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Old 12-27-2018, 10:44 PM   #1
Madd Kossack 115
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

So, I've only recently joined this forum, and I have noticed some discussions about Centrum's government, especially on the Light-Dark scale. I was wondering if I should add this to one of those discussions, but most seem to be dead threads by at least a year, and I wasn't sure about the decorum of necromancing dead threads, so I'm using this new thread to raise this idea.

To start with the stated facts, Centrum is a USSR analogue to Infinity's USA (at least in terms of Alternate power balance, complete with Reich-5 being an "enemy of my enemy" unifier between Infinity-Centrum), and overall appreciates order and stability over total freedom. There's also the concepts of "Centrum Light" and "Centrum Dark", which the Infinite Worlds rulebook helpfully gives examples of, saying Centrum Dark is to "an atheist, Communist technocracy full of gulags for recalcitrant Arabic-speakers", while Centrum Light play up their anti-bigotry and pro-environmentalism attributes and replace the Forum with a democratic Parliament (although there's leeway for variant democracies, such as having Centrum citizen's having an equal number of votes to their Citizenship Grade, and only those of Grade 7 eligible for election).

Centrum's "canon" portayal, which I will call "Centrum Neutral", is somewhere in-between, leaning on the Dark Aspects (albeit in a Blue-And-Orange Morality sense) in order to foster conflict with Infinity. To borrow a description from the Infinite Worlds book, the leaders of Centrum are "-not especially corrupt, (but) are faintly paranoid, often narrow-minded, and definitely ruthless. (Or, in their eyes: concerned with defense, impatient with archaic or senseless practices, and pragmatic in their determination to accomplish their goals.)"

After getting these facts out of the way, I'll share my ideas for Centrum's variants, starting with where I'm getting the ideas from: Stellaris and Hearts of Iron IV.

The overall idea I had is that, while Centrum will start out Neutral instead of Light or Dark, it can eventually become Light or Dark either by the GM's decision (i.e. Centrum has had a military coup that pushed it into Dark, and the players have to take down the leaders who organized the coup), or by the players (for example, a battle over leadership in Centrum's politics allows an Infinity or even Centrum PC group to change Centrum's government, preferably towards the Light).

First, I think the summary between Centrum Light, Neutral and Dark can be explained with Stellaris' Government System, namely the Authorities. Leaving out the DLC and Imperial Authorities, the three variants between the three Centrums can be classified between the Democratic, Oligarchic and Dictatorial Authorities, namely that Centrum Light is Democratic due to more direct participation from citizens in the government, Centrum Neutral is Oligarchic in that the Forum has Grade 7 Coordinators holds supreme power, but allows social mobility due to the Citizenship Grade system, and Centrum Dark goes full Dictatorial, with some Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot/Kim Dynasty stand-in as the one who effectively calls the shots, and who often structures their policies based on cementing their own personal power at the expense of the people they're supposedly protecting.

As for Hearts of Iron IV, this is going to take slightly more explanation, in that I'm using Fan Mods as a jumping-off point. I'm not sure how many people on this site have heard of Kaiserreich, but the TL;DR version is that an Alt-History version of WWI results in the Central Powers ultimately beating the Entente. This results in a flip of circumstances, in that Germany helps put down the Bolshevik Revolution, but a SYNDICALIST Revolution overthrow the governments of France, Britain, and a part of Italy.

However, this isn't the mod I intend to use, as Syndicalism seems to be closer to Centrum Light than a "middle ground" between Revolutionary Socialism (which runs the gamut between Democratic Socialism to Bakunin/Kropotkin-style capital-A Anarchism) and Totalism (which technically holds "traditional" communist governments, but mostly features what can only be described as unironic Commie-Nazis, in that the prominent leaders are OTL fascists like Oswald Mosley, Benito Mussolini, and the anti-Semitic Sorelians in France).

Rather, it's the setup for Fuhrerreich, a Mod that's set as an alternate history TO Kaiserreich's alternate history (to borrow the most classic example, Kaiserreich is "The Man In The High Castle", while Fuhrerreich is "The Grasshopper Lies Heavy"). More specifically, I'm borrowing the affairs of Fuhrerreich's alt-Soviet Union as the basis for variations of the three Centrums.

While Centrum itself is move developed than the FR!Soviets, I feel the power struggle of FR!Stalin can be easily applied to Centrum so that it can change based on the GM's/PC's decisions. The setup of Lenin's death can be replaced by the retirement or death (possibly even assassination!) of one of the Forum's most prominent leaders (assuming there isn't an equivalent to Premier or Chairman, consider this figure the "first among equals" that kept the rivaling heads of the Forum united in purpose). While Centrum likely isn't facing the organization problems of the FR!Soviet Union, the appearance of various competing Alternate-spanning powers (such as Reich-5, the Cabal, and most of all Homeline) might result in heated debates of whether or not Centrum's government needs to change to face the larger threats, and even exposure to some of the Alternates may start causing the lower-graded Citizens to form protests and agitation to allow for better representation in the government (which puts more pressure on the Forum).

The overall details of how the Soviet Union's leaders shake out can be found in the first Fuhrerreich link (and if you want to change the new Centrum leaders and their personal ideologies, be my guest), but I will break down the Soviet leaders and whether they can be classified under Centrum Light, Centrum Neutral, or Centrum Dark:

Centrum Dark:
Molotov: Molotov fills the role of OTL Stalin (in case you're wondering where he is, he's a "Vanguardist" Leader out in his native country of Georgia), in that he organizes a lot of purges, and establishes a Cult of Personality.

Yezhov: Yezhov is basically OTL!Stalin/FR!Molotov on steroids, possibly surpassing Pol Pot levels of mass murder and authoritarian control.

Centrum Neutral:
Tukhachevsky: Although Tukhachevsky's rise to power via military coup is pretty Dark, he does temper this with Light reforms as promised to his supporters in the trade unions, although this can be easily seen as pragmatism than any real altruism.

Kirov: While more closer to Centrum Light than Centrum Dark, Kirov goes out of his way to maintain the status quo of Lenin (and presumably Centrum Neutral's previous leader), with his Light reforms of workplace democracy and worker education tempered by Dark controls, such as strengthening the equivalent to the secret police, and a ban on factionalism.

Centrum Light:
Bukharin: Bukharin is the most liberal of the "Troika" candidates, in that he allows for party democratization, bureaucratic decreases and greater personal freedoms.

Shliapnikov: As I stated earlier, Syndicalism fits squarely under Centrum Light, and Shliapnikov especially embodies this by using the "Workerization" of the Soviet Union as a borderline Direct Democracy, while promoting total equality between men and women. While Centrum likely already has equality between men and women, and all races born on Centrum, I think a good substitution can be equality between Centrum natives and Outtimers, as one of the major flaws of Centrum (and to a lesser extent Infinity/Homeline) is them viewing Outtimers as "lesser beings", at best not actively harming them out of pragmatism, at worst openly exploiting them the way European colonists exploited non-European natives and slaves, and since the Interworld Service is known to rectruit Outtimers in addition to Centrum natives, the influx of these Outtimers can give Centrum!Shliapnikov a goal of equality to strive for.

Wild Cards:
Trotsky: Trotsky is somewhere between Centrum Neutral, Centrum Dark, and even Centrum Light (albeit in the sense his striving towards Internationalism make him an "Ends Justify The Means" guy, and he's not seeking to establish himself as a dictatorial ruler like Molotov or Yezhov)

Voroshilov: Voroshilov doesn't seem to have any ideology besides ensuring the Soviet Union's military is the absolute strongest it can be, and while such militarization leans heavily on the Dark, the military is ultimately a tool, and can simply be a means to defend Centrum Neutral from the threats of other militaristic powers like Reich-5, or potentially even safeguard a Centrum Light (albeit one comparable to an Eagleland "We're gonna liberate the HELL out of you!" America - take that as you will).

My first draft actually maxed out the character limit, so let me know what you think of this!
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Old 12-28-2018, 05:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madd Kossack 115 View Post
I was wondering if I should add this to one of those discussions, but most seem to be dead threads by at least a year, and I wasn't sure about the decorum of necromancing dead threads, so I'm using this new thread to raise this idea.
You did the right thing. Returning to old threads is generally OK, if you're adding something to the specific ideas discussed in the thread, but you're introducing some new ones here.
Quote:
I will break down the Soviet leaders and whether they can be classified under Centrum Light, Centrum Neutral, or Centrum Dark
The thing that confuses me here is the mixture of high and low historical inertia you're using. Centrum branched from Homeline history in the year 1120 (low-inertia), but you have some of the same people as ran the historical USSR being born centuries later (high-inertia). Also, they seem to have been born quite a few decades later, if they're powerful in the 2020s, rather than the 1920s through 1950s.
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:32 AM   #3
Madd Kossack 115
 
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The thing that confuses me here is the mixture of high and low historical inertia you're using. Centrum branched from Homeline history in the year 1120 (low-inertia), but you have some of the same people as ran the historical USSR being born centuries later (high-inertia). Also, they seem to have been born quite a few decades later, if they're powerful in the 2020s, rather than the 1920s through 1950s.
Ok, I meant to use the Soviet leaders more as rough guidelines for various Centrum variations, not that those leaders are literally part of 2020-era Centrum (it was just too much work to rename all of them, especially since my first draft of the post already maxed out the character limit without them).

Hence why I said "if you want to change the new Centrum leaders and their personal ideologies, be my guest"

For example, even though it's obvious that none of these named characters would be part of 2020s Centrum, I feel that their various models of government (from Shliapnikov's pro-equality syndicalism, to Kirov's status quo of Lenin's Soviet Union, to Molotov's Cult of Personality and Yezhov's "enough mass murders to make Pol Pot look like Mahatma Gandhi") would good outlines for variations of Centrum Light, Neutral and Dark as the case may be.

Again, I personally couldn't think of "Centrum names" (I think the rule is that they're multi-cultural enough that names ranging from European to Asian to Islamic could match, based on the Infinite Worlds book starting Centrum's chapter with a conversation between an officer Goldstein and a Mohammad Chang) to paste over all of FRs Soviet leaders (which I suppose can be left up to the GMs to figure out), but I might be able to draft some ideas later on today (need to take care of a few personal things first).
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:51 AM   #4
Madd Kossack 115
 
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

Well, this certainly took longer than I expected. Between getting back to work, and having my ideas clouded by other things, it took a while to come back to this.

I've been spending most of this Saturday night wracking my head for replacement names for the Soviet characters (to the point I'm up to 3:00 AM the Sunday after still working this out!!!), and I still haven't come up with full names for all of them. Most of them have so far included either variants of (or puns related to) the names of the Soviet figures I'm designing the characters on, and I am trying to account for Centrum's total racial and gender equality by throwing in some female names among the leaders (I'll note them since I think the names they use aren't as familiar to those in the Anglosphere).

I'll list the ones I've come up with so far below (missing last names will be have "XXX" Placeholders). If anybody can help me come up with Centrum-style names for the remaining Soviet characters I'm using, that would be great:

Molotov = Petronel “The Pounder” XXX (Female)

Trotsky = David Bronstein

Tukachevsky = Cornelius XXX

Yezhov = Sef XXX

Voroshilov = Clement Chatham

Kirov = Volante Kostroski (Female)

Shilapnikov = Alexis XXX (Female)

The only character I haven't come up with a "Centrum name" (either First or Last) for is Bukharin, so if anybody has suggestions for him (and the last names for the other characters), I'd once again appreciate your input!
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

Bukharin? Walker or Daniels of course.
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Old 02-17-2019, 07:35 AM   #6
Madd Kossack 115
 
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Bukharin? Walker or Daniels of course.
Ok, I tried looking up Walker and Daniels in relation to Bukharin, and the closest I could get was that they were some authors who wrote about Bukharin and his relation to the Soviet Union. Am I on the right track, or is this a reference to something else?
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

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Originally Posted by Madd Kossack 115 View Post
Ok, I tried looking up Walker and Daniels in relation to Bukharin, and the closest I could get was that they were some authors who wrote about Bukharin and his relation to the Soviet Union. Am I on the right track, or is this a reference to something else?
No, I mean Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels of course. You said you're looking for names that are pun-like in relation to the original names of Soviet major persons.
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Old 02-17-2019, 11:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

I always felt that the default presented in the books was "Centrum Dark". The sidebar presentations of Centrum Light were contrasting against this dark default; there is no "neutral" presentation.

It also feel weird for me that flipping Centrum from dark to light (or vice versa) might be a campaign goal or a mission blowback. It seemed fairly clear to me that if the PCs are Infinity, then Centrum should be dark, and if the PCs are of Centrum, then it should be light. That is, the PCs should always be on the side of the "good guys" (unless of course you are aiming for an "evil PCs" campaign). The only thing that should "flip the switch" as it were would be the introduction of a third faction, where the campaign metaplot is that Centrum and Infinity will ally against their common foe.

A subtle corollary of all this is that Centrum is both dark and light at the same time. Which it is at any given moment really depends on which aspects of the society the GM chooses to expose to the PCs.
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

Might I suggest CentrumAlien. Centrum has evolved in a very different cultural world. Sometimes Centrum would seem evil and other times honorable and noble but in the end, they aren't all that easy to define. Centrum had a radically different history and assumptions. We see actions in the context of our experiences. We interpret actions as good or bad by our expectations. We know that surgeons will amputate a limb to save a life. But if we only knew that someone had cut off a man's arm but had absolutely no idea why what would we say then?

Similarly, actions we have reason to see as helpful and useful might seem insane and brutal to Centrum. I met a woman once who saw Oxfam as evil because they bought grain in famine stricken nations. I explained that simply sending grain ruined those farmers that had grain crops and made less food available in the long run. Oxfam bought the local grain to promote fewer famines in the long run. She thought they could have done that in a less sorted way. Centrum conically sees Homeline as likely to be insane. Predicting the behavior of someone who is certain you are dangerously insane.

Centrum, because they think Homeline is insane, acts in a way that seems insane to Homeline.
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Old 02-17-2019, 01:32 PM   #10
Madd Kossack 115
 
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Default Re: Centrum Light/Dark Ideas

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Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
I always felt that the default presented in the books was "Centrum Dark". The sidebar presentations of Centrum Light were contrasting against this dark default; there is no "neutral" presentation.
Well, I don't know if that's how it is when Centrum was originally presented in Alternate Earths, but in Infinite Worlds, it emphasizes how Centrum isn't necessarily evil, it just has something akin to the Blue And Orange Morality trope, and basing it largely as a Freudian Excuse of having had to to crawl kicking and screaming from the fallout of a full-on nuclear holocaust. I think some people have mentioned that AE!Centrum was presented as more openly villainous due to being a Soviet Union stand-in, and thus the psychological "Enemy!" in the minds of mostly American or otherwise non-Soviet players, but the ongoing detente between the USA and USSR led to softening the image of Centrum as well. While the sidebar does frame Centrum as easier to "villainize", the descriptions beforehand also describe the many ways that Centrum society helps its own citizens, such as an end to all discrimination, pro-environmentalist, etc., etc. To me, the "Centrum Dark" isn't "This is how Centrum always is.", but more "This is how Centrum would be if it threw what benefits it had under a bus."

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Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
It also feel weird for me that flipping Centrum from dark to light (or vice versa) might be a campaign goal or a mission blowback. It seemed fairly clear to me that if the PCs are Infinity, then Centrum should be dark, and if the PCs are of Centrum, then it should be light. That is, the PCs should always be on the side of the "good guys" (unless of course you are aiming for an "evil PCs" campaign).
Well, that may be your personal taste, and I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but there have been plenty of people on this site who have discussed the possibility of Infinity and Centrum learning to get along ever since Infinite Worlds heavily implied it's a thing they could do. And I just wanted to throw my own two cents in, and since I've recently became a bit addicted to the alternate timeline possibilities of the HOI4 Mod scene (Kaiserreich, Fuhrerreich, The New Order, Red World, etc., etc.), and how said alternate timeline's have further splinters based on election results, coup attempts, revolutionary uprisings and more, I was trying to frame this not in a "is Centrum the bad guy or good guy because the GM says they are?", but in a "how can the Players help to shift Centrum's political structure, and how can this be framed as a Tabletop RPG adventure?"

(Oh, and sidenote, the Infinite Worlds book does explain that it's possible for PCs to be part of a "Infinite Dark" or "Centrum Dark", and that the PCs slowly realize that their initial beliefs in their employer's goodness give way to the reality of the "corruption, exploitation, and downright evil" of their organization's upper management, as well as ways they may react to it - to directly quote the book: "Do the Patrolmen defect to another, possibly equally dangerous, side in the struggle? Do they join an underground, working to subvert Infinity and destroy it? Or do they rise in Infinity’s ranks, helping where they can and taking out the worst elements when they won’t get caught, hoping to restore the dream of infinite possibilities that they swore to protect?" And to flip the terms with Centrum-centric versions for a "good Centrum PCs realizing they're actually in Centrum Dark, or run on the ugly side of Centrum Neutral", and not much really changes)

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Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
The only thing that should "flip the switch" as it were would be the introduction of a third faction, where the campaign metaplot is that Centrum and Infinity will ally against their common foe.
(Gestures emphatically in Reich-5's direction) Raven Division?! Time-Jumping Nazis hellbent on Infinite Lebensraum?! THAT'S KIND OF THE THIRD FACTION THAT INFINITE WORLDS IS BUILDING UP AS A THREAT TO BOTH INFINITY AND CENTRUM!!!

Ok, jokes aside, the introduction of Raven Division (and later The Cabal) as other Parachronic-wielding contestants in the Infinite Worlds (along with some smaller organizations in some spin-off Worlds, such as the EZNW of the "Worlds of Horror" supplement - think a mashup of Terminator's "Skynet" with Metropolis' "Maschinenmensch" with potential parachronic access via the resident Phlebotnium of "Od")

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Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
A subtle corollary of all this is that Centrum is both dark and light at the same time. Which it is at any given moment really depends on which aspects of the society the GM chooses to expose to the PCs.
...And hence why I said it's "Centrum Neutral" when Centrum has good AND bad elements at play, where they have virtues that Players from Infinity might find commendable, and motivations for their other actions, but framing those actions as a course of debate, i.e. whether or not Centrum has a point on enlightening Alternate worlds rather than just let them "play out" even towards disaster, whether they have the right idea but have methods that don't actually help achieve that goal, or if even well-intentioned aid of other Alternates amounts to transdimensional imperialism that traps the locals under an iron fist, whether or not it's coated with a velvet glove.

Centrum Dark, meanwhile, throws those saving graces out the window as a full-on villain that's Reich-5 levels of flagrantly, blatantly, "not even trying to justify your interventions on Alternates as 'humanitarian aid', but because you're landgrabbing bastards with larger weapons" evil, and Centrum Light goes on to emphasize its more egalitarian and uplifting traits, even if it means learning to relax its originally rigid sense of order.

Ok, this is getting a bit long-winded, and I don't want to max out the character limit, so I'll leave this here, and hope it explains why I'm going through all of this trouble to present these potential ideas for open-minded GMs, rather than follow a rigid "default Centrum IS Centrum Dark" line that, to be honest, Infinite Worlds doesn't seem to back up itself.
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