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Author Topic: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?  (Read 1378 times)

Drewbacca

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"Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« on: 10 December 2019, 04:34:14 »
I am interested in getting everyone's take on this. The first Clan I ever really followed was the Diamond Sharks, I liked the fact that they were not as driven by the warrior caste as other clans. Then I followed the Snow Ravens, I liked their use of warships, then the Hell's Horses for the equality of forces, the Scorpions because they just seemed so weird and currently the Wolverines. In between I have also cast an eye on the Ghost Bears and a few others, but I always come back to the Sharks, Ravens, Scorpions, Horses and Wolverines.

The thing is, they are all pretty much considered un-clanlike, outsiders, and in the case of the Wolverines, completely against the clan system.

What I am interested in hearing is how you all view this. Leaving the Wolverines aside, are these clans really un-clanlike or are they just clans with a bit more character depth than "You dare refuse my batchall?!?!?"
« Last Edit: 10 December 2019, 05:35:35 by Drewbacca »

Frabby

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #1 on: 10 December 2019, 06:10:55 »
I think the differences between individual Clans are grossly overstated. From a normal person's viewpoint, it'd be hard to tell one Clan Warrior from another - they're (bred and raised to be) dangerous aggressive sociopathic egomaniacs by anyone's standard and will beat you to a pulp on the spot if you disagree. The Begbie character from "Trainspotting" is what I would compare the Clan warrior mindset to.

Beyond that, it's a case of the early comic-style beer-and-pretzels BattleTech game colliding with the more mature CGL era BattleTech scifi universe.

In their raw early stages the Clans were portrayed as a culture that I always felt could never work. Then again, skirting Rule 4, it's astounding what governments in the real world can enforce on their subordinate populations (or manipulate them into) when the cuffs are off, so maybe the Clans aren't as far out there as my pampered liberal self likes to think after all.

Over time, as authors explored the Clans ever deeper, we got to see that their culture is rigid but more nuanced that it appeared at first. Phil Lee in particular can be credited with putting a veneer of realism on the Clans.

In retrospective, you could argue that the Inner Sphere - who served as the viewpoint for real-world players and readers - only got a warped idea of Clan culture through the Warrior caste who ran roughshod over the IS in the Clan Invasion. It was not until much later that anyone got a good look at the Homeworlds, the civilian castes, or life under Clan occupation. The Warriors are not the end all-be all of Clan culture, but they style themselves as its pinnacle and that was all the IS ever knew of the Clans.

That said, they had the Wars of Reaving coming for a long time, and Clan "culture" imploded pretty much along the obvious lines where it should. Even if that happened a century or two late. Their contact with the Inner Sphere was a watershed moment that put Nicholas' mad vision to a reality check and it fared poorly. The Clans have been adapting ever since.

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AlphaMirage

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #2 on: 10 December 2019, 08:00:15 »
I always felt as though the Jade Falcons and Smoke Jaguars gave the readers and Inner Sphere one view of the clans that might not be quite as complete as it seems.  The Falcons are the die-hard OG "True" Clanners, the Smoke Jaguars are "Might makes Right" pirates, really the only other comparable clan to that is the Steel Vipers.  Every other clan is "Weird" in comparison to these guys. 

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #3 on: 11 December 2019, 03:34:45 »
Every Clan believes itself to be the epitome of Nicky's vision of a perfect society, it's everyone else who's un-Clanlike.  And if he didn't necessarily spell out the way they do business as being the correct way to do things, well, it's obvious that that's what he meant.
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Sjhernan3060

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #4 on: 11 December 2019, 12:28:41 »
Every Clan believes itself to be the epitome of Nicky's vision of a perfect society, it's everyone else who's un-Clanlike.  And if he didn't necessarily spell out the way they do business as being the correct way to do things, well, it's obvious that that's what he meant.


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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #5 on: 11 December 2019, 16:35:05 »
Every Clan believes itself to be the epitome of Nicky's vision of a perfect society, it's everyone else who's un-Clanlike.  And if he didn't necessarily spell out the way they do business as being the correct way to do things, well, it's obvious that that's what he meant.
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massey

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #6 on: 21 December 2019, 22:11:11 »
I always felt as though the Jade Falcons and Smoke Jaguars gave the readers and Inner Sphere one view of the clans that might not be quite as complete as it seems.  The Falcons are the die-hard OG "True" Clanners, the Smoke Jaguars are "Might makes Right" pirates, really the only other comparable clan to that is the Steel Vipers.  Every other clan is "Weird" in comparison to these guys.

Yeah, I kinda feel like there are so many "Clans with character" who have their own unique weird thing, that it's the Falcons and the Jags who are the real outliers.  There aren't that many "normal" Clans anymore.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #7 on: 31 December 2019, 01:45:50 »
I understand finding value in clans that have a unique quirk that suits your personality but I don't understand why people have such a harsh view of the baseline clan attitude. When I first heard of the clans I fell in love with a culture that places honor above all else.

It might sound strange but I am genuinely perplexed that the Inner Sphere didn't welcome the clans with open arms to rid them of their corrupt, manipulative, greedy, selfish leaders to usher in an era of high morals, honor, and peace.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #8 on: 31 December 2019, 01:51:25 »
the clans ......  and peace.

Hahahaha

You said "Clans" & "Peace" in the same sentence.

 ;D ;D ;D

These are the guys that roll mechs in to take what they want if their merchants can't get a good enough deal, that is, if they even let the merchants have a chance at trade negotiations first.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #9 on: 31 December 2019, 02:09:28 »
Hahahaha

You said "Clans" & "Peace" in the same sentence.

 ;D ;D ;D

These are the guys that roll mechs in to take what they want if their merchants can't get a good enough deal, that is, if they even let the merchants have a chance at trade negotiations first.

I'm speaking of peace in regards to the civilian castes as the clan system puts significant checks against wanton, wasteful warfare that would obliterate the lives of civilians. The warriors will always fight but the vast majority of the IS would know peace under this system.

Would that peace also come with living a largely sterile life of servitude to the greater good? Yeah but is that somehow inherently worse than living with the endless IS wars and conflicts in which civilians are often specifically targeted?

Clan culture is idealistic and that idealism appeals to me.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #10 on: 31 December 2019, 02:40:38 »
Even in the Draconis Combine, civilians have more rights than they do in the Clan system (with very few exceptions, most of which resulted from individual Clans changing to become less restrictive).

And the Clans live in a constant state of warfare, there's no peace to be granted, especially given that you now live in a planned economy run by a bunch of emotionally crippled child-soldiers.  The average expectancy of a civilian living on a Clan world was about 55 years for a laborer- that's like living in Nigeria.  And in exchange, you now got more restrictions on how you could travel, what you could buy, and what entertainment was available to you.  Not really a great incentive.
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Maelwys

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #11 on: 31 December 2019, 03:01:49 »
Unless of course two Clanners got into it and your village was in the middle of the area designated as their Circle. So sad, too bad, but atleast Warrior B has conclusively proven that Miller Light is better because it "Tastes Great" rather than being "Less Filling."

Or you're part of the Jade Falcon Scientist Caste and the Warriors have decided that in order to make sure that no Society taint remains, they're going to annihilate every one of you...

Or just be a Smoke Jaguar civilian...

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #12 on: 31 December 2019, 08:55:50 »
I always found it disappointing that the original  novel authors lacking in creativity that they made all the protagonists rebels and misfits with suspiciously 20thC American points of view. OTHO the mainstream Clanners were uniformly antagonists.

I am not sure what is says that the company didn't have enough confidence in a culture they created to paint it in a positive light.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #13 on: 04 January 2020, 14:43:46 »
Unless of course two Clanners got into it and your village was in the middle of the area designated as their Circle. So sad, too bad, but atleast Warrior B has conclusively proven that Miller Light is better because it "Tastes Great" rather than being "Less Filling."

The original intent, at least, of the nature of Clan Trials was to avoid this sort of situation, and we rarely see any but the largest of defined circles including this sort of thing. And in the few examples I can think of, of limited-scope trials incorporating civilian infrastructure, it was evacuated first.  That's what seperates a Trial of Possession from an Objective Raid, for example. Instead of fighting in the midst of your objective or occupied cities, the fight can be conducted in unoccupied terrain, sparing needless damage and waste. If your opponent insists on defining the battlefield to include helpless lower castes, you have ample cause to mock them for being such a poor warrior that they need to hide behind human shields.
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worktroll

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #14 on: 04 January 2020, 14:57:02 »
I am not sure what is says that the company didn't have enough confidence in a culture they created to paint it in a positive light.

Was there ever an intent to paint the Clans in a positive light, in the beginning? I suspect not. They were mean to be an alien, near-unstoppable threat that was at right angles to the Inner Sphere feudal lord system. My take is that they lacked the confidence to get fully behind such aggressive, eugenically driven, and expansionist cultures, and started to 'soften' some of them in what I personally consider sheer revisionism.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #15 on: 04 January 2020, 15:11:51 »
Blame Robert Thurston.
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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #16 on: 04 January 2020, 15:56:26 »
Perhaps.  But Thurston's Falcons were not 'good', in the 'sharing & caring' sense we saw the Wolves in Exile, Ghost Bears, Nova Cats, and Hell's Horses become.

I mean, I wouldn't like to be a lower caste for the Jade Falcons or Smoke Jaguars. But I find the 'average' mindset of the way those clans are described more consistent than the ones I mentioned above. Consistent doesn't mean 'better quality of life', but I find them more believable than the typical depiction of the others.

The Clans aren't meant to be perfect societies - far from it. But "real boats rock"; I'd rather see the Falcons coming down hard on their merchants, for example, than  seeing them join in a big "kumbaya" circle.
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Sjhernan3060

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #17 on: 04 January 2020, 16:30:30 »
Was there ever an intent to paint the Clans in a positive light, in the beginning? I suspect not. They were mean to be an alien, near-unstoppable threat that was at right angles to the Inner Sphere feudal lord system. My take is that they lacked the confidence to get fully behind such aggressive, eugenically driven, and expansionist cultures, and started to 'soften' some of them in what I personally consider sheer revisionism.

I am
Currently reading forever faithful which details the short and long term fall out of the jag annihilation and it does a good job of “ humanizing “ the jags as a society. The lower castes were shocked and dismayed by the defeat of the warrior caste but also longed for the firm hand which had ruled them
 

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #18 on: 04 January 2020, 16:36:20 »
Perhaps.  But Thurston's Falcons were not 'good', in the 'sharing & caring' sense we saw the Wolves in Exile, Ghost Bears, Nova Cats, and Hell's Horses become.

No, but Thurston was the first author to write with a Clan perspective and generally seemed to try to depict the warriors' treatment of lower casts as being justified.  At least the way I remember it.
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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #19 on: 04 January 2020, 17:22:50 »
I am
Currently reading forever faithful which details the short and long term fall out of the jag annihilation and it does a good job of “ humanizing “ the jags as a society. The lower castes were shocked and dismayed by the defeat of the warrior caste but also longed for the firm hand which had ruled them

Haven't read that yet, and must make a point to do so. But this is the sort of thing I - me, no-one else - considers revisionism. After all, we can't be sympathetic with 'bad' bad guys, can we?

(side point: S M Stirling does a good job with his Drakas. They're bad to the bone, and Stirling's craft means you can start sympathising, and then he pulls you up by the nuts.)
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Frabby

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #20 on: 04 January 2020, 17:26:05 »
I am
Currently reading forever faithful which details the short and long term fall out of the jag annihilation and it does a good job of “ humanizing “ the jags as a society. The lower castes were shocked and dismayed by the defeat of the warrior caste but also longed for the firm hand which had ruled them
Well, yes... however I'd argue that this whole novel is a bit of a retcon because here the Clan protagonists do everything right and avoid precisely the pitfalls that led to the Smoke Jaguars' downfall. They're entirely too easy going and sociable compared to their earlier depictions - and there is actually a dialogue in the book where they talk about logistics and how any warrior would (have to) understand logistics... when it was specifically Clan shortsightedness and logistic incompetence that put the brakes on them during the invasion.
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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #21 on: 04 January 2020, 21:11:41 »
I understand finding value in clans that have a unique quirk that suits your personality but I don't understand why people have such a harsh view of the baseline clan attitude. When I first heard of the clans I fell in love with a culture that places honor above all else.

It might sound strange but I am genuinely perplexed that the Inner Sphere didn't welcome the clans with open arms to rid them of their corrupt, manipulative, greedy, selfish leaders to usher in an era of high morals, honor, and peace.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #22 on: 04 January 2020, 21:24:15 »
But, back to the topic, each Clan started off as designed.  Due to the quirks of their founders, each became un-Clanlike to their fellow Clans. 

Blood Spirit became obsessed with maintaining martial camaraderie as initially charged.  They did this to the detriment of their own needs.

Fire Mandrills fractured into a micro-mirror of the Clans as a whole.  Seriously, how did they survive so long.

I could go on about each Clan, but you know the story.  They each developed their own interpretation on what Darling Nikki envisioned.  At the end of the day, each Clan was un-Clanlike, because they each had a different view as to what a Clan was.

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #23 on: 06 January 2020, 17:23:27 »
I'm speaking of peace in regards to the civilian castes as the clan system puts significant checks against wanton, wasteful warfare that would obliterate the lives of civilians. The warriors will always fight but the vast majority of the IS would know peace under this system.

Would that peace also come with living a largely sterile life of servitude to the greater good? Yeah but is that somehow inherently worse than living with the endless IS wars and conflicts in which civilians are often specifically targeted?

Clan culture is idealistic and that idealism appeals to me.

Gladius said it better than I ever could in another thread:

“You’re going to liberate us?”

“Absolutely!”

“How?”

“By forcing you into a brutal caste system where your destiny is decided by your genetics. Your children will have no choice as to their path in life, and simply follow your own careers. Oh, they might, if they are exceptional, be allowed to cross castes, but I assure you they will be discriminated against as much as possible for daring to rise above their station. Almost none will ever be warriors, of course, and since only warriors actually have rights, the vote or agency in general, you won’t have any worries: just labour for the Clan, do as you’re told, and you’ll be fine (don’t do as you’re told, and we might have to wipe out your family: bad blood can’t be allowed to breed, you know).”

“Hmmmm. Tempting. What about our culture? Religion? Language?”

“All culture not Clan is obselete: your customs will change to match ours. Silly superstitions? You can keep those, as long as they praise the Great Father, the Founders and Clan <X>. Language might be a problem: you’ll need to forget all that moon-speak and talk proper Star League English (with the extra words we’ve made up ourselves) like civilised people.”

“Okay, you make a fine sales pitch. Here’s my counter offer.”

Artillery rumbles, a thousand tanks rev their engines, and a million boots start marching ...

That is what it is to be Clan.

Yes, being a Warrior would be ... fun. More fun than a lower caste. I'm reminded of something I encountered in a church teen group back in the 90s. They asked what fictional character they would like to be. Many of the boys answered "Darth Vader", or "Terminator". Why? Because they had power, and didn't have to worry about consequences.

Anyone keep Deathshadow's screed on what he felt it meant to be Clan?
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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #24 on: 06 January 2020, 21:40:23 »
Yes, being a Warrior would be ... fun. More fun than a lower caste. I'm reminded of something I encountered in a church teen group back in the 90s. They asked what fictional character they would like to be. Many of the boys answered "Darth Vader", or "Terminator". Why? Because they had power, and didn't have to worry about consequences.

It's why 99% of isekai fiction is about the protagonist becoming an OP character who got frontloaded with powers and can just run around killing monsters who exist only to be killed while everyone loves them or about the protagonist becoming an OP character who got frontloaded with powers and as such can show how superior they are by sneering at the losers who reject them.
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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #25 on: 07 January 2020, 00:11:57 »
Gladius said it better than I ever could in another thread:

That is what it is to be Clan.

Yes, being a Warrior would be ... fun. More fun than a lower caste. I'm reminded of something I encountered in a church teen group back in the 90s. They asked what fictional character they would like to be. Many of the boys answered "Darth Vader", or "Terminator". Why? Because they had power, and didn't have to worry about consequences.

Anyone keep Deathshadow's screed on what he felt it meant to be Clan?

Is the burden of leadership and promise of an early death among clan warriors truly "fun"? Or even an inherently "better" way of life than the other castes?

On one hand there is the clan ideal, and on the other what often turns into the clan reality but the design is to minimize the horrible and wasteful damage human beings can cause one another and replace it with a sterile environment where individual freedom comes FAR second to the needs of the greater good.

This concept isn't new in our own world but the angle is slightly different. The clan system is a reaction to violence and our own inherent nature of self destruction rather than to an economic or social system. I see the virtues and values of that system as better than the those of the IS. If not better than more fulfilling for the individual. To be a part of something greater than themselves.
« Last Edit: 07 January 2020, 00:13:55 by Slapshot »

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #26 on: 07 January 2020, 00:24:29 »
Except the "greater good" ends up defined by the most hyper-aggressive individuals in a society brought up to revere warrior traits. Trials beat principles, unless the principles belong to a more efficient warrior.

I'm afraid I can't bring up historical examples, as they're way over the rule boundaries on politics/religion. But any oligarchic society - control by a small group by means of power, be it economic or military - never ends well. And oligarchic societies who begin to relax their iron grips rarely survive in their original form.

Going hypothetical, you've got two ends of the spectrum - Falcons, and Diamond Sharks. After the Society upset, the Falcons will need to clamp down on their lesser castes, because any sign of weakness would lead to pressures. But that only means that the lower castes realise, sooner or later, "we have nothing to lose." And one of these days the Diamond Shark merchants will present the Warriors with invoices for use of their OmniMechs, and foreclosures on their ammunition ... and over time, the Merchants become the ogliarchs.
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Hallu

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #27 on: 07 January 2020, 11:15:13 »
But any oligarchic society - control by a small group by means of power, be it economic or military - never ends well. And oligarchic societies who begin to relax their iron grips rarely survive in their original form.

Pardon the question, but I have to ask, is there any polity in the BTU that isn't an oligarchy of some kind?

It seems to me that the clans are slapped with the 'unrealistic social dynamics' thing rather unfairly, because all the factions in the BTU are unrealistic. Heck, by 3150 I'm pretty sure the Combine has done medieval Japanese feudalism longer than actual medieval Japanese feudalism ever lasted in history, and that was hardly a stable structure during the time it actually did exist. Considering that some of these states have been going on since the 2200s, they are all vastly more stable than nearly every state in human history.

Going back to the original question, I'd say that all the clans are enriched by the diversity of their cultures, to a point. The Falcons wouldn't be 'clanlike' if there weren't 'unclanlike' clans to contrast against, and those other clans wouldn't be as interesting if they didn't have stick-in-the-mud conservatives like the Falcons to be different from and all the clans were like 'you do you, man'. Part of the problem with having too many clans is that the writers start running out of differentiating traits to give them, so they start blurring together; the Ice Hellions, for example, came across as basically Smoke Jaguars on (more) meth, so there's a balancing act that has to be made.

If you'll excuse the tangent, I didn't get it for a long time, but I finally realised the thing about the BTU: it wasn't meant to be a wargaming universe where all the different players identify themselves with all the different factions, but a role playing universe where there are definite good guys and bad guys, and you're not meant to identify with the bad guys. The 3025 Draconis Combine and CapCon aren't meant to be sympathetic or have redeeming features; all 3050 clans other than Wolf are supposed to be either evil crusaders or craven cowards for letting the evil crusaders invade. KSD's rise to power seems utterly incomprehensible because they gave her so few positive attributes it doesn't seem she could brush her teeth without cackling maniacally and twirling her moustache; it's mind-boggling that Cameron St. Jamais's facial hair doesn't include a moustache. And let's not even go into Mad Malvina, Deranged Daoshen or Crazy Caleb.

But the funny thing was, players identified with those factions anyway, whether it was because they were 'cool bad guys' or because a writer gave a sympathetic view of them, so there was demand for elaboration of all the different clans, among other factions. All these clans seem 'unclanlike' because the original clans weren't meant to be seriously different to begin with: who really cares what tribe an orc is from in D&D? 'Sympathetic' is antithetical to the original narrative concept of the clans, so any sympathetic traits can seem 'unclanlike'; similarly, because almost every villain faction in the BTU is some variation of oppressive conformist, simply having any differentiating traits at all can seem like a deviation from the hypothetical clan norm.

rebs

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #28 on: 07 January 2020, 12:33:06 »
I wouldn't necessarily call the Clans an oligarchy per se.  Historically, oligarchies eventually die out. 

The Clans, and specifically the Warriors, are more like Orwell's idea of "The Party".   The Party exists simply to perpetuate the Party.  The Warrior Caste exists to perpetuate itself. 

worktroll

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Re: "Un-Clanlike" Clans or Clans with Character?
« Reply #29 on: 07 January 2020, 15:34:35 »
Rebs, which is the very definition of an ogliarchy - a small group concentrating power. We're more familiar with wealth-based ogliarchies, true.

Hallu, the question becomes is there social mobility? Arguably, your comment re role-playing universe is spot on. Davion and Steiner societies have social mobility, and are loosely portrayed as meritocracies. Capellan and Kuritan societies arguably have very limited social mobility, and no-one ever put enough work into the Mariks to be sure one way or the other ;) 

And yes, the Clans are made more potentially interesting by diversification; but 20 (or 14-16) Clans were just too many to develop properly based on FASA/FanPro/CGL resources.
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* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

 

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