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 Post subject: Tribute to Imoen
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:23 am
Posts: 2
Hey everyone, looks like since the release the incredibly dense and beautiful ToB expansion for Imoen, the forums have certainly gotten a lot quieter. It feels like it’s marked an end of a decade long saga.

I got into Baldur’s Gate 2 and the modding scene in my early days of high school back in 2007/2008, and Imoen has always been a favourite character of mine but she was definitely underwritten within the vanilla BG trilogy even though she seemed to be the perfect fit to be the emotional core that links your protagonist to the entire rest of the adventure. But this mod showed how crucial she can become to the Bhaalspawns story as the pivot to the entire plot, and changed the focus of the entire trilogy in my mind.

My experiences with the people in this board and Imoen herself shaped quite a lot of who I am today. This mod transformed Imoen into, I’d argue, the most fully realised video-game character in history. If Baldur’s Gate is played through it’s entirety, it presents a wonderfully beautiful arc of a girl with a small background and with a pension for mischief but with great loyalty to you, to someone who’s had almost everything taken away from her except for you. Her mind, body and even her spirit is defiled arguably beyond repair. And she doesn’t know how to respond to such tragedy, and neither do you. But then in ToB, she’s grown from the tragedy! 100 hours of playthrough with cheats to see Imoen go through such immense character growth, and her character grounds your conflict with Irenicus, Bodhi, Sarevok and your relationship with your Bhaal essence with your relationship to her. That’s the thing, both you and Imoen’s fates and are so closely intertwined that this mod isn’t just supplementary to the Baldur’s Gate experience but I feel elevates the experience to one of the greatest narratives of all time.

Remember the first time you learned of the existence of this mod? How curiously strange it was that someone would go through the effort of writing an entire romance for your sister/childhood friend? Remember when you finally met up with Imoen in Spellhold after what felt like eons? You went around the party and introduced her to everyone, that felt like an intensely personal affair. When she told you about the dreugar? My god the black hate I felt welling up inside me towards Irenicus. I even roleplayed in response to hearing this and my character went from Neutral Good to Neutral Evil and changed his disposition and what he would respond in dialogue. The changes she went through changed my characters entire personality to the point that I didn't know who my character really was anymore, and it made me question who the real protagonist of the Baldur's Gate series is. The game world didn't feel like it centered around me anymore, but it instead felt like both my character and Imoen were equally important to the plot. That is was us against the world. This whole plot point turned the final encounter against Irenicus from a battle against who will keep the soul of Bhaal, to a pure, hate-filled revenge fantasy. And that point where you finally catch her after pouring water onto your sleeping face, I remember failing to progress the romance so many times because I didn’t know the variables I was working with so I restarted the game multiple times just to progress her romance.

That was like, 8-9 years ago. Time is a scary thing.

But it doesn’t just stop there! After learning the ToB expansion was graciously released earlier this year I made it a point to run through SoA and ToB all over again and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The ToB content accomplishes a feeling of great catharsis, an intensely great emotional release. It didn’t end with me in tears, or with sadness that the experience is now over. Instead, I felt happy for Imoen, this fictional character. She’s grown so much even since the events of SoA, but despite the time gap between the SoA and ToB mod it felt like we were right where we left off. Having chill conversations with her at the Saradush pub or the Pocket Plane. The meeting with Gorion’s ghost and everyone at Candlekeep, and finally the 20+ variants of epilogue. I finished my playthrough with a dream I always had which was to reject godhood and stay in the material world with Imoen, even if that meant giving the throne to Cyric.

Not many people will experience this. In his latest video on the Baldur’s Gate series, Noah-Caldwell Gervais noted how less than 0.5% of players of the Enhanced Edition by Beamdog actually finished the game all the way up to ToB according to Steam achievements. Interest in AD&D rules and Infinity Engine games have long past us and mainstream audiences just don’t see the appeal of these games anymore. This is an intensely personal experience that only a few of us will ever experience, and we should cherish that.

The people who still like the original Baldur’s Gate trilogy and who’re into the modding scene are a very small, niche audience, but people who like Imoen and who want to get to know her and bond with her many, many years later shows how small but powerfully dedicated this community is. The fact that we have our own dedicated forums instead of being part of a larger website like Spellhold Studios or PocketPlane really illustrates this, but it can show how insular we can be. I found the insularity quite beautiful even though I still remember some drama on this forum many years ago. But there were still many great memories of people opening up about why and how Imoen was important to them and feeling like they wouldn’t be judged for opening up I think is the reason why this mod drew so many people and instilled quite a lot of passion in the first place.

Thank you for the memories, Mirabbo, TCDale, Sarevok08, vanatos and everybody else, this mod should be placed in the great annals of videogame history as one of the greatest achievements of the medium.

Last edited by thinkingdistance on Mon Oct 31, 2016 5:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tribute to Imoen
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:30 pm
Posts: 5
Wow, awesome post thinkingdistance. I totally agree with you, the Imoen romance is the best romance I've ever seen in a video game (some would say that it's not such an accomplishment but still). If Baldur's Gate (by which I mean the whole saga) is my favorite game, that's no small part due to the mod. It gave Imoen a true personality, made Irenicus truly despicable instead of being a generic villain and the game essentially became the tale of two protagonists instead of only Charname. On a personal subject, and I know I will probably look like a creep for this confession, it's because I've played the Imoen romance that I know what love feels like, having never been in such a strong relationship with someone (well, I'm 23 so hope is not yet lost :lol: ).

It even made me think about "society matters" that had never crossed my mind before like incest and free love. I don't know if most supporters of the LGBT movement are like that but I was really surprised to see that a lot of people who cheer about the same-sex marriage are horrified and disgusted by incest. But what is the difference? Free love isn't for everyone? The mod was actually food for thought, that's quite a feat for professionnal video games, even moreso for fanmade stuff.

When I installed the Imoen romance because the vanilla romances weren't good (IMO) and she seemed much more interesting (I'm a sucker for cheerful girls and the childhood friend romance trope), in something like 2013 (I'm a rookie who started with BG:EE), I didn't realize how much it would mark me. Therefore I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the mod for this wonderful experience. So here it is: thank you all. :)

(On a more anecdotic side (is that even grammatically correct? I'm not a native speaker so my apologies if I'm sometimes talking gibberish), I think I should also praise the BG1 NPC Project mod for its characterization of Imoen (and every other NPC actually but I digress) which even hints sometimes at a romance, like when Kivan says, while talking with Imoen about romance: "Perhaps, my guess is too bold, but I think you know already of a man whose breath catches in his throat when he sees your smile." which made me irrationally happy, or when you get the option to tell her you want to marry her (she just laughs it off but still). Some people complained she was too silly but my headcanon is that it's just an act she uses to avoid some topics (like Jaheira's pregnancy talk, or more serious things like violence and other bloody and depressing topics) and she's in reality more intelligent than most of the NPCs.
(Spoiler!) Siege of Dragonspear did a great job too with Imoen IMO, you even get to hear the words "I love you." from her. Admittedly she adds "You're like family" but still, it was awesome.)

And now I made a wall of text lol. Well, that was worth it. ;)

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