Thursday, 13 May 2010

Sic semper tyrannis

Sic semper tyrannis is a latin phrase, that roughly translates to "thus always to tyrants". It was attributed to Brutus upon the killing of Julius Caesar, although that's probably an early example of a retcon, as none of the contemporary sources mention it. The right to kill (perceived) tyrants that it implies has been a huge influence in the history of the USA, from the founding of the country, through the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the Oklahoma bombing.

The rise of Garrosh in Cataclysm puts us in a very similar situation, and hence opens up some interesting roleplaying opportunities. His style is likely to be very different to that of Thrall, which means that there are bound to be some disaffected people in the Horde who don't like the new regime and see it as tyrannical. However, this puts us in a difficult position as roleplayers. Our character may indeed oppose Garrosh and wish to be rid of him, but the game mechanics simply don't permit us to assassinate our own leaders. This means that we have to think of reasons why our characters can't achieve their goal and how they would cope with that.

If you're interested in roleplaying an opponent of the new regime, the first thing you have to decide is why your character is opposed to it. There are a number of possible motivations, which may blur together:
  • Ethical - you believe the new ruler is behaving immorally and should be removed on those grounds alone. It's possible that Saurfang falls into this category.
  • Loyalty to the old regime - you were an ally or follower of the previous leader and are now suddenly excluded from the inner circle. It's arguable that Vol'jin feels this way.
  • It should have been me - your character thinks that he/she would be a much better leader than this clown. Why can't everybody else see it?
  • The frustrated loyalist - your character is a former loyal follower of the new leader, who was cast aside or ignored when they came to power. This approach wouldn't work from day one, but would be an interesting long-term character development: "after all I did for him in Northrend, now he doesn't even bother speaking to me".
  • The ruthless pragmatist - your objection isn't to the new leader's policy or methods, merely to his competence in carrying them out. He needs to be disposed of for the good of the Horde.
  • Don't mess with us - your character is part of a faction that is at odds with the new leadership and wants it removed so that they can prosper.
  • The special snowflake - your character doesn't feel they receive the recognition they deserve in wider society and feels that, by killing the leader, at last someone will notice them. Many real-world "lone gunman" assassination attempts are motivated by this.

Now onto the tricky bit: what we might call the Wile E. Coyote problem. Fundamentally, the writers can't allow you to achieve your aims or the world would be changed for everybody. Strictly speaking, of course, they may yet choose to do this via phasing. The fall of Garrosh could turn out to be the Cataclysm version of Wrathgate, but we have no evidence to support that right now, so let's assume that he remains in power. That leaves us with an RP question to answer: why hasn't our character succeeded? Again, there are many possible options:
  • Lack of power - your character may wish to kill off Garrosh, but he/she simply isn't capable of doing it, so he remains in the background, trying to come up with schemes that might work. This provides us with lots of RP options: holding secret meetings trying to gather support or watching Garrosh to try to find a weakness.
  • Wrong method - your character isn't prepared to do what it takes to remove Garrosh. For example, you may want him gone, but be sworn to use only peaceful protest, which he cheerfully ignores.
  • Hesitation - you have the plan, but are perpetually waiting for that "perfect" moment to strike which, of course, never comes. 
  • Fear of the consequences - you have the means to strike, but hold back. For example, you may have the forces to carry out the coup but do not act, for fear that the resulting split would leave the Horde vulnerable to Alliance attack.
  • Fear of failure - you are simply too scared of what might happen to you if you stand up to Garrosh. Look what happened to Cairne Bloodhoof.
  • Personality flaw - even though you're in the right, your unpleasant nature means that nobody is prepared to support you. For example, your own naked lust for power may cause people to think of you as a worse option than Garrosh.
  • Simple bad luck - you've tried, but it always goes wrong, no matter how carefully you plan. This is the problem Wile E. has: the anvil always ends up landing on your head rather than your enemy's!
Alternatively, of course, you could RP a Garrosh loyalist who is attempting to hunt down the traitors. But then you'd probably smell.


  1. it's always such a pleasure to read your posts, Sven- they're so well written and thoughtful. In fact, you've inspired me to write something truly stupid, despite the fact that you're leading by example over here.

    I'll ping you when it's done and you can see the hideous fruits of your well-intentioned labor! :)

  2. Nothing wrong with writing silly posts, so long as you know they're silly!