Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Long Live The Queen: Unfortunate Implications (Spoilers)

Part of Long Live The Queen is that you can't have everything.  Understandably so.  If you go to your friend's birthday party then the commoner isn't going to make you blueberry cookies to help you with being down over having to skip the party for safety concerns, and since that's what started your relationship you don't get to have a relationship with him.

That sort of thing happens, and it generally happens in such a way that there's no huge problems brought up either regarding internal consistency or bad out of game implications.  Generally.

There is one glaring exception.

It has to do with the rights of non-straight people.

The queen-to-be dancing with another woman is considered scandalous.  If you tell the game that you want to marry another woman the best you can pull off is making her your lady in waiting, having both of you marry other people, and then having sexy-fun-times when no one is looking.

Same sex relationships, male and female, are kept hidden.

And, for the nobility, since titles are hereditary it's absolutely vital for stability (read: not-civil-war), that they marry members of the opposite sex and have kids.

All of that implies a less than good situation for people attracted to members of the same sex.

There is something you can do to change all that.  But before I get to it, some background.


Lumens are magic users.  They get their magic from special crystals that they bond with for life.  (Want another Lumen's crystal?  You've got to kill them.)  They are generally regarded with fear.  Possibly hate.  A while back court politics went less than well and, since the ruling class was composed entirely of Lumens, magic was used, things went to shit, after the fallout there would only be two open Lumens until the time of the game, all the others either gave up their power or said they did.

One was whoever the current ruler of the kingdom was.  It was acknowledged that some problems needed magic to fix, rulers can get away with shit, so a Lumen crystal was passed down through the royal line.

The other was the family line of your first option in magic teacher.  They've been hated and feared for hundreds of years because they felt it was necessary to keep magic alive and not lose the knowledge thereof.


Background point two.

You will be invaded.  It cannot be stopped.  I'll talk about that when I get to inconsistency because there's really some evidence based on the handling of past events that it should have been stoppable.

There are several ways to deal with this, but the pertinent two go like this:

Your navy gets its butt kicked meaning lots of people die and your military is generally fucked.  Surviving soldiers sacrifice their lives to buy time even though, well, that's pointless.  Then it turns out that what the enemy king is really after is your Lumen crystal, so he wants to duel with you and win or lose he'll call off the invasion.

At this point the two important-to-us options come up.

1 You can use high skills involved in conversational manipulation and just plain being an imposing force worth listening to combined with personal knowledge of the enemy king and an ability to be a kickass heart string tugging musician to redeem him and have him go home in peace.  Other than death and turning evil, this is the only option in the entire game that does not leave your kingdom under the constant burden of knowing that the country in question wants to retaliate.

2 You can kill him in a magic duel.


Background over, it is possible to have a same sex marriage in the game.  Here's what you have to do:

Lose the naval battle killing off most of your military.  Lose a lot of what remains in a losing battle against the invaders cutting a swath of destruction across your country.

Fight and win in the duel.

Find out that while the enemy king was completely serious about calling off the invasion it's kind of hard for him to do once he's dead.  The high level commanders all return home, but many of the soldiers go AWOL, bringing lawlessness and death and whatnot to your country.  Also you'll have trouble with soldiers turned bandits into the foreseeable future.

Back in foreign country the Queen is pissed off beyond all measure that you killed her husband and begins the process of regrouping so she can take revenge.

And then two women can get married.

Got that all non-straight people? You can only get married in public (the affairs going on behind the scenes are more inclusive) if you're willing to destabilize a nation and have this generation live under constant fear of retaliation.

Seriously, take notes.

Except... it's worse than that.

You see killing the enemy king in a duel is the only way you can raise the status of Lumens above an uncomfortable subject that sometimes involves produce being thrown at people.  I've cheated to max out skills (thus opening basically all options) and tried every Lumen popularity related variation I can think of.  There is nothing else.

But killing the enemy king doesn't just raise the status of Lumens to, "Let us treat them with respect as we would any other person," it makes them into idols.  It's the highest public opinion has been in living memory.

Little kids pretend to be them and want to be them when they grow up.

In this setting your magic tutor and her lover (who can be your magic tutor if you don't accept the first) feel comfortable coming out publicly as Lumens in love and then get married, by you, the queen.

Let's break that down.

The queen gets a pass on being a Lumen because she's the queen, but her personal support isn't enough for people to not throw produce at her tutor.  So her being a Lumen doesn't matter much.

The other publicly known Lumen is who all those kids playing at being Lumens can aspire to be when they grow up.  While others might come forward now that there's not a need to keep it hidden (her lover does) she's the one everyone knows about.  Then she gets married to another Lumen, double awesome points, and the wedding is officiated by the queen, awesome icing, and the other Lumen is also a woman.

Now children are left thinking, "I want to be like that married lesbian when I grow up." Will this turn children gay? Of course not. Will this go a long way towards establishing marriage equality in the country of Nova? Almost certainly.

But then the situation for people with same sex attraction gets better.

The couple adopts.

It works.

Showing that adoption can work as an heir producing method is absolutely vital if members of the nobility want to have same sex marriage.  There are other obstacles (just dancing with a woman was scandalous when the princess did it) but in many ways the high profile lesbian couple will go a long way towards dealing with the other obstacles.  What can't be dealt with is the fact that two people of the same sex cannot produce a child.

Under certain circumstances the player character will even say to someone, someone who can become her romantic partner later, that it doesn't matter if the woman doesn't like men, she needs to get married to one and produce an heir pronto.  After that she can get divorced.

But if you've established that adoption is ok then suddenly that pressure evaporates.  Now, admittedly, the adoption was someone with family ties (the niece of one of the women) so it doesn't overturn everything, but it goes a long way toward letting the nobility have marriage equality and what the nobility does will tend to filter down to the rest of the country.

So you get to choose between lasting peace and what seems like it would mean an explosion of equal rights and public respect for non-straight people.

And either way requires you to lose a bunch of lives by having the opposing army sink your navy and trample your lands.


That's an unfortunate implication.  "Yeah, we can have gay rights, we just need to ruin the country and place it at risk of future invasion."




  1. Whut. Not only is that pretty seriously messed up for all the reasons you lay out, but it seems so arbitrary - which only underlines the unfortunate implications. I guess winning the duel is supposed to make it clear how impressive Lumens are...or something. But it's not at all clear to me how that works, especially since royalty is already a special circumstance. It almost makes it seem like not an accident that the only way to get rights for non-straight people is to basically screw everyone over in the long run. That's just bizarre.

    1. I think it's supposed to be, "A Lumen saved our country by being a Lumen." Which, one, was why the royalty stayed Lumens anyway and, two, isn't entirely true. The country gets pretty well screwed over. The leaders of the invasion go home as promised, but much of the army converts to bandits and makes everything more dangerous. Plus increased threat of foreign invasion due to the repelled country wanting retribution,

      The country would have been better off in terms of the invasion if Elodie lost. (With the enemy king alive he can maintain enough discipline that calling off the invasion is really calling off the invasion.)

  2. This would actually, I think, work a lot better as an explicit choice.

    Hang with me for a moment.

    It would fit well with the idea of the game that "nothing is free" if this was a more conscious choice rather than being something extrapolated almost by accident- you were trying to murder a guy, not create civil rights possibilities- a sort of "how far will you go to create equality" type deal. That would have been kind of cool.

    Though I can't help but think that this is all accidental, simply because, well, it seems so entirely unintentional. Though it is almost hilariously problematic. Surely there are better ways to get gay rights/asexual rights/shit how 'bout everybody but straight people rights off the ground than ruining a country.

    (How about a gay person stops a high-profile assassination? Or a high-powered Lumen invents a magic that heals some horrible disease? Or or or... so many ways to approach this problem that aren't "go fuck up the country first, then behead a dude".

    1. Just to let you know, my response to K. Jans below was in fact a response to ideas presented in both of your posts. It's just that since K. Jans posted second it made more sense to put it there than here.

    2. I think this gets into the "limited development time" and "easter eggs" memes: Chances are the authors didn't think of establishing QUILTBAG civil rights as a particularly important part of the main story, so they put it in at the end of an unlikely path so that you can have fun discovering it. The alternative, I suspect, would have been not putting it in at all.

  3. Part of the problem with CYOA games like LLTQ is that there's no distinction between correlation and causation. In this game, certain plot threads only become available if other prerequisites are met. It's very specific as to which plot train stops at which station. In a more open-ended game (or a different book, or in history) the outcome of "same-sex couple is publicly accepted" wouldn't be so inextricably linked to "devastating war."

    You've probably heard the joke asking where does the 800-lb gorilla sit? The answer is "anywhere it wants to." That seems to be the situation the game uses to grant public approval to the couple in question. Once Lumen magic is established to be The Best Thing Ever, the two Lumen lovers get a "pass" in the eyes of their society. And that's probably not really an ideal way to acquire civil rights (smacks a bit of "rules don't apply to celebrities"), it also doesn't HAVE to come about because of the war and the magic duel.

    I wish there were a way for public perception of Lumens to be bettered that didn't require, as you said, the destabilization of the entire country. (It sounds like you were trying, but that plot train just doesn't go there.) Or if Elodie could have won public acceptance for them (or for herself, who knows, Elodie!) WITHOUT having to make them into celebrities and all that implies about who "gets" to deviate from social norms.

    Or hey, if they had just made a game in which no one ever blinked at same-sex couples and there was an established and socially accepted tradition of adoption or whatever to resolve questions of inheritance. But what nonsense that would be!

    (That got away from me a bit, sorry)

    1. No need to apologize.

      I've tried to think of ways that the game could up Lumen acceptance without the duel and it seems to me like the best way would probably be some sort of hidden Lumen approval meter that you can take specific actions to increase.

      At one point you get to decide what to make the first ever movable type printing press pamphlet on. Maybe an option could be, "I know you won't like this dad, but mom was a Lumen and I come from a long line of them, and Julianna and her ancestors have been treated like crap for 200 years but SHE SAVED MY LIFE and I think we'd be safer if good Lumens felt comfortable coming forward, so I think the pamphlet should be praising Lumens," and that increases public approval some.

      And then if they could do harmless but impressive seeming pretty things on some public occasion (say the ball) then that would increase public approval somewhat.

      And if the war does happen, then embed the good ones with the troops and you might get soldiers going back to their families telling about how a Lumen saved their life, and that increases public approval somewhat.

      And after the war they could use magic to help heal the land with MAGIC, and that increases Lumen approval somewhat.

      And if you can convince her Charlotte, not technically a Lumen but probably close enough for public perception, could be in the hospital working her healing magic ("I was going to die, but then this magic person saved me,") and then that increases Lumen approval somewhat.

      And so forth.

      Instead of one big thing make it a bunch of little things. A long slog toward increasing public approval for Lumens. Cut off his head becomes the quick and easy route, as opposed to, "Do a lot of work and make it so you don't have to choose between peace and rights."

      The same thing could be done with same sex relationships so that the two are not so intertwined. Gradual increasing of approval. Maybe there could be an ending where the Julianna and Selene get married where Selene is still in the closet about being a Lumen.


      Oh, also, on the Lumen popularity front:

      Your father is all for letting the keythong eat people until it goes away because mere hunters would not be enough to stop it. You can't offer an alternative. I'll bet that if you could send Julianna down there to do something about it (assuming she can) that would make both her personally and Lumens in general more popular because it would both stop people from getting eaten and allow those who fled their homes or whatever to return.

    2. I hadn't even thought of the keythong! Julianna could probably take it, and her and her woman could definitely take it. Also, if you have an army, why not just SEND MORE PEOPLE. There are no monsters so big that enough soldiers can't take it out. Yeah, people'll die, but the keythong'll be dead! And maybe you could trap the area, or bring ballista to shoot it from far away, or... I don't know, anything more than "Nah, chillax, he's just eating peasants."

      Though it does point out how spectacularly goddamn useless Elodie's father is. Perhaps his wife's death hit him harder than you'd think- but given how everyone more or less ignores him, I suspect he was this way even before.

  4. Didn't Julianna's father have a public gay marriage long before the game even started?

    I don't think that outcome is the first time there are gay nobles.

    1. Didn't Julianna's father have a public gay marriage long before the game even started?


      He had what we might call a "Civil Union" but was dumped in less than a year. The mere act of attempting it was considered highly scandalous.

      It's for the best he was dumped, the guy he tried to have a not-marriage marriage with ended up being a serial killer.

      But all of that comes together into what is sort of the point:

      The last time someone attempted anything even resembling a same sex marriage it was highly scandalous, ended in failure, didn't conform to a family unit (when Briony gets adopted we do see a family unit) which is necessary to nobility, was not by respected members of the community (until Lumen get their popularity boost being of Ursul is a bad thing in the eyes of the people, and serial killer man wasn't popular either) and, oh yeah, the guy who proposed it turned out to be evil in the end.

      Everything about Julianna's father's attempted "pledging" played into negative stereotypes and seemed to confirm everything bad people might believe about gay people.

      Contrast that to Julianna's wedding, which wasn't considered scandalous, was overseen by the beloved hero queen, was totally a marriage and didn't have to hide behind another name, did result in an heir (by adoption), lasted, did not have anyone involved in it turn out to be evil, and was between people who were looked up to, not looked down on.


      I don't think that outcome is the first time there are gay nobles.

      Of course not. It's the first time openly gay high status nobles got married, and the first time such a relationship wasn't seen as a scandal.

  5. Actually, if you make Julianna your lumen tutor, save briony, detect the priestess as a lumen, and generally make commoner approval of lumens high (by using magic in good ways), you can get the Sailor Bryone ending.

    1. There have been some massive updates since I wrote these posts.

      It doesn't surprise me that things have changed. Nor does it surprise me that things have changed for the better, given who made the game.

  6. Couple things: Lumens =/= homosexual. The reason Lumens are seen poorly in the start of the game (and continue to be) is because Lumen powers are the domain of the nobility (because all nobles were at one point potential Lumens, this is implied to be how the peerage was established) and they cause massive backlash that commoners have to suffer through. The main Lumen characters are (or can be interpreted/played as) lesbians, but jumping to the conclusion that magic powers are a metaphor for homosexuality for no other reason than because homosexuality MUST be the reason for all discrimination in a setting is deliberately choosing all the other text in the game. Particularly the text that explicitly notes that Elodie seeking a lesbian relationship is scandalous because she hasn't met the obligation of producing heirs for her throne, which is noted in almost EVERY romance ending, and if she does have a long-term relationship with a woman, she is noted to produce a legitimate heir whose father is never acknowledged.

    1. Couple of things:

      1 I never said that Lumen=Gay. I said that the most prominent Lumen other than the queen, one who kids would aspire to be, in the same sex marriage ending was one of the people in that same sex marriage. So "jumping to the conclusion that magic powers are a metaphor for homosexuality" is something I didn't do. You made that up. I never equated Lumens with non-straight people.

      2 Check the date. Very seriously, check the date. There has been at least one major update since this post was written. Things were different then. Including things on this very subject.

      Or, for that matter, look at the post directly above your own.

      I said, six and a half months ago, that there was an update that changed all of this. Want to debate the finer points of the post, play the game as it was in 2013.

      I cannot be held responsible for not seeing several years into the future to see what the updates would change.