ZEITGEIST [ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co. - Page 64
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  1. #631
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    Me: Okay, so I'm assuming you are all voting Miller's Pyre. Correct?

    Matunaaga/Bruce McDruid: That's the way my vote is going. Haven't had a chance to look at the minor parties yet but I'm assuming we are expected to vote for 1 of the 5 main factions?

    Me:Yes. For now. The minor parties come about over the next 24-hours and try to form alliances with the major factions. So you can favour one of those too if you like, but that won't matter for the first vote (unless you're wholly devoted to one of the minor factions and vote 'other').

    Uru/Gran Guiscard: My host wants the clockwork world but I think Miller's Pyre is the least bad option.

    Me: Lol. Your host doesn't have a say in matter. He's completely unconscious. When you're in gestalt, you're 'raiding' his mind for memories and thoughts, but as he was unaware of what was happening recently, it's not possible for him to have formed an opinion. Maybe Uru is simply expressing his own subconscious fascination for all things clockwork? (I was laughing here because this is the third time I've explained this to the player.)

    Rumdoom/Kiov HetmanCan I cast a no vote? Or simply abstain? As a scientist, I simply don't believe sufficient evidence has been presented.... (in best patronising, sciencey-boffin-nerd voice)

    Me: The 'Humble Hook' faction maintains that the world should be left as it is. And of course you can abstain. In fact, doing so would make Kiov Hetman the focus of alot of attempts to sway him, particularly if he cited 'lack of evidence'. He would be encouraged to try the planar portals, where the evidence can be seen... Speaking of which... (I sent out the planar portal descriptions at this point.)

    Rumdoom/ Kiov Hetman: Kiov will abstain. In doing so he will attempt to get the best overall approximation of who is voting for what whilst he is busy being canvassed for his vote.


    Korrigan/Ken Don: Well, I think the idea we discussed at the table was to vote for the faction which would have potentially the least impact on the world should we fail to stop the Ob entirely. Miller's Pyre does seem to be such faction, although opening up the world otherworldly invasions may still be disastrous. Who knows what's out there (from the character's point of view).

    If a public debate arises Ken would argue that while everything else seems fine, he does not see why the plane that blocks outside access should be removed. Keeping to Ken's character Korrigan would also stand against the destruction of bleak gate and by extension feywild. Ken's view is that these worlds should be put to good use (especially bleak gate and undead).

    If opportunity arises Korrigan may also engage Cula Ravjahani in a more private discussion about the Miller's philosophy and see if he can sway her opinion about the whole Ob operation.


    "The White Tongue. Rumors suggest that an unknown number of
    Obscurati members have made a pact with the fey titan known as
    the Voice of Rot, which seeks to gain power by letting the world
    die."

    We def need to look into this in relation to the recent murder.

    BTW, just for the sake of interest - is anyone tempted to join with the Ob to build a better world?

    Matunaaga/McDruid: Not at the cost of possibly unleashing an army of tooth-anuses* onto the world. Can you imagine the amount of loo roll and dental floss one would need to fight that battle?

    Leon/Xavier Sangria: I would be interested if:

    1. I thought they could achieve what they planned without unforeseen consequences. Currently they don't have a good track record on that front
    2. They were being upfront with what is happening, we know there are deeper levels to this conspiracy.
    3. There were less 3rd party's throwing a spanner in the works. Currently we have the dragon sending bombs, God-hands sending spy's,the voice of rot killing people, the thought eaters sitting outside the world waiting and I think the unseen court is involved somehow. There are other I'm sure (demons would like to re-gain access, The Deep Ones?)

    Korrigan/Don: Owww, you didn't even mention a certain RHC squad. Haven't they had at least a moderate success in putting spanners in Ob's gears? :P

    Uru/Guiscard: Let's Court the moderate minor faction and go for Miller's Pyre as the moderate faction. Keep an eye out for any cabals trying to rig the vote.

    If this conversation goes any further over the weekend, I will add to it. I was expecting some input from Xambria at least, but her player was busy during the week. (Or perhaps keeping his powder dry.)

    *This was the players' delightful nickname for gidim worm maws.
    Last edited by gideonpepys; Sunday, 18th June, 2017 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Added definition of 'tooth-anus'

  2. #632
    Quote Originally Posted by RangerWickett View Post
    I'd totally have someone pull Oscan aside and be all, seriously dude, either you're f***ing with us, or you have some super f***ed up way you're intending to abuse that new system. What is it? Some sort of 'use empathy as a new way to torment people'?
    Was it ever canonically established which way the hosts would vote in the absence of crazy mind control magic?

    Sent from my SM-G900V using EN World mobile app

  3. #633
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    Villainous Conspiracy Debate

    After the preliminary vote, I sent my players edited highlights from the 'villainous conspiracy' thread elsewhere on these boards. I knew I would not want to try to enact this debate at the table, and it seemed a shame to waste this rich background material. Sending it written form gave the players the option to choose their own level of involvement, and read or not read the debate. Apologies to those whose contributions were purloined. Not also that I was too lazy to remove Leyander Colt from the text, so he's now an extra body at the convocation!

    Pro Miller’s Pyre

    "Brethren," he begins, "my name is Leyander Colt and I speak on behalf Lady Kasvarina Varal in her absence. I needn't remind you that our people are a long-lived race, and many of us alive today still remember the pain and death caused by the Great Malice centuries ago. An entire race of people brought to its knees by a single horrific act spurred by xenophobia and intolerance. With the power we will soon command, one of our goals should be to make sure nothing so devastating ever happens to anybody in this world again. And the key to achieving this is to eliminate the baseless fears and misunderstandings of the myriad peoples of Lanjyr."

    Leyander taps his cane again as he continues. "You have heard the members of other factions speak of their own plans to change the world: industrialize nature's bounty, grant godlike powers either to the elite or to the laymen, even eliminate free will entirely. We know not what horrific consequences such drastic changes to our cosmology might render. Better, then, to take a gentle hand with our ministrations. I say to you, we need not shake the very core of the multiverse to find peace in our time. All we need is to allow everybody to clearly see the viewpoints of one another, to truly understand where a person is coming from. Elf, human, beggar, king, Danoran, Risuri--in the end, we are none of us so different from one another.

    "Empathy. Expression. Logic. With just a few subtle changes, we can eliminate the need for fighting, the desire for war. Word and thoughts will win the day, not guns and magic. And within our plans, there is still room for expansion--to bolster our defenses against potential extraplanar incursions, or to allow extra enjoyment of our newfound propensity for expression. Perhaps even the opportunity to bring easy flight to the landbound peoples of the world. When the time comes to vote, I urge you to consider the tenets espoused by Miller's Pyre."

    Leyander grins and inclines his head. "I would be happy to debate any of you further on the merits of our vision for the future.”

    Pro Watchmaker

    Miller's doctrine... really? What's in man's mind? Emotion and logic don't make up for morals. You could end up with very bad things, emotionally shared and enforced by logic. There's no safeguard against evil in your plan. Your plan is a tool to easily convert people, but you don't say who will convert them! And worse, you open the world to extra-planar influence!

    Did I say "devils"? The true, courageous way is the Watchmakers. We will make sure we take the right path. We will make sure everyone takes the right path. We might not have another chance to put things right.

    Pro Miller’s Pyre

    Leyander raises an eyebrow at the Watchman's argument. "Ah, yes? 'We' will make sure everybody follows the right path. Who are these few 'we' who get to decide which path is the right path? You desire to enforce morality by eliminating free will, but whose morality, I ask? Is it the morality of the Clergy? The Danorans? The Risuri? What makes one person's or people's 'goodness' better than another's? Instead of seeking to understand the differences that make us unique, you wish to make us all conform to a stale, mechanical sameness. The world would be populated with naught but mindless automatons!"

    The elf raps his cane on the floor. "Our ability to think for ourselves and to reason is the thing that separates man from machine. The thing that makes us unique and vibrant. You would rob us of our very souls!" Leyander lets the silence hang in the air for a few moments, then continues. "As for your other point, you fear the chance of extra-planar assault. If we listened to you and abandoned our free will, what then would happen should devils, to use your example, chose to invade our plane of existence? Does your thousand-year plan have contingencies for such an occurrence, or would the whole system fall to pieces without the ability to adapt and react to outside threats?

    "Under Miller's Pyre, with increased understanding and communication, the varied peoples of Lanjyr could easily come together and unite against a common external threat. Think of what powers we could muster with all of us working side by side. And it might not even have to come to that, if we use the extra planar space to bolster the new multiverse with the protections those of the Aegis desire."

    Leyander adjusts his spectacles and turns to address the Panarchists. "I would like to remind you all of a simple maxim. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What, then, follows when everybody possesses absolute power? You claim you wish to infuse the individual with defensive abilities, but what you will get is bands of super-powered men and women doing whatever they want with no checks to their powers. Instead of preserving civilization, it will lead to its collapse!"

    Anti Panarchist

    This is the essential flaw at the heart of Panarchism: if everybody is afforded the same level of power - defensive or otherwise - then power structures will inevitably form, perhaps on different lines to our current world, but their formation is an inevitability. How else is power among equals derived? Through systems of government. The assumption that, if everyone is equal, equality will reign forgets the simple fact that here and now everyone is equal and that it is structures of government that create inequality in the first place.

    Pro Colossus

    I vote for a mix of Arboretum, Colossus, and Moral Mind. There is a threefold agenda with this conspiracy, and it is all humanist:

    Premise:
    Industry is the greatest creation of humanity (used in the widest possible sense). It is proof that by working together as a well-organized whole, with each doing their part, welfare can be produced for the many. Industry will, in due time, eliminate want, thereby eliminating imbalance of resources (of all kinds), and the need to acquire them "the hard way". The only thing that cannot be produced in a factory (metaphorically speaking) is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of industry: freedom of body as well as of mind, with a much greater emphasis on the latter, since it is harder to acquire.

    1.
    Nature is a powerful force, perhaps the most powerful force in existence. If humanity wishes to be free, the wilds must be tamed. If humanity wishes to prosper, the earth they inhabit must supply the means. Never must the capricious forces of wind or water, fire or earthquake be allowed to lay waste towns by their whims. Never must a human child starve so an animal can live. Never, in a thousand years, must the incomprehensible fey be able to withhold an ounce of what might be useful to a human, or empowered to actively withhold that which is needed to produce universal welfare. Fey are not part of humanity. They are humanity's adversary (potentially, at least) in the inevitable struggle over complete control of nature.

    2.
    The Colossus is the solution to the fey problem as well as the freedom desideratum. The fey court is powerful, the fey titans unpredictable and possibly near deific in their potency. If (when) war over nature comes, the Colossus is humanity's answer to the fey titan's prowess. Nothing will stand against it. Humanity will rule supreme.

    When industry has reached the stage where it can create a virtual god, belief in the power of industry to do whatever is needed will be rendered an incontrovertible truth. Having created their own god, humanity will be freed from the necessity to seek for other higher powers out there: god is that which humans' hands are capable of creating. In essence, humanity itself is the Demiurge, and gods are merely that which humanity wills into being. This simple fact is that which frees us all.

    3.
    In creating a god-like being, humanity (or at least that part of it which built the Colossus) has left the ties of superstition and religion far, far behind. It is now possible to demonstrate in the clearest terms the utter lack of necessity for other belief systems besides the enlightened mind of creative humanity. After the feys' demise, even the most ignorant of humans will be forced to open their eyes.

    With industrial welfare and freedom from extraneous powers and so-called gods comes that mixture of spare time and unbounded roaming of the mind which allows for education, self-awareness, perfection of the individual, and the striving for new and greater things. That is the goal of the conspiracy. However, such lofty goals require wading through the mud, and the blood, for an extended period of time. It will be worth it, but a struggle will come first that will shatter the spheres as we know them, and leave countless dead. Such is the price of great endeavours.

    Pro Watchmaker


    We is us, the Obscurati. Who else?

    We will define what is good.

    Miller's Pyre will ease unity. As i said, it's a tool to convert people.
    But what ideology will unite them?
    You don't adress this.
    You just hope it will lead to good endings...

    And your example, dear Leyander, is faulty:
    The interplanar barriers won't be weakened, so an assault is ruled out. Not something we have to take into consideration.
    But for example sake, let's say it happens...devils assaulting our world.
    A world where everyone has an ideology that opposes them.
    People they won't be able to seduce or sway with logic.
    It's in our plan that the devils will have to fight the whole world.
    And for what?
    A place where, if they stay too long, they might have their ethos changed for goodness?

    Our burden and duty is to make sure we will succeed in creating a better place.
    The Watchmaker's plans are drastic, but that's what is needed to succeed.
    A thousand years where everyone will have to be good. No choice. Soulless.
    Our tabula rasa.
    Then free will.

    Pro Miller’s Pyre

    "'Then free will', he says. Just like that. One thousand years of dictatorship, then... this." He gestures expansively to indicate the whole world. "I did not forgo my lifelong vow of pacifism for a such a bizarre admixture of arrogance and apathy. I have shed blood for the greater good, and would curse myself for all eternity if this is what I turned out to be fighting for. No one man, or group of men, should consider themselves wise enough to set in stone what is 'good' for all humanity.Since the earliest days of history, men have thought they were 'right', and sought to impose their version of goodness on others. That is how Elfaivar came to be destroyed, and the Great Malice swept through northern Lanjyr; that is how the clergy comes to hold sway and indoctrinate millions of ignorant people. This, my friends, is what we have been fighting against! And worse still, having doomed the forgotten future to this slavery, it is then proposed that we relinquish our grip and pray that a world that has been forced to be 'good' will choose to continue to do so.

    "No, Miller's Pyre does not seek to impose an ideology on the world. That is its very strength, not a weakness. Our 'hope' is much stronger than the hopes of the Watchmakers, because it is founded on empathy which will not fade in a thousand years. You starve your brother and you feel his pangs; you slay your neighbour and you sense his fear, and grieve along with his loved ones. Perhaps there will be those who enjoy such sensations, or even grow inured to them. But the brotherhood of man will be ever more strongly united against such evil, psychopathic individuals.

    "And remember: we have a spare plane. If inter-planar security is your principal concern, vote for Miller's Pyre and Aegis."

    Pro Sky League

    “The Pyre, while a noble ideal, is fundamentally flawed.” The cutting voice seems at odds with the speaker, a rotund woman with soft features.

    “Jiese, the plane of fire, carries the aspect of Cunning. It is this aspect that drives the gears of industry -- the gears of revolution! The Pyre would replace Cunning with Expression, enhancing our understanding of others’ motivations. Combined with their other changes, it would be far easier for groups of sentient beings to come to consensus.

    “As I said, a noble ideal! But what of the cost? The loss of Cunning means the loss of progress, invention, technology. Consensus would lead to stagnation! Perhaps this would suit some within the Watchmakers: a form of social utopia where everyone agrees with everyone else, and no new ideas are promulgated. I doubt this is what the Pyre’s advocates intend, and perhaps it is an extreme vision, but we cannot risk the loss of industry! That would bind us forever to the earth, forgoing the possibilities of flight, or of planar travel. While replacing Apet as the Pyre plans would bring us closer to other planes, the preservation of Nem would still prevent us from exploring what lies beyond.

    “I see many unfamiliar faces here, a sign that our group’s distributed structure is an effective one. I am Dame Constance Baden, scholar and scientist, and I speak for the Sky League. We in the Sky League have allied ourselves with the Trekkers, those who wish to voyage beyond the realms currently known to us. We stand ready to throw our weight behind a major faction that welcomes our ideals.

    “Jiese must be preserved: on this, I think all factions that favour progress and industry over stagnant isolation can agree. Further, tampering with Reida is too great a risk. We are willing to partner with factions that will leave both Jiese and Reida untouched.

    “The planes that must be replaced are Avilona and Nem. Avilona’s Calm trait discourages progress, and replacing it would finally unshackle Jiese’s Cunning! Moreover, associating Calm with the Plane of Air prevents flight, grounding us and forcing us to travel by boat or train. But if this Calm trait is replaced, there is an opportunity to craft great vessels that will carry us to the skies!

    “I have designed just such a vessel. I call it... the ZEPPELIN!

    “A functioning model has been constructed, and even as I speak now it is floating above the ground of our pocket plane. Please observe it at your leisure.

    “Meanwhile, Nem locks us away from the world. Imagine what lands we might find beyond the seals? What we might learn? Naturally, there are risks, but eternal isolation would be a far greater threat to our civilization. With proper defences, the risks of extraplanar invasion can be mitigated. And we need not become the world’s overlords, as Colossus suggests – with Cunning unshackled, our technology would be our defence! Some of you may have heard of the strange beasts sighted at the Kaybeau Exposition in Flint. How could such creatures hope to stand against the ZEPPELIN?

    “We would also support replacing Urim, Apet and Mavisha, but this is not essential. Mavisha’s Mystery trait is an impediment to progress, but it is less severe than Calm. Teleportation magic is also less important in a land where flight is possible. And finally, Apet’s distance property could be part of a reasonable defence against extraplanar invasion once Nem is replaced.

    “If the Pyre, Colossus, Arboretum, or Panarchists are willing to revise their plans to accommodate us, we will gladly assist with the planar alignment calculations.”

    Panarchist Concession to Sky League

    As a supporter to the Panarchist Cause I have to say that i find interesting to see that wonderful flying machine made! so i will support the sky league. Conquering the sky will be the ultimate form of freedom and we, the Panarchist believe above all on freedom.

    I'm making a call on my friends of the Miller Pyre to stop the plans of the Watchmakers and join our group in search of a future with no Gods, No Countries, No Kings. Just living beings freely deciding how to rule their lives!

    Miller’s Pyre point out they also have a spare plane…


    Miller's Pyre is the most readily able to accommodate your needs, as our plan has a spare plane. Consider it done. If your vote goes for the Pyre, I would certainly vote for the Sky League - that was, in fact my original plan!

    Watchmaker

    My heartily thanks to all of you discussing about our grand plan.

    It has been refeshing, and the support gathered to the Watchmaker's plan has given us voice and weight.

    But then, what else?

    People are now reviewing the smaller trends, among which the popular Moral Mind.
    To those supporting this cause, i will say this:
    Do you really think that rationality will make a better world?
    Moral is about what you believe in and/or what you think, take the belief out of the picture, you will still be left with some bad apples, thinking bad apples.
    I still remember when the name for this cause was the Mortal Mind, and that was far more accurate.

    Still, not bad per se. But if you support the Mortal Mind as your only plan for the future, you are only promoting your hate against faith.
    I say that means you don't mind about the future,
    I say this is not a moral choice, despite the name.

    The Long Now is popular too.
    And I do understand your plan. There is high hope that long term thinking will lead to more responsible behaviors.
    Not my choice, but a very good one.

    IF you want to support other ideas, consider beauty and wonder.
    Art is creation, walking hand in hand with science and morality to define what we are as living beings.
    Many of those creations are beautiful expressions of our longings, our lives, our souls.
    And wonder is pure glee, making you more alive than ever.
    Flying, whatever the means, would be without doubts truly wonderful.
    Those are subtle nudges promoting a more vibrant world.
    You'll find those two supporting the Bards and the Sky League.

    About the Sky League, a few words of warning:
    I heard some people, claiming the Sky League would like nothing more than to lead sky ships to other worlds, putting down the barriers that protected us from far planes.
    They are eager to trade votes, even with Miller's doctrine they are rebuking.
    Those highly ethical people don't speak for the whole Sky League. As a whole, the Sky League just want to be able to fly.

    Panarchist response


    "To the Watchmakers, I say that I see little use for flight in a world without free will. The essence of the alliance between our faction of Sky Leaguers and Trekkers is liberty! How can an explorer function without free will? How can they respond to the wonders they find on their travels, if they cannot make decisions for themselves?"

    “Miller’s Pyre claim they can accommodate you. But it isn't so simple. The careful replacement of Avilona and Jiese with a binary world is the key to your plan, and we will not countenance the loss of Jiese. More would be required than simply giving your spare plane the trait of Flight. Recalculation of your planar alignments would be necessary to determine if your binary alignment can be accomplished with Nem rather than with Jiese."

    "However, the Panarchists could potentially accomodate us more easily. An additional realignment would be needed, but it would not replace any of their existing realignments. To work with the Panarchists, we would ask that they add Avilona to their existing plan, replacing it with a full-fledged Plane of Air carrying the aspect of Flight. Some might argue that with teleportation freely available, flight would be unnecessary, but I must disagree. We believe that flight is necessary in order to reach distant worlds and planes, even with teleportation."

    Watchmaker (draft found in lounge and circulated amid gossip)


    To our esteemed Nicodemus,

    I have been discussing, at your request, with my fellow Watchmakers possible alliances to reach a consensus.
    I'm afraid we will fail you.

    First, according to the planes we intend to meddle with, we are fully compatible only with...the Pyre.
    But performing both plans at the same time, while it does suit the watchmakers, won't be popular amongst Miller followers. They have something against the length of time and the lack of free will.
    Still, we will talk to them about this.
    (consider it done, dear followers of Miller reading those lines: a watchmaker/Miller's pyre plan is possible at the same time!)

    And I cannot consider any other merging, as the watchmaker's plan is so precise that the slightest deviation on the plane aspects might prove fatal.

    Then, it's obviously too early for most of the Obscurati to consider such a drastic move as the thousand years plan, but we have time.
    Speaking for myself, I will support factions whose agenda will allow a change of path to be made in the future, such as Arboretum and Colossus.
    Millers' Pyre environment won't allow something like the secret Obscurati, and the Panarchists will rigidify the world beyond any hope of change with their soul-binding contracts.

    Yours sincerely,

    (unreadable)


    “MAP!” (This proposal begins to circulate late in the evening, so part-way through our next session. But rather than hand it out for read it out then, I thought it best to include it.)

    Dame Constance Baden, who has been writing rapidly in a tidy hand ever since sitting down, finally sets down her stylus and rises again.

    "As I look and listen to you, fellow planners and dreamers, I see many common traits: conviction, passion, logic, cunning, understanding. These traits, while common to us all, are emphasized most by the plans of the Pyre, the Arboretum, and the Panarchists. Unfortunately, overtures for alliance between these factions have thus far been unsuccessful, as each side does not wish to become secondary to the other.

    "But as the debate continued, I saw a possible path foward to a truly different future: a future where pointless deaths are a thing of the past, a future where debates such as this one could flourish, a future that would encourage the progress of industry and exploration.

    "To reach this future, I propose the following: instead of replacing or realigning two or three planes, let us incorporate the best ideas of the various factions into a single GRAND DESIGN! Each of us would need to sacrifice elements of our desires, but the combined whole would be greater than the sum of its parts.

    "Jiese, the plane of Fire with its Cunning trait, would remain untouched. This is a sacrifice for the Pyre, but is essential to preserving and continuing the tremendous progress Lanjyr's nations have made in recent years. However, the Pyre's Expression trait can be achieved by other means. I will return to this shortly.

    "Avilona, the plane of Air with its Calm trait, would be replaced as per the Pyre's plan, with one half of a new binary plane. It would carry the Speech trait, fostering debates such as this one. This is essential to a vibrant society and complementary to the goal of progress.

    "Av, the plane of Life, would be replaced as with the Arboretum's plan. Its traits of Reflection and Dream would be replaced with Craft and Artifice. But this can be done without severing the Dreaming and the Bleak Gate! Craft and Artifice would foster progress, both of industry and of agriculture. The Arboretum's goal of plentiful harvests for all is the foundation of a vibrant society.

    "Mavisha, the plane of Water, would be replaced. This was not part of the plans of any faction, but my calculations suggest that a new plane of Water could be aligned to support the Panarchists' desired Healing trait. It would function slightly differently: it would confer lesser resistance to physical injury than the Panarchists seek, but would empower the blood of all living beings with resistance against poison and disease. Imagine the lives that would be saved! Mavisha's current Mystery trait has no beneficial properties, while the Healing trait will save countless lives. When combined with the primacy of logic and reason in the new society, it will substantially improve the lot of the individual.

    "Urim, the plane of Earth, would be replaced according to the current plans of Miller's Pyre, with a new plane carrying a Logic trait. All factions should support the goal of emphasizing logic and reason in the new world!

    "Apet, the Distant Plane, would be replaced according to the current plans of both the Panarchists and the Colossus: with a new plane carrying the trait of Empowerment. In the new alignment, this plane would remain distant and be weaker than the Colossus and Panarchists would prefer, but still far superior to what the fey are able to do in our world today -- and available to everyone. The importance of individuals and their need for governments will be greatly reduced. It is possible that some will still choose to create governing bodies, but these choices will stem from logic and reason, not from bloodlines or wealth. The Pyre must sacrifice its Empathy trait, but the primacy of reasoned discourse in this new society will still lead to a more empathetic and caring world, even without the mild empathic powers this trait would have conferred.

    "Now we come to Reida, the plane of Time. I initially balked at making changes to this plane. Tampering with it does carry some risk, which is why I cannot support the Watchmakers' radical changes. But a subtler change is possible! The new plane of Time will be a binary pair with the new plane of Air, and will carry an Expression trait. Shifting from the Pyre's plan to have Expression associated with the plane of Fire allows us to incorporate the goals of the Long Now: with Expression governed by Time, people will inherently frame their positions with heed to the future. This is only right and proper in a knowledge-driven, rational society.

    "As with the Pyre's plan, this binary pairing will allow a demiplane to be added. A small body in orbit around the Distant Plane will be given the trait of Flight. As the new Distant Plane will carry a trait of Empowerment, the Flight trait of the new plane will be strong enough to allow for the crafting of zeppelins and the exploration of worlds beyond our own.

    "Last among the existing planes is Nem, the plane of Death. This plane must be replaced if we are to explore the worlds beyond what we now know. The calculations are complex, but it is possible to realign Av into the current position of Nem! Death being a reflection of life, Av would become the plane of Death, preserving its traits of Reflection and Dream. The fey would not be cut off from the Dreaming and the Bleak Gate, which would have risked angering the Fey Titans and bringing calamitous war upon us.

    "We must not forget the strong support for the Mortal Mind. While this plan does not directly eliminate the possibility of irrational superstition, it does create a society where logic and reason are the prime movers. The beliefs that flourish will be those that can be supported by persuasive logical arguments. This, I hope, will be enough to satisfy followers of that faction, some of whom are fellow scientists.

    "To summarize: This comprehensive realignment plan partially fullfils the desires of the Pyre, Arboretum, Panarchists, Sky League, Trekkers, Long Now, and Mortal Mind. The newly replaced and aligned planes will carry traits of Cunning, Speech, Craft/Artifice, Healing, Logic, Empowerment, Expression, Reflection/Dream, and Flight. I believe this compromise position is the best way for members of these factions to accomplish their goals, since this debate has made clear that no one group can proceed alone!

    "Thank you, and I hope you will earnestly consider the framework I have presented."

    Summary:

    I'm proposing that we replace seven of the eight current planes, by combining the proposals of the Pyre, Arboretum, and Panarchists. The planes and traits are:

    Fire - Cunning (no change)

    Air - Speech (Pyre)

    Life - Craft, Artifice (Arboretum)

    Water - Healing (Panarchists)

    Earth - Logic (Pyre)

    Space - Empowerment (Panarchists)

    Time - Expression (Pyre)

    Death - Reflection, Dream (previously Life)

    New demiplane orbiting Space - Flight (Empowered)

    Who gets what, and who gives up what?

    Of the main factions, Miller's Pyre, Panarchists, and Arboretum all get some of what they want. Of the lesser factions, the Long Now, Trekkers, and Sky League get what they want. The Mortal Mind gets part of what they want, since logic and reason will be paramount in the new society, leaving less room for superstition and religion. In a bit more detail:

    - Arboretum gets their Craft/Artifice plane, but we don't sever the Dreaming/Bleak Gate, so Macbannin won't be thrilled.

    - Pyre gets 3/4 of their desired traits: Speech, Logic, Expression. They give up Empathy.

    - Panarchists get 2/3 of their desired traits: Healing, Empowerment. They give up Possession. Healing goes through blood rather than straight up regeneration, so it isn't quite as powerful, but disease and poison are diminished or maybe even go away.

    - Long Now gets Expression in the plane of Time, so arguments will tend toward the long view.

    - Mortal Mind gets a society in which logic and reason are paramount. They give up the explicit elimination of religion, but people will inherently favour logical arguments over appeals to emotion, superstition, or faith. Religion may persist, but its importance will diminish considerably.

    - Trekkers get to explore other planes. The blocks on this go away.

    - Sky League gets ZEPPELINS! No way could I leave that out.

    What Will Society Look Like?

    Physically, people will be stronger, healthier, resistant to disease/poison, and able to teleport significant distances (but not across miles as Colossus would like). Average lifespans will be significantly longer. Individuals will be far more powerful and far less reliant on government. Any government that existed would therefore truly have to be by the consent of the governed, rather than by hereditary fiat.

    Socially, people will be more logical, and will take the long view when framing their arguments. People will also be more willing to listen to the arguments of others -- speech and debate will carry more importance.

    People will be far more able to engage in these sorts of intellectual and philosophical discussions because taming nature will greatly reduce the scarcity of the goods needed for people to live -- notably food. Debate will replace war, since disagreements will largely be ideological rather than territorial disputes over fertile lands, because any land that is tended will be fertile.

    People will also be more mobile, and not just because they can teleport -- air travel and planar travel will be possible.

    When combined, all of these effects suggest multiple vibrant societies, some governed, some ungoverned, where reasoned debate is the paramount mode of persuasion and decision-making. Coercion will be far more difficult and far less likely. People will be able to readily travel between societies, facilitating the spread of ideas.

    Technological progress will continue apace, and the new, stronger, healthier workers will have a much better lot in life than they did before.

    Such a robust, multicultural, technologically advanced society will be able to band together when needed -- when logic dictates -- such as in the case of an extraplanar invasion. It would also be able to develop mechanisms for controlling the stronger storms that will arise, and compensating for any changes in sea level that may occur.

    What of the Obscurati?

    Perhaps we will no longer be needed. But more likely, the new society will be a true meritocracy, where knowledge, reason, and skill are recognized and rewarded. This means that we in the Obscurati will naturally rise to positions of respect and influence.

    Since this proposal is a mix of Miller's Pyre, Arboretum, and Panarchists, I suggest we call it the MAP for short.


    A lot of Ob officers respond very positively to this suggestion. Most arboretum supporters appear to be satisfied with it, as do key panarchists.

    In response, supporters of the Colossus faction hunker down and try to thrash out similar compromises. It looks set to be a long night...

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    Session 18 (141) - Part One - Quiet Reflection

    All of what follows played out in 'flashback', detailing what the players were up to in the time between Erskine Haffkruger's murder and the Preliminary Vote.

    Nicodemus began interviewing each Ob officer in turn, while the debate about the direction the conspiracy should take heated up in anticipation of the preliminary vote. Xambria threw herself into the spirit of the conclave – hugely impressed by the archaeological advances the Ob had made. She barely touched base with the others, instead engaging in a series of in-depth conversations with a whole range of officers throughout the mansion. Korrigan shrugged and simply observed, “Two women in one body. What do you expect?” For his part, the unit leader noted that the singular weakness of the Obscurati – and the one that led him to have little or no faith in its ability to carry out its Grand Design, no matter how well-meaning or audacious – was its fractious composition. He doubted if all of the officers could be relied upon to support another faction if they lost.

    While he circulated, Korrigan noticed a man who stood out from the rest, whose dark brown skin, traced with gold filigree, was identical to his own. He did not want to reveal himself or behave suspiciously, but was able to learn that this was Oort Magnus, a mage from Nalaam whose role in the Ob was to search for the lost temple of Urim beneath that city. How he had come to be schism-wrought remained a mystery for now.

    During a quiet moment, Leon investigated the possibility of using his quick portal power to escape this place – assuming they were able to coordinate sufficiently well with the RNS Impossible. (There was also the possibility of transferring to the circle in Uru’s garden, which at certain times of the year was coterminous.) However, Leon was all the more glad of his prescience when he discovered that quick portal would not function here. Perhaps a consequence of the lighthouse lantern, or some other arcane quirk? Or perhaps a security feature the Ob had installed to deter trouble-makers? Leon also made a mental note to check on the current defences of Axis Island. He imagined the conversation with Stover Delft: “Hey, you know that war we averted all those years ago? Well we’d like to start it now, if that’s okay.”

    Kiov Hetman was the first of the unit’s hosts to meet with Nicodemus. Two guards found him in the west lounge. Kiov was grateful to be rescued as he had just been roped into a conversation by Ramos Zoltan - the dwarven businessman whom Luc Jierre had met in Trekhom as he travelled the Avery Coast demonstrating his lantern. Zoltan was holding court among the rest of the Drakran delegation, smoking cigars and drinking brothy ale. He spotted Kiov nearby and explained that he was telling about the time he sent the police chief of Trekhom to a gulag after he shot Zoltan’s favourite dog. Zoltan gave the chief a dog of his own to keep him company in the gulag, and so far it had suffered a broken leg, food poisoning, burns, and a couple of beatings. Zoltan claimed this made him noble, since he could have done all these things to the chief! The other Drakrans laughed darkly at the proposal and Zoltan asked Kiov to tell them all what an ‘ass-hat’ the police chief had been. Rumdoom feared he would have to risk gestalt when he was interrupted in the nick of time.

    The guards led Hetman through the main hall, into the base of the lighthouse, and up via a freight elevator to the very top. There Nicodemus gazed out at the starless sky – a lack he lamented as he drew heavily on his cigarette. He enquired after Kiov’s wellbeing, asked if he saw anything related to the murder, and then asked if Hetman has any thoughts about the Grand Design and the direction it might take. Rumdoom was deeply unimpressed by the whole thing and said as much. He objected to the ‘lack of complexity’ demonstrated in the planar portals, and the idea that one could extrapolate such effects to a whole world. When Nicodemus tried to persuade him, he found himself dealing with two dwarves in one body. At length, he gave up, glanced at his pocket watch and ‘reluctantly’ ended the interview.

    Xavier Sangria was next. Nicodemus observed that he had taken a great interest in Erskine Haffkruger’s murder. ‘Xavier’ nodded and said that was the only reasonable, natural response to such an event and confirmed that he had shared all he knew with the Ghost Council. When asked about his thoughts on the Grand Design, Leon had Xavier give an enthusiastic nod and praise its boldness. “It makes me see the world in a whole new light. Are you certain of your ability to execute such a plan?” Nicodemus smiled and said that he was. He went on to reassure Xavier that earlier setbacks were not as major as they might seem to the outside observer. In return, Leon had Xavier express his unwavering support, no matter what the outcome of the vote.

    When Uru set foot on the lighthouse balcony, into the ‘open air’ of the Bleak Gate, he immediately heard faint, distant sobs. He had grown accustomed to such noises in the Nettles, but was distracted by them here, seeking to pin-point their origin with Gran Guiscard’s human ears. As such, he was distracted and fumbled his way through his initial greeting and exchange of pleasantries with Nicodemus. Having realised the sobs were coming from a huge pinnacle of rock in the sea, Gran took in the Bleak scenery and asked Nicodemus if he might be allowed to go for a walk. Nicodemus said that he may, in the company of a Bookpin Guard. Gran asked if he might also take the strapping Xavier Sangria, if he was willing, so that he felt extra safe. Nicodemus agreed and said he hoped that Gran might be inspired to compose something to commemorate his stay here. Uru then shared his views on the Grand Design, laying the groundwork for his shift in opinion: He realised that anyone who knew Gran would imagine the controlling opera singer to be a natural supporter of the Watchmakers. To justify a vote for Miller’s Pyre, he expressed his initial attraction to the order and certainty of a thousand-year script, before lamenting the lack of true artistry in such a world.

    Xambria/Livia was called shortly before the preliminary vote, and did not have time to share the outcome of her meeting with the others. When she rejoined them in the Main Hall, she acknowledged that all was well before taking her seat.

    Here we referred back to the Preliminary Vote section of last week's interim session report.

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    Session 18 (141) - Part Two - Explorations

    With the initial votes cast, the convocation heated up even further. Now everyone knew each other’s position, and faction leaders began targeting those they felt they might be able to persuade: Solace Petrov, leader of the Economists was immediately wooed by Colossus leader Catherine Romana (in earshot of the snooping Oscan/Gupta); Bruce McDruid was targeted by the leader of the Weapon Master faction, the elderly ice mage Glaz du Sang Magi (whom he recognised as the commander of the Ob submersible that had engaged Roscommon many years ago); and Xavier/Leon - after first having to listen to some outrageous and obviously false boasting from General Shane Wallisone – was then subject to the General’s ham-fisted attempts to flatter him into joining Colossus. (“Only men of action such as ourselves understand the value of true power.”)

    Bert Facie cornered ‘Oscan’ and wanted to know what he was up to. Of all the officers present, he knew Oscan best and felt sure that he would vote for Colossus. So sure in fact that he had prepared a whole line of argument to win him round to Panarchist. Yet here he was, voting for Miller’s Pyre? What was he up to? What had he spotted? Did he want to be forced to be good? Gupta channelled Oscan as best she could without risking gestalt, gave a cunning grin and said she figured that some people would be less affected by exposure to the emotions of others. That would give them an advantage. She stuck to this line later, when interviewed by Nicodemus, adding that she did not think this convocation would be the end of the matter and intimating that Oscan was playing the long game. During the same encounter Gupta opened her mind in wonder at the leader of the Ob and learned that he was very old indeed. (Later, she began to feel that she in some way knew Nicodemus, but couldn’t put her finger on why.)

    Han Jierre himself courted Gran Guiscard, some time before Dame Constance Baden began to circulate the M.A.P. proposal*. Han was oddly personable; not like a ruler at all, though he hoped to appeal to Gran’s patriotism, and secure Gran’s support for his Sovereign’s pet project! He suggested that Miller’s Pyre was something akin to mind control. “Mind control is perfectly acceptable to me,” said ‘Gran’. “Dominate everyone as far as I’m concerned.” Later, the M.A.P. proposal would remove the heightened empathy element from the equation altogether, and Han would gladly join forces with Dame Constance and Cula Ravjahani to fend off Colossus.

    Kiov/Rumdoom ended up in a very boring conversation with Von Hastenschrieft Willimarkanova - Drakren philosopher and politician, and advocate of the Mortal Mind faction that sought to eradicate all religious, superstitious beliefs. Rumdoom didn’t much like religions either - apart from his own – but the fact that he agreed with his fellow dwarf only made the encounter even more boring.

    As Bruce McDruid, Matunaaga made a point of finding out all he could about the aegis faction. He was concerned about the Obscurati’s plan to leave the world accessible and undefended from other worlds. He ran into an argument between the aegis faction representative, Dengar Kriegshaff – a human wizard from Drakr whose role in the Ob was to design weapons capable of slaying Risur’s fey titans – and Cardinal Testamenta Suchdol, a human inquisitor who represented the ‘Trekkers’, officers who wanted to open up further worlds to explore (and in Suchdol’s case convert). She was adamant that there was no threat from outside which could not be opposed by human ingenuity, might and faith. She was, after all, a demon-hunter by trade. All such threats – the Demonocracy, the Dragon Tyrants, even the titans – had been overcome in the past. This did indeed appear to be the general mood of the conspiracy: that no such planar defence was necessary. Tellingly, none of their examples featured any mention of the gidim…

    Korrigan began to use his oratorical skill to bend people towards Miller’s Pyre and – even after the M.A.P. proposal began to gain traction – sought also to subtly find fault with each and every proposal, to encourage arguments between parties and heat up disagreements. He hoped that way to expose flaws in the conspiracy and hinder progress. (‘Xavier’, meanwhile, was – with equal subtlety – planting the idea that the Ob could not pull off their Grand Design at all.) Korrigan’s initial intention was to button-hole Cula Ravjahani, but once the M.A.P. proposal got going, this felt less important somehow. Still, the opportunity eventually presented itself, and he found the apparently gentle, sympathetic half-elf to be made of sterner stuff than she initially appeared. When he questioned the Pyre’s interpretation of Miller’s doctrine she grew in stature and her mood darkened. “Were Miller alive today, I am certain that he would be part of this conspiracy. For he would have learned that human beings cannot be trusted to run their own affairs. The Great Malice alone is enough to demonstrate the damage that men can do; their capacity to ‘other’ whole groups and pursue their destruction with relentless efficiency.” Once he had got the measure of her ‘Ken Don’ moved on.

    While he circulated in this capacity Korrigan found time to join a conversation between Oort Magnus and three other officers. When the other officers moved on, he introduced himself as Ken Don and explained that he had been researching obscure topics for years but had not come across anything like Oort Magnus. Magnus was just a little condescending, responding that Don could not have been researching very hard: the annals of academia were filled with accounts of planeshaped individuals such as he. Though it was indeed rare – the ‘shaped’ individual had to be strong-willed and hale enough to survive whatever accidental magic caused the condition – they were nonetheless of such interest to the arcano-scientific community that they were very well documented. (He seemed irked that Ken Don had never heard of him.) Once this initial exchange was over, Magnus warmed to the topic (of himself) and happily responded to Ken Don’s enquiries as to the nature of his condition. Magnus had become thus affected when interacting with an ancient artifact. It misfired and bathed him in Urim energy, almost killing him. But he survived and now found that he was almost effortlessly able to manipulate stone through his magical powers. ‘Ken’ remarked that, now he came to think of it he remembered that reports about the colossus incident in Flint mentioned one of the Risuri officers involved had a condition somewhat similar to Oort's. The wizard said that he had heard the same, but it did not sound as if this individual’s command of Urim energy was as great as his. Nonetheless, he should have liked to examine him. Don ended their exchange by adding that, according Leone Quital, he had recently killed the aforementioned officer, so Magnus was unlikely to get the chance. ‘Don’ went off to see if he could find Reed Macbannin or Vicemi Terio, but neither of them were involved in the debates. (The unit occasionally caught a glimpse of Vicemi, watching from a distance, but he moved away if anyone drew close. Macbannin, it seemed, had been put in charge of the Ghost Council’s investigation into the murder.)

    To get away from the monotonous Willimarkanova, Kiov/Rumdoom visited the planar gallery and – after briefly checking in with Grappa and establishing that exposure to the planes was unlikely to cause contest, crisis or rejection (as long as he didn't hurt himself) – he dipped a toe in one of the portals, and enjoyed the experience so much that he ended up trying all of them. (While doing so, even Rumdoom could not overlook the irony that the most morally dubious of the ‘demo-planes’ was Miller’s Pyre, which took starved and maltreated clergy prisoners and used them to prove its efficacy.)

    I described the portal planes in an email before the session. Rumdoom's exploration allowed the group to learn about the mechanical effects of each plane.

    For a bit of a change of scenery Gran Guiscard and Xavier Sangria went hunting for ghosts. With a bookpin guard in tow, they wandered down to the beach where Gran, pretending some bardic magic was the source, cast the water walk ritual and crossed the glassy surface of the Bleak Sea to Cacciatrece de Nav – an enormous spire of rock that jutted up from the sea to the south of Mutravir Island. There he discovered a cave, the sobbing little ghost of a cabin boy, and the cabin boy’s remains. This had been the sole survivor of the pirate ship in Amielle Latimer’s story. The ghost pleaded with him to bring his bones back to the island, as he was frightened in the cave. Uru was only too happy to oblige and asked if in return the cabin boy would teach him a sea shanty. The little boy sang the song and Uru took his bones ashore and buried them with dignity. “Take that, Voice of Rot,” he whispered.

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