Saturday, June 25, 2022

QHW, Day 9: In-game Bestiary

 An interrogation of the intellectual travesty wrought about by Vickelstein upon the Humble Bullywug:

Vickelstein is a well-respected scholar, considered "The people's intellectual" by some, and a common source of the patronage of the Merchant Princes.  I am here to expose him for what he is, a fraudulent intellectual revolutionary, too weakened by his own self-inflicted neuroses to do any proper accounting of the events he describes.  And nothing could explain this better than his account of the Froglings, or the Bullywugs, as he refers to them.

"The Bullywugs are a race known for their cleverness and inventiveness, despite their relative lack of technology.  They live in small huts perfectly designed for their swampy homes, collapsible structures that are cozy and waterproof, easily able to be disassembled and put back together after being moved.  They have no metal, except what they can find."
Here Vickelstein begins one of his classic tactics, glorifying the primitive and the savage, elevating it over the civilized.  Vickelstein never once stops to carry this thought of his further.  If he loves the primitive so much, why does he go out of his way to avoid it so much?  Vickelstein is a scholar who almost exclusively spends his times with other academics and those of the gentle classes, who do not need to dirty their hands with labor.  This is as far from the brutal, short and nasty lives the Bullywugs or any other savage race lives, where life is a matter of scraping in the mud for subsidence and death is never far way.  

Instead, Vickelstein does this not to promote the actual idea of primitivism, or even pastoralism, but as an attack on those who he dislikes.  He further goes on to say:
"Unlike in more, developed, societies, for lack of a better word, the Bullywugs do not engage in commerce.  Instead they live among each other in harmony.  Each tribe acts as an extended family, giving to each other so that all needs are met.  None go hungry within these tribes, and all are cared for."
Vickelstein is not as clever as he seems.  He praises the lack of hunger and the unity of the Bullywug tribe, but he fails to note the greater context.  The Bullywugs do this because of social pressure and mutual interest, not because the primitive conditions create better men.  He seems to imply that you would be better off living in a tribe of swamp-dwelling hunter-gathers, but that is a ludicrous position to take, so Vickelstein merely implies it.  You look to those who are hungry on your street and wonder, "Why doesn't someone do something?"  Yet you should ask, "Why don't I do something?"  

Vickelstein has by-passed the question of personal responsibility in favor of creating a utopia out of his own fancies.  This is, again, an attack on civilization, specifically, ours.  He fails to mention the fact that should one Bullywug within the tribe go hungry or sick, it weakens the tribe.  And a weakened tribe will be gobbled up by a stronger one, or pushed into less desirable hunting grounds and left to languish into starvation and deprivation, which will only invite more attacks.  

He does not mention the Bullywug habit of destroying the clutches of eggs laid by females from rival tribes, the kidnapping of said females, or the cannibalism of captured warriors or any of the other countless brutalities that threaten the Bullywug.  

He does, however, mention their lack of marriage. 
"In Bullywug society, there is no need for marriage.  Instead, females are given the right to pursue any male of their choosing, even multiple males.  For access to her, all the males will couple with her and help her to raise her tadpoles when they are born.  It only makes sense that a female would, if given the option, choose multiple males instead of one.  Why not have the best warrior, hunter and story-teller instead of just one?"

Firstly, this is utter nonsense.  Any scholar worth his salt knows well enough that Bullywugs practice 'marriage' via kidnapping and rigidly enforce female chastity, to the point of scarring females and killing males who practice such crimes.  

I am unsure of how he arrived at this conclusion, but I suspect it has something to do with the rumors that Vickelstein was, let's say, indiscrete in his visitations of a young woman who was traveling with his research party while he went on his trip to study the Bullywugs, despite the fact that he was married at the time.  I will not repeat the sordid details here, there are publications where you can find such things, just know that there was probably much more on his mind than the behavior of this small tribe of Froglings over those six months in the Favan Bogs.   


  1. This is great. :) Really, I wonder how well would a whole bestiary written in this style work.

    1. That would be interesting, if less useful than a traditional one, as it mostly be a bunch of scholars sniping at each other instead of delivering useful information. Still, it could be cool.