Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

In America, today is a holiday called Labor Day. No, Britain, it's not to celebrate one of your political parties. This day is all about your regular working joe, like me, and all the working joes that camw before. Especially those who died or were seriously injured fighting for their rights. A lot of people don't get it. There are things a lot of us take for granted, like eight-hour work days, overtime, and weekends... people died fighting for these things. It took a long time to get these rights in place in this country, and don't think for a second that they are not constantly under attack. 

Situations like a strike are excellent adventure hooks for D&D-type RPGs, as well. "Guilds" in D&D are generally accepted as part of the political landscape of any major city (though I am sure that most of the time, the only guild players encounter is the ubiquitous "Thieves Guild"). Organized labor has strength in numbers, and can easily shut down commerce in a city for days by going on strike to demand better wages, hours, and benefits. Longshoremen can lock down a dock. Carpenters and masons can halt building construction. There is a balancing act for support from the general population, as workers and their bosses take their messages to the street. Tensions in the city rise. Boiling point. Bloodshed. Someone takes the blame, and the winner takes the spoils.

Anyone out there ever used this type of political scenario in their D&D game? How did it play out?  


  1. Very interesting idea. One wrinkle is that, unlike unions, guilds (at least historical guilds) crossed the labor-capital divide (as much as there was a labor-capital divide in pre-Capitalist cities), and were more self-regulating than unions are. Labor-capital disputes, then, didn't get resolved by a guild strike; on the other hand, if a guild did strike, that meant that the entire industry would be on hold- there wouldn't be any bosses, owners or managers that would hire "scabs" that would get the work done. I'm not sure if "guild strikes" ever happened, but it's worth researching, I think…

  2. Thanks for the comment, Staples! And thanks for the insight. I think the rise of Unions was in large part a response to the rise of large corporations during the Industial Revolution: a prime era of history to mine for ideas, especially for an Eberron D&D campaign.

    As a Union member myself, I've yet to have the pleasure of being part of a strike action, but I have relatives who were around for the bad old days when heads got busted. Seems like that kind of thing would make for one hell of an adventure. I'll have to start working out the kinks I think!

  3. [Looks up Eberron…]

    Oh, yeah, that would work! Guilds withered away (mostly) with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of Capitalism, leaving a regulation vacuum that unions (and governments, very, very eventually, and only partially) eventually were created to fill, because of, as you say, the bad old days. I wasn't familiar with Eberron before, but after looking it up, it totally makes sense to approach it as if a magical equivalent to an Industrial Revolution has taken place and there is a need for unions. One interesting campaign idea might be having the PCs unionize a particular area or industry.

  4. You could create a really interesting campaign around the friction between emerging magical and manufacturing unions and the dragon-marked houses (who are essentially an industrial aristocracy)... which of course will be exploited by the barely simmering political factions that were until recently trying to blow each other up. It would be the perfect type of game for fans of China Mieville and Perdido Street Station.

  5. Hi,

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