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Old 06-14-2012, 06:38 PM   #21
Sindri
 
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex View Post
Similar to TBC's idea, one system I've used before is that the monarch (in this case, the title used was 'Regent') keeps the name of his designated successor in a safe in the royal bedroom. When he dies, the Chancellor opens the safe - with many, many witnesses - and reveals the name.

The Regent is free to change his mind and prepare a new document naming a different successor at any time. He's free to privately or publicly reveal who it is. He's even free to lie.

Another system I've used is slightly more malign. The duchy was a traditional "oldest living son" with some fairly complicated rules if there is no legitimate heir. However, there was an entirely seperate priest class (the priesthood of the earthquake god, who is attributed with having made the natural harbor the duchy depends on) who, once a generation on the old Duke's death, would choose one member of the ducal family - including the heir apparent - to be buried alive. So they're empowered to weed out obviously unfit candidates and "trim" the family tree from time to time. Assassinate the popular old duke hoping to take his place? Better be paid up with the right people or they'll be digging a hole for you before you can move in to the ducal palace.
Interesting. Better hope that the first two eldest sons aren't obviously unfit though.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
what that will cause is a series of very covert assassinations, bargaining, deception, rigging of the deck, and so forth. You will need to have some sort of way of guaranteeing the record can't be easily changed, read, or destroyed. Such a matter would naturally fall into the hands of the local priests. This would give the Priests a HUGE amount of power, but it would take time to build. The priests may be able to keep honest if percautions are made (such as sealing the record in a slab of concrete or something similar, but someone has to make the record, and will remember (unless you kill all of the scribes soon after marking the tattoos, and thats a bad idea). You can also try spreading the information out, but sufficient planning and plotting will get around that.

of course, if you want a game based on intrigue....
Well it could fall into the hands of the priests and indeed that's probably most likely given usual levels of priestly power but other groups could gain the power. Also the priests who select the next ruler may not be hierarchically related to the priests who are otherwise most influential.

And yeah intrigue is a Good Thing.

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
So you imprison all the military leaders? People who decide that they don't like the current succession and wish to impose their own are often totally unrelated to the existing succession.
Of course not. A coup that leads to a different succession is different than implementing a different system of succession and a military leader who isn't a claimant isn't a claimant.

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Usually restructuring the succession isn't the way of doing this. Probably the most reliable method is having children relatively late, then going into retirement or semi-retirement once the heir is an adult.
Nonetheless assassination is one of the problems the Kafes system helps prevent.

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Originally Posted by Arvernian View Post
How's this then:

Assuming a level of technology suitable to the average cyberpunk game (TL 9ish in GURPS terms?) every heir to the throne is hooked up at birth to an incredibly complex VR computer simulation sort of like the Matrix. Each is put in a position as sole ruler of an empire within the simulation, and each of the empires has an historical rivalry with the others. Basically the heirs to the throne are tested by competing with each other in the ultimate war game while living a "real" life within a completely controlled environment.

If you want more of a medieval feel you could always use magic instead of tech.
The interesting question is whether you tell them it's a fake world beforehand. You could also ditch the wargames aspect and have each heir live in a (Obviously imperfect and diverging.) copy of the real realm.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:51 PM   #22
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

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The interesting question is whether you tell them it's a fake world beforehand. You could also ditch the wargames aspect and have each heir live in a
(Obviously imperfect and diverging.) copy of the real realm.
I wouldn't tell them. Let them think the stakes are real (which if they would be if they can die in the virtual world).
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:51 PM   #23
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

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Originally Posted by Sindri View Post
Interesting. Better hope that the first two eldest sons aren't obviously unfit though.
It's not a perfect system. OTOH, given the history of intrigue and double dealing in the Duchy of Tracino, it's not entirely out of the question for the priesthood to nudge a qualified younger son to knock off one of his elder brothers with the promise that he won't get buried for it.

While you're at it, if you've got two bad brothers, you tell both to knock off each other. The one that survives either reforms his ways or gets what's coming to him when dad dies, in favor of son number three.

And yes, in the rest of the world, the Tracinos have a reputation of people who would sell their own mothers to turn a profit, then arrange the assassination of the buyer to get her back.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:57 PM   #24
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

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Originally Posted by Arvernian View Post
How's this then:

Assuming a level of technology suitable to the average cyberpunk game (TL 9ish in GURPS terms?) every heir to the throne is hooked up at birth to an incredibly complex VR computer simulation sort of like the Matrix. Each is put in a position as sole ruler of an empire within the simulation, and each of the empires has an historical rivalry with the others. Basically the heirs to the throne are tested by competing with each other in the ultimate war game while living a "real" life within a completely controlled environment.

If you want more of a medieval feel you could always use magic instead of tech.
I'd go with magic, but thats just me.
The real question is what becomes of the ones not chosen? its quite likely the "winning" king has made both friends and enemies. I could well see him taking a friend from the dream world and saying "you never were much at running things, but we all know you were the best warrior. Come and take over military, and advise me in this new game"

With enough magic you could also keep heirs alive until they either "lost" or "won" in the simulation, and replace each winner with a new contestant, giving each heir a chance to gain the throne .... when they finally win.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:58 PM   #25
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

The "magical sleep" solution has promise. I think that we gamers often aren't creative enough in thinking how magic could affect our settings.

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex View Post
Another attempted solution is to try to give possible heirs something to do that doesn't involve amassing independent military or temporal power. Master of the Royal Seraglio. Chairman of the baths. Majordomo of the palace (with control over the palace staff and logistics but no control over governmental figures). Lord Mayor. A figurehead position where they have to wrangle a staff but where they have only ceremonial duties and no power to speak of.
That one has an interesting failure mode. Have you noticed how many monarchies had an important official with an innocuous title like "cupbearer" or "steward" or "mayor of the palace"? It seems that in a lot of monarchies, the king would hear about a problem, look at his nearest crony, and tell him to fix it. Over a few generations, an office which put its holder close to the king and able to solve many of his problems could collect a lot of power. The counter is a large, formal bureaucracy, but those often work badly in autocracies.
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:04 PM   #26
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That one has an interesting failure mode. Have you noticed how many monarchies had an important official with an innocuous title like "cupbearer" or "steward" or "mayor of the palace"? It seems that in a lot of monarchies, the king would hear about a problem, look at his nearest crony, and tell him to fix it. Over a few generations, an office which put its holder close to the king and able to solve many of his problems could collect a lot of power. The counter is a large, formal bureaucracy, but those often work badly in autocracies.
Oh, absolutely. Most schemes to take away power from ambitious people work better in theory than in practice. To date, I'm not familiar with a coup launched from the office of the Royal Florist, but it wouldn't astonish me.

Even keeping them prisoner doesn't always work. Either they make friends with the guards who turn from guarding the prisoner to guarding for the prisoner, or you wind up having to put them on a throne somewhere. The reign(s) of Vlad Tepes illustrate how that can go wrong.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:44 PM   #27
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I rather like that. The princes are laid in a crypt-like chamber where they lie, Sleeping Beauty-like, until one is awoken. Perhaps the rest are then sent physically as well as mentally into the dream-world. They're isolated from the waking world, except from those who can walk in dreams.

Yes, this is quite poetic.
It's also going to create even worse psychological problems than the original Ottoman approach. You're likely to end up with princes who have some serious issues with telling 'dream' from 'reality', whether the hallucinations are generated by magic or tech.

(There will also be an incentive to gain the ability to 'influence' the VR settings...)
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:51 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex View Post
Oh, absolutely. Most schemes to take away power from ambitious people work better in theory than in practice. To date, I'm not familiar with a coup launched from the office of the Royal Florist, but it wouldn't astonish me.

Even keeping them prisoner doesn't always work. Either they make friends with the guards who turn from guarding the prisoner to guarding for the prisoner, or you wind up having to put them on a throne somewhere. The reign(s) of Vlad Tepes illustrate how that can go wrong.
Historically, what seems to work least badly is to spread the power around, so the monarch shares control (officially or just de facto) with other power centers. This makes the crown worth somewhat less to the power hungry, provides outlets for ambition, and balances off the various factions against each other. It does not work perfectly, but it produces better results than the other systems.

When all the power is in one place, unrestrained, things tend to start getting crazy. Perhaps the classic instance is the Julio-Claudian dynasty, before the Roman Empire sort of stabilized and balance wheels developed for the power of the principate, but the same thing can be seen (as the OP notes) in the Ottoman Empire and in China, among other places.
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:57 PM   #29
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Default Re: Golden Cages and Succession

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It's also going to create even worse psychological problems than the original Ottoman approach. You're likely to end up with princes who have some serious issues with telling 'dream' from 'reality', whether the hallucinations are generated by magic or tech.

(There will also be an incentive to gain the ability to 'influence' the VR settings...)
Well, the effects depend on how good the simulation is. It might effectively be another reality, perhaps with a limited number of live participants, where the only psychological issues are the switch between the two worlds.

on influencing the princes dream.... I would hope that the "wizards created by then works that cannot be duplicated today" paradigm holds in this case.
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:56 PM   #30
Sindri
 
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Originally Posted by Arvernian View Post
I wouldn't tell them. Let them think the stakes are real (which if they would be if they can die in the virtual world).
This also lets you see how they will operate as a ruler without the influence of trying to persuade his viewers he is a good ruler. Dying in the real world when they die in the virtual world is hard to make necessary though.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I'd go with magic, but thats just me.
The real question is what becomes of the ones not chosen? its quite likely the "winning" king has made both friends and enemies. I could well see him taking a friend from the dream world and saying "you never were much at running things, but we all know you were the best warrior. Come and take over military, and advise me in this new game"

With enough magic you could also keep heirs alive until they either "lost" or "won" in the simulation, and replace each winner with a new contestant, giving each heir a chance to gain the throne .... when they finally win.
Probably they would stay in the virtual reality unless they were brought out. What you do with someone who has been brought out but isn't the ruler is interesting. Are they automatically removed from the line of succession? Can a ruler decide to bring someone with him to help and then take over from him later? Another thing is what happens when someone who was an enemy in the virtual world succeeds the earlier ruler?

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
The "magical sleep" solution has promise. I think that we gamers often aren't creative enough in thinking how magic could affect our settings.


That one has an interesting failure mode. Have you noticed how many monarchies had an important official with an innocuous title like "cupbearer" or "steward" or "mayor of the palace"? It seems that in a lot of monarchies, the king would hear about a problem, look at his nearest crony, and tell him to fix it. Over a few generations, an office which put its holder close to the king and able to solve many of his problems could collect a lot of power. The counter is a large, formal bureaucracy, but those often work badly in autocracies.
Autocracies do have a tendency to disrupt large formal bureaucracies but the two can coexist and the discussion need not be limited to autocracies. Of course a mayor of the palace could direct a large formal bureaucracy too.

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Originally Posted by Lord Carnifex View Post
Oh, absolutely. Most schemes to take away power from ambitious people work better in theory than in practice. To date, I'm not familiar with a coup launched from the office of the Royal Florist, but it wouldn't astonish me.

Even keeping them prisoner doesn't always work. Either they make friends with the guards who turn from guarding the prisoner to guarding for the prisoner, or you wind up having to put them on a throne somewhere. The reign(s) of Vlad Tepes illustrate how that can go wrong.
Yeah that can be a problem even if you use special arrangements for guarding. Of course someone who can and wants to persuade the guards to work for them probably would be a problem no matter what.

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
It's also going to create even worse psychological problems than the original Ottoman approach. You're likely to end up with princes who have some serious issues with telling 'dream' from 'reality', whether the hallucinations are generated by magic or tech.

(There will also be an incentive to gain the ability to 'influence' the VR settings...)
Either that or just breaking when introduced to the real world. Psychological strain may be an argument in favour of having them know they are in a virtual reality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
Historically, what seems to work least badly is to spread the power around, so the monarch shares control (officially or just de facto) with other power centers. This makes the crown worth somewhat less to the power hungry, provides outlets for ambition, and balances off the various factions against each other. It does not work perfectly, but it produces better results than the other systems.

When all the power is in one place, unrestrained, things tend to start getting crazy. Perhaps the classic instance is the Julio-Claudian dynasty, before the Roman Empire sort of stabilized and balance wheels developed for the power of the principate, but the same thing can be seen (as the OP notes) in the Ottoman Empire and in China, among other places.
Even if nothing bad happens in the reign of the the autocrat things tend to become unstable and shift into another system later.

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Well, the effects depend on how good the simulation is. It might effectively be another reality, perhaps with a limited number of live participants, where the only psychological issues are the switch between the two worlds.

on influencing the princes dream.... I would hope that the "wizards created by then works that cannot be duplicated today" paradigm holds in this case.
I think a really good simulation was assumed and it's definitely necessary if you want to keep things secret from the claimant and don't want weird effects from whatever deviations from reality there are between the real world and the simulated world. It's possible that a destabilized sense of reality might result in those that survive the transition but I suspect that people will either break under the strain or largely deal with it.

A hard paradigm to hold up if it's virtual reality instead of magic.

Last edited by Sindri; 06-15-2012 at 02:51 AM.
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