Are the Cluebooks canon?

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Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » January 28th, 2017, 12:24 am

Just an idle thought, but I'd be intetested in an official answer to this question from Brian Fargo or inXile:

Are ye olde Cluebooks that were published for BT 1+2 canon, i. e. are the characters and situations and other information therein part of the BT universe and history?
What about the novels?

(I've never held a BT Cluebook or novel in my hands, but back in the day a gaming magazine published a serialized translation of the BT1 cluebook and these days they're available online.)

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Ether » February 17th, 2017, 4:38 am

My guess would be no.

I suppose part of the question is who owns the rights to the characters in the books?
If they did go the remake route on the Bards Tale series, could they have had Isli wandering Skara Brad for adventurers, or Meric acting like a tough guy in a bar in Tangramayne, or would their use have to be negotiated with by the books publishers and/or authors?

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Drool » February 17th, 2017, 8:44 pm

I pulled up the BT1 cluebook, and the copyright says that Electronic Arts owned it. So, either they retain the rights or inXile got them when they bought the rights to the games.

FWIW, the book also lists the game as being copyright of Interplay, so I would expect EA to still retain the rights.
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Ether » February 17th, 2017, 11:48 pm

Interesting. I guess they could make some of those characters part of the story, even if it would probably be nothing more than an Easter egg.
Thanks!

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » February 18th, 2017, 1:01 am

Regarding the cluebooks, they are both set prior to the player's playthrough of the respective game. So for the BT1 cluebook this means that Lord Garrick of Hamelon, Isli, Corfid et al have been dead since even before the first game began.

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Nexus » February 25th, 2017, 7:44 am

Yeah the BT1 cluebook,(spoilers?) they all die in the end right before confronting mangar, I think the thief runs off with the shapes so they cant get to him

So its from the perspective of before you playthrough the game. That said I think the cluebooks for BT2 and I think 3, the outcome is quite the opposite iirc

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Drool » February 26th, 2017, 8:53 pm

I actually thought the ending to the BT1 cluebook was a neat way to justify your party running through it just like in the book. Perhaps a little cliche now, but back in the day, I thought it was pretty elegant.
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by thebruce » February 27th, 2017, 7:02 am

Many treasure hunter style films and stories follow the same mechanic. First explorer goes missing, one or more adventurers follow their trail to pick up where they left off, to eventually find the first explorer dead-ended (literally) likely missing some key piece of info, then forging on to be first to explore the unknown and/or finish the quest and/or save the day. :)
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Alation » March 1st, 2017, 1:20 am

I have never read the clue books for BT 1 and 2 but I think it would be easy to make the BT 3 clue book canon. Also with BT 4 being set something like 150 years later, they should have no issues with any of the charactors still being alive and messing with the story.

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZiN » March 1st, 2017, 5:20 am

Alation wrote:With BT 4 being set something like 150 years later, they should have no issues with any of the charactors still being alive and messing with the story.
I disagree and would like some charactors from BT3 messing with the story: Elves, and especially elven demi-gods (like Cyanis) could be easily alive, as well as dwarves and half-dwarf half-machine beings (Urmech). Archmages and Chronomancers, frozen in stasis (Gelidia), or other more sinister beings (Shade of Sceadu), etc. At least in the Bard's Tale World...

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by rakenan » March 2nd, 2017, 12:36 pm

Alation wrote:I have never read the clue books for BT 1 and 2 but I think it would be easy to make the BT 3 clue book canon. Also with BT 4 being set something like 150 years later, they should have no issues with any of the charactors still being alive and messing with the story.
BT1 cluebook can't really be canon. I mean, it *CAN* be but it would involve some pretty tortured logic. They took the silver shapes from where they found them and gave them to their Rogue, who ran away with them. It is kind of unreasonable to imagine that they would then end up exactly where they were the first time around.

BT2 cluebook is a vision of a possible future, which the narrator then alters using his knowledge of the vision. So while it may or may not be canon, I think it's pretty irrelevant - the vision may or may not have happened, the events shown in the vision certainly did not. I guess in BT4 we may encounter the narrator as a sage or soothsayer or some such, offering us bits of wisdom about how the future may turn out as clues for our progress through the game.

I never read the BT3 cluebook, so no idea.
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Drool » March 2nd, 2017, 10:53 pm

rakenan wrote:It is kind of unreasonable to imagine that they would then end up exactly where they were the first time around.
Time reversal spell, remember?
I never read the BT3 cluebook, so no idea.
BT3 is pretty standard. It's an IC walkthrough, so probably can't really be canon.
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by rakenan » March 3rd, 2017, 6:35 pm

Drool wrote:
rakenan wrote:It is kind of unreasonable to imagine that they would then end up exactly where they were the first time around.
Time reversal spell, remember?
DOH! Completely forgot that part.

I guess the question is whether the BT1 cluebook/journal exists or not, since it's the only aspect of the events it recounts that might still exist after that spell. No way to know, I guess. We certainly never see them in any of the games or novels.
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » March 19th, 2017, 1:45 am

rakenan wrote:BT1 cluebook can't really be canon. I mean, it *CAN* be but it would involve some pretty tortured logic. They took the silver shapes from where they found them and gave them to their Rogue, who ran away with them. It is kind of unreasonable to imagine that they would then end up exactly where they were the first time around.
That's part of why I asked. I'm sketching out a storyline for an expansion mod for Bard's Tale I that takes the cluebook's story into account, while still keeping all elements of the origial game. The silver shapes are one particularly obvious plot hook to make the players jump through some extra hoops before they can face Mangar. The shapes obviously won't be in their original locations anymore (well the riddle for the third one would stay in place), but perhaps some important information can be gleaned from those places where they were originally found.

If and when the Remastered Bard's Tale Edition by Olde Sküül comes out I hope to get help from some more tech-savvy modders to implement my storyline. My out there pipe dream is to get InXile or Olde Sküül to release it as an official add-on. (Same for BT2 and BT3.)

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by phimseto » April 12th, 2017, 7:57 pm

I just need to chime in and say that you have the best username, OP.

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » May 28th, 2017, 12:26 pm

phimseto wrote:
April 12th, 2017, 7:57 pm
I just need to chime in and say that you have the best username, OP.
8-) Thank you good sir. I thought it was obvious, and was extremely surprised that it wasn't taken yet.

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » November 9th, 2017, 12:04 am

Drool wrote:
March 2nd, 2017, 10:53 pm
Time reversal spell, remember?
After re-reading the cluebook, I think I disagree.

Lord Garrick doesn't call it a time reversal spell; instead, he vaguely describes the effects of the spell that will render Isli invisible and allow her to escape with the journal and hand it over to Pellis but, apparently as an unintended and unwanted side-effect, will use up all the party's life force, "rent the party's accomplishments from the fabric of time" and ultimately consume Isli.

Garrick notes down these expectations before the spell is cast (obviously), so we don't positively know what its real effects were.
While we do know that the journal indeed arrived in Pellis' hands, there is substantial evidence that Garricks description is wrong or at least grossly inaccurate.

To begin with, Soriac the Archmage was portrayed as a "good guy", being a party member of Garrick's. It's quite surprising that he would know such an evil spell in the first place, and the general impression is that, under immense time pressure, he made something up on the fly while Mangar's minions where already breaking through the door. Given the circumstances, Soriac probably didn't have a very clear idea of what the side effects of the spell would really entail. (Though technically, while he suggests this approach the journal doesn't specify that Soriac would be the spellcaster... what about that otherwise unnamed "last of the sage-sorcerors" in the party?)
Meanwhile Garrick, who was scribbling this down under the same immense time pressure, was not a spellcaster himself. So what he wrote down was whatever Soriac could explain to him in what little time there was. The end result may conceivably be grossly inaccurate.

Ghaklah the Magician, who arguably would have a much clearer understanding of what Soriac was about to do than Garrick, asked for Garricks dagger so that he wouldn't be taken alive. That seems to suggest the magician, himself a professional spellcaster, didn't believe the spell would kill him nor somehow time-reverse him out of the grim situation. Granted, he is not named among those who would sacrifice their life force for the spell, but neither is Isli and it's assumed the spell will ultimately kill her as well.

The mere existence of the journal, Pellis's memory of Lord Garrick and his accomplishments, and Ghaklah's fear that the spell will not kill nor help him combined seem to prove that if there was indeed any "time reversal", it was not complete.
Many things Garrick's party accomplished can conceivably reset. Heck, even the guardian statues and most dungeon riddles within the game reset for the same party when you revisit them. Kylearan may have several keys, it'd be smart to make copies. King Aildrek is undead, so who knows if his defeat really destroyed him; he may have risen again and repossessed the eye. Bashar Kavilor, Harkyn's Guard Captain, the Dragons from the various scripted encounters may all have been resurrected (all it takes to resurrect them is a temple and a sum of gold, or a REST spell), if they weren't undead to begin with. Harkyn's berserker army may also have comprised of more than 396 men.

The only thing that really stretches credibility is how the silver shapes got back to their original places. But they're a bit curious anyways. I'm willing to assume they hold some sort of magical significance for Mangar, and for some arcane reason it is important for him that they are in the places where the party found them. That'd give Mangar reason to re-acquire them from the unlucky thief and put them right back.
Drool wrote:
March 2nd, 2017, 10:53 pm
I never read the BT3 cluebook, so no idea.
BT3 is pretty standard. It's an IC walkthrough, so probably can't really be canon.
Is the BT3 cluebook available online anywhere? I'd like to read it, but never had a chance.

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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by thebruce » November 9th, 2017, 6:33 am

ZZGO, that was a wonderful analysis! I've been going over Pellis' part in the story for BTO, and I love how you broke down the logic of the situation. I'm working on parsing all of this supplemental lore for a new section of BTO, soon to be opened up... :)

The walkthrough pages for the 3 games have links to their various clue books - BT1 (Pellis), BT2 (Aaron), BT3 (Arbo).
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by Drool » November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm

ZZGO wrote:
November 9th, 2017, 12:04 am
"rent the party's accomplishments from the fabric of time"
I think that's the key phrase there. I mean, I'm sure it's possible that an invisibility spell would have the strange side effect of rending events from time and utterly burning out the life force of several people, but I don't especially buy it.

I mean, yes, your interpretation is (mostly) logically sound, but it really feels like taking a shaky position and doing a lot of work to make it work. I think the "it's a time travel spell" works better by the nature of it being a simpler explanation. I mean, it's five words.
It's quite surprising that he would know such an evil spell in the first place
...but knowing how to summon demons is a good act? Remember, in BT1, an Archmage is someone who has mastered all the spells from all four schools of magic. And that includes Wizardry which is all about demons.
Ghaklah the Magician, who arguably would have a much clearer understanding of what Soriac was about to do than Garrick, asked for Garricks dagger so that he wouldn't be taken alive.
I could argue against that he'd have a better idea, but I'll grant you that point for now, because it doesn't much matter in the long run. Just because he isn't part of the battery doesn't mean the spell isn't burning people out of time. He knows he's going to be erased, but that doesn't mean it was going to happen instantly. I saw the spell as burning through the people one by one until finally consuming Isli. Once she was consumed, the time reversal effects would take place, but the batteries would have been erased from time entirely, preventing a pointless timeloop. Ghaklah knew that it was going to take time, and he'd rather have a clean death than being captured.
Many things Garrick's party accomplished can conceivably reset.
Conceivably, sure, but not without a lot of complications piled atop complications.

I mean, sure, it's just a hint book, and the whole point of the spell was to try and find a way to explain the existence of the book in character. This wasn't uncommon at the time: Starflight tried to find a way to have the cluebook be in character with the narrator just barely failing to complete the game. By the late 80s, nobody bothered with that any more (see: BT3, Wasteland, etc).
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Re: Are the Cluebooks canon?

Post by ZZGO » November 11th, 2017, 5:04 am

Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
I mean, yes, your interpretation is (mostly) logically sound, but it really feels like taking a shaky position and doing a lot of work to make it work. I think the "it's a time travel spell" works better by the nature of it being a simpler explanation. I mean, it's five words.
:D You got me there. Yes, I'm actually searching for wriggle room to keep the cluebook storyline. I think the writing is very good (arguably better than some parts of the actual game), and I like how it expands the story and setting. That's why I feel a "time reversal and it never happened" ending is... unsatisfying.

So with that out of the way, a few more thoughts on the issue:
Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
ZZGO wrote:
November 9th, 2017, 12:04 am
"rent the party's accomplishments from the fabric of time"
I think that's the key phrase there. I mean, I'm sure it's possible that an invisibility spell would have the strange side effect of rending events from time and utterly burning out the life force of several people, but I don't especially buy it.
Then again, given the overall writing style it could just be a flowery form of saying "we're gonna die because he doesn't cast REST this round, and thereby all our accomplishments will be undone as Mangar can roll them back after killing us."

Now I grant you that time travel kinda sorta canonically exists in the BT universe as shown by the dimensions in BT3. But then again, such magic would arguably fall squarely into the domain of Chronomancers. Those were not only unknown in BT1 (having not been invented for the game yet), they also lose all their previous magic. Soriac is explicitly an Archmage, which depending on definition (by BT1 or BT2) means he's either mastered all seven spell levels of Conjurer, Magician, Sorceror and Wizard, or he switched to Archmage class proper after mastering three of the aforementioned classes in the fashion of the BT2 rules. In any case, he's positively not a Chronomancer or Geomancer, and we're never even told what a Sage-Sorceror is.
Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
It's quite surprising that he would know such an evil spell in the first place
...but knowing how to summon demons is a good act? Remember, in BT1, an Archmage is someone who has mastered all the spells from all four schools of magic. And that includes Wizardry which is all about demons.
That is a rabbit hole leading to the question of what is good or bad in the BT universe, and comes with curious questions such as why Kylearan tried to kill adventurer parties so hard only to give them Mangar's front door key if they reached him, and why he didn't proactively fight Mangar; or why Roscoe apparently took a contract to build parts of Mangar's tower and even signed his work there; or who Baron Harkyn was and wether he was a good or a bad guy in the overall picture? Or Pellis? Given the immense area of "gray" there between white and black, just how evil was Mangar really after all?
Ultimately, perhaps there are no technically evil spells after all. But I maintain that Soriac improvised the plan and also the spell, if indeed it was him who cast it and not the mysterious sage-sorceror.
Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
Ghaklah the Magician, who arguably would have a much clearer understanding of what Soriac was about to do than Garrick, asked for Garricks dagger so that he wouldn't be taken alive.
I could argue against that he'd have a better idea, but I'll grant you that point for now, because it doesn't much matter in the long run. Just because he isn't part of the battery doesn't mean the spell isn't burning people out of time. He knows he's going to be erased, but that doesn't mean it was going to happen instantly. I saw the spell as burning through the people one by one until finally consuming Isli. Once she was consumed, the time reversal effects would take place, but the batteries would have been erased from time entirely, preventing a pointless timeloop. Ghaklah knew that it was going to take time, and he'd rather have a clean death than being captured.
I understood Garrick to mean that Isli would be "consumed" by the spell because she was the target of the invisibility spell that would cause the death of at least three other characters; implicitly, the very spell power that allowed her to escape was expected to ultimately kill her as well.
Then again, there's of course the fact that pretty much the defining aspect of a Paladin in Bard's Tale is their heighened resistance against harmful magic, which runs counter to what Garrick predicts here.
Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
Many things Garrick's party accomplished can conceivably reset.
Conceivably, sure, but not without a lot of complications piled atop complications.
That one I seriously disagree with. I think that you run into way more logical troubles when you try to explain how the journal or the information therein survived when the people and their (other) actions supposedly were retroactively erased. If that were the case then Pellis shouldn't even remember his friend Garrick or that he had undertaken the quest.
Drool wrote:
November 10th, 2017, 5:31 pm
I mean, sure, it's just a hint book, and the whole point of the spell was to try and find a way to explain the existence of the book in character. This wasn't uncommon at the time: Starflight tried to find a way to have the cluebook be in character with the narrator just barely failing to complete the game. By the late 80s, nobody bothered with that any more (see: BT3, Wasteland, etc).
Oh c'mon, where's the fun in not overthinking it? ;)

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