WARNING: There are spoilers below.
Ok, let me start by saying that I really loved Affairs of the Court. It’s not often that a fantasy game or novel puts me in a genuinely novel situation, one that I’ve never played before. For those who play a het male character this is a truly gender-bending scenario wherein your young & relatively powerless male noble is chased by an attractive & extremely powerful, but very much married Queen. Then once he’s attained her favor, and she’s attained his body, he’s forced to struggle to retain her heart even as her eye begins to wander towards the new young things in court. I recognize that for women being placed in this situation is almost par for the course, but for men this is, to say the least, highly unusual, and so I found the scenario both refreshing and thought-provoking. That said, I do have several constructive criticisms that I wish to express. First, let’s start with CoR…
Choice of Romance
- Why does relying on my charm cost me subtlety? - (Fixed in CoI!)
Women have traditionally been penalized for being direct, and for arguing publicly with men. In the Iberia of AotC however there is no Church teaching women to be submissive, and genders are considered equal. Nevertheless if you’re going to ditch historic realism for a more gender-equal society then don’t leave broken shards of that standard around when there is no longer a reason for them to exist. It’s really disconcerting to see your subtlety drop simply because you decided that an eloquently made persuasive argument was the most effective method of attaining your desired outcome. Just because I chose not to be subtle in a particular situation, doesn’t mean I can’t be extremely subtle when I choose in other situations. And even if we wish to say that this particular society encourages all young people to be silent in the presence of their elders, then the deduction for speaking up should have been to reputation, not subtlety. Thankfully the authors did away with all this in CoI, so this issue doesn’t exist there. Now if only it were possible to get rid of it in CoR too…
- I must get married? I thought this world was gender equal, why can’t I just get a job instead? -
In a society where all roles are open to both sexes, there is no reason why you couldn’t take the money your Uncle is using to pay for your expensive outfits and the rest of your expenses at court and instead invest that hefty sum into a new business venture you could lead. It would certainly make for a very different game. The gender-equality premise of the game shoots a big fat hole in the other premise that you have no other option but to go hunting for a rich spouse. There is no logical reason why your character of either gender needs to end up marrying an ill-tempered elderly person that smells like a goat and whose already adult children will inherit everything, leaving your character virtually penniless, just because you as a player have turned all three of your character’s suitors down during your season at court. That ending would have made more sense in a world where your character’s gender is considered the “weaker” one, because in this world of gender-equality, there is nothing stopping you from going out there and signing up for the military, the church, or even *gasp* becoming a merchant.
Given how fundamental both of these conflicting premises are to the game, I don’t really see an easy way to address this inconsistency. I suppose it’s possible to do a reverse of CoB and automatically designate the player character’s gender the “weaker” dependent sex, but that would likely require too much rewriting. So I suppose I’ll just have to chalk this up to a fundamental logic hole in the game concept and move on.
- Life Spell to give Same Sex Parents a Child = Lampshading -
I fully understand the idea of making the game more friendly to gay gamers, but this spell really has me scratching my head, particularly the male-male variety. So does the baby just appear out of thin air? In a vat? In a designated surrogate mother? Neither man has a womb after all. And if that’s possible for men, why wouldn’t women, even hetero ones, want their babies to appear out of thin air or a vat too? Who would want to suffer through 9 months of pregnancy + labor when she doesn’t have to? I’d like to see this spell better explained and worked into the story instead of simply handwaved.