Choice of Rebels: Stormwright (XoR2 WIP)

I think I am going to cope by saying that it no longer matters if Rim Shayarin is a product of conquest. The MC and all ancestors of recent memory have seen themselves as Shayardenes.It is the language in which the sacred revelations of the Angels first came to be and its culture the most advanced on the continent. What was before is irrelevant.

Incidentally, I could see how someone on the Cosmopolitan side of the spectrum could make the exact same argument about ugh, Karagond culture.

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Damn, now I feel silly for holding back from posting a few questions I had on the forums. @Havenstone I’ll restrain myself to my most important one (well my most important topic) if you’re willing to answer one more: How involved is the Syntechia and the merchant class broadly in the sale and transport of helots? Are non-nobility even allowed to own helots in Shayard? Or is it like solely the province of nobles owning and trading between one another?

On that note, have you considered a helot market/auction as a set piece for the game(s)? I think you could get a very strong scene about having the MC see one, from a helot or noble mindset.

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@Havenstone Is Tamran a possible romance option? Maybe even as the “temporary” romance Xaoslands style?

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I appreciate your restraint! :slight_smile:

Only nobles are allowed to own helots and drudges, even when there’s a merchant house managing e.g. the orchard, mine, or factory where the chattel work. See for example this exchange between Irduin’s new Telone and the head of the main merchant household there, which handles the tin trade out of the Irduin Stannary:

Summary

“What in Xthonos’s name have you brought this time?”

“Records of exchange for the mine, kurios.” Farrac’s deep voice also carries well.

There’s a stretch of silence before the Telone growls, “Angels! Is this in drachems, or trade in kind, or…?”

“Some of both, kurios, depending on the month and the counter-party. I’m happy to explain my notation wherever it may be unclear.”

Baldassare’s incredulous snort is likely audible all the way out to the orchards. “And the records of the drudges? Names, numbers…losses?”

Farrac replies smoothly, without a hint of nerves. “Those are I believe maintained by lord Joet.”

“He told me the drudge-death records were maintained by the merchants who manage the mine!”

“Maybe by some of the yeoman overseers, Telone. But after all, the drudges aren’t my property.” You can almost hear Farrac’s shrug. “As long as I’ve got a big enough crew to dig out the ore, I don’t need to ask the de Irde for details.”

The Telone is sputtering like a kettle now. “The state of these records is…is utterly inadequate,
man! We are talking about the majority of the House’s wealth, and taxes, and chattel!”

“Under your predecessor, kurios, we…” You hear Farrac falter—presumably at some expression on Baldassare’s face—before murmuring, “Perhaps lord Joet can help.”

The trade in helots is arranged directly between noble houses. For the great houses, their chancellor and/or a dedicated steward will generally manage the trade; smaller families have to directly involve a family member. In towns and cities there’s generally one or more noble families that play a clearing-house role, holding helots for sale, with a special charter from the aristarch so they don’t get those “excess” helots all sent to the Harrower. And you’re right that a setpiece in one of those markets needs to happen. :slight_smile:

You can try!

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Tying into the language shock above, since game 3 is now in Grand Shayard, I would like if the MC could have an option to start learning to speak Koine, Shayarin or both the way that the elites do at that time. Like remedial elocution classes and immersion in the Grand Shayard dialect.

Also - any chance the Cosmo MC can learn High Karagond later?

I know it had been mentioned the MC would be able to try and rid themselves of their Provincial accent at some point.

The MC’s experience in the next chapter will kind of show why Hector feels so thoroughly humiliated every time he goes to the capital too. Really like the subtlety acknowledging regional dialects and accents will add.

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Right, serious real-world talk about religion coming up. :slight_smile: If you’re just here for the fantasy, feel free to skip this one. I’m responding honestly to questions here, not proselytizing the uninterested.

Humanitarian Work and Religious Experience

So this is asking about my former day job. :slight_smile: I’ve worked in the global humanitarian anti-poverty sector for a couple of decades, initially with secular institutions and since 2008 with Christian ones. I’ve worked for the longest stretches in Nepal and Afghanistan, but had a few years that took me all over the world (as past forum posts from Somaliland, Darfur, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Congo, etc. can attest). I grew up in a Christian mission here in Nepal, where my father was a civil engineer building hospitals and dams.

Saying this kind of work is done “in the name of humanity” covers over significant differences in people’s actual driving motivations (even the ones who are doing it for reasons that go deeper than salary, the thriving social scene, or the itch to travel). Dig deeper, and some are doing it out of a sense of justice/fairness, some out of charity/pity, some because they’re utliitarians who believe it’s the best way to get to the greatest good for the greatest number, some out of a not-especially-religious-or-mystical idea of karma… there’s no single ethical reason that unites everyone.

To do it in the name of God doesn’t necessarily exclude or displace any of those other reasons. You can believe that the God you worship and imitate has a unique concern for the poor, and also that it’s a matter of justice etc. For a lot of theists, their beliefs about God and their ethical beliefs are so closely intertwined that trying to separate them feels like a category error. “Yes, in theory if I didn’t believe in God I might still believe in this and do this…but since I do believe in God, it’s weirdly artificial to talk about my beliefs and vocation without mentioning that our Creator wants us to treat each other this way, and models it in His own life.”

In the course of my work, I’ve seen my share of laziness, manipulativeness, waste, and ineffectiveness; but I’ve also worked with heroic people from just about every religious and non-religious background. I’m enthusiastically in favor of people helping the poor and doing other good things for nonreligious reasons, or religious reasons that aren’t my own. I’m also a raised-Lutheran evangelical Protestant, so I’ve got no gripe with the idea that

I don’t think helping other people gets you to heaven, or offsets sins (though I recognize that plenty of other people do believe that, coming from a wide range of religious traditions).

So what significant difference do I think my Christianity has made in my line of work? The first thing is related to the point I just discussed: grace. The humanitarian sector is driven by idealism; but that just makes it a particularly stark locus for what G.K. Chesterton supposedly said was the only empirically verifiable Christian doctrine. (The closest properly attributed quote I’ve been able to find was a bit wordier.) No committed idealist succeeds in perfectly living out their ideals. At the end of the quest to live ethically, we all fail.

I said that offhandedly once to a non-religious colleague from Oxfam, and I’ll never forget how much it horrified her. The idea that she might not be able to satisfactorily live out her deepest ideals hit her at the core of her identity. The humanitarian sector is full of people who’ve been burned out and broken by that fear being borne out in reality.

And I could so easily be one of them. I’m an idealist, strongly driven by the desire to do real and meaningful good for people in need. I’m a workaholic who finds it hard to put boundaries on my effort as long as the need persists. And I’m an honest critic (or try to be) who refuses to close my eyes to the fact that so much work in our sector aims low – aiming only to make one or another aspect of the life of poverty a little more bearable, not to actually get people out of poverty – and that relatively few organizations manage to do good that (in my view) is proportionate to the money they receive.

Brought together, that’s a recipe for burning myself right out, as I learned the hard way in Afghanistan. I know there are others who have found other ways out of the trap…but the only thing on my personal internal horizon that helps me bear the inability to live up to my ideals is the experience of Christ’s grace being bigger.

One of the more striking religious experiences I’ve had was when I came back to the UK, thoroughly burned out by overwork and being partly responsible for the death of a friend (not for the first time). I was still very much assuming that God’s plan was to heal me up and get me back into the saddle. When I went in to receive prayer in a London church, the folks praying for me offered various images, thoughts, verses, etc. that had come to them. I thanked them and said a few words about what I thought it all meant – that God was telling me I was almost ready for the next round of service.

And a woman who didn’t know me or what I’d been through said, “No…no, I think that’s completely wrong.” (This is not something one generally hears in charismatic Anglican prayer sessions like this – it’s bad form to try to interpret for someone else, let alone against someone else.) “I’m pretty sure God is telling you that you need to stop thinking about doing so much. You’re hearing all this as if He wants you to do, do, do. I think He’s calling you to be. Be with Him. Rest in Him. Give yourself grace.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks, because I hadn’t been expecting it at all – and because it was true. That was what I needed. If God was inseparable from my calling to love the poor, He’s been even more essential to my ability to know peace and live with the inevitable inadequacies, failures, and tragedies that have followed from my efforts.

Part of “grace” also is the belief that when I’ve reached the end of my efforts and they’ve not been enough, I can still pray – and that there are plenty of worldly problems too big for my efforts that may still yield to prayer. A lot of folks reading this will probably have a reflexively scornful reaction to that; “thoughts and prayers” are such an inadequate trope when they take the place of action.

But when you’re already at the limits of action and action feels inadequate, it’s empowering to be able to ask for help. On my first visit to Mugu, a remote corner of Nepal, I ran into an infuriating and deeply entrenched system of injustice that was keeping the schools empty (you can read some of the stories here). We were fighting that system, but it was fighting back, literally, with thugs from the local political parties coming to rough up our partner staff for getting people talking about why there were no teachers in their government schools. The corruption system was a lot bigger and a lot stronger than any NGO.

Having done all I could to encourage and advise the team, before we left I prayed over that valley, for a breaking of the system of injustice and a reopening of the schools. And over the next few years, the political system shifted and (remarkably) brought honest people into the essential local positions of power, in ways we had no control or influence over. When I went back in 2022, the schools were open. Whether or not you’re open to the idea that God played a role, I can attest to the role of prayer in fending off despair and keeping hope alive when confronting massive structural problems.

The second significant impact: guidance. In 2008 I left the deeply broken USAID system in Afghanistan and joined a Christian INGO whose work I deeply respected. I knew they were still working in Kandahar, even after the abduction and likely (only very recently confirmed) death of an expat there. That was troubling and more than a little scary, given that I’d had 11 colleagues murdered nearby three years earlier, and (to my knowledge) things had only gone downhill since then, security-wise.

On my first day of induction, I asked about our security plan and what would cause us to close down the Kandahar office. That was when I found out that the only reason we were still there at all was that my predecessor and boss had very consistently and clearly felt God telling them, in prayer, that we needed to stay in Kandahar.

I’ve never been so scared in my life–not when our project was targeted for murder by the Taliban in Helmand, not when I almost drowned or died of altitude sickness in Nepal, not when I was rolling around Kirkuk or in eyeshot of Daesh-occupied Mosul–as I was at that moment in a quiet Middlesex office building. I mentally informed God: It’s great that You’ve spoken to them both so clearly, Lord…but if we’re going to stay in Kandahar on my watch, you’re going to need to tell me too. And I don’t mean a gentle feeling in the heart. I need words. I need something that puts me beyond doubt. Otherwise I’m pulling us out.

We went back to Afghanistan for handover with my predecessor, and I prayed and listened. No word, no guidance. I snuck down to Kandahar for a few days, met the local team, got out before the Taliban found out I was there. No word, no guidance. It was increasingly clear that ECHO was unhappy with continuing to fund work down in Kandahar, because it was too dangerous to send expats down (and because ECHO was too stubbornly colonialist-minded to accept project monitoring by Afghan professionals). We were coming up to the point when I was going to formally take over. I was ready (and more than a bit relieved) to conclude that God’s silence meant that my handover was the right time for us to close down the Kandahar office.

And then I was visiting Aqcha, up north on the other side of the country. We weren’t a proselytizing outfit, but mutual friends had introduced me to one or two Afghan Christians, and I met one of them up there for prayer and encouragement. Let’s call him Khairullah. I’d heard that his small Christian house church community had recently lost a member to murder; they were pretty sure it was an honor killing, because the man’s family had found out he’d converted. I’d expected Khair would want to pray with me for the safety of his family and fellow-believers.

But although the murder clearly saddened and concerned him, it was almost an afterthought for him that evening. Khair, who also worked with a humanitarian organization, was totally preoccupied with the coming drought. He’d just received a forecast saying that it was likely to be the worst drought in forty years…and it was breaking his heart for the villages where he (and we) worked. He knew how inadequate any humanitarian aid would be for them if all their crops failed. All he really wanted us to pray about was to avert the drought.

I was incredibly moved. Here was a man whose friend had just been murdered for his beliefs, whose family was clearly in danger…and he wanted above all to pray for the villagers he served, some of whom would have gladly murdered him if they knew his religious identity. Khair’s love of the poor and love of enemy were so manifestly, powerfully sincere. We prayed against the drought together.

I woke up that night to the sound of rain bucketing down on the roof – unexpected, unforecast, the one big rain Aqcha would get in that drought year, enough for melons and a few other hardy crops to survive. And I heard a voice clearly in my mind: This is your answer. Be rain in Kandahar.

We stayed. Through the loss of ECHO funding (and, after many sleepless proposal-writing nights, its replacement with Canadian and American aid money); through the mayor of Kandahar ranting at us and accusing us of helping the Taliban because of our water supply projects in the slums; through an insurgent-police gun battle a hundred-odd yards away while I hid under the stairs, knowing that if they’d got word there was an expat in the office, there was nothing stopping them from breaking in to grab me.

We stayed and saved some lives, and didn’t lose a single staff member, in a place I would never have stayed without a religious experience very specifically telling me to keep the work going there. The not losing anyone was a rare grace – certainly not guaranteed by a message calling us to be poured out like rain. My late friend Tom Little answered the call to stay much more radically, through the worst years of Afghan history, and died for that willingness.

Like I said on another thread where I told an abbreviated version of this story, I’m not sharing the experience because I think it proves anything about God to a skeptic. It’s reasonable to have priors by which you treat the kind of experience I’ve described as a wish-fulfilling delusion. Maybe especially when the guy writing it is a fantasy author in his spare time. :slight_smile:

But I hope it gives some insight into your question, @11110. It’s great for people to do this kind of work for the sake of humanity alone. But for my part, I do my work in the name of God because my whole experience of it – what drives me, what keeps me balanced and sane, what pushes me into difficult and challenging places – is inseparable from my experience of God. If I talk about it in any but the shallowest way, I’ve got to talk about God.

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There’s nothing I could possibly reply to that that wouldn’t sound wholly inadequate, but wow, that really illuminated some things. Thank you for taking the time to share.

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Not commenting on the rest of the post, although it’s very fascinating (and heartening and tragic and the million other things that comprise the tapestry of our lives) stuff and I’ve been meaning to see about getting a copy of Opium Season at some point, but this olde post couldn’t help but make me laugh with how close 2025 is. Here’s to another decade.

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I understand what you are saying. But it doesn’t fit with my religious views.

I was born in a Shinto family in Japan. I later became a deist socialist. Therefore, Western civilization and Abrahamic religions have always been objects of criticism and spectacle from the outside, and have never been objects of faith.

Therefore, although I try to understand and analyze them, I may not be able to fully understand what it means to pray to a monotheistic God. (Shinto is an Eastern polytheistic religion, and the boundary between humans and God is unclear.)

Therefore, whether I am a skeptic or not depends on the definition of the word skeptic. At least I am skeptical of Christianity, but I am not sure if I am skeptical of religion in general.

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I also wonder if my actions are influenced by the complex feelings toward the West that are unique to Japanese intellectuals.

I feel a certain ressentiment and ambivalence, and struggle with my identity as a resident of a Westernized Oriental country.

And strangely enough, many Japanese intellectuals either affirm or deny this theory of Japanese uniqueness and Western civilization in extremes.

I understand that it is difficult to get people who have never been in the world of a Japanese academy to understand these feelings. However, there is no doubt that this trend of thought that has continued since the Meiji Restoration has influenced my worldview.

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I don’t want to derail Havie’s thread overly, but my Japanese wife and in laws are overtly religious and certainly my sister in law who’s father is a Buddhist Monk would I think identify with Havenstone’s “lived” spirituality. I don’t think experiential spirituality is strictly a western. Heck my wife paid someone to remove a ghost from the premises of one of her restaurants when her workers complained about it.

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Well, maybe it’s not a Japanese problem but a personal one for me.

I will refrain from going into details, but because I have had various experiences as a minority, I have ambivalent feelings of admiration and distrust toward the majority, authority, and religion.

However, I believe that Japanese religions, which view God as a transcendent being but not as an absolute being, have had a great influence on my view of religion.

I also believe that Japanese religion differs from the West in ways that go beyond simple spiritualism.

However, I am not sure if I am able to express it appropriately using these Western expressions and my own limited knowledge.

In Western terms, I think it comes down to the remaining animistic elements, syncretism, the ambiguity of the distinction between the secular and the religious, the teaching that humans become gods when they die, and differences in the concept of what God is in the first place.

In any case, many Japanese people, myself included, are experiencing a phenomenon that is difficult for Westerners to understand: they don’t even know whether they are religious or not.

Of course, there are also devout people and atheists, but their religious views are different from the West, so I think the meaning is somewhat different. (Of course, there are people who completely accept Western religious views, but they are a very small minority in Japanese society.)

tdlr: Many Japanese people, myself included, pray too, but it is very different from the prayers of Heavenstone and people like you, that is, prayers to a single absolute being.

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That’s a large part of the issue. The fact is that when we discuss “religion,” it’s usually from a very Abrahamic perspective. “Being part of a religion,” as in “being a Christian” or “being a Muslim”, is largely (not exclusively) a concept originating in Judaism that’s passed on to its descendants.

In Japan, according to the NHK, 62% of the population identify as having “no religion,” 31% are Buddhists and 3% are Shintoists. According to the CIA World Factbook, 70% practice Shinto and 67% practice Buddhism. How do we reconcile these ideas? Well, it’s because the NHK were focusing on religious identity, which isn’t a Japanese concept as such - being “a Shintoist” is only a thing if you’re part of an organized sect. The average Japanese person is not an atheist, but they don’t identify with any particular sect - they simply perform religious practices at the appropriate times (or as has been commented elsewhere, they’re born Shinto, marry as Christians, and die as Buddhists).

The reason for Buddhism having a much higher percentage is because some Buddhist sects are very much religious identities in the Western sense. Jodo Shinshu is the largest Buddhist denomination, but that’s a little misleading - it’s the largest Buddhist denomination among those who call themselves Buddhists, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that its doctrines are very similar to Protestant Christianity (tariki and justification by faith are nearly identical concepts from my perspective).

I hope this commentary (from a humble Westerner with an amateur’s interest in these things) is helpful!

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Or perhaps Sojourn is something to more akin to Harrenhal (ASOIAF/GoT), a location whose many inhabitants across the generations get either periodically “cursed” or strategically murdered in an “accident” for political gains (while maintaining the superstition of a generational curse).

@Havenstone, if Sojourn were to expand eastward and annex Corlune and all the Shayardene territory in between (or if Corlune became powerful enough to expand westward and conquer Sojourn instead), which name would the new Shayardene splinter realm adopt: Sojourn or Corlune? Is it really as simple as “whoever’s the prevailing faction gets to choose the name, and they’ll pick their own name”, or might Sojourn have a reason to adopt Corlune (or vice versa) as their envisioned wider post-Hegemonic’s realm name for easier brand recognition?

Laconnier/Sojourn alliance incoming? :smiley:

To quote what Havie said on the Uprising thread, “your engagement with (the Cabelites) can determine whether they withdraw into a narrow Westriding-plus-Rim yeoman nationalism that feels betrayed by and alienated from the coastal elite, or hold to a broader Shayardene identity.”

Since you at least wish to preserve Shayard’s archonty borders (and have stated in the past how the aristo-yeomen coalition will be a vital pillar of Caroline’s support), I don’t necessarily imagine that a switch to Cosmo would trigger “you’ve betrayed us” reactions from the Cabelites (unless Caroline takes certain actions in the later games that could be interpreted as “you’re letting the foreigners unjustly take our jobs/prosperity”).

My “uniter of both Laconniers and Leaguers” monarchical koinon MC has his eyes set on subsuming the whole Hegemony under his banner (imperialistic enough to insist on the de Syrnon dynasty being elevated into becoming the koinon’s Eclect-blessed royal family/eternal executive leadership, but also compromising/flexible enough to make the koinon a more palatable “Hegemony Lite” for the non-Shayard provinces to work with), though he’d be open to downscaling his ambitions to a looser, NATO-ish federation between restored historical Shayard (minus Aveche, mainly so he can honor his close friendship with both Cerlota and broader Erezza) and the other post-Hegemonic provinces, if the incentives for downscaling were attractive enough.

Maybe the specific “let’s bluff genocide” stunt will be too unwieldy to pull off (because of the points you brought up), but in general, as long as the radical factions make non-violent leaders (such as my nicer in comparison MC) more appealing for negotiations, the flank movement will have done its job. I suppose I’ll have to see the final product, and then see what more practical options come to mind.

Havie, if the Laconniers ever got their hands on the secrets of Theurgy (and then successfully made sure that non-Shayardene rebellions mostly failed at training their own Theurges), would the Laconniers gradually get to work on covertly building new Wards that surrounded all of historically restored Shayard? (cutting off the non-Shayard, post-Hegemonic nation-states from Shayardene grain and blood)

And on a separate note to @roodcross: boy, the Leaguers (compared to the Laconniers) are sounding progressively more appealing to team up with by the day, don’t they? I mean, my monarchical koinon MC still wants to seize control over both the Laconniers and the de Syrnon throne for his own vanity/branding/legitimacy purposes, but still though… (it’s looking as if MC’s cabinet will be largely Leaguer-dominated)

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Okay so like
Can nobles do their normal plotting against each other stuff, or is that not permitted by wizard lords and their spies
I’m just wondering how far their freedoms are with how much they talk about the spies paranoia over them all

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The first game is full of nobles plotting against each other. Particularly messing with each other over the Architelone’s journey (as you’ll learn if you work with Ismene de Galis). The Thaumatarch loves it - it keeps them from teaming up against him.

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The MC can optionally engage in some noble plotting with cousin Calea too.

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Considering Shayard is inbetween both and is the biggest city, probably just Shayard ngl. Having a realm in a straight line between the two that doesn’t incorporate Grand Shayard (or more above it in the Rim/Westriding) would be… weird.

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Alright ughhhh another question
What kind of tech do we exactly have??
Like, is plate armor a thing, cause then we also have “guns” and soldiers wear essentially scale male but fancy red version

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Will we be able to romance de Irde or even enter into a possible marriage with them as aristo? Maybe something along the lines “I will come back here after the war and we will marry”

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