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    Lightbulb Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    So I made this thread in the 3.5/PF forum awhile ago, intending to harvest primarily mechanical advice. I'm reposting for three reasons:
    1. I had another notion about it
    2. I don't want to thread necro
    3. I'm probably going to wind up switching to D&D5e before implementing these ideas, so crunch advice becomes something to adapt conceptually (i.e., becomes fluff), so why not just ask for fluff advice in the first place


    Thread goes like this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Malimar View Post
    Okay, so there's this person -- details unknown other than she's not yet a god -- we'll call her Unity. Unity wants to a.) unite all the nations of the world under one banner -- hers -- as peacefully as possible and b.) do a holiday to have everybody in the world do an act of worship of her at once, on the (probably correct) theory that this will elevate her to godhood.

    Unity is perfectly willing to violate people's autonomy and engage in a little light conquest if necessary, so she's for sure not Good, but she'd prefer to get everybody behind her all legit-like, so she's probably not actually Evil.

    How does Unity unite the world under her rule?
    Quote Originally Posted by Malimar View Post
    Some world details:
    The whole world is recovering from a global flood. 570 years ago, the then-mind-flayer-now-god Quasxthe flooded the world in an event known as the Inundation. 20 years ago, adventurers undid the Inundation by 1/6th, bringing the highest peaks back as islands in an event known as the Subsidence. My initial thought was that, once one of the many parties who have tried actually succeed in undoing the other 5/6ths, that's when Unity acts. But my girlfriend suggested, rather than planning that far ahead, just use her in the campaign I'm running now.

    NPCs are generally calibrated to "realistic fantasy" levels, class-level-wise, i.e. popes and kings have 7 or so levels, everybody else has fewer. I'm being generous allowing Unity 9.

    • mongrelfolk -- most of the surface world survived by piling onto boats, and the erasure of geographical borders means everybody interbred, so the mongrelfolk are now pretty much the most populous surface race. The mongrelfolk nation of Gus is ruled by a young half-vampire tiefling king who actually is seeking a wife, so one of my thoughts was that Unity could get started that way.
    • humans -- The island of Mazerrajya is ruled by the rakshasa Ice Maharajni. Shell is a merchant city-state built on the tremendous floating shell of a long-dead giant turtle, ruled by a governor. The island of Romus is ruled by a deva, descended from the heavens to bring the word of Numiel (basically Pelor+Bahamut+Heironeous).
    • dwarfgnomes -- in the Inundation, the dwarves and gnomes got together and built a fleet of submarines to house their civilizations. Over the centuries, they interbred into one species, the Engineers. The engineers now control the submarine fleet, a couple undersea mountain halls ventilated by portals to the Plane of Air, and a couple islands on the surface. Ruled by a council of elders. Warforged live in this civilization, in a sort of "16 Tons" debt slavery arrangement.
    • elves -- survived by turning mangrove groves into boats and boat-cities, then colonized an island after the Subsidence. Ruled by a triumvirate of High Librarian (wizard), High Ranger, and High Druid.
    • merfolk -- united under a queen
    • locathah -- united under a king
    • tritons -- up and moved their civilization from the Plane of Water after the devils took over, close allies with the merfolk. Like 50 micronations ruled by petty kings.
    • sahuagin -- divided into three main nations, two of which pay tribute to the biggest, which is ruled by the mind flayer high priest of Quasxthe.
    • kuo-toa -- divided into three main nations. One is closely allied with / work for the aboleths. Political system not well-defined.
    • drow -- when the Inundation came, they up and moved their entire civilization to the Plane of Shadow, where they live to this day. The dozen or so city-houses were united for awhile, but there was a civil war and they're disunited again now.

    • mind flayers -- some of the Elder Brains follow Quasxthe, some follow the NE god of darkness/secrets/death, some are Mind Flayers of Thoon (MM5)
    • aboleths -- loosely organized
    • rakshasa -- the Ice Maharajni is in charge of them
    • devils -- follow Quasxthe
    • celestials -- follow Numiel and two other Good gods
    • modrons -- follow the LN god of engineering
    • yugoloths -- follow the NE god of darkness/secrets/death

    • demons -- disorganized but loosely arrayed below the CE goddess of destruction and fire and monsters
    • slaads -- disorganized but some of them follow the high priestess of the CN god of madness
    Here's the notion I had today: I recall an Isaac Asimov story, "The [allusion to real-world religion redacted]". (Completely never you mind about the aspects of the story that draw on real-world religion, they're not important to my point.) The story goes like this: The apocalypse is scheduled to happen at a specific date and time. The scheduled date and time arrives. The apocalypse begins. The main character initiates Maximum Rules Lawyer Mode and convinces the entity in charge of such matters that, long story short, the apocalyptic schedule is invalid as long as not all of humanity agrees on what, exactly, date and time it actually is. And not everybody uses the Gregorian calendar. The story concludes with the grand infernal pooh-bah (D&D's Asmodeus, let's pretend) buckling down and getting started on a plan to get all of humanity united on one calendar. Unity becomes a nefarious goal.

    Relevance to Unity? Idea: there's some entity, probably Lovecraftian in nature, that for some reason cannot emerge from the Far Realm into the Material Plane (to, naturally, do Bad Things) unless everybody is united in peace under one banner. Unity wants to bring about the advent of this Lovecraftian peace-eater. At this point, the campaign practically writes itself. (And I guess never mind about uniting anybody not living on the Material Plane.)
    Last edited by Malimar; 2020-09-03 at 10:31 PM.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    a bit difficult without knowing about specific political relations in your world. is Unity ageless? or is she forced to hurry because her body has an expiration date?

    two things come to mind that are generic enough: diplomacy and money. become an important diplomat, help worldwide peace, get recognition in the process. do it well enough and long enough, she'll probably find an opportunity to become a ruler.
    the second option, having money and trying to gradually expand her enterprise until she owns the whole world, is not mutually excluding with this.
    she also may jump at the chance to fight some great evil, and unite the world under her to do so
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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quick answer, you can't. There's a reason why it wasn't done yet in real life, after all, in spite a lot of people attempting it.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    become an important diplomat, help worldwide peace, get recognition in the process. do it well enough and long enough, she'll probably find an opportunity to become a ruler
    Won't work. Even if you somehow manage to become a ruler like this, which is only possible in states that allow anyone to be voted in or appointed, you still have to make other states dance to your tune. They may like you, but they definitely don't like your country, on account of inevitable history of bad things. WW1 happened in spite of Kiaser and Tsar being cousins and good friends.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    the second option, having money and trying to gradually expand her enterprise until she owns the whole world, is not mutually excluding with this.
    The issue with this is that no mater what you do, you are still beholden to a state power. Even organizations like Hanseatic league or VOC, who came perhaps closest to matching the GDP of their parent countries, couldn't do this. In the end, should you get enough wealth to be seen as threat, states will move against you, with legislation and with their armed forces.

    That's not to say you may not win, in the end, but we're back to conquest.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    she also may jump at the chance to fight some great evil, and unite the world under her to do so
    To quote Terry Pratchett, kisses don't last - that surge of popularity will get you somewhere, but first unpopular thing you do will tank it, and soon enough, you're back to conquering.

    Looking at real world, there are empires that we can discard outright - Genghis Khan, Alexander of Macedon and Rome worked on conquest. China and Ancient Egypt weren't an empire, but rather several successor empires in a row, interrupted by interregnums or collapse.

    British Empire at first glance used money and trade, but they gained those by one thing and one thing only, maintaining command of the sea, and that was done with old-fashoined force. Even then, a lot of their territorial gains were a result of direct military campaign, and if they tried to push trade as means of control, in resulted in a war, see Opium Wars.

    Habsburg dynasty looks, again at first glance, to be a politically formed empire, but once you start to look at things in detail, you'll soon see that while their marrige politics did get them claims, they still had to remove the pretenders to those thrones with, once again, good, old fashioned force.

    Religion, we can't properly discuss on account of forum rules, but let's say in general that no religion has managed to create an empire, with possible exceptions of pre-colombian america and Japan, and in both of those cases, religious structure and state structure were either the same or converged at the top levels.
    That which does not kill you made a tactical error.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Quick answer, you can't. There's a reason why it wasn't done yet in real life, after all, in spite a lot of people attempting it.
    Is the reason "real life doesn't have dragons, lichs, characters with 30+ ability scores (by D&D metric), succubi, nymphs, mind-control magic, love potions, a variety of non-charisma-based ways for an individual to amass an army, visitable afterlifes or other planes, interventionist deities, fiends willing to make deals, Lovecraftian horrors from beyond time and space, or Mario's Discount Magic Supply Emporium"? I bet it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    The issue with this is that no mater what you do, you are still beholden to a state power. Even organizations like Hanseatic league or VOC, who came perhaps closest to matching the GDP of their parent countries, couldn't do this. In the end, should you get enough wealth to be seen as threat, states will move against you, with legislation and with their armed forces.
    There's already a merchant republic in my setting that's not beholden to a state power because the merchant league is the state.

    "If it's never happened IRL, then it cannot happen even in fiction" is a fine way to run a certain kind of verisimilitudinous low-fantasy story, but it's not the way I run my gonzo high-fantasy one.
    Last edited by Malimar; 2020-09-06 at 04:01 AM.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Quick answer, you can't. There's a reason why it wasn't done yet in real life, after all, in spite a lot of people attempting it.
    a lot more people also tried to conquer the world, and they failed equally. main problem here is that the world does not stay conquered. once you forge a big empire, whether with arms or with diplomacy, there will be nationalistic pushes to divide it. you set up a big organization, you need to decentrate power to henchmen because you can't do everything alone, and some of those henchmen will try to form splinter factions.
    enters fantasy and magic. they give additional resources for a would-be conqueror. anyway, the strategies i suggested work just as much as conquest, i.e. you can unify parts of the world under your leadership, but good luck getting the whole thing.
    though i believe for the purpose of getting worshipped and ascending to deity, having a megacorporation and using mass advertising to promote your personal brand would have the best chance of success.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    If the whole point is to get the world to worship her to ascend to godhood take a page from Doctor Who and don't try to take over the world. All you need is to have everyone think about her and say her name at the same time. Have her be a Heroine. Have her exploits be known in various parts of the world. Then a Great Threat appears, more powerful than her but doesn't kill her because then she'd become a Martyr. While captured, some of her devoted followers travel the world telling her tales to those who don't know about them to give the people hope. While telling the tales instruct the people to think about her and shout out her name at an appointed time, to save her so she can save them. Everyone worships her at once. That power breaks her bonds, achieving divinity, and her first Miracle is to defeat the Great Threat.
    Last edited by Pex; 2020-09-06 at 09:53 AM.
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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    "Everyone United in peace under one banner".

    I think the only way that can happen is if the world is brought to the brink of destruction such that all people must unite for survival.

    So the characters goal would be to bring extraplanar creatures into the world to wreak havoc upon it - resulting in a world where the nations must unite to push back those foes. This war can't be quickly over, it must last a few generations at least and there must always remain the threat that it could happen again in order to keep the nations united.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Originally Posted by Malimar
    So I made this thread in the 3.5/PF forum awhile ago….
    I remember the first thread well, and still really like the concept. In fact, I love it enough I’m tempted to use it in my own campaign world.

    But I still have questions, too:

    Originally Posted by King of Nowhere
    is Unity ageless? or is she forced to hurry because her body has an expiration date?
    This would be my top question, because this defines the parameters of the exercise and potentially gives Unity a hard deadline for her operation. If she’s an ordinary human with a typical human lifespan, this will be virtually impossible without massive magical assistance, for the reasons KoN mentioned earlier. The world is huge, people are fickle and contrary, and even areas that Unity pacifies may not hold stable long enough for her to bring the entire world under her sway.

    Originally Posted by Malimar
    Unity wants to bring about the advent of this Lovecraftian peace-eater.
    If nothing else, I’d say this shifts her from “not Good or Evil” to “yeah, she’s pretty definitely Evil.”

    Originally Posted by Malimar
    How does Unity unite the world under her rule?
    Building on Pex’s idea for Unity to present herself as a great heroine, I would suggest taking it one step further: run a colossal con.

    Rather than one Unity, give the world a number of Unities. That is to say, since not everyone has seen her in person, there’s no reason why a number of reasonable lookalikes (magical or otherwise) couldn’t spread out across the world, performing “miracles” and “heroic deeds” in abundance, and timed so that it seems she has access to near-divine magic already.

    Present her as a miracle-worker around the world, tailored for each culture, with every trick and gimmick she and her other selves can manage to fool as many people as possible. Stage something massive to highlight her “miraculous” ability to move through time and space as no other can, and then sell her as the heroine on the brink of the divine. Stage a day of global thanks and recognition to celebrate her "achievements" and "victory," culminating with a Song of Thanks which focuses everyone's words and thoughts on her at once...and see if that does the trick.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Malimar
    Okay, so there's this person -- details unknown other than she's not yet a god -- we'll call her Unity. Unity wants to a.) unite all the nations of the world under one banner -- hers -- as peacefully as possible and b.) do a holiday to have everybody in the world do an act of worship of her at once, on the (probably correct) theory that this will elevate her to godhood.

    Unity is perfectly willing to violate people's autonomy and engage in a little light conquest if necessary, so she's for sure not Good, but she'd prefer to get everybody behind her all legit-like, so she's probably not actually Evil.

    How does Unity unite the world under her rule?
    Global pandemic which she has the cure for. Everyone gets very sick and Unity has the treatment and organizes everyone to distribute it. The treatment must be periodically repeated so some organization is needed to schedule everything. Boom, infrastructure and motivation are in place.

    Or, no induction of a crisis, she simply has the means to alleviate a great deal of suffering. Arcane healing spells combined with advanced medical knowledge and practice that allow her organization to do a lot of healing.

    Manufacturing an external threat? A ball has appeared in the sky and is drawing closer? Unity has the means to address this and organizes everyone to make it possible to save the world. It could be an actual threat or simply a perceived threat.

    Bringing back the threat of a return of the innundation? Organizing everyone to be saved?

    Raising the threat of a war with those who live beneath the water? "They're coming to finish what the inundation didn't."

    Self-replicating golems?

    Unity clones with a shared consciousness working at separate plans around the world in order to gain power?
    Last edited by jjordan; 2020-09-09 at 08:38 AM.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    So far I'm mostly seeing "Ozymandias's giant interdimensional squid plan is totally workable". Pretty sure I can work with that.




    I has notion. It involves Mind Flayers of Thoon (3.5e Monster Manual V). The given story of the Mind Flayers of Thoon involves a nautilus-ship full of mind flayers that got stuck in the Far Realm, made contact with an entity or philosophy known as Thoon, returned to the Material Plane having been altered somehow, and started collecting "quintessence" from sapients and crafting weird constructs and generally being even weirder than the usual mind flayer. When interrogated, followers of Thoon can only explain, "Thoon is Thoon, and Thoon is all."

    In my setting, Thoon has a different name (to briefly throw players who have read MMV off the trail), but maybe this is the goal. And the Far Realm in my setting has a whole story to it that has yet to be thoroughly explored (it involves how planes being budged from their orbits is a whole Thing in this setting).

    Anyhow, the Mind Flayers of Thoon made some local allies that did not go through the Far Realm initiation. Specifically: the grell; Absterbossk, a wizened old blind mind flayer priest of the god of secrets and death; and his adopted ward Aeyssa, a nymph. (It works out well because grell and Absterbossk are blind anyway, so Aeyssa doesn't have to spend any effort keeping her blinding beauty suppressed.)

    I'm notioning: what if Aeyssa were to get into a polygamous marriage with the King of Gus and the Ice Maharajni of Mazerrajya? (Totally a thing permitted by the relevant state religions. Robust paternity testing is also a thing, because any society with both strict inheritance rules and polygamy needs that.)

    The question then becomes: how do you go from queen consort of two nations to being in charge of the world? Other than "murder the monarch regnant and engage in regency shenanigans".

    Side ponderclation: Aeyssa could join whatever party winds up actually finishing the dagnab Inundation overquest, and somehow parlay the fame and status from that into... more fame and status. Problem is I'm not huge on DMPCs, but maybe she's got enough support character usefulness to negate the usual irritation that comes with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    If nothing else, I’d say this shifts her from “not Good or Evil” to “yeah, she’s pretty definitely Evil.”
    [professor]Oh my, yes.[/professor]

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Originally Posted by Malimar
    I has notion. It involves Mind Flayers of Thoon….
    I love that section of MMV.

    So is Unity 2.0 still working towards divine ascension for herself, or is she now just a stooge for the Almighty Squidward?

    Originally Posted by Malimar
    So far I'm mostly seeing "Ozymandias's giant interdimensional squid plan is totally workable".
    …Where does Ozymandias come in?

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    I love that section of MMV.

    So is Unity 2.0 still working towards divine ascension for herself, or is she now just a stooge for the Almighty Squidward?
    Probably the latter.

    It might be something very specific, like "one 24-hour period when no sapient dies in war", or even "...dies at the hands of another sapient". A clause nobody expected ever to be triggered, naturally. (Though now it occurs to me that if I get that specific, I risk somebody suggesting somehow optimizing up to a worldwide 24-hour time stop to cut that Gordian Knot.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    …Where does Ozymandias come in?
    Spoiler: Watchmen
    Show
    Ozymandias, the antagonist of Watchmen, does a scheme to prevent the Cold War from turning hot by uniting the USA and the USSR in preparing for invasion by giant interdimensional squids. An "invasion" which is entirely his own invention.


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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    The biggest problem behind this plan is that worlds - at least Earth-sized ones - are big. Specifically they're too big for any single polity to control at a pre-industrial tech level (unless you go for magitech, but that's just industrial technology by other means). The largest land-based empire in history belonged to the Mongols but it both did not last very long before fragmenting and most of the territory it controlled had a very low population density, rendering it mostly as 'China plus a lot of empty wilderness.' The simple fact is that without high-tech and/or magical tools it simply isn't possible to send messages rapidly enough from one side of the planet to the other in order to maintain a united polity. To put it another way: if you aren't moving fast enough that time zones matter, you can't unite the world.

    You can make this plan much more manageable by reducing the requirements to 'unite 25% of the world of something similar.' At various points in time on Earth a united East Asia would have met that requirement and would be geographical condensed enough that you could actually squeeze everyone together underneath a single umbrella.

    I'd also note that, to make any sort of scheme along these lines you either want to get rid of the exotic non-humans or make them somehow not count to the total. There's really no way to 'unify' something like Modrons with any sort of human society, their very thought process won't allow it.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The simple fact is that without high-tech and/or magical tools it simply isn't possible to send messages rapidly enough from one side of the planet to the other in order to maintain a united polity. To put it another way: if you aren't moving fast enough that time zones matter, you can't unite the world.
    What you think you're saying:
    "X requires Y, I assume not Y, therefore not X"

    What I'm more interested in:
    "X requires Y, I want X, therefore Y"

    The setting's native system has a ton of options for instantaneous transfer of information and some for instant transfer of objects and/or creatures. If it didn't already, then you've told me what Unity would need to invent.

    Also Unity prefers to leave existing power structures in place where possible, just adding herself on top of all the hierarchies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    I'd also note that, to make any sort of scheme along these lines you either want to get rid of the exotic non-humans or make them somehow not count to the total. There's really no way to 'unify' something like Modrons with any sort of human society, their very thought process won't allow it.
    Yeah, deffo dropping anybody off the Material Plane from the arrangement.

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    So, just out of curiosity, can you clarify what Unity's new goals are?

    It seems she's working for the High Squid now, and if I understand you correctly she's no longer aiming for divine ascension herself. She's manipulating her way to overlordship of all the world's political structures--but then what? Does she get a Thoon cookie? Does she live out her lifespan as Queen of the World, and then expire in the service of Squiddiness? Or is there something more?

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    Default Re: Peacefully Uniting Everybody -- how do? (Thread 2.0)

    Let’s talk the basic mechanics of ruling the world - I apologize for the lack of specificity, but I have had it made clear to me that even the most innocuous use of historical example may be punished under forum rules.

    First you would need a mechanism of governance. A method wherein the parties involved have delineated privileges and responsibilities. This obviously looks very different if Unity has said “that’s it, next war that breaks out I nuke both sides into genocidal oblivion - that’s my only rule” as opposed to a system where her she has effectively built an absolutist world-state. There is of course a wide range between them, which is going to delineate different procedures, rights, and responsibilities to each party.

    Which brings us to the next point: are there supposed to be sub-entities beneath Unity with different degree of autonomy? What are they? What degree of internal administration and autonomy are they allowed? Do the constituencies they represent actually obey and listen? Arguably extracting some simple promises from the head of the elves who has already managed to establish dominance over all elven kind is going to look very different than imposing Juris Civilis Unity on twenty competing elven nation-fleets who don’t accept the idea of there being a “King of the Elves” to begin with.

    Once you have those two worked out to a degree that can be “realistically” (for a world that is decidedly fantastic) enforced, then it becomes a matter of getting there.

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