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The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ? 
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
As usual, I have been listening to lectures on my drive home from work, and it got me thinking about using the issues in the lecture in the game world

This time it is lectures of the French Revolution & rise of Napoleon. I have never had much interest in that era of history and especially not on the early modern Country of Revolutionary France. However, one should always expand ones horizon …

I went through all the background info, the social, economic, religious background of the events, the historic events leading the the revolution etc etc etc, and it was interesting but didn’t trigger any ideas on gaming. Then, I got to the 3 lectures on the Terror, and the Revolution “Eating her Children” and got to thinking about those events in a game world. I brushed it off as not fitting in a normal game world – the musket, the guillotine, and all the other trappings of early modern era. However, last night while washing dishes … my little brain started lining up different bread crumbs ..

Greece had a similar event in the Peloponnesian War – Alcibiades the supposed destruction of the Hermi and the political attacks on him and his followers / his machinations following those attacks, the short lived Athenian coup, and the events after the 30 tyrants . Rome had the generations of issues –from the Gracchi brothers through the running battle between populares and the optimates (including Sulla’s proscriptions) and even in some (heck honestly to a point most) Emperors. The Byzantine had multiple internal social upheavals. Even Medieval kingdoms had them (both social and religious – including Italy with the wars and political maneuvering that produced a mind like Micaville, and the peasant revolt in Germany that even Luther spoke against) Soooo, if I have my history correct, there is plenty of examples for Ancient/Medieval social upheaval and unrest (without the guillotine and the bayonet caped musket of the French Revolution)

So, with that in mind, does anyone include any of these issues in their home brew worlds? If so to what extent. If not, why ? – would it be too much work or just something that doesn’t fit the feel of the average game world, or is it toooo deep into the weeds for a game of adventures?

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Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:21 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
I've thought about it a number of times but never did it because I couldn't come up with a plot line to have it escalate properly, or come up with satisfactory ways for players to stop it without just killing the main leaders, on whichever side they decided to align themselves against.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
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Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:24 pm
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Ulthal
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
A time of great social change could be a great starting point for world building because the themes and conflicts would just naturally follow. It would make the storytelling easier rather than harder.


Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:51 pm
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Ungern
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
I think about it every so often, but bump up against the 'broadsheet' problem. It seems like in our world, printing presses spurred social change, not just by inspirational ideas, but by promoting literacy among the uneducated classes (a process that took centuries). In a typical pre-industrial frpg world, you have neither presses nor literacy.

Magic could be a solution, but in what form? Large scale broadcasts via seeing stones? Direct mass telepathy? (and the ruling classes would try to 'block transmission'!). Doesn't seem quite right - almost like today's web-based media.


Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:39 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
spudeus wrote:
I think about it every so often, but bump up against the 'broadsheet' problem. It seems like in our world, printing presses spurred social change, not just by inspirational ideas, but by promoting literacy among the uneducated classes (a process that took centuries). In a typical pre-industrial frpg world, you have neither presses nor literacy.

Magic could be a solution, but in what form? Large scale broadcasts via seeing stones? Direct mass telepathy? (and the ruling classes would try to 'block transmission'!). Doesn't seem quite right - almost like today's web-based media.


I would have agreed with you as I listened to the lectures. However, with similar 'social unrest' in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Byzantine, and the Renaissance Italy Wars, it shows that the printing press type technology isn't a requirement ... A way to pass news and information and ideas / arguments (the civic plays and open air schools, corner news crier, the ... well what ever Byzantine had ... ) yes, but specific 'printing press' no.

Treebore wrote:
I've thought about it a number of times but never did it because I couldn't come up with a plot line to have it escalate properly, or come up with satisfactory ways for players to stop it without just killing the main leaders, on whichever side they decided to align themselves against.


Just killing the main leaders may not stop it ... it didn't in the French Terror ... Plus, you know me I prefer lower end power games so I doubt any players if I was running a game would have a chance to dagger Alcibiades one of the Gracchi or the Emperor ... So with that, they may not be the cause of the unrest or the ender of the unrest, but the could be swept into the unrest or be trying to swim sideways through it ...

Hmmmm something like, being associated with a minor noble that is tied to a bigger fish (Duke or higher), and the opposition is trying to kill the duke, (or eliminate the ground support of the Duke so taking aim at the characters or their superior). Can the party get the Duke or his family to safety, avoid the civilians taking advantage of the proscription, get out of the town/region that the opposition has just taken over and warn their superior of the coming attack, etc.

Also, there is the requisite spying and moving of information that could bring players into the unrest either as a spy / currier or trying to stop them.

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Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:21 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
There is a degree of mob mentality involved depending on the support generated for whatever revolution or revolt is going on. That aspect of it can be like a forest fire and if not stamped out quickly enough blaze through the kingdom tying up armies while the core group of the revolt could deal with the key authorities of the 'oppressors'. Even with the ability to hire a lot of assassins, the lack of intelligence data and having most of the people responsible for it tied up tracking down the mob issues to better direct the military pacification, is going to make finding the strike group to send the assassins against quite difficult.

Closest thing I've played to something like a revolt was a campaign where we were a strike unit for an evil army doing just what I wrote above, organizing and instigating mobs, taking out enemy commanders, and making specific strikes against key facilities and the ruling class. Basically, it's tie up the small fry with expendables while using your forces to take out the middle management and use the heavy hitters to wipe out the command units in a campaign to isolate the rulers from anything or anyone that can support them to make their execution easier.

Is that what you were referring to Lurker?

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Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:59 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
Yeah, my wife has been studying the causes of rebellion through the years, and darn near all of them have to do with being able to eat, drink, and keep a roof over your head. Oh, and not having all your children die off due to disease. Take the current Syria situation as an example. How many of you even know that the whole reason their civil war began was over their severe drought?

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.


Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:28 am
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Ulthal
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
Treebore wrote:
Yeah, my wife has been studying the causes of rebellion through the years, and darn near all of them have to do with being able to eat, drink, and keep a roof over your head. Oh, and not having all your children die off due to disease. Take the current Syria situation as an example. How many of you even know that the whole reason their civil war began was over their severe drought?


Not the only conflict directly connected to climate change, sadly.


Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:59 am
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Mogrl

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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
Every period, every culture, has social unrest. How dominant it is, how prevalent and easily identified is subject to debate, of course. For example, even the presence of a single conspiracy theory gives an impetus for trust to be questioned and therefore, some sort of unrest... this can be magnified when religion and other societal factors are applied such as economic state, forms of discrimination, etc.

So, really, I would have to say that it comes to you to decide how, or if, you want to make it work within the world. The fact that elfs and dwarfs don't get along (suffer some penalty for interaction) is a natural BtB depiction of OP.

But, anyway... adventurers are bound to produce social disorder merely by being adventurers. Imagine, please, a town of a few hundred people with "ordinary" lives and earning just enough to get by, day to day. A small group of 4-6 people come in, armed with military gear and probably magic, and endowed with more money than the townsfolk ever see... economy spikes. The very idea of the players seeking their fame/fortune for their characters is social unrest.

I dunno what I'm saying. Just ignore this rambling.


Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:34 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: The French Terror – Social Unrest in a game world ?
serleran wrote:
But, anyway... adventurers are bound to produce social disorder merely by being adventurers. Imagine, please, a town of a few hundred people with "ordinary" lives and earning just enough to get by, day to day. A small group of 4-6 people come in, armed with military gear and probably magic, and endowed with more money than the townsfolk ever see... economy spikes. The very idea of the players seeking their fame/fortune for their characters is social unrest.

I dunno what I'm saying. Just ignore this rambling.


No. There is actually some validity in what you are saying there Serl. You just did not take it far enough out. The value of money is often times relevant to the power of the government backing it and on the number of coins in circulation. We see that with modern times where the more money is created the more it devalues, or rather, the more coins in circulation the less valuable they become unless the government promise to make good on their representative value in actual wealth is capable of backing the additional coins. This could make some coins from vanished kingdoms worthless since the only value of the coin is in the amount of precious metal contained in the coin itself. So if the metal is only 50% of the actual coin weight...well. You see how that works.

Now bring in your adventurers with their bags brimming with gold and silver. Since even in a gold based economy silver is likely the common high coin of the average village these guys dropping gold around are going to skew the local economics which could create an artificial inflation bubble unless the government gets involved to regulate the currency flow. This would mean locals are having a harder time buying necessities due to their available money being devalued by the influx of adventurer gold. (the serving wench can no longer manage on a 10 silver per week salary and now needs 15 silver per week to make ends meet because the value of the silver coin is less in relation to the gold coins now in circulation) Things go on long enough, the inflation bubble gets bad enough, and people are going to riot or revolt to get what they consider their fair share and not be screwed over again. Peasant lives matter! :P

And that doesn't even take into account what any relevant black market type organization may be in existence will affect the local economy or the coin changers, sharpers, and the like. If schemed correctly in terms of intentionally devaluing a nations coin it is feasibly possible to even topple the crown or create a situation to demand concessions from the crown in exchange for reversing the economic damage. I believe, and I am going off memory so it may not be totally applicable, that the jews during the early middle ages did something similar by using their banks to manipulate the markets via loans and such (and as such creating a lot of hate for them). :geek:

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Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:50 pm
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