(pre-comment: This was not written with Malphas in mind. This was not even written with In Nomine in mind. In fact, all I knew about the game when this was written [9/96] was a T-shirt I saw. However, when I was digging through my hard drive, I ran across this and thought it might be a workable example of how a Servitor of Factions might view his job.)
The Webs of Society
The society that we live in today, as well as almost any society that has existed in our history, is a complex construction, made up of a tremendous number of people, all interconnected in various and convoluted ways. The best analogy for this phenomenon is that of a spider's web, albiet an irregular pattern, instead of the orderly pattern of the natural web.
The purpose of the spider's web is to cover a wide area efficiently, in order to capture prey and to allow the spider to survive. The webs of a society fulfill a similar purpose, spreading to encompass as many people as possible, providing its members with a sense of connection, a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. The spider's web is spun of silk, delicate-seeming, yet one of the strongest materials in the natural world. A society is held together by strands of diverse types, and like silk, they are deceptively strong. However, in both cases, what affects one strand of the web sends repercussions throughout the entirety of the web, changing the nodes and possibly effecting a change in the overall pattern.
If one was to touch a single strand of a spider's web, the web itself will reverberate, alerting the spider itself to the disturbance. If you begin to touch upon the strands of society, there are also reverberations, although they are not as easily detectable, for most societies have no weaver, instead being the result of chaotic and random connections between its members.
Therefore, anyone who spends enough time watching a particular society assumes the role of the spider, watching the entire web for disturbances, and tracing them back to their cause. The understanding of the underlying connections grants the observer the ability to not only predict the most likely result of any actions within the web, but also the ability to manipulate these connections to their own ends. They can become the master of a particular society, merely by plucking at particular strands, and if necessary, severing them.
This is not a simple task; It requires an in-depth understanding of human behavior, as well as an almost unearthly patience. There is one simple premise, however, that provides a starting reference, a path that leads to a greater understanding of the human mind, and a glimpse at the countless threads that link a society together.
People, for the most part, desire acceptance. There are very few true loners in any society, and since these are disconnected from the web, they cannot truly be considered a part of the society at all. The majority of humankind, however, feels a constant need for reassurance, to feel accepted among the people of their choice. This desire has led to the increasing pigeonholing of society, as people will voluntarily label themselves in order to fit into their chosen niche easier. This is also an aspect of human nature that can be manipulated.
As society becomes more stratified, the varying strata become more and more specific, to the point where it is a simple matter to define any given group with a remarkable degree of accuracy. Having accomplished this, it is possible to adapt your own external persona to the point of acceptance, which allows one the ability to not only observe a sub-society firsthand, but also to manipulate it from the inside.
Given the time, anyone skilled in touching the strands of the web can assume nearly any position they want within a society, through judicious alliances and carefully considering the repercussions of their words and actions. Once in the desired position, these same skills can be turned towards bending the web, driving it in the direction desired, and achieving one's eventual goals.
There are two dangers in these practices. The first and most obvious is humankind's innate resentment towards being manipulated. If one's actions and motives are discerned, it can spell disaster, much as a severed strand can collapse an entire web. The best remedy to this is secrecy, which in turn requires a great deal of skill in deception, as well as the ability to work with all the extenuating circumstances of a situation.
The second inherent problem is more serious. Manipulating the fabric of a society invariably leads to one of two things. Either one will become engrossed in a society to the point where they are no longer objective, or they will become _too_ objective, detaching themselves both from the web they are touching, as well as mankind itself. They run the risk of becoming a total observer, intent on watching the interplay of the strands, rather than affecting them. This leads to the development of a cold, aloof personality, which (apart from certain circles) is not conducive to maintaining one's chosen place within the web. The strands built over time begin to collapse, and eventually the web will reject the person, reweaving itself around them.
Eric, Elohite of Orc
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