Zhodani Boogeymen

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cunningrat
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Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby cunningrat » Mon Aug 23, 2021 4:37 pm

In the (admittedly limited) experience I have had with Traveller so far, the Zhodani are presented as the universal boogeymen. I like a little more ambiguity in my roleplaying environments. Are there any supplements/ adventures which cast the Zhodani in a more positive light?
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paltrysum
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby paltrysum » Mon Aug 23, 2021 5:42 pm

Classic Traveller's Alien Module 4: Zhodani and the Mongoose 1st Edition Zhodani book do a pretty fine job of presenting them as merely a human sub-species who do things a bit differently. Most of the anti-Zhodani propaganda is presented in the TNS reports, and Imperial-biased adventures in which a convenient villain is required.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Stingray_tm » Mon Aug 23, 2021 5:48 pm

So far I did not get the impression that the Zhodani are presented as "evil". Their society is different and incompatible with the Imperium but I think I can remember that most 1st Edition sources were quite neutral in their depiction, even pointing out that many Zhodani are quite happy with their society and find the Imperial way of life repulsive and amoral.
That the Zhodani are presented as adversaries has more to do with the fact that the setting assumes that the players have Imperium characters. But I did not get the impression that the game itself portrays them as "villains". Just "antagonists".
Note, that it is also very clearly stated, that the Consulate is not interested in military expansion and conquest but more in social stability.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Condottiere » Mon Aug 23, 2021 9:40 pm

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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby G'Naakbusters » Mon Aug 23, 2021 9:43 pm

The Zhodani are presented as a boogeyman from an Imperial perspective, but not from an "objective" angle on the universe. Imperials fear and distrust them, because of the fundamental difference in their societies' moral foundations -- the right to individual sovereignty and privacy VS the right to be integrated and happy -- and material intended to play from an Imperial slant tends to portray them as the dastardly enemy. Imperial sympathy is the default position in Traveller, but isn't really ever presented as the "right one", as though they were the objective "good guys" of the setting. Traveller is very good, I'd say, at presenting various societies on their own terms. I mean, my favourite part of the Traveller is the K'kree.

The first edition Mongoose Zhodani sourcebook and the GURPS Alien Races One both have extensive write-ups on Zhodani society from a neutral perspective, and do a good job of fleshing them out. You get details on their religious philosophies, language, social development, etc. Both also demonstrate that the average Zhodani citizen is fulfilled and comfortable. There's also a little article reproduced in one of the Journals which features a Zhodani ambassador explaining his people's perspective.

(As an aside, I appreciate how the art across these various editions often reflects the different angles on a society. This is even acknowledged in the afore-mentioned ambassador's article. The classic Traveller materials that presented Zhodani agents as enemies of Imperial players gave them a sinister Ming the Merciless appearance, the GURPS book depicting them on their home turf makes them seem friendly and cheerful in most images, and the Journal article presents a "neutral" image of the ambassador looking thoughtful if a bit stern.)
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Avestite » Sat Aug 28, 2021 9:49 pm

I think it's there's also the TNE 'Regency Sourcebook' that has a bunch on Zho's. Frankly, the idea of a society where psychiatry is an exact science because of telepathy is pretty neat.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Aug 28, 2021 11:43 pm

cunningrat wrote:
Mon Aug 23, 2021 4:37 pm
In the (admittedly limited) experience I have had with Traveller so far, the Zhodani are presented as the universal boogeymen.
The players are doing that.
See how they treat the Vargr and Solomani races as well.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Tarkin » Sun Aug 29, 2021 11:14 am

The BITS adventure Delta 3 is Down features the Zhodani as the protagonists.

https://rpggeek.com/rpgitem/50802/delta-3-down

I get similar vibes from much of what is written about the K’Kree (but perhaps it’s deserved in their case because of their genocidal tendencies towards the G’naak).
Currently running Marooned on Marduk
Currently reading March or Die by Andrew Keith and William H. Keith, Jr.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby paltrysum » Mon Aug 30, 2021 1:01 am

Tarkin wrote:
Sun Aug 29, 2021 11:14 am
I get similar vibes from much of what is written about the K’Kree (but perhaps it’s deserved in their case because of their genocidal tendencies towards the G’naak).
And the fact that they enslave other sophonts en masse.

It’s tough to make the K’kree sympathetic.
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Condottiere » Mon Aug 30, 2021 11:28 am

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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby G'Naakbusters » Mon Aug 30, 2021 11:45 pm

What's this? People expressing a lack of sympathy for the noble K'kree?

Gentlesophonts, the K'kree are the *tragic heroes* of Traveller (and, yes, the culture most easily placed as the near-objective 'Bad Guys' of the setting. Which, as a tangent, is fun to consider. The major factions are ultra-conservative control-freaks with a history of imperialism; reckless snobs-to-racists eager to show loyalty to The Party; conformists governed by the literal thought police; warrior cat people constantly trying to grab land; chaotic dog people known as pirates; manipulative amoral starfish things; suspiciously beneath-the-radar psychic lizards who are everywhere; and horses. And of these, the horses are the ones to watch out for.)

Given that they're xenophobic bigots who think it's their manifest destiny to take over the universe, impose their ways on everyone and exterminate all who refuse, it's kind of understandable that they get a bad rep. :wink:

But back to the sympathy bit. The K'kree evolved intelligence as a response to predation, and a means of escaping it. Their aversion to meat-eating isn't a philosophy, or an ideology, or a political stance. It's an ingrained revulsion, the very foundation of their ethics. Eating meat or allowing predation to occur is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Imagine you made contact with a bunch of other nations and discovered that practically every one of them had a culture of eager, enthusiastic, brutal child abuse. Most of them think brutal child abuse is just fine and practice it regularly. On every street corner someone is cheerily abusing a child. Some cultures insist they can't live without it. Even the ones who don't indulge are perfectly happy letting other nations do it -- "sure, I don't brutally abuse children myself, but if my neighbours all want to get their kicks that way, live and let live, you know?" You'd probably conclude in horror that all other nations and cultures are horrible -- evil. Fundamentally illegitimate. Maybe you'd insist that such evil cultures must be destroyed -- especially if you think they're all eying your children and thinking 'oh look, fresh stock!". Or maybe you'd be a moderate and say "we can change them by example, we can civilize at least some of them". And so you'd be diplomatic -- within reason, after all, since you're still revolted by their actions and beliefs. And you're not going to let them anywhere near your own children, are you?

The K'kree are hilariously unsuited to being a spacefaring power. Psychologically, culturally, physiologically, they're just not cut out for it at all. And indeed they'd be happy living the simple life grazing the fields together as one big happy family -- BUT... The universe is full of evil. Perverted, unethical beings are everywhere -- whole empires of them! And the K'kree must cleanse the universe of that evil. They must maintain an empire, and one day expand it again, and offer redemption and the opportunity to live ethically, all that they can, when they can.

Shed a respectful tear, gentlesophonts, for the race that chooses to face evil and endure hardship so that it may make the universe safe and just.

(This *was* about the Zhodani, I know, but I gave my answer to that earlier ;) )
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby paltrysum » Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:49 am

Well said, G'Naakbusters. You've made a believer out of me!
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Re: Zhodani Boogeymen

Postby Faelderg » Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:25 am

Yeah, never trust someone that won't eat meat.

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