What Is a Right?

  • 24 Replies
Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2014, 03:35:15 PM »
Hm. Maybe the people of Urbandale don't respect the Wicker-Wise's right to sacrifice, and I agree with you that that's good drama. but somebody must, right? She's presumably from a People who do sacrifice, which is where she learned it was a good thing. So when I say "most people" I mean "most of your People." Maybe your people have even forgotten but the old gods still want their sacrifice and will start wrecking things if they don't get it? That's still somebody who believes in your Right. Or maybe the people believe deep down that you have a Right, but the New Nobility have convinced them to ignore it.

I guess you can take a Right that nobody in the world respects, but I'm not sure why you want to. You're free to rage and stamp and call down the wrath of your gods on your faithless anyway. If you invented the right to kill people out of  whole cloth and neither people nor gods respect it, you're basically just a serial killer, right? I'm not sure I think serial killer Wicker-Wise actually does have a Right.

Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2014, 04:58:04 PM »
I guess what I'm driving at, and I admit I'm processing it as I go along, is that at first glance, rights appear to be social conventions. You have the right to free speech because the Constitution says so. The Wicker Wise has the right to her sacrifice because her people say that she does. When you start digging, though, that's not really how they work.

On the one hand, rights stem from personal belief. You can respond to your right being denied because its your right. No one is allowed to tell you that you can't exercise it and be free of consequence. Its your right because you say it is. If you look at the options when your right is denied, most of them come down to this. Its on you to stand up for your rights.

On the other hand, rights exist because the rules of the game say that they exist. If a fellow player is denying your rights left and right, cutting off what makes your character cool, you're explicitly allowed to hold that against them.  Its your right because the rules say it is.

On the third hand, rights exist because without those rights, the playbook ceases to exist. A wise woman who can't make a yearly human sacrifice, enchant people and take a young girl as a student isn't a Wicker Wise. A man at arms who can't command an army isn't a War Chief. A counselor who ignores his sabbath and can't cast out demons is not a Court Wizard. Its your right because your character isn't your character without it.

In general I'd say yes, your people are inclined to respect your rights. Those rights are part of their world view and if they judge you fairly, it would take some major circumstances for them to not come down on your side. Even other people are inclined to respect it. Having the right alone is no guarantee of that. It does mean that anyone will think twice about denying your right because you might pursue vengeance, bring down the wrath of the gods or hold it against the PC/MC. That recourse may not seem terribly meaningful compared to fighting trolls or enemy strongholds but it makes it clear to all and sundry that there will be consequences.

If you deny the Wicker Wise's sacrifice (its such an easy example) because killing innocent people is wrong, you do it with full foreknowledge that you are not preventing a murder, you are preventing a murder by declaring war on an entire way of life. You can expect this to snowball if you try to punish her for the inevitable enchantment that she puts on you. If she decides to suffer with dignity, she is agreeing with you that her way of life is less valid than yours. You can expect her to try to turn the followers of the Old Ways against you. You can expect the Wicker Man to become angry and visit a plague or a drought or something on your people. For her part, the Wicker Wise now has a motivation to be proactive in the game world and you can both play to find out which way of life can survive.

Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2014, 09:50:06 AM »
They are insisting that because the playtest rules literally say so:

When someone or something denies you your right, choose 1 of the
Declare that the MC or the other player should reconsider, or else you will hold it against them.

The "them" very clearly refers to the real people in this situation, not the fictional characters, since no fictional characters are even mentioned in the sentence. [snip]

That is true, and I do hope it's a typo or imprecise statement on Vincent's behalf, because that's weakass in my book. I don't need a roleplaying rules interface to interact with my gaming friends - I can just say right out: "Dude, what's going on? You realize you're being a dick right now?" etc. :)

Yeah, that's the imprecision of a play-test doc. We are not intending to direct the players to have bleed and hold in-game things against other players out-of-game. Y'all are responsible for your own social dynamics at the table!

The rest of this thread is useful! Thanks and carry on!

Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2014, 10:33:05 AM »
I agree in general with the mix of interpretations that pointed out how much the rights system was built-in into the dark ages society. The list of rights is great to represent a fictional position of the character in regard to the story, the character's position in the society, and finally also to express a Player's interest.

But thinking about the rights system, I have another interpretation that struck me when I've parsed through them, not in order, the first time... Maybe this was even proposed already, here, but I didn't see it...
So this theory: especially for some of the rights, I am tempted to read them as "If it's not terribly important for the story, you just do it". Or in other words, if failure here is less than interesting - or you have no real opposition from the MC or other Players - you just do it.

For instance: "You have the right to rule your holdings as you see fit". This means that when I give orders within my holding, I don't expect the MC or another character to question me, and I expect NPCs to follow those orders. And especially for the MC, there must be a really good reason for him to negate that, a pretty valid reason for the story we're telling... otherwise he's just been a dick.

I have to admit I haven't tested this at the table yet, so I don't know if this interpretation would actually prove to be a mess.
But I actually like the "fictional" rights even more than the mechanical ones: I would like to know if it's perhaps too much of a stretch to treat them (almost!) always as a 10+, basically.
This would make the actual event of negating, opposing a right, matter to call for the dice, and then, it would make both reasserting the right or failing to do so, an exceptional and therefore very charged situation...

Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2014, 01:48:27 PM »
David, I think I was driving at the same thing from the other direction. By and large your rights just work because when your rights are denied, its a big deal. So if the people of Urbandale universally don't respect the Wicker Wise's rights, the story (at least for that player) is now about either the struggle to maintain her rights or what a Wicker Wise is supposed to do in the world if the world doesn't need sacrifices and enchantments. So its generally a given that rights are respected and people don't do the things they don't have a right to. Any time there's a variation from that, the spotlight turns on, the audience focuses in and leans forward to see what will happen next.



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Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2014, 06:36:28 PM »
For instance: "You have the right to rule your holdings as you see fit". This means that when I give orders within my holding, I don't expect the MC or another character to question me, and I expect NPCs to follow those orders. And especially for the MC, there must be a really good reason for him to negate that, a pretty valid reason for the story we're telling... otherwise he's just been a dick.
If an NPC doesn't follow your orders, it's not that the MC is being a dick. It's that he or she is explicitly denying your right, which gives you the opportunity to do something cool. In vanilla AW, the Chopper commands a gang. But if they always did what the Chopper wanted, there'd never be a need to use pack alpha on their sorry asses. I see the rights as discussed here in a very similar light - they are a way for both the MC and the players to guide the story in interesting, provocative directions.

Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2014, 09:37:26 PM »
I feel like, while its necessary for our modern mind set to understand all of this, to your character it would sound a lot like over thinking it. In the real Dark Ages, there was a concept that rights came from God, either directly or indirectly through priests who interceded between people and God and kings who rules by divine right themselves. In a more anthropological description, we'd say that the belief in divine right was a tool for maintaining a social order. Whether that social order came from agreement of the people, force of arms or whatever is not something your average person living in that system puts much thought to. Where does our modern right to free speech come from? It comes from a system that to a greater or lesser extent protects that right and thrives from its existence.

I think this gets best at something that's been bugging me. I know that several people argue that rights are present looking at Dark Ages societies. But as I said in my question, they don't "organize themselves" around rights in the same way that we may consider ourselves to do so today. That is, in the time period, it's more likely to think of something *being* right or *doing* right than think of someone has *having* a right or no right. That's a problem when we're being asked to find the setting in the rights; it's difficult to look "through" the rights to see the society.

To contrast, in Sagas of the Icelanders, the social setting is presented mostly as customs, traditions, expectations, duties, and transgressions. It's possible to see rights all over the place while reading it, but the text rarely uses the word. In play, a handful of rights might be explored by players, with mechanics to implement them into the game.

Dark Ages currently has a setting with around a 100 different Rights, often contradictory, and I feel as a player (MC player or PC player) that I'm asked to resolve them before a setting can emerge. Further, I feel that, when so far playing without first resolving them, the setting is bland and nebulous, and that play mostly avoids those issues.

  • Do players have rights?
  • Does the MC have rights?
  • Do non-players have rights?
  • Do rights imply duties on nonplayers?

Nothing within the rules says so. I'm kind of confused why you would think the players have rights since they seem to speak directly to the social narrative within the game's fiction.

Margolotte has already indicated that the Denied Right move does not actually point at MC and PC players. There are other rights that do point at players, most of them involve having the right to a mechanical move (e.g., travel into a region), a mechanical substitution (rally warriors from among your peers), or both (explain to someone). Given the other correction, it seems more likely that these are also imprecisions of the current text, and that rights are supposed to only point at the fictional world.

I have more to say, but only time to write some of it (so I'm probably going to yell at Josh and Judson about it tonight). I still really want to get to what rights imply. I've been thinking about the SEP's article about rights (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/) and the incidents that make up rights: privileges, claims, powers, and immunities. At the moment, I'm thinking about privilege ("A has a privilege to ? if and only if A has no duty not to ?") and claims ("A has a claim that B ? if and only if B has a duty to A to ?."). These are the implications in the world of the play that I'm trying to figure out. It's particularly difficult because the rights as presented are currently very contradictory. But it gets into questions of whether a player can do things that they have no Right to, and how characters are supposed to react to a PC with a Right.

Part of asking all of these questions is because I was starting to come up with solutions for the problems that I was having playing the game. And while I do believe that some of those ideas are steps toward making the game more playable (for me definitely, but hopefully for others too), I wasn't sure whether or not I was stripping out nuances intended to be in the game.



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Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2014, 11:32:01 PM »
About to start my game and very, very pumped to see how Rights work in practice.
I feel like a lot of our discussion in this forum gets hung up in different conceptions of "right", mostly the modern idea of inalienable human rights versus the narrower concept of legal rights to something. Looking at the Magna Carta, I'm seeing Rights as working more in the second sense, as a way of keeping armed struggle from breaking out by respecting some minimal, essential rights belonging to powerful people. 



  • 1293
Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2014, 12:01:47 AM »
Tablesaw: The rights definitely include both fictional matters (mustering warriors, for instance) and their real-world representations (which stat you roll when you do so). This is not an imprecision of the text; it is definitely the case.




  • 1293
Re: What Is a Right?
« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2014, 05:12:04 AM »
Meg and I disagree about whether the game should include the option to hold it against your fellow players for real when they deny one of your character's rights - I think that it should, she's not convinced - but for purposes of this playtest, it does. Ignore it if you like, but it's there.