Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Serendipity


So I was re-reading The Musashi Flex, because Siblings of the Shroud is a direct sequel and I need to remember what I said. And I came across a throwaway reference to the Enforcers -- the people who deal with Flex players who violate the rules of the game.

Huh, I thought. There's an interesting idea. How skilled does an Enforcer have to be? I wondered. Given as how they are the ones who take out expert martial artists who need to be taken out, I'd expect they'd have to be fairly adept.

Opened up a whole new line of wonder, that notion.

And as a result of coming across that bit, we'll see at least one of those as a character in the upcoming book.

30 comments:

Stan said...

Very interesting point. I always thought that the enforcers had the "power of the system;" e.g., if a player failed to follow the rules as the enforcer interpreted them, he/she was either dead, brain dead or shunned by the flexer community. Additionally, there is no rule that the enforcers have to work independently, unlike the flex challenges.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

I was wondering the exact same thing - How would those bastards work? I imagined something like a group, who hunted in a pack and did the work with paralysis darts, or something.

Also, the backbone of the Flex is that, to quoth the wise man, "Somewhere, someone keeps track of it all". To what end? High-stakes all-in, house odds gambling at an elite casino on Thompson's Gazelle? Why keep a record, and for decades - Or hundreds of years - unless you had some ordained purpose?

Gaah, I'm just blathering. At least I'm off Boba Fett.

laird said...

Hmm. Don't know if this sort of thing is helpful or not, but I was immediately reminded of P.T. Deutermann's novel "Sweepers", in which the malevolent antagonists are the government's assassin-assassins.

Stan said...

depending on how you want to portray them you could use either maxim: "just because we enforce the rules doesn't mean we're bound by them;" or, in order to enforce the common rule, you sometimes have to invoke the higher rule."

Then there's always the Universal Golden Rule....

Stan said...

Actually, I hadn't thought about it, but presumed the enforcers were flexers who recognized when it was time to cash in their chips and get out of the game...while they could!

Stan said...
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Stan said...

Wouldn't it truly suck if an enforcer was a flexer wanna-be, with a grudge, penis envy, or a religious fanaticism to the memory of Musashi?

Ian SADLER said...

I was thinking along similar lines to Stan's 2nd comment.

Old flexers never die, they just become re-enforced....

Might be an interesting way for Weems to make a cameo, after all some one has to lead that merry band.

I guess one point is that the players 'submit' to an analysis, part of the process could see them bound. Easy to 'fail' them in that situation.

Or if there is a rogue element carving his was to the top with no regard for propriety, a quad of enforcers should provide enough therapy to show them the error of their ways.

Anonymous said...

Here´s a novel idea: how about an enforcer gone bad...

Old school, yes, but you cannot beat a classic plot ;-)

IMO, of course.

J.

William Adams said...

I always envisioned it as Stan noted, w/ emphasis on the plurality --- enforcers work in groups --- this also works to counteract the possibility Stan and Ian SADLER noted of one person holding a grudge --- hard to carry through on that for nefarious purposes if one is being held accountable / monitored by the other members of one's team.

Also, enforcers would be able to ``innocently'' involve local law enforcement (using anonymous tips) and also I'd envision a technique of embargo where the organization would prevent any new players from going to a world until such time as the rogue player had been cleaned off it --- and I'd suspect starship companies (or at least captains) would be anxious to cooperate --- it would be hard to be dangerous if the air mix in one's cabin were turned to carbon monoxide.

William

Anonymous said...

"How skilled does an enforcer have to be?" ... Skilled with a long range rifle perhaps ...

Dan Moran said...

>At least I'm off Boba Fett.<

One day at a time.

jks9199 said...

I somehow got the impression that the Enforcers had no problem "cheating", and often worked with the advantage of really controlling the situation. For example, I seem to recall something about Players sitting down with judges/assessors who would do some sort of truth scan/fugue with them -- and if they'd cheated badly enough, could off them right then and there...

And, like a few others seem to have mentioned -- they control the rules and ranking certifications (I mean, someone has to decide who gets #5 when the old #5 gets uppity, challenges Numero Uno and they both die in the fight...), etc. so that if they decertify/revoke a Player, word gets out and no Players will fight them. Kind of like "demoting" a black belt... Unless you scrub the brain somehow, they still have the skills and knowledge -- they've just lost the endorsement.

Steve Perry said...

As I see it, the Enforcers are the muscle for the RC -- the Rules Committee -- a fly-by-night organization that has various branches. There would be an Executive Council of half a dozen or so, elected from former players, and they control the bean counters who do the ranking math, the spindocs, and the medicos -- simadams, like that.

Since most of what the Flex does most of the time is highly illegal, they'd stay under the radar, just like the players.

Got to be able to do more than shoot to be an Enforcer -- good Flex players pay attention to their surroundings and one who is looking over his or her shoulder for somebody coming to ice them would pay more attention than usual.

I see the field ops in Enforcement being like a cross between hangmen and hunters. If a Flexer in custody fails the brainstrain, they are the ones who throw the switch, either for the wipe or the kill. If one is rogue out in the galaxy, they hunt him down and take him out.

Stan said...

"By your command, Boss!" (After all, it is your Barbecue. We're just the lucky guests!)

Happy New Year, Folki!

Travis said...

Ya know, I think what Mr. Bobbe brought up about the gambling is the most plausible and likly reason for someone keeping track but think it would be cool to see some 'higher purpose' revealed. A cult seeking the reincarnation of the famed Musashi; a recruiting tool for elite covert assasins (kind of the inverse of the Matadors); some rich old geezer simply likes watching people fight for sport and has created a galaxy wide organization so he can watch vids of people dying in hand to hand combat. Your dance, you'll call it as you will of course, just 2 cents worth of ideas

Steve Perry said...

Each day, the ten thousand paths await ...

Siblings is about the creation of that organization, and that's where most of the focus will need go.

I played with the martial art and the Flex in the book before this one, and I think the origins of the game and the details concerning its operation ought to stay in the shadows. I'll deal with the Enforcers a little because one of them is going to be a viewpoint character and that's by necessity part of her story. She'll have an arc and some background, of course, but the nuts and bolts of the Flex past that aren't important.

Her name, by the way, is "Knapp."

Stan said...

Very Cool! The best thing about "creating" a religious order is that you can completely make up, and ignore, any rules you want! You don't even have to deal with "cartoon physics!" (Now the dynamic, computer assisted prognostication software...)

I've long been interested in the material used to make the "Shroud Line;" as well as your idea of "earning" clothing as an indicator of rank and training. I had interpreted it as a symbol that "the further you progressed, the less 'you' would be projected." Sort of a manifestation that mastering the ego/self is a central point of mastering your physical body and skills.

(Don't you just love it when some nut goes off the deep end about little details?) ;~)
Happy 2010, Folki!

(Hey! Aren't we supposed to "make contact" this year? Thank you, Mr. Clarke, RIP!)

Mario di Giacomo said...

Here's a thought.

Maybe the Enforcers are the ones that developed the spetsdod (and possibly Clench)

toby said...

Actually, I'd imagine that you'd want very different people for the Enforcers than Flexers. The Flexers are essentially duelists whereas the Enforcers need to be predators (hunters/hangmen). There isn't a question of "fair", setting up their brakes to fail and their airbag to be filled with shrapnel would be a completely legit solution.

Stan said...

I could see the difference in tactical choices, but I expect that the fundamental difference is that flexers are soloists, while the enforcers are a coordinated unit. Heck, since we're pulling ideas out of...thin vacuum, (whew, that was close) perhaps enforcers have implanted comms which allow them to instantly know and react to input from any other unit member.

Nice challenge for L. Mourn: testing Sumito against a "linked" enforcer unit!

(Man, I really need to get a life...oh, wait,...this is better!)

Happy 2010, Folki!

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Steve: Please change the photo for his post. It makes me think of "Siblings of the Bathrobe" not "Siblings of the Shroud".

jks9199 said...

Origins of the Musashi Flex... Not hard to see. There are underground fight clubs; some are brutal excuses for what is really just human cockfighting. But some are quiet opportunities for that tiny proportion of serious, dedicated martial artists to prove themselves with each other. You don't know about these unless you're lucky... (You don't know about the others unless you're sick AND unlucky...) I've always assumed the Flex was a logical outgrowth of the good ones, meeting with betting. Just like the UFC & MMA events grew out of the infamous Gracie Challenge...

Enforcers as former Flexers? Yeah, makes sense. After all, the Enforcer has to know the Flex inside out and backwards, well enough to spot a Flexer and to know if someone's winning fights they shouldn't. I'd see them as probably being a lot more stable, generally, than the Flexers. Flexers move around a lot, always seeking another fight or another art or trick. But if the Enforcer has stepped out of the game, they probably would have settled down. Y'know... like a guy by the name of Dindabi... (I know, too early but neat idea, huh?) Some would probably still be rovers...

Damn, you've got me thinking too much about this! It's your playground, thanks for letting us build some forts in the sand, but you set the rules!

Oh, and Bobbe, why keep a record? To know! Why are there people out there who can tell you how a particular batter performs when the humidity is rising?

Steve Perry said...

Hmm. Siblings of the Bathrobe ... Maybe I'll change the title.

J.D. Ray said...

Dammit, Steve, now I have to go re-read The Musashi Flex. I know it's in a box in the basement somewhere...

:)

So, FWIW, I like the idea of enforcers being former Flexers. There could even be a little pissing contest where some upper-rank guy derides an Enforcer who got out at a lower rank. "You never made it past twelfth rank. I'm ranked fifth, and you expect to take me?"

"The balance changes when you become an Enforcer."

Okay, I know, campy. It's New Year's Day and I haven't had coffee yet. Gimme a break!

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Great. That's all I need, a legion of fanboys with a sci-fi fatwa for my ass.

"Hey...You're that asshole who told Perry to change it to BATHROBE, aren't you? Think you're funny, Mr. Bathrobe? Think this bottle going up your ass will be funny?"

Stan said...
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Stan said...

Two thought's about J.D.'s "pissing match": Mourn didn't just beat the young "primero," he beat him after he was officially challenged. I wonder if that would "draft" him back into the flex, or cause the enforcers to interrogate him if some reported that he won?

Second thought about the interaction between the enforcer and the player: 5th, "You think you can take me?" Enforcer, "You were expecting a fair fight?" (There's no cheating when there are no rules!)

Darn it...there goes that resolution already...but it's just too much fun to quit! ;~)

Bobbe Edmonds said...

All Flexers carry chips. Chips that identify them, that the winner of the match takes as proof of victory.

Maybe they act as locators as well? Who hands out chips in the first place?

You don't have to sneak up on a Flexer if you already know his location, or figure out his routine. Find out where he hangs his hat and where he buys his noodles from...The rest is just details.

As an enforcer, I would figure that they would be privy to that information.

Stan said...

One other advantage enforcers might have (even though Mr. Perry has repeatedly said S.O.T.S. is NOT about the enforcers...)

I would expect that enforcers have an "assigned turf," which gives them a home-court advantage over the flexer who regularly travels throughout the galaxy. When you know where the watering holes are, it's mostly a matter of patience, waiting for the prey to arrive...