Sunday, July 4, 2010

Seeds of Revolution

Happy Fourth of July to everybody who celebrates such things.

The holiday has got me thinking about revolutions and how they might be used in gaming. Just a glance at the Wikipedia page listing revolutions and rebellions shows that there are a lot of real world examples to draw inspiration from. If the leap from real to imagined is to great, they’ve also got a page of fictional rebellions and coups to help you out--though they seem to have fairly broad definitions of what constitutes such.

Revolutions/rebellions can provide a lot of material to work with. They can be positive or negative, or both, at different times--the term can encompass everything from the Star Wars trilogy to the Reign of Terror. There are counterrevolutions and competing revolutionary forces (The Mexican Revolution of 1910 being a great model for this--and James Carlos Blake’s The Friends of Pancho Villa being a great fictionalized view of the whole bloody affair). The highest ideals and the basest acts of humanity are on display.

Revolts in fantastic fiction show most of the characteristics of real world ones. Conan takes part in a coup largely free of ideology and gets himself a kingdom. The supposed democratic revolt of John Farson, “The Good Man”, against the feudal rule of the gunslingers in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is a horrible farce, and representative of the greater dissolution of the world. The communist-by-way-of-the-French-Revolution nation of Quatershift in Stephen Hunt’s steampunkish novels has the absolute worst elements of the real revolutions that inspired it--from purges to nonsensical ideologic policies that cause massive death.

Well, you get the idea. Maybe amid the monarchies, magocracies, and decadent republics of the standard fantasy world there's room on the map for a land in the midst of revolution, or recently recovered from one. Maybe PCs are based in such a country. That would be put an interest spin on standard adventuring, and provide potential fodder for a lot nonstandard ones.


Anonymous said...

Another well thought out post.
Earlier today we were watching commercials from around the world in the 50's, 60's and 70's on Youtube.

The amount of subliminal propaganda is funny to us now, but probably scared a lot of people back when.

Trey said...

Thanks. Yeah, the level of nationalism/jingoism acceptable has certainly been one of the things that fluctuated over time.

netherwerks said...

Vive La Revolucion!

Anonymous said...

Man, I've stayed away from revolutions ever since my Global History of the 20th Century class on the 1920s. 2 hours and we covered the Mexican, Chinese and Russian revolutions.... man that was a lot of death and destruction for one class. Not as bad as the one where we covered 3 genocides in the tutorial...then went on to the class on WWII...with a special focus on the Holocaust on the Eastern front, but still, depressing.