Dead Soldiers are the Best Heroes

A very interesting analysis of Rommel.

The Storyline

Now as you know, in Traveller I’m more into exploration and trading… but I dabble in politics and the military every so often. It would be quite interesting to have a campaign — or maybe a three-session mini-campaign — centred on the ‘real face’ of a famous Imperial hero.

The thing I would worry about is that the players like to have the campaign centred on themselves, and not on a NPC. And I think that this is a reasonable expectation.

A skilled player could take the role of the hero: but of course, ‘the One Ring only can be worn on one hand.’ This can’t really be done if there is a great deal of jealousy, with just one character being the centre of the story.

(But the Referee can arrange different players to be the focus, at different times…)

The Front

Another thing from this video: I am greatly enlightened that the nature of your reputation depends on which front you fight, and the nature of your enemies… as well as who you are, deep inside.

It is often said that a man is under stress reveals who he is. I think it’s a good thought, only a little less effective than giving a man power over others.

(The biggest reveal is, of course, “What do you do when you think that no one is watching?”

Yes, that’s another situation for the Referee to place a PC in…

This can be bought into play in a more public way, when high-tech PCs are brought in by a low-tech government to hunt down a criminal with a military-grade chameleon cloak…)

Black and White

You know that I am black and white, when it comes to the Zhodani and the Solomani (And the Vilani… and Grandfather…).

Whether this is accurate or not, depends on what the Referee does in his universe. But I think that there would be a fair number of Imperials and zip-lipped Solomani who would agree with me, in universe.

If they/I are wrong – and it’s the Referee who decides this in his universe, as he determines what is true and false there – showing (not telling!) a subtle shift in perspective would be a worthwhile story to run.

(Naturally, though, I would insist that the moral rules God laid down would shape even fictional universes. For example, irregardless of the storyteller’s rules, the murder of the innocent is always wrong, even in fictional universes. But I never claimed to be a sophisticated modern in these matters.)

High-level Politics

The friendship between Rommel and Hitler was indeed real: but I am not so interested in the Nazis per se, as in the rise of a highly respected Sector Admiral and his Emperor (in Traveller terms).

Whether the head of a military force and the head of a government mutually admire each other… or loathe each other personally, but value each other professionally… or are forced to work together at the moment for political reasons, while knowing that someday, someone is going to leave the conference room feet-first… these are interesting role-playing situations.

And the outcome can be strange, indeed. It seems (at least in the video) that Rommel was unjustly forced to commit suicide, that he truly did not betray his Fuehrer… but that Hitler was fooled by what we would call a Narrative, mistaking it for Reality.

(Or perhaps not: Dictators have a natural suspicion of popular, effective military officers, and have a strong tendency to arrange accidents for them, even if battlefield effectiveness is weakened by the loss.)

Keeping Reality and Lies (and unintentional Illusions) separate is a critical part of effective command: on the Battlefield, in the Imperial Court, and in the Corporate Boardroom…

(Referee addendum: …and the most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

If the PCs

  • believe in A, and don’t believe in B;
  • even after you have clearly shown that A is false, and B is true.

then the PCs have decided to have a Sudden Impact with Reality.

Make it a memorable one.)


About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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