Life & Death in Aetolia

edited November 2022 in Harpy's Head Tavern
This is originally a message I started writing to Ictinus, but as the paragraph swelled, I decided to post it on the forums in the dual interests of readability and transparency.

Hello, I heard you were very transparent and open about answering messages. Thanks for all the work you have done on the game.

I am a returning player who has played more RPI-style games for the past couple years, so my current perspectives on lore and roleplay have potentially evolved out of alignment with Aetolia's policies. Because of that, feel free to discard this concern if it's not actually any problem for you and the game.

My concern is: the idea propagated by player-characters, lorewise, that "Death" and the "Cycle" don't actually matter in Aetolian metaphysics because "Varian always brings us back anyway". This part of the game's lore is coming more into the spotlight as factions are refined by the events of the Second War of Night.

In an RPI game the answer to these player character attitudes would be that the players of the characters espousing those attitudes would be rebuked OOCly for not taking into account the existence of VNPCs which presumably die all the time without returning, unlike those whom Varian has specifically revived (in the mirror sequence) because they were judged not to have completed their life's purpose.

However, because Aetolia is a different model of MUD where the game and the metagame are more complexly interwoven, I don't even know if this player attitude is actually incorrect or just fine.

If it is not just fine, I think the best thing to do is to continue to allow player-driven in-character events and story arcs to deliver very public and obvious lore answers to these sorts of questions -- and I wanted to bring up this lore misunderstanding for particular attention, because it did frustrate me to see.

If it is just fine, then I am glad to have that clarified for me.
Aetolian Lore About Life & Death
  1. In Aetolian lore, does Varian always bring the living back anyway?14 votes
    1. Who cares? It's a game and people can roleplay whatever makes them happy.
    2. No, there must be comprehensive and cohesive lore logics of metaphysics regarding the Cycle
    3. Yes, the lore is that Varian brings back the living unless their very soul is destroyed by rituals


  • EliadonEliadon Somewhere Over the RainbowLiaison
    edited November 2022
    Something I've been trying to get out of Dhar/Dhar's order for actual years, amusingly enough.

    Why does the cycle even matter, beyond natural processes?

    With the advent of the soul index, we know that souls under Varian's purview are/were eventually reused even after a presumed 'final' death, reincarnation style. How is this not breaking the cycle? How is Varian's simulacrum bringing us back not breaking the cycle?

    Ictinus has mentioned on Discord that more details about this are in the works, but this is going back to a discussion that we've had a lot over the past few years.

    More or less it comes down to two choices as is: why should I ever give a shit about dying when I have died and been returned five thousand times?
    Or, fear/respect death despite the astronomically low chance of not returning.

    (Assuming non-Hardcore char)

    Both are reasonable, but I don't think it's particularly easy to convince someone who has seen the mirror thousands and thousands of times that something they have seen play out as the same events by the same fake!Varian with the same script for every person who dies is ever going to change
  • edited November 2022
    why should I ever give a shit about dying when I have died and been returned five thousand times?

    I would ask the inverse question, as well: why should I give a shit about killing things, when they will just return? There are the obvious theological answers (death creates pain creates power creates joy creates whatever. I don't get Aetolia divine logic). Those don't apply to everyone, though, and everyone else is kind of left with the big question unanswered for them. Personally, I think the only thing left, when death is not the end, is vanity. The winner gets to gloat, and they get to preen, and they get to high five their buddies, and they get to shout "FOR THE WALL" or whatever floats their goat.

    I think some would balk at that simple motivation, but I think there's room for that kind of thing to be meaningful in the RP sense. I think as long as everyone agrees that death is failure and murder is victory, that leaves plenty of foundation for good stories.
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  • I think what is most interesting about this particular part of the lore is its existential nature of it. I think there are lots of ways to interpret it, ranging from free will equates to existence and purpose being cultivated by the character despite being a creation of Varian to embracing a position as a creation pawn, bound to the whims of Varian.

    The shades between will invariably have different interpretations and stances on death and its meaning and probably will be tied directly to how a character chooses to relate and view Varian as their creator because regardless of what has been shown to happen time and again (i.e. mirror sequence reviving souls from death) the character interpretation of death's importance will be guided by that personal relationship they have with Varian.

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