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Impetus for war

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Aldarion, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    I just remember that I wrote about war not so long ago:
    An Argument for War

    In my setting, Vetronia is based on Byzantine Empire, so their attitude towards warfare is "better to avoid it, but if it has to be fought, it should be fought well". Note though that "well" does not mean "honourably"; as I said, Byzantine attitude, which also includes a rather utilitarian mentality, the usage of strategems, misdirection and general trickery to gain victory. This is completely opposed to Western European feudal way of war, which was basically a head-bashing contest similar to what Gauls from Asterix did. Except knights had no magic potion.

    How is war seen in your own setting? Is it a tool, a pathway to a certain goal, to be utilized as necessary? Or is war goal in itself? And if it is a pathway, what is the end goal? Are wars fought for profit, for territorial expansion, for honour; or maybe because one side stole another side's pastries, over sports games, a stray dog, somebody's ear, or to curb population of murder chicken? Or maybe because somebody got too drunk during the night?
     
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    I tend to see all warfare as having economic roots: one side has a scarce commodity, the other side wants it. When the trolls run low on tasty young women, they go raiding for more (or, if necessary, they'll settle for livestock). If ports are closed to one nation, they'll fight another for access. And so on. Ideologies, religion, whatever, are bent to serve the underlying desire to possess something. It may take a fairly small incident to get the warfare ball rolling—but that incident is not the 'cause.' It is something that can be seized upon as a reason to do what people already wanted to do.

    This is not to say humans (and perhaps non-humans, for that matter) may not have a natural proclivity for combat. They also have a natural proclivity for peace. It takes events in their world to tip them one way or the other.
     
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  3. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

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    War in my world is fought for a variety of motives including:
    (1) Economic Domination. The Great War (7409-7424) began when the Tarakan Empire invaded Terra Australis to secure minerals needed to keep its factories operating.
    (2) Geopolitical Considerations. The Tarakan Empire and the Kingdom of Kalioton fought three wars over Hawa'iti because of their strategic position in the Great Eastern Sea. In the last war fought over them in 6991 the Tarakan Empire won. This victory allowed them to dominate the island nations of the Great Eastern Sea economically and politically.
    (3) Wars of independence. The War of Porean Independence of 7092 resulted in the tiny country of Porea to break away from the Tarakan Empire. This tiny state of less than 800 square kilometres now serves as a major air and shipping stopping point as well as a major trading post.
    (4) Wars of Conquest. In 7412 the Avalonian, Tarakan and Ganges Empires attacked the Occidental Republic in a war of conquest. It ended with the defeat of all three Empires in 7424. Their defeat ended the Great War.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Another fine question. Because I'm in Altearth, all the usual suspects may line up. But the question now makes me wonder, why do elves fight? Why do dwarves or sprites or ogres fight? Trolls? Orcs? I shall have to put some thought to this.

    AldarionAldarion's comment about how wars are conducted reminded me of my ancient history professor explaining the difference between the ancient Greeks and Romans.I'll try to do it justice, but ol' Lindsay Adams was a colorful fellow.

    He said the Greeks loved war. It was great. It got you out of the house, was someplace to go in the summer, you got a couple of cool scars (battlefield deaths were comparatively low), and returned home a hero. Great! See you again next year! No wonder those city-states were always fighting each other.

    The Romans, on the other hand, hated war. They'd rather be kicking back at the villa, drinking a little wine and playing with the bambinos. So when they went to war, their intent was to be done with it as quickly as possible and get back to sunny Latium. The Romans, therefore, were vicious, bloodthirsty, annihilating monsters. They stomped your head on the curb. They burned Carthage to the ground and did the same to Corinth. You didn't mess with Rome.

    It's an exaggeration, but it sure stuck in my memory. The best part was him explaining the Macedonian Wars. There were four of them. The Romans respected the Greeks. Thought they were civilized, if a little degenerate. So they fight a war with Macedonia but let the Greeks keep their independence. The Greeks start up again and back come the Romans and this time they install a governor and everyone will surely behave themselves. Nope. Another round, this one pretty bloody. OK. Lesson learned. Dang it! In the fourth round, Rome destroyed Corinth, killed every adult male, and sold all the women and children into slavery. You don't mess with Rome, not even if you're Greek.
     
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  5. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    The (quasi-roman) main empire (Solaria) on my main world was founded by conquest based on opportunism and overpopulation (they expanded from a island in the midst of an inland sea). It was partly overrun by two barbarian migrations: one from the far west, the other from the southern plains. The western bunch, the Avar, were fleeing what we'd term 'climate change' that decimated their crops plus a major dose of black magic. The southern bunch - the Marfaki - were simply bloodthirsty bastards. Solaria reclaimed the southern fiefs a couple centuries later, conquering the Marfaki straight out, making them a puppet state. With the Avar...

    ...well, that gets into a notion I wanted to muck around with: a 'good guy conqueror.' That is one of those rare sorts who (re)builds an empire via 'just war' or other measures.

    Hence, Morgan DuSwaimair. As a young Avar prince, he commanded an expedition against the literal bandit state of Drakkar, conquering it outright. Along the way, he got a lot of flack from Kitrin, an autocratic nation ruled by sorcerer nobles, so he conquered them as well. In both cases, the change in overlords was a positive for the ordinary folks. Then he goes back home and discovers he is now engaged to a princess of Solaria, part of a binding alliance. Major factions in both realms didn't want this to happen and the result was a civil war/war of consolidation that reunited Solaria and put Morgan on the throne.

    Since then...Solaria's conflicts have been mostly either defensive (as in the Traag War) or grudge settling (the periodic spats with the Free Cities.) Geography plays a big role in this: north of Solaria are dangerous arcane realms of elves set next to a frozen wasteland, east in the Cauldron (an ocean) and Solaria is not a maritime nation; and south is the pestilential Jungle Lands and expanse of the unknown southern plains. West is the wasteland that was once Agba, dangerous and not worth the effort to conquer.

    On the other world, we have the Dimmurian League, a collection of city states and fiefs spread for several thousand miles along the Strand, a narrow ribbon of land that encircles the world. Nominally, the mutual defense aspect of this alliance is directed against Amara (a cultic jungle realm) and against bandits and pirates. In actuality, the individual member states are continually engaging in proxy wars and sponsoring rebellions on each others turf. This mess blew up when the northern League attacked a royal expedition from Baradu (a realm connected wit Amara) tripping off a murderous bit of nautical insanity termed the 'Privateer War' that saw the northern league depopulated and a regime change in Baradu proper.
     
  6. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Everything is a commodity: land, crops, people, gold, diamonds... Souls. Power. The gods are real, but banished from direct contact with the world, and they want something... the poor damned mortals just don't know the honest answer to what it is.
     
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Yes.

    No.

    Not that the latter can't be a curious correlation, but only that simply getting too drunk during the night isn't going to be the reason for war.

    Something is always to be gained by going to war. But what, and gained by who? Those are the trillion dollar questions. For instance, perhaps the young leader simply needs to prove he's a capable general of the army—even if it's only in his own eyes. Or maybe land is needed. Resources. Pillage. Women. Men. Or perhaps the nation needs to show, for some important reason, that it can't be trifled with, insulted, threatened.

    Could be just about anything, but there is always something to be gained even if the gain is some irrational or fantastical thing in the mind of the person or the minds of the people waging the war.
     
  8. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Some additional thoughts on this, based on race. In Tolkien and D&D certain races were arbitrarily and automatically decreed 'good' or 'evil' without additional explanation beyond 'dark lord' or 'evil god.' To me, that seemed weak. I wanted to make the races in my worlds distinctive - give them credible impetus for their behavior.

    So...goblins/hobgoblins - universally classed as evil back in the day, and still largely so now. Okay...how to justify this? I went with biology. Goblin/Hobgoblins are hatched, not born. Males outnumber females by a hundred to one. Males have an intense desire to reproduce, which means eliminating the competition and/or standing out from the crowd. Hence, internal assassinations for the former and frequent raids against the neighbors for the latter. Goblin/Hobgoblin Kings - essentially super-charismatic sorcerers - can bind and direct large numbers of these beings towards a given end, be it founding a civilization or embarking on a crusade, but while civilization can mask these drives, it can't eliminate them. Hence, neighboring nations of other races can expect continual 'issues' with even civilized goblin/hobgoblin realms.

    Rachasa - inspired by the similarly named South Asian demon-spirits - were a different matter. These cat-like humanoid's view themselves as supreme hunters and pretty much everybody else as potential prey. Mostly, they're savages, roaming about plains and forests in bands numbering up to several dozen, each belonging to a loose clan or tribe. Hence, while extremely dangerous, their lack of large scale organization (usually) rules out full out warfare - though no few packs will take service in the military of other races - and there are instances where they have founded civilizations that incorporate other races - either blood soaked tyrannies or loose confederations. A common, though not universal rachasa legend is a demon lord created them from the best of other races to be his personal guards and assassins, but they were either freed or successfully rebelled. Some pacts, though dedicate themselves to said demon (who has a multitude of guises), embarking on prolonged murderous sprees in an effort to sow chaos.

    Elves in my worlds view themselves as spirits trapped in the material world in a cycle of reincarnation. They have differed with each other on the details of this belief to spark what could be termed civil wars, but with a few exceptions, their other conflicts have been defensive.
     
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  9. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    In Tolkien, orcs were essentially genetically altered/corrupted into tools of destruction... this type of destruction is typically noted as “evil”. And hell, did you ever see a female orc?

    Lasers! Day One!

    Elves are not inherently good, if you are a dwarf or human... if as a human you wander into the woods, you are probably dead... period. Is that “good”? The broader example of good and evil is whether you want to destroy nature and make everything look like Mordor while wiping out other peoples.

    The characters we deal with in LoTR are archetypal, but Middle Earth is more than good vs evil by a long shot, but then, much of what people read in a book they bring into it, whether on their own or with anticipation from what they’ve heard or experienced before.

    D&D is another issue with plenty of alignment craziness LOL.
     
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  10. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    We're about to go to war over a rock the size of my thumbnail. Anything else would be spoilery, but we've got three faerie armies coming together over custody of the thing.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Love that movie. I sampled that little speech for one of my tunes, back in the day. Butterflies and daffodils indeed.
     
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  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    oh, agreed - though as best I can recollect, you didn't see 'true' elves in the armies of Morgoth and Sauron. And the elves of mythology were downright malicious much of the time. In 'Empire: Metropolis,' book four of my 'Empire' series, 'renegade' elves wield sacrificial knives in a ritual that saw thousands dead and imperiled a city with a seven digit population (though they were allied with humans and 'angels' in that endeavor)

    As to my goblins/hobgoblins, I was inspired by the Orcs of Harn, an old time RPG that produced spectacular maps but little else (though that might have changed.)
     
  13. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    hopefully, at least one faction was smart enough to craft a convincing fake as a precaution (and to add to the chaos).
     
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  14. Aldarion

    Aldarion Sage

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    What is interesting is that Byzantines took the Roman approach and moderated it. The reason here is that they realized something: "while two dogs are fighting for a bone a third runs away with it". This happened during Roman-Persian wars: Persian Khusrou beat the crap out of Romans, the Heraclius beat the crap out of Persians... opening the way for Arabs to conquer both. Because of this experience, Byzantines rarely went all-out in a war; in fact, they preferred to avoid having to fight it at all (as I noted in the OP). Instead, they used bribes, threats and diplomacy to make others fight their wars for them, or at least, cause two or more of their enemies to fight each others.

    Tolkien's Elves were quite capable of screwing everyone and everything over... just read Silmarillion, or, as also called, "a book where Elves ruin everything".
     
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  15. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Yeah, I saw Time Bandits way back yonder in the theater and it was an instant favorite.

    Concentrated evil.

    Which then spins my brain to Kids in the Hall... g’grief.
     
  16. For 800 years the ORCS of the White Hand patrolled the highways of Men, and if they were beset by bandits or even lost, the sight of the white hand on a dark helmet atop an Orcish head was a relief to all Human travellers.
    On the other hand, if a Human or Dwarf were to accidentally wander into the wrong forest, they'd be killed by Elves, even without provication... I'd say Tolkien's world deserves a bit more credit for complexity than you're giving it.
     
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  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    While I have read 'Lord of the Rings' several times, I am unfamiliar with the 'Orcs of the White Hand.' I'd also point out I was talking as much about D&D as Tolkien, and freely admitted in a subsequent post that the elves of mythology often had downright malicious reputations. This did carry over into Tolkien: the folk of Gondor avoided the relatively nearby elf realm, even when they were in dire need of allies, in part because of that reputation.
     
  18. After the first War of the Ring against Sauron, the victors faced the question of what to do with the thousands of Orcs that survived the death of their Lord. Being seen as inheriently evil by most people, the idea of killing all the Orcish prisoners wholesale was popular with the Men and the Elves alike.
    Then Saruman spoke up, saying, "I will take them on. I shall forge them into a weapon for the cause of righteousness."
    And he was true to his word, for as long as the interstitial period lasted (between the two wars). The Orcs "belonging to" the White Wizard bore his signet, a white hand upon their dark iron helmets.
    Aragorn presented a helmet with a White Hand upon it's brow to King Theodin as proof that Sarumon had indeed turned alegiances (for no White Hand Orc would DARE defy the will or orders if their White Wizard).

    And please note that I post for the masses of Man (the readers) not to antagonize an individual. The two original Blue Wizards have long since passed, and I carry on the Blue Wizards' Guild in their names.
    Maximillian d'Erembourg
    The Blue Wizard
     
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