Sports and Politics in the Domains

The Popular Factions in Bloodlust might seem, at first glance, to be a reference to modern political parties. In Canada the Conservatives are Blue, the Liberals are Red, the NDP are Orange, points to you if you guessed that the Greens are Green. This is true to a certain extent. However it is also a reference to some interesting phenomena that I came across in my studies: the sporting factions of Rome and Byzantium.  We know a fair bit about these organizations due to records of the Nika Riots but they frequently pop up in older references to Gladiatorial Combat in Rome as well as Byzantine Chariot Racing. The incomparable Guy Gavriel Kay make use of them in his superb Sailing to Sarantium duology. In many ways these Factions served similar functions to our modern political parties, giving the common people and the lower aristocracy a greater voice in governance due to mass of numbers and organization. I actually think that there are more similarities, and that it is an area of history well worth examining.

In this light, I decided that the popular Factions in the Domains started off as sporting clubs and gradually gained broader influence as their organizations became more and more powerful and more unified. Each faction begins life as a group of sportsmen, fans, and supporters who band together to influence the sport that they love. They quickly find that this sort of allegiance gives them influence over the popular assemblies. We currently have  Political factions with their own news channels, imagine if they also had sports teams…

The Blues, the first Faction, started as a group of Arena Masters and Traditionalists who were wary of new changes in the rules of the Great Games. It is understandable that people who have an advantage in a particular system want to preserve (or enhance) that advantage. They likely started as a group that opposed the influence that the Deliberative gained over the Great Games as a whole. They wanted each individual Arena Master to have as much independence and control as possible.

The Reds rose in opposition to the Blues. The Blues became so powerful that they not only crushed the original political alliances in the popular assembly but they severely curbed the power of the Deliberative and handed Arena Masters free reign over the games for a while. This led to abuses, favoured Gladiators dying, and at least a handful of Chosen who were basically put in place by the Blues. The Reds formed out of the anger against the abuses of the Blues. They are not as tightly knit as a group, but they are far more numerous and quite powerful whenever they come together and organize.

For a long time the Blues and the Reds were enough. They balanced each other. The Faction games were created so that they could directly support their favoured fighters. However, even the more progressive Reds became bogged down by special interests over time and thus the minor factions (Oranges, Greens, and others) arose. These Factions often push particular issues until it becomes popular enough so that one or both of the major Factions feels compelled to pick it up.

As it stands in the Domains now, each Faction not only has its own news, politics, and Gladiators but also taverns, celebrities, neighborhoods, authors, dancers, and so on. They are full lifestyle choices. They are the Dominant “brands” of the Domains and are so powerful in the time that Bloodlust is set that even the Chosen have to tread carefully around them.

However, that said, I try to avoid pushing modern political issues onto the various Factions in all but the most general sense. The politics of the Domains are very similar to ours, but their problems and solutions are not at all the ones that we face in the real world.

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One comment on “Sports and Politics in the Domains

  1. grimkrieg says:

    Have you ever watched the TSN guys? I’ve rarely seen anyone who enjoys their job more than they do.

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