Fable And The Power Of Choice


From comically heroic or villainous to legitimately so, the capacity for good or evil, and how it shapes your character, has improved as the Fable series has progressed.

One of my absolute favorite things about the Fable series of games is how your behavior effects the appearance of your character. The first game’s system wasn’t all that developed, but by Fable 2, there was an in depth system of meshing alignments which made a character that reflected how the player played. More than just an alignment system like other games have, your behavior shapes your very person. As the games progressed, the range of behavior you could do (or commit) has improved alongside the

The first Fable offered some customizability based on your actions, but they somewhat constrained how you could play your character. If you wanted to be evil, you were the worst of the worst. If you wanted to be good, you were a saint. You could strive for middle ground, but that would just leave your character looking the same throughout, and I don’t count that as being too much fun.

A bearded and horned man holds a flaming axe.

The most evil thing here still has to be the beard.

Fable 2 added, and 3 maintained, several new sliders which could reflect your character. They kept the old Fable ones, and all that that implies, but the news ones were amazing. The purity to corruption slider, or primal slider as they say on the Fable Wiki, determines how rotten or polished your character looks. No longer is your evil character stuck looking like a demon. Now, you can look like a vampire. It’s what I did for my favorite character, even. You can also be an impure good guy, going around, saving the day, and having like twenty spouses or overcharging tenants, but that’s just not me.

The biggest perk of the primal slider wasn’t even the vamp look for me, though it is really great. Because your character could now be evil without looking like a troll, I could play in different ways. The nuance in alignments meant I could be nuanced in how I played, and that’s what I did. In the first game, I was a goody-two-shoes. Fable 2, though, I played a vengeance-fueled anti-villain who committed violence against the government. If you’ve played Fable 2, you can see why such a behavior would need more nuance than just mustache-twirlingly evil.

Modified by the two big alignment sliders are the love and hate meter and the funny and scary meter. If you’re a good guy who makes sock puppets at the kids, everyone will love you and think you’re great. If you’re a bad guy, people might run in horror from you. And hate you, naturally.

My anti-villain spent much of her time playing with the local children in order to get them to think I wasn’t a roving murderer. I mean, I was, but as far as they were concerned, I was the lady who put on puppet shows in the town square.

A glowing woman casts a magic spell.

Even if you’re totes mcgotes the hottest hottie around, nobody likes it when you cast magic around them.

There is one caveat to the love/hate continuum, and that’s how attractive you are. This is determined by your purity and weight first and foremost (and this is again really reductive, but it’s supposed to be a cartoonish game, I suppose). If you are Hottie McHotterson, even the most evil of deeds will have the men and women of Albion (and Samarkand) lining up by the droves to ask you for a wedding ring. It’s a bit annoying when you’re trying to tend the bar in order to make some extra cash and several wannabe suitors come up and block your screen.

On the other hand, if you’re playing as corrupt, hero or not, people might very well turn up their nose at your pock marks and hovering cloud of flies. Or horns, if you’re evil enough. I don’t know if the flies mean you smell bad, but I’ll assume they do. Even though I would love for people not to spend their waking hours trying to marry me, I’d still prefer not peel paint with my lack of hygiene.

All of these things make it so you can, with some exceptions, make exactly the character you want while playing the way you want. The system definitely improved over time and made for much more variety in what you could do while maintaining a closer image of your character. Different playstyles would all culminate in a unique experience for the player, and variety makes for great opportunities.

A villainous man aims a gun towards the viewer's perspective as a child and dog look on.

A man after my own heart. Probably a heinous crook, but look at the kid worshiping the ground he walks on.

When you can play it your way, your story ends up more your own. If you want to buy up all of the land and be a slumlord, have at it. It’ll mess up your face, but you can do as you will with that. Will you save the world for your own reasons while profiting off of the suffering of the masses? Or, will you bring suffering to the world while protecting the masses from all that suffering you’re bringing? Whatever you want to do, within the framework of the game, of course, you can do.

Fable 3 took it up a notch at the end of the game (spoilers, sorry) by either forcing you to make sacrifices in order to save the populace or improve conditions and then risk sacrificing the populous themselves. In order to achieve one of these two options, or take a third option by getting filthy rich of noble merits and saving the kingdom that way, you can engage in whatever sort of behavior you feel is best.

Most people, I believe, engage in the impure, slum lord style of play in order to accumulate riches needed, but it’s not the only way. You can gamble, you can quest, you can rob, or whatever you feel like is the appropriate way to save the world. Because even if you’re an evil omnicidal maniac, you won’t be shown up by some other evil omnicidal maniac.

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About Savannah Winter

White, bisexual transwoman with a passion for commentary, critique, and action on all forms of consumer media, but especially film and video games. I've been gaming extensively for about 13 years and am more than willing to make people uncomfortable by reading them the uncomfortable truths about the things they enjoy. Accountability matters. Identifying problematic tropes and decrying them matters. I want gaming to be an experience myself and others can enjoy without having to brace for inevitable aggression and micro aggression after another.

There are 2 comments

  1. Sara Clemens

    I, too, got my kicks roving around as a Hottie McHotterson female vampire. It was also important to me that I be short, so I avoided doing whatever it was that made you seven feet tall. It was somesuch training option, I think.

    That actually led to a nice little handicap in my fighting ability/power that made the game just a bit more difficult, which I liked a lot. I also married every tattoo artist in the game, which didn’t affect my appearance directly but definitely made me feel way cool.

    Side note: will you shoot me an email at sara@saraclemens.com when you get a chance? I’ve got a proposition for you.

    Like

    1. Savannah Winter

      I actually played as really tall just because I loved shooting everything. I guess being tall helps shooting because it was for whatever reason tied to that, but I didn’t mind. Going around as a medieval pistolera was too cool. Playing now, I’d probably play as short, just because I am short and I’ve gotten over my insecurities about it.

      I think I only got married once. Married a guy, had a kid, killed the guy, put the kid up for adoption (didn’t trust him around my daughter, didn’t trust my daughter to raise herself from infancy alone, also EEEEEEVIL). It wasn’t all bad, though. Since I drove the town’s wealth up so high, the kid probably had a decent life living with some happy rich couple.

      I really liked the tattooing, though. Only complaint is that it didn’t have piercing, too. You can never offer too many body mods.

      Like

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