Thursday, April 14, 2016

Some Thoughts on Culture Place Race Class and Alignment

Forgive me but I am going to ramble for a bit on Culture, and it's association to place, race, class and alignment in relation to my World of Elthos, and eventually The Mythos Machine.

First some philosophic pondering. I have been thinking lately (actually, this morning) that Culture and Alignment are intimately associated. I never noticed this before, but now all of a sudden it makes all kinds of sense and seems completely obvious. Culture is the expression of the philosophy of a people. And those philosophies can be associated to the various Alignments. For example, let's take a look at this chart that I created a while back...

What this shows is various fundamental political structures in terms of their placement on an Alignment Grid. Now these political structures are products of philosophies. We can break it down further this way:

Political Systems
Anarchism - No rulers, each to his own.
Tribalism - The clan chief as warrior-priest is absolute ruler.
Monarchy - The Dynastic Monarch is absolute ruler.
Theocracy - The Deity is the ruler via Proxies (priests, kings, prophets)
Oligarchy - The Wealthiest rule. Voting is for appearances only.
Democracy - The people rule, one man one vote.
Republic - The people rule through representatives, one representative one vote.
Feudalism - The Lord rules vassels who own fiefs who are worked by serfs. No voting.
Tyranny - The Lord rules everyone with absolute power. No voting.

So let me relate this a little more to how I think of Alignments. For one thing I have it that the Deities of Elthos are the personifications of the various Alignments, which are taken to be primordial and eternal constructs within the Realm of Idea.  I call them Elkron (loosely translated as "the Eternal Ideas").  The Alignments are all associated to a specif Astrological Sign and Tarot Card, and  with each one is a Theme, or statement that reflects the philosophy of the Alignment.

Chaotic Evil - Ares - Wheel of Fortune - "Might makes Right"
Chaotic Good - Taurus - The Heirophant - "Reflect on the Truth and you will find it"
Chaotic Good - Gemini - The Lovers - "Love is the Truth"
Good Chaotic - Cancer - Temperance - "Patience is the Principal Virtue"
Good Lawful - Leo - Strength - "To thy Known Self be True"
Good Lawful - Virgo - The Priestess - "Kindness is Love"
Lawful Good - Libra - Justice - "Justice is the Truth"
Lawful Evil - Scorpio - Death - "Death is the Truth"
Lawful Evil - Sagittarius - The World - "Power is the Truth"
Evil Lawful - Capricorn - The Devil - "Evil is the Truth"
Evil Chaotic - Aquarius - The Chariot - "Action is the Truth"
Evil Chaotic - Pisces - The Fool - "No one knows the Truth"

Of course there is room for clarification and improvement on the Philosophic Statements, but as a starting point I think it will do. The crux of the thing is that each Alignment has a foundational philosophy that can be expressed in a single phrase.

Furthermore, different Cultures are based on the philosophies that they hold to be most true. A culture of Tyranny, for example, may well hold that "Power is Truth" is the greatest truth of all. And so it will be with each Culture. So now I have a link between Cultures and Alignments that seems to fit reasonably well. Of course there will be many nuances, and some Cultures may have a mix of Alignments. For example, you might have a culture that is very strongly Good, and weakly Chaotic, but so expresses some Lawful Good aspects in regards to certain things (such as their Institutions). In fact, very few Cultures will turn out to be absolutely pure in relation to an Alignment, or as noted, a particular Deity. For instance, the various Greek City States were often dedicated to a particular Patron Deity (Athens to Athena), but also had temples to the other Deities as well. This shows that in any group of people you will likely have a variety of viewpoints.

Further we might also notice that Cultures tend to occupy specific places. Rome has it's culture. And it spread that culture to the rest of Europe before the fall of the Empire at the hands of the Goths, at which point the Culture of Europe changed again. Thus, Places can adopt various Cultures over time. Before Europe was subsumed by the Culture of Rome, it had a myriad of local Cultures, and for the most part would probably be considered Celtic. So the Place's Culture can change over time. And yet, at any given time, every Place will have a Culture.

We might also consider Race. Different Races have different Cultures. China under the Yellow Emperor (note the place and time) had a culture that was different in certain respects to that of Rome, while in other respects it was the same. The Yellow Emperor Culture was adopted by the people of China. And so it was carried by a Race. Still, the Culture among the Chinese people today is very different than it was five thousand years ago. So we can see that Races may change their Culture over time as well.  Sometimes significantly.

So we have Cultures that are embodiments of Alignment-Philosophies that can be adopted by Races and occupy Places in time. The Cultures that have been adopted can be cast aside and new Cultures adopted. This can happen, for example, when a Place is conquered and the people of that Place are subjugated by another Race. Or it could happen more subtly when new ideas are presented either by people indigenous to a Place, or from the outside, say through trade, or perhaps through the inspiration of a Deity or Divine Concept. The point being that Cultures in Time and Place among a certain people can be transformed or overthrown.  So time is an important variable in locating Cultures.

We should also consider, when talking about Race, that Cultures may not be considered human only. Perhaps other Races have their own Cultures. For example, Wolves have a Culture. So do Ants. So do Bees. So do Dolphins. In fact, every Race may have its own Culture. Or rather we might say every Race has one of a given number of possible Cultures. What I mean is that humans may have the same Culture as another Race. An example of that might be the Aniwaya, which was known among the American Indians as "The Wolf Clan". We can imagine that they had a Cultural affinity for Wolves and shared certain Cultural values with wolves. The Point here is that Cultures are not only transhuman, but may be shared across Races.

Lastly, we should consider Class Cultures. Even within a single Race at a given time and Place there will be Cultural differences between the various Classes that make up a Society. Merchants will have a different set of Cultural values than Warriors. Peasants will have a different set of Cultural values than Aristocrats. And so on. I am going to speculate that these, actually, have less chance of changing over time than any of the others, because the Culture is going to be associated to the activity or occupation of the Class, and so probably remain consistent over time. For instance, Warriors may have a Culture of "Might makes Right" (or "Justice is Truth", depending on the specific Culture of the Warrior Class). They may share this Warrior Culture with other Races, but all of the adherents to those Cultural values are going to be Warriors. Whether they are Lions, or Orcs, or Humans, or Elves, Warriors all share a common attribute - they fight. Merchants, on the other hand, gather and trade. And they may share their Cultural values with other Races such as bees, and bears, and ants, and Kobolds, The point here being that Class may be a stronger determinant of Culture than anything else.

I conjecture that the order of precedence therefore may be this: 1) Class, 2) Race, 3) Place-Time.

So what does all of this mean for Elthos? And more specifically, the Mythos Machine? Well, I'm working on aligning this concept with my world, and then programming the concept into the Mythos Machine so that the software embodies my philosophy about Culture. That is going to be an interesting, albeit somewhat difficult proposition. This kind of structure, with the fluidity it encompasses, will not be easy to model in terms of data, or interfaces. I will be working on it, though, as I find the concept compelling and I think it will add another unique aspect to my project's design. I'll keep posting about it as I continue to think through how this would work in terms of both concept and implementation.

If you have any thoughts on this, and more specifically how you might want to use this concept, please let me know. I'll be curious to hear about it. Thanks.
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