Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Re: Chaotic governments

Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Chaotic governments
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 22:16:25 -0500
From: The Watcher
Reply-To: The GREYtalk Discussion List

Haile and Fair Greetings All,

>Noel "Has a Crush on Queen Yolande" Graham wrote:

My tastes run a bit younger.

>Olvenrealm works. And no, Coronal is not catching on...

Bet y'all think I'm going to change the Pocket Guide, don't you ::smile::?

>I can see three interpretations for the Geographic Alignment map in the
'83 boxed set. 1) The Alignment corresponds to the ruler only. 2) The
Alignment corresponds to the majority of the populace. 3) The Alignment belongs
to the land itself. No ruler or government not of that Alignment will be
successful in that region. The third one is a radical interpretation I had
suggested once hypothetically, but don't prefer. Currently, I'm leaning towards
the first, but I never seem satisfied on this point.

Well, I can see a fourth. That being the perceived alignment of the land. As written, the Catalogue to the Flanaess is a work compiled (presumptively) by one who lives(-ed) there. That being the case, the opinion of the recorder can be questioned. Even if we presume noble and academic motivation, the less information available on a place, the more likely conclusion becomes based upon sparse evidence -- thus increasing the variable for inaccuracy from presumption based on some ancillary data (in this case the accepted behavior of a race).

>Perhaps the distinction can be made that the drow have no laws, but
>only punishments?

Only? No.... You can't have a "punishment" (by definition) without an infraction. But building upon the spirit of your suggestion, perhaps it's closer to say the drow place emphasis on punishment ahead of crime. Which is to say, they determine punishment for "behavior" first, deciding as they desire which "act" and by whom meets that behavior. Deception carries a severe punishment in drow society. Lying to one's mercantile partners, associates, thralls (the list goes on), misleading as natural course -- these things are parcel to life amongst the drow.
But behaving as affronts a superior female, any priestess of Lolth, or a Matron Mother (esp. one's own) is absolutely forbidden.

Whether your act in any form of these cases requires punishment depends upon such things as who you are, whether you're in the graces of someone in authority, you're value (skills, whatever), or whether the simple threat of punishment makes you a useful tool.

Hmm... sadists....

>This intrigues me, because if elves truly chose their leaders like that,
then there is really no reason for the next ruler, or even the last ruler, to
have been of any relation to Yolande whatsoever. Losing the idea of a
hereditary monarchy would make the elven culture stand out more. But since Celene
isn't a republic, a new monarch wouldn't be elected by the people, but would
have to claim the throne with a show of power to fend off rivals. Elves
probably don't lose their monarchs of old age very often, but when they do,
>perhaps their chaotic natures lead to bloody civil wars.

I *did* say it was a simplistic portrayal ::smile::. And I don't recall saying Yolande's clan has been the only one to rule Celene. On the other hand, her clan does have a certain wealth of experience regarding rulership of this particular realm and dealing with these specific neighbors (along with the opportunity for the most wisdom related to the job). Unfortunately, that fact is what's causing her so
much trouble recently.

As well, don't forget succession. While I'm not going to say there's no potential for conflict over rulership, keep in mind that successfully seating one's self upon the throne doesn't gain anything of itself. If you took the crown by slaying your rivals, the peoples of Celene may tend not to like you. Therefor, you have no power to rule (the "office" is not empowered of itself). There's significant
possibility either all beyond your retinue abandon you, your realm collapses, or the people rise up in arms (figuratively as well as literally) to depose you. In the end, it seems more natural that an out-going leader selects or endorses the next one in order. This is what I was attempting to show the human government of Verbobonc mimicking.

As a caveat, I'm not taking the time to explain this in other than a positive light. You are correct that things could get ugly; but because of the way it would have to work to get as high as the monarchial chair, it's not like anyone with one eye won't see it coming from way off.

>I don't know...just because someone is Good doesn't mean that they have
the Wisdom to make good decisions. Besides, I'd rather see an elven
bloodbath once every few centuries...

Precisely why clans end up being known for some specialty amongst all the fields its members pursue. When you have a line that shows a preponderance toward fairness and wisdom of leadership, they tend to be trusted with leadership. But more, just because you're trusted to make good decisions and have a track record of such, doesn't mean you are incapable of massive blunders. Just because one springs from a line of wise beings doesn't make one personally wise.

Remember that situational ethics also means that while history gives you context for comparison, you still judge by the evidence at hand. Experience, knowledge, and the wisdom therefrom are your guides, but the choice is still about someone or thing in the here and now. It's *not* an easy thing to understand the ways of the olvenfolk -- which is not to insult anyone or claim superiority. But rather, if the ways of the olvenfolk were readily quantifiable and de-constructed by humans
(including *us*), they wouldn't have that air of... well, enigma about them. Then they really *would* be no more than old, pointy-eared humans.

Soft Winter and Sweet Flowers,

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