Hello all. I’ve been wondering something – historically, the Great Game was played between the British and Russian Empires for influence over Central Asia. Now, Surface powers vie for influence over the Neath. What I’m wondering is, is the Game played in the Khanate? Is there any connection between the Khanate and the Surface that we know of?
We do know that the Khanate contends with London for influence over the Zee, much in the same way that Russia and Britain historically competed for influence over the Turkic Steppe, the ancestral home of the Khaganians. We also know that the Taimen Clan and its White-and-Golds are an extremely effective – if paranoid – secret police and intelligence corps. Surely, they would take an interest in Surface politics, if only to gather useful information about their rivals in London.
I quite like the idea of the Khanate of Khiva, the Emirate of Bukhara, the Khanate of Kokand, and the Emirate of Afghanistan – historically, pawns in the Game – playing the Game themselves on behalf of the Khanate. The Ottoman Empire – under the reign of the similarly imperious, paranoid, secret-police-reliant, majestic, glorious, and oppressive Sultan Abdulhamid II – might make another good ally for the Great Khan. I could see Imperial Japan aligning with the Khanate as well, out of pan-Asian solidarity, although Japan also had ties to Britain that they might not like to upset.
Several in-game text snippets say that the Khanate is a Player… although every interaction my character has had with the Game has only ever mentioned Surface Powers.
If you go to the “Dabble in the Great Game” storylet in Veilgarden, it mentions the Khanate directly. I’m also pretty sure the Khanate’s Game activities are mentioned in a sidebar text at one point or another.
And uh… the man in the fez? His loyalties are never made explicit, but the fez is have a very distinct geographic connotation.
Renown: Great Game levels 15-24 bear the descriptor "Known to the Elder Continent’s Mithdrate Office and the Khan’s White-and-Golds".
In Port Carnelian there is a man who lives above a bookshop. His appearances in Fallen London and Sunless Sea pretty much confirm him as the Khanate’s top spymaster and diplomat on the Elder Continent. Captains in Sunless Sea can found and expand spy networks in both Port Carnelian and Khan’s Heart.
Personally I’d like to see a little less about the surface players, and more about the political forces in the Neath beyond London, Hell, and the Presbyterate. Although the Khanate, Fathomking, and Dawn Machine have great content in Sunless Sea, I think they could all use a little FL love. edited by Anchovies on 12/18/2017
[quote=Anchovies]Personally I’d like to see a little less about the surface players, and more about the political forces in the Neath beyond London, Hell, and the Presbyterate. Although the Khanate, Fathomking, and Dawn Machine have great content in Sunless Sea, I think they could all use a little FL love. edited by Anchovies on 12/18/2017[/quote]
I agree. I think there is some appeal to the mysterious, inscrutiable Unterzee that exists beyond London and can only be explored in SS, and I can see why the Khanate and the Fathomking would play a lesser role within London itself (although I would love to see more of them both). However, the Dawn Machine is really sorely neglected in FL, especially since the New Sequence is a faction mostly within the Admiralty. I feel like the New Sequence should certainly be represented in the Great Game.
While I would like more stories about Neathy players, I don’t want less about the surface powers either. Ultimately I just want more stories, I guess. But I like reference to life going on above us, it makes FL feel more connected to the world, and that’s an important part of the game to me. It’s easy to sort of forget that the surface even exists down here, but this primes that drew me in is about a major metropolitan capital of an empire being dragged down to a fantasy world, and I find it interesting how the world reacts to that.
Regarding the specifics, I feel most of my direct interaction in the Game is against the Khanate, it seems like we’re in a very active cold war with them (and an ES spy thriller along those lines would be awesome.) and they serve as a proper rival. Prussia is the surface power I believe I’ve encountered most often, and they seem more to fill the role of a neutral (or at least, completely self interested) party, which seems useful story telling wise.
Edit: many typos. edited by Amsfield on 12/19/2017
It must be observed that, however much we’ve borrowed the name and made statements about continuity, the Great Game down here is very different than the Great Game on the Surface. There, it was a matter of power and influence, conquests and colonies; a game of Risk. Down here, we’ve entered the realm of The Secret Agent (terrible book, by which I mean magnificent book that leaves you feeling ill); it’s a game of spies and secrets, where spymasters (including at times independent ones) are as much players as Foreign Offices, and the pawns are individual agents and those they manipulate. It is information, the currency of London, that these spies attempt to acquire, much more than territorial control of anything. The known players (and others can probably add to my list) are London, France, Prussia, Austria-Hungary, Hell, the Khanate, and the Presbyterate, with Russia and some of the minor Neathy powers probable but not, to my knowledge, directly stated. Among the Great Powers, only America and Japan seem entirely absent.
Also, a note on the Khanate: I do not think that the Khan would have much in common with the modern-day powers of Asia. Yes, half a millennium ago, the Fourth City stood at the edge of North Asia, but five hundred years in the Neath change a culture. Even in our world, Mongolia has rarely made common cause with the nations around it, and a nation whose historical enemies are not the Turks but the Rosers is unlikely to feel any "pan-Asian solidarity." Nor do I think we have any reason to assume the Khanate cares who owns what hill up top. As for the other end, the minor powers of Central Asia are not likely players in the Game (much less allies with the Khan) for several reasons. One is religion; I refer you to the history of Nuristan for their likely views on allying with Khan’s Heart. Another is proximity; what do they have to gain, even if they were willing? A third is the uncertain state of Asia. Has Britain still maintained control of India? How far has Russia advanced in London’s absence? We aren’t even sure of the state of Europe, much less the British colonies. By now, if Britain has been immobilized by the Fall of London, the tsars might have finally conquered Persia and be knocking at the doors of Delhi. France and even Prussia may now be involved. In short, it’s entirely possible that the map is radically different, and there may be no independent states in Central Asia to worry about.