Fantasy realms through marxist perspective?

  1. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    Have you ever been worried about the promotion of feudalism and authority in fantasy literature? There are many books that engage in philosophical defence of such things, even feudalism. Sometimes such is needed to bring authenticity to the book/game, but can this truly be always the case?

    Last time I asked myself these questions was when reading R.A. Salvatore's "The Road of the patriarch", In which there is a pseudo philosophical argument between the imprisoned protagonist and a king, about the justification of surpreme power. Needless to say, the conversation ended in the holy benevolent king "proving" his right to the throne. Several other examples are existent, though this one springs to mind.

    I need not to repeat all the conservatist arguments, but I do ask whether this seems like an authentic problem to you? Well... at least as much of a problem as fiction can be, but anyway.
  2. Bitter Ashes
    Bitter Ashes
    It's fiction. It's not really harmful unless it's bieng glorified in a way that suggest something like, I dunno, capitalism/feudalism/etc > communism. Even then, I'm very against censorship and seeing as though we're dealing with worlds where there's fire breathing dragons, or a million clones of Buck Rogers, the concept that capitism can be a good thing seems to fit in just perfectly; i.e. an entertaining piece of fiction.

    edit: Just thought of somethign else too. The very nature of RPG progression is that it's supposed to be an uphill struggle. Having an abundance of everything you could possibly ever need from the start of the game, like a character in a communist world would, would be just a little pointless dont you think?
    GM: "You wake up in utopia. Everything you possibly ever will need is already provided for you. There is no crime. There is no exploitation. Everyone is happy"
    Player: "... so what should my hero do?"
    GM: "Well, you can go to work and produce for society, or pick up some groceries, or watch TV, or..."
    Player: "... FIGHT CRIME AND OPPRESSION?"
    GM: "Nah. The revolutionaries already sorted that."
    Player: "Damn. Where else am I going to get a sword of light +1"
    GM: "They're freely available and abundant. Do you want one?"
    Player: "Anyone to fight with it?"
    GM: "No"

    hehehe. I think utopia is a poor setting for a RPG
  3. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    Hahaa! A fine and fun point!

    Yeah, I really do have a problem with all kind of pro-feudalism in fiction. Luckily the protagonist is rarely the one doing th promoting, so perhaps its just me. In the book I mentioned the protagonist was actually something of an anarchist, but the author made him lose the argument!!! Salvatore, thou hast betrayed me!
  4. Velkas
    Velkas
    Quote Originally Posted by Ranma42
    GM: "You wake up in utopia. Everything you possibly ever will need is already provided for you. There is no crime. There is no exploitation. Everyone is happy"
    Player: "... so what should my hero do?"
    GM: "Well, you can go to work and produce for society, or pick up some groceries, or watch TV, or..."
    Player: "... FIGHT CRIME AND OPPRESSION?"
    GM: "Nah. The revolutionaries already sorted that."
    Player: "Damn. Where else am I going to get a sword of light +1"
    GM: "They're freely available and abundant. Do you want one?"
    Player: "Anyone to fight with it?"
    GM: "No"
    Lol!
    Very good point.
  5. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    Fantasy settings tend not to be "pro"-feudalism. It's just that, in order to will the suspension of disbelief, there has to be a grain of historical accuracy - most other governments feel anarchronistic. When I create settings and want a more "progressive" feel to nations I tend to make them proto-capitalist mercentalists with a heavy guild influence, or set up "free cities" under the auspices of a proto-communist peasent revolt. Nothing to stop you putting in a fully blown communist faction or game world - if you can accept orcs and wizards then "anachronism" is a much more flexible concept.

    hehehe. I think utopia is a poor setting for a RPG
    I can't remember where I saw it but I found a good guide to running games in a utopia - the premise is basically that even in an ambundant, anarchistic world filled with nigh-perfect posthumans there will still be conflict; threats without, threats within and even simple philosophical conflicts between inhabitants. If you haven't already read Iain M. Banks' Culture novels for an idea of what kind of challeneges face a utopia and its inhabitants.
  6. Salabra
    Salabra
    You folks would love my favourite RPG setting of Tekumel - Mughal India meets Imperial China meets pre-Columbian Meso-America!

    Actually, I'm incredibly interested in this thread. I think jazzratt's point about conflict in a utopian world is spot-on, but what I'd be more interested in is whether you have any opinions on how actually PLAYING RPGs fits with being a Marxist?
  7. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    Quote Originally Posted by Salabra
    what I'd be more interested in is whether you have any opinions on how actually PLAYING RPGs fits with being a Marxist?
    What do you mean? Playing RPGS is just a hobby, as far as I'm concerned it's just as worthwhile to ask how arts and crafts fits with being a marxist.
  8. Salabra
    Salabra
    Fair enough - as an avid roleplayer myself, I actually agree with you.

    My question was inspired by some late night musing on how "gaming" as an activity is viewed in terms of Marxist praxis. Perhaps I should have spelled out what I was getting at.

    It might be said, for instance, that roleplaying is "bourgeois escapism," a retreat from the "public sphere," and therefore inherently de-politicizing. Through this lens, what makes it different from chess/go and traditional strategy games (board/miniature) is that it operates in a "non-real" setting, and what makes it different from, for example, Scottish country-dancing, is that it involves "non-real" beings. To me, this is simple Victorian puritanism, but it strikes a chord with some Marxists;

    Secondly, while roleplaying should be about achieving collective goals, many people play in a way that is expressive of the traditional "liberal" values of Locke, Hume and Adam Smith. The characters are primarily concerned with self-aggrandizement, maximizing their own share not only against other adventurers and entities (including those who properly own the resources) but also against the "unwarranted interference" of the powers-that-be. If they have any "nobler" motive, it is to create a "safe place" for themselves and their dependents (this is potentially a socialist goal, but is not usually played as such).

    "Arts and crafts," as normally understood, also incurs the first objection. However, once extracted from a "liberal" and capitalist context, such activity might be seen as the acme of the Marxist mode of production, combining as it does manual and intellectual work in a way that gives the producer control over the entire process.

    Just a few thoughts,

    Sal
  9. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    I think that the "escape" effect is more than desired under capitalism, mostly due to all problems it creates. Otherwise Salabra's points are valid, and the very stuff that inspired this thread.
  10. redSHARP
    redSHARP
    well i just crossed into the next frontier, D&D + marxism. well since my friends i played with were all hardcore anarchist/communists, we all played D&D revolving around starting a revolution. it was interesting when the players start to argue if we should stick to our lands, or should we spread revolution in the the other regions the was set up by the dungeon master.
  11. Salabra
    Salabra
    *Salabra charges into the room, budyonovka askew on her head, waving a copy of 'The Revolution Betrayed' and screaming "Socialism in One Country? Nyikagdá (Never)!


  12. Bitter Ashes
    Bitter Ashes
    Well, something just tickled my ammusement.

    The probability of an event occuring is determined by the likehood multiplied by the ammount of time you're willing to wait for it to occur and the size of the study. For example, if you're willing to wait 5 seconds for a car to drive by the road outside your house then there's a slim chance that a car will drive by that road. If in 5 seconds you wait for any car to drive by any road in your town then it becomes highly likely. If you wait 5 seconds for a car to drive by any road worldwide it becomes almost certain.

    So, if the universe is an infinate space for things to occur then then the formula becomes:

    likehood of an event occurring in the universe = time x infinity

    Which means that's any event, no matter how crazy, is not only possible, but 100% certain to occur! So, if the universe is indeed infinite, then it's mathematically certain, that somewhere out there a million Buck Rogers clones are happily sitting in a perfect capitalist world drinking martinis with fire breathing dragons

    No wonder I prefer the idea of a limited universe!
  13. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    Stop playing with me mind!

    Another interesting mathematical, or actually physical dilemma is following:

    Everyone knows that one can count the position of any object, if one only knows the forces and positions that affect the object at the starting point. So for example, you can count the future position of a race car if you know the forces that affect it, and its original position. Quite basic physics actually.

    Now: What if one were know all the forces and positions of every particle at the time of the big bang? Could it be theoretically possible to count the exact world billions of years from now? Needless to say such a calculation is ridiculously complicated and propably impossible to count in practice, but the very existence of such calculation would mean that it has an answer.

    Could this be a whole new level of destiny? Gasp!
  14. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    Quote Originally Posted by NecroCommie
    Now: What if one were know all the forces and positions of every particle at the time of the big bang? Could it be theoretically possible to count the exact world billions of years from now? Needless to say such a calculation is ridiculously complicated and propably impossible to count in practice, but the very existence of such calculation would mean that it has an answer.

    Could this be a whole new level of destiny? Gasp!
    From what I understand the universe behaves far more unpredictably than we had first assumed. While it might be simple with a racecar (presuming you knew all the variables - I don't think I can even think of them all myself*.) it becomes progressively harder the mopre universally you're trying to predict things simply because there is a bigger and more variable amount of possible outcomes (all in the "phase space"), if that isn't bad enough the numbers change and things that would seem very simple at the outset get more complex as you consider them. For example, apparently, a number of our "constants" may have had different values in the past. And that's without taking into account the fact that even knowing the rules and the start you can't reliably predict what will happen (Langton's Ant can help illustrate this, as can many other emergent system simulations).

    Also, in order for a reductionist view of the universe (one that states you could work things out as you describe) to be remotely feasible you have to accept determinism and all that entails. Otherwise, for all your calculating, you'll never be able to explain why I am making this post.
  15. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    Dont take it so seriously, just an interesting point.

    While I do know what you are trying to say (that variables change too), if the variables changing itself has a rule, it too could be theoretically calculated. And as to imagining all the possible variables and calculating them: I never said it could be possible with our knowledge, but that the kind of calculation would exist, it must have an answer also.

    I find it interesting. I would not go and base a life philosophy upon it though.
  16. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    Quote Originally Posted by NecroCommie
    Dont take it so seriously, just an interesting point.

    While I do know what you are trying to say (that variables change too), if the variables changing itself has a rule, it too could be theoretically calculated. And as to imagining all the possible variables and calculating them: I never said it could be possible with our knowledge, but that the kind of calculation would exist, it must have an answer also.

    I find it interesting. I would not go and base a life philosophy upon it though.
    Sorry I wasn't trying to be overly serious about it or anything, just applying the little bits and pieces of ohysics I remember. Although there are two more points to bring up 1) It's not so much a problem when variables change, that's what they do, it's the universal constants being less than contstant which makes my head spin and 2) it would be impossible anyway, I just realised, because in order to know some of the stuff you'd have to know how fast things are whizzing about and if you know that you can't know where they are and so on. Phyisics, it leaves common sense beaten and bloody
  17. Bitter Ashes
    Bitter Ashes
    *installs a geiger counter linked to a hammer by a vial of hydrocynanic acid in the room where Jazzrat and Necrocommie are debating, throws in a small subatomic particle, seals the room and waits for the paradox*
  18. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    ^ Just to keep this wildly offtopic: I always thought that the major flaw in that thought experiment was that the cat (Necro & I) could always observe itself (ourselves) and thereby know if it was (we are) alive or dead. That and there is some complex stuff about how the universe basically observes itself, meaning that an observer to collapse the waveform is always there. I always thought all that stuff about only knowing about something when you observed it sounded like the philosophy of the bishop Berkley from whenever it was about how things only existed if observed (he cunningly got around this by believing in God who observed everything thus rendering his philosophy pointless.)

    To veer wildly back on topic: Um, actually I sort of lost the thread of this...thread.
  19. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
    Hmm... yees it is kinda gone off-topic.

    To come back on topic: When one struggles across a convention of fantsy and sci-fi geeks, one notices that no matter how much they replicate and adore recreationist societys, they are most often leftists. (reformist and green ones, but more radical than social democrats anyway...)

    I am baffled.
  20. Jazzratt
    Jazzratt
    It's easier to explain why you would find that amongst sci-fi fans than it is amongst fantasy fans. Science fiction future societies have a much more leftward bend to them (a really stark example would be Iain M. Banks' Culture and a fairly famous one would be the post-scarcity utopia of the Star Trek universe.) and the novels tend to be much more progressive in lesson (the promotion of peace, destruction of tyrants and so on). Contrasted with fantasy which is often used to deliver far less progressive ideas (the absolute worst offender here being, without a doubt, Terry Goodkind).

    Regardless I've known many people in those circles and I can't say I've seen any paricular trend towards leftism at all. If there is one, though, it would be lovely (and a double self congratulation) to think that it's because both leftists and fantasy/sci-fi fans are intelligent - of course I doubt that's the real reason but sometimes it's good to be egotistical
  21. Killfacer
    Killfacer
    I'm trying to work out ways of working some subversive elements into the "world" i have created for my game.

    I often find it difficult to steer away from the classic Knight in shinimg armour riding around smiting everyone. So i figure the players will have interactions with the serfs and peasanty, the people who are mistreated by the lords.
  22. Bitter Ashes
    Bitter Ashes
    Just roll Chaotic Neutral and play it like that surely? :P
  23. NecroCommie
    NecroCommie
  24. Salabra
    Salabra
    I refuse to play "Paladins" in any game - I'm not into self-righteous goody-goodies!

    The closest I have ever come to playing such was a young Templar-type, but I played her as a sort of crusading hippie. To be fair, however, this was part of her Order's way of doing things - one of the Order's legends concerned a Sister who, challenged to a duel by a member of a rival, all-male and much distrusted, Order, simply pulled out a pistol (the technology was approx C16 level) and shot him!

    And yes, there was plenty of interaction with "commoners" - each Sister in my character's order was allotted a "circuit" to ride, and within it, they were responsible for the health and well-being of those living there (including consultation with village "councils"). In fact, it was while engaged in her "circuit" that my character stopped off for the night at the local pub, and...

    (OK, so it's still disgustingly mediaeval, but at least it shows potential!)

    And one of the states of the world was a Technocracy that resembled a steampunk version of Democratic Kampuchea (complete with Ieng Thirith http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ieng_Thirith )!
  25. Salabra
    Salabra
    Quote Originally Posted by NecroCommie
    To come back on topic: When one struggles across a convention of fantsy and sci-fi geeks, one notices that no matter how much they replicate and adore recreationist societys, they are most often leftists. (reformist and green ones, but more radical than social democrats anyway...)

    I am baffled.
    It also has to do, I think, with the fact that many "fantasy and sci-fi geeks" are historical materialists (though they might not even recognize the term) who hew to at least some sort of ideal of social progress.

    (I say "many," but I know quite a few SCA-ers, for example, who are the archest of arch-conservatives - and yes, I haven't forgotten the Nazis' adoration of the mediaeval).
  26. Bitter Ashes
    Bitter Ashes
    Quote Originally Posted by NecroCommie
    Everyone knows that one can count the position of any object, if one only knows the forces and positions that affect the object at the starting point. So for example, you can count the future position of a race car if you know the forces that affect it, and its original position. Quite basic physics actually.

    Now: What if one were know all the forces and positions of every particle at the time of the big bang? Could it be theoretically possible to count the exact world billions of years from now? Needless to say such a calculation is ridiculously complicated and propably impossible to count in practice, but the very existence of such calculation would mean that it has an answer.

    Could this be a whole new level of destiny? Gasp!
    http://dresdencodak.com/2009/02/16/e...aplaces-demon/
  27. Dyslexia! Well I Never!
    Dyslexia! Well I Never!
    I think the reason Sci-fi and Fantasy are the way they are is because the people who write them do so as a method of enjoyment and escapism from the world they live in into one where they have the power to create a world they find more to their liking. (If only for the purpose of telling a story.)

    As such Sci-Fi writers put dramatic changes into their settings that remove,counteract or extrapolate the outcomes of what they may view as the mistakes of society's leaders and those aspects of their society that they find distateful.

    Fantasy writers on the other hand tend to place their settings in the developmental timeline before the decisions that led to what they may view as the mistakes of society's leaders and the aspects of society that they find distateful had ever occurred.
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