The protagonist goes from level 1 to "way overpowered" from the moment he last sees Master Li to the moment Li kills the protagonist. During that time he trains with a bunch of different people, and acquires a thousand techniques Master Li couldn't possibly have any knowledge of. FFS, the protagonist learns how to use firearms and transform into a whole host of demons. The "fatal flaw" in the initial technique thaught to him by Master Li persists to that extent? Unlikely.
I liken it to learning how to spell or pronounce a certain word. For example, imagine you were brought up knowing that chronometer was pronounced kroNO-M Eter (like Chrono Trigger), instead of the correct pronunciation of kroNOMeter. You use it every day. It's what you know. Then, someone corrects you. You're not likely to say it wrong again, but until you were told it was wrong, you had no problem with it. Same with the fatal flaw in technique. If you base all your learned techniques on your initial learning experience (as the protagonist did), then you'll make the same mistake with all your techniques. It's not far-fetched at all.
I like the explanation but you should use a different example rather than "chrono like in chrono" that's just elementary! Try something like "crow know" vs the "chron in Walter Kronkite" or what have you.
Also, the "fatal flaw" is in defence, not offence, so picking up the ability to throw magic fire-globs or bullets doesn't really help.
Against everyone but Li himself it is a strength, not a weakness. A few mention that they wasted effort hunting for how to exploit it and concluded it was a feint.
This troper always pictured the flaw as something along the lines of an unnecessary split-second flourish or positioning of the hands when blocking that baffles people who know what they're doing that fight you. Some minor movement that is so quickly ended that people who fight you aren't able to take advantage of the opening unless they know in advance that you will do so. This could explain also why Sun Li throws the amulet high before attacking you; startled by seeing their master throw the precious valuable object straight up in the air, by the time their eyes snap back to their master and they instinctively try to defend themselves they're falling back on the ingrained basics they were taught.
It's foreshadowed throughout the game, with various fighters saying there's something not-quite-right about your style, right up to Crimson Khana pointing it out after you fight her in the arena.
Protaganist: Others have mentioned this. Should I be concerned?
Crimson Khana: Consider it a perfectly laid trap, not a weakness. Your master was truly skilled, to mold such a trap into your very being. It is odd he never mentioned it to you.
The whole concept of the "sacrifice" ending (where you let Master Li kill you) makes no sense. Aside from all the torment Li and his brothers caused you and others there's the fact that Li ALREADY killed you in cold blood, not to mention you'd be letting your comrades down. I mean why go through the effort to fight through several armies worth of enemies and storm the Imperial Palace just to be persuaded to die to let your betrayer rule the known world. Seems like a waste of time.
Li's whole point, which leads to the sacrifice ending, is that he would be a benevolent dictator. Some will suffer, yes, but for the good of the many. Even back in Dirge he defends his actions by saying that Sun Hai was only interested in his own personal power, not the empire. Of course, whether or not you choose to buy that...
This was established as the dark side of Open Palm right at the beginning of the game, just as Closed Fist has noble interpretations. Just try and ignore how the actual morality system in the game works...
For that to make sense, the game should have had a fourth ending, a "good" Closed Fist ending to balance the "evil" one that you actually get, just like the "evil" Open Palm ending (letting Li kill you) balances the "good" Open Palm one (restoring the Water Dragon). With no such balance, the "sacrifice" ending does feel pretty anomalous.
It's still a pretty Stupid Sacrifice. You already know the guy is hardcore evil at that point and there's literally no reason to believe him. Plus you dying doesn't even affect it if you let him go (and also presumably let him kill all your friends). It also ignores the effort you took to get there which should be enough proof of your convictions.
It would feel like shameless railroading to give you the offer and then not give you the choice to accept. If you did do the stupid thing, you have no-one to blame but yourself.
You have no reason to believe him about what? Him making you a huge hero never to be forgotten? I have to wonder if that's really the big draw of his offer. He gives a rather depressing speech about how ultimately everything you do and the Jade Empire itself is meaningless as Time Marches On. If you allow him to win then you can be reasonably assured that his empire will be eternal. After all, the gods can't directly interfere it seems as they waited twenty years until you were ready and took the time to bring you back to life instead of trying a different plan. I think it's safe to believe him that he'll force ghosts to their rests and make everything nice and orderly although it's also a smart bet that there will be an inevitable loss of liberties (though I was surprised by just how much at the end). Li's whole life is built on strategy and control and part of why he despised and ultimately turned on his brother was the fact he couldn't use the power properly and was too chaotic. It has nothing to do with keeping a promise and everything to do with proving himself superior and making the world the way he likes it. Since his problem is being too detached and unemotional and he shows no signs of sadism, he's not going to unnecessarily torture anybody. Going with him offers the promise that there will never be another flood or drought or famine in the Jade Empire and that the gods won't be able to strike it down whenver they so choose. If other areas of the world suffer, what does that matter? Most people would choose that their area is safe while others have problems, I'd say. And since a huge part of why the situation is getting so desperate is that there's starting to become a lack of souls for reincarnation, the world will be overrun with ghosts and the human race will become extinct if Li doesn't force them to their rest so there's another goal of his. He has the amulet so he can take in power easier and safer and honestly if any mortal can hope to control the Water Dragon's power then it's him. It's not an ideal ending, of course, but if what you're concerned about is the guarantee of life and safety over freedom, eternal fame, or mistrust the gods to have the best interests of the Jade Empire at heart then I can see why you'd choose it.
Of course it doesn't make sense. It's the last gambit of a cornered man who's about to get his ass kicked in dozens of completely distinct ways. I imagine if you actually take him up on his offer he has to use all his years of practice to hide his shock.
On that note why did the old man and the children look so deformed in the "sacrifice" ending.
I'm guessing for the same reason why all the Lotus Assassins look so deformed. Evil rule is clearly unhygienic.
More to the point, Sun Li is ensuring that everyone in the Jade Empire exists to serve his will like the Lotus Assassins did prior to his ascension.
Why can't Zin Bu, the Magical Abacus, tell you what happened to the Water Dragon? That's a pretty big event, no? Surely the Celestial Bureaucracy would have been buzzing with that sort of news. Does he just not feel like talking with you about it?
I myself work in local goverment and am well aware of the clause that allows them to take you outside and shoot you if you go blabbing important infomation. The fact that a mortal managed to slay a God (relatively easily) is not something that anyone wants to be general knowledge.
It's also possible that he simply doesn't know. He is part of the Celestial BUREAUCRACY, after all, which if Zin Bu's complaining is anything to go by is extremely convoluted even at the best of times. With the state of the world as it is, Zin Bu may have been so swamped in Celestial Paperwork that he didn't have time to actually figure out what it was for.
It's rather telling that the first spirit that does let you in on anything to do with the Water Dragon is the Forest Shadow, who is a trickster spirit and therefore basicaly has "bend the rules" in her job description.
The epilogue assumes that the Empire continued to prosper in years to come. Consider what happened 20 years ago: the Empire was meant to be destroyed/severely weakened by the drought. The Emperor and his brothers disrupted the natural sequence of events and found a alternative source of water. Now our brave Spirit Monk conquered the evil and reverted everything to the Natural order by destroying the only water source. Logically, the drought should have returned and finish the task delayed by 20 years - cause famine and mass deaths. (Yes, any time some fool plays a hero a lot of innocent have to pay heavy price...)
I'm assuming a grateful water dragon would at least spare the empire for the remainder of the heroes lifetime.
Didn't they say that the Bothers Sun and their "solution" just passed the problem on to someone else? It could be that, in those twenty years, the natural duration of the Long Drought expired, so that when the Spirit Monk put an end to the brutal theft of divine powers, he just set things back to normal.
Alternately, since the Spirit Monk could be considered the co-founder of a new dynasty in most of the good endings, than the purpose of the Drought was fulfilled: The end of the Sun dynasty in effect, if not in name.
One of the scroll stands in the scholar's garden stated that the drought had three years left when the emperor attacked the water dragon.
I don't recall them ever saying that the drought would (or was supposed to) bring down the Empire or the Sun dynasty. Simply that lots of people were dying, and that it was part of the "natural order."
The Water Dragon basically said that things were arranged so that Sun-Hai's realm would have faded and that the issues with the drought were apart of the plan.
In fairness, the "evil" ending does let the player take the Water Dragon's powers and become a god, so presumably, the player could simply continue directing the water as needed. Including using it to conquer the entire world simply by denying a nation any water until they surrender.
But that's just it, and the whole problem the original poster is alluding to. If you choose the good ending, then the suggestion is that the Jade Empire has become gloriously prosperous again and all is well and good. The evil ending instead shows the Jade Empire being brought under your heel and the suggestion that you've weakened it. This makes no sense. The whole underlying theme of the game is life and death. The Jade Empire is living on borrowed time, that's the whole scheme of the original emperor. If the game had the courage to follow through on its ideas, then it would have ended with you basically destroying the Jade Empire, and in the process letting the restless dead finally slumber, the rest of the world prosper, and the Heavens set right. Or with the Jade Empire stuck in status quo, endlessly prosperous yet devoured at the edges by the rising ghosts. That is, apparently, not enough reward for the player.
Remember, you're a spirit monk, I always assumed you could put the Ghosts back in their graves (basically manually doing the Water Dragon's job)
Another possibility is that by constantly pouring water within the Jade Empire, the Water Dragon altered the local climate for a few decades, so the Jade Empire would have enough time to prepare itself against the next drought
On the subject of the implication that the Empire's weakened under the Steal Her Powers ending: does no-one else remember the comment about corrupting everywhere the water flows when you taint the waters with blood?
I'll field this one! See, in Imperial China itself, there was a thing called the Mandate of Heaven - if the Emperor had it, all would be well and there wouldn't be droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. However, if the Emperor's rule was bad, then natural disasters would crop up, because he'd lost the Mandate of Heaven. Perhaps the drought had been caused by the Emperor being a bad one, so killing him (and Sun Li) restored the Mandate of Heaven to Silk Fox, letting her rule in a just fashion, and the drought would be over.
Except it had nothing to do with Sun Hai and everything to do with "Heaven decrees that the drought happen and the current Empire fall, because every dynasty must end." My theory is that after the Water Dragon reincarnates, Heaven has to completely redraw its plans from scratch after dealing with the twenty years of back paperwork caused by the Dragon's indisposition, which means that the Jade Empire dodged the bullet that the Drought was supposed to provide.
Note that the natural order can be many things. In lieu of a drought, there was the problems that arose during the course of the game. It likely wasn't that there must be a drought but rather that some certain things happen that encourage a certain end. It's not about specifics, it's about interpretation. As well, Open Palm/Closed Fist is more about ethics (order versus chaos) as opposed to morals (good v evil). Open Palm is more about things being the way they are suppose to be and working under that hierarchy. Closed Fist would be rebelling and not accepting that. Take peasant who dreams of being a knight. If they train relentlessly to the point of defying their parents and village elders, to the point of hindering their other obligations, and such, this would be Closed Fist... even if they want to be a knight to help the kingdom and fight an evil army. If they trained to be a knight but accepted that they'll probably never actually be a knight and fulfill their other obligations and respect their other duties, that would be Open Palm. If they were called to fight as a knight by their lord, answering that call would be Open Palm regardless of whether or not they ever trained to be a knight while ignoring that call would be Closed Fist. Or for the matter, ignoring the call and going off to fight their lords enemies on their own, that would be Closed Fist.
If you recall, your "fool" hero was trying to avert the empire being devoured by the increasing ghost population as well as the increasingly brutal madmen with god complexes that rule it. The game tells you that no matter how many ghosts you beat down, without the Water Dragon, the restless dead will grow in number. Stringing up the Water Dragon was, at best, a temporary solution to the drought with much worse consequences because a couple of brothers decided they were too good to figure out another way to survive. Even if it weren't for that, the emperor was only going to get worse once they finally finished feeding off the dragon's gutted body. Innocent people were already suffering, you could see it anywhere.
Not really a storyline issue per se, but with all the astonishing graphics and stunning character designs Bioware put into the game, one has to wonder what they were thinking when they designed Wild Flower. Creepy Child, indeed.
Maybe they were trying to avoid charges of Lolicon by making her as ugly as they possibly could. They succeeded. I kinda feel it adds to her woobie status though, I felt sorry for the poor kid.
She's a reanimated corpse who had better than a decade to rot. I'd say she looks pretty good, considering.
If I remember Henpecked Hou's backstory correctly, he ended up marrying his wife as a condition for sponsorship in the arena. What bugs the hell out of me is why the sponsor would ever let said wife (the sponsor's niece) sabotage a promising fighter that he had invested in.
Considering the stories Hou tells of his wife, the sponsor probably felt that the loss of a promising fighter is a small price to pay for marrying off his niece. And likely cheaper than the dowry needed to tempt anyone not drunk, dumb or deranged into marrying her.
Let's talk about the Open Palm and Closed Fist paths for a moment. At the very beginning of the game, a character makes it explicitly clear that neither Open Palm nor Closed Fist are exclusively good or evil. A follower of Open Palm can become either a defender of the weak or a tyrant who 'defends' people by not even allowing them to make potentially harmful choices. Likewise, a follower of Closed Fist can either be someone who seeks only to better their own position and power even at the expense of others, or someone who takes great pains to aid others when circumstances are only at their most dire, lest he stunt their ability to take care of themselves and gain strength from hardship. This sounds like a nice break from the simple "Lightside good, Darkside bad" scale of the Kotor games, and adds a bit of depth to the choices you can make, right? Well, no. Because for pretty much the rest of the game, Open Palm=Good, Closed Fist=Evil. That sort of soured the game for me, because the only thing needed to rectify this would have been some extra dialogue options and different outcomes. This problem seems to have partly carried over into Mass Effect, as well.
Yeah, there are problems with this. (the most blatant being a clearly Closed Fist option that gives you LESS CF points than simply being evil)
Lets be fair Jade Empire was one of Bioware's first original rpg's it going to take time to make a nuanced morality system. Lets just hope Dragon age does it better.
Not to mention who difficult this would be. You would have to have four separate morality values: Good Open Palm, Evil Open Palm, Good Closed Fist, and Evil Closed Fist. This would require four different choices in every situation, but a lot of situations don't really have that many options. Like choosing whether to bind Death's Hand/Sun Kin. Either you bind him (evil) or you don't (good). Sure you could have options for your reason: bind him to use his power to protect others (Evil Open Palm) or bind him to make yourself more powerful (Evil Closed Fist). However, the option to not bind him couldn't really have a Palm/Fist component, it would just have to be good.
What also bugs me is why you don't have the option of "Bind death hand now, release him later": yeah the guy suffered quite a lot by remaining undead in his brother's armor for 20 years, but you could say to him "I will let you go after you helped me cleaning the mess you started with your brothers" without being a complete monster.
Or what about binding him so that he can redeem himself (as he does when you bind him then choose the OP ending) and so that when the Water Dragon judges him he's not autmoatically doomed. Even if she overlooked the last 20 years of carnage that wasn't technically his fault, his last act was still killing her and partaking in the Spirit Monk genocide.
That's no excuse at all. They could simply have had an alignment system with two axes similar to the law/chaos, good/evil system in Neverwinter Nights. In-game actions would get you points for either of the two axes, resulting in four possible combinations of OP/CF, good/evil.
Except that it could easily be argued that they didn't do a good job with it in NWN in the first place. There were not nearly as many law/chaos options as there were good/evil.
You wouldn't need all four possibilities every time- the whole point is that the Good/Evil thing isn't as important here. All you'd need is two main methods in most options (plus, possibly, a neutral option).
All you really need to pull it off is a "do not interfere" option.
At least they've changed a little. In mass effect neither side is all that evil (unless you make a special effort), and they are tracked separately.
They should have left more decisions like the one they made in the "free the family from the slavers" sidequest. I felt BAD ASS when that girl took the knife my Closed Fist hero gave her and stabbed the slaver to death with it. "You may have taught my daughter a valuable lesson." Damn RIGHT I did. Why weren't there more sidequests like that?
Rack it up to a poor understanding of what the underlying concepts mean and misinterpretations of the philosophies behind them. Lost in translation, as it were.
In my opinion there needed to be a lot more options to demonstrate understanding of the Closed Fist than simple thuggery, and some things should not be Closed Fist. The one that leaps to mind is the healing herb quest; the bearded grass painkiller really doesn't teach the girl anything, and it leaves her alive but crippled. That said, selfishness, thuggery and intimidation are very Closed Fist.
My characters were generally technically OP because they didn't feel the need to be mindless thugs the whole game but I actually liked the CF mentality better. Really, just passively accepting your place in the natural order just sounds so awful. I'd much rather go with the fighting fate option but not if it means I have to torment the ghosts of small children or murder an old man because his son doesn't feel appreciated.
Most of the Closed Fist options were just plain dumb. Destroy the town's dam just so the wine merchant can make a fast buck when a thriving town would make him wealthier? Talk about stupid! And I don't give a rip how much silver that demon in the tavern is offering - not when that thing is probably weighing how I'd taste over rice with a side of black bean sauce! Side with Ya Zaen? Suuuuurrrre I trust that thing to keep up its end of the deal. And trying to kill the Water Dragon to pull A God Am I? Well, it did wonderful things for the Brothers Sun in terms of sanity - Sun Hai was pretty much foaming at the mouth and Li wasn't much better by the time the endgame hit. The Lotus Assassins also made the Korriban Academy look like a bunch of geniuses. If they hadn't been so keen on backstabbing each other, and so utterly bonkers about harming everything (including themselves), they could have nailed your Player Character to the proverbial wall.
Actually, while the Emperor did go crazy that was implied to be because he didn't have the amulet and wasn't a spirit monk who didn't need said amulet. Li seemed to be just as sane as he always was (how sane that is is up for debate) even in the epilogue where he wins and you see him at an undetermined point in the distant future. If you choose to become a god, you'll probably stay as stable as you ever were. As for the Lotus Assassins, I think that was really just for something to do. After twenty years, there really wasn't any real dissent anymore and they had to satisfy themselves tormenting playrights. Sure that was the threat of Li but he hadn't done anything in twenty years. Until you showed up, they were efficient enough to do their jobs. And I disagree that them not trying to kill each other would have allowed them to kill you anyway since their trying to kill each other only eliminated a few of them and you still had to fight a ton of them at a time and easily won.
Maybe this is just me, but as I played through the game again recently, I noticed that the Water Dragon doesn't really act any better than the bad guys. She basically has the exact same plan as Master Li, and lets you get killed even though she knew what would happen and could have told you about it at any time. She also makes a lot of remarks about how lowly humans are over the course of the game and how "her kind" should not have to suffer the same ills. Even in the back story, when she still had her divine powers, she let (or even made) the drought which was killing thousands of people go on without doing anything. And the fact that she didn't help even when the Emperor came and begged her to was what caused the events of the game in the first place. So how is helping her suppose to be the "good" ending?
To be fair, she had every intention of bringing the Spirit Monk back to life after s/he died and I seriously doubt things would have played out as they needed to if she had been completely honest. And look at all the damage that was caused because of what happened to her. The dead were unable to rest and began attacking the living, demons and at least one Eldritch Abomination used the situation to come into the world, and it seemed pretty clear that the end of the world was a very real possibility. So yeah, she let thousands of people die (it was pretty clear that she didn't cause the drought, just that it was something that happened and wasn't something she was supposed to intervene in), but the alternative is much worse. As for her statements about humans, well she is a god after all, so she kind of does have the right.
But that's kind of my point. She doesn't have a moral high ground over the bad guys beyond being a god. The bad guys made it pretty clear that they intend to fill the gap where she was and fix all the problems they caused, so there isn't a whole lot of difference in who gets the power in the end. Its like all the talk about how just sticking to the order of things in the Open Palm path doesn't necessarily mean its "good". But during the entirety of the game, they beat you over the head with the idea that Open Palm = good guy. So I'm left wondering if the Open Palm ending was suppose to be somewhat morally ambiguous, or if the writers screwed up the plot.
I wouldn't say that the writers screwed up the main plot as much as the sidequests. A lot of dialog is spent, particularly early on, on how Open Palm isn't supposed to equate to "good", but there are very few sidequests or choices that point this out. Over and over, we see Open Palm people are good and Closed Palm people are bad. So when the game's main badguy is using Open Palm philosophy to be the villain, it comes off somewhat wrong. Something as simple as reversing the badguy/goodguy in the Black Leapord School would have been, at the very least, a reminder that Open Palmers aren't always good.
But who's to say Sun Li or the Spirit Monk (should the player choose to take the Water Dragon's power) actually could have undone all of the damage? Only the Water Dragon could truly be guaranteed to be able to fix everything.
Furthermore, the Water Dragon points out that bringing water to the Jade Empire for the last 20 years meant that somewhere else experienced a 20-year drought. It's like decreeing that the United States will never have tornadoes, but all those tornadoes pop up in South America instead. By binding the Water Dragon, you effectively are saying "screw other nations". And I doubt Sun Li planned on making regular pilgrimages to other places to deal with their walking dead. I would say the Water Dragon has the moral high ground, but mainly in a global sense.
I agree that he'd be more concerned with keeping the Jade Empire prosperous than other nations but he's going to have to deal with all of the dead. It's not just about stopping the ghost attacks, it's about ensuring that there are plenty of souls for reincarnation. And since the Spirit Monks were located within/near the Jade Empire and so was the body of the Water Dragon, I doubt Li would have to physically travel the world to deal with the dead.
The setting is based on ancient Chinese mythology. Status Quo Is God, pretty much literally. There is really no religion where the god can stand up to moral analysis except by being called good by default. Around here that's called the Omniscient Morality License.
The mythology of the universe, as established, includes reincarnation. As horrible as the Long Drought may have seemed from a mortal perspective, all of the people who died as a a result of it would have simply moved on into the next life. Since the Water Dragon was responsible for that very aspect of the universal order, she would have known that- as would the Spirit Monks, through her guidance. Her allowing the drought to happen was by no measure a callous or evil act; she bore the responsibility, and her followers helped shepherd the dead. There's no question that she considers herself above mortal concerns and superior to mortals, but in the context of the established mythology, that is also absolutely true.
The more spiritual people that the Spirit Monk runs into on his/her travels are shown as accepting that there must have been a reason for all that happened. It follows given the reactions of his/her companions that most reasonable folks would have been deeply offended and repulsed if they knew how the drought was really ended, especially if they also knew that as a consequence eventually all life would end thanks to no souls being able to reincarnate. The death toll of the drought, while horrific in mortal terms, doesn't necessarily make it wrong, and even if it was wrong then at the very least it would have been the lesser of evils. While the Water Dragon isn't interested in sharing her motives, she clearly thought that the drought was necessary. Since she is shown as a kind, compassionate (if aloof and condescending) figure, we can reasonably infer that she would not have done there had been a better way of maintaining the balance of the universe.
The Water Dragon is an embodiment of the natural order. What she is concerned about is keeping her power out of the hands of mortals, those who are not meant to have the power of gods, and maintaining that natural order. Her job is basically meant to keep the status quo in effect (So would that make this Status Quo Is Enforced By God?). And she DOES warn you what will happen, plenty of times. But she is unable to be clear - replay and listen to her cryptic comments and hear her spelling things out. But she stays cryptic because the spirit monk HAS to die in order to restore her temple, which is part of how she will be revived, and human nature, when we learn that we're going to die is to fight against it, attempt to find a solution other than death. And she is still a higher power - Kang even says that beings at the Water Dragon's level would not like being forced to rely on a mortal. So of course she is somewhat dismissive of mortals - it's like a child showing off tying their shoe for the first time to an adult. It's this big accomplishment for the child, but to an adult, it's a part of life that they pay no attention to. The Gods are on a different level than the mortals, which is all part of how the world is supposed to work.
It's made quite clear during the game that the Gods in the Jade Empire universe don't give a rat's ass about mortals or what's "right," mortals are merely pawns to them with no real purpose of their own, to be used and disposed of as they see fit, and those mortals that refuse to be used end up suffering for it, either in their lives or afterlives. Everything the gods do is in the service of a "natural order" which even they themselves have no clue as to what that order is to supposed to lead to. Sounds eerily familar actually. They may have been or been turned into complete sociopaths, but if the Sun brothers had anything right it was their refusal to continue to put up with gods using the mortal world to their whims, screw all that suffer and die for it.
I wouldn't say that that is "made quite clear" at all. The Forest Shadow put herself at risk to defeat The Mother ages ago and then does so again by letting you reach her without knowing your intentions. Nothing sugests she herself was at risk from The Mother before steeping in to fight her the first time. She's also kept her bargin to defend Lord Yu's family. Note that Yu is considered a threat by the Lotus Assisins and yet is still alive and powerful. Zin Bu could have looked for revenge when you ended up screwing him but instead he found a solution that benefited both of you. Lao Kang, while a tad...unpredictable is a basicaly benevolent entity that helps you out with no requests for payment. Someone in the Celestial Beaucracy sent Chai Ka to help you out (it can't have been the Water Dragon, it happened after she was killed) and someone, probably the same someone, brings Wild Flower back to life after Chai Ka is no longer needed. The more powerful gods might be dismissive, for the reasons stated above, but they are hardly the monsters you're making them out to be. They just have a wider view. The Water Dragon for instance was not willing to allow some other nation to suffer from an endless drought just so Sun Hai's dynasty could continue without trouble. What the Sun brothers did was not some noble rebellion against divine tyranny but rather selfish actions to increase their own power without considering the consequences.
What the Sun brothers did was more than just a grab for power, otherwise it would have happened long before the drought either by the Sun brothers or their predecessors and they probably would have kept on running around slaying gods for power as well, but an act of desperation brought about by an attempt at mass genocide of the entire Jade Empire, not just the Sun Dynasty alone by the Gods themselves, and there's obviously easier and less omnicidal ways to accomplish the end of the Sun Dynasty if that's all they wanted. The Sun brothers would have been content to rule the Jade Empire until their death and subsequently passed it on down to their descendants as the Sun Dynasty has been for centuries if the Long Drought had never happened, and it only did because the Gods wanted it to, the Water Dragon directly states as such. The Gods wanted the Jade Empire to end so "something new would bloom", without care for how many thousands have and would die as a result to bring that about. In short, it was the God's own damn fault that the entire game's events happened at all, not that you'd ever see them admit that, and the most they are doing in the game is attempting to clean up their own mess. In the game proper the Gods also refused to provide Also, the only reason that the forest of the Shadow and Mother was under threat is because the Celestial Bureaucracy decided to put them there to begin with. If they hadn't, the forest would have been just fine, and the only reason they did it is because of their adherence to their insane "there must be balance" nonsense.
Except it really isn't nonsense, at least not within the context of the game. The Drought was required for water to flow elsewhere. The Sun brothers attempt to keep the Empire as it was meant some other land suffered a drought many times worse than the Jade Empire did and for longer. It may not be nice that the world must exist in such balance but it's pretty clear that that is how the world of Jade Empire works, in keeping with it's roots in Chinese mythology. Any anger for that state of affairs should be directed at the Great Dragon that apparantly created that world, not the spirits simply trying to keep the world thing running as best as they can. And no, it's not the god's fault the events of the game occured, at least not entirely. The Drought was going to end in three years anyway. The Sun brothers could have rationed water, sent people to the sea to desalinise water from there and otherwise knuckle under until it was over. Instead they went off to become gods, assuming that they could just do what they liked with that power, missing the point that they exist in a world in which gods have actual jobs to do.
Except that the Water Dragon directly states that the Long Drought happened because the Gods wanted to destroy the Jade Empire so that something better could replace, not because it was a necessity. The three years was merely an estimation of how long the Drought would last, not a certainty. If the Sun brothers had not done what they did then the Gods would have made sure that the Drought lasted however long as it needed to end the Jade Empire, thus the Jade Empire would have been destroyed regardless of how much rationing and knuckling under the Sun brothers did. Also, we the viewers have something to back up the claim that the Long Drought would have destroyed the Jade Empire, namely the eyewitness reports and historical accounts of many who lived through it, but we don't have any reason to believe the claims that other lands go thirsty. We also have no reason to believe the claims of the Gods that their balance is a necessary thing, they don't even know why they're keeping that balance!
I think you might be misinterpreting what the Water Dragon said about the Drought. It was going to bring an end to the Empire as it was, not wipe the whole place off the map. Actualy the three years thing is always put in certain terms every time it's stated, the sages of the Jade Empire were sure that was how long. Now I admit that it's possible that the Water Dragon might lie about another realm going without water but you're not giving any reason to suspect that she's lying other than you don't like her. Which is a tad inconsistant, as she's also the only source for the matter of the Drought clearing the way for something new, a princible point in your argument. If we can't trust her word on one matter we can't do so on another. In addition to that what evidence we do have supports the idea that the Water Dragon is not in the habit of lying; while she may not always volunteer all the information she has (given how short the times she's able to communicate are) she never once lies about anything we get conformation on while literally every mortal figure of authority lies big and often. Sun Hai lies about his nature and how he ended the blight, Death's Hand and the Lotus Assissins lie almost as a job description and Sun Li...well, his lies are the main plot. So we've every reason to think she's telling the truth. As for the gods and balance being required to maintain the world, aside from the fact that the game is based on Chinese mythology (in which that is certainly the case) we have the evidence of the one known time in which a god was removed from her position and a mortal tried to step in her place; the world was overrun by angry, dangerous ghosts and the mortal in question went mad with power, setting up a nightmarish police state controlled by sadistic assassins and automata powered by the souls of the innocent. Don't get me wrong, if some spiritual beings held this position in another, differently structured setting, say Dragon Age, I'd be right with you. But in the Jade Empire setting the evidence comes down hard on the side of the gods.
The Water Dragon lies to and manipulates the player constantly throughout the game. Before Sun Hai was defeated she spoke in a extremely cryptic manner that could have meant anything when she didn't have to, while refusing to simply outright state anything especially the things that would actually be useful to know like the fact that Li was going to betray the player, which would have only solved her problem faster. Afterward she has the player by the balls and basically orders the player around without being cryptic about it until the final choice when you can finally stick it to her. We do have reason to believe her claims that the heavens were out to destroy the Jade Empire, there's actual evidence presented for it. Not only does the Water Dragon directly state as such "[the Sun Brothers] couldn't accept that their empire had to fall so something new would bloom" [not the exact quote but close enough] but there are accounts of the Long Drought throughout the game which showed that thousands of people were dying over the duration and if the Sun brothers hadn't done what they did when the Jade Empire finally collapsed there would have been hardly anybody that wasn't either dead or fled. It was only Hai's subsequent madness that made what he did bad, and Li set out to fix that, while the player could have just as easily done that themselves. The sages' forecast was only mentioned once in a scroll and was only an estimation on their part, one that the Gods could easily make false whenever they wanted even if it was an accurate one. However, we do NOT have any reason to believe the Water Dragon says about other lands going thirsty because the player is never given any opportunity to see other lands or meet anyone from them and thus verify this. If we did have these things then we would have reason to accept the Water Dragon's claims that we are screwing another land over, but we don't. Even if it was true why not just take a little bit of water from a bunch of different lands to avoid the entire issue?
Manipulate, maybe, but the Water Dragon does not straight up lie. Cryptic or not everything she says that we can check on is true. I don't recall any evidence for her statements about the purpose of the Long Drought but if there was some that I missed then that really just backs up my point. The quote you provided (I can't remember the exact quote either but you're right, it's close enough) can be read as the gods trying to destroy the Empire itself or it can be read as I read it, changing the Empire into something new. Note their empire had to fall, not the empire. The word "empire" wasn't even capitalised in the subtitles. My guess is that the empire had become so corrupt under the Sun brothers that bringing down their dynasty was the only solution and that was the purpose of the Drought. But the Sun brothers became more corrupt instead of trying to address the issues in themselves that might have made the gods allow the Drought to just stop. My interpretation is rather backed up by the fact that a ressurected Water Dragon does not start up the Drought again; with the corruption that had set in in the Empire gone and the balance restored she doesn't have to, even though the Empire still exists with a Sun on the throne. Indeed the Drought was terrible but the gods aren't mortal leaders. They control forces of nature and have to take the long view. Like I said, in another setting I'd take them to task but this is a setting that runs on big cosmic rules. I feel you are giving Sun Li far too much credit. You describing him setting out to fix Sun Hai's madness but that really doesn't fit the events. Literally seconds after victory at Dirge he tried to kill his brother to steal his power. If his aim was simply to stop the Drought what should it matter if he or his brother has the power? And then he kills a innocent man so he can steal a child and raise it on lies and emotional manipulation so that it can get him that power later. Worth noting that he begins this plan right then, before any of Hai's subsequent actions could be his motivation. And then when his plan is successful he does nothing to stop the Lotus Assassins, the golems or any of Hai's evil acts. He even re-enslaves the soul of his own brother. And then, just as an encore, he utterly rejects any love or responsibility for his own daughter. He's no hero, he's a selfish, dishonest, manipulative, near-as-damnit sociopathic meglomaniac. As for sharing out water I'd imagine that's what normally happens, some places are a little dryer sometimes but usually not to a major extent. But humans lack the capacity to manage that process, so the Sun Brothers just selfishly hoard it all whereas the Water Dragon knows what she's doing.
It's also a setting where the idea of challenging one's station and changing the rules by virtue of their own ability is viable too. If all the Gods wanted was to kill off the corrupt Sun dynasty (BTW, there's actually nothing in the game presented that gives reason to believe the Sun dynasty was corrupt prior to the Water Dragon incident, in fact just about everybody including his daughter praises him as kind and caring before this) why didn't they just take the Sun family out, wave their hands and give them a disease or something if they wanted to do it through natural forces instead of have to kill practically everybody in the Jade Empire to do it? Being cryptic when it's unnecessary to the point that it's something the player can only possibly understand on the second playthrough is lying BTW. Li and Kin attempted to kill Hai because they believed he wasn't competent to rule, and if Li is anything he's one who knows these sorts of things, which he wasn't, this kind of power grabbing is common among royal families. It failed, but out of the two Sin Li would have been the better option because unlike his brother he wasn't arrogant enough to believe that there wouldn't be consequences for taking the Water Dragon's power, and sought to take measures to fix this once he was in power. Li is still evil, but not to the psychotic extent that his brother was. I take the ending where the Jade Empire is still there after the end of the Open Palm ending as the Gods simply not pushing their luck by trying to take the Empire out again after the player had demonstrated that the Gods weren't so all powerful and had basically saved their collective rears, either that or too busy cleaning up after the whole fiasco to bother at the time.
Actually there's not really anything big in the game supporting the idea of changing one's station by one's power. Sure the Spirit Monks comes from nowhere to become a dominating figure but the Spirit Monk is, well, a Spirit Monk. It is hi/her station to fix this shit. And a member of the imperial family ends up on the throne no matter what you do. The only upset you can create is removing people who are themselves breaking the rules. Sun Lian, while a decent person, has something of a blind spot when it comes to her father. She defends him despite all the evidence during the game's timeframe right up until he outright tells her what he's done. The fact that the corruption of the Lotus Order was already happening plus the genocide of the Spirit Monks (taking out the fighters is one thing but the fact that the character is the last Spirit Monk means the Emperor's armies killed non-combatants and children as well) heavily suggests existing corruption. As for why the gods couldn't just kill the Sun brothers, it was probably not allowed. In Chinese mythology the Emperor possessed the Mandate Of Heaven, meaning a direct strike against him was not really allowed. I don't see Li taking any measures once he's in power. Everything is as bad as it was, just a bit better organised. Your interpretation of the Open Palm ending, while not invalid, is no more valid than mine. And no, merely being cryptic is not lying. Lying is saying something that one knows to be untrue, which the Water Dragon does not do.
I also found the specific quote: "Emperor Sun would not accept that his Empire had to fade so something new would bloom" As in the entire Jade Empire, the people, the culture, everything had to die off before something new could come about.
If you choose the evil end then Hai, Li, and probably Lian are all dead. Kin might still be around but he's a slave. The player ends up on the throne and CF Lian is optional. Dawn Star may also technically be a member of the royal family but she's also optional. The CF player could end up on the throne with CF Sky or alone.
And? If you take the evil ending the Water Dragon is still dead and Heavey powerless to act, so this has nothing to do with the subject under discussion.
It does because "And a member of the imperial family ends up on the throne no matter what you do" is simply not true.
OK, see your point, but given as the discussion is about the validaty of the plans of the gods I assumed only endings in which they were in a position to carry out those plans were being considered. Should have made that clearer, my bad.
If that's the quote I'm even more convinced of my position. "His empire had to fade so something new would bloom." Fade. Not die, not fall, fade.
As for the concept of balance it may be based on Chinese mythology but either the mythology is screwed up or Bioware's use of it is. The player doesn't have reason to believe the Gods' claims that balance in necessary because every time the player sees the implementation of this balance it's because the Gods decided to throw in that balance and the player ends up having to fix the clusterf#@! that inevitably results, when it wouldn't have ended up as such if the Gods had just left it well enough alone, the Forest Shadow and Wild Flower being the most notable examples I can think of. With the Forest Shadow the forest would have been fine without either her or the Mother around which the player can make happen and see the overall good results, and the dark half the Mother spends most of the time sealed away so it's not as if there's some constant battle between order and chaos going on anyway, while Wild Flower has to deal with an evil demon inside her that provides neither her nor Chai Ka any benefit whatsoever, spends most of Wild Flower's life suppressed, and can eventually be banished anyway, when balance is the only reason given why she couldn't just have Chai Ka by himself, so with both the lesson falls completely flat. The fact that these Gods don't even know why the Great Dragon created the Jade Empire world, where he went, or why he created it means they don't even know if the balance is what he actually wanted.
You're assuming there that the forest could manage without the Forest Shadow. In fact it seems that the forest is connected to her by a Fisher King style arrangement and likely could not exist without her. And the presence of the Mother is needed to keep her around. The Mother can sealed away, sure, but it has to be there. The Forest Shadow (who is one of these gods you keep ragging on) cleverly set things up so the Mother was still there, allowing her to remain, but is weakened and imprisoned. Only the appearance of the ghosts and the world falling out of balance screwed that situation. And that was the fault of the Sun brothers, not the gods. The same holds true for Wild Flower. Chai Ka is needed to help the Spirit Monk, he needs a human host so Heaven chooses Wild Flower (who, lets not forget, would be dead and suffering a not-really-living hell as a ghost if they didn't). You imply that they stuck in Ya Zhen because they thought they should. The dialogue more implies they did it because it was literally impossible to have Chai Ka there without Ya Zhen, just as you can't have a machine work without all it's parts. They were hoping you'd choose the good guy and if you do they are then nice enough to bring Wild Flower back to life afterwards. Hardly an evil act. Now I agree it would be nice if we could just have the Forest Shadow or just have Chai Ka but that's not how the Jade Empire cosmology works. The guy to call to task on that front is the Great Dragon, since he built the system, not the gods he left behind, who only work within that system as best they can.
If the concept of balance is so important then why is it just fine to upset that balance by killing the Mother or banishing Ya Zhen?
When you beat Ya Zhen Chai Ka explicitly state that Ya Zhen is not actually gone. He's still in there, he's just beaten down and weakened so much that he's not going to be trouble any more. Presumably something similar applies to the Mother.
That's why the concept of balance as it's used in this game doesn't make any sense. There's no actual balance involved in most cases, one side is dominant most of the time while the other side is either much weaker or sealed away entirely, in which case it can't really affect anything and pretty much makes it's existence to begin with pointless. When there's some set opposed forces that the Gods put there it's not some constant battle between order and chaos, it's either all chaos or all order with a basically powerless one on the other side. I mean, what's the point in putting in the Mother/Ya Zhen to balance out the Forest Shadow/Chai Ka when the Mother/Ya Zhen is going to spend most of it's existence unable to actually do anything anyway?
A balance doesn't need to be equal to be balanced. To take an odd example the Leaning Tower of Pisa is balanced, or it would fall over, but is obviously leaning to one side. Hence the name. As I keep saying the nature of the Jade Empire world is such that balance required simply to make it work at all. How stacked that balance might be to one side or the other is not the issue. Think of the internal combustion engine. You can't have a working engine without it producing air pollution. It's unfortunate but that's just the immutable laws of physics and chemistry. You can make the engine more efficient and fit a catalytic converter and so on and by doing so eliminate much of the resulting pollution but you can never actually get rid of the pollution entirely; it's an integral part of the whole. Not a perfect analogy, I'll grant you, but the point is made.
I can't blame the Water Dragon for not mentioning that Li is going to betray and murder the player. It would be nice to know but the player needs to die so that Dirge can be cleansed, Li's grip on the power weakened, and the Water Dragon gets some power back. If the Water Dragon told the player that they needed to go die and don't worry, the Water Dragon would totally bring them back to life afterwards would the player have trusted them and gone ahead with it? It's a pretty big risk to take and easier to just not mention the death that has to happen.
Why not simply ask the player to do that if it's so important? It's not really shown to be important in the end, the only reason the player needs to restore Dirge in the first place is so the Water Dragon has the power needed to bring them back to life, and doing that ends up sapping the Water Dragon of most of that power anyway, the rest ending up in Li's hands. If the player chooses to destroy the Water Dragon at the end it doesn't make a difference since the Water Dragon will eventually be resurrected and get all it's power back regardless of if Dirge is restored or not. It seems more like she allowed you to die so that you'd have no other choice but to destroy the Water Dragon's body in order to be able to beat Li, though the player does end up being able to find another way.
It's a huge leap of faith asking the player to just up and die and promising that they'll be brought back when that kind of thing doesn't happen and the path to the afterlife is blocked. The Water Dragon couldn't guarantee that the player would say yes while not interfering and letting Li kill them does guarantee it. It seems like letting the player die and bringing them back was always a part of the Water Dragon's plans since early on she says something about how once you see both sides of the Veil of Death you'll be strong enough. And restoring Dirge was clearly felt by Li so it stands to reason it weakened him just as destroying the Water Dragon or poisoning the water weakens him and allows the player to actually fight on a more even level so they could actually win.
There's nothing in the game that gives any indication that the player had to be a ghost to fix Dirge if doing so was truly necessary, and if the player had been informed that Li was going to betray them then they would have been able to beat Li and get the heart of the Water Dragon right then instead of having to die (or if the player somehow couldn't win, would have led to the same thing in the end anyway so it's doubly pointless) and thus allow Li to gain the Water Dragon's heart and the amulet needed to gain it's power to begin with and thus be a much greater threat than he would have been otherwise. In short, the entire last third of the game could have been avoided. Also, what Li felt was the fact that his student refused to rest easy, he doesn't say anything that gives any indication that the cleansing of Dirge weakened him in any way or that he was even aware that it happened. In fact, it would likely be the direct opposite, it would give Li a little more power to steal away if anything else. The only reason I can think of that the Water Dragon would want the player to jump through these hoops is so that the player would be forced to destroy the Water Dragon's body.
While the player is a ghost, they can see the ghostly world, kill the demons, and restore the seal. When the player is alive again, though only the spirit monks were granted rest they can't see any of the demons or ghosts of imperial soldiers wandering around except for the one isolated incident. It doesn't seem likely that without being able to connect with the spirit realm while living that the player could restore the fountains in Dirge if they weren't a ghost. They definitely couldn't get the seal back from that mysterious nameless entity. Perhaps Dawn Star could restore Dirge while alive but she'd have to do it alone and be strong enough and so it's a bit iffy. Restoring Dirge must make the Water Dragon stronger and therefore likely weaken Li because before restoring Dirge she only managed to send the player to Dirge after Hai died but before Li took control of her power and afterwards she is strong enough to bring the player back to life. And one of the first things the Water Dragon tells the player is "The amulet is a focus; it will guide you. But when you know both sides of the veil of death, ability alone will save you." She's clearly planning on you dying the whole time. If restoring Dirge was not an important part of saving her then why would the player dying be a part of the plan and not just a possible outcome?
Plus remember that Sun Li is the "Glorious Stratagist," the setting's greatest chessmaster. If the Water Dragon just up and told you what's up (even assuming she could, she was very weak and unfocused) then the Spirit Monk's behaviour would change and Sun Li would have adjusted his plans accordingly. I would be shocked to discover that he didn't hve four or five contigency plans ready for complications like that. As it was the Water Dragon could let him think he'd won while being ready for the one moment she could do something unexpected.
It rather bugged me that there was no way to avoid becoming a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk if you chose to bind Death's Hand. Up until that point, the game allowed you a rather large amount of leeway. Then suddenly it's a case of soulbind your party members or release Death's Hand. Why not an option allowing those who didn't agree with you to go their separate way and fend for themselves? It wouldn't have been difficult to implement in-game. Just don't allow the party members to follow you to the palace. I mean, you didn't even NEED the blood of your party members! You had just finished offing several members of the Lotus Assassins. Clearly they could have been used to poison the Water Dragon. Or hell, add an extra level of disfunction in there: You bind your party members but AREN'T forced to sacrifice them, and then you get the added bonus of having your sex slave(s) (depending on your romantic choices) at your beck and call! It's an opportunity for the protagonist to be event MORE of a monster an Bioware missed it!
Or maybe a way to keep Death's Hand but NOT have it be totally evil and thus sidestep the issue, such as say something akin to "even if I let you free, you have nowhere to go anyway except insane as a ghost until I beat Li, so why not stick with me?"
You can do that. And once more, once you make the choice to destroy the Water Dragon's body, everyone completely forgets that they're mad about the whole binding thing. But yeah, binding your party members was really stupid. You should have just been able to point out that since the bridge was recently destroyed there would be no way down from Dirge if they didn't go with you and since you were kind of in a hurry, you were heading straight to the castle. The moral party members would be welcome to stay at Dirge, but you'd probably be so busy after overthrowing the Emperor that it might be awhile before you could come back and did they really think they had enough supplies?
On the note of binding some party members then poisoning the Water Dragon - did we ever get a good explanation for why they attacked you? Didn't the Spirit Monk just bind these people - doesn't the Spirit Monk now control what they do?
The Water Dragon frees them if you're going to attack her. If you're going to do what she wants apparently she doesn't care what you're doing to your party members and it never seems to bother her all that much what you're doing to Death's Hand.
Why did Master Li bother with the kindly old mentor routine at all? It basically required him to act in a manner completely opposed to his real nature for twenty years straight, all to fool a child who was too young to have developed an independent sense of right and wrong anyway. I don't see why he didn't just skip the pretense of being a wonderful guy and ruthlessly craft the young Spirit Monk into an utterly loyal Tyke Bomb aimed at the Emperor, without all the trickery and without bothering to erect the elaborate charade.
Easy. First off, Master Li is Genre Savvy enough to know that Tykebombs can be defused and that people can rebel against their mentors, so it makes more sense to not try to harness the kid directly and instead teach him basic filial piety and the tools to know right from wrong, and then make sure that all MORAL paths lead to the Spirit Monk fighting the Emperor for one reason or another. Secondly, leaving the kid ignorant of his true purpose means that he doesn't make any obvious moves and plans that would tip the Emperor off to the fact that the Glorious Strategist is making a bid for the throne; instead, Li just left a trail of breadcrumbs that his well-trained and prepared student could follow, and the Emperor won't pick up on it because the kid is, as far as he, Death's Hand and Inquisitor Jia can tell, acting randomly. Third, Master Li is simply good enough to make a Gambit Roulette work Just As Planned!!!
^ I agree, and I think the second reason is the biggest factor as to why he didn't just make the kid a Tyke Bomb. The 'kindly old mentor' act was for all the students in his school, not just the Spirit Monk. A large part of why the Spirit Monk and Dawn Star are able to accomplish stuff during the early part of the game is because Death's Hand and the Emperor didn't consider them to be a serious problem, which was caused specifically by Master Li making himself seem like the bigger threat. If the one person Master Li had spent twenty years raising and training started heading to the Emperor's palace to kill him, the Emperor would know that this person was a major threat and send out Death's Hand and an army to crush him/her while the they were still at level three. Master Li's plan has the same basic idea, but disguises it as 'a couple of students from that school they burned down are wandering around looking for their Master'. Instead of being a deadly threat to be destroyed, they seem to be a minor annoyance, not worthy of Death's Hand's attention, which keeps Li's valuable pawn alive until he/she is strong enough to win.
The other thing is that Tyke Bombs have an unhealthy tendency to explode when they want to, not when it's best for your plans. Fill someone with rage at the Emperor, and they might run off on their own and kill him before they're ready. And without Sun Li acting as a decoy, they'd be killed off.
As I recall, if the player is being close fisted and picks the right dialog options, Li mentions teaching you to be very aggressive and he praises you for it. So maybe he did teach you to be more ruthless, just not at the Empire but in general.
So...that flaw in your technique. It seems that in the cutscene the flaw is "Ooh, ooh, look I threw shiny go get it, go get it!" It's not like he breaks your defenses in a meaningful way, he simply throws something up into the air, and because you trust him, you look up and leave yourself wide open. Which I would be fine with, if previous characters hadn't mentioned left and right about that hidden flaw. Unless they were talking about your penchant to look off into the distance every time you see something sparkle. But then that's pretty obvious.
The 'flaw in your technique' is really just a way of Hand-Waving how he could kill you so easily. Your character apparently gets rid of it before you fight him again, even though you don't actually change anything about your fighting style.
I took the 'flaw in your technique' to be a false flaw, left behind intentionally in your fighting style, designed to trick opponents into looking for an opening where there wasn't one, thus allowing you to have an edge on them in combat. Until it became obvious that it was an actual flaw designed to help kill you, it seemed like a great gift from a benevolent and exceedingly clever master. (And I was still surprised.)
Exactly. Think of Dune; all "proper" swordsmen have a flaw developed in their fighting style that comes from training and dueling with shields. They have a habit of slowing their strikes just before they hit, because a shield won't allow a fast moving object but it will allow a slow one. However, when facing someone who hasn't ever trained with shields and shields aren't in play, they find themselves disadvantaged because they are still slowing their strikes unconsciously. Master Li likely did something similar to the Spirit Monk, putting a tiny flaw into their training that, against someone less skilled, wouldn't mean anything. But against someone who could properly exploit it, it would be fatal.
This Troper's opinion is that the flaw is a tendency to over-focus on anything shiny or colorful or unusual, like a "conditioned reflex," which helped immensely in learning to concentrate but is a flaw if exploited. Tatewaki Kuno from the Ranma 1/2 series has a similar case: he trained his swordsmanship skills by cutting watermelons in half. That caused him to develop a "conditioned reflex" where he absolutely has to cut the watermelon in half at lightning speed if he sees one. As to why only Master Li could possibly exploit it, keep in mind that with the destruction of Two Rivers, only the player character and Master Li and Dawn Star are left to explain how the main character was trained. So no enemy would randomly guess that maybe he could beat you if he threw a coin into the air.
This seems incredibly implausible. A tendency to focus on shiny and colourful objects can't be taught in martial arts training, and even if it were possible to do so, the PC would have to have an IQ of 40 or so to just accept Master Li's absurd training program if that were the case.
When Li talks about Death's Hand at Dirge he says that Hai bound Kin to his armor to taunt him. Since this happened after Li fled, Death's Hand's identity was a huge secret, and it's not like the pair had any contact for twenty years, how does he know this? He knew about it when he went to go resurrect Death's Hand from the ruins of the Lotus Assassin fortress so he couldn't have just asked. Was there some high-ranking Lotus Assassin who knew the secret who just happened to be away from the fortress and filled him in? If so, it wouldn't be a very effective taunt since he didn't realize what happened. If he knew beforehand...HOW? It's hardly an obvious conclusion to jump to and no matter how smart Li was, he'd need a reason to believe that Death's Hand was Kin bound to his armor. Did he just realize it was in Hai's character to do that?
Several reasons, really. For one, he WAS the last person to leave the two there after jumping out of his armor, and the resulting "disappearence" of Kin and the corresponding appearence of Death's Hand in Li's own armor would be two events that (for a man who knows what Li knows) would be easy to connect. And he DOES know his brothers, and a man who can predict the motivations and actions of SCORES of people he has hardly-if-ever met can probably guess what someone he has lived with his entire life will do. In addition, even though he himself might not have identified Death's Hand in person to confirm, he might have launched one of his infamous strategies to confirm the fact.
If you keep Death's Hand but didn't turn your LI CF then you have to end up binding them. They are really REALLY pissed about this and rightly so as there are few things you could do to them that are worse than this. Nonetheless, if you destroy the Water Dragon's body then you still get LI epilogue for them. Why in the world would Dawn Star/Sky/Silk Fox get back together with you after what you did? Sure you ultimately made the moral choice and set everyone on the path to rebirth...but you still turned them into your slave because they disagreed with you on another morally questionable decision.
It seems pretty straight forward to me. The love interests get back with the spirit monk because he still has their souls bound, meaning they could not leave the spirit monk if said monk did not want them to.
Am I missing something, or are Transformation styles *never* explained? Is the ability to transform into a demon or golem just a Spirit Monk thing? And why does nobody ever comment on it?
Possibly; it could have something to do with copying the soul of your target or something like that. Now, as for why nobody ever comments on it, that's easier to explain: "Hey, your powers are weird. Cool." This is the Jade Empire; there's fighters with techniques like the Phoenix Unity Style, Kang the Mad's firebombs, Roderick and Mirabelle, Smiling Tiger's life-eating style...Transformation Styles are a strange power, make no mistake, but people are more likely to come to an opinion of you based on what you're doing than what your abilities look like.
Well do recall that magic seems pretty prevalent in Jade Empire, the fliers are run by it and plenty of enemies utilize magic styles. Transformation is basically just magic in the end, after all.
NPC's going from supposed badasses in cutscenes to barely knowing how to fight in-game
Considering how deadly some of them are by description (ESPECIALLY Black Whirlwind) it wouldn't be much fun if they were actually that strong in gameplay, you'd just sit back and watch them kill everything.
How does making them them nearly useless help anything?
You're given a superhyped weapon that's supposed to be awesome but it does nothing against spirits while your weaker teammembers weapons do.
Well, in the case of Dawn Star, she's an established special case, she's better at sensing and fighting spirits than you are (at least at first), and your super-special weapon (ha ha) isn't designed to fight spirits. The rest...I got nothing, besides your teammates only having one attack mode each.
Actually, Dawn doesn't need her "special case". Its be stated that Dawn Star has been practicing for YEARS with her weapon, and giving her the sword if you choose the staff at Two Rivers actually makes her less effective because practice with "her" sword has practically made it part of her, and allows her to effortlessly use it without thought/focus. Striking spirits with it becomes no different than striking it with hands or feet. It is part of her.
This likely also applies to other party members. They have had years to practice with their specific weapon to the degree that they can perform near superhuman feats of skill with them.
The PC on the other hand, just got handed the weapon (like a surprise present) and probably never saw that weapon before in their lives. They may have trained with similar weapons in the past, but not THAT specific weapon. Thus, not quite part of them. The PC will probably learn the trick in a few years with practice and mastery though.
Why is Drunken Master supposedly a good style? It's slow, awkward and doesn't even do that much more damage than any other type and can't even be upgraded.
Because it doesn't NEED to be upgraded. If you don't have a fully upgraded style Drunken master deals more damage and costs you nothing. Basically it's a shortcut to the equivalent of a fully upgraded style.
So what exactly is this "The Flaw", anyway? Inabilty to hold your bladder during combat? Two left feet?
Unconsiously leaving visible holes in his defence that everyone can see but no one was able to exploit them except the one person who taught him.
As this Troper guessed above, "a conditioned reflex where the main character hyper-concentrates on anything shiny or unusual." No enemy would guess, randomly, that if he threw a coin into the air the main character would involuntarily look at it and leave himself/herself wide open. Only Master Li knows because almost everyone else in Two Rivers is dead (Dawn Star survived but doesn't know the exact details of how Li trained you).
The thrown coin theory is pretty ridiculous, given that several characters comment that they saw the flaw but couldn't take advantage of it - if it was just about shiny stuff, either nobody would notice it or they would be able to take advantage of it. More likely, it's a minor delay (or perhaps a slight mistake in positioning) in the Spirit Monk's defense that only becomes relevant against the one specific strike that Li used.
Li probably just threw the item to get the PC to look away for a moment... then, when they looked back, he was already attacking, forcing him/her to react instinctively with their most familiar training, and thus giving him his planned opening. The distraction itself wasn't the flaw, it was just Li taking advantage of his pupil's trust—to give him the opportunity to exploit the real flaw. By that point the PC had taken down demons, a signifigant branch of the Lotus Assassins, learned several other styles, and beaten the God-Emperor s/he was trained to beat in the first place. Sun Li probably just wanted to cover his bases even further with a little sleight of hand.
In the beginning of the game, if you choose the staff as your primary weapon style, you get a staff that's described as legendary. Okay, Master Li probably has enough connections to ensure such a mythical weapon is available to you. But then, not long afterwards, you can buy a better staff from a random street acrobat in a remote town... Eh? Shouldn't there have been at least some explanation of how she got hold of such an unique and powerful weapon? With the equivalent sword upgrade, it makes a little more sense that a professional blacksmith in the capital of the Empire would be selling a powerful sword.
Given the rather long history of Jade Empire, its highly possible that "Legendary Weapons" are a dime a dozen.
Chalk it up the "Chinese Restaurant Effect" (please bear with me). There seems to be a theme of giving dishes names like "Saint Jumps Over Barriers Stew!", "The 8 Treasures Soup!", "Dumplings of DOOOOM!!!" (heh, made the last one up), complete with history, back story and supposed magical properties. No reason why weapons couldn't have the same tradition. Its "A" Legendary Weapon, not "THE" (original?) Legendary Weapon, which may or may not actually exist or been better/worse than the one the PC can get.
It seems the Water Dragon knew about Master Li's plan all along, but decided not to tell you because straying from the path Master Li intended for you would have raised his suspicion. But couldn't the Dragon have just told you about the plan, then ask you to act as if you didn't know about it? It's not like Master Li was there to observe your every step. Of course it's possible you would have a hard time believing your beloved master is a bad guy, but at the very least the Dragon could have told you to get rid of the flaw in your fighting style and hide the amulet before you meet Li. Even if it had turned out Li was not bad guy, doing those two things would have been a smart precaution anyway. (For example, if Emperor Sun Hai would have defeated you, he would have gotten hold of the amulet.) Then, when Li revealed his treachery by attacking you, he wouldn't have managed to kill you, nor steal the amulet to channel the Water Dragon's power. With your current power level, you probably could have defeated Li at that point (since you were able to defeat him soon afterwards, even though he had the Dragon's power then). That way the Dragon's plan would have gone much smoother, instead of it relying on you being able to escape the Spirit Realm, get rid of the demons in Dirge, defeat Master Li in a much more powerful form, etc.
While it might have been a good to hide the amulet (unless you still need it to power you up to defeat the emperor. It seems to be more powerful lore-wise than the game-play letting you use a few gems) but you have to die. In order to restore the Water Dragon, you have to restore Dirge and you can't do that unless you're dead. If the Water Dragon tells you that Master Li is evil and that you have to go get yourself killed by him (but don't worry, despite how she's apparently too weak to even tell you who she is she can bring you back!) then she either won't convince you so there's no point in saying it or she'll have her work cut out for her making you do it anyway and convincing you not to mention that the Water Dragon is involved and working against him in case he can find a way to counter it. It's just easier for all involved not to tell you. Sure, you might be persuaded go go kill the half-dead emperor so that the man who raised you can mercilessly strike you down and possibly kill/imprison your friends because you need to practically single-handedly restore Dirge so you can be brought back to life and find your way to the palace to kill the man who raised you who is much stronger than even the Emperor is. On the other hand, wasn't it easier when you just thought you were rescuing your master?
I don't think it's ever established that you have to die in order to restore Dirge. Restoring it means dealing with a few ghosts and demons, but it's well established that the Spirit Monk can see ghosts and demons and defeat them without being dead herself. Even if dying is for some reason absolutely necessary to do that, why can't the Water Dragon first tell you about Master Li's treachery, then let you fight him while he's still weak, and only after you've defeated him explain the situation at Dirge and what you need to do there?
What purpose would levelling with you do? The Dragon doesn't need you thinking for yourself. That would make you unpredictable, you might not believe her, or you might do something odd instead of following Master Li's breadcrumb trai, and it would quite probably tip off Master Li that the Dragon was playing a game of her own. (You know, even if you try to hide what you know from Master Li, he's probably smart enough to know that you're trying to BS him.) This way, all you need to do is die, at which point the Dragon can explain the situation at precisely the point that you're railroaded into cleaning Dirge and have a grudge against Master Li.
The implication I always got was that the Water Dragon could only impart some information at each time she communicated with the Spirit Monk but not everything, and so she told the Spirit Monk the vital information at each point she could communicate. As pointed out above, in the event that she had said something like 'Sun Li is your true enemy,' if she was believed, which was no guarantee, it would potentially have led to the Spirit Monk just stopping there, with Li already in the hands of the Emperor, who was likely to kill him and end that threat. Instead, she told the Spirit Monk the information that would keep them going, hopefully putting them on their guard, but at the very least keeping them on the path to restoring Dirge and letting her finally die. As we see with the Forest Shadow, who attempts to use the Spirit Monk to defeat the Mother, the fates of mortals are less important to the members of the Celestial Bureaucracy as their own, and the current fate of the Water Dragon was paramount.
What happened the the PC's dead body? The one that fell in the Throne Room?
Good idea. Minor change. I'm hoping it actually disappeared the moment the Spirit Monk dropped. On a whim, Sun Li could have beheaded the body and turned the head into a display ornament at the market square (as was tradition in ancient China).
That would require making up a story about who you were and why you were a hated enemy whose head to put on display instead of just ignoring the whole incident, though.
Several other explanations, all possible in my eyes: 1) Li being Dangerously Genre Savvy as he is, he could have just burned it. 2) It teleported to Dirge, so the PC was put in their original body rather than a new one. 3) It's still there, useless, possibly buried or mutilated. The real question is, other than option 2, why is the PC re-embodied at Dirge fully clothed? Where did the clothes come from?
If the Water Dragon can bring you back to life then it's probably no problem bringing you back in clothes. Not only is it the nice thing to do but Dirge is really cold and it's probably dangerous to go around outside naked.
How could Li, Glorious Strategist or no, foresee that you would go to Tien's Landing? You were going to the Imperial City, and only crashed at Tien's Landing by chance. You can even point it out to Hui, and the best she can counter it with is "Well, your quest would have led you here sooner or later".
Perhaps he didn't know. You'd still have two pieces of the amulet without going to Tien's Landing and that would have to be enough to defeat the Emperor. The amulet is really more useful to him that to you anyway since most of the game you really just use it to get a few extra stats from gems while Li needs it to bind Death's Hand to him and control the Water Dragon's power. If you killed the Emperor without getting the last piece of the amulet then he'd just send for Hui or something and have it hand-delivered.
He predicted that you would be on foot, he had no way to know you would get a hold of a flyer. And Tien's Landing is on the path you would need to take if you were walking to the Imperial City. That you did crash there was either a coincidence, or the influence of the Water Dragon.
Tien's Landing was the closest trading village to the school, so he knew if you walked to the Imperial City on foot, that you would need to pass through there. He also knew that if you wanted to take a flyer to the Imperial City, you would need a wind map to get there, so you would have to go to Gao the Greater's pirate base to get one.
Promising student of many years knows only one specific set of strikes and one support style. And supposed magic user doesn't get anything.
Most martial arts schools teach only one fighting style, so why should Master Li's school be any different? As for the magic styles, maybe Master Li doesn't know any? We never see him use any magic styles before he grabs your amulet, and after that he's merely channeling the Water Dragon's magic. It's also possible Master Li doesn't want you to learn too many different martial arts styles, because that might make you lose the flaw in your fighting technique. (In the end you don't lose it even after learning various styles, but it's still possible Master Li feared you might.) Also, if he taught you many different techniques, you might notice the flaw, and start to question why it's there.
Also, bear in mind that he isn't running the school out of the kindness of his heart. It's all camouflage so he can hide the two of you in plain sight until it's time to make his move. So he needs to justify teaching you to fight, but you can't be too good when compared to the fighters of the Empire as a whole, and he can't teach his students too many styles, or the school might start drawing too much attention to itself. Also, keep in mind that magic involves spirits, and he really, really does not want you exposed to too many of those, since you have a natural affinity for them and he does not (which could lead to an unforeseeable situation - anathema to any chessmaster). See also: his reaction if you tell him you met a spirit (the Water Dragon) in the cave when getting the amulet. It's pretty much the only time in the game that you'll see him off-balance.
He doesn't have to have any sinister motives for teaching you only one martial style. He may just not want you splitting your Style Points too thinly among redundant techniques when you only need one martial, one support and one weapon style. As for magic, I imagine he didn't teach it to you because too much familiarity with magic might induce you to try to investigate the amulet, and that's the last thing he wants. Remember, he implies that Dire Flame is black magic, when that's simply not true.
Does following the Way of the Closed Fist make you stupid? By the time I reached the Imperial City, or shortly thereafter, I was in the "blue aura of Open Palm if you stand still" stage, and an ordinary bandit like Aishi the Mournful Blade recognised me as OP on sight. Even at Tien's Landing, Scholar Six Heavens (hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer) immediately recognised me as too OP for his purposes. So I wonder: Why did Master Smiling Hawk even consider enlisting my help? Why were all the Lotus Assassins below Grand Inquisitor Jia oblivious?
Because (theoretically) being Open Palm and being a genuinely good person aren't necessarily hand-in-hand. See a certain Sun Li.
Then why does Scholar Six Heavens refuse to grant his quest? If Master Smiling Hawk could expect an OP player to kill Master Radiant, why couldn't SSH expect an OP player to retrieve the Zither Of Discord?
Because Scholar Six Heavens really is that arrrogant/stupid.
Six Heavens is a scholar and philosopher. He may be an idiot, but him being able to read your philosophy from your stance isn't too out of character. Aishi, meanwhile, is no "ordinary bandit." She's unusually perceptive and strong-willed, and undoubtedly has a bit of philosophical education. But the Lotus Assassins (except for Jia) are not trained in philosophy, they're trained to abandon such things and become single-minded tools of the Emperor's ambition. Open Palm and Closed Fist are meaningless.
Why is it that The Mother, after being described as an ancient and cunning demon, apparently has dog-level intelligence when you face her?
The sight of a mortal not under her control set off her feeding reflex and she assumed you were just thrown in there to bat around/eat?
It just bugs me that the pseudo-Chinese names are not pronounced like actual Chinese names (e.g. the family name Sun is pronounced like the English word "sun" while it should have been more like "soon"). Yes, I know, it's a fantasy world and not China, the pronunciation rules are not actually the same as in our world, and so on. But given all the amount of research into Chinese culture that went into this game...
As a an aditional point of support for that some English speaking people, even professional actors, struggle with Asian pronounciation. Better to let all the actors use English style pronounciation than risk ending up with something that sounds silly or even insulting to a native speaker.
Why is Sir Roderick so insulting about silver and talking about putting gold into statues when the main reasons that Europeans were after gold and silver in Africa and the Americas was because Chinese officials refused to let them import other things? Well, that and some of the European goods were not so convenient for the area and they basically got into freight work.
Because he's a cultural imperialist. He's looking for things to complain about.
Imagine for a moment that you're an incredibly talented martial artist who kinda resembles Bruce Lee, and to underscore that connection, you get a tattoo of a big honking black dragon that covers the whole of your back. While being the most metal thing ever, if you're suddenly a wanted man and every soldier in the Empire is looking out for you wouldn't you...oh I don't know...PUT ON A SHIRT??
Not with the shoddy description the Lotus Assassins have of you that they've been spreading around. Virtually no one who knows who you are survived to report back so you're perfectly fine just wandering around as is.
Similarly, if you're Radiant Jen Zi the things they're looking for are a woman with your hairstyle wearing red and blue silks. It sure is a good thing you can't change either, or that would be completely useless!