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Chris Goodwin

Law in Fantasy Hero

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1 hour ago, zslane said:

 

Is there a lot of magic and other magical beasties at least? If not, then it sounds more like alt-history than fantasy to me.

 

 

Define "a lot."

 

You ask this right after an example featuring a magic flame that has burned for generations.  It was lit by a warrior mage.

 

Are there magic critters?

 

I am no different from any other writer or creator, really: I have a "tell."  With only one exception (at least, as far as the campaign ever got; I never had a reason to decide yes or no on this one) every fantasy world I have ever built has jackelopes.   Other things, each unique to their setting, of course.  However, the opening question was about law initially.  I went sideways into a culture in an attempt to explain the rule of one culture; offered a second more law-specific by way of both apology and thread tax.

 

I have no control for how it sounds to you, but if you would like to open a different thread, I will be happy to drop some beasties or some magic in there.  I have plenty of time, as the group project is stymied until I get at least the write up for the bad guy.

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Duke, No electricity since Late Saturday afternoon. Have to go to restaurants to eat and use WiFi. But other than cancelling contracts, I am fine.  
 

all it took really for my Fantasy to be different, was to advance society to the nation state phase, and combat to the pike and shot phase. Adventurers with gun powder got quite dramatic in the opening phase, and then the swords and axes were drawn. Add in hyper-capitalist, semi-civilized dragons that began the banking houses, but were also subject to military draft as tactical bombers, and it had a very different flavor than your standard D&D. This is why I had to come up with that Parlimentary vote generated system I detailed in a previous thread. 

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2 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Add in hyper-capitalist, semi-civilized dragons that began the banking houses

 

Whoa.  I just recently had this idea.  I mean, dragons love gold.  And the only thing they love more than gold is, more gold.  And the way to more gold is investments.  Right?  That hoard doesn't do any work sitting in a cave where adventures can come and loot it.  Better to have it circulating via interest-bearing loans.  If you can get fractional reserve in play, so much the better! 

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Just now, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Whoa.  I just recently had this idea.  I mean, dragons love gold.  And the only thing they love more than gold is, more gold.  And the way to more gold is investments.  Right?  That hoard doesn't do any work sitting in a cave where adventures can come and loot it.  Better to have it circulating via interest-bearing loans.  If you can get fractional reserve in play, so much the better! 

Well pretty much. Though they had to be land holding lords to support their upkeep with herds of cattle. They would take marginal grasslands, or conquered territories. Hire staff, and Factors that represented their interests in court ( unless they knew the shapeshifter spells). The banks ran efficiently, but any irregularities might result in being eaten, so the numbers are scrupulously kept. 

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On 10/30/2019 at 9:02 AM, Scott Ruggels said:

all it took really for my Fantasy to be different, was to advance society to the nation state phase, and combat to the pike and shot phase. Adventurers with gun powder got quite dramatic in the opening phase, and then the swords and axes were drawn. Add in hyper-capitalist, semi-civilized dragons that began the banking houses, but were also subject to military draft as tactical bombers, and it had a very different flavor than your standard D&D. This is why I had to come up with that Parlimentary vote generated system I detailed in a previous thread. 

 

Late to the thread but this sounds like a cross between Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, and Shadowrun.

 

(The Temeraire books are quite good if you can handle Napoleonic dragons.)

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On 11/15/2019 at 7:38 PM, Old Man said:

 

Late to the thread but this sounds like a cross between Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, and Shadowrun.

 

(The Temeraire books are quite good if you can handle Napoleonic dragons.)

Oh, Inhave read them. I liked the first few, but once they hit Australia, it kind f petered out for me.  The dragons were interesting, though, and she had a whole ecology for them. 

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I don't have any problem with medieval-style cultures and feudalistic monarchies as the most common form of government within fantasy worlds.  After all, not all feudalistic monarchies are the same.  And that's how a lot (perhaps the majority) of the fantasy source material is.  One of the central concepts of my fantasy campaign world is that the central area where most of the PCs are from is fairly "normal" and familiar - and the farther away they travel, the weirder things get, not just in terms of monsters encountered, but natural phenomena, cultures, and governments.  And even so, most nations are still feudal monarchies:

 

Virbenland is a feudal monarchy ruled by a wise and just and well-loved king.  However, there is a problem looming:  The king's only son and heir to the throne recently died on adventure, so while the king should likely have many years left to his life, this is a problem that will have to be dealt with eventually.

Neron is a feudal monarchy with almost the opposite problem:  The old king died, leaving a spoiled brat of a teenager on the throne.  It's pretty obvious that the new king has neither the wisdom nor maturity to handle this position (but I wouldn't say that too loudly within the borders of Neron, if I were you).  There are various advisors and courtiers who manipulate the king's decrees and policies for their own personal benefit.  The nation is still reasonably stable for now, but corruption may increase faster than the young king's powers of discernment.

Jasser is a feudal monarchy in which many of the nobles are nearly as powerful as the king himself.  As long as the nation remains prosperous, the government remains stable.  But one significant famine, plague, monster attack, or enemy invasion could easily trigger a civil war.

Modro-tonla has a king, but it's really more of a tribal society.  Any powerful warlord could decide to depose the king and become a new king, and that's the generally accepted practice.  The Modro-tonlans pretty much universally accept the idea of might makes right.  Any king that is overthrown didn't deserve to remain king.

The elves have a king, but it's mostly ceremonial.  The phrase "elvish politics" is almost an oxymoron.

All the gnomes in the world acknowledge a single king - and it's an utterly thankless job.  Every king of the gnomes, of every age, has befallen some misfortune - usually a very weird one, and perhaps magical.  Usually, this does not result in the immediate death of the king, but all gnomes collectively keep an eye out for possible solutions to the king's problem.

The main dwarven nation has a titular king, but it is not hereditary.  He is chosen by the elders of all the various families.  And this council of elders rules the nation, with the king merely presiding over the council, sort of like a prime minister.

Temna is an ancient-Roman-style republic (more or less), with a senate, and citizens (who live in the cities and have the right to vote for their representatives), freemen (who live outside the cities, and generally are not represented), and slaves.

 

It turns out that hereditary feudal monarchies are quite natural,and tend to be a fairly stable form of government.  A modern-style democratic republic like the US seems IMO to be out of place in a fantasy world.  Even when hereditary monarchies are overthrown, they're often replaced with another hereditary monarchy (like North Korea).

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To have non-feudal government systems in fantasy, it's better to go backwards to the republics of Rome and Greece.  Otherwise you could look to alternative types like the oligarchy of the Aztecs, the quasi-feudal merchant families of Renaissance Italy, or the Grand Council of the Iroquois Five Nations.

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There's a reason why so much fiction, not only fantasy but even sci-fi, revolves around kings and emperors, princes and princesses. We're attracted to the romanticizing of such figures, the aura of power and glamor that has built up around them over the millennia. Even for people raised in democracies, there's a visceral appeal to the concept of those who are born rulers, not made -- the elite, the special people, the chosen ones of destiny.

 

That's not to say most of us would choose to live under those regimes; but in fantasy they appear at a safe distance, and may even be robed in an inherent nobility that rarely appears in their real-life counterparts. I liken the phenomenon to the enjoyment many people derive from horror movies and the like. Almost no one wants to actually deal with such monsters, but many like the vicarious thrill of watching their antics.

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On 11/24/2019 at 4:51 PM, PhilFleischmann said:

A modern-style democratic republic like the US seems IMO to be out of place in a fantasy world.

 

While I don't think anyone has suggested a US style republic, it wouldn't be quite as much out of place as you might think.

 

The US was founded in the 18th century, uniting colonies mainly established in the 17th century. The society back then wasn't exactly modern either.

 

It would be a stretch, but you could back date it quite plausibly. Probably with a 16th or late 15th century feel....

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Some ancient Greek forms of government.

League - a bunch of cities united for mutual defence/religious worship/trade. Individual cities will have their own governments, but major decisions are made by either representatives from each city, or officials chosen by such representatives.

 

1. Monarchy - an archaic form, generally found in backwater areas. Typically relatively small cities, large rural hinterlands.

 

Tyrannies - the tyrants often call themselves kings, but their power is "illegitimate", based on their private military forces. Sometimes they can pass on their authority to their descendants, but often they can't. This category can include:

 

2. Aristocratic tyrants - these rule on behalf of, and usually with the support of sections of the ruling elite.

 

3. Populist tyrants - these rule in the name of the lower classes. Sometimes they engage in radical measures like land reform. Often at war with their neighbours, or with their formerly ruling elites.

 

Oligarchies - the most common form. They can be divided into:

 

4. Broad oligarchies - the franchise is extended to what can be called "the middle class", defined in terms of wealth (land ownership) and the ability to serve in the military (with their own hoplite armour).

5. Narrow oligarchies - the franchise is restricted to aristocrats. Basically if you can afford to ride to battle on a horse, in armour, and with an attendant, you are probably in.

 

6. Democracies - these don't include resident foreigners, slaves, women, etc. Typically coastal cities, militarily dependent on their fleets of galleys. Oarsmen are combatants, and can win the franchise accordingly.

 

7. Theocracies - typically major religious centres, ruled by their priests. Rarely large cities, but wealthy, and their populations can be swollen by pilgrims at certain times of year. Commonly militarily protected by treaties.

 

8. Areas that aren't really organized at the city level, and are basically a bunch of villages. May function as a league, or as any of the above government types.

 

I've missed some, but hopefully this will show how a major civilization can function with relatively few kings.

 

Of course, ceremonial kings are entirely compatible with most of these options. These often have essentially priestly roles.

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@assault—

 

It would help if you relabeled the institutions involved. President/Senate/House/Justice doesn’t sound fantasy. King/High Council/Guilders League/Adjudication is better, even if they’re all functionally identical. 

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15 minutes ago, Old Man said:

@assault—

 

It would help if you relabeled the institutions involved. President/Senate/House/Justice doesn’t sound fantasy. King/High Council/Guilders League/Adjudication is better, even if they’re all functionally identical. 

 

Senate, at least, is directly taken from the Romans...

 

But OK, Consul/Senate/Assembly/Magistrate. The latter term can be broken up into Praetors, Tribunes, Censors etc.

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1 hour ago, assault said:

 

While I don't think anyone has suggested a US style republic, it wouldn't be quite as much out of place as you might think.

 

The US was founded in the 18th century, uniting colonies mainly established in the 17th century. The society back then wasn't exactly modern either.

 

It would be a stretch, but you could back date it quite plausibly. Probably with a 16th or late 15th century feel....

Well, sure, if someone wanted to run a fantasy game in a quasi-historical 18th century setting with gunpowder weapons and the printing press and post offices and street lights in cities, etc., then yes, that style of government would be appropriate.

 

Nothing changes in a vacuum - nothing changes by itself.  Technology and governments evolve together, along side of each other, and along with religion and law and morality and everything else.

 

Has anyone here ever run such a game?  Like say a Victorian era fantasy game, with guns and modern democracy and maybe even modern real-world religions instead of "standard fantasy religions"?  I know of an RPG out there called "7th Sea", which is kind of like this, largely based on pirates and maritime adventures, with cannons, and early hand-held firearms, but very limited magic and very rare magical creatures.  And there's a CCG based on the campaign setting.

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10 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, sure, if someone wanted to run a fantasy game in a quasi-historical 18th century setting with gunpowder weapons and the printing press and post offices and street lights in cities, etc., then yes, that style of government would be appropriate.

 

A friend and I were talking about just this thing. I have the Blackpowder  rules, from my old FH Campaign, but the new one was unabashedly colonial and imperialist.His version had a lot more fantasy races, and Mine a lot fewer. Also Magic in mine was more common and lower powered.

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26 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Has anyone here ever run such a game?  Like say a Victorian era fantasy game, with guns and modern democracy and maybe even modern real-world religions instead of "standard fantasy religions"? 

 

Had a really long-running Western /Occult years ago.  I don't know quite how we got there-- I think it was one player wanting to be able to call upon Totems and they have an actual-- if very tiny-- effect.  It sort of grew from there, and we played it for a bit over four years.  Magic, Spirits, the occult, voodoo, shamans, spirits, creatures of legend, demons, possession, and the aftermath of the Civil War--

 

all kinds of neat things in the end.  Happened on accident, we all loved it, and I don't think we could re-create it if we _tried_.   :(

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Has anyone here ever run such a game?  Like say a Victorian era fantasy game, with guns and modern democracy and maybe even modern real-world religions instead of "standard fantasy religions"?  I know of an RPG out there called "7th Sea", which is kind of like this, largely based on pirates and maritime adventures, with cannons, and early hand-held firearms, but very limited magic and very rare magical creatures.  And there's a CCG based on the campaign setting.

 

One of the books on Hero Games' publishing schedule just before its severe downsizing was Victorian Hero, to be set during that era and following those conventions, geographically and culturally distinct from the partly-contemporaneous Western Hero. Sadly, it's unlikely to ever materialize now.

 

Shelley Chrystal Mactyre, author of the PRIMUS source book for 4E Champions, had long been working on a book to be titled Regency Hero, set in Europe during the late Eighteenth - early Nineteenth Centuries. Another project languishing in limbo, but Shelley did put a moderate amount of material for it up on her personal website, including some interesting concepts: http://www.mactyre.net/archives/regency/index.html

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47 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, sure, if someone wanted to run a fantasy game in a quasi-historical 18th century setting with gunpowder weapons and the printing press and post offices and street lights in cities, etc., then yes, that style of government would be appropriate.

 

Communication at the speed of transport, and a frontier within walking distance... (OK, months of walking in some places, but up at the end of the lane in others).

 

Magic can allow a lot of the quasi-historical stuff to happen earlier.

 

A lot of the later Discworld books feature rapid technological changes, without the world ceasing to be fantasy.

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25 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

Had a really long-running Western /Occult years ago.  I don't know quite how we got there-- I think it was one player wanting to be able to call upon Totems and they have an actual-- if very tiny-- effect.  It sort of grew from there, and we played it for a bit over four years.  Magic, Spirits, the occult, voodoo, shamans, spirits, creatures of legend, demons, possession, and the aftermath of the Civil War--

 

all kinds of neat things in the end.  Happened on accident, we all loved it, and I don't think we could re-create it if we _tried_.   :(

 

 

 

 

Sounds like you invented Deadlands before Deadlands invented Deadlands.

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I am not convinced that technology, law/government, religion, etc. all march in lockstep. They affect each other, yes, but the relationships are complex. If anyone's interested, I wrote an extensive essay on the subject (though the Fantasy examples are drawn from Exalted). It's archived here:

 

http://nobilis.me/quotes:designing-cultures-the-shomshak-way

 

I'd also cite China as an example of a society with gunpowder, printed books and a civil service bureaucracy that nevertheless looks nothing like the "modern" West. Just to show the range of possibilities.

 

Dean Shomshak

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No one said they all "march in lockstep".  I said they evolve together.  Just like plants and animals do not evolve separately from each other.

 

I don't think modern democracies or democratic republics could have come into being without the printing press and gunpowder having been invented first (along with some other ideas).

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On 11/27/2019 at 5:02 AM, PhilFleischmann said:

I don't think modern democracies or democratic republics could have come into being without the printing press and gunpowder having been invented first (along with some other ideas).

 

The sneaky part here is "modern democracies or democratic republics". Without a definition this can end up in a No True Scotsman fallacy.

 

FWIW, San Marino's Constitution dates back to 1600. Yes, obviously it has been modernized, but the core was there. Of course, this is in the printing press and gunpowder era, but it was a republic before this.

 

The Swiss Confederation has been through a bunch of revamps, but it traces back its existence to 1291.

 

Many ancient republics had "democratic" elements, even when they were oligarchies in reality. This includes Rome. By definition these aren't modern - but the founders of the US deliberately studied and partly copied Roman practice.

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