In comparison, the insane mansion of the Pagan lord, Constantine, is a soliloquy on the vulnerability of our mortal world to the warping power of the Trickster. Instead of taking a hostage and making us sit through a lecture, the designers put us through a castle built by a trickster god, hidden from the common populace by a veneer of normalcy, and let us explore twisted corkscrew corridors and a room that appears to be outer space, sussing out what we could along the way from found diaries and the sheer surrealism of the environment. It shows before it tells, revealing the Pagan vision by walking around in it.

The Outsider's Betrayal

If you're like me, and you were drawn into Thief's exploratory and voyeuristic gameplay elements, built on finding and reading personal notes or eavesdropping on NPCs, then all that texture and character-building, based on the game's fully developed religions, did its job. The deep cultural detail made you curious, it got you to spend more time in levels that you could've dashed through, and it made the game more than a stealth pass/fail exercise. It gave you a world worth prowling through.

image

Simply put, the detail provided by Thief's religions made stealth gaming work.

We are all intruders. When we first start any new game, we are outsiders. We infiltrate or storm a new space, looking for things of value - things that will make it worth our time to come inside. The Thief games' gradually revealed their complex and nuanced religions to reward our exploration with colorful and esoteric details, then lured us deeper into their world with the promise of more. It let us peek at the secret texts and sacred tracts of another world, overhear the plots of zealots and poseurs, and all along tricked us into betraying ourselves: we began as outsiders, but let ourselves be drawn in by the dogma, just like the folk of The City.

Freelance writer and designer Will Hindmarch made d20 System stats for the Burrick as soon as D&D 3rd Edition debuted in 2000. Now he writes things like video-game dialog and blogs at Gameplaywright.net.

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on