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Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture
Thean Politics in this new edition.

Just a thought I was having while looking at the new map and noticing a few things that are different. I was hoping for more things that could be different. I wanted to start a thread discussing the politics as depicted in Theah in comparison to historical (or romantic) Early Modern Europe. My first thoughts were on how Vodacce was portrayed in 1st edition and things I would like to see in 2nd edition.

In 1st edition Vodacce was portrayed as 7 principalities that each had an island capital and a set amount of territory on the Vodacce mainland. There was little mention of maritime republics or countryside villas on the mainland. There was an implication that the Vodacce merchant league would occasionally meet in the declined city of Numa to settle disputes, and that some even had residences there, but it was all too evenly distributed. The houses of Vodacce were not just equal to eachother, but far too similar, with few political differences other than the personalities of the princes themselves.

What I would like is if different Vodacce principalities acted less like city-state monarchies (at least not all of them) and more like actual merchant republics. Some could have dominating families (like the Medici dominated Florence and the Barbarigos dominated Venice), but the republics themselves were made up of many guilds and merchant families, each with their own colonial investments. I could see one of these republics trying to hold colonial holdings off the coast of the Crescent Empire much in the same way Venice did. If you want the drama found in Shakespeare's Othello you need a maritime republic with feuding senators and mercenary ship captains hired from far off places (heck, having an Ifri native Merchant Marine captain who married a Vodacce senator's daughter would fit perfectly in this new Theah). And there's the was between the republics. Often they were simple territorial/claim disputes or based on securing ports and access to trade or embargos. But a chance to RP a condotiero knight working for pay between different wars between Vodacce cities.

There were also republics known not only for their navies but also for producing different arts. Florence was a home to many patrons of the arts, hence why so many Renaissance artists and architects took up residence there besides for Rome. I wonder if Villanova being so far inland is going to play the role of Florence of Milan instead of Venice. There's also Genoa known for its spice trade nearly as much as Venice. Siena was known for its seminary and Ancona for its fish and other foods.

There is something else I want to mention but it is a touchy subject. So if people do not want me to address it let me know. The subject is the portrayal of the Vaticine Church and how it differs (or does not differ) from the Early Modern political attitudes of the Papal States and the Papacy. I have quite a few thoughts on this, not negative mind you, but still thoughts none the less. However, talking about real world religions, even in just an historical context, can be sensitive for some people and I understand that sensitivity.

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Cthulhu Netobvious
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@SethWoolwine, these forums are like Vegas. Whatever happens on these forums or my games stays in-forum and in-game. So feel free to discuss in-game religions and in-game politics but avoid as much as possible all explosive real world issues except if you need them as reference. Debates will take place only over in-game issues, never real ones. So set sail at your convenience.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

Well, about the Vaticine church, I was hoping for a supplement detailing it much like how we got in 1st edition. But it's objections to slavery and support of science raises a big problem: why would that stop any powerful nobles from having slaves anyways, and from people from doubting science on their own?

The latter question is addressed with the Inquisition: a whole faction of the church does indeed doubt science with a quite literal fury thanks to the teachings of the false...I mean.... Third Prophet, ahem..... being radicalized much like fundamentalist extremists in many religions (anything from the ISIS to the Yellow Turban Rebellion come to mind in relation to that).

For the former though, this can be easily rectified by having slavery not be such a common practice as it was in history but I do not see what is stopping villains from practicing slavery. The Church I cannot see stopping villains in Theah because they never managed to stop them from doing sorcery or other "sins" they condemn either. What's exactly stopping villains in Theah from having the a great deal influence or position in the Vaticine Church. What's stopping corrupt men and women from being cardinals and even a heirophant in the Vaticine. Perhaps even the Heirophant himself is a villain (which would be quite entertaining mind you, i.e. a theatrical Alexander VI). I do not see how a simple church condemnation would stop the practice of slavery anymore than it has stopped anything else. Even if we ignore what happened in history, Theah still has plenty of prostitution, sorcery, adultery, and conspiracies which Vaticine doctrine condemns. And don't get me started on the Objectionists since their churches have virtually no political autonomy to begin with (not counting a Realist government take over that I could see happening in Avalon or Montaigne, as well as the Realist colony mentioned to be in Arcadia).

I am not saying I expect slavery in the setting, mind you. I am just very curious as to what the writers can come up with to explain it away if it is not going to make a presence on the scene. Most RPGs I play do indeed have some sort of slavery in the setting because, lo and behold, slavery is still widely practiced today (albeit not in the 1st world, which is pretty much where all of us playing the game live). Space operas, cyberpunk settings, fantasy settings, etc., all have some form of slavery in them typically. Even in Utopian Star Trek slavery is still a common practice, but not for the Federation (unless you count holograms). So to explain it away in this setting is a doable, but not a simple task.

So frankly I am curious, not concerned just very curious, as to what kind of power the Vaticine Church has that they can prevent slavery, particularly since they were not able to prevent sorcery, serfdom, or routine adultery (if Vodacce is still going to have the widespread practice of courtesans).

This is not a writing advocating for the depiction of slavery, but a musing on how the absence of slavery would be lampshaded. I originally wrote this comparing it to the historical Catholic Church and their dealing with the Conquistadors and the slave trade but I decided against it, according to the advice given by @Cthulhu_Netobvious.

 

Tilly Bomas
Tilly Bomas's picture

Well, I would guess that depends how the Church will be portrayed.  IRL, The Papacy was quite powerful, and many rulers did what they could to appease the Church, but that did not stop them from sometimes going against it.  Their was a balance.  The church IRL, actually Condoned Prostitution in it's early days, as a nessicary evil.  It wasn't seen as being an Adulterer, because it was a paid profession.  (Semantics).  Also, despite giving the entire Western Hemisphere to Spain, that didn't stop Englad and France and others to eventually go there... it just slowed them down.  

 

As for the Vatacine, and it's takeover by the Inquisition, which still seems to be canon, it really depends how much power they have.  If they have the Papal Army, plus the support of the faithful, and the like, it could possibly stand up to other nations.  IF however, they are just a band of clergy, with some church guards, and possible support from the populace, that changes things.  One thing will be, is a population supportive of it's monarchy, or it's faith?  Many an uprising happened because the church requested it, or because of the Protastants, who rejected the church.  I know in 1st most people did not like the Inquisition, which did down some of the churchs power, but some followed because, it was the church.  

 

As for Sorcery, again, would probably just be one of those 'overlooked' doctrines.  Since in 1st, I believe Sorcery Predated the Church, it was more established, and thus, the church couldn't just stomp it out like it was nothing.  However, sorcerers cruel practices, were what brought the Church into existence, so who is to say.  Also, the church did a pretty good job wiping out one whole line of sorcerers, and other sorcerer bloodlines were in hiding, until Leon made his announcment public.  So to say it had no impact on them would be false.  But the church was not as powerful as some nations, and needed the support of Castille, for example, in order to carry out some of it's will.  

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

I'm not expecting the Vaticine Church to be able to wipe out such practices, but certainly curtail them, which is my point. I can see the church doing the same thing to slavery but not wiping it out.

As far as the monarchy vs. church thing I expect it to more often be (except in the case of Montaigne) a nobility versus church practice. Example: if villainous conquistadors started enslaving natives of the New World I doubt an Castillian king would condone it, but just be unable to stop it. That's when the people would have to decide between supporting their local lord/governor or the king and church. This sort of thing actually happened when Carlos II of Spain (Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire) outlawed racism and discouraged slavery to the point of almost outlawing it. He was completely ignored by the nobility conquering the New World on both of those accounts but if something like that happened in 7th Sea I could see heroic PCs leading the charge against villainous conquistadors, and even have the legitimacy from the king to do it.

Speaking of the Inquisition, I was not necessarily a fan of the Inquisition being cartoonishly evil but I will not complain that much because, well, most evil villains in this setting are supposed to be cartoonishly evil to begin with so I do not have the room to complain anyways.

Silver Rapier
Silver Rapier's picture

I am by no means well versed in the history of religion and its relationship with science in real life, but as far as 7th Sea goes, here's what I got:

One of the cornerstones of the Vaticine Church is that Theus created the world as a riddle to be solved for his people. It's one of the core beliefs, hence the big support of science. We also have to consider that sorcery is a very real thing in Theah, so supporting science in an effort to combat or curtail sorcery makes sense.

About practices that the church deems unsavory, such as slavery and the practice of keeping courtesans in Vodacce, we have to consider human nature here. Let's take a Vodacce noble as an example: he decides to enslave natives from the new world or Ifri for some purpose. The Church may object, but if they want to take action they will have to either appeal to a higher authority than the slaver, stage a popular uprising against him or beat him through manipulations behind the scenes.

Here's the problem: the common people of Vodacce are unlikely to be affected negatively by their lord taking slaves. They might even benefit if it gives them a source of revenue (building housing for them, feeding them, etc.), so the Church might have trouble getting them to act against it. If it doesn't affect them personaly, they won't care. As for appealing to a higher authority, well that would be the Princes. Bernoulli and Vestini? Sure, they would probably do something about it. Caligari and Villanova though? Not so much. And the other Princes couldn't really do anything without starting a war, which would affect the people directly and be a huge risk for the rulers. Again, they might choose discretion over action because it's not 'their people' being affected.

Economics play a big role in this too: goods produced by slaves are cheaper and thus more appealing. Slavery is also big business. It's hard to get people to listen to moral objections when greed gets into it.

About the courtesans: just about every man in the nobility does it. It's hard to move against an entire social class, especially when it's the one at the top and, again, it doesn't affect the common people directly. The lords want to sleep around with women other than their wives? Ok fine, as long as it's not my wife/sister/daughter.

TL:DR: The Church can't act alone and getting people to care enough to do something about the problem is no easy task.

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

That kind of frames the problem I am talking about with a good example. So if we cannot count on the church's influence alone from preventing slavery in the setting, should we just accept it happening but that only villains do it? It would be a good plot hook for heroic PCs to try to free slaves (at least IMO).

Silver Rapier
Silver Rapier's picture

I would say that it depends on how you want to play your campaign. 7th Sea tends to favor black and white morality (heroes VS villains), but you can make it grayer too. Some cases would be blatant slavery: men, women and children are taken from their homeland and sold as cattle. They don't get paid and can be abused or killed on a whim. That is textbook slavery.

But what about the Vesten 'thralls'? A lot were captured in raids, but just as many were born and raised in Vesten. They have the same culture and religion as their lords. They can marry who they want within their class, and their children will be thralls too. But they believe that is their appointed place in life according to Gruumfather. Their whole belief system revolves around this. Are they slaves?

Then what about the peasantry in Montaigne? Their options are pretty limited. The Empereur can and does abuse them horribly. They can be forced to join the army to go fight and die for their country. The penalty for desertion is usually death. If a lord decides to turn them out of their house to build a hunting lodge, they have no recourse. Peasants in every major country (except the Commonwealth based on what I've read so far.) would be in essentially the same position. Are they slaves?

What about the people of Ussura in general? Going against Matushka is unthinkable. You have to obey Grandmother Winter. As long as you act in accordance with what she wants, you'll be fine. If you don't, you can expect a blizzard heading your way and killing your family/friends/neighbors. Are they slaves?

And in Avalon? The Sidhe have a pretty good handle on the Queen. She has to act in accordance with their edicts. Is she a slave?

Finally, what about the Fate Witches of Vodacce? They are not allowed to learn to read and write. Their only option is pretty much to do what their father says until they get married. Then they have to obey their husband. They cannot decide what to do with their life. That decision is out of their hands (sorcery notwithstanding). Are they slaves?

My point is: how broad is your definition of slavery? How commited is your hero to opposing it? How far are they willing to go to ensure that all people are free? What if some people don't want to be freed because of their beliefs? (Vesten thralls, Ussurans, Fate Witches, etc.)

If you oppose only 'classic' slavery that is based on commerce, you'll likely have plenty of support from the Church and the intellectual elite, and you'll be facing human ennemies.

If you oppose all kinds of subjugation (great for a Rilasciare hero), then you could be fighting society as a whole and some pretty nasty supernatural entities. Worst of all, you could be fighting the very people you are trying to free.

And finally, if you are so commited to ending subjugation that you will go against people's beliefs and wishes, aren't you robbing them of freedom? Shouldn't it be their decision to make? (arguments against conditioning not withstanding.)

These are just some fun moral quandaries to put in a game. You can make the issue as simple or as complex as you like.

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

I am in favor is exploring all these questions, in game and out of game. I do not expect to be a universal correct answer to these quandaries. Indeed, I would rather players and their characters decide for themselves.

But I mean to talk about the presence of slavery as an opportunity for that exploration.

Silver Rapier
Silver Rapier's picture

In that case, I guess it comes down to personal preference. If you want to battle slavers, by all means include slavery in your campaign. It can certainly be integrated in a plausible way.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture

Things to keep in mind when you are talking Church power and influence.

In this era, you were a follower of the faith OR a heretic.  No other options were presented.  Follow a different faith from somewhere else, that makes you a heretic.  Fail to tithe, heretic.  Back someone the Church doesn't approve of... heretic.  Tell the Church no... heretic. 

It boils down to a "you are with us or against us" attitude. 

Now what happens if you are against them?  first off, you run the risk of arrest, torture and/or execution.  Both were in terrible conditions.  You may or may not get food in prison.  You may or may not get a blanket.  you will not get medical care.  Your family will be watched, possibly accused as well and tortured, jailed or killed.  You will lose your business because once they mark you as a heretic, nobody else will dare deal with you. 

Major land owner or noble... they will embargo your lands.  cut you off from trade using all their influence.  If you are a Prince or King there will be a push to replace you, excommunicate you or denounce you.  It was possible to survive this.  Henry VIII being the best example of getting away with it.

and once you die, you burn in eternal damnation.  no second chances, no last minute reprieve.  (and this is a very real and tangible thing in the mind of the 17th century person) 

On the other hand, IF you go along with the Church and get their support... next to nobody can dare cross you.

You also need to remember that the Church at this time is a major land owner EVERYWHERE.  If they need the land, they convince someone to donate it.  They control a significant share of the education, Abbeys and Monestaries are often the central government in outlying areas as well as commercial hubs.  Plus the clergy are hearing everyone's confessions.  they know your dirty little secrets. 

Back to that thing about tithing.  They expect around 10% of what you earn.  From everybody.  They get 10% from the guy that owns the farm, 10% from the guy that mills the grain, 10% from the baker who sold the bread.  10% from the innkeeper who served the bread.  it adds up fast. so on top of everything else they can afford to outspend you. 

 

Seth Woolwine
Seth Woolwine's picture

I never implied that the church was not powerful, just not the most powerful and certainly not the only powerful faction. Nobles could get away with a lot. Henry VIII's case was not just denying the church power over his actions but also over his opinion on the legality of his marriage. He could have sex with any woman he wanted and the Church did not even bother looking in his direction. He wanted to divorce his wife so he could produce an heir (rather than just sleep with) another woman. Bastards in English law are heirs, but only if there are no other heirs to inherit (Henry's own grandfather Henry VII was an example of this). The problem also arose that Henry did not personally believe his first marriage was legitimate since Catherine of Aragon was married to his older brother who died after the marriage. Under canon law, Catherine was free to remarry but Henry, feeling guilty for inheriting his brother's kingdom and wife, wanted an anullment that the church would not grant.

It was not that he defied the church on a question of being personally sinful or tyrannical but because he denied the church's ruling on the law that he decided to split from the church and set himself as head church authority in his kingdom. The church is powerful, yet, but only in certain spheres of influence. Vodacce nobles routinely have affairs and have their wives use sorcery and you don't see widespread mass excommunications for Vodacce. Why? Because the princes and their familes don't go around saying they want divorces or that the Heirophant is not head of the church. It often comes down to politics rather than personal holiness.

As for tithing, who exactly is doing the counting? There's not exactly a church tax collector that goes door to door like there is for the local lord or the royal tax office. Tithing, while required at 10%, is still voluntarily done with the laity being the ones responsible for counting what exactly counts as 10% of their income. Are they damned if they cheat on tithing and never confess? Sure. But that's between them and Theus. The Vaticine has very little way of finding out about it. But that's neither here nor there. The Church is powerful, yes, but clearly not as powerful as the Montaignan aristocracy of the Objectionist majority in half of Eisen.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

As posted elsewhere: 

[03/09/2016] [20:15] JohnWick: The Church of the Prophets condemns slavery, so it only makes sense that Théans would be a whole lot less likely to enslave other cultures.

More when I get home

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Is it possible to create a running list of setting changes that have been confirmed from 1e to 2e so far?  We know of some obvious big ones - new contintents, an 8th nation on Theah - but I'm curious if there are any smaller-scale announcements that have been made.  The Kickstarter mentioned Eisen, Vesten and Ussura specifically.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
I would save working on that until we see release. Things still being in draft form are so subject to change that I would hate to see someone walk away on speculation of a change. More to the point, even if we know a thing is being changed, for the most part we don't know how. (Outside of the obvious map changes and Sarmatia).
True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Sounds good to me.

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Apologies for touching on another potentially sensitive subject, but have 1e or 2e mentioned homosexuality in any context?  It'd be interesting to see if one or a handful of nations were more accepting of the concept than others, especially if the church is still trying to figure out if "love" is actually even a real thing.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

I expect the mechanics to be decidedly neutral on such things; for example, the "Come Hither" advantage does not specify "opposite sex" or "someone sexually attracted to you," it just says "another character."

 

As far as setting goes, multiple doctorates can, will, and have been earned studying homosexuality during the relevant period. Everything which follows is a gross simplification: opinions literally varied from district to district within the same city and there is no one way in which the matter was addressed.

 

For the most part, "homosexuality," insofar as it existed at all as a concept, would have been used to describe an act, not a person: “Before the eighteen century, then, it was conceivable that any man or woman might engage in the unnatural act of sodomy, as part of a more generalized “bisexual” behavior. Sodomites were not fundamentally different from anyone else. They were simply sinners who engaged in a particular vice, like gamblers, drunks, adulterers, and the like” (Merrick & Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 12). While such an act was technically criminal as "sodomy," said crime also included masturbation, anal sex between men and women, and pretty much any sexual act not intended to produce a child. The crime of sodomy was treated differently in the various localities touched upon by 7th Sea:

 

 "In the year 1496, a total of 243 young Florentine boys confessed their participation in homosexual intercourse in front of the Office of the Night. Of them, not a single boy was executed, instead only receiving minor fines for their participation in such a taboo. Yet, at about the same time in Venice, Simeone, a young boy of 18, was being publically mutilated for his participation in the same act" (Hajek, Still a Rivalry: Contrasting Renaissance Sodomy Legislation in Florence and Venice, 2015).

 

Historically, prosecutions for sodomy alone were either "uncommon" or "rare" depending on the scholar ("sodomy" was often tacked  on to charges like rape, murder, or treason, either legitimately or to make a crime appear more heinous). Well articulated philosophical arguments for the decriminalization of sodomy appeared as early as 1525 (Antonio Vignali) and were made by some of brightest thinkers of the Enlightenment (Jeremy Bentham’s unpublished 1780s essay Offences Against One’s Self). Powerful political figures of the time were almost certainly homosexual, most notably Fredrick the Great of Prussia (Reign: 1740 - 1786)  and three of the Medicis: Pope Leo X (Giovanni de Medici, 1475-1521), Ferdinand II (1610-1670) and his grandson, the last of the dynasty, Giovanni Gastone de' Medici (1671-1737).

 

As marriage and procreation were both political and economic undertakings among the aristocracy, the institution of marriage seems unlikely to become totally separated from the act of procreation. In the end, however, 7th Sea is a game about heroes and villains: I think that bigotry and identity-based hatred ought to be the province of the ignorant and the evil. That said, no one ever said love should be easy. A prince in love with a duke will likely have similar problems to those he would have if he loved a miller's daughter and for much the same reason: the match is not a "proper" one.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Thank you for that!  The historical info I'm getting on this board is really helping shape my view of how Theah should be put together in my game.

Kevin Krupp
Kevin Krupp's picture

Historical context aside, 1st Ed was pretty much silent on the topic of homosexuality, and none of the NPCs (that I can remember) seemed to have any homosexual or bisexual leanings. While I remember a few examples of women attempting to "woo" a prince or nobleman (the R&C book's section on romance does a good job of balancing between the man or woman taking the traditional "leading" role,) I don't recall any examples of same-sex couples. In general, 1st Ed walks this strange line of at once being progressive while falling back on older and outdated ideas from the genre, which really isn't surprising considering when it was published.

Knowing John's political leanings, my assumption is that 2nd Ed will either follow the same route or take a more overt acceptance of homosexual, bisexual, and perhaps transgendered characters, regardless of historical precedence.

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

It does seem like a very fine line to walk.  I'm gay myself and am certainly in favor of RPGs that don't demean or ridicule LGBTQ folk.  But that being said, I do think that sometimes games/settings go too far in the other direction and portray gayness as no problem at all, when it in all likelihood would be an issue in the setting in question.  I understand the writers are trying to not hurt their readers.  But bigotry and inequal justice can ultimately lead to great storytelling and great games.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

I suspect that 7th Sea 2ed will neither dwell on the issue nor ignore it; I think a brief sidebar will likely handle the topic. Something to consider is that sodomy/homosexuality, from a practical point of view, was an issue politically much more so than morally or criminally. While I am sure such examples exist, I am having real trouble thinking of or finding an instance in which a commoner was charged with sodomy as the sole charge when no nobles were involved; such accusations were almost always used as political weapons among the aristocracy.

 

A fine example of this is Henry III of France; contemporary sources rather viciously go after the king as a degenerate, effeminate, and weak (despite no shortage of female mistresses), identifying his mignons (court favorites) as "exceedingly odious, as much by their foolish and haughty demeanour, as by their effeminate and immodest dress," though these individuals, who were often drawn from 'second tier' nobility, were offensive " above all by the immense gifts the king made to them." (L'Estoile, Madeleine Lazard and Gilbert Schrenck, eds. Registre-Journal du Règne d'Henri III, vol. 3: 1579–81, 4: 1582–84 (Geneva: Droz) 2000). Many of these men were undoubtedly what we would consider homosexual in modern terms, yet the true cause of public distain was their elevation above their supposedly proper station.  When Henry was assassinated in 1589, the reasons were political, not moral; Henry was true crime was being politically vulnerable during the Wars of Religion.

 

In stark contrast is Frederick the Great, who lived, according to contemporary historians, a "heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms ... immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power" (Leopold von Ranke, as quoted in G. P. Gooch, Frederick the Great: The Ruler, the Writer, the Man (1947)). While Frederick's relationship with Hans Hermann von Katte was widely believed to be homosexual at the time, and despite a somewhat cool relationship between Frederick and his wife (no children; Frederick visited her formally once a year but otherwise had little contact), the attacks and recriminations seen against Henry are noticeably lacking. While Henry had copious female lovers, Frederick once explained his bad luck in a battle by stating "Fortune has it in for me; she is a woman, and I am not that way inclined." It is worth noting that outside of Prussia, rivals and detractors satirized Fredrick as flamboyantly homosexual, there is scant evidence either of such characterizations in Prussia or any active suppression of such satire by the state.

 

While the world has certainly changed during the time between Henry and Frederick, it is hard to argue that shifts in the prevailing attitude on homosexuality could convincingly explain the difference in treatment received by the two leaders. Ultimately, Frederick was a successful, effective leader and Henry was not; this likely had more to do with their treatment than anything else. Essentially; homosexual behavior, like any other "negative" personality trait at the time, was largely fodder for political enemies and could be seen as roughly analogous to marital infidelity in that it was tolerated in successful leaders and vilified in unsuccessful ones. 

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Elliot Smorodinsky
Elliot Smorodinsky's picture

The 1e books were, AFAIK, silent on the subject. I worked up the following notes for my game, since one of the characters was a lesbian. This is what worked for us: Your Mileage May Vary. :)

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The Vaticine Church does speak out against homosexuality, but not as vocally as in our world. Acceptance varies between cultures and social strata.

Montaigne: With Montaigne rejection of the Vaticine Church’s teachings, and with the general decadence... err, I mean enlightenment of noble society, homosexuality among the nobility is mostly tolerated. You may get tittered at but no one is going to hang you for it.

Castille: in Castille, homosexuality is an absolute no-no. The Inquisition, in particular, burns people for it. That said, Castillians do understand passion and romance, so individual Castillians may be willing to make allowances.

Vodacce: in Vodacce, machismo is at a premium. Male homosexuality is an instant death sentence. Female homosexuality isn’t, because who cares what women do? (With the practice of Senzavistas—daughters without sorcery—being given away as “junior wives”, it’s actually somewhat common, though never public.)

Eisen: In Eisen, most of the time, no one cares. Most people are too worn out emotionally to get worked up about who sleeps with whom, especially on religious grounds. The general feeling is that you take warmth and human contact where you can get it. Varies a little by Konigreich, of course. Posen, for example, escaped the worst of the war, so it’s slightly less accepted there. In Freiburg, “no one cares” applies in spades—No Questions and all that.

Ussura: homosexuality is disliked, but on general principles rather than religious ones. The Ussuran Orthodox church is silent on the subject.

Vesten: the Vesten actually tolerate homosexuality a little bit. There are traditions of warrior brothers sharing everything (including each other’s bed), and of warrior women dressing and acting as men. But it’s not common.

Vendel: as with everything else, in Vendel, having money determines what you can and cannot do.

Avalon: Avalon severely frowns on homosexuality, but generally doesn’t execute people for it.

Finally, just like in our world, famous people—specifically, people famous for their deeds rather than their position—can to an extent make their own rules. If Jeremiah Berek, for instance, came out as gay most likely nothing would happen, because he’s Jeremiah Berek. The consequences cannot be escaped entirely—just look at what happened to Oscar Wilde. But they can be mitigated.

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Thanks, that's more or less how I was thinking about things.  Other than maybe Eisen and Ussura.  With Eisen in a religious cold war, dislike of the practice could be one area where the two factions are (unfortunately) able to come together.  And as for Ussura, it seems like in real-world Russia the norms of the country follow whoever's ruling it at that given moment.  I was thinking the same for them, whatever that entails.

Elliot Smorodinsky
Elliot Smorodinsky's picture

Interesting. That's not the way I see Eisen at all. There's no war, hot, cold or otherwise -- everyone got tired of fighting, laid down their weapons and went home. The only thing I can see uniting them (because there is far more than the two factions) is if someone tries to get them to fight again on religious grounds. The poor guy would find himself dangling from the nearest lantern, post-haste. 

As far as Russia goes... the norms of the country don't follow whoever's ruling it. (The gay rights movement of a few years ago and the horrific backlash that's going on now is not Putin's doing, in the main, although he may have a hand in it.) The general populace is pretty staunchly homophobic. The aristocracy (and/or the intelligentsia) may wobble back and forth, though. 

There's an amusing story about Tchaikovsky. Peter Tchaikovsky (and his brother Modest) were both gay, and surrounded themselves with young men who were known as "Modest's Boys". The aristocracy at the time did not see anything particularly wrong with that, but the Emperor did, and Tchaikovsky was deathly afraid that his proclivities would come to the Emperor's attention.

One day, his fears came true -- some merchant complained to the Emperor that Tchaikovsky was having relations with the merchant's son. The Emperor (Alexander III) was said to have thought about it a while, and then directed that the case be dropped, saying -- and I quote -- "There are many a**holes in Russia, but there is only one Tchaikovsky." 

 

Doctor
Doctor's picture

The Italians (or more specifically, the Florentines) took one of the more liberal positions on homosexuality found anywhere in Europe and did so much earlier than most other nations who later came around to permissive views. The Office of Night specifically existed to prosecute sodomy and its existence alone seemed to satisfy the lip service needed: dismissals were common and very nearly all penalties were penance (fast for 10 days) or fines, as opposed to the option in most of Europe, which was death, possibly in a painful manner. I think Vodacce might be more likely to tolerate a "boys will be boys" attitude, especially when the stigma of "homosexual" didn't exist, only a sexual crime, which also covered the following: "any act that did not serve the purpose of procreation; additionally, homosexual sex, sex with members of the clergy, acts of bestiality, and sexual intercourse in any position that was not the church-accredited missionary position." I have trouble with the people who invented the term 'fellatio' also making it punishable by death.

 

In one respect, however, I agree: the Office of Night concerned itself almost exclusively with homosexual acts between men. 

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

I'll absolutely admit to not having read all the relevant material yet, but from the core books it sounds like the tension caused by the War of the Cross hasn't actually been resolved.  As you said, everyone got tired and went home, but there are still the two main church branches and they still don't particularly like each other.  

Of course, if I'm wrong, let me know. :)

Elliot Smorodinsky
Elliot Smorodinsky's picture

I wouldn't tell you you're wrong on something like interpretation of source material. :) I was giving you my view -- someone else can come up with an entirely different reading. :)

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Another take on Eisen and/or Vodacce might be the attitude that ancient Greece had.  Umm, how do I phrase this.

Being the active party was considered masculine, no matter who your partner was.

The passive party was considered acceptable for young men, but unusual for older ones.  It is probably worth mentioning that the age of acceptable sexual activity was younger than what modern sensibilities normally accept.

Taking this to 7th Sea Vodacce would imply that it was acceptable to be the passive partner in young men until they have made some sort of transition to being 'a complete adult'.  Something like their first kill, or getting married.

 

As a final comment, I had an interesting theory regarding modern Theah and the rules of Chivalry when writing up my newest version of the reputation rules. "Chivalry is a code of conduct passed down from the days of knights in shining armour. Traditionally, different standards were expected of Knights and Ladies, but in these modern times people are judged on the manner in which they approach life.  A woman who is an open member of the Explorer’s Guild and wears a sword is considered a Gentleman, whereas a man who has given up violence to become a priest or scholar may well be thought of as a Lady and expected to ignore insults rather than respond to them."  This could be expanded to same-sex partnerships, in a way.

 

Doctor
Doctor's picture

As far as "active" and "passive" partners, both the permissive courts of Florence (Office of Night) and the rigid, 'burn you at the stake' courts of Venice (Council of Ten) employed this distinction and took this into account when devising and determining punishments. I suggest a read of Still a Rivalry: Contrasting Renaissance Sodomy Legislation in Florence and Venice, which even details how the Italian (and ultimately, Roman) concept of virtu came into play for such situations.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
Very nice twist on the swords as symbols rather than traditional physical characteristics. Though it would work mostly with the highborn who open-carried rather than the lowborn who concealed-carry knives.

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
There is a simple rule @TrueIskandar, no matter what the in-game treatment or portrayal may be, "out-of- game", the GM should always remind everyone to treat everyone we with respect. And for contentious "in-game" issues, the GM should also remind players not to go overboard with any nasty behavior even if an in-game character is playing the bully archetype. Plus, nobody should be offended with any in-game content if out-of-game players remain courteous.Which is why, I will not object to "in-game" slavery if it has a logical place in-game. Unless your players are pre-13, of course. ;-)

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

Cthulhu Netobvious
Cthulhu Netobvious's picture
Same principle on these forums. Everyone is welcome to state their views. No personal insults allowed. We are not here to convince anyone because adults are free to make up your own minds. If there is need for a duel, I may setup a virtual dice-dueling section after the server upgrades. Remember not to be nasty to anyone. If you need to let off steam, then "virtual duel" with dice instead. ;-)

TAJ-07: Technopriest And Justicar Of 7thSea2e

True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

Thanks for that, Cthulhu.  Respect should always be key.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
My take on the subject is that the game never said anything either way on the subject and left it to the individual group to handle it in whatever manner they prefer. The game is very overt in making men and women equal in terms of empowerment (outside of the fate witch who has power but no empowerment). It was good about swapping gender in descriptions when most games took a male point of view. But outside of a few key metaplot romances, nothing is said about most NPCs. The take away of that should be that if you want a certain NPC (or most of them) to be a homosexual, it won't change the game in any hurtful way. In the games I run, the only relationships I worry about are the ones involving the player characters. Outside of their effect on characters, it doesn't come into play with me.
True Iskander
True Iskander's picture

This seems like the best place to ask a setting-related question.

I've read the core books and am getting through the supplements, and I'm confused by the descriptions used for Vodacce cities.  I keep seeing references to the nobles living "on top" of the peasants.  Does that mean cities consist of relatively few, extremely tall buildings?  Are storefronts and other non-residential buildings constructed in the same way?  I'm just having trouble visualizing how these cities are designed.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture
The islands are supposed to evoke Venice. (Donna in particular with the canals). So yes, the buildings are for the most part multi-story structures with business occupying the lower floors and residences above. Odds are good that fate witches are used to ensure things don't collapse (they could sense the impending disaster if stuff is built wrong and warn of the need to not use a cracked stone or something). The rich and Noble have the tallest buildings because it is a status thing.
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