to unlock the chest in the Edgering Ruins. The chest contained a sigil expression, and also a set of gauntlets that lead to more powerful strikes than my starting equipment. Nice.

I'm trying to roleplay the character a bit, so here's what I see as his personality:

Spoiler:

[list]
[*]Generally supports Kyros, out of a sense that the world is brutal and chaotic, and the order and freedom Kyros provides -- including gender equality and good treatment of mages -- is worth the price of conquest;
[*]Is grateful to Tunon for the opportunity to start his life anew, and tries to faithfully execute the Overlord's laws;
[*]Prizes competence, and so generally respects the Disfavored, though he does not like -- and is willing to call out -- their prejudice and their disrespect toward the Scarlet Chorus (who are, after all, partners);
[*]Respects that the Scarlet Chorus gives people an opportunity to rise based on "merit," but also recognizes that the constant "survival of the fittest" attitude makes for poor training, and produces serious challenges for rule after the territory is subdued.