Part 2: Forming a More Perfect Union
Chapter 2: Forming a More Perfect Union
The initial movements of the Novistranan Coalition were to be found in the unions. Piotr Prokofiev's parents, according to the surviving records from Kasarov's regime, were dyed-in-the-wool Marxists despite their middle-class background and were staunch supporters of unionizing during the Seventies and Eighties. Their involvement in rallies and workers' rights marches were to result in tragedy, however, as Vasily Karasov himself oversaw their abduction and imprisonment in the Ministry of the Interior in Berezina. Neither was ever seen again.
Prokofiev, by all accounts, grew up in an environment which was constantly defending the unions and debating the merits of Marxism against the merits of capitalism. Even as a teenager he grew up with strong ideals of helping the working class topple the bourgeois and elite societies that oppressed the lower classes. When he was a student at the High School of Ekaterine he distinguished himself as a popular speaker and a young man with an innate sense of presence. Philosophy and the Communist Manifesto were his bread and butter.
When Karasov arrested Prokofiev's parents, the desperate young man decided to save what money he could salvage and decided to study abroad in Moscow. It is thought he met his mentor, Tresori Vilnov, there. While others would have decided to go underground or even flee the country altogether, it was clear that Prokofiev had vengeance in mind since the beginning, but to overthrow a government would require knowledge in replacing it.
When Prokofiev graduated from the University of Moscow with honors, the young man turned his attention to tracking down literature that the Soviet Union and the Western world agreed was considered subversive and prohibited to be owned by the common citizen. In many of his early writings, Prokofiev stated that the Special Forces Urban Survival Handbook used by paramilitary groups and KGB agents was a must to anyone who would strike at a dictatorship. "Survival in today's Novistranan city," Prokofiev was fond of saying, "is harsher than survival in the mountain winters."
When Novistrana broke away from the Soviet Union and defined its borders politically rather than culturally, Karasov was there to declare himself President. His expansion of the Secret Police was thinly disguised as the Citizen Watching groups that sprang up in every Novistranan city. Prokofiev later confessed, without regret, to a firebombing of the leader of Ekaterine's citizen watch group's house. With the help of some associates, the man had decided to strike violently at Karasov's resources even before the Novistranan Coalition was born.
In the well-documented Novistranan economic crash of 1994, Prokofiev turned to his friends in the unions and stirred them to hold a charity for those worst affected by the economic ills. In a somewhat cynical move, Prokofiev encouraged the unemployed to join the unions of his choice "as a charitable favor in return", he would write.
While in Pugachev, Prokofiev witnessed a ragtag leftist group of university students spring a rally to protest a measure of phone-tapping every home in Novistrana to help Karasov's secret police in the know. Prokofiev lent his charisma and presence to the group's aid, and while his speeches eventually helped these students form into the now-deceased Organized Anarchy faction, many of the listeners decided to join the man instead of the group.
In a greedy move that Prokofiev justified as "striking back at the bourgeois and the oppressive monied elite", he and his associates made a daring midnight heist on the home of Sergei Bellic, then-Mayor of Ekaterine. Many of the precious metal goods were melted down for scrap in factories that were in the know, and while he named no names, Prokofiev would write that the unions would sleep well for the coming winter months now that they had caught up on back pay.
While working in a car manufacturing plant as a cover to gain more support for his burgeoning faction, Prokofiev was reportedly approached by a worker who had turned his back on his union and was threatening to expose Prokofiev's plans if he did not pay for his silence. Prokofiev's payment came in the form of the worker's ex-union friends breaking both of his arms and crippling a leg permanently. Prokofiev then paid the man's family, explaining it was "severance pay".
When Prokofiev's name was more well-known rather than just another rabblerouser and he gained a larger following, he became suspicious that many of his recruits were associated with the police or businesses. Prokofiev took the approach of trusting only those who already trusted the recruit, explaining that between the poor and the working class, your word is the only currency worth anything.
When it became clear that the Novistranan Coalition was going to become a reality, Prokofiev had an old acquaintance from the University of Moscow design a logo for his faction. The wreath with a star in its center represented unity led by the forces of the strong, and it was visually reminiscent of Novistrana's symbol, a lit torch atop a wreath of its own. Solidarity, even in the face of great evil, was necessary for all Novistranans.
I would have also held a vote for logos, but I think that the wreath-and-star is the coolest one. Do not argue with me, because you are wrong.
Prokofiev made no mistake that his journey would not be an easy one. In fact, with Karasov's increasingly autocratic policies and the Secret Police acting stronger than ever to clamp down on anything seen as subversive, Prokofiev believed the entire struggle would be very difficult, but ultimately triumphant.
I don't think difficulty makes THAT much of a difference in this game, to be quite honest. Besides, higher difficulties make enemy factions attack you more often not just in support, but they also use character weakening actions a bit more.
Prokofiev knew that the coming struggle would not be insurmountable. Before and during his campaign, Prokofiev was fond of stating his ideology at least once in every essay and once in every speech as a cornerstone of belief. "Those with the will survive", he would note or reply when told that his attempts to overthrow Karasov were impossible.
Novistranan Coalition Dossier - Piotr Prokofiev: Faction Leader (The Novistranan Coalition)
Piotr Prokofiev witnessed the violent arrest of his parents in front of his own home when Vasily Karasov was the local head of the Ekaterine Secret Police. He has vowed to topple Karasov's dictatorship by using strong arms and whatever force he could muster.
The purpose of the ten questions at the start of the game do more than just affect your initial ideology in the game. They also determine your protagonist's initial stats. The first four stats can be leveled up as you play the game by performing actions, and the higher the stat is, the more powerful the action will be.
Status is the social standing, wealth, and prestige of a character. It is very important for Wealth-oriented actions and may also play a role in some Strengthen Character actions.
Control is a character's intellectual ability in terms of scheming, strategy, and manipulation. It's an important skill for all ideologies, at least in the start, because it's the sole stat that influences Knowledge Gathering and Misinformation actions.
Charisma is a character's intellectual persuasiveness and natural charm. It is the most important stat for Influence-oriented actions, and many Support Gathering actions need a good charisma stat to be really effective.
Presence is a character's physical prowess and leadership skills. It's the bread-and-butter stat for Force-oriented actions. I haven't seen it in play in other ideologies' actions much.
Resolve is a character's commitment to their beliefs and way of life. This is a special stat that cannot be leveled up like the others, but instead it is raised and lowered by Strengthen and Weaken Character actions. Think of it as a character's faith in their ideology. When it's high, the character does his job well, gains positive modifiers to actions, and is harder to recruit by other factions. When it's low, the character's faith in the faction is wavering and he is more likely to get recruited by another faction or leave a faction altogether.
* * *
Piotr Prokofiev's Diary - Third Entry: 17/02/1996
After considering my needs and the plights of Ekaterine, I have decided to tap Josef Nasarov as my second-in-command. We see eye to eye quite well, and his attempts to get his co-workers to unionize speak directly to my plans. I'm not sure whether he has heard of what I've done for the proletariat, and I don't know how much Marx he has in his head, but we do agree on one thing: the bourgeoisie must be swept aside so that the workers will prevail!
Karasov's takeover of the nation has been more than freedom-limiting and tyrannical, it has spelled the slavery of the working class. Unemployment plagues the truly unfortunate, labor and jobs are becoming scarcer and scarcer, and the hard workers that have made this nation what it was during the Cold War have truly been saddled with the yoke of the parasitical rich. My goal is more than revenge for myself: it is to avenge all Novistranans whose dignity and worth have been lowered to that of a draft animal's!
Semyon Titov may have made a good friend to draw the more enlightened of the bourgeois to our rule, but despite his background as a farmer, I doubt he knows the true hell that has befallen our comrades in the factories and the fields. And Boris Filatov? Hah! I was a fool to think that the son of a millionaire who makes his wealth plundering the labor of the poor would ever turn to our aid. My mind is clear. My friend, no, my comrade, Josef, will be my right hand man in the Novistranan Coalition.
* * *
"Josef, my old friend!"
Josef Nasarov, a strong-backed and strong-armed man whose calloused hands and bulky muscles strained under his work shirt as proof of years of hard labor, was surprised that he recognized the voice so quickly. As he was walking towards the Shubnoi Industrial Cannery for his early afternoon shift, he turned and faced someone he hadn't seen in close to ten years.
Piotr Prokofiev, his old school and lifetime friend, was flagging him down with a wide grin on his face.
The two men gave each other a bear hug. With his mind taken away from the boiling heat and the blaring sounds he was accustomed to every day, the leathery union worker smiled in genuine happiness at seeing an old friend.
"Piotr!" the big man laughed, grabbing Prokofiev by the shoulders and looking into his eyes. "Well I'll be damned, you look just as youthful before you left us for Moscow!"
"And you're still the ugly and muscly bastard I left ten years ago!" Piotr replied with a wink, slapping the big man on his chest. "I've returned to Ekaterine only today!"
"Then we must celebrate tonight with vodka and my best borscht, else some pretty young thing whisk you away from us again!" Narasov was now in high spirits, the day's work at the cannery now pushed out of his mind. "Will you join me now in a quick nip?"
"Actually, if you wouldn't mind, old friend," Prokovief said with a more serious tone and frowning slightly, "I would rather we talked for longer than a shot of vodka."
Nasarov, seeing the intensity in Prokovief's eyes, nodded. "Give me ten minutes. I'll go speak to my pal in the cannery and let them know to cover for me. How about we meet each other at the Commissar Fried Chicken?"
Despite the serious nature they were going to discuss, Prokofiev couldn't help but smile again. "The Commissar's still open?"
"And still cooking the birds in diesel oil," Nasarov chuckled, shaking his head. "Let me treat you to lunch. We have a lot to talk about, it seems."
"More than you know, Josef," Prokofiev nodded. "More than you know."
* * *
"Glad you could spare the time, comrade," Prokofiev said as he shook Nasarov's hand in a firm grip.
"I will not work my hands and my back when a good friend visits me," Nasarov stated with a sense of pride.
"I'm happy to hear it, Josef. Let's take a seat?"
"Lead the way, Piotr," Nasarov motioned to the restaurant and allowed his friend to walk ahead.
"Let's sit in the courtyard, away from the street, even if everyone is attracted to the Commissar's grease," Prokofiev suggested with a grin. "We need a little bit of privacy."
"Of course, comrade," Nasarov nodded as he picked out a table near the rear of the courtyard. "This is a good spot... far away from the street but not so close to the apartments behind us."
"Good, good. We may be here a while, so let's order some food," Prokofiev said as he took his seat.
"And the vodka!" Nasarov laughed. "Wait here, I'll be back in a moment."
Nasarov entered the store as Prokofiev took out his diary and began to write in it. The smell of cooking grease assaulted his nostrils as it spewed from the smokestack just above him, but he had smelled and felt much worse in the many factories, manufacturing plants, warehouses, and canneries he had visited and worked in the past ten years.
He's still got the ears of the workers, that's good, Piotr thought as he concluded the entry and began to plan a schedule to explore the political landscape in Ekaterine. Maybe I'll need to keep away from an overly political slant if I want to convince Josef.
Josef returned outside after a couple of minutes carrying a tray with two plates of fried chicken and a few sorry-looking greens, two shot glasses, and a bottle of cheap-but-potent Novistranan vodka. Prokofiev stood to take his plate and cup while Nasarov arranged his own plate.
"So tell me what it is you have in mind, Piotr," Nasarov prompted as he poured the bottle of vodka between them.
"I want to overthrow Karasov's government."
Nasarov paused mid-pour, staring at his friend and frowning as if he didn't understand what he had heard. "What was that, comrade?"
"I said, I want to overthrow Karasov's government," Prokofiev repeated, crossing his arms.
Narasov put the bottle down, still frowning at Prokofiev, then began to laugh. "Oh, that's a good one, Piotr! For a moment I thought you were serious!"
"I am deadly serious, Josef," Prokofiev continued, picking up his glass of vodka and raising it towards his friend. "And I want you to join me."
"What, you want me to... You really mean it, don't you?" Nasarov muttered, his eyes unreadable. "You actually plan on toppling that madman's regime."
"For too long the working people of Novistrana have been pulled around like cattle and discarded just as easily, Josef," Prokofiev began to argue, lowering his glass of vodka. "The rich and their supporters in the middle-class have taken over the means of production far too long, and now Karasov shows up to twist the thorn. I've had enough."
"But what can we do against Karasov? We're only two people."
"Wrong," smiled Prokofiev, calculating, plotting. "We're two of a multitude. I've already got a number of contacts here in Ekaterine. How else did I know where to find you, or that you were planning to give another speech about joining the Food Packers Union?"
"Heh, you always did have the most brains out of the four of us," Nasarov said. "But I'm more worried about union membership and not letting management ride us roughshod, Piotr. Switching to capitalism hasn't helped us much from communism."
"That's just it, though," Prokofiev argued, downing his first cup of vodka. "I argue that we had it better under communism, when at least those fat, soft men were controlled by a form of authority. Now, they all but practically run Novistrana with Karasov at the helm. Comrade," Prokofiev paused here to take a bite out of his fried chicken, "we can unionize everything in Novistrana tomorrow, and it will be in name only. We, the workers, will still be slaves."
"Look, I understand where you're coming from, I do," Nasarov explained, eating his chicken and drinking his vodka thoughtfully. "But many of the people I work and talk with are scared, Piotr. They don't want to risk themselves for an ideal."
"And unionizing isn't an ideal?" Prokofiev pointed out, nodding at Nasarov a couple of times as he poured himself and his friend another shot. "They are scared because no one is sticking their neck out on the line. I am willing to do that. Have you heard of the Novistranan Coalition?"
"What of it?" Nasarov asked, helping himself to another shot.
"I am its leader," Prokofiev smiled. Nasarov nearly choked on his vodka.
"You!? But you've been away from Ekaterine all these years! I always thought it was Roman that--"
"Roman is a friend of mine, politically that is," Prokofiev admitted. "He helps keep an eye on this, but he is weak in his beliefs to the proletariat and is far too willing to sell out to his bourgeois masters. I need someone dependable, someone trustworthy, someone who can stand tall for the rights of the laborer and worker. I need you, Josef."
"But... me?" Josef sputtered. "Piotr, I'm not you."
"No, you're not," Prokofiev shook his head, and then smiled. "You're you. You are Josef Nasarov, the voice of the worker, the body of the laborer, the mind of the proletariat. We always talked about starting a movement, Josef. I now sit here and offer you to join me in making the worker's paradise a reality in Novistrana."
Nasarov licked his lips free of chicken grease in a mixture of anxiousness and anticipation. By god, Piotr really means it! he thought. I may be able to help Ekaterine... No, all of Novistrana, if we can pull it off!
"I know you may be concerned about wages, comrade," Prokofiev said, pulling out a sheet of paper from a manila envelope. "If you join the Novistranan Coalition as my second-in-command, you will earn three times your wages, and I will be able to provide benefits to all of those in your union."
"You have resources for that?" Josef burst out, astounded.
"That, and much more besides," Prokofiev replied, holding out the contract and a pen. "But only if you are able to help me. Will you do it, Josef? Will you stand up alongside me to face Karasov and his parasitic, anti-freedom cabal? Will you stand for your friends, for your motherland, and for me?"
Nasarov paused, staring at the contract but not reading it. Thoughts tumbled through his head as the implications of what Prokofiev said began to unfold. After a couple of seconds of staring, he reached for the pen and the contract, scratching his signature on the bottom.
"There. It's signed."
"Thank you, Josef," Prokofiev spoke in a low voice, putting the political contract back in the manila envelope. "This means a lot to me, and it will mean much more for Novistrana."
"How long have you been building towards this coalition?" Josef inquired, the rush of the signature making him heady as he poured the last cups of vodka for himself and... now, his new boss.
"Ever since my parents..." Prokofiev's voice trailed off. Nasarov shook his head and passed his friend the cup of vodka.
"It's all right, comrade. We have all lost something because of Karasov. Perhaps what happened was what was needed to move you to act on our comrades' behalf," Nasarov explained sagely shortly before gulping his glass down. "I have agreed to join you not only because Novistrana, the nation, needs a savior, but because all of us do."
"...Heh, you still got it, Josef," Prokofiev smiled, raising his own glass. "To Novistrana!"
"And to the people," Nasarov nodded, clinking the empty bottle of vodka with Prokofiev's glass.
Having downed his own glass, Prokofiev stood up and grasped his old friend's hand warmly. Now Nasarov wasn't only a friend or a comrade anymore, he was a brother-in-arms. They pumped their hands once, hugged, and left the restaurant after Nasarov left some roubles behind.
"We have a lot to do," Prokofiev began as they made their way back to their apartment complex, "and you will help me get it done."
* * *
This is the conversation mini-game in Republic: The Revolution. It's actually a pretty fun mini-game, if overly simple and sometimes damned annoying when the AI manages to read your play. The goal is to hit the point threshold (in this picture, 42) as you "attack" your target with your arguments. Before the "battle" actually begins you need to allocate argument points to your four arguments (I had 14 points in this particular conversation) while your opponent does the same. During the conversation, you choose to play an argument against your opponent's. If your argument is better than his, you gain that round's point value (usually 5, 10, 15, 20 points in that order). If his argument is better or equal to yours, he gets that round's points. This repeats itself 8 times until a winner is declared. After four rounds have been played, you get to see what your opponent's arguments and their values are in order to better strategize your attack.
The best way I found to play this game is to allocate 0 points to one argument (Self Deprecate), 1 point to the next (Ego Boost), and make the last two worth the rest of your pool points in order to win the important rounds. This can backfire if your opponent has roughly the same number of points as you do, because they can do it too! If you fail a "decisive" conversation mini-game, your attempt to recruit, strengthen, or liaise with a character also fails and you waste that chance. Fail too hard, you lose Resolve. Beat them soundly, you get a nice Resolve bonus. Levels and Resolve matter in this mini-game: the greater the level and Resolve difference between the two parties, the more difficulty one side will have over the other.