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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    One of my players decided to try to introduce marxism into my world. However: his character is illiterate, and the only scribe type character to which he had access was a gnoll who was inventing a writing system as she went along. Additionally he has only a very broken understanding of gnoll language, is pretty much incapable of getting word order right, and said language is not really able to describe things like 'the means of production', without some pretty clunky construction that he has inevitably got wrong. Thus I find myself wanting for a political ideology of ideally bizarre design to enflame the gnoll populace and recurr several levels later as a source of dramatic tension.

    A note on gnolls in my world: gnolls in my world are not inherently evil as in 5e. Depending on latitude, they come in the forms of mysterious viking style raiders, mongolian style nomads, or slavers and bandits (and various shades in between and outside), and only from remote parts of the world do tales of them as bestial semi-demonic warriors hail. The particular gnoll that the players have met is an exception among gnolls for being more scholarly than most, and attempting to create methods to record her peoples ancient stories.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Well how realistic do you want the social systems in your setting? Real politics is really just about ways to maintain power in a select group of individuals. As such a lot of weird fantasy political systems can get really weird and don't actually make sense, when the political systems don't have really any baring on who keeps power.

    Anyway gnolls are hyena-people so perhaps draw some inspiration from hyena social systems?

    Matriarchal matrilineal based on family dynasties that favor the youngest offspring over older. There is usually a core group of families based around these mothers that make all the rules and aggressively dominate those from other families within the same clan. This system works fairly well for warrior societies like the vikings and mongols you list as part of their inspiration for the gnolls.

    The dominant female of any territory is the one that can get other powerful females into their network of alliances. This network is valued much more than actual strength or any other indicator of power. So the political system becomes one of gift giving and invitation to important functions (in real life meat and protection but for our gnoll-people we can make it anything, from religion to a useful resource to going on raids).

    This allows for different families to try and gain political power by demonstration of their superiority to other families by inviting females to their events/functions. Those who throw the biggest hunts or raids or whatever are defacto considered the leader within a group of families in the clans. So how would the families get others to join them in these events? Well one, they offer the best riches for those who follow them, signs of generosity and gifts and whatnot. Two, they may just be the most charismatic, probably in an aggressive way. "Join my raid on the humans over there or I will no longer consider your family a friend. And if we are not friends we are enemies" kinda situation. And of course women who create some sort of advancement that may steal families away from other families using the more usual methods of attracting allies.

    In this system men have their own political games. Usually by trying to make themselves impressive to become part of a more powerful matrilineal family. They gain power by latching on to women in power and getting the best mate. Proving they can be effective hunters and providers for the law-making females. But in this system they can also be fairly underhanded as they try to find a family to attach themselves on to.

    While the overarching leaders of a clan can occasionally bring the power of all the families in their network, on a day to day level they cannot handle that many people directly under them. So positions as mates to powerful female families are restricted. So the males can perform their own murders, underhanded tactics, or whatever to try and bring themselves into a position of dominance.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    So I would love to begin with realistic political systems, but this particular thing represents a change from the norm that strikes the gnolls with revolutionary zeal. Yes, prior to this they had a variety of probably more sensical systems, but now they I imagine them taking up something truly weird, or at least something so extreme that if implemented it would fail. If nothing else because 'the gnolls have taken up a working system of internal politics' is unlikely to cause any interesting conflict for the party, at least in and of itself.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    One option would be for them to take the issue of wealth disparity between the owners of capital and the workers and misunderstand it as one of wealth itself being the cause of problems.

    So where the intended idea from the player is probably that peasants and lords should both have a similarly decent quality of life, the gnolls take it in an angle of militant ascetism and decide that everyone should have the quality of life the poorest person they can reference has, enforced by violence. So their goal is less 'sieze the means of production' and more 'destroy the means of production.'
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    One option would be for them to take the issue of wealth disparity between the owners of capital and the workers and misunderstand it as one of wealth itself being the cause of problems.

    So where the intended idea from the player is probably that peasants and lords should both have a similarly decent quality of life, the gnolls take it in an angle of militant ascetism and decide that everyone should have the quality of life the poorest person they can reference has, enforced by violence. So their goal is less 'sieze the means of production' and more 'destroy the means of production.'
    I really like that idea. It feels to me both a not unreasonable misinterpretation, and also like it could be a truly terrifying foe to face.
    Thanks.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Nomadic hunter-gatherers can only keep as much capital as they can carry, unless they bring herds of pack animals. Societies that can accrue capital (landed agrarian civilizations) pose a threat to their territory, so it's rather practical for gnoll tribes to destroy the farms, mills, mines, smithies and so forth that comprise the means of production.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    What class is the character?

    Because I'm thinking that maybe this person has actually thought it out fully, and so in addition to the political ideology they also describe the fantastical high-level magic that would be necessary to make it actually work. But then the written work gets some tenses backward or something so that it looks like the politics is supposed to enable the magical effects rather than vice-versa
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by notXanathar View Post
    So I would love to begin with realistic political systems, but this particular thing represents a change from the norm that strikes the gnolls with revolutionary zeal. Yes, prior to this they had a variety of probably more sensical systems, but now they I imagine them taking up something truly weird, or at least something so extreme that if implemented it would fail. If nothing else because 'the gnolls have taken up a working system of internal politics' is unlikely to cause any interesting conflict for the party, at least in and of itself.
    When you say 'the gnolls', surely you don't mean every gnoll population in the world at once? As you mentioned in your OP there are several, culturally distinct groups of gnoll in different parts of the world, though I'm not sure how much they share or how much communication there is between them.

    A revolutionary movement like this would take months to take hold in the local gnoll population, and even longer to actually spread out. Perhaps you could have your players run into this situation after some time — they come to find these ideals of gnoll-communism spreading, possibly causing conflict not only for the local realm of choice, but among the gnoll populations. Your players could have the chance to help stop this movement or encourage it, leading to an eventual gnoll revolution or unification and state in case of the latter. But I'm getting carried away — point is, it really depends on how gnoll society is currently structured, how different communities interact among themselves and with the rest of the world.

    In any case, a unified gnoll USSR gaining access to some ancient magic of immense power and starting a cold war with the human/elven/etc realms sounds like a fun, if not entirely serious, premise for a campaign.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by notXanathar View Post
    One of my players decided to try to introduce marxism into my world. However: his character is illiterate, and the only scribe type character to which he had access was a gnoll who was inventing a writing system as she went along. Additionally he has only a very broken understanding of gnoll language, is pretty much incapable of getting word order right, and said language is not really able to describe things like 'the means of production', without some pretty clunky construction that he has inevitably got wrong. Thus I find myself wanting for a political ideology of ideally bizarre design to enflame the gnoll populace and recurr several levels later as a source of dramatic tension.

    A note on gnolls in my world: gnolls in my world are not inherently evil as in 5e. Depending on latitude, they come in the forms of mysterious viking style raiders, mongolian style nomads, or slavers and bandits (and various shades in between and outside), and only from remote parts of the world do tales of them as bestial semi-demonic warriors hail. The particular gnoll that the players have met is an exception among gnolls for being more scholarly than most, and attempting to create methods to record her peoples ancient stories.
    What specifically makes this appealing to Gnolls? How does it integrate with each of their culture types? Why are all of the Gnolls organized in small as opposed to large hierarchies?
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by notXanathar View Post
    A note on gnolls in my world: gnolls in my world are not inherently evil as in 5e. Depending on latitude, they come in the forms of mysterious viking style raiders, mongolian style nomads, or slavers and bandits (and various shades in between and outside), and only from remote parts of the world do tales of them as bestial semi-demonic warriors hail. The particular gnoll that the players have met is an exception among gnolls for being more scholarly than most, and attempting to create methods to record her peoples ancient stories.
    So, at best your gnolls are semi-honourable raiders and maybe farmers? Because if they're at best agrarian farmers you have three basic options: 1) communal farmers (what Marx supported) or 2) landed gentry (Marx doesn't directly address this as such) or 3) private ownership of the production and supplies but not the labour (the heart of what you're talking about).

    The thing to keep in mind is that this particular brand of economic philosophy really only works in semi-industrial settings where the people that do the labour vastly out number the people that own the capital to put that labour to work. If everybody is a subsistence farmer, even if they own their own farms, then nobody is in a position to really need or want to revolt against anything since there is nobody to revolt against.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    In my world, gnolls are descended from pack animals, and are still somewhat bestial. Any successful group of gnolls is closer to a pack than a tribe. They will accept a leader who can hold onto power and keep them well-fed and active.

    They wouldn't care if that leader talked about Marxism, free enterprise, monarchy, or solipsism, as long as the pack hunted well.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by notXanathar View Post
    One of my players decided to try to introduce marxism into my world. However: his character is illiterate, and the only scribe type character to which he had access was a gnoll who was inventing a writing system as she went along. Additionally he has only a very broken understanding of gnoll language, is pretty much incapable of getting word order right, and said language is not really able to describe things like 'the means of production', without some pretty clunky construction that he has inevitably got wrong. Thus I find myself wanting for a political ideology of ideally bizarre design to enflame the gnoll populace and recurr several levels later as a source of dramatic tension.
    What level of seriousnes this campaign runs at? From you description you have an illiterate person that has for some inexplicable reason only access to a gnoll writer with a language barrier who wants to, for further inexplicable reasons, introduce a complex social-economical and political system to "the world". So my guess is "not serious at all".

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    I don't want to be a killjoy, but Marxism is born first and foremost as a critique/antithesis of capitalism, and then evolved from there into communism.

    So it seems like in a feudal or tribal society, Marxism itself would be different by virtue of being constructed as a critique of a diferent regime. Marx himself would probably agree that free market capitalism is a forward revolution from the starting point of feudalism, so that's a headache for you right there.


    Having said that, if I wanted to construe a misread marxism as an applicable ideology for a group in D&D, I guess there's some paths you can take:

    1 - The Weinersmith: The schmarxists believe that for too long the ruling class has controlled the means of destruction. Their creed asks of them to seek out weapons, large and small but the more powerful the better, and distribute them amongst the have nots of the world, to level the playing field. Sure, you can raid this dungeon with your +3 sword, but ccould you do it with your FISTS? While the +3 sword is the possesion of the orcs that inhabit it???


    2 - The Burlew: Basically Redcloak without the God to back them up. This farxists believe the humans, elves and dwarves have taken the best productive lands in the realm, and have left the other races out. This group is now intent on conquering land, any land, that is something a little more productive than a desert, to prove that given equal means of production, they can be just as productive.

    3 - The Evil Bakunins: Why is it that us gnolls, kobolds, and such, always end up serving some BBEG, notice the "guy" and not "gnoll", for his nefarious plans? Why can't we have our own nefarious plans for the world and bring them to fruition? This bolonarchists don't want hierarchies or classes within their ranks. Every nefarious evil plan must be approved by an assembly of every single gnoll in the tribe, where everyone gets their say. Should we ransom these guys we captured or eat them alive? Ask the assembly. Should our banners be red on black or black on red? Ask the assembly.
    Nothing to see here, move along.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xapi View Post
    Having said that, if I wanted to construe a misread marxism as an applicable ideology for a group in D&D, I guess there's some paths you can take:

    1 - The Weinersmith: The schmarxists believe that for too long the ruling class has controlled the means of destruction. Their creed asks of them to seek out weapons, large and small but the more powerful the better, and distribute them amongst the have nots of the world, to level the playing field. Sure, you can raid this dungeon with your +3 sword, but ccould you do it with your FISTS? While the +3 sword is the possesion of the orcs that inhabit it???


    2 - The Burlew: Basically Redcloak without the God to back them up. This farxists believe the humans, elves and dwarves have taken the best productive lands in the realm, and have left the other races out. This group is now intent on conquering land, any land, that is something a little more productive than a desert, to prove that given equal means of production, they can be just as productive.

    3 - The Evil Bakunins: Why is it that us gnolls, kobolds, and such, always end up serving some BBEG, notice the "guy" and not "gnoll", for his nefarious plans? Why can't we have our own nefarious plans for the world and bring them to fruition? This bolonarchists don't want hierarchies or classes within their ranks. Every nefarious evil plan must be approved by an assembly of every single gnoll in the tribe, where everyone gets their say. Should we ransom these guys we captured or eat them alive? Ask the assembly. Should our banners be red on black or black on red? Ask the assembly.
    I REALLY like these.

    Also, #3 can be easily done for a non-villainous society too, in which case it would basically be a version of the "autonomous collective" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Have them be capitalists.

    Someone went and explained to them the inequities of the capitalistic mode of production and how it represents the next step from feudalism, and they thought, "Well, if everyone else is feudal, why don't we jump the gun and end up as the bourgeoisie in control of everything?"

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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Marxism may be modern, but concepts of communal ownership and classless societies date back to antiquity.

    Though, if you want a philosophy that has some Marxist elements to it but is less focused on economics, how about Epicureanism? A philosophy where one strives to avoid all unnecessary mental and physical hardships by living a life of moderated desires and peaceful cooperation. Espousing the disillusion of the family unit for more of a cooperative of like-minded friends, that social status is a product of culture and society and not inherent to one's nature, that everyone and everything is composed of the same tiny matter, and that the gods themselves are more ideal concepts than may technically exists but aren't acting in the world -- with natural phenomenon like storms having natural explanations.

    It'd be something of a departure from canon Gnolls.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    I’m not going to mention any specific ideologies because I want to avoid breaking the forum rules. However what I feel comfortable discussing is the nature of beliefs that real life experience shows us to be more likely to lead to fanatical followers.

    1) There is ‘The Book’ written by “The enlightened one”.

    2) Because ‘The Book” is right and correct anyone who doesn’t follow the teachings are either uneducated/uneducatable or evil.

    3) Because you are fighting against evil any act is justifiable ‘for the greater good’. “The greater good” can be defined as for the good of your group or the good of the world. If it is for the good of your group, your group will often be described being unfairly downtrodden and repressed, so you're fighting against historical injustice and claiming what is rightfully yours. If it is for the good of the world “everyone will die” or some variation thereof will happen if the world does not submit to your will.

    4) Followers are required to make sacrifices. The shared hardship creates a sense of unity. For some reason the leaders almost always have a special dispensation that spares the leadership group from actually having to make sacrifices.

    5) Followers are required to signal their virtue. This can be dress code, speech code, dietary code or a combination of codes. The purpose of virtue signalling is not to do good but to reassure the group that they are following the teachings.

    6) the most dangerous enemies are not your avowed foes, because you are united against them. The most dangerous foes are heretics and independent thinkers because they can cause your followers to fall into doubt. Therefore a system of informers and secret police is used to keep the faithful from straying.

    7) Because “the book” is true and right no study/inquiry is allowed into whether the assumptions of “the book” are valid. Believers will refuse to accept evidence that “the book” is wrong. They will find some way to discount that evidence as being incorrect. A common one is “that isn’t true [xyz]ism”.

    This sin’t an exclusive or exhaustive list. Just the most common elements.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    GrayDeath's Avatar

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    Default Re: Political ideologies for Gnolls.

    Obviously, they are all very DOG EAT DOG ist......



















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