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Thread: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

  1. #1

    Default Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    While writing Starcraft fanfiction I found myself writing more detail for the Protoss Empire's society and politics than I think Blizzard ever did. (Low bar, I know.) The following post is going to be rambling and largely irrelevant to canon since it ignores the games for the most part in order to focus on the politics alluded to in the original manual, but I will be mentioning plot points from the expanded universe as explained on the wiki.

    The wiki makes it clear that Protoss society and politics was never really thought out by Blizzard, considering the generally schizophrenic feeling of most of the articles. Fenix's "biography" (really just an unsorted list of some stuff he did) includes several instances of "protoss rebels" (which are, as far as implied, not dark protoss) even though the Khala should prevent rebellions barring really big problems due to the enforced empathy. The entire shtick of the Protoss is that the Khala allows them to live in a communist utopia impossible for humans, yet the writers seem to have forgotten this and wrote them acting pretty much like humans. (It is not really necessary for the rebels to have been protoss, since other advanced alien races are stated to exist and the Protoss Empire is an Empire which by definition means it grew by annexing outside ethnic groups such as other protoss tribes and alien civilizations some of whom might be less than happy with annexation.)

    While trying to make sense of the politics for my fanfic which treats the Protoss as actual aliens who think fundamentally differently from humans rather than generic fantasy paladin LARPers*, I ended up attributing Protoss politics with distinct conservative and progressive factions. These do exist in canon but I was the first to actually codify them since the canon is vague and unplanned.

    The core leadership of the conservative faction is Ara Judicators and the core leadership of the progressive faction is Akilae Templars, but members of every tribe and caste are found on both sides (unlike what the manual states, tribes do not fall neatly into a single caste and that actually contradicts the intention of castes to replace tribal affiliations rather than add to them so I think the author made a mistake somewhere, furthermore judicators are stated to be composed of protoss elders aka old folks so that implies that future elders change castes since protoss do age). In particular, I decided that Fenix himself is a templar of Ara tribe. (He was never attributed a tribe in canon, but since tribal bloodlines have still never been explained and his portrait is the BW nexus portrait and the word "praetor" only appears twice in the manual under Ara tribe and Fenix' bio and it ties in well with his backstory as I will explain, I attributed him to Ara.)

    Fenix's background, as explained by the wiki, states he distrusts the judicator but no real explanation is given for this even though other parts of his background could tie into it such as his part in the Kalath Intercession.

    The Kalath Intercession is a weird retcon because in better hands it would have explained a number of inconsistencies. Essentially, the conservative faction was casual about exterminating humanity and yet they refused to do so until the zerg gave them an excuse due to the Great Stewardship prohibiting intervention (at least in some cases, since they did maintain bring the fruits of their civilization to other advanced civilizations and looked out for "xenomorphic threats"). The Kalath Intercession was supposed to explain that the Great Stewardship was more restrictive when the terrans arrived due to guilt over the genocide committed against the Kalathi, at one point resulting in templars returning home only to be welcomed at gunpoint like the Vietnam War and Korean War unpopularity on steroids. This clashes hugely with the conservative faction being happy to, again, exterminate the entire human race from orbit as collateral damage. This also clashes with Fenix being opposed to the conservative faction, since he was happy to fight Kalathi before being hated by his own people.

    Blizzard never bothered to explain any of these things, so I will if only because it is relevant to my fanfiction. Note that my explanations contradict canon in many ways (if that was not already obvious) since I am operating under the assumption that the Protoss Empire is a galactic empire that never declined because otherwise the Great Stewardship makes no sense barring impressive mental gymnastics. (I'm not a fan of inconsistencies and boy is the Starcraft canon full of them.)

    I posit that Fenix was originally conservative, but was set apart by his respect for aliens who fought well in his opinion. The Kalath Intercession occurred during a period when the progressives were growing in power due to an influx of, for lack of a better term, the millennial generation (i.e. Tassadar's bio explicitly states he was born into a new generation that advocated flexibility and other progressive values). Insert laughter here because that is a totally great joke, or not. (A similar period is mentioned on the wiki, which synthesizes two contradictory canon sources. Long story short, the Empire is undergoing a demographic shift but this has absolutely nothing to do with any decline.) Once the atrocities across the Empire started becoming unpopular, the conservatives started to realize they were in a weakened position. In order to save face, a conservative judicator ordered Fenix to be shot upon when he became unruly and this is the trauma that led Fenix to distrust and abandon the conservatives, especially judicators. From his perspective, they sent him to fight a war and then when he came back victorious they unjustly punished him for following their orders.

    Furthermore, Fenix was not aware of the full scale of the Intercession's atrocities at the time (the Khala does not grant omniscience anymore than the internet does, and furthermore there's this concept called "need to know basis" which exists to ensure efficiency and prevent your enemies from learning everything by torturing any random soldier on the field), so he did not know what he was doing was reprehensible to progressives (he would probably have agreed since he liked the Kalath because they fought well). Fenix also uses his distaste for mind control as another reason to distrust the judicator (for reference, the Khala betrays all evidence of mind control so it is only effective on other species and yes I just made that up because canon barely ever touches upon it even though reliable mind control would be a huge deal in the politics of any other setting).

    So that's the political history of Fenix. In my painstakingly reasoned alternate universe notes at least.

    I have no idea what posting this here will achieve, besides give readers insight into my mind when I'm writing my alternate universe fanfiction. If anyone wants to discuss my ideas or retrofit those ideas back to the unstable and inconsistent Starcraft canon then feel free to reply with your suggestions and conjecture.

    I will not partake in arguments about Starcraft canon because its inconsistency makes it impossible to argue over. Arguments rely on logic and consistent evidence, a concept that is absent from the Starcraft canon because the writers made it up as they went along without regard for consistency and this should be obvious to anyone who reads the wiki for more than five minutes. Just off the top of my head: "fringe worlds" and "outer colonies" are separate articles, even though actually reading the sources indicates that the terms are synonymous. At least, no source makes mention of any functional distinction if one exists. When people do argue over canon, what they are really doing is arguing over their headcanon (i.e. mentally filling in the plot holes with their personal explanation) and I will have none of that thank you.

    * Long story short, they have the super strong emotions problem that afflicts the eldar in Warhammer and in contrast to humans they pathologically enjoy violence so the Khala is pretty much the only thing keeping them from literally dismembering each other during political debates. This explains how they could fight an interstellar war for millions of years or whatever other arbitrarily high numbers are used. Before you ask: 1) this is the key reason Aldaris fears the rogue tribes especially considering they have justifiable motive to hate the Empire and 2) the rogue tribes discovered ways to suppress their violent instincts since otherwise they would have imploded long ago (EDIT: They use "the flame and the void" meditation technique from Wheel of Time, because the path of the void is an actual philosophy and scientific field yo not a bland lifeless fantasy power source). Speaking of the rogue tribes, the conclave not immediately exterminating them at the height of conservative influence does not make much sense considering all the other genocide they are guilty of. Their sole reason for exiling the rogues was to prevent the population at large from learning the conclave was covering up their existence for some time, which obviously failed because they still had to concoct a story in which Adun sacrificed himself to banish evil rogues trying to cause the apocalypse. Why were they covering up the existence of the rogues at all? Why would they believe that the populace would accept that story? If the Aeon of Strife was interstellar, wouldn't that mean there were rogue tribes on other worlds? What happened to them? Did the conclave fight interstellar crusades? This backstory made sense (to a point) in the original manual, but all the retcons introduced later render the backstory untenable. I just handwaved all this stuff away by positing the conclave went on crusades against the tal'darim (any and all violent protoss rebels) and the ascetic rogue tribes who helped them out of convenience were given special protection from the pogroms. Then the conclave learned that social misfits in the Empire were severing their own cords and running off to join the rogues through an underground railroad, so they decided the rogue tribes needed to dealt with so they sent Adun to bring the misfits back (a plot point that I recycled from the work of ToxicDefiler, so credits to him for saving me time to think up an explanation). Adun tried to teach the rogues the Path of Ascension, but they refused since by definition those teachings would require connecting to the Khala (the species-wide Khala that connects with the psi matrix and so forth, not the tribe-level Khala since they still had intact nerve cords; and they weren't about to use sun drop because they fundamentally disagreed with the Path of Ascension and were unwilling to adapt it), but the circumcised social misfits had no such limitation because they did not fundamentally disagree with the Path's philosophy and learned anyway (to close any potential plot hole about why Adun though this would work, circumcision is reversible because protoss science is advanced and I'm genuinely unsure if nerve cords grow back on their own or not since canon mentioned they must be capped to prevent the ends from bleeding space magic or whatever absurd excuse the scientifically illiterate writers at Blizzard used). The misfits predictably exploded into devastating psionic storms due to a lack of control (this is because of the extreme emotions thing mentioned before, which is why terran ghosts do not similarly explode even though canon depicts them creating things like firestorms; speaking of which I am still trying to figure out where the energy comes from for human psychic powers if protoss use Psi from the Psi Matrix because I am concerned about perpetual motion machines since those render most of the setting's tech worthless), and the rogue tribes got the idea of circumcision from the dead misfits after refining the teachings so these were safe to use (and this contradicts their past behavior I know but they did it as a pre-emptive defense against the conclave for violating their peace treaty and trying to kill them, so they needed something to counter the power of the Khala). (In contrast to LotV's nonsensical retcon, trying to channel the Khala/Psi Matrix/etc without intact nerve cords will cause you to explode because those nerve cords are critical to maintaining control; the Nerazim had to develop/rediscover an entirely new branch of meta-neural study and build their own dark matrix to overcome the problems. I'm still trying to figure out how to integrate the twilight messiah stuff because it makes no sense given the rules for psychic powers and philosophies and such I've established so far, plus it is a retcon from the manual which never suggested Adun was a messiah.)

    (Sorry, this has gone on for way too long already)
    Last edited by Mislagnissa; 10-17-2018 at 02:39 PM.
    I think Starcraft needs rebooting. See "Enumerate" for details (links: timeline, full document, original forum thread).

  2. #2

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Me, I chose the path for Raynor and Kerrigan's pairing back then (this was only post WoL's fic) only as a small part of a bigger picture. I didn't want to show they were so vital to the SC universe (even in the SC2 lore) that nothing can function without them. Plus I wanted to show the desire for retribution for all those who suffered at the swarm's hands and how things might spiral out of control. Of course given that the fic wasn't intended to answer all the Qs, it did make things somewhat complicated.

    Now things can get a bit easier with more of the storyline revealed. Sure, it certainly wasn't what I had wanted, but I'll work with what was given and keep retcons to a minimal (this again is using the SC2 lore). Again, I'm not the person who invested so much into the SC lore back in the SC1 and BW days. But even without that, it wasn't hard to see the contradiction problems in the SC2 lore, something I tried hard to make sense of, though this will ultimately require outside elements (including some levels of fantasy).

    Long story short I still plan to make a future SC fic using the SC2 lore. You can argue all you want the SC2 lore is utter crap, but not everyone on the planet is a die hard SC fan.

    And as you said it yourself, your fic may have gotten praise so far, but ultimately there will be those who criticize.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    though this will ultimately require outside elements (including some levels of fantasy).
    Fantasy elements taking over scifi settings at the expense of better writing is a huge problem in video games for the past decade. That's why I hated Mass Effect. I was only ever interested in starcraft because it was advertised as military scifi, not fantasy. If I wanted space magic, star wars is over yonder.

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    Long story short I still plan to make a future SC fic using the SC2 lore. You can argue all you want the SC2 lore is utter crap, but not everyone on the planet is a die hard SC fan.
    I got into Starcraft well after LotV was released, well after you say you got into starcraft. My first clear impression of the games was watching recaps on youtube, then reading the wiki to make sense of what I just watched (which did not help because the wiki reads like the incoherent ramblings of a lunatic). I thought SC1 and SC2 were shlock because the plot reads like the incoherent ramblings of a lunatic or a bunch of excerpts from a dream journal.

    Everything you just said about me is patently false, which you should really know by now after... what was it, a year or so of us chatting? Your other posts claim that I hate starcraft and that I should leave the community. I cannot be both a diehard and a hater. I'm seriously beginning to wonder if you have memory problems because you keep saying contradictory things.

    Where was I? Rag, you need to understand that your refusal to accept constructive criticism of Starcraft is a form of religious doublethink. No, really, fandom is literally quantifiable as a religion. It is okay to acknowledge that Starcraft is bad. That does not make you bad for liking it. The sooner you de-convert from Metzenism, the sooner the scales will fall from your eyes and you will be able to notice that the starcraft lore is irrational from start to finish. The sooner that happens, the sooner you can write fiction that isn't shackled to the irrationality of canon.

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    And as you said it yourself, your fic may have gotten praise so far, but ultimately there will be those who criticize.
    Criticism isn't a bad thing. If you think it is then you clearly are not cut out for writing. A writer cannot improve without being criticized.

    The Starcraft lore, when critically analyzed, is a box of used kitty litter that hasn't been cleaned in twenty years with a few diamonds sprinkled in. Since I have a shred of self-respect, I write my fanfiction by picking the diamonds and throwing away the shit. I do not spray air freshener on it and then serve it at a restaurant like nearly everyone else who writes Starcraft fanfiction does.

    I'm singling out Starcraft specifically because I never see this problem in other fandoms. Buffy, Harry Potter, Naruto, Voltron, Avatar, etc, all have thriving fanfiction communities which absolutely revel in criticizing or reimagining the canon or going off in wild creative tangents. The starcraft fandom has zagara's half-human lovechild, raynor/kerry's lovechild, a few conservative adaptations of the game scripts, and self-inserts where teenage boys control the zerg on generic fantasy planets. The stories about self-inserts are the only remotely creative stories in the entire fandom, if only because they are not slavishly shackled to the dream logic of the canon.
    Last edited by Mislagnissa; 10-18-2018 at 10:43 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    Criticism isn't a bad thing. If you think it is then you clearly are not cut out for writing. A writer cannot improve without being criticized.

    The Starcraft lore, when critically analyzed, is a box of used kitty litter that hasn't been cleaned in twenty years with a few diamonds sprinkled in. Since I have a shred of self-respect, I write my fanfiction by picking the diamonds and throwing away the shit. I do not spray air freshener on it and then serve it at a restaurant like nearly everyone else who writes Starcraft fanfiction does.

    I'm singling out Starcraft specifically because I never see this problem in other fandoms. Buffy, Harry Potter, Naruto, Voltron, Avatar, etc, all have thriving fanfiction communities which absolutely revel in criticizing or reimagining the canon or going off in wild creative tangents. The starcraft fandom has zagara's half-human lovechild, raynor/kerry's lovechild, a few conservative adaptations of the game scripts, and self-inserts where teenage boys control the zerg on generic fantasy planets. The stories about self-inserts are the only remotely creative stories in the entire fandom, if only because they are not slavishly shackled to the dream logic of the canon.
    I never said criticism is bad, but let's just say if all you get is a group of people who do nothing but complain "your writing is crap" without saying anything else, it doesn't really go anywhere. As I recall, this seems to be what you said with game story designers: that for the most part they have no real talent. But a critic has to offer something more than just saying their lore knowledge is crap and full of retcons. Now sure, even I understood the contradiction problem by HotS and so on, but I simply tried to take it by trying to see what Blizzard was trying to imply (which they did a poor job of that as well). Even those who acknowledged my efforts in trying to piece the SC2 lore together said that the ordinary fan is NOT going to spend this much effort trying to figure out what they were trying to say, hence proving Blizzard didn't do their lore job correctly.

    It's one of the reasons I disliked those critics on the battlenet forums that hardly contribute ANYTHING aside from the whole "Blizzard's lore mentality sucks."

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    Everything you just said about me is patently false, which you should really know by now after... what was it, a year or so of us chatting? Your other posts claim that I hate starcraft and that I should leave the community. I cannot be both a diehard and a hater.
    I'm curious to know if there's also such thing as a die-hard critic, one who merely comes along and does little short of saying how crappy the game lore is about everything. There's already the gamingsins channel on youtube for that, I think that's the name (though I only visit it occasionally). In fact I'm still looking back at what they are saying for everything wrong with Far Cry 5.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    I never said criticism is bad, but let's just say if all you get is a group of people who do nothing but complain "your writing is crap" without saying anything else, it doesn't really go anywhere. As I recall, this seems to be what you said with game story designers: that for the most part they have no real talent. But a critic has to offer something more than just saying their lore knowledge is crap and full of retcons. Now sure, even I understood the contradiction problem by HotS and so on, but I simply tried to take it by trying to see what Blizzard was trying to imply (which they did a poor job of that as well). Even those who acknowledged my efforts in trying to piece the SC2 lore together said that the ordinary fan is NOT going to spend this much effort trying to figure out what they were trying to say, hence proving Blizzard didn't do their lore job correctly.

    It's one of the reasons I disliked those critics on the battlenet forums that hardly contribute ANYTHING aside from the whole "Blizzard's lore mentality sucks."



    I'm curious to know if there's also such thing as a die-hard critic, one who merely comes along and does little short of saying how crappy the game lore is about everything. There's already the gamingsins channel on youtube for that, I think that's the name (though I only visit it occasionally). In fact I'm still looking back at what they are saying for everything wrong with Far Cry 5.
    Fact is, most of the fanfic community only seems interested in the romance (romance which is not believable to begin with) and could not care less about the world building. I hold the view that world building is important to get at least basically right, so I dislike how Blizzard was so lazy and flippant with everything except gameplay.

    Starcraft could have been good scifi, but instead became a romance novel and not even a good one.

    Did you know that Blizzard forgot they wrote the protoss empire as athiest? Seriously, check the bio of Shelak tribe. Christie Golden had some interesting ideas for fleshing them out.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Yeah but even before Blizzard announced ANY info on SC2 I never considered their pairing was supposed to represent everything. If it's only for a single battle, then I'd gladly accept because everyone knows that's only a small piece of the picture.

    And since you mentioned Golden with some ideas in fleshing them out, mind writing them here?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    Yeah but even before Blizzard announced ANY info on SC2 I never considered their pairing was supposed to represent everything. If it's only for a single battle, then I'd gladly accept because everyone knows that's only a small piece of the picture.

    And since you mentioned Golden with some ideas in fleshing them out, mind writing them here?
    I have not read the books and had to refer to the wiki. Essentially, Golden posited that the Ara and Shelak tribes fought prior to and during the reformation of the Khala.

    Golden wrote that the Shelak had violet skin, but Zekrath in the comic has white skin (like the Arbiter pilot in SC1/SCR). (For reference, Blizzard never actually codified the tribal phenotypes so it is impossible to determine what they are supposed to be. The same characters look wildly different between games or even within the same game.)

    From there I got the idea that the Shelak are actually a breakaway group from the ancestors of the Slayn tal'darim tribe (I'm using tal'darim here as a generic term for fanatic religious tribes, not a specific ethnic group). I alluded to this in the first chapter of my antebellum story without explicitly stating the connection, but it should be obvious since they are mentioned in the same paragraph as taking part in the same crusade.

    I have been battling emotional issues recently so I have not been able to do as much writing as I wanted to. In any case, while the protoss are not my favorite side I do enjoy fleshing them out as a real civilization.

    Right now one of the conceits I am working with is that, like with humans, there is not a one-to-one correlation between phenotype and culture. Different tribes may have the same phenotype, while one tribe may include multiple phenotypes (although this is a much more recent phenomenon because gene pools eventually homogenize). One of my characters is mixed-race (in the human sense) but passes for a member of a particular tribe.

    I spent words on this stuff to make the Protoss feel like a real empire and not the rather bland paladin LARPers they were in canon. All of it ultimately ties in the overarching theme of freedom versus control, individuality versus conformity, etc that I always felt was the main theme of Starcraft.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    I have not read the books and had to refer to the wiki. Essentially, Golden posited that the Ara and Shelak tribes fought prior to and during the reformation of the Khala.

    Golden wrote that the Shelak had violet skin, but Zekrath in the comic has white skin (like the Arbiter pilot in SC1/SCR). (For reference, Blizzard never actually codified the tribal phenotypes so it is impossible to determine what they are supposed to be. The same characters look wildly different between games or even within the same game.)

    From there I got the idea that the Shelak are actually a breakaway group from the ancestors of the Slayn tal'darim tribe (I'm using tal'darim here as a generic term for fanatic religious tribes, not a specific ethnic group). I alluded to this in the first chapter of my antebellum story without explicitly stating the connection, but it should be obvious since they are mentioned in the same paragraph as taking part in the same crusade.

    I have been battling emotional issues recently so I have not been able to do as much writing as I wanted to. In any case, while the protoss are not my favorite side I do enjoy fleshing them out as a real civilization.

    Right now one of the conceits I am working with is that, like with humans, there is not a one-to-one correlation between phenotype and culture. Different tribes may have the same phenotype, while one tribe may include multiple phenotypes (although this is a much more recent phenomenon because gene pools eventually homogenize). One of my characters is mixed-race (in the human sense) but passes for a member of a particular tribe.

    I spent words on this stuff to make the Protoss feel like a real empire and not the rather bland paladin LARPers they were in canon. All of it ultimately ties in the overarching theme of freedom versus control, individuality versus conformity, etc that I always felt was the main theme of Starcraft.
    I never really got the impression the Shelak were like that, they simply continued to venerate the xel'naga, which was why I always felt they should have been the most accepted by the Nerazim.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by ragnarok View Post
    I never really got the impression the Shelak were like that, they simply continued to venerate the xel'naga, which was why I always felt they should have been the most accepted by the Nerazim.
    Blizzard's lore is not consistent. The original manual states that the Empire is atheist and banned all other faiths but the Khala. The Shelak were given special permission to study the banned texts. Whereas the fiction depicts all protoss as generic xel'naga worshipers.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Conservative versus progressive politics in the Protoss Empire

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    Blizzard's lore is not consistent. The original manual states that the Empire is atheist and banned all other faiths but the Khala. The Shelak were given special permission to study the banned texts. Whereas the fiction depicts all protoss as generic xel'naga worshipers.
    Inconsistency was something we've all known the moment SC1 came out. The Q here is did it get so inconsistent to the point where you felt the contradictions made the story too illogical.

    Now, as for the fiction of worshipping the xel'naga, you said it yourself that the Empire banned all faiths outside the Khala, but the empire happened only after the xel'naga left Aiur.

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