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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose [SPOILERS: SoD]

    Back then when Thor gave Durkon the assignment of reaching out to Redcloak, it looked like it would play a significant role in the story, as it provided a permanent solution to the Snarl problem and gave Redcloak a reason to perform a heel-face turn and redeem himself.

    However, at the time I felt there was something wrong about Thor's involvement. Having the Gods solving the problems with a literal Deus ex Machina violates one of the narrative rules that Rich has stated to follow: That solving the problems at hand is the narrative purpose of the Heroes, not of outside forces.

    Since the story couldn't be wrapped up by Thor's assignment, I was wondering where Mr. Burlew was going with all this. And, by now, I see that Thor's Alternative has already fulfilled a number of narrative purposes in this story:

    1) It has re-established Redcloak as a villian. All the "goblin cause" narrative had turned Redcloak into a somewhat sympathetic character for the audience. Yet he is still a despicable villiain. Having him reject violently a perfectly reasonable peace offer that not only promotes the "goblin cause" but also saves goblinoid lives and their very souls from the Snarl threat, destroys all of Redcloak's possible justifications for his actions.

    2) It has created conflict between Durkon and Roy. Durkon presented his plan to speak with Redcloak to Roy, and Roy rejected it in a blunt, insulting manner. Durkon carried away his plan anyway behind Roy's back, derrailing Roy's strategy as now the element of surprise is ruined. That's not going to be easy to swallow for Roy.

    Note that of all the members of the Order, Durkon was the one Roy never had any trust problems with. It's not by chance that Elan recalled, at the start of this arc, how Roy used to do all-night stands because he didn't trust the other members of the Order. As the story advanced, Roy learnt to trust the greedy thief, the looney bard, and even the little halfling psychopat. He also had to come to terms with the fact that his party wizard is the current holder of the title of History's Worst Genocidal Murderer (though history isn't over yet). But now, the reliable guy he always trusted just began to do things behind his back.

    But back to Thor's Plan, is it going to play any further role? I don't think it's going to become a big thing again, up until the ending, when Redcloak will have another chance to fail and sink himself deeper when he chooses destruction of the world over collaboration. Note that in the last negotiation, Durkon never pointed out that The Dark One would likely dissapear during the interim period until the next world. That means neither Redcloak not The Dark One have any reason to change their backup plan: Get the world destroyed so that The Dark One can improve the Goblin's lot in the creation of the next one.

    And a final note for consideration: For this story's conclussion, the Order doesn't necessary need to get Redcloak's collaboration. Yes, they can't seal the rifts without him, but so what? The option of sealing the Rifts was not on the table when this began. The Heroes can rebuild the Gates or find any other temporary solution to the Snarl thing, then leave for the Epilogue a comment on how PC races are changing their views on the goblinoids, as they need to earn their trust in order to seal the Rifts and bring stability to the world. (This is just an example of how this story could have a satisfactory ending without need of collaboration from Redcloak).
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2020-09-01 at 07:48 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Thor's plan might have to change anyway, once he gets what that whole "world inside the snarl" thing does to influence his path forward. I see that awakening, on the part of any number of deities, as being an element of this arc once the IFCC's objectives become clearer. They are trying to find a way to take down the good gods ...
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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    I disagree. Thor's plan is going to continue to be a factor, even if the "world in the rift" changes the playing field somewhat. We spent a lot of time on Thor explaining to Durkon what's at stake and why The Dark One is so unique and important. To throw it all away in the first act of the final book, just to prove how eeeeeeevil Redcloak is, doesn't make any sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    However, at the time I felt there was something wrong about Thor's involvement. Having the Gods solving the problems with a literal Deus ex Machina violates one of the narrative rules that Rich has stated to follow: That solving the problems at hand is the narrative purpose of the Heroes, not of outside forces.
    Deus ex Machina is when the gods fix a problem the heroes caused...not the other way around, which is what Thor is explicitly asking Durkon to do. By the definition you're using, "Deus ex Machina" would happen literally anytime a cleric or paladin cast a spell, because the mortal is using a god's power to solve a problem.

    1) It has re-established Redcloak as a villian. All the "goblin cause" narrative had turned Redcloak into a somewhat sympathetic character for the audience. Yet he is still a despicable villiain. Having him reject violently a perfectly reasonable peace offer that not only promotes the "goblin cause" but also saves goblinoid lives and their very souls from the Snarl threat, destroys all of Redcloak's possible justifications for his actions.
    There's a lot of story left here. I find it perfectly reasonable that Redcloak would reject Durkon's peace offer the first time -- in fact, I expected it. He still has time to come around to it.

    2) It has created conflict between Durkon and Roy. Durkon presented his plan to speak with Redcloak to Roy, and Roy rejected it in a blunt, insulting manner. Durkon carried away his plan anyway behind Roy's back, derrailing Roy's strategy as now the element of surprise is ruined. That's not going to be easy to swallow for Roy.
    This is a great point, and I look forward to seeing Roy's reaction. It's a very interesting wrinkle in their group dynamic, but it's not enough for it to be the narrative purpose for Thor's plan.

    then leave for the Epilogue a comment on how PC races are changing their views on the goblinoids, as they need to earn their trust in order to seal the Rifts and bring stability to the world. (This is just an example of how this story could have a satisfactory ending without need of collaboration from Redcloak).
    I don't really see how a "we'll keep asking the goblins to help" would be a satisfying ending, for several reasons:
    • Redcloak is the most prominent goblinoid in the comic. It would be strange to leave things unresolved without making him a key feature of the resolution.
    • Without the fourth quiddity, the gods are more likely to get antsy and blow up the world even if the mortals patch the rifts up with more three-color gates.
    • From a writing standpoint, this proposed ending...just doesn't sound that good. It's weird to leave the fate of the world hanging in the balance on such a short timescale. Sure, if the next threat will resurface in 100 or 1000 years, that's a good long-term ending point. But "we didn't solve/fail the problem we set out to solve" is unsatisfying. I can't think of many stories that don't end with the central conflict resolved, one way or the other.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    I also disagree with the premise that Thor's plan has already served its narrative purpose. Its narrative purpose was at least partly to raise the stakes for the next chapter and also to give more information about the final conflict. Before the exposition revealing the possibility that the threat of the Snarl could be ended forever by the actions of the heroes, we in the audience had no reason to suspect the heroes could actually address that threat directly. The Snarl was an immutable force of nature, like gravity. Stopping Xykon and Redcloak from exploiting the Snarl's existence was the thing at stake. If they accomplished that, the threat of the Snarl would still be out there but the story would be resolved.

    Now the thing at stake is ending the threat of the Snarl forever. That means that it's much more important how the Order stops Xykon and Redcloak, whereas how they did so before wouldn't have mattered as much. Thor's plan is a method for how the Snarl could be stopped forever, so we know that's the ultimate thing at stake here. (Unless a fifth quiddity suddenly pops up out of nowhere, Thor's proposal is the only way we know so far that would work. But then again, Thor's plan would still be narratively important as it would serve as a basis to understand whatever resolution transpires.)

    Also, we've yet to see just what the IFCC plans to do with the gates, and it seems fairly likely to me that the information revealed to us in the audience about Thor's plan will be relevant for understanding that particular agenda.
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    Yes, they can't seal the rifts without him, but so what? The option of sealing the Rifts was not on the table when this began.
    I don't disagree with this idea, but I also think a story has the option to evolve upon its premise.

    The way I see it, the original premise was not rift related at all, it was about the blood oath. In Azure City it evolved into a quest about saving the world, similar to what the Scribblers did.
    From Thor we learned that saving the world the way the Scribblers did was at most only a temporary solution anyway. Compared to a d&d campaign I'd say the Stick now has the option to evolve upon their quest, if they so choose, and like a d&d campaign, they are in no way forced to do so.
    That is to say, the quests they take, the major decisions they make, ultimately it is their call. You can bring the horse to the water, but you can't make him drink.
    My impression from what Roy said to Durkon is that we can't be entirely sure he has accepted this change of premise, or to be more precise I think he even outright stated it is not his first priority, and it will only be done if possible, a very big "if", in my opinion.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    I can totally foresee a couple situations where Redcloak bites it but the rifts get sealed anyway, without invalidating the Order's efforts.

    A. Jirix is the next most powerful goblinoid in the world (politically, anyway) and has been left in charge of a large city to secure peacetime deals with other nations. He has also personally spoken with The Dark One before. The order can contact him, arrange political favors in return for him contacting his god to initiate negotiations with the other gods, TDO supplies purple quiddity personally, Snarl is sealed away for good.

    B. The Dark One debriefs Redcloak in the afterlife. It slips that he has a strong bargaining chip in the form of his novel quiddity. TDO contacts other gods to negotiate, supplies the quiddity personally in exchange for the concessions he wanted the gate ritual for. Snarl sealed, Goblins keep gobbotopia, a happy ending for all except die hard speciesists.
    Last edited by RatElemental; 2020-08-13 at 03:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by RatElemental View Post
    I can totally foresee a couple situations where Redcloak bites it but the rifts get sealed anyway, without invalidating the Order's efforts.

    A. Jirix is the next most powerful goblinoid in the world (politically, anyway) and has been left in charge of a large city to secure peacetime deals with other nations. He has also personally spoken with The Dark One before. The order can contact him, arrange political favors in return for him contacting his god to initiate negotiations with the other gods, TDO supplies purple quiddity personally, Snarl is sealed away for good.

    B. The Dark One debriefs Redcloak in the afterlife. It slips that he has a strong bargaining chip in the form of his novel quiddity. TDO contacts other gods to negotiate, supplies the quiddity personally in exchange for the concessions he wanted the gate ritual for. Snarl sealed, Goblins keep gobbotopia, a happy ending for all except die hard speciesists.
    No exaggeration: I'd bet a thousand dollars against this.

    A. The only person who knows about Jirix is O-Chul, who has seemingly never had an actual conversation with him. O-Chul has personally interacted with Redcloak and MitD on multiple occasions: that's where the emotional & narrative energy has been invested, so that's where the dramatic resolution is going to be, not with a side character the Order never met who hasn't appeared in 400 pages.

    B. Putting aside the fact that The Dark One has been demonstrated as only wanting to bargain if he's got the biggest gun in the room, and distrusts all the other gods because of what they did to his followers...this proposed ending only requires the Order to kill Redcloak, which is boring and what they were going to do anyway. The difficulty of this final book (until the IFCC and the world in the rifts become relevant) is that The Order has to defeat Xykon while still convincing Redcloak to help. Narratively, that's much more interesting and difficult...as we're seeing right now.

    The fate of the Rifts, the Snarl, and the world hinges on Redcloak. He doesn't need to get a happy ending, or even redemption, but there's absolutely no way he's excluded from the climax & resolution of this story.

    (Edit to add a caveat: if the Rifts and the Fourth Quiddity plotlines are made outdated by further plot developments with the IFCC/world in the rifts, this would invalidate my claim. However, I personally predict that the two will go hand-in-hand: the heroes will have to resolve the IFCC stuff AND the Fourth Quiddity stuff alongside each other, and Redcloak will still be pivotal to that entire scenario.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2020-08-13 at 10:26 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by RatElemental View Post
    I can totally foresee a couple situations where Redcloak bites it but the rifts get sealed anyway, without invalidating the Order's efforts.

    A. Jirix is the next most powerful goblinoid in the world (politically, anyway) and has been left in charge of a large city to secure peacetime deals with other nations. He has also personally spoken with The Dark One before. The order can contact him, arrange political favors in return for him contacting his god to initiate negotiations with the other gods, TDO supplies purple quiddity personally, Snarl is sealed away for good.

    B. The Dark One debriefs Redcloak in the afterlife. It slips that he has a strong bargaining chip in the form of his novel quiddity. TDO contacts other gods to negotiate, supplies the quiddity personally in exchange for the concessions he wanted the gate ritual for. Snarl sealed, Goblins keep gobbotopia, a happy ending for all except die hard speciesists.
    Yep, I think the story can be wrapped up without need from Redcloak, pushing the issue of sealing the gates further after the conclussion of the main plot. After all, O-Chul has some personal experience in succesfully negotiating peace agreements with hobgoblin leaders. Or, who knows, since The Plan involves basically warping a Gate to release The Snarl anywere, maybe the Heroes could do the same and release it into a pocket dimension were it can do no harm to anyone ever again.

    What happens with the Snarl in the ending doesn't really matters much. The Snarl is, as the author stated, just the MacGuffin. What it's important is why people go after the MacGuffin, what they want to do with it, and what are they willing to do, and sacrifice, to get it, or to prevent others from getting it.

    Thor's plan is important, narratively speaking, because it has let us see, once again, that Redcloak is willing to sacrifice everything for the MacGuffin, including his beloved Gobbotopia. He can't be reasoned with. Start of Darkness involved pretty much stablishing that, but in the main comic we lacked such strong scenes, and in fact we have been shown the contrary: Him stalling the continuation of the plan to stabilize Gobbotopia, where he would still remain if not by Xykon. After that, it was pretty much a narrative necessity to shown once again that Redcloak is commited to follow the Plan until it's ultimate consequences, even if it means getting the World destroyed and Gobbotopia among it.
    Last edited by The Pilgrim; 2020-08-13 at 12:32 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    However, at the time I felt there was something wrong about Thor's involvement. Having the Gods solving the problems with a literal Deus ex Machina violates one of the narrative rules that Rich has stated to follow: That solving the problems at hand is the narrative purpose of the Heroes, not of outside forces.on: For this story's conclussion, the Order doesn't necessary need to get Redcloak's collaboration.
    I don't think think this follows. Thor's plan is a solution, but it's a solution that was specifically tailored to require the mortals to make it happen. In order for Thor's plan to work, somebody has to make some sort of peace so that one of the Dark One's followers can donate the spell slot. And since "making peace" is the major thematic problem in OOTs anyway, this means that it's already the more important and difficult problem to solve.

    The real climax of the story won't be the sealing of the rift. It'll be the moment when a follower of The Dark One decides to give up The Plan, help seal the rift, and seek peace and prosperity for goblinoids through negotiation and compromise rather than war and a divine h-bomb. At that point, it'll be okay for the gods to do the technical work of combining their powers to sew up a hole.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by RatElemental View Post
    I can totally foresee a couple situations where Redcloak bites it but the rifts get sealed anyway, without invalidating the Order's efforts.

    A. Jirix is the next most powerful goblinoid in the world (politically, anyway) and has been left in charge of a large city to secure peacetime deals with other nations. He has also personally spoken with The Dark One before. The order can contact him, arrange political favors in return for him contacting his god to initiate negotiations with the other gods, TDO supplies purple quiddity personally, Snarl is sealed away for good.

    B. The Dark One debriefs Redcloak in the afterlife. It slips that he has a strong bargaining chip in the form of his novel quiddity. TDO contacts other gods to negotiate, supplies the quiddity personally in exchange for the concessions he wanted the gate ritual for. Snarl sealed, Goblins keep gobbotopia, a happy ending for all except die hard speciesists.
    I agree that Redcloak doesn't need to (and probably shouldn't) be the one to help seal the rifts. I think it's much more appropriate, thematically, that the strip shows that Redcloak is, ultimately, a failure, and that his dying and getting out of the way is what goblins really need in order to get a better life for themselves.

    But I disagree on your ideas above- I think that said ending does require a goblinoid to step up and make a dramatic decision to be a better leader that Redcloak was, so having things handled via a phonecall to Jinx doesn't really cut it. Jinx needs to show up and be there when Redcloak dies to take the mantle off of him.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Ionathus View Post
    (Edit to add a caveat: if the Rifts and the Fourth Quiddity plotlines are made outdated by further plot developments with the IFCC/world in the rifts, this would invalidate my claim.
    Nah. Further plot developments might complicate the matter, but I don't think that they'll fundamentally change the narrative thrust at this point.

    I disagree that Redcloak needs to be the one to help seal the gates- or that he needs to change his mind at all- but I do agree that he needs to be part of the resolution, even if it's in the sense of "Redcloak has to die in order for somebody better to replace him and do what he couldn't".

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Jirix is thousands of miles away, not even in double digit levels, has the characterzation of Captain Phasma (which is to say he is unique from other hobgoblins by merit of appearance), and no one from the Order knows him enough to contact him.

    No other goblin has even close to the characterization (however negative it is) that Redcloak has. It's a lot more interesting to see a character try to convince someone against impossible odds than just waltzing in and gettinng a clean negotiation. It's almost as if there's...several hundred strips left to go.

    Redcloak doesn't have to be redeemed (I don't think he will), he just has to...not work against the Order if the time comes.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    Jirix is thousands of miles away, not even in double digit levels, has the characterzation of Captain Phasma (which is to say he is unique from other hobgoblins by merit of appearance), and no one from the Order knows him enough to contact him.

    No other goblin has even close to the characterization (however negative it is) that Redcloak has. It's a lot more interesting to see a character try to convince someone against impossible odds than just waltzing in and gettinng a clean negotiation. It's almost as if there's...several hundred strips left to go.

    Redcloak doesn't have to be redeemed (I don't think he will), he just has to...not work against the Order if the time comes.
    Jirix being a thousand miles away is a relatively minor mechanical issue, and given how many pieces are still yet to be revealed, it isn't that difficult to see him being brought there for some reason or another. As for him not having enough characterization-

    He doesn't need to. It isn't his story, it's Redcloak's. But Redcloak's story is about being committed to a doomed course of action. Jirix- or whoever else (I'm hoping on the outside chance of it being the MitD) just has to be the counterpoint. They just have to be the one that shows that a different decision *can* be made.

    I could see a scenario where Jirix shows up, battered and bruised, because Gobbotopia has fallen while Redcloak was away (Perhaps the fiends engineered it in order to push Redcloak further away from any other course of action). He could be angry and disillusioned with this gates nonsense and coming to tell Redcloak that they need him helping the survivors, not trying to blow up the world.

    As for Redcloak changing his mind- my big problem is that I just don't see a satisfying "why" there. He's already sacrificed everything. He's already admitted that he's willing to see the world literally destroyed as his plan B. What does he have left that he cares enough about to abandon the plan for now? He's had longer that his specie's natural lifespan to reflect on his choices, and he's just as committed as ever. In order for him changing his mind to work, there needs to be a good trigger, and I don't see one laying around.

    EDIT: To put it another way, perhaps- my problem with Redcloak helping to seal the rifts is that Redcloak is, ultimately, the villain. He's an interesting, complex villain with a sympathetic backstory, but he's still the villain, competing with Xykon for being the ultimate one. For him to change his mind and be the one who saves the day takes a lot out of the story's heroes' hands. Sure, there are characters like Vadar, but that only worked because Luke was his son, and Luke's decision to refuse the Emperor served both as his great moral choice and victory, and Vadar's actions followed from that. None of the order has the kind of connection with Redcloak to pull that off, and as I said above, neither does anybody else at this point.
    Last edited by BloodSquirrel; 2020-08-13 at 11:40 AM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    Jirix being a thousand miles away is a relatively minor mechanical issue, and given how many pieces are still yet to be revealed, it isn't that difficult to see him being brought there for some reason or another. As for him not having enough characterization-
    Considering the Order had to get to the North Pole via an airship, I'd say travel is a relatively major mechanical issue.

    He doesn't need to. It isn't his story, it's Redcloak's. But Redcloak's story is about being committed to a doomed course of action. Jirix- or whoever else (I'm hoping on the outside chance of it being the MitD) just has to be the counterpoint. They just have to be the one that shows that a different decision *can* be made.

    I could see a scenario where Jirix shows up, battered and bruised, because Gobbotopia has fallen while Redcloak was away (Perhaps the fiends engineered it in order to push Redcloak further away from any other course of action). He could be angry and disillusioned with this gates nonsense and coming to tell Redcloak that they need him helping the survivors, not trying to blow up the world.
    I don't think Jirix knows the specifics of the Plan; nor does he know where Kraagor's Gate is located. Also: travel. Jirix is probably level 7.

    As for Redcloak changing his mind- my big problem is that I just don't see a satisfying "why" there. He's already sacrificed everything. He's already admitted that he's willing to see the world literally destroyed as his plan B. What does he have left that he cares enough about to abandon the plan for now? He's had longer that his specie's natural lifespan to reflect on his choices, and he's just as committed as ever. In order for him changing his mind to work, there needs to be a good trigger, and I don't see one laying around.
    Maybe the information that his god might die?

    We're 20 strips in, not 200. I think I can safely say that literally anything can happen -- yes, Redcloak might (and probably will) still refuse, or he might not. But having a side character show up and do everything he couldn't do feels like a cop-out, much in the vein of Banjo becoming the fourth quiddity.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    Considering the Order had to get to the North Pole via an airship, I'd say travel is a relatively major mechanical issue.
    This is a setting where teleport exists. The fiends, for example, could offer Jirix a deal in order to teleport him to Redcloak to give him the news and talk him into coming back (knowing that it wouldn't work, just like the 'alternate' plan they offered V).


    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    I don't think Jirix knows the specifics of the Plan; nor does he know where Kraagor's Gate is located. Also: travel. Jirix is probably level 7.
    Well, that's higher level that Redcloak was when he took up the mantle. Which actually could be another way- instead of a spell slot, the use the power of the mantle itself, destroying it and freeing the goblinoids from The Dark One's plan.

    That's why I say that these are minor mechanical issues- there are ways to plot around them. The major thematic and character problems with Redcloak having a sudden change of heart aren't so easy to fix.

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    Maybe the information that his god might die?
    1) I think he'd need really, really hard proof for that to change his mind. He's too distrusting to just take a "maybe".

    2) That scenario still requires the plan to fail and the world to be destroyed. Yes, Redcloak accepts that as a second-best outcome, but it's not the one he's aiming for.

    2) That would also mean that "Oops, we could have avoided this whole climax if Durkon had just mentioned this one fact back then". Maybe if Durkon had mentioned it, and we saw it eating away at Redcloak for the rest of the book, but I don't think it's going to work as a last-minute revelation that changes his course.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    The main villains of the comic are Team Evil, not the Snarl. Even if the Snarl is dealt with by the gods, Xykon is still the main threat, and will have to be dealt with by the heroes directly.

    Not to mention that "being dealt with by the gods", in a situation where the main characters did all the actual legwork to have the situation conclude is not really a deus ex machina, not any more than any cleric spell is.

    Thor's plan is, so far, the only way we know that the Snarl situation can end in a way that is an improvement from when the story started. It's a much more stable solution than rebuilding the Gates, which just gave the world some 50 extra years the last time around, and there's no good reason to believe the Order of the Stick would be able to make Gate defences that would be self-suficient after their lifetime either. And heck, do they even KNOW how to make new Gates? Before Thor's plan, their direction was more like "we have to deal with the immediate threat first, then we'll think about what we'll do with the Rifts".

    That all being said, as Elan once said, if you reveal your plans on-screen, they'll always fail. The four quiddities will probably come at play at the endgame, but it'll definitely not be in the way that Thor laid out in his plan.
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    not trying to blow up the world.
    (Which, incidentally, he is not trying to do, and he never was, either.)

    As for Redcloak changing his mind- my big problem is that I just don't see a satisfying "why" there. He's already sacrificed everything. He's already admitted that he's willing to see the world literally destroyed as his plan B. What does he have left that he cares enough about to abandon the plan for now? He's had longer that his specie's natural lifespan to reflect on his choices, and he's just as committed as ever. In order for him changing his mind to work, there needs to be a good trigger, and I don't see one laying around.
    (Have I suggested yet on this day that he wouldn't need a why, if the problem were to be circumvented by letting him have the Gate, getting Thor to temporarily stall Armageddon Special and helping get Xykon off his back once the lich ceases to be an asset? If the idea comes from within the Order and they are the ones to destroy Xykon, most of the merit stays with them.)

    EDIT: To put it another way, perhaps- my problem with Redcloak helping to seal the rifts is that Redcloak is, ultimately, the villain. He's an interesting, complex villain with a sympathetic backstory, but he's still the villain, competing with Xykon for being the ultimate one. For him to change his mind and be the one who saves the day takes a lot out of the story's heroes' hands. Sure, there are characters like Vadar, but that only worked because Luke was his son, and Luke's decision to refuse the Emperor served both as his great moral choice and victory, and Vadar's actions followed from that. None of the order has the kind of connection with Redcloak to pull that off, and as I said above, neither does anybody else at this point.
    (Judging by
    Spoiler: SoD
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    how old and experienced Redcloak was when Team Evil assaulted Lirian's Gate
    , Jirix could probably do the Gate Ritual. The actual Rift-sealing, however, neccessitates 9th level slots. Redcloak is the only goblinoid cleric with those (as far as we know), and the world is really on its last leg (meaning that there isn't an indefinite amount of time left for another goblinoid cleric to rise to his level).)
    Last edited by Metastachydium; 2020-08-13 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Post contained the word ”anhelping”, whatever that means.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    [QUOTE=BloodSquirrel;24661608]This is a setting where teleport exists. The fiends, for example, could offer Jirix a deal in order to teleport him to Redcloak to give him the news and talk him into coming back (knowing that it wouldn't work, just like the 'alternate' plan they offered V).

    ...and that is more likely than, say, Redcloak having a change of character in the next 200 strips?

    (Also, in #1183 the IFCC is clear that they wanted Hel to succeed -- AKA seeing the world destroyed. If they really wanted things to go their way, they'd prevent the Order from stopping Team Evil, making the gods destroy the world. Much less of a hassle than...offering a deal to Jirix to make Redcloak come back? What sort of deal? Why would the fiends care about Gobbotopia when everything's centered at Kraagor's Gate right now?)

    Well, that's higher level that Redcloak was when he took up the mantle. Which actually could be another way- instead of a spell slot, the use the power of the mantle itself, destroying it and freeing the goblinoids from The Dark One's plan.
    Sure, the mantle might be destroyed.

    That's why I say that these are minor mechanical issues- there are ways to plot around them. The major thematic and character problems with Redcloak having a sudden change of heart aren't so easy to fix.
    I said nothing about a sudden change of heart. It doesn't even need to be a change in morality or outlook at all.

    Yes, Redcloak is the poster child for sunk-cost fallacy. However, he is not undead, or an outsider; he is still a person capable of, if not changing, at least considering options.

    1) I think he'd need really, really hard proof for that to change his mind. He's too distrusting to just take a "maybe".

    2) That scenario still requires the plan to fail and the world to be destroyed. Yes, Redcloak accepts that as a second-best outcome, but it's not the one he's aiming for.

    2) That would also mean that "Oops, we could have avoided this whole climax if Durkon had just mentioned this one fact back then". Maybe if Durkon had mentioned it, and we saw it eating away at Redcloak for the rest of the book, but I don't think it's going to work as a last-minute revelation that changes his course.
    1) Might be a thing that could drive the plot.

    2) No, since Durkon has just said the gods are willing to destroy the world right before the Plan even succeeds.

    3) "and we saw it eating away...for the rest of the book." Well, we haven't seen it yet, because we're not there. Also, Durkon didn't mention it. Nor did he say anything about the riftworld, the billions of other planets, etc.

    tldr; you're right in that it is exponentially much harder to convince Redcloak of anything than just zip Jirix over and have him pop out a few spells. But having everything conveniently wrapped up with a bow on a side character makes for a frankly less interesting story.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    But having a side character show up and do everything he couldn't do feels like a cop-out, much in the vein of Banjo becoming the fourth quiddity.
    Banjo becoming the fourth quiddity would be awesome, though.

    Banjo saves the day > Jirix saves the day > Redcloak saves the day. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Fincher View Post
    Banjo becoming the fourth quiddity would be awesome, though.

    Banjo saves the day > Jirix saves the day > Redcloak saves the day. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
    Thankfully it's the Giant's story. That was uncalled for. Sorry.

    With all due respect, Banjo is also a puppet, and Jirix's narrative purpose was to receive Redcloak's exposition.
    Last edited by understatement; 2020-08-13 at 12:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    I'm still convinced the salvation of the goblin race is the world currently occupied by the Snarl: help sealing the Snarl, you may keep that world and create your own civilization without interference from humans, elves or otherwise.

    Sadly, none of the main characters are aware of that possibility yet. I wonder if the Dark One or Thor could figure it out.
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by faustin View Post
    I'm still convinced the salvation of the goblin race is the world currently occupied by the Snarl: help sealing the Snarl, you may keep that world and create your own civilization without interference from humans, elves or otherwise.

    Sadly, none of the main characters are aware of that possibility yet. I wonder if the Dark One or Thor could figure it out.
    For the millionth time: it would mean ”help sealing the Snarl away from us, and you may keep the Riftworld, complete with the Snarl, locked in there with you.”

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    ...and that is more likely than, say, Redcloak having a change of character in the next 200 strips?
    Yes, but more importantly, it's more dramatically appropriate. Solving a "how does this character get from point A to point B" problem is very different from throwing away a character's core tragic flaw. It's fine to solve one with magic. They've done it before. The other needs to be earned, and I don't see how that's going to happen right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    (Also, in #1183 the IFCC is clear that they wanted Hel to succeed -- AKA seeing the world destroyed. If they really wanted things to go their way, they'd prevent the Order from stopping Team Evil, making the gods destroy the world. Much less of a hassle than...offering a deal to Jirix to make Redcloak come back? What sort of deal? Why would the fiends care about Gobbotopia when everything's centered at Kraagor's Gate right now?)
    You misunderstand: The idea is not to make Redcloak go back. The idea is to eliminate Redcloak's plan C (gobbotopia) so that he doubles down on plan A, which they will make sure fails, leading to Redcloak's plan B (blow up the world).

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    Yes, Redcloak is the poster child for sunk-cost fallacy. However, he is not undead, or an outsider; he is still a person capable of, if not changing, at least considering options.
    We just saw how that plays out. He's really not at this point, and for that to change we'd need a hell of a trigger. Which we don't have.

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    1) Might be a thing that could drive the plot.
    The time to lay that groundwork would have been two strips ago. As of right now, it's not driving anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    2) No, since Durkon has just said the gods are willing to destroy the world right before the Plan even succeeds.
    Redcloak thinks it's a bluff, remember?

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    3) "and we saw it eating away...for the rest of the book." Well, we haven't seen it yet, because we're not there. Also, Durkon didn't mention it. Nor did he say anything about the riftworld, the billions of other planets, etc.
    We are there. We're starting the final book. This is the time when you put the pieces in place for the climax, not 10 strips beforehand. Here's what's important: the information that was given during Redcloak and Durkon's chat was very deliberately chosen. If it was important for the story for Redcloak to know about the riftworld or the billions of other planets, it would have come up. It didn't, because the piece of information that *was* important is that Redcloak isn't open for negotiations. He isn't listening to reason, and he neither the riftworld nor the billions of other planets are relevant to the line of thinking that we saw demonstrated- neither affects The Plan as far Redcloak would see it, so they might as well not exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by understatement View Post
    tldr; you're right in that it is exponentially much harder to convince Redcloak of anything than just zip Jirix over and have him pop out a few spells. But having everything conveniently wrapped up with a bow on a side character makes for a frankly less interesting story.
    Conversely: Conveniently having Redcloak do a complete 180 in character rather than deal with themes that define him makes for a frankly less interesting story.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    (Which, incidentally, he is not trying to do, and he never was, either.)
    Like I said, it's not plan A, but he's accepted it as an alternate outcome on the grounds that at least that way goblins might get a fairer shake in the

    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    (Have I suggested yet on this day that he wouldn't need a why, if the problem were to be circumvented by letting him have the Gate, getting Thor to temporarily stall Armageddon Special and helping get Xykon off his back once the lich ceases to be an asset? If the idea comes from within the Order and they are the ones to destroy Xykon, most of the merit stays with them.)
    I'm not sure what you're even getting at here. Letting Redcloak have the gate either means that The Plan goes forward (which requires Xykon), the gate gets sealed (requiring Redcloak to abandon The Plan, which does very much require a 'why'), that Redcloak has a useless gate, since he can't cast his ritual without an arcane spellcaster, or that Redcloak does decide to just blow up the gate and destroy the world, which isn't exactly Elan's happy ending.

    Quote Originally Posted by Metastachydium View Post
    (Judging by
    Spoiler: SoD
    Show
    how old and experienced Redcloak was when Team Evil assaulted Lirian's Gate
    , Jirix could probably do the Gate Ritual. The actual Rift-sealing, however, neccessitates 9th level slots. Redcloak is the only goblinoid cleric with those (as far as we know), and the world is really on its last leg (meaning that there isn't an indefinite amount of time left for another goblinoid cleric to rise to his level).)
    Like I said, a 9th level slot was Thor's first idea, but what he really needs is just TDO's color. Something like sacrificing the mantle might work as well.
    Last edited by BloodSquirrel; 2020-08-13 at 01:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    [QUOTE=BloodSquirrel;24661812]Yes, but more importantly, it's more dramatically appropriate. Solving a "how does this character get from point A to point B" problem is very different from throwing away a character's core tragic flaw. It's fine to solve one with magic. They've done it before. The other needs to be earned, and I don't see how that's going to happen right now.

    I guess that's where we have different opinions, so there's that.

    You misunderstand: The idea is not to make Redcloak go back. The idea is to eliminate Redcloak's plan C (gobbotopia) so that he doubles down on plan A, which they will make sure fails, leading to Redcloak's plan B (blow up the world).
    I still don't see Jirix in here. Redcloak has already thrown away Plan C.

    We just saw how that plays out. He's really not at this point, and for that to change we'd need a hell of a trigger. Which we don't have.
    He doesn't have to change here, or even a hundred strips down.

    The time to lay that groundwork would have been two strips ago. As of right now, it's not driving anything.
    Durkon and Redcloak only met five strips ago.

    Redcloak thinks it's a bluff, remember?
    His expression before imploding Durkon suggests otherwise.

    We are there. We're starting the final book. This is the time when you put the pieces in place for the climax, not 10 strips beforehand. Here's what's important: the information that was given during Redcloak and Durkon's chat was very deliberately chosen. If it was important for the story for Redcloak to know about the riftworld or the billions of other planets, it would have come up. It didn't, because the piece of information that *was* important is that Redcloak isn't open for negotiations. He isn't listening to reason, and he neither the riftworld nor the billions of other planets are relevant to the line of thinking that we saw demonstrated- neither affects The Plan as far Redcloak would see it, so they might as well not exist.
    I can't speak of anything else with any certainty, but Durkon is not going to be "oh, well, guess I tried, now the mission's screwed!" If negotations are going belly-up, Durkon will use every information he was given necessary, because as far as he knows the alternative is that the world gets nuked.

    Conversely: Conveniently having Redcloak do a complete 180 in character rather than deal with themes that define him makes for a frankly less interesting story.
    Again, I really don't think I said anything about a total 180. It doesn't even have to be...well, anything. Cooperation =/= going against character, especially if it's in mutual self-interest.

    Also, some commentary from BRiTF:

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRiTF
    As the chapter closes, all the characters weÂ’ve followed have finally left Azure City, signalling that this era of the
    story has passed. While the cityÂ’s fate will still be a concern abstractly, the days of checking in on it are over. The table has been cleared, time for the next course.


    If jirix were to show up at the North Pole and say he's here to stop Redcloak because the fiends told him so (or whatever the deal entails), I believe Redcloak and the Order's expression will match ours in the vein of "Where the hell did he come from?"

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSquirrel View Post
    ...Redcloak isn't open for negotiations. He isn't listening to reason...

    Conversely: Conveniently having Redcloak do a complete 180 in character rather than deal with themes that define him makes for a frankly less interesting story.
    You mean he isn't listening to reason right now.

    It's so strange to see somebody argue that "Redcloak got this one chance to make a truce and he rejected it, therefore he will never rethink that decision ever, ever, ever. His character's fate is permanently sealed and it's more logical to move on to the next goblinoid than keep focusing on Redcloak's much deeper backstory."

    Spoiler: Spoilers in case anyone hasn't seen Avatar: The Last Airbender
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    At the end of Book 2, Zuko was horribly conflicted. He'd just had a major change of heart and released Appa. He'd formed a life in Ba Sing Se. He'd had heartfelt conversations with Iroh and Katara. The whole story was set up for him to fight Azula alongside the GAang and save the Earth Kingdom and teach the Avatar firebending in Book 3. The narrative was all aligned perfectly, and fairly obvious too.

    Then he rejected that option and sided with Azula, in a huge shocking season finale.

    It only took him 10ish more episodes to go back on that rejection and ultimately side with the Avatar. But that extra time showed us how truly screwed-up and conflicted he was. It was one of the coolest moments in the entire series, and one of my favorite plot twists of all time. It made his ultimate Heel-Face turn really mean something, as opposed to being the obvious narrative choice.

    I'm just saying -- don't count Redcloak out yet. He could still easily have a change of heart, to some degree or another. Having it now wouldn't be the right pacing...but he's clearly got that seed of doubt.
    Last edited by Ionathus; 2020-08-13 at 02:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    The way team evil is set up, they appear to be so absurdly powerful that there is virtually no way that OOTS can defeat them the way things stand. Even if the MITD chooses to switch sides; the combination of the epic sorcerer lich plus a near-epic cleric is a force that is just beyond what the Order can handle.

    So much narrative ink has been spilled on Redcloak's character, as well as the plot of the rifts, it's hard to imagine that either one will be 'set aside' before the end. He may not do a complete 180 (as others have mentioned), but its entirely feasible he realizes before the end that the Plan is not going to work; new information will come to him (likely independently of Durkon), forcing him to rethink his position. I don't think Xykon can possibly be defeated until Redcloak defects, on some level. He is just simply too powerful. And as has been shown - Xykon is the true threat here.

    ETA - Even when V had two epic spellcasters spliced, Xykon was so far beyond V's capabilities. If that amount of spell-power was not even close to sufficient, the playing ground needs to be seriously leveled, and even then, it's going to be quite the battle.
    Last edited by Neponde; 2020-08-13 at 02:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Quote Originally Posted by Neponde View Post
    ETA - Even when V had two epic spellcasters spliced, Xykon was so far beyond V's capabilities. If that amount of spell-power was not even close to sufficient, the playing ground needs to be seriously leveled, and even then, it's going to be quite the battle.
    Honestly, I always read the V/Xykon fight as showing how sloppy V was being, not how capable Xykon was. A smarter spellcaster with those epic splices could well have taken the lich down.

    It feels pretty well-indicated that Xykon is going to be a horribly difficult fight, but The Order doesn't currently have a non-zero chance of succeeding. If they're fighting at full strength, that is.

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    d6 Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    Rich has stated that the IFCC would play a large role in things to come. This was when they were first introduced. They can take V out 2 more times.

    Rich has also stated Belkar will be followed even if he leaves the order. He lamented comedy gold would be lost by not doing an afterlife adventure with him.

    How many days till his next cake then he dies shortly after.
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    Default Re: Thor's plan may already have fulfilled it's narrative purpose

    I don't think that The Dark One's quiddity can be used without him agreeing to it.
    Which would add another wrinkle to Thor's plan working out, since we'd also have to see a radical transformation of TDO's character. He hasn't even appeared directly yet, and all evidence points to him being even more irrationally opposed to negotiations than Redcloak.

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