Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Mar 29 Sep - 20:26 (2009)
The Tao of History
Like a historical reenactment society gone mad, the Tao believes that holding to the values and methods of the past is the best way to cope with and understand the present. Each settlement of Taoists has a particular era of human history that they emulate, from prehistoric Neanderthal times to events as recent as two hundred years ago. However, underneath the animal furs, tuxedoes, kimonos, and other trappings, the Tao is a highly advanced civilization on par with any other in the universe.
Each of their citizens is trained to be more suave, dashing, and convincing than anyone from the past really was. After all, what’s the fun in pretending to be a downtrodden peasant? There are holograms, robots, and hired extras for that. The point here is to be a hero of the old stories, whether glorious or tragic or both.
Unexpectedly, the Tao became the richest civilization in space when wormhole communications opened up. Their day-to-day exploits really were as exciting as a story, and billions of people from across the universe would pay good money to see that. A pragmatic, if somewhat emotional, people, the Taoists agreed to allow cameras to follow them around on their worlds. That those who do not wish to be filmed are filled in with computer-generated actors. The deal has worked out quite well for the Tao. The income from patents on thousands of metatechnological procedures serves to bolster the Tao fortune as well.
The Tao is a civilization full of melodramatic actors, playing roles that don’t mesh and acting without a script. It has planets with pre-colonial America on one continent and orbital-era India on another. Historians argue with directors over who “should” win the upcoming staged war. Forget keeping the storylines and acting fresh; that’s easy compared to actually knitting it all together into a civilization instead of a bunch of new Cargo Cults! How do they do it?
Well, that’s not all the Tao are. Some of the “extras” in the background aren’t holograms or robots, they’re regular people. They’re being filmed like everyone else, but practically no one watches them. The stars typically think of these extras as support staff, but that’s like a musician saying that the air around them is just for support — without it, no one hears the music. There are fewer of these support workers in the Tao than in most civilizations, but they make up about 60% of the population, and they make it run on a day-today basis.
The people in charge aren’t idiots, either. They’ve got the most intensive metatech training available in the universe, and know that keeping that 60% happy and productive is paramount to the civilization’s continued existence. These folks can easily move from one milieu to another, picking what fits in with their personality best, and the historians bend the realism guidelines enough to ensure that even someone living in an ice-ages milieu has the opportunity to study and benefit from advanced nanotech, if they really want to. It’s just kept off-camera. The Tao have been particularly effective in the field of metatechnology, with their past experiences (pardon the pun) giving them a viewpoint that helps to guide psychohistory, memetics, and more.
What about the rest of the Tao — the ones in positions of wealth and power? Isn’t this all just a game to them?
< ENCADRE >
The Tao and Delusion
Some Tao become addicted to the use of Persona Lenses (see page 144) that make them seem more competent, powerful, or dashing than they really are. Unfortunately, it’s all in their mind... so many addicts edit their memories to erase any hints of incompetence, and filter their perceptions to make it seem as if others believe as they do. Psychohistorical projections show that dealing with this growing portion of their population is an important hurdle for the Tao to face in upcoming years.
< /ENCADRE >
Well, no, it’s not a game. It’s a way of life. Despite the soap opera levels of melodrama their lives are steeped in, the Tao take things as seriously as they can. Some of them are merely playing characters, but others are deeply involved in what’s going on. The Tao may have started as a historical recreation society, but it’s far more than that now, and entire generations have been brought up in their recreated cultures. When they dress like the Pre-Civil War southern U.S., they act like it too, and though most of their “slaves” are actually unintelligent robots, some of them might actually condone slavery. When they mimic Shao Lin monasteries, they don’t just pretend to meditate and study martial arts — they actually do. Each milieu is less a giant-sized stage than it is a genuine piece of the past.
One thing that helps is the average Tao citizen’s tolerance for different cultures and beliefs. While this breaks somewhat with their Authenticity CV, it would be a worse break to have an interstellar war come to bronze-age Greece! Tao milieus only war with each other under very controlled circumstances, and no one actually dies. Some actors seem to die, but are really just deciding it’s time to “go out with a bang” before relocating to another milieu. To those watching, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether someone’s actually dying or just faking, especially with the high quality of Tao biotech and metatech.
The Tao’s allies are the Masquerade, Stardwellers, and Mechanicans, all of whom enjoy their energy and are amused by their outlook. They find the Union, Logicians, and Replicants to be irredeemably evil. They pretend to be enemies with the Roamers for the drama of it, but don’t really exclude them from their world. The Roamers are alternately amused and annoyed by this.
Different parts of the Tao of History are ruled in different manners, as befits their different historical backgrounds. The civilization as a whole is “ruled” by a fractious council that doesn’t really get anything done, nor does it need to.
Common Name: Tao
Emblem: A golden clock, for the Golden Age, with different rings indicating different times and epochs. In official use the clock’s rings are often animated, ticking in various directions.
Inspector Status: Equivalent to an FBI or customs agent.
Benefit: Taoists receive an extra plot point at the beginning of each session, which they may only spend through Romance, Intrigue, or Empathy.
Core Values: Authenticity and Tradition
In much the same way that sincerity is not honesty, but is the appearance of honesty, Authenticity is not truth, but verisimilitude. The Tao reap the benefits of modern technology in the guise of ancient devices. It is important to the Tao that they keep up the appearance of living in the past, and the higher an individual’s CV rating is, the less they are acting and the more they really are a member of an ancient society. A Tao member from a faux ice-age culture would never don a nanoweave greatcoat to keep the cold away, but if the same coat could be made to look like furs and loincloths, they would wear it without hesitation. All the technology of the modern world is available, hidden carefully behind screens and veils.
Tradition provides the other anchor of Tao civilization. Its primary purpose is to hold Tao milieus together, giving citizens bonuses to actions that keep the milieu intact — such as fighting off civilizationwide metatech assaults, convincing other citizens to keep to their traditions, and the like. Tradition doesn’t say that any specific tradition is important; rather, it is important to have traditions and to hold to them. It says that all traditions have worth and value, that they are what bring people together. The Tao share this CV with the Old-Worlders, who have a more-orless identical interpretation of it.
Great Moments in
(the Tao of) History
The wind is cold today, and the Mongol leaders shiver in their furs. Burhan Haldun is an inhospitable place. The Kurultai, the council of chiefs, is coming to a close, and the future of the entire Middle Kingdom balances on their decision.
At hand is the future of Temüjin, whom all present consider to be one of the greatest war leaders — perhaps one of the greatest men — their tribes have ever seen. His father Yesükhei was Khan of the Borjigin, but he was nothing compared to his son. This man eliminated or swayed every rival in his path, slaying even his blood brother Jamuqa when he had turned against him in war. One has to appreciate Temüjin’s dedication.
In fact, billions appreciate it right at this second. The air is thick not only with smoke and soot from the Kurultai’s fires, but with flying microbotic cameras. Every angle is covered. The fur in the generals’ clothing captures data on the temperature, humitidity, wind, even the chemicals in the air to provide the proper smell. The meshes of the participants capture their mental states to create tags, though most viewers won’t watch those the first time through. They’re the “special features” section, available to high-end subscribers.
Many of Temüjin’s advisors are there, as historically accurate as psychohistory and trained acting can make them. Some even wear lenses to make them more like the men (or women) they pretended to be. Chilaun, his closest general, son of the man who freed him from imprisonment. Jelme and Bo’orchu, his earliest supporters. Empress Börte, his wife, and his son Ögedei. Subutai, once Temüjin’s personal guard, now a commander in his armies, and one of his most trusted advisors. Others distrusted Subutai for his association with Jamuqa, but not Temüjin. Subutai’s loyalty has been proven to him beyond a doubt.
Most watchers have their favorite characters. Temüjin was the highest-rated, of course, but Börte and Ögedei ranked nearly as high for female viewers. The Masqerade loved Subutai for his seemingly shifting loyalties and his faithful core. The Replicants liked Jelme and Bo’orchu for the same reasons others ignored them — they were somewhat interchangable to the casual viewers. Chilaun rated well anywhere family was important. With all of them in one place, the Tao would be making a significant portion of this year’s take on this single, hour-long scene. It was every bit as important to their government as it had been to ancient Earth.
The smoke began to clear as the fire was doused. All the advisors looked to the meeting place. Some were worried, some stoic. Börte, though, knew what was coming. It could be no other way, not for her husband. The chiefs who disagreed with him — and there were few after his victory over the Merkit clan — would never dare defy him.
Temüjin strode from the meeting place, his face harsh and impassive. Subutai spoke: “So? Must we crush the other clans as well, or are they with us?”
A predatory smile crept into Temüjin’s face as if daring other emotions to move in. Once merely leader of the Onggirat, now Khan of all the Mongols, now Ghengis, he spoke.
“We march on the Xi Xia. All of us.”
Mongol Horde on Camera 53 by Kiriko