Re: Dragonrise arc

From: Chris Lemens <chrislemens_at_...>
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 08:00:32 -0700 (PDT)

Donald, responding to Jane:

> > The Soviet analogue didn't depend on tech levels, only on the flaws
> > in human nature and what happens if you get a fundamentally good idea
> > and extend it way past the point where it stops working.
> The social structure of communism is a post industrial revolution concept.

But she didn't say "communism" -- that's an ideology. She said the "Soviet" analogue -- that was an actual social structure. A social strcture is not a concept; it can only be claimed to rest upon a concept. And clearly the reality of the Soviet social structure had little resemblance to the utopia claimed inthe manifesto. There was so much about the Soviet system that was facially justified by communist ideology, but had more to do with the pre-existing Russian society or the nature of party leadership. Those are the parts that I find fun for gaming. So, to be fair, it is more a caricature of the Soviet social structure that I find appealing.

The Soviet analogue has interesting correspondences for the Lunar empire, especially if you look at the pre-WWII period: lots of rural population, cities primarily as centers of trade and administration (not manufacturing), a government that publicly defines itself by reference to ideology, opposition from and suppression of ideologically defined reactionary forces, duelling party factions, etc. Biggest difference to me is that the Lunar empire is at the center of its world, where the Soviets (especially in the early years) viewed Germany as being the center of their ideological world. This is where I think the British analogue might be better: London was the center of the financial and trading world, and the channel kept foreign threats at bay. That says something to me about where the Lunars think their opportunities and threats are, which can translate into things that we can observe about them. For example, a central road network, the whole  concept of the Heartlands corp, defensive fortifications in Oraya but not Tarsh, etc.

> . . . the amount of central control requires modern tech communications. While moonboats can replace modern courier services there's nothing to replace railways or the telegraph.

The Soviet Union, especially in the pre-WWII period, had little in the way of modern tech communications and little in the way of genuine central control. They had a few long routes (to Vladivostok, for example), but its density and reliability were very low. 14th century Italy had better communications because it was surrounded by the Med, so ships could get close to everywhere. The Lunar empire has an internal road and river network that allows communication (without moonboats) that is at least as good as most of what Russia had up to WWII.

More importantly, I don't see that any differences in communication really matter to the parts of the Soviet analogue that are fun: show trials, secret purges, ideological government, conflicts between the cadres and the peasants, etc. Further, since we're mainly focused on Lunars as they appear at Whitewall, we only need to know what they are like. Having all of the things I've listed about the Soviet analogue being available to the stories that GM's narrate seems valuable. What happens when th elunar commander finds out that some of his subordinates are secretly working for so-and-so. How does he justify seeing them dead? It also gives the lunars something to gripe about: the Heartlands corp is probably used to easy transportation. If any of them are at Whitewall, they had to come through Tarsh (working on being civilized), Far Place (primitive, but trying), Sartar (barbarians without a decent road), the border areas between Sartar and Heortland  (complete boonies), just to get to Heortland (might have been civilized once, but not in a long time). And goddess save them if they were some of the ones who had to go to Pavis, down the Zola Fel to Corflu, then by "ship" to Heortland.

>Significantly one type that doesn't exist is the Late Republic/Early
> Empire Roman style legion. Probably because the particular social
> structure which created the legions doesn't exist in the Lunar Empire.

Yeah, you're probably right about that. But they're in my Glorantha anyway, because I jes lurve them.

The way that I explain them is that the peace of the empire lowers mortality more quickly than birth rates decline, so there are a lot of people needing jobs or land. The emperor knows that many of his old-line units have cultural ties that only bind them to him indirectly. So he creates the legions, which are explicitly lunarized, led by Tarnils officers, etc. Because they are mostly people without other prospects, they can't afford their own equipment and so are dependent on the big cheese for their position in life and land in retirement.  Something of a Praetorial Guard, but without (yet!) the ability to appoint an emperor. For now, they would be his most ideologically dependable troops. So, he'd send them on important jobs, and to suppress uprisings that have signficiant long-term local support. He might send contingents of them with a larger force so that he has lots of eyes on the ground.

Chris Lemens

Powered by hypermail