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KanzenAU
Senior Scribe

Australia
722 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  07:03:00  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Free will is an illusion. Forgotten Realms = Fatalistic Realms.

Determinism =/= Fatalism.

Edit: You got in with your post while I was still writing, refer to above post for more.

Regional maps for Waterdeep, Triboar, Ardeep Forest, and Cormyr on DM's Guild, plus a campaign sized map for the North

Edited by - KanzenAU on 17 Jul 2017 07:03:33
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

823 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  08:29:25  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KanzenAU

quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

Otherwise, we could simply say that Elliandreth's prophecy was just that, divination.



But is divination magic that accurate? Because if not, that means fixed history.


Oooh, determinism vs free will! Now we're getting interesting!

Personally, I've always been a deterministic sort of guy (but definitely not fatalistic - life's too interesting for that). I've had a lot of discussions about this sort of stuff in my years, academic and social. I'm pretty solidly in the genetics+environment camp, but I think there's room for lots of discussion.

I would say (as perhaps was made apparent by my ripples in a flat sheet analogy earlier) that the past and future have already been determined - there is no free will, in us or the gods. Thus, at the time of the Elven Sundering, Elliandreth sees what has happened, and what will happen. Whether or not the Elven Sundering caused the other Sunderings is not answered by determinism/free will however.

Those writings from the SCAG make it sound like mortals do indeed believe the Elven Sundering caused the others - but the designers are also very careful to not say "this is what happened", they're wording it very carefully so that we can't be sure. I still think (due to the way the speech in the video is worded and the language of Erik's writing) that the Elven Sundering just allowed Elliandreth to witness the other two events. But, it's equally possible that the Elven Sundering did somehow change the nature of the universe backwards and forwards in time.

Even if standing at a deterministic viewpoint, it depends how you see the nature of time. Some people believe that time as humans experience it is not a true representation of time at all - all of time already exists, and the experience of a human life is just pushing play in a section of it. Others believe that time is continually being built, and the future doesn't yet exist until we (our current consciousnesses - there are no consciousnesses forward in time in this version) get there. This latter version allows for either determinism or free-will, and if taking up the latter, branching realities. However, what "free-will" means is very much up for debate in itself. If we take away genetics, and we take away our environment throughout our life, what is left?

And then of course the possibility of time-travel comes along and rumbles things up even more. Elliandreth viewing the past and future is one thing, but what about mages that travel back in time to change things? Netheril: Empire of Magic left it in the hands of the Dungeon Master as to whether or not it was possible to affect the timeline in any way, but the default assumed that the PCs were unable to make changes. Cormanthyr: Empire of Elves goes as to far as to say that some sages believe that time-travel magic will automatically prevent time travel from occurring if changes will be made, but again leaves it to the DM. However, it does say that if the DM allows changes, the time-travellers are forced to stay in that time, allowing for the possibility that history might right itself, because the PCs will never find out!

Essentially the writers seem to have been consistently careful throughout to avoid saying whether or not it's definitively possible to create alternative timelines, or if there's just one. And they've definitely avoided the determinism/free will argument, which is fair enough - discussion about the issue tends to draw in religion, and then things start to get uncomfortable for people. In fact, I think I'll stop there.


However, the vision had by Elliandreth--being so far into the future--pretty much locks us into a fatalistic/predetermined world.

Sure, if we view the Sundering stuff in isolation, you might be able to wiggle in there with some determinism. You might be able to make the argument that certain events are determined, but the specific cause and effect events that trigger them are not. This is similar to what Zeromaru X was going for with the Legacy of Kain reference.

The problem with that is when you start bringing in other stuff, such as Alaundo's prophecies. He literally predicted the death of Bhaal, the fact that he would sire children before his death, and that later his children would do battle. All of it came true. Bhaal also died during the Time of Troubles.

Alaundo is also responsible for the Roll of Years. The name of the years are literally supposed to reflect important events that happen in them. They did not start hammering that home until 3E, when you start seeing stuff like Year of Rogue Dragons -- Dracorage, Year of Risen Elfkin -- Elves Return, Year of Blue Fire -- Spellplague.

So, Alaundo was not just predicting that certain events would happen, he was predicting WHEN they would happen.
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Zeromaru X
Learned Scribe

Colombia
327 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  09:21:41  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KanzenAU

Essentially the writers seem to have been consistently careful throughout to avoid saying whether or not it's definitively possible to create alternative timelines, or if there's just one. And they've definitely avoided the determinism/free will argument, which is fair enough - discussion about the issue tends to draw in religion, and then things start to get uncomfortable for people. In fact, I think I'll stop there.



However careful the writers have been, they already told us, in canon products, that there are multiple timelines in the Realms: Abeir and Toril both exist in different parallel timelines (Abeir is said to exist in pocket dimension within Realmspace, that is "out of synchrony" with Toril. To be out of synchrony with Toril, Abeir needs a timeline on its own that isn't aligned to how the time moves in Toril).

So, we know that branching timelines do exist in canon FR.

Long ago, in the distant past, they fell into decay. The philosopher’s path... The river of glory... Even the saints resting in the darkness rise up without response and block the way...
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KanzenAU
Senior Scribe

Australia
722 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  09:40:49  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To Aldrick:
I'm not arguing that things aren't predetermined, I'm saying that they are (through cause and effect, genetics, environment, etc ad nauseum). That's not a bug of existence for me, that's a feature - I don't just see FR that way, but life too. I choose to look at that through a deterministic lens, not a fatalistic lens.

To Zeromaru X:
Abeir and Toril exist in parallel dimensions, out of sync with each other, yes. I don't see this as meaning that there are branching timelines necessarily - both events may just be occurring at different times, and in different space. Time may even flow at a different rate on Abeir comparatively to Toril - maybe on Abeir it flows more like a human heart beat rather than a flat line! However, this doesn't mean the timelines are different - they may just be different experiences of the same timeline (and of course they're in a different place as well).

Either way, I'm not arguing that anyone here is wrong about anything. I'd be fine with "free-will" and branching timelines. Just putting it out there that a deterministic world might not be so awful, and it's how I see the world, both real and fantasy.

Regional maps for Waterdeep, Triboar, Ardeep Forest, and Cormyr on DM's Guild, plus a campaign sized map for the North

Edited by - KanzenAU on 17 Jul 2017 09:41:26
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CorellonsDevout
Master of Realmslore

USA
1900 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  17:32:58  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oooh, this scroll is getting deep lol.

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 17 Jul 2017 17:44:48
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
2672 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  20:13:44  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

What we know of the First Sundering is that it rippled forward and backward in time, and this elven mage saw two specific events:
—In the past, the Tearfall and the Original Sundering
—In the future (from his perspective), the Era of Upheaval and the Second Sundering.

So, what was changed in the timeline? Those two specific points of time. In those points, minor changes allowed the batrachi to free the primordials, and Bane and Myrkul to find and steal the Tablets of Fate. That this caused some major changes to the timeline? Yes, this do. Thanks to the Tearfall, there are two universes now (Abeir and Toril) instead of just one (Abeir-Toril). Thanks to the Era of Upheaval, the Spellplague happened, and the history of Toril was changed in profound ways.

But nothing of this affected other events in time. Let's say, for instance, the dragon civilization. The dragon civilization happened in the original timeline, and so also happened in the new timeline. But as time is changeable (not a fixed thing), we have that dragon civilization was fleeting in Toril, while it became a world-dominating civilization in Abeir.



Ok, I've missed all the posts since my last one, but now I should be caught up. So, in short, you're saying that some parts of the timeline would be locked in time, while others would have a greater degree of freedom. That said, my point was that even small changes in something may cause larger changes in something that was apparently unrelated. This is true for any system that has a lot of variables, and a whole world is just the perfect example of that (it's the reason why things like climate predictions tend to be more unreliable than other stuff). Now, the elven sundering supposedly caused massive changes by fixating massive events, and even whole pieces of timeline, in history, so at that point we would have the certainty that a number of hugely impacting historical events would be fated to happen as they did, and that would dramatically shape a whole lot of other events that are even just remotely related to--say--the ToT. For example, the death of so many of Torm's followers in Tantras is destined to happen no matter what. That event itself would drastically influence the future too, by removing individuals that could have--just to name a trivial example--saved further lives, leading up to a chain in which the elven sundering dictates heavy boundary conditions for the timeline--although the farther we get from those events, the less rigid the boundaries. However, those 100 years would be pretty much fixed. That's a tangled mess, and a whole lot of things, and it gives elven magic a kind of power over the timeline that I really don't like. That said, this version is much better than "all is fated".

As for that divination, yes, we could assume that it was that accurate. However, the Spellplague, gods battling, Abeir and Toril merging and then being sundered again, all those things were shown to Elliandreth not in a specific way, rather as more indefinite images, that were then interpreted as they have been. After all, elven high magic is shown to be capable of impressive feats, why not a divination far in the future?

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 17 Jul 2017 20:25:19
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CorellonsDevout
Master of Realmslore

USA
1900 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  22:01:52  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Free will is an illusion. Forgotten Realms = Fatalistic Realms.

One way to "fix" this problem is to have Ao, in the new Tablets of Fate, write free will into them, thus changing the Realms from a fiercely deterministic world to one where free will can exist. He could also scribble some notes in there about how it is impossible to alter time, and also you cannot see the future. No one in the Realms would notice any difference because they were already living with the illusion of free will, the difference now is that it is no longer an illusion.



Of course, if the world was fatalistic until Ao wrote it in, then wouldn't it have been pre-determined (and thus not of free will), for Ao to write in free will? I ask this because, if all these events were pre-determined to occur, including the Era of Upheaval, then it would mean Ao himself does not have free will to change events, until he writes it in the Tablets, which in itself would not be an act of free will if he was already fated to do it.

Sweet water and light laughter

Edited by - CorellonsDevout on 17 Jul 2017 22:04:06
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

823 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  22:34:42  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

quote:
Originally posted by Aldrick

Free will is an illusion. Forgotten Realms = Fatalistic Realms.

One way to "fix" this problem is to have Ao, in the new Tablets of Fate, write free will into them, thus changing the Realms from a fiercely deterministic world to one where free will can exist. He could also scribble some notes in there about how it is impossible to alter time, and also you cannot see the future. No one in the Realms would notice any difference because they were already living with the illusion of free will, the difference now is that it is no longer an illusion.



Of course, if the world was fatalistic until Ao wrote it in, then wouldn't it have been pre-determined (and thus not of free will), for Ao to write in free will? I ask this because, if all these events were pre-determined to occur, including the Era of Upheaval, then it would mean Ao himself does not have free will to change events, until he writes it in the Tablets, which in itself would not be an act of free will if he was already fated to do it.



Yeah, that would be true. Of course, if Ao did that then it no longer matters.

I mean, either we accept that the world is predetermined, and the actions do not objectively matter ("It was always fated to play out this way!") or we just fix this (unintentional) flaw in the design.
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KanzenAU
Senior Scribe

Australia
722 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  23:09:30  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Important to not fall down the rabbit hole of determinism = nothing matters, evrrything is fated. The roles of people and things in events are still incredibly important, even if things are determined by the past - that's a key difference between determinism and fatalism. The absence of free-will does not mean "nothing matters", though admittedly if the concept of free-will is important to you then that can be a hard boulder to move around. I highly recommend any philosophical textbook on the issue of free-will - always a great read! That said, I'll move on from this thread now and leave it to you good "free-willers"!

Regional maps for Waterdeep, Triboar, Ardeep Forest, and Cormyr on DM's Guild, plus a campaign sized map for the North
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CorellonsDevout
Master of Realmslore

USA
1900 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  23:24:09  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
We don't want to deter you from the thread, KanzenAU. It's all about discussion, so any insight is welcome.

Sweet water and light laughter
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KanzenAU
Senior Scribe

Australia
722 Posts

Posted - 17 Jul 2017 :  23:43:51  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh no, I don't feel deterred! I do love this stuff. I just don't think I have any more to add from my deterministic perspective. I'll still pop my head in now and again haha

Regional maps for Waterdeep, Triboar, Ardeep Forest, and Cormyr on DM's Guild, plus a campaign sized map for the North
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CorellonsDevout
Master of Realmslore

USA
1900 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  00:04:49  Show Profile  Send CorellonsDevout an AOL message Send CorellonsDevout a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Lol all right.

Sweet water and light laughter
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Aldrick
Senior Scribe

823 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  05:15:48  Show Profile Send Aldrick a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KanzenAU

Important to not fall down the rabbit hole of determinism = nothing matters, evrrything is fated. The roles of people and things in events are still incredibly important, even if things are determined by the past - that's a key difference between determinism and fatalism. The absence of free-will does not mean "nothing matters", though admittedly if the concept of free-will is important to you then that can be a hard boulder to move around. I highly recommend any philosophical textbook on the issue of free-will - always a great read! That said, I'll move on from this thread now and leave it to you good "free-willers"!


Since we are laying our cards on the table, I should make clear for the purposes of the discussion that in real life I am a hard determinist, because of cause and effect and all that.

I am not making my arguments out of any sort of philosophical point of view, but rather from a what-is-good-for-the-story point of view. I am also arguing from a point of view of internal world consistency. From the point of view of internal world consistency, the world appears to be fiercely fatalistic--as in, things are fated to play out in a certain way. No matter what happens, it was fated to happen exactly as it happened.

This creates the problem you brought up:
quote:
Originally posted by KanzenAU

Also, saying that the Elven Sundering caused the other two Sunderings takes all the agency out of the rest of the stories.


It's the issue of agency--the feeling as if someone's actions actually mattered or made a difference. It is one of the reasons tropes like, "it was all just a dream!" At the end of a story anger people, myself included. It makes us feel angry because it makes us feel as if the story is a waste of time, that the events did not really matter.

How things are in the real world does not matter, because what is true in reality may actually suck for a story. "You have no agency, and everything that happened always was fated to happen!" Sucks for the story.

I mean, this is such a serious issue that it starts to bleed over into other things. "Oh, it's not his fault that he murders and rapes children, that was just his fate! He can't really be evil because for him to be evil his actions would have to be freely chosen." "We should not worry about redeeming this guy over here, because he was fated to be evil--we should just kill him instead. This is his fate." "What? It's not our fault he dies. He was fated to die by our hand." Yeah, that makes a bad story.
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KanzenAU
Senior Scribe

Australia
722 Posts

Posted - 18 Jul 2017 :  07:48:50  Show Profile Send KanzenAU a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just posting to say I have no intention of, or interest in, debating you about the merits of determinism in FR or elsewhere. If you would be so kind as to leave me alone, that would be grand.

Regional maps for Waterdeep, Triboar, Ardeep Forest, and Cormyr on DM's Guild, plus a campaign sized map for the North
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