Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Central Tension?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Central Tension?

    WARNING: This thread is full of spoilers! If you don't want to spoil the Weird West for yourself than "get out partner!"


    I've been thinking about this since watching Matt Colville's video on this topic. In case you've never heard of Colville or seen this video then here is a link, https://youtu.be/HpiT6RTlLYc. What do you all see as the central tension of the Weird West? Is it the rule of Chaos(Reckoner's rule and fear) vs Order (Hero's Victory and safety)? It is set within the Civil War, which has a central tension all its own, but the war sort of resolves into a truce so maybe that is a side tension like the Rail Wars. I guess I wonder what you all think is the central tension of the West?
    Last edited by GregAlso; 08-18-2017, 09:31 PM. Reason: Added warning

  • #2
    The love story of Darius and Vanessa.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hellstromme's story is very tragic and touches all of our romantic hopes. It does show a struggle for the power to control an uncontrollable tragic world. Not sure how it plays into the central tension/conflict though.

      I've been rewatching Colville's political videos. Here is the second one that may also shed light on this concept for those who aren't familiar with it. https://youtu.be/zYlLTtS-tfQ

      Comment


      • #4
        Hellstromme is the mover of plot and events after Raven's initial starter.
        Raven's war against the world was the kickstarter for the conflict of the setting, but Darius's endless conflict with death to rescue his wife is the primary driving tension of all the major conflicts of the setting.

        Darius pushed technology, giving a major value to Ghost Rock deposits and incidentally giving the impetus to the Great Rail Wars. The weapons and technology that were side effects of his attempts to breach the barriers of reality and slay legions of demons, were the weapons that dragged out the Civil War and exacerbated the conflict to new and bloodier heights. Darius developed space technology to gain a new avenue of approach and a chance at new success. He developed powerful weapon systems to slay the foes that stymied his rescue attempts - weapons that include the Ghost Rock bombs that shattered the world. His eventual success in this quest leads him to recognize the evils he has wrought and take steps to rectify those evils, completely reshaping the conflicts and politics of Hell On Earth.
        Darius's growth as a person, especially as a person that could love the lost love of his life, is the underlying redemptive arc that highlights the hope of and for humanity in Deadlands. His callous and obsessive pursuit of his goal, a goal he is unworthy of for most of his extremely long life, is the major driving force of the main tensions and conflicts - either creating, amplifying, or redefining all of the conflicts that define adventures in the Deadlands universe.

        Go read the Marshal section of Good Intentions, page 34, starting with the The Life of Darius Hellstromme header.
        Last edited by ValhallaGH; 08-17-2017, 03:30 PM. Reason: typo
        I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

        Comment


        • #5
          I had forgotten Hellstromme was the focus of the Deadlands universe and its progression to HoE. Thanks for the reminder. That still leaves the original question on the table though. What is the central conflict that the rest of the world revolves around?

          Most people don't know about Hellstromme and his desire to bring back his wife or the deep motivations of any of the Servitors for that matter. Those motivations on the other hand should feed back into the central conflict. So, what conflict is the whole world pivoting around?

          It isn't the Civil War, as in the real history of the west, that is just a side business to create fear for the Reckoners. Death seems to be a central idea but I'm not sure how that informs the central tension. While Death is one of the Reckoners the other three seem to eventually feed Death with their actions. In that sense Death leads the 4, but that isn't flushed out as I understand the story.

          Is the impending apocalypse the central tension? Like in the Cold War where the price of failure is total destruction, is that the conflict everyone is facing? I guess I'm really struggling with the overarching theme of the world. Is there one? Should I just make one and adapt the story to it? What is the central question? The choice to be evil is a central tenant of this world. How does that relate to the central tension? What do the Reckoners represents in this story and what are they fighting against? Who is their prime enemy and what downthat stand for?

          Comment


          • #6
            Well you can't beat what ValhallaGH wrote!

            Returning to p.34 of Good Intentions, what do any of ye make of the remark regarding the love denied Stone? I always wondered about if his mother had lived and considering (from the Raven comics) the Reckoners can directly influenced a Servitor's life to ensure they're Servitor material, if Death was involved.

            Comment


            • #7
              Also to use one of the terms Colville uses: Raven and the last sons were the inciting incident to the steady state world but did they just set the world into another steady state that the heros can now adjust again? Raven has molded the world but Hellstromme defines it. What conflict does it now revolve around?

              Comment


              • #8
                Hellstromme’s efforts to rescue his doomed love are certainly a driving factor in the events surrounding the weird west. However, this conflict is mostly behind the scenes and players will only become aware of it as they play through the Good intentions PPC.

                But I think you are looking for an explanation as to why the tension exists between the various nations and factions of the west (or world). I think there are actually several “central tensions” and these are exacerbated by the Reckoners support of whichever faction is in danger of defeat at the time. Permitting factions to survive which historically had been wiped out. The Reckoners have permitted the “Empire of Mexico” to survive when historically they were undone within one year. Presumably, this is also occurring in other parts of the world.

                For the Native Americans, the tension would be the loss of their land and the desire to reclaim it.

                The reasons for the Union and the Confederates’ tension goes without saying.

                The Rail Barons tension would be due to the need to create the first rail line to Lost Angels or to fade into obscurity.

                For smaller communities, the tension might just be the need to survive or a general fear of what is lurking in the dark.

                The quick answer would be, the tension exists because the Reckoners know how to push everyone’s buttons in order to create conflict and feed off the suffering.
                The Reckoners told me I had to...

                Comment


                • Andrewfroehlich1
                  Andrewfroehlich1 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I've actually toyed with this idea while doing my weird wars conversion. For example: instead of Ireland becoming independent during the 20th century it's replaced with a brutal occupation by the English which is exacerbated by a very violent IRA

              • #9
                If you watch the video embedded in my first post you can see exactly what I mean. Dead Man is getting close to understanding what I'm talking about. The driving force behind the conflict in the world flows from the central tension. The Central Tension is an axis around which all the actors(countries, organizations, groups, etc) pivot. Everyone important falls on one side of the conflict or the other. The Central Tension/Conflict could be something as abstract as Chaos vs Order or something more concrete like Empire vs Republic. Not everyone in the world engages the main central tension directly but they do interact with a world that is deeply effected by it. Central Tensions can have multiple subtexts and variable positions that many different characters can take.
                Last edited by GregAlso; 08-18-2017, 12:51 AM. Reason: Further clarification

                Comment


                • ValhallaGH
                  ValhallaGH commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Just because you don't like my answer doesn't mean I don't understand your question. Good luck finding an answer you can stomach.

              • #10
                It isn't I don't like your answer but how is his love story (failed ability to Love?) an axis upon which the all the groups or actors in the world pivot? How does Hellstromme's story drive the Reckoner's plans and designs? Wouldn't it seem they are driving him? Even in his PPC he is being pawned. He may be the main Servitor the Reckoners will use to create HoE but how does anyone fall on one side of his conflict or on the other side? What even are the sides? Especially since most of the groups in the world are unaware he even has a plan to do anything beyond make a ton of money. How are people taking up sides along Hellstromme? I could believe that he may even embody the central tension of the world but if he does then what is that tension?

                I re-read the entire section of his life in his PPC and I see they call Deadlands a love story but what is the tension of that love story? Unrequited love? Lost love? Wasted opportunity at love? I don't think I have clarity on this main point. It seems nebulous and vague to me. This is why I am posting here.
                Last edited by GregAlso; 08-18-2017, 05:20 AM. Reason: Typo

                Comment


                • #11
                  Is the survival of the human race not enough tension? If the Reckoners and their minions succeed, that's basically it for humanity.

                  (Spoilers follow, though I guess it's a little late for that this far into the thread)

                  The biggest issue for that overarching tension is that no one in the Weird West other than Raven, Stone and Grimme know what's actually going on, and they're not exactly talking. Hellstromme is a servitor, but he's the one who knows the least about what's really going on. If memory serves me, he doesn't even realize he's part of the Reckoners' plans, despite being one of their servitors. A few people might have heard of the Reckoners, but they don't know their identities. Some might even think the Reckoners are just a sinister cabal of mortals. Even your run of the mill manitou doesn't know the real identity of the Reckoners.

                  Of all the servitors, Hellstromme is the only one who reasonably could gain the sympathies of the heroes, unless you're running a very different kind of game. Grimme runs a canabal cult, Raven won't rest until all non-Native Americans have been exterminated, and Stone is Stone. It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where the literal apocalypse becomes the preference of so-called heroes.

                  So, that leaves you the concerns of mortals to deal with, most of which arguably deal with order vs chaos, if you want to stick to Colville's terms. Frontier vs. civilization, outlaws vs. the law, railroad vs. railroad, Union vs. Confederacy, Sioux Nation/Coyote Confederation/Deseret/California vs. everyone, and as always, the struggle to find "The Truth." Interesting things to consider is that the Texas Rangers and The Agency may hunt monsters, but their suppression of the truth is ultimately counterproductive.

                  To me, Deadlands: The Weird West is two parts "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," one part "Wild, Wild West" and one part "Army of Darkness." The Man with No Name just wants to get paid, James West is trying to preserve the Union and Ash is just some random dude in way over his head who doesn't understand and isn't equipped to deal with what's going on, trying to survive and get back home. Maybe you should think smaller? What is *anyone* doing out on the frontier?
                  Last edited by ellipses; 08-18-2017, 04:49 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    I don't think there is a central conflict that guides everything in the weird west. Instead, there are several smaller, different conflicts, some of which were influenced or ignited by the war of the reckoners vs. the nature spirits, but that's simply because that war precedes all of the other conflicts. Also, that conflict is just that: the reckoners vs. the nature spirits. It isn't order vs. chaos or any other abstract concept. Now, if we're talking about a central narrative theme, I can think of a few. And I say "a few" because you could find a lot of them. Personally, I think Deadlands is simply about conflict as a concept and a study on how unavoidable conflict really is. Powerlessness against inevitability is a driving force for most of the characters and I see it as a big theme. No matter how much history is changed in the setting, new conflict always arises and the world always realigns with a path towards becoming a huge deadland. It's probably not a coincidence that the reckoners adopted the form of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. You could say that the central tension could be maybe "free will vs. destiny", but I don't think that answer will be satisfactory to you either. In some ways, that idea could relate to the classic "old ways vs. inevitable progress" western trope or even be seen as a subversion of the "manifest destiny" concept. I think a lot of what happens in the setting aligns with those ideas. Even though the civil war is technically over, the country is more divided than ever and new, smaller "civil wars" have started because of it. Raven did what he did because he wanted to regain control over the land and wanted the world to go back to the old ways, which is basically a lost cause. Hellstromme is struggling against his own powerlessness against death, and like ValhallaGM mentioned in his awesome analysis, that's the driving force behind most of the events in the setting. And so on. But that's just the way I see it. Other people might see it differently. To sum things up: I don't think you're going to find a definitive answer to your question, simply because there isn't one. I don't think the theory in that video actually applies to the Deadlands setting. So you might be looking for something that maybe just isn't there.
                    Last edited by Augusto Antunes; 08-18-2017, 05:51 PM.
                    "Did I fire six shots, or only five? Three? Seven. Whatever." - Unkempt Harold

                    Comment


                    • GregAlso
                      GregAlso commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I didn't see this as I was typing my last response. You present an interesting idea, free will vs destiny. I don't know why you don't think I'll like that. This isn't really about what I like, it is about what will answer the questions. That conflict has promise. How much do we choose what happens to us versus how much are other, larger forces pushing us? How much can we really change the world? That is interesting. But I'm not sure if that is the right one for this world. In that case the Reckoners would be destiny? I guess it could work because we already have a Hell on Earth as a definitive future that has 'happened' and the heroes are trying to stop it. I'll need to think about it.

                      You also present the Nature Spirits as the enemy of the Reckoners. I'm not sure I've seen that. I always thought of the Nature Spirits as ambivalent toward the Reckoners unless they encroached on their territory. I'd be interested if this idea flushes out. Do the Nature Spirits really fight against the Reckoners and try to stop the Reckoners machinations? Do they care that the 4 are becoming increasingly more powerful? I don't know.

                    • Augusto Antunes
                      Augusto Antunes commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The war and animosity between the Reckoners and the nature spirits is presented in the Marshall's Handbook. It's part of the backstory of the setting and it leads to the banishment of the Reckoners to the Hunting Grounds. Also, I don't think the Reckoners would actually "be" destiny. I was talking about "free will vs. destiny" simply as a general narrative theme. They could be seen as agents of destiny - or better yet, as agents of conflict - but I honestly don't think it matters. That original conflict is much more akin to a very simple "good vs. evil" than anything else. Still, I'm glad that you thought that interpretation is interesting.
                      Last edited by Augusto Antunes; 08-18-2017, 07:32 PM.

                  • #13
                    Ok, first, most every table top RPG is concerned with the survival of the human race or free peoples or other such calamity. Heroes are almost always put in stories wherein their failure would bring about the end of the world. Most heroes tales have these same stakes, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. So, no, the end of the human race is not the central tension. The end of the human race is the stakes involved. The level of the stakes in a story determine how important it is for our heroes to succeed and how invested we get in the story, assuming we connect with what is at stake. Additionally, the Reckoners can't destroy the human race entirely or their food source (Fear source) would also disappear. So, the entire human race won't become extinct or the Reckoners die too.

                    The Central Conflict of the Deadlands universe seems to need to include the Reckoners and their plans and designs for earth. But that is just it, I can't put my finger on what they really want but to be present on earth and they need fear to do it. Their goal is to leave the Deadlands by bringing them to earth. Why do they want to do that? What do they gain? The more I think on this the less I understand it.

                    It seems the central conflict is their desire to rule on earth and humanity's desire to stop them? And that begs the question who are the Reckoners actually in direct conflict with? It seems nobody and nothing. Some random people from time to time get in their way but those random heroes are just lone wolfs? Do they stand in for some part of humanity? The only thing seemingly stopping the Reckoners is that they must act subtly or risk raising the suspicion of mankind. I'm mostly just typing this stream of consciousness because I really don't know. Im hoping something I type might trigger someone else to give a solid explanation for these questions.
                    Last edited by GregAlso; 08-18-2017, 06:13 PM. Reason: Typo

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Ok, I guess I spoke too generally when I said the survival of the human race. Humans certainly survive in HoE, but I'm pretty certain most people wish they hadn't.

                      And is it even possible for human beings to understand the motivations of otherworldly evil ancient spirits? What we know is that, until the world is a Deadlands, it's not safe for the Reckoners to walk free on Earth. That means that their minions have to do all the dirty work for them, which also robs the Reckoners of all the "fun." Until they can walk the Earth, they don't get to participate in the horror done in their names. Maybe it's that simple. They're the personification of all the horrors that humans inflict on each other, but all they can do is watch? Lame.

                      Really, if there's one central theme of Deadlands: The Weird West, it's really just a story of the atrocities man inflicts upon man and their indifference to that suffering. Stone was killed by his own men because he was a vicious sadistic cuss who'd been abused by his family, Grimme was killed and consumed by his own desperate followers, Raven isn't compelled to kill the white man if his tribe isn't wiped out, and Hellstromme's wife slipped away from him while he concentrated on his own ambition.

                      I'm actually in agreement with Augusto up above, I don't think Deadlands fits into any one category that Colville is discussing. I think there are many themes that you could focus in on, and it's entirely up to you whether or not you focus on the meta story at all. You could probably run an entire campaign of monsters-and/or-bandits-of-the-week without ever touching on the main story and the players would have a blast.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by GregAlso View Post
                        Ok, first, most every table top RPG is concerned with the survival of the human race or free peoples or other such calamity. Heroes are almost always put in stories wherein their failure would bring about the end of the world. Most heroes tales have these same stakes, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. So, no, the end of the human race is not the central tension. The end of the human race is the stakes involved. The level of the stakes in a story determine how important it is for our heroes to succeed and how invested we get in the story, assuming we connect with what is at stake. Additionally, the Reckoners can't destroy the human race entirely or their food source (Fear source) would also disappear. So, the entire human race won't become extinct or the Reckoners die too.
                        I don't think the Reckoners want humanity extinct. They want dominion over the earth and mankind to be cowed and enslaved by fear.

                        Originally posted by GregAlso View Post
                        The Central Conflict of the Deadlands universe seems to need to include the Reckoners and their plans and designs for eart. But that is just it, I can't put my finger on what they really want but to be present on earth and they need fear to do it. Their goal is to leave the Deadlands by bringing them to earth. Why do they want to do that? What do they gain? The more I think on this the less I understand it.
                        They are trapped in the Hunting Grounds against their will. It is a prison to them. They want to turn the world into a deadland and regain free entrance to our plane of existence. They want to rule it. They're motivated by vengeance and desire for power. In some ways that's exactly the same motivation Raven had for what he did, only in a much bigger scale. No wonder they got along so well.

                        Originally posted by GregAlso View Post
                        It seems the central conflict is their desire to rule on earth and humanity's desire to stop them? And that begs the question who are the Reckoners actually in direct conflict with? It seems nobody and nothing. Some random people from time to time get in their way but those random heroes are just lone wolfs? Do they stand in for some part of humanity? The only thing seemingly stopping the Reckoners is that they must act subtly or risk raising the suspicion of mankind. I'm mostly just typing this stream of consciousness because I really don't know. Im hoping something I type might trigger someone else to give a solid explanation for these questions.
                        The original conflict that sets everything up is just the war of the reckoners vs. the nature spirits that results in their banishment to the Hunting Grounds. The event that sets their plan to regain control of our world in motion is the consequence of Raven's actions, based on his own personal conflict. That leads to the final divide between the north and the south. What escalates everything from that point on is mostly Hellstromme’s personal quest. The main narrative line that permeates the story is the reckoners influencing and manipulating all of those other conflicts and personal quests/vendettas in order to achieve their goals. Everybody else is simply caught in the middle of all those other conflicts and forced to decide which side they’re on and what to do with the truth once they find out about it. It’s more complicated and elaborate than just a “central tension”. Like we’ve been telling you, you’re looking for something that isn’t there. The concept of a “central tension” as presented in the video you shared simply does not apply to the Deadlands setting. There isn’t a “central tension”. Instead, there are a lot of different conflicts that may or may not relate to each other in a number of different ways.
                        Last edited by Augusto Antunes; 08-18-2017, 09:11 PM.
                        "Did I fire six shots, or only five? Three? Seven. Whatever." - Unkempt Harold

                        Comment

                        Working...
                        X