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    PaladinGuy

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    Default How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    I’m building a new world. My idea is that the “sword-and-sworcery” continent that most D&D players hide on is small and densely populated, and because of things like raiders, constant warfare, and crazy mage armies, it’s really hard to get or keep much land there. So most countries here don’t bother with fighting the other ones. Instead, they try something else: sending conquerors out to the overwhelmingly large other continents to claim land. Also, I hate human superiority in D&D campaign settings, so let’s say they got driven out by the other countries and are ruling a police state in a different land. Ideas?
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Devil

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    My first though was "DANGER, DANGER, DELICATE REAL WORLD ISSUE, DANGER!" Danger in the sense both of getting this thread locked if we handle it badly and in terms of creating a very upsetting setting.

    Migration is not the same as colonisation, a colony by definition is an extension of a larger nation-state, so this wont be a story of group A moving in and joining group B, this will be a story of group A taking a slice of land previously occupied by group B and remaining separate. In order for colonisation to really work there needs to be a power imbalance in favour of the colonists. IRL that was technology, but it could be magic or something else in your setting. The problem with this is the coding. No matter what races you use, you send an implicit message and have to try and answer certain very delicate questions. For example, if it IS technology, why does the other group not have it and why do they ALSO not have enough of anything else to compensate? You can't just have them be behind in metal working but have powerful druidic magic, which might be the impulse, because then they won't get colonised. But then again, if you make one group noticably weaker than the other the races you choose start to have a very big impact on how the world feels, see Bright for how badly this can go wrong.

    Say we stick with the colonial imbalance most familiar to most people on the site, that of the Europeans in the Americas. Say you make the colonists human, well that's nice and straight forward. So are the natives Orcs? Elves? Gnolls? Whatever you choose makes an implicit judgement as to the nature of the real world peoples who were colonised.

    There is also the hot and spicy topic or racism. There will be racism. These are two cultures who just will not get each other. And the problem is in real life that sort of prejudice is 100% unreasonable, but as Bright and Detroit Become Human have recently demonstrated, using a fantasy or sci-fi standin messes up the message because, well, they are different.

    I am reminded of a moment in Bright where some cops make what is clearly meant as a racist comment about how Orcs don't play basketball but do play Football. This doesn't work because in this world Orcs just have a different physiology from humans, it muddies the message.

    One solution to this might be to have ALL the races on BOTH sides of the equation, in fact unless you want to make a plot point about how a specific race went extinct on one side of the sea or the other that would be my advice. Stick to cultures not races and try and avoid drawing too much influence from any real-word culture. Also beware assigning either group a dominant alignment, that too will start inadvertently "saying things."

    With all that said, this has all sorts of opportunities for fun, just remember that your PCs will be much, MUCH more influential than normal because of the smaller colony size. A level 5 cleric is a lot more important when there are no level 6+ clerics. Spells that create or purify food and water will be very VERY important while the colony tries to get agriculture running and any spell able to translate languages will be very powerful too. I could see you go weeks of sessions without even needing combat as an encounter just dealing with how to set up a colony, what to build when and where, how to deal with law and order etc.

    EDIT: Just realised from the tone of the above, I am NOT saying don't address the stuff that happened in history, I am saying always keep history in mind. For example, you have a cleric in the party of the NG god of compassion and healing, the only god known to the locals who focuses on healing is the CN nature deity who also brings plague. Should your character try and get converts? How far are they willing to push against this other deity's priests who view him as carrying the words of a god who teaches weakness, vulnerability and to discard one's obligations? It is an interesting question and RP opportunity, it just needs more care because it will always be an echo of the real world.
    Last edited by Evil DM Mark3; 2019-08-30 at 10:18 AM.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    My idea is that the “Khoirvaire” continent is basically just races in core, while other places also have races like Asherati and Nezumi. The idea of this setting was to show not everything is black and white, and that while the elf king may be kind and just to his subjects, he supports the prosperity of his nation through slavery. I do not mean to stir up controversy. There should be no reason why real-life racism is brought up. Please don’t discuss this more in this thread.
    Last edited by Vrock Bait; 2019-08-30 at 10:19 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Devil

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    I wasn't accusing you of trying to stir up controversy, I was saying this whole area is inherently controversial. It is exploring the area that is the cause of much of the prejudice and injustice in the western world today and so should be handled with care. However I accept this isn't the sort of advice you were looking for, best of luck with the world-building.
    GNU Terry Pratchett

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    I know this area is controversial. However, this stuff is already present in D&D: Drizzt Do’Urden is discriminated for his race, and there’s a whole prestige class in 3.5 that’s about racism. The aim of this was to simply create a realistic world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    I'd start looking here for the sort of thing you're actually looking for:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_colonisation


    (And let's just not get into any of the handwringing or outrage that comes up in this discussion.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-08-30 at 10:51 AM.
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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Which side would the players be on? In RPGs they would usually be on the side of the natives, as demons, mindflayers and hobgoblins play the part of the colonists. (Note that war isn't that different from colonization. In both cases your taking land that belongs to someone else.)

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    It doesn’t matter. The colonists are the PHB races, the colonized are various other races(ie, Neanderthals, underfolk, maenads, darfellans and hengeyokai). Hobgoblins fight goliaths back on the generic continent. Demons are largely outshadowed by yuguloths. Illithids are creepy people who keep to themselves on the psionic continent.
    Current games:
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    The idea was to create such interesting moral quandaries as this:
    The party is helping a group of hadozee rebels, along the way hearing small clues hinting the nation was worse off before.

    When they break into the throne room of the imperialist dictator, he explains to them that the hadozees are better off under his rule, because they were improvised savages before, and that he is trying to do the best for his “subjects”.
    Current games:
    The Sunless Citadel
    Blade of the Four Fallen
    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock Bait View Post
    I’m building a new world. My idea is that the “sword-and-sworcery” continent that most D&D players hide on is small and densely populated, and because of things like raiders, constant warfare, and crazy mage armies, it’s really hard to get or keep much land there. So most countries here don’t bother with fighting the other ones. Instead, they try something else: sending conquerors out to the overwhelmingly large other continents to claim land. Also, I hate human superiority in D&D campaign settings, so let’s say they got driven out by the other countries and are ruling a police state in a different land. Ideas?
    Okay...so ex-post-colonial scholar here, so...the fount of opinion on this never runs out. Also I'm specifically writing without reference drops so please don't cite any specific instance in history.

    First thing--"colonization" refers to two things that can occur separately or together.

    One is the sending out of subsidized, supplied groups to create a colony in a distant location, hoping that they will succeed and obtain a level of population and productivity such that they don't need to be subsidized any more and become part of the normal economy and politics of the nation.

    The second is the implementation of a regime of control over an existing society of people controlling land, such that the existing society is integrated into the body politic of the colonizer country...more often than not, deliberately with less or no franchise. This system has the same economic premise as the settler colony...achieve profitability and integration into the larger economy ASAP...with different strategies mostly centering on treating the colonized as means rather than ends. Colonized land is re-purposed to serve the needs of the colonizer economy--which generally means rapid extraction of raw materials, valuable goods, and cash crops to be redistributed through the colonizing power's markets. Colonized peoples, in turn, are both cheap labor and a captive audience for finished goods produced by colonizer industry.

    Colonization thus creates a kind of reciprocating engine of economic gain...the captive labor force--colonials that can't return and colonized that have nowhere to go to--can't accumulate savings quickly, but constantly add value to the holdings of a network of far-away elites, while the center's industry creates finished goods to supply both the forces of colonization...armies, importers, entrepreneurs...and the needs of the colonized who are frequently specific shut off from valuable areas of the market such that they can't sustain themselves as individuals or collectively.

    Second thing--and this is where the red flags start wracking up--both versions of colonization tend to devalue human beings (and in a fantasy setting, likely any sapients) and the latter version is built on disenfrachisement. This is not just because of chauvinism expressed as policy, it's also a problem of central versus distal priorities.

    To the center...the government or government proxy (like an individual or corporation with a colonization mandate)...colonization is about means to obtain economic ends, and profitability is the most important thing. Building a colony is like building a factory; you are doing it to produce something of value, but you have to pay a great deal up front to build the thing and get it running, operate in the red, and as soon as possible reach profitability. In many cases, the government is an elite class such that individual administrators are also investors, so treating colony-as-asset is literal and figurative. But in all cases, the the government plans the colony to address the needs of the economic center--the nation-state or city state, its work force, its land-holding class, its finance industry. The stakes are enormous--the health of the nation--and personal--the risk of being less filthy rich. This results in a range of behavior from "clueless insensitive project manager makes unreasonable demands on project they don't understand" to "guy with baseball bat screaming 'Where's my money?' on your stoop."

    In the distal regions, the colonists are the people with their butts on the line. Traveling to a colony could kill you. Once you were there, unless you were a duke or something you were generally stuck. It's not a coincidence that when colonization became a matter of crossing oceans, you suddenly had empires offering criminals "transportation" as a plea bargain. The central government was playing a rogue-like with permadeath and settlers were the PCs. Facing the complications of building everything, dominating the locals, having things go wrong, having the wrong supplies...while dealing with demands from home base...settlers build a community of shared effort. Early on colonization includes existential threats that they prioritize over profitability, but as the colony succeeds, it's expected to pay back what's been put in, meaning that colonists feel an economic pinch and a lot of resentment towards the toffs back home. And I don't mean "the colonists are left impoverished"...colonies that succeed generally have a local elite who get very rich and very fond of being rich, and don't like the idea of paying back the advance money. That sentiment against the center tends to come to a boil.

    But most distal of all are the colonized and...oof, my head is a catalogue of how this goes lopsided. This is where the red flags just catch fire, because things pretty much always go sour, because colonization always has a power dynamic and the colonizers are atop it right up until the revolt starts. The third thing is that colonization of other peoples involves cultural explanations for why the colonized are less important, and these explanations generally put in place a power and control hierarchy that lends itself to coercion and violence. Colonization starts with a justification in which the colonized can be dismissed from the discussion of their bodily and societal autonomy. If they were treated as equals, they would legally be able to say "No" to development because they would have property or usage rights, and if they fought colonization it would be self-defense. The versimilitudinous framing of this justification changes--religion, science, culture--opportunistically and frequently cynically, but all varieties lean heavily on ethnocentrism: those that do things differently are lesser, and should be accorded less self-determination and legal rights.

    Racism takes ethnocentric assumptions and maps them onto bodies--those that are different are inherently different such that parity is not possible, and we are the superior group...though it is important to understand that racism is, by design rooted in the subjective and aesthetic impressions of the people with power, and criterion for inclusion and exclusion are often deliberately altered over time as the people with power need propping up (the definition of "belonging to the superior race" expands) or want to consolidate power more (the definition of "belonging to the good race" contracts). It's just a way of mapping an entitled "us," axiomatically more reasonable and better suited to power, versus an accumulated "them" that are alternately inherently dangerous, childlike, or inherently untrustworthy. It recurs because it is an effective tool for emotionally, socially, and legally declaring that it is permissible, even moral, to coerce, hurt, and kill other people to achieve selfish ends. The language and tropes of older forms of racism are appropriated by newer ones to give a sense of naturalness and continuity when there is none.

    Enthnocentrism and racism are what allows colonizers to encounter people living in a very complicated manner in harsh environments and see them as "backwards" for having developing coping methods and working knowledge for those extremes rather than having built big cities and grown crops (no seriously that was and is a thing). It is also what allowed colonizers to view settled agriculturalists working without tool metal...simply because it is unavailable...who nonetheless create impressive things to also be backwards and worthy of disdain, up to and include claiming that their megastructures must have been built by a dead "superior race"...or, more recently, aliens. It is also what allowed colonizers to literally destroy highly sophisticated works of architecture, art, and literature representative of "civilization" because the media and aesthetics were not in keeping with their own culturally determined preferences.

    I'm belaboring a point here: ethnocentrism and racism are the bed of Procrustes: an answer in search of a question. They have always not made sense, and always danced between the poles of cynicism and ignorance.

    Again...the premise of colonization is aggressive exfiltration of value, and effort appeasing or compensating the colonized is both an expense and allowing money to re-investment locally rather than circulate into the central economy. Things might start nice, when the colonists are still wobbly and need assistance, but ultimately the colonizers' need to turn land and resources into capital means they're going to strip assets from the locals. While there is variation in the degree and rate of occurrence of violence, disenfranchisement, and the deprivation of basic bodily autonomy within colonialism, they are always present to some degree.

    There are always demands that colonizers will not accept "No" as an answer to, and that the colonized cannot say "Yes" to because it fundamentally compromises their way of life and survival.

    A forager living in a forest hunting and gathering is not pulling maximum value from the soil, or the timber rights, or the mineral rights. To the central government pushing the colonial project, to respect that forager is to waste money and time and create future property rights entanglements; to the distal colonizing force, respecting that forager is to fail to harness vital resources that could keep the colony alive literally and financially, and leaving something of worth in the hands of competitors who seem to not value it. A pastoral nomad is similarly undeserving because they value open pasture over fields and closed pasture, et cetera, et cetera.

    Fourth thing, colonization efforts in the context of competing, established states expand the theater of war rather than create a peace.

    States need resources and labor to persist regardless of the stated ideology or underpinning morality, and expansion is necessary because urbanization and concentrated agriculture routinely create demand that held resources cannot meet. Until very recently that meant expanding to and controlling land, and because of logistics of moving goods and people, ideally land contiguous with existing holdings. A lot of wars reduce down to competing claims on a hot-potato piece of dirt, and in the long view of history you can see regions and peoples that are defined by how they've been flipped back and forth between two or three more powerful neighbors, century after century. Colonization becomes an available option when it is logistically possible to move people and equipment to a farther-away location via established routes to develop a semi-autonomous existence...again, with the hope of eventual full integration into the state economy...by controlling and exploiting "new land" while returning value to the center via transport.

    Colonization does not change the existing tensions of borders and claims, or the long term accretion of grudges and culturally-understood entitlement to control peoples and places. So when one state sees another launching colonies, the question is whether they're going to gain enough resources and labor to dominate their proximate neighbors economically or militarily. Sometimes part of the fear is the value gained elsewhere will be used to appropriate that old real estate chestnut that everyone's been fighting over...again. So competing states tend to all jump aboard the idea of colonization as soon as they can, specifically to cut one another out of getting too much of the "other" parts of the world. This means that colonization is both an end of war and a means of conducting war, and while nations might sometimes agree to a "peace" where each nation will direct their aggression and rapacity towards people not in the familiar community of colonizers, inevitably there will be especially-valued resources or locations that are worth warring over.

    The competitive rush to cover the globe with colonialism is basically a polite agreement between cannibals to hunt outside each others' grounds. Cannibals seeking gustatory novelty will eventually try poach someone that looks delectable, resulting in unpleasantness and spoiled meals...and a cannibal that starts limping too much might find themselves trailed by other cannibals brimming with anticipation...but cannibals ultimately have natural shared interest with other cannibals to never, ever acknowledge that non-cannibals have a right to not be eaten.

    This is getting long and I'm going to stop and hit post. I have thought about specific things that would happen in the scenario, some based on real life, some from me thinking about fantasy colonialism.
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2019-08-31 at 03:33 AM. Reason: editin' the TEXT WALL

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Yanagi, this is a brilliant deconstruction of this kind of setting. Thank you, and well done. Vrockbait, what you propose is not a moral dilemma. Its an NPC trying (and failing) to justify stripping self-determination away from sentient creatures.

    Put it this way: if someone came to your country with tech 50 years ahead of you, then didn't share it, forced you to work for below-market wages and buy their goods that may or may not help you in any way...are you better off?

    Frankly, I'd be much more interested in playing the natives (your "Neanderthals") than the colonists. That kind of underdog game sounds interesting as hell.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    It's probably worth noting here that D&D - regardless of edition - is a very high magic setting to the point that it dramatically distorts economic and technological balances and turns all scenarios based on historical situations loopy. Taken to its full extent in 3.X/PF1 D&D the entire agrarian assumption is upended because the limiting economic factor is magic, not land, but even in 2e or 5e magic dramatically alters pathways and may lead to entirely different scenarios with regard to land use, especially when combined with new species with variant dietary requirements or the use of construct/extraplanar/undead labor.

    You have to decide what your core societies are even going to look like for different species in different environments first, because depending on how this unfolds colonization may not even be possible in your setting.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock Bait View Post
    The idea was to create such interesting moral quandaries as this:
    The party is helping a group of hadozee rebels, along the way hearing small clues hinting the nation was worse off before.

    When they break into the throne room of the imperialist dictator, he explains to them that the hadozees are better off under his rule, because they were improvised savages before, and that he is trying to do the best for his “subjects”.
    It sort of...doesn't work as a dilemma. Imperialists in real life use the "the primitives are better off now" argument and have for centuries, but it rarely bares up to scrutiny.

    First, it presumes the imperialist knows what is "better" and that "better" is completely a function of objective measures. The nature of imperialism is to construct a cultural explanation for why gains for the imperialists is ultimately a Good for the world, even if specific aspects of imperialism are clearly immoral if not depraved, whether or not this claim that things are "better" outside. Historically, imperialists have fabricated societal ills that they then declared stamped out by their rule, so the existence of outright myths of "the bad time before" are a distinct possibility. Either way the speaker is embedded in a self-interested perspective that has to be doubted.

    It also relies on the assumption that the colonized are not allowed to say "No" regardless of if its better or not.

    Second, even if the observation is true, ultimately the imperialist mandate is not to make things "better" but to be profitable for the center, such that even objective improvements in quality of life are not a function of goodness or Goodness. An argument being made from the throne benefiting far more from the conditions set is highly dubious even if sincere. Hidden in the argument, "I made things better (for my own gain)" is the elaboration "if my profitability dictates, I can undo the good and even make things worse." That last bit is totally a thing dictators and imperialists do--claw back freedom and comforts if they affect the bottom line. If one wants to get technical, how much the imperialist dictator cares about "the Good" of the colonized would be visible in the accounting. If money's being spent to create infrastructure to make the Hadozee more effective labor units producing more value that's moved through the empire to enrich the cohorts of the imperialist dictator, then improved conditions are functional not moral.

    See, the trick is that the standard is not "now" versus "before," but "now" versus "the potential now in which the colonizers were sharing goods things without extracting a bunch of wealth and labor." Even in the current day, right now, this kind of "we helped" hustle is still used; "we built a $200M bridge, and all we got was a $200B in mineral rights in exchange...you're welcome."

    Third, while consent of the governed is always tricky to discuss in pre-democratic conditions because states are inherently coercive of individuals...it matters a great deal why the Hadozee view the current conditions as unacceptable and that's not present in the narrative. The "quandary" is only a quandary if the players are somehow kept in the dark about the entire ethos and rationale of the rebels, blindly supporting them and get no "hints" of why they're acting until the throneroom scene. The critical voice missing is...that of every other Hadozee living under these conditions, and how they view the relative worth of rebellion versus imperialism. It is super contrived that the dictator is arguing this moral case, period.

    "The roads and hospitals are nice, but you are still a foreign oppressor and should not get to rule us by fiat" is a perfectly valid point.

    Fourth, an instance of a dictator doing "good" things does not override the general problem of absolute power, and the specific case of an imperialist doing "good" things does not override the general problem of absolute power filtered through "us--smart and good; them--clearly need our help because primitive" distinction. Colonialism is built on controlling a subject population as economic means, and it has very little mystique beyond ethnocentrism. Colonizers are by nature a prerogative state existing separate from the normative power structure of the colonized, and that commanding role is imposed by literal use of force...first invasion, then a mix of stochastic and state terror...to achieve compliance. An endpoint with a "nice" dictator and good results has still required the tactics of imperialist dictatorship to reach.

    Your scenario depends on a black box of setting history in which the exploitative behavior is simply omitted but the philanthropic behavior can be measured. Which is yet another thing actual colonial powers do...paint the colonized as ungrateful when they protest or rebel, omitting the endless grind of indignities and injustices that maintains colonial power.

    Fifth, when colonizers do "improve" a colonized place, it's generally with enormous amounts of cheap or forced labor from the colonized themselves, with materials from the colony. So the credit taking that justifies...ya know, the imperialism and colonialism...is kind of ridiculous even when it is sincere. If I announce I'm going to cook dinner and make my dinner guests bring all the ingredients and do all the work, I can technically take credit for making sure they had a five-course meal. If I did all that and then stole a bunch of silverware from they're houses, I'd be pulling the same move as Mr. Imperialist Dictator.

    A technologically superior nation that uses its power to uplift individuals while respecting their wishes is Wakanda at the end of Black Panther...and what T'Challa chooses to do is explicitly Not Do What Colonizers Do. The wheedling position of "but we did goods things, too, it's better" is what real life colonialism, with its suffering and massive body counts, has always sounded like.

    Basically, the throneroom scenario can only be a "quandary" if the PCs and their players are kept at a very specific level of information about the setting, such that "we rule over these people without their consent, but it's okay because we give them prizes" seems like an unanswerable, "both sides have a point" dilemma, when the very nature of the scenario setting...a colonial holding...solves the quandary because the thing itself is defined by exploitation, and frequently clothed in condescending rhetorical exercises about the will to power of superior kinds of people.

    If I adopt an orphan and provide them with love, food, clothing, and shelter, I am at first appearance a good person. But if that generosity is contextualized by me demanding reciprocity...hours of labor cleaning my house or working in my garden...that picture is muddier. And as I demand more of that orphan and provide less love/food/clothing/shelter relative to their effort, the less I'm being compassionate and the more I'm engaging in a transactional relationship. And if that orphan wishes to leave and I stop them...first with persuasion, then with threats, then with force...I am clearly acting in a kind of self-interest that disregards their autonomy and humanity and am no longer moral.

    If I sit in my comfy chair when the cops arrive and reveal to them "...and I bought that kid a steak every year for his birthday...." do you think it would stop me from getting arrested?
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2019-08-31 at 03:59 AM.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    What is stochastic terror? Also loving your breakdown of that argument.

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    Thank you for the interesting lecture(no, seriously). I understand why that wouldn’t be true now. I thought of this when I was reading Ebberon Campaign Setting, and noticing how most countries had very conquest-happy rulers, and was wondering about this.
    Frankly, I'd be much more interested in playing the natives (your "Neanderthals") than the colonists. That kind of underdog game sounds interesting as hell.
    If you want to play a Neanderthal, it’s on page 36 of Frostburn in 3.5e.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Honestly, I’m shocked I didn’t realize how wrong I was earlier. A close family member is an anthropologist, and I’m studying imperialism in school, so... facepalm myself, Playground 5678:Me -3.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky McDibben View Post
    What is stochastic terror? Also loving your breakdown of that argument.
    To put it in a fantasy setting context, imagine if someone put up fliers decrying the evil of sorcerers, full of inflammatory rhetoric, implying they're responsible for all sorts of troubles, insinuating things about "contaminated bloodlines", etc. Then independent of any organization, idiots start murdering sorcerers. The guy who put up the fliers can say "hey, I have no idea who these murderers are, I've never talked to them, you can't blame me for these random crimes, I'm just warning the world... I've never advocated violence".

    ~~~~

    When I first started reading this thread, I was picturing something like Greek colonies in the ancient Med and Black Sea... I think I was wrong about what the OP intended.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-08-31 at 11:05 AM.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    You know what, Vrockbait? I think I owe you an apology. I feel like I was trying to score points more than help.

    I am sorry (sincerely).

    This place is all about help, so let me help. You sound like there's something about this idea that speaks to you. Is it generating moral quandaries? Is it the "fish-out-of-water" sort of story about settlers in a strange land?

    Lets take what speaks to you, and make it work. The biggest hurdle is the power dynamics inherent in colonization. So let's get rid of 'em! Instead of colonists, what if your PCs are refugees, fleeing persecution and seeking asylum from the "home continent?"

    And instead of a more primitive society, the natives were highly advanced but isolationist. Your PCs go through several adventures taming the wilderness, until they make contact with these native civilizations (who may have been watching them the whole time). You have multiple sources of conflict and tension, but what if the BBEGs are the guys your PCs were running from in the first place?

    Just some ideas to kick around. If you're interested in moral dilemmas, there's a lot to work with here.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock Bait View Post
    Thank you for the interesting lecture(no, seriously). I understand why that wouldn’t be true now. I thought of this when I was reading Ebberon Campaign Setting, and noticing how most countries had very conquest-happy rulers, and was wondering about this.

    If you want to play a Neanderthal, it’s on page 36 of Frostburn in 3.5e.
    I don't really know enough about Eberron to answer.

    Honestly, I’m shocked I didn’t realize how wrong I was earlier. A close family member is an anthropologist, and I’m studying imperialism in school, so... facepalm myself, Playground 5678:Me -3.
    You're not wrong, in the general sense that colonialist sword and sorcery would make a good fantasy setting. Most of the settings I write for scenarios incorporate exactly the kinds of elements I describe. Heck, I was coming back today to provide suggestion for specific stuff that would be interesting/cool for a fantasy world with colonies. One of the thoughts I had in mind as I sat down to type was the possibility of a "Good" colonialism-equivalent that might work in fantasy.

    My first post was not a judgement of the world-design idea, but an attempt to accurately capture the components of colonialism in summary. That most of those traits involve caveats and...ugly stuff that actually happened...is a function of the subject addressed. It is a complicated and a bit delicate subject.

    The second post I made was corrective of the specific described situation, but was NOT meant to shame or scold you, or divert you from designing the setting you want. And it was corrective not from a place of anger, but rather pointing out that you'd immediately slipped into a common rhetorical trap relating to the subject...and why that maybe wouldn't be a good thing to pull on players.
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2019-08-31 at 02:25 PM.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Here is the thing...
    just because it is a complicated subject that lots of people will find touchy doesn't mean it is a bad idea for a setting.

    it could be a great idea for a setting.
    Just it would probably deal with grittier grey morality, good as per whose definition (non-universalist morality (so killing an out-group member is not murder), no good options types, not classically "heroic" per se.

    heck...being an outcast kicked out of the home country, coming to power in the colony, and then coming to realize (and either rationalize or come to terms with) the effect that rise on others could be a amazing, best-in-career, character arc.

    Also you can have interesting questions of "Homeland" politics causing problems. Population pressures and high level magic being available could make a direct war there cause hundreds of thousands/millions of deaths that some chamberlain is weighing against the basically genocide of some low tech people far away that he never has to deal with directly but could well be a cause for fewer deaths total.

    While it is not automatic, remember that evil PC groups are a thing and that doesn't make their games automatically bad. And many settings (WoD, Shadowrun, etc) often assume or even focus on questions of how the PC's view morality (often with an assumed darker than 21st Centuray humanist morals)...and that being different than the players do.

    actually there are ton of interesting conflicts built into such a system really to build stories out of.

    And there are also a ton of varient of colonialism...from something more the Greeks in the Med model, to genocide and replace (where much of labour comes from export from the home nation), to the uses of protectorates and puppet governments, trade company colonization, to the imperial despot style, to the attempt to cutoff the top of a local hierarchy and replace with colonizers....and more varieties besides. And all can easily exist next to each other in the same region (or even regionally within the same colony)...in fact the conflicts between such setups would be rich source of story ideas and plot hooks.

    and it is not like classic DnD is not built in a deeply romanticized and simplified version of the late migration and medieval periods. I mean your classic boarder fort reward for a PC (in what is often described as "infested territory"), and dealing "Orc Raids", or "cleaning out the nests of Goblins" is just a pretty classic genocidal rampage anyway just dressed up in people with funny suits. It is mostly that people have clearer memories of the horrors of colonialism than those of the dark ages so it doesn't rile up as many hurt feelings. Hurt feelings are seriously something to watch, people play RPG's for fun and hurt feelings can really do a number on the "fun" part.

    Basically it is a high-risk/high-reward idea. When I said there are tons of good conflicts and thus good stories in such a world I really meant it. Done well you will be able to mine the setting for decades of good games...done poorly it will blow up, offend people, and bring out the worst in your players. It would thus take A LOT of work and care to do right. There is also no chance you can please everyone with it either. But if it works the setting could drive players to really interesting places-just build to support that. Now if you don't want to sink in that kind of time and would rather build a fast-and-loose, beer-and-pretzel supporting world that's cool too...but probably not so much with this concept.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2019-08-31 at 05:51 PM.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    What is overlooked in this thread and in popular culture is that colonization is ubiquitous in the real world. There is not now one single place on Earth where humans live that was not formerly home to a displaced or subsumed culture. From the dawn of mankind group A has displaced group B which has displaced group C which has displaced group A, (now with group B influences...) It is, in fact, still going on today, and technological superiority has nothing to do with it.

    So such a fantasy world would look like Earth.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Yeah... I think I need serious help if I want to make this setting a reality. This was originally going to be one part of several threads about a new setting I’ve been drafting up, but now I see this issue is far more important then stuff like yugoloths and different magic systems.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    What is overlooked in this thread and in popular culture is that colonization is ubiquitous in the real world. There is not now one single place on Earth where humans live that was not formerly home to a displaced or subsumed culture. From the dawn of mankind group A has displaced group B which has displaced group C which has displaced group A, (now with group B influences...) It is, in fact, still going on today, and technological superiority has nothing to do with it.

    So such a fantasy world would look like Earth.
    Yeah, in a setting with a deep history, if you go back far enough, everyone will have ancestors on both sides of that interaction.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Technically nearly everyone is descended from a colonist. The beginnings of the human race were in Africa, I believe. So many humans crossed through the Suez and Panama Canal areas, and the Berling Land Strait, and through Russia. Or I’m just the ignorant OP.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    What is overlooked in this thread and in popular culture is that colonization is ubiquitous in the real world. There is not now one single place on Earth where humans live that was not formerly home to a displaced or subsumed culture.
    This is flatly untrue. There are absolutely places on Earth where the people living there are the direct descendants of the first people to ever live there. Now these places tend to be small and remote, like the island of Tristan da Cunha (which had a permanent human population of 0 until 1810), but they do exist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock Bait
    Yeah... I think I need serious help if I want to make this setting a reality. This was originally going to be one part of several threads about a new setting I’ve been drafting up, but now I see this issue is far more important then stuff like yugoloths and different magic systems.
    I would submit, quite seriously, that in the context of a high magic setting - which a 3.5 D&D setting absolutely is - nothing is more important than the magic system and how it interacts with everyday life. D&D worlds that allow the full implementation of D&D magic (meaning that don't limit them E6 style or something similar) look nothing like the typical quasi-medieval world imagined in generic fantasy novels. They instead evolve into bizarre hyper-magic alternate worlds or end up as devastated post-apocalyptic charnel houses. In a high magic setting you have to append 'how does magic impact this?' to every single other worldbuilding question, so you'd better have a good grasp on how the magic works.

    This is especially important if you wish your setting to investigate a serious sociological and ethical question like colonization, because such questions require high-verisimilitude worlds or they end up with nonsensical answers. For example, in D&D at full magic, 20th level wizards can remake reality according to their whims and institute localized utopias and sociological concerns cease to matter because the personal viewpoints of a handful of individuals override everything.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Your magic system could also be part of the colonial ideas as well.

    If the colonial motherland continent has access or developed a magical tradition that is different than the colonial area's inhabitants this may partially explain how they are able to displace or dominate the natives. Magic as the Guns, Germs, and Steel of your world (and I recommend Jared Diamond's book of the same name as prebuilding reading). It could be access to Eberron like scema that allow for cheaper magic items, a way to keep building wizard experience (and so have many more high level wizards) or any number of things.

    But the other thing I would say you need to look at is the alignment system. Morality etc. Because its a very black and white system for a world that is going to have a lot of stories backed by morally subjective standards. If you have access to divine magic to say what is good or evil and people follow that at all then you are unlikely to get the type of stories and conflicts that would make the setting worth the work. (Yes all of DnD has this issue but it would be heightened in such a setup)

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    This is flatly untrue. There are absolutely places on Earth where the people living there are the direct descendants of the first people to ever live there. Now these places tend to be small and remote, like the island of Tristan da Cunha (which had a permanent human population of 0 until 1810), but they do exist.
    [jk] And those people were,
    (wait for it...)

    COLONISTS! [/jk]

    To the OP:

    Don't overthink this. My point, and I think of some others as well, is that it is not as significant as some other aspects of worldbuilding.

    As an example, in my long running campaign setting the adventures are primarily set in an expanding frontier where human civilization is displacing humanoid tribes from their traditional lands.

    Though their oral traditions claim they lived there forever, the humanoids had destroyed a human-like civilization who preceeded them. The human-like pyramid builders had themselves moved onto plains exposed by the receeding seas, which allowed them to conquer the remnants of the seagoing elves who inhabited the arciipelagos now exposed as hills. And of course the elves had driven off the dragons...

    The purpose for my design choice was to give the various ruins an excuse to exist, though we did use it to explore the morality of colonization and the justification of the atrocities committed in the name of protecting the colonizers.

    Your own campaign may not deal with the multiple layers issue, but instead may focus on the most recent to illuminate the themes of your campaign, and that's fine.

    But to directly answer your question, a world with heavy colonial influences would look normal.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    One of my ideas was to have a colonized area be heavy-psionics. The native tribes were experimented on by nearby giants, creating half-giants and maenads, while duegar dwell underground. The tribes have only the weaker native traditions(soulknife and divine mind)(to ensure that the natives couldn’t fight back with True Mind Switch and that kind of stuff). After the occupation by invaders, the colonists experimented with new ideas, creating the lurk, the ardent, the psion, and the psionic warrior(wilders are rare, of course). They applied the idea of illumians to psionics, creating elans.
    Current games:
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay
    I think this teaches us a valuable lesson. At bizarrely low levels of optimization, the tier system disappears. In its place is the "we can't even beat CR=ECL-5 foes" system.

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    Default Re: How would a world with heavy colonization work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock Bait View Post
    Technically nearly everyone is descended from a colonist. The beginnings of the human race were in Africa, I believe. So many humans crossed through the Suez and Panama Canal areas, and the Berling Land Strait, and through Russia. Or I’m just the ignorant OP.
    From an anthropological point of view that's sort of right. Early humans migrating through the Middle-East, Asia, and across the Bering Strait into North America weren't colonists, they were settlers or migrants if you prefer. There were not other people to displace, nor were these peoples new homes colonies of a larger state that was controlling them. Early humans were literally just people looking for a place to live. And that's saying something since Africa has more than enough available land for every early human to have lived there without issue (until about 15 thousand years ago the Sahara was actually a green to boot).

    Centralized control of a colony by a distant state is sort of a requirement to have colony.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2019-09-05 at 06:07 PM.

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