Choice of Rebels: Stormwright (XoR2 WIP)

One thing I like to do in my games is always use Shayardene language and terms (Wisardry, Whends, etc) since I find them more comfortable to read (only thing I’d change in the Shayardene dialect is using original Erezziano instead of Errets lol). But then I’d tweak the game code a bit so my aristo MC is light to moderate cosmopolitan and not a Shayardene nationalist.

I like maxing out Blue Bars lower anarchy when I’m playing an Aristo and then go full Red when on my Helot runs.


Peace with the nation that harrows children is unconscionable. We will fight until every inch of Halasur is under our control, even if it takes a thousand years. We know I can live to see it.


It is unfortunate and of course my mc will denounce it for public consumption, because he can hardly do otherwise. But privately he knows full well Hallasur’s is the more efficient method that allows them to benefit from magic without being a totally oppressive caste-based dystopia dominated by slave lords at all levels what must be extirpated is the Hegemony’s caste system and slavery. Besides the Hegemony harrows children as well, just not on a scale comparable to Halassur and mostly in secret…just as my mc likely will with some prison babies and foundlings.

But more unfortunate than the child sacrifice is how much of its potential Halassur wastes with its super strict gender roles, maybe they would have turned the tide on their own by now if they hadn’t passed over so many potential female generals and male scientists and mages. At least that is something my mc would likely say. The strict gender divisions are likely hindering optimal use of human resources in Hallassur though probably not to the same extent the caste system in the Hegemony.

What is truly unconscionable is tolerating widespread, institutionalized chattel slavery, even Halassur no longer has that.


This is after we’ve gotten rid of that.


Right, this makes sense. I think I can roleplay a Cosmopolitan build like that, someone who arrives at Cosmopolitanism out of pragmatism as opposed to conviction.

This is a build who starts out motivated by a distaste for organized religion and the Hegemony’s abuses against the aristocrats (she thinks the problem is the unnatural dominion of Karagonds over the nobility, not the rightful order of nobles over helots). She was sort of lukewarm about the rebellion, but dragged into it once Breden’s co-conspirators were about to be Harrowed.

Once the rebellion began, she prosecuted it with all the cunning and pragmatism she had, relying on her charisma to produce a kind of cult of personality (I mean, when you don’t have religion or nationalism to build on, what else do you have?).

I hope this build will be able to romance Phaedros (Esme is heterosexual) when the time comes!


Well, to be clearer on where we do and don’t disagree… in the context I’ve described, without any existing experience of a number of key democratic/republican governance “technologies,” I think it’s plausible for a massively innovative MC to pioneer institutions that could include the following:

  • community-level elections for local leadership (by secret ballot or public voice vote). This would essentially shift the power of assigning local and municipal offices to the local population from your government (and from the local grandees who are the government’s agents – though of course local grandees and their patronage networks would still have a massive effect on the outcomes of local elections)
  • a system where locally elected leaders appoint representatives to speak for their area in higher-level councils (i.e. more loya jirga than parliament)
  • lawmaking by representative assemblies (rather than by the priesthood) and, after some time to normalize the institution, with publication of the results of the assemblies’ deliberation and debate (rather than through a process that conceals any disagreement or dispute)
  • early steps toward a system of state accountability for its finances – which at this point would mostly involve steps toward centralization and legibility of finances, trying like many early modern states to get a handle on what is already being raised/spent by local agents and establish more consistency in the national fiscal system
  • stripping the state of the power to assign religious offices, increasing the scope for religious institutions to be an autonomous, countervailing force to state policy (and reducing the scope for the state to use religion for its own propaganda purposes)

These experiments could be carried out in a small- to middling-scale realm with messy success. (You can try it at a larger scale, with an exponential increase in your rate of mess to success.) The more effort you pour into your innovative participatory institutions, however, the less state capacity and political capital you’ll have to spend on other aspirations and institutions we’ve discussed above (reformed police, education, lawyers, etc). Democracy in the long term yields big dividends in state legitimacy and capacity, but those dividends take longer to arrive when democracy arrives as a complete upheaval, requiring everyone to learn political habits that are generally the opposite of what they’ve grown up with, and which feel like chaos, conflict, and corruption by contrast to the ideals of the old order.

By the same token, I don’t think it’s plausible for an MC in this gameworld to successfully pioneer:

  • nationwide simultaneous broad-franchise elections for national offices, in a realm above city-state scale. You could try, but the attempt would founder on its sheer unfamiliarity and the lack of state capacity to credibly carry out a process that both provides information to and extracts it from the majority of its citizens
  • a political party system (i.e. where parties are recognized, integral, and reasonably stable parts of the system, rather than just de facto factions centered on personal or patronage interests) or the institutionalization of a “loyal opposition” concept. Those are only likely to emerge from generations of actual practice of participatory government, not just thought-experiments beforehand.
  • a full national budget, and formal accountability to parliament for that budget – fiscal capacity can’t simply be willed into existence, especially when there’s no institutional model elsewhere to copy.
  • cabinet government – in the post-imperial-collapse environment, a sovereign who steps back and lets their council of ministers run the show without their personal involvement is likely to be supplanted rather than pioneering a new form of governance

If you think that picture is overall more consistent than inconsistent with 18c parliaments, great! Personally, I still think that readers who take the 18c USA or Britain as their mental model will find themselves unhappily surprised by how much harder the going is with a population that

  • hasn’t had any experience, let alone centuries’ experience, of elected mayors or municipal assemblies
  • is firmly set in the mindset of “you only have the liberties the state explicitly grants you” rather than the deep-rooted Anglo tradition of “there are natural political liberties that no legitimate state can infringe”
  • is accustomed to a Caesaropapist church that never pursued a meaningful degree of formal, institutional autonomy from the imperial state
  • has been raised to see unquestioning obedience as the proper response of the citizen to officers of the state, conflict as disorder, and contestation as sedition. (I still see this all the time here in Nepal, which had its first democratic experience over 70 years ago and hasn’t had an authoritarian government since 1990. Even among the current generation of young officials who grew up under a democratic constitution, a huge percentage still expect deference, resist popular participation in government processes, and are profoundly unprepared for ordinary citizens to take the state to court for infringing their rights.)

Don’t assume the Rump Thaumatarchies are naturally and inevitably slavers. It’s never quick or easy to change a caste society; but the existential shocks of Game 4 and the collapse of the old political order will get some Theurgic leaders looking for new social bargains that could consolidate helot support behind their regime, rather than living with an ever more radicalized 50+% of the population at their throats.

For example, if Phaedrx rather than a less visionary senior Theurge ends up leading one of those factions (not a given), and can see a credible way to feed their population and defend their frontiers without Harrowing helots, they’d be up for it. An MC willing to work with them on an empire-wide blood tax strategy will find a skeptical but open-minded potential partner. And then there’s the other major faction, whose preferred game plan from the outset is to get by without Harrowing any of its non-felon citizens at all (though if your choices cut it off from the big ag surplus areas of Shayard that it plans to incorporate, it will like Phaedra be prepared to fall back on the old system).

It’s the medium-sized factions – i.e. anyone who successfully consolidates a bunch of local warlords/city-states in any part of the former Thaumatarchy that is left a splintered mess by the process of collapse – who will be less likely to give up the familiar systems of slave-Harrowing, and are likeliest to try adopting child-Harrowing to boot.

You can absolutely seize power at the head of a helot-based revolt, declare yourself monarch, and shut out the old nobles while creating your own new ones from the helotry. That will have consequences for how much territory you can hold, how much state capacity you have, and how much anarchy you can control; shutting out the class with the most experience in governance means you’ll have to relearn or reinvent a lot of things that you could otherwise just do. But it will be a possible outcome.

In closing, this isn’t precisely ADAT, but around this time ten years ago, I figured out that Game One wasn’t going to get us all the way to Grand Shayard. :slight_smile: I believe I was still thinking that Game 1 was going to end with a Xaos-lands chapter rather than the battle in the wilderness, though. The story grows in the telling.


Now, I know this question is too early,but what information will be revealed in the ending/epilogue of Game 5? I would like to know what kind of results I was able to build at the end of my long journey.

That’s a very good thing. Parliament built on this system has at least 18c level capabilities and will do what I want.

Now, with that in mind, I have some technical questions. What exactly does a Indirect election national council look like?

And how far can we advance national fiscal capacity?

Hmm, this is interesting. Although it may not be a path I would choose, I am interested in how and to what extent a new dictatorship or tyranny can be promoted. If so, could you please tell me the details?


Then there we have it: the “bridge” between “anticipated combined archonty Shayard + archonty Nyryal” will be (at least) the western half of Karagon (including Chaton and Stegnos).
(And maybe Erezza can delight in gobbling up the remaining eastern half)

Alternatively, I might consider annexing/recruiting the entirety of Karagon, appointing the democracy-curious/nostalgic minority of Chaton and/or Stegnos to replace (slain/executed) Phaedra as Karagon’s representative on MC’s koinon.

As for Wiendish additions to widen the Shayard-Nyryal bridge, I suppose a sliver of Wiendish land (and maybe even the city of Jacyn) would be useful.

This here is a key goal/vision that I want my monarchical koinon to achieve/embody: empowering the concept of state accountability into becoming an increasing accepted tradition under the familiar, rediscovered trappings/veneer of medieval feudalism (and Hapsburg-inspired marriage alliances).

I asked ChatGPT to help me find concrete historical examples to challenge/refute the concept of absolute enmity/inescapable class enmity. I welcome everyone else to add their own examples, as well as correcting my ChatGPT-derived examples (if needed).

Here are some examples that focus on social classes or groups who historically opposed one another, but found ways to coexist or ally in the face of a common threat or for mutual benefit:

  1. The Roman Patricians and Plebeians: In ancient Rome, the Patricians (aristocratic families) and the Plebeians (commoners) often clashed over rights and privileges. Over time, however, and especially during times of external threats, these two classes made various compromises. The establishment of the Tribunes of the Plebs is one such example, where the Plebeians gained a formal role in governance, and the two classes learned to cooperate more effectively within the Roman Republic.
  2. English Nobility and Merchants during the Glorious Revolution: In the 17th century, the English nobility and the growing merchant class, despite their distinct interests and backgrounds, found common cause in opposing King James II, leading to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The subsequent constitutional monarchy that was established allowed both the aristocracy and the merchant class to coexist and thrive under a system of shared governance.
  3. Russian Peasants and Bolsheviks: During the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, despite their urban and intellectual roots, managed to gain the support of many peasants by promising land reforms. Although tensions remained and the relationship was far from perfect, this alliance was pivotal in the Bolsheviks’ ability to consolidate power.
  4. Indian National Movement: During the struggle for Indian independence from British rule, various social classes and religious groups came together. Despite significant differences, ranging from princely nobles to peasants, from Hindus to Muslims, many found common cause in opposing British imperialism. The post-independence period, however, saw some of these alliances fray, but the overarching idea of a united Indian identity persists to this day.
  5. French Revolution and the Rise of Napoleon: Initially, the French Revolution saw a myriad of classes and factions vying for power, including Jacobins, Girondins, Sans-culottes, and others. Yet, as the Revolution progressed and external enemies threatened, these groups found reasons to cooperate, and this fluid political landscape eventually paved the way for Napoleon, who promised stability, to take power. Under Napoleon, various classes coexisted, albeit under an autocratic regime.

In all these cases, historical necessity, mutual benefit, or a common enemy drove classes or factions that previously might have been at odds to find ways to cooperate or coexist. Even if the alliances were temporary or fraught with tension, they demonstrate the flexibility and pragmatism often inherent in political relationships."

Stuff from my above ChatGPT-derived research I think would be applicable in MC’s imagined new world order (that can keep both Shayardene aristos and K on MC’s team as grudgingly coexisting allies for the long term):

1- Not only will Shayard’s helots be declared free serfs (exempt from Harrowing, since the Karagonds and other undesirable foreigners will be Harrowed instead), MC will institute a “Tribunes of the Plebs” equivalent for the ex-helots to participate in

2- Surely, K and their clique of likewise radical-minded helots can be pacified with certain land reforms, right? MC would be happy to break down, redistribute, and grant the former aristo lands of Hegemony loyalists to K and other helots, while the other aristo lands of MC’s Homelander supporter base will remain largely unbroken/owned by the same old guard (but open to sharecropping).

3- If the worst bad apple aristos (e.g. Hector, Calea, Poric’s Pelematou lover, and others) were ruthlessly brought to justice (while the remaining white sheep aristos and the “merely snobby, but ultimately benign/cooperative” aristos could be co-opted), then could K’s wrath be mitigated?

Yes, I imagine that she and my MC will have a very fruitful alliance for the years/games to come. :grinning:

Then I will change the hypothetical federation’s criteria accordingly:

1- Since pirate leadership does indeed reek of “the fox guarding the henhouse,” I will change ‘pirate-led’ to ‘privateer-led’ (since we’ve both already entertained the idea of lategame privateers on the original Uprising forum).
And to further ease suspicions (of privateer untrustworthiness), all privateers will be babysat/supervised by state-approved Theurgic handlers (up until enough credibility/trust is earned by a privateer to be allowed to operate unsupervised).

2- The federation’s proposed capital is changed from Yludud to either Grand Shayard or Corlune.

And another question: Why wouldn’t ‘merchant-led’ be enough to earn Seraccan approval? From what I understand, the Abhuman Federation’s starting point politics is anti-imperialism and scraping by/exerting influence through trade agreements.

Could you more precisely point out Tsagir on XoR’s map? Or if it’s not officially labeled yet, please give us an estimated placement to visualize.

And with regards to the exciting topic of Nyrish urban vs nomadic balance of power, does Jev speak of Nereish nomadic traditions as if it inspired every present-day Nere’s lifestyle, or are they only speaking from the limited personal experience of the nomadic tribe they grew up in?
My main goal is figuring out which side of the Nereish divide Jev would prefer to become the post-collapse Nereish reigning authority. (and I’m currently thinking they’re pro-nomad, from what’s currently seen in the G2 demo)

That’s kind of the point of Shayardene independence, though. If Phaedra wants her grain, she will ask/pay a fair price for it in good faith (while prospective ally and/or husband MC might be willing to show mercy and throw in a reasonable discount), instead of extorting grain from Shayard. And snatching away Shayardene territory is an automatic dealbreaker (to both the immediate grain deal at hand, and the bigger picture alliance between MC’s imperial Shayard and Phaedra’s rump Hegemony).

And what about the Cosmo spectrum of MC’s supporters? Surely, Shayard’s Hegemony Loyalists must be relieved to learn that their sovereign monarch (Phaedra) and independent Shayard’s leader (MC) have found sufficient room for balance/peace/cooperation, right? (or do they see Phaedra’s tolerance/grudging acceptance of independent Shayard as weakness to be shamed)

And what about the Leaguers’ reactions to MC “getting in bed” with Phaedra? Surely, they have the maturity/perspective/pragmatism (compared to the less-eager-to-compromise Laconniers) to grasp the benefits of de Syrnon MC’s dealings with Phaedra? (exerting soft power on Phaedra’s Rump Hegemony through MC’s marriage alliance with Phaedra, while miraculously managing to restore/maintain Shayard to its historical imperial borders)

Or, would the Leaguers instead angrily perceive that MC has essentially sold out the non-Shayardene portion of the continent (aka the prospective “fellow Leaguer nations” they wanted to recruit) to the yoke of the colonial power that they were supposed to overthrow?

And on another note, could MC broker a Phaedra-Leaguer alliance by allowing Phaedra a trial run at being the reorganized koinon’s very first (unelected) president/“High Queen of the Alliance”? (similar to how Sun Yat-sen’s Kuomintang cut a deal with Yuan Shikai)

And yes, I will be the first to admit that Yuan Shikai’s dictatorial desires ultimately soured the real-life bargain (by his own grab for power as emperor), but compared to Yuan Shikai, I think the soft power of an XoR marriage alliance (with MC, leader of fellow koinon member state, Shayard), in combination with Shayard’s hard military power (demonstrated at the Siege of Aekos) will be sufficient reasons for Phaedra abiding by the limitations of the fledgling office of president.

Anyways, as you can see, I’m rather fascinated by the alternative idea of a monarchical koinon revolving around a (reputation-redeemed) Phaedra’s dynasty, compared to my earlier-hyped hypothetical iteration revolving around the de Syrnon dynasty. (though perhaps there ultimately won’t be a distinction, since de Syrnon MC has eyes for Phaedra)

And is jail time (for “Harza’s tormentor” Ennearch) an acceptable compromise to implement here? It still signals to Harza that MC will bring their mutual enemies to justice, while demonstrating to Phaedra that MC can respect her rule of law.
I’d also like to think that this dilemma could open a door for a post-Hegemony Shayard-Karagon-Nyryal triumvirate, rather than forcing the MC to choose between deepening ties with Nyryal versus deepening ties with Phaedra’s Karagon faction.

Duly noted; I will reframe my argument accordingly. “Phaedra is in a position of vulnerability. Shayard will get a much better deal from a grateful uplifted former enemy, than if Shayard continues appeasing Halassur, a menace which takes the Laconniers (and Shayard) for granted as its lackey.”

MC would also flex his Eclect credentials/credibility: “Your Eclect commands you to reconcile with and ally with your defeated Karagon enemies, who have now thrown off the shackles of their heretical Karagond Codex to convert to the light of the truths shown by our glorious Shayardene Codex! Better to side with repentant former heretics, than to sell ourselves out to the interests of child-killing heathens! The Karagonds have been given a second chance; if they betray it, they will not be given a third.”

Barring new information which we will inevitably learn in Game 3 and beyond, which allied/subordinate Whend do you currently foresee being more useful in the grand scheme of things?

Korzsata and his fellow ex-Phalangite buddies will easily bring military discipline for your growing armies (and help co-opt even more ex-Phalangites to your cause), but Zvad is undoubtedly an asset for overseeing Caroline’s raiding/espionage/assassination department (especially since Caroline’s other potential espionage asset, Breden, was executed for poisoning).

@Havenstone: Is the complete conquest of Halassur a plausible G5 outcome for immortal INT MC (directly in charge of crusader state Erezza plus annexed Halassur, while lightly influencing the remaining federation of states west of Erezza) to eventually achieve?


That only addresses the harrowing that says nothing about the chattel slavery which they’d presumably keep or at best transition to the little better land-bound serfdom.

Which is why my mc is prepared to go all out in recruiting former telones and hopes to rely on former merchants and the most promising (newly educated, as you said this game might span decades) members of his own rebellion/faction for the rest even if that results in a more capitalistic economic direction than would be his preference, provided that the caste system is still torn down and slavery abolished.



Sorry if you have answered this before, but what is the best outcome you envision for a build that leaves the Harrowing apparatus (technical and societal) intact?

And, the 2COM version of my Ruth/Skep/Cosm Aristocrat build (this one requires a fair bit of metagaming and Doylist logic to do, I can do a guide for it if anyone’s interested.)

I guess he hopes his swordplay and strategic prowess will be enough to win people to his banner, cause he doesn’t have much else…


I was actually speaking hypothetically of a possible cosmo MC there rather than of my main. She chose Shayarin for the band’s language and ended up with Bethune.

However, I think Korzsata might be the most valuable potential recruit in the Game 1 for a non Com 2 MC. I believe he’ll be a great general.

Speaking generally, I think the cosmo MC will be able to have a more skilled set of subordinates while the Homelander MC will have an easier time doing mass mobilization and increasing the size of their following early on.

Edit: a meta reason I’m doing a Homelander main is because I know that at least one major faction will be a neo-Thaumatarchy. A nationalist uprising in Shayard that supports nationalist uprisings in other nations will cut the legs out from under those factions in terms of support base.


It is, sorry. I’ll be able to give a few insights into a handful of possible epilogues (e.g. see below) but no broad scope previews for a long time yet.

Local leaders appointing delegates to go to the capital and take part in a council where grievances are raised, requests made, perhaps laws passed (depending on whether you’re trying to found a legislative assembly). If your territory is big enough to have districts or regions, you might have councils at each level, and each level would appoint its own representatives to the next level up. I’m suggesting that while you could choose your local level leaders by popular vote, we’re still a ways out from any post-Hegemonic state having the capacity to select district or higher level assemblies that way.

Nepal’s panchayat system from the 60s-80s worked something like this, with elected village assemblies who then appointeed delegates to a district assembly, whose members sent delegates to a zonal assembly, whose members sent delegates to a national one. The overall system was authoritarian, subject to overt monarchical intervention at the higher power levels; but as a first democratic experiment, rather than an intentional regression from a more polyarchic system, I think it could play out differently.

I don’t think I can give you the kind of precise answer you seem to be looking for on this one – just to say again that in an imperial collapse, it will be hard to make huge advances in this area, and you should expect that much of the economy and population will remain opaque to even a low-anarchy MC.

It will I think look very different depending on the scale at which you try to establish your domination, the social base you try to keep on side as your primary allies, and the extent to which you appeal to nation and/or religion with their associated symbols to boost your legitimacy. Tyranny won’t have any inherent advantages when it comes to problems like fiscal capacity, and (even if you’re sincerely trying to rule as an enlightened, benevolent despot rather than a purely selfish one) you’ll end the game with acute questions around succession and what’s to keep the next Benevolent Thaumatarch from taking things straight back to the bad old days.

To give a more accurate sense of what that would entail, I’ll really need to produce an updated world map with the names of all the important urban and semi-urban areas, to fill in some areas that are just misleadingly green empty spaces in the current version. :slight_smile: The upper Eddern River watershed, north of Veldrin, is emphatically not empty farm country, as the current map would lead you to believe.

It includes two big cleruchy cities on the Wiendish side (Vrashtev and Kiectos, in the side valleys running toward and north of Jacyn) and three densely populated districts in lower Karagon – not just the big cities of Eskydra and Mandras on the watershed’s fringes, shown in the current map, but the lowland districts of Lephros, Lachedon, and Nochoris along the great river itself.

If your conquering monarch headed north from Veldrin and incorporated the districts of Vrashtev, Kiectos, Lephros, Lachedon, Nochoris, Eskydra, Mandras, and Stegnos on the way to Nyryal, you’d have added 24m people to your empire – very nearly as many as the total population of Nyryal (25m). And you’d have swallowed 45% of Karagon, population-wise, though only around 18% of its land area. That’s a pretty hefty “bridge.”

The Westriding has been Karagon’s primary granary for well over a century, with supplies shipped up the Eddern and its tributaries/canals, long before the canal systems in eastern Karagon (drawing from the Shayard Coast up the River Fyrne) were as developed as they are today. All the Karagond cities and districts directly upstream from the Westriding were thus the first to balloon and reach a new, higher equilibrium population, well beyond what their own farmland could ever sustain. (This is also true of lowland Wiendrj, especially the Stezyc/Alsztyn area, where the iron/grain trade with Shayard has massively boosted the population.)

This high-population equilibrium depends entirely on those Theurgy-powered grain barges moving upriver. The nightmare scenario for the Hegemony is some combination of trouble in the east (making it hard to supply Aekos up the Fyrne canal system) plus a major, sustained disruption to navigation on the Eddern. (Like the one that Cabel’s Westriding rebels are itching to deliver, and would be able to in e.g. a scenario where self-sacrifice Theurgy became widely known.) In that kind of crisis, the top-heavy population of western Karagon and eastern Wiendrj will be like a tower with its foundation pillars knocked out.

Preventing the ensuing implosion is the dilemma that will most preoccupy Phaedra…and would lead her to solutions that are a poor fit with Shayardene nationalism. You’re free to talk about “extorting grain from Shayard,” but an independent Shayard in its current borders would have unparalleled power of extortion over Karagon and lowland Wiendrj. It would be a generational project, and one with a high chance of failure, for the upper Eddern watershed to try to reduce its total dependency on Westriding grain.

No responsible state would readily accept that kind of dependency relationship with another fully independent one, knowing that if your neighbor didn’t like any of your policies, it could simply direct its grain trade elsewhere and cause your regime and population to collapse. Not even if the neighbor was headed by a self-proclaimed Eclect, or by your husband.

It sounds like you’d be unhappy with some kind of political union that compromises Shayard’s sovereignty by e.g. giving Karagon the right to direct the overall Shayardene grain trade and make sure it gets fed first. But without something like that – something much more robust than a loose federation under two married heads of state – the only way you’ll be able to assert a sovereign border at Veldrin is by fending off repeated invasion attempts by the Theurges and armies of your food-insecure neighbors. After prevailing militarily, you could try to nudge your defeated northern neighbors in the right way to hopefully have them coalesce into a dependent Rump that’s accepted its subordinate status… rather than the more likely outcome, a congeries of petty Theurge-warlords continually sending waves of raiders and starving refugees into your territory.

It might bear emphasis that there’s no inherent (positive!) connection between monarchy and state accountability; if you’re aiming for the latter, it would be a very odd strategy that started by strengthening the former. :slight_smile: Monarchs were just the local flavor of autocracy in early modern Europe. Early modern military technologies demanded far higher levels of investment in defenses, weaponry, and standing armies, on top of the lavish lifestyle that monarchs maintained (both for their own sake and as part of the mystique of the institution). The increasingly fund-starved kings and queens needed to find new ways to sustain themselves; the old combination of demesne resources/ privileges and feudal levies weren’t enough, fiscally or militarily.

The new “fiscal states” and tax regimes that emerged out of that period often involved deals by which the monarchs agreed to convene or beef up some sort of assembly (parliament, riksdag, estates-general) bringing together representatives of the elites who generated/controlled wealth sources the monarchs wanted to extract. These assemblies tried to build some sort of consensus on what was the maximum acceptable extraction to support the expanding state. They weren’t so much efforts to represent “the people” as efforts to represent the (mostly urban) sources of mercantile wealth and specialist production, alongside the traditional landowning rural elites. The assemblies often tried to restrain kingly military aspirations and lifestyles, bringing them into conflict with the monarchs, sometimes rather intensely.

But the bigger monarchies (even in fragmented Europe, let alone areas like Han China with fewer geographical barriers to control of a large area) could generally get away with fewer concessions and less accountability. They had more resources to draw on, from a wider area, to support costs of standing armies and weaponry that (while also bigger) didn’t scale with their bigger geography. So if you want monarchy to lead to state accountability as one of the pathways to more honest and participatory government… make sure you have lots of small monarchies, competing militarily with each other (i.e. no koinon, or at least nothing more robust than the Holy Roman Empire), and spending beyond their means. That’s what pushes autocrats to grudgingly give more of a governing voice to propertied groups of citizens, holding themselves slightly more accountable to a wider elite circle.

A Leninist/Maoist critic would agree that all of those examples show classes working together. But they would say that all of those cases fall well short anything worth describing as emancipation, and thus ultimately represent a surrender by the weaker class(es) to their ongoing oppression by the stronger. The French Revolution is a classic example: an old feudal order (monarch, aristos, priests) is brought down by a bourgeois-led uprising that draws from many classes, but what emerges from the revolution isn’t liberation for the laboring classes (peasants and urban poor) but a new imperialistic autocracy, followed by a farcical return of monarchy, ultimately enabling the rise of capitalist modes of domination in France.

The fundamental Leninist/Maoist assertion – fuelled by a theory of history that’s much more about where history is going than where it’s been – is that the lowest, laboring classes will only truly be freed when their more-and-more dehumanizing exploitation (culminating in the capitalism that disconnects them entirely from the land and treats them like literal cogs in a machine) drives them to uncompromising revolution. When the Revolution comes, they’ll refuse to accept any half-measures or compromises with the classes that oppress and exploit them; they’ll fight, they’ll win, and they’ll usher in a new world free of class oppression. Anything short of that, in the final perspective, isn’t worth fighting for. Better to die for the chance of perfect justice than to end up one more half-hearted serf willing to “rattle your chains if you love being free.”

Kalt doesn’t have anything like the theoretical jargon of Marx or Mao to shore up his worldview, but his gut instinct is fundamentally similar. His view of history has a similar central teleology to Marx’s, a belief that the oppressor-oppressed relationship has a telos that steers it in one ultimate direction, as inevitably as stones fall or fire rises. There are (way) more of us than there are of Them, and Their power depends on keeping us under Them; one day we’ll fight Them hard enough to actually win; the main thing that keeps today from being that day is our fear and desire to avoid seeing the conflict for what it is. That won’t change easily, and not just by sharing examples of (from K’s perspective) lower classes accommodating themselves to the upper ones.

I think you mean free yeomen, or just free peasants, given what you go on to say about land reform. Serfs can’t be sold like chattel, but they’re still deeply unfree – unable to own land, required to cultivate a specific patch of it on terms set by the landlord, and subject to punishment if they try to leave. K wouldn’t be remotely mollified by anyone rolling out that institution, even if it came with a Harrowing exemption.

There are going to be an awful lot of helpless, starving refugees in the post-Hegemonic world, millions of them Karagond. A regime that treats them as fuel could get a long way without needing to designate a slave caste. (That might indeed be what one of the major factions plans to do.) You’d just have to decide whether it’s a moral or practical gain to swap enslaving one category of people for genocidally slaughtering another.

K and like-minded radicals would argue that any land reforms worth having would require you to thoroughly break the old aristocracy first anyway – not just the Loyalist bits of it. I think you’d be discouraged by just how few Leaguers (let alone nobles of any other faction) are willing to accept the idea of land reform, even for their enemies. They just don’t want to open that door, sensing how many tens of millions of helots and land-starved yeomen are on the other side, with demands that would go beyond what you could possibly satisfy without gutting the nobility as a class. Break up the Loyalist estates (remembering that the overwhelming majority of aristos are at least half-heartedly Loyalist) and how long could the remaining fraction really hope to hold onto their land against sharecroppers ravenous for a better deal?

You’re not going to be able to satisfy both K and any sizeable noble faction with your definition of the “worst bad apple” aristos. Abuses of every kind against the helotry are simply too widespread; any justice campaign that focused just on e.g. rape and beatings that led to maiming would bring down a host of aristos who are widely liked and thought of as good people by most of their peers. (Imagine how the colonial-era Virginia gentry would have felt about you going hard after Thomas Jefferson for raping an underage slave.) Move on from that to punishing nobles for e.g. killing suspected helot poachers, and suddenly even Simon de Firiac is going wobbly.

It would earn the approval of some Seracca; they’re not a monolith, any more than the Hegemony or Halassur. Other Seracca would be delighted to see you starting little pirate kingdoms, but wouldn’t want to see them federating with each other, let alone with the Seracca themselves. More than that I’m not going to share at the present. Happy to revisit it when the full draft of G2 is out.

Look at the southern end of the narrow gulf between Nyryal and the Bloodless Reach. Tsagir is likely to have two advantages in maintaining its independence against the nomads: access to the quicksilver and other minerals traded by Wiends down the river from Siszula, and a unique relationship between its ruling class and the Unquiet Dead. No more spoilers on that one for a while, either. :slight_smile:

Jev would be on the urban side of the G4/G5 nomad-urban divide, actually. O is proud of the Nyr’s nomadic heritage, but also of their sophisticated urbanism, and wouldn’t want to see the latter sacrificed to support the life of the plains.

As you’ve guessed, they’d be much less bothered by the mere fact of your relationship with Phaedra…though the non-Loyalists (i.e. the ones who actually supported your rebellion) would still be nervous about you selling out Shayard’s interests and ending up back under the Thaumatarchy’s thumb. If you tried to make Phaedra the nominal head of your federation, their anxiety levels would go through the roof. Unless it came after you’d already thoroughly crushed the Rump Thaumatarchy on the battlefield… which would be a very odd scenario, less like Sun Yat-sen/Yuan Shikai and more like if Mao had offered Chiang Kai-shek the presidency of a joint federation in 1951.

“Jail time” would be impossible and satisfy no one. Harza wants his tormentor dead, not locked away, and wouldn’t believe in your ability to keep an Ennearch in prison. Phaedra wants to make incremental reforms to the system, changing it over time into something more just and sustainable, not cause it to collapse by threatening its top power holders with retribution. And as for rule of law – there’s no law in the Thaumatarchy that restrains Ennearchs from punishing people for insolence and disrespect. Nor are there legal provisions for lengthy prison sentences, in a world where any excuse for a Harrowing is a good one.

But on a more consoling note, Harza isn’t so well connected in Nyryal that you’d be sacrificing your hopes of a triumvirate by refusing to act as his assassin.

I’m not planning to extend the G5 epilogues by centuries for Theurge MCs who try to prolong their lifespans. While there may be some exceptions, we’ll probably see about a generation go by, and the epilogues will reflect the gameworld status then; a slow-aging MC will just finish the game hoping for much more ahead.

So let’s posit an epilogue for an MC who has launched a Halassur crusade, seen it grind to a halt when it’s occupied as much new hostile territory as the MC’s military capacity can handle, and ends the game coping with an escalating insurgency, along with various changes in the Empire itself to respond to their threat (including a greater rate of child sacrifice). A life-extending Theurge MC will absolutely be able to end that epilogue echoing @comradelenin’s promise to fight on for a thousand years – still able to convince themselves that the centuries to come will see more people in the western continent rallying to their cause, or some military breakthrough, or a revolt in Halassur (overlooking how much the existential threat of their invasion has reduced that prospect), or something. I won’t force @comradelenin to watch his state go the way of the Principality of Antioch.

Some post-Thaumatarchic leaders would even be open to abolishing the chattel aspects to bring disorder down, though the best status helots would be offered in exchange would be as free landless laborers sharecropping the great aristo estates – and you’re well aware from exposure to north Indian cases of how easily that can become de facto serfdom. Land reform isn’t something any Rump Thaumatarchy is going to offer.

That combination will get you a good ways, state-capacity-wise. You’ll feel the lack of priestly and noble administrative capacity, but also the greater freedom their absence gives you for social reengineering.

So a ruthless MC who preserves the Harrowers as she expands, betrays her original helot followers to the harvest at an opportune moment, and then tries to rebuild the whole Hegemony by conquest (and/or marrying into the biggest successor faction)? A strong player should I think be able to end the game with a pretty close geographical facsimile of the Thaumatarchy you started with – your skills put you on track to be a world-class empire-builder, one way or another – but with significantly fewer Theurges at your command, a completely gutted Kryptast corps, a lot more emboldened rebels, and harder-to-manage threats on all your borders. That is, it’ll be tottering a lot more visibly than the Hegemony is in Game One. If a “crusader state” epilogue leaves the reader uneasily wondering “how many centuries before this is all completely undone?” a restored Thaumatarchy ending will probably be “how many years?” Echoes of Alexander the Great.

PS: I don’t think Rump Thaumatarchy is a term that will be used in the actual game, since the jokes about the Rimmer gang taking over the biggest Rump faction would write themselves.


I hope that combination is able to pull off significant, meaningful and lasting land reforms by the absence of the old exploitative castes, which, as you say is probably the best thing to ensure that freedom for most former slaves endures, particularly if we can combine it with something like co-ops to ensure the economies of scale stay relatively intact and are even likely to expand in the future. We do not want to end up with India’s festering and frankly faltering state of reforms where the caste society de-facto survives and has gotten worse again in recent decades as it simultaneously seems to move further and further away from secularism or even basic tolerance.

Don’t worry my mc has always been extremely well aware of that fact, as such his efforts to include other classes are focused on swaying the merchants and convincing them that they too can prosper under this new system and getting the yeomen on board. Like I said, if that is what it takes he’ll even grudgingly accept a more capitalistic reform direction than he would strictly speaking prefer if that is what it is gonna take to get those classes on board and behind wide ranging reforms, including land reform. He’ll not pretend his desired reforms are gonna hold any attraction for the priests and nobles at all and they are classes and castes he always wanted to do away with entirely in any case.

A step backwards for Nepal a step forward in the former Hegemony, eh? It could work in fact my mc might like it because it is naturally suited to political tutelage particularly at the higher levels while giving the population the opportunity for (some)democracy at the level closest to them, and for most of the population the only level they’ll really interact with all their lives. At least until a second industrial revolution might bring about a mass newspaper revolution and things like telegraph, trains and eventually wireless radio to more closely connect the realm at which time political tutelage might become untenable or needs to seriously be scaled back. But by then hopefully nobody with any influence will be hunkering for a return of the castes, theocracy and widespread chattel slavery of the old Hegemony.


How much more room for getting concessions would an MC have who just wanted to make them for the yeomen while not touching slavery?

My arrogant aristo has refrained from actively recruiting any helots after the initial revolt against the harrowing and will continue to only focus on yeomen recruitment.

Basically, how much potential does a “democratization of privilege” strategy have for the classist snob MC that doesn’t genuinely care about helots but was just being an opportunist?

PS - this MC as well Simon/Suzanne illustrate that the views of K and of idlun’s MC that aristos just can’t be trusted to further their interests have a lot of foundation obviously.


I always told people on the discord that we would just harrow Karagonds as a form of doing historic justice (and avoiding harrowing our own), but it was always meant as a shitpost not as an actual possible policy!


Damn, isn’t all that a shame. I remain extremely vindicated in my -300 aristo_rel.

Actually, speaking of, how efficacious would “harrow all the nobles” be in staving off famine and such? Assuming one preferred classicide to Karagond genocide.


Considering how important actual brain power is in magic, how are we going to go about making our own wizards within the rebellion? The fact a comparatively quick witted but hyper educated man can’t do much makes our recruiting pool exceptionally small


Probably too low a percentage of the population I would think. 2% at the most and probably less.

Hegemony is currently Harrowing 5% per year right?


@roodcross is basically right (though worth noting that 5% is of the adult population, not the kids). Harrow every adult noble, and you’re only 88% of the way to the normal annual blood harvest. Even if you Harrow the kids too and pare down your blood budget, you won’t get too many extra harvests out of eating the rich.


Dang quite a few of my helot mc’s are going to be disappointed by that