Perhaps this idea should be used for a very high anarchy scenario where an antagonistic group could take it up, rather than the MC, but your eat the rich comment made me wonder… how much edible material is left after harrowing? Could a cannibal bandit clan harrow and eat their victims to give themselves theurgic power?
Skill issue. I’ll do it right this time.
By the way, what about the Bill of Rights and industrialization that we were talking about earlier? Please tell me the details. (especially about how far they can progress and the details of spinning mills)
I guess I consider myself a reasonably strong and versatile XoR player, so I’ll hope for the 2COM/1INT Aristocrat using his combat prowess to build an elite-based rebellion, marrying into the major successor faction, and then having a strong, if brittle, Hegemony!
I guess I also wonder about how the very unsuccessful “failrun” Helot builds will work. Will your epilogue feature you as a permanent, itinerant outlaw? What will the rest of the gameworld look like if you failed to make much of an impact besides causing a ruckus in various places?
Any chance for family reconciliation between arrogant aristo Laconnier MC and their cousins down the line? There was another interesting hint about the Keriatou tendencies the nationalist direction with Calea reserving some of her most vicious mockery for people that only know the Koine word for something rather than the Shayarin term despite having a Koine name. Knowing Calea, that’s saying something.
The yeomanry will be torn. Most are proud not to be helots, and would be nervous about a regime where millions of freed helots were suddenly roaming the countryside and talking about land confiscation; they know they’re easier targets than many aristos. On the other hand, they also recognize that the aristos are the ones who’ve been eating up their land and pushing them into the army/cities or reducing them to the life of impoverished retainers on noble estates. Many are ready to make common cause with the helots against the aristos. So an MC who chooses to keep slavery will be able to bring a lot of the yeomanry along with her, while facing fierce resistance from others.
XoR: where grimdark shitposts become grimdark shit reality.
It’ll help now that you’ve got someone who can catch you up on the stuff centuries of Theurges have already figured out. Even a relatively quick-witted person will take a while to reinvent a whole science, but an experienced practitioner will be able to bring lots of others up to speed. Or if you didn’t want to go the trainer-of-trainers route, you could just train a whole bunch of basic wisards to e.g. toss fireballs around plus whatever else they can figure out on their own, keeping the super-skills for a more select, trusted elite.
Most of it? Meat is mostly muscle, which isn’t an aether-rich tissue. By the same token, eating it (or drinking blood) doesn’t fix the aether or give it to you in useable form, any more than cutting someone else’s hand does. So a group combining cannibalism with Harrowing would I think be doing it out of desperate starvation or for scary-maximizing purposes, not because it gave them any particular utilitarian advantage.
I’m afraid what you’ve quoted is as much detail as I’m able to give right now. We’ll see how things unfold as I get it on the page.
And a reasonably deft wielder of understatement.
Without the MC’s successful intervention to steer it in some other direction, the continent would settle into a post-Hegemonic equilibrium with two big rival successor states, another twenty-odd small-to-medium states (or possessions of states on other continents), and a few stateless zones made up of tribes, bands, fortified towns, etc. An MC who finds themself in that scenario should have a few choices for the role they’ll play, which will be sketched out in an epilogue. Permanent outlaw based in one of the stateless zones; ex-rebel lying low under an alias; prophet-in-hiding of a liberationist cult; friend/client of one of the successor states; explorer heading out with the Qalsa to find new worlds; auto-Plektast saying “sod all this, I’m off to be a panda”…we’ll see when we get there.
Hector and Calea may end up going in somewhat different directions, but I’m afraid I’m not going to give forecasts or spoilers right now on where that might take them.
So I have some questions about technology, which may overlap with previous questions. First, to what extent is medicine currently and how far can it advance through MC selection? Also, to what extent can information communication technology advance? (I’d also like to know how the printing press and flight technology help.) Also, what about transportation technology, especially ship technology, and the standard sailor’s life?
I know you are pretty diligent on the math but was a 5% reduction of foodstuff demand (because they’re dead) also factored in on the high end to in hitting that 88%?
So i wonder if visiting vigil is the peak crazy thing that MC can do in game 2. Will be there any feat that surpass that? At least in game 2.
Eh, aristo’s are pretty wasteful and prone to conspicuous consumption so maybe they actually account for 6-8% of the food, have you thought about that?
I mean, realistically, there’s probably not much that can top facing what’s basically this world’s Eye of Sauron.
Oh no, they’re
hot war criminals.
This is just the spice needed to breathe some fresh hype into the Westriding for me, since they’ve felt too much like a “good guy” free peoples uprising for my taste. Knowing now that they’re itching to probably starve tens of millions of Karagonds makes them significantly more fun as a faction (derogatory, and complimentary). Potential allies, potential enemies — it all comes down to what compromises we’re willing to make, and that delicate uncertainty is where the fun begins.
There are darkly fascinating implications here, assuming that those in power aren’t utterly shortsighted (a high bar for politicians, admittedly, doubly so for the genocidal variety). It seems impractical in the long term to build a blood economy on harrowing Karagond refugees. Genocide annihilates people; if accomplished, there will be fewer and fewer people to destroy. Whatever Harrower-state emerges from that absolute horror would seem to have vastly diminished Theurgic capacity — leading me to think that this policy could only be justified as short-term stabilisation amidst imperial collapse that would lead to a more “just” world in the aftermath.
“Only through sacrifice can the world be preserved”, etc. The Thaumatarchy’s heirs are ever in its shadow.
So this is a minor point, but the saying is that one bad apple spoils the barrel. And this is an accurate description, I think, of what’s fundamentally broken about the aristocracy. Their cruelty — their outright evil — is rooted in the authority invested in them as slaveholders and arbiters of law. The bad apples are their parents, their siblings, their grandparents, their children; the people who raised them, their friends, their loved ones, the loved ones of their loved ones. For the “innocent” and the moral cowards, their lives are wreathed in the Thaumatarchy’s crimes because that’s the role forced onto them by birth.
The way I see things, within the Thaumatarchy, aristocracy cannot have clean hands. The poison of blood-power rots all of it. To be an aristo is to live one’s entire life in proximity to that power — unless they can break free.
Perhaps a new aristocracy could emerge with a fairer deal for its subjects; history suggests the viability of that. But I would be loath to call such an institution benevolent. Better, I think, to bring an end to it all. But to be free of being an aristo is to be free to fall; how many would be willing to make that deal, even among the “white sheep”? I doubt many would.
Maybe Grand Shayard will prove me wrong. But if the aristos there are anything like the aristos we’ve met so far, I’m not holding out much hope.
Also, an actually important clarification: Poric does not have a Pelematou lover! He and Radmar have been a couple for a while. Georden Pelematou was hooking up with somebody and had Poric secretly bring him birth control. Georden didn’t want to fess up to losing his virginity, so the Pelematou cut out Poric’s tongue and broke half the bones in his body. That’s an injustice that demands answering — but had we first met Georden in another context (say, at a fancy party in the capital, far away from the estate where his family has all-but free reign to abuse their helots), would the blood on his hands be so clear to see? I don’t think that can be guaranteed.
I get the impression that medicine under the Thaumatarchy has advanced far beyond what even our world has in some regards: there’s a panacea (agrimony), perfect contraception (mullow), and for both plants, their biological engineering is no longer dependent on active blood magic. Limbs can be regrown; tumors can be healed. As a self-taught blood mage, we can survive a fatal blow with only a post-op diagnosis of physical therapy, and then use that same knowledge to mitigate the effects of a weak poisoning. Magic can triple the human lifespan, and this is universal technology among the Seracca (and probably the Unquiet Dead).
The greatest leap probably won’t be in technology; it’ll be in reach.
"Don’t bring Mother into this. There was an apothecary in town when she fell ill. His tinctures could have cured her, if you’d brought him. They probably would have had you beaten half to death for insolence. Or…they might have had one of their fits of mercy and sent the herbalist. So did she die because helots can’t afford an apothecary, or because you were too afraid to ask the aristarchs for one? Either way, it’s a damned shame."
For naval technology, blood magic gives ships the kind of mobility that could only be dreamed of before the engine:
As for technological advancement, obviously that can only be addressed by Havenstone.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the trade-offs that could come from Harza’s offer, besides the potential strain on relations with Phaed. For a rebellion willing to use violence, somehow I suspect “Kill an Ennearch? Was planning on doing that anyway” will be a natural response (with an potentially accompanying “The Diadoche? Figured they weren’t making it out of alive anyway”).
One thing that I find notable about life extension is that immortality ends. There’s no such thing. Hera ‘the Immortal’ died. A century into her conquest, sure — but she couldn’t reach her dream (of world domination), and her descendants would all but give up on it.
And for the next, let’s say, fifty years after the inevitable Fall of Aekos, I imagine there’ll be at least one such dead god in living memory.
Vigil, to be fair, is a deeply individual journey. It’s our desire, first and foremost, and the revelations are ours to ponder. Not to mention that it’s closure for what might be our protagonists’ childhood burden, the first spark of their rebellion:
“I’m sorry I was scared to help you”
Even if nothing else approaches the eldritch sublime that is the Temple of Storms, the rest of Stormwright is still shaping up to live up to that name. Our protagonists can likely leave a wake of change and revolution in their path that could affect thousands, if not tens of thousands of the invisible people. Irduin might end Chapter 6 very different than how it began. Grand Shayard certainly will, with the inevitably of Cerlota’s Xaos-storm bearing down on its walls: the question is how to wield that opportunity. Within the setting, there will be lives that are irrevocably changed as a consequence of our protagonists’ actions — hopefully for the better, but who’s to say for the invisible people? And if that feels like little, it’s a testament to the vastness that is a population, more stories weaved together than any person could ever know.
Suffice to say, nobody in history has brought down a Ward before. The world will change in that moment, and our protagonists are right there at the fulcrum.
Not to mention that I suspect the vastness of Vigil and the vastness of an entire people are not so dissimilar at the end of the day, but that this is obscured by… form.
Anyway, I’ve got another lore/theory post cooking, this time about blood magic. There’s nothing too exciting there, just drawing some aesthetic connections I haven’t seen people talk about yet, along with some rudimentary comments on the gameworld’s metaphysics. But hopefully it’ll be fun.
I look forward to hearing more details about your alternate Cosmo MC, should you decide to invest time and energy for that playthrough (and are in a likewise eager mood to share your journey with the rest of the forum).
And compared to flighty/combat-averse Zvad (who will desert “stand and fight” MCs who don’t apply their charisma/religious credibility), Korzsata and his fellow ex-Phalangites have declared themselves oathbound to obey (newly appointed clan chieftain) Cosmo MC.
What will Caroline’s preferred solution be for dealing with Wiendrj and Karagon seeking to annex Shayardene territory for assured access to grain? (Per the recent discussions with Havenstone concerning the dilemma between Shayardene sovereignty versus maintaining good relations with food insecure neighbors)
Might uniting a the “holy league” koinon (Karagon, Shayard, Whendry, and Erezza) render the border dispute meaningless? (Since koinon membership will entitle Wiendrj and Karagon the grain they need anyway)
And would Karagon earn top priority for grain access (after Shayard was fed), if Caroline was promised all of Karagon’s Theurgic secrets/tech advances?
Here’s to hoping that one day, XoR’s characters go meta by making inside jokes about your earlier maps! (E.g. “I knew I shouldn’t have been so cheap as to settle for these off-brand maps!”)
Oh boy, my de Syrnon MC’s anticipated whirlwind romance with Phaedra is just begging to unwittingly unleash the Earlund separatist movement (as MC’s greatest domestic threat/rival), right?
I mean, I suppose hooking up with Phaedra counts as a “perceived sign of betrayal from Shayard’s coastal elites”…
A previously discussed topic (between @cascat07 and I) about an Austro-Hungarian inspired Karagon-Shayard diarchy (ruling as the new imperial metropole over a reformed Hegemony) grows more appealing by the day, at this rate. Would this proposed diarchy/merger be a viable solution?
I also have the exact same question for a hypothetical “Holy Xthonic Triumvirate” theocracy (with supreme power evenly split between Shayard’s de Syrnon family, Cerlota’s favored Erezzan faction(s), and Phaedra’s Karagon faction/remaining Hegemony loyalists).
Apologies for the odd mish-mash on my part. As you can see, I’m still trying to imagine the fantasy of transplanting the Warcraft Alliance model of governance into XoR, and am likewise perhaps still stumbling trying to justify that model’s long-term usefulness in a post-Hegemonic world.
And end up splitting Shayard? (Gasp)
Not if my Homelander boys and I have anything to say about that!
On another note, your earlier suggested concept to @comradelenin (about a “federation which masks genuine control”) sounds increasingly appealing to my de Syrnon MC and his Leaguer allies.
With every province being staffed/led by de Syrnon-loyal in-laws (and the generations to come), Habsburg-ish Hegemony Lite, here we go!
Since revolutions have a reliable historical tendency of creating new dictators to replace the old ones, perhaps a Stalin-like betrayal/usurpation (from one of K’s power hungry radicals) might humble K enough to reconsider their approach? (Especially if MC pointed out that K’s anti-aristo tunnel vision blinded K to the reality of the ugly power vacuum their actions contributed to? “The old guard aristos were certainly nasty/snobby, but at I knew how to navigate around them. This new autocracy that your betrayer has created is now far worse than either of us could have ever imagined.”)
Could a Trotsky-like arc be applicable to K’s lategame arc?
Apologies for my confusion, I thought the yeomen and serf labels were interchangeable, my bad.
In absence of any remaining ideas on my part, I once again turn to ChatGPT for aid with regards to counter-proposals.
Phased Approach: Instead of an all-at-once land reform, consider a phased approach. Start with the most antagonistic and resistant Loyalist estates. By redistributing these lands in stages, we can better manage the backlash and also demonstrate to other nobles the potential benefits of voluntary land reforms.
Alternative Compensation: Land redistribution doesn’t have to be punitive. Nobles could be compensated through alternative means, be it monetary, trade incentives, or positions of influence in other sectors. This could mitigate some of the opposition and concerns about wealth loss.
Model Farms & Cooperative Ventures: Establishing model farms where helots, yeomen, and former nobility work in cooperation can serve as a tangible example that land reform can benefit everyone. These ventures could provide better yields and improved economic stability for the region, illustrating the mutual benefits of reform.
Education and Outreach: To address the apprehensions of Leaguers and other nobility, an extensive outreach and education program can be launched. This can inform them about the benefits of land reforms not just for helots and yeomen but for the long-term stability and prosperity of the realm.
Balancing Radical Demands: While K and radicals have legitimate grievances, it’s essential to balance their demands with broader societal needs. Gradual empowerment, coupled with efforts to elevate their socioeconomic status, might pacify some of their immediate demands, paving the way for more significant changes down the line.
ChatGPT to my rescue (or awkward detriment) again!
Broadening the Definition of Justice: Instead of focusing solely on punitive measures, we could incorporate elements of restorative justice. This would involve victims, offenders, and community members coming together to collectively address the aftermath of an offense and its root causes.
Establish Clear Criteria: It’s essential to lay down clear criteria for what constitutes a ‘bad apple’. This would provide transparency and reduce the perception of bias or arbitrariness in determining guilt.
Offer Reparations & Rehabilitation: Instead of purely punitive measures, certain aristos could be offered a chance to make amends through reparations or community service. This could serve to repair the damage done and reintegrate them into a more egalitarian society.
Engage in Open Dialogue: Engaging in continuous dialogue with K, the helot community, and aristocratic factions can help bridge understanding. Regular town hall meetings or reconciliation forums can allow for grievances to be aired and solutions proposed.
Educational & Cultural Shifts: Instituting educational programs that promote egalitarian values and challenge the normalized mistreatment of helots can gradually reshape societal attitudes. Over time, this could reduce the acceptance of abusive practices within the aristocracy.
Gradual Reforms: Tackling the worst offenses first (e.g., violent beatings leading to maiming, rape) while simultaneously launching societal reforms can create a more harmonious path toward justice.
(Returning from the ChatGPT copy paste to speak normally again) Admittedly, most of these above proposals are modern solutions that will be hard to implement neatly in the midst of an imperial collapse (with rule of law being badly hurt, even in low anarchy gameworlds), but I still think the proposals are worth contemplating, regardless.
On a safer minor note, can I at least ask if they chill out with each other over tea and cookies?
And would Jev be happier to see the nomad-urban balance status quo preserved, or perhaps happier to see his urban faction come out on top against nomad rivals?
My MC would try gently making the following rebuttal: “To clarify, we rebelled against the regime of Phaedra’s monstrous, unfeeling, and inhuman father. Phaedra, on the other hand, still has her sanity, has denounced Kleitos’ most outrageous past policies, and is open to reform. As such, she is very willing to negotiate with us Leaguers. And last I checked, none of us bent the knee to Phaedra; she and I are married allies, and that’s it. Karagon will have to settle for holding together the remnants of its imperial sandbox, while we Leaguers and associates finally rebuild/maintain Shayard’s imperial sandbox on our end.”
(FYI more juxtaposed ChatGPT input incoming)
Your comparison to Mao and Chiang Kai-shek got me thinking about other historical leaders who’ve been in complex political situations. Consider Gorbachev. As the last leader of the Soviet Union, he tried to implement reforms and move the nation towards a more democratic direction. While many laud him for his role in ending the Cold War, the rapid transformations under his leadership led to the USSR’s eventual dissolution. After its collapse, Gorbachev, once a staunch Communist, even embraced roles that were in stark contrast to his previous position, like becoming a spokesperson for capitalist ventures.
Phaedra, in our scenario, could be envisioned as a kind of “Gorbachev figure”. She might recognize the need for reform and change within the Empire and be willing to make considerable shifts to prevent its total collapse. And just as Gorbachev had to navigate the end of one era and the dawning of another, Phaedra’s challenge would be to steer her nation through unprecedented changes while finding a way to coexist with the burgeoning power of the playable character’s faction.
Such an analogy also opens up avenues to explore Phaedra’s personal struggles, balancing her traditional loyalties with the changing realities, and how she might carve a new identity in this brave new world.
What do you think of this perspective?
Alternatively, consider the relationship between Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. Though said relationship was tumultuous, the two had moments where they both recognized the need for a kind of mutual coexistence, even if it wasn’t a federation.
Another way to look at it could be like a “peaceful co-regency”, where both Phaedra and the playable character acknowledge their shared responsibilities, with clear delineation of powers. Such a setup might help in preventing a full-scale confrontation or power grab by either side.
This could also serve as a transitional phase, where both entities recognize the value of collaboration and seek a path that minimizes chaos and disruption for their subjects. Over time, as mutual trust and cooperation solidify, the foundation could then be laid for a more integrated federation.
No law formed yet. I’m sure Cerlota will be a helpful source on advice on how to punish Theurges who abuse their powers for petty purposes (once the time comes to decide post-Hegemony policy).
I’m sorry if this has been asked before but I couldn’t find it by using the forum bar; Are there significant benefits for a rebel leader who chose to stand and fight as opposed to fleeing the Thaumatarchy army?
If you win you get a big notoriety boost.
Any notion of ceding the territory of the current Archonty will be flatly denied. Even if she were open to entertaining that her following never would be. Phaedrus is going to have to decide whether he would rather choose having a suzerain or be a corpse.
“The notion that I would give less weight to the sovereignty of Shayard than to the nation that enslaved her for half a millennium is utterly fanciful. I must confess to some surprise you would even make such a suggestion your excellency, unless perchance you spoke in jest?”
Wow, thank you!
And on that note, I think I will be able to put up my canonical “Savage Warrior” (2COM/1INT Ruth/Skep/Home Helot, fully minmaxed) guide on Steam this week. It will be a true magnum opus (at least I think so).
Hmmm…I could see my 2COM (6COM by series’ end?) failruns going for the outlaw or explorer ending.
As for the ill-fated 2INT build (I once got a Public Goete to face 1596 enemies and 8 Theurges, it didn’t end well), becoming a panda is probably the best he can hope for.