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mapping great house politics

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Rochedo View Post
    Make the file available. I want to study other political forces such as the Guild, the Immaculate Order, and the Legions.
    Here's the .dist file - https://pastebin.com/PG3nXiU6. First row's the row count, followed by the matrix, each row in the matrix needs a ten character long name (include spaces in the anem if need be), and each value in the matrix is space separated.

    Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
    More broadly speaking... I think Ragara's position might be quite a bit more tenuous than it appears on paper depending on how notional their wealth is and how dependent their cash flow is on usury on outstanding loans as opposed to actual talents of jade in their vaults. Ragara is portrayed as a banking house... but banks don't make money by keeping huge piles of lucre on hand. Banks make money by lending it out, and even very conservative banking institutions are often highly leveraged.
    I would guess, in the modern day, competitive pressure is quite high, which probably exaggerates this tendency to be overleveraged. (What good does it do to have assets if you're not competitive and out of business?) So how much competition does Ragara really have?

    Originally posted by Murcushio View Post
    And this could put Ragara in a very tricky position, because debt is notional. A satrapy, and the physical assets you can strip out of it, is real. A manse is real. Ships are real. A legion is real. If you try and declare to House Cathak "your Legions do not exist" they'll just look at you funny. If you try and declare to House Peleps that their navy doesn't exist, the same. They don't, actually, require the cooperation of a counterparty to continue to be what they are.
    If they're dumb, or smart but rather ill prepared, then they've taken on a lot of the risk themselves and structured their investments around the assumption the Empress will always be there as a neutral enforcer and that she will act, in which case they are kind of stuck.

    If they're not, then, perhaps...

    They've structured their investments such that they're so entwined that, if House A pulls out, it's House B that will lose out the most and they'll know it's because House A pulled out, and they will not blame Ragara.

    They don't simply issue money in exchange for IOUs as much as, they sell those IOUs around so that they're a significant part of the assets the other Houses hold.

    They make it so that everyone's ambiguous about whether they even *want* "Ragara debt" abolished for everyone because, well, while we might want *our* debt abolished, some of the" Ragara debt" is *our* money, that if Ragara has no debts it has no cash flow and if has no cash flow it issues no credit and we want credit to leverage up to fight the other houses, and furthermore, how much do we really want our those rival Houses suddenly to have no debt, if they then gain an improved relative strategic position?

    They make it so that even if everyone collectively might gain from abolishing all Ragara debts, if you strike out alone, even the littlest bit before everyone else, then you're worse than everyone else, and that there's such little trust and such much competition between the Houses that this means no one *ever* does this.

    (Now, while I hope people found the above at least mildly persuasive, whether this is actually total Xanatos stuff or just "What Banks Do", I am utterly unqualified to tell, since I have the habit of remembering very little about how finance actually works, and whether Ragara is actually sophisticated enough to do this I'm about as clueless).

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    • #32
      Ragara have access to first age treatises, sorcery, and individuals who live longer and can become more skilled than any human (in our world) who has ever lived, so I would guess that they can get more sophisticated than we imagine. Demon summoning gets you DAO-style "smart contracts," first age lore and dice adders get you extremely advanced maths (though not neceesarily unlimited computational power, much less access to useful information), linguistics charms/sorcery likely gets you blockchain technology, double-entry bookkeeping is obvious and they maybe have access to something better, there's probably all sorts of technical analysis involving astrology, and so on. No

      But then, this is all limited by a social environment - a low-growth world where markets must be pretty shallow, most production is agricultural, and most profitable ventures are "take somebody's land and extract rent from them" - and the propensity for extremely clever banking arrangements to blow up in everyone's face. Of course, real-world bankers often ignore the latter, too. So re: the former, Ragara elders probably know what short-selling and credit-default swaps (and that sort of thing) are, but the markets on which to do that sort of thing may just not exist. (It's been a while since I've read either Guild book so maybe I'm wrong here, but I feel much of the same probably applies to the Guild as well. Factors are probably aware of a lot of sophisticated techniques that in practice get beat out by "buy low, sell high, murder the competition.")

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      • #33
        It seems to me that Ragara has three paths to survival:
        1. Uncover some game-changing occult superweapon. Obviously, they're already working on that as hard as they can, but that's not exactly something you can count on. Plus, that's exactly the sort of plot-hook that leads to a gang of meddlesome PCs foiling your plans at the last second, exposing your evil deeds to the world and uniting the Realm against you, etc.
        2. Back the winning side and hope the new Empress is magnanimous enough to let them keep their power. That's a pretty big gamble: If they back the wrong horse, they'll be signing their own death warrants. If they try to stay neutral until they see a safe chance to play kingmaker, the new Empress might show them the same amount of good faith (plus, they need to actually survive the civil war on their own long enough to make a difference).
        3. Form a faction with enough moral authority that the social order remains intact. In other words, they need allies who care about the new order's legitimacy and who will preserve Ragara's debts to prove that the new Realm is still in continuity with the Scarlet Empress's Realm. That's a pretty tall order, particularly since Ragara itself doesn't exactly scream "moral authority" (and, if their side projects get exposed, their allies won't lose any legitimacy by wiping them out). House Mnemon would be the obvious choice were it not for Mnemon herself. Peleps has potential, so long as they don't run off and form their own empire.

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