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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Dragon Age: Inquisition - Introduction to Vivienne

Default Dragon Age: Inquisition - Introduction to Vivienne

March 25th, 2014, 13:15
The Bioware Blog introduces us to Vivienne once again without all the cosplay features added from the last update. They promise more information on Wednesday.

Here is her image and brief description.



Referred to as Madame de Fer, “the Lady of Iron”, Vivienne lives up to her title. A leader among the mages and official enchanter to the Imperial court, she is renowned as a fearsome woman who achieved her position through guile and deft political maneuvering. Vivienne allows nothing to stand in the way of what she desires—not those who claim she is a social climber, not those who seek to restrict her power, not even her fellow mages who would conscript her into a rebellion with which she disagrees. Vivienne fights to restore order in a world gone mad…so long as that leaves her among those left standing.
More information.
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March 25th, 2014, 13:15
That's a weird description. She's totally selfish and egocentric (and a totally unpragmatic fashionista as well), yet does her damnedest best to restore the world's balance? Huh?

Somebody took a random pen & paper RPG's list of 'virtues and flaws' and rolled some dice to generate NPC's
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March 25th, 2014, 13:37
It seems pretty obvious - "Vivienne fights to restore order in a world gone mad…so long as that leaves her among those left standing". The text doesn't say anything about her views being that of a Druid or anything. It just means she's willing to fight for her survival and her position of power.
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March 25th, 2014, 13:48
Originally Posted by Fluffyhotep View Post
She's totally selfish and egocentric (and a totally unpragmatic fashionista as well)
You just described an Orlesian you know.
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March 25th, 2014, 13:54
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
It seems pretty obvious - "Vivienne fights to restore order in a world gone mad…so long as that leaves her among those left standing". The text doesn't say anything about her views being that of a Druid or anything. It just means she's willing to fight for her survival and her position of power.
Who mentioned druids? She's basically described as a ruthless power-seeking b(censored)h, which normally means she is somebody who runs roughshod over the status quo in her own interest, but at the same time she fights for 'order', but with a qualifier that suggests that when the going gets tough, Vivienne gets out of there.

There's probably a list of characteristics ('virtues and flaws') behind it that determines her 'positions' in in-game discussions, but it doesn't sound very coherent to me.
Then again, marketing…It'll probably make sense in the game. Or maybe not.

Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
You just described an Orlesian you know.
Come to think of it, I think I described a mix of a character from 'Absolutely Fabulous' and one from 'Dynasty'
Last edited by Fluffyhotep; March 25th, 2014 at 16:27.
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March 25th, 2014, 15:15
I don't recall a black race in DA so how could she be Orlesian.
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March 25th, 2014, 15:25
Originally Posted by Fluffyhotep View Post
Who mentioned druids? She's basically described as a ruthless power-seeking b(censored)h, which normally means she is somebody who runs roughshod over the status quo in her own interest, but at the same time she fights for 'order', but with a qualifier that suggests that when the going gets tough, Vivienne gets out of there.
I'm just saying that her "restore the order of the world" is not of the Druid kind, it's of the self preservation kind that you'd expect from someone self centered. She's trying to restore it because she was in a position of considerable power, whereas in the "new world order" or whatever, she'll either be dead or in prison (for example if the Templars win).

She's not an order loving Paladin or Druid or whatever. She's a ruthless, selfish politician who's willing to do anything to retain her power in a world that's heading into complete anarchy.
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March 25th, 2014, 15:39
So… We get another deadly mistress of doom in the game.
Apart from the fact we've never seen something like that anywhere else, what exactly is the fuss about?

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March 25th, 2014, 15:48
Originally Posted by Fluffyhotep View Post
That's a weird description. She's totally selfish and egocentric (and a totally unpragmatic fashionista as well), yet does her damnedest best to restore the world's balance?
I dont see anything like "restoring world's balance". Her position of power is endangered when world is in chaos so thats her motivation to restore order (and status quo). Nothing about balance there. Its selfish motivation.

But it brings me to…

Sometimes it seems that developers try hard to create completely "over the top" selfish and not-likeable characters as heroes for a party? Is average mainstream player selfish and egocentric fool who needs his "heroes" to be like him? Or the problem lies in the fact that many developers are unable or unwilling to write more interesting nuanced and/or flawed good/neutral guys so they slip into generic routine to write "bad ass egocentric psychopaths" who cant stand anyone and anything besides their own kind?
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March 25th, 2014, 16:29
Originally Posted by Ashbery76 View Post
I don't recall a black race in DA so how could she be Orlesian.
Rivani are dark skinned (like Isabela and Duncan), but the old engine did not support dark skin tones well so they ended up looking more like hispanic.

@Farflame

Players want evil/selffish companions so they can have a party that aren't going to complain when they steal, murder and act like thugs all the time. They have existed in BioWare games since BG1.
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March 25th, 2014, 16:33
Imho it's currently pointless to discuss the NPCs in depth. It's (a quite early) marketing time and EA/Bioware of course do everything to create buzz.
NPCs that look like being nothing but stereotypes may have interesting nuances and plausible motivations to discover in the final game.
Of course it's possible that the NPCs actually will be flat stereotypes, but again that's something we'll see in some month, not now.
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March 25th, 2014, 16:38
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Rivani are dark skinned (like Isabela and Duncan), but the old engine did not support dark skin tones well so they ended up looking more like hispanic.
In fact "the Rivaini have skin tones ranging from dark tan to ebony".
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March 25th, 2014, 17:12
Originally Posted by Fluffyhotep View Post
That's a weird description. She's totally selfish and egocentric (and a totally unpragmatic fashionista as well), yet does her damnedest best to restore the world's balance? Huh?
I assume that she does it because in "a world gone mad" she cannot properly live out her selfishness, and she wouldn't have any stage to properly present herself upon, either.

So she does it only to get back into a stage (pun intended) where she can pursue her lusts and desires again. I expect her to not like the current situation at all, because the current situation hinders her from doing that.

So to say.

Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
@Farflame

Players want evil/selffish companions so they can have a party that aren't going to complain when they steal, murder and act like thugs all the time. They have existed in BioWare games since BG1.
Interesting point. I never saw it that way.
But, yes, I can see it in SWTOR as well …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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March 25th, 2014, 17:32
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Players want evil/selffish companions so they can have a party that aren't going to complain when they steal, murder and act like thugs all the time.
Yes, but I dont think that its complete explanation. It seems to me that they want to be "powerfull". To feel power (probably they dont have it IRL). And for average mainstream fool feel of power = act like thug, do everything because "I can" or "I feel like it could be fun" be free from everything (not just law). Every law, rule, reasoning or diligence (to achieve some goal that makes sense) is bad, because it creates some kind of limitation to "powerfull acting".

Also - if average player wants to play like thug all the time does he like to play main story about "saving the world"? Isnt it boring theme for him? Maybe he would be more interested in "destroying the world".


Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
They have existed in BioWare games since BG1.
Yes and I criticized it back then. The game basically allowed to have radically different characters in a party which makes no sense. In ADD system (lawfull good vs lawfull evil etc) it was even more apparent. Developers ignored credibility and characters for sake of some funny comments from evil heroes.
Also most quests were done for good characters.
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March 25th, 2014, 18:06
Well, that changed in BG2, where it wasn't possible to have certain combinations of companions in your party.
What further games do you think of where having certain companions in the party didn't make sense?

Of course there have been companions like HK-47 in KotoR, but as far as I remember there was always a good reason for the main character to bring these guys along.
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March 25th, 2014, 18:41
Originally Posted by Morrandir View Post
In fact "the Rivaini have skin tones ranging from dark tan to ebony".
Thanks for the link…and fixing my typo.

Originally Posted by Farflame View Post
Yes, but I dont think that its complete explanation. It seems to me that they want to be "powerfull". To feel power (probably they dont have it IRL). And for average mainstream fool feel of power = act like thug, do everything because "I can" or "I feel like it could be fun" be free from everything (not just law). Every law, rule, reasoning or diligence (to achieve some goal that makes sense) is bad, because it creates some kind of limitation to "powerfull acting".

Also - if average player wants to play like thug all the time does he like to play main story about "saving the world"? Isnt it boring theme for him? Maybe he would be more interested in "destroying the world".
I'm not sure if it is the average player, ME3 stat shows that the majority play the "good/paragon" side (64.5% vs 35.5%).

It might be related to the Dark Triad though. There was a recent study on internet trolls/griefers that linked their psychological profile to it (the link is to a resumé of the study, it cost $35 to read the paper itself unless you have access). Someone who fit the Dark Triad would want to be seen as the "savior of the world" especially if he acted like a thug the entire time, it empower his/her narcissistic and Machiavellian sides.
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March 25th, 2014, 19:48
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
Players want evil/selffish companions so they can have a party that aren't going to complain when they steal, murder and act like thugs all the time. They have existed in BioWare games since BG1.
Morrigan was an egoistic and selfish bitch but a pretty interesting character to have as a companion. IMO at least. Similar story with Viconia. And I don't play evil characters so I steal, murder and act like thug only VERY occasionally
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March 25th, 2014, 19:55
Originally Posted by Fluffyhotep View Post
Who mentioned druids? She's basically described as a ruthless power-seeking b(censored)h, which normally means she is somebody who runs roughshod over the status quo in her own interest, but at the same time she fights for 'order', but with a qualifier that suggests that when the going gets tough, Vivienne gets out of there.
Which pretty much describes many power-hungry politicians. They can have a creed, which they use to justify their positions even if the end result mostly serves their personal ambitions. But the description does seem a bit odd for an adventuring party member. She seems more suitable for a politician entrenched in a position of power, rather than somebody willing to gamble on the occasional lark.
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March 25th, 2014, 20:36
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Which pretty much describes many power-hungry politicians. They can have a creed, which they use to justify their positions even if the end result mostly serves their personal ambitions. But the description does seem a bit odd for an adventuring party member. She seems more suitable for a politician entrenched in a position of power, rather than somebody willing to gamble on the occasional lark.
What I actually meant is the combination of characteristics is very…flaky. Determination and ambition often go together, as does ruthlessness. But being ridiculously obsessed with fashion? Or, and I repeat this, a hint that when the situation goes awry, she'll abandon ship? (…so long as…). It's rather common that those kind of people (determined, ambitious, ruthless), once arrived, have difficulty bending (retreating, whatever…). To quote a Byzantine Empress, 'For as for myself, I approve a certain ancient saying that royalty is a good burial-shroud'.

Anyway, I agree this is marketing speak, everything about Vivienne's presentation is to make her look glamorous and sound 'cool'. In-game, they will probably try to make her more nuanced and interesting.

As for 'the dark triad', I don't think this applies to companion NPC's. One key function of this kind of NPC's (the goody ones and the amoral and/or evil ones) is to provide opportunities for witty banter using opposite viewpoints, or to make it easy to characterise them in terms of opinions and mannerisms. It's not even strictly necessary to have NPC's represent contradictary moral attitudes for this though; opposite sexual attitudes work as well, think of the banter between Avelline and Isabelle in DA2.

Being able to behave like an ass…well, that's another thing, and has always been a feature of a minority of pen & paper roleplayers. I consider it mostly a phase
Last edited by Fluffyhotep; March 25th, 2014 at 20:58.
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March 25th, 2014, 20:55
Originally Posted by Morrandir View Post
In fact "the Rivaini have skin tones ranging from dark tan to ebony".
Vivienne's look is pretty much according to current canon, in the sense that people with sub-Saharan African looks are now firmly established as part of the setting.

It's also true the character generator in DA:O and DA2 had trouble recreating that phenotypical look. You could create pretty dark people, but they looked, at best, like swarthy Mediterranean people or mixed-race Latinos.

However, I'm not buying that this was a technical impossibility. Sub-Saharan features are not linked to skin colour, but it's a matter of facial features. Those just didn't get into the character generator, presumably because they were not a priority and maybe they were never considered. After all, Thedas was (loosely) based on medieval Europe, and everybody knows only 'whites' lived there, right? Sigh

Initially, Rivain seems to have been little more than a vague Spain analogy, something that seemed confirmed by the 'dark Mediterranean' or perhaps Latino look of Duncan and Isabella.
Unfortunately, BioWare received quite a bit of flak, both on BSN and elsewhere on the Internet, regarding the fact that there were no 'black' characters or peoples. There were LOTS of threads on BSN on this subject. Initially, Gaider seems to have resisted the pressure for introducing 'black' people 'just for reasons of political correctness'.

At some point, there seems to have been a decision to give in. Duncan and Isabella were presented as examples of 'black' characters, which was eagerly picked up by some BSN'ers who were looking for those. Rivain changed from some vaguely defined Spain analogy into an analogy of The Elder Scrolls' province of Hammerfell and its Redguards. Like the Redguards, the Rivainis have a different geographic origin from the other Human peoples and like the Redguards their looks vary from 'dusky Mediterranean' to sub-Saharan African.

I don't think we're ever going to get a good look at Bio's design notes, so this remains speculation on my part of course. Anyway: 'Black' people are now part of Thedas, and I think it's a good thing. It's also good a Companion PC is black. Hurray for diversity!

Of course, should she turn out to be really insufferable, we might see some angry threads…
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