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Thread: Rise and Fall of Civilizations

  1. #1
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    Rise and Fall of Civilizations

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nillic View Post
    Specifically the advancement of magic really appeals to me because I never understood how D&D civilizations lasted 1000's of years and never advanced beyond prestigitation for cleaning up or spicing food, i mean look at us, in the course of 100 years we've gone from no cars to flying in space and talking instantly over 100's of miles, why wouldn't a civilization based on magic (which can do more than technology) be able to advance the same way?
    This comment made me wonder on how civilizations rise and fall in a Fantasy Setting.

    Why are fantasy worlds plagued with fallen civilizations? Why start all over again?

    I put the blame in this order: 1) Gods, 2) Magic, 3) Different Races, 4) Evil.

    Gods: They will always try to punish mortals whenever we are getting to proud and confident, so they sent this cataclysms which pushes knowledge back a few hundreds or thousands of years.

    Magic: Is Individual driven which at the end suggests there is little cooperation for the advancement of the "Art". Also power is controlled by the Mage and therefore Political rulers fear it and eventually will suppress it. At the end Magic is to unstable for only one person to handle and Kaboom!!!! There goes Netheril ... and the weave!!

    Races: Goals and relationship with the world are different for each race, interracial conflicts will prevent advancement (which differs from war within a One race world).

    Evil: There is way too more evil in a Fantasy Setting that in the real world.

    These are my two cents.
    Saluti
    Carlos

  2. #2
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    Evil: There is way too more evil in a Fantasy Setting that in the real world.
    You need to get out more... have you been following domestic and international events?

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    Look to the real world for some good examples:

    Politics, lust, greed, incapable leadership, inability to govern the 'empire' at it's size, and more.

    There is a mountain of work out there to find, even at used book stores.
    --
    Grimwell

  4. #4
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    Why are fantasy worlds plagued with fallen civilizations? Why start all over again?
    Human(oid) nature drives us to organize socially. Power structures emerge, and they tend to evolve into opressive monarchies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    I put the blame in this order: 1) Gods, 2) Magic, 3) Different Races, 4) Evil.

    Gods: They will always try to punish mortals whenever we are getting to proud and confident, so they sent this cataclysms which pushes knowledge back a few hundreds or thousands of years.

    Magic: Is Individual driven which at the end suggests there is little cooperation for the advancement of the "Art". Also power is controlled by the Mage and therefore Political rulers fear it and eventually will suppress it. At the end Magic is to unstable for only one person to handle and Kaboom!!!! There goes Netheril ... and the weave!!

    Races: Goals and relationship with the world are different for each race, interracial conflicts will prevent advancement (which differs from war within a One race world).

    Evil: There is way too more evil in a Fantasy Setting that in the real world.
    Civilizations are like trees. They start out small, grow to be huge, rot from the inside, fall in a storm, then their decomposition allows new trees to grow where they once stood.

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    Good Vs Evil & the Fall of Civilizations

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Zachary View Post
    You need to get out more... have you been following domestic and international events?
    Hopefully I can keep this Thread on the right path.

    Actually I just realize I did a mistake, Evil can not be by itself the cause, it is the "Clash" or Battle between "Good and Evil" which brings Chaos and Destruction (which as explained above it brings re-birth)

    It looks to me that in a Fantasy Setting you have more "polarized" forms of Evil and Good, and like in physics, when two antiparticles collide they annihilate each other in a big burst of energy and new matter is created from it.

    What I will call "Elemental Evil" has a more active role in a Fantasy Setting, in the form of Evil deities, Evil Sentient Races, Evil planes (Devils / Demons). Same can be said for “Elemental Good”.

    In our real world in my humble opinion we rarely see a True Black Vs White conflict. We want to see them as that for our own peace of mind (yes nuke the bastards!).

    The original purpose of my post was to try to explain why in a fantasy world there seems to be little technological advancement after several millennia. And looks to me that in a Fantasy setting (Dragon-Sword-Magic type) there are events that actually prevent the advancement of knowledge to the same degree as we have in the real world right now.
    Saluti
    Carlos

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    In the real world, I don't subscribe to the belief that 'evil' actually exists. To me, it's just a label created by the church to illustrate the so-called wrongs of mankind that will result in the eternal soul being cast into some mythological pit of fire so it can be poked by some trident wielding, pointy tailed, horned red guy.

    But in D&D, Evil runs around making like rabbits and Chaotic Evil runs around in anarchy trying to destroy civilizations.

    Evil is as evil does.

  7. #7
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    It looks to me that in a Fantasy Setting you have more "polarized" forms of Evil and Good, and like in physics, when two antiparticles collide they annihilate each other in a big burst of energy and new matter is created from it.
    Yes, and most good DMs will follow the law of conservation of good and evil, meaning that there is an endless supply of heroes and villians to be thrown into the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimthar View Post
    The original purpose of my post was to try to explain why in a fantasy world there seems to be little technological advancement after several millennia. And looks to me that in a Fantasy setting (Dragon-Sword-Magic type) there are events that actually prevent the advancement of knowledge to the same degree as we have in the real world right now.
    The evil is more pronounced because of the existance of magic and monsters.

    Magic is the technology of a fantasy world, and knowledge of it has been advancing.

    In a free market, magic trumps technology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz View Post
    In the real world, I don't subscribe to the belief that 'evil' actually exists. To me, it's just a label created by the church to illustrate the so-called wrongs of mankind
    I have to disagree. There is evil out there. Evil is a guy who kidnaps a child, repeatedly rapes her, and buries her alive in his backyard. Evil is a government that attaches electrodes to people's genitals or force feeds prisoners boiling water to torture information out of them. Evil is a band of militants traveling the countryside murdering and raping women and children. Evil is embedded in the deepest, darkest recesses of humanity. You can see it everywhere and it is ever present. It is up to each of us whether we strive to do our best or we give in to the the depravity that lies just beneath the surface.
    Robert A. Howard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    I have to disagree. There is evil out there.
    You are very right farcaster. The difference between a fantasy realm and reality is that in a fantasy world there are static and polar examples of right and wrong. Evil is openly and freely chosen. In the "real" world we justify what we do. You think in a round about enough fashion anything can be justified, and excused by somebody else.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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    Evil - morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds; an evil life.

    I do not discount the deeds of a man. I dispute the existence of 'an evil' deity, force, or substance.

    You can label something 'evil' as an action or thought. But that is personal choice of an individual to do said action by which he or she can be labeled evil. Just because some man kidnaps, rapes, and buries a girl, it wasn't the 'devil that made him do it' or some evil forces that guides his hand.

    While, in a fantasy setting, there exists an actual 'evil' or 'dark' force or beings.

    In the real world, there is no evil. Only choices of man.

    But wait, wasn't there a point to this thread?
    Last edited by Moritz; 08-11-2007 at 12:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shilar View Post
    You think in a round about enough fashion anything can be justified, and excused by somebody else.
    That's true. Evil is generally far more clearly defined in fantasy. In D&D, interestingly enough, it was the Book of Vile Darkness that outlined some possibilities for a variant view of evil fantasy like what you're talking about (The Relative Approach, BoVD pg 6).
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    Lest we forget entropy. A civilization can fall simply because it is allowed to.

    You know, like Greenland.
    "I'm putting off procrastinating until next week."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Skylon View Post
    Lest we forget entropy. A civilization can fall simply because it is allowed to.
    Or it allows itself to. While I haven't read it yet -- it's in the mail -- Jared M. Diamond's Collapse might offer some ideas. It's basic thesis is that societies collapse because their actions deplete or destroy natural resources.

    Certainly you can name other factors -- political infighting, overextended military forces, a decline in self-discipline among the ruling classes, or an external invasion that overwhelms current defenses. For my money, orcs are a (possibly ethnocentric if not racist) metaphor for the "barbarians at the gates": Huns, Visigoths, Mongols, Turks, junk-bond traders, whatever.

    Also, I like the earlier idea of magic enforcing societal stagnation: it's in the hands of a few talented individuals, it quashes technology and science which could slowly give benefits to nearly all, and because of its very power and mystery it can wipe out a city-state (or more) by sheer accident.

    So, you don't need Dark Lords and evil gods to explain the rise and fall of fantasy empires.

    Although, if you want pure destruction while keeping moral ambiguity, you could posit a species that kills humans for its own survival, or amusement, or as a side effect of its existence. Mind Flayers are a prime example: they have to eat humanoid brains to stay alive, they keep humanoids they don't eat as slaves, and they meddle in (free) human affairs just to watch what happens.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    For my money, orcs are a (possibly ethnocentric if not racist) metaphor for the "barbarians at the gates" ...
    Actually, while I'm at it, I'll claim that "the gods" are really an explanation/excuse for blind luck or even predictable consequences. The Greeks rationalized every war as a conflict between their own gods. Tales of ancient gods parallel the ups and downs of their mortal worshipers: some believe Set went from venerated god to force of evil because he was the patron god of invaders whom the Egyptians finally drove away.

    In the history of the world, how many civilizations have stagnated or outright collapsed because priests or kings mandated a return to the "old ways"? How many cultures praised their gods for every success and blamed their culture's impiety for failure? Not that this sort of thing happens nowadays ...
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Forces of Nature

    When the Tsunami hit Asia about 2-3 years ago and killed 1/4 million people, I realized how easily could a civilization like Atlantis be wiped out of the face of the earth. Another example that comes to my mind is Pompey.

    Fantasy Setting populations are small and therefore more susceptible to earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, etc. Are the Gods always responsible of such events?

    Has anyone played in a Cataclysm Scenario? Were the players in a position where they will have to let dozens die in order to save hundreds? To keep running while still being able to hear the curses of those left behind.
    Saluti
    Carlos

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