Vir's Archive

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Divisiveness of the Human Condition vis-a-vis Space Lasers! (Content)

I need a war. 

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Something I really want to drive home in TDE is that Earth is not united.  United Earths are boring and unrealistic.  Even if a hypothetical outside power were bearing down on all of Earth, there would be factions within factions with competing interests – even if it (likely) meant our doom.  Humans are a tribal people, and while we can present a united face against a larger threat, in times of peace, where no such threat exists, I think it highly unlikely that the world would unite under one government.

So, I have a number of challenges before me in order to avoid giving the reader the inaccurate view that the UN is the world government.  Its not.  Its as close as humanity has ever come to a united government, but the UN is still very much just one political player among many.  The UN still gets its resources and bureaucrats from member states.  No one is a UN citizen, even the high mukety-mucks in the UN of TDE still call nation-states of SCEs their home.  The UN likes to play at being the world’s government, but the Hegemons, in particular, aren't interested is conceding any more power than they already have.  For them, the UN is a useless organ that has little purpose now that the Population crisis appears to have passed -- an artifact of a different time and a different crisis.  The UN doesnt see it that way, and still see a number of crucial missions it needs to accomplish.  They see themselves as the one government that can speak with authority for all of humanity, not just Earth.  So, the UN and its constituent parts play a high-wire act with trying to impose its will on its member states, while still going to them for funding and resources.  Neither side really has an advantage.  

There needs to be other factors, I think, that drive home to the reader that Earth is not united.  Part of the problem is going to be that the Hegemons all look very similar in terms of policy and goals.  They all want power, riches, and stability – they just want it on their own terms.  They tacitly agree that the Earth governments should be the lead players in the political stage of the Solar System, and that the colonies should know their place as the support engines for the function of Earth.  However, how the colonies should behave and just how much political autonomy they should have is a major divide among the factions of Earth. There is also the fact that certain colonies are more aligned or confrontational with different Hegemons and SCEs which, in turn, define how they react to the allies and enemies of the Earth factions.  Friend of TORA?  You may not get along with the European Union because of outstanding political rivalries.

This brings me to a conclusion - I need a war.  Okay, maybe not a war, but a conflict... 

I need a war to drive home to the reader that Earth is not a happy family.  They are driven together by Earther-chauvinism and the desire for profit, but once you scratch the surface, the divisions outweigh the commonalities. 

I look at the major Hegemon blocks; TORA, the EU, Ansar, The Russian Commonwealth, the Imperial Chinese State, African Alliance as well as the SCEs and “non-aligned” actors like France, Brazil and India and I see a lot of chances for conflict.  In the year 2191 a lot will have changed politically, so burying the cause for the conflict on passing political divisions simply wont due.  However, I would like the conflict to harken back to issues faced in the modern day.

This leads me to the EU and Russia.  I am thinking that resource rich Russia would still be a major trading partner and energy provider for the EU.  Similarly, despite the move to the planets, the EU’s energy situation could still be quite precarious.  Add to that continuing trends by the EU to demilitarize while the Russians retain a strong martial tradition, and you end up with significant policy divisions along a potentially volatile border. 

To make the Russian energy stance ever more powerful, the Russians have been very canny and smart with promoting SCE and traditional business opportunities in Low- and Near Earth orbit.  Russia and its close political allies control a sizable portion of the energy trade both on and off Earth (this would likely make them players in Mercury and the gas giants as well).  The EU has focused its business efforts elsewhere, and while it controls its own energy assets, it has traditionally turned to Russia to help supply its shortfall. 
Something happens.

I don’t yet know what, but I think some sort of political turmoil will make it so the EU demands more and more resources from the Russians – resources the Russians cant/wont give.  The EU feels they are being starved by the Russian monopoly, the Russians feel they are being bullied by the EU who stands in a position of weakness. 

Even with Jammers kickin' ass,
 it may just come down to a really big tank, dammit.
The conflict between the EU and Russian Commonwealth wont be a shooting war – at least not at the beginning of the game (again, that’s for the GM and PCs to decide).  Instead, for years leading up to 2191, the EU and Russians have been playing a very vicious game of espionage and proxy battles.  Just enough deniability has been able to mask the belligerents and their actions, but it is no real secret that the two sides are taking pot-shots at one another using clandestine resources.  The rivalry, I think, would extend to the planets, colonies, and ultimately, to the halls of the UN.  The impact on the UN should be significant, again showing the competing interests of its members can force the body into inaction, or worse, policy schizophrenia (where competing policies are being pursued at the same time). 

The end result is yet another gameable event, and a reinforcement to the reader that, no, not everything on Earth is hunky-dory. 

Yes, there are very deep divisions on Earth - deep enough that a war on Eden is a very real possibility.