I’d like to think that I’m a good person, although I know the truth of the matter is that I’m far from that. And even though, if given a moral choice in a game, I’ll usually pick the nice guy option, it severely chafes when that choice is lacking. I think it’s because there’s a disconnect between how I know how my character feels and how the devs are forcing me down a path of their own (sometimes faulty) morality. At times, I feel like I’m screaming inside a placid-looking character, just begging to be let out to do serious damage instead of being forced down the path of righteousness.
LOTRO is probably where I experience most of this, because the devs have taken the stance that the players are Noble Heroes and cannot choose evil. I’d rather be a flawed hero, because that more reflects reality, but other than mistakes beyond my character’s control, I have no way of portraying my character in the game as anything other than a girl scout. No, we’re not going to dip into the RP pool today; that pool is full to the brim of angst pee.
Case in point, last night I was finishing up some quests that would let me be readmitted to Harwick, a town that I fled to and then the head guy promptly labeled me a miscreant and kicked me out. Nevermind that I’ve been saving Middle-earth since he was in diapers or that the Hobbit version of the internet should’ve given him a heads up that I’m an indestructible killing machine that’s slaughtered a medium-sized army worth of bad guys — no, I look all scruffy, so get out of my town please and thank you. To punctuate that point, if a guard saw me back in town, they’d escort me kicking and screaming to the exit.
See, that’s when this “noble good” stuff chafes. The dude is being a royal (pun intended) jerk, and I’ve had it up to here with these NPCs requiring me to prove my worth over and over again. If the game would allow me to do so, I’d hire a troupe of heralds to go in front of me and proclaim loudly of my deeds and imminent arrival, so that the town would receive me in a proper fashion.
But no, there’s no choice in the matter. I had to prove myself again. Chore, chore, chore, “oh wait, you’re a GOOD guy! Well then, come on back!”
There’s this whole quest where the mayor invites you to his table and basically apologizes to you for ten minutes. To be honest, it’s not enough. For one thing, he wasn’t on his hands and knees, with my sword against his neck drawing a thin line of blood. For another thing, a few paltry words are not enough compensation for public humiliation and banishment. Nay, if I had a choice, the center of the table would replace the truffle-stuffed boar with his head, and I would begin a new rule of me-centered worship in that town. I’d do a proper cleansing of fools and lock the gates to their cries as the prowling salamanders and errant wolves had a midnight snack. I’d stop my questing once and for all, and establish my base of operations as I sought to take on Saruman, Sauron, and the Free Peoples in a no-holds cage match for the dominion of Middle-earth. I’d make my coat of arms a terrifying clown face and my army a hired band of unstoppable Hobbits and Dwarves. I’d cast elf and ring alike into Mt. Doom and then break for a light lunch.
ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!
On second thought, probably a good thing there are safeguards in place. I’m probably not the only wandering psychotic warrior in the area.