Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Factions: Triocheans

You head down the street, paycheque in hand, headed to the market. Knowing you need to cash out your cheque, you look for a moneylender. There's one -- but the rates for changing are ridiculous. Another -- also overcharging. A third... and fourth... Eventually, you realize that you aren't going to find a better price, because the Triocheans control all the lenders. Maybe if you join, too, you can get a fair price... The Triocheans control the City's money, running their world according to the principles of laissez-faire and social Darwinism. And, of course, they want to help the Elder Trio expand the City of Lives' power to become the greatest mercantile power in all the Realms.

Archetype: The merchant is usually a side character in heroic fantasy. For Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and others of the Sword & Sorcery genre, they exist on the periphery, simply for the heroes to sell their loot to. In Tolkienian heroic fantasy, merchants and moneylenders have even less prominence, seldom appearing at all. Even in modern, darker fantasy like A Song of Ice and Fire, those with the money are usually the villains -- more important, but less flattering. The Triocheans are an attempt to reorient the focus -- they may not always be the heroes (nobody is in the City of Lives), but money is important. Those that have it are movers and shakers in the City, as important as the nobility, if not more so. And, more importantly, money does not need to corrupt. It may, but among the Lex Luthors and Mr. Potters, there are also a few Tony Starks and Bruce Waynes (not to imply that one has to be a superhero to make a difference in the City).

Real-Life Inspiration: The people who care about money, obviously. Those who have it, those who want it, those who spend their lives in pursuit of it. Businessmen. Oil Barons. Social Darwinists. Anyone who believes problems can be solved by throwing money at them is a Triochean at heart. And let's be honest: a lot of problems can be solved with money. Triocheans are not inherently selfish people -- in fact, they have great goals for the betterment of their society, from charity through expansion of trade rights.

Theme: "Enlightened self-interest" is the Triochean credo. They believe that every person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and succeed in this world, by working within or exploiting the system. In fact, they believe that if everyone were always out for themselves and only themselves, but without the desire to one-up their neighbors, everyone would end up rich and happy. Similar to Ayn Rand's objectivism, Triochean philosophy believes in self-determination and laissez-faire.

Twist: The Triocheans follow the almighty solu (the unit of currency in the City, if you've forgotten), but they also follow the Elder Trio, the reclusive, mystical beings who rule the City. Their beliefs are founded on the idea that they are following the Trio's example by not interfering in the lives of citizens and businessmen. What would happen if the Trio reversed their policies and got involved? Would the Triocheans follow their newly-active rulers, or would they believe that the Trio had betrayed their own standards and fight against them? Perhaps a whole other faction would arise, the Triocheans splitting in two like religious sects. An interesting thought...

Well, thank you for following me through this rather extended trip through the various Factions of the City. For the next while, we're going to try a little something different, as I show you another of my projects -- an adventure I'd like to try publishing (for free? for cheap?), and we'll muddle through turning it from scattered notes and notions into something people can follow and play. Join me next time as we begin to examine Terra Incognita!