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Wavinator

What are the rules for violence in a culture?

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What stories have you heard (in fact or fiction) that really show how one culture is unique when it comes to resolving violence? I'm looking for help here in compiling anecdotes and breaking them down to better understand whether or not it is possible to develop a system for evolving cultures. What I'd like are a bunch of examples and maybe some thoughts on how they work. If I can figure out what classes the actors in the stories fall into, and the rules, resources and strategies governing their interactions that it might be possible to come up with lots of different cultures that can be impacted by the player's interactions. (In theory, anyway...) If you have stories, please stop here and just post them. If you're interested in details, please see below. Story Example: In some ancient societies, if you killed a man, you had to pay the family a standard life debt based on their station in life, or his family earned the right to set the terms of your punishment.

Here's my approach so far: Types of Violence There are three types of violence: Justified, Unjustified and Consensual. Each culture categorizes them in different ways.
  • Justified: They deserve the violence they're receiving.
  • Unjustified: They should not be targets of violence
  • Consensual: Two willing, mostly equal parties are risking themselves of their own free will. The levels correspond to how a violent act will be viewed. Criminals, for instance, are often viewed as targets of justified violence. Who gets branded as a criminal is a separate aspect of the culture, however. Types of Violence (Death Penalty For Jaywalking) Violent acts are classed by how much force was used and damage done. The most dangerous man alive, for instance, might deserve whatever can be thrown at him, whereas shooting someone for jaywalking in most cultures would be an outrage. A simple range of judgements could be: Outrageous, Excessive, Proper, Mild. This can be paired with a reputation system that allows levels of force to be used based on the rep of the target. Everyon's In A Class Our culture reveals its nature when we classify the parties involved in an act of violence. A man beating up a woman, for instance, is classed differently in many cultures, as is a woman beating up a man. The same goes for a mugger punching an old lady, or a cop harming a child. Characters could be classed based on several factors (age, gender, social status, income). Ultimately, based on individual weightings within a society, they'd fall into a range similar to the following:
    • Sacred - The culture finds this person / object beyond reproach, and offense to them beyond comprehension (example: Emperor of Japan, Buddha, Ghandi)
    • Cherished - The culture finds this person / object highly valued, and offense to them brings outrage, intervention or extremely negative reaction (example: A pregnant mother, a child, a pillar of the community) ...
    • Common - The culture identifies with the actions and fate of this person / object due to its commonality (example: joe everyman) ...
    • Reviled - The culture hates this person / object, and may harm them or fail to defend them (example: child killer, leper, Communist)
    This can be as detailed as necessary. Classes can be modified by aspects that don't fit, as well, which change the weighting. Authority is one example (Nazi's during the occupation of France might be considered Reviled Authorities). Rather than trying to puzzle out cause and effect (why is the man hitting the woman) it is probably better to adjust classes as soon as the deed is committed. A man who strikes a woman because she is unfaithful, for instance, can then be more easily distinguished from a man who strikes a woman because she is murderous.
    Ultimately, I see this as feeding into an organic system that can be varied across many societies. Using certain heuristics (genetic algorithms, perhaps), cultures might evolve when two communities come into contact, or adapt to predefined technological, political or environmental pressures over time. But the first step is the comparison. Any stories or other thoughts?

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    Are you seeking the holy grail of criminology? [grin]

    Here's a few google hits that look promising

    The Rules of Violence (pdf) appears to be a thesis on the 'fighting rules' that developed in South Africa as part of the fight against apartheid.

    Violence and Society: A Reader. A Chek website toc listing of a Prentice Hall book. Perhaps you can find online versions of some of the essays or other similar writings by the authors in that volume.

    Street Youth Violence And Victimization. An abstract.

    Culture of White Supremacy.

    Brian Paciotti, Ph.D.. UC Davis. I'll bet this guy could turn you on to a ton of information along the lines you seek.

    Selected Publications Richard E. Nisbett. Another academic.

    I get the feeling that this field of study is huge.

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    A Chek website

    A Swiss website. .ch stand for Switzeland. .cz is for Chech Republic. Sorry [grin]

    Cool links there. I feel, like LessBread, that this is a vast subject you are tackling, there.

    Did you check out anything on the Japanese class system?
    It should be fairly common stuff to find given how popular the subject is with us Westerners. The roleplaying game Legend of the Five Rings is heavily inspired by fantasy Japan, with plenty of rules for solving this sort of things.

    I recently read an amazing little book called "Car je suis Legion" (for I am Legion) by Xavier Mauméjean. The story takes place in ancient Babylon, and the hero is one of the Accusers, the order of judges that apply the Law throughout the land. In short, they are very much as powereful as the Judges of Judge Dredd.
    The very interesting little tidbit is that anyone can walk up to a judge and defy them on any point of the Law, in front of the public. Both the Accuser and the person defying him must make their arguments with a rope tied to their neck, and the winner gets chosen by the crowd... (the loser gets hanged)
    just thought this was original enough to get mentioned. Despite their powerful status, the Accusers are still there to serve the people, and answer to them directly.

    Philippe

    [Edited by - ahw on September 14, 2005 9:07:35 AM]

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    Quote:
    Original post by ahw
    Quote:
    A Chek website

    A Swiss website. .ch stand for Switzeland. .cz is for Check Republic


    Wee.

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    "Wee" but you don't even correct them? That's cold. It's "Czech".

    Back on topic, I think this would be absolutely awesome to play. I think it might be a little tricky to implement, because you'd have to track every NPC's status vis-a-vis the company they're in at the time, but it could really smooth out other things. In a bar full of Queensburians, a little fisticuffs would be no problem, but if it spills out into the street and an American cop strolls by, you're both going in for simple assault, no matter how carefully controlled teh altercation was.

    If you can lock it up into people reactions, and fudge a kind of communication system to inform governments of some of the reactions, then you'll probably be able to make it work. Don't do the telepathic crimenet like in Morrowind, though. You're in a basement with two NPCs, and you kill one, and the other "reports you" somehow in the eighth of a second it takes you to pull your sword out of the first guy and stick him. Nonsense.

    I'm just thinking of Escape Velocity now, and envisioning the thousands of lines of code that went into that very simple faction system, and then thinking about implementing a similar system, but with mores attached to each group...

    Boy. That's trouble.

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    Quote:
    Original post by ahw
    Quote:
    A Chek website

    A Swiss website. .ch stand for Switzeland. .cz is for Check Republic. Sorry [grin]


    No apology needed. I glanced at the home page and saw a European language there that I didn't recognize as French or German and so I figured it was Check.

    // edit - "Czech" - I knew that Chek/Check didn't look right, but I was focusing on more on the links than anything else.

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    Quote:
    Original post by Wavinator
    What stories have you heard (in fact or fiction) that really show how one culture is unique when it comes to resolving violence?


    David Brin and the Uplift Wars was a great series of books that dealt with this very thing, and though I read them years ago, the one thing I remember was how much all the different alien species did, no mater what the personal price was to sacrifice for higher evolutionary and homogenic goals, such as what the uplift itself represented, being brought into higher states of conssciousness, philosophy, technology and resource by doing the duty of evolving away from the stumbling blocks all species face as they evolve upwards in sophistication and cognition.


    Quote:

    I'm looking for help here in compiling anecdotes and breaking them down to better understand whether or not it is possible to develop a system for evolving cultures.


    Yeah, the uplift wars are definitely on your reading list. David Brin is a good enough writer to keep the loftyness of the aristocratic feel (if not atmosphere) of the inter species process from becoming putridly patrician in tone and manner.

    Quote:

    Here's my approach so far:

    Types of Violence
    There are three types of violence: Justified, Unjustified and Consensual. Each culture categorizes them in different ways.
  • Justified: They deserve the violence they're receiving.
  • Unjustified: They should not be targets of violence
  • Consensual: Two willing, mostly equal parties are risking themselves of their own free will.


  • I would add accidental violence. You have to shoot the lion that that sprung out of nowhere and is about to eat you. It provides normally complacent and pacifistic people an instant dip into the salsa of primitivism they tend to take for granted we have evolved out of, but the fact is, we didn't become the dominant species through legislative or technical skill, and really gets them in touch with their perspectives on the third of our consciousness we are born with genetically we tend to intellectually repress most of our lives. I like it to the first time a woman or elderly person I am teaching the martial arts to has their first chi experience, and is shocked, moved and changed forever at what force of power the human can wield when mind, body and spirit are interlocked and activated. This is the point in all training where they either choose to leave and persue other interests, or go into the "I'm gonna become Bruce Lee now mode". It's always remarkable, and the point where you have to teach a higher order of disciplinistic restraint now that you do know how much force you can wield if you choose.[/quote]

    Quote:

    The levels correspond to how a violent act will be viewed. Criminals, for instance, are often viewed as targets of justified violence. Who gets branded as a criminal is a separate aspect of the culture, however.



    /me a Sid 6.7: uh, uh, uh, see: The Bicycle Thief.

    Quote:

    Types of Violence (Death Penalty For Jaywalking)
    Violent acts are classed by how much force was used and damage done. The most dangerous man alive, for instance, might deserve whatever can be thrown at him, whereas shooting someone for jaywalking in most cultures would be an outrage.

    A simple range of judgements could be: Outrageous, Excessive, Proper, Mild. This can be paired with a reputation system that allows levels of force to be used based on the rep of the target.


    You could definitely get this more defined in a criminal law dictionary.

    Quote:

    Everyon's In A Class
    Our culture reveals its nature when we classify the parties involved in an act of violence. A man beating up a woman, for instance, is classed differently in many cultures, as is a woman beating up a man. The same goes for a mugger punching an old lady, or a cop harming a child.

    Characters could be classed based on several factors (age, gender, social status, income). Ultimately, based on individual weightings within a society, they'd fall into a range similar to the following:

    • Sacred - The culture finds this person / object beyond reproach, and offense to them beyond comprehension (example: Emperor of Japan, Buddha, Ghandi)
    • Cherished - The culture finds this person / object highly valued, and offense to them brings outrage, intervention or extremely negative reaction (example: A pregnant mother, a child, a pillar of the community)
      ...
    • Common - The culture identifies with the actions and fate of this person / object due to its commonality (example: joe everyman)
      ...
    • Reviled - The culture hates this person / object, and may harm them or fail to defend them (example: child killer, leper, Communist)



    The Caste system in India historically is a good example of these things. The class warfare in our coutry is as of yet too undefined to maybe make this work for the american market mindset, but worth trying to describe and implement.

    Adventuredesign



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    Ok, I like your classification of jusitifed/unjustified/consensual violence, and a class system for who is an appropriate receiving end of what. The main problem I see is that within a single society these classifications of violence and people can vary wildly person to person. How would you handle this? A criminal knows he's a criminal, so does he view violence against himself as justified and just give up? Does every good person see violence against heinous criminals as justified, and so condone lynching?

    I think the view of what is justified/unjustified/consensual is at least partly at the class/caste level as well as at the cultural level.

    Another useful tool for determining if your system might work is looking at all the weird societies created in various sci fi universes. Can your system create/support a race like the klingons for example? I'm sure there are lots of more interesting examples in the scifi metaverse but I'm not in a thinking mood right now.

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    I remember an episode of Star Trek where they went to this planet where once a day, everyone planetwide would just start smashing the nearest objects. I forget what the point was, but I think it could help this conversation is it pertains to Property Damage (i.e. Violence to Property).

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