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  • The Realm: Post-Collapse

    What would the Realm look like in a Realm version of the 'Middle Ages'?

    I expect that a collapse would imply that Threshold goods would eventually become as rarified as African goods were in Europe post-5th century. Similarly, royal courts... in this case Dragonblooded... started to focus much more on pageantry, feasts, honor and duels (rather than literature, philosophy and other less fun passtimes). Eventually the ideals of chivalry were codified from the ashes of the collapse, but for a long period, literacy and knowledge of the arts suffered immensely.

    The culture of the Realm is at a high water mark with impressive accomplishments in literature, art, governance and trade. What would the average Realm citizen look like in the aftermath of the collapse of those achievements? Will something like feudal Europe emerge? Or will a more Chinese outcome, modeling the Han empire rather than the Roman one, emerge?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Piff View Post
    What would the Realm look like in a Realm version of the 'Middle Ages'?

    I expect that a collapse would imply that Threshold goods would eventually become as rarified as African goods were in Europe post-5th century. Similarly, royal courts... in this case Dragonblooded... started to focus much more on pageantry, feasts, honor and duels (rather than literature, philosophy and other less fun passtimes). Eventually the ideals of chivalry were codified from the ashes of the collapse, but for a long period, literacy and knowledge of the arts suffered immensely.

    The culture of the Realm is at a high water mark with impressive accomplishments in literature, art, governance and trade. What would the average Realm citizen look like in the aftermath of the collapse of those achievements? Will something like feudal Europe emerge? Or will a more Chinese outcome, modeling the Han empire rather than the Roman one, emerge?

    If you want to be entirely technical, the Realm already has a feudal structure: Everyone forgets about the poor Patrician class.

    You are also drastically overplaying the "collapse" of the Roman Empire-expy, here. The "real" Dark Ages were not nearly as bad as most people think they were.

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    • #3
      I think there are a ton of different ways this could do depending on how the Realm collapsed and who is now in charge there.

      Did the Realm end up fracturing in a Civil War? Did some of the Houses collude with Anathema to overthrow the rest? Did the Legions hold a coup d'etat and overthrow the government to take control themselves? Did the Immaculate Order lead a religious uprising to overthrow the corrupt Houses? Was there some kind of massive plague? Due to the Realm's location it's unlikely that there could have been a prolonged famine, but if that did occur the Realm would be in trouble and that could cause the government and society to collapse. Did the Realm Defense go haywire, nuke all the Dragon Lines and now the Realm looks like something out of Mad Max?

      Then you have to consider, who is currently in charge of the post-collapse Realm? Is the Immaculate Order the defacto ruler of the Realm? Are the Legions? Various Dragon Blooded Houses? Solars? Abyssals? What are the Sidereal doing?

      If the Realm were brought low by a massive plague, it would look very different than a Realm brought low by an uprising of the Legions, or one in which the Immaculate Order controls everything, or one in which the Great Houses carving up the Realm into a dozen different smaller kingdoms locked in perpetual war with one another.

      So while maybe not terribly helpful, I'd say the first step would be deciding how the Realm collapsed and who is now in charge there and what their goal is, before you can really get a solid idea on how society and culture in such a place would function.

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      • #4
        A Realm version of the middle ages... is the Realm really. Probably about the early 13th century. The Shogunate collapsed, the Realm is the much smaller successor state. Dragonblood in the Realm see the Shogunate as a lost, glorious age of culture, magic, wonders and power that they wish to regain, though not exactly.

        The truth, of course, is that the Shogunate had a lot of problems that the Realm has largely avoided (the mass civil wars and succession crises), but these tend to be glossed over by historians using the Shogunate as a model with which to criticise the venal, idolotrous, decadent, ignorant people of today compared to the glorious heroes of old!

        Anyway, for a less picky answer, see AnubisXy. There's a lot of ways it could go depending what happens. But if you want a historical model, for a number of reasons I wouldn't go with Rome. Something like the An Lushang Rebellion or the end of one of the Chinese dynasties would be better.
        Or the end of the British Empire for that matter.

        The truth is, since the Realm is a colonial power with a massive continental base, there's not really any real-world equivalent. I can't really think of an Empire that's managed to have both a massive continental/cultural base and overseas colonies. They've tended to be one (Russia, China, the various Caliphates, Persia, etc) or the other (European colonial powers, Japan). Rome was maybe close, but it's base was still really much smaller than the Realm. It was relatively easy for Rome to lose access to key parts of the Empire in a way that isn't quite the same for the Realm (it's very useful for the Realm to have all those satrapies, but the Blessed Isle is still massive enough that it doesn't actually need them.
        If you count hegemony, you could consider America, but I don't think it's a good parallel (and America hasn't collapsed yet anyway).

        So we return to whether the issue here is that the Realm's embroiled in civil war, that it's lost control of its overseas tributaries, that the central government is weak and the Realm has essentially broken apart into seperate states under each House, that it was ruined by plague, or whatever.
        Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 03-12-2017, 02:57 PM.


        "Wizard of Oz, you really are a wizard!"

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Boston123 View Post
          You are also drastically overplaying the "collapse" of the Roman Empire-expy, here. The "real" Dark Ages were not nearly as bad as most people think they were.
          I actually thought that too, cuz I have also heard many times that the 'Dark Ages' are massively overstated. In researching this question however I read this wikipedia article, and yeah... it actually does sound pretty bad! So that's what provoked the question in general.

          For people asking what the 'cause' is, I'd say more or less the canon without Celestials involved... IE, impending civil war starts a chain reaction where military is pulled from the frontier thus ensuring fewer taxes are payed.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Piff View Post

            I actually thought that too, cuz I have also heard many times that the 'Dark Ages' are massively overstated. In researching this question however I read this wikipedia article, and yeah... it actually does sound pretty bad! So that's what provoked the question in general.

            For people asking what the 'cause' is, I'd say more or less the canon without Celestials involved... IE, impending civil war starts a chain reaction where military is pulled from the frontier thus ensuring fewer taxes are payed.

            You are referring to a period of time about 1000 years in spread. Sure, there are going to be plenty of "bad" things during that timeframe.

            The Migration Era, or more commonly, the "Dark Ages", were far less "bad" than later medieval periods. It also wasn't nearly as "bad" as commonly portrayed. The Carolingian Renaissance comes to mind.

            I prefer to play the Realm like Rome, with the Shogunate as a stand in for Imperial Rome, and the Realm as post-split Western Rome.

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            • #7
              What if the Blessed Isle became politically more like the Holy Roman Empire? As in it still has an Empress, but one who's authority only extends to a few lands. Noble Vassals are 'delegated' power over estates and territories, but in reality they have so much local lower they are sovereign rulers in all but name

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Boston123 View Post


                If you want to be entirely technical, the Realm already has a feudal structure: Everyone forgets about the poor Patrician class.
                ​Aristocrats alone do not make for feudalism (to the extent that that was ever an accurate term to begin with).

                ​But yeah, I would expect a collapse of the Realm to either resemble the Warring States (either the Chinese pre-Qin one, or the Japanese one) as the best outcome, and something like the Bronze Age collapse at worst.

                I wouldn't really expect something like the European Medieval period unless the Dragon Blooded themselves are severely displaced.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                  ​Aristocrats alone do not make for feudalism (to the extent that that was ever an accurate term to begin with).

                  ​But yeah, I would expect a collapse of the Realm to either resemble the Warring States (either the Chinese pre-Qin one, or the Japanese one) as the best outcome, and something like the Bronze Age collapse at worst.

                  I wouldn't really expect something like the European Medieval period unless the Dragon Blooded themselves are severely displaced.
                  Technically, all you need in order to have a feudal society is a system of land-grants, assumed military service, and authority held by an overarching figure. That is, arguably, how the Realm is structured under the Great Houses, and if you squint, how the Great Houses are subject to the Empress. Not to mention arguably supported by the Immaculate Faith, much like the Divine Right of Kings and related social stratification was supported by Catholicism.

                  Warring States Era China was a feudal society. Warring States Era Japan was a feudal society. Keeping feudalism as a strictly European thing is arguably Eurocentrism.

                  There is, what, around 10,000 Dragonblooded in the Realm? Arguably, the only reason(s) they have as much power as they do in the "vanilla" Realm is because infrastructure is supported/dependent on them, as well as religion. What happens if said infrastructure, or even logistics and military-related matters, dive deep down the shithole as a result of plague/civil war/collapse of the Dragon-Lines/what-have-you?

                  By the 2E COCD book, many backwater Patricians already function as feudal lords, even without the collapse of the Realm, sooooooooo.......? In that case, what would be the likely course of action if direction from their Dragonblooded superiors stopped arriving? Easy: gather more supporters and wait out the storm. Peasants, looking for protection from bandits and rampaging soldiers, pledge loyalty and service in return for protection. Weaker Patricians pledge loyalty to stronger Patricans, and before you know it, feudalism.

                  Such a system could even last a relatively long time, as the Dragonblooded fight over the Scarlet Throne.

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                  • #10
                    Taking Geomancy into consideration prompts some interesting takes on the issue as well. How low can the science of Geomancy descend? If the Realm ceases to be a state capable of supporting the educational and social infrastructure to produce savants trained in the arts of Geomancy, what are the long term effects?

                    The knowledge doesn't have to be even lost, mind. Just not practiced to a wide enough extent to allow for the construction and repair of the manse structures the Realm has now, which are already depicted as being just about as technically sophisticated as is currently possible. It's easy to envision even a minor stumble in the chain-of-engineers to be pretty catastrophic.

                    This would in theory produce a wide range of ecological 'no-go' zones as manse devolved into demense and began to produce essence mutations. A thousand Fukashimas!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                      I think there are a ton of different ways this could do depending on how the Realm collapsed and who is now in charge there.

                      Did the Realm end up fracturing in a Civil War? Did some of the Houses collude with Anathema to overthrow the rest? Did the Legions hold a coup d'etat and overthrow the government to take control themselves? Did the Immaculate Order lead a religious uprising to overthrow the corrupt Houses? Was there some kind of massive plague? Due to the Realm's location it's unlikely that there could have been a prolonged famine, but if that did occur the Realm would be in trouble and that could cause the government and society to collapse. Did the Realm Defense go haywire, nuke all the Dragon Lines and now the Realm looks like something out of Mad Max?
                      But the setting as a whole is already a magical Mad Max. If you blast it any further, then you're getting close to Quest For Fire territory.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Wizard of Oz View Post
                        A Realm version of the middle ages... is the Realm really. Probably about the early 13th century. The Shogunate collapsed, the Realm is the much smaller successor state. Dragonblood in the Realm see the Shogunate as a lost, glorious age of culture, magic, wonders and power that they wish to regain, though not exactly.
                        Though Shogunate -> Realm isn't quite the same as Rome -> feudal Europe, in that Shogunate -> Realm goes divided -> unified while Rome -> feudal Europe goes unified -> divided? Is the Realm really a smaller successor when the Shogunate was pretty broken up?

                        Originally posted by Boston123 View Post
                        The Migration Era, or more commonly, the "Dark Ages", were far less "bad" than later medieval periods.
                        In what sense?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Saur Ops Specialist View Post

                          But the setting as a whole is already a magical Mad Max. If you blast it any further, then you're getting close to Quest For Fire territory.
                          I generally view Exalted as post-post-apocalyptic. While there may have been an apocalypse in the ancient past, it doesn't really matter anymore. As a whole, people aren't scrabbling for resources and looting through ancient ruins in a desperate attempt to survive in the world. Rather, you have lots of kingdoms and nations that exist perfectly well and have no need for the powers of the ancients. While there are people who go exploring old tombs and looting old artifacts, it's not something that is terribly vital for day-to-day survival in most of the setting.

                          As people are talking about the Dark Ages, one could make the argument that the Dark Ages were something of a "post-apocalyptic" era following the collapse of the Roman Empire. But certainly by the Renaissance it's hard to continue to view Europe as a post-apocalyptic setting. Europe had come into its own by that point in time, had its own nations with their own characteristics and the fall of Rome was nothing more than a distant memory.

                          So Creation is more like say, the anime El-Hazard than something like Desert Punk. For the most part, the fact that there was a big apocalypse is more of a footnote in the setting than a fundamental and omnipresent concept like you see in Mad Max. This was, in fact, one of the issues with 2nd edition which began pushing the idea of magitech and the 1st Age and the Primordial Era to the point that the 2nd Age started feeling irrelevant in comparison and something that 3rd edition has been actively walking back from.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ghosthead View Post

                            Though Shogunate -> Realm isn't quite the same as Rome -> feudal Europe, in that Shogunate -> Realm goes divided -> unified while Rome -> feudal Europe goes unified -> divided? Is the Realm really a smaller successor when the Shogunate was pretty broken up?



                            In what sense?

                            Far, far cleaner, with fewer plagues, partially stemming from the urban population fleeing to the countryside as infrastructure broke down. That, in and of itself, makes the period "better" than both Antiquity and the later Renaissance. I, for one, would rather grub in the dirt for the rest of my life as opposed to catching goddamn typhoid, but that just might be me.

                            On top of that, the level of civil strife, "barbarism" and cultural decay present during the Migration Era is drastically overstated in the modern day. All the "barbarians" that invaded Rome? They themselves were pretty Romanized, from having served as professional solders -cum-mercenaries for generations. The "collapse" of the civilized Roman Empire? A slow, gradual process that was less "Iron Age Mad Max" and more "Say goodbye to the old boss, say hello to the new boss. He even speaks Latin!" Technological decay? Present, but not nearly so "bad" as depicted, and more a result of piss-poor logistics than intellectual decline. In some ways, technology "improved" during the Migration Era.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Boston123 View Post

                              Technically, all you need in order to have a feudal society is a system of land-grants, assumed military service, and authority held by an overarching figure. That is, arguably, how the Realm is structured under the Great Houses, and if you squint, how the Great Houses are subject to the Empress. Not to mention arguably supported by the Immaculate Faith, much like the Divine Right of Kings and related social stratification was supported by Catholicism.
                              Well then let's have that argument.

                              ​I mean this in the most cordial manner possible.

                              ​For one thing, the Realm had a centralized professional military.

                              Originally posted by Boston123
                              Warring States Era China was a feudal society. Warring States Era Japan was a feudal society. Keeping feudalism as a strictly European thing is arguably Eurocentrism.
                              ​Certainly, the societies that transitioned into those circumstances were feudal, even to the extent that the Sengoku could really have still been considered one country rather than dozens. With China, the transition from Spring and Autumn to Warring States is something that I have read to have coincided with the end of even the nominal power of the Zhou dynasty. I'm unsure if any of the resulting states were feudal within their own boundaries at any time, but that was certainly something that diminished significantly as that period wore on, as increasing centralisation of government and the superseding of traditional aristocrats in favour of an elaborate bureaucracy was a hallmark of those states, especially the Qin kingdom that rode that level of organisation and mass conscripted military power into dominance over all of the others.

                              Originally posted by Boston123
                              Arguably, the only reason(s) they have as much power as they do in the "vanilla" Realm is because infrastructure is supported/dependent on them
                              I find that to be another argument that wants making.

                              Originally posted by Boston123
                              By the 2E COCD book, many backwater Patricians already function as feudal lords, even without the collapse of the Realm, sooooooooo.......?
                              ​The Realm hasn't collapsed utterly, but its institutions are in dire straits. Somebody illegally operating with extraordinary autonomy in such a situation is something that strikes me as being far from a conventional definition of feudalism.

                              ​Mind, a conventional definition of feudalism has hardly ever actually corresponded with reality, hence me earlier comment in parantheses.

                              ​As for the Realm when it was up and running properly, descriptions given strike me as being closer to the Japanese system of nationalised land ownership under the Taika reforms.

                              Originally posted by Boston123
                              In that case, what would be the likely course of action if direction from their Dragonblooded superiors stopped arriving? Easy: gather more supporters and wait out the storm. Peasants, looking for protection from bandits and rampaging soldiers, pledge loyalty and service in return for protection. Weaker Patricians pledge loyalty to stronger Patricans, and before you know it, feudalism.
                              ​It's a dynamic that sounds plausible to me, but I wouldn't really call it feudalism.


                              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                              Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                              https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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