Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Art of Femismancy, Part 5: The Sacred Stair and Tikawara

I'm taking time during my second playthrough of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire to tally up the supporting cast, (m)ale and (f)emale, and see how many are portrayed in a positive or negative light. How does Obsidian Entertainment vilify men?

The Sacred Stair

Okauro (f) - bounty contractor, refers to bounties as "coin bonds" - okay, sure, whatever

Ydwin (f) - recruitable pale elf at the Spire. Self-possessed, educated, daring and just ever so slightly edgy. I'm tempted to bemoan the fact that she wasn't turned into a fully scripted companion, but given this writing team's dedication to feminist propaganda it's probably for the best. Ydwin's backstory "having witnessed the very worst in kith" would probably be a neverending parade of wife-beaters, rapists, pederasts, marauding warlords and other evil, evil, stupid, evil MEN.

Caedman Azo (m) - called back from PoE1 as failed counterpoint to Elette's capability. When men do science, you see, it's done wrong.
Flaune Elette (f) - lead animancer at the Spire of the Soul Seers. "You don't mind if I talk and work, do you?" Dedicated professional, and her work gets results too. Oh, look, yet another woman trapped between incompetent or evil males.
Rymrgand (m) - the Beast of Winter. I'm skipping god chorus interludes (mostly so I can skip that god-awful narration) but here he appears during an actual quest. No longer as a fearsome but stately and even-tempered embodiment of inevitability, of ultimate realism and nihilism as in PoE1, but as a boogeyman simply destroying everything he comes across. The boss monster in his zone is called the Soul Collector. Not collecting souls was pretty much Rymrgand's original defining difference from other gods like Berath.
Oh and look, somehow a male deity has replaced Woedica (f) as the daimonic enemy of animancy, holding back scientific progress. What an amazing coincidence.

Muhai (f) - disciple of Magran (f) who died a sympathetic lonely death in her mansion after she was ostracized by the queen (f) for giving bad directions
High Priest Hati (m) - stick-up-the-ass stickler, puts a male face on the refusal to give Muhai a Magranite cremation ceremony. Interestingly, if you do burn Muhai's corpse the process goes through without a hitch, suggesting Magran accepted her and this is yet another example of a meanie dummy man both conveniently obfuscating the conflict between two women and standing as an obstacle between another pair of women.

High Priest Kasu (m) - slowly poisoning himself to death to make room for his replacement. Helpful towards you and very dedicated to his slavish flim-flam before the altar of Berath, a hermaphrodite deity now represented only as female. I'd give pretty good odds on Kasu's replacement also being female.

Yseyr the Berathian (m) - deadly death guard inside the death-locked death-crypt guarding a death sword for the goddess of death from another death guard with a death ship, gives you a death chant for the high priest of death so he can die with extra death.
Death I say, death! I wish I could characterize him further, but given two different quests hinge on him, Yseyr's just a disappointingly half-assed mook. Apparently the writing team thought making fun of his old-timey accent (only the Huana Savages get Noble pasts) would mask all the other cheese.

High Priestess Saewyn (f) - Gaunite leader. Doesn't seem to serve any purpose except to put even more of a kindly down-home barbecue face on Xoti's seemingly all-female religion.

Nordagand (f) - Gaunite, Eder's contact in search of his long-lost sweetkidneys... or something


Vektor (m) - filthy, jittery dwarf left behind by the Vailian expedition because he had indigestion (maybe he'd like some of that purgative you gave to Pietro (m) in Dunnage?) Aside from the pants-shitting, ale is also involved. Openly despised by Himuihi.
Himuihi (f) - female warrior who hates sweaty outsiders, hates the stink of lagufaeth (fish humanoids) so she "pushed the cage with the young ones farther down the beach" so that a man can be the one most closely associated with the fish-babies' captivity (she just does the heroic capturing) and sends you to kill their broodmother, to drive them all away. Aggressive but only in defense of her tribe, you see.
Pekeho (m) - keeping a group of young lagufaeth captive to train them as slaves. Gave false testimony against Tamau (m) see below.
Lagufaeth Broodmother (f) - a reasonable sort, speaks, very willing to stop raiding the village (and reward you) if you'll only save her babies from the cage. Greeted cheerfully by Tekehu with "Hail, daughter of Ngati" - after he helps you slaughter several dozen sons of Ngati on the way up... Interestingly, the groups of lagufaeth you encounter on your way to her (enemies by default) no longer seem to contain broodmothers like they did in The White March. Sidewinders, redfins, mages, sure... but there's only one Mother, and she's the smart/good one. This, despite fish people logically being the most likely to develop a society of female fighters and male brood-keepers. Compare to the other androgynous monster species from PoE1 whose sex suddenly becomes an issue in PoE2: the evil vithrack Spindle Man and the good xaurip Mother Sharp-Rock.

Teana (f) - mute warrior turned drummer with whom you can start an impromptu jam session. Implied to have been somehow wronged by your ladies' man companion, Tekehu, but she's very forgiving.

Tamau (m) - fruit thief! Or not. Despite being innocent, a great deal of effort goes into proving him an absolute asshole.
Mukumu (m) - cruel torturer making comments disparaging the lower caste.
Rongi (m) - fruit thief! Fo' reals this time! But he's only doing it to save the seeds to grow more fruit to save his tribe. That stupid Ruanu (m) is too caught up in tradition to understand. Still, more than willing to have his scapegoat Tamau framed, tortured and executed for his own crime.
Wehata (f) - has one line only, an offhand musing which leads you to Rongi's food stash. Not that she purposely betrays Rongi or is in any capacity complicit in his crime, mind you. Wouldn't you know it: the one and only woman in this quest is the one whose honesty, innocence and perceptiveness shine the light of truth and goodness on the deeds of all those wicked, stupid MEN around her. And she doesn't even have to try.

Bonus feminist points: as soon as your first dialogue with Tamau / Mukumu starts, before you even know what's going on, your companion Xoti (f) blurts out "Watcher! We can't just let this injustice stand!" (injustice? she knows that... how?) - and she's praised by the proud Mataru warrior Mukumu for passing a first-glance judgment on himself : "I say! This outsider speaks her mind like a Mataru." Yes, that's exactly what happens when you walk up to a high-caste tribal warrior you've never met and yell out calling him unjust before he's even had a chance to speak. He sings your praises.

Ruanu (m) - local chief collaborating with the Vailian Trading Company for profit, over-extending his tribe's meager resources to build a trading post. His dialogue and descriptions repeatedly imply this is a bad, bad idea, and everyone else condemns him for it. Note that he's blamed both for being too recklessly progressive and for being too recalcitrantly conservative vis-a-vis eating seeds instead of planting them. No matter which way you spin the Obsidian magic 8-ball, the answer comes up "men are evil." All this despite the seed-eating being a religious practice, thus logically the purview of Nairi. Nope, nope, nope, it's a MAN's fault!
Nairi (f) - new priestess, after her father the old priest conveniently died to make room for her. In a choked, heartfelt voice: "Outlanders conquer us with ink-and-paper pacts as well as blades, but they conquer us all the same." And sure, sure, she magically induced the Vailians to brutally murder each other, but she has an excuse: "Foreign ships raided our old villages and carried away our people."
Anaharu (m) - Nairi's daddums, former priest, challenged Ruanu (m) on his collaboration with outsiders. Angry and bombastic so as to rapidly lose the audience's sympathy. Also presiding over a heap of rotting soul-flesh, for, y'know, extra eeee-veeel. Slightly dead now, he's holding a bunch of souls hostage to power storms to keep the greedy ersatz Europeans' ships away. The storms are also driving away fish and rotting plants, thereby starving his own tribe. Explicitly voices a selfish motivation just so we don't mistake a disgusting male for a hero: "I will be reborn as a ranga" (chief)
Beza (f) - Vailian miner whose party killed each other, victims of Nairi's hexed statuette. Trapped as a spirit by Anaharu. Plucky, sassy, constantly needling Anaharu. Anything bad she does is naturally only out of loyalty to the company.

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