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Thread: The Banner Saga 2 Story and Ending Discussion [Spoilers]

  1. #1

    The Banner Saga 2 Story and Ending Discussion [Spoilers]

    Hello Everyone!

    Since I can't find anywhere to discuss the subject of The Banner Saga 2's story and ending I thought I should write a post myself
    So, I absolutely loved the first game and was dying to play the second instalment and I have just finished my first playthrough (with Rook). I loved every second of it. It was mind-blowingly beautiful and breath-taking from the start to the very end.

    Now, I must say I was quite eager for some answers at the end of The Banner Saga 1. Here are a few questions I had in mind at the time:

    - Why did the sun stop?
    - What really happened to the Gods?
    - Why are the dredge killing people if they just want to run away from the north?
    - Who is that giant serpent and where does he come from? Is he a god? Why does he want to swallow the world? What keeps him from swallowing the world?
    - How does the dredge society work? Are they civilised the way humans or Varl are? (families, leaders, trading, cities, etc…)
    - What is the Darkness? Where did it originate, how and why?

    Even though we know more now, I feel there’s a lot more to discover. This is something I love in The Banner Saga, it is mysterious and weird in the same ways the Nordic mythology is, with its unclear stories.

    BUT I feel the unstoppable need to know ! So, I’ll write down my main questions and thoughts. Feel free to discuss them!

    1. Juno and Eyvind have obviously done something wrong. Juno was sentenced to death for the use of mind control and Eyvind was imprisoned. It seems they initiated some kind of ritual to become gods. Why? Are they the true villains of the story? Do they want power or control over the world? In that case why did they “help” Rook/Alette when they could have just fled in order to return to Manahar. It appears they now want to fix the mistakes they
    have made…

    2. Bolverk is more than just a varl mercenary leader. I must say I fell in love with the character and with what he brought to The Banner Saga. But he obviously is more important than any other varl (except maybe Iver). Why would Bellower’s and Bolverk’s spirits be connected? A connexion between Bellower and Alette/Rook would have made sense since she/he “killed” him after the arrow was shot. But there has to be something about Bolverk that we don’t know that makes him related to Bellower in some way. It’s even more intriguing to realise that Juno cannot control his mind (or is it because of Bellower?)

    3. Helped by a freaking Stonesinger! I thought that was awesome but I wish we knew more about it! So we rescue a Stonesinger in the tunnels after Bindal and we heal him. Later on, he helps us fighting Dredge and even tries to make them go away. Why? Is it because he sees Bellower’s mind in Bolverk? Or is it another clue pointing towards the fact that dredge are not the monsters we think they are, and are just running away – like we are – from the darkness? What happened to him after that? There’s no mention of him afterwards…

    4. The Giant Serpent. I thought he would play a bigger role in this game but it wasn’t the case. His interaction with Juno in the Old Wood is as mysterious as was the one at Ridgehorn and we do not learn much from it, except the fact that they are connected by some power that prevents him from swallowing the world. In the first game he said to Juno that he could not do what he had to do because of the rising darkness. Now he’s saying He can’t because of Juno. Is it because Juno created the darkness (willingly or not)? He’s been wounded by Eyvind but was he killed? Apparently not since we can see him at the end of the game. If you kill Bolverk, he revives him. Does that make Bolverk his puppet?

    5. Valka and dredge. Zefr says at some point that she knows a few Sundr. Does that mean the mender and valka have secretly kept contact with the dredge? If so, why? And what kind of relationship did they have?

    6. Juno was supposed to be dead. How did she come back to life? I think Eyvind was trying to revive her at Ridgehorn in the first game, but how and there? And why were there dredge when it was supposed to be an abandoned place?

    That’s it for the moment but I’m sure I have more in store, just can’t remember it all for now. Thinking that I have to wait at least a year if not two to play the third game and eventually get the answers drives me mad ^^! So let’s share our ideas and theories!

    Skal!

  2. #2
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome

    Very nice write up! Big big questions all of them. I was actually hoping that we'd have more story "development" in Saga2, so that Saga3 would only have to deal with the "resolution" of the trilogy. With the number of currently un-answered questions, it seems like Saga3 would have to be really long or really mysterious; In the worst of cases, it might leave an open ending, for future games in the same world/story!

    Some comments on the points your raised:

    1. Juno and Eyvind have obviously done something wrong -- I agree that Juno is turning more and more into some sort of villain. I am not entirely sure of Eyvind yet, as he seems good-natured and is maybe under the control of Juno. Do you think we could draw out something from the name choice: Juno, the ancient Roman mythology goddess?

    2. Bolverk is more than just a varl mercenary leader. -- Definitely the most interesting character in Saga2, maybe in the entire Saga so far. I really like how we get to play through the POV of such a character, because Rook/Alette are so stereotypical "good guys".

    3. Helped by a freaking Stonesinger! -- I was sure that the Dredge would turn out as potential allies in Saga2 That whole encounter was a very nice addition, but I think it was scripted maybe a bit hastily. Just like that Dredge baby event in Saga1. Actually, most of the Dredge culture is intentionally left "shadowed", so that we think of them as mindless bloodthirsty antagonists. As for that rescue & help: maybe the Dredge, just like the humans & varl, have factions of their own... Bellower being the leader of one of the strongest factions.

    4. The Giant Serpent. -- Too many god-like deities/beings in the TBS world The Serpent, the Darkness, the Gods (who are dead[?]), the Loom Mother... Also demi-gods like Bellower. It's turning out a bit too complicated. I hope Stoic can untangle this in a satisfactory manner!

    5. Valka and dredge. -- Valka were supposed to be the ones who defeated the Dredge hordes in previous Wars... Or was that just a lie, and in fact they made some sort of a pact against them? Zefr only shows a positive attitude toward Stonesingers, not the other Dredge. In contrast, Eyvind & Juno are always hostile against all Dredge.

    6. Juno was supposed to be dead. How did she come back to life? -- Mysteries! Is she alive, or is she just "stuck" between the real world and the spirit world (the Void)?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  3. #3
    Junior Member nokturne's Avatar
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    1. Juno and Eyvind have obviously done something wrong. It seemed rather obvious to me even in Banner Saga 1 that Eyvind resurrected Juno somehow because he loved her but in doing so he caused the Sun to stop, the serpent to appear and the Darkness to arrive. They seem to love each other and want to stay alive but fix the problems they created by doing something they definitely shouldn't have. Somehow this involves Bellower.

    2. Bolverk is more than just a varl mercenary leader. Prior to Bolverk leaving with Bellower's body, Rook/Alette also has a dream in which they are Bellower, it seems in his unconscious state he is able to influence people's minds and I suppose due to Bolverk berserker nature, he is able to control him easier due to him relying on emotions more often than common sense. The same reason why Juno can't control him seems to be why Bellower can, he's incredibly emotional and basically feral.

    3. Helped by a freaking Stonesinger! Yea there's a lot of loose ends that didn't get answered by the end of 2 just like in the first game.

    4. The Giant Serpent. I assume Bolverk was resurrected by the Serpent to do his bidding since Juno can't control him.

    5. Valka and dredge. They left us completely in the dark on this question.

    6. Juno was supposed to be dead. It seems Eyvind resurrected her, it somehow involved Bellower and it caused all the calamity that is happening in the world. At least that's my take on it.



    All that being said, I disliked Banner Saga 2's ending even more than the first one from both a storytelling and gameplay point of view. The first one's last battle was just obnoxious and the game made the player ask way more questions than it answered. I'm all for mystery but not even having Hakon's journey to Boersgard in the game felt like they released it too early and/or they should've released his story at a later date to compensate for the lack of it.

    The ending of the 2nd game annoyed me from a gameplay point of view because you're fighting your own character at the end of it. With Iver fighting Bolverk, the last fight felt forced first of all, because I wanted to actually attack Juno with Iver instead of kill Bolverk and 2nd of all it's never fun to have to fight one of your own party members, especially as a final fight in a game. By not fun, I don't mean "Aww I don't want to fight someone I like." by not fun I mean I don't want to spend time leveling someone up and equipping them only to have to kill them off. It completely ruins any replay value when you know that character is going to die/not be in your control so don't bother leveling them if you can help it.

    The Alette/Rook part of the ending was lame as well with like no mystery or interesting thing happening at Arberrang, I expected something more interesting than just the King hiding inside the walls with rich people while refugees camped outside. That was predictable. The Rugga and Canary part of the ending also felt forced and completely anti-climatic. Too much of a cliffhanger happened there with not enough new information given to the player.
    Last edited by nokturne; 05-04-2016 at 10:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokturne View Post
    All that being said, I disliked Banner Saga 2's ending even more than the first one from both a storytelling and gameplay point of view.
    Someone's grumpy I am a bit lukewarm about both "endings" in Saga2 myself.

    It started with Iver's "forced" departure in Chapter 12, only to be placed in a somewhat meaningless POV in Ch15, against Bellower/Bolverk; if you're giving us a POV, you might as well give us some options! Seeing that losing the final battle does not lead to a Game-Over, I'd have preferred letting us control either Iver or (the possessed) Bolverk, depending on which side we wanna pick, something like the Saga1 end dilemma... In this case, the Ch15 should be viewed from a neutral (Narrator) POV, presenting the player with one option that toggles the sides of the final battle.

    As for the other story-line, I think we should have at least been given a taste of "being inside Arberrang", so as to decide if it's worth trying to enter or not. The whole situation seemed like a more elaborate Boersgard/Frostvellr... I liked the whole Rugga thing (even though his character wasn't so well balanced [he comes out more as a villain, imo]), but I agree the Canary part didn't go down really well. Actually, the entire (much-anticipated) Horseborn introduction was a bit... understated?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  5. #5
    Junior Member nokturne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    Someone's grumpy
    I wouldn't call it being grumpy, I just prefer to critique things so that they can improve upon them in the future. Saying everything is fine and dandy when you noticed obvious problems doesn't help something improve. It's the same as filing a bug report basically lol.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Gurthang's Avatar
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    I've finished BS2 a couple of days ago -- in fact I bought BS1 after seeing the review of BS2 on Good Game and then binged on them both!

    I loved it. I though the story was great (it'd make a good book). I still find the combat system tricky -- I don't have a good battle routine going yet...

    Just adding my thoughts to the tread:

    1. Juno and Eyvind have obviously done something wrong. Juno was sentenced to death for the use of mind control and Eyvind was imprisoned.

    Agreed. Whatever it was (mind control?) it was serious enough for Juno to end up dead. I don't see them as the villains of the piece though. In trying to return Juno to life Eyvind does "something". He alludes to much when talking to Rook after Alette dies (in my game she did). I think he returned Juno to life and has altered time in the process; stopping the sun and causing the serpent to awake and think its time has come. Juno is a bit like Captain Jack (of Torchwood and Dr Who fame) -- outside of time, neither dead or alive.

    I don't think the Gods are dead either, sleeping maybe but not dead. I did have this weird thought that Oddlief might be a goddess???


    2. Bolverk is more than just a varl mercenary leader.

    The world could turn on Bolverk -- is the the serpents pawn? I'm guessing yes. He may even now be the worldly embodiment of the serpent.

    3. Helped by a freaking Stonesinger!

    The Dredge aren't just mindless killers, they have families (there is a background in one fight where a Dredge slinger has three children in tow). As they live further north the darkness hit them first. It might be warping / perverting them as the four strange looking Dredge showed in the mines where the Stonesinger joins. If that's the case then some of them may have different thoughts about what's going on and what to do about it. I have a feeling it will take Humans, Varl and Dredge to hold back the darkness. I don't see them as evil, just trying to survive.

    4. The Giant Serpent. I thought he would play a bigger role in this game but it wasn’t the case.

    Smashing mountains isn't enough? I doubt you can kill the serpent. Wounding it was impressive though. Maybe it's possessed Bolverk instead of simply reviving him (as a side, what's the bet Folka loves Bolverk?). The serpent is the end of the world by its own admission, its just here a Age too early due to Eyvind's efforts.


    5. Valka and dredge. Zefr says at some point that she knows a few Sundr.

    Yep, I imagine they did -- its hard to have a peace if you can't talk to each other. Hakon says they never drove the Dredge back it was the Valka. I guess they brokered some kind of peace.

    6. Juno was supposed to be dead. How did she come back to life? I think Eyvind was trying to revive her at Ridgehorn in the first game, but how and there? And why were there dredge when it was supposed to be an abandoned place?

    Again agreed -- Eyvind did or used something to bring her back. Something that stopped the Sun and unleashed the Darkness. I'd also say Juno would know how its going to end, she (and Eyvind?) will die. A kind of pre ordained Norse fate... I hope Rook (and Oddlief -- nice touch to see them both happy for a while) makes it though.

    As a side, lots of the items are nice but could we have a magic sword or axe? Something red and thirsty for battle...

  7. #7
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Even though the events around the death of the gods are not clear (Stravhs somehow involved, according to Juno / TSB1:Ch7), Stoic have been adamant about this throughout all the development of the game/story: The Gods Are Dead. Additionally, according to TBS1 introduction (and other unofficial dev-posts here and there), this event happened not too far in the past, maybe a coupe of human generations back; that is after the last Great War (Varl+Human vs. Dredge) that was resolved with the aid of the Valka.

    what's the bet Folka loves Bolverk?
    She certainly seems to have... feeling for him!
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Gurthang's Avatar
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    Ahhh... I had'd read a lot of the posts from Stoic about the demise of the Gods. There where a few things that made me question that -- at one of the God stones (Aselei I think) a woman in rags leaves Rook a gift, I though this was evidence that something survived. Anyhow... On my second play though I'm fairly certain the serpent intends to use Bolverk to destroy Juno. Maybe Juno and Eyvind where trying to bring the gods back or make themselves gods? Does the world even need the Gods if they've been dead a couple of centuries?

    More importantly what is the Darkness and how do you stop it?

  9. #9
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Yes, in both Saga games you can get items from (almost) all godstones. The "quest" involved usually has something to do with the essence of the god or his/her practices; the items are also somehow linked to the gods. In my opinion all this was put in the story as a reminder that the gods may be dead, but they power still lingers.

    As someone pointed in the Steam forums, Bellower seems to hold a grudge against Eyvind; not Iver nor Juno. In Saga1 Bello was maybe on his way to Ridgehorn (through Groffheim) where Eyvind/Juno lay, and then switched to Einartoft, Sigrholm and finally Boersgard where he met his doom. Juno tries to send his body away to free Eyvind from his tracking, but Bello possesses Bolverk and finds him again.
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  10. #10
    Juno and Eyvind have obviously done something wrong. If this was early BS1 I would have easily agreed that this seems to be the case. However, as the story progressed through both games, we began to learn that the moral lines are very grey. The dredge went from hordes of ravenous enemies to being refugees. Bolverk revealed that he is more than just a mercenary. During Bolverk's hallucinations and at the end, even Bellower seems to have just motives from his own perspective.

    My theory regarding what Juno and Eyvind have "done" is that they went against the ways of the Valka. Zefr explains that menders are responsible for repairing the breaks or mistakes in the threads that shape reality. After learning that the dredge are not responsible for the breaking of the world, the darkness, nor are the ultimate antagonists, it is safe to assume that dredge are not natural enemies of the Valka in any way. This is further reinforced by the appearance of a stonesinger mender. Bellower mentions at the end that Juno and Eyvind were involved with something that warped the bodies of many dredge. This is consistent with an earlier description of the dredge encountered in the mines as well as the stonesinger mender's explanation. Furthermore, Eyvind's powers and the warped dredge share colors and appearance with the darkness and Serpent. The Serpent also mentioned Juno "stealing" his powers and preventing him from devouring the world. If the Serpent is truthful, which would appear to be the case, then it was indeed a "greater plan" in this world for the Serpent to devour and end all life. What Juno and Eyvind have "done" is trigger some kind of cataclysm that prevents the Serpent from succeeding. In the dialogue between the Serpent and Juno in BS2, it appears that they have a relationship of mutual destruction. My guess would be that she intends to reverse the darkness, hence the event at Manaharr, but not before the Serpent perishes. Lastly, all of this is reinforced by the subtle hints throughout BS1 and BS2 that Juno and Eyvind pretty much understand the darkness. Eyvind also nearly drops an explanation but is cut off by Juno before departing.

    Why would Bellower’s and Bolverk’s spirits be connected? At first, I thought it was a strange connection to be made and saw the possibility coming from only the fact that they share some kind of innate rage. After my second play-through, I realized that Rook also experienced a similar hallucination but was simply not given a cutscene so it was easily missed. My take on it is that a possible side effect or weakness to the arrow-poisoned-with-dreaming-death is that Bellower will subconsciously infect others with his dreams. This becomes more severe over time until he simply gains control of them and is able to pull the arrow out himself, hence the ending. Rook was not exposed to Bellower for as long as Bolverk, who did not experience the hallucinations until after splitting up.

    The hallucination that Rook experienced happens shortly before Bolverk goes berserk and is unable to be calmed by Juno. This is further evidence that the connection with Bellower is made indiscriminately. During this scene, I believe Bolverk was first exposed to the control of Bellower. If you remember from BS1, Juno's mind control extends to dredge as well. This was demonstrated by her compelling an entire legion of dredge to ignore Rook and herself as they pried the stone needed to make the arrow. She also explained that the arrow would help her convince Bellower that he was dead, alluding to the fact that she cannot simply control him like others. Her inability to control Bolverk was not due to a battle of power between her and Bellower over Bolverk's mind, but because Bellower unintentionally manifested himself in Bolverk and Bellower cannot be controlled.

    Helped by a freaking stonesinger! You pretty much name most of it there. This has to due with what I wrote above, as well as the background history in the Banner Saga. A conversation between Rook, Hakon, and Iver reveals that there was never any attempt at diplomacy with the dredge, mainly due to being unable to communicate in a common language and the evidently warlike culture of both varl and dredge. This fact basically hammers home the idea that the dredge are not "bad guys". Also, keep in mind that the dredge disappeared before or shortly after the human-varl conflict. This lead to dredge being a myth to most humans, and while the Valka are able to communicate with stonesingers, the lack of contact meant a lack of opportunity for diplomacy.

  11. #11
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Many interesting theories and connections, TonsOfGrain! I admit I had not connected that scene you mentioned, when Rook gets "phased" by Bellower's dreams after reaching Ormsdalr ruins, with what happened to Bolverk

    I'm mostly interested about the Serpent, the Darkness and their roles. Could the Darkness be "just" a natural mechanism that comes to balance the eternal daylight in which the world is stuck, after the sun stopped? The Serpent might have this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B6rmungandr as an inspiration, which, as you said, hints that it's somehow related the end "End Times" of the world.

    Finally, the staff that Eyvind wields in the ending chapter, "stolen" from the Valka at Manaharr and obviously an artifact of great power, has a distinct Dredge look to it... I read it in the Steam forums somewhere, and thought to mention it here too.
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  12. #12
    Wow ! I'm sorry I missed your answers guys, really interesting stuff here ! I must admit I didn't find the time to play Saga2 a second time since I first finished it. So I might give it a try in the upcoming days/weeks. I must say I like the idea of Juno not being able to control Bolverk's mind because of Bellower's intrusion.

    I do agree with nokturne about the fact that it's quite "annoying" to have leveled up Bolverk and enjoyed playing his role to finally get to the point where you have to kill him. I know it's part of the grey saga plot but it does indeed kill the replay value.

  13. #13
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sowillo View Post
    ... I might give it a try in the upcoming days/weeks ...

    ...it's quite "annoying" to have leveled up Bolverk and enjoyed playing his role to finally get to the point where you have to kill him...
    Plenty of time to replay Saga2 during the winter holidays

    Bolverk/Bellower beating Iver in that last battle does not lead to a game over; just a different starting condition for Saga3... Just saying.
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  14. #14
    Why Bersi leaves Luddin and joins Bolverk? Thought Bersi is a Luddin's bodyguard

  15. #15
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiraglarm View Post
    Why Bersi leaves Luddin and joins Bolverk? Thought Bersi is a Luddin's bodyguard
    Yes, that "detail" has been troubling a lot of us. Unfortunately, no sound explanation was given (in or out of the game). Maybe we'll find more in Saga3?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  16. #16
    Maybe it something like Bellower's corpse effect?

    + a lack of conversations with Luddin in TBS2. Tought he is important character

  17. #17
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Ludin himself, and his entourage, are all strange in Saga2: He has a dramatic change of attitude compared to Saga1 (Why do you say there's lack of convos? I think there's at least three.), Yrsa is hiding in the caravan until the end of Ch8, Bersi goes with the Ravens without any explanation etc. Dunno if Bellower's "dreams" have something to do with that, but it's an interesting theory, as it seem that it mostly affects "angry" persons
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  18. #18
    I think Bersi's decision to leave might have something to do with the mission given to him by the Mender in 'What Is Told'. Some sinister Valka plot maybe?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    Plenty of time to replay Saga2 during the winter holidays

    Bolverk/Bellower beating Iver in that last battle does not lead to a game over; just a different starting condition for Saga3... Just saying.
    Wait, what, you can fail that fight ? I never thought of just letting myself get killed....for me the last fight felt more like an interactive cutscene than a fight since you just walk up to him and kill him in 2 turns.
    I even let bolverk run through alot of lightning strikes for the lulz.

  20. #20
    Superbacker Ratatoskr's Avatar
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    See, and I failed the last fight the first time while trying to win it. Probably because Bolverk was level 10 and Iver level 5.
    (Or maybe I'm just bad at the Banner Saga. ;-) Always a possibility)

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