View Full Version : Forest and Trees problem

04-27-2005, 10:26 PM
Okay, we all get into something so deep sometimes that we can't see what should be an obvious solution. This thread should be used by anyone with similar questions or requests for suggestions that might solve a WIP stumper.

Here's mine. It's a medieval-level world slowly repopulating and rediscovering a lot of things since the collapse of a highly technical world more advanced than our own. An enemy king has offered to produce some kind of token to show his good will in an offer of a full truce he is making to the allies so that his few remaining ships can actually do some trading for goods his kingdom desperately needs (lumber and metals). He is making this known to the allies through the officers of a small boat that mistakenly entered his territory whom he has decided not to attack simply because he believes the boat carries a hidden talent whose power is sufficient to destroy what's left of his fleet and his port city along with him and his palace. He's encountered a hidden talent before with disastrous results. Okay, so there's no real subterfuge at this point. He really needs a truce because another kingdom is emerging as an equal threat to the allies and to him. So, what suggestions can anyone offer as to the token he can give to show his sincerity? A slave is out of the question. His people are like badly-treated serfs, but otherwise free.

04-28-2005, 12:44 AM
A good token might be some sort of valuable antique. It might be a useful piece of technology with non-military applications, an article like a serving bowl or chair built using processes or materials no longer available, or even a device which nobody knows how to use because the fuel or whatever it relied on for power is long gone. For some reason I'm thinking a diesel-powered portable generator.

Andrew Jameson
04-28-2005, 12:57 AM
Why wouldn't the enemy king send, not a "slave", but a "hostage" with the officers in the small boat? It seems to me that, if he's really serious about negotiating a truce, he'd want to send something that 1) would mean something, and 2) the allies would know he wants back, and thus would ensure his good behaviour during the truce. So something like... his only daughter, for example, would fit those requirements.

04-28-2005, 01:25 AM
Would he not send an accredited ambassador to negotiate a treaty?

04-28-2005, 01:32 AM
Dammit. I was hoping to answer an easy question about trees. Now you made me think.

I agree with Mad Matt. I feel it should be a piece of technology from the previous civilization, as either a valuable tool or valuable collector piece, or a building block to resurrecting that technology.

Let us know what you decide!

04-28-2005, 02:17 AM
If he has some sort of ceremonial regalia which is (are? I realize for the first time that I don't know whether regalia is single or plural!) ritually important to his kingship he could send that - a royal ring or a crown. Or if it's just a present he wants to give he could send a very valuable horse.

If you want to be a bit off the wall he could send a secret recipe - if this is post-apocalyptic earth, maybe the recipe for Coca Cola or Irn Bru!

If he himself has some sort of superior military technology, and he *really* wants to gamble on the other side's willingness to be friends, he could give them his own military secrets.

Or there might be a relic with great sacred or historical cachet - the embalmed body of a saint, letters from the queen of one kingdom to the king of the other written eight centuries ago and now part of romantic legend - which he could give them.

04-28-2005, 03:20 AM
How about some item, such as a letter, that would prove something that one of the allies either wants kept quiet, or has been dying to uncover? I use knowledge as The Holy Grail that my hero is seeking, and I have fun with it. Whatever it is, should be meaningful to the ally receiving it. What does that person desperately want? Giving him this thing could really force the ally into an alliance he may otherwise be reluctant to pursue.

04-28-2005, 06:16 AM
Since this thread was entitled "forest and trees," I was thinking just that. A tree. Perhaps a special species native to the enemy kingdom. Could be their symbol of wealth. If it's fruit bearing, it would also be productive for the receiving kingdom as the beginning of a stable orchard. Wealth, prosperty, sustaining life, etc.

04-28-2005, 06:39 AM
Okay, I've already locked myself into a thousand-year gap between the fall of the technologically advanced civilization and theirs. Except for a few objects recovered from places where they were protected, such as a crate of plates and glasses lost in the sea and recovered from protective mud and silt, virtually everything was destroyed in the fall. In other words, very little is intact and even less is still functional. During the fall, one side was fanatical and willing to die in order to kill the others. They even released biological agents that had no cures. The only thing they do have is advanced biological knowledge passed on by word of mouth, but they don't have advanced equipment.

As far as the boat that is there, it's basically a harbor boat enroute to its new station, so it doesn't have anything more than a captain, some officers, and the men and women who operate the boat. Furthermore, they don't trust the king because his forces before he took power attacked one of their ports and wiped out the apprentices who surrendered. Their boat is even named the Breedport Terror after that port that was wiped out.

Militarily, the king has four ships left. The allies have well over a hundred trade ships and hundreds of harbor and river and lake boats which are all basically the same size as each other with minor differences, though smaller than the ships. However, though the vessels all carry weapons, it's at the medieval level -- no gunpowder. They all have weapons equivalent to what the Romans possessed. The allies do not have standing armies, but the king does. However, he has only four ships so his army is useless since it's on a different continent. Two of the allies are on the same continent, but both are separated from his kingdom by mountain ranges with passes that can be defended easily and are patrolled. Plus, they're regularly supplied by their other ally across the ocean with what they need. Though one of the allies on the same continent has access to plenty of timber, they also have the services of a witch with more than enough power to wipe out the king's army if they cross the mountain range. Though she's called a witch, she's really a DNA modified descendent of the survivors of the fall who modified themselves in order to give themselves an immunity to the artificial diseases. In doing so, they also hit on the ability to generate and handle electricity like an electric eel, thus they can shock others with killing force and even use it to affect the atmosphere enough to create small storms.

I know, it's gotten complicated. I have a feeling that the captain is going to decide to leave before the king expects out of suspicion. Still, I'm hoping for some other possibility.

04-28-2005, 06:45 AM
I forgot to mention that the only horses that survived the fall were also modified and resemble unicorns as a result. Other beasts were similarly created during and after the fall. The survivors took an oath that wildlife, regardless of how dangerous, should never be mishandled or wiped out just to harm people as happened in the fall. Consequently, they believe in killing beasts of any sort only for food and to defend themselves. Otherwise, most of the people consider themselves the conservators of the wildlife, some of whom are minimally intelligent and cognitive.

04-28-2005, 07:55 AM
If your initial idea was slave, but thought better of it, how about a marriage? Have him send off that buxom, but rather troublesome niece, and maybe kill two birds with one stone. He can secure a truce by marrying his blood to the other kingdom's in the same way it's been done here for 1,000s of years.

04-28-2005, 12:35 PM
Speaking as a Medievalist (and having skipped the discussion), historically the following have been used:

Hostages (explicitly, or otherwise): For example, he could send one of his sons to train at the rival king's court. This is as much about bonding and making friends as physical threat.
Public Displays of Respect (e.g. Field of Cloth of Gold) - basically, if you make a huge public fuss over a fellow monarch, then you stand to lose all cred if you subsequently murder him.
Mythical Artifacts - a medieval king of England sent "Excaliber" to Sicily to clinch a deal. Really, though, this is just a remote form of Public Display of Respect.
Spoils of War - as above, really. "Here's the crown my dad took off your dad's corpse."
The Pickled Head of an Enemy: chances are the Rival King's harbouring high born outlawed traitors from the other kingdom, or turning a blind eye to border bandits. The heads of such people make fine diplomatic gifts.
Small Body of Elite Soldiers, perhaps led by his son: these are both Hostages and Public Displays of Respect.
If you haven't read Machievelli's The Prince you should do so now.

04-28-2005, 01:25 PM
How about an old crude (Newtonian type) telescope--the all seeing eye, a contraption of crude lenses that would allow the owner to see approaching enemies, or keep track of his allies.


04-28-2005, 06:29 PM
Answering the last one first, a pair of binoculars have already been found and are owned by another harbor boat.

I should mention that the harbor, trade, river, and lake boats are from a continent named Aluria and that the ports operate independently like the old Greek city states. So, there's no centralized government kind of like the US under the Articles of Confederation before the Constitution and the strong central government came into being. Consequently, it's not practical for the king to give a hostage to each.

Andrew Jameson
04-28-2005, 07:49 PM
Well, but the original problem was, "what suggestions can anyone offer as to the token he can give to show his sincerity?" I would think that the king is showing his sincerity by the act of giving up a hostage or whatever; there would be no necessity for giving a hostage or whatever to each of the city-states.

But if you are thinking of something that the king can share out to each of the city-states, that puts a slightly different spin on the problem.

04-28-2005, 10:49 PM
No, but I'm trying to put the political situation into perspective.

I have to admit that the son or daughter hostage is one of the better sounding ideas, but the king doesn't have any yet. In fact, he's an unmarried king unwilling to share his power yet. However, this does inspire me to give that some additional thought. It might even become a central element.

At the same time, one of the other problems that has to be kept in consideration is that his country just before he overthrew the throne had sent a force against the Alurians and in a move meant to set back their naval and trading superiority had slaughtered several hundred young apprentices who had surrendered in a battle. So, his country and he, by extension, are considered very dishonorable and untrustworthy. The Alurians would easily believe he was trying to trick them again based upon attempts they have deflected already. In other words, they believe he does not value the lives of children, possibly even his own, even though the reader knows that he does based upon previous encounters as a sea captain where he ordered his men not to harm any children.

Andrew Jameson
04-29-2005, 12:24 AM
Ah, that helps a bit.

I've been sort of mulling this over, and let me type out my thoughts to see if this makes sense.

See, I'm envisioning your enemy king as a sneaky, no-holds-barred kind of fighter, the type of guy who *would* slaughter captured POWs. A character trait which is coming back to bite him now, because of course the allies are gonna be doubly suspicious of any truce overtures that he makes.

Now, let's suppose that, as a token of his sincerity, the king gives up to the allies a super-magical-technological whatsit. And let's further suppose that the allies are duly impressed by the king's sacrifice of a super-magical-technological whatsit, and agree to the truce. Now, let me think like this no-holds-barred king. I've already given up a super-magical-technological whatsit. It's gone, ain't getting it back. Moreover, the allies were dumb enough to grant a truce. What's the advantage for me to play fair? Ain't no advantage to playing fair. In fact, there's a considerable advantage to not playing fair -- I might as well break the truce when it's most convenient to me.

And now, if I'm part of the allies, I'm figuring that that is exactly what the king is thinking when he sends out a super-magical-technological whatsit. Why should I grant a truce? The king is just going to break it at the most awkward time.

That's, to me, why the hostage idea is so attractive, because the hostage (in principle) assures the king's good behaviour. If the king breaks the truce, the hostage is executed. If the king remains faithful, the hostage goes home unharmed.

So, if you don't use the hostage idea, I'd think you'd want to somehow use an idea where there would be real *consequences* if the king reneges on his pledge of truce -- otherwise, there's no reason for the allies to acquiesce to his proposal.

To throw out a couple ideas: 1) could the king provide plans for his ships/weapons that the allies could exploit militarily in the near future (i.e., if the king reneged)? 2) Or how about the king gives up a digital camera-thingy containing photographs of his current defensive arrangements? Even lets the boat officers take the pictures themselves? [The idea here is that, by giving the allies *current* military information, the king has purposely backed himself into a corner where it's in his own best interest (apparently) to prolong the truce as much as possible.]

Great idea for a thread, BTW... I've got a couple problems of my own I'm mulling over.

04-29-2005, 06:37 AM
Well, let's hear your problems. Those deserve a shot, too.

04-29-2005, 07:59 AM
Dave, what does your King consider valuable?

Liam Jackson
04-29-2005, 09:27 AM
No heirs...hmmm. Perhaps you could write in a favored relative, niece, nephew, mom, pop or valued advisor. Someone that he seems to need, but someone he would sacrifice if the stakes/rewards were high enough.

Andrew Jameson
04-29-2005, 04:53 PM
All right then, here's my problem:

The POV characters: I have three POV characters. The first, Katerin, is a magic-user of sorts; she is stewarding a mid-sized landholding for her daughter, the only Heir. The second, Tristan, is an old friend of Katerin's who runs into her unexpectedly at the beginning of the book. The third, Bear, is Katerin's guard captain.

The villain: I also have a villain -- he appears *onstage* somewhat later in the book. He's suave, urbane, a magic-user, a man of means, and he has a Plot. Part of his Plot is to have Katerin's daughter killed, leaving the landholding with no Heir, and then, through some additional machinations, have himself named as the Landholder. He's not doing this for personal gain, oh no; he's standing up for the rights of magic-users and so forth and so on.

The story so far: At the beginning of the book, a few attempts are made on the life of Katerin's daughter. The first part of the book deals with narrowing down just who the mysterious villain is (and some other things not important now). In the middle of the book, Katerin and Tristan hunt this villain down, while Bear escorts Katerin's daughter across the country to the school of magic -- she's starting her first term there. Meanwhile, Tristan and Katerin close in on the villain, and he skips town just ahead of the posse.

The climax: For the climactic scene in the book, I need to get all the characters together -- the three POV characters, Katerin's daughter, and the villain -- at the school of magic, with the villain again presenting a threat to Katerin's daughter. I also want everyone (including the reader) to feel that the villain is in control right up until the very last moment.

The problem: OK so far? Now comes my problem. I need a reason for the villain to "lure" everyone into the same place. Currently, I have the villain essentially kick in his back-up plan. He flees cross-country to the school of magic, where he has allies. He leaves a taunting note telling where he's going. Katerin and Tristan, much worried, follow. Once at the college of magic, the villain kidnaps Katerin's daughter (she's already there, of course) and forces Katerin to vouch for him with the powers-that-be.

The question: However, my approach seems inelegant. Why would the villain resort to such a complex plan when simply disappearing might be better? (Pure spite won't work: the villain's more complex than that.) Why does he need *Katerin* to vouch for him? Can he realistically hope that Katerin won't try to hammer him after he releases her daughter? So.... Is there a better way for the villain to control the action? Anyone?

04-29-2005, 05:00 PM
Well, what the king considered valuable is the position he holds. He would like to rule more than just the lands he now holds.

He was formerly a sea captain who deposed the self-proclaimed emperor who deposed the previous king who was his cousin. At that time, the king placed all his relatives in charge of various units so that they could always be sent somewhere else to keep them from getting too ambitious and from conspiring easily with each other. However, the current king went up against the Alurians at a very bad time, namely just after the development of a new long range spear thrower. Still, though defeated several times, he managed to steal one of the weapons and make copies of it for his ship. When he later encountered the squadron that the emperor sent to wipe out the Alurian training port (after they'd done the deed), he fought with them to take over control and increase the size of his forces. Because of the new weapon, he quickly gained the upper hand and won. Then with doubled forces, he went back to overthrow the emperor.

He is sneaky and has already betrayed some of his loyal officers when it suited his needs. Faced with the threat of a witch coming to his palace to destroy him personally, he chose to deny responsibility for the forces in her land and claimed those were rogues whom he wasn't supplying. They and another officer who felt threatened joined forces to escape from the witch's land and seek shelter on another continent where they formed a new city state intent on overthrowing the king. However, their plans required them to use subterfuge since their forces weren't sufficient to face his on land or sea, so they've resorted to raids meant to look like his forces were still active against the Alurians in hopes of getting them and the king to fight each other so that one or both would be weakened.

04-29-2005, 05:07 PM
Hmmm, why not have your villain use his magic to make it appear that someone else was to blame at first? Of course, that individual would then be found dead and unable to prove his innocence. Then the villain could appear to be trusted and accompany Katerin and Bear to the school.

04-29-2005, 11:09 PM
Dave- if the king is unmarried, why doesn't HE marry to cement the alliance. perhaps the daughter of the monarch of one of the more influential states, especially if she's related to the royalty of several others.also, trade concessions or minor land grants could work.

04-29-2005, 11:20 PM
I like the hostage idea. But what if it were a hostage who appeared valuable on the surface, but who was really a white elephant the king's been trying to rid himself of anyway?

Say, a witch who had an unpleasant or uncontrollable ability. The king can safely offer her up as "hey, look, here's a powerful hostage for you", and he's not losing anything himself.

Or an unwanted sibling or possible heir who the peasants or nobles might like better than the king. Send him off as a hostage -- best case, he's out of the country and away from his power base permanently, worse case, if he is killed, the king can rally his people around the poor victim of his enemies. Of course, then the king risks having his hostage returned to him at the head of an invading army, so he'd have to keep the hostage's loved ones under his thumb as insurance.

04-29-2005, 11:56 PM
Um, the wizards and witches are definitely not under anyone's control. They come and go when and where they want. In fact, they communicate with each other through telepathy. That led to a self-imposed agreement among them that the "children" or those without power would be free to live their own lives and make their own mistakes once there were enough of them to support their own communitites. They only take action against those who try to harm any of them. This is partly because their own numbers are much smaller than those without power and they hope to see evolution take place where either their descendents or the children's reach another ecological level. They have even recognized a temporary truce between them and one of Aluria's allies which had previously killed any wizards or witches in its lands.

Problem with finding the son or daughter of a city state leader is that those are ruled by guildships. The guildships are kept honest partly by the existence of the wizards who travel frequently among them.

Andrew Jameson
04-30-2005, 07:11 PM
Hmmm, why not have your villain use his magic to make it appear that someone else was to blame at first? Of course, that individual would then be found dead and unable to prove his innocence. Then the villain could appear to be trusted and accompany Katerin and Bear to the school.
Not a bad idea, but, for various other reasons, I've chosen to use only "good guys" as POV characters -- so the reader only knows what the good guys know. There are other characters who *are* subsidiary villains, and the good guys *do* at first trust the main villain, so it would be relatively simple to implement your idea.

The drawback, however, would be that neither the good guys nor the *reader* would realize that the villain character is truly a bad guy, and that would rob the situation of tension. Still, let me think on it.

05-01-2005, 12:11 AM
What if your bad guy worked through proxy images or whatever one calls them in magic so that the good guys have something they can point at as evil, yet not know the actual source? You can put careful limits on the constructs and how much they can accomplish against what might be the superior magic of the good guys or the bad guy could be constrained by the need to keep his identity concealed. You could then carry the bad guy as a cleverly hidden character for one or two sequels before letting his real identity be discovered. Then you could have both sides duking it out more openly for a couple more sequels.

05-01-2005, 11:46 PM
by virtue of letting the crew live, that in itself is an act of contrition on the king's part, eh? i think from then it's reasonable to respectfully ask for a summit and ask what's required of the king for the allies' allegiance (which would include plenty of back-room policies and deals going on, most assuredly one ally would want the king's aid in destroying another ally). i don't know about the ancient greek way of gov't like you're describing: can i assume it's loosely like the united states minus the federal gov't? how strong is the allies' bonds between one another?

the king may be forced into making the allies' religion his own kingdom's official religion. that would be kick-asss. 'sorry, guys, i know you really like praying to hewitt, but now you have to pray to packard under pain of death. yeah, i know, it sucks, but if we don't, ain't gonna be no one left around here to pray to *anyone*.' i highly doubt the king would give to fifty different enemies, which, let's face, they are still enemies, the keys to his kingdom and defense. were i king, i'd have to assume that of all those royal houses there'd be some doofus prince trying to avenge his step-sister's cousin's ex-boyfriend who was killed on the ship. you might as well flat-out surrender your kingdom and hope for the best. imagine the public reaction had reagan given the russians the codes and locations of all our nuclear warheads. same thing, no? those people would riot against that king and put his head on a pike if he gave away all his defensive positions. that, really, would be the height of contempt for his own people's safety, at least in the court of public opinion.

if he had the time and wont to do so, he could use his spies to figure out which single 'state' he could best use for his advantage, devalue its currency through counterfeit, start an underground propaganda campaign against the current administration for not signing a treaty with the king, and overall make that one particular state one miserable place to live. once a treaty is inked, naturally the king is able to come through on all his promises in a big way and really turn that dump around. it's all carefully planned, of course. the key is, however, entering into a relationship where the king has the upper hand. lesser states with their own real problems then can be implored to join, which several may, though plenty would hold out. not knowing the political climate, the real problem there would be forcing some other states into stronger alliances. in the end, i think you'd probably end up roughly splitting half of the allies into one side in your favour, and the other who are still not at war with you, per se, but separate. still, the king, with half of the allies at his beck and call (careful: don't let them become one single entity-- the key here is to keep them separate), the king is getting what he wants. if he's a good king, he should expect a good portion of them to side with him in a war. as i see it, the two sides are about equal, just in different ways, so if he can politely extort even a quarter of the allies to his goal, he strengthens himself while weakening the enemy, not to mention the minour chaos he would probably be causing inside the gov't's of those ex-allies.

that is if he had time. otherwise, how are you going to appease fifty (just a random number on my part) separate states? you can't give out unlimited hostages. if you give up one everyone else will want their own and of the same rank. now, were i the allies, i'd definitely want some piece of your gov't, say a certain amount of seats in your parliament if you've got one, obviously, though, not a controlling interest, just enough to influence the way you handle your business. (i'm assuming that they're low-tech, not barbarians, lol.) you also don't give away your advisors who can readily be tortured for information. you give up people you've got an emotional stake in, not people who could destroy your kingdom if what they knew got out. and common sense dictates you don't give up people who don't like you in return *and* know something about your military.

something else that seems obvious, but the king would send out messengers to the allies professing his innocence about raids and the history of his reign, true or not. not that it would mean a terrific bunch, but it's there nonetheless to put some doubt into the situation. even kings, perhaps especially kings, respond to platitudes and gifts, and maybe the messenger himself is a gift of good will. personally, i'd send a letter back to the king saying 'apology accepted, don't let it happen again' along with the heads of all his messengers. were i king, though, i'd admit to the minourest of infractions and chalk it up to miscommunication due to a new administration and take the blame for that: that way it lends some credence to the rest of my crimes that i'm claiming innocence. basically, pre-emptive plea bargaining.

05-02-2005, 02:03 AM
Preyer's mention of religious differences is interesting. If all the groups subscribe to roughly the *same* religion, and take it seriously, perhaps the king could do public penance for the massacre committed by his army (even though it was before he was in command over them), in the same way that Henry II of England submitted to being publicly stripped to his shirt and whipped through the streets in penance for the death of Thomas a Becket, even though he was not really responsible for it.

05-02-2005, 04:04 AM
First, I'll address the religions. There are already three major religions with one beginning to develop a splinter group. There may be some other religions, but those aren't described in any detail or named yet.

The Alurian god is female and believed to be forgiving. It has a splinter group forming that believes their religion needs a formal leader and structured prayers. Their god lives in the ocean.

The Mangaran god is male and believed to be constantly testing people through strife caused by disaster and conflict. Their religion does have formal priests who administer prayers and give guidance. As well, their religion believes in predictions. Their god also lives in the ocean.

The king worships the five gods of Suton, each of whom represents one of the limbs of the body or the head. In the military, a group of five is referred to as a fist. A fist of fists is 25. The gods of Suton are sometimes worshipped with sacrifices and are believed to come from the land.

Okay, now to the other posting.

The king remains as devious as he was when he was a sea captain trying to take power. He's no intention of truly honoring any truce for longer than necessary. He's trying to get the Alurians and their allies to take on the offense against the Mysterians so that he can rebuild his navy. His kingdom is morally bankrupt and near financial ruin as well. Were it not for adequate supplies of food, his people would revolt. He actually has nothing to offer and has formulated his proposal so that the Alurian harbor boat captain has to decide what's appropriate even though she has no experience in such matters. She's decided that she doesn't trust him and plans on leaving in the morning even if it means fighting to break out.

She will leave without conflict and mistakenly believe he was telling some truth to her. Because of that, she'll relate his proposal later and unknowingly give it her support.

Also, the Mysterians have succeeded in neutralizing almost all of the king's overseas spies. Only a very few have not been identified and those are now aware of what happened. During the years after his major naval defeat, he has never relented in launching raids when possible even if only with a single ship meant to spread terror. However, those were defeated. The Mysterians have used the same MO for their own raids just to make it look like he's still trying, which he is through his agents.

The city ports are related by blood to other city ports. Merchants within their guildships pass on membership to their children who either take over the present store or go out to open their own in another port. There are still new ports opening. At least one each decade. For that reason, they aren't about to fight with each other. Instead, they resort to their guildships for resolutions.

05-02-2005, 10:06 PM
sounds as if the king is hanging on by a thread. should be relatively easy enough to destroy their food supplies. if that's the only thing keeping the kingdom together, take away the one thing that they have in spades and let nature take its course. burn fields, poison wells and kill the livestock.

think about all the damage you can do to your city if you wanted to. it's pretty incredible what one person could do if they were smart enough about it, had time on his side and supplied well. if you had a *team* of people working out coordinated attacks, anyone can bring a city to its knees. this is rather off-topic, but since the king is the devious type, which suggests a reasonable reasoning intelligence, albeit lending itself towards evil, this is how i'd spread panic and destruction in the enemy's cities:

1-- do NOT kill the enemy's police or patrolling military/peacekeepers except to escape capture. once you start killing those guys, that only invites yet more anyway. since your small force will never be able to overpower them all anyway, best to try to erode them from within. poisoning the police captain is a good start, but chancy, too. i would, however, assassinate the head guy there in the beginning. actually, though, it has to assumed that the replacement would be fairly competent enough to hold things together, so i'd get him out of the way also. the idea would be to go through enough of 'em till there's someone there without the skills to competently do his job. you'll wind up with a guy who promises to take care of these assassins yet has no idea of how to really get them without a terrific expenditure of resources which can't last too long, particularly once you move into the next phase.

2-- assassinate guild leaders. along the same lines of bumping off the police captains, this creates chaos inside the organization. at some point there's going to be a lot of infighting and backstabbing as there's a cheap power grab made by all. divide and conquer, that kind of thing. keeps 'em off-balance. the idea is to put people in power who make bad decisions in your favour.

3-- at night is when you do all your dirty work. assuming the city has enough wooden structures and roofs to burn, you light up the town as much as possible. with resources diverted, you see what you can do to sink as many merchant ships as possible. i say merchant ships because you don't want other ships from other states coming there to trade any more than possible. you probably won't actually sink many ships, unless you fill one up with explosives and earlier that day sail it into port, but destroying the port's pier and such is a pretty significant immediate blow.

4-- during the day, your agents spread rumours and gossip undermining the state's effectiveness. dissimination of propaganda is cheap, easy, and effective.

5-- do NOT torch churches and/or temples. doing so only rallies the common person into a cause or quest.

6-- letting the heat die down in town, it's time to poison wells, burn crops and otherwise to your damndest to ruin the agriculture. time-consuming, but every little thing you do helps your cause. ruin enough of it and you cause the prices to soar. the economic burden helps only a few, hurts everyone else.

7-- if possible, infuse counterfeit into the economy. with prices for the essentials already at their peak, weakening the value of their currency only further separates people from their money. the idea here is to create as large a poor class as possible: more poor equals more crime and dissatisfaction and desperation. you keep the rich class in hopes that those folk are taken care of by rioting mobs. you *could* wipe the high class out, i guess, and that creates chaos, too, but i think it'd be better in most cases to draw very sharp distinctions. i mean, the rich will only get richer while the poor gets poorer. poor people aren't stupid, they'll see the rich loving it. if you create false impressions (through your propaganda), the poor and desperate, with violence as their only tool, will eventually do something about it. at least in theory.

8-- i don't think killing as many people at random is the way to go. it probably wouldn't be very difficult to do it and the fear of going outside at night would keep people at home, but then you limit future victims to the red light district and make yourself more noticable at night. the flip-side is if people are out at night there are more eyes to see you with, but i think if people are at home scare out of their wits looking out the windows all night, you've not really improved your situation, eh? however, if you kill a hundred or more at some event, that might be ideal. probably easy to set up a terrified populace into thinking some dupe is the cause of everything (you'd have to plan it carefully from the start), and in the ensuing highly-attended public execution, that's where you get to everyone in one place at one time as compacted as possible.

9-- if possible, dress as a soldier or police, pick out a group of high-standing citizens with influence over common people, and just kick their door in, accuse them of ridiculous conspiracies, and rough 'em up. you should 'arrest' one who is never heard from again. you want to leave witnesses, obviously. it'll *probably* get sorted out eventually, but you've created mistrust of patrolling authority.

10-- destroy all the land trade routes, routinely raid caravans. the expense of protecting trade routes will wear on the ally and make trade with them unattractive.

well, that's preyer's ten point plan, simple as it may be. the king may want to use some of those ideas to weaken stronger states. if the king could offer his services as a third-party investigator and 'resolve' the matter, he's a hero to the ally's people and would have a great bargaining position, no? okay, going that route is very long-winded and probably impractical on a lot of points, but maybe there are some terrorist things the king could do. i really like the 'ship exploding in port' gag, though. expensive, though, probably best used as a prelude to invasion.

05-02-2005, 11:58 PM
Except for the fact that the Alurians are on another continent, the Kogs hold half of their own continent, the Alurians don't have an army, the Kogs have a massive army, the Alurians believe in individual prayer, so they don't actually hold any regular services or have any temples other than the one that's within a splinter group. Explosives are out and destruction of crops is frowned upoy by the wizards who would take it upon themselves to light up anyone who tried. One of the wizards' abilities is a kind of sixth sight that permits them to see every living creature within a certain distance of them which they can tune to exclude everything except people when they want.