This was originally a part of my previous post… but it already got so long that I thought it deserved a post on his own.
One of the most interesting aspect of Ultima VI, is about exploring the Gargoyle’s Culture. This comes through their Virtues (and the many similarities they have with the Britannian philosophies), but perhaps most importantly through their way of life.
I feel the way it is presented in Ultima VI is really interesting because of how… alien it is. We’re talking about a culture of creatures, all hatching from the same family of eggs (altough we don’t yet know where those come from) and from which any Gargoyle can be either winged or wingless. Winged are intelligent and can fly, while wingless are strong but are basically uncapable of cognitive thought and more like small children that need to be guided their whole life, but which are loved and protected by their Winged brothers. So this is basically a culture which is very different from our human point of view, simply because this is a specifice that is totally unlike us.
Taken into the context of the series this is also very interesting when look how it evolved because in a sense, Ultima VII really diminished the point of the original gargoyle culture. By making Winged and Wingless gargoyles basically identical (except for the obvious lack of wings for the wingless ones), it kind of remove the whole point of the Gargoyle culture to begin with, because it just renders them too human. Now the point of this is that it lead to some numerous messages and discussion about racisme and tolerance (altough IMO a tad too heavy-handed), but it feels like it kind of missed the original point.
Interestingly the the oft maligned Ultima IX actually takes an approach that does go back to the roots of the Gargoyles Culture, with an obvious intellectual difference between Winged and Wingless ones. However it also brings back the Winged/Wingless conflict aspect of Ultima VII – thus basically joining these two different approach into one. And this is one of the very interesting thing about Ultima IX (because oh indeed, Ultima IX has plenty of interesting things), but I’ll get more into this once I get to actually playing Ascension…