Podcast

48 – Politics in Urban Fantasy

The Mythcreant Podcast

Mike, Chris, and Oren discuss politics in modern genre settings. They question how Hogwarts is funded, debate government involvement in Buffy, and wonder about the jurisdiction of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes

Masquerade

Angel

Welcome to Nightvale

Hogwarts

Dresden Files

Lost Girl

Being Human

True Blood

Daybreakers

The Rook

October Daye

Marvel Universe

Agent Carter

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Stargate

Daredevil

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Comments

  1. AndrewR

    Dresden Files: The problem isn’t that Wizards stop being human or caring about them when they discover their power it is that the White Council has rules. They are a signatory to the Unseelie Accords and so must allow a certain level of predation by monsters or risk outright warfare (see ‘Grave Peril’ and onward). They also have strict non-interference rules regarding purely mortal affairs since every attempt by wizards to get involved ended horribly, usually with the wizards involved breaking one or more Laws of Magic and having to be executed. Injin Joe (Speaks with Wind) might have wanted to defend his people but it would be too easy to use his magic kill someone in retaliation for a massacre, or mind control people into leaving his tribe alone, etc. This is one reason why they seem so disconnected from humanity despite mostly growing up human. Harry, of course, thinks all this is BS but even he is careful about how he skirts the rules.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I actually don’t remember the Accords mentioning any kind of limits on Vampires and the like feeding on humans, so long as those humans aren’t wizards. Was that brought up in the books somewhere? the last one I read was Changes. I do recall the Black Court being wiped out, but that seemed more about the threat they posed because their numbers grew so quickly.

      • AndrewR

        O.k. maybe there isn’t a place that specifically talks about vampires but in ‘A Restoration of Faith’ a troll tells Harry to back off when he tries to stop him eating Faith because the Unseelie Accords list ‘naughty children crossing bridges’ as a permitted food source for trolls. I just extrapolated that other creatures that fed on humans had similar limits and permits on their feeding under the Accords.

        As for the Black Court they are endangered more by the fact that ‘Dracula’ is a how to guide to killing them (‘sponsored’ by the White Court) than anything else. It turns out ‘using mortals to do your dirty work’ is specifically permitted by the Accords. (Hence the ‘Faerie’ Knights)

  2. Kappi

    Dresden Files:
    I got the impression the White Council simply doesn’t have the resources to combat and police Vampire hunting of humans. They get into a war with just one (of 3 or 4 total courts?) that heavily taxes their resources. They do help, but in ways that are subtle, such as the “Dracula” publication. Although I doubt the White Council did it with the intention of protecting humans, but really to just keep the Black Court in check.

    I don’t recall if the Unseelie Accords has restrictions on how vampires (or other supernatural predators) feed. My understanding is it was more a set of agreed rules on how these different organizations (White Council, Red Court, Winter Fey, etc.) all openly interact with each other and resolve disputes.

    A few times in the Dresden Files, humans are mentioned as being the “nuclear weapon” of the supernatural world. The implication is that if the human governments and population of the world became publicly aware that vampires, wizards, and fey exist, (and that they feed on humans) that one or more of these groups would be wiped out by humans out of fear. Humans far outnumber the supernatural community and are a threat just through pure numbers.

    I’m sure there are other factors that inform and dictate the supernatural politics in the Dresden Files, but those a few I thought of while listening to the podcast. Anyways, I recently found Mythcreants and have been greatly enjoying the site and the podcast. I’m a currently a DM for a Star Wars: EotE game, and I’ve found several of the articles and podcasts helpful. Thanks for putting out some great content.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Glad you’re enjoying the show, hope that Star Wars game is going well. How do you like the advantage/disadvantage symbols on the dice?

      You’re right that the Council on its own does not have the resources to fight all the various supernatural entities out there, but here’s something to consider: why does the White Council fear mortal involvement so much?

      If humans found out they lived in a world of demons and vampires and fey, is it really likely they would look at the other humans who can shoot fire out their hands and say “You guys have got to go.” Seems to me that an alliance would quickly be in order. Mortals have the one thing the Council lacks, after all, numbers. And cruise missiles. Mortals also have cruise missiles.

      There’s also the question of how things got to be the way they are in the first place. Supernatural creatures have been around for a long time, and it would seem like old timey humans would flock around their local wizard (See: Shooting fire out of their hands) to defend them against all the hungry beasties.

      It’s just very strange to me that only Dresden, of all the wizards we meet, seems really motivated to do anything about all the human-eating that goes on. Certainly someone like the Merlin might consider themselves different than other humans, greater and above them, but you’d think other wizards would have a problem with it.

      • Kappi

        I like the Advantage/Threat system quite a bit. I feel it adds more flavor to the role playing. Rather than just saying ‘you failed” or “you succeeded”, I can say “Well, you sliced the database and got the information that you wanted. Unfortunately you tripped an alarm and the compound has dispatched a droid security team to the terminal you’re working on.” Having the dice prompt you for a side effect helps me as a GM be more descriptive and dynamic. Additionally, it helps make even failed checks fun for the player. Occasionally I have trouble coming up with an effect on the fly, but to help with that I just try to plan the side effects ahead of time. Overall I like the Edge of the Empire dice system better than the static bonuses from D&D / Pathfinder, which are the only other rule sets I’ve played.

  3. Claire

    SHIELD in the Marvel comics universe flips back and forth between a UN backed organisation and a purely American operation. Like many things, it tends to vary depending on the time and the writers involved.
    If memory serves, around the 90’s it learned more UN-backed before becoming becoming more deeply rooted with the American government around 9/11, where it’s largely stayed since. The Ultimate Marvel universe (which the movies also draw on) takes this one step further and says is a purely American armed forces operation.

    The Cinematic Universe established the SSR as being an joint-Allies project. It’s possible that SHIELD continues that trend, being a superhero/alien equivalent of NATO, in theory an international organisation but with america having the biggest input and say.

    Also, SHIELD was never secret in the MCU. They have their name plastered on the sign outside the building Loki destroys in the first Avengers.

    As for the Security council, there were two non-western members, the Indian Councilman Singh and Chinese Councilman Yen. Councilmen Rockwell (old bald dude) and Hawley (the women Black Widow impersonates) were in the original Avengers film and the only ones with speaking roles, which is probably why they came back.

    Aside for all that useless info, I’ve got nothing else to contribute but still loving the show

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Far from useless, I’d honestly forgotten a lot of that. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Kim

    Loved this podcast! Would love more of the subject too as Urban Fantasy is my favorite genre and I love exploring the political systems in it.
    For the MCU, I read a Cracked article that pointed out the humans in the MCU aren’t like those in the real world, they’re incredibly apathetic. If you watch the movies back to back, you realize Loki being taken away in the middle of New York happened days (I think) after he almost destroyed the city, and the people in the background? Not even a blink, no protests, no nothing. Personal head-canon is that’s why “normal” people like Hawkeye and Black Widow can be superheroes, they’re not apathetic like the actual normal populace of that universe.

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