Or at the very least bi-curious but that doesn’t make for a very punchy a title. What has led me to this thought is a short dialogue between Atton and the player that has been restored to the game thanks to the TSL Restoration Mod. But before we get to that I guess I better explain who Atton is first.
Atton is your best friend. A lot of party based RPGs have a “best friend” character. They’re the person you meet early on who’s humorous and instantly likeable. They also tend to be trapped in the same dungeon as you. Morte from Planescape Torment and Yoshimo from Baldur’s Gate 2 both spring to mind. Atton is that kind of character, a glib but friendly face in a hostile setting. By the time you’ve escaped the Peragus Mining Facility you and Atton will be best of buds. Later on you’ll bring him along on missions cause hell he’s your pal and it’d be weird to leave him behind. Or maybe you don’t, maybe he kinda irks you and the second you get off Peragus he spends the rest of the game back on the spaceship twiddling his thumbs. I suspect Carth was supposed to be the best friend character in the original KOTOR but a lot of people took an immediate dislike to him.
But I like Atton, not so much because of his quips but because he’s a thief and when you play as a magic user a thief is always a handy ally to have around. Maybe if Carth was a thief I wouldn’t have disliked him as much.
Naturally Atton has a secret. It’s vitally important that the best friend character have a shady past. This is because if you’ve gone to the trouble of making the player care about the character then making them second guess their favourite NPC is a dramatic opportunity too good to pass up. In Atton’s case we learn that he used to be an Assassin working for the Sith, trained specifically to hunt Jedi. Apparently he quit because he fell in love with one of his targets, a beautiful female Jedi. Actually the story is a little more screwy then that, the Jedi entered his mind and unlocked the force potential inside Atton. Upon feeling the force, Atton immediately felt an inexplicable and obsessive love for the Jedi. He then strangled her for making him feel that way.
Atton be fucked in the head.
Of course that was all due to his nasty Sith conditioning and by the time you meet him he’s spent years wandering the galaxy feeling sorry for himself trying to out run his past. If you’re playing as a light sided character you can convince him to atone for his actions by becoming a Jedi and helping you save the galaxy. If you’re evil you can use this information to turn him into your own personal puppet.
So he becomes one of your padawan and over the rest of the game grows in confidence and power. By the end he even confronts one of the big bads on his own. It’s a fight you can win but more likely you’ll lose. That’s fine the game continues and the big bad just promises to break Atton and scar him for life.
And in the original version that was the end of Atton’s story. Losing a fight to a superior foe, trying in vain to save you. With the new content Atton’s tale has a rather interesting coda.
Once all your enemies are defeated and as you are leaving the enermy base you run into Atton. He’s a mess, his body is covered in scars and he’s weeping about how he’s failed you. Naturally you try and comfort him telling him that he did all he could. Then out of no where he says something about lieing to you and never telling you. You cut him off and say that it’s okay, that you already know. Then you stay with him as he finally dies. At least that’s what I chose to do, there are other options.
At first glance you might say it’s a pretty normal death scene. I mean sure you could infer a homosexual subtext but it’s not necessarily going to jump out at anyone, and I might agree with you but for a few small details.
Atton told me he used to torture and kill Jedi, that’s a pretty chilling secret to confess to someone. If you could admit to that then what the hell couldn’t you tell someone? To my mind a secret never-to-be-requited-love is about the only thing that makes sense and even that doesn’t really make sense. I’m tempted to say that it’s a bug or an inconstancy brought out by the mod. That could very well be true but whether it’s deliberate or not the dialogue exists and as a player I’m forced to piece together a logical meaning.
Also, the other romantic plot line I engaged in was with the blind Sith Visas. In that we finally consummated the relationship by “seeing each other through the force”. If Obsidian felt the need to infer a hetrosexual romance behind metaphor then it stands to reason that a homosexual love plot would also be obfuscated. Especially when you remember that Star Wars doesn’t have gay people.
Finally, after reading through the mod notes it turns out that this dialogue with Atton is identical if you’re female except for one small detail. If you are a girl Atton admits he loves you. The set up is the same, your reaction to the event is the same, everything is exactly the same except Atton can admit that he loves you if you’re female but if you’re a guy he keeps it to himself. He just says that he never told you and you tell him that you already know.
It a curious moment this conversation. Not part of the game officially, tacked back into the game by fans this certainly can’t be considered cannon. And I’m not saying that the gay Atton reading is the only valid reading but I do think it’s the more interesting one.
This is a series of posts about some of the characters in Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Siths Lords. To read the first post click here.