OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers

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Politics and Roleplaying

Xanadu Crest

The Xanadu Report

Politics…you can’t avoid it. It’s an evil monster that turns reasonable men into monsters, molehills into mountains, and pretty much controls every facet of our daily lives. You can’t avoid politics no matter how hard you try, even when roleplaying.

Now, I’m not saying that having politics in a roleplaying game is necessarily a bad thing, it actually makes the game world interesting and lively (not to mention realistic). The thing is, though, politics aren’t just restricted to political/military games….they can be in any game. That game about the war between feuding empires in a fantastical fantasy realm? Politics. The game about the werewolves and vampires living in the modern world in their own special society? Politics. The game about sentient food that plots against the world order. Maybe not….but I’m gonna say politics just for consistency.

What you may not know is that, no matter your game, you’ve had politics involved in it once or twice…or maybe your game is completely centered around it and you don’t know it! The thing is, though, politics are surprisingly hard to pull off in a roleplaying game. Wait, really Xan? You’re yanking my proverbial chain. No, I’m not, hypothetical italics person. The reason why politics is so freaking hard to perfect (I’ll go out on a limb and say perfecting politics, be it your own personal strategy as a politician or nailing down the political system in your game, is downright impossible) in both real life and the fictional world is because it’s ever changing and incredibly diverse (we’ll get to what I mean by “diverse” in a bit). Now, I feel I’ve confused you enough. There’s many different facets to politics in the game world that I’ll break down for you, in the grand attempt to make this somewhat easier and streamlined.

The Wide World of Politics

There are many different types of politics. First, there’s the one we all know and love, y’know the one, voting for leaders, deciding on policies, debating stuff that may or may not matter anymore. Then there’s foreign politics, which is basically countries trying their best to be friends (I’ll use anthropomorphism to make this less tedious…and because it’s fun to write. If my Political Science professor is reading this…please don’t consider any of this in my final grade), I’ll go more into that in a bit. Then there’s military politics, which sort of goes along with foreign politics, but is a little more tricky because it involves bombs and tanks. Finally, there’s corporate politics…which is how corporations act around one another (and is the most hilarious of all).

But there’s more than just the real-world stuff, there’s also politics between clans, kingdoms, etc. Why are the clans fighting over stupid mountain? Maybe because one is dumping trash on it and the other thinks that their god was born there, after arguing and failed negotiations one side screw it and forcefully enforced their claims. When the other asked them to go away, they refused, and left war as the only viable option.

To sum all of that confusingness up, the wide world of politics is almost never-ending.  But I can only cover a few without putting myself in a political coma…so we’ll cover those that I think best pertain to roleplaying.

Military Policy

I bet these guys aren’t too keen on this whole war thing

Woo! Who doesn’t love a good war? Except, typically, the guys actually fighting it. The thing about war is that it just doesn’t happen…it’s not like a bar fight where someone who’s had a few too many just decides to sock the guy next to him in the face just because it’d make the ladies laugh. There’s always something behind the conflict, typically a series of political debates, failed negotiations, broke promises, etc.

Let’s take the Gulf War for example. The Gulf War was caused by years of political unease. For starters, Iraq downright hated Kuwait for a number of reasons. For one, they claimed that Kuwait was actually part of Iraq, because they had originally been part of the Ottoman Empire and that it was part of the Basra province, which covered both Iraq and Kuwait, and that Kuwait rightfully belonged to Iraq. Another reason is because Kuwait (a member of OPEC, Iraq being a fellow member) was overproducing oil and driving the price of oil down, causing financial losses to Iraq. Iraq eventually ended up warning Kuwait to stop with the excess oil production and moved troops to the border. Peace talks began, with Iraq demanding 10 billion (in american dollars) to cover the losses from the oil price drop, to which Kuwait only offered 9 billion. Iraq instead decided to launch their invasion. The invasion was successful and Iraq had control of Kuwait. Western nations were not happy with this, and were worried that Iraq would turn its attention to the nearby Saudi oil fields now that they had control of Kuwait. The UN Security Council gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline, and approved the use of force if they didn’t leave. When Iraq didn’t obliege, a coalition of countries against Iraq’s violence intervened, and what followed was the Gulf War.

Now that our history lesson has concluded, what did you learn? For one, the world may not get along all the time, but other countries getting violent will always bring other nations together for a good old fashion butt-whoopin’. Why? Because things like an invasion of an oil-producing country can cause havoc. Not just death and destruction, but economic ripples and political fallout (though stopping death and destruction always plays a part in bigger nations stepping in to help other nations, nobody will tolerate that crap for long), war can ruin the world economy, especially since Kuwait was an oil-producing and exporting country, and the political fallout (as in, the consequences of nobody doing anything) could have been dire, other nations might have followed Iraq’s lead and decided that the land their neighbor had would be a great place to build a nice water park or some missile silos. Another thing to consider is that while the coalition did end up sending combat forces, they tried to end the crisis diplomatically at first. Cooperation is crucial, and has stopped many conflicts (including those that could have ended the world, see Cuban Missile Crisis) from occurring. Even if it fails, you can at least say that you tried to negotiate before sending in the troops. In addition, it’s always good to have backup. The cooperation between North America, Europe, and the Arab states surrounding the crisis-area made the intervention that much more successful (different countries have different tactics and weaponry to employ during war, having that much diversity in your intervention force makes it exponentially more effective).

Now how do we put this into roleplaying? Easy! Consider everything I said above but put it into your setting. Let’s say that your game follows a great empire that covers a vast land, and has many different countries within the support the empire. A neighboring country decides that one of the nations in your empire should totally leave the empire and join it in an alliance, which is something you as the emperor/empress will not tolerate. When you demand that the territory knocks it off, the factions supporting the alliance take up arms. Your army could kick the snot out of the rebels, so they’re not much of a threat, and they already said no to your diplomatic option….but there’s a few things to consider. For one, war is costly. Even if you have the advantage, it still costs money to feed and equip the troops (you also kind of have to pay them for their service, so add that to the expenses of waging war). It also costs money to lose men. No battle goes without losing some of your own troops, and it costs money to train replacements, there’s also the matter of compensating the families of the fallen and replacing the gear that might or might not have been lost when they died. In addition to the heavy cost of war, your neighbors might not take too kindly to you slaying your own people because they voice their opinion and said “well, maybe empire ain’t as great as it seems”. As I said earlier, you can easily crush the rebellion and their supporters to keep the country in the empire. Your advisors and your loyalists are crying out for blood and want the secessionists dead! But there’s a problem with that….you can only do something like that once.

Let’s take another gander into the past, this time in ancient Greece. The city of Mytilene was part of the Athenian empire, and a revolt was underway against Athenian rule. However, Athens was debating what to do about it. Cleon, a popular statesman, wanted to slaughter the entire city to serve as an example to all other members of the empire. Cleon almost had his way, with Athenian forces being deployed to carry out the genocide. However, Diodotus, who opposed genocide, came forward and warned Athens of the consequences they would face. His point was that it wasn’t about the revolt or whether Athens should seek vengeance, but rather what the best interests of the Athenians would be. In the end, you could only commit genocide once. If they slaughtered the city of Mytilene, no-other city would allow it to happen again. The assembly was swayed and the Athenians sent a boat to meet the assault force and withdrew their original orders, instead having them kill the leaders of the revolt.

What’s the lesson from this? Violence has consequences. Of courses there’s death and financial costs…but you have to consider the political consequences. If your empire slaughters all of those people, nobody (and I do mean nobody) will allow that to happen again. Your people will stand up to your army next time they go to put down a revolt to keep a similar thing from happening, there might even be a mass uprising. Additionally, your neighbors might decide that you’re not such a good leader for slaughtering everyone who hates you and team up to take you down. Even though you tried diplomacy first

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Contest Time! The 2014 Quote Competition!

Xanadu Crest

Today, my fellow Kazon, we stand on the precipice of what may very well be one of the most tragic failures of peace in the history of our world. As I speak, the gears of war are turning, drawing us closer and closer to a conflict that will no doubt kill thousands and devastate the region for years to come. God have mercy on us all

Kal Verner, State Radio Broadcasting Network Anchorman – The Steam Age

Who doesn’t love a good quote? They can be tragic, like the one above, inspirational, like the speech before a big battle, or monumentally ignorant, like a person making a speech about a topic they have little knowledge of.

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Mr. Xanadu’s Cool Tools

Xanadu Crest

The Xanadu Report

Who doesn’t love a cool gadget or app that can do all sorts of superfluous things? I for one literally have an entire folder dedicated to them on Google Chrome (Don’t you dare judge me!) A good lot of them are used for roleplaying on Ongoing Worlds. Most of them don’t actually contribute to the actual writing, they’re mostly used for expanded universe content (I wrote a rather lengthy article on that a while back). I figured, just for the fun of it, I’d put them up here for you guys to use.

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Mr Xanadu’s Inspirational Inspiration

Xanadu CrestThe Xanadu Report

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a good idea for a post. I for one usually end up writing numerous copies of the same post before actually putting it up (I’ve also got OCD, but that’s for another blog article). Sometimes we can’t post because we’re lost in the stories, other times it’s because real life is draining us, but one of the all time biggest problems is because we have no inspiration. I don’t need to go on a tirade about how essential inspiration is when writing, because you’re all aware of it already.

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Expanded Universe: Giving Your Game Depth

Xanadu Crest

The Xanadu Report

 

If you’re in the Role Playing community, chances are that you’ve encountered expanded universe content before. flagsofTSABe if from your favorite TV show, a movie that you’ve loved your whole life, or a novel you’ve read a few thousand times. In fact, fandom games are part of a franchise’s expanded universe. As a writer, I tend to be obsessed with detail, so much so that for every post I’ve ever written there’s at least a few paragraphs of detail that got left out just to keep it within a sane amount of words (I say sane because my first Blue Dwarf post’s word count would have been up in the tens of thousands if I hadn’t regained my sanity and decided “maybe a novella doesn’t make a good post”, telling an entire life’s story doesn’t really work well). Read More

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February Off-Site Game Summary

The Game Summaries started as a periodic article where the GM’s of Ongoing Worlds could show the world their games and what they and their members had been working on for the past while. Now, I’m rolling out the very first off-site summary! This is  a collection of games from across the web, from space stations to jet fighters, from Dr. Who and steampunk airships!

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February Game Summary

It’s that time again, the monthly game summary! A lot has happened since the yearly summary was run, fights, flights, loves gained and lost, and of course the strange plot twist that takes the game in a totally new direction. There’s also the addition of the off-site summary (which runs on the 27th). Without further ado, the February Summary!

 

A Thousand Years Fatherless in Griffinfall athousandyearsfatherlessnew

It has been only a few days since Elilajar set up home in Everwinter following his betrothal to the Lady Miriam Aoann, but already the hectic happenings seem to have followed his fiance back from Snowshore. The fearful assassin Jake Shikaku has finally plucked up the courage to return to the wrath of the mourning royal family, and his entrance is graced with the fact that he manages to heal the young orphan boy that had been found on the evening of Lord Shyron’s welcoming banquet. Yet Miriam still remembers the happenings in amidst the smoke of war, and Jake harbours dangerously unknown news from his own enemies… Read More

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February Off-Site Game *CLOSED*

Hello everyone!

I’m please to announce the inception of the all-new monthly off-site game summary! This is a special game summary for non-Ongoing Worlds games so that off-site GM’s can showcase their work here on the blog! This works in the same fashion as the Ongoing Worlds summary. You fill out the form and submit a summary around 100 words in length, submissions that ignore this will not be accepted. The deadline is February 27th. Read More

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February Game Summary Extended *UPDATED*

Hello all.

The February summary game summary has been extended another week (it now ends on the 21st) due to the lack of submissions. I have only had one submission for the summary, that’s one game (not counting my own). Please submit a game for the summary, the original page with the submission form can be found here. Read More

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February Game Summary *CLOSED*

Hey guys, mike here. So sorry for the late start but things have been hectic for me lately (work, school, getting sick and going down for a week). The February game summary is now open, and submissions are open through February 14th. The same rules apply as usual. Only GM’s can submit, around 100 words, it must be in by the deadline. Read More