1. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    How to hold an entire Collective of Races at Gunpoint.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ScreamsfromtheCrematory, Apr 9, 2012.

    Anyhoo, in my book, the focus is on a race (or rather collective of races) known as the Funebrarans (this will likely be changed to something far easier to pronounce) or "Funebrarum" if referring to them as a whole (bro-points if you spot the reference). To keep it simple, they're large (averaging around six to seven feet tall) arthropod creatures, standing as men might stand, but bearing a bizarre, grotesque, and often repugnant physical features. In essence, they look like a mixture of WH40K's chaos space marines (mostly the really ugly possessed ones), classic late 80's/early 90's death metal artwork, and real life arthropods mixed in with the not-so-real hellish mutant nightmares many people have about them.

    These are actually the protagonists.


    In this setting, they are used as a elite military force, with their advanced biological/cybernetic integrated technology (noticeably further ahead of the curve than most of their contemporaries), extreme toughness, and a strange combat demeanour that is seemingly funereal/nihilistic, viciously barbarian, yet somehow eerily detached and controlled all at the same time. They're kind of like WH40K's space marines in a way, sans religious and spiritual dogma.

    Right, anyways, now onto the titular bit.

    You see, as tough as the arthropods are, they have a bit of a problem in the fact that first of all, they don't actually have a home world. Well sort of, their entire population lives in a large "hive fleet", the main points of which are the four massive "hive ships" which are around the size of small planets, albeit very ugly ones.


    This fleet essentially lives within space controlled by the Trans-Space Coalition (might have to change this as well), something equivalent to the Western World/NATO/possibly the U.N. although with various races/usually-dominant factions of races involved, humankind included. They are essentially the dominant military/political/socio-cultural force and the largest "empire" (well the largest one that actually works coherently).

    The T.S.C. however, isn't quite perfect and often finds itself dealing with a wide variety of border conflicts, insurgencies, rebellions, civil wars (occasionally inter-planetary) and so on. Although these are "smaller scale" conflicts as opposed to the very rare larger ones, this doesn't stop them from reaching a level of intensity that at times is equivalent to a world war. As tough as Coalition forces are, they do have their limits in terms of technology, experience, capabilities, and training as well numbers. Many of these conflicts tend to feature dissident/rebel/invading/etc. groups with increasingly more deadly training, weaponry, organization, and logistics support and when combined with their unconventional tactics, very tough nuts to crack.

    Yes, this is where the segmented killing machines come in, not surprisingly.

    The funebrarans however, aren't really "warlike" people inherently and neither are they blind to the fact that for the most part, they have pretty much nothing to do with any of these conflicts. While they aren't actually mercenaries and are used more like attack dogs, "on paperwork" what they're doing is officially certified, regulated, moderated, and treated as a specialized act of war.


    Now, this is where my problem really begins.


    Essentially, I'm trying to figure out how the Coalition/SPACENATO gets them to do their dirty work without making it overtly authoritarian/fascist.


    1) I'm thinking that the T.S.C. essentially has an official "deal" with them that states that the first world they conquer essentially is the first world they will claim as their own. However, because they tend to fight alongside other Coalition factions with a generally higher sociopolitical and cultural standing in the eyes of many, be it civilian or bureaucrat, their bargain of the deal hasn't happened for over a thousand years. They will have had assisted in major battles but their roles were "supportive", "ancillary", or merely secondary to the greater "allied" push. I guess that adds an extra tinge of grimdark to things but it sounds sort of really difficult to imagine that happening continuously for that long even in a pseudo-40K-esque universe such as the one I'm trying to portray.


    2) The other one I was thinking of was that in order for their society to continue functioning, they need food, money, equipment, and other such supplies from the outside world. However at the same time, I'm trying to portray the Hive Ships as small self-sufficient worlds with their own eco-systems, replicas or biological "excerpts" from a murky, unknown past and as such, actually have enough to keep their population levels going like an actual society. But maybe there are some things their world lacks and they can be strangle-held through the right paperwork, speeches, deals and such. There isn't much from the outside world they would really have a need for that they can't simply produce themselves, being more advanced than most of the main Coalition factions.


    3) Perhaps their rights to their autonomy (or whatever little they have) are dependent upon their obedience and their performance in battle and all the supplies they get in reward is merely superficial/unnecessary front-page-press-fodder to make it seem as if they're buddy-buddy with the coalition. That essentially means the whole thing is a mere circus they can tout around to the rest of the universe to make it seem that while they do throw them into the mouth of hell itself, they're "rewarded" greatly for it. This could be linked to the first point about how However, I'm not sure how to make the Coalition act up when the Funebrarans aren't apparently doing their battle magic and failing to satisfy their masters.


    More importantly, do any of you have any ideas of your own that you think would actually be better than any of the above? We don't have to work solely with those three or mere variants of them. If you have anything new that's a complete departure from what I've said in the last few paragraphs, then by all means, please post it here. I don't really care if it's utterly insane and over-the-top, but as long as we can somehow find a way to make it work, I might just run with it.


    Mind you, the bugs are for the most part, pretty closed off from the rest of the universe. They are aware of it but they have no real trade relations with any outside factions and pretty much are kept isolated within their own fleet.

    The only ones that really get to experience the rest of the universe are the military, certain administrative figures, diplomats, I guess their "navy", but they're kept separated, almost quarantined, for paranoid, somewhat overly-cautious reasons.
     
  2. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You might read 'The Man Who Used the Universe' by Alan Dean Foster
     
  3. David Zlot
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    David Zlot New Member

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    Maybe it could be less that the T.S.C has control over the bugs and more that the higher ups of the military of the bugs have control over the rest of their race but are in cahoots with the T.S.C. Sort of a military dictatorship.
     
  4. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    Yeah, that's possible. I generally tend to portray them overall as people who either have an incredibly unpleasant grudge towards the Coalition and reluctant to help them or have simply grown very apathetic towards them but the latter category could include their politicians.

    However I was thinking of portraying the funebrararan leaders as attempting to guard their people desperately with their limited barganing power on the greater galactic scale. It's not that they have no power; they have shot down various minor Coalition requests and orders although those ones tended to be more for relatively minor details such as intel on their culture, weaponry, and technology.

    Of course if you think this should be changed, I'd be open to explanations as to why and such.
     
  5. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You're generally not making deals with races or cultures. You make deals with key people who have effluence or power within those societies through various forms of blackmail or bribery.
     
  6. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    I imagine perhaps moreso for blackmail than bribes, bit of trouble trying to think of what in particular though. I vaguely thought of perhaps a part of their population is kept on smaller Coalition-made habitat ships that perhaps they could use, haven't thought of how exactly though.
     
  7. David Zlot
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    David Zlot New Member

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    Ahh I see. I say keep it the way you want it. I prefer the idea of the of the funebrararan leaders being on the funebrararan side as opposed to them being dictators. Correct me if I'm wrong but from the description you gave of the funebrararan military prowess it seems that they are more useful for on planet warfare. With this idea in mind maybe they are weaker "navally" and rely on the T.S.C for protection of their home fleet. I mean if their entire race lives on these main ships it would be devastating if they were to be ever properly attacked.
     
  8. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    Blackmail could be any threat. Hidden nuke in a city. Poison requiring an antidote periodically. Chemical, food or other resource that maybe required by key person or group. Fuel, medicine, a warm body on a cold night. The possibilities are endless but you are the one that knows who needs what unless none of them eat, sleep, need money or ever think of sex. Robots have very few needs so they aren't usually subject to blackmail or bribes.
     
  9. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    I imagine a lot of the funebrarum commanders/leaders are incredibly bitter but mind you, the leader/political role in society is seen as a very solemn, funereal one almost akin to a monkly order. This is because they all understand they're going to be dealing with an impossibly large and powerful bureaucracy against which they can pull little in the way of punches, lack any major leeway, and are simply able to only essentially make requests that whatever they're condemned to do is at least somewhat more humane and less punishing on who they are as people.

    Basically, in order to make them as supposedly "objective" and more resistant against being swayed by power-corruption, selfishness, personal viewpoints and so on, many of them undergo a sort of unpleasant neuro-conditioning along with acquiring implants that suppress (and often damage) various parts of their mind related to more whimsical, emotional, and otherwise sharply opinionated and less rational/objective thinking. They feel less as people and have a much weaker sense of "political differentiation" but in exchange for this, there are far less partisan politics and they handle things in a very detached, almost robot like manner when it comes to politics. It's not that they don't feel anything as much as these feelings are essentially shoved back and reduced to an incredibly ancillary/secondary/non-important position.

    And yeah, maybe "weaker" navally but I already have the idea of their fleet as perhaps being rather small (they're self-sufficient but these worlds weren't meant for making whole fleets) but their actual ships are incredibly bizarre and quite nasty pieces of work. The problem is that they're horribly outnumbered and they aren't the only faction with really terrifying space-craft.

    @Superpsycho: That's sounding pretty sharp. I just started thinking; what if it's more about merely keeping the higher ups happy? Funebraran society would be quite dissident and sectarian so perhaps the T.S.C. is supposedly helping them keep their own highly dissatisfied, disaffected, and disillusioned people in line. Could be that the old guard fear letting go as they have no idea what will happen to them and are assuming the whole race collective is being thrown to the wolves or that they've been hacking away at their seemingly futile, pointless job for so long they simply cannot adapt to any other lifestyle now.
     
  10. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    Then you've painted yourself into a bit of a corner. Your only option is some logical reason to join with one group or another. It also depends on your end goal, universal peace or elimination of one or more competitors. If you want common cause then trickery can work. Someone can create a phoney common enemy they can come together against.
     
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  11. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    I can't say the problem in the series is really say, a greater over-arching faction of evil that needs to be defeated as much the Coalition being the biggest fish in the pond and the one that subsequently deals with the greatest amounts of violence on their borders, intrusions from extremist "outer T.S.C. space" factions (may/may not be supported by secretive branches of other factions' governments), civil wars and such. The funebrarans are sort of built up to be a powerful buffer against this, albeit one that really doesn't want to be doing what it does in spite of how powerful it is military-wise.

    Of course in the actual plot for the book things get far more complicated than merely EXTREME PEACEKEEPING but this is just the general background of things.


    EDIT: Maybe they rely heavily on the Coalition for the majority of their "space navy's" capability? I just imagined the Coalition puts HUGE limitations on their ship-building capabilities and might even actually have confiscated various crafts of theirs along with their crews. Like the Quarians in the Mass Effect series, a lot of their ships could be "borrowed" from the Coalition or taken from those they've conquered.
     
  12. David Zlot
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    David Zlot New Member

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    The more you describe them the more I like them. I definitely think every thing you've established thus far should stay but I would strongly try to dissuade you from using a device like a big nuke or a dependency on some type of drug that only the coalition can provide. I guess all these ideas could technically work but they don't seem congruous with the atmosphere of the setting. I think if you use of of those devices it transforms them from a power minority race trying to fight for its place in a bureaucratic political land scape into a slave race really.
     
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  13. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    Yeah the big nuke and drug dependency IMO would undermine the attempt to portray them as terrifying, seemingly insurmountable "space barbarians" (as opposed to "space marines") but I do think the general idea of perhaps there are certain new "needs" that Coalition politics has caused to arise is a good one I should have thought of earlier. Like, they're extremely difficult to defeat on the field of battle, but beyond that, they're treated like attack dogs and seen as that too on the larger scale, mostly because that was all they were ever allowed to really be.

    But yeah, it's not a story that's as simple as "T.S.C. oppresses us, we rebel against them". There are a lot of assholes in the Coalition and sometimes it's hard/too easy for either side to admit/deny this, but I'm trying to create a world where there's still a lot of black and white alongside a giant pool of varying shades of grey that takes up the space between them.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what do you mean by that?... did you mean there are several races working together, or what?
     
  15. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    Well pretty much what it says on the tin: a bunch of races (more than I can be bothered to list) that essentially live together. They're seen as one over-arching race generally (not biologically/sociologically accurate technically) because they're united under one fleet and one flag at the end of the day.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ok... i was just a bit perplexed by 'race' being singular...
     
  17. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    Yeah, spelling error on my part.
     

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