27
Jul
08

Dante – Bioware NPC Dream Team

We said we weren’t dead didn’t  we? Never say Dante doesn’t keep his promises, except when he’s promising that he’ll just play one last match of Football Manager, honest. So, to set the scene, I’ve been playing a lot of the excellent Mass Effect recently, and it set me to thinking:

I’m a big Bioware fan, not a fanboy of course, I’m not a mindless drone praising the tits off the next overindulgent Hideo Kojima wankfest… damn I’m going to get some angry comments for that aren’t I? Anyway, what I mean to say is that I’m well aware of their flaws (KOTOR – Framerate, Baldur’s Gate – Inaccessible etc etc) but I love their games and specifically I love their characters. As anyone who’s played more than a couple of Bioware games knows, a big part of why they’re good is the care with which they craft their NPCs. They’re not always perfect, there’s often one or two you don’t get on with (although sometimes it’s meant that way, I’m looking at you Anomen), more so in Baldur’s Gate than their later games, although that’s mostly because of sheer numbers. They aren’t all fully rounded and three dimensional either, they aren’t always meant to be, sometimes they’re meant to be funny, sometimes they’re meant to be just plain awesome.

So, all that pre-amble is leading up to one thing, my ‘Dream Team’ of Bioware NPC’s, put together in the standard Baldur’s gate formation of two tanks, a cleric, a rogue and a mage. Before we begin, a quick note on the rules, you have to be a joinable  NPC to qualify, and for obvious reasons you have to be in a game I’ve played, which means no Jade Empire inclusions, there also won’t be any Neverwinter Nights henchmen, as while they’re by no means bad characters, the multiplayer focus of the games means they’re below the usual standard. With that out of the way, click below to begin!

Tank 1: Minsc – Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2

We’ll start off with one of they’re classics, Minsc, the deranged ranger (get it?) from Baldur’s Gate 2. He was also in BG1, but it’s the second game that holds my fondest memories.

For the uninitiated, Minsc is characterised by being slightly slow of brain, but determined to make up for it with sheer enthusiasm for stamping out evil wherever it treads. As a byproduct of both these things, he has received a severe head wound at some point in the past, giving him a peculiar attachment to his hamster, Boo. Minsc insists that Boo is in fact a hyper-intelligent giant space hamster (a miniature giant space hamster) who talks only to him. Minsc is fiercely protective of his furry friend, and both are fierce warriors in the battle against evil.

Quote – “Go for the eyes Boo! Go for the eyes!”

Tank 2: Wrex – Mass Effect

Wrex is everyone’s favourite character in Mass Effect, hell he was everyone’s favourite character even before the game was released, sure they might sleep with the blue girl, but they’re thinking about the battle scarred space toad.

The battle scarred veteran is nothing new in RPGs, hell even Bioware themselves usually include one (Canderous Ordo, Keldorn) but even these entries pale in comparison to Wrex. He takes a classic archetype and becomes the defining embodiment of it and his world weary cynicism and mercenary attitude are a joy to behold.

Quote – “Don’t piss in my ear and tell me it’s raining”

Cleric: Viconia – Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2

Bioware really do have a thing for blue skinned women don’t they? Back in BG2 there were three choices of romance for male PCs (and one twat for the unfortunate female ones) and in a classic bit of RPG cliche every last one was a healer. Players could choose from the insufferably meek Aerie, unsettlingly Oedipal Jaheera (she was very something of a mother figure in the previous game) and Viconia, and evil as sin blue seductress.

I played through Baldur’s Gate with a party full of good adventurers, doing noble deeds and helping folk wherever possible… but I still took Viconia. It caused no end of headaches but something about me just couldn’t resist her evil, evil charms. I’m a sucker for femme fatales me, something that’ll probably get me in trouble one day.

Quote: (By Jan, about Viconia)”You’re a cruel, cruel woman, Viconia. Garl help me, but I am so turned on right now.”

Rogue: HK47 – Knights of the Old Republic

The KOTOR role of ‘tech support’ is roughly analogous to the old D&D Rogues, after all they both unlock things, right? Anyway I had to include HK, who can say no to a homicidal and sarcastic version of C3PO? HK-47 is living proof of the theory that being evil is more fun. He’ll cheerfully blast anything in his way, refers to non-robots as ‘meatbags’ and always suggests the most trigger happy solution to any situation.

Add to that his hilarious pattern of speech, where he announces the form of phrase he’s using at the start of each sentence, and his butleresque voice and you have one of the best comic sidekicks in any game ever made.

So popular was the character that KOTOR 2 featured a whole host of ‘HK-50’ bots, in fact if the game hadn’t been so rushed, we would have visited a HK factory. It breaks my heart that I didn’t get to see it.

Quote:”Suggestion: Shall we find something to kill to cheer ourselves up?”

Mage: Xan – Baldur’s Gate 1

The mage was the hardest class to fill for me, because there’s not really an obvious analogue in KOTOR (Jolee?) and I wasn’t a huge fan of Liara from Mass Effect leaving me with the Baldur’s Gate games and well, usually I’m the mage in that party (Sorcerer to be exact, Time Stop + Improved Alacrity + Robe of Vecna = Hilarity). Anyway, because of this (and because you can’t have Edwin and Minsc in the same party, as any  seasoned BG player knows) I was forced to delve into my limited BG1 experience for the solution, but then I remembered Xan, and all was well.

Elves are jolly folk, right? Happy, dancing singing fellows, yeah? Well no-one has gotten around to telling Xan this, as he’s the most morose motherfucker in all of Faerun. The enchanter is depressed to near suicidal levels, despite being a fucking wizard with a magic sword, what’s his problem?

What’s great about Xan though, is that his depression isn’t an angsty, emoish thing, in fact it’s mostly played for laughs. Xan will constantly declare you quest pointless and futile, and suggest that you simply lay down and die and get it all over with. Never before has pessimism been so hilarious.

Quote: “Whats the use? We’re all doomed anyway.”

So that’s it, there’s the team, who would you pick? Any suggestions to improve mine? Feel free to comment and validate my mundane existence.

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2 Responses to “Dante – Bioware NPC Dream Team”


  1. July 28, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I’d swap Krogan the angry dwarf for Minsc and take the Red Wizard (what’s his name again?) from BG2 over Xan… I totally agree with Viconia as the cleric choice.

  2. 2 M. P.
    September 22, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Jan should’ve been somewhere on that list… He’s annoying on his own, but his interplay with the other NPCs is brilliant – Minsc’s finest lines are in conversations with Jan, including “Boo thinks, therefore I am Minsc!”

    Any suggestions for Black Isle’s/Obsidian’s greatest NPC hits? Dak’kon got any fans?


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