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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 3:11 pm 
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Grettir wrote:

But there are other matters about Gelure that interest me much more:
Have you already given a thought to Gelure before Uglub's (recent?) usurpation? Was it ruled by a royal family? And if so, was it deposed in a popular rising led by Uglub, or did Uglub take over by a coup aided by sorcery most foul? Exactly how did Uglub rise to power? What is the former feudal nobility's relation with Uglub? Are many still secretly loyal to the former king, or do they throw their lot in wholeheartedly with Uglub, and if, so, why? Did Uglub manage to wipe out the entire former royal family, or is there some distant or not-so-distant relative living in some kind of exile? And how do the Geluroise, who according to the MRB "have always been a religious folk", take to being ruled by somebody who claims to be the son of the Dark Betrayer and also looks the part? And how does this effect Uglub's hold on the land?


Actually, yes, I have a detailed write-up on that. Under fair use, I could probably pull up a quote or two on that from my write-up. I figured that the previous ruling family had been fairly corrupt to begin with making them easy pickings in the long run, but their eventual overthrow was a planned out event that had several precursor steps with lots of intrigue and cloak and dagger backstabbing. Later tonight I will see what I can pull from my old docs and notes.


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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:52 pm 
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Excellent. In my opinion, the populace's outlook on the regime of Uglub is the single most important thing about Gelure. It really determines everything else. And deciding on the mindset of the modern Geluroises' this makes it necessary to know something of the state of affairs before Uglub so that one knows how and where the people's life has gotten any better or worse through Uglub.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:06 pm 
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I actually figured that Uglub, being a smart guy, did not just waltz in one day and say "gimme power" but rather orchestrated and took advantage of a situation to make him a reigning savior of the city. I got the idea from Machiavelli's "the prince" (I think - been a while since I wrote that draft supplement) where the author recommends that the clever prince send someone else in to brutalize the populace and be the rough hand of justice, then the prince can essentially walk in and execute the rough hand of justice and publicly display the remains and say "look what I, the compassionate ruler, have done for you - your oppressor is dead, at my hand. Now, about some of these new plans I have for your city...."

So essentially I came up with the following schema, which by the way is reliant on the "Gelure is wealthy" premise (I reconciled the contradiction this way for what I wrote).

The previous nobility had a bit of a schism a while back (at least 2 generations if you start with the suggested timeline) in which the obvious heir, who was not so bad a guy, died in his sleep one night with no warning, leaving 2 cousins to basically make a claim to the throne. The power struggle largely revolved around bribing enough lords and nobles to support their claim. Although no outright violence erupted (no bloody civil war) there was lots of backstabbing and occasional assasination. The biggest tool though was ever more elaborate promises and bribes. Each cousin promised more and more to the nobles in order to get what they needed and the nobles played each off the other. Eventually, one of the cousin's abandoned his claim (someone made him an offer he couldn't refuse, godfather style) and went into exile in the Xanarium Empire. The remaining cousin was finally in power but was so beholden by the promises and backroom deals he made that he spent all of his time appeasing one noble or the other, all of which at the expense of the commoner. With the nobles free to pretty much manage their lands as they wanted, they taxed the living hell out of their people for their own benefit. This was all done with the usually unspoked agreement of the ecclesiarchy of the Xanarian faith who either turned a blind eye or endorsed various nobles cases for a small "fee."

This created an environment ripe for rebellion if only someone with some charisma and military leadership ability were to step forward... enter Uglub. Given the ecclesiarchy's involvement in the previous troubles and the close proximity to the stahlinish atheists, people were slightly more open to Uglub's more colorful claims of being the devil - if not fully comfortable with the idea, they would tolerate a bit of eccentricity if it meant change.

Skipping past too many details, Uglub essentially came in and led a vicious and short rebellion that went after the worst offenders among the nobles first and ended with the brutal and very public extermination of the royal family. The immediate aftermath was where any lesser rebellion would have failed but Uglub capitalized on the unusual opportunity to cement the love of the people while controlling the nobility. He quickly gerrymandered new territories for the remaining nobles who would swear fealty to him and abide by his guidelines and placed select rulers over the new territories to enforce his will over the smaller land holders and unlanded gentry.

Now here's some geluroise sociology for you - These 9 new rulers, the highlords of Gelure, were chosen based purely on production, merit, and loyalty. Some were Nobles from the past regime, but most were brand new individuals raised from the lower classes based on their merits, abilities, or some unknown quality that Uglub saw in them. One Highlord was a merchant who recommended to his lord that they make a few economic adjustments to boost productivity and revenues. The lord refused, Uglub's spies caught wind of this, and seeing the wisdom in the plans, Uglub had the lord executed and raised the merchant to nobility to take his place. Good ideas and production are richly rewarded, failure mercilessly punished.

Uglub uses this as a tool for maintaining control of the population. The meritocratic system keeps those at the top motivated to produce and gives those at the bottom the ambition to out do eachother.

Uglub also largely lets each regional Highlord govern as they see fit within the broad guidelines given them. As long as they have a reasonably orderly population and provide the full tithe in money, resources and manpower, then Uglub lets them expirement in different ways of governing. This creates significant diversity within the various regions and allowed for ambitious expirementation in economics, politics, and warfare.

The general welfare has boomed with a growing economy and the general results have increased the welfare of all social classes (reflected in the bonus at character creation). This wellbeing has allowed the population to overlook the problems inherent in a ruler calling himself the Dark Betrayer. Of course, if things turn sour for the population, they might start paying attention again.

I have some 40 pages of material on Gelurian society that I will look over again tonight and I might see what else I can paraphrase from those notes, but I think this could be a good starting point for discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:41 am 
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ashren wrote:
I actually figured that Uglub, being a smart guy, did not just waltz in one day and say "gimme power" but rather orchestrated and took advantage of a situation to make him a reigning savior of the city.


I thought so too, though I did imagine it fairly bloody.

ashren wrote:
...which by the way is reliant on the "Gelure is wealthy" premise (I reconciled the contradiction this way for what I wrote).


I actually would have thought that Gelure before would have a LOT of resources, but with it not really going anywhere. Perhaps with the peasants working hard but only seeing wage cuts, despite thier obvious proximity to the rich provinces of Xanarium.

ashren wrote:
The previous nobility had a bit of a schism a while back...


I like it! Perhaps add to that the nobles who had thrown thier lot with the other cousin growing discontented. Thay didn't get any of the things they asked for, while their "equals" are in a position to strong arm anything they want out of the new king. They begin looking for ways to work the system into thier favor...

ashren wrote:
This created an environment ripe for rebellion if only someone with some charisma and military leadership ability were to step forward... enter Uglub.


I would thing he wouldn't start claiming to be the Dark Betrayer until after his rise to power, lest he be taken by the nice men in little white coats. And all through his rise, he's easing into the idea that he's something larger-than-life (perhaps letting people come to that conclusion on thier own through propaganda).

ashren wrote:
Skipping past too many details...


And then those nobles looking for revenge find a charismatic man with a lot of loyal people behind him, and put all those stockpiled (or rather, untraded) rescources to use in arming Uglubs underground army, with the promise of wealth and revenge driving them.

ashren wrote:
Now here's some geluroise sociology for you...


Perhaps before Uglubs rise, there were about 20 Highlords. But as 9 threw in with his cause, 9 there are now. Also, I called them Generals, because Gelure is so military-focused. As for Gelure being a merit-based, motivated society, I would see that dropping off somwhat around freeman status. The serfs and slaves, no matter how talented, are still stuck where they are, maybe moving to a foreman of some sorts at best. And for the low freeman, the only real way to move ahead is in the military (you can't propose improved economics if your lord won't even see you). At about the high freeman level, you can move ahead using other areas of expertise than killing (though that's still a viable, and recommended, option).

ashren wrote:
Uglub also largely lets each regional Highlord govern as they see fit...


Pretty much exactly what I had in mind. But I would imagine the lords meeting regularly in a great forum in the capital city, (the only area under Uglub's direct rule) to discuss thier changes and propose new ones. The ones at the top talk enough and are open-minded enough (one of Uglub's prerequisites) that, though the specifics vary, the general economic and governmental structure is consistant throughout Gelure.

ashren wrote:
The general welfare has boomed with a growing economy...


Again, I see the improvements tapering off at a certain level, but with the noticable improvements in both rural in urban areas (as well as "And I can, too!" attitudes) they are finding things very much improved over the old regime.

ashren wrote:
I have some 40 pages of material on Gelurian society...


If you can get past the legal issues, we'll have to see it!

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:52 am 
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Awesome. I was hoping you two would talk to each other on this.

And re: Wrestling, I still want you to know that I think it's a metric frell ton more effective for soldiers than you'd think. Do consider a wrestling program as part of a 'fitness program' for the peasantry, and perhaps even an event in tournaments for them (joust for nobles, melee for freemen, wrestling for peasantry... something like that).

Re: Archery, is a survival skill. It's not something the government has to teach people, it's something they have to encourage people to learn on their own by promoting the people who know enough about it and about leading archers. Maybe you see them as using more crossbows (for which training is effective optional) or self bows (which require much more know-how to be effective, but are simpler, and it's more likely that the common people already know how to use it). If they use crossbows instead of self bows, then encouraging people to learn archery would be less effective.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:11 pm 
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Being a fantasy realm with little direct historical model, it is especially hard to make Gelure believable. At the core of this problem lie the relations between Uglub, the feudal nobility and the general populace. If this is implausible, Gelure will probably never feel right.

Throughout absolutely all cultures and all eras, a few facts hold true about the nobility:

1) They resent any monarchs limiting their power.
2) They resent outsiders or those of low birth to rise to their rank of power, let alone surpass them.
3) They want none out of their number to rise above themselves.

To usurp power, prospective tyrants use the masses to remove monarchs and nobles from power. And it is vital for them to stay in the masses’ good graces. As soon as they loose the masses’ favour, they are invariably overthrown by the powers they themselves overthrew in the beginning. This played out thousands of time in the course of human history and seems to be one of the unalterable patterns of history.

The problem I see with Uglub is not gaining favour with the masses, but keeping it. Consider: You have got a people with a late-medieval outlook, meaning that religion is central to their lifes. To them, the scripture is absolutely true down to the last letter. Now this people finds out that its secular leader is the very son of the devil and leading them on a path of sure damnation. Try to envision it. The certainty of an eternity in Hell for a few decades of slightly increased economical well-being and a few legal privileges. Not the best of deals.

I sincerely can’t think of any way how Uglub could stay in favour with the Geluroise. But if he looses this favour, there is little between himself and a counter-coup by the nobility.

Because of this scarcity of allies, some very serious thought should be given to Uglub avoiding anything that might alienate the nobility, to him courting the nobility, allying himself with them and heaping honours and privileges on them. Unless it can be made plausible why the masses would trade the salvation of their souls for a few gold coins.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 7:58 pm 
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I see the answer to lots of this as being a major corruption of the local church and a rise up of what is essentially a personality cult around the new Gelure leader. If people are turning away from the church (perhaps because of some internal squable or even something fairly major like gross neglect of its own rules and principles) then people will find other means.

If Ulglub forms a powerful cult and exploits this spiritual gap he can "spin-doctor" himself as the new messiah. Obviously the existing church will denounce him as heritacle so if he decides to play on that (or perhaps is, or believes himself to be the Dark Betrayer) then he will still maintain his followers provided they are completely disillusioned with the old system.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 5:57 am 
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Wait, I have an idea. Maybe Uglub is magic! OK, seriously, magically changing the beliefs of an entire nation of people would be implausible, but I think perhaps you ought to put more effort into figuring out how this important factor could play a bigger role. A few well-considered, powerful ritual spells could do a lot. Conquer spells targeted at strategic and influential individuals could end up affecting many people.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:04 am 
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Honestly, that would be my solution...

Maybe its a lame one, but I think a powerful ritual ( maybe one that has to be renewed every 101 days or so, keeping Uglub at his center of power and not letting him run willy-nilly about Wyerth) would be the answer.

Something as simple as everyone might know he claims to be the Dark Betrayer, but maybe the spell makes them all think they only heard it as a rumor, or something alone those lines.

Alternatively, I think the cult idea might be the way to go, promoting Xanar as the 'bad guy' and Uglub, as the dark betrayer, as they one true savior of the 'true' church.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:04 pm 
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My mate's just suggested that Uglub could simply pass off his magic as miracles - calling out to others who expereince them instead of sorcerers. The Dark Betrayer stuff is mearly a rumor put out by the church to put down his herasy.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:11 am 
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As far as I know, Gelurians are largely Pagan, though the Church does have a seat in the cities. The book (I'm pretty sure) says that Uglub encourages such practices as sacrifices and whatnot, which may-or-may not be made in his name.

To me, it sounds like he has made himself out to be a God, taking the name of The Dark Betrayer knowing that most of his people don't necessarily believe in one "good" and one "evil" deity. They have a blethora of them, depending on the reagion. And though trading cities/ports would have TGBO churches, and those would have some sway, the corruption (whether real or imagined) is such that Uglub can have a running campaign to denounce the Church inside his lands, such that what was already a minority is becoming less of a problem.

Also, I'd like to avoid putting definite stances on magic and rituals into the description of an entire country, given how differrent groups handle that sort of thing.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:02 am 
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Squeejee wrote:
As far as I know, Gelurians are largely Pagan, though the Church does have a seat in the cities. The book (I'm pretty sure) says that Uglub encourages such practices as sacrifices and whatnot, which may-or-may not be made in his name.

(...)

And though trading cities/ports would have TGBO churches, and those would have some sway, the corruption (whether real or imagined) is such that Uglub can have a running campaign to denounce the Church inside his lands, such that what was already a minority is becoming less of a problem.


I think this I is slightly problematic. Not so much due to the MRB stating that the Geluroise “have always been a religious folk” – this single fact can easily be ignored – but due to the rest of the history of Weyrth. Gelure was for many centuries ruled by the highly religious Xanarian Empire, it is adjactent to the very centre of this religion and the Imperial Xanarians have a past history of mercilessly persecuting pagans and proselytizing far and wide. These well-established facts make it unlikely in the extreme that the Imperial Faith would not have long since penetrated all of Gelure and driven Paganism into very few, scattered, and tiny pockets. And while Uglub could certainly try to reintroduce Paganism, this would surely be a project of several lifetimes, not a few scant decades – if Uglub was not using magic of a colossal scope.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:01 am 
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Yes, I'm with Grettir on this one. It's hard to see a real-world example where a successful religion active for centuries is replaced within decades by an unstructured one. Cultures simply don't transform that readily in the real world.

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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:02 am 
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If Uglub was able to use magic to help his people, he might could make a compelling argument that he was the real one chosen by the gods and that the old religion was a lie. Now, this is way beyond the thought I am prepared to put into this, but in a world with magic that is tangible, it seems that Uglub could do beneficial things with magic, such as using the sculpture vagary to improve farmlands, and transform useless items into valuable raw materials. especially if he has more mages working for/with him. Using growth, he can mature animals and give them the ability to reproduce multiple times in a single season and do the same with crops... multiple harvest in a single season, how many farmers would sell their children to do that?

The key to turning a society against its established religion is to give it what it needs, and no one can do it faster than a mage in this world. Combine that with political maneuvering and it may could be done quickly.

Perhaps he has found some secret that allows him to avoid magic aging, or whatever. Or he is actually Fey, or maybe he is really the Dark Betrayer returned, who knows? If he gained power quick enough and got rid of all competition in the process, he could really take over and let his real colors show, and no one could do a thing.


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 Post subject: Re: General's Hall
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:35 am 
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I think you may be on to something there.

However, I think it would be even better if he was in NO way resistance to the aging, or even had a flaw that made casting magic worse for him.

That way, taking over Gelure, in whatever why is decided he did it, would be due to the results of HIS SA's, and I can see the drama in him having to carefully plan out which crops and which harvests he can risk killing himself so that he can help his country grow while simultaneously boosting his personal agenda within the peoples' minds.

He would have to be meticulate and calculating, waiting for the juiciest moments to use his rare gift. Perhaps that is why he is scouring the land for other mages? He knows he needs the magical infulence to keep control of his country and to keep his 'falsly' shored economy going, but its becoming too much for him to handle, or hes becoming too weak. He now is becoming reliant on other mages to do the tasks he once did while he either takes a break or studies the secret that he thinks will set him free etc...

Just a thought anyway, I had never really put much thought into Uglub before, so this may be half-baked.

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