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Lore-friendliness, and Realism vs. Fantasy AKA No this blog isn't dead i just haven't had an idea for another entry in a while


Serithi

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So, it's been quite a while since my last entry in this blog. Also been a while since my last entry in my story blog, though I actually am very gradually working on the next entry for that too, don't worry. In the meantime, I done thunk a thought while browsing /r/worldbuilding (I've been frequenting there and working on my own world for quite a while now) and I felt like making a proper rant about said thought since it's also relevant here for various reasons, and what better place than in the very blog I made to rant in?

 

As you can no doubt tell by the blog title, this is a can of worms I'm opening up. A big wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey ball of worms. There will be blood. Firstborns will be sacrificed. Half-Life 3 may or may not be released.

Grabs can opener.

Alright. Let's talk a little bit about the concept of "realism", and the overlapping but not actually identical concept of "internal consistency", in the context of TES as well as fantasy in general. If one has a look at any armor mod that is skimpy or generally impractically-shaped (boobplates, ineffective coverage, too big and bulky, spiky shit everywhere that would make it dangerous to even put on in the first place, etc.), or likewise any impractically-shaped weaponry and such (vanilla Skyrim is a massive offender of this, which is unfortunate because weapons in the previous games did lean a bit more towards realistic shapes and proportions, so praise be to based LeanWolf), and lord knows there's plenty for either category, there's always a non-zero chance that the topic of realism comes up regarding why that armor would even be worn or how that weapon would be in any way, shape or form effective in actual usage. And there is likewise a non-zero chance of a response that, while perhaps or perhaps not worded exactly like the following, will still be along the same general lines: "It's fantasy, there's magic and Dragons and Elves and you're worried about something like this?". We've probably all seen a discussion along those lines at some point.

Now, as someone who loves the TES series and is able to work with fantasy as much as I lean strongly towards grounded realism, is decently educated in the mechanics of medieval-style combat, and is familiar with certain key fundamentals of worldbuilding and the concepts one might choose to employ or employs whether they're conscious of it or not, I have a very simple response of my own to that response: Bruh, you're missing the fucking point.

Let me break this down. There's this either common or uncommon but still very present belief that fantasy is "anything goes". That because it's fantasy, it has carte blanche to do whatever it wants. And that's not necessarily incorrect, the author can indeed do whatever the hell they want, it's their story. However, and here's where things get complicated, that doesn't mean it's always advised to exercise that freedom.

Or, I should say, there's a difference between exercising it and abusing it. And abusing that freedom is what brings us to the issue at hand.

Load up Skyrim, or just about any other game really, but I'm using Skyrim for this example. Aside from the fact you're controlling the game with your KB/M or a gamepad or what have you, and you're looking at a monitor, aside from all the given differences of actually interfacing with the game... what stands out as "wrong"?

 

That might seem like an odd question, but bear with me. What seems "wrong" when you play? Run around. Jump around. Notice you fall back down after jumping up. Run into a bucket on the ground, and see it's knocked away when you collide with it. You can see, and everything looks as it should; trees, ground, sky - two-mooned, but, still -, all recognizable concepts. You can hear, and everything hears as it should; wind, flowing water, birds, people talking in the background. When you move forward, reality doesn't warp and make you move upwards as if the physical collision of reality has been rotated 90 degrees from its visual representation, and you need to physically cover the distance from A to B. When you kill something, it generally doesn't get back up and waltz in 3:4 time or something.

 

You might still be wondering about what I'm getting at, and the number of my drug dealer because I'm clearly on something awesome. Alas I am entirely sober, and here's my point, a reiteration: What seems "wrong"? And the answer is... nothing. Nothing is wrong. Skyrim is Skyrim and some physics stuff is wonky and the world isn't as interactable as real life is, but generally speaking, enough stuff works the way you'd expect it to that you're not immediately bothered. The absolute bare fundamentals are there, like gravity, light, sound, physicality, so on and so forth. It's a 3D world perceived the same way the real world is, and running on the same basic functionality (even if in-universe stuff arrives at that functionality differently).

 

What this means is, there is a fundamental core of realism. A lot of stuff works as you would expect it to. As you would expect in real life, to be specific. And therein lies the crux of the issue, which is that you will always have that core of realism. That's just an unavoidable fact of portraying a 3D world similar to our own. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

 

Which then brings us to the next point: Fantasy. Where stuff does diverge from reality. And why there's a common misunderstanding between "realism" and "internal consistency". And I'll establish those here before I continue. Realism is, of course, pertaining to real life. Something working in a fictional setting the same or a similar way it does in real life given similar circumstances. When you jump up, you fall back down. When you fall a long distance, you possibly hurt yourself to varying (potentially even lethal) degrees. People die when you kill them. Something physically in the way of your arrow will possibly block it and save whatever your original target was that's behind the obstacle. All obvious stuff. "Internal consistency", however, is not exactly the same thing. It just means refers to things happening that make sense within the setting. It doesn't violate the established rules of the setting. For example regarding violations, everyone suddenly all being superpowered heroes when before everyone was just normal. Magic working contrary to how it's been established to work before (imagine if TES ever dumped the Magicka meter). The Towers turning out to just be nothing more than really big lawn ornaments despite everything we know of the metaphysical need for their existence. Fargoth being the Nerevarine.

 

These would all be significant internal inconsistencies, because it's already been established that things work a certain way or ways and not another way or ways. And as such, as long as everything follows those established ways and maintains consistency and coherence, it's fine. Dragons and magic and Elves are not realistic, per se. But they are internally consistent. They exist in the TES setting and the physical laws it runs on. It runs on decidedly realistic laws (hence i said "per se", because Dragons and Elves and such do in fact have their own realistic elements to them, they just don't actually exist in real life which is what i was getting at), as well as some extra stuff layered on top that works in tandem with the realism. They have their place in the setting, they have history and explanation for being there. They have justification for existing. Boobplate, however, does not. There are no established laws stating why boobplate would work out positively. As such, realism automatically fills in, because Occam's Razor establishes that in absence of anything stated to the contrary. And boobplates are not realistically effective armor. They're actually extremely dangerous to the wearer, because that's a big wedge aimed directly at the sternum. Fracture that (be it because someone struck you there, and the boobs of the armor would literally guide blows in, or perhaps you simply fell forward and smashed the armor into you that way, because newsflash, human flesh is not rigid, that shit's gonna give), that sharp bit is quite likely to stab you straight in the heart, and you're officially RIP. Same for weapons, weapons are very specifically shaped they are in real life because it's the most effective shape for each individual weapon's intended purpose. They're all generally light so you can physically carry and use them without immediately tiring out. They're all extremely simple in shape because anything more than that is extra weight and unnecessary parts that can get caught on stuff at inconvenient times or render the weapon effectively useless at its intended task, not to mention it's additional material the smiths have to use up. And same for weapons against armor and the effectiveness or lack thereof of each kind of weapon versus each kind of armor. Real historical arms and armors are shaped the way they are for very specific reasons involving taking someone's life and keeping your own intact.

Because there's no stated internal laws in TES justifying the use of impractical (and outright dangerous to the user) armor and weapon designs, the automatic conclusion is that they're shaped that way not for an internally-consistent reason (and remember, realism is not the same concept, but it is still present and as such is also subject to the same scrutiny of internal consistency), but out of reliance on cliched fantasy tropes that, in my opinion, do a disservice both to the series itself and its players. We don't need this. Some people do in fact like the unrealistic stuff, and power to you, but that doesn't mean it's needed. Something being liked isn't a good justification when it then negatively affects the overall quality of the end product. We can indeed accept realism, and in fact portraying proper authentic realism is itself a very standout concept because of how uncommonly it's done. Something like For Honor, while not being totally historically accurate because it still relies on the same Hollywood fantasy tropes in its fighting (and i'm obviously not delving into the fact that Knights, Vikings and Samurai didn't all clash together in real life, For Honor runs on an alternate timeline), is still refreshing in how it does still portray some stuff (halfswording, mordhaus, a lot of the armor designs, etc.) much more accurately than is commonly done (or that it portrays some of that stuff at all. Prior to For Honor, when's the last time you saw halfswording or mordhaus portrayed in a common mainstream game or movie or whatever?).

 

I can accept Dragons. I can accept magic. I can accept Elves. They're all established parts of the TES setting and maintain consistency with its laws and logic. That's an example of good fantasy, one where everything fits together like it should. Impractical armor and unprofessionally swinging weapons around like clubs instead of versatile tools of war? That I cannot accept. Because that is not internally consistent, either with realism or the not!realism laws of the setting. Visual portrayals do not automatically constitute as law establishment for the purposes of sidestepping the issue, because there's still no explanation for why those laws would work the way they do. There is an explanation for Dragons, there is no explanation for why you're wearing a skimpy boobplate in a battlefield in the middle of a blizzard, or why you're wielding an impractically massive or overdetailed weapon that A. you cannot realistically swing worth a damn, and B. even if you could use it normally, those extra bits and bobs all interfere with the standard functions of that weapon, rendering it highly ineffective compared to a simpler historical design that's already proven over the course of millennia that it can function properly. It doesn't explain why I can't just snag my weapon in one of the many spikes on your armor or helmet and wrench you to the ground to more easily deliver a killing blow through a gap in the armor, thus exposing the incredible liability of wearing such an armor compared to a proper historical design that lacks much in the way of grabbing edges, specifically so nothing catches and stuff just glances off (seriously, why do you think historical plate armor is rounded? That shit is what kept people alive back then). It doesn't explain why you've put all this excess weight on your sword so now the balance and handling is way the fuck out of whack, and those extra bits you've put on now make it hard to properly bind with the crossguard to stop their attack and leverage your own blade around, or why you're just wildly swinging at a dude in full plate armor (which should be doing like no damage, you need blunt weapons to cause decent trauma through the armor, or piercing weapons or piercing tactics like halfswording to get through gaps in the plate, and even then you still have chainmail and cloth/leather padding underneath to get through. Proper plate specifically negates blades) instead of fighting like an actual professional (i have yet to see professional-looking combat in a TES game, unfortunately. These are supposed to be trained fighters, not Neanderthals with clubs). I could go on about a ton of other things, but I'll move this along.

The fact it's a game doesn't render these criticisms invalid, because Bethesda themselves have obviously spent a lot of time and effort in building this setting. And again, I love the series, I love the setting, and I always want to see more of it. I wouldn't be putting the kind of effort I do into my ongoing fanfic and screenshots if I didn't care. But the fact they've put that effort in means the "it's a game" argument holds no water whatsoever, because the devs themselves have put in more work than it takes to notice and state these criticisms, and we're entirely within our rights to make them as fair and mature expressions of our opinion. It's not just a game now, it's a setting (don't forget there's two TES novels so far, so it's most definitely not just the games anymore). Bethesda cares about the series, we have more than enough leeway ourselves to also care for it and to scrutinize it. And while these issues don't stop me from enjoying the series, they are still quite glaring and do impact my enjoyment of the series, because I can't help but look at them in any given situation and think "why on earth would they be doing that?". Why are they wearing that, why are they fighting like that, why are they doing everything in their power to make it easier to kill them in even the simplest realistic ways?

 

These are supposed to be people, people with at least a basic sense of self-preservation, a basic desire to stay alive and make it home to their families and friends and carry on with whatever goals they might have in their lives. These are supposed to be people inhabiting this world, living and doing their own thing. Just take a look at ESO to see how they're fleshing out how even the common folk live in the various cultures in the setting and at that particular period in the timeline. They're fleshing out the people. They're putting the spotlight on them and acknowledging their existence and what they go through in their day to day lives. People exist in the setting. And that's why it falls apart when you then show them in these impractical arms and armor. Because then they're no longer people. They're just artistic liberties. They're gameplay elements. They're no longer trying to stay alive to see their families again and wear proper gear to facilitate that goal. They're just putting something on that the game's mechanics determines will reduce the number of hitpoints they lose and increase the amount of damage they deal to someone else. Because if they were actually realistically concerned about anything, and the gameplay likewise functioned realistically to match, they wouldn't be wearing armor that actually quantifiably makes them easier to incapacitate and kill.

 

And that's where this stems from, isn't it? Gameplay. Gameplay taking center stage before aesthetics. Which isn't a problem in itself, because, of course, it's a game. Gameplay always comes first. But there's a difference between it taking center stage, and it being a crutch for bad design elsewhere. By which i mean, impractical armor and weapons being good in the game only because the gameplay mechanics decide it's good, not because it makes sense it's good in any practical way. It's not good because it's properly shaped and proportioned and got the right material in the right places, but because a number in its CK entry is set higher than something else that might actually be more protective in a realistic scenario (or at least, less of a danger to its own wearer).

 

In other words, the fact that an armor's or weapon's physical shape has no effect whatsoever in the actual gameplay mechanics is then used to excuse the existence of these fantastical designs. And whatever, it's a gameplay thing, but the issue is it's not internally consistent with the actual lore. Remember, reality fills in the gaps when not established otherwise. That's simply intrinsic to portraying a recognizable 3D world with similar functionality to our own. Because you're portraying it so recognizably similar. The safe assumption is that other stuff works similarly, because if it didn't, there'd be no idea of how it works. And that is not an advisable place to be.

So i'll wrap this up before we have to start weighing this wall of text on the Richter Scale. What it comes down to is, the next time you're responding to someone who uses the usual argument of "but it's fantasy, it has Dragons and magic and such, why are you worried about this?", feel free to point out "Dragons and magic are explained in TES. Boobplates are not". It'll be interesting to see if they can reasonably counter that.

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I would argue two things.

One, no one has to reasonably counter the boobplate point for the same reason you aren't required to justify your preference for the grounded look - it's a personal decision, one based on taste.  For all you wrote, none of it actually means anything to people who don't care about such minutiae.  Personal taste and suspension of disbelief are important, and different from person to person.

Two, despite your claim, aesthetic is an important part of internal consistency. Consider the Dwarves. The explanation given that they're simply different styles for different regions of Dwemer habitation is fine, but doesn't it seem odd that no Easter-style artifacts aside from one specific weapon turn up in the games? Even though Skyrim shares a border with Morrowind? What of the three different iterations of Daedric armor? They could certainly be different factions or sects of Daedra, but again, why do we never see a piece of the previous games' design? What about the radical change in the style of Imperial armor in Oblivion? Bosmer briefly losing their solid dark eyes? Are you suggesting, as you would seem to be, that none of this is important to a single consistent setting simply because it's an artistic decision? Is it not an inconsistency by definition when something appears exclusively one way at one point, and for no reason appears another way at another point?  How are any of these examples less significant inconsistencies than Fargoth being Nerevarine?  Things metamorphosing in their entirety for no given reason doesn't make any more practical sense than boob plates, does it not?  There's absolutely no reason aesthetic, once established, should be treated as something any less concrete than the concepts of elves and dragons. Sweeping changes have to be explained. Artistic changes to things already established are not an exception.

 

Your points about the difference between realism and internal consistency are spot on, but you've written off a valid facet for no other reason than it didn't support your personal viewpoint, or rather your lack of suspension of disbelief.  You see no reason why boob plates would exist, yet there they are, and there they always have been.  Your long-winded rationalizations are sound logically, but conflict explicitly with what's established.  All that text, and all it really boils down to is "I just can't accept it."  And that's absolutely okay.  But it does not, can not, and will never mean that whatever you can't accept is inherently worse than any other option.  It only is so from your perspective.

I am no more required to establish boob plates as a grounded concept than you are to explain why they'd suddenly vanish after existing since the universe's inception.

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I'll get to the first point in a sec, first i want to delve into your second one. You're drawing a false equivalence with your argument, because every example you put forth does actually fall under simply showing different styles at different times (and general artistic evolution anyway). Mehrunes Dagon's Dremora armor and Molag Bal's Dremora armor in fact are both in ESO, the former as the generic Daedric style and latter as the more specific Xivkyn style. We're shown different breeds of Khajiit throughout the series, but for the sake of resource management and ease of use (literally the reason we got the plantigrade versions of Argonians and Khajiit in TES4 was the devs didn't want to work with another skeleton, they just wanted everyone on the same system) we're only shown one look each time when lore-wise there would be multiple present (ESO plans on adding in the other breeds at some point). This is a different matter entirely from what i'm talking about, i never said anything that implied the styles shown were the only styles in existence and everything else was creating inconsistencies, generally each style does exist alongside the others in the lore, i'm talking about very specific issues that have nothing to do with different cultural stylings. There's a difference between understandable artistic evolution or simple conservation of effort because you can't show every single style at once in the beginning (i'm sure other styles will show up later in ESO's development to differentiate, they're kind of making it as a "this is what's actually going on in the setting" sort of thing), and actual unrealism or breaking internal consistency. What you've put forth falls under the former more than anything else, there's no internal law that something must only have one single appearance. There's little in real life that has one appearance either.

 

To your first point, i think you're misunderstanding what i'm trying to say. I'm talking about this from the perspective of arguing with someone who gives you the "but it's fantasy!" line after you state your realism- or internal consistency-based criticism of something. They're trying to put forth the argument that it's fantasy so therefore, my argument is that it's a far more multi-faceted issue than just "it's fantasy" and just writing it off like that unfairly misses the point. If you like boobplates or whatever, then as i already said, power to you. I wasn't trying to imply that you have to justify your personal taste ex nihilo. But raising an argument means you're fair game just as everyone else is. And my argument is that there's more that can and frankly should be considered than just "it's fantasy", because there's disagreeing with someone because you personally like the design, and disagreeing because you don't actually understand what they're trying to convey to you. The latter doesn't help anybody.

 

Yes, a main factor of this is that i don't like it. But i'm trying to put forth the reasons why i don't like it. Suspension of disbelief is subjective, my own threshold is a little more critical than some, but part of that also has to do with a very real worry of TES turning into a generic dime-a-dozen fantasy setting (and it is indeed very real, look at the WoW-ification of the weapons in TES5 compared to the at least slightly more realistic proportions in previous games, for instance. That's a somewhat worrying first slide down. There's also a point to be made about the loss of character with TES4's more generic fantasy stylings, TES5 was also a missed opportunity because it frankly barely touched the old Nordic religion and just presented more Imperial stuff), and part of it ties in with your final point; boobplates disappearing in favor of realistic armor would be far less of an issue, because their existence has never been justified in-universe to begin with. Aesthetic does not equate to internal logic, i can go wear a boobplate in real life, that doesn't mean it would function as effective armor simply because it exists and i want it to work that way.

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But magic...magic explains it all!!!

 

Nah, to be serious for a sec, I can't really explain my point quite as elegantly as you guys can, but the whole realism vs. fantasy never really made sense to me in the first place, mainly due to the subject matter at hand (SKIMPY ARMOR?!? BLASPHEMY!!!!). I honestly start to tune out whenever it comes up because when most of the time, those who are are arguing about it never seem to grasp one simple fact: it's fantasy, normal rules don't apply here.

 

Now, I know, I know you hate that argument, and I used to as well. Really, it can be thrown at any realist, and its just so easy to say ad nauseam. However, there is a reason for it. TES is a world where people can become vampires and live forever, people can rip out souls and put them in gems, and gigantic beasts from a long extinct age in our world still roam about in Tamriel (Mammoths). When you consider this, then the argument about realistic armors and whatnot becomes rather moot. Yeah boobplate isn't practical, and in real life, would be suicide to wear into battle. Thing is, if a giant took it's hammer and smashed (which, in real life, would be the equivalent to getting hit by an oak tree) you, the most sturdy armor in the world wouldn't stop you from shattering inside like glass.

 

Another thing to consider is that in TES (since that is what you mentioned), there is a whole school of magic dedicated to screwing the laws of reality in the ass. Well, actually, there are two: Alteration and Enchanting. See, if a normal martial warrieress wore boobplate into battle and nothing else, then yeah, she deserves what's coming to her and good riddance, the fool! However, if her armor is enchanted with a Fortification enchantment, then it's a different scenario entirely. Yeah, her barely there bikini armor may not look like much coverage, but who really cares it's on top of living ebony flesh (which is harder than steel and said to be the blood of gods). 

 

I could go on and on but...ad nauseam! Basically, to sum up my point: it's fantasy, it doesn't need to make sense in our world, it only need to make sense in it's own.

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The problem is i already brought up that point. As a matter of fact, the entire purpose of this entry was to counter that point. Everything you just stated is already covered under either realism or internal consistency, and some are non sequitors anyway. Should everyone just wear shitty armor on the off-chance they run into a Giant and it won't matter much? Or the off-chance they run into a Vampire, or Mammoth or what have you? Does everyone you meet wearing boobplate also have an Ebonyflesh enchantment going on (and if there's any visible skin, you'd be able to tell)? Even if the armor's fortified, you're forgetting that flesh is not rigid, all you've done is made an extra-solid wedge that'll slam into your sternum the first chance it gets. The point of armor is to prevent physical injury first, stay intact second, the latter's moot if the armor's failing the former. You're choosing very select and uncommon situations that 99% of people will never encounter in their lives. Said 99% are falling under your point about foolish martial warrioresses, which is the issue at hand.

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Exactly, and that's my point! You can't ever FULLY dismiss the fantasy argument because you are trying to bring realism INTO a FANTASY world. It's a world that simply doesn't follow most of our rules, and it doesn't have to. Period. That being said, I do have a question for you: Other than realism reasons, why does the idea of impractical armors existing in fantasy worlds offends you so? I'm honestly curious as to why.

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You're still reiterating the points i already addressed in the blog post. I already brought up why you can and inherently do bring realism into any fantasy setting, and TES does in fact run on most of the same rules - again, you can see, you can hear, you can move around, you can physically move at least some objects around, there's at least some adherence to a sense of biological plausibility and structure for even the rather alien fauna of Morrowind or the like (even Dragons having Wyvern-esque forms adheres more to biology than the more "classical" six-limbed form of D&D and the like), and where it does diverge generally has in-universe explanations so there's always internal consistency. There are several fundamental real-life concepts present in TES, but you don't realize it because you consider it a given that they'd be there when technically they didn't have to be. It doesn't matter that "sunlight" in TES is magic pouring through the sun which is a hole to another dimension, the end result is still a recognizable concept of sunlight. It doesn't matter that humans (that is, Men and Mer) in TES are the devolved descendants of godly beings, they're still recognizable humans. It doesn't matter that i can conjure together a spike-shaped shard of ice, the point is to physically pierce someone with it like i would an arrow or spear. The end result, the end concept, remains something we can recognize from real life, even as the road we took to get to that end result sometimes runs on in-universe systems in place of real-life systems per se.

 

For your second point, i also already covered that in the main post as well, but i'll go over it here too. It's not just an unrealistic trope, but an overused unrealistic trope. Boobplates and whatnot do not scream "powerful" or "intelligent" or otherwise "has half a chance of making it through the next major battle compared to anyone else". They scream "designer doesn't know what they're doing" much more often than "they do know and they're doing it intentionally", and the latter has its own issues since are you doing it because you actually like the design or because you're catering to people who expect it? You can make feminine-looking armors without sacrificing practicality (taper the shape the right way, put engravings on the armor and designs on a surcoat or something, etc.). You can also realize you don't need any concept of gender on the battlefield whatsoever, because armor's supposed to keep you alive, it's not meant to tell anyone what's between your legs - think Brienne's armor in Game of Thrones and you're thinking about what they wore back in the day, which is to say, everyone wore the same things regardless of gender. Because if you can tell the gender of someone in your average historical full plate armor, they're actually wearing it very wrong, because if they had the proper padding underneath (gambeson or an equivalent, chainmail, etc.) then it would even the figure out to the one same silhouette.

 

The bottom line is, it's treating armor as nothing more than fancy clothing that lowers the amount of HP you lose when hit. Which is obviously how it works in game terms, but the point is to convey the illusion of it actually mattering as something someone would be relying on just to stay alive, not just a series of stat numbers. Just like you have this wide worldspace and various NPC's with personalities and daily routines and whatnot, to convey the illusion of this grand wide world with people living and breathing and doing their own things in life while you go about your business. In gameplay terms, they're not really doing all that much, and post-TES2 the worldspaces have always been scaled down from how they'd be lore-wise (even Bethesda's said about that before), but the point is the illusion. They're trying to make it seem real. They're putting all this time and effort into making it seem like it could be a real living place. A place that, while perhaps running on a few internal logic systems of its own, is still recognizable and comprehendible by us. Which is why it's incredibly jarring to me when they then compromise that illusion with impractical armor and weapons that no-one would ever use. Because that's not how any of that works. That's not its function. There's no realistic or in-universe logic for their existence or function, only IRL design laziness - and that statement is reinforced by the incredibly unprofessional way you fight in TES games. Charging in with a big wound-up attack that'll get you killed instantly because you're not blocking anything with your weapon and you're exposing half your body? Really? That's the equivalent rookie mistake to someone at a gun range keeping their finger on the trigger when not firing. That's not a sign of someone who knows what they're doing, it's the explicit opposite. I dislike it because it has no logical justification in the setting, much less real life. This isn't the world of Mario where it's pretty obvious stuff's not meant to work as it does in real life, that's kind of whatever. The reason i bring up realism and internal consistency for this setting is because it leans so closely to recognizable realism that it's jarring when it does break off in such an unrealistic fashion. Metaphysical stuff like Towers and Kalpas have more explanation and justification than these fantastical designs do - which doesn't really say much, because that they're explained at all still puts them ahead.

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