Khalifate Era

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Xalzar
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xalzar » November 6th, 2014, 1:05 pm

Usually I try not to intervene in potential forum wars, as I tend to be quite moderate and not belligerant. But I have a suggestion for the Developers, before this topic and all the good ideas are lost.
zookeeper wrote:I'm sure there's complaints about some inconsistent stats or the like, but no one's seemed to be that annoyed by them.
Actually I heard about complaints from some people from my forum of origin, expecially concerning the "liminal" mechanic. But let's not add too much "meat on the fire" (I don't know if this expression is actually used in English :lol: )
iceiceice wrote:
quetzalcoatl wrote: There are some very good reasons why issue should at least be discussed once again. During recent months (since previous thread was closed) some dire developments took place...
It seems basically impossible to me that Noy, Wintermute, and co. were ignorant of this. So I'll say again, although of course they may do as they please, if they didn't change their minds before, it's hard to see why they would now. Even if ISIL got their 15 minutes on the nightly news. It's not like the faction is called "Al Qaeda." Khalifate is a a term that is so old that it is relatively non-specific -- it has meant many different things to many different people at many different points in time. I don't think anyone will seriously believe that the faction is a reference to ISIL, as opposed to, say, ancient or medieval Persia.
While ago I was not so concerned by the parallelism between the Wesnothian Khaliphate and the historical one.
But now I must agree. It's something too easily relatable, it's something in present days and is widely known around the world.
The name is very divisive at the moment, we cannot hide the fact under the carpet.

One of my concerns regarding the future of this discussion is that only one Developer is speaking on defense, and we don't know if he's speaking individually or not.
So Iceiceice, please clarify if you are an appointed speaker on behalf of the Developer group (mind you, I don't accuse you of anything); if not I'm really interested in hearing the positions of the involved Developers on the matter directly. If the only reason is that Khaliphate was the original name of the faction, then we should consider if that is more important than potential tension in the Wesnoth community.
iceiceice wrote: A kingdom is a nation ruled autocratically by a king, who historically speaking declares himself to have the god-given right to command his subjects and sentence them to death should they disobey. One may try to argue or cite examples from history of nonreligious kingdoms but one must be willfully blind not to see that these are the exception and not the rule. And while the subject is avoided in all of the mainline prose, the most reasonable assumption is that Haldric and co. are not much different.
It is an assumption used by you for the sake of your argumentation. If it is not written we simply don't know. And even if that comes true, the god of Haldric and co. is sure not the God of any religion in real life.
iceiceice wrote: After all they also have Knights, and Paladins. Knights historically speaking make an oath of fealty to their King before God. And a Paladin is quite explicitly a holy warrior.
Edit: Actually, out of curiosity I looked up the term Paladin on wikipedia. Apparently it originally referred to "... the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court ... [who] represent Christian valor against the Saracen hordes." :?

I'm not saying that Khalifate is not a religious term, or even that it doesn't have more of a religious connotation than Kingdom, I'm just saying that there are plenty of implicit references to religion, and yes to Christianity, in wesnoth, and pretty much you see them if you want to. IMO Khalifate is not much different in this respect. Actually, I don't detect any religious references of any kind in the Khalifate content, other than in the name itself. So sorry if the whole brouhaha comes off as absurd in my opinion.
This point seems biased. Kings, Knights and Paladins of course were more or less loosely Christianity-related, but now are not so much and they have been included massively in fantasy lore. Think of Dungeons & Dragons and innumerable other "fantasy universes".
Should shamans arise some questions too, then?
Instead, I have never heard of a fantasy Khaliphate, I have only the real one for comparison. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Arab-like humans instead are fantasy-safe (one example are the already cited Haradrims). Even without magic, in my opinion...but that's a different subject.
iceiceice wrote: Please people, can we think of the E-Trees?
I think about them, so this will be my only post on the matter if I'm not directly interpellated.

My suggestion is: the Developer group has the responsibility to guide the Wesnoth project, right?
It could assemble and discuss the matter seriously (because it seems not, but in reality is quite relevant), in private, considering the lecit objections of the users without censorship, then produce an official post or message with the conclusion.
Better if the document cites the points which have been discussed, the votations and the reason of the decision.

We need really to give a firm point for this re-emerging topic in a public and preferably transparent way, without derailing it in a Battle for the Topic. :roll:

Last thing, I-am-not-trolling. :|

Thanks for reading, if I inadvertitely offended someone please consider I'm not native speaker and that was not my intention. All the respect.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by zookeeper » November 6th, 2014, 2:23 pm

If a developer wants to organize a developers-only vote (I'm not sure what all we ought to vote on, though) then I suppose that could technically be the authoritative "developers' opinion" that is currently missing. I don't really think there's anything to discuss though, since the lore-related arguments for and against have been the same more or less for as long as the faction has existed (well, except for IS...).

Even though I have a feeling the votes would end up with the faction staying in and staying as it is, personally I'd still prefer to get that in the form of a clear majority decision. It's annoying to observe what to me seems like a mistake when I cannot tell how much support it actually has.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 6th, 2014, 3:18 pm

Xalzar wrote: So Iceiceice, please clarify if you are an appointed speaker on behalf of the Developer group
I think I was totally explicit on this point when I wrote
iceicice wrote: Well I don't want to speak for the creators of the era but...
Xalzar wrote: if not I'm really interested in hearing the positions of the involved Developers on the matter directly.
You can find quite a bit of this in forum search / email records. Especially Noy has weighed in at least half a dozen times on "Khalifate and Religion" over the years. I won't beat the dead horse anymore, but I think it's really quite some presumption to expect a landslide shift, or that "current events" would warrant such.

Of course a *poll* of *insert interest group* is welcome, but you might also consider that this is not likely to be resolved authoritatively by a *vote*, I don't think there's any precedent for that. Rather it seems a poll would serve to inform Noy, Wintermute and co.
Xalzar wrote: Think of Dungeons & Dragons and innumerable other "fantasy universes".
Yes, generally these all have quite strong religious themes, even if they insert some rhetorical fig leaf. If you don't see it, it's because you don't want to.
Xalzar wrote: Instead, I have never heard of a fantasy Khaliphate, I have only the real one for comparison...
Arab-like humans instead are fantasy-safe (one example are the already cited Haradrims)...
Uhhh... what is this "fantasy-safe" you speak of? What's the rule here, if I didn't see in LOTR or Disneyland or some "commercially successful fantasy material" then it's not "real fantasy"? I think we are entitled to invent our own fantasy please, even wildly divergent. And this seems to be the opinion of many -- iiuc at one point IftU was (still is?) considered to become a mainline campaign. If there is room even for Sci-fi stuff like Shaxthals in wesnoth's lore then surely there's room for a Khalifate.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by pyrophorus » November 6th, 2014, 3:19 pm

iceiceice wrote: Many mainline wesnoth campaigns regard wars fought by or for the Kingdom of Wesnoth. A kingdom is a nation ruled autocratically by a king, who historically speaking declares himself to have the god-given right to command his subjects and sentence them to death should they disobey. One may try to argue or cite examples from history of nonreligious kingdoms but one must be willfully blind not to see that these are the exception and not the rule. And while the subject is avoided in all of the mainline prose, the most reasonable assumption is that Haldric and co. are not much different.

After all they also have Knights, and Paladins. Knights historically speaking make an oath of fealty to their King before God. And a Paladin is quite explicitly a holy warrior.
Edit: Actually, out of curiosity I looked up the term Paladin on wikipedia. Apparently it originally referred to "... the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court ... [who] represent Christian valor against the Saracen hordes." :?
Sorry, but you can't make an argument with such confusions. Yes, kings and emperors have all been in the past related to religion. But this means nothing because in these times (and still nowadays in some places), everything was related to religion which standed more or less in the place we have now science.

Next, you're confusing chivalry and fealty. Feudals didn't make oathes to the King but in the hands of someone else from which they received a land (fief), and all of them were not knights (women particularly). Knigthood is an order, military at first in which noble men could enter when they have proven their valor on the battlefield. No oath here, but the Church has endlessly struggled to introduce some christianism in what was a pure military (and barbarous) institution. From this comes the prayer vigile and the vows (to be faithful, protective to widows and orphans, etc...). But the ideal picture of pure knights are cleric propagandist creations (Chrestien de Troyes and his Graal quest for instance), not the reality. Some Round Table novels and William the Marshall (The best knight in the world) memories for instance give a very different picture.

More of it, such argumentation makes no sense because history (at least real history and not approximative ideas coming from D&D and children manuals) will not give a clear reply. For instance, I think we all agree it would be offensive to some people to use the name "crusaders". But historically speaking, the first crusade (Peter the Hermit) was a crowd of unarmed people. Was the children crusade a threat to anyone ? Both were murdered and destroyed on the way and did little harm. And on the opposite, other crusaders on the way to Holy Land sacked Constantinople, and many others had a revolting behavior in many places. And certainly many crusaders had in mind not only the desire to save their souls. Crusades are a very complex history where the best and the worse happened, so we could have an endless discussion about it. About the Califate institution as well. One can't reduce it to the revolting way ISIL understand it for now.

Is it the place to have such discussions ? I think we should better avoid them completely instead of sustaining uneducated points of view. And avoid potentially controversial names.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 6th, 2014, 3:40 pm

pyrophorus: You seem to want to focus intently on specifics, but you lose sight of the basic fact that "Paladins" historically refers to religiously motivated warriors from europe who went to fight the muslims... really what difference is it whether the fight is in Europe or the "Holy land", or what specific atrocities occurred etc. etc. You want to split hairs between Knights and Feudal lords when in fact at different points in history my characterization is entirely apt. Your first paragraph seems to support my argument rather than refute it.

In brief I'm not sure this direction is interesting to pursue. I'm glad that strangely, after posting all of this, you now also want to adjourn discussion.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Sapient » November 6th, 2014, 4:38 pm

iceiceice wrote:...ISIL got their 15 minutes on the nightly news...
If only that were true. The fact is that ISIL has been committing atrocities on a grand scale since that past discussion... horrifying stuff that I rather not even think about much less discuss on a games forum which should be a happy place. As a computer scientist or technical person, it's very easy to take a matter-of-fact point of view that such names don't matter. What difference would it make if Konrad were called Adolf, for example? But, there is also a virtue in having a reasonable degree of sensitivity.

{edit: in case there was any confusion, I'm not speaking as a Developer here or presenting an official position. I'm just sharing my opinions as a player and forum member }
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by pyrophorus » November 6th, 2014, 4:48 pm

iceiceice wrote:pyrophorus: You seem to want to focus intently on specifics, but you lose sight of the basic fact that "Paladins" historically refers to religiously motivated warriors from europe who went to fight the muslims...
Sorry, but this is false. The title "Paladin" means a close companion to the king (a palace dweller). It's a carolingian title which disapeared rather quickly. They were not all warriors. They were not particularly religiously motivated, because in this times, everyone was religiously motivated (or was saying so). More of it, what you say about this religious motivation can be said of Charlemagne, but his ancestors and successors didn't share this preoccupation. And it's not very easy to distinguish in Charlemagne's motivations, what is politic and conquest appetite from evangelization concerns. His expedition in Spain for instance is far from a pure heroic war against Saracenes. Same with his wars against the Saxons. Don't forget all history in these times was written by clerics who had their own motivations to embellish the facts.

In other words, you're expanding to the whole Europe and Middle Age something which is only partially true in Carolingian times in Western Europe.

Now you can pack into the same expression "religious motivation to fight the muslims" the reasons why Charlemagne went against the Saracenes and the crusades. It's an amalgam. In Charlemagne times, Saracenes in Spain were invaders who threatened South France, and Charlemagne himself had good relationship with the well known Harun Al Rashid. Crusaders didn't plan to convert muslims by force as Charlemagne did on the Saxons, but to free Christ's grave. Not the same in my eyes.
iceiceice wrote: You want to split hairs between Knights and Feudal lords when in fact at different points in history my characterization is entirely apt.
Do you think shoes and hats are identical because the same person can wear them ?

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 6th, 2014, 5:07 pm

Sapient wrote:
iceiceice wrote:...ISIL got their 15 minutes on the nightly news...
If only that were true. The fact is that ISIL has been committing atrocities on a grand scale since that past discussion... horrifying stuff that I rather not even think about
Is that really true though? I think in fact ISIL has been decapitating Iraqis and Syrians by the hundreds, for years. In recent months they began decapitating Americans and other westerners, and these were widely publicized. But surely this is not more of a tragedy or an atrocity. Also in recent months they launched an offensive into Iraq, a major setback for US foreign policy aims. This is surely "game-changing" in Washington D.C., but unlike in Washington D.C., we are allowed, even encouraged to be objective.

If you refer to other atrocities that I am unaware of, please clarify / fill me in.
Sapient wrote: What difference would it make if Konrad were called Adolf, for example? But, there is also a virtue in having a modicum of sensitivity.
As I said before, I don't think anyone will seriously believe that the wesnoth faction is a reference to ISIL.
However if Konrad were called Adolf I think obviously many people would consider if it is a reference to Adolf Hitler.
So I think there's a big difference.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xalzar » November 6th, 2014, 7:00 pm

Calm down everyone please.
I return to clarify some of the addressed point in Iceiceice's reply. Unfortunately, from your tone I infer I resulted a bit offensive. Sorry for that, I hoped my words were carefully weighed but it doesn't seem so apparently.
iceiceice wrote: You can find quite a bit of this in forum search / email records. Especially Noy has weighed in at least half a dozen times on "Khalifate and Religion" over the years. I won't beat the dead horse anymore, but I think it's really quite some presumption to expect a landslide shift, or that "current events" would warrant such.
I'd appreciate to know their opinion now, but if they are too busy to reply nevermind. I don't presume anything, but I expect you to not commit this mistake either.
iceiceice wrote: Of course a *poll* of *insert interest group* is welcome, but you might also consider that this is not likely to be resolved authoritatively by a *vote*, I don't think there's any precedent for that. Rather it seems a poll would serve to inform Noy, Wintermute and co.
There's no need of a vote, the Developers can freely choose how to deliberate on the matter. It is not important how, but it is the what (i.e. what they decide) and the why (the reason behind the decision).
iceiceice wrote: Yes, generally these all have quite strong religious themes, even if they insert some rhetorical fig leaf. If you don't see it, it's because you don't want to.
Uhhh... what is this "fantasy-safe" you speak of? What's the rule here, if I didn't see in LOTR or Disneyland or some "commercially successful fantasy material" then it's not "real fantasy"? I think we are entitled to invent our own fantasy please, even wildly divergent. And this seems to be the opinion of many -- iiuc at one point IftU was (still is?) considered to become a mainline campaign. If there is room even for Sci-fi stuff like Shaxthals in wesnoth's lore then surely there's room for a Khalifate.
I was talking about "Christianity-related figures and symbols" (which Knights and Paladins are not), not general "religion-related symbols". It's really different.
The Caliphate is only "Islam-related", I was saying; there is no corrispondence in fantasy.
Shaxtals are fantastic creatures, the Caliphate is not and is immediately relatable to the mentioned current events.
And finally, I only made an example. I didn't say to copy D&D. Sorry for not being as clear as I thought.

I think I should clarify my motives: I'm not here to discuss the name of the Khalifate faction (I leave the discussion to the Developers).
What really concerns me is the tension in the community, not the matter at hand. I can easily tolerate the Khalifate as it is (I can distinguish between real life and videogames), but I really dislike what it is causing to the community. An official words from the interested Developers could settle all the turbolences, or most of them.

My proposal still stands. Iceiceice, sorry again if I offended you :oops: , but now I think you should inform Noy and Wintermute and whoever else of my suggestion. Then it will be up to them to refuse it eventually, there is no need to put a filter between them and the community. Or else, if you don't want, I could inform them myself, just tell me exactly who should I contact and I will send them a PM.

Thanks again.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Temuchin Khan » November 6th, 2014, 7:18 pm

Sapient wrote:Sultanate and elephants o my... +1 to Temuchin Khan
Thanks! But I didn't mention elephants first. I just showed that they would make sense. Also, another argument in favor, is that the Mughals, Muslims who conquered India during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, did use war elephants:

https://www.google.com/search?q=mughal+ ... 80&bih=598

So there is a historical basis for it from that angle too.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by iceiceice » November 6th, 2014, 8:19 pm

Xalzar:

I fear I have miscommunicated tone... I am not angry or offended, I seek only to discuss the issues in a level-headed way. Looking back I have been laying on a fair amount of snark in earlier posts, but this is only intended to be playful. Quite possibly, your words were a bit better-weighed than mine.
Xalzar wrote: I'd appreciate to know their opinion now, but if they are too busy to reply nevermind.
Well I'm sure they will see this thread eventually and say something, but exactly when, who knows. I think this is not the first time I have stood in to defend the opinions / actions of devs that are absent, which I happen to agree with.

You are of course welcome to PM people but if they didn't check the forums I don't think it would help anything. I'm not sure if you could easily find their emails.
Xalzar wrote: I was talking about "Christianity-related figures and symbols" (which Knights and Paladins are not), not general "religion-related symbols". It's really different.
The Caliphate is only "Islam-related", I was saying; there is no corrispondence in fantasy.
Well as I've been saying I personally disagree with this assessment, I think it may reflect a Eurocentric historical interpretation. But I'm not sure it's productive to discuss further.

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Wintermute » November 7th, 2014, 3:08 am

iceiceice wrote: It seems basically impossible to me that Noy, Wintermute, and co. were ignorant of this. So I'll say again, although of course they may do as they please, if they didn't change their minds before, it's hard to see why they would now. Even if ISIL got their 15 minutes on the nightly news. It's not like the faction is called "Al Qaeda." Khalifate is a a term that is so old that it is relatively non-specific -- it has meant many different things to many different people at many different points in time. I don't think anyone will seriously believe that the faction is a reference to ISIL, as opposed to, say, ancient or medieval Persia.
I think this is basically correct. On the other hand, I think that a lot of people *will* wonder "why did someone make this thing that has some similarities with a subject that no one who is here just for fun wants to go near?" Basically, few people are really going to look at the Khalifate faction and draw a parallel to ISIL, but lots of people are going to notice that ISIL talks about a Khalifate and we have a faction also named that. Guilty by association? I hope not. But is it worth constantly having these threads pointing it out and rehashing it? Well... that is hard to answer.

I find it tricky to weigh into discussions like this, because I have done more work on the Khalifate (lately at least) than anyone else. However, I did not conceive the faction and I don't really agree with all of the original choices. Be that as it may, the mandate I got from noy (who was the primary creator of the faction, with some help from others quite a while ago) was basically "try to keep the concept but tweak it and make it playable and interesting". I a fine with that mandate, as I would be rubbish at actually developing a faction concept - and I have tried to do that. As such, the name Khalifate is not a name I chose - in fact I resisted it and suggested other names, but this was an important choice to noy, and I can respect that. The faction concept is really not trying to bring out the Jihad aspects of Islam and really just using trying to use a historical name alongside other historically inspired names for the actual units. The whole project, as I understand it, is somewhat of a historical tribute to an interesting period of time with a nod to some of the more wonderful cultural aspects of Islam. Unfortunately, such topics are so charged that inevitably some of the less wonderful aspects and practitioners of that culture also become heated topics of debate.

Personally, I would be totally fine with a name change, as all I've been focused on these past years is tweaking an existing concept into something that can work. I don't really care about names, art or anything else. To quote one of the early developers, who was largely before my time:
"If gameplay requires it, they can be made to live on Venus." -- scott
I completely agree. All the fluff in the world is not going to make the Khalifate fun to play (at least, for me). The fluff is what we stuff in after to rationalize the choices that we made and kind of tie things together. Of course, many, many people disagree with me on that (please, no hate mail...), but that's my opinion. So naturally, I don't care a lick about things like the name of the faction. On the other hand, I really dislike making changes to things just because someone else is loud - especially if they are rude about it. I also really can't stand the notion that just because some terrorists exist somewhere and they happen to be Islamic extremists today, we can't talk about anything at all to do with Islam. It is a victory for those extremists if we can't even talk about ages old stuff in a fantasy game without neutering everything in the name of political correctness. And yet, I help police the MP server, and people spouting offensive stuff get banned. This is such a hot-button topic in our world today that merely having used a few words in our game is likely to spawn some extra spouting of hateful nonsense our our servers. That is not a good thing, but nor is it a good thing to censure ourselves without reason. I tend to dismiss the complaints that smack of blind rage or just because "I don't like it", and the more moderate (though IMHO somewhat sensible) grumbling hasn't been enough to warrant any change. That's basically where we stand now. Should we change the name? I can only shrug, as I don't know, and I can see pros and cons to both.

Moving forward and addressing the fit of the Khalifate in a fantasy setting, I don't think this is a long term problem at all, I think it's a problem largely with the fact that we don't have a campaign for them yet with a story tying them into the larger Wesnoth cannon. We have an old rough draft of history (more is around but not readily available) and art for some unique units, including a wyvern rider, to be used in campaigns. These things could easily be adapted to cement the Khalifate into a fantasy setting, but right now it just doesn't exist! Short version: They live on Venus, get over it.

I'll lurk. I'll ponder what gets said here, as I'm sure noy will too, but really I'm much more interested in the PM I got a few days ago with real feedback about how the Khalifate are not doing so well with higher level units in the more epic survival type games that are popular on the MP server. That's something I can take to the bank! This faction is not in default. It's not set in stone. I'm hopeful it will prove fun to play for a wide range of players and that as the development branch gets going we will continue to tweak it into something better yet. In the meantime, thanks for the feedback!
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by Xalzar » November 7th, 2014, 1:48 pm

Thank you Wintermute for showing up.
We are on the same wave of thought on most levels, and I really appreciate the clarity of your reply.
I particularly agree that the absence of a campaign favours the lack of appreciation some people show (and I think Drakes suffer for the same reason, but in a milder way because of the long time they have been in the game).

On a side note, maybe a compromise for the name could be the word "Khalifa" (rarely spelled as "Kalifa") which sometimes appears in some add-ons (and I personal prefer because of better sounding and brevity, but that's personal).

Maybe out of topic but I don't know where to ask: why the unit Khalid is named so? :hmm:
Khalid is apparently a common name or surname in Middle East regions, and not a title or something. The description in the unit is confirming that (it says that it was the name of a "leader of old").
Given that in the past we modified the name of some campaign characters (see Jessica>Jessene) in order to avoid using real-life names I wonder if I'm missing something... Or it is a play on the word Caliph? If it's the latter maybe the statual organization should be named "Khalidate" (ofc if really they are the leaders of their people and not simple elite warriors)... :hmm:

I think I really need to know the background of this faction to understand quite a few things... :doh:
(I know that there is a draft but it doesn't explore their culture very mush unfortunately)

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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by shadowm » November 7th, 2014, 9:25 pm

Xalzar wrote:Given that in the past we modified the name of some campaign characters (see Jessica>Jessene) in order to avoid using real-life names I wonder if I'm missing something...
That was a single person’s decision and it’s not a hard policy people need to adhere to.
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Re: Khalifate Era

Post by jb » November 7th, 2014, 9:50 pm

Wintermute
Guilty by association? I hope not. But is it worth constantly having these threads pointing it out and rehashing it? Well... that is hard to answer.
It reminds me of the Washington Redskins debate. At some point it might be a good idea to just change the name.
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