Prejudice, the Clans and Bleed

There are some historical parallels between the Clans and some notorious historical bad guys.  The Nazi, mongols etc.  The Nazi analogy and the rise of white supremacists is particular troubling these days.  The Clans as a whole exhibit certain behaviors that tend to rub people the wrong way: Arrogance, belief in their own genetic superiority and a willingness to subjugate others and force cultural assimilation come to mind.  In the show Death From Above the actors portraying Clanners have hewn close to the archetype and that has resulted in some emotional bleed that is both well earned and difficult to deal with.  The Clans tend to be thought of as a monolithic block but the novels certainly paint a more diverse picture, albeit one drenched in blood, rage and the ethnics tinged bigotry of monsters.  It is that bigotry, that self superiority and the current morass of nationalism and ethnostate agitation that makes the characters extra poignant and super difficult to deal with emotionally.  There is no easy answer to this, the elements of the Clans that arouse these feeling are integral to their general archetype and turning them into the good-guys isn’t an easy task when the Clan is associated with the Crusader faction.  The Warden faction is a bit easier to deal with as they view themselves as protectors of the Inner Sphere and are more willing to seek out understanding, compromise and coexistence.  The Crusaders like the Jade Falcons are far more hostile and antagonistic.  The primary characteristic for the Jade Falcons is pride and they do not like admitting or being defeated.  Of the invading Clans there is a spectrum of ethnostate nationalism.  Smoke Jaguar are the most nazi-like; willing to commit atrocities and war crimes as a matter of course.  Next is Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear and then Clan Wolf.  Later on 3 more clans would be added: Steel Viper, Nova Cat, Diamond Shark.  These 3 Clans roughly fall between Jade Falcon and Ghost Bear on the spectrum in the previous order.  In the lore Wolf, Nova Cat, Diamond Shark and Ghost Bear defect to the Inner Sphere or seek coexistence at some point.  This DOES NOT minimize the elements of nationalism and prejudice that are inherent in the Clans.  In many ways it enhances these elements as it shows their folly in the long run.  The Clans believe they are sent to save the inner sphere from barbarism, but it is they who are the barbarian horde at the gate; sacrificing normal human values and assuming a superiority that runs counter centuries of human development.  The issue here though, is the bleed this created.  

Extended RP developing the Clan characters beyond their offensive archetypes will help humanize them; but will not remove the harmful elements of their personality.  Only when the characters leave behind the problematic behaviors will the bleed for other players be mitigated.  This change in behavior may not be possible given the story being told and depicting the complex politics of Clan life that would explain the behavior and inherent bigotry of the Clans is certainly a nearly impossible task given time constraints in the Twitch medium in which the show is made.  There are some opportunities however, that can leverage the current mechanics of Death From Above to reduce bleed.  The mechanic in question is the correspondence that players receive and send each episode.  The Star Commander has taken a teaching and nurturing approach to the Dead Man’s Hand; as much as the Clan mindset allows.  She sees talent and covets it for the glory of her clan, seeing it as a lesson in efficient use of resources.  It would not be out of the realm of possibility of her to reach out to Hawk in an attempt to understand why her re-education and integration attempts with her bondsmen are failing.  She would initially demand information as a method of ensuring her work does not go to waste.  It would be rough and ugly at first, as it should, but the character development might provide an avenue of catharsis outside of combat.

In the long term I don’t know that there is a great solution to the bleed.  The Clans are intentionally offensive to our sensibilities and to remove that behavior would in many ways diminish them as a good boogeyman.  That said DFA is a more intimate tale in the midst of a giant war and while we come for the stompy robots its the character development, change and drama that drives everything forward.  In the end I can only recommend some self care and that the players take time to recognize the challenges and stress their characters place upon each other.