• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

"Decolonizing D&D"

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
It's not especially creative or concept-busting.
I know the feeling of a need to be super-creative often keeps me from even trying. People are going to be bad at this even if they're trying to fulfill the criteria. It needs to be said out-loud* that a good-faith attempt is better than no attempt.

(* Emphasis on this part; some people need to be told things directly because they don't know how to assume such things on their own.)
 

Skaorn

Registered User
Validated User
I find it interesting that no one seems to be talking about governments directly even though it seems to be a topic skirted around a lot. Why is fantasy often dominated by feudalism and absolute monarchies? What happens when you have actual gods backing a monarch or telling the city state they're patron of to go to war with a neighbor? How do your Hobbit analogs actually manage to maintain their territory when all they appear to be is the British gentry without any of the empire that allowed them to maintain their lifestyle. What stops a neighbor from rolling in and saying "nice plays you've got. Ours now."? Why do many fantasy settings have these governments that stay the same over potentially thousands of years when the real world experienced major changes in governance fairly regularly?
 

Alon

Registered User
Validated User
So, monarchy is historically more common than anything else... but yes, medieval stasis is a really bad trope. I suspect part of it is that it feels more epic if you can pretend the nation has existed for millennia, never mind that the Ancient Romans would find medieval Europeans barbaric and vice versa.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Why is fantasy often dominated by feudalism and absolute monarchies?
Part habit, part the fact that pre-modern socieites were in fact dominated by monarchies of some sort, absolute or otherwise. Republican city-states aren't that rare in fantasy. The tech level *could* have an early-US federal republic, but people don't go for it.

Part of which may be the personal influence you can have with an aristocracy and individual decision-markers.


What happens when you have actual gods backing a monarch or telling the city state they're patron of to go to war with a neighbor?
An interesting question! Though perhaps an easy answer is "less conflict", making it less interesting. Hard to have a civil war if a god steps in for the winner! The Twelve Kingdoms has Heaven both picking kings and punishing them if they go to war; it's an interesting world, but a bunch of stories are ruled out.

How do your Hobbit analogs actually manage to maintain their territory when all they appear to be is the British gentry without any of the empire that allowed them to maintain their lifestyle.
False premise: gentry didn't depend on empire, just on owning lands, or for the smaller 1800s gentry, government bonds. It's just standard wealth inequality. Plus Tolkien hobbits had both farmers and militia, and the gentry we see do their own housework.
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
An interesting question! Though perhaps an easy answer is "less conflict", making it less interesting. Hard to have a civil war if a god steps in for the winner! The Twelve Kingdoms has Heaven both picking kings and punishing them if they go to war; it's an interesting world, but a bunch of stories are ruled out.
You could have the civil war so long as the gods either support both sides or lack sufficient power to win the war by themselves. For instance the Trojan War has both sides having gods definitively backing them, but it continues on regardless. There's also the example of Roman generals looking for portents for the gods' favor and attempting to force the matter when said portents don't arrive ("If they won't eat, let them drink!"). I could easily see an overly eager general attempting to force a weaker god to give their "blessing", willing or not.
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
Honestly, I'm surprised we don't have more theocracies. I mean, in several settings there are literal gods of civilsiation and law/order.
Yes. The gods are real. The gods can take physical form and interact directly with mortals in the physical world. Why don't the gods directly rule?
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
So, monarchy is historically more common than anything else... but yes, medieval stasis is a really bad trope. I suspect part of it is that it feels more epic if you can pretend the nation has existed for millennia, never mind that the Ancient Romans would find medieval Europeans barbaric and vice versa.
How long did Rome or Carthage, or any of the Chinese or Japanese dynasties last before their empires fell? Culture in some of those places persisted over a long time, but the empires rose and fell. The entire history of human existence on Earth is shorter than I have seen some fantasy empires proposed to have lasted with no change.

A thousand year empire covers basically the time form the Norman conquest of England till now. Or from the early days of the Roman Empire (post-Republic) to the Norman Conquest. How much did Earth change during either of those spans? No human empire has lasted that long. And thousand year empires are common in fantasy.

Not to mention the Jedi of Star Wars, "for a thousand generations the Jedi were the guardians..." That has got to be metaphorical. At twenty years a generation that is twenty thousand years! 20,000 years ago Earth was in the last ice age and Neanderthals were still dominant in Europe.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
On the one hand I agree with the basic criticism. A lot of timelines could drop a zero with little or partial damage.

OTOH, one can argue that a lot depends on the resolution you look at. For example, England has been a kingdom ruled by the descendants of Alfred the Great since 870 AD. Oh, there was a generation or two where William and his son weren't descendants, and Oliver Cromwell didn't call himself a king and wasn't part of the main royal family (though at that remove, has a good chance of being a descendant), but if you're trying to give the history of your world in two pages, those details don't matter.

Similarly Japan has been ruled by the same family for 1300+ years. Without much power, and with some civil wars, and a brief occupation around 1945, but if you're squinting, Japan has been Japanese forever.

Rome is another care of arguably arbitrary lines. Somehow Marius and Sulla and Caesar are still the Roman Republic, but we draw a line with Augustus, despite his attempts to keep formal continuity, and another one with the Byzantines, despite them calling themselves the Romans.

At one resolution, China and Egypt are a froth of changing dynasties; at another, they're long geographically stable polities with similar governments.

So the question is does "no change" mean *really* no change, or just a low-resolution average?

Of course, "medieval stasis" often means not "no political change" but "they haven't invented gunpowder and the printing press yet". One of which could be retorted with "no one will ever invent gunpowder, it doesn't fit here, this is not stasis but a plateau". Harder to claim that woodcut printing isn't possible, though...

Not to mention the Jedi of Star Wars, "for a thousand generations the Jedi were the guardians..." That has got to be metaphorical. At twenty years a generation that is twenty thousand years! 20,000 years ago Earth was in the last ice age and Neanderthals were still dominant in Europe.
OTOH, one could say "for 2000 years, the Catholic Church was the dominant religion and guardians of morality in Europe". It's not entirely true but not entirely wrong either. And it's not like we have a benchmark for what 20,000 years of a literate high-tech civilization looks like. Having the Jedi be a persistent quasi-religious order isn't out of line.
 

Dagor

Registered User
Validated User
Yes. The gods are real. The gods can take physical form and interact directly with mortals in the physical world. Why don't the gods directly rule?
I imagine a lot of the gods have other stuff to do. If the god of the sun is already busy driving his scarabchariotbarge across the sky all day, who's going to blame him for not also wanting to have to hold the hands of a bunch of petulant mortals as a second full-time job? (Really, it's worse than herding cats. With those you at least know they're going to pick the sunny spots to nap in.) And can your pantheon's war goddess really get away with showing favoritism to some particular realm or other by making it "hers" and thus potentially basically invincible?

Now obviously this doesn't completely rule out having some literal god-kings around anyway and running the show in certain places, and in any event if any deity actually deigns to address you mortal insect for whatever reason you'd better listen if you know what's good for you. But I'd say the gods by and large having bigger fish to fry helps explain how mortal cultures in a setting with them can nonetheless end up left to their own devices (at least as long as nobody upsets the apple cart badly enough that the gods can't help but sit up and take notice).
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
OTOH, one could say "for 2000 years, the Catholic Church was the dominant religion and guardians of morality in Europe". It's not entirely true but not entirely wrong either. And it's not like we have a benchmark for what 20,000 years of a literate high-tech civilization looks like. Having the Jedi be a persistent quasi-religious order isn't out of line.
[geek]Also it isn't metaphorical, at least according to the pre-Disney timeline. In fact it's literal: the timelines I used to see went back exactly 20,000 years before Episode IV.[/geek]
 
Top Bottom