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Thread: How Trail of Blood Should Have Ended

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001

    How Trail of Blood Should Have Ended

    I've been reminiscing about the Thief series lately, and all that I love and...don't love about the first two games. One thing in particular about TMA that has never sat well with me is Garrett's grudging alliance with Viktoria in the cutscene following Trail of Blood. So I decided to put together my own version. It goes without saying that my personal take on this part of TMA's plot is entirely subjective, but this is how I would have expected that scene to play out:

    Garrett moves cautiously through the forest, an arrow nocked on his bow, scanning his surroundings for threats. The trees shift, the ground rumbles, and a familiar spriggan magically manifests before him.

    Viktoria: Garrett.

    Garrett: Viktoria...

    Viktoria: (giving a derisive chuckle) Garrett. Who is it you wish to fight? Me? Or my thistleaids? Heh, or the sycamore?

    Garrett: Just you.

    Viktoria: I am not the enemy, Garrett. Nor anyone here. Here is your enemy — Mechanists. It's no secret that they wish to destroy you, too... hero that you are. Regardless, you will join us in our struggle against them.

    Garrett: Join you? Not really my first choice.

    Viktoria: Choice?! My choice is to avenge the death of a friend! You understand nothing of suffering and duty! Pathetic manfool! In one moment, I could—

    Diane rebuke's Viktoria's heated temper in their strange, wordless language, and Viktoria relents.

    Viktoria: (sighing) The past is the past. Now we have an enemy in common. Even you must see that this is so.

    Garrett: I seem to have a lot of enemies lately. Anyway, you have matters well in hand.

    Viktoria: It is true that I am powerful. But I draw my strength from this place. Where the Mechanists are, I am... not... so assured of victory.

    Garrett: Pity...

    Viktoria: I have no time for your vengeful thoughts, and biting words. But be assured, Garrett — you are stronger with us than without us.

    Garrett: Stronger with you? In case you've forgotten, you and your friend tried to sacrifice me to these savages and almost destroyed the world. I'm not interested in teaming up with your kind.

    Viktoria: Sometimes enemies must join forces to overcome a more terrible foe. I would have thought you would understand that better than anyone, after your... alliance with the Hammerites.

    Garrett: I'm not so convinced about which foe is more terrible. Your last demonstration left a pretty lasting impression on my point of view... (closeup on Garrett's narrowed mechanical eye)

    Viktoria: The Woodsie Lord is dead, Garrett. You killed him. And without his influence, the Mechanists' power has risen unchecked, and will continue to rise until there is no one left to oppose them. They are the real threat to this world now. Are you too blind to see that?

    Garrett: As far as I'm concerned, my biggest problem has already been dealt with. With Truart gone, business for me should pick up nicely. Guess I can thank you and Lieutenant Mosley for that little favor, heh. As for your problem... Tell you what — you pagans can settle your score with the Mechanists and... I'll take my chances on my own. I'm done fighting others' battles. (Garrett stows his bow and turns around, heading away from Viktoria and her allies)

    Viktoria: (Angrily calling after Garrett as he leaves) You are an even blinder fool than I thought if you truly believe the Mechanists are a lesser threat to you than the Sheriff, Garrett... But so be it. I'll not waste any more of my time arguing with a petty, stubborn manfool. Come, Diane, Larkspur — there is much to be done...



    And then, of course, Garrett would in fact continue his investigations into what the Mechanists are up to — independently. Maybe he'd decide on his own to sneak into Angelwatch, or perhaps he'd receive another little nudge from the Keepers to seek answers there. Everything useful he actually learned about Karras's plot was gained from his own hunting anyway, from the moment he broke into Angelwatch to when he journeyed to Markham's Isle, Karath Din, and so on. Viktoria and her pagan spies weren't really particularly helpful if we're being honest. That being said, I can see Garrett later beginning to grudgingly work with the pagans as the plot approaches the eleventh hour (perhaps even somewhat regretting his previous refusal to join forces with them), and the full implications of Karras's plans become clearer. That would have been a lot more dramatically effective as the plot nears its climax, in my opinion.

    Anyhow, this is (some of) how I would have restructured TMA's storyline.
    Last edited by The Shroud; 3rd Jun 2022 at 08:28.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    one thing you missed in the entire conversation,garrett at some point should have said you took my "eye" left me for dead,and now you want help lol

    i never understood how when woodsie lord and viktoria took his eye,like nothing more was mentioned about it to viktoria later as they were meeting,i feel garrett was weak for letting that go

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2009
    Location: thiefgold.com
    Yeah if I was Garrett, I'd be pretty pissed about my eye, not sure what I'd do in the moment, but I wouldn't let that slide

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2021
    I think it was suggested in older discussions that Viktoria may have used some kind of charm spell on Garrett, and that's why his reflexes were so slow and he seemed so out of character. I also wonder if the blood/sap oath she made was such a powerful binding magic that Garrett was unable to raise a hand against her. I wonder if this would've been explored more if Thief 2 Gold had materialized. Might be an interesting angle for an FM to pursue.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2002
    Location: melon labneh
    Quote Originally Posted by downwinder View Post
    one thing you missed in the entire conversation,garrett at some point should have said you took my "eye" left me for dead,and now you want help lol
    🤔

    Quote Originally Posted by The Shroud View Post
    Garrett: Stronger with you? In case you've forgotten, you and your friend tried to sacrifice me to these savages and almost destroyed the world. I'm not interested in teaming up with your kind.

    [...]

    Garrett: I'm not so convinced about which foe is more terrible. Your last demonstration left a pretty lasting impression on my point of view... (closeup on Garrett's narrowed mechanical eye)

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Quote Originally Posted by downwinder View Post
    one thing you missed in the entire conversation,garrett at some point should have said you took my "eye" left me for dead,and now you want help lol

    i never understood how when woodsie lord and viktoria took his eye,like nothing more was mentioned about it to viktoria later as they were meeting,i feel garrett was weak for letting that go
    Briareos summed up my references to this (thanks, Briareos). Also, I feel the writing should be at least slightly less on the nose than, "You took my eye," especially taking into account Garrett's own proclivity for sarcastic understatements and sardonic innuendo. But I wholeheartedly agree with your larger point it is entirely out of character for Garrett to shrug off something so unforgivable and just look past his hatred in favor of focusing his attention on... well (let's be honest), what the story wants him to focus on. It felt forced when I first saw it all those years ago, and it still feels forced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azaran View Post
    Yeah if I was Garrett, I'd be pretty pissed about my eye, not sure what I'd do in the moment, but I wouldn't let that slide
    Yeah. I mean, Garrett has far less tolerance for even the Keepers, and they never even did him dirty. This is not a guy who lets go of old resentments. Pretty much everything we know about Garrett's personality suggests the diametric opposite of his behavior in agreeing to work with (or even bothering to listen to) Viktoria: he's stubbornly independent, bitter, and defiant to a fault even when it might arguably be wiser for him to be more cooperative (as in his dealings with the Keepers). Anyone telling him what to do like Viktoria's smug, "you will join us" is pretty much guaranteed the opposite result.

    And imagine the barely suppressed rage of this man, after Viktoria deceived him, used him, didn't pay him what was promised after all his hard work over the course of five (or in Thief Gold's case, seven) painstaking missions, ripped his eye from its socket, left him to be eaten alive by the Trickster's minions, and now is arrogantly commanding him to join her. Ohh-hoho, best believe she's got another thing coming. I'll speak for myself here, but that felt like a slap to my face as the player, let alone literally adding insult to injury to Garrett. I wanted her tree-sappy blood in that moment (credit to the writers up to that point for instilling such a visceral hatred of their former villain in the player) but we never got our revenge. That still feels like a terrible injustice and an unfulfilled promise in the plot, honestly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Esse View Post
    I think it was suggested in older discussions that Viktoria may have used some kind of charm spell on Garrett, and that's why his reflexes were so slow and he seemed so out of character. I also wonder if the blood/sap oath she made was such a powerful binding magic that Garrett was unable to raise a hand against her. I wonder if this would've been explored more if Thief 2 Gold had materialized. Might be an interesting angle for an FM to pursue.
    I wouldn't doubt that that oath held some magical power in preventing betrayal by either party. As for a charm spell which alters Garrett's behavior just by being in Viktoria's presence... nah, I don't think so. For one thing, something like that would have needed to be communicated more clearly and tangibly to the viewer in order to not be missed (possibly even adding reflections from Garrett like, "What did that witch do to me?"), and I rather doubt the writers would have made such a blatant oversight if that was indeed the intent. But more to the point, I think there's really another culprit at work here: a notable weakness in TMA's writing in general. If you compare the caliber of TDP's screenwriting, as well as its in-game texts, to that of TMA, you'll likely notice a significant drop in overall quality. It's not terrible but it's clearly not on the same level as the writing in TDP. This is reinforced by Randy Smith's comments about how the team took the opposite approach to TMA's story from what they did in TDP, choosing to build missions first and then retrofitting the plot to fit the missions and Randy's own admissions about the hit TMA's story took from that decision.

    It probably doesn't help that Terri Brosius, who wrote the script, was also the voice of Viktoria, likely had a particular fondness for her character, and may well have been a little biased when it came to how persuasive and irresistible she envisioned Viktoria being toward Garrett even to the point of eliciting a panicked, "VIKTORIAAA!!!" from him when she martyrs herself at the end, followed by an outraged, "Karras!" (both of which even further breach believability for me). We're supposed to believe that Garrett has not only moved past what Viktoria did to him, but really cares about her now and can't stand to lose her. I just don't buy it. That's definitely not the Garrett I know. Not that I can actually think of anyone who would react that way to someone who so grievously wronged them on so many levels. It reeks of Twilight-level melodrama.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2021
    I wouldn't call it "Twilight-level melodrama" - it feels like that's a more apt term for other narratives in the series - but that's my opinion and my opinion alone. I do agree, however, that I could see some bias in having a VA/character creator write that particular part of the story. I also agree that the story should've come first and the missions structured after to fit the plot.

    With all of this said, I feel that TMA's story is about a taming of the wilderness, in a sense, and that extends to Garrett. Whereas TDP delved into the dark, feral corners of the world and Constantine's plots, TMA deals with the dark, unchecked corners of human society. As society is encroaching on the Pagans and the green spaces of the City, so too is Garrett's humanity encroaching on his more selfish, id-based desires. Even with his cold, calculating logic and general distaste for people, Garrett can't abide a city being turned into literal dust. I feel Viktoria was somehow a key to exploring that, but as you said, TMA's story direction took a hit and we ended up with what we have.
    Last edited by Esse; 4th Jun 2022 at 17:05.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Yeah, that's fair. I feel those are all valid and reasonable points. As for a FM project which attempts to restructure the story in TMA and offer a tighter, more plausible take on how the plot and missions should go... I'd definitely love to see that.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    if tma ever was redone ,i feel they should go the darker path/magic as a dev said the wanted to go but no time for it

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2021
    Did anyone ever see in the notes published from that dev's journal whether or not TMA Gold would've delved into Viktoria and Garrett's alliance more? I know there was a planned heist mission at a necromancer's compound.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: May 2022
    Charm spell is problematic because it removes agency from protagonist.
    If he is 'mind controlled', then his 'alliance with the old enemy' doesn't have as much impact as it would have if he is doing it of his own volition.
    Also, if he is 'charmed' (technically manipulated) that needs to be a plot point which needs later resolution.

    I think they wanted to use his decision to ally with Victoria to illustrate that Karras is real bad news, so much that Garrett is willing to ignore the fact that Victoria pulled his eye out.
    Somewhere along the way the line got a little blurry, so they drifted between 'strange alliance' and 'hint of romance', leaving the points vague?
    Maybe they had a plan to grow him as a character on his 'morality arc'? For me, killing Lotus was out of character. But it has function if you think about potential 'morality arc'.
    Only problem is, there is no explicit 'in story' trigger for that change.

    Then the deadline appeared on horizon, and could be they went full pragmatic on it; 'Is it good enough?' ?It's good enough!' 'Ship it!'
    Last edited by Mandragora; 4th Jun 2022 at 19:10.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Yeah, could be. I'm not sure how much push-back Terri Brosius would have gotten on the screenplay from the project lead and lead designer, especially considering how much more focus was put into the missions themselves than the actual plot (with Terri herself splitting her tasks between mission design and the script). I would imagine she was allowed a lot of creative liberty in that regard, and that no one was really too critical of her decisions most being far too preoccupied with engine programming and mission design. But all we can do is guess, really. Whatever the reasons were, it's definitely one of those glaring issues with the game.

    Another thing that really bothered me, and continues to bother me about TMA's overall plot and mission structure is how much of a waste of time the bulk of Eavesdropping, and literally all of First City Bank and Trust and Blackmail ends up being in the story. Casing the Joint and Masks were way too redundant as well. Hell, the one actual important part of Eavesdropping (the...actual eavesdropping part) could have just been added to the post-Ambush cutscene, then Trace the Courier's briefing could have included the news of Truart's murder, and the plot would have been three missions tighter right there. Quality over quantity, I say.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: May 2022
    If i must summarize the problem of T2 in comparison with T1 (which has excellent story), i think at the core of the problem is old storyteller's rule that says that events need to be connected with 'because of that' and not just with 'and then..'
    T1 is connected mostly with 'because'. Garrett goes to Bafford, and because of that he needs Cutty.. and because of that he goes to Cragscleft.. and because of that he goes to Bonehoard.. and so on.. Events are connected and event A causes event B, and chain goes almost all the way to the end.
    T2 is more like - Garrett helps Basso, 'and then' he goes to warehouses, 'and then' he goes to blackmail, 'and then' he is ambushed.. There are maybe few 'because' in there, but i think that is the reason the story is not so tight. Events exist without much causality.
    As they said, missions were first, story was second, and it shows.
    Last edited by Mandragora; 4th Jun 2022 at 22:25.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    just know in a alt universe looking glass did the games perfect,we just got a bit unlucky with our universe,but on the brite side ,we got fan missions so in a sense any errors in story or level design can be fixed for non profit ofcourse

    just image how unlucky we could have been with no dewdrop ,omg the thought is unthinkable

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Quote Originally Posted by Mandragora View Post
    If i must summarize the problem of T2 in comparison with T1 (which has excellent story), i think at the core of the problem is old storyteller's rule that says that events need to be connected with 'because of that' and not just with 'and then..'
    T1 is connected mostly with 'because'. Garrett goes to Bafford, and because of that he needs Cutty.. and because of that he goes to Cragscleft.. and because of that he goes to Bonehoard.. and so on.. Events are connected and event A causes event B, and chain goes almost all the way to the end.
    T2 is more like - Garrett helps Basso, 'and then' he goes to warehouses, 'and then' he goes to blackmail, 'and then' he is ambushed.. There are maybe few 'because' in there, but i think that is the reason the story is not so tight. Events exist without much causality.
    As they said, missions were first, story was second, and it shows.
    That's very true, good observation. The story in TDP feels much more fluid because we're actually following Garrett's activities contiguously from one job to the next instead of just seeing isolated 'episodes' that have very little to do with one another. Granted, we don't hear any further mention of Basso and his sister after Break from Cragscleft Prison than we hear of Basso and Jenivere after Running Interference, but at least in the former, rescuing Basso was just a side objective on Expert mode, where as in the latter, freeing Jenivere was the entire purpose of the mission — and it's just a throwaway episode that has absolutely no connection to the plot. Likewise with Shipping... and Receiving, while the mission at least does a fair job of establishing the city's changes over the past year and introducing the Mechanists, the actual purpose of the mission — redirecting a shipment from Gilver to your fence — is never mentioned again and has literally no bearing on what comes next. And the same happens with Framed, a good mission which reveals more of what's going on in the city and sets up some backstory for Truart and Mosley, but still has no actual attachment to what came before or after it. They're all just a bunch of disjointed fragments stuck together with duct tape and chewing gum.

    It would be interesting to explore a total rewrite of TMA's plot in a series of FMs and see how it could be done properly — maybe by following TDP's structure as a model, with 12 missions instead of 15, and the last 3 missions comprising the lead-up to the final showdown (Precious Cargo, Kidnap, and then straight to Sabotage at Soulforge?). Maybe missions 7 and 8 would include Garrett breaking into a couple of the Mechanists' more industrial sites (a factory where the automatons are constructed, a chemical plant where the rust gas is synthesized) and planting explosives or something that destroys those facilities, and/or stealing something that makes further production impossible. Mission 9 (Life of the Party, I guess) could merge the exhibition in Masks with the guided tour in Angelwatch to pack a bit more meat into that segment, before Garrett heads off to Markham's Isle. Just some ideas.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: May 2022
    Just a small causalities would make it feel more connected and organic, i think.
    Also, motivation would be more clear and internal.

    My 5 minute rewrite :))

    Garrett helps Basso because of some old favor/sister + loot. Emphasize friendship or thief's camaraderie, since it will be needed/used later for motivation.
    He finds at Rumford mansion some corrupt document about shipment, or even better, Jenivere being sold to some smugglers as slave.
    At warehouses, he finds all sorts of kids and beggars being held imprisoned in one of warehouses.
    Man signed on document regarding 'slave trade' is Hagen. Garrett sabotages the 'slave trade'. Jenivere dead? Turned into Servant later?
    Because of all that, 'somebody' (Victoria is already watching at this point, if not from beginning; maybe some shadows on windows who leave flowers and moss arrows) wants him to frame Hagen. Also, gold and deleting his own 'crime list' from records, so motivation is personal/internal.
    Hagen needs to be Tier 3 bad guy, with a little more volume to him.
    Because of Framed he needs to be Ambushed, not some cryptic stuff like 'Sammy sold me out'.
    Full Mechanists/City Watch ambush. Needs to feel important in term of plot. Revenge for Hagen or something like that.
    Here events pick up the pace.
    Ambush and Framed can even swap places.
    Anyway, Keepers point to Eavesdropping, which leads to Bank, which leads to Blackmail. All well.
    Trace the courier and Trial of Blood = chase; all well.

    Here is the main twist. Basso turned Pagan sometimes between T1 and T2, maybe he was Pagan all the time. He killed Truart. Extra motivated by death of his sister/Jenivere.
    That can soften up Garrett' logic and wish for revenge on Victoria.
    There should be one dialog between Basso, Garrett and Victoria that clears everything up.
    Also, before this point we need to have a clear idea that Mechanists are real bad news. Corrupted, ready to kill and annihilate, while wearing the mask of progress.
    Later in story Basso goes on mission for Victoria on Markham's, and he is Lotus. That way, Garrett's mercy killing a friend has a high reverberation throughout the story.

    After that is all well, with 'bring the villain down' structure going on, and closing remaining story threads up.
    Some missions could be tweaked left or right, but structurally, it holds.
    And Servants needs to be more fleshed out. I played T2x long time ago, but as i remember, they had Servant production being central to the plot. That is excellent choice.

    But.. BUT..!
    It is easy to be a general after the battle, so.. i love T2 anyway, with all it's 'flaws' :))
    Last edited by Mandragora; 5th Jun 2022 at 08:42.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2007
    Location: Germany
    Just to add a little bit to the overall discussion: I think we underestimate the impact of Viktoria's oath on Garrett.
    If we assume that the world of Thief is, to a certain extend, based on medieval European societies, then an oath and personal honor meant something back then (at least much more than today).
    That's why I've always believed that Viktoria is being sincere in this moment and Garrett would see it likewise.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: May 2022
    I don't think that people in general have a problem with trustworthiness or sincerity of Victoria's claim (shed needs ally with Garrett's skill),
    but with Garrett's willingness to accept it because of their history (eye being taken and that kind of neat stuff).

    From his point of view, in that moment, he doesn't need them (Pagans) and, as popular belief goes, he would still hold a grudge for events from T1.
    But he is somehow easily turned to say 'ok, let's work together'.
    Motivation for that decision is in question.

    But maybe you have the point, one he was convinced she will not betray him (again), he was more willing to go with 'enemy of my enemy is my friend'.

  19. #19
    New Member
    Registered: Nov 2021
    I really like your idea that Garrett finds out Karras' plan on his own somehow (like you said, Pagans are not really helpful regarding what he discovers at Angelwatch or in Markham's Isle).

    But, regarding the cutscene after Trail of Blood, my interpretation has always been that Viktoria doesn't really give Garrett a choice. Viktoria appears threatening and powerful, and she is the one making the choice. That scene is very similar, at times, to what happened at Constantine's the last time Viktoria got angry. Garrett doesn't even agree properly when Viktoria stabs his arm and seals the 'agreement'.

    There was no agreement there, well, technically there was, but there was a high level of coercion by Viktoria, or at least that's how I see it. So I cannot see Garrett walking out of this at all.

    But, yes, I never liked the idea of working together with Viktoria when it comes to Angelwatch, for example. Garrett could have easily found --at the end of Trail of Blood- notes regarding Angelwatch and the Cetus project (maybe even notes by Viktoria herself), and decide to check that up on his own. The joining of forces with Viktoria could have come later.

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