For storylines to have some conflict that requires us players and characters to care to help, there’s often quite a few oppressed races throughout our adventures.
Sadly, most of them are turned against us, and the game objectives often prohibit us from helping them.
But strangely we’re often reminded how we, the adventurers, become the uninvited, the intruder, even the murderers.
The Sahuagin play very dirty in their attempts to kill off the population of the tiny community of Korthos. Sahuagin are worshippers of The Devourer, brother of Arawai (whose shrine of bountiful harvests you find out in the Cerulean Hills) and her opposite, a force of natural destruction. The Sahuagin have corrupted not only human followers of the Devourer to aid their cause, but are using the necromantic arts to raise the long-dead Cannith engineers and family buried on the island to terrorize the populace. They’re also using magic to try to freeze the inhabitants off the island.
This may be a reaction to the way that House Cannith often seems quite okay with using places and resources with barely any attempt at gaining permission to do so, or thinking about the implications caused by their acts.
House Cannith is the closest analogue to the British Empire we see in this game–including the need for an outside force to clean up their messes for years to come. Even before House Cannith was available to us adventurers for quests, a quest that let you see through the eyes of an ancient Warforged Titan confirmed that Cannith’s claim of inventing the Warforged was only so much smoke and mirrors. The quests and raids in their house show how House Cannith’s hubris comes to bite them on their non-shiny metal asses.
Often ostracized by the rest of the Stormreach community as thieves or vermin, kobolds settled into the sewers to live. Unfortunately, they seek out anything vulnerable to use, often causing them to cross into the paths of those who don’t like them.
A nice little kobold like Scrag actually asks you to help him and his family remove a group of near-feral dogs released into his part of the sewer. But, unlike other citizens (or kobolds), he asks you to lure them out of the sewers unharmed.
But Scrag is a rarity. Kobolds hate you, especially when you go on a rescue mission to find two Stormreach guards who had few legitimate reasons for going deep into the sewers and getting waylaid by the kobolds.
I see kobolds are generally neutral, not evil. In the Waterworks, they attack because you’re invading their home.
Kobolds are easily influenced into doing evil, despite their capacity to be nice, if not neutral. Later adventures into the bowels of Mount Reysalon show yet another group of kobolds influenced by the forces of a lich to help him–what else?–take over the world.
We see a few kobolds in a sympathetic light, and thankfully, we needn’t harm them. That’s because they’re being driven out of their sewer homes, not by adventurers this time, but by an underground incursion by the plane of Xoriat.
Best of all, we get to enjoy kobolds in league with us (this week in fact) as their worker union and our parties join forces to mine crystals on the island of Smuggler’s Cove. As you work and they scurry, they have many a witty thing to say about their work and your past relationships with them.
These hominids embody the TV Tropeism of “butt monkey” both literally and physically. They’re simply cannon-fodder for everybody throughout the game.
We don’t see the wildmen making any large-scale offensives anywhere in the game. They seem quite content to being left alone–which is why they are often picked off, picked on or picked up by other races to do any bidding but the wildmen’s own desires.
The only people more pissed off than the duergar on the island where Ataraxia’s Haven is located are the wildmen. With nowhere else to go to live, to call them upset at this invasion to turn their island into a resort is putting it mildly. Guys like Mirot attack on sight.
The wildmen are forced to live in the shadows of others that invade another unnamed island, turned into a fortress this time by the Blood Tide pirates. Needless to say, they also attack you on sight if you choose to pass through what’s left of their world that’s not part of the fortress.
Travel to the Restless Isles to investigate a smuggling ring of ancient magical artifacts that Hazadill exploited, and there you’ll find mines where ogres have enslaved many a wildmen to mine for these artifacts. What’s incredible in these quests is that you’ll find some wildmen who turn against their own kind. I’m more than happy to punch these turncoat wildmen straight to Dulurrh.
If you’re detected by the ogre slavers in the Shrieking Mines, they’ll sic their wildmen slaves on you to sweeten their sadism as well as kill you. If you can slay only the controlled ogres, the wildmen are freed–but leave more than just a few words of ingratitude for being rescued by the likes of you while teleporting away.
The poor plight of the wildmen hardly stops there. The Vinethrasher clan just want to do their thing in the isolated jungles of the Skyfall Coast when they’re pulled into the middle of two invasion forces: Your party and advance-scouting parties from a Droaam invasion force.
Very skilled (and sympathetic) adventurers can actually avoid killing any wildmen in this quest, and then use Diplomacy with the Vinethrasher chieftain in his village to warn him of the invasion force while also passing through his village peacefully to go warn a Stormreach scouting base.
The next time you run into the wildmen, they’re enslaved again, this time by the corrupted and clandestine Path of Inspiration, a group that is very close to invading Xen’drik from the Plane of Dreams, this time with no giants to stop them as they were stopped eons before. If you’re very careful with your attacks (and have no hirelings that will gleefully hack anything they see), these wildmen won’t attack you. But they’ve become so embittered and completely broken by their enslavement that I’ve felt almost relieved to kill them as the only available means to release them from their horrid captivity.
And the wildmen’s woes aren’t even slowed by living on another plane.
On the Plane of Eternal War, forces in a Shavarath base have exported and turned wildmen into biological weapons, infecting them before trying to ship them disguised as innocuous cargo, back to Xen’drik and other locales. Unable to rescue them, you can use control panels above the suspicious cargo bay to use a weapon to blast open the crates imprisoning the wildmen and others, leaving them to attack their captors on their own, or enter the area through a base portal to kill them along with their guards.
Sure. Being dead to begin with, these folks are generally beyond complaining much about anything.
But if you think about the loved ones of those people who are animated to do evil, it becomes a bit more tragic. What’s most tragic is that, of all the butt-monkeys, the undead have no spokesman and have no say. Torture is truly timeless for the eternal.
Wildmen are most trod-upon, true, but the undead are exploited by the legion. Quest after quest after quest is filled with the hordes of the unliving. By count, the undead are certainly the most exploited.
Who knows how saddening it was for one of the Coin Lords to hear about your namesake’s spirit becoming tortured and manipulated.
Some Hobgoblins Who Aren’t Doing Anything
Some hobgoblin has recruited you to wage war against the Arzag-Khor tribe, so that Karnat’s tribe can seize possession of some “tear” shaped thing.
Now, it appears that these hobgoblins aren’t screwing with anybody, living quietly in a complex underground sewer city under House Phiarlan.
They don’t have any war machines in wait. They don’t have a plan to blow up the town. Little hobgoblin kids were probably running through the streets, playing stickball or “Catch the Kobold” or something. Hobgoblin moms are making some delicious mushroom stew, and the smells of roasted rats and spider fill the city with happiness. Bacon is being cooked.
And then you show up.
During the untold slaughter your party brings down upon their world, you’ll likely see one of them say, “Why can’t you leave us in peace?!”
And that’s not the only time you’re a bloodthirsty maniac slaughtering sentients for pay.
Some Poor Homeless and Hungry People
The quest is so reprehensible to many players that they avoid it altogether. I tried to go in to assassinate only the required targets with Kiricletica once. It took all my abilities to keep the enraged inhabitants from harm’s way after the deed was done, even with the quest flag completed.
The fact that you’ll later avenge the deaths of these innocents by killing off the jerk that hired you doesn’t cleanse you from the fact that these innocents died at your hands. You’re a jerk for taking the job.
It’s a wonder the Sovereign Host doesn’t seek revenge. But they’re more like Christians than the bureaucratic, theocratic and easily manipulated Flame (to use a real-world comparison), and certainly less likely to get as corrupted from within. Or captured. Or impersonated. Or completely led down the primrose path to world-ending disaster.
Talk about lazy. The Kingdom of Cormyr finds a terrorist band in a large port city, and decide to go all Escape from New York on it, converting it into a large prison…and trapping lots of innocents with the crazies and criminals.
While the followers of Shar are very, very dangerous, it’s still a significant amount of misplaced retribution to sacrifice innocent people in order to resist a very powerful evil. As your adventures in the prison and elsewhere deduce, rather than diminishing the Netherese terrorists in Wheloon and Cormyr, the prison city is now a full Shar command center, with nothing and almost no one to stop them from their plans to ruin Cormyr.
Somewhere, the Harper Agents are facepalming. They have a quite the mess to clean up, thanks to the Lawful Stupid acts of the Purple Dragon Knights.
Those Who Deserve What’s Coming to Them
And then there are many other races that intentionally ask for it, gaining little or no sympathy or even a way to see their point of view.
There’s not a sympathetic gnoll that you’ll encounter in the game. They are a strong, prideful force that would be left alone if they weren’t so predatory. Ever talk to a NPC Gnoll in the game? That’s because they have nothing to talk about. You’re dog-food to them and they don’t talk to food.
Most of the Drow like being assholes in favor of their allegiance with some giant or some god. The Vulkoor Drow hate giants but hate outsiders even more, with small groups like the Raveneye being exceptions. The Sulatar Drow are just crazed maniacs with fire spells who haven’t given up their enslavement to the giants of old, despite having control of a volcano they could use to blow up (very) nearby Stormreach! And we won’t bother discussing the quintessential dark-skinned dickery that epitomizes the Drow of the Underdark.
While many of us have banished Arraetrikos back to Shavarath more times than we can count, don’t you feel a little sad when other leaders in the Tower of Despair not only condemn him for apparent weakness and/or treason and then shrink him down to a cute, cuddly-sized bundle of red-winged terror, suitable as a pet?
Nope, I wasn’t shedding any tears, either.
And we’re all still waiting for our Baby Pit Fiend companion, Turbine, complete with things to say like, “Tell me how many times you banished Daddy again!” or “Kobolds taste like chicken!” or “Buy me an Cube pet with pineapple and human chunks in it!”
I’m sure I’m missing several lesser groups that get it in the shorts throughout the game, so feel free to cite your own examples.