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The Shadow War

Talk about regional management and politics, raider/defender gameplay, and other game-related matters.
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John Sheridan
Political Columnist
 
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Founded: Apr 26, 2011
Ex-Nation

The Shadow War

Postby John Sheridan » Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:12 am

The Shadow War
Or "The Invader/Defender Game As Explained By Babylon 5"

I don't know how many people on this forum are science-fiction fans, but I imagine it's actually far fewer than many other game-based internet forums. I also don't know how many people are old enough to even remember Babylon 5, let alone have watched it; I didn't even watch it when it aired, I was too young. The pseudonym I'm posting this from is a character in the television show, which spanned five seasons and some of the best writing science-fiction television has ever seen. If you're at all interested in science-fiction, it's worth taking the 110 Episode journey; trust me on that.

Now to the meat of the argument. If you haven't seen Babylon 5, there will be some spoilers, but nothing that's likely to destroy your enjoyment of the show if you plan to watch it later. I leave it up to you.

In the show, the humans and other similarly-advanced species were guided by an alien race known as the Vorlons, who were much further ahead of even the futuristic Minbari technologically. Vorlons were mysterious, never showed their true selves, and advocated most strongly for order, which often meant doing what the Vorlons said. The Vorlons, it was said, asked one question: "Who are you?" And were supposed to be able to find whatever they needed to know in one's answer to that question.

Starting at the end of season one, but reaching its height towards the end of season three, we began to be slowly introduced to another alien species, known as the Shadows. Where the Vorlons were order, the Shadows were chaos; attacking largely defenseless, less-advanced species, and then fading into the night. It would be very easy to characterize the Vorlons, who helped and supported the main cast, as "good", and the Shadows, who were violent and destructive, as "evil." I think that this is, however, a gross oversimplification.

Where the Vorlons were good, they were also stifling. It was nearly impossible to get a straight answer out of a Vorlon, with very cryptic and difficult-to-understand riddles in response to questions, and near impenetrable secrecy, they restricted far more than they taught or explained. This is not to say that they may not have had good reasons for doing so, but they were a restrictive, conservative, stifling force as well as a positive one. For these reasons I characterize the Vorlons as Order, rather than Good, because they brought with them both the positives and negatives of Order.

Say what you like about the Shadows and their destructive tendencies, but ultimately it was the Shadows who drove the humans and other species to rise up, grow, defend themselves and others, and reach their pinnacles (largely hinted at at the end of season four). My namesake character described the actions of the Shadows as "the ones who come out from time to time, kick over all the anthills in the galaxy, and see which ants make better anthills next time." This certainly destructive, and certainly chaotic, but it brings the positive benefits of a sink-or-swim experience, and it encourages growth; it is Chaos, but it is not purely evil, in particular when it is revealed the other ancient species left the galaxy and left both the Shadows and the Vorlons in charge. There is a strong implication that there is at least some merit in each viewpoint.

Having watched, and been a part of, the Defender/Invader game in the past, I would argue that while Defenders tend to see themselves as good, while Invaders are evil, a much more accurate description would be that the Defenders are Order, and the Invaders are Chaos. Invaders have such a broad base of beliefs in who they are and who the defenders are that it's hard to characterize this viewpoint as being in opposition to the "Invader" viewpoint, as the Invader points of view are myriad and disconnected in a number of ways.

Working the Parallel

It's obvious that this is not a perfect parallel, but there are some interesting bits which really overlap, for me. Defenders, and Vorlons, are quite secretive, and often keep to themselves. Compared to the myriad light-raiding communities, Defenders tend to keep to their own, and establish foreign relations with other defenders. This is not an accusation, merely an observation. In the same way, Invaders, and Shadows, rely on stealth to operate, to sow confusion and achieve their goals. Defenders, and Vorlons, tend to be much more dogmatically ideological, where Vorlons ask "Who are you?", and Defenders tend to view themselves as being inherently and morally right. Invaders, and Shadows, embrace a more complex vision of their universes, where Shadows ask "What do you want?", and Invaders tend to view the struggle as being being not between right and wrong, but our side and theirs.

Ultimately, in the show, it is the Vorlon maxim which wins true: "Understanding is a three-edged sword." This maxim is heard throughout the series, but it's not until early season four when one of the human characters, in this case my namesake, finally understands it. In an angry confrontation between Shadows on one side, Vorlons on the other, and the rest of the galaxy caught in between, John Sheridan finally shouts at the two impressively advanced alien species:

"I get it now! Understanding is a three-edged sword. Your way. Their way. And the TRUTH."

And I believe that the Defender/Invader game is much the same. Both sides have their ways, and both the way of Order and the way of Chaos, taken to extremes, have negative effects to them. Defenders might stifle the growth of communities which might band together and rise up to deal with Invaders, or grow closer together in the wake of an Invasion. Invaders might destroy whole regions, and their communities, where they fail to grow to meet the challenge provided of them. But understanding is a three-edged sword.

I encourage anybody who's not a part of this game to speak to both Invaders and Defenders, and to take everything that each of them says with a grain of salt. As Lorien said, this is not a battle you can win, "you must understand your way out of this." And maybe when all the neutrals get together and realize that they are the ones in control, they are the ones with the power and the numbers, maybe they'll say to Invaders and Defenders both:

"Get the hell out of our Galaxy!"

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Crazy girl
Retired Moderator
 
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Founded: Antiquity
Mother Knows Best State

Postby Crazy girl » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:02 pm

It's an interesting parallel. And yes, I've seen Babylon 5 too :P

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Kalibarr
Minister
 
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Founded: Sep 05, 2009
Ex-Nation

Postby Kalibarr » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:16 pm

I based Qwendra's current military stance(Neutral in terms of Raider/Defender, but still will raid enemies and defend friends) on the "Three Edged Sword Quote"

Babylon 5 merely took an age old political conflict and made each side a little more extreme, which is why it would be applicable to the raider/defender conflict, because it has become so polarized, that there is little to nothing between the two ends of the spectrum.

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Oliver the Mediocre
Diplomat
 
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Founded: Aug 26, 2009
Ex-Nation

Postby Oliver the Mediocre » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:20 pm

This was a fascinating post. I've been looking for something like this for awhile now, just needed a good way to express it. *bookmarks*
Oliver Marlowe
Quote Love
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time."

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The Murtunian Tribes
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Founded: Oct 17, 2010
Ex-Nation

Postby The Murtunian Tribes » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:50 am

Kalibarr wrote:I based Qwendra's current military stance(Neutral in terms of Raider/Defender, but still will raid enemies and defend friends) on the "Three Edged Sword Quote"

Babylon 5 merely took an age old political conflict and made each side a little more extreme, which is why it would be applicable to the raider/defender conflict, because it has become so polarized, that there is little to nothing between the two ends of the spectrum.

Yes. It's actually pretty boring that way.

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Ballotonia
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Founded: Antiquity
Liberal Democratic Socialists

Postby Ballotonia » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:41 am

John Sheridan wrote:Defenders might stifle the growth of communities which might band together and rise up to deal with Invaders, or grow closer together in the wake of an Invasion.


Defenders ARE the communities which have risen in the wake of an invasion to deal with Invaders. Tito was formed after 10KI was invaded. I myself also got involved in defending after a dutch region was invaded. We've seen the damage done, experienced it ourselves. It is this personal connection where the Defender's moral conviction comes from in the first place.

Ballotonia
"Een volk dat voor tirannen zwicht zal meer dan lijf en goed verliezen, dan dooft het licht…" -- H.M. van Randwijk

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Evil Wolf
Minister
 
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Founded: Apr 28, 2005
Father Knows Best State

Postby Evil Wolf » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:34 pm

While it is certainly true that a good amount of defenders have themselves at one point or another had the pleasure to be graced by the glorious forces of the collective Raider Will, I must also say that many of my best members have come directly out of regions we have invaded. Hindsight is 20/20.
It's ok! You can trust me! I've been Commended!

Kryozerkia wrote:In the good old days raiding was illegal
Crazy Girl wrote:Invading was never illegal
[violet] wrote:There is supposed to be an invasion game.

Mallorea and Riva should be a Game Moderator Game Administrator.

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F3reedonias
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 15
Founded: Apr 28, 2011
Ex-Nation

petition for representation

Postby F3reedonias » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:12 pm

a 'demon' from F3reedonias (these are human-ish folk, who, having been exposed to copious environmental stress, have evolved. They are still "sapien", but only barely. Mating with them is rare, but does happen).
F3reedonians are known by many names; stereotypes that more fortunate folk (especially those who have benefited from the "usage" of F3reedonias' natural resources over the ages and provided many of the source of more interesting mutations...
Those known as 'demons' have specific physical and psychic attributes; they tend to be stocky (often assumed to be 'certified public accountants, especially as they often wear apparel that fosters this view). However; they are often underestimated with respect to physical prowess. The body parts that often appear (to more formal "homo-sapiens") to be fat-bodies are more often auxiliary muscle content. As most myths, there is some factual basis for the idea that this 'class' of F3reedonias are 'fat'; as their brains contain significantly more fat and cholesterol than the statistically normal "homo-sapiens" (on of the reasons there is so much controversy among taxonomists as to the classification of these beings as "homo-sapiens").
One of the outcomes of the difference in bio-brain-chemistry is a tendency (or ability) to influence statistically "normal" 'homo-sapiens'.
(as they say on 'Aquitaine Hunger Force"; the 'rims' don't work on all people...;-).
Basic F3reedonias 'demon' physiology does not (typically) require expressed efforts in aerobic activity to ensure full physical capability. As a result, most of the 'demons' are rarely seen engaging in strenuous physical activity; especially by their adversaries.


The 'demon' from Freedonias named Alfred27 (claiming to come from the region of "Evony server 131) has arrived.
He has petitioned the consul of Babylon 5 for asylum and claims
    a) that he is one of the four survivors of Babylon 4
    b) has a 'letter of consensus" from the free peoples of F3reedonias
    c) that the F3reedonias free people are seeking advice and guidance on entering the larger community with hopes of opening and embassy and
      1) providing an active part in the "World Assembly"
      2) providing raw materials that are, for the most part 'rare' within the sphere of the "World Assembly"
      2.1) seek support and partnership in development of those resources.
      3) await the reply of the consul.
Last edited by F3reedonias on Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Crazy girl
Retired Moderator
 
Posts: 4681
Founded: Antiquity
Mother Knows Best State

Postby Crazy girl » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:45 pm

You're gravedigging in Gameplay with a roleplay post...not good.


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