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Blue Rose and the Fall of Civilization

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The ideology of Blue Rose is the ideology of collectivism, where on a fundamental level the "collective good", the security and prosperity of the community as a whole, trumps the rights and liberties of any individual in it.  "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" etc etc, which is all well and good if you're Mr.Spock, but on a practical level it means that everyone's rights are trampled, and no one's desires are met. And on the deeper level of realpolitic it means, even in the unlikely event that the people running the system are good and noble-hearted, that what is "good for you" is decided not by you but by a select elite of people who feel they know what is best.

Its the social-worker mentality, something I despise. I saw it in action in places like Vancouver, where the downtown of one of the most prosperous, cosmopolitan and progressive cities in one of the wealthiest and most caring nations on earth was riddled with poverty the likes of which I have seen only in the absolute worst slums of third world nations. People in downtown Vancouver, amidst all the prosperity and riches of a nation in good standing, were trapped in a hopeless cycle of despair, because social workers in the government had decided that they knew what these people (mostly native canadians) needed, and what they needed was monthly hand-outs.
Then the street-level social workers would come in there, with their condescending university-conditioned smugness, and start "helping" these people too, with "programs" and "centers", all dictated by something they had read in a textbook written by some asshole in tweed who'd never even been in the inner city, much less experienced firsthand the state of suffering or despair that people there faced. So these social workers would come in and TELL the "poor unfortunates" in East Hastings what they "needed" ("You just need education, you just need a native culture center, you just need counselling for your drug abuse/sexual abuse/child abuse/physical abuse, you just need to attend womyn's empowering seminars; etc etc ad nauseum); I never in my time there saw any social worker (or indeed never have I seen any social worker ever) actually try to listen to what THESE people thought they needed with a straight face.  After all, what do THESE PEOPLE know about what they need? They don't have a degree in social work or psychology, how could they possibly know what they need? Leave that to the experts.
These fuckers never understood that they were fundamentally no different to their intellectual counterparts sixty years earlier who took these poor bastards from their homes and families in the wild as children, and put them in residencial schools to "educate them" in wonderful things like english and Christianity, whether they wanted it or not, beating it into them if necessary (and often even if not). After all, these things were for the "savages' own good". Those social workers really knew what it is these people need.
Anytime you decide it should be up to you or up to the government to save someone from themselves, to stop them from eating what they want or smoking what they want, to dictate to them how they should or shouldn't look, where they should or shouldn't work, what they can and can't own, you're commiting an act of fundamental violence and evil, no matter how well intentioned. You're saying to them and the world that YOU are superior to them, that you must protect them from their own inferiority.
And yet in Blue Rose, this is "light alignment"; and I, for sincerely wishing that anyone who would tell me or anyone else what is "best" would go fuck themselves with a spoon, am the "shadow aligned" guy.  This is the disconnect. If Aldis is really run by the "light aligned" than Aldis can be no other thing than a world of university social workers, running all of society with the sacred textbooks, telling everyone what they "really need".
I'd go apeshit in just under three seconds in a place like that.  Hell, I lived it: Canada is about as close to Aldis as you can get in the real world, and it becomes more and more like it every day. Its a society that seems really great on the surface, but until you leave it you have no idea just how repressive, cold, and regulated it all is. And just how little freedom you have. I'm not even talking about the junkies in east hastings, I'm talking about normal people in that country, who little by little gave up their own freedoms, so slowly and in such small ways that they have no idea just how "pwned" they are.You can't cross the fucking street except at corners and with lights (canada has to be the only country on earth where you can see a guy waiting in -30ยบ weather at 2 a.m. on a deserted street in a snowstorm for the light to change before crossing the road). You can't ride a bicycle without a helmet, you can't drive a car without a seatbelt, and you sure as hell can't smoke.

That's why I got the fuck out. I'm a political exile. You could paint me a loser for it, giving up rather than fighting on, but there was really no hope in Canada. I got the fuck out because I was tired of having to struggle every single second to try to get people to understand the fundamental connection between my right to smoke my pipe and their right to own their own house or not have their kids taken from them and raised in government schools. Here in Uruguay, there are still laws, and people abide by those which  make sense, but here the default mode is not to obey any law and government authority.  All the contrary: Uruguayans have turned finding ways out of obeying laws into a high art. They seem to inherently recognize (in a way that has long since been socially engineered out of canadians and most first-worlders) that law is repression, a fundamental theft of liberty, that is tolerable only so far as its necessary to keep us all from bashing our neighbour's heads in to devour their gooey insides, but should otherwise be resisted at every turn to keep it in check.  That's why, in the end of things, the third world will devour the first.
Slowly but surely, the first world grows ever more complacent in abandoning their liberty, and this will inevitably be its downfall. The Americans and Canadians think "they" run the world, and fail to know that their own government is their oppressor as much as it is Kenya's or Uruguay's or Syria's oppresor; whereas the third world countries know all too well that both the Americans and their own governments are their enemies, entities that would rob them of everything if given the chance.  In Latin America in particular the fire for revolution is on a simmer here right now (thanks to the US being too busy commiting atrocities in the middle east to commit many here in south america), but its not going away, and all it will take is the right set of triggers for it to fan out and kick the living shit out of countries that no longer have that fire.
The third world is to the current Empire of Swine what the dark forests of Germania were to the Romans. And like the average roman citizen around 190 a.d. most of you who are "up there" have no idea that your Aurelian age is already long gone..either retake your liberty, or see your glory fall to pieces.
Ok, enough of the Jeremiah complex: let's bring this back to roleplaying.  It seems that there's a lot of people who don't understand the difference between alignments in D&D and alignments in BR. Some have actually argued that the alignments in D&D are "more restrictive".
Let's compare:
"Good" In D&D: Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others. (PHB p.88 )
"Light" in BR: Light-aligned individuals follow their Light-nature, doing their best to overcome their Shadow nature. Generally, the Light-aligned believe in community and the good of all over mere self-interest. They seek peace, harmonious co-existence, and the general good, although there is sometimes disagreement as to what exactly is best for everyone. (BR p.71)
So, "good" characters in D&D are heroic guys and girls who are kind, value life, and the dignity of others; and who will sometimes miss out on that 10000gp gem to help the poor farmer or rescue the little kid.
"Light" characters in BR are people intent on denying their own flaws and faults and human nature, who think that "it takes a village" and self-interest is a "mere" thing that should be looked down upon, obsess themselves "tolerance" and "equality", and think THEY KNOW what is "best for everyone".
One is your basic heroic dude, the other is a nightmare risen out of the ashes of nanny-state liberalism.
Even "lawful good" in D&D is "the crusader", who is commited to oppose evil, tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need and speaks out against injustice. (paraphrased p.89 PHB)
No resemblance there to Light alignment either.
I mean the CLOSEST alignment in the PHB to "light" in BR is "lawful neutral" (the judge), who believs in "order for all and favours a strong organized government", where order and organization is paramount to them (again p.89 PHB). The second closest is, ironically, Lawful Evil.
But basically, the alignments in D&D are phrased in words that are relevant to the HEROIC journey, and are politically neutral. Whereas in BR, the wording is done (ostensibly in order to fit the RF genre) in a way that is politically CHARGED, where caring about the collective good and society more than your own liberty is considered "better" than caring about collective freedom and personal liberty.  Where if you're a libertarian, you would be seen as on the path to "shadow", or "fallen from the light".
My personal recommendation for the upcoming True 20 corebook would not be to use the D&D alignments, but rather the general Law/balance/chaos allegiances you encounter in Moorcock. Where you have
Law = a personal belief in structure and order as being paramount to society (and possibly veneration of lawful gods)
Chaos = a personal belief in freedom and liberty being paramount to society (and possibly veneration of Chaos gods)
Balance = a political belief in the need for careful balance between chaos and law, and a personal belief in the need for the same balance within one's own being (veneration of the Elemental/Nature gods or none at all)
In each case one's allegiance, if moderate, represents the best of these ideas (the Law character is a peacekeeper, the Chaos character a liberator of others, the Balance character a peacemaker and diplomat). But if driven to too far of an extreme, ALL of them become a negative trait (the Law character is a fascist autocrat with no regard for life or freedom,  Chaos character is a sociopath and potential worshipper of tentacle-yummyness, Balance character is a completely introspective ascetic incapable of taking action).
You could even do some kind of mechanic to represent how far along a character is on the scale of his allegiance, or if his allegiance shifts.
Even if you disagree with my politics and analysis of the world, unless you're a total shithead you must agree that for roleplaying purposes its better to have an alignment system like the one above where no particular ideology is seen as absolutely right and no other as fundamentally wrong, where a character can run a gamut of ideology and ethics; then to have a system where the alignments are fixed and immutably judgemental of what is desirable ideology and what is undesireable. In a particular genre that might be excusable. But in a general core book, to put ideologically-slanted heavy-handed alignments into that core would be the writers telling us "what we need".

RPGPundit June 12th 2005

I don't touch politics near discussions of games, so my only comment is why do you need alignments in the first place? The character simply believe what it is that they believe. Why label them? Choose a belief structure for the character and keep to it.

Alignments are important in some games, where you want to have a clear point on some kind of axis/spectrum/etc of where the character is located. But a badly made alignment spectrum will result in encouraging the creation of stereotype characters, or making certain characters impossible to play, which is stupid.


I'm not about to defend Blue Rose (I don't play it), but your argument seems based on a small logical leap that may be fallacious: that every "common good" argument always already destroys individuality or individual rights. You've leapt to an extreme without exploring the possibility of balance--a world based on extreme individualism would be just as unpalatable as the one you describe.

As in all things, the proper way is a kind of balance. It's one of those complex, funny things that we can't really achieve an individuality except in the context of a community, while communities stagnate and decay when they do not allow their members to develop as individuals. In various situations, the best balance shifts from one side to another, but to reflexively deride communitarian thinking oversimplifies the situation. I can see why you might think this way given your description of your personal journey, but the "light" alignment description you give would seem to allow for a person who thinks that more personal liberty would create greater good by avoiding the cliched "nanny state liberalism" stagnation.

Your Moorcock-style alignment without agenda certainly would work well in a Moorcock-style world. Others might want a universe with some kind of moral agenda, and chose a different system to model it. I've junked alignment since 1st edition, but currently see some use in the virtue/vice system of True20. While assuming I'm already a shithead is begging the question, I'll just say that letting a hundred alignment system flowers bloom might be more consistent with the idea of liberty than proscribing one concept that must be followed.

Ah... the common good doesn't mean 'no individualism' does it?

Let us say that doctors one day discover that your body produces an enzyme that can cure lukemia in children.  In order to produce enough to be useful they'd have to strap you to a bed and constantly filter your blood to get enough, you'd live the life of an invalid in order to save the lives of thousands of stricken children.

Or, you know they could just carve you up and figure out how it works so they could synthesize what they need, saving potentially millions.

Now, if you volunteer for this, that is an individual choice and 'heroic' in most every sense of the word.

On the other hand, if the laws and populace force it upon you that is collective, common good thinking and removes any choice from you, any heroic sacrifice (though you can be sure that the common good crowd will be talking about your heroic nature as they haul you kicking and screaming to the operating theatre.).  In fact, if it's you that is being hauled off, I'd guess you'd have some pretty strong words to say about 'common good'.

I would. But I don't feel like waiting until the 'Common good' has decided that I'm next on the platter.


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