AntonEgo That's exactly what i want to know, how does he respond to criticism of these actions, how does he justify them?
I haven't played the full game with those choices so I won't be able to point out many instances, I will only use excerpts from the little girl conversation because I knew where to look for those, these justifications are left up to player choice, I will list each variation through bullet points:
LG: I've been wanting to ask: you made Qum work at a brothel. Why?
- Choice: I didn't force her, she agreed
LG: Given how she worshipped you and what she'd been through? Not really.
- Choice: We needed the money
LG: An honest answer, at least.
- Choice: I thought it would help more people in the end
LG: I hope you're right.
- Choice: It was a mistake I regret
LG: It's good that you can admit mistakes.
LG: Another question: why did you allow Varia to be raped?
- Choice: It was expedient
Simon: We were weak and couldn't be sure of fighting that many bandits.
- Choice: It was justice
Simon: She'd done worse to many other people.
AntonEgo These are not the only examples, he kills the alcohol merchant at Stineford for no gain at all, he could easily steal it without him noticing or overpower and knock him out, instead he kills him in cold blood and then hypocritically sells that alcohol himself, there are a lot of moments in the story that make Simon look quite bad.
I don't think any of those options would have been "easy", early chapter 1 Simon was hardly more than a competent veteran soldier, Yarra was a competent succubus but not super magically proficient (didn't have super powerful illusions nor lust coma skills), and Qum did things intuitively. They did not have the means to loot the entire storage of a bar without alerting the owner. Knocking him out wouldn't have been a risk-free plan either, he could recognize them before getting attacked or wake up earlier than planned and if he reported Simon then the church would have him investigated or at the very least cut ties with him, which would have been disastrous for the plans.
Also certain sale practices can be more predatory than others, even if they are handling the same product. The bartender in Feroholm was knowingly selling to addicts that were in a desperate situation. I suppose Simon didn't really research if the guy he sold the alcohol to was more ethical about his distribution but at least there was a chance it didn't end in vulnerable communities.
AntonEgo And the Qum argument, in my opinion and according to my memory, doesn't work at all, she clearly states that she does not want to but he convinces her to do it (important to remember here is that she is mentally ill and as such cannot be held up to the same level of autonomy, the "she chose to do this herself" argument does not apply here).
The little girl agrees with what you are saying and so do I, but my argument was more about there being a difference between not wanting to do something and being disturbed by having to do it. Considering Simon's previous perception of succubi and Yarra's general behavior at that point, he could have mistakenly thought it was like telling Qum to "eat her vegetables" or "do her homework", she didn't want to do it but it wouldn't traumatize her or anything. In hindsight, this would have been obviously wrong, but I can imagine such a mistake being made with the way succubi are portrayed in the game.
AntonEgo And Varia, well, the "she deserves it" argument works only if Simon is a cruel megalomaniac who thinks that only he deserves to chose who and how should be punished, criminals rarely become the way they are due to a nice and fulfilling life and treating her this way is far to similar to her own actions, that of a criminal. Oh, and the fight really is easy, i just use sexual haze from Yarra once and then the fight is over.
Okay so, you do realize the game is called "The Last Sovereign", and Chapter 4 is called "Arbiter", it is not that Simon thinks he is the only one that deserves to make decisions over others, but someone has to do it and he has the power to be that someone. I wouldn't necessarily say that is a megalomaniacal thing, but almost the entire premise of this game is acquiring power and using it to overrule the current powers that be and then try to make better decisions, because the current situation for a lot of people needs improvements.
With that aside, my point wasn't that Simon "forgave" Varia because she was a criminal with a sob story, but because she asked him to litterally reshape her mind, Simon could forgive her because he knew after what he did to her that she wouldn't be a threat to them or any other innocents, she was instantly "reformed" but it cost her some of her former self, and yes, this applies to both the "Dominated Varia" and the "Reshaped Varia", the only difference is that in the first one Simon remakes her with a more utilitarian view, while with the later he tries to preserve some of her original self by remaking her closer to what was already there.
Also don't confuse a "mechanically easy" fight with a "story easy" fight, half of the party argues that fighting all those bandits in a cramped room would be really dangerous, you can maybe argue with the dev that they should make this fight harder mechanically to match the intent of the story, but the intent of the story is still that it should have been a challenge, going the extra mile to protect a woman who was responsible for a lot of fucked up stuff and tried to kill you and some of your loved ones twice already.