A Light in a Sea of Greys: Analysing Atris and Knights of the Old Republic II (Pt 1: Basics)

Atris the Betrayer

Don’t judge a book by its colour.

The Sith Lords gets both a lot of praise and a lot of flak for its moral complexity, and its challenge to the stereotypical good/evil Star Wars conflict.1 One key part of this challenge, as well as its examining of the problems with the Jedi Order, was Atris, a relatively minor character in retrospect but nonetheless an important one. Initially trying to evoke an imagine of a pinnacle of goodness, of being true Jedi, it becomes clear almost immediately that she’s not really any of these things. At the end of the game, the idea’s practically kicked in the teeth. If she is true Jedi, she is every problem with the Order made manifest.

In a lot of ways, Atris is pretty similar to Trias the Betrayer from Planescape: Torment, a Deva (pretty much an angel) and theoretical being of Lawful Good — who ultimately proves himself a liar and, uh, a betrayer, “twisted by the Planes”. This is probably intentional: Kreia herself is a reinterpretation of sorts of Ravel Puzzlewell, if a noticeably different character.2 Also Atris is actually Trias with the letters rearranged and originally she could become Darth Traya. Darth Traya, lord of betrayal. Trias the Betrayer. Of course, I do love a good excuse to go on about Torment. If nothing else, it’s a exploration of a similar idea.

To start with, I’d like to look at how the promotion and her basic character design both re-enforce and in some cases subtly undermine this image, before getting into the events of the game proper (partly because getting all the screenshots and so on is going to take forever). Continue reading


Aveline Vallen: Analyzing a Tank

Aveline's tremendous legacy in the Dragon Age universe is forever cemented and eternalised through Varric's series of trashy pulp fiction.

Aveline’s tremendous legacy in the Dragon Age universe is forever cemented and eternalised through Varric’s series of trashy pulp fiction.

I have been busy. Has really put a halt on my progress in making posts and all that. Now, I previously looked at the design of Cassandra, another Dragon Age companion that at least initially seems very similar in character to Aveline. In this case, I’d like to explore some of the other ways of expressing a character, such as their role in gameplay. It’s gonna have to be a short and fairly shallow-depth post, I’m afraid, because you know busy.

Aveline is a character I particularly love, and I don’t know how shared a feeling that is. Oh, sure, when she’s mentioned I usually see it positively, but often she seems overlooked in favour of all those crazies Hawke meets and also Varric. It’s true that perhaps on paper, she’s not initially that original of a character. She’s another woman who happens to be badass and be strong enough to batter doors down — intriguing from a certain feminist perspective, but ultimately kind of flat character. There is, however, more to Aveline, most famously her… interesting perspective on romance (it’s better than it sounds, trust me).

Of course, in my case, it may have helped she reminded me of Vimes. Continue reading