Monday, March 1, 2010

Warlock High: Society

war·lock
–noun
1. An ill-bred mage, esp. one who uses magic in a dishonorable or irresponsible way.
2. (archaic) One of a former group of black arts practitioners that attempted to assassinate the Sutran Kings.
3. (slang) A person who behaves in an aggressive and rebellious manner.

It started with the idea that alot of the faculty members were ex-military.

It completely fit the school, after all. Warlock High's supposed to be a highly dangerous environment, but I also wanted it to be a place with its own culture rather than simply being dysfunctional- to have people tell newcomers "This is Warlock High" as a way of saying Things Work Differently Here. Making the teachers ridiculously hardcore (even if they seem like pushovers at first) is right in line with that.

There could even be a good reason for it. I remembered how John McCain, during the '08 presidential debates, had proposed letting soldiers acquire teacher's licenses without having to pass many of the exams that'd normally be required. If seasoned faculty members at Warlock High became teachers through a program like that, it would imply that the country was involved in military engagements back in the mid-to-late 80s. Say, what if. . .

And just like that, I knew what kind of society the players lived in. Things would generally be the same as if they were living in America, with wizardly trappings mixed in (such as how the school has both a parking lot and a broomstick rack). But from a big-picture, geopolitical standpoint. . .they're living in a post-soviet republic. Except that instead of a communist USSR, the propaganda-happy ruling body was an elitist magocracy.

I don't have a detailed timeline in mind, nor a clear alternate history for this world as a whole. This is not a story that's going to involve any detailed exposition on the subject of geopolitics; after talking it out with the players, we'll likely just have it be so that most of the world's the same and their nation of Unspecifiedavia is located somewhere in/around eastern europe. What does matter about this Cliff's Notes background is that it mean their society isn't exactly the most stable one around.

To the players, things like cable TV and a democratic government are normal. They've been around for as long as our heroes have been alive- but not much longer than that. Older generations have known a time before these western cultural imports; one where the schools and state-controlled media warned the people about the sinister foreign capitalists whose "modern technology" would steal your soul as you labored endlessly in one of Henry Ford's assembly lines. This era ended with an upheaval that lasted for the better part of a decade; there was no open revolution or clash of armies, but the struggles and violence escalated well beyond the point that could be described as simply riots and protests.

Today, social tensions are still evident. One possible example of this that's relevant to our heroes would be the rivalry between Warlock High and the nearby Cowfreckle Academy. (If anyone's still wondering why I'd use a name like Cowfreckle, it's because the school's initial concept is/was a Captain Ersatz of a certain other prestigious magical institution) Even today, anyone who's somebody in this country's high society either went to Cowfreckle or one of several similar schools (you know, like Goatmole or Chickenpimple or okay I'll stop now). Whereas the people at Warlock High, a generation ago, would have been the filthiest of peasants- acting disrespectfully towards a cowfreckle student was unthinkable twice over, once because of social status and once because they'd be lucky to even know basic magic. But now, thanks to public education and a legal system where all citizens are supposed to be equal. . .ye olde paradigm hath shifted.

At least, that's an academic analysis of the social forces at work. If you wanted the outlooks/attitudes of the people involved. . .well, a picture's worth a thousand words.

(6:08:12 PM) Dagda: This would be a perfect example of Warlock vs Cowfreckle personified, I think.
(6:09:20 PM) Othar: >First panel
Okay I get it, casual vs. badass retro-futuristic, cool, I think I get i-
>Second panel
Oh goddamnit hahahaha
(6:09:58 PM) Dagda: Yeah, more panel 2.
(6:10:35 PM) Othar: I figured the second I got to the second panel.
(6:10:51 PM) Othar: Holy hell it's like the Sneetches met the Grinch for the first time.

In the end, the biggest reason for me to base Warlock High's setting on post-soviet republics is simple. "Is it the duty of the people to support their society, or the duty of the society to support its people?" In nations like Ukraine, there now for the first time exists a youngest generation that is more likely to agree with the latter option. The themes of the school fighting genre- as seen in their punk/delinquent/social outcast protagonists- take on a very interesting significance when they're set in a society like this.

3 comments:

Kemosabe said...

This is amazing.

To honest, I never saw this twist for warlock High coming, but I'm really tempted to steal the over-all setting idea.

That said, me and some friends of mine used to write stories set in a magic-heavy alternate earth that loosely followed our own history.

If you're interested, I can post general time-line and world stuff.

You can totally use any and all of it if you want to- I like where you're taking this game and world-fluff is something I'm good at.

Dagda said...

Sure, fire away.

Kemosabe said...

Yeah, I'll put up a special blog sometime soonish. Need to gather my notes first.