Baldur's Gate

Baldur's Gate

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Villains

 

The following ranking of the main character's opponents has been ordered by the criterion of the degree of meanness, not the threat that these characters posed to the team members; Jon Irenicus, opening the ranking as "the least wicked" was at the same time the closest to annihilating the Bhaalspawn and his companions.

4. Jon Irenicus - amoral technocrat

Irenicus - though I consider him the least villainous from among the four main bosses - is the most interesting and significant negative character in the entire "Baldur's Gate" saga. When I stated on the home page that this story influenced my personality and way of thinking, I primarily meant two characters: Imoen and Irenicus. I must also point out that in my native language version, the dubbing of these two characters is the most evocative and convincing, surpassing even the original voices in this respect. The English-language, original version of Irenicus is also excellent, and the flawless diction and clear pronunciation of the actor impersonating this character allowed me to understand his every utterance; such solicitude of lexical corectness is now rare among the increasingly sloppy and slurred speech of Anglo-Saxons.
As for Imoen, I will perhaps discuss her influence on me in another opportunity, in a work dedicated specially to this character; here is enough to say, that she is the main source of my feminism, and has also suppressed my sociopathy for a time; knowing that some other man had the courage to create such a sweet, such a wonderful person, has weakened my innate hatred of mankind. I did not know then, with what ferocity and contempt this character is attacked and humiliated, even by those who insolently dares to call themselves fans of "Baldur's Gate"; solely because of their fault, now my abomination towards humanity is even greater than before - I feel that I have to atone for the mistakes of the past and make harm to as many people as possible, make the world even worse and hope that Evil in one or another form will return to those cowardly mongrels, who insulted the only person that had a chance to change my character.
The main foe from "Shadows of Amn" also had a significant impact on my worldview - just when I was analyzing his character and personality. For many years, I considered the optimal form of government to be technocracy: a system in which power would rest in the hands of scientists, competent, comprehensively educated people, incomparably wiser and more intelligent than the ignorant mob they would manage. I assumed that entrusting fate to the hands of wiser people would be a reasonable solution. But is it really so? How is a chemist working in a cosmetic consortium different from Irenicus? A cold scientist indifferent to suffering, with a nonchalant sense of superiority torturing defenseless and innocent creatures in the name of scientific advancement, is an exact reflection of Irenicus in your world. If you accuse a modern scientist of torturing laboratory animals, he will object with a contemptuous smirk, claiming that he is acting in the name of a higher purpose, and that you are a fool who meddles on matters beyond your understanding. Hadn't Irenicus reacted differently? Here is what his own words sounded like:
„Torture? Silly girl, you don't understand what I’m doing, do you? (...) Enough of this; I will no longer listening to the babbling of ignorant children!“

 

Surely, for a torturer calling himself a scientist, inflicting suffering on a defenseless being trapped in a cage is not an act of cruelty, just as it was not cruel for Irenicus to torture Bhaal's offsprings; in both cases, the executioner has a series of arguments to present his hideous deeds as justifiable, necessary and appropriate; it is nothing wrong with tormenting the "inferior creature", if it is to improve the quality of life of the creatures "really important": humans (and in case of Irenicus - his own and his sister). It is a very comfortable attitude: you can actually justify any crime in this way. In the eyes of the team members, Irenicus is a monster and a heartless tormentor, his actions cannot be excused. Yet, from Irenicus's own point of view, his actions are not deserves for condemnation; he did not caused pain to Bhaalspawns for the sheer delight of enjoying their suffering, but to heal himself and Bodhi - persons he considered as infinitely more important than Gorion's fosterlings. So, is this character really evil? Objectively judging his motives, one must deny it. Irenicus is rather "amoral" - ethical issues, Good and Evil do not matter to him. 

It is worth noting, that exactly this attitude (lawful neutral) is considered exemplary in the circles of government officials and representatives of the "law", judges, prosecutors and policemen - this is why your world often seems so repugnant - you are ruled by the moral clones of Irenicus. Is someone like Jon Irenicus capable to understand and acknowledge, that he is acting immorally? It is highly doubtful. An employee of a pharmaceutical company torturing helpless rabbits will easily put his conscience to sleep, explaining to himself that "experiments" will help to find a cure for one or another disease. The moral man - and therefore the only who deserves for that honourable term - will never accept such an argument. A rabbit (or a rat, a guinea pig or ... a hamster) does not bear any responsibility for human diseases, so it is not allowed to inflict suffering on it for the sake of interests of own genre, nation, family or last but not least - money. The laboratory animal is an innocent and defenseless creature against whom acts of barbarity are carried out only because animal cannot defend itself nor protest, it is not supported by influential lobby, religion, political party or a group of skillful lawyers - and only this weakness allows and encourages the so-called scientists to tormenting these creatures (much more appropriate and moral, would be - for example - experimenting on criminals convicted of serious crimes). I am convinced that none of these butchers considers himself as evil one, and sees nothing wrong in his "work". Irenicus's attitude is strikingly similar. Imoen is as vulnerable and innocent as animals, she is also equal to them in sincerity of her feelings, in goodness and devotion to her friends. Irenicus, however, does not want to see it: for him, what matters is only the goal, the results of researches and experiments, and all remnants of morality are a contemptible manifestations of weakness in his system of values. This character is a perfect (though I'm not sure if intended) allegory of a modern technocrat.

3. Sarevok Anchev - avenger of own harms

It may seem strange, but about my brother I don't have much to say. Sarevok is the first of the main protagonist's great adversaries, and perhaps for this reason, he is not a very complex character: he represents the type of brutal wrangler without characterological depth. As a curiosity about this character, it is worth noting some analogies linking Sarevok with the main villain of the movie "Highlander". The inspiration by this motion picture is easily noticeable in the first part of the series: a group of chosen ones fighting for an undefined heritage, as the main opponent - big brute, wearing a helmet made in the likening of a monster's open mouth... Fortunately, "Baldur's Gate “ is far superior to the film that it is inspired by, just as Sarevok himself excels over his prototype in terms of class, education and the degree of sophistication of the intrigue he prepared. Still, he is a character with a shallow personality; only the "Throne of Bhaal", in which Sarevok's past comes to light, gives it some depth. This solution, aimed at partial rehabilitation of this character, is at the same time the reason why I placed Sarevok only on the 3rd position in my ranking of villains. The tough past and harsh living conditions to some extend justify his later attitude, make his "Evil" ideologically impure, inferior and secondary; Sarevok is not evil by nature, his demeanor is a form of retaliation against the society, by which he has been rejected.

2.Amelyssan - single-person Third Reich

The main opponent of the last, most epic part of the saga, from the very beginning made a great impression on me with her boldness and the scale of her intrigue; I was even wondering if it would not be more appropriate to place this magnificent personality at the top of this ranking. Certainly Melissan is the most difficult boss to defeat, despite the fact that the party is at the peak of its might during final confrontation with her (only Imoen alone - at least under my leadership - reaches then level 25; for comparison, considered the most powerful in sorcery, Elminster, has not much higher level 29). As for the rest of the opponents, each of them can be easily defeated by using right subterfuges; it's true, that in the refreshed version (Enchanced Edition) the player can no longer fence off the squad from Sarevok with a hundreds of summoned creatures (which was allowing to safely fire at him with poisoned arrows), however, the struggle with him takes place relatively early in the career of Gorion's fosterlings, thus cannot equal the battle with the High Matriarch of the Lord of Murder.
Melissan, even in collation with dragons, appears as an eminently impressive figure; her confidence and unbridled ambition overshadow both Irenicus' sense of superiority and the Dark Elves' arrogance. It must be remembered, that at this stage of the plot development, even the members of the "Five" do not allow themselves to disregard the power of Gorion's fosterlings and their companions; Melissan, however, does not hesitate to manipulate not only the members of the "Five" but also the player's team, although - unlike Sarevok or Irenicus - she is well aware of how ruthlessly they destroy all their opponents. There is something almost splendid in Melissan's insolence, something that must awaken involuntary admiration; it is impossible to underestimate the person, who by over twenty years with unwavering consistency plans and implements her intrigue, in order to finally single-handedly oppose to all adversaries simultaneously: Bhaal, the "Five" as a whole, insidious Yaga-Shura, and even to her own allies: Balthazar and the player's party.

 

Melissan's boldness and brave are shocking, her plans seem as unreal and venturesome as the actions of the Third Reich. If we reject the intrusive jewish propaganda attempting to depreciate the unprecedented military achievements of the German nation, we will see a small, deprived of colonies and strong allies european state, that was capable to oppose the combined forces of the Soviet Union, United States, British Empire, French colonial empire and over than thirty other countries. Each of these powers immensely surpassed Germany in terms of area, population and raw material resources, and yet, even united, they needed four years to tire and exhaust the small european country struggling in fact alone. As one of historians once wisely noted, today only an extraterrestrial invasion would be able to repeat the exploit of Germany: to unite the entire planet in one alliance and force the powers of all states to maximum effort. Omiting the barbarity of Nazi crimes, the might of the Third Reich is admirable, and its fantastic plans resemble equally ambitious (and equally sinister) projects of Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. In this context, Melissan is very similar to the Third Reich, as if she would be its personification: she is powerful, cunning and inventive, she manipulates both enemies and allies, she does not shy away from betrayal and even genocide (Saradush), but she is also not afraid of confronting all her opponents at the same time.
She is undoubtedly one of the most despicable characters, and yet... for someone to whom the ethos of a warrior is close, someone who is able to appreciate values such as courage, ambition and determination, Amelyssan must also seem a personality by all means impressive.

1. Bodhi - the primordial core of darkness

Bravery and ambition also characterize the person who comes first in my ranking. Bodhi overtook Melissan because - in contrast to the Great Deathstalker of Bhaal - we know her past and can rule out the influence of external factors on her character. Bodhi was ranked first on this list, because she is morally most pure; this character has not been tainted with Evil like Sarevok, but is the source of it herself. Her wickedness evolved in the environment morally perfect and isolated from the corruption of the outside world, so it is primeval and noble like a diamond; Bodhi outranks not only all the other enemies in the "Baldur's Gate" saga in this respect, but also all the evil deities of human religions - except perhaps the zarathustrian Ahriman. The power of Bodhi's Evil is enormous, it emanates at other creatures and is able to deprave them, long before the elfess becomes the vampire queen - ultimately, it is her influence that poisons the soul, and causes morally decline of her brother Joneleth. 

 

I also can't get rid of the impression, that in terms of this ideological purity, Bodhi has no comparable counterpart on the "righteous side"; none of the team members is Good in such a degree, as Evil she is. Often confronted with her Imoen (in fact, more proper Bodhi's antitype is the main character) seems to be the personification of goodness and nobleness, and yet even in her bright soul, there is a dark element: the Bhaal's taint and the tendency to kill, as well as the performed profession, are the equivalent of a small black dot on the white Yin symbol. Also Minsc, though he seems sincere, even primitive in his views - is not an equal moral counterweight to Bodhi. After all, we do not know whether Minsc's personality was as steadfast and devoid of ethical dilemmas before... let's call it "the age of Boo" ; perhaps his head injuries distorts his judgments and quells previous doubts. Bodhi is completely different: her personality seems to have no weaknesses. She chose Evil consciously and voluntarily, without anyone's inspiration or external patterns, and even more: she did not "choose" Evil, but "created" it in a place, where such a term had previously only functioned in the theoretical realm. I find Bodhi particularly fascinating in many ways, and the mechanism of Evil rise without an external stimulus is nearly as wonderful, as the evolution of biological life from an inanimate mixture of amino acids.

In the novel (unfortunately of mine authorship), Jaheira presents the degeneration of Alandis into Bodhi as the inevitable consequence of the imbalance between the elements of Good and Evil; there was no Evil in Suldanessellar, thus by nature's law sooner or later there must came to a polarization and a cleavage among the Elves themselves. Initally, Bodhi was not an evil being, she was only "less good" than the rest of Ellesime's subjects, and this difference grew more and more over time. On the same principle consist the mechanism of the Shadow Thieves Guild moral rehabilitation; an organization considered criminal, in the situation of menace from the Bodhi's guild, becomes the only force that protects the city from the vampiress, and the only ally of main character and his companions. In the mentioned novel, I dedicated many warm words to Bodhi - not to glorify Evil, but to appreciate her greatness and pay tribute to her moral purity - which does not necessarily have to mean goodness and magnanimity. Moral purity - in my understanding of this term - means lack of contamination by the opposite element, therefore "pure Evil" can be equally noble as "pure Good". This "nobleness" of Bodhi can be noticed and felt, even by people incapable of a deeper characterological analysis of Bodhi's actions. Though she is an enemy, seem to be noble and fair: the vampiress does not plot intrigues like her brother, she never refers to Imoen using the condescending term "child", is honest in converses with the main character, and - unlike Irenicus - respects him as an adversary.

Her attitude is reminiscent of a knightly code of honor: when Irenicus, after ripping the divine essences from both Bhaalspawns, instructs her sister to get rid of Gorion's fosterlings and their friends, this is the moment when the team's defeat seems most real. And yet, it is Bodhi who is opposing to such an useless death of great heroes; she prefers to free the team, so that they have a chance to die with dignity, in battle - which in consequence leads to the fall of herself and her brother. This deed, can only be compared to handing back the opponent a weapon knocked out from his hand during a duel: Bodhi is like a knight, naive in his nobleness.

In this character clearly becomes visible the difference between the primeval, noble and "pure" Evil, and the "secondary" evil, vile and contemptible, resulting from moral decay and degeneration. This second, "non-noble" variation of Evil is the most common, and is exquisitely exemplified by the Tolkien's Orcs: a fallen and degenerate version of the Elves, malicious, cowardly and primitively cruel (just like a rabble associated on Beamdog's discussion forums, admiring some loathsome, circumcised hog, that profanes Imoen's dignity and spits on everything that is good and decent). Bodhi represents an incomparably higher standard; she is majestic and arouses involuntary respect - like Morgoth, who breed the first Orcs, defied his God (Illuvatar) and introduced the seeds of all Evil into the world of Arda.