18 August 2015

Fantasy Races: Rivalries And Alliances, Part 1

What happens when fantasy races (well, technically species, but certain system popularized term "race" when referring to humanoid or at least playable creatures that it became a game mechanic term so I stick to it here) contact each other... How do their distinct biology, culture, philosophy, and behavior interact and what can result in such meeting?

The Haughty And The Vain

"The only megalomania I can stand in my presence is my own."

Azan and kyo are arrogant, believing in their respective superiority over other sapient peoples. For azan, their pride is feed by their magical and technological mastery, for kyo, it is derived from their religion and extent of their mercantile empire. For both, their pride shaped their language, culture, and philosophy.

When two cultures with so deeply ingrained sense of superiority meet a clash seems inevitable. Thankfully, both races disdain direct confrontation, preferring convoluted schemes, economic and diplomatic pressure, and use of hired, enslaved, conjured, bred, or constructed minions. This sometimes leads to political or economic intrigues and conflicts being played via proxy polities, often oblivious to the true reasons of the struggle. Another factor diminishing the degree of animosity between azan and kyo is their social structure: azan lack any large scale unity except for academically-bent colleges and economically-focused corporations, while kyo, formally being united via the Radiant Empire suffer from political divisions between regional governors. Neither race desires extensive territorial expansion: azan are too low in numbers due to their slow reproduction rate while kyo are very deliberate and careful in their expansion to avoid over-extension. 

With all that factors considered, the usual interaction between azan and kyo is surprisingly smooth, with both sides having acquired a degree of respect for the other race field of expertise. In fact, some azani directors and kyo governors reached an unspoken agreement of treating their competition for resources and influence as a game of sorts, trying to outmaneuver the opponent, possibly sacrificing lesser beings in the process but avoiding escalating the conflict into a direct one.

The Scientists And Philosophers

"Kai-tang are surprisingly smart for a species with such ridiculous amount of hair."

For two races with strong intellectual focus azan and kai-tang have some similarities and even more differences. While azan favor applied sciences and utilitarian philosophies, kai-tang prefer wider erudition and speculative philosophy. Both races use a voluntary groups composed of a few individuals as a primary social unit, tied by shared interests, profession, or intellectual pursuits. Self-centered azan usually view their cabals as a pragmatic way of organization for purposes of gaining tangible benefits with emotional relations and spiritual aspects downplayed. Kai-tang associations on the other hand are considered important part of one's spiritual development. Violence is rarely the first solution that either race uses to solve their problems—azan being too pragmatic to risk their life needlessly while kai-tang being too philosophically minded to react with immediate aggression. Both races can be terrifying when roused to battle, though, trying to annihilate grave threats—azan using their magic, technology, and minions, and kai-tang combining physical prowess and magic.

Both races tend to live in small communities and isolated groups, minimizing chance for organized conflict. When azan and kai-tang come into blows, it is limited struggle, almost universally caused by dispute over a noteworthy resource, and often takes form of one of more ruthless azani corporations harassing kai-tang settlement through intermediaries, "rogue" monsters, arranged accidents, and an occasional catastrophe until they leave or agree to sell the resource.

Occasionally an azani cabal or even a corporation hires a kai-tang or an association of them as skilled labor force or even as low-tier assistants and overseers for less intellectually-capable laborers. From time to time, more academically minded azan or even whole colleges recognize intellectual achievements of kai-tang scholars and sages, entering into scholarly correspondence to exchange ideas. Larger kai-tang communities might commission azani engineer when they decide that technological solution to an existing problem is the most appropriate.

The Pattern-makers and the Pattern-seekers

"I looked and I saw. The movement. The dozens teethed wheels interlocking with smaller and bigger teethed wheels. Things with shapes that have no names revolving around each other. Lights circling lights like if they were stars. Metal, stone, crystal, and smoke. It was enthralling, it was terrible."

Azan and oc'cli are in many ways oppositions. Azan have an intense sense of intellectual superiority that makes them seek mastery over the world, bending their environment to their needs, and believing themselves to be the source of order. For them "natural" is a derogatory term, synonym of inefficient, base, chaotic, product of random processes, and in dire need of being improvement or discarded to make place for deliberate creation. Oc'cli are seeking harmony and intuitive enlightenment, trying to discover and understand the ultimate pattern of things, which they believe is inherent in all things, but especially in the nature.

When azan care to pay attention to oc'cli at all, they disdain their focus on intuition and mock their intellectual slowness—and more than one azan hypothesized that oc'cli might be result of someone's failed experiment to create dedicated savant-minions. Oc'cli on the other hand have troubles with incorporating azan advanced technology into their interpretations of the ultimate pattern. Some of them are easily fascinated and confounded by complexity of azan creations. A few creeds declared azan creations to be disruptions to the pattern itself, especially in regions where azan were particularly rapacious at exploiting local resources, creating a number of oc'cli guerrilla groups targeting azan installations wherever they can find them.

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