1. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    Believable reason for war

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Akhera, Oct 20, 2010.

    For one of my longer stories (well, it may even end up being a novel) I needed a reason for a war between formerly allied races. The situation is following:

    Few decades ago the Isterians (aliens) were at war with the Garens (other aliens). The Garens were technologically superior and were winning the war, but with quite large casualities. They have decided that the war is too costly, so they tried a different way to beat the Isterians - they have managed to create and spread a plague that made 99% of Isterians sterile. They have retreated and now are waiting for their enemies to die out. The Isterians can't fight back, because they don't know the location of any Garen worlds.

    Few years later the Isterians meet the humans. They quickly ally with them against the Garen threat by assisting them in a war against rogue human colonies.

    What I need now is for the humans to enter war with the Isterians before the Garens reappear. What I have come up with:

    The humans have made projections about how the war with the Garens would go and found out that the depopulated Isterian colonies won't have any chance and will fall immediately, giving the Garens forward bases for the war. So they come up with an offer to make the colonies their military bases and deport the population to the Isterian homeworld. The homeworld actually agrees (for historical reasons - the colonies were quite independend and the homeworld has always wanted to control all of the Isterian population - there were several civil wars between the homeworld and the colonies. They have only formed a military alliance because of the Garens). While the homeworld military complies, the colonies' government and military refuses to. A war begins between the humans and Isterian colonies. The homewrold remains neutral.

    This scenario is quite interesting in a way, because the colonies' military has a difficult choice to make - either fight and weaken both allied races before a coming war, or surrender and betray all of the colonies' principles.

    But: Is this plausible?
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's as plausible as you make it. If you characters have arguments for and against it in the story, there's no reason it won't sound plausible. :)
     
  3. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    I was afraid someone was going to say that :) But I just wanted to know what the reader's first reaction would be, not after some explanation.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    As someone said already, it is as plausible as you write it. Ever see the James Bond screenplay You Only Live Twice, written by Roald Dahl? There is nothing at all plausible about the central plot about hijacking manned space capsules to start World War III, and yet it was an extremely popular movie. Everyone was aware that the stunts and action scenes were over the top, but no one really took issue with the underlying plot.
     
  5. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    And that's what I'm talking about. When I first saw that movie, I though it was incredibly stupid to the point I almost stopped watching. I don't care if it was popular, I don't want a plot most people would think is stupid.
     
  6. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I think you might have oversimplified the manner in which the humans and Isterians team up.

    There has not been a single example in history where some random strangers with guns have rocked up and said "Sup, we'll help you round up these rowdy punks."
    To which the others have said "Kay, we trust you complete strangers on our turf with weapons and stuff."

    Secondly, I can't see the humans going "Hey, now that we've made friends with these guys, maybe we should consider the odds of them being viable allies - you know, that thing we should have done before making friends with them."

    It's not unbelievable for an over-ambitious autocratic government to make a deal with the aliens in an effort to quash internal strife, but this is an alliance between one superpower and an external force, not one race with another. The escalation of racial tensions - especially when exacerbated by their role as enforcers of an oppressive government - could be easily and realistically used as a means of turning the tide of sentiment against them, especially if there's a political coup in the human world.

    I'm really, really uncomfortable with how simplistic your first part of the synopsis was - 99% sterile and all - but you haven't asked for advice about that so as long as you're sweet with it I guess that's okay.
     
  7. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    tcol4417 - That's the kind of reply I was hoping for :) Actually, when writing this, I've simplified the reasons the humans and Isterians allied, because that's the part I'm happy with :) The humans have actually split into three factions after a recent civil war. The one the Isterians ally with are the loyalists, who had quite an oppresive regime, but had to reform after losing the war. There are still many people there, who wish for the old empire to come back and welcome anyone who can help them achieve so. They know the Isterians are not much of a threat to them, but can be very helpful in dealing with the other factions. The Isterians are actually kept in the dark about the other two factions, not having any contact with them. For them, they are just "rogue colonies" they are happy to deal with in exchage for an alliance against much worse threat.

    You also say you are uncomfortable with the first part. Can you please elaborate on that?
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Well it just seems that the sterility plague is a bit of a faff.

    In all honestly if the Garens really had such an edge, why use such a specific manner of achieving genocide? I'm aware that simply burning that particular part of the universe wouldn't leave much for the Isterians to work with, but think about it: If the entire world was just the US and pre-"liberated" Iraq and the US was bored of fighting, they really could just afford to go home until they felt like fighting again. It's not as if Iraq would be brave enough to go anywhere.

    As a plot device, it would be much more effective if the Garens simply stopped attacking: Not retreated, but simply vanished. The Isterians would be too scared to venture out into lost territory but would want to form what alliances they could while they tried (unsuccessfully?) to rebuild their shattered civilisation.

    You don't have to do it that way, but you might be better off thinking of a less cartoon-villain way of initiating a stalemate. Draw parallels to real world examples and you'll get a better idea of what might really happen.

    I mean, a sterility plague is the kind of thing you eventually develop a cure for. There's no panacea for fear.
     
  9. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    The Garens simply vanishing was actually my earlier idea. But what I wanted was a specific time limit after which they would return - otherwise the Isterians wouldn't have gone to some risky war for the humans.

    Why do you thing the plague is a cartoon-villain way of dealing with the enemy? The Garens value their lives too much to wage war against fanatical defenders, who won't give them anything without a bloodshed. And they can't nuke or asteroid-bombard the planets, because they would be useless then. This way the enemy just dies out. The Garens are very patient.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you look at some of the things that have precipitated war over the course of human history, you'll come to the conclusion that virtually any reason whatsoever is plausible :)
     
  11. Lynch
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    Lynch Member

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    Non-existing WMDs. :rolleyes: :p
     
  12. Jones6192
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    Jones6192 Member

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    My top major reasons for war are as follows: religious differences, racism, resources, money and ego (i.e. just wanting to rule as much as you can because you are a jerk that way:p). Use one of those and you got a believable, relevant conflict. I like your concept, by the way.
     
  13. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    It's not so much that they SHOULD glass the planets, it's just that a sterility bug is a little too convenient, but that's just me two cents.

    It's like how Wally (Waldo if you're American) just happened to have anti-giant spray in that stupid bag of his, and the live action batman just happened to be wearing his anti-acid belt the day that he was dipped in a vat of the stuff. It's very camp.
     
  14. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    Convenient? I don't understand. They have created it artificially specifically for the war.
     
  15. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    It's just unrealistic. I get that it's sci-fi and everything, but of all the ways to suppress an enemy race, a plague that makes them sterile?

    You could have had a plague that mind controlled them into defecting
    Or a plague that made them allergic to their own guns
    Or a plague that just killed them.

    Like I said, it's your decision but try to find examples of the same plot device being used in the past and I guarantee that it either didn't work out as a story element or the writers made it a little more feasible than that.

    The only example I can think of is Half Life 2, where the Combine have invaded earth and enslaved humanity, biologically suppressing the ability to reproduce to prevent population growth: It wasn't as simple as just pressing a button and then suddenly there were no babies.

    If you desperately want to keep that plot element, I guess you could say that the Gs were actually considering calling the war off when R&D tested a biological weapon that just happened to have that effect which facilitated their withdrawal without costing them victory.

    For me it still falls in the same bin as "The aliens are allergic to country western music" (Mars attacks) and "Unobtanium" (Avatar).
     
  16. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    A plague that mind controls them? That sounds even less plausible. A plague that makes them allergic to their own weapons doesn't sound very serious :)

    But you are actually quite right that they could just make a plague that just kills them. But I need the sterility plague for plot purpouses. I'll think more about the Garens' motivation to use this kind of plague. Thank you.
     
  17. nickbedford
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    nickbedford Member

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    The humans and aliens meeting wouldn't have been a walk in the park, most notably with language, customs and traditions, technology, and getting to the point when they would even trust them enough to ally with them.

    It's not impossible but it would be a lot more complicated than "a few years later they met some aliens and allied with them".
     
  18. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    nickbedford - Of course they weren't, but I just didn't want to bother you with the details. It actually takes several years to form the alliance.
     
  19. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're into video games, check out Mass Effect 1 & 2. It's a sci-fi game that has a very similar storyline for one of the sideplots. One race, technologically superior, developed a sterilization for another, more brutal race. That story dives into the moral grey zone and is one of the better parts of the game.
     
  20. Akhera
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    Akhera Member

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    Yeah, I have played them. A little while after I came up with the sterilization plague :) I was quite upset that they "stole" my idea, but after a while I realized it's not that similar.
     
  21. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Happens to me all the time. I just take it as a compliment to the usability of my ideas.
     

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