Jump to content
Coronoides

Allegiance: how do you define light, balance, & shadow.

Recommended Posts

Allegiance is missing from the flowchart (MW20-21).

In the Allegiance section (MW29) the boxed text ‘Three Forces’  makes Shadow sound like ‘evil’ and light like ‘good’. However, Light and Shadow as described elsewhere in the book don’t map perfectly to good and evil. In these descriptions Light places the community first, Shadow the self, and Balance reflects the natural world that cares nothing for intelligent beings. The following table (picture) lists traits associated with each of the traits within the text of Magic World. Both Light and Shadow can be described as evil in their extreme forms and Balance comes across as aloof. There is some overlap.

In my current world learned scholars know that the distant gods are aligned into three philosophical forces Light, Shadow, and Balance. Most people are ignorant of this struggle. Scholars know that these factions do not neatly fit into the ideas of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ used by mortals, but this insight is lost on most common folk who instead tend to think of their gods as good and the opposition as evil. While the gods may not often act in detectable ways observant people can see the influence of these forces everywhere vying for control of the world. Certainly, there are those who swear allegiance to Light, Balance or Shadow and act as agents for theses forces in the world (p29).
In this struggle Balance has had the upper hand for millennia, though never total victory and the Balances influence and creatures have come to be thought of as ‘natural’. Rare ‘unnatural’ creatures like centaurs and dragons are survivors from the earliest times before Balance got the upper hand.

 

How do you describe/ use the three forces in your games?

 

D372A8B3-70A2-4A62-8859-8330FF934242.jpeg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My games have only provided lip service to the allegiance rules because I found them poorly thought out. However your additions are interesting and can work. I am going to run them past my crew and see if I can get buy-in to use them. Thank you!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm seriously considering ditching it because it doesn't really fit my conception of cosmology in the games I usually run, but if I was running a game set in Moorcock's multiverse, or Zelzany's Amber I think it can be useful. Most of the time it's kind of an afterthought to me. I presume 99% of the population had no alignment to a force whatsoever.

If I do ditch it and replace it with anything, I'll likely adapt the passions/allegiances from Mythras; being allied to or zealous about something concrete seems more objective and easier to know when to invoke a check vs. The fuzziness of high level forces.

Edited by Nick J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Usually I don't pay any attention to metaphysical matters of alignment... favoring loyalty to relatively worldly factions, guild, cults and such.

If I were to go more Warhammerish I'd pull in the Law (light), Balance, and Chaos (Shadow) idea.
Our D&D games at school have been set in Aarklash (Rackham's world for Confrontation/Cadwallon) and it divides factions into Light/Destiny/Shadow... elemental properties with 'bad' people on all sides (though Shadow seems mostly bad).

Edited by Simlasa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/9/2019 at 6:48 AM, Coronoides said:

How do you describe/ use the three forces in your games?

Loosely and largely descriptively rather than as a specific mechanical thing when I ran Southern Reaches games. I could see myself using it more in some settings and even less in others, just as with Elric! the whole Law / Chaos thing was quite central in the Young Kingdoms but far less so when running something set in Hawkmoon's World. I largely took the MW Allegiance rules as illustrative of how one could conceptualise and reinforce such a metaphysics for a setting, rather than a required part of the rules. But that's largely how I treat all "rues" anyway.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, NickMiddleton said:

I largely took the MW Allegiance rules as illustrative of how one could conceptualise and reinforce such a metaphysics for a setting, rather than a required part of the rules. But that's largely how I treat all "rues" anyway.

This. In fact, I think that Ben had Star Wars in mind when he was writing/editing that portion of the rules.

SDLeary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, SDLeary said:

This. In fact, I think that Ben had Star Wars in mind when he was writing/editing that portion of the rules.

SDLeary

Looking at my table Darth Vader is a Champion of Light!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Coronoides said:

Looking at my table Darth Vader is a Champion of Light!

In an odd way, it fits too. Part of what drove Anakin to the Dark Side was his desire to do good and fix things. Even as a Sith he wanted to restore peace and order.A Draconian, oppressive order, true. but it does check off most of the things on your list.

Keep in mind that the Allegiance system, like much of Magic World, originated in Strombinger/Elric, so Light=Law, and Shadow=Chaos. Viewed from that perspective, everything falls into place. The idea is that mankind needs the features of both Law and Chaos to survive and progress, yet both forces tend to pull towards increasing their own influence at the cost of the other. In the Elric saga, Law was mostly good, but prone to being too  controlling, and Chaos was mostly evil, but still the source for freedom and creativity. Balance was the power that would occasionally try to step in and keep one side or the other from getting to powerful and ruining everything-on a multiversal level. 

That's also why not everyone wants to use it, as it doesn't really fit all settings, as each side has negative traits that might not go over well. For example, in a historical setting, if you link a real world religion with Light you also give it the negative aspects which you might not want, or which some people could find offensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

In an odd way, it fits too. Part of what drove Anakin to the Dark Side was his desire to do good and fix things. Even as a Sith he wanted to restore peace and order.A Draconian, oppressive order, true. but it does check off most of the things on your list.

Keep in mind that the Allegiance system, like much of Magic World, originated in Strombinger/Elric, so Light=Law, and Shadow=Chaos. Viewed from that perspective, everything falls into place. The idea is that mankind needs the features of both Law and Chaos to survive and progress, yet both forces tend to pull towards increasing their own influence at the cost of the other. In the Elric saga, Law was mostly good, but prone to being too  controlling, and Chaos was mostly evil, but still the source for freedom and creativity. Balance was the power that would occasionally try to step in and keep one side or the other from getting to powerful and ruining everything-on a multiversal level. 

That's also why not everyone wants to use it, as it doesn't really fit all settings, as each side has negative traits that might not go over well. For example, in a historical setting, if you link a real world religion with Light you also give it the negative aspects which you might not want, or which some people could find offensive.

 

If you have active gods (as was the case in Elric's world) or Divine magic the allegiance system works well as a means of determining how favoured you are by the Higher Powers. If your campaign is more down-to-earth it may be less useful. You could use it as an affinity gauge -- people of one allegiance might instinctively recognise each other. I found it more subtle when it was Chaos v. Law v. Balance -- each side has its positives and negatives as pointed out above. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Questbird said:

If you have active gods (as was the case in Elric's world) or Divine magic the allegiance system works well as a means of determining how favoured you are by the Higher Powers. If your campaign is more down-to-earth it may be less useful. You could use it as an affinity gauge -- people of one allegiance might instinctively recognise each other. I found it more subtle when it was Chaos v. Law v. Balance -- each side has its positives and negatives as pointed out above. 

It does, if the active gods match up with the Law vs. Chaos split of the Young Kingdoms. If not, then it doesn't work so well. I wouldn't want it for something like Ancient Greece. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2019 at 11:33 AM, Atgxtg said:

It does, if the active gods match up with the Law vs. Chaos split of the Young Kingdoms. If not, then it doesn't work so well. I wouldn't want it for something like Ancient Greece. 

 

True. Then you'd be better off with allegiance scores for particular deities (maybe counting against allegiance to those deities' godly enemies or rivals of the moment). I think Mythic Iceland does something like that.

There are pantheons where there are different 'sides' where the generic allegiance system would work. For example Zoroastrianism (good vs evil), Tékumel (Change vs Stability), even Hârn (the 'good gods' vs the 'bad gods'). Even the above-mentioned Norse gods have (Hel  and Loki) vs (pretty much all the rest).

One thing I like about the allegiance system is that it does tie game system to religion or at least metaphysics. It's very easy for atheist modern timers to forget the historical (and fantastically-historical) importance of religion in daily life, but game-system rewards are never overlooked. I use allegiance points directly to power religious (ie 'Divine') spells in my campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

10 minutes ago, Questbird said:

True. Then you'd be better off with allegiance scores for particular deities (maybe counting against allegiance to those deities' godly enemies or rivals of the moment). I think Mythic Iceland does something like that.

Yeah that could work. Bascially the sytem in MW is great for a world similar to something from Moocock, with two opposite sides and a third side to counterbalance them, but needs to be fine tuned for anything else.

10 minutes ago, Questbird said:

There are pantheons where there are different 'sides' where the generic allegiance system would work. For example Zoroastrianism (good vs evil), Tékumel (Change vs Stability), even Hârn (the 'good gods' vs the 'bad gods'). Even the above-mentioned Norse gods have (Hel  and Loki) vs (pretty much all the rest).

Umm, not so much. In most cultures don';t really have two sides as far as worship goes. You usually have a good side and a bad side, but there normally aren't many if any open followers of the bad/evil side. 

10 minutes ago, Questbird said:

One thing I like about the allegiance system is that it does tie game system to religion or at least metaphysics. It's very easy for atheist modern timers to forget the historical (and fantastically-historical) importance of religion in daily life, but game-system rewards are never overlooked.

Yeah. Although I think I liked the old Strombringer Elan system a little better. RQ and even BTRC's Warp World also have some ideas that could touch upon this. Names the concept that the PCs sacrifice Magic Points/POW to the Gods who give back magic abilities (Spirit/Rune Magic) as a reward. But the underlying concept for the approaches are all the same. You do something that the deity likes and get something back in return. It's a very direct "cause & effect" relationship that makes things very clear to the players. 

10 minutes ago, Questbird said:

I use allegiance points directly to power religious (ie 'Divine') spells in my campaign.

That's neat. Do you put any sort of limits as to how fast characters can earn allegiance points? There were lot of minor things that characters could do in Strombringer that could net them a point or two. Not so big a deal with Strombringers' DI rules, but something that player might try to exploit if they get spells out of it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/16/2019 at 3:20 PM, Atgxtg said:

That's neat. Do you put any sort of limits as to how fast characters can earn allegiance points? There were lot of minor things that characters could do in Strombringer that could net them a point or two. Not so big a deal with Strombringers' DI rules, but something that player might try to exploit if they get spells out of it. 

 

I don't have any limits on how many allegiance points can be earned; but how they are earned will vary by deity. And as Coronoides suggests, the spend of allegiance points is permanent. My system has the first magic point come from the player, and the rest from spent allegiance points. You could get points back by (for example): praying, making appropriate sacrifices, acting out some of the tenets of your religion, attending rituals, smiting or foiling your religious enemies, preaching or converting people to your religion.

Elric! has the concept of commitment to one of the powers: that you must have significantly more allegiance points (>20) to one power to get game benefits, but this idea is less useful if you have allegiance to individual deities or beings.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×