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On Fighting Slavery with Words - Plot Help

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  • On Fighting Slavery with Words - Plot Help

    So, I'm running a game of Exalted, and my players (a pair of Twilights, one craft-focused and one a sorcerer, and a political Eclipse) are in a trading city in the Scavenger Lands, and the Eclipse has taken it upon herself to try and get the de facto ruler of the city, a godblood head of the local bigshot noble house, to restrict or preferably stop Guild trade of slaves through the city. And I have no idea how to deal with this.

    Now, it's not as unrealistic as it could be, seeing as the nation they're currently in doesn't use slaves (they just trade in them, toooootally different thing), but there's still a lot of money to be made via taxation, buying low and selling high and so on. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this?



  • #2
    What does the Prince feel about:
    Slavery
    Guild influence
    Foreign merchants

    And what do the common people think? Do they love or hate the Guild?

    What are relations like with the countries that a)buy slaves, and b)provide slaves?

    Who is making the money? How does the Prince tax the slave merchants?


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

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ajf115 View Post
      So, I'm running a game of Exalted, and my players (a pair of Twilights, one craft-focused and one a sorcerer, and a political Eclipse) are in a trading city in the Scavenger Lands, and the Eclipse has taken it upon herself to try and get the de facto ruler of the city, a godblood head of the local bigshot noble house, to restrict or preferably stop Guild trade of slaves through the city. And I have no idea how to deal with this.

      Now, it's not as unrealistic as it could be, seeing as the nation they're currently in doesn't use slaves (they just trade in them, toooootally different thing), but there's still a lot of money to be made via taxation, buying low and selling high and so on. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this?
      You would have to find the political will to make it happen. Asking someone who clearly has no moral qualms about the issue to cut off a big chunk of their tax revenue requires you to provide some sort of incentive. Are there lucrative trade opportunities to be had by being seen as someone who would stand up to the Guild, or would cutting out one piece of the Guild's pie cause the Guild to start messing with their economy in other ways?

      Don't underestimate the economic pressure the Guild can bring down on a city, especially in their backyard such as it were. Your players would need to find a way to make the idea enticing while minimizing the chance of it sending the city into a recession.


      Revlid wrote:
      Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

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      • #4
        You are three solars, you can produce more Capital then the whole city sees from all their various industries and trade. You could offer a variety of options such as:

        Creating a magically prosperous Orchard with Sorcerous working that creates natural deserts.

        Agreeing to summon Demons and Or Elementals to provide free labor for civic projects and industries like Mining.

        Provide the city with wonders and artifacts such as a system of free hot and cold clean plumbing. A magical orchestra that plays every sunset and sunrise. A grove of brass bamboo that is easy to harvest as natural growing piping. A housing infrastructure for the ancestor spirits of the city. A giant fish that can be harvested for fillets but regenerates every night. A system of schools libraries and Hospitals with spirits dedicated to teaching new generations.


        Sky’s the limit. It depends how much you want to spend time on appeasing the city. Would they prefer the taxes from slaves or would they like free indoor plumbing? Or a donated Armory of professionally crafted weapons and Armor and a giant bronze guardian that never sleeps and always guards the gates. Or just building a couple layers to the city state professionally created underground?


        It is a time for great deeds!

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        • #5
          I'd say good general advice for any political plot, not just this one, is to identify three things:
          1) Who is going to make the ultimate decision, and what are their motivations? That is, who do you have to convince, and how will you do it? In this case, it sounds like it's the head of this noble house.
          2) Who will oppose the decision, what are their motivations, and what will they do to prevent it? In this case, the Guild is an obvious choice, and the Guild is generally known to be pretty ruthless. But don't think just in terms of assassination squads being sent to take out the PCs - the Guild has the ability to exert substantial economic pressure as well, so the Eclipse needs to be prepared for the local Guild factor telling the ruler "sure, we can cut off slave trading. Of course, that means our caravans won't be profitable enough to run through here, so we'll also be cutting off all other trading too. Good luck finding another source for all those luxury goods we bring!"
          3) Similar to 2, but who supports the decision, their motivation, etc. Obviously, in this case, abolitionists are likely allies, but this can be the place to present some more uncomfortable alliances as well. For example, maybe a Guild factor is secretly working to eliminate the slave trade - because she controls the trade along another route, and ending it here makes her own profits swell.

          Once you've determined what the people involved want, and what they'll do to get what they want, I find plot tends to develop quite naturally. The PCs will try to convince the people they need to, and will have to make deals with allies and the ruler to get the support they need, while meanwhile, their opponents will be trying to counteract them, and thus require the PCs to take action against them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ajf115 View Post

            Now, it's not as unrealistic as it could be, seeing as the nation they're currently in doesn't use slaves (they just trade in them, toooootally different thing), but there's still a lot of money to be made via taxation, buying low and selling high and so on. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this?
            Are you looking for advice on narrative progression from the characters' actions and successes, or how to engage with the premise with the system?


            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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            • #7
              Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

              Are you looking for advice on narrative progression from the characters' actions and successes, or how to engage with the premise with the system?
              Mostly the former, though advice on the latter would be very welcome as well.
              Last edited by ajf115; 11-12-2018, 09:47 AM.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by ajf115 View Post
                Mostly the former, bout advice on the latter would be very welcome as well.

                You could, probably/maybe, use the Projects/Leadership-system, from the core book, as a start. And let that guide you with what scenes to play up (aquiring the necessary assets, how they go about it etc.), how long it would take, and what consequences they might encounter on the way (or as side effects after the fact).

                Edit: Though I haven't had a chance to try it myself yet, so I don't know how well it works, personally, yet

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kim View Post


                  You could, probably/maybe, use the Projects/Leadership-system, from the core book, as a start. And let that guide you with what scenes to play up (aquiring the necessary assets, how they go about it etc.), how long it would take, and what consequences they might encounter on the way (or as side effects after the fact).
                  I don't know, I feel like in a scenario such as this, with the described characterisation of the Eclipse and the fact that they're not really in a position of authority but are more of a foreign interloper, it would be better, it would be more fitting to use the social system to represent somebody making impassioned arguments to sway people's hearts and minds. Like, sure, there are going to be contrary Intimacies to contend with, but that lends the scenario some breadth and texture, a nice sequence of instilling and degrading complementary Intimacies and finding the right arguments to make the effective appeals.

                  I'm often all for injecting a measure of realism, but something about the initial description sparks my sense that this is one of those cases where it's better to lean on the romantic, mythic, epic angle of a highly charismatic and impassioned person calling people to the common good with their speech.

                  So, consequences. If the society doesn't actually utilise the slave labour themselves, that takes away the question of how you're going to integrate a lot of suddenly emancipated slaves. Answering the question of how the change in revenue plays out largely depends on what that money was being earmarked for; if it's something important and necessary like paying for mercenaries or public utilities,, the circle might feel a responsibility to stick around and help shore some of those things up. The Eclipse might want to go over the public books and help with a bit of refinancing, such as devising alternative tax schemes that can make up for the shortfall without being too burdensome on any one sector; same thing might go in a different direction if the cash was necessary for paying off a public debt (that one might require a bit of chicanery, in which one basically designs a kind of documentation shell game such that the buck for who actually owes the creditors keeps getting shifted around so nobody ever actually pays anything). If it's about certain maintenance, those Twilights might be put to good use in fixing some things up and making them divinely enduring.


                  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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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                    Sky’s the limit. It depends how much you want to spend time on appeasing the city. Would they prefer the taxes from slaves or would they like free indoor plumbing? Or a donated Armory of professionally crafted weapons and Armor and a giant bronze guardian that never sleeps and always guards the gates. Or just building a couple layers to the city state professionally created underground?
                    How open the trio can be about being Solar might impose a limit. Some people might prefer taxes from slaves over indoor plumbing from anathema.

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                    • #11
                      A strategy a character of mine recently employed was to appropriate a symbol of a pre-existing aboltionist movement (dying her hair blue) and used it to show her patronage of a former slave in a fighting tournament knowing full well that people would emulate her. Thus making the movement seem way stronger in the city than it actually is and a factor she can use to discourage ventures that involve slavery in a "I can't promise you won't get lynched" sort of way.


                      The Freedom Stone is back, help it to live again.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ajf115 View Post
                        Mostly the former, though advice on the latter would be very welcome as well.
                        Latter’s easy:

                        1. Write Intimacy list and social stats for the noble.

                        2. Sit back and watch the show.

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                        • #13
                          Don't forget 3.) Make sure failure is interesting.

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                          • #14
                            Consider that the Guild is going to look unfavorably upon their business being interrupted, and will probably exert pressure to conform to their preferred status quo in unexpected ways--both underhanded and even overtly violent. This shouldn't undermine the PC's actions, but should clarify the sheer scope of the problem.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                              Don't forget 3.) Make sure failure is interesting.

                              This is definitely good advice, but I'd add another: make sure success is interesting too. In my experience with Exalted, a character, particularly a Solar, will probably succeed at the goals they set themselves, at least those within their speciality. So, make sure that when they do succeed, there are consequences for that. Note, I don't mean a GM screwjob, where the characters get their desire, and it turns out to be totally horrible. But all actions have consequences, and some of those consequences will be things the characters didn't intend and don't necessarily want. In this case, I would say to think about who controls the slave trade in the city, and figure out what will happen if they can't ship through the region any more, and both the sellers and the buyers of the slaves. All of those people could have negative reactions to the slave trade being cut off in the city - the Guild, as I already mentioned, could cut off more than just the slave trade, denying rich people luxuries and poor people necessities, depending on the local economy. If the slave-sellers are faced with smaller demand for slaves, they might start selling them to other places, which could well be worse than previous - if they started selling directly to Fair Folk, for instance. And the slave-buyers, dealing with a sudden shortage of slaves, might start raiding their neighbours for new "stock", which might include the territory of the city-state the characters are in.

                              Now, I'll throw one big caveat in here - I think abolitionist ideals are absolutely a good thing to encourage, so my own approach to these sorts of consequences for success would emphasize the idea that stopping the slave trade in the city-state definitely did some good. Make sure to mention that even if the trade is taking a new route, it's a harder or longer one, meaning fewer slaves are being transported over it, and thus fewer are being enslaved in the first place. This is just realistic, I feel - if there really was no difference between the current route and some other one, then why is this a difficult decision for the traders? They'd just move to a new route the moment anyone even raised the prospect of forbidding the trade along the current route. So the fact that there even is a significant conflict suggests that other routes are less good. Anyway, the point I'm making is, when it comes to ending slavery, it's even more important to make sure that while you present success as having consequences, that you don't diminish the success in the process.

                              I guess what I'm trying to say overall is that each success should broaden the scope of the characters' actions, at least slightly. If they successfully end the slave trade in the city-state, make sure they know about how the change is affecting the trade in surrounding regions, and point out that if they want to end slavery entirely, they're going to have to expand outward and deal with the larger circumstances. If you do this consistently, you can create a natural progression where the characters end up trying to conquer the world, or at least a significant fraction of it, just to keep achieving greater and greater stages of their goals. And that's a plot that should keep you busy for a long time.

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