Handling his dual blade lightsaber, Maul came close to Rey and in his soft voice said “Find my bones in Tattooine. Take them to my ancestral home of Dathomir and I can teach you the ways of the force far better than that old fool Skywalker and his simpering nephew ever could. Help me and together we’ll rule this galaxy, my dear apprentice”
Rey woke in a cold sweat. A dream, yes. But also a promise to be powerful might be too good to pass up.
By the time his presidency is over, I think the alt-reich is going to seriously regret associating their “movement” with Donald Trump.
Revived fascism and white nationalism grew to a fever pitch in 2016 at the same time a huge left-wing resurgence was occuring, as a sort of reaction. Due to the Democratic party’s own mess, Donald Trump won the election with less than 30% of Americans voting for him (as always, the most popular candidate was “nobody”.) He is currently historically unpopular, and he will probably only get more unpopular as his actual policies start getting enacted.
At the end of the day, Trump is really just a greedy neoliberal with strong authoritarian tendencies. He’s not a fascist, he’s a self-interested business owner. He doesn’t have an ideology outside of enriching himself. Therefore, most of the policy is actually being written by Congressional Republicans, and they are all exclusively hard-line neoliberals that will continue the exact same policies that led to such a huge populist rise in the first place.
But Trump will take the fall for all the neoliberal bullshit that continues to happen, as every President does, and because the alt-reich associated themselves so strongly with his presidency, they will be discredited even more than before. All it takes is one stock market crash or other regular failure of capitalism, and Trump will probably see sub 25% approval ratings, with the alt-reich screaming into the void with no one left that cares to listen.
And through all of this, a strong left-wing movement is continuing to build steam. The DSA has grown to the largest it has ever been. Redneck Revolt is getting national coverage. Socialist Alternative is getting minimum wage increases in the midwest, and anarchists are feeding the homeless.
Our movement will be larger than ever, and it will be here at the end to go for the final push. The alt-reich went all in, and they won’t have any cards left to play.
[I did my best to avoid spirit names that are too close to any existing shops, but I do not know every shop out there. If any species name in here is close to your own spirits, this was not intentional and is not meant as an attack on you. This entire post is not meant as a point of argument, only as an explanation of my own viewpoint. It does not cover every point that could have been made on the subject (I am well aware that it can be degrading but that constitutes an entire conversation by itself) and does not consider cultural concerns as exclusive spirits, which is another topic entirely.]
Whether or not it has been labeled as such, an exclusive spirit is a race or species which a spirit shop expects other to never approach. These are things which do not exist in mythology (or are merely related to the actual mythological creature) and, in theory, would never be casually encountered. There should be no issue with labeling something exclusive because again, in theory, no one else would be capable of approaching them anyway.
This is a concept I formerly believed in. For better or worse, I no longer do.
My trust in this concept has decayed as I’ve seen the actions of those who follow it and delved deeper into the psychology behind it. There are numerous reasons it doesn’t work when actually applied, no matter how much one may believe in the concept itself. I don’t believe the majority who put large stock in exclusive labels are malicious, they’ve merely been taught from day one about its importance and have not had proper discussions, rather than arguments, about its consequences to form whatever their independent opinion may be.
Quite frankly, most conjurers do not take the time to properly classify their spirits. To me personally, this is one of the largest downfalls of the label.
There are no standards in this business. People disagree with one another, shops who attempt to set precedents are then contradicted by those who approach the subject with a different mindset. There do not exist standards for classifying your species.
In the physical world, there are standards to this. Scientists have precedents for distinguishing species and the proper tools for doing so.
Many conjurers either are not skilled enough to give these explicit details to recognize and distinguish their species, or do not take the time and effort to do so.
Vague names are given by many conjurers. For example, if I merely said Cockroach Demon and claimed this as an exclusive - off the top of my head I can remember seven distinct species of cockroach demons, most of which have equally distinct social classes. Who is to say which species I am offering, or if it is only a single social class? Who is to say there are only seven species of cockroach demons in existence? This doesn’t even begin to cover the number of non-demonic cockroach spirits, or what constitutes a spirit as being related to cockroaches.
This is already messy, yes?
Vague names, no matter how many adjectives you stuff in there, are problematic for classifying spirits. That is the simple truth. Not only that, but if you attempt to use a mythological name, not every person agrees on the interpretation of mythical creatures. Some people argue that only the original mythological gryphon is a true gryphon, while others claim that any spirit who is a hybrid of feline and avian animals is a gryphon. Lines are blurred, viewpoints conflict. As there is no way to enforce a standard, you cannot expect others to not approach whatever a “Red-tailed Gryphon” or “Moon-speckled Opal Dragon” or “Higher lava demon” may be. The astral plane is so large that other species nearly identical to those you claimed as exclusive will exist, and you cannot claim a concept of a race as belonging to you.
But what about the shops who record the best translation of the race’s own name for themselves?
For one, not every species or race has a political structure. Some do not live in any society. Others do, but do not have a single government. Imagine this in relation to humans as a whole. It would not work.
Even if you trust the conjurer to have definitely explored every faction of that race and recorded every single aspect of it, in the end the decision to label them exclusive is speaking for the entire race. Whatever political leaders have made that decision with you are speaking for everyone, down to every last member. This includes those on the fringes of society, those who have left the society, or those who were not born in it at all but are the same species.
To put it bluntly: no political leaders have the power to command those who have left their jurisdiction. If they attempt to do so, consider the implications of this situation and your support over it.
I have personally seen conjurers who will label anything even remotely close to their exclusives as stealing. I’m not sure if they have not considered there being other similar species in existence or if they want a claim over the entire concept of a [adjective] dragon. Even more than this, there are conjurers who do not know where to draw the line for exclusives. There are no standards for this, no enforcement of “hey you cannot claim the entire concept of [adjective] dragon and every individual similar to that description as belonging to you”. I have seen conjurers attempt to label mythological creatures as exclusives, out of belief that they feel closer to the species than anyone else and therefore no one else can conjure them.
But as long as the exclusive label is slapped onto that spirit, it becomes no-touchy zone no matter how valid said claim is or is not. Without a way of enforcing standards, it is impossible for the exclusive label to exist without causing issues. That is the simple truth.
Some will withhold knowledge to prevent others from approaching or conjuring them. Not only are you purposely harming your customers by doing this, but you are creating more of a reason for them to approach the species on their own. If you will not give them the information, people may be forced to approach them for basic information that you were supposed to give. This isn’t touching on the dangers and greed issues of withholding knowledge, too.
I think it’s fair to expect a certain etiquette to exist. People do not browse your shop as a quick list of what to conjure themselves. If you’ve put hard work into introducing some exciting new species, people do their best to support you and your time spent on this endeavor. At some line people may step back and acknowledge, “Alright, I never came across this species myself and have relied on this person’s information the entire time. I don’t feel I should conjure them for others.”
Labeling things as exclusive supports a black and white mentality of either approaching to the fullest extent possible, or never ever touching or thinking about.
If you want respect given to your work, do your best to foster this respect, not to slap hard exclusive labels. These labels do not help. What will help is giving more knowledge about what you conjure, explaining your reasoning for not wishing someone to conjure something, and showing your customers the same respect you wish to be given. Not everyone will show you the same respect, but these people will approach the species whether you have labeled it exclusive or not.
Set the precedent you wish to see. The current precedent is for shops to hoard things to themselves and withhold knowledge.
If a race truly does not wish for others to approach them, others will not be able to approach them. They will be turned away, protections will be put up, the meaning will get across clearly.
If the race welcomes others with open arms, why are they listed as exclusive? If you want to be the only one capable of conjuring them, set that up with the proper people within the race and other conjurers will be denied if the entirety of the race truly wishes to be conjured only by yourself.
Greed is sometimes thrown as a reason for the exclusive label. After getting to know many people, I personally don’t believe the majority have greed in mind when they do so. It’s done out of fear of others messing up their work, insecurity, a need to have something unique.
That need to have something special and unique causes many issues. It makes people want to hoard things to themselves that should not be hoarded. This sort of ego boosting attitude is a trait I personally do not think belongs in any reputable conjurer.
Again: if something is truly exclusive, you should be able to explain this clearly, and others should be incapable of approaching even when full, explicit information is shared. If you cannot share explicit details about the race then what makes them appropriate to conjure for others?
Branching off from this subject, I’d like to explain my personal system for classifying spirits rather than slapping an exclusive label on them. It is still a work in progress, and after more use I’m hoping to have refined and possibly added to this format.
A mythological creature is the exact spirit spoken about within mythology. Or, at least it’s what you and them think is such, with evidence to back this up. Species argue among themselves over who is the actual one spoken about, so don’t think this means you aren’t obligated to release detailed information. You still need to give your customers explicit details on what you are matching them with, especially if others offer it, as they may be offering something entirely different under the same name.
A mythological variant is a species you may use a mythological name for (eg. Snowy Gryphon) but is not the exact creature within mythology. This may be something that is a subspecies, a related species, or another species entirely which has chosen to take the name of the mythological species. This label indicates that the species is definitely not the exact mythological spirit, and you should have fully described the differences between them.
A species classified as Earthern is one which exists primarily on our own plane. I personally use this to describe spirits found in earthern locales rather than astral locations, spirits of physical objects, spirits of lands, and many others. Some examples of these would be the native spirits of Chicago I speak to frequently, some mythological creatures (although these would be given the mythological label), the spirit of the nearest plant, dragons who migrate with our physical earthern winds, and many others. It is a broad category meant for anything that lives primarily on our own nonphysical plane yet is not a specific mythological creature.
Astral spirits are possibly the broadest of them all. This is simply for anything which lives primarily somewhere that is not the nonphysical layer of our own plane. Like the earthern label, this easily includes other labels and is best used when the more concise labels do not apply.
The Realm-Specific spirits have a specific astral location which can be considered their home, and the majority of these spirits will be found there rather than wandering. Many of the “unique” astral spirits in shops are these. To describe them clearer, a spirit merely classified as astral would be a basic hellhound, which arguably has multiple astral locations they come from and travel widely outside them. A realm-specific hellhound would be one that can be traced to a single astral plane or realm, and that species (or subspecies, depending on your view of hellhounds) is not typically found living beyond it.
The Contract-Bound label is for when the point of politics needs to be stressed, although this is easily omitted if one does not find it important to stress such things. The majority of “exclusive” spirits would be this. Something that is contract-bound needs to be approached in very specific ways not limited to creating a political contract. A race which bans outsiders from their cities unless you have been labeled as a friend by a higher up member would be contract-bound. A species which requires proper energetic tags signifying you as a friend before any member allows you to approach would be contract-bound. A race which requires an official political agreement to be allowed the honor of conjuring them would be contract-bound. It is important to note that you should not be grabbing these spirits to yourself and worrying about others “stealing” them.
Finally, the hard Exclusive label should rarely, if ever, be used. You cannot reasonably control every member of a race, unless it is perhaps a small faction (<100 maybe) you are conjuring. If I were to create shoggoths from my own specific eldritch brand of energy, and these shoggoths were so unique and easily differentiated from other shoggoths to be recognized as my own, then perhaps you might consider those exclusive. It’s not as if they could be approached, as I would be the one creating them, and they would be defined by my personal energy.
I will give an example of something I do believe has the hard exclusive label.
A race I will offer in the future, who I will refer to as honey demons for now, have isolated themselves from other honeybee related demons for long enough to evolve into a distinct species. They do not let anything that is not one of their own so much as step foot near their hive. While they travel outside to siphon energy from others, they do not do anything beyond this task unless manipulation is necessary to complete it. They are biologically incapable of non-work socialization, emotions, independent thought, sexual desires, and other such things. You can think of them as a hivemind.
If something within their biology screws up and they suddenly are capable of these things, that individual is considered diseased and culled. They will chase down infected members to the ends of the universe to cull them. Most do not survive anyway, if they manage to hide from their pursuers (which will never last for long, as they will always be chased) then they will be incapable of living on their own and perish.
I myself have gotten into circumstances where I’ve become an energy donor for their queen to safely harvest eldritch energy compatible with special purposes. Due to these unique circumstances, I have managed to convince her to give me custody of any infected members rather than having them culled. They are watched with heavy scrutiny for the rest of their lives, and they go through heavy shock and other issues during their rehabilitation that many do not survive from, but they consider this to be better than guaranteed death.
This, I believe, is a situation in which others would not be able to approach the exact species I work with. It would be impossible to approach their hive no matter how much information I put out there, and the infected workers who have broken from the hivemind would be instantly culled if their overseeing hive members saw them respond to strangers approaching. Their queen does not wish for any to leave without both of us knowing, so that they can be kept tabs on. They are slowly working their way to greater freedom from hive scrutiny and perhaps a long time from now they will achieve it, but in their current position there would be no possible way for others to approach them.
A more suitable name may someday be found to detach this entirely from the exclusive label.
Now, I’ll move on to the other parts of this classification formula.
Rarity is a description of the species’ numbers. It is their rarity within their homeland, their numbers outside it, and their general population size in comparison to other astral species. For a race within a species or a faction, this describes their numbers in relation to their species and society. This is a good indicator of how likely others will be to come across these spirits.
Location is where the species will be found, regardless of whether it is their actual home. For earthern spirits, many still have specific locations which can be described, an environment or a region. For more astral spirits this may be a description of their home realm, or their preferred locations/environments if they wander.
Approachability is not you demanding that others do not approach. This describes their general reactions to being approached, the danger level, specific requirements to doing so, and the difficulty. If they have specific requests about not being conjured en masse, note that here. If you do not want others approaching the spirit or feel they should not be approached, describe why that is here. If you cannot describe it, perhaps you should rethink things before offering the spirit or giving them a label.
Danger is exactly as it says. It describes whatever is necessary about the danger of these spirits. While of course the danger of approaching them outside of yourself should be noted, remember that this is to keep people safe and informed, not to tell them that the species is yours. If they should not be approached, detailed information will confirm this even if you do not explicitly state it.
Relations is the relationship between the species and yourself (focusing more on the shop/conjuring level relationship rather than your personal one). Many things can fall into this category, including if a contract or other agreement between you exists, which parts of the species you conjure from, how they view the shop, if you are involved in their political leaders or merely casual, if you have energetic tags making it easier for you to conjure them, etc.
In conclusion, I hope this post explains my own position about exclusives clearly. If I do not believe you should be approaching something from my own shop, I will describe the reasons behind it and why it would be difficult for you. If an entire race does not wish to be approached, that is their job to put barriers up and keep their members in line, not my job to withhold information. I know very well that there are more points where could have been made about exclusives and were not touched upon. I trust you guys to have basic respect and decency when it comes to information sharing and conjuring. If you do not, the spirits are capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to be approached.