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Election 1897: Virginia Messages in this topic - RSS

Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 2215

7/17/2019


Virginia's candidacy was followed by an immediate disavowal by the Brass Embassy. 'Nothing to do with us,' the ambassadors were quoted in the Gazette, 'She's your problem now.'


For discussion about Virginia.

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Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 2215

7/17/2019
Starting things off - I have no complaints about the proscribed treatments, but quite a few concerns about the character and motives of the doctor.

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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3394

7/17/2019
I'm not particularly keen on having my soul "improved" to better suit another's tastes or purposes.

--
Sir Frederick, the Libertarian Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1431

7/17/2019
I love how the poster is aflame - lest anyone forgot we are talking about a Deviless here.

--
Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
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Azothi
Azothi
Posts: 527

7/17/2019
As a Virginia partisan (for now), I've written quite a bit on her in the past 48 hours, and rather than inefficiently rewriting everything, I'll compile a few of the main points here:

Azothi wrote:
We can judge the policies for ourselves because they're not exactly new, experimental ideas for us. Medicine, for instance, or living somewhere with good air quality is beneficial to one's health. Physical exercise - while it strains your insides to the breaking point so that when it heals, it's stronger - has been proven to have health benefits. Now, Virginia's "spiritual" callisthenics are a lot more questionable and untested, but her policies seem less "mad scientist" and more "21st century health and fitness program".

Azothi wrote:
Consider the economics of it. Those with wealth and influence in London - like our player characters - have access to sufficient resources that they can seek medical treatment and stock medicine cabinets. But what about those who don't have the resources? It's only a small step - and a mayor's step is necessarily small - but improving public health means that people can spend more time living well; they can invest their time and resources elsewhere, towards their own self-betterment.

Azothi wrote:
Her platform of public health, investment in infrastructure, and strengthening of London both mentally and physically is, in my opinion, the most reasonable, well-developed, and beneficial plan. This is precisely why my character supported the Dauntless Temperance Campaigner in 1895. Damning Virginia because of her association with Hell just doesn't make sense to me.

-
edited by Azothi on 7/17/2019

--
Azoth I, the Amaranthine Wanderer - Midnighter - A Paramount Presence (not currently accepting new Proteges)
Away to where the Chain cannot bind us.
Hesperidean.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1431

7/17/2019
Damning Virgina because of her association to Hell doesn't make sense?
Come on. Damning. Hell. It does make sense. She is not someone who has a casual association with Devils - she IS Hell.
I mean, Jenny had the Masters backing her, and the Contrarian is still an anarchist yet I voted for them because I believe their platforms were beneficial. Virginia... IS a soul-devouring devil. Not an associate of them, one of them.
And if there is one thing we know about Devils, is that their propositions are always, always tempting, and very rational-looking. Why, only a religious fanatic would not see the merit in them!
And then they eat your soul.
edited by Jolanda Swan on 7/17/2019

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Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
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NNNnobody
NNNnobody
Posts: 52

7/17/2019
Her "spa" sounds an awful lot like Carillon, which, I admit, is an entirely benificial institution, and London is most definitly a better location for it than a remote corner of an undeveloped part of the sky, or simply a game where you cannot get a good sleep when you're close to getting mad. I'm even curious about whether the particular flaws of my soul could be cleansed in such a place, though that is simple curiosity, as I regard those as honorable battle scars.

--
......I'm shy.....
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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 846

7/17/2019
Azothi wrote:
Damning Virginia because of her association with Hell just doesn't make sense to me.


So you're saying one shouldn't damn the nice man with the feed just because he happens to work for the slaughterhouse?

Jolanda Swan wrote:
And if there is one thing we know about Devils, is that their propositions are always, always tempting, and very rational-looking. Why, only a religious fanatic would not see the merit in them!
And then they eat your soul.

Well, sip it slowly, with fava beans and a nice bit of liver. But basically, yes.

The traditional tactic of London's devils is that of Mephistopheles with Faustus: give the mark what he wants, indeed pile him with what he wants, howeverso fantastic, and then pop in the moment the contract's up and add a nice shiny bottle to the collection. The added sophistication now is that they also try to be your friends. A year or two ago Prof. Kan warned a friend to be careful with the Quiet Deviless. The friend said, in shock, "I didn't know she wanted my soul!" Precisely so. The whole point of devilry is to leave the mark vulnerable and unawares, and then at the right moment pull out the conveniently hidden fork.

What does an ambitious magician want? Power. Mephistopheles delivers.
What does a lost new Londoner want? Companionship. The Quiet Deviless delivers.
What does an ailing city want? Public services. Virginia delivers.

Now, the Embassy has said that Virginia is "our problem now" and is not working for Hell directly. I accept this. I do not, however, find it comforting. First, that's hardly a ringing endorsement from anyone, but especially from an embassy with an image to keep up. Second, Virginia's always been known for her private schemes (Correspondence stones, anyone?), so this not a major departure from her previously established m.o. It is certainly not grounds for assuming she's had a sudden change of heart. Third, Embassy or no, Virginia has wide support from "the devil on the street"--which is to say the ones actively involved in teasing unsuspecting souls from their rightful owners. This is one of the most dangerous groups in London (the most dangerous, if you ask Southwark), and not one calculated to make me rest easy over Virginia's candidacy.

The fact is, at the end of the day, Devils are always working for their own ends. Their means might benefit you, incidentally and temporarily, but your best interests are never their target, and will be discarded as soon as it is convenient to do so. (If you doubt this, point to me one example of a Devil who chooses loyalty over long-term self-interest.) Even if you forgot everything else you knew about devils, wouldn't this give you pause before trusting yourself to one? An unstable ally is more dangerous than an implacable foe.

[spoiler]Let me add a little knowledge from Sunless Skies, too: Devils' souls are unstable and changeable, according to the Deviless who watches over Carillon (who should know). Their characters can change, and not necessarily with much warning. Thus, on those lines too I object to a mayor, whatever her platform, who might take a left turn without warning.[/spoiler]

--
Prof. Sian Kan, at your service.
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PSGarak
PSGarak
Posts: 672

7/17/2019
Diptych wrote:
I'm not particularly keen on having my soul "improved" to better suit another's tastes or purposes.

The use of the word "improvement" reminds me of another, rather particular, use of that word in a similar context.

https://fallenlondon.fandom.com/wiki/Infernal_Vinification_Apparatus

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Azothi
Azothi
Posts: 527

7/17/2019
(Note: My voice in this response is in a grey area between being my voice and being my character's voice; it's a side effect of having to support my character's opinions and trying to inhabit that zone; if anything in it causes offense or negative emotions, I sincerely apologize and will try to do better in the future.)

Siankan wrote:
Azothi wrote:
Damning Virginia because of her association with Hell just doesn't make sense to me.
So you're saying one shouldn't damn the nice man with the feed just because he happens to work for the slaughterhouse?
No. What I'm saying is that if the farmer with the feed wants to open a free-range farm or improve health and safety standards instead of keeping the animals locked up in painfully (literally) close quarters, we ought to listen to their ideas instead of dismissing them outright.


Siankan wrote:
The traditional tactic of London's devils is that of Mephistopheles with Faustus: give the mark what he wants, indeed pile him with what he wants, howeverso fantastic, and then pop in the moment the contract's up and add a nice shiny bottle to the collection.
Doctor Faustus was condemned to an eternity of suffering (unless we choose to look at Goethe's Faust rather than Marlowe's Faustus). Furthermore, it was Faustus who sought out Lucifer to make the deal; he chose to damn himself (alternatively, he was always damned and never elect, but this is even further removed from the point). I think it's disingenuous to suggest that such a fate is comparable to the loss of a soul in Fallen London.

(And I'd like to point out that in the Fallen London universe, the Christian worldview that Doctor Faustus is built on is not exactly real.)

But I digress; let's not have another Divine Comedy, where fanfiction is mistaken for canon. Pointing to a 16th-century play that inaccurately depicts the relation between devils and humans is not productive, in my opinion.


Siankan wrote:
A year or two ago Prof. Kan warned a friend to be careful with the Quiet Deviless. The friend said, in shock, "I didn't know she wanted my soul!" Precisely so. The whole point of devilry is to leave the mark vulnerable and unawares, and then at the right moment pull out the conveniently hidden fork.
Spirifrage - the nonconsensual theft of souls - is a travesty we ought to fight against. Bring me a candidate that can stop it, and I'll seriously consider them. Bring me the Bishop of Southwark! His invectives against Hell are much-needed in this time. But by the time one has grown close enough with devils for Abstraction to be considered, Londoners are far from as naive as you'd say they are. (To quote the Intimate of Devils storyline, specifically when you have a chance of losing your soul: "He wants to talk about your soul? You know what that means. He wants to take your soul.")

I bring this point up also in reference to a later comment you make, specifically:

Siankan wrote:
Third, Embassy or no, Virginia has wide support from "the devil on the street"--which is to say the ones actively involved in teasing unsuspecting souls from their rightful owners.
This is infantilizing the average Londoner to paint the devils in a harsher light. The "devil on the street", as you call it, is more dangerous to the average Londoner than the Brass Embassy bureaucrat, but it is spirifrage that is the larger issue. Furthermore, this is a logical leap disguised by rhetoric. The text states that Virginia is supported by "devils on the street" you then immediately use a definition of "devil on the street" that is not substantiated anywhere in that snippet. You have chosen to interpret this as the kind of devil who actively seeks out souls, and you name these sorts of devils "devils on the street" to imply an equivalency that's not there. I can agree that there are unsavory elements in Virginia's campaign, just as there are in Plenty's and Shoshana's; what I don't appreciate is this redefinition of phrases to distract from the substance of Virginia's policy proposals.

And to put your comment in its proper context, I'll address the points before it:


Siankan wrote:
First, that's hardly a ringing endorsement from anyone, but especially from an embassy with an image to keep up. Second, Virginia's always been known for her private schemes (Correspondence stones, anyone?), so this not a major departure from her previously established m.o. It is certainly not grounds for assuming she's had a sudden change of heart.
I agree on both points.

I do want to point out, though, that this squares weirdly with what's under your spoiler tag.

[spoiler]
Siankan wrote:
Let me add a little knowledge from Sunless Skies, too: Devils' souls are unstable and changeable, according to the Deviless who watches over Carillon (who should know). Their characters can change, and not necessarily with much warning. Thus, on those lines too I object to a mayor, whatever her platform, who might take a left turn without warning.
Essentially, Virginia's still operating under her standard modus operandi but she could change at any moment. These points aren't in direct conflict, but they draw on opposing appeals. One says, "Virginia is not to be trusted now; she hasn't changed her m.o.." The other says, "Virginia could change her m.o. at any moment; she's not to be trusted."

Furthermore - and this is a little philosophical - the soul does not constitute the whole being. Someone who stained a soul or lost a soul still has the memories and experiences; they still have their body, with all its quirks and limitations. It's a stretch to imply that Virginia is somehow unstable. It's also a stretch of the Presiding Deviless's words. All she says is, "Devil souls change on their own." You're assuming that they are unstable, that they change without warning, and that this changes their character. Where is the evidence for any of that?
[/spoiler]

Anyway, taking issue with all this (and the Faustus point) is just taking issue with the evidence, not the point, though. I'll move onto the point instead of beating around the bush.


Siankan wrote:
What does an ambitious magician want? Power. Mephistopheles delivers.
What does a lost new Londoner want? Companionship. The Quiet Deviless delivers.
What does an ailing city want? Public services. Virginia delivers.
To beat around the bush further, though, I just want to gush over how beautifully structured this line is. Anaphora and epistrophe? Not just that, but symploce ("What does a ... want?") within symploce ("What does a ... delivers."); the paratactic style that gives each word weight and emphasis - it's a masterpiece, really. A silver tongue can be used for good or ill, but I just want to let you know that this made me happy.

They're false equivalencies, though. Faustus is damned and he loses his power. The Quiet Deviless abandons her marks and costs them her companionship. What is given is taken away, and much more besides. Public services, though, have a lasting impact. Virginia is brutally honest about the fact that she will be gone after a year. We ought to want that: the peaceful transition of public office.

But the policies she has proposed - public health, modern medicine, exercise - are proven to have real, tangible societal benefits. Victorian London was a public health disaster. People died for no good reason. People today are still hurting and dying because of avoidable public health negligence, and it's disproportionately affecting the underresourced and impoverished because those with wealth and power can afford to ignore them. It's not that London wants public health; London needs public health. Virginia, with the information that we know, is the candidate with the best plan for making London a better place. When she leaves, she will leave with more knowledge of London; she will leave with data on souls. What she will not leave with is the good that has been created, the self-improvement of London.

--

Siankan wrote:
The fact is, at the end of the day, Devils are always working for their own ends. Their means might benefit you, incidentally and temporarily, but your best interests are never their target, and will be discarded as soon as it is convenient to do so. (If you doubt this, point to me one example of a Devil who chooses loyalty over long-term self-interest.) Even if you forgot everything else you knew about devils, wouldn't this give you pause before trusting yourself to one? An unstable ally is more dangerous than an implacable foe.
And this is the crux of my issue with the anti-Virginia argument. This paragraph leads me to believe that everything I've written - everything about Virginia's platform, public health, inequality, even rhetoric - is utterly meaningless in the framework of this argument. I keep at it because this is a nice, low-stakes environment for honing my own rhetoric and learning the perspectives of other people. But I can't argue against Ideology. I can't argue against something that deeply-instilled, an Ideology the writers themselves predicted and depicted in harassing Virginia's supporters: "You shout the truth until you are blue in the face. Namely, that Virginia is a devil. A devil who is promising to look after people's souls. What is wrong with everybody?".

In this Ideology, it's impossible for a devil to do any good for London. How can the good that Virginia's platform does be reconciled with such belief? The answer is to turn this gap into an argument for distrust. It's said, "This - this is the danger of the devils. They hide it behind their mask of everyday appearance and promises of good works - such duplicity is the nature of a devil." This is the core of Ideology: it takes all opposition and converts it into fuel for the fire.

I believe I have made my reasoning for supporting Virginia clear, and you reject it. I believe I understand your reasons for not, and I reject them. If this were a private discussion, I'd have given up a while ago. It isn't, though; it's public. I want to make that point clear as to why I choose to continue.

--
Azoth I, the Amaranthine Wanderer - Midnighter - A Paramount Presence (not currently accepting new Proteges)
Away to where the Chain cannot bind us.
Hesperidean.
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Chamberlain1012
Chamberlain1012
Posts: 2

7/17/2019
I would like to offer a concurrence with Azothi that is perhaps more palatable to the opposition. I absolutely concur that Virginia is a faithful servant of Hell, and has its interests in mind first and foremost. However, in furtherance of its interests, and with the understanding that this is not a part of some convoluted devil-scheme, it is very possible that we may also benefit from Virginia's policies. Moreover, the mayoral office has no say in the soul trade or any such, nor is London signing its souls away by electing Virginia mayor. By improving the condition of all Londoners, the average Londoner benefits by becoming more healthy, the devils reap better souls, and only those unfortunates who gets their soul removed(and would have anyway) get the short end of the stick. I don't really see a downside here. We all win, and the only ones who lose would have lost anyway.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1431

7/17/2019
(Great disclaimer, Azothi! May I borrow it for my own election posts? I lobe how passionate we get but I am also afraid of causing offence while we role-play our Londoners!)

To add something in the spirit of public discourse of course: taking care of your citizens and making sure there are regulations in place, is not exactly infantilizing, is it? Or else we can abolish all laws lest they interfere with our personal freedom.
Oh wait. Hell did that and it spit out the Iron Republc. Not exactly a place fit for humans, is it?


Now, the permission to sell your Soul of course has already been granted, and though it is regrettable, there is no point in debating the wisdom of this decision now. But deciding to Vote for a Devil to rule actual people, goes beyond that. Virginia is running to be a leader - of humans. Even if her platform was nothing but beneficial, (doubt, doubt, doubt) why would we normalize having Devils as our leaders? Should sheeps run towards a slaughterhouse, eager to be branded?
Remember, the turkeys in the most popular example here do not have a choice - they can suffer and die, or be comfortable and die. Whereas we can... simply not vote for a Devil.


As for whether her nature is enough to disqualify her if her platform is good - well assume Jack of Smiles has an amazing plan for the London parks, that does not involve murder at all! A wonderful platform! Shall we vote for Jack then? Or the fact that, you know, he is a manic murderer is enough to disqualify him on the spot?
edited by Jolanda Swan on 7/17/2019
edited by Jolanda Swan on 7/18/2019

--
Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
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Azothi
Azothi
Posts: 527

7/17/2019
Jolanda Swan wrote:
(Greath disclaimer, Azothi! May I borrow it for my own election posts? I lobe how passionate we get but I am also afraid of causing offence while we role-play our Londoners!)
No problem! I enjoy the fiery passion of the season, but it's like a real fire: you want to stay far away enough not to get burned.

Jolanda Swan wrote:
To add something in the spirit of public discourse of course: taking care of your citizens and making sure there are regulations in place, is not exactly infantilizing, is it? Or else we can abolish all laws lest they interfere with our personal freedom.
Oh wait. Hell did that and it turned into the Iron Republc. Not exactly a place fit for humans, is it?
Agreed. The Iron Republic is not good for humans and I sure wouldn't want to live there. I'm more referring to the risks of getting to know devils: Londoners are already aware of the danger. It's spirifers - fellow humans who could hide easily among us - who are the most dangerous when it comes to the soul trade.

Jolanda Swan wrote:
But deciding to Vote for a Devil to rule actual people, goes beyond that. Foisting a Devil upon humans as a leader is not a matter of 'personal responsibility'. It rather goes beyond that.

As for whether her nature is enough to disqualify her - well assume Jack of Smiles has an amazing plan for the London parks, that does not involve murder at all! A wonderful platform! Shall we vote for Jack then? or the fact that, you know, he is a manic murdered should disqualify him on the spot?
This is a tricky point, but I'll try to explain my position as best I can. If Jack-of-Smiles had the most well-developed, feasible, and beneficial plan for London, then I would support voting for it. This is because the office of the Mayor of London does not carry institutional weight. It's essentially a platform for an influential person to introduce some change to London; it's not symbolic of the city, nor is it even really a reflection of the will of the people when the candidates are preordained from the Masters that be. It can't cause much institutional damage.

EDIT: Honestly, I think I'm a bit too sleepy to be coherent. If it's an issue, I'll try to find a better way to express it tomorrow.
-
edited by Azothi on 7/17/2019

--
Azoth I, the Amaranthine Wanderer - Midnighter - A Paramount Presence (not currently accepting new Proteges)
Away to where the Chain cannot bind us.
Hesperidean.
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Catherine Raymond
Catherine Raymond
Posts: 2316

7/17/2019
Azothi wrote:
(snipped)

As for whether her nature is enough to disqualify her - well assume Jack of Smiles has an amazing plan for the London parks, that does not involve murder at all! A wonderful platform! Shall we vote for Jack then? or the fact that, you know, he is a manic murdered should disqualify him on the spot?
This is a tricky point, but I'll try to explain my position as best I can. If Jack-of-Smiles had the most well-developed, feasible, and beneficial plan for London, then I would support voting for it. This is because the office of the Mayor of London does not carry institutional weight. It's essentially a platform for an influential person to introduce some change to London; it's not symbolic of the city, nor is it even really a reflection of the will of the people when the candidates are preordained from the Masters that be. It can't cause much institutional damage.

EDIT: Honestly, I think I'm a bit too sleepy to be coherent. If it's an issue, I'll try to find a better way to express it tomorrow.
-
edited by Azothi on 7/17/2019

I agree with most of what you say. However, the agenda is only one part of what you need. The influential person has to have the strength of character to bash heads, sweet talk people, and do whatever else is necessary to get their platform for change implemented. In my opinion, Mrs. Plenty has such strength of character; it's just her platform that is in question.

--
Cathy Raymond
http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/cathyr19355

Catherine Raymond aka Mrs. Rykar Malkus http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Catherine%20Raymond (Gone NORTH)
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Vryl
Vryl
Posts: 51

7/17/2019
Playing deviless's advocate here for a moment, I would like to point out that Chamberlain has a point. My investigations into Virginia have, so far, come up with no indication that she intends to cull the herd any the quicker because they have benefited from her spa.

Do I trust her? No. Am I going to vote for her? Not unless serious issues with both other prospects come to light. But thus far I have seen absolutely nothing to indicate that the denizens of Fallen London will be anything but better off for her mayorhood... up until they die and their souls are claimed, at which point presumably Hell will be better off.

That is the part that really concerns me, for surely Hell must have some purpose for collecting all these souls. Can this really be purely for the enjoyment of devils, in which case the quality of one's soul is simply adding some seasoning to the dish as it were? Or will providing the devils with souls enriched (especially enriched in a way a deviless like Virginia prescribes) cause greater trouble down the line?

My final analysis is that in the short term London may well be better off with Virginia as mayor compared to Plenty or Shoshana. But only a seer could tell you where that road leads.

--
https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Vryl
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Akernis
Akernis
Posts: 245

7/17/2019
Siankan wrote:

The fact is, at the end of the day, Devils are always working for their own ends. Their means might benefit you, incidentally and temporarily, but your best interests are never their target, and will be discarded as soon as it is convenient to do so. If you doubt this, point to me one example of a Devil who chooses loyalty over long-term self-interest.


The Turncoat from the 'Tauroktonos' exceptional story and The Piper from Sunless Skies both spring to mind.

[spoiler]
The Turncoat - despite his moniker - is a loyal servant of one of the devil princes of the old aristocracy that the devils overthrew in their revolution. In the story he is about to be executed by devils of the Brass Embassy, and not the temporary kind that a devil can come back from but in a manner that is clearly stated to be a true death. The Turncoat knows the location of his prince and could use that as a bargaining chip to save himself, but he is ready to go to his death rather than betray his prince. Afterwards, if you save him, he also takes care to make sure that you escape with him rather than leaving you behind. He seems genuinely grateful you saved his life.

The Piper is a devil princess and a 'Living Saint' of the Brazen Brigade who are loyalists that still serve their princes. After the fall of the old aristocracy instead of seeking revenge she - along with her fellow musician-named princes like The Drummer - worked hard to create a sanctuary for their remaining subjects in Parabola where they could be safe from both the current Republic of Hell and the Judgements. And she refuses to go to war to regain her old glory and power because such a war would likely see her 'children' killed.
[/spoiler]

Now you could argue - and I would agree with you - that loyalty to other devils (in one case their prince, in another their subjects) is not the same as loyalty to a human. But it still shows that devils can indeed have loyalty that goes beyond their personal ambition. I would argue that painting all devils with one brush is as much a caricature as it would be for any other culture and I'm of the opinion that devils are more complex than simply: yellow eyes = always inherently evil.

Now, I'm not saying Verginia is an angel by any means - quite the opposite, obviously - or that she has no underhand motivations, which I'm almost certain that she does. But I agree with Chamberlain in that I think that her underhand motivations could be as beneficial to us as it would be to her kind.

.
edited by Akernis on 7/17/2019

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0bsidian Fire
0bsidian Fire
Posts: 109

7/17/2019
Vryl wrote:
Snipped...

That is the part that really concerns me, for surely Hell must have some purpose for collecting all these souls. Can this really be purely for the enjoyment of devils, in which case the quality of one's soul is simply adding some seasoning to the dish as it were? Or will providing the devils with souls enriched (especially enriched in a way a deviless like Virginia prescribes) cause greater trouble down the line?
This goes into what could be considered a bit of spoilerish territory for Sunless Skies depending on how you look at it...


[spoiler]What Hell wants with souls goes all the way back to what a Judgement is and does. One big thing to know about Judgements is that they eat souls. Why? Well Souls are the food for the Judgements Law Making. Without Souls to eat, they have a hard time make Laws. For Judgements, Humans are pretty much like living tupperware containers for their food. Only with humans, the things humans do can "spoil" the soul in the human and make it not nice for the Judgment to eat.



What does this have to do with Devils? The Devils used to be the high ranking servants of a Judgement called the Azure (and said Judgment is heavily associated with Laws of Death). The Devils entire job revolved around preparing souls for this Judgment to eat. And they were masters as it. We even meet one of the Devils who came up with how to prepare souls well. In Sunless Skies, it's the Repentant Devil. You can meet him at the Feast of the Rose in London as the Impenitent Devil. He's so good at preparing souls for the Azure that now he doesn't bother with getting people's souls because he has literally seen it all when it comes to the state of souls. He's even the guy who came up with all the techniques used in Carillon to make souls "better".



After the Devils rebelled against the Azure, they managed to escape to Parabola and from there to the Neath. Part of why they are interested in getting and "improving" souls is because that is what they were designed to do by the Azure. But the other reason probably has to do with powering the Law Furnaces of Hell. Those need to run on something and given what Judgments run on to create laws...



Let's just say I'm very suspicious the reason Virginia wants all of our souls to be in a nice state is so that after death (or more likely, if Hell gets a hold of them) they'll go nicely into a Law Furnace somewhere, weather that is in a Judgement or in Hell...[/spoiler]


TLDR: Sunless Skies both made Devils way more non-one dimensional then Fallen London did and it made me want to associate with them even less. Never mind give one a lot of influence in London...

--
Kharagal Mierqid - Bohemian Correspondent who is obsessed with the Language of Stars...
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MrCandles
MrCandles
Posts: 111

7/17/2019
Just vote to Virginia, she is immigrant from Hell.
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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 846

7/17/2019
Azothi wrote:
(Note: My voice in this response is in a grey area between being my voice and being my character's voice; it's a side effect of having to support my character's opinions and trying to inhabit that zone; if anything in it causes offense or negative emotions, I sincerely apologize and will try to do better in the future.)

No worries. I'm an academic, so I am used to arguments, and I'm an adult, so my skin is quite sufficiently thick.

Siankan wrote:
[Pointing to a 16th-century play that inaccurately depicts the relation between devils and humans is not productive, in my opinion.

Attending to the source material is always productive, and trebly so in something so rooted in literature as Fallen London. The devils here are lineal descendants of Faustus, as of the Commedia, the Aeneid, Paradise Lost, and a good deal more. Certainly, we should not assume 1:1 correlations between the source material and our text; equally, however, we should not be dismissive of correlation. (Also, incidentally, age and correlation to the true state of affairs are entirely irrelevant in such a query.)

Azothi wrote:
This is infantilizing the average Londoner to paint the devils in a harsher light.

In what way? The only one I can see relies on the assumption that Londoners always go into the exchange clear-eyed, with full understanding of what they're giving up and what they're getting for it. I do not find text to support this assumption. The Brass Embassy lecture text, for example, relies entirely on false equivalences to make the soul seem worthless. The Hell v. Urchins conflict card offers a similar situation, right up until you point out the contradiction to the Urchin. The only case I can think of where there is some clarity is the Intimate with Devils storyline, where it's less a matter of devilish honesty and more about signalling to the player that you can, in fact, lose your soul here.

Azothi wrote:
The "devil on the street", as you call it

Not my words. Thus the quotation marks.

Azothi wrote:
The text states that Virginia is supported by "devils on the street" you then immediately use a definition of "devil on the street" that is not substantiated anywhere in that snippet.

I define "devil on the street" as an equivalent of "man on the street," the average devil in and about London. This seems to be to be the plain reading. One could press, if one were desperate, for a very literal rendering, that her devils (like anyone's supporters) are actually standing on cobblestone, but this reading imputes Failbetter with considerable carelessness in wording.

What, then, does the "devil on the street" do with his time? In our encounters with devils around Fallen London, they are generally doing one of two things (which are in no way mutually exclusive):

1. Acquiring souls
2. Mingling with Society

The first needs no explanation. The second, even when not being done the way the Quiet Deviless does it, still serves the first by normalizing devilish presence, lowering individual and societal defenses, and collecting vital information about the souls in question, information which we know gets fed back via Slowcake and which may have much more direct channels as well.

Azothi wrote:
These points aren't in direct conflict, but they draw on opposing appeals. One says, "Virginia is not to be trusted now; she hasn't changed her m.o.." The other says, "Virginia could change her m.o. at any moment; she's not to be trusted."

As you say, the points are not in conflict. (Nor are they circular, as the arrangement above seems to imply.) Kim Il-sung was steadfastly opposed to democracy and to freedom of speech and conscience; he was also unstable mentally and politically. It is no contradiction to say that both traits made him dangerous. So here. Duplicity and a lust for human souls are, within our evidence, endemic to devilhood; these traits make them untrustworthy. The traits that do vary from devil to devil, which in individual cases may be endearing, compelling, or even redeeming, are mutable; thus they too do not lean one toward trust. Thus both their mutability and their immutability undermine their credibility.
Azothi wrote:
You're assuming that they are unstable, that they change without warning, and that this changes their character. Where is the evidence for any of that?

I can misinterpret, but as a rule I try to avoid assuming; it is bad for business. (Although, while we're here, I said nothing about "[changing] without warning.") However, it is entirely fair to ask for my evidence. Allow me to call the Presiding Deviless to the stand.

[spoiler]The Presiding Deviless wrote:
"Spirifage," she says. And: "I warned him." After a moment her attention returns to you. "He had a very different soul when we first met. That is the trouble with friendship among Devils. Come back in five years' time and who knows? You may find me engaged in a smuggling operation of my own."
[/spoiler]
There are other quotes, but that best makes my point. Devil souls can change (in a fairly short period, though not, we assume, at the drop of a fascinator), and this change can bring about a change of behavior and even mores. The devil you knew in 1890 may not much resemble the devil you know today, and that's before we even discuss the word instar.
Azothi wrote:
Anyway, taking issue with all this (and the Faustus point) is just taking issue with the evidence, not the point, though.

Given that conclusions arise from evidence, examining the latter is not beside the point.

Azothi wrote:
this made me happy.

Thank you.
However, they are not false equivalencies. They are operations--under differing circumstances, yes, but that strengthens rather than detracts from the point--of an underlying principle: that Devils will grant any kind of benefit if doing so will separate their mark from his soul. Given this, and given that Virginia as an individual has not shown herself insensitive to the value of a soul, responsibility demands that we understand Virginia's real angle, what she's likely to give and what she's likely to take, before blithely committing our city to her care.
Azothi wrote:
But the policies she has proposed - public health, modern medicine, exercise - are proven to have real, tangible societal benefits.

On its own terms, your argument is compelling. However, it relies on a number of presuppositions that I feel need examination, chiefly the presupposition that we will get the same goods we're being sold. Ultimately, this comes down to trust: that Virginia can do as she promises, that she will do as she promises, and that there is no hook hidden within the bundle.

Can she? Well, given Sinning Jenny's record I'm not holding my breath. Will she? I have enough confidence in Virginia to say that we will get something (barring metagaming concerns about Failbetter and mayoral impact) and that it will at least look like the package we were sold. My real concern is the hook. Everything we know about Devils in general and Virginia in specific warns us that there will be a hook somewhere. The questions are where, and what?

The answer, of course, is that I don't know, but let me give you a sample of the possibilities. We know from the spirifage storylet on Ladybones Road that the seriously ill have a weaker hold on their souls than the healthy. We also know, from the same storylet, that hospital wards are by no means immune from spirifage activity. So, let's assume for a moment that Virginia succeeds in founding St. Melliflua's Hospital for Poor Unfortunate Souls. [N.B. Despite my opposition to Virginia, as a player I'd reconcile myself the prospect if it meant actually opening St. Melliflua's Hospital for Poor Unfortunate Souls.] Let's also assume, to give her the best running start, that she is, in fact, entirely aboveboard, even saintly, in her own conduct. Even so, a hospital opened by a deviless is going to attract spirifers from all over London. Can Virginia guarantee that the patients will be safe from them? Would she, if she could, given that it would likely worsen her relationship with the Embassy and her fellow Devils? All this is, of course, assuming the best case scenario for Virginia. It goes down rapidly from there, and we cannot rule out the possibility that her facilities actively encourage spirifage and other means of soul acquisition. Even Carillon, the most benign Infernal institution we know of, though it is very low-pressure and stresses the benefits, operates off of the souls of inmates who, for one reason or another, decide to part with them.

There are other avenues for this to go wrong; I am merely choosing, for purposes of argument, the most easily demonstrable.
Azothi wrote:
But I can't argue against Ideology.

If by "Ideology" you mean a set of presuppositions blindly held, you have misused the term. Either way, however, it is misapplied here. We are not speaking of ideological presumptions, but of the evidence before us. The core issue, as I said above, is trust: can we trust Virginia to deliver what she promises? If the answer to that is yes, then we can start with a cold-blooded cost-benefit analysis, asking if the likely benefits will outweigh the likely damage. But first we have to get there.

Indeed, we cannot even ask whether Virginia is trustworthy without asking the broader question, Can devils be trustworthy? If so, we have a nice little syllogism on our hands, and we can proceed. If not, well, the syllogism changes, and everything else comes to a full stop.

The source material gives a united view of devils: tempters (occasionally temptresses) whose fantastic deals inevitably lead to a gullible human's destruction. They may be beautiful. They may offer fantastic gains. Ultimately, however, the loss is incalculably greater than the gain.

Now, let's see what Fallen London does with its sources. The game adds many twists of its own to devils (honey, anyone?), but the basic identity stays the same. London devils are repeatedly characterized by treachery, ruthlessness, and bloodthirst; even as disarming a figure as the Quiet Deviless turns out to have a barb in her tail. They also have a clear agenda. It is repeatedly stated, in various ways, that the soul trade is the only reason Hell bothers with the Brass Embassy in the first place. The only things devils have been seriously interested in otherwise are the Correspondence (on occasion) and infernal politics. The only counterexample I can provide is the Blind Pianist, who is operating (via the usual devilish means of deceit and treachery) on a comparatively benign agenda. However, the story itself leaves open the possibility that she is playing you, and is not what she claims.

We do have one clear piece of evidence in the devils' favor: they seem to stick to their wagers. Virginia, particularly, gives up her interests (for the time being) once you beat her at chess. How does this apparent principle interact with their habitual duplicity? That is an open question, but it must in fairness be asked.

So we have some evidence that devils can, situationally, be trustworthy. This we balance against a large body of evidence that shows they are habitually not. One may argue whether, in terms of strict logic, there's any room to proceed to the specific, the question of whether this particular devil, Virginia, is trustworthy. However, as a mental exercise, let us examine the candidate. Can she be the exception that disproves the rule?

Virginia's interactions with the player have one redeeming quality: unlike your run-of-the-mill devil, she has been more interested in archaeology than in souls. Her interest and motives are uncertain--she certainly isn't interested in the Correspondence stones to learn the language--so this is not strong evidence for or against her. A stronger mark in her favor is the abovementioned chess game. However, we must also note that this is a matter of stalling her for a time (which devils have to spare), not of giving up permanently. We do not know what would happen under those stakes, positively or negatively. What we do know from our interactions is that Virginia shows all the cunning and duplicity of your average devil, and has no qualms about harming you if she finds you in her way. In other words, except for an academic bent she follows, on the evidence, the typical behavior of London devils.

In short, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that Virginia's promises to London follow the traditional pattern of devilish enticement: a fabulous deal on the surface, which ultimately serves the devil's agenda and will cause more harm than good to her target. No, I cannot demonstrate this beyond reasonable doubt, but I never claimed to.

If you are still tempted to dismiss all this as "Ideology," let me suggest a thought exercise: Assume Virginia is not a deviless. Replace her pink skin with the darker hue of a Presbyterate diplomat, or the pallid color of a Londoner, or the cozy fur of a Rat. Make her anyone but a devil, and then judge her character based on her actions. What about her leads you to believe that she will actually perform on her promises, and leave London in better shape than she found it? Nothing that I see. Sure, she has an enticing campaign slogan, but we have all seen enough of politics to know that a promising platform means nothing without a solid character standing atop it.

I believe I have made my reasoning for supporting Virginia clear, and you reject it. I believe I understand your reasons for not, and I reject them. If this were a private discussion, I'd have given up a while ago. It isn't, though; it's public. I want to make that point clear as to why I choose to continue.

Lordamercy, let's not stop talking to one another simply because we might not convince each other! As in any serious discussion, that's never been the real point.

--
Prof. Sian Kan, at your service.
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Anne Auclair
Anne Auclair
Posts: 2215

7/17/2019
Siankan wrote:

Virginia's interactions with the player have one redeeming quality: unlike your run-of-the-mill devil, she has been more interested in archaeology than in souls. Her interest and motives are uncertain--she certainly isn't interested in the Correspondence stones to learn the language--so this is not strong evidence for or against her. A stronger mark in her favor is the abovementioned chess game. However, we must also note that this is a matter of stalling her for a time (which devils have to spare), not of giving up permanently. We do not know what would happen under those stakes, positively or negatively. What we do know from our interactions is that Virginia shows all the cunning and duplicity of your average devil, and has no qualms about harming you if she finds you in her way. In other words, except for an academic bent she follows, on the evidence, the typical behavior of London devils.

Worth noting that her campaign representative, the one she has introducing voters to her platform, is Dr Orthos, who steals people's research at gunpoint! That also doesn't convey scruples and trustworthiness And it seems very unlikely that Dr Orthos is motivated by the cause of improving London - given his past of selfish academic piracy, it seems more reasonable to assume he's hoping for some sort of really big payoff.

What is being stated is probably less important than what is not being stated. What is she not promising to not do?

That said, exercise is a proven method of combating the debilitating effects of honey addiction. We know that because you use it in Jenny's Finishing School to treat the Bohemian:

The Bohemian wrote:
At first acquaintance, one might think she is lazy. Her eyelids droop, her elbows languish, her pulse is slow at the hollow of her throat. But she is always working a little, always sketching something. All this idleness amounts to dozens of pages of drawing a day
....
After some initial gripes, she takes to the work with alarming enthusiasm. Lifting heavy objects; setting them down; driving a blade deeply and precisely. There are muscles under her gauzy sleeves. She begins to speak of taking up sculpture, and other art forms that respond to a hammer or a blade.

And a Devil does have motive to help treat this social condition, as apparently too much prisoners honey has the effect of making souls very unpalatable. So, strange as it might seem, there is room for cooperation between Devils and Temperance Campaigners on this issue and presumably other issues were temperance would improve overall soul quality.

Although it's also worth pointing out that the Bohemian's rehabilitation doesn't stick and she falls off the wagon immediately after leaving the School:

Sinning Jenny's Finishing School ending text wrote:
The Bohemian is doubtless frequenting a Honey-den at this very moment.

So, it's effectiveness is also limited.
.
edited by Anne Auclair on 7/18/2019

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