Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Factions: Egoists

You sit at a table in the local tavern, drinking peacefully, when abruptly a large man pushes his way through the doors, dressed in a trapper's leathers and covered in pockets. When you see that he is not even going to buy a drink, but simply sit in a corner and quaff from a hip flask, it hits you -- this man is an Egoist. This society of the purely self-sufficient holds their philosophy to be enlightenment, and don't much care if anyone else agrees... or has anything to do with them.

Archetype: The Egoists have two central conceits: self-sufficiency and self-interest. The archetypal character that fills both is the cynical woodsman. The wise, bitter hermit who has retreated from society is a classic archetypal character. Interesting enough, most of these characters in fiction re-enter society, at least helping out the community: from passing on knowledge to the heroes, to slaying a dragon, to saving the world. Though this "wise, retired hermit" is the core basis for the Egoists, the members of this faciton are not all world-weary and old. They range in all ages, and many pass on the principles of self-sufficiency to their children.

Real-Life Inspiration: There are two inspirations for the Egoists. First is the Taoist religion, as we discussed here. The Egoists believe in a natural path for each person, a true "way" they can follow to reach their true potential. The other inspiration are those people who believe in self-sufficiency: hunters who live in the Alaskan bush, hermits, etc. These people see the civilized world as full of parasites sucking on the teat of government or industry -- charity and handouts are anathema to them [anathema. good word. been using it a lot lately]. The purest Egoists in the real world are those who retreat fully from society, cutting themselves off from out civilization. Backwoods militias and cults on compounds are inspirations -- though those communities often focus on the "common good," just on a small scale, which is not very Egoist.

Theme: The theme her has something to do with self-sufficiency, selfishness, and isolationism. Egoists are strong, vital people, admirable in their ability. On the other hand, Egoists have no sense of compassion or honor. The goal of Kviian Taoism is to reach one's potential without interfering with others -- but if push comes to shove, the Egoist's needs come first, and others be damned. Hence, a true Egoists will be, according to the D&D alignment system, Lawful Evil -- uncaring and running life by their own rules.

I'm a big believer in relative morality: every culture decides what is and isn't "good" and "evil." So on the one hand, Egoists have their own morality and shouldn't be judge harshly for it. On the other hand, Egoists live within the greater society of the City -- which definitely condemns the Egoists' ruthless selfishness. So -- are the evil or not? I don't know. Perhaps it is up to each individual player to answer that question.

Twist: Like the Enders, the Egoists are not the kind of people to have a strong organization -- they believe too much in keeping separate and strong. They are unified only by their common philosophy -- but it is a strong philosophy. There are few believers as intense as a true Egoists, and their tenets are clear. In fact, perhaps they have an actual "religious text," based on but not identical to the texts of Kivian Taoism. This text, like Marx's Manifesto of the Communist Party, Hitler's Mein Kampf, or Mao's "Little Red Book," is non-religious but tremendously influential, and many Egoists take all their actions directly from the precepts laid out in the... I dunno, "Manual of the Self?"

That's what I've got on the Egoists for now. Join me next time for a discourse on the Fallows!