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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Jade Empire
Betraying the Water Dragon is the Open Palm ending, saving it is the Closed Fist
Freeing the Water Dragon will cause massive droughts and probably kill many people, but will serve a higher moral principle. Replacing it, on the other hand, helps the entire Empire. Much like the question of whether to save the dam earlier in the game, the Open Palm wants to save everyone it can, while the Closed Fist expects the strong to survive when you take the proper course.
  • Except at the end of the game, if you've "saved" the water dragon, the epilogue makes no mention of a drought.
    • There's also the little matter of the fact that the place is getting overrun by ghosts. The dead can't move on, no souls return the the wheel for rebirth. Sooner or later, the ghosts outnumber the people, and no people are born. Everyone is a mad ghost. Will likely take centuries for the full extent of the damnation to kick in, but it's still damnation.
      • To be fair, that bit gets explained. Master Li, before you fight him, brags about how he will "force the dead into their proper places" with the Dragon's full power, unfettered by his brother's madness.
      • And you believed him? Especially since his brother couldn't, and it was pretty obvious he was succumbing to the same levels of A God Am I batshit nuts?
      • The Water Dragon tells you that all that power without the amulet drove the Emperor insane and Li learned from his brother's mistakes. Plus, in the Emperor Li ending Li seems quite happy with his creepy little Empire which he wouldn't be if he failed to deal with the ghosts and so it was only a matter of time when souls would run out and the human race would cease to exist. I don't think Li was ever going insane, he just had no morals and was extremely arrogant.
      • Well, yeah. He's the very essence of Pragmatic Villainy. Doesn't mean killing the sumbitch isn't the right choice.
      • Not to mention DAMN satisfying after all he put you through.
  • On the subject of the droughts, the time at which the Empire was supposed to be under the Drought is long past and, given that the ending after saving the Water Dragon is called "a golden age" it seems likely the Drought does not return.

The Ending Scene actually took a while to arrange, not just a short flight down the Dragonfly.

  • The game is becoming an Unreliable Narrator. It also features a large crowd of people cheering, despite having no clear way of knowing what just happened. This makes some kind of sense if they just saw the Imperial Champion descend from the Castle, but if you didn't play that quest...
    • I'm pretty certain the crowd scene is not meant to immediately follow the resolution (since, for example, Sun Lian is in proper regalia rather than her black outfit), so maybe the whole cheering crowd thing didn't happen until the new administration had put out proclamations and such to explain what people saw.
      • Seconded. The fact that Sun Lian had probably dismantled or otherwise called off the Lotus Assassins was probably a great relief for the common folk, as they were all over the City, intimidating and making people "vanish."

The Lotus Assassins Have No Will Without the Emperor Via Death's Hand.

Upon the death of the Big Bad, considering how Lotus Assassins are usually "stripped" of self before being made into utterly loyal, tools, the few remaining survivors might be walking vegetables by the end if is Open Palm ending. In Closed Fist, they are your minions.

In much the same way that the Big Bad could use the Spirit Amulet to bind Death's Hand to him, you could use your Spirit Monk power to release and bind Death's Hand, and the entire Lotus Assassin Order to you, and even the entire Jade Empire given enough time.

Sun Hai is evil Closed Fist, Sun Li is evil Open Palm, The Water Dragon is good Closed Fist, and the Spirit Monk is supposed to be good Open Palm, though s/he can rebel against it.

While we don't actually see it, the alignment system is supposed to be more complex than good and evil alone. Sun Hai represents the evil way of following the Closed Fist, being a selfish asshole. Sun Li represents the evil way of following the Open Palm, lording over and controlling others "for their own good." The Water Dragon represents the good way of following the Closed Fist, not helping others because it's better in the long run that you don't, but still interceding where necessary. The Spirit Monk only brings complete balance to the world by following the good Way of the Open Palm, but still has the choice not to.
  • That -would- be the case, except that by definition anything the Water Dragon does is Open Palm. She does what she's supposed to to ensure that Heaven and Earth go as they should. When she allows the drought to happen, that's just as much her job and the will of Heaven as the Spirit Monk killing and recycling her is.
    • When are we told that either Open Palm or Closed Fist is more affiliated with things going as they should? Actual choices in-game aside, whenever someone talks about the two philosophies, they go on and on about how neither is "wrong," which implies that both are accepted under Heaven.
      • Mistress Vo explains it that way, when likening it to how Stone Immortal works. As for "neither is wrong," that's what Smiling Mountain said, and he didn't say that Heaven agreed with him. (The Forest Spirit notably doesn't agree with it, but that may be just her not wanting to die...) Smiling Mountain was picked by Master Li, who has a vested interest in making you think that whatever path you choose is the right one and that they all lead to Emperor Sun Hai getting beat down.
    • I think it's more likely that the Water Dragon is evil Open Palm- she very clearly believes in harmony and order, talking about the proper "place" of gods above humans and how humans should obey the heavens. She also quite clearly doesn't care about people suffering or dying, as she states that she refused to do anything about the drought because it was part of the natural order of things, which made it a-okay as far as she was concerned.
      • She'd certainly be evil if she were a human. As-is, she has a reasonable shot at the Omniscient Morality License, which is its own can of worms. Whether you accept it is of course an open question, though the game definitely sides with her.
      • Considering she is the god who handles death, I guess she'd be pretty comfortable with ideas like "everyone dies, so when doesn't matter".
      • Or, for that matter, "Better you suffer a drought for a little while than have somewhere else suffer it for twenty years in your place.
      • For what i understand, closed fist is not "disharmony" but rather, "change" or "chaos", and Open Palm is not "harmony" as it is "static" or "peace", that doesn't mean it isn't part of the harmony. To put it simple, "change" is part of "harmony". time must change and led to new things, peace leds to chaos, but chaos leads to peace. an old dinasty is replaced by a new one, changing everything, but at the same time, having everything the same. The water dragon is CF good, because she wants change, not because her own gain, but because that's the best for everything. that's the best for the mortals and gods. You are Open Palm good because you want to have everything as it is/was and not change it. you want the water dragon to come back, the spirits to rest and Silk fox(and maybe you) in her throne. things change, new dinasty, new empress and new rules, just as "changes" dictates. but at the same time, everything is the same at long term, the empire changed ruler as it always did, the weather acts as it always did and the death rest in peace, as it always was supposed to, everythings happens as it always did, just as the open palm dictates. Li wants to keep everything as it is forever and ever, always spring, always the same dinasty, always the same ruler, and that's not harony, because there is no change so nothing is the same anymore, so it's "evil". Sun hai wants everything around him, wants to change everything in a way that isn't "static" so it's "evil".
      • Also in defense of the Water Dragon's nastier decisions she is a spirit with role to play. The game tells us that spirits that neglect their roles too much become demons so she really can't be too kind.

Had Bioware ever created a sequel, it would have followed the Closed Fist story path
Nothing in particular supports this except for a gut feeling that Bioware would have wanted to link the first game to the second, and upon the completion of the Open Fist path, there's nothing left that would have been required for a player to handle. It would also allow them to break free from the Lucas Arts-mandated "Light Side (i.e. Good Path) is always canonical" theme they had to follow for the second Knights of the Old Republic to follow the first.
  • Damn right nothing supports it. For one thing, Bioware didn't make Knights of the Old Republic 2 because they wanted control over the games they made, not because of some asinine dispute over canon. For another, Obsidian's solution allowed the player to pick what they viewed as canon anyway. If we ever get a Jade Empire follow-up I would expect something similar, the game asks what the Spirit Monk did and accepts your answers as canon.
  • I disagree. Mass Effect handles it nicely. The choices you made, good or ill, are what comes back to bite you in the butt later - alignment be damned. Plus, a LOT of the Closed Fist choices in JE were even more Chaotic Stupid than they were in Knights of the Old Republic. Gee, am I going to side with the relatively benign Fox Spirit or the nasty critter that would have me for lunch? And there is also a big difference between "allowing the town hardship to make it stronger" and "damning the town for a handful of silver."
    • The sequel would have to take place somewhere else then, because starting off by allowing the player to decide whether the Jade Empire is ruled by the Lotus Assassins with a God-Emperor at its head or has just a normal ruler leading it would kind of require the following game to have two MASSIVELY different plots, depending on which you pick.
      • Somewhere else or somewhen else. Set it a couple of hundred years later, after the inevitable fragmentation of the Jade Empire, and include references to it that leave it ambiguous, due to forgotten history, exactly who the God-Emperor was and how long it was before they fell. The main question then would be whether any Spirit Monks survived, but I suppose- since it's already stated that many of them were children given to the Monks, not born to them- that somebody could learn the rituals and practices from old texts. In fact, that could be the plot- go forth, gather the fragments of remaining Spirit Monk lore, and shape the new order how you want 'em- either guiding the spirits of the dead or controlling them...
      • Base it on the three kingdoms period, and have the player decide the outcome and who will rule the united Jade Empire.

The Brothers Sun were aligned with the Water Dragon's "other," and it drove them mad.

Each heavenly entity has an equal and opposite. Most of the time, they keep each other in check, and maintain the cosmic balance. We see it with Fox Spirit and Mother, and with Chang Ka and Ya Zhen. We don't actually see the Water Dragon's equal and opposite, but judging by her job and what's happening with her out of the way, I wager the Water Dragon's opposite is King of the Undead - of unnaturally prolonged life and of those who cannot die.

So, there is a drought. It's set to last three more years, by which time, the Empire will have collapsed. In desperation, the Sun brothers start looking to the Heavens to cut deals. The Dragon says she can't, but her counterpart says "Yes, she can. Here's how. Oh. and I'll collect my payment later." The Sun brothers, desperate and arguably trying to save their people with a heroic act march on Dirge and prove that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The youngest brother, a monk, realizes too late what a massive screw-up they're about to make, and tried to stop it. His brothers cut him down and Sun Kin and gets bound to Death's Hand. His death and betrayal cause him to go insane and corrupt the Lotus Monks into the Lotus Assassins. Sun Hai completely loses his mind upon channeling the Dragon's power, dies, and continues on as a mad ghost, accusing his surviving (living) brother of treason, causing Sun Li to put together that jaw-dropper of a plan. Sun Li goes insane over a much longer period, but by the time you reach him at the final fight, he's clearly as out of his gourd as his elder brother.

They end their drought, but at the cost of a slower damnation. By suspending the Water Dragon between life and death, her Undead counterpart is free to reign. The shepherds of the dead are destroyed, and the gate to the Underworld is blocked. The golems are powered by the undead, the spirits of the dead can't rest or be destroyed. Eventually, the Jade Empire would be like Seymour's idea for Spira - a land where there are none among the living, only ghosts going slowly mad from their imprisonment.

  • Actually that would explain the mysterious evil force sending demons just outside the temple, it was the Water Dragon's opposite fighting it's way across.

Jade Empire is the 4th edition version of Kara-Tur

Just a silly idea.

Admittedly, this isn't that good of a fit since we never see any of the traditional D&D races, although Kara-Tur never had many of them (besides humans) to begin with anyway. But in Baldur's Gate you can find weapons from the "Jade Empire" (i.e., Kara-Tur) and many of the design elements of Jade Empire are clearly influenced by D&D's take on eastern culture (such as the Celestial Bureaucracy). Any differences can be accounted for by the Spellplague, which not only switched up geography but also led to devastating climate shifts. Eventually, the Brothers Sun decide to take out the god they deem responsible, the Water Dragon, killing her and stealing her power (a common theme in Forgotten Realms).

Alternatively, the Water Dragon was murdered during / right after / right before the Time of Troubles, of which few details exist regarding Kara-Tur.

  • In this scheme, one can imagine the player's class in D&D terms to be:
    • Chi: Wu Jen
    • Weapon Focus: Fighter or Sohei
    • Hand-combat Focus: Monk

A whole other chapter was left on the cutting room floor

This is mostly supported by the Prima strategy guide, which has a short section dedicated to a bunch of seemingly random data that appear to have been culled from the alpha version of the game. There are some very specific references to cities and regions which have nothing to do with the storyline of the game itself. The most glaring example is the city of Phoenix Gate, which I take to be the Shanghai to the Imperial City's Nanking. It's mentioned at least twice in the loading-screen snippets, which are mostly plot-relevant. We have at least three characters from Phoenix Gate (Smiling Mountain, Henpecked Hou, Crimson Khana), plus some plot elements that just seem incomplete. Henpecked Hou is probably the most egregious example; his placement and disposition makes me think he was supposed to be someone you met when you entered a new place (Phoenix Gate). This may be a little further far-fetched, but I also feel like the Phoenix Unity style and the Phoenix Assassins who use it (in the arena) are a part of this as well.

Had BioWare decided to stall a little and release Jade Empire on the Xbox 360, the Jade Epire franchise would've been a huge success.

Just look at Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Jade Empire has just as much charm as those series.
  • It's even got built-in multiplayer possibilities to appease the corporate overlords in the form of Arena fights, and the fact that the enemies in the game don't tend to have access to things players don't.

Mistress Vo and Master Iron Fist, the Old Masters in Tien's Landing, are at least Minor Gods/Demons.

I played Open Palm, and defeated Mistress Vo for her Stone Fist style, she made a comment
  • Vo "It will serve you well in this life and...." (Iron Fist Interupts) "Vo!"
  • Vo "Uh....it will serve you well."
  • PC "What were you going to say?"
    • She refuses to answer, but repeated playthroughs hint that they both know the future somehow, perhaps by having a connection to the Water Dragon?
  • Also, if you pay attention at the Forest Shadow's temple, by the side there is a scroll stand that mentions a Master Jian Iron Fist quote from hundreds of years BEFORE the Jade Empire was founded. Could be coincidence, but then again....
    • That could explain how they're playing chess inside their own heads, as well as them apparently being veterans of many battles despite Vo being a good few decades younger than Fist.

Sun Li killed the last master, and his students, of the Two Rivers dojo. Then dumped their bodies and spirits into the dojo's cave for extra evil and as another way to hone his tool/plan.
  • I don't think he would have a need to kill the students assuming that he made the old master's death look like an accident. Maybe he'd also need to kill whoever was next in line to inherit the school. I definitely get the vibe that Li was involved in the old master's demise, though. The timing is just too good.

Hui the Brave had a crush on the Glorious Strategist.

Saddly, either Master Li didn't notice (unlikely), didn't care (possibly) or just considered her feelings as something to be used for his benefit (that bastard...)

The PC Could Secretly Become an Immortal Supreme Ruler of the Empire via Spirit Monk Powers.

Assuming the PC was not a total moron, the possibilities of a Spirit Monk's power are rather obvious.

The PC could bind several party members at once during a face to face confrontation. Granted, they might have been surprised by that, but given enough practice, its likely that the PC could do the attack in ways that leave the victim not realizing they already his, mind body and soul.

The Heavenly Lilly could become enslaved in her sleep, along with the rest, and with her, the Jade Empire is the PC's play thing.

Then there's Kang the Mad. A minor Godling, but still an IMMORTAL, or at least, very long lived. For that matter, there were Fox Spirits, The Mother, The Other, Chai Ka, and a host of other beings the Spirit Monk could probably learn the secret of Immortality from. (Or beat it out of them via Mega Manning.)

Its not like the Water Dragon was the only source of Godhood after all.

Then there's the possibility of promotion to Celestial Status due to merit alone.

There was a way the PC could combine the Closed Fist and Open Palm choice for the Water Dragon to get a better Third Option. The Spirit Monk could just beat the Water Dragon to death.

In a world where beating a Toad Demon, Horse Ghost, Spirits, Golem. etc. gives you the ability to turn into said creature, beating the Water Dragon should grant the PC Water Dragon Powers WITHOUT having to sacrifice your allies.

In fact, that the Water Dragon even suggested that some of your own would need to be sacrificed seems suspiciously like a manipulative bitch's strategy....

The world of Jade Empire is the past of Avatar: The Last Airbender

It all makes perfect sense. Bear with me.

Assuming the Open Palm ending, what is the state of the world? Well, there used to be an order of Spirit Monks. What was the power of the Spirit Monks? The ability to affect the spirits of themselves and others. They could bind spirits, enslaving them. They could influence spirits. And so forth. These worked on the living just as well as the dead. And the order was associated with the Great Water Dragon.

Of course, there used to be an order of Spirit Monks; they're all but dead by the end of Jade Empire. There's just one left: the PC. Maybe the PC will teach others, but maybe he/she won't.

The Water Dragon is dead. Per the rules of Jade Empire, that means you get reincarnated; she even says that this must be her fate. Is her new version going to restart the Spirit Monk order? Well, maybe. Then again, the fact that she needed the Spirit Monks to protect her mortal form was a weakness that nearly threw the world into chaos.

So maybe the Celestial Bureaucracy will find a way to deal with it that doesn't leave her vulnerable. Maybe she'll get a form that's always on the move, that's completely untrackable. Thus, it will be far more difficult to usurp her power and screw things up. You know, something like... a Giant Lion Turtle.

With no Spirit Monks around, with the order itself dying out due to lack of need, their powers disappear. Of course, the Water Dragon, in her new form, will remember the days of the Spirit Monks and their spirit abilities. Just in case she needed to dispense those powers to one who needed them.

And then there's bending; this one's pretty obvious. The magic forms are clearly nascent forms of bending. Not fully formed, not in their final state. But the precursors are there. Perhaps the Celestial Bureaucracy used them as a test run for the final forms, deciding exactly which form each element's bending will take before unleashing bending fully upon the world. The GLT was very clear that there was a time before elemental bending, and it's very likely that Spirit Monks existed before the magic forms.

Obviously, the world would have to have a cataclysm or two in order for this to work out. The Jade Empire would have to crumble, but probably not completely. Much of the history would be lost, and certainly the technology.

But perhaps old Lord Lao is still around, putting his knowledge to good use in the Fire Nation. It would certainly explain the drill ;)
  • Not explody enough.
  • He is obviously the Mechanist. That guy built a furnace that explodes like a missile when dropped out of a hot air balloon.

At the end, Minister Shen is going to get fired.

  • If OP, its unlikely that Silk Fox is going to tolerate such a useless, spineless, worthless whiner in her government.
  • If CF, the Minister is probably going to the Golem factory (as raw material) for taking all the credit of the PC's work.

If there is a Sequel, there will be another encounter with The Magnificent Bastard

  • And it will turn out he's gone completely native and is trying to become a monk and failing miserably due to his arrogance.

Absorbing the Water Dragon's power was never meant to combat the Drought

It was a plan to stave off Roderik's home country. They are clearly beginning an age of seafaring, their muskets are capable of taking out the best martial artists the Imperial City has to offer, and they don't seem likely to leave anyone alone. To the philosophers Roderk is a nuisance. To the Emperor and his brothers he's the first pebble of an avalanche that threatens to crush the land.

Most of Black Whirlwind's exploits he talks about are probably just exaggerations of what he really did. He just tells them to people so he could size himself up as a more powerful mercenary
Black Whirlwind is very powerful barbarian, but he is quite easily taken down by the protagonist(Though he does say he was holding back), and the main character never heard of his exploits. Even if Two Rivers was a very rural place that didn't hear of many legends, I'm sure Black Whirlwind would have at least been heard of. I think somebody would have heard of the guy who cleaved a human in half with a single blow, charged a castle naked, screaming, and dead drunk, herded an entire herd of drunken cows single handily, and to top that all off was an incredible fighter in the arena(Though Qui proved that this one was true), if he really did all that he would have much more important mercenary job than fending off ghosts in a forest
  • If they're exaggerated, they're not exaggerated by much. He's so wildly and randomly destructive that heaven itself has trouble keeping up with his exploits. Take him into the Forest Shadow's heaven and Zin Bu complains about the sheer amount of paperwork he creates.

Master Li actually does have sorrow for the murder of his family, but is in denial about it
While Master Liís insists that he viewed his murdered family as mere possessions and only was angered because his brother Sun Hai killed them without his permission, itís only because heís in denial about it. He was actually severely affected by their (or in his childís sake, apparent) murder. The Water Dragon says that he keeps this emotion hidden from himself, and that the murder fuels his actions, even if he doesnít fully understand it. Also, if the character reveals to him that Dawn Star is his child, he becomes very emotional and tells the character that he has no right to talk about it. Only after taking time to think about it does he say in a calm voice that he didnít really care about them. To this troper, it seems to imply that, at his heart, Master Li subconsciously felt sorrow and pain for losing his family, which he will never actually admit to.

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