Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fantasy Politics aka Why Won't They Help?

Everyone has their own ideas of what matters.  (Dragon Age 3)
So I'm running the wonderful Wrath of the Righteous Pathfinder Campaign and now the characters are on the cusp of visiting Absalom to bring in some more assistance from the reluctant nobility and churches there.  The question on everyone's lips, much as could be expected in any fantasy game, is why won't everyone help?

There's a number of reasons / excuses for ambivalence.

The Worldwound is terrifying, but so is the threat of Climate Change and other massive environmental hazards in our world (such as the growing country-sized plastic spread in the middle of the ocean).  Even if you don't believe in Climate Change, it's a good analogy if you briefly consider it true.

Some folks with wealth and power have already donated.  A few have even stripped their holdings or volunteered their whole lives to deal with the problem.  These guys are tapped out and unavailable for further assistance because they're *already* there.

Naturally those who are currently uninvolved have their own reasons, such as:
  • "It's not true.  I've never seen it.  The weather (i.e. absence of demons) is fine where I am."
  • "The implications of Climate Change are far more localised and minor than anyone realises.  It will reach equilibrium."
  • "It's only a problem for folks who live in beach side properties.  It's an issue for other people to handle."
  • "I don't know anything about it.  What could I do even?  And no, don't tell me.  I don't want to know."
  • "It's too late so why bother?  Live it up while you've got the time.  In the end, all will be ash and ruins."
  • "We have no good options.  Why throw good money (and time) after bad?  Most options we have found either don't work or cause additional problems (i.e. CFCs were an environmental solution that damaged the ozone layer).  If there were a truly effective option, I'd change my mind."
  • "God(s) granted us this land to do with as we will and if the environment gets ruptured, than that is how it was meant to be.  In truth, God(s) will prevent anything too terrible happens unless its the promise apocalypse, in which case, it was meant to be.  To do anything about it would be to reject God(s)."
Some folks are willing to make a minor donation when asked and will cite that they were never really asked and never really knew there was a problem when someone does approach them.  These folks just don't want to lose everything they have in a desperate gamble to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem and they have other prosaic concerns that are nevertheless important to them.  Some of these concerns are equally righteous.
  • "Where will the money go?  Who will benefit?  I'm not going to donate to just about any profiteer who walks in through the door."
  • "What about my family?  I'll give you some money but I need to ensure my children get the best education, my grandparents get appropriate medical care, and my business interests stay afloat."
  • "What about my community?  I'm already donating my time and services to help people here."  This becomes exceptionally more valid in the case of the Worldwound: "If we send supplies and people to Mendev, there's a good chance they'll just die and we won't have anyone to help us here."
  • "Maybe we would be better placed spending our money on preparing ourselves against the inevitable rather than relying on implausible schemes in faraway places.  We won't be safe if all of our assets and resources are elsewhere."
  • "We have the hounds at our own door.  If we don't keep an eye on our own borders, we'll be invaded or worse."
  • "There are too many competing interests.  I might donate privately but if word gets out I'll be ruined.  Everyone around me sees belief in these troubles as a sign of madness and stupidity and I will find my life severely hampered."
  • "We have too many debts."
  • "We have already donated!  Twice!  And that's just to your cause.  We're weary of having this issue constantly dragged to our door."
  • "I know you need aid but I don't want my friends and family risking their lives on this venture."  (More apt for the Worldwound than for Climate Change, but still.)
So there you are.  The next time your players are desperately trying to gather assistance for something clearly important and dangerous, you can dip into this article to find reasons and excuses for why the matter falls to them.  Alternatively some of these beliefs are simply obstacles that can be overcome.  As an example, if they can make it fashionable to donate then the competing interests and scandal issues will be overcome.

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