Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Complaining about a piece of Oblivion-given Morrowind lore, abolishing slavery leads to civil war, yeah, but the details...
Kazaera
post Aug 30 2011, 12:55 AM
Post #1


Agent

Joined: 13-December 09
From: that island north of France



(mods, please move this if this is in the wrong place? I couldn't figure out where this topic would go.)

So I was reading up about what happens in Morrowind post-game, according to Oblivion, and ran across this little tidbit.

Apparently Helseth incites a civil war, which he and his allies win, in order to break the power of the Great Houses and consolidate his own. And how he starts this is by banning slavery.

So far, so good. This sort of makes sense, given how fraught slavery is as a topic.

Except. That the civil war apparently happens between Hlaalu and Dres on the anti-slavery side and Redoran and Indoril on the pro-slavery side. Telvanni is Sir Not Appearing In This War.

First, the minor WTFs: Redoran is the in-game house that seems to make least use of slaves, and Indoril seems to be presented as very close to the Temple, also sort of military/religious and not a major slave-owning power either. Since slavery is also a matter of Dunmer tradition and so on, I could buy Redoran and Indoril *supporting* the major slave-owning Houses who protest against this, but have some trouble seeing them being the only ones... considering that of all the houses they would possibly be affected least from everything we've seen. (Hlaalu's got plantations. Worked by slaves.) I also have a lot of trouble seeing Telvanni stand by and do nothing, considering they're very pro-slavery and use slaves a lot.

But all of that pales next to Dres.

I mean, we don't know much about Dres lorewise. But what we do know is that: they are an agricultural House. They have huge, huge plantations that rely solely on slave labour. They are very anti-Imperial, very much Temple-supporters, apparently traditional allies of House Indoril, and very, *very* opposed to abolishing slavery.

blink.gif

I actually considered having slavery outlawed somehow in my Morrowind fic and ending up going "no, that would never happen because Dres would never stand for it." And now apparently, canonically, they not only have but fought a war to abolish slavery???

Especially because... you know, from Dres's description, this would totally ruin their economy.

Of course, apparently (I haven't played Oblivion myself so I'm going off the UESP wiki) you hear rumours that House Dres has "remodelled its economy from an agricultural one to a mercantile one". To which my reaction is twofold:

1. What, overnight?

2. ...if House Dres is the only primarily agricultural Great House, and it magically swaps its economy for one based on trading, then... where is the food coming from?

I have been continually WTFing over this piece of lore since I stumbled across it. Honestly - has anyone been able to make any sense of it? Because I'd love to, really, but I just hit "House Dres" and go "......what."


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 30 2011, 01:48 AM
Post #2


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



I noticed this a while ago, and mentioned it in one of my comments in the Teresa fic. You are spot on. Redoran and Indoril would be the least affected by the abolition of slavery. As you noted, both Hlaalu and Dres would be the ones crippled by it. Hlaalu is the great merchant house, so it stands to reason that they are trading slaves along with everything else. Dres is agricultural house, and one would imagine them running vast plantations packed with slaves, like the Roman Latifundia.

Dres becoming a merchant house does not work with Beth's story either. It would put them in competition with Hlaalu, and make them instant enemies! No alliance there. Not to mention as you said, where is the food coming from then?

What I have been considering for the TF is to turn it around. The Nerevarine returns from his/her vacation in Akavir, and as Hortator pushes through the abolition of slavery with the support of Redoran, Indoril, and Telvanni. This crushes both Hlaalu and Dres. It would also forces Helseth to abdicate. Or perhaps he is killed after he tries and fails to assassinate the Neveraine for a second time. The Nereveraine then becomes king of Morrowind?


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Thomas Kaira
post Aug 30 2011, 03:07 AM
Post #3


Mouth
Group Icon
Joined: 10-December 10
From: Flyin', Flyin' in the sky!



House Telvanni has never cared for anyone but themselves. They don't put much by the laws of the land, considering the fastest way to climb their hierarchical tree (murder) is never really opposed in any way by them. In fact, they actually support it. Getting fined if caught is just bureaucracy.

One could assume that they simply ignore the anti-slavery laws, because they really do not care about anyone else's way of doing things. Only their way matters to them, and they have the power to keep away those who might think otherwise.

Perhaps Telvanni didn't participate because they had no intention of obeying a slave abolition in the first place? They don't ever do anything unless they directly benefit. They would help closing Oblivion Gates... but only because they don't want Port Telvannis and Sadrith Mora (or any other of their towers) to become burning craters.

So they might appear to support the abolition of slavery on the outside... but I highly doubt any of the Telvanni wizards actually responded. Like I said, they don't care for other people's laws.

This post has been edited by Thomas Kaira: Aug 30 2011, 03:10 AM


--------------------
Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Destri Melarg
post Aug 30 2011, 09:52 PM
Post #4


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



Youíre right, Kazaera, it does seem backwards. Since I read this I have gone back into the lore to see if I could come up with a plausible explanation.

The thing that immediately jumps out at me is that each side of this civil war contains one house in Morrowind and one in Vvardenfell. I donít think that we should overlook the fact that the alliances formed in that way.

I think that TK nailed the attitude of House Telvanni. Here's how I see the rest:

Pro-Slavery:

House Redoran Ė
I can see House Redoran on the pro-slavery side for a few reasons. First and foremost is their belief in Dunmeri tradition. Slavery has been an integral part of the culture for thousands of years, and continues to be because the Armistice Treaty signed with the Empire gave Morrowind the right to govern themselves. We have seen Redoranís attitude toward slavery demonstrated in their willingness to allow slave hunters to search with impunity in Ald Velothi. As far as I can tell Redoranís income derives from egg mining, fishing, farming, and the taxation of their various holdings. Not exactly the ebony mining (and smuggling) that makes Hlaalu so wealthy. It stands to reason that they would fight for the continuation of Dunmeri cultural mores and the right of slave ownership simply to avoid being crushed by an empowered Hlaalu.

*Yeah, I know it may sound a bit flimsy, but the evidence supports this: witness the lengths that Redoran is willing to go to prove corruption in the Caldera Mining operation. We have also seen Redoran take action against smugglers in Shurinbaal, a cave located in Hlaalu territory.*

House Indoril Ė
To me Indoril is the easiest to figure out. They simply hate the Empire and would naturally rebel against anything that smacks of Imperial influence. They have a tradition of maintaining laws in defiance of the Empire, and it isnít a stretch to see them allying themselves with their spiritual brothers on Vvardenfell to oppose moving the Dunmeri closer to the Empire.

Anti-Slavery:

House Hlaalu Ė
Other than Indoril, Hlaalu is the easiest one to justify. Hlaalu only owns three plantations on Vvardenfell, and only two of those employ slaves. Arano Plantation employs one Ďhirelingí, the sleeper Daynasa Telandas. Arvel Plantation employs slave labor, but since their main crop is Corkbulb root it is easy seeing Hlaalu either divesting themselves of the holding, or turning their slaves into Ďhirelings' by paying them a modest wage. Which brings us to the Dren Plantation . . . tell me, do any of us see the actual farming going on at Dren Plantation as anything more than a front for the smuggling operation? Ebony may be the biggest moneymaker on the books, but the skooma trade is what builds all the strongholds. I could see them likewise making all of Drenís slaves Ďhirelingsí in order to curry favor with the Empire by a public stance of opposition to the slave trade, all while continuing to consolidate their own power through the trading of ebony, kwama eggs, and most importantly, skooma.

House Dres Ė
Okay, I admit, this one seems the hardest to figure out. First letís dispel the idea that becoming a merchant house puts them in competition with Hlaalu. It doesnít. Dres has no holdings on Vvardenfell and controls no interest in anything grown or mined there. Their main cash crop is saltrice, which Hlaalu doesnít even cultivate. I can find no single area in which their interests and Hlaaluís collide. The change from an agricultural house to a mercantile house does not occur overnight. Six years pass from the events of Morrowind (3E 427) to the beginning of the Oblivion crisis (3E 433). But why would they oppose slavery when their vast holdings of saltrice plantations depend entirely upon slave labor? One word answers this: Helseth. Remember, Helseth is House Hlaalu. He was the one who forged the alliance between Hlaalu and House Dres. One presumes that part of the forging of that alliance must have included the plan by which Dres began to shed their agricultural roots in favor of a mercantile model along the lines of their new ally. The profits lost from having to pay their now Ďhirelingsí a modest wage are more than made up by being Hlaaluís ally on the mainland. One is left with the impression that Dres is not opposing slavery as much as they are supporting Hlaaluís play.


I admit that none of that is a perfect explanation, and I submit that the more accurate explanation is that Bethesda f***ed it up. tongue.gif But hereís hoping that this explanation is at least plausible.


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 30 2011, 11:54 PM
Post #5


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Aug 30 2011, 04:52 PM) *

First letís dispel the idea that becoming a merchant house puts them in competition with Hlaalu. It doesnít. Dres has no holdings on Vvardenfell and controls no interest in anything grown or mined there. Their main cash crop is saltrice, which Hlaalu doesnít even cultivate. I can find no single area in which their interests and Hlaaluís collide.


Yes, but you are only looking at Vvardenfell. What of Hlaalu's business on the mainland? Since there is no other mercantile house in Morrowind, it stands to reason that even if they do not own mines or plantations on the mainland, their trading operations are just as extensive there as they are on Vvardenfell. Hlaalu is already in competition with the East Empire Company. Dres changing to a trading house would put a serious cut into their business on the mainland, and if Dres was successful there, expanding their business to Vvardenfell would the logical next step. It would be like John Deere deciding to make cars and sell them U.S., and allying themselves with Toyota. They would still put a crimp in Toyota's business in the U.S., even if they were not selling cars in Japan.

OTOH, I agree that opposing abolition purely from the point of view of tradition is reasonable. That tends to be how it works IRL, even when it can be cheaper in the end to hire people for a pittance, charge them for rent, food, and every other thing they need to survive, and be able to simply fire them when the economy is bad.

I think that whatever side is supporting abolition, it is not from a sense of elfmanity, but purely being done as a political move to destroy the Houses in opposition to them. I am sure the traditionalists even in the houses that support it will be salved by the fact that making slaves free does not make them anywhere near equal.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Aug 30 2011, 11:58 PM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Destri Melarg
post Aug 31 2011, 01:55 AM
Post #6


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



QUOTE(SubRosa @ Aug 30 2011, 03:54 PM) *

Yes, but you are only looking at Vvardenfell. What of Hlaalu's business on the mainland? Since there is no other mercantile house in Morrowind, it stands to reason that even if they do not own mines or plantations on the mainland, their trading operations are just as extensive there as they are on Vvardenfell. Hlaalu is already in competition with the East Empire Company. Dres changing to a trading house would put a serious cut into their business on the mainland, and if Dres was successful there, expanding their business to Vvardenfell would the logical next step. It would be like John Deere deciding to make cars and sell them U.S., and allying themselves with Toyota. They would still put a crimp in Toyota's business in the U.S., even if they were not selling cars in Japan.

Interesting point, but nothing I could find in the lore indicates that Hlaaluís mainland holdings are that extensive. Assuming that they are for the moment, it would still be prudent of Hlaalu to ally themselves with Dres as Dres changes from an agricultural house to a mercantile house. Not only can they oversee that change (keep your enemies close), but they can also insure that any competing interests of the two houses are minimal. If Hlaaluís interests on Morrowind are small or non-existent then the alliance forged by Helseth makes even more sense. In this way Hlaalu can encourage Dresí makeover into a mercantile house for the express purpose of providing them a foothold on the mainland.

From the point of view of House Dres an alliance with Hlaalu makes sense because changing times dictate a change in their House philosophy. After the events in Tribunal most of the Dunmer refuse to believe that ALMSIVI is no more, but Iím sure it wasnít difficult for Helseth to convince the higher ups in House Dres that there has been a change in the viability of the Temple. In such tumultuous times allying yourself with the most financially powerful house seems a prudent choice. I can also see the wisdom in moving away from strict reliance on a slave labor force that is shunned by the rest of the Empire.

QUOTE
OTOH, I agree that opposing abolition purely from the point of view of tradition is reasonable. That tends to be how it works IRL, even when it can be cheaper in the end to hire people for a pittance, charge them for rent, food, and every other thing they need to survive, and be able to simply fire them when the economy is bad.

I think that whatever side is supporting abolition, it is not from a sense of elfmanity, but purely being done as a political move to destroy the Houses in opposition to them. I am sure the traditionalists even in the houses that support it will be salved by the fact that making slaves free does not make them anywhere near equal.

I agree. This is what I get from both Redoran and Indoril. Redoran would oppose abolition just because Hlaalu supports it. And Indoril would ally themselves with Redoran because Redoran's stance opposes the Empire. And also because Redoran is in opposition to the new direction of their former ally, House Dres.

This is an interesting debate. cool.gif


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 31 2011, 02:18 AM
Post #7


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Well, keep in mind that there is nothing in the lore that says cows live in Cyrodiil, but you can still get beef there. laugh.gif Relying on Bethesda's lore is not a good way to build a realistic world. At some point you have to just pitch what they say at the moment (as it tends to change with new games) and rely upon your own sense of what is plausible. I cannot count how much of Bethesda's lore I have had to chuck because of its stupidity (yes, I am looking at you Green Pact).

In a real world, there would be stores in every sizable settlement selling all manner of goods, clothing, tools, candlesticks, pottery, furniture, you name it. Hlaalu is the only House noted as being mercantile in nature. It is their 'personality' as given in the game (as opposed to being a warrior house, or a magician house) so it is only reasonable that they are the ones with the biggest and most plentiful stores across the province, including the mainland. If not, they would be missing out on a huge pile of money. And no one on the mainland would have bowls to put their saltrice in, or spoons to eat it with! wink.gif

I admit, I am filling in these blanks all on my own. Another person's mileage is going to vary. But if Hlaalu is not doing all the buying and selling, someone else is already. I am sure small time mom and pop businesses are all over the place selling all kinds of general goods. But given that this sort of thing is a gold mine (Walmart anyone?) I am sure at least one of the major Houses would have been entrenched in the business of big business for thousands of years.

Obviously the East Empire Company has a piece of the pie. As I recall, they have a monopoly on importing and exporting things from Morrowind. Or is it just exporting Morrowind stuff to the rest of the Empire? Hmmm, on a completely different note, I bet there is a lot of septims to be made smuggling kwama eggs to Cyrodiil. But there had to be someone doing it long before the Empire came along, as that was only in the last 400 years and change.

OTOH, if Dres did become a mercantile house, it would be good news for the regular folks, as they would have 3 stores to go to, instead of 2. Granted, they still would have nothing to eat...


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Helena
post Aug 31 2011, 01:26 PM
Post #8


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



There's actually no mention in Oblivion of Redoran's part in the abolition dispute. All we're told is that they're fighting the Nords over Solstheim (which is a bit bizarre, as it's Imperial territory and there are no Redoran settlements there). I can't see them getting involved in a messy civil war, over an issue which barely affects them anyway, at the same time they're busy battling Nord invaders. Far more likely that they'd maintain an uneasy neutrality, perhaps on the basis that they couldn't spare the soldiers.

The Dres thing is just complete bollocks. It's repeatedly stated in MW that their economy is totally dependent on slave labour (and no, it's not remotely plausible that they'd remodel it within 6 years), and that they are utterly, violently opposed to any attempts to limit or abolish slavery. People can make all the excuses they like for Bethesda, but I refuse to give them a pass on this one. I can accept the situation as it's described in Morrowind, or the situation as it's described in Oblivion - not both.

What's even more exasperating is that it could have been made plausible, if Beth had just swapped the roles of Dres and Redoran. Sure, the Redorans don't like Hlaalu very much, but they're also the House with the least to lose from abolishing slavery. I'm sure Helseth - who can't possibly be as much of a moron as he's portrayed in Tribunal - could find some inducement to offer them. What's more, their leader Bolvyn Venim is killed during MW's main quest, and his most likely replacement (apart from the player) is the much more tolerant Athyn Sarethi. I could easily see him offering grudging moral support to Helseth, on the grounds that abolishing slavery is a good cause even if it means aiding the Hlaalu.

I'm getting increasingly fed up of Bethesda's attitude of "lore is whatever we decide to pull out of our a**es today". If they can't be bothered to even try to keep their own lore consistent, why should their fanbase have to do it for them? I've always tried to keep my fanfic in line with official lore, on the basis that it's Bethesda's world and characters and fans should respect that. But if they're just going to change their minds every five minutes, what's the point?
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Destri Melarg
post Aug 31 2011, 06:50 PM
Post #9


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



QUOTE(SubRosa @ Aug 30 2011, 06:18 PM) *

Obviously the East Empire Company has a piece of the pie. As I recall, they have a monopoly on importing and exporting things from Morrowind. Or is it just exporting Morrowind stuff to the rest of the Empire?

The EEC has sole authority to trade in Raw Ebony, Raw Glass, Dwemer Artifacts, and Stahlrim. They also enjoy favorable tariffs and regulations on Kwama Eggs, marshmerrow, saltrice, & Telvanni Bug Musk (Which, incidentally, I have never seen outside of Morrowind. One wonders if the EEC Board of Directors is hoarding it all for themselves wacko.gif ).

QUOTE(Helena @ Aug 31 2011, 05:26 AM) *

There's actually no mention in Oblivion of Redoran's part in the abolition dispute. All we're told is that they're fighting the Nords over Solstheim (which is a bit bizarre, as it's Imperial territory and there are no Redoran settlements there). I can't see them getting involved in a messy civil war, over an issue which barely affects them anyway, at the same time they're busy battling Nord invaders. Far more likely that they'd maintain an uneasy neutrality, perhaps on the basis that they couldn't spare the soldiers.

Youíre right; there is no mention of Redoranís part in the civil war in Oblivion. However this is not something that was just fabricated to spark argument within this thread. We know that Redoran was allied with Indoril based on the timeline:
QUOTE
Helseth of Hlaalu forms an alliance with House Dres. Helseth then renounces the slave trade and reforms the Grand Council. Indoril and Redoran cannot embrace this new rule of Helseth and the power of both Great Houses reduced dramatically all these years. Furthermore, House Redoran is caught in the bloody dispute with the Nords of Skyrim.

In the wake of this civil war, according to the Third Edition of the Pocket Guide:

QUOTE
The Great Houses themselves, long stagnant, are adjusting to the new powers in the land. Some, like Dres and Hlaalu, appear to be on the rise, embracing the new traditions while welcoming the return of the old. Others, like Indoril and Redoran, seem to be waning, unable to change with the times.

QUOTE( @ Aug 31 2011, 5:26 AM) *

The Dres thing is just complete bollocks. It's repeatedly stated in MW that their economy is totally dependent on slave labour (and no, it's not remotely plausible that they'd remodel it within 6 years), and that they are utterly, violently opposed to any attempts to limit or abolish slavery.

I donít see why this is such a sticking point. Weíre not talking about the invention of new machinery or the building of new railways, roads, and other infrastructure as was witnessed during the near century needed to complete the Industrial Revolution. Weíre talking about the relatively subtle shift from a strictly agricultural enterprise (which only deals in a single crop) to an enterprise based on trade. That is something that could be accomplished in less than a decade, especially if their hands were held throughout the process by their allies in House Hlaalu.

QUOTE
People can make all the excuses they like for Bethesda, but I refuse to give them a pass on this one.

Bottom line, I am not saying that Bethesda should get a pass. It is frustrating how much they change the lore. I have had to change a significant amount of my own fanfic to jibe with all the new lore invented about the dragonborn! But the question Kazaera raised is Ďcan anyone make sense of this?í That is all I have tried to do.


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Helena
post Aug 31 2011, 08:42 PM
Post #10


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Aug 31 2011, 06:50 PM) *
Youíre right; there is no mention of Redoranís part in the civil war in Oblivion. However this is not something that was just fabricated to spark argument within this thread. We know that Redoran was allied with Indoril based on the timeline:

I don't know where the Imperial Library get their info, but AFAIK they're a fan-made site. I'm pretty sure there's no official Bethesda lore on Redoran's part in the civil war (though yes, they do state that the House is in decline overall). I'm not accusing anyone of fabricating anything, just pointing out that this particular aspect of the timeline appears to be fanon rather than canon.

QUOTE
I donít see why this is such a sticking point. Weíre not talking about the invention of new machinery or the building of new railways, roads, and other infrastructure as was witnessed during the near century needed to complete the Industrial Revolution. Weíre talking about the relatively subtle shift from a strictly agricultural enterprise (which only deals in a single crop) to an enterprise based on trade. That is something that could be accomplished in less than a decade, especially if their hands were held throughout the process by their allies in House Hlaalu.

I have to respectfully disagree on this. If such a shift happened over, say, a century, it might be described as 'subtle' (from a human point of view - I imagine Elves would still see that as a breakneck pace). Transforming your entire economy (and by extension, social and political system) in six years is not subtle. It might be possible, if every major player in House Dres simultaneously decided to make that change and went all-out to achieve it, but how plausible is that? As I said, at the time of MW, there's not the slightest hint that they would even consider thinking about making that sort of change.

QUOTE
Bottom line, I am not saying that Bethesda should get a pass. It is frustrating how much they change the lore. I have had to change a significant amount of my own fanfic to jibe with all the new lore invented about the dragonborn! But the question Kazaera raised is Ďcan anyone make sense of this?í That is all I have tried to do.

Again, I'm not trying to accuse anyone of anything - just expressing my frustration with Bethesda and their contradictory lore. I don't fault you for trying to answer Kazaera's question, but my own answer to that question has to be "no, it's flat-out impossible to make sense of that." Quite honestly, I'm at the point where I'm inclined to ditch all post-MW lore on the province (apart from the Oblivion crisis, which was clearly foreshadowed in Bloodmoon and Tribunal) and go my own way. I don't currently intend to write any stories set during or after Oblivion, but if I did, they would definitely be an AU (alternate universe) where the social and political developments post-MW make actual sense.
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Kazaera
post Aug 31 2011, 09:55 PM
Post #11


Agent

Joined: 13-December 09
From: that island north of France



I guess this is the sticking point: like Helena, I'm not seeing how the shift from an agricultural to a mercantile system is small or subtle. It's a total revamping of their economy - giant, giant plantations which will have to be closed down, trading needs to be built up and they won't have any routes or partners even goods to trade with, and as said the food has to come from /somewhere/ and if the lone agricultural house shuts its doors... I suppose Dres could go from growing-food to trading-food but again, it has to come from somewhere so that should probably mean a shift in their trading partners' economies to account for the sudden loss of food producers, and that would also mean a huge change in what foods are even available in Morrowind since I'm not seeing saltrice grown in Cyrodiil or Skyrim (maybe Black Marsh? although I... do not think people in Black Marsh would be very happy to trade, really. The Arnesian War isn't that long ago, and Dres would still have been raiding them for slaves.)

So I keep thinking, it might be possible but it would be huge and probably cause a lot of damage not just to the House but to the rest of the province as well and I can't actually see any motivation for Dres to do it. Maybe, maybe, there is a story behind this of someone who took House Dres by storm, or of a long-running change that had been going on behind the scenes, and if it's true that'd be a very interesting story I'd like to know more about but as things stand I've not seen a single hint of that. (Maybe the "canon" Nerevarine joined House Dres, ha.)

As far as Telvanni goes, I agree overall that they're inclined to just not do anything, I just have more trouble seeing that over slavery than over anything else. Unless Helseth simply isn't *enforcing* the anti-slavery stuff in Telvanni territory! (Which would... actually make sense from his perspective. >>) Although... then again, I can see Telvanni being talked into supporting abolition if it's done carefully, because although they use slaves heavily it seems to be mainly as personal servants (plus one in-game egg mine) and their economy doesn't rely on it the way Dres's does - so they wouldn't be as badly damaged by abolition and their anti-abolition stance seems to be more of a combination of convenience, tradition and "you don't get to tell us what to do". I can also see Telvanni going "okay, you've convinced us via massive diplomatic efforts to go along with abolition, but like hell are we going to fight in your war." So that /sort/ of works.

And re: tradition - I could see Redoran and Indoril fighting against abolition for that reason (Indoril especially, yeah). I just have a lot of trouble seeing a civil war where the Houses fighting against abolition only really have tradition as their argument against it and the two Houses fighting for actually have something to lose - especially when Dres is described as also being very anti-Imperial and pro-Temple and so quite probably at least as inclined to campaign against change solely on tradition grounds as Redoran or Indoril!

The plotline is weird to me because I can see Hlaalu and Dres going to war against Redoran and Indoril and winning with Telvanni staying out of it, and I can see a civil war fought over abolishing slavery and *maybe* (if a lot of diplomacy had been done first...) the abolishing side winning, I just can't see this two things in combination.


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Helena
post Aug 31 2011, 10:35 PM
Post #12


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



QUOTE(Kazaera @ Aug 31 2011, 09:55 PM) *

I guess this is the sticking point: like Helena, I'm not seeing how the shift from an agricultural to a mercantile system is small or subtle. It's a total revamping of their economy - giant, giant plantations which will have to be closed down, trading needs to be built up and they won't have any routes or partners even goods to trade with, and as said the food has to come from /somewhere/ and if the lone agricultural house shuts its doors... I suppose Dres could go from growing-food to trading-food but again, it has to come from somewhere so that should probably mean a shift in their trading partners' economies to account for the sudden loss of food producers, and that would also mean a huge change in what foods are even available in Morrowind since I'm not seeing saltrice grown in Cyrodiil or Skyrim (maybe Black Marsh? although I... do not think people in Black Marsh would be very happy to trade, really. The Arnesian War isn't that long ago, and Dres would still have been raiding them for slaves.)

This, exactly. Now I'm wondering, where are the reports of a massive spike in the price of saltrice (a staple Dunmer food), and consequent famines and mass starvation? Assuming some people are still continuing to farm saltrice, who is doing it - have some of the ex-slaves agreed to stay on as paid workers? If so, how do the Dres cope with having to treat their former 'posessions' as fellow citizens and employees, and how are the ex-slaves prevented from taking revenge on their former owners? We now have this enormous underclass of suddenly-freed slaves: where do they live, how are they going to be integrated into normal society? Do they have the same social and political rights as free-born citizens? Are they allowed to marry, join Houses, rise to political office?

Answering these questions could make for a really interesting story. If abolition were imposed on the Dres from outside (which, let's face it, is the only way it's going to happen), we might well end up with a scenario just like the one you described. What we actually get in Oblivion is "things are pretty much the same except that the slaves are free now, yayz."

QUOTE
And re: tradition - I could see Redoran and Indoril fighting against abolition for that reason (Indoril especially, yeah). I just have a lot of trouble seeing a civil war where the Houses fighting against abolition only really have tradition as their argument against it and the two Houses fighting for actually have something to lose - especially when Dres is described as also being very anti-Imperial and pro-Temple and so quite probably at least as inclined to campaign against change solely on tradition grounds as Redoran or Indoril!

Again, excellent point. IIRC it's mentioned in MW that slavery is common in Indoril areas as well, so I guess they also have something to lose (though not nearly as much as Dres). There's still no excuse for Redoran, though, especially when they have a bunch of rampaging Nords on their doorstep!
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Sep 1 2011, 12:06 AM
Post #13


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



QUOTE(Helena @ Aug 31 2011, 05:35 PM) *

This, exactly. Now I'm wondering, where are the reports of a massive spike in the price of saltrice (a staple Dunmer food), and consequent famines and mass starvation? Assuming some people are still continuing to farm saltrice, who is doing it - have some of the ex-slaves agreed to stay on as paid workers? If so, how do the Dres cope with having to treat their former 'posessions' as fellow citizens and employees, and how are the ex-slaves prevented from taking revenge on their former owners? We now have this enormous underclass of suddenly-freed slaves: where do they live, how are they going to be integrated into normal society? Do they have the same social and political rights as free-born citizens? Are they allowed to marry, join Houses, rise to political office?

This would make an outstanding story right there! Would the freedmen be equal? I think there is not a snowball's chance in the Deadlands of that. In fact, I would not be surprised if there was a sudden rise in the lynchings of former slaves, as fearful Dunmer try to keep the uppity lizards and cats in line. I mean, the next thing you know they might actually try dating Dunmer women! ohmy.gif I am sure it would be no better than the U.S. after the Civil War.

On the thought of all those Dres plantations, what would happen to all that land? Obviously the House would have a lot of money tied up in owning property, which would all be useless to a mercantile enterprise. They would have to sell it, and probably take a huge loss in the bargain. But who would buy it? The ex slaves would not have any money. Another House might. Or maybe someone outside of Morrowind altogether. Maybe the Argonians? Now talk about sticking into the Dunmer craw! Or perhaps some Cyrodiilic companies, maybe the EEC?

The other option to selling the land is of course renting it to the former slaves who worked upon it. Turning them from slave labor to share-croppers. Of course this would not make Dres a mercantile House as suggested. They would still be the same agricultural House. But this is a form that they could still survive post-abolition. This is also the most likely scenario after abolition. The other being that all the slaves move to the cities and create a massive proletariat, which would create another pile of issues!

One thing that has not been really explored is the topic of slave-trading. There are always huge profits to be made in the buying of selling of slaves. Contrary to how it is often portrayed, it is usually not the slave-holding society going out and kidnapping people of other races/societies to enslave either. Typically it is groups in the same society doing it. The Celts raided one another for not only cattle, but slaves to sell to the Romans in return for wine. Likewise several coastal African kingdoms became very rich by enslaving their weaker neighbors and selling them to Europeans.

So who is selling the slaves to the Dunmer? The lore implies that Dres would be doing it themselves. But as I said, that is not realistic. It would obviously be the Argonians and the Khajiit themselves. How are they getting from Elsewyr and Argonia to Morrowind? A land route might work for the latter, but the former needs a sea route. It could be independent ship owners of unsavory character (i.e. pirates) but given the scope the operations must have had, and the wealth involved, it could not stay small time for long. One of Morrowind's big Houses would be sure to step in. Hlaalu, with its trading empire, would be the most able to capitalize on this. They would have the ships, the caravans, the arrangements at ports, etc... If not, they would have to be grade-a idiots to pass up that kind of money coming right into their front door, and not deserve their reputation as being great businessmen.

So again, abolishing slavery would directly hurt not only Dres, but Hlaalu or another House as well. It would also have serious financial repercussions in Argonia and Elsewyr, and doubtlessly cause disruptions in the internal power structures in each province.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Sep 1 2011, 12:09 AM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Destri Melarg
post Sep 1 2011, 12:25 AM
Post #14


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



QUOTE(Helena @ Aug 31 2011, 12:42 PM) *

I don't fault you for trying to answer Kazaera's question, but my own answer to that question has to be "no, it's flat-out impossible to make sense of that."

That's funny because the more I think about it the more it is beginning to make sense to me.

QUOTE(Kazaera @ Aug 31 2011, 01:55 PM) *

I guess this is the sticking point: like Helena, I'm not seeing how the shift from an agricultural to a mercantile system is small or subtle. It's a total revamping of their economy - giant, giant plantations which will have to be closed down, trading needs to be built up and they won't have any routes or partners even goods to trade with, and as said the food has to come from /somewhere/ and if the lone agricultural house shuts its doors... I suppose Dres could go from growing-food to trading-food but again, it has to come from somewhere so that should probably mean a shift in their trading partners' economies to account for the sudden loss of food producers, and that would also mean a huge change in what foods are even available in Morrowind since I'm not seeing saltrice grown in Cyrodiil or Skyrim (maybe Black Marsh? although I... do not think people in Black Marsh would be very happy to trade, really. The Arnesian War isn't that long ago, and Dres would still have been raiding them for slaves.)

Okay, I’ll concede the point. Let’s assume you and Helena are right and the shift from agricultural to mercantile is too large to complete in six years. The decision to make such a shift is not. I could very well imagine that such a shift is still an ongoing concern by the time of the Oblivion Crisis. The Pocket Guide states that House Dres are 'embracing the new traditions.' Dres, to my knowledge, is still the major producer of saltrice. They just now have a structure in place whereby they also trade in the substance (presumably through an agreement with the EEC who enjoys favorable tariffs and regulations). This agreement may have been brokered by their associates in House Hlaalu, who have the machinery in place to conduct effective trade throughout the Empire. Dres doesn’t have to invent the wheel here; they just have to get on the wagon! biggrin.gif

QUOTE
So I keep thinking, it might be possible but it would be huge and probably cause a lot of damage not just to the House but to the rest of the province as well and I can't actually see any motivation for Dres to do it. Maybe, maybe, there is a story behind this of someone who took House Dres by storm, or of a long-running change that had been going on behind the scenes, and if it's true that'd be a very interesting story I'd like to know more about but as things stand I've not seen a single hint of that. (Maybe the "canon" Nerevarine joined House Dres, ha.)

Dres could have been motivated by a number of factors that I can see. First I imagine Helseth forged an alliance with the House by convincing them that the traditional beliefs of the Dunmer are no longer viable with the death/disappearance of the Tribunal. Second, with Hlaalu as a partner Dres begins to realize that basing their entire economy on the production of a single crop is extraordinarily limited, especially since House Hlaalu is calling for the abolition of slavery. Given their new alliance, Dres has every reason to want to avail themselves of Hlaalu’s expertise in matters of commerce, something that they sorely lack. Hlaalu, on the other hand, has every reason to ensure Dres’ continued success. Why?

1) Dres serves as Hlaalu’s foothold for commerce on the mainland. Or, if their holdings on the mainland are such that they don't need a foothold . . .
2) Hlaalu needs to ally themselves with one of the Great Houses or they risk going into the conflict over slavery alone. They aren’t going to be able to ally themselves with Indoril, and Redoran is their sworn enemy. Besides . . .
3) Dres territory borders the swamps of Black Marsh. If we go by the timeline (and there really is no reason that we shouldn’t in this case), we know that the Argonians invade soon after the eruption of Red Mountain. It isn’t hard to imagine that relations between the two provinces are strained at this time. Hlaalu benefits from having an ally at the border in case the lizards get jumpy.

QUOTE
And re: tradition - I could see Redoran and Indoril fighting against abolition for that reason (Indoril especially, yeah). I just have a lot of trouble seeing a civil war where the Houses fighting against abolition only really have tradition as their argument against it and the two Houses fighting for actually have something to lose - especially when Dres is described as also being very anti-Imperial and pro-Temple and so quite probably at least as inclined to campaign against change solely on tradition grounds as Redoran or Indoril!

I think that Redoran and Indoril would have more than just the nebulous concept of ‘tradition’ as their main argument. It would be safe to say that both Houses would engage in a war if they felt that their way of life was being usurped by Imperial rule. Hlaalu is an Imperial proxy; I think we can all agree on that. The call for the abolition of slavery is not being made strictly because it is the morally ‘right’ thing to do. Hlaalu is currying favor with the Empire. I think they see that, in the long run, the loss of profits from Argonian and Khajiit sweat are more than made up by the profits received from good ties with the Empire. If we buy into the idea of Hlaalu and Dres coming together in alliance then I think it is safe to assume that Dres' longtime stance on Temple doctrine has shifted. It's also safe to say that Indoril and Redoran would go to the mattresses before they would allow Morrowind to exist under the yoke of Imperial law.

This post has been edited by Destri Melarg: Sep 1 2011, 07:58 PM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Helena
post Sep 1 2011, 08:07 PM
Post #15


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Sep 1 2011, 12:25 AM) *
That's funny because the more I think about it the more it is beginning to make sense to me.

Well, the more I think about it the less it makes sense to me, so I guess we're even biggrin.gif BTW on re-reading my original post, I realise it sounds really obnoxious - sorry about that. This is a genuinely interesting discussion, I agree.

QUOTE
Okay, Iíll concede the point. Letís assume you and Helena are right and the shift from agricultural to mercantile is too large to complete in six years. The decision to make such a shift is not. I could very well imagine that such a shift is not an ongoing concern by the time of the Oblivion Crisis. The Pocket Guide states that House Dres are 'embracing the new traditions.' Dres, to my knowledge, is still the major producer of saltrice. They just now have a structure in place whereby they also trade in the substance (presumably through an agreement with the EEC who enjoys favorable tariffs and regulations). This agreement may have been brokered by their associates in House Hlaalu, who have the machinery in place to conduct effective trade throughout the Empire. Dres doesnít have to invent the wheel here; they just have to get on the wagon! biggrin.gif

OK, firstly: I'm pretty sure Dres are already trading in saltrice. It's highly unlikely that the massive harvests they produce are purely for domestic consumption (if so, why are they consuming so much while the rest of Morrowind consumes so little?) If they're not already trading, it's going to be vastly more difficult for them to make the changeover - how can you shift your entire economy to a mercantile footing when you have no trading experience whatsoever?

You seem to be slightly missing the point about the transition from agricultural to a mercantile economy. A mercantile society is one in which a significant proportion of the population is involved in buying and selling goods, rather than producing them. If the Dres don't trade at all, there's no logical basis for this to happen. If they do already trade in saltrice, then even if they manage to expand the trade, someone still needs to produce the saltrice - and if slavery is the only economically viable way to do this, they're still going to need slaves.

Let's put that aside and assume that the shift is possible, somehow. Why the heck would they make that decision in the first place? Not only is it a huge undertaking for little obvious benefit - apart from a shaky alliance with Hlaalu - but the people in charge, i.e. the landowning aristocracy, would be by far the biggest losers. You're basically going to see a massive transfer of power and wealth from the current rulers to the nascent middle classes. "Shooting themselves in the foot" doesn't begin to describe it.

Even assuming they did make that decision, there's still a whole lot of issues that have to be resolved before the transition could be made successfully. To wit:

- What are they going to trade? We've already been through the problems with saltrice. I guess they might have other natural resources that could be exploited, though if that were the case, I can't help thinking they'd be doing it already. Either way, you'd almost certainly still need slaves to do the farming/mining/fishing/whatever. If paid labour was cheap and plentiful enough that slaves weren't needed, they'd already be using it on the plantations.

- Or they could manufacture goods. This is a very tall order for a people who've spent the past several-thousand years doing nothing but farming. They'd need someone to sell them the raw materials, as well as huge initial outlays of capital, and a good deal of technical know-how which they definitely wouldn't have at the start. And again, of course, they'd need cheap labour to do the actual work of producing the goods.

- As Kazaera pointed out already, who are they going to trade with? It's no use just saying 'the Hlaalu' or 'the EEC'; they need to find someone who'll actually buy their goods. Unless they're lucky enough to come up with something that no one else can offer, they'll need to find something they can sell more cheaply or at a higher quality than anyone else. The only area where they appear to have that kind of competitive advantage is saltrice, which takes us right back to where we started.

- What about the disruptions to the saltrice supply chain, and its effect on the rest of Morrowind? I've already mentioned this in my previous post. If Dres reduce the supply of saltrice because they've switched to producing and selling other goods, the price will go up, leading to shortages and possibly even famines. This is going to make them very unpopular with the common people and with the other Houses; it might even lead to war in itself.

- If they end up in competition with Hlaalu because they're trading the same goods, not only is it bad for both Houses, but they're not likely to remain allies for very long. Just look at the way Hlaalu and Redoran bicker over the ebony trade.

- Then there's all the social and political issues which I touched on in my last post. I won't go into them in detail, not least because SubRosa's already done it; I'll just point out that this kind of economic development inevitably leads to massive social change, and usually political change as well.

It might be possible to overcome these problems successfully, given a century or two. But if you agree to abolish slavery, you have to actually do it; you can't just say "well, we'll think about doing it sometime within the next hundred years." What's more, the dialogue from Oblivion indicates that the slaves have already been freed: "They say that slavery has been abolished in Morrowind. House Dres and Hlaalu have renounced the slave trade, and freed the beastfolk from servitude."

QUOTE
1) Dres serves as Hlaaluís foothold for commerce on the mainland. Or, if their holdings on the mainland are such that they don't need a foothold . . .
2) Hlaalu needs to ally themselves with one of the Great Houses or they risk going into the conflict over slavery alone. They arenít going to be able to ally themselves with Indoril, and Redoran is their sworn enemy. Besides . . .
3) Dres territory borders the swamps of Black Marsh. If we go by the timeline (and there really is no reason that we shouldnít in this case), we know that the Argonians invade soon after the eruption of Red Mountain. It isnít hard to imagine that relations between the two provinces are strained at this time. Hlaalu benefits from having an ally at the border in case the lizards get jumpy.

The thing is, pretty much all the Houses are sworn enemies of each other (Redoran and Indoril possibly excepted, but even they are not exactly best friends). Hlaalu is known as the most progressive of the Houses, while Dres is the least progressive - heck, even the Temple is a bit new-fangled for these guys - so I would hardly imagine Hlaalu's relationship with Dres is any better than their relationship with Redoran. They don't need a foothold for commerce since they already share a border with Cyrodiil, and have virtually no trade with Black Marsh anyway (apart from the slave trade). And I find it very unlikely that anyone in Hlaalu would predict an Argonian invasion (which I think is total bullsh*t anyway, but I'm not going to discuss that here as it's a separate argument). If they considered it at all, they'd probably assume that Dres would bear the brunt of an Argonian attack anyway, as they did in the Arnesian War.

QUOTE
I think that Redoran and Indoril would have more than just the nebulous concept of Ďtraditioní as their main argument. It would be safe to say that both Houses would engage in a war if they felt that their way of life was being usurped by Imperial rule. Hlaalu is an Imperial proxy; I think we can all agree on that. The call for the abolition of slavery is not being made strictly because it is the morally Ďrightí thing to do. Hlaalu is currying favor with the Empire. I think they see that, in the long run, the loss of profits from Argonian and Khajiit sweat are more than made up by the profits received from good ties with the Empire. If we buy into the idea of Hlaalu and Dres coming together in alliance then I think it is safe to assume that Dres' longtime stance on Temple doctrine has shifted. It's also safe to say that Indoril and Redoran would go to the mattresses before they would allow Morrowind to exist under the yoke of Imperial law.

Morrowind already exists under Imperial law, so I'm not quite sure what you mean there. But in any case, if Redoran and Indoril would go to war over their 'way of life' being threatened, then Dres certainly would. I have to stress that in direct opposition to Oblivion lore, MW really does portray Dres as ultra-hardcore traditionalists - more so even than Indoril in some respects. Redoran, by contrast, is relatively liberal - they accepted the Armistice, and are making at least some attempts to adjust to Imperial rule and modernise their economy. I can see Indoril going to war over slavery, but I find an alliance of Indoril/Dres vs. Hlaalu/Redoran far more likely than Indoril/Redoran vs Hlaalu/Dres.
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Sep 1 2011, 11:24 PM
Post #16


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Who here thinks that we have put far more thought into this idea then everyone at Bethesda combined? biggrin.gif The sad thing is, it is doubtlessly true. I suspect that most of their lore decisions are literally done at the snap of a finger.

This post has been edited by SubRosa: Sep 1 2011, 11:24 PM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Kazaera
post Sep 1 2011, 11:28 PM
Post #17


Agent

Joined: 13-December 09
From: that island north of France



I think I've pinned down what frustrates me re: the "tradition!" argument - it isn't that Redoran and Indoril are the super, super-traditional Houses and Dres and Hlaalu are the super-Imperial friendly ones. Dres is presented as at least as adherent to tradition as those two, I'd say from the lore. At least as much as Redoran, at least. Maybe a bit less than Indoril, but not necessarily. This plotline is simultaneously arguing that Redoran and Indoril fight a war against abolishing slavery just because of their adherence to tradition, and that Dres throws it aside to the point where they're agreeing to someone that would cause them massive economic damage. And since the three have extremely similar stances in-game that really gives me whiplash, you know? I can buy one of the two but both at the same time is a bit much.

ETA: And Helena's beaten me to it on this point! also, yeah, Redoran doesn't actually seem that anti-Imperial as things go. Definitely friendlier than Telvanni in-game, definitely friendlier than Indoril from lore and I'd also guess friendlier than Dres from the lore.

(Also, re: trading - I see Dres as the main breadbasket of Morrowind, so I figure they've been selling saltrice to the other regions. This is because, well, the food on Vvardenfell has to be coming from somewhere and the few Hlaalu plantations we see don't seem inclined to provide it. You can't tell me Ald'ruhn is subsisting on trama root and cliff racers. This is also why I was so "where is the food coming from?" However, I'm not sure they could become a mercantile House based on those trading partners and routes, you know?)

If we say that it's a shift /in progress/, that Dres has agreed to slowly shift their system from slavery to trading or possibly from slavery to employed workers, it becomes a lot more believable although points still remain - except that that's not what we're given in Oblivion. ><

This post has been edited by Kazaera: Sep 1 2011, 11:30 PM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Destri Melarg
post Sep 2 2011, 08:34 AM
Post #18


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 16-March 10
From: Rihad, Hammerfell



QUOTE(Helena @ Sep 1 2011, 12:07 PM) *

Well, the more I think about it the less it makes sense to me, so I guess we're even biggrin.gif BTW on re-reading my original post, I realise it sounds really obnoxious - sorry about that. This is a genuinely interesting discussion, I agree.

No worries, Helena. Iíve seen your posts enough to know that you are only trying to engage in discussion. Allow me to tender my own apology in advance if anything I say comes off as obnoxious (which Iím sure it will). wink.gif

QUOTE
OK, firstly: I'm pretty sure Dres are already trading in saltrice. It's highly unlikely that the massive harvests they produce are purely for domestic consumption (if so, why are they consuming so much while the rest of Morrowind consumes so little?) If they're not already trading, it's going to be vastly more difficult for them to make the changeover - how can you shift your entire economy to a mercantile footing when you have no trading experience whatsoever?

You seem to be slightly missing the point about the transition from agricultural to a mercantile economy. A mercantile society is one in which a significant proportion of the population is involved in buying and selling goods, rather than producing them. If the Dres don't trade at all, there's no logical basis for this to happen. If they do already trade in saltrice, then even if they manage to expand the trade, someone still needs to produce the saltrice - and if slavery is the only economically viable way to do this, they're still going to need slaves.

Thank you for the lesson in socioeconomics, but the point you seem to be missing is that we are not talking about a societal shift here. We are talking about the change in philosophy of a single Great House whose sole income is tied to production of one crop. I think all of you are giving Dres undo credit and making them larger than they really are. Even if we bloat our estimates for the sake of realism, a Great House comprises relatively few (maybe as many as five-ten thousand) individuals. Their decisions have at best a minimal effect on the day to day life of the average ash-born. House Dres deals solely in saltrice. Do you know what saltrice is good for? Well, you can either eat it or you can use it to brew some Mazte . . . thatís it! When was the last time you went into a tavern in Cyrodiil and ordered a bottle of Mazte?

QUOTE
Let's put that aside and assume that the shift is possible, somehow. Why the heck would they make that decision in the first place? Not only is it a huge undertaking for little obvious benefit - apart from a shaky alliance with Hlaalu - but the people in charge, i.e. the landowning aristocracy, would be by far the biggest losers. You're basically going to see a massive transfer of power and wealth from the current rulers to the nascent middle classes. "Shooting themselves in the foot" doesn't begin to describe it . . .

It might be possible to overcome these problems successfully, given a century or two. But if you agree to abolish slavery, you have to actually do it; you can't just say "well, we'll think about doing it sometime within the next hundred years." What's more, the dialogue from Oblivion indicates that the slaves have already been freed: "They say that slavery has been abolished in Morrowind. House Dres and Hlaalu have renounced the slave trade, and freed the beastfolk from servitude."


This economic strangulation that you all see for House Dresí change to a mercantile concern is a fallacy because, really, how much can the production of saltrice be worth per year? Itís obviously enough to sustain a Great House, but I doubt itís enough to expand a Great House. Wouldnít it behoove them to shift toward a mercantile business model if for no other reason than to boost the profits they see from finally being able to export their single useful crop via the EEC? Why wouldnít they want to ally themselves with a House like Hlaalu with the proven connections to spread sales of Mazte throughout the Empire? It would be far more profitable than the previous model which, as far as I can tell, consisted primarily of production and (one assumes) consumption.

We have been presented with the scenario that Dres has shifted from an agricultural concern to a mercantile concern. Naturally I assume that if they are Ďshiftingí then they didnít have a mercantile arm to begin with. I also take for granted that they will not completely abandon the machinery already in place to produce the only thing they have worth selling. How asinine would that be?! wacko.gif The two ideologies are not mutually exclusive. We take for granted that Hlaalu owns mines and plantations, but no one sees them as a mining or agricultural House. Shifting House philosophy simply means that they will benefit from the sale of saltrice more than in the past. It also means that, with the abolition of slavery, they will have to now pay their slaves workers a fair wage. How much is that in Tamriel, ten Septims a year? It doesnít sound like an exorbitant price to pay for finally being able to reap the rewards of trading throughout the Empire.

QUOTE
Morrowind already exists under Imperial Law, so I'm not quite sure what you mean there.

If that were the case then the Morag Tong would be illegal, and the Ministry of Truth would probably be closed.

Ultimately all of this is just us spinning our wheels. The lore presented to us states that House Hlaalu and House Dres joined in the abolition of slavery against House Indoril and House Redoran allied in opposition. No matter what protestations we may have (and we certainly have them), itís Bethesdaís lore and that is how they want it. I don't think that you are wrong, Helena. In a real world situation the alliances and economic conditions given wouldn't happen. But I was under the impression that the purpose of this thread was to discuss how the current situation could have come about, not poke holes in the sole theory put forth to explain it. I said in my first post that my theory isnít perfect. Please, if someone has a better one Iím all ears. Otherwise I really have no desire to engage in yet another 'Bash Bethesda' thread. Those have been done ad nauseum already. nono.gif

I concede the floor to someone else.

This post has been edited by Destri Melarg: Sep 2 2011, 09:00 AM


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Helena
post Sep 2 2011, 08:31 PM
Post #19


Agent

Joined: 14-August 10



QUOTE(Destri Melarg @ Sep 2 2011, 08:34 AM) *
Thank you for the lesson in socioeconomics, but the point you seem to be missing is that we are not talking about a societal shift here. We are talking about the change in philosophy of a single Great House whose sole income is tied to production of one crop. I think all of you are giving Dres undo credit and making them larger than they really are. Even if we bloat our estimates for the sake of realism, a Great House comprises relatively few (maybe as many as five-ten thousand) individuals. Their decisions have at best a minimal effect on the day to day life of the average ash-born. House Dres deals solely in saltrice. Do you know what saltrice is good for? Well, you can either eat it or you can use it to brew some Mazte . . . thatís it! When was the last time you went into a tavern in Cyrodiil and ordered a bottle of Mazte?

But my point is that you can't have any significant economic shift without a societal shift as well. Even relatively small changes can have far-reaching consequences. Even if the changes to Dres' economy didn't affect the rest of Morrowind (which would basically only be possible if they're not trading at all with the other Houses), they're still going to have a massive effect within House Dres itself. The fact that they deal solely in saltrice will make the effects even more dramatic, because pretty much everyone in the House will be affected.

You really think that the availablility of food and alcohol doesn't have social effects? I'll get to food later, but if you think that alcohol prices don't matter, try reading up on the UK's binge-drinking culture (a big 'headline issue' right now). To summarise very briefly and over-simplistically: A fall in real alcohol prices over the last few decades lead to a big increase in alcohol consumption, resulting in large amounts of alcohol-related crime, closure of pubs (who are undercut by supermarkets selling cheap alcohol) and consequent job losses, and a massive cost to the NHS (our state-funded health service) of treating alcohol-related injuries and illness. That's without even counting all the indirect costs, like the effect on workplace productivity. You can't just deal with these things in isolation; they're all interconnected.

Sorry to turn this into an Economics 101 class, but if we're going to debate the possiblity of economic change in House Dres, we have to discuss how and why this might happen and what the results would be. It's nowhere near as simple as people saying "OK, let's stop farming and start selling stuff" or even "OK, let's sell more of the stuff we already sell". Let me try to explain:

If you're selling a product and want to increase your sales, the first thing you need to do is find someone to buy it. As I said before, saltrice is a staple food, so you're not likely to see large changes in demand (barring a population boom, which is rare in Elven societies). If you flood the market with saltrice in the absence of any new buyers, all you'll do is lower the price - which might be good for society as a whole, but definitely not for producers like Dres and Hlaalu.

But let's assume the Dres find a new buyer, perhaps in a foreign market. Maybe the wheat harvests fail in Cyrodiil, so the Imperials decide to import saltrice from Morrowind as a substitute. Now the question becomes "how the heck do we increase production while destroying our only viable source of labour?" If the Dres want to sell more saltrice, they'll have to farm more of it, and if their plantations are already dependent on slave labour... To put it bluntly, selling more saltrice is likely to lead to more slavery, not less.

QUOTE
This economic strangulation that you all see for House Dresí change to a mercantile concern is a fallacy because, really, how much can the production of saltrice be worth per year? Itís obviously enough to sustain a Great House, but I doubt itís enough to expand a Great House. Wouldnít it behoove them to shift toward a mercantile business model if for no other reason than to boost the profits they see from finally being able to export their single useful crop via the EEC? Why wouldnít they want to ally themselves with a House like Hlaalu with the proven connections to spread sales of Mazte throughout the Empire? It would be far more profitable than the previous model which, as far as I can tell, consisted primarily of production and (one assumes) consumption.

To answer this you have to tackle the questions I've posed above and in my previous post. What exactly will they sell? Who to? How would they expand production of their current exports (raw saltrice and mazte) without making even greater use of slavery? Certainly there are potential advantages to diversifying their economy, but it may not even be possible, let alone desirable for those at the top (who are presumably doing pretty well out of the current situation).

QUOTE
We have been presented with the scenario that Dres has shifted from an agricultural concern to a mercantile concern. Naturally I assume that if they are Ďshiftingí then they didnít have a mercantile arm to begin with. I also take for granted that they will not completely abandon the machinery already in place to produce the only thing they have worth selling. How asinine would that be?! wacko.gif The two ideologies are not mutually exclusive. We take for granted that Hlaalu owns mines and plantations, but no one sees them as a mining or agricultural House. Shifting House philosophy simply means that they will benefit from the sale of saltrice more than in the past. It also means that, with the abolition of slavery, they will have to now pay their slaves workers a fair wage. How much is that in Tamriel, ten Septims a year? It doesnít sound like an exorbitant price to pay for finally being able to reap the rewards of trading throughout the Empire.

Hlaalu are seen as a mercantile House because they actually are more heavily involved in trading goods, as opposed to producing goods, than any of the other Houses. They are several factors behind this: their geographical position, their entrepreneurial culture, their (relatively) tolerant attitude towards foreigners, and their historically close ties to the Empire. If Dres trades with the Empire through Hlaalu, it's Hlaalu's merchants who'll do the actual trading. It won't turn Dres into a mercantile House, just an agricultural House who sell slightly more of their produce to outlanders.

As for the price of hired workers vs. slaves, it depends entirely on the availability of labour. If it's plentiful, then yes, hiring paid workers will generally be cheaper. If not, then it may well be more economical to use slave labour (disregarding any moral arguments, of course). I'm assuming is the case in Dres territory, because it's pretty much stated outright in MW: "House Dres is an agrarian agricultural society, and its large saltrice plantations rely completely on slave labor for their economic viability."

There are alternatives to slave labour which might allow Dres' plantations to survive, if not prosper. SubRosa mentioned share-cropping, which I agree is the most likely option if abolition were forced on the Dres. But it would still involve huge losses for the plantation owners, so they're very unlikely to make that sort of change willingly. Where the people in charge are the ones who benefit most from slavery, you're not likely to see it abolished without a fight.

Another way to reduce labour costs is to hire cheap immigrant workers from abroad. But you'd have to persuade them to come in the first place, and the Dres don't exactly have much to offer immigrants: a harsh climate, poor wages and working conditions, and a native population who view and treat outlanders with utter contempt. Again, if the Dres could persuade Khajiit and Argonians to come willingly to work on their plantations, they'd probably be doing it already.

QUOTE
If that were the case then the Morag Tong would be illegal, and the Ministry of Truth would probably be closed.

The Armistice - the treaty which incorporated Morrowind into the Empire - specifically allowed them to keep some of their ancient customs (e.g. slavery and the Morag Tong) and a degree of self-government. It's explained in some of the in-game books like this one. Otherwise, though, they're definitely under Imperial occupation - it's a fairly major plot point in MW's main quest, and those Imperial forts dotted around the gameworld aren't just for decoration. Even the House guards explicitly state that they enforce Imperial law as well as Great House law.

QUOTE
Ultimately all of this is just us spinning our wheels. The lore presented to us states that House Hlaalu and House Dres joined in the abolition of slavery against House Indoril and House Redoran allied in opposition. No matter what protestations we may have (and we certainly have them), itís Bethesdaís lore and that is how they want it. I don't think that you are wrong, Helena. In a real world situation the alliances and economic conditions given wouldn't happen. But I was under the impression that the purpose of this thread was to discuss how the current situation could have come about, not poke holes in the sole theory put forth to explain it. I said in my first post that my theory isnít perfect. Please, if someone has a better one Iím all ears. Otherwise I really have no desire to engage in yet another 'Bash Bethesda' thread. Those have been done ad nauseum already. nono.gif

I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong on this, Kazaera), that Kazaera was necessarily asking for a solution. It sounded to me like she was saying "does this make sense to anyone here, or do people agree with me that it doesn't make sense?" Just because we'd like to see a theory that would plausibly explain away all these contradictions, doesn't mean that such a theory actually exists.

Without necessarily wanting to bash Bethesda, I don't see that it's our job to patch up their plot-holes. Yeah, of course it's their world and they can do what they like with it, but they can't force us - the fans - to accept two blatantly contradictory pieces of 'lore' as being equally valid. Of course it's partly a question of personal 'hot-buttons'; my degree is in economics and politics, so I don't feel able to rationalise something that makes no economic or political sense. If we were discussing, say, the magic system - an area where I have little interest or knowledge - I'd be (slightly) more willing to overlook these kinds of contradictions.

What I and some of the others have tried to do is propose an alternative scenario for abolition, which could make sense given what we know from Morrowind. It means disregarding some of Bethesda's lore, but as SubRosa says, it doesn't really seem like they've thought about it all that hard anyway. Even if the writers happened to stumble on a discussion like this one, I doubt they would care that much (heck, they might even agree). tongue.gif
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Kazaera
post Sep 3 2011, 01:35 PM
Post #20


Agent

Joined: 13-December 09
From: that island north of France



QUOTE
I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong on this, Kazaera), that Kazaera was necessarily asking for a solution. It sounded to me like she was saying "does this make sense to anyone here, or do people agree with me that it doesn't make sense?" Just because we'd like to see a theory that would plausibly explain away all these contradictions, doesn't mean that such a theory actually exists.


Pretty much. I couldn't see any way to make sense of it, but was wondering if I was overlooking something. I still can't see any way to make sense of it, possibly barring Destri's suggestion that instead of abolishing slavery straight away Dres has begun shifting things (towards an alternate agricultural model, maybe?) so that in some time abolishing slavery will be viable - but even that requires some pretty massive rationalisations in terms of the lore we've been given and still means that the rumours in Oblivion are at least partially inaccurate.

QUOTE
Of course it's partly a question of personal 'hot-buttons'; my degree is in economics and politics, so I don't feel able to rationalise something that makes no economic or political sense.


Ah, that explains it! I've been very awed at your contributions to this thread - my reaction was "uh, that can't possibly be economically possible, can it?" but you've managed to explain clearly and concisely the number of economic and political problems present here. And - I mean, I don't expect fantasy worlds to make total political/economical sense, but I expect them to make enough sense that I'm able to suspend disbelief on the rest. This key point I just stared at and went "...no, not seeing it."


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 

- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 26th October 2014 - 03:54 AM