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Why Ghaleon is the Greatest of all RPG Antagonists

by Howard Kleinman

Many themes have permeated RPGs: Love, sacrifice, life, friendship, honor, and religion. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete has a theme that I have not seen in other RPGs; that theme is politics. At the heart of the conflict in Lunar is the battle of wills between Ghaleon and Dyne. Ghaleon is like the philosopher Thomas Hobbes who believed that without order, life would be nasty brutish and short, and that the only way to provide the necessary order was an absolute monarchy. Dyne supported the views held by John Locke who believed that through a social contract, humanity could rule itself. The debate between Ghaleon and Dyne isn't about good an evil so much as order versus freedom. Where does the good of the many outweigh the rights of one? Who will save people from their own failings? How can people function without an authority to ensure the survival of humanity and to save humanity from itself when self-interest causes people to submit to crime and cruelty? These issues are at the heart of Lunar and it is this conflict that elevates the Hobbesian antagonist Ghaleon to the level of tragic heroism.

At the start of the game, Dragonmaster Dyne is believed to be dead. Alex, a boy who aspires to be the next Dragonmaster leaves with Luna, his adopted sister with a magical voice, and Ramus, an opportunistic urchin to find the White Dragon and a dragon diamond. This seems innocent enough. And indeed, Lunar starts off as a lighthearted adventure. It is when the party first encounters Nash that Ghaleon's plan first affects Alex and Luna. Nash, Ghaleon's apprentice, is looking for a singer from Burg with an angelic voice. Nash decides to bring the two to the Magic Guild of Vane. In Vane, Ghaleon first encounters Luna and Alex. He asks Alex to investigate rumors of a Dragonmaster in Lann. Alex complies and defrauds the fake Dragonmaster. Upon his return he is thrown in jail by Lemia Ausa, Governess of the Magic Guild who accuses Alex of trying to overthrow the magic guild. It is revealed that this Lemia is in fact Xenobia, head of the Vile Tribe which had been exiled to the Frontier where Lunar still wasn't made green by the goddess as a punishment for their wrongdoing. The real Lemia had a mask blocking her memories placed on her. After Xenobia's revelation, Ghaleon tells the party that they must go to Quark to stop Xenobia and the Magic Emperor she serves. When Quark is confronted by Ghaleon, Alex and Luna, it is discovered that Luna was special for some reason. It is also revealed that Ghaleon is the Magic Emperor. He kidnaps Luna, imprisons Quark by trapping him in a prison the size of a grain of sand. Ghaleon then fires a spell knocking Alex unconscious. He leaves Alex to die in the ice cavern.

Ghaleon's revelation as the Magic Emperor is a shock to those who knew him. Lemia Ausa says that Ghaleon had a greater thirst for justice than the other four heroes. Mia says that Ghaleon once read her bedtime stories when she was little. Ghaleon seems to be a good man. He helped make the Magic Guild flourish. He taught children and planted gardens. Why would Ghaleon resort to "evil?"

This seems a very basic villain setup. A person in a trusted position betrays his apparent allies and sets out on world domination. The fact is, Ghaleon is not truly concerned with domination for the sake of personal power. In his mind he is performing an act of altruism. It is revealed that Luna is in fact Althena reborn as a normal human. Althena and Dyne decided to spread her powers forth and to give humanity self rule. Ghaleon saw this act to be careless. He believed humanity could not survive without rulership. In the anime sequence when this fact is revealed we see a different side of Ghaleon than we have been seeing throughout the game to this point. Ghaleon stands at the bottom of a staircase watching as Dyne gives his Dragonmaster powers to Althena who then is reborn as Luna. "Why have you done this?" Ghaleon asks. "What is it that you see that I can not? Tell me!" To Ghaleon, the world has been thrown into chaos. The long standing order that protected the world had been lost. Dyne replied to Ghaleon's question by saying "I see a bright hope for the future that resides within each and every human being." Ghaleon leaves the tower, fists clenched. "I see only despair." His voice echoes throughout the chamber and in Ghaleon's mind. He would end that despair.

Ghaleon isn't fighting for personal power. He believes that Althena has shirked her responsibilities as the goddess and that he must do what he can to restore order and to save humanity from itself. Ghaleon's tragic flaw is revealed by Mia. She tells Ghaleon that he is human and he too is flawed. Ghaleon didn't realize that his fear of the flaws of humanity were part of himself. Humanity as a whole could correct its own flaws together. Ghaleon didn't understand that a goddess can grant favors to individuals and can be fooled by those who have self-interested means. Spreading power reduces the corruption, yet Ghaleon believed that an authority was necessary. Ghaleon's end is more believable than the underserved redemption and last second change of heart of Krelian or the total lack of self-awareness of a Sephiroth. Ghaleon dies believing that he restored Althena to power. He dies believing that Luna is once again the goddess who rules with impunity from above, and he is satisfied that he has saved the world from itself. He dies believing victory. This is a sadder death than those of villains who receive redemptions or reprieves. Ghaleon never saw the error of his ways. He wouldn't live to see that his plan to which he martyred himself would crumble.

Dyne grants Ghaleon a short eulogy at the end. "Ghaleon died for his beliefs. That's one way to live your life." Ghaleon, unlike most other villains, fought as hard as any hero for a better life for humanity. He fought for justice. With Lunar 2 around the corner, one must ask the question: 1000 years in the future, will Ghaleon be proven to be correct?

[Editor's Note: Howard Kleinman has been sending in editorials for a while, and they are all worth a read. Him, Brett Smith, Jason Connor, and several others consistently send in absolutely splendid enlightening editorials on various subjects, and I would like to thank each one of them, and everyone else who sends us gems of knowledge. If you couldn't guess, I love this editorial, though I do have one qualm: Hobbes believed that the absolute monarch should gain power through the consent of all the people in order to prevent themselves from being at war. Ghaleon was trying to usurp that supremacy instead of get the consent to prevent war. Ah well, close enough ;)]

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