Trope-a-Day: Always Save The Girl / Loved I Not Honor More

Always Save The Girl / Loved I Not Honor More: Well, as a matter of principle, the Imperials prefer to Take a Third Option whenever possible, by way of giving the finger to the sort of people and/or fates and chances who like to set up this sort of Sadistic Choice.

That said, given their views on Honor Before Reason, they do tend to go with the Loved I Not Honor More side if they can’t find a third option, if only because (and remember, this is a gender-neutral pair of tropes in this setting) they know perfectly well what the loved one in question would have to say on the issue.  When, you understand, it is a matter of principle.

Subverted, however, exceptionally brutally when the people responsible for this choice haven’t quite grasped the nuances of the Imperial value-set (see: Blue and Orange Morality, et. seq.) they’re counting on to save their asses; those, for example, who think that John Q. Imperial won’t go for Always Save The Girl because they’re hiding behind their own population or within a cooperative/non-uncooperative population and the collateral damage would be too high are likely to very rapidly learn that the body count of people even merely passively sympathetic to this sort of thing ranks somewhere below cost of ammunition expended in his decision hierarchy.

Trope-a-Day: What You Are In The Dark

What You Are In The Dark: Teir (honor, in the Eldraeic sense) and the Code of Alphas are very, very clear on this point.  Honor is not face or reputation; they are not honor.  They are nice rewards for it, but you should throw them away unquestioningly if the necessity to choose between them comes up.  It doesn’t matter if no-one else will know; you can never escape knowing, and by knowing, being.  (And even if you redact your memory afterwards, you’ll always know that there’s something you couldn’t know.)

Trope-a-Day: Thicker Than Water

Thicker Than Water: While the Houses (extended family-clans) are an important part of their social structure, the eldrae are really too individualistic to play this one entirely straight; and, well, principles are thicker (see: Honor Before Reason, Principles Zealot).  In practice, most do pay rather more than lip service to the concept of family loyalty, but the families work to make sure that they deserve it rather than just assuming it.  It works out, in the end.

 

Trope-a-Day: Poisoned Weapons

Poisoned Weapons: See Combat Pragmatist – the eldrae would, once again, like to point out that being honorable should not correlate strongly with being an idiot.  Nor should being an idealist mean that you are obliged to give up all the efficacious advantages.  As the book says: if you have to fight, you’re fighting for something worth fighting for; and serving that purpose well means not conceding the advantage and using all the means you have available to win.

Trope-a-Day: Honor Before Reason

Honor Before Reason: While it has occasionally been claimed about the Empire (mostly by people who have more experience with I Gave My Word than with their Combat Pragmatism, which is more confusing that enlightening on that point), if you were to ask – or observe – an actual Imperial on that point, they would point out to you, and support with a small pile of ethical calculus, game theory, etc., that given a couple of preconditions, namely:

That your values are slightly more sophisticated than mere survival – and actually, quite a lot of the time even if they are only mere survival – or shameless backstabbing fuckery for its own sake;

And that your honor-code is well-developed and comprehensively thought through, honor being cognate to neither stupidity nor thar;

Then honor is reason, the apparent lack of practicality is functional if you take the time to look at the Big Picture and iterate, the apparent denial of a value may well satisfy a metavalue, and the entire question that the existence of this trope presupposes is invalid.  So.

(Of course, this still looks very much like playing it straight to people who are less, ah, willing to do whatever is necessary to abide by their extraordinarily valued principles/values/metavalues.  To plagiarize the applicable line from Dragon Age II, “What would the eldrae be without principle?  You, I expect.”)

Eldraeic: Degree Quantifiers

To expand a little on the degree quantifiers mentioned in the previous post, these are a set of words which permit the Eldraeic speaker to quantify the degree to which a particular predicate applies with reference to its subject argument.  There are six of these in common use:

ulquor
nonexistent, absolute absence, zero

anqan
negligibly

qané
to a small degree

qaneth
to an average/usual degree

qanlin
to a large degree

quor
absolute presence, completely, extremely

The definition of qaneth is, of course, somewhat subjective; a coffee cup or drinking glass which is qaneth olmanár is rather more than 50% full!  One can also use qan as a prefix with the syllabic numerals 1-11 to specify a particular degree, by twelfths, of a predicate’s applicability before having to resort to the more precise quantification systems in the language.

This also reduces linguistic redundancy in some ways.  As seen in the previous post, something which is full is quor olmanár (“containing as much as is possible”), and something which is empty is simply ulquor olmanár (“containing absolutely nothing”), and that’s all the linguistic expression those concepts need.

This applies equally well to most other concepts.  Good, in the moral sense, for example, is expressed by the predicate teirquelár (“be ethical, be honorable”); a good man in the common sense is simply described by teirquelár, or qaneth teirquelár; the uncommonly virtuous by qanlin teirquelár; and a saint by quor teirquelár; but equally, a common villain may be described as qané teirquelár, the uncommonly bad as anqan teirquelár, and cosmic evil as ulquor teirquelár.

There are, of course, an adequate quantity of specialized terms to properly taxonomize evil in both terms of practical result and in terms of motive, but I take a moment here to consider and note the way in which the language reflects the eldraic conception of evil as flaw, defect, or absence (evil as entropy, or miscreation) rather than as an entity due consideration in its own right.

(Even if some of we earthlings might find it a little creepy to discover that their word for evil is, quite literally, ungood.)