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ZEITGEIST Help Making Gears of Revolution AP More Leftist?

ratzofftoya

Explorer
To start off, let's not argue politics. Regardless of whether you think it's great or evil or whatever, take it for granted here that I want my version of the AP to have Nicodemus represent not just the idea of hegemonic thought/lack of free will, but more of an explicit liberal ethos (e.g., we need to allow all people to have equality of opportunity and allow for the free exchange of commerce and ideas so that the most able individuals rise to the top). I'd like for my group to ultimately be able to disrupt his ritual and instead create a worker-run, anarcho syndicalist society where instead of concentrating magical power in the hands of national rulers, it is dispersed throughout the people. Any suggestions for how to alter things (particularly in the early adventures) to facilitate that?
 

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arkwright

Explorer
Very little? Throughout the AP, factory workers and the poor are brutally exploited by the industrialist class, culminating in forming a communist hivemind (complete with hammer and sickle) in a small one-off event.

I think all you'll need to do is have Nic actually state a political ideology when the party meet him. In the Book 2 encounter, in the Book 7 Convocation, in the Book 10 summit.

I assume that you are also going to have Nic be a 'corrupt' liberal? That despite his ethos, he unreasonably believes that he is the most worthy and moral individual in the world, and to some degree so is his intelligentsia.
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Very little? Throughout the AP, factory workers and the poor are brutally exploited by the industrialist class, culminating in forming a communist hivemind (complete with hammer and sickle) in a small one-off event.
I noticed that part, but I guess my fear was that it was going to make it like Bioshock: Infinite, a la, "aren't both sides bad?" Is the communist hivemind a "bad guy?"

I think all you'll need to do is have Nic actually state a political ideology when the party meet him. In the Book 2 encounter, in the Book 7 Convocation, in the Book 10 summit.
That's great, thanks--and I notice you recommend the same in Zeitvice!

I assume that you are also going to have Nic be a 'corrupt' liberal? That despite his ethos, he unreasonably believes that he is the most worthy and moral individual in the world, and to some degree so is his intelligentsia.
Sorta. I think the ethos itself is "corrupt" enough for this group. In other words, the ideology sounds good ("create opportunity for the best to rise, regardless of where they come from"), but coincidentally he happens to be the best and gets to lord over everyone, and also this ideology creates the type of capitalistic society that leads to factory workers being exploited in their roles. I'd love for the end to be an abolition of all class, basically.
 

MrsMongoose

Villager
Our thoughts on Old Nick were

We’ve sort of seen what happens to ghosts when they stick around for too long (they get stuck in their ways: e.g. Council); I’m still entertaining the idea that he was at least (semi)legit to begin with (if driven to hurt the Clergy for reasons) and became more “Nicodemus-y” as he went along (after keeping “dying”)?

Otherwise, why try to do the Pala thing just after the Malice? We had a chat about that as to what we would say to our beardy naval captain and it’s probably the intent was there to make the world a better place before he strayed from his own path? (otherwise the teachings would not have lasted nearly 500 yrs as they did?)

Also he’s not (quite) as smart as he thinks he is (he is still probably very smart now, but wasn’t as smart then due to time, but some of his actual current “smarts” are that he’s had the time to plot and plan in depth); he did get captured the first time (I guess due to misjudging someone that dobbed him in the library scene)…

… then I can see him being outsmarted (again, in the past) into letting the Clergy pull a fast one on him if there are similar plotty high up guys there too…

Ofc nowadays, like he said at ObCon™, he has to bum around in bodies to even get an inkling of how the plebs work… (the Heart vs Head conversation at the Convocation) his whole nature is Unfinished Business™ of the:

“stuff that didn’t work the first time so he’s going to hit it repeatedly doing variations on a theme till it does work because it’s his brilliant idea and everyone else is stupid and has to be constantly manipulated into staying on task by killing strategic familial baggage otherwise it’s like herding cats…”. (That way lies madness)
 

Is the communist hivemind a "bad guy?"
I mean, any sort of system that focuses on one thing to the exclusion of all others will end up hurting people. It's a 'bad guy' not because it's communist, but because it's not allowing any dissent. Shortly thereafter you encounter, basically, a neoconservative hivemind built around the idea that everyone needs to 'contribute' or else be purged.

Let me ask, do you think your players would be interested in this? Are the players already politically minded?

You might want to highlight, in adventure 6, some Berans who are trying to operate an anarcho-syndicalist system, and maybe the Executore dola Liberta the party meets can be ruling on actions some business owner used to try to stop his workers from organizing. And in adventure 7, perhaps play up the Panarchists, who have a ~sorta~ compatible ideology: if we empower everyone physically, it becomes harder to force people to become subservient. Then in adventure 12, you'd want to add a couple planes that have traits that might contribute to worlds the players could consider creating. (We especially did not have enough good water or space planes.)

In the upcoming post-AP setting book, we needed a default cosmology, and I took what appeared to be consensus choices that multiple groups had chosen in their playthroughs of the AP. Then I did a couple tweaks, under the premise that the Ob managed to pose enough of a challenge in the final confrontation to stop the PCs from getting any sort of ideal utopia; instead they had to make do with some 'decent but not great' options. In the aftermath, the people of the world eventually figure out that something changed, and they have a sense of who were in charge of deciding how it changed, and so there's a concern: if the people who decided what to change had their values established by coming to power within a world that even they recognized was flawed, how much better could they really have made things?
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
I mean, any sort of system that focuses on one thing to the exclusion of all others will end up hurting people. It's a 'bad guy' not because it's communist, but because it's not allowing any dissent. Shortly thereafter you encounter, basically, a neoconservative hivemind built around the idea that everyone needs to 'contribute' or else be purged.
Slavoj Zizek voice: “Yes but you see this in and of itself is ideology”

totally agree that it is reasonable to conclude that thoughtless devotion to an idea can cause great harm, but I guess I would just like to turn away a bit from that sort of narrative, which I think we get a lot of in very august sources, and have a more explicit pro-worker position. So a destructive communist hive-mind is probably something I’ll have to tweak. But good to know!
Let me ask, do you think your players would be interested in this? Are the players already politically minded?
Yeah, this isn’t just my fantasy—not trying to indoctrinate anyone! My players are all fairly radical so I just don’t think they’d respond as well to an “everything in moderation” narrative as they would to an egalitarian revolution where a particular ideology is clearly superior. Maybe not reflective of the real world but, hey, this is escapism right?

totally stoked for the follow-up! I love those ideas and I am pretty sure the players will have to compromise in the end of course.

despite this being the most well-realized and expertly written AP I’ve seen in years, I am doing so much prep and having a total blast. Can’t wait to (hopefully) stream and of course post the logs here. My group is mostly professional actors and lawyers, so it should be lively!
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Our thoughts on Old Nick were

We’ve sort of seen what happens to ghosts when they stick around for too long (they get stuck in their ways: e.g. Council); I’m still entertaining the idea that he was at least (semi)legit to begin with (if driven to hurt the Clergy for reasons) and became more “Nicodemus-y” as he went along (after keeping “dying”)?

Otherwise, why try to do the Pala thing just after the Malice? We had a chat about that as to what we would say to our beardy naval captain and it’s probably the intent was there to make the world a better place before he strayed from his own path? (otherwise the teachings would not have lasted nearly 500 yrs as they did?)

Also he’s not (quite) as smart as he thinks he is (he is still probably very smart now, but wasn’t as smart then due to time, but some of his actual current “smarts” are that he’s had the time to plot and plan in depth); he did get captured the first time (I guess due to misjudging someone that dobbed him in the library scene)…

… then I can see him being outsmarted (again, in the past) into letting the Clergy pull a fast one on him if there are similar plotty high up guys there too…

Ofc nowadays, like he said at ObCon™, he has to bum around in bodies to even get an inkling of how the plebs work… (the Heart vs Head conversation at the Convocation) his whole nature is Unfinished Business™ of the:

“stuff that didn’t work the first time so he’s going to hit it repeatedly doing variations on a theme till it does work because it’s his brilliant idea and everyone else is stupid and has to be constantly manipulated into staying on task by killing strategic familial baggage otherwise it’s like herding cats…”. (That way lies madne
I love this take!
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Another point to highlight is the characterisation of Flint City Governer, Roland Stanfield. Although not explored much in the earlier books, Roland is relatively outspoken in his concerns for workers (see his combat speech in Adventure 9). Given he receives attention in quite a few adventures, you will want to consider what liberal thought he embodies. Make this narrative clear, through devices like minor remarks (from or about the governor), news articles, etc.
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Another point to highlight is the characterisation of Flint City Governer, Roland Stanfield. Although not explored much in the earlier books, Roland is relatively outspoken in his concerns for workers (see his combat speech in Adventure 9). Given he receives attention in quite a few adventures, you will want to consider what liberal thought he embodies. Make this narrative clear, through devices like minor remarks (from or about the governor), news articles, etc.
Isn't he part of the conspiracy, though?
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Very little? Throughout the AP, factory workers and the poor are brutally exploited by the industrialist class, culminating in forming a communist hivemind (complete with hammer and sickle) in a small one-off event.
So, if I like the idea of fighting a hivemind but don't love the idea of fighting the concept of fervent communism, any recommendations for how to adapt this encounter?
 

arkwright

Explorer
So, if I like the idea of fighting a hivemind but don't love the idea of fighting the concept of fervent communism, any recommendations for how to adapt this encounter?
I mean, the fight is in book 10, I don't think you need to bother about it for another six months at minimum.

Hiveminds can be a good concept to explore. My game did a lot looking into how to use them in positive and productive ways.

Honestly, I think Stanfield's speech is quite weak, especially given his actions. He does nothing to help the poor and arranges for the death of thousands of Risuri sailors. I take it more as showing how he thinks he he is acting for a good cause, though I'm truth he is as corrupt as Nic.
 

ratzofftoya

Explorer
Honestly, I think Stanfield's speech is quite weak, especially given his actions. He does nothing to help the poor and arranges for the death of thousands of Risuri sailors. I take it more as showing how he thinks he he is acting for a good cause, though I'm truth he is as corrupt as Nic.
I think that's a good way of showing it. Lip service but a failure to actually change the structure of society when the time comes.
 

Lylandra

Adventurer
Yep, that was also our turn on Stanfield. He's all talk, no action. We thought that it was simply because of realpolitics and because he wanted to keep his seat, but in reality he just threw everyone underneath the bus for the OB. And we threw that back at him with force when the time came to face him.

"Yep, we DO have power, but at least we USE it to support those who are powerless!"
 

Gort

Explorer
So, if I like the idea of fighting a hivemind but don't love the idea of fighting the concept of fervent communism, any recommendations for how to adapt this encounter?

I kinda flipped it on its head. The scene was a worker's revolt, trying to rescue fellow workers from one of the factory lock-ins that happened in an earlier adventure. The workers were opposed by a Pinkerton-like strikebreaker force, and it was this force that became the hivemind. Picture a line of riot cops chanting "Right to work" over and over.
 


ratzofftoya

Explorer
I kinda flipped it on its head. The scene was a worker's revolt, trying to rescue fellow workers from one of the factory lock-ins that happened in an earlier adventure. The workers were opposed by a Pinkerton-like strikebreaker force, and it was this force that became the hivemind. Picture a line of riot cops chanting "Right to work" over and over.
Awesome, will definitely incorporate this if we head in that direction!
 

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