I don't want to cover everything Matt Colville brings up in the video - you can watch it for yourself - but one point that comes up I found particularly interesting is the view we have all been raised with regarding war, compared with the view we as humans had of war before the 1900s.
Growing up we have been inundated with the knowledge, and reinforced through our stories and fiction, that war is a universally bad thing. That only someone evil would want war. That it is horrible in every way, shape, and form. The stories of glory and grandeur are just that, children's tales, that mask the horrific nature of what goes on.
This isn't a view without merit. War is hell. However, that is a rather new view of war on the grander scale. It is one brought about in large part because of how mechanized war became in World War 1, and of course the looming threat of nuclear devastation. Mutually Assured Destruction as a concept is the kind of thing that makes war look bad. After all, if no one is going to be alive to benefit from the war, how is it ever in someone's favor to have it? And if it isn't in anyone's favor, then it's not likely to happen.
But what about before all that? War was still hell. You still saw the worst in people. You still had horrific things happening to people around you. But in a big picture sort of way it made a lot more sense, didn't it? For the individual, war was a chance to prove yourself. You can hear it in the musical Hamilton, right there in the second song:
[HAMILTON] You’re an orphan. Of course! I’m an orphan God, I wish there was a war! Then we could prove that we’re worth more Than anyone bargained for…
This view is closer to what most RPG settings are going to have. As you leave fantasy and go to sci-fi the modern view comes more into view, but without the absolute threat of Mutually Assured Destruction, war goes from being a thing that doesn't happen unless actively worked towards...and instead is quite the opposite.
It's worth thinking about. That, and other things. But Matt Colville says them all better!
Running the Game 23: The Central Tension
Running the Game 24: The Politics of Peace
Running the Game 80: The Politics of War
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