Social Science and Fiction Part 3: Politics at the Gaming Table

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Thinking about politics during game design is a big part of what separates merely competent DMs from great ones. It’s also how you can tell your players have grown, when the DM feels that instead of the next adventure just being a higher level dungeon crawl, it’s a political story that requires more than just ‘Thag SMASH!’.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Imagine a society with, like, 15th level Clerics.

    That gives you 8th level spells.

    Control Weather. There you go. You’ve got a governor who can make it rain. Or make it stop raining. Forget resurrection, why wouldn’t you want to be ruled by a guy who can ensure that your harvest will be sufficient to make it through the winter?

    Hell, why wouldn’t you worship the deity who this guy worships? You get good crops!Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      Why wouldn’t you move to the city with the 17th level Cleric who also gets Resurrection?

      And your other point is good too… one of the discordant notes (for me anyhow) is how GoT is so thoroughly skeptical (not merely agnostic, but really atheistically skeptical)… if we experienced a fraction of what I’ve witnessed on screen, we’d be fanatic believers. The pervasive skepticism makes no sense.

      I fully expect that GRRM has some sort of notion that he’ll reveal to us at the end (ha, ha) that it was all just frisky midichlorians (or the Valerian equivalent), but knowing that as GRRM doesn’t translate into the omniscient skepticism of the characters that have not the perfect understanding of midichlorians.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Why wouldn’t you move to the city with the 17th level Cleric who also gets Resurrection?

        Nobody can afford to live there. It’s too crowded.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Talk about death panels…

          There’s probably a PhD out there for someone who wanted to model the relative scarcity of Level 17+ Clerics plus the annual limit of 365 resurrections per year (its a daily, yes?) relative to the projected population of cities in a world where weather is controlled… Imagine the cost of a single resurrection. Now imagine them going to the same few people over, and over, and over again… only to die within a day or two – cause, they might be Rich, but they are still Old.

          Might be easier and more politically acceptable to kill all the level 17 clerics. Of course, all the sane deities would place restrictions on Resurrection… talk about death panels.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Okay, so let’s look at True Resurrection.

            Casting Time 1 hour
            Range Touch
            Components V S M (Holy water, 25000gp diamonds; consumed)
            Duration Instantaneous

            You touch a creature that has been dead for no longer than 200 years and that died for any reason except old age. If the creature’s soul is free and willing, it’s restored to life with all its hit points.

            This spell closes all wounds, neutralizes any poison, cures all diseases, and lifts any curses. The spell replaces damaged or missing organs and limbs. If the creature was undead, it is restored to its non-undead form.

            The spell can provide a new body if the original no longer exists, in which case you must speak the creature’s name. The creature appears in an unoccupied space you choose within 10 feet of you.

            25,000 gp worth of diamonds?!? (sputter)

            Wait, 200 years? Quick! When did Jefferson die? Oooh! 1826! Get on this crap, Francis!

            Edit: oh, crap. The “old age” loophole strikes again.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              Strategic Euthanasia? Burn the Body.

              Voila, new body, restored organs, replaced limbs, no disease. No mention there of cellular degeneration… they should have thought of that.

              Now that I’m thinking about it, there’s a whole end-of-life-start-of-life custom service we could provide. For 25k gp of diamonds, it starts with soothing music and cucumber water.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “If the creature’s soul is free and willing”

                Maybe make it so that strategic euthanasia sends you to one of the not free/willing soul receptacles?Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Well that sounds capricious… on what grounds do they go to the not-free receptacles? Clearly they are electing this service, so they are willing. Willing but Unable requires some sort of explication of justice, doesn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s kinda suicide-adjacent. Kinda hiring-an-assassin adjacent.

                I could see sauntering up to the Seven Heavens (or Arcadia or Twin Paradises) and saying “I’ll only need temporary housing, thanks” and then being surprised that the guy pushes the button that sends you to Gehenna.

                “Yeah, the last thing you did was hire an assassin and then you died before you could make meaningful restitution.”Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                “Yeah, the last thing you did was hire an assassin and then you died before you could make meaningful restitution.”

                Restitution to whom for what?

                [we can stop if we’re getting too close to real things]

                Redirecting slightly, while watching Altered Carbon I kept thinking that a parallel show from the Neo-Catholic view would have been really interesting. If I were a better writer, I’d pitch it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Restitution to whom for what?

                Well, presumably, the deity who is in charge of bringing you back (and accepting the 25,000 gp worth of diamonds) is the one adjacent to the booth that lets you in or lets you out of one of the nice afterlife congregation places.

                Interestingly, in theory, it’s those places that are most likely to respond well to the whole “hey, we need you to come back… there’s a zombie horde that indicates a powerful necromancer is doing its thing. Come back and fight once again!” with a sense of obligation and duty rather than with something like “I just got here!”

                And if one of your last acts is hiring an assassin to kill somebody (even if its you), that creates a debt to your deity that needs to be repaid (presumably by cancelling the contract). And there’s a whole theology of suicide that is messy as heck. (But you can’t play off the whole “hoping for new organs” thing as on the same level as Masada.)

                All that to say, if it were easy to get out of the 9 Hells, more people would do it. And hiring an assassin is a good way to reserve your place in line.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The themes evolving from Altered Carbon are inspiring. I keep thinking about a prequel exploring the cultural context of stack tech. The Catholic angle is a good one too, and the significance of over-writing the stack’s DNRS* code, which was introduced quite nicely in the show. It’s one of the most thematically rich shows out there. That I’ve seen anyway. {{Crosses fingers that season 2 is as good as the first.}}

                *Do Not Re-Sleave (??) Can’t remember what it’s actually called….Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                It strikes me that according to the spell, the market price of diamonds must be incredibly stable. Like godly price fixing kind of stable.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Well that’s just the baseline price… the whole experience? The cucumber water? That’s extra.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                DO NOT come back from the dead without cucumber water! The taste in your mouth when you come around…

                Trust me, spring for the Cucumber water.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        if we experienced a fraction of what I’ve witnessed on screen, we’d be fanatic believers. The pervasive skepticism makes no sense.

        It takes a generation or so to create a baseline. Maybe less.

        In the same way that we have achieved levels of wealth that the various Louises in France could never have imagined and we find ourselves complaining about how miracle drugs need to be more heavily subsidized as we sit and type on a box containing all of human knowledge in a room that would have held a multi-generational family centuries before… I’m pretty sure that a world filled with mere GRRM levels of magic it’d be easy to come to the conclusion that we’re dealing with some serious deism. Absent watchmakers.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David says:

      The answer, @jaybird, is that they aren’t spells, they are prayers. With all that that entails. In other words, this isn’t a given, it is an ask. And it may be that the god in question doesn’t feel that daily mucking with the weather by humans (climate change anyone?) is a general good (after all, you are kinda getting into HIS territory there). More of a “don’t use this unless we are working on deflecting Andrew over there – secretly we are sending him to the Kobold King, which is totes worth any collateral damage, IYKWIMAITYD.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So now we’re stuck deciding whether a deity would be willing to make it rain for two hours every day at sundown or so (after a long pleasant day of sunshine)?

        And it may be that the god in question doesn’t feel that daily mucking with the weather by humans (climate change anyone?) is a general good (after all, you are kinda getting into HIS territory there).

        I could see the argument that a deity would not want to do such a thing if the people are sinful and turn their back on him… but, hey, if the people make their sacrifices, honor their elders, avoid the tabooed foods, and avoid race-mixing with Orcs, why wouldn’t a deity give out carrots at the request of his devoted followers?Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          Plus, it seems we are dealing with several deities…or perhaps more accurately competing demiurges… some number of whom might resent the rain over there. Perhaps interfering with the drying of the sacred raisins. That’s when things get interesting.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            So you need to have fecund peoples, so you can give your demiurge more spell points to work with, I guess. Decent enough warriors to work with the Clerics to take out the peoples of the other deities. A couple of mages to do some of the heavy lifting of the stuff the deities don’t want to acknowledge having to be done, and some thieves rogues to do the delicate stuff.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David says:

          Well, isn’t that what a 17th(ish) level priest should already know? If your god is a farming god (who else loves rain at just the right time as much?) than praying for rain and having your prayers granted is good. If you are a war god then a muddy battlefield is not so good? Again, for the priests to decide, no?Report

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