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Author Topic: Gelure  (Read 5095 times)
Nick the Nevermet
Member

Posts: 352


« on: May 11, 2002, 09:00:56 AM »

ok, so about the setting...

As I've said before, I like the setting, especially the Mainlund part of Wyrth, which I think is a very good psuedo-historical setting (or quasi... I'm not sure which would be a better term)

However, Gelure stands out a bit.  In a world where everything seems to be varying shades of gray, there is a country of jet black.  Its ruler ousted the old nobility, has created an incredibly militaristic society, has fostered the supernatural, and essentially claims publicly that he's the Second Coming... of Satan.  Oh, yeah... and at the setting's start year, Gelure takes over two countries in 1 year, setting up a nasty standoff between it and the surviving neighbors.

This caused me a slight double take.  TROS seems to be about, in part, coming to grips with one's own views of morality, even though the world may not clearly work on a White Hat / Black Hat principle.  I love that aspect, and I think it works well for TROS.  However, Gelure seems to violate that principle, as Emperor Gulub (or whatever his name is) wears the blackest hat of all.

Now, i'm not claiming this is a mistake or an error.  Instead, I have two different possible interpretations:

1) The Hat Ain't That Black.
Well... ok, maybe the ruler of Gelure IS an evil, sadistic, satanic psycho with dreams of world domination, but who isn't?  Or more to the point, history has TONS of guys like that.  It'd be silly for TROS to not include someone like him.  And also, just because he is absolutely evil, doesn't mean everyone in the country is.  Imagine the moral quagmire of Pagan (or Thayrist) refugees who came to Gelure to escape religious persecution (is it right to serve the more evil lord just because he treats me better?), or the Everyman who wants to fight for God and Country, but really wishes he had been given a better God and a better Country.  It would be a mistake to project the ruler of Gelure onto the faces and souls of every Gelurois.

2) The Hat IS that Black
Yes.  Gelure is a country under the thumb of a guy who is a madman at best, an Infernal Regent at worst.  In attempting to create moral beliefs in a relatively gray setting, it is very helpful to have moral anchors, i.e., "ok, I may not know what is right, but I know that isn't!"  Politically, one can sqabble over politics of Cyrinthmeir vs. Stahl vs. whoever.... but at least we can all agree Gelure is just plain Bad.  Its the national equivalent of saying that guy who enjoys wanton murder is definitely worse than these other people who still are flawed, but don't compare to someone who happily commits horrible deeds.  In TROS, regardless of what scale one uses, the ethical focus of the setting is less defined by examples of The Good than by examples of The Evil or The Wrong.

I don't think these two interpretations are mutually exclusive, but I'd like to see other people's opinions about it.  Be it specifically about Gelure or other nations, or about the role of morality and ethics in the setting.
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Jake Norwood
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Posts: 2261


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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2002, 09:26:56 AM »

Gelure is definitely supposed to stand out. The role of Gelure, however, is not your standard "evil empire." Sure, Uglub is bad news...but I agree completely with your 2 possible interperetations. People in TROS are just people. We recently ran a campaign as Geluroise Soldiers under a Gifted Captain (I got to play in this one). We were all the way out in Magyarfold trying to set up some kind of puppet ruler for some plans that Old Uggie had brewing for the future of eastern Stahl. We were far from home and just trying to do what the Emporor had sent us to do. Sure, our characters said to ourselves, Uglub tore down the church and had a pretty bloody "cleansing" period, but look at what he's done for the economy...we were all proud to be soldiers of a powerful country that had really built itself up in recent years. The interesting thing is how far some folks were willing to take it. You've got a bunch of soldiers that aren't really bad, they're just soldiers. We walk into this little Town on the southeast Stahlnish border and set up for the night. Due to some conflicting player interests (The Captain and I (the First Seargent) were both enamored with the same woman, another player with the "beauty of legends" gift that was tagging along with the puppet king-to-be) an Inn burned down and some trouble got started, but it was all pretty centralized and no one could really put a definite finger on us (or, specifically, me, as I'm the one that started the fire). ANYWAY...

The local burgher/petty lord was pretty snippity about all of it and told us to get out. Many of us had a passion of loyalty to the Empire/Uglub/the Captain/etc... and we were incensed. We torched half the town, killed the burgher in his sleep, and did all kinds of really bad stuff...and we were the protagonists...none of our characters was, by nature, bad. And yet we did bad stuff "in the name of the Emporor" because (a) we thought "that's what Uggie would do" or (b) we figure we were justified and could get away with it. It's probably a lot like how a large number of SS troops felt during WWII...morals start getting out of whack, even for good people, when sandwitched between certain passions. Several of us lost point of conscience that night...

Now I'll set up another tidbit for you. This was a short campaign that we started (but never finished) at GAMA back in March with Rick and Ben and I. Rick ran it (I mean Rick McCann, the cover artist, and Ben Moore, the guy who did all the knotwork and about 1/5 of the interior art, as well as the spiffy flags on line). Ben and I both made characters from Gelure as an exercise in min-maxing...Gelurians just have dang good stat bonuses and it didn't seem that there was too much in the way of repurcussions. I made a tough-guy bladeslinger type with a heart (Conscience). Ben's character's philosophy was "it's best not to think about it sometimes."

So rick drops us into service in the Geluroise army ("doh! most every freeman is part of the army," I said...) and our first mission is to kidnap babies in Southwestern Mariah for some kind of dark ritual that the Emporor needs 10,000 babies for (or some such thing). Sucks, huh. Ben and I spent the entire hour long session just trying to figure out how we were going to handle this. I was strongly anti (that's just wrong...kidnapping, baby killing, etc...no good at all! Emproror or no! My conscience just would not allow it), but I was also scared to death. Uglub, as everyone knows, is a Wizard. So are lots of his retainers. Magic in TROS can find a person anywhere and disintegrate them from any distance. Disobedience didn't sound real good. Big Brother's got NOTHING on old Uggie. Ben also had conscience, and didn't like it, but "look at what he's done for the economy," he said, and "sometimes it's just best not to think about it..."

We never got to play this far (running demos at GAMA became more important), but I had decided that I would whack my buddy on the skull if need be, but I wasn't going to do it, which would make me one hell of a fugitive. It could have been an incredible game, and props to Rick for landing us with such a difficult moral choice before a sword was ever drawn or a die ever thrown.

Anyway, those are some of my experiences with Uglub and Gelure, arguably one of the most influential TROS countries.

Jake, wishing, like you, that he could find more and better players.
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Jaif
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Posts: 327


« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2002, 05:25:39 PM »

I like Gelure, and I think it's quite "realistic" and not at odds with the setting.  There have been tons of very effective but brutal conquerers in history.  They could be just rulers, even personable, but if you cross them they'll kill you in a heartbeat.

Earth's history is extremely violent; there's no reason that this shouldn't be reflected in the game.

Btw, if you want a parallel, look at Julius Caesar.  Maybe you think he's a great guy, but just imagine it from the Celtic perspective.

-Jeff

P.S. It's been awhile, but Edward Longshanks and Richard the Lionhearted were extremely brutal, driven Kings who simply decided they had to go fight & conquer.  Eddie was probably a decent ruler - Richie was away from home too much - but both were fantastically violent people.  If you want to argue that, consider: what quality of a person is it that not only decides to take other people's land and property by force, but then particpates actively in the execution of that desire?
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Nick the Nevermet
Member

Posts: 352


« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2002, 05:36:53 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood

Jake, wishing, like you, that he could find more and better players.


Heh... well, in 4 years I promise to see if BYU is hiring in the Soc department, ok? ;)

Quote from: Jake Norwood

We torched half the town, killed the burgher in his sleep, and did all kinds of really bad stuff...and we were the protagonists...none of our characters was, by nature, bad. And yet we did bad stuff "in the name of the Emporor" because (a) we thought "that's what Uggie would do" or (b) we figure we were justified and could get away with it. It's probably a lot like how a large number of SS troops felt during WWII...morals start getting out of whack, even for good people, when sandwitched between certain passions. Several of us lost point of conscience that night...

<snip>

We never got to play this far (running demos at GAMA became more important), but I had decided that I would whack my buddy on the skull if need be, but I wasn't going to do it, which would make me one hell of a fugitive. It could have been an incredible game, and props to Rick for landing us with such a difficult moral choice before a sword was ever drawn or a die ever thrown.


Yeah... that sounds pretty ugly.
However, because of how SAs work in TROS, roleplaying evil characters can be more than just an excuse to kill.  I suppose someone could make a TRULY evil character with passions that fuel evil (Faith: Uggie, Drive, Destiny, and two properly evil passions), but the result wouldn't nearly be as fun.  And if someone wanted that set of SAs in a game I was running, I'd warn them he practically radiate evil, and people would react accordingly. (and if you did nothing but roleplay 5 evil passions, your character really WOULD radiate evil)

Beyond Mr. Evil-and-Proud-of-it, I can think of three other types of character reactions to a situation where they 'need' to act evily.   First is the guy who slowly devolves into evil.  Horribly despicable, but his SAs would constantly be taking hits.  Second is the guy who goes to the other extreme and absolutely refuses to do anything evil.  In scenarios like the one you described above, he'd either get discarded, convince the rest of the group to rebel, or would die in a very loud blaze of glory.  And third, you would have the guy who tries to compramise, keeping enough SAs in stock so that he at least have a chance of surviving (for a while) if he ever needs to rebel.  I think that players would aim for something other than the first, but accidentally aim there.  A shame, really... roleplaying a downward spiral is fun (trust me on that one), especially when you admit it really is JUST a downward spiral, leading to hopeless damnation.

And as a note, as I wrote that paragraph, Hell's Bells by AC/DC came on the radio.  Clearly, Providence approves of our discussion.

Beyond roleplaying Gelurians, the other reason why I posted this was I have a fear that Gelure and its residents become just another flavor of Stormtrooper, official villains for Wyerth.  "Ah, those whacky evil Gelurians, with their satanic, militaristic ways.... *Chop*"  If that happened, I think that'd be a shame, because no group in TROS should just get labeled "Official Villain #4."  It oversimplifies the setting, IMO.

Nevermind the fact that one guy's evil act is another man's heroic deed.
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Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2002, 10:40:36 PM »

I could actually see someone gaining in SAs while roleplaying a basically good character trapped into a situation where he/she must compromise. Someone trapped into that situation would be hopelessly mired by the evil of their position, so every effort to shake it off would count for more, IMO. The Gelurian guardsman, told that no one is allowed outside after curfew, for example, might allow a child fetching a midwife after curfew to help a birthing mother pass, or even risk serious trouble by helping them get back to their house unmolested by other, less conscientious guardsmen. This would end up with a few conscience points, because of the increasing risk of the action.

That's only one example, but it shows how I personally would handle the situation. As 3-5 points per session is considered good to average by Jake and company, the increased reward would balance out in a lot of ways the difficulty to do good, and the wrongdoings one might be forced to compromise into doing. However, it also highlights the fact that to retain their goodness, they would have to try harder than your average joe.. but that's okay, because it's appropriate to the situation. Small wrongdoings often devolve into greater ones.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
The_Fey
Member

Posts: 11


« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2002, 09:28:10 PM »

I'm currently planning on including as much info as I can (read: as much info as Jake let's me put out) about Gelure in "Sorcery and The Fey".  If for no other reason, the incredible concentration of Gifted in Gelure means that I'd have to talk about it anyway.

And believe me, what I have in mind is anything but making Gelure the "Quick Villian #4" of Weyrth.  Sure, there are going to be some supremly evil-and-proud-of-it characters in Gelure (Uglub being the big nasty of them all).  But I have several other ideas for generic and specific characters that are not "pure evil".  (They're not necessarily paragons of virtue, either....but they're not evil.)

Jake has mentioned how many Gelure citizens feel an unusual devotion to Uglub and Gelure, because of the incredible upswing in the economy since Uglub has taken over.  But I haven't seen anyone talk about the Gifted in Gelure yet, so I will (forgive me if this has been said already).

The Gifted are pretty much hated and despised throughout Weyrth.  I mean, all three of the major religions mentioned in the book pretty much believe that Sorcery = Power of the Dark Betrayer.  But there is one place on Earth...errr....Weyrth...where you can be safe, and live your life however you like.  You can use the abilities that you were born with without fear that your neighbors are going to try and burn your hourse down while you sleep.  I think there are a good number of Gifted who would feel this way.  Despite the awesome power that even the novice Gifted possesses, it's got to be tiring to be constantly on the run and looking over your shoulder.  Or constantly trying to hide what you are from people....even though any good GM will eventually make that next to impossible.

That's not to say that ALL of them feel this way (far from it).  But some of them do -- at least if I have anything to say about it.  Generally speaking I think that the populace of Gelure is surprisingly loyal to their Emperor....but you never know if some of them have decided that too many lines have been crossed...
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6inTruder
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2003, 01:40:14 PM »

I recived tRoS in the post a few days back and I am VERY impressed by it. I'm also finding myself more and more interested in Weyrth as a setting. One of the countries that kept striking (ouch!) me was Gelure, wich at first glance I though "Ooh, the evil sorcerer king." all sarcastic-like. But the more I think on it, the more I don't see Uglub as necissarily villainous. At least in his own eyes ^_^

My thought is, what if he's taking a stance against all of these commonly held prejudices in regards to the gifted? I can totaly see a younger Uglub saying defiently, "Normal people say that the gift is some kind of devil-mark, well then bollocks to them! I'll call myself the devil itself, carve out my own nation, offer safe-haven to other of the gifted and then I'll show the world what's what." Though he'd probably not use "bollocks" ^_^ there's also mention of his influence in altering how the peasentry is treated by the nobility, for the better.

So sure he may be pretty twisted, but I think there's a posibility of something really noble here. Or at least something wonderfully tragic.
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Morfedel
Member

Posts: 345


« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2003, 02:36:06 PM »

Personally, I really liked the new moon every 300 years thing, which was strange, but neat.
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Anthony I
Member

Posts: 72


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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2003, 02:45:40 PM »

Quote from: Nick Pagnucco
Beyond Mr. Evil-and-Proud-of-it, I can think of three other types of character reactions to a situation where they 'need' to act evily.


How about the guy who is sure he is doing the "right" thing, even though people might get hurt.  We have numerous examples in our own history- the Inquisition, the Reformation, the conquest and subjucation of the Americas, etc.  Faith would seem to be a good motivator for this character type, but Passion or Drive or even Conscience would work well.  

Imagine an Emperor Uglub, who, instead of being the Blackest Hat, is someone who is deeply concerned not only with the horrors befalling the Gifted (and maybe the Fey, as well), but the general intolerance and persecution perpetrsted by the major religions and countries in their attempts to destroy magic. Maybe he knows of some even worse fate that could befall everyone if magic were taken from the world completely. He, being one of the Gifted (or something else?), uses his powers to create a place that is a safe haven for the hunted.  Perhaps in the power struggle where he caputires Gelure many people die, even innocents- but their deaths not only enable the victory in Gelure, they create a feeling of fear amongst his enemies, foreign and domestic, that will give him more time to consolidate his power.  He must win the countries surrounding him over to his cause, by pacts of non-aggression or treaties of some sort, either by diplomacy, the threat of magicaly aided warfare or actual warfare itself.  Will innocents die? Yes, but the outcome is much worse for all if these few don't die.

Suddenly Uglub becomes a crusading hero?  Its amazing the story ideas that get germinated when you think of NPC's and characters in terms of SA's.
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Anthony I

Las Vegas RPG Club Memeber
found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lv_rpg_club/
Morfedel
Member

Posts: 345


« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2003, 02:47:10 PM »

Although, if Gelure uses magic in world domination, and if Gelure should fall, things will only get worse for Sorcerers worldwide.

Heck, it might be getting worse now, if you catch my drift.
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