Author Topic: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics  (Read 942 times)

deskoft

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Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« on: November 21, 2018, 09:06:34 AM »
Politics tend to be a messy, nasty spectacle with the sole intention of controlling violence (power). There is something about power that changes people. In Zalanthas, asserting your dominion over others can often represent your survival. I want to deviate a little bit from the perspective of opinion, ideologic books such as the Laws of Power and give you a point of view based on more serious, scientific books on the matter of politics, based on studies. Naturally, everything I am going to write about also dissects from my point of view a disgusting area of real life - but there is no reason why we ought not to impress it in our roleplay, for power is a fundamental to the concept of a society.


I will update this thread with topics and summaries for your own read, based on how much interest they draw. If you feel this is helping your roleplay, post about it! I have a few ideas to post.

Asserting Dominion:Codes of Power - Power has codes and a language that can be difficult to read for the regular spectator, but their defense and use is fundamental to those at the top of the 'pecking order.'
Postures in Debate: Narratives That Don't Change - When our brain spots a mismatch in the established narrative we have of the world, over a political posture or a belief, it tries to desperately cling to any notion that can confirm that things are the way they were.

More to come...
« Last Edit: November 22, 2018, 12:09:00 PM by deskoft »

deskoft

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2018, 09:10:15 AM »
Asserting Dominion: Codes of Power

Power has codes and a language that can be difficult to read for the regular spectator, but their defense and use is fundamental to those at the top of the 'pecking order.'

Use in Zalanthas: Defend and establish codes of power in your characters, from big to small, and defend them. In the animal world, the alpha male or female is the one with dominion. Zalanthas is a much more animalistic world than real life: learn to implement codes of power and defend them.

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Power has always been expressed through symbols that are coded very subtly into our mentality (and they can be surprisingly difficult to read into). Some studies have shown that the amount of 'symbols' of power societies across the world have is surprisingly limited: palaces, anthems, crowns, scepters, thrones, etc. Look at this video and try to see how Putin asserts his dominion of the situation (in a home that isn't his):



He stands in the center, evidently is the center of the show, while Bush seems to be on the wayside, reserved to smile and to try to guide him (the hand on the back while they are walking away is a Bush classic at trying to regain dominion of a situation: men and women of power tend to want to be the one looking to be guiding others especially when they are in a scenario where they are in front of someone who competes with themselves in their amount of power). Look at this video and try to spot the several codes of power that you can see (clothing, the sitting order, the big amount of people standing around the people of power, the way the man in the middle sits down and speaks while not looking at either of them are talking to him):



This is all based on hormones. Testosterone is one of the many chemicals that condition this kind of behavior. Birds that were defending their turf and forming their family displayed higher amount of testosterone. The term 'pecking order' originates from an observation on chicken: they eat their food in a specific order where the leader pecks first and then the rest of them follow suit in a hierarchical order. People want to be fitter, taller, stronger, look powerful, and be the center of attention because it is an instinct. Animals are showing these declarations of power every day, every time. When a dog growls at another one, they are declaring a warning. Watch a meeting between two high-level politicians and dissect it from a critical point of view, and the distinction between the animal world and the political world is comically similar (and surprisingly fundamented in several studies).

Events such as the space race represent clear codes of power being defended by respectively powerful people: they have elements that they have defined to their own people as innate to their power and they HAVE to defend it. Why codes of power though? Why did kings dress themselves in regalia, sit in thrones and have such flamboyance in their mannerisms? Why is the custom of the 'throne' still used today in some governments around the world? Why do dictators have these elements of power much more established? Isn't it dumb and counterproductive?

Not at all. Have you ever been in a room and struggled to get yourself to be noticed? You come from a personal interest to engage in the social environment and, sometimes, it's not there: you fade to the background. For a powerful leader, this concept of fading to the background would be fatal, especially when their power is in question. By having the hierarchy immediately clear (the pecking order), without even needing to explain it with words, they are assured that there will be no need to reinforce it through brutal mediums: the use of violence. Monkeys have very defined codes of power where the alpha male will stand, tall, regal and puffed up (something politicians in the modern times do a lot), often ignoring those beneath them, while the monkeys below the pecking order will reflect their submissiveness. It is rough to consider this in relationship with the real world, maybe even depressing, but it is how it works.

That said, once the hierarchy is established, it can be broken through alliances and betrayals. Politicians cannot act alone: their codes of power are also an invitation to act together. To act in group.

In Zalanthas, asserting your dominion can be a vital function: if you are in a position of power recognize all those things that give your character a position of power (their clothes, their estate, their servants and their aides, their employees and their wagons, their wares and assets, their titles and their names). Enforce them. Don't let anyone call you by your first name if you have a title. Don't let anyone outshine your outfit if you want to make a statement of you above them. Make others follow you: don't follow others. Treat the political scenario of the game as an spectacle that has to be managed and contested: you vs others in an attempt to impress the rest and assert your dominion. Make your events about yourself and try to, in a way, reflect this behavior animals have where they establish a pecking order that must be followed. It is stupid and primal, but it is a situation in society, and a situation that can be adapted to the game and that can bring very fascinating scenes.

Case Studies: I have had characters who have put a lot of value in showing the many elements of their position (rings, clothes, materials allowed to wear), but also I have seen characters that train their aides and servants to make a show. The use of aides in recent times has turned into a more functional transaction of logistic duties (deliver this, investigate this), but consider about how aides can be used as a code of power and as a way to assert your dominion, in the case of nobility: instead of doing something yourself someone else will do it for you. In meetings, have them serve you, have them make a show out of your power, and make your competitors wonder why they are not doing what you are doing.

It is easy to forget that the game is about fiction: there is nothing wrong about acting arrogant as fuck, emoting your character as a prick, someone who watches others from their vantage point while they practically get fanned into their goals. Establish a culture of power around your PCs (from the noble to the rinther), and defend it at all cost.

Postures in Debate: Narratives That Don't Change (Confirmation Bias)

When our brain spots a mismatch in the established narrative we have of the world, over a political posture or a belief, it tries to desperately cling to any notion that can confirm that things are the way they were.

Use in Zalanthas: When your beliefs are being challenged (the Highborn are better, the magickers are the source of all evil, etc), desperately cling to what ever confirmation you might get, as irrational as it might be, in your character's attempt to reestablish order.

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Both in psychology and in politics, it is a recurrent topic to understand that the brain works with a series of narratives that the individual will find absolutely difficult to negate. This is why debates such as death penalty can be so polarized: there is information that proofs that it is good and information that proofs that it is bad. People in each spectrums of the debate will clutch onto anything that confirms their position, even if they are presented evidence that it is wrong. While I do not want to get into this topic in detail, superstitions act in this way: sometimes the lack of evidence to proof that something is false is the best evidence for someone who wants to confirm a narrative.



Case Studies: When you talk to a magicker, there is a possibility that your character can realize that they are talking to another human being, but is that really following the confirmation bias? Maybe later in the day they find someone close to them are dead. Why not use the confirmation bias theory to make your character take this evidence to confirm that magickers all the source of all catastrophe? HELP SUPERSTITION can help you with some ideas.

Furthermore, consider how if you belong to a House that has a strong stance on something (for example, Kurac and spice, House Oash against elves, etc), you should also use confirmation bias to clutch onto any stupid bit of evidence that confirms why you are right and others are wrong. Being wrong and being stupid about it creates fun conflict.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2018, 12:07:49 PM by deskoft »

MeTekillot

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2018, 10:20:48 AM »
Read The Prince.
It's a lot more admirable to be strong in a game where strength comes at enormous risks.

deskoft

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2018, 07:56:19 PM »
Added the second section for this.

Read The Prince.

The Prince is a cool ideological book but it's just that: an ideological book.

tapas

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2018, 08:35:08 PM »
Don't read The Prince. You're going to need to read a historical primer first. And slap anyone who suggests 48 laws of power.

Read The Manager's Handbook.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 08:39:54 PM by tapas »

Bebop

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2018, 01:14:00 PM »
Don't read The Prince. You're going to need to read a historical primer first. And slap anyone who suggests 48 laws of power.

Read The Manager's Handbook.

Hey, I like 48 Laws of Power.  It's long af... but why you no like?

tapas

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2018, 10:20:02 PM »
Well if taken as a work of fiction, it's not the worst thing in the world. It's apparently an entertaining read.

But otherwise, it's pseudo science that attempts to apply modern sensibilities to poorly contextualized historical scenarios. Maybe throw in some half decent managerial advice if you spin the wording more charitably. Which is why I put in the shout out to a managerial handbook.

I mean the thing was written by a goddamn starving screenwriter with a history degree. And fifteen year old kids are picking it up and thinking that if they read it they'll become Frank Underwood or Walter White. When at best it will justify them behaving like a self-serving assholes.

Edit: But it does tell you a lot about someone who has it on their office bookshelf.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 10:28:11 PM by tapas »

MeTekillot

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2018, 10:39:55 PM »
What's wrong with The Prince?
It's a lot more admirable to be strong in a game where strength comes at enormous risks.

Decameron

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2018, 11:28:25 PM »
Not sure I agree with that analysis of Greene. A lot of people seem to bash on him without having read any of his books. Sure, he was history minor, and he basically just cites a few historical references to support a general thesis for each chapter. Is it perfect? No. However, I never found any of his books a waste of time. I wouldn’t take it as gospel by any means but I feel like a few of my bosses have definitely fallen into a few of the tropes, and i feel like I have benefitted from reading some of his books.

 Which of his books have you read and what were your issues with them?

Bebop

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2018, 02:16:42 AM »
I've read almost all of 48 laws of Power and I think it's so vast I'm not sure how you could over generalize it.  I like the concepts it presents. 

Cind

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2018, 09:05:12 AM »
Politics in Africa and the Middle East at a settled-civilization level are vastly different from ours--- the majority of us aren't reminded on a daily basis that we are lucky to be alive, and this has affected their politics to the point of making it a completely different animal from ours.

African tribal politics are different from that, yet somewhat the same, I think. In tribal life, you are a lot more likely to be invested in the welfare of people outside of your family and friends, you tend to be closer and have probably saved their life at some point for example.

My sociology major mostly focused on the underclass/everyman, though, and not so much on the ruling people. Its your typical liberal western education; they assume here if you're taking sociology, you want to learn about the poor and underrepresented.

But yeah, its kind of obvious once someone points it out to you; every public appearance, every personal set of behaviors and gestures, down to the clothing and the portraits, is designed to make the rulers look more powerful and worthy of your respect. The last bit seems a bit odd, but dictators have morphed the public consciousness into something that empowers them--- oh, he is our great leader, he is deserving of our respect and attention. He brought us education and healthcare. He overturned the nobility and empowered the people. He reformed the libraries and museums--- there's a reason they'd reform the libraries and museums, as well as improve sectors of the economy that affect everything but their position in power. There's also the chance that, in the beginning, they genuinely meant well. But that gets lost when you realize that most modern dictators required the support of the people early on before their power was cemented.

An interesting fact about modern and semi-modern ruler portraits, they're often decked out in furs that are probably holdovers from when great warriors and chieftains wore the furs and fangs and bones of their kills to show how strong and brave they were--- I've rarely read or heard about a tribal culture which does not respect this, and those tend to be isolated in areas where there are no animals that are dangerous to people. I mean, this is a guess. But you know its probably true.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 09:08:28 AM by Cind »
Playing something new could be just what you need!

Cind

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2018, 11:54:57 PM »
If you're a rinthi pickpocket who's just starting out (our skills system almost forces us to start fresh in our careers, rather than be highly skilled out of chargen) and you don't have a reason for having 600 dollars -and- a decent set of chargen stealth clothes, consider the following.

Jews were persecuted in medieval Europe, but it was them who were the final and most necessary catalyst in propelling Europe out of the Dark Ages for the simple fact that they would lend people money (with which they did the sort of things we would do, such as start businesses.) The Catholic Church did not allow people to lend money, but they could borrow it from non-Catholics. Everyone knows this, but Jews have survived in such numbers and with a disproportionate amount of prosperity partly because they understand economics and that being useful is the best way to survive. I mean--- Jews have got to be the most persecuted people on the planet. But they know all the small tricks to get by, which end up amounting to a lot. They remind me of elves quite a bit.

In Zelda games, the Sheikah people are a disadvantaged people at at least one point in history, and don't seem to have a big population, at least of purebred sheikah or members who are related by blood to the tribe. They've spent much or all of their history being directly helpful to the Hyrulean royal family, and in Breath of the Wild were known to be largely responsible for how advanced the civilization used to be.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you're a rinthi breed pickpocket with 600 magically-created sids all of a sudden--- maybe you're smarter than the average bear. Maybe you have a noble client for whom you used to steal, but they became a senior, or disappeared into their estate or died after they last paid you. Maybe you grew up with an elven tribe of pickpockets and they threw a pot together to help pay for your mount for some reason. This could spur a sense of feeling indebted to your tribe, and drive you to attempt to earn the money back after buying the mount. I feel like these reasons are a little more believable than finding three unattended mounts in the flats with no predators or bodies in sight and taking them back one by one to the butcher for a couple small each, as most characters won't be able to lead more than one mount at a time.
Playing something new could be just what you need!

Cind

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Re: Real World Politics and Zalanthan Politics
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2019, 12:14:06 AM »
On Earth, overthrowing a dictatorship ruled by foreign powers almost always leads to a copycat rule by the first native rulers--- about as dictatorial, about as oppressive or free, about as corrupt, almost down to single digit statistics in some cases. Overthrowing a dictator who wasn't sent overseas to rule your nation but is of your blood sometimes led to better rule, but the methods the people used to gain governance were important too. If they were extremely violent in their overthrow of the dictator, it usually meant the people weren't about to fare any better. (One example is North Korea, although I don't know much about it--- I knew the Worker's Party had the leader of the other party killed, before North Korea became a self-governed nation again. Or was that China, right before Mao gained power? China and Korea are more similar than they really want to be, although that level of isolation is turning North Korea into something completely different that more reminds me of just the severe level of poverty and disillusionment in the cities of Cuba, and the original false hero-worship that still exists in the countryside.)

If the economic situation was really bad at the time of the overthrow of a ruler, things often fared worse than before, although there are instances of the new rulers working their asses off to improve things in the first few years. Sometimes it was good for them, although sometimes it didn't work as ancient and semi-modern peoples didn't really know how the beast that is large-scale economics works. I need you need either to have the gift or to study in order to be able to spot trends and predict futures.

If some of this is wrong, forgive me. Its been a while since I've been in school, and I'm unclear as to exactly what examples I'm thinking of.

Another example I know is a fact is Cuba, where Fidel Castro poured a lot of energy and money into healthcare and education when he came to power. I'd like you not to be disillusioned, though--- the presidential suite of his favorite hotel, the suite he used to stay in, still hasn't replaced the mirror he broke once when he punched it in a state of drunken anger, many years back.
Playing something new could be just what you need!