wealth industry

Thicker than Water - Part 2

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5)


Bucky x Reader series

Summary: Inspired by this post (x)
Being born and raised in a HYDRA family means you must be a devoted member to the organisation, carrying out orders with blind obedience. But after being assigned the suicide mission of being the Winter Soldier’s handler, you slowly start to question where your loyalties truly lie.

Warnings: Violence

Word Count: 1581

A.N: Chapter two here we go! Honestly, this story seems to have a life of itself but I hope you like it so far… I promise Bucky will make an appearance soon (just not yet)

Originally posted by moan-s

April 1996
0835 hours

You were woken up by the sound of footsteps running towards your room. The house, usually silent at this time in the morning, was apparently bustling with activity, with the distinct clang of pans in the kitchen and the sound of chattering voices in what you assumed was the living room.

There wasn’t even time for you to rub the sleep out of your eyes when your door burst open, allowing your older sister to walk in, the barely-there smell of chocolate wafting from behind her and following her as she jumped on your bed with an exited smile. She’d been expecting this day for a while now, so it was not surprising at all to see her wearing a new dress, her hair already tied at the nape of her neck with a big ribbon.

“Happy birthday, Steph” you mumbled, untangling your legs from the bed sheets and wrapping your arms around her. You were shaking.

“It’s okay,” she murmured against your shoulder as you hugged her tighter, feeling the ends of her hair against your bare arms and clinging to her for dear life, sniffling. “You know I have to do this, in a couple of years it’ll be your turn” Stephanie said.

It was her twelfth birthday today, and you knew it was a special occasion. Your father had told you so countless times, always stressing the importance of turning twelve and emphasizing how much his life had changed after he’d turned twelve.

“With my help, you will open your eyes to the world” he’d say “our world.”

But it always sounded so ominous to you. You didn’t want your life to change, you didn’t need to, and you couldn’t wrap your head around the fact that there was much more to know about the world; things you weren’t allowed to know until it was your turn. It was unfair.

“Y/N?” Your sister whispers, pulling away from you and sitting at your side on the bed, her legs swung over the covers without paying much attention to the now wrinkled dress “I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.”

You sniffle at that, looking her dead in the eye and wiping a stray tear from your cheek as you asked, “Do you promise?”

“I promise.”

And, for the most part, Stephanie had kept her word. She’d try to spend as much time with you as she could, but soon, the secrets became too much.

Your sister’s behavior started to change before your very eyes, your interactions becoming shorter and her demeanor turning colder, even hostile sometimes.

She’d cast you aside, choosing to spend most of her time with your dad instead and locking herself up in his study every time you had visits. After a while you barely even spoke, with her being too wrapped up in whatever business your father had initiated her in, and the worst part was that you knew you’d be next.

The only one who knew about your fears was Julian, your little brother. Sweet, gentle Julian who sometimes sneaked into your room to keep you company during the secret meetings held by your dad. Both of you knew your family was part of a big organization, something greater than your family’s industries and wealth; something older, darker maybe, and so you’d stick together most of the time, whispering secrets and sneaking into the halls past bedtime to listen through muffled conversations through closed doors.

It was mischief to him, one he’d gladly partake in as long as you didn’t get caught, but to you, it all meant something more. What kept you going to your father’s study wasn’t just a childish game; it was you, the very same insatiable curiosity that had pushed you towards the cupboard that December night a few years ago. You’d learned something back then, about a mystery man with a secret mission, and now you wanted to keep digging.

Fortunately for you, you now had Julian, your partner in crime, and no one could’ve foreseen how inseparable you would eventually become.

“Together ‘till the end” he’d say every single time you both wandered off on an adventure.

And every time, you knew he meant it.

October 1999
2258 hours 


The girl’s fist connected solidly against your cheek, making you stumble a few feet back, clutching the side of your face with one hand.

It had been almost a month since you’d turned twelve and your father had insisted on you going to boarding school. It was all a lie of course, a façade of what you now recognized as a HYDRA facility; the same place your sister Stephanie had been sent to a year prior. As intriguing as it might’ve seemed at first, the perfect opportunity to learn more about the man they called “the Asset” you were stuck in a training room, getting the life punched out of you by another girl at least four years older than you.

“Focus Miss. Lapointe!” the trainer yelled at you, right before the girl swung at you again, her punch barely missing your head as you managed to crouch in time to avoid the blow.

But ducking wasn’t enough however, as she caught you from the waist, wrapping an arm around it to prevent you from straightening up again, her knee colliding with your stomach one, twice, three times. No matter how much you squirmed, she wouldn’t let go of you.

You fell to the ground after that, your back colliding against the floor while you gasped for air, eyes already brimming with tears. The pain in your stomach was too much and you struggled to breathe in clutching your stomach with one hand while raising the other une up as a clear sign of surrender.

A few strands of hair were sticking to your forehead, sweat dripping from the ends and sliding down the tip of your nose as you tried to sit up but failed, turning your head towards your opponent instead.

The fluorescent light was harsh against your eyes as you turned your head around, your blurry vision scanning the room, looking for your trainer. “Thank you, Miss Waters, you can stand down now” he told the other girl, climbing up the small steps to the ring, his boot clad feet heavy against the mat. “Miss. Lapointe-” -the disappointment was evident in his tone as he approached you, not even bothering to crouch at your level and turning you around with a nudge from his boot instead. You groaned in pain. “Looks like you’ll need further training. I’ll expect you to be here tomorrow at first hour.” Was all he said before he pivoted in his heel and left the training room.

Releasing a pained hiss, you finally sat up, buying your head in your hands.

Failure, you’re a failure.

The small voice inside your head had become louder and louder with time, especially now that you were in the same facility your sister has been, though, unlike you, she’d been transferred a long time ago. It was hard for you, being constantly compared to her and her outstanding abilities. She’d been born a fighter, they said, her reflexes sharp and her body agile, but you weren’t her, and it frustrated you to no end when people wanted you to be.

“You should try shooting, Y/N” said a voice somewhere behind your head, making you jump.

It was a boy, you noticed as he walked from behind a bunch of crates, his hair cropped short and a glint in his eyes; judging by his build and heights, he was perhaps a few years older than you. “You should try shooting,” he said again pointing with his chin at you “obviously you’re not good at hand to hand combat so technically, guns are the next best option if you ever want to live up to your sister’s legacy”

That comment made you frown “Wait how do you know my name? And you know my sister?” You asked him, keeping a careful eye on the key card hanging from a string on his fingers.

“Yeah,” he replied, “ you’re Y/N, the infamous Stephanie Lapointe, HYDRA prodigy and full time mean girl. No wonder you don’t want to be like her.”

You snorted, a laugh escaping your lips followed by a wince. He seemed to notice, because he immediately crouched beside you, wrapping a careful arm around your torso and keeping another one near your hip as he helped you stand up, allowing you to put your weight on him but groaning a bit at the effort.

“There you go, slowly,” he muttered as you let out yet another pained groan “I’ll take you to the infirmary to get patched up, and then we’re going to go shooting.”

This boy was unbelievable “Shooting?” you asked, incredulous, “It’s almost midnight.”

“So?” there was a twinkle in his eyes that reminded you of yourself when you were younger, running around the house with Julian. “It’s the perfect time to practice without other people seeing how terrible your aim is, now come on!” he said, smiling.

“You’re crazy.”

He laughed openly at that, his chest rumbling a little “Actually…” he drew out, stretching a hand to his side so it was placed in front of you “I’m Daniel Blake.”

You shook his hand as a small smile crept up on your face, momentarily making you forget the pain on your abdomen.

“Nice to meet you Daniel.” 

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America on the Eve of World War One 

The 42nd Parallel.

The almost universal reaction of Americans to World War One was a determination to stay out of it. Let the old, corrupt European monarchies (and France) kill themselves; meanwhile America was skyrocketing toward boundless wealth and prosperity. America’s industrial growth in the late 19th century was more astounding than anywhere else, even Germany. By 1913 America had quadruple as many railways, double as much coal production, and more pig iron than any other great power, and its population, near 100 million, only lagged behind Russia’s colossal 170 million. However, most American production was for its vast home market.

Nevertheless, Americans were content to grow richer still from the war. East coast banks extended liberal lines of credit to Britain and France, and by 1917 they had collected most of their gold reserves. New York, not London, was becoming the global center of finance. Investment and employment thrived. Without German competition, steel production, shipbuilding, and chemical making soared, and farmers savored a vast increase in in demand for wheat, which rose from .70 cents a bushel before the war to $2.20 in 1917.

Banking and free trade on the sea enormously favored the Entente over the Central Powers, however, and this began serious problems between the U.S. and Germany. American foreign policy jealously guarded its neutrality but also free trade. Yet strong peace lobby protested to any move to a war footing, while German and Irish-Americans held a natural proclivity for the Central Powers. Woodrow Wilson campaigned, and won, his reelection in 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of the war.”

But even the most ardent pacifists, and Wilson’s cabinet held few of those, could halt Germany’s incredible string of provocations. The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 resulted in the deaths of several American passengers. Then, in 1917, the renewed German unrestricted submarine campaign deliberately targeted American vessels. Eight US ships were sunk in February and March 1917. Germany’s feeble promises of goodwill were not helped by such zany schemes as Arthur Zimmerman’s proposal to invite Mexico into a war against the United States.

The German generals, however, had decided to gamble against the Americans. The U.S. had phenomenal industrial capacity, certainly, but it was also astoundingly unprepared for war. The tiny American military only had 145,000 men, no more than Britain in 1914. Moreover, it had just embarrassed itself on a year-long wild goose chase in Mexico, eluded at every turn by the revolutionary warlord Pancho Villa.

If the submarine sinking did not stop immediately, America would certainly enter the war against Germany.  But by the time the Yanks had recruited, equipped, and shipped an army over to France, it would be mid-1918 at least. Russia was failing, the British and French were taking as good as they were giving on the Western Front, over 147 British merchant ships had been sunk over the last few weeks alone - if Germany played its cards right, it could starve Britain to submission, win the war in the East, and knock out France with its unified army, all before America’s endless manpower entered the war and made Allied victory certain. It was to be a race against time.


Rows of Torii at Yutoku Inari Shrine.

All the pictures you’ve seen of shrines with many torii in a row are from various Inari Shrines around Japan. 

Inari is the god of rice, industry, wealth, and prosperity. The purpose of the many torii gates is that businesses will donate the gates to the shrine in order to gain favor from Inari to help their business succeed.

In these kinds of Torii tunnels each gate will have writing on it, those are records of the people/groups who have donated money to the shrine.


Buffalo Tour Of Homes by Ian MacDonald
Via Flickr:

Not to be pugnacious, but math describes the world spectacularly well and we have no idea why. Why do we expect math to describe particles but not people? And how could you answer that if you don’t understand why it describes particles in the first place?

Certainly it’s easier to correctly use math to talk about the physical world (as opposed to the social world), and without math there’s a whole lot less you can say about the physical world than about humans and societies. But some of our most important insights into human behaviour are more or less mathematically derived, and we’re only getting better at that.

I think the notion that math cannot productively be used to study fields like history comes mainly from three sources.

First, there’s a lot of terrible work in quantitative social science (regressions regressions regressions). Ironically, though, this research typically comes from the people who think the least about how to use math when talking about people and who have the least faith in its usefulness. That’s a self-defeating prophecy.

Second, as I’ve written about many times before here, the tight coupling of math and the physical world has been a tremendous generator of wealth in industrial society. We poured money into getting really good at engineering and the industrial applications of physics and chemistry, thereby making mathematically intensive jobs extremely competitive, and then we developed a huge mental barrier about math where the Math People deserve big fat paycheques because they’re destined by the invisible hand to be really good at figuring out how much concrete goes where. This is an area where plenty of anti-capitalists have been completely bamboozled by the market into either hating or revering math.

Third, it actually is a lot easier to study particles with math than to study people with math. For whatever reason, the #UnreasonableEffectivenessOfMathematicsInTheNaturalSciences outstrips the  #UnreasonableEffectivenessOfMathematicsInTheSocialSciences. There’s an egotistical “humans are complicated” cop-out that a lot of people lean on, but of course particles are complicated too. I do think, though, that a big part of this story is that the warts of physical science are invisible to people in a way that the warts of social science aren’t. There are a bunch of reasons why the math that is usually employed in physical sciences both is and seems tougher; quantitative physical science rushed along rapidly for whatever fundamental reason and became pretty tough to understand pretty quickly, it was dramatically materially boosted in the last ~150 years by its industrial and wartime relevance (which is point #2), and there are also strong incentives for social scientists to tell societies exactly what to do (and look like big old dopes in a way physical scientists don’t) when the researchers themselves don’t actually have precise or accurate enough tools to properly know.

An interesting case here is medicine: they have an extremely similar mathematical toolbox to social scientists, they’re studying very similar social and psychological problems, and they constantly screw up, but even when bad quantitative medical research causes the President of the United States to throw the full weight of his office behind a flu vaccination campaign for a flu that never happens, nobody says that you just can’t use math to study medicine. The reason we don’t doubt their methodology much is that they’ve also had a colossal number of successes, which in my view isn’t because medicine is more mathematically tractable. It’s rather because medical researchers have infinite money from all the people who want to be healthy, and that means they have a ridiculous volume of research activity and their field moves forward super fast. Plus medical doctors get big paycheques and we have a habit of respecting people in proportion to how much they earn.

What I’m saying is: obviously you can use math and computers to study history and other social fields. People should do that (and others should study them qualitatively), and inevitably we’ll have good quantitative and computational models of historical processes. I also believe these subfields actually have a strong track record compared to many other social science subfields – for example, I think the definition of cliodynamics as written includes Marx. Of course this stuff is not easy to study, and it never will be, and there are tons of traps you can very easily fall into, but sooner or later someone will get really good at using tools like computer simulations to study human society and when they do they are going to learn a hell of a lot of really neat stuff.

often people (even ones with good lines, like a lot of MLMs) get the impression that TWists are saying “white people can’t be revolutionaries” when we point out the non-proletarian nature of the white nation, which like, considering many of us are white that’s clearly not true, but it’s rather that genuine white revolutionaries effectively have to be class & nation traitors

you can’t subscribe to that “stuck in the 1920s” industrial unionist cracker leftism, “elevation of the [white] working man” type shit and be much of a revolutionary because that inherently disregards the liberation of oppressed nations, you cannot elevate the “white working man” without further crushing the internal colonies, the third world laborers, the billions of people who’ve been forced to bring the white labor aristocracy to the high point it’s at today today

there’s also the “oppressed nations are LAs as a whole then?” type argument in response to TWists, and it’s little more than a common obfuscation from the real root of the problem in our eyes, they (like Rashid’s shitty criticism) utilize the outbursts of fringe-groups like the LLCO and jason unruhe, and project them onto the TWist program as a way of escaping dealing with the very real systems we are forcing them to confront

they think that if they can make us seem like the enemy of single black mothers living on the edge of homelessness, that they dont have to deal with the immense stores of wealth enjoyed by the “industrial working class” that they worship, so instead of dealing with what we are saying, they project “leading light communism” onto us in order to dismiss what we are saying without thinking about it.

One of the scholars from the past gave a lesson on death saying:

“O you who are deceived by this world, think of death and its agonies, how difficult and bitter a cup it is. What a true promise death is! How fair a judge it is! Death is enough to fill the heart with fear and the eyes with tears, to separate people, destroy pleasure and put an end to all worldly hopes.

Have you given any thought, o son of ʾĀdam‎, to the day when you will die and will be taken out of your place? When you will move from the spaciousness (of this world) to the confines (of the grave), when friends and loved ones will let you down, and brothers and friends will desert you? When you will be taken from your bed and placed in a hole in the ground, and instead of a soft blanket you will be covered with dust and earth? O gatherer of wealth, O industrious builder, by Allāh you will have nothing left of your possessions except shrouds, and even they will be destroyed and will vanish as your body disintegrates and turns to dust.

Where is the wealth that you amassed? Will it save you from these terrors? No indeed, you have left it behind for those who will not praise you, and you have come with your burdens (of sin) to One Who will not excuse you.”

Source: Tadhkirat al-Qurṭubī (p.9)

Starkquill Fic: Regret

A/N: For the anon who wanted Steve to look at Tony and Peter being happy together, and feel regret for what he lost.

I hope you’re happy. Writing this made me cry.


It’s not like Steve expected Tony to wait around on him or anything. And he certainly can’t say that he has any prior claim on Tony. They are two grown men who owe each other nothing. 

But that doesn’t make it hurt any less to see him with someone else. 

He knows it’s hypocritical. He’s seen Tony with Bethany, with Rumiko, even with Henry Hellrung. He’s seen Tony in love before – so why should this be any different? 

It takes him an embarrassingly long amount of time, and a lot of late nights brooding when he should be asleep, to finally figure it out. 

He’s never actually seen Tony happy before. 

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

How are rad fems just communists or anarchists? Just wondering because I’ve lived in Cuba most of my life and I assure you communism in no way liberates women.

Cuba has undergone a lot of economic blockades by capitalist countries like the USA and a lot of the problems in Cuba have to do with capitalist countries purposefully trying to make the country fail.

Capitalism exploits impoverished nations to do cheap labor for wealthier areas. Capitalism can not exist without keeping other people impoverished to exploit for cheap labor.

Despite this, Cuba has achieved being the first country to eliminate transmission of HIV from mother to child, has a very low infant mortality rate, and Cuba has developed an anti-lung cancer vaccine. Cuba has come from a history of poverty, and that should be taken in to account, as well as the interference of capitalist nations such as the USA doing what they can to keep Cuba impoverished.

Radical feminism is not capitalist, which means it is either anarchist or communist. Capitalism exploits women for profit with the beauty industry and wealth disparity. Capitalism exploits women for prostitution and pornography. 

Anarchy means no formal government with people deciding to do what they want in volunteer groups and justice being enforced by vigilantes. Communism means a state organizing resources and people to distribute things fairly, and a formal system of law.

Communal matriarchal radical feminism means a communal family living arrangement where mothers have primary parental rights and people live in larger family groups, so that mothers can have a larger support network.

There are a few different ways to be communist and a few different ways to be anarchist, just as some capitalist nations have different policies than others–but ultimately, all capitalist nations rely on exploiting others unfairly to create profit for a class of wealthy elite.

@communistroader do you have more information about Cuba?

Why I Won’t Vote

By W.E.B. DuBois, The Nation, 20 October 1956

On October 20, 1956, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won’t vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation and unaffordable health care.

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates’ attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt’s attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired “for age” in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.’s and “Liberals” are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is “legal” we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is “illegal” the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The “other” party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union “to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience.” Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only “review” of literature has wisely dropped “literature” from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich–to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

Campaign in a Bottle: Themes & Brainstorming

Okay, so we’ve chosen our books.  In addition to the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and the Bestiary, we’re going to work with the Advanced Player’s Guide, Bestiary 4, the Alchemy Manual, and the Harrow Handbook.

So what’s our campaign going to be about?  What’s going to make it special?

(A quick note before we go any farther.  I normally keep my blog setting-neutral and avoid any Pathfinder intellectual property, both to spur my creativity and keep any legal types from getting cranky with me.  With these Campaign in a Bottle entries, I’m still going to try to stick to that policy for the most part—I won’t be using the names of any Golarion deities, for instance. But some of the classes and concepts I talk about, especially the harrow deck, will be drawn from Pathfinder’s IP quiver.  My use of them in this and subsequent posts should be considered a good-faith work of fan art and not construed as a challenge to their status.)

Right off the bat, our two Player Companion titles suggest one option.  A campaign with harrowing can’t help but be about the harrow deck, superstition, and the influence of fate.  Meanwhile alchemy is as close as Pathfinder gets to science.  So a campaign that plays up science vs. superstition and alchemy vs. harrowing could be really fun.  In game terms, that means alchemists vs. witches (and/or summoners). As X vs. Y setups go, that’s not a bad one—I would watch that movie.

Obviously alchemists and harrowers aren’t going to be fighting each other like armies of elves and orcs.  But I can easily imagine a border town or city right on the edge of “civilization” where the local culture of druidism, card reading, and nomadism or farming is being challenged and transformed by the wealth, industry, military, and alchemy of a colonizing nation.  Add some threats, both internal—sneaky alchemists conducting unlicensed experiments, witches slinging curses, maybe some gremlins or derros under the city—and external—a distant but always threatening nation of orcs, a forest full of nasty fey and hags, the usual dragons and such, and we’ve got some fertile ground.  A really big landmark such as a giant wall doesn’t hurt either.  (It doesn’t hurt that lately in the car I’ve been listening to Medicus and Terra Incognita, two novels by Ruth Downie about a doctor stationed with the Roman army in Britain during Hadrian’s reign.)  

So that’s one option. We’ll call it the Wall of Cards campaign.

The other option, instead of putting the Alchemy Manual and Harrow Handbook in opposition to each other, is to have them coöperate—or at least coexist.  So if science (even pseudoscience) and superstition are united, what’s on the other side of the equation?  

Well, looking at the Advanced Player’s Guide, we’ve got cavaliers, inquisitors, and oracles, not to mention the Core Rulebook’s clerics and paladins…so why not the church?

Imagine, then, a city founded around a holy site, an oracle, or some other heavenly visitation.  Over time, what was a shrine becomes settled and fortified until it is a decent-sized temple district or even an entire holy city—a place where faith and the law intersect, hence the presence of so many knights, paladins, and inquisitors.  Given that Bestiary 4 has a fair number of aquatic creatures, making this a coastal or canal city wouldn’t be a bad move either.  But with that growth comes challenges.  Temples tend to lead to universities…but when those universities start churning out wizards and alchemists, they become a power center on their own.  Wealthy nobles and merchants need guards and bear idle sons and daughters, leading to swashbucklers dueling in the streets.  Meanwhile, despite the church’s best efforts, the indigenous locals or travelers are going to have their own beliefs—including a healthy respect for the harrow deck—that they’re not going to surrender just because someone threw up a temple in their path.  So you’ve got a church hierarchy trying to keep the peace—or keep the citizens under its thumb, depending on the slant of your campaign—as upstart harrow-reading commoners and iconoclastic alchemists challenge their authority.  Now drop in some dark folk, a skum invasion or two, some giants, and whatever else lurks below the waves or comes crawling up from the cemeteries—not to mention a heresy or two—and you’ve got plenty to keep PCs busy.

We’ll call our second option the Oracle at Jenev.

While we’re at it, it’s also interesting to see how little tweaks to our starting books could make for a totally different campaign.  The Harrow Handbook would also work really well for a campaign with an Eastern feel as well—particularly if we chose Bestiary 3 instead of 4, opening us up to the world of kami and oni, and swapped out the Alchemy Manual for Ultimate Combat, which unlocks the ninja and samurai as class options.  (The thought of a ninja and a spellcaster hurling shuriken and harrow cards back and forth at each other is highly appealing.)

Also, you need a reasonably high level of civilization to be mass-producing cards, which automatically lends itself to certain eras and historical precedents.  But if you drop the Harrow Handbook…?  Bestiary 4 has all the ingredients for a truly off-the-wall jungle or coastal tropics campaign.  Add in the Animal Archive or Familiar Folio books and you could have dinosaur-riding druids fighting off wyrwood pygmies and wyvaran raiders while trying to uncover a lost city of psychopomps and drive off invaders from beyond the stars.

As tempting as those other tangents are though, we have an assignment to fulfill based on the books we were given.  I’m good with either, and that means the decision is up to you.  Which campaign do you all want to see?  Shall we explore the edge of civilization along the Wall of Cards or keep/defy the faith with the Oracle of Jenev?