Thursday, June 4, 2009

Conspiracy Tracts as Props

Come back to the second part of the videogames post-- maybe after the last part of my player expectation and investment post-- but thought I'd dredge up one of my favorite bits from the Steampunk game. I'd been reading about conspiracy theory in a book by a modern nutjob with a particular ideological axe to grind. Despite the problems with the book, it made me think about some of the identity politics that might happen in the game world. So the following email scene/exchange occurred in the game:


You wrote: Qynn will take a copy of this "Anti-Flaemish" document to Sendhal Aers immediately !! Making sure to point out the anti-drow sentiment. GM-(what does Qynn know of these Flaemish)

Response:

Side Historical Note: The Makistani once held most of the continent in their Empire. They were noted as major spell casters and developed much of old sorcery. They were a minority group ruling over larger populations through power and magic. However, their Empire was spread thinly and eventually fell apart as the younger kingdoms gained power and freed themselves (Atlantae, Miremal, Samara, Caldumar, Crantyle, all threw of their yoke). Scholar also point to the coming of the Unmaker and the beginning of the Lythic Church as coming at this same time.

There were three primary ethnic lines to the Makistani, the Flaemish, the Anzeti and the Donaen. They were divided by culture and faith. Both the Anzeti and the Donaen vanished as separate ethnic lines and peoples…the bloodlines of the Anzeti for example faded into the general populace of Samara and Crantyle. The Flaemish, however, had two places where they still had some power and an ethnic identity: Amalacht and Aoniae. In Aoniae, they made up one of the Magic using houses. In Amalacht they still held power, although it declined over time. Small pockets of Flaemish still lived elsewhere, keeping in touch with one another and still holding true to their ways and traditions (notably a worship of a pre-Lythic fire god).

Amalacht and Miremal fought against one another during the Thonakian War and Amalacht was decimated. Many of the most important cultural centers for the Flaemish people were destroyed and their land was poisoned. The Flaemish, were without a homeland. Since that time the Flaemish have remained a people living in isolated communities in various places, often viewed with suspicion. In Amalacht, there is only a small Flaemish population, Miremal having moved people to ensure that the Flaemish do not regain any power.

Because of their isolation, even within communities and cities, most people don't know who or what the Flaemish are. They tend to live in neighborhoods together, tend to marry among one another (even if that means sending someone a good distance away to another Flaemish community), speak a heavily accented Common, and also have their own faith. Flaemish stereotypically have red hair and swarthy features (some say golden skin) and are said to be good at magic. In some places they have formed business Compacts, usually to run businesses between their various enclaves.

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Sendahl Aers will look over the document you have brought. He reads through it, he seems torn between an amusement at the bad writing and illogic and a disgust over the message it brings. He hands it back to you.

"I would not wish to be a Flaemish these days. Such is the price they pay for their support of the Thonak."

He considers the pamphlet. "That kind of thing goes on all the time here. People seek an explanation for their problems in external sources. They themselves cannot be at fault, so they blame everyone else…they see conspiracy and plotting in everything. We Drow are frequently mentioned…wait a moment…he goes to a desk and retrieves some other papers.

"Let me see…yes, here's a good one." From among the various political pamphlets, tracks, crudely drawn posters and broadsheets in his hands he chooses one and hands it to you." It reads:

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ON READING THE PROTOCOLS OF ATLANTAE

If you have not read it, you must now!!! One of our brothers managed to make their way into a secret meeting of the Exarchs of Atlantae…held every thirty-three years…in a graveyard under the full moon, he saw what these inhumans said and did…there they laid out their plan for world dominion, including making all righteous men the slaves of Skaven, Drow and Elves, the enslavement of all real human women so as to dilute their bloodline's strength, and the creation of a single world government through Demons and Sorcery.

Know that the Atlantaes are the enemies of all other countries. They use and manipulate leaders, kings and the aristocracy in every other country. Inter-marriage to their lines means control over the descendants…giving them even more power and influence. If they have their way, someday everyone will look like them, with their freakish skin colors.

FACT: Every war has benefited the Atlantaens.
FACT: The Atlantaen Civil War was a sham to reduce the jealousy of other nations.
FACT: When their Kings do not wholeheartedly endorse their plans for sacrifice and dominion they are killed.
FACT: The line of the Grand Marshall came from nowhere, that is because they are demons in human form.
FACT: The Thonak was called by the Atlantaens…at the end of the great conflict all other countries were weakened and they were stronger and larger!
FACT: The Atlantaens used lawless Adventurers to further their aims bringing forth the Unmaker, Summoning Murkavan, Destroying the city of Tul Isra and killing everyone in it.
FACT: The Atlantaens called the Shaddai through their agents, the Drow. They control these inhuman Assassins through Black Arts. All non-humans are to be suspect as the all owe allegiance to their no human masters, the Atlans.
FACT: If the Gods had not sunk Atlantis, they were on the brink of achieving Total Control. We have forgotten this! The chance was lost to destroy them once and for all and we lost it! Now they have control over our people, our governments and our compacts.
FACT: The Ieredni banking system is simply a way of tracking everyone of importance. They are all assigned a code number which the great Demon-Engines of the Atlantaens can use to track you….ANYWHERE.
FACT: Murkavan did not kill one single Atlantaen…what they claim is a lie. Everyone that "died" to Murkavan were in fact slaves and prisoners to fool everyone else so they would not realize that the Atlantaens were in league!

BE WARY! WATCH FOR THEIR AGENTS! STRIKE WHERE YOU CAN!

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Sendahl looks at you, "I think you see what I mean about ideas being dangerous…"