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World Building Wednesday: Ceremonies of State


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The new monarch get’s anointed with holy oils and holds a sword and scepter as badges of office.

A new president stands in the cold January air giving the first speech of his four years in office.

These are two of the many ceremonies marking the succession from one ruler or leader to the next. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, at the heart of any government lies the question of legitimacy, that is the right to rule or govern.  The ceremonies of the state are designed to grant and maintain that legitimacy in perpetuity. But what makes them the subject of a world building posts?

The when, where, how and why of these ceremonies represents cultural values of the society the ruler seeks to rule. For example, swords represent martial prowess and the right of judgement over the people. The wording of an oath literally spells out what is expected of the ruler such as leadership in time of war and mercy in time of peace. The ruler then becomes the embodiment of these values. This in turn lends a sense of legitimacy to the new government. To go against the government is to go against those values the society holds in highest esteem thus turning the challenger into an outlier. It also lends an air of timelessness, a feeling that it has always been so, from time immemorial thus nothing has change or will ever change.

Many author borrow from established traditions (see: Fantasy Counterpart Culture) but even those that do should understand why there are five swords used during the coronation of a British monarch and why the Sword of Mercy is a broken sword. Those who wish to mix and match or create new symbols will have to figure out the difference between say a stave of office versus a mace or shield. Does the new leader stand side by side with the old one or is the old leader banished from the capitol on inaugural day. Is there is an oath, what is the basis of that oath, the wording, and its meaning?  What is the importance of the place where the investiture occurs, or can it happen anywhere. Is there a magical or technological means of assuring the right to rule?

Remember that while a coronation may be the most elaborate and important of ceremonies related to the state, there are many more, such as graduations from a military academy, the birth or birthday of a monarch or heir, the knighting of a faithful follower, the selection or acceptance of ambassadors. Any situation where political power is given or transferred tends to have its own ceremony reflecting the importance of that office in the larger scheme of things.

Like most of the information created during a world building session, most of this will not see the light of day, but the author must have a good grasp of the ceremony. If nothing else, it will reveal a lot about society the author created.


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TV Tropes Monday: Succession Crisis


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There comes a time in the life of any government that the baton must be past to a new leader, except that somebody drops the baton, or is shot on the way to delivering it, or the baton gets lost, or the metaphor gets stretched beyond the breaking point. When that happens you have a Succession Crisis. While the trope applies primarily to monarchies, it can also to any apply to any government in a time of transition of power.

The key to this trope is legitimacy, the belief that the person taking power or claiming said power has the lawful right to do so. If the legitimacy of the new ruler or candidate is successfully questioned then  you entered a Succession Crisis.  Life for the common citizen may continue, for awhile anyway. Finding a way to resolve the crisis means solving the legitimacy problem because while a new ruler can take power by force, that doesn’t mean that the crisis is over. On the contrary, once ceremony is thrown out the window, anybody can claim the throne and you have yourself a merry little civil war and/or outright invasion, sometimes both.


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Weekend Roundup: July 13-19


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In Europe summer was the, “campaign season.” In spite of tales of heroic knights and conquering kings, the host of any army was made of peasants. And peasants plant fields in spring and harvest in the fall. So summer, with its sun baked fields and long days was perfect for war. Whether it was besieging a rebel baron’s castle or rampaging through the streets of a fortified town in search of plunder, summer was the time of glinting mail, bloody clashes, and decisive action. Now war is waged around the clock, any time, anywhere. Of course the romanticism we imbue those long ago battles make the current conflicts seem far crueler, but the truth is that by sword or bomb, it is the peasant that dies in the name of his lord.

But enough of that, let us see what this week brought us:

I hope you are having a more pleasant and peaceful summer where ever you are.


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Space for Rent: The Truth about Israel

I wrote and posted this piece in another blog, in another time, but the world turns and what is old is new again. This is an opinion piece backed by some relevant facts. Like any opinion about the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict it will not be popular. However, I will not play the game of false equivalences. I will try my utmost to look at the facts as best as I can comprehend them. But one thing is certain, the current conflict is unsustainable and a detriment to both Palestinians and Israeli.

The Palestinians need Justice and Freedom.

The Israeli need Freedom from Fear.

Make of that what you will.


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Wizards’ World War(s.3) Dispatch 27: The End of the Beginning (P.2)


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Seasons 1 & 2Season 3 PremiereDispatch 26 – 28


Eastern Mediterranean Ocean, 7 k.m. Northeast of Sant’Agat di Militello, Regione Siciliana, Rebupplica italiana, 15 October, 19:25 hrs +1 GMT

Lieutenant Mathilda Kathy Jones, call sign,”Jailbird”, peered through the helmet mounted display across the moonless night in search of targets. She selected and drew a box around each enemy torpedo boat with the thumb stick in the collective control. The computer tallied the target and assigned a missile to each. The Apache pilot, Captain Ben “Hill” Lawson sat above and behind her. He scanned the dark sky above them in search for the signs of the enemy. The first time the squadron encountered a dragon it cost them two helicopters and four crew.

“All targets assigned,” said Jailbird over the comm.

“Verify target selection,” ordered Hill.

She swept the Apache’s sophisticated sensor array across the marina. She counted five torpedo boats. She spotted another one hanging from a crane. She selected another missile and targeted the crane bound torpedo boat.

“All targets accounted for,” she said.

“Trident lead to Trident flight, target locked. Standing by to engage,” said Hill over the radio.

The pilot in the second section of two radio back, “Targets checked and accounted for.”

“All units, engage assigned targets,” ordered Hill.

Hellfire missiles slip from the wing mounted launchers in fiery salvos. A second later violent explosions rocked the marina. Torpedo boats disintegrated into flaming chaff. One ton torpedo warheads cratered the concrete quays. Stacks of oil barrels spewed angry red flames that flared white hot on the infrared scopes. Surviving crews ran to and fro in a futile attempt to put out the inferno.

“Well done Trident Flight. Egress  to Poseidon,” said Hill.

The Apaches banked hard right and flew back to HMS Ocean.

One flaming distraction delivered.


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Mass Effect/AEC: Krogan Military Doctrine


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Excerpt from Modern Galactic War by Paul Malthus, 3rd Edition , Made available for Extranet Scholastic Use by  The Institute of War and Diplomacy, Vancouver Metroplex, North American Union, Earth, 2190 (1st Edition published by Banabar Books in 2184).

Krogan Army

The krogan are undergoing massive socioeconomic upheaval as a result of the end of the genophage and their role in defeating the Reapers. Transforming the krogan armed forces from loose bands of tribal groups to a coherent discipline force is one of the largest challenges they face today. To this end krogan leaders have instituted a series of reforms designed to turn the army into a modern fighting force. They have identified three areas of concern:

  1. Organization: Creating the structure to train, maintain and equip this new force.
  2. Equipment: Expanding and standardizing the army’s system to maximize their effectiveness on the battlefield.
  3. Doctrine: Creating a new doctrine based on the lessons learned in pass conflicts and one that exploits the krogran strengths and ameliorates their weaknesses.

The krogan army core unit is the battle group, a natural outgrowth of the old clan warbands. The battle group is composed of one or more companies (2-5) with between 20 to 150 individuals each. Current battle groups rely on heavy infantry armed with personal and crewed served weapons backed by infantry fighting vehicles, plus light artillery. Unlike the warbands of old which relied on the charisma of a given warlord, soldiers down to the newest recruits receive extensive training in small unit tactics, fire discipline, and initiative under fire. All members of a battle group are expected to know their mission objectives and be willing to take their place of their fallen comrades in battle. The new soldiers are taught to see their unit as their Krantt (often translated as, “battle brothers”) which strengthens the bonds between the unit members. Taking a page from the turians, the soldiers are taught to think of the unit as more than the sum of its parts, that it is an entity unto itself and that it exists to protect all krogan everywhere. It shifts the concept of honor from a personal or tribal one into the honor of the unit and the army.

The Tomkah, a infantry fighting vehicleis the backbone of the army. It represents the ruggedness, ease of use, and maintenance on the field common in krogan equipment. With their manufacturing based destroyed after the Rebellions and a Council imposed embargo on eezo, the krogan lack a large stable of ground, air or space based vehicles. During this time period between the Rebellions and the Reaper Invasion the krogan concentrated on the manufacture of personal weapons and armor in cottage industries across Tuchanka. The years after the Reaper Invasion has seen an easing of the embargo of most goods to and from Tuchanka. This in turn has led to a revitalizing of krogan heavy industries, including weapons manufacturing.

The army is developing a new series of ground vehicles such as the, Shulka or “Little Brother.” The Shulka is based on the chassis of the Tomkah but with a lower profile and armed with eight 3.7 cm (37 mm) high-velocity anti-aircraft auto cannons on twin quad mounts backed by between eight to ten anti-armor/anti-aircraft missiles mounted in launch cells between the guns. Each gun can fire up to 1,100 rounds per minute with a combined rate of fire of 8,800 rounds per minute. The Shulka is designed to engage low flying targets under 5,000 meters such as aerial drones, shuttles, gunships, and Reaper drop pods/Harvesters. Another vehicle in joint development with Alliance R&D is the Olifant (Alliance term/krogan name unknown as of 2190). This heavy armor/shielded counter-grav vehicle proposed armament varies wildly between test beds bu the most common configuration has three fast firing autocannon (between 14.5 mm to 2.3 cm/23 mm) on the hull for point defense against enemy infantry/anti-tank missiles and a 17.5 cm/175 mm main gun in a fully traversal turret paired with another coaxial mounted auto cannon.  The main gun can be elevated up to 70 degrees for indirect fire support.  The army is also seeking to acquire new gunship/field transport capable of providing close air support as well as carry the new family of vehicles in a modular cargo area. Impressed by the ability of Alliance vehicles like the M35 Mako family of vehicles to deploy from low orbit, the krogan leadership has demanded that new krogan armor have the same capabilities.

The fastest evolving area of the army is in its doctrine. Here the krogan can harness thousands of years of military history at the planetary and galactic level. The plan is to convert battle groups into flexible all arms formations that are fully aerospace mobile. In theory these units can be tailor made to any situation and deployed from allied ships (see Krogan Weaknesses) to the surface of target world. Long gone are the days of relying on mass to overwhelm their enemies although few remember that sheer force of numbers was only one of the tactical tools available to krogan. Centuries of living in the irradiated rubble of Tuchanka taught the krogans to use shock through speed of advance and made them masters of fortifications. Krogan fortifications are built with an eye for concealment, redundancy, and depth. They also rely heavily on psychological warfare to win the day. Seasoned officers prefer to intimidate an enemy into retreat or surrender rather than wasting valuable resources in a long drawn out fight.

A common tactic, described by human military historian Martin Hughes in his book  Krogans After the Rebellions (North America Military Press, 2178) as, “The Leaping Porcupine,” demonstrates the characteristics mentioned above:

When facing a larger clan, a smaller clan launches an all out attack on territory vital to the other clan, then entrench themselves in that position. That leaves the larger clan with two options, waste valuable resources in retaking the objective or negotiating with the smaller clan. In order to succeed this tactic requires an intimate knowledge of not only the tactical layout of the enemy but also of their political leadership. Without this the attacking clan tends to seize a useless objectives, be impaled in the stronger enemies fortification network, or fall into a trap set by their rivals. 

A similar situation occurred when Citadel forces defeated a krogan offensive during the rebellions only to find it impossible to retake lost territory without significant loses due to the krogan ability to swiftly fortify conquered territory. Behind their fortifications the krogan re-armed and rebuilt their forces then launched a new offensive. Today the emphasis is on durability/tactical flexibility rather than pure offensive strength.

Recruiting is the last pillar of the doctrine. The army no longer accepts any male who has survives their Rite of Passage. Recruits most show a commitment to something larger than their clan or regional government. They must pledge to protect all krogan and follow a strict (for the krogan) set of ethical standards. Only thirty percent of the applicants enter service. Failure to join at a young age does not prevent a krogan for future entry into the army. Given time this might bring a new series of technical expertise sorely lacking in today’s krogan forces.


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TV Tropes: Lady and Knight


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A Lady and her Knight, a tale as old as time. It may be a prince come to rescue his princess, or a steadfast bodyguard standing by their lordship or ladyship. They both may be capable in battle, with one wielding a sword and another a stave (or wand or book of spells, perhaps a bow even). They may be of the same sex or not (at least these days, anyway) which may or may not prevent a romance to develop between them.

The key to this trope is the feudal nature of their relationship. Often the Knight, if he currently holds that rank, may be nobility, but he is  fighting man, that is a soldier first, an aristocrat second. The reverse is true for the Lady. Romance could be very tricky, although courtly love allowed for platonic relationships. Still the existence of this trope requires a sort of feudal arrangement with all the moral, cultural, and other tropes attached to it, even if it is somewhere in a galaxy far far away. Less often seen is a genuine friendship based on respect even if there is a gulf between the status of the participants. A bond based on mutual respect can be an interesting take on the relationship.



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