Serial Setting 2 ~ Week 21

The Casting Shadows blog’s second Serial Setting appears in weekly installments and is scheduled for a 6-month run of which only 1 month remains. This series is focused on providing basic details for heroic pulp adventures for the Ubiquity Roleplaying System as presented in Hollow Earth Expedition  and to a much lesser extent Leagues of Adventure. These ideas, set in a fictionalized and mysticized version of the Korean peninsula in 1936, present a community oppressed by faceless enemies and their own countrymen. It will additionally suggest routes, leads, and hooks for GMs to entice groups based elsewhere in the world to get involved. This series portrays characters and situations which are often grim, oppressive, and hopeless in hope that once characters from your campaigns are introduced, you can change that, or part of that, for those whose lives your players’ PCs encounter. This series also contains very strong suggestions of ways to enable the characters to travel either to or from the Hollow Earth (and even a small suggestion of how they might come to learn to do both), and so has quite a few touches of the unexplained and unexplored.

21 The Lists of Cultural Appropriations –   Robbing Peter and Paul to pay yourself

Bureaucracies sustain themselves on paperwork, and entertain themselves with regulations. This is no less true of an occupying army in an annexed territory than it is of any other self-serving form of government. Sometimes, the convoluted paperwork produced by regulations is a slippery knife, as capable of twisting in the hands of its master as it is of cutting true.

In the case of the peninsula, lists must be made of all activities, and few are so important as those lists of assets found, and assets developed. The details of the wealth and heritage pilfered to date might shock and appall some, but the missing items more so…

Greed has gripped prominent figures both foreign and domestic. Oppressor and sycophant alike abuse the broad powers available to them to secure monopolies, liberate real estate, seize wealth, and hobble opposition.

Somewhere the details of such villainy must be tracked and the benefits to its perpetrators must be made explicit. Hoarding illicit wealth is only of value if one can wallow in it like a pig in slop. Uncovering such records from a stumbling block in your way toward power, toward a goal, or toward freedom is power. It is not power to undo the damage; it is power to provide to temporary allies to smash the figure offending you in exchange for putting a new figure in its place. The shifting tide of shifting allegiance may buoy one for a while, but eventually that tide will wash all plotters out into deeper waters where other perils await. The ultimate authority is not interested in what is right or what is fair – only what is due.

Experts hired to consult on the myriad construction projects, or objecting to the wholesale deletion of a culture may come to wonder how and why certain companies and officials seem to grow fatter and fatter off the tormented land. The brave among them may futilely try to do something about it. A stolen ledger can feed no one, but it can ensure that stolen artifacts do not disappear forever into the dark collections of thieves and pretenders to glories not their own.

Perils they may face go far beyond the ones in uniform. A traitor wears no identifying colors. Greed pulls the mind of those born on the peninsula as surely as it does on those born elsewhere. For some, vision does not extend beyond benefitting the self or one’s immediate family. For some, selling out a nation is a matter of nothing more than personal profit. A clever hero can turn the mistakes and weaknesses of his enemies into weapons to strike them down.

Lee, Hak-Sub

Hak-Sub Lee has his eyes not on industry, like so many of his corrupt cohorts, but on government. He knows it is only a matter of time until those who have shown loyalty to the Emperor and his elite will be set as examples above the mud-scrabbling lower class. He aspires to be first among them, and will stop at nothing to prove he is fit to lead his ragged countrymen into the glory of the expanding empire.

Recently, the self-styled “Mr.” Lee has set his sights on shipping and so has begun sending agents to fishing and port communities around the nation to snatch up territory and seize assets on behalf of his patron. Not all of these are going to be declared to that patron, nor will the patron declare all of his acquisitions to his masters at home. Both keep dual sets of records in places they are certain are unassailable and secret.

They are, of course, both wrong.


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