Setting with potential: Ireland 1795-1870

Following up on the spitballing I did for a videogame in the style of Assassin’s Creed set during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, there are a few more details and revisions to make to the general outline. The historical setting offers so much, and I love the idea of playing a game embracing the genres of action adventure, RPG, open world exploration, stealth and combat. Given that the Ubisoft series is – finally – bringing its unique brand of parkour & murder to the French Revolution, it seems timely to look at what my proposed, doubtless never-to-be-realised, game might offer…

The timeline of the story has been expanded; though 1798 will still be the main focus, the various insurrections, rebellions and uprisings in 1803, 1848 and 1867 will also be covered. This will mean at least 2, and possibly 3, people will have to be playable – it is simply impossible that one person could have taken part in all of them. The 3 characters will be tied together by blood -of the womb, rather than of the covenant – rather like the connection between Haytham Kenway and Ratonhnhakéton aka Connor in Assassin’s Creed III. Incidentally, the phrase, “Blood of the covenant is thicker than water of the womb” will have to be included somewhere in the dialogue!

The pike became symbolic of the 1798 rebellion. This was because they were easy for local blacksmiths to make, and were a necessity as firearms were relatively scarce in Ireland at the time. Such a scenario would be perfect for the sort of hand-to-hand combat that suits the type of game we’re looking at. Apparently, a cropped haircut was also emblematic, as those wearing such a barnet were invariably supporters of the revolutionary cause and were therefore known as ‘Croppies’.

Divisions among the insurrectionists also make for the sort of intrigue which could fit the Assassin/Templar conflict upon which Ubisoft’s series is based: The Defenders wanted wholesale land confiscation and redistribution, while the more bourgeois rebels merely aimed for a government like that of the Directory in France with little in the way of social change. By contrast, the Presbyterians predominantly from east of the river Bann were outright republicans demanding popular representation, free speech, equality and justice for all – the ideals of the French Revolution, in other words. It would be easy to see Templar assistance for the bourgeois leadership and Assassin intervention on the side of the Presbyterians, with both sides struggling for influence over the Defenders.

After reading up on the Defenders, it seems highly unlikely that a Protestant individual like my Methodist protagonist Gabriel Hogan would have made it into their highly sectarian ranks. In addition, after witnessing – and wholeheartedly supporting – the disappointed reaction to Ubisoft’s inability to offer a female avatar in their forthcoming AC: Unity, I am opting for a female main character. I have yet to come up with a firm name or backstory, but she will be a composite character drawn from contemporary accounts whose experiences and actions will fit some of those descriptions. For example, in ‘A Popular History of the Insurrection of 1798′ P.F. Kavanagh describes, “An amazon named Doyle, who marched with the insurgent army and bore herself as gallantly as the most courageous man”.

The player will see through the eyes of Doyle during the tumultuous events between 1795 and 1805, before taking control of her grand-daughter from 1845 to the climax of 1870 – which, presumably, will be the establishment of the Home Government Association by Isaac Butt.  Well…maybe not. It’ll be something suitably dramatic. The Manchester Martyrs were executed in 1867, so something drawn around that might have some resonance.

Anyway. That’s all the stream of consciousness erupting from my bonce has for now, it seems.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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July 4th: MARCH FOR THE LEFT TO FIGURE ITS SHIT OUT (AND/OR CALM THE FUCK DOWN)

[Originally posted here. Blogged with permission]

We need another day of action!
One more big wave will definitely get it done, even if the last one didn’t!


WE WILL ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING BURNING ISSUES:

  • DID THE INTERNET MAKE THE LEFT WORSE — WAS IT BETTER JUST NOT TO DISCUSS THINGS?

  • THE SAWANT VICTORY: ITS LESSONS, AND HOW TO CONTINUE IGNORING, DOWNPLAYING, AND AVOIDING ACTING ON THEM!

  • HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO JOIN OUR GROUP AND NOT ALL THOSE OTHER GROUPS?

  • WHEN IS THE NEXT WORLD LEFT CLIMATE SOCIAL GLOBAL FORUM CONVERGENCE CONFERENCE CONVENTION 2014?

  • WHY ARE WE STILL SO FUCKING SMALL? WASN’T OBAMA/THE RECESSION/OCCUPY/OUR SUPERIOR PROGRAMME & METHOD SUPPOSED TO FIX THAT?
  • WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EMPHASIZE OUR PETTY DIFFERENCES IN THE NEXT NEWS CYCLE & MOVEMENT FAD PHASE?

  • LET’S FACE IT, WE ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING, SO WE MIGHT AS WELL STOP THINKING

  • WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG SINGLE ISSUE? (AND HOW THE GROUP DEALING WITH IT IS TOTALLY NOT A FRONT GROUP)

  • WHY THE ONLY MOVEMENTS THAT MATTER ARE ONES THAT FIT A COOKIE-CUTTER FORMULA OF SENDING CONTINGENTS TO NATIONAL, SINGLE-ISSUE DEMONSTRATIONS

  • HOW EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR LIVES IS POLITICAL INHERENTLY, FROM SOCIALIZING TO WORK TO CULTURE, WHICH IS WHY WE ORGANIZE ONLY NARROWLY POLITICAL EVENTS AND NOTHING FUN, SOCIAL, OR OF BENEFIT TO OURSELVES

  • HOW DO WE STOP ALL 20 MEMBERS OF AMERICA’S FASCIST THREAT?

(REVOLUTIONARY DIRECT ACTION UNITED FRONT OBVIOUSLY!)

  • WHY IT’S STILL NOT TIME FOR A MASS PARTY, AND WON’T BE FOR THE NEXT FORESEEABLE 50 YEARS UNTIL AFTER ANTARCTICA MELTS

  • CONSENSUS VOTING: INCLUDING EVERYONE, EXCEPT PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIVES
  • LET’S KEEP ARGUING OVER SYRIA, UKRAINE, AND THE USSR, THAT IS DEFINITELY THE BEST STRATEGY FOR GROWTH
  • THE THREAT OF SOCIALIST UNITY: HOW HAVING FORTY DIFFERENT GROUPS MAKES US A STRONGER FORCE IN NATIONAL POLITICS
  • THE REVOLUTIONARY DUTY TO BURN YOURSELF OUT SO BAD YOU HATE EVERYONE AND BASICALLY CAN’T ORGANIZE
  • WHY DO WE CALL THEM PUBLIC MEETINGS IF ONLY OUR MEMBERS SHOW UP?
  • DIRECT ACTION: HOW A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE BREAKING SHIT WILL TRIGGER MASS REVOLUTION
  • WHY CISHET LABOR-ARISTOCRAT HETERONORMATIVE PRIVILEGED COLONIAL MALE PARASITES MUST BE PUT IN THEIR PLACE

Hope the pictures weren’t too crap.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Whence do the Blue derive their power?

Pretty much as soon as the War on Terror kicked off, the full spectrum of government agencies responsible for security found themselves reassigned. The FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF… You name it, they were on it. Which kinda left the homegrown threats – the mafiosi, militias, dealers, gangs – a little bit in the wind. That’s an understatement; they were totally free from monitoring and able to do as they pleased.

At first, this had no discernible consequence. You’d be amazed at how law-abiding crims can get if they have the common enemy of some foreigners to unite against…but this can only hold for so long. Eventually, anarchy will be loosed upon the world. In 2015, the dam burst.

The extent of the paralysis in the forces of law & order was shocking, particularly to those of us who had spent our lives within such organisations. One group in NY took hostage over fifty servicemen and women of the police and fire departments – essentially, to ensure a solid bargaining position should any of their number ever end up before a judge. That’s where I came in.

******************************************************************************

The bald guy with black sunglasses permanently affixed to his head seemed to be the Don. His assistant, with black slicked hair, a brown leather jacket and navy shirt underneath, seemed to be his main advisor and confidante. Ostensibly I was there as a member of an LA crew looking for tips and researching this successful business model – as in all matters with the underworld, I’d have to prove myself on some routine job first.

Basically, all I had to do was climb a ladder on a nearby building and whack two guys who, the slick crony said, had been eyeballing their HQ for the past week. I had no problem with this; murder may be against the law, but when you’re an undercover cop you accept that you’re gonna have to kill some crooks to save your own skin.

I get to the top and look in, and what do I find? Two badges – a John Leguizamo-lookalike and a tubby guy with a moustache and receding hairline. I manage to blurt out “NYPD!” and let off a couple shots at the wall behind ‘em, before making eye contact that – I hope – conveys just what the hell is going on to these completely confounded knuckleheads.

Back on terra firma, the shit hits the fan anyways. Things seem to go ok; no casualties, all the baddies down, happy days. We release the guys and girls held captive and get a lot of congratulatory slaps on the back for our troubles. Turns out that they’d been held just underneath the F-Train station at Giuliani Plaza, so we lead ‘em up to where the sun is shining an’ the birds are singing, and everything seems right with the world.

That’s when all hell breaks loose.

Baldy, minus the sunglasses and lookin’ considerably worse for wear, appears outta nowhere and gets off a couple of rounds, winging my partner. I put him down, but suddenly it seems that gunfire has erupted from fuckin’ EVERYWHERE, and people are going down all over the place. The NYPD guys react fairly quickly, getting their FDNY comrades to cover without much delay, but not before bodies are writhing around in agony and the wailing, along with the constant bark of shooting, is making for a hellish cacophony.

When I see who is firing, it takes my breath away. My partner, about twenty paces away taking cover behind some iron railings, gives me a look – he’s spotted ‘em too. Even now it seems so crazy, so unbelievable, that I hesitate to commit it to this affidavit. To have it in writing somehow makes it solid, whereas just in my memory I can justify it as some crazy nightmare, a hallucination, or a trick of the light. But I know what I saw, and I’m not alone.

The snipers opposite the Plaza that day were female officers of the LAPD. I am absolutely, 100% certain of this. There were two, side-by-side, firing from an oblong window on the fourth floor of the Blacktie building. Shots were also raining down from our side, on anyone who attempted to flee the plaza, but since this was coming from behind us and over our heads I have no way of knowing who this was.

So.

I managed – Fuck knows how – to reach the far side of the road separating the snipers from the plaza. There were bulletholes in all the storefronts, but it seemed like there was less fire coming in here. I ducked into a shop or two, and the patrons were in shock (unsurprisingly enough). It shames me now, but at the time I had no notion or interest in confronting the shooters – I was just running for my life.

After a while, the shooting stopped. I know a good number of us got away, because I’d spot them as they fled, eyes wholly consumed with terror. Coming back, making sure to keep myself hidden where possible, I could see more LAPD uniforms – on the streets this time. It was clear to me that they were trying to track down survivors, and I had a pretty good idea of what they would do if they found any.

I got the fuck outta there.

Before flagging a cab, I came across a protest of mainly African-Americans against the what they called the ‘inherent corruption’ of the police. It’s funny; I had always written off these do-gooders as cranks and ne’er-do-wells, but now…

Now I’m not so sure.

Sworn statement of Detective [IDENTITY WITHHELD] of the New York Police Department, 4/21/2016

Solidarity, brothers and sisters…ℵϒ

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Twitching Cannot Be Helped

Fluorescent lights a-flickering express a unique kind of atmospheric foreboding. So, of course, at this moment of nervous anticipation – heart beating far too rapidly, breath catching in the chest, sweat bursting from every pore, hairs standing on end all over my body – naturally, predictably, invariably, the Ward’s neon lights were flickering. As I had initially caught sight of the erratic illumination, the pathetic horror of the situation – and my circumstances – almost made me laugh.

Almost.

Frozen in my stride, I tore the cap from my head and furiously scratched the scalp underneath; an idiosyncratically-edgy action that my friends knew and laughed at. My friends… Fucking hell. Had any of them survived? Could I have saved any of them? Should I have tried?

The fact that some dodgy lighting was enough to stop me dead in my tracks was, frankly, a fairly solid indicator that my mates were probably better off without any puny assistance I could offer. In all honesty, had I been with them the likelihood is that I’d have somehow managed to get ‘em all killed.

You would think that I would have become used to the eerie silence after almost three hours of gingerly creeping around, wouldn’t you? Between the horrible absence of any sound and the nerve-jangling on-off, on-off of the overhead bulbs, it felt like I was a heart attack just waiting to happen. Heh… In a hospital, too – best place for it, right?

Funny, Lucy. Funny as a fucking funeral…which, coincidentally, if exactly where you’ll be headed damn soon if you don’t get a grip, pull your head outta your ass, and start searching the Ward for…well, for anyone. A Doctor would be nice. Wouldn’t say no to a Nurse. Not to be ageist, but a geriatric might be…a bit of a handicap.

Wait… Fuck, that was probably ableist as well. That’s the apocalypse for you; lowering standards across the board. What has the world come too? It’s a bloody disgrace, is what it is.

Right, that’s enough of that.

I set my jaw and clenched my fists down by my side. Tried to get my breathing under some kind of control – one deep inhale and exhale, two, three – and stared at the far end of the corridor. Finally, I began marching, with a purpose and confidence that I definitely did not feel. Any sort of activity lifts the spirits a teensy bit though. I placed a hand on each of the double-doors, and gently pushed.

That was when the screaming started.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Salva me ex Inferis

When you are on Divinorum, you see things. Your mind is consciously aware of this though, so you rationalise the more surreal, horrifying and unsettling images; it is ok, this is not happening. That guy repeatedly jabbing a syringe into his face? Just some fella taking a drink from a bottle. That lass trying to slice her wrist open with an abnormally-long nail? Just some girl toying with her bracelet. Your imagination has been taken over, sure…but you don’t have to be afraid. Just take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the sights.

Sometimes it can be a fun game to guess what exactly it is, in reality, that your mind is twisting into a grotesque parody. The first time I was on the drug, I watched two chirpy little kids cavorting with a human head – tossing it back and forth with giddy abandon. What, I asked myself, were they really playing with? A football, maybe. A basketball, perhaps. Any form of ball, really. Could be a doll, a bag of something… They might not even have been playing catch; they might have been flying a kite or simply playing tag, and my intoxicated mind feverishly filled in the rest.

I remember being quite proud of this hallucination, both of its chilling nature and of the creativity which had unleashed it, and conveyed this to my friends shortly afterwards. They seemed perplexed, which had me kind of miffed – I’d thought it was a pretty damn fine bit of tripping I’d just done, to be quite honest – and they were unduly fixated on the details of the two children. How old were they? What clothes were they wearing? What colour was their hair, their skin, their eyes…? On and on with tiresome questions. You’d swear that the human head was completely irrelevant.

It was not until I had properly detoxed that they deigned to tell me the truth: At no point, while we were enjoying our mutually drug-addled afternoon in the park, had there ever been any kids anywhere near us at all.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Alcohol-fueled Night Movie

It began with a raindance. Or, at least, that is the earliest part I can remember. A beaming caucasian man, wiggling his fingers high above his head (presumably to represent the pitter-patter of raindrops), as dark ominous clouds gathered in the skies above. England, clearly, were in need of some saving. Again. The mellifluous tones of Richie Benaud, the sort of unflustered commentator who could remain wry throughout the ending of the world, confirming that, yes, the cricket was done. For today at least. All three results possible but, as evidenced by the gormless fellow’s grin, a draw looking ever more likely.

An enigmatic, rotund, bald figure gazed down on the scene from the window of his private jet. Not the sort you would see now – this vision was apparently of the far future, as you will soon recognise – but an impressively large airliner. Nonetheless, despite its increased capacity, there were only a dozen or so people on board. All were his employees, but at first it seemed improbable that such an individual could afford or merit such high-class accoutrements. He was constantly talking, dictating via some sort of wireless communication to a far-away underling, logging his report on the match, the country, the mood. Zeitgeist filler. Why did his musings hold such import?

As he droned on, so did his lavish aircraft. Presently, the weather’s turn began to impact more than merely the sporting occasion below. The pilots gave eachother brief nervous looks before deciding that, even though their master was never to be interrupted, this was surely the kind of exceptional circumstance that made such a rule obsolete. Walls came from the sky, making further forward progress impossible. They would have to turn back. Suddenly, they were in real trouble. As terrifying as the prospect was, they would have to try landing on the motorway, close to the cricket ground.

Even now, the passengers and crew are fairly confident. They’re in for a bumpy ride, of course, but nobody really doubts that they’ll make it out alive. The head honcho worries more about what this will do to his portfolio and reputation than any physical danger he might actually be in. The pilots are the best of the best. Naturally. Even in these trying conditions, they will bring the plane down. They do. Once the aircraft touches down though, disaster immediately strikes.

The left wing collides with the support structure of an overpass and is torn clean off. The airplane, hurtling along the mercifully-deserted highway, begins to rotate towards the sports ground. More flotsam and jetsam, more debris, more shrapnel is sheared from the plane and thrown in all directions as the main body smashes through the boundary walls and crosses the boundary proper. For the briefest of moments, having slid to a halt in the covers, the jet is still. They seem to have made it, basically intact.

Then the plane explodes.

Days later, as footage is replayed on an endless loop on every screen across the country and on many more around the world, the loss of life stands at an impossibly-high 500. A cricket score of  death. Nobody seems to know how this can be, given that the stadium was almost empty at the time, the aircraft only had between 10 and 20 aboard, and the responding firefighters – who suffered heroically in trying to quell the conflagration – did not have anywhere near those numbers on the scene.

There is definitely something wrong with this picture.

The rotund, self-important and fatally self-assured individual, it transpires, was the heir to the throne. A journalist by vocation, granted, but a man of opulence by birth. The only son of William V. In a world of Kings and Queens, 500 might lose their lives but only 1 really matters. Prince George is dead. There is no more appetite to continue the Royal line – he was not particularly liked anyway. The Monarchy is briefly revered and remembered, with festivals and ceremonies to commemorate its ‘greatest’ moments and members…and then…

It’s gone.

500/1.

Any takers?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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There is only ‘Ours’

“Aquinas or Müntzer?”

“Does it matter?”

“You’re right, fuck it.”

We probably shoulda had a little bit more interest in getting the basics right – the origins of the ideas etc – but have a little sympathy; we’d been up about twenty hours straight when the above exchange took place. It was 5 in the morning, and this project – pamphlet, really – we’d been given the job of completing by the following day had turned out to be a lot more of a pain in the arse than either of us had anticipated.

“Can we get historical materialism in here somewhere?”

“It’s barely more than a fucking leaflet, how do you expect us to just drop that in without any explanation?”

“You’re treating people like morons!”

“You’re treating them like adjunct professors!”

“Fine… Fair enough… Just thought it’d be a bit weightier than the usual shite.”

“It will be.”

Omnia Sunt Communia. Everything in Common. That’s the loose translation anyway. I never did Latin in school, so I don’t know the exact meaning. The most I understand is the odd phrase, like Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria Mori or Victoria Concordia Crescit. Still, what little I know does make me slightly doubtful about the grammar – shouldn’t it be Omnia Communia Sunt? Jesus, this must be the tiredness talking. Glad I didn’t mention it to Richie; after all the work we’d put in, it probably woulda sent him over the edge. You’d find him days later, huddled in a corner and stuffing scrunched-up wastepaper into his mouth, weeping and wailing about the Peasants’ Revolt.

“Promotion of a new Egalitarian Society?”

“Check.”

“Repudiation of divisive individualist notions such as Private Property and Enclosure?”

“Bingo.”

“Medieval Commons, Mongolian pastures, Maine fisheries, Nepalese forests, Mexican Acequia?”

“Yup.”

“Digital Commons?”

“Obviously.”

Trying to distil a vast, complex and often contradictory ideology into what was essentially the equivalent of two A4 pages worth of information was, to put it mildly, a nightmare. If I’d known the task would be this draining and frustrating ahead of time, there’s no way I’d have agreed to do it. Richie though, he’d have done it. It’s just that he’d have done it totally half-assed. I guess that’s why I was following through; most of the time, when it came to responsibility, I’d volunteer to do something, procrastinate the shit out of it, and ultimately not do it. Hey, I’m not proud of it – it’s just what happens – but there’s something in me that says it’s better not to do something than to do something badly. With Richie on this as well, my options were to knuckle down and make it as decent as possible, or avoid it and see what shite he came up with. Fuck that.

“There is no ‘Yours’, there is no ‘Mine’… There is only ‘Ours’?”

“…Yeah. Yeah, fuck it, that’ll do.”

“Jesus, thank fuck that’s over.”

“What about the illustrations?”

“Bollocks to the illustrations, nobody ever said we had to do that. They know neither of us can draw. You know Photoshop?”

“Not really.”

“Well then.”

Solidarity, brothers & sisters… 

“The government we have gives freedom and livelihood to the Gentry, to have abundance and to lock up Treasures of the Earth from the poor, so that rich men may have chests full of Gold and Silver, and houses full of Corn and Goods to look upon; and the poor that works to get it, can hardly live, and if they cannot work like Slaves, then they must starve…”
- Gerrard Winstanley, ‘A New-Yeers Gift for the Parliament and Armie’, 1650

 

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