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The Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian): Wonders of the Orient

Discussion in 'Civ3 - Stories & Tales' started by Sima Qian, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Emperor Han Wu Di was an ambitious man. While the history books would remember him for his extensive territorial expansion and his introduction of Confucian principles as the foundation of government, little did they know that he was also a Civilization junkie. Whenever he tired of real-life campaigns against the Xiongnu in the steppes of the north, or the Yue in the mountains of the south, or the Joseon on the Korean peninsula to the east, he would often find time to come back to his favorite pastime.

    Yet the hectic affairs of the state, combined with the rivalries among his concubines for his affection, gradually eroded his leisure time. Fortunately, though, he had a young and capable minister at his service, the Prefect of the Grand Scribes, the scholar Sima Qian (司马迁). This Sima Qian would later be known as the father of Chinese historiography and the author of the Shiji (史记), known to the western world as the Records of the Grand Historian.



    Sima Qian was a bright man who had traveled far and wide to learn of different peoples and cultures. He was not only well-versed in classical literature but also had military experience from expeditions against the barbarian tribes in the west. To Emperor Wu, he was the perfect choice for continuing his Civilization legacy.

    One day Sima Qian was summoned to the imperial court, with a new order given to him.

    "Sima Qian," commanded the Emperor. "The great Han Empire needs you to be of service, and today I have a new task for you. This strategic simulation game called Civilization has been one of my most cherished hobbies, but alas, I am aging and need a successor. I shall now entrust the care of Civilization to you."

    Sima Qian was shocked, to say the least. "Your majesty," he said while kowtowing before him, "this is too great a task for an inexperienced young person like me. I beg that you reconsider."

    "There is no need," said Wu Di. "My mind is made up, and there is no other person in my court suitable for this job. It is in your best interest, and the best interest of the country, that you do us this favor." Clearly this was another one of those situations where there was no room for argument with the Son of Heaven.

    "My lord, then I shall humbly accept," said Sima Qian, still not daring to look the Emperor in the eye. A eunuch brought him the bamboo slat with the orders written on them.

    Wu Di smiled. "Perhaps I ought to give you some background information on this scenario," he said with a chuckle. "In this game of Civilization, you take on the role of Chairman Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese people. While I cannot fathom the stupidity of the game developers for not considering myself as the head of the great country of China, I must admit that Mao is nevertheless a most admirable leader who sought to return China to a status of a world power."

    "I do not know of this Chairman Mao," interrupted Sima Qian. "I have never met him in my travels around the world, so I--"

    "That is irrelevant," Wu Di cut him off sharply. "You shall follow my instructions as I give them to you."

    "Yes, my lord."

    "There is this interesting concept of a 'Great Wonder' that the developers have embedded in this game," explained Wu Di. "These are incredible structures and projects that can only be completed by one civilization in each game. Sima Qian, I ask you to bring glory to the Chinese people. Of these Great Wonders, you shall build all of them."

    These words stunned Sima Qian. He knew, deep down inside, that this was a foolish proposal. Many wonders would go obsolete, and others would serve very little purpose other than consume resources that could be ill afforded elsewhere.

    "Your majesty, have you ever read Ision's essay on 'The Four Rules of Wonder Addiction'?" he asked. "Strategically, this will greatly hurt us. And dependence on wonders is nothing to be proud of."

    "Nonsense!" shouted an indignant Wu Di. "Of course I know of Ision, his tactics are exactly the ones that brought about the downfall of the Qin Dynasty before us. If he were to make the same mistakes while at my service I would immediately have him imprisoned and castrated. Furthermore, I am not simply asking you to build as many wonders as you can; no, that would be too simple for a brilliant officer like you. You must build all of them, no matter what the cost may be. If you fail to build any one of them, I will count this as a loss."

    How stubborn, Sima Qian thought silently to himself. But he had no choice. Wu Di's decree was final.

    "Granted, I will relax some of the restrictions to make this more realistic for you," said Wu Di. "Since this is a new experience for you, I will put you on Monarch difficulty level. I have adjusted the corruption and research settings to that of 'huge' world size (32 OCN, 200 tech rate), but you shall play on a tiny map, continents, 70% water, with only two opponents. They are our nearest neighbors, who have grown strong and powerful through close association with China. The other factions should not even have a chance, so they are excluded."

    Sima Qian was somewhat relieved by this. "Our nearest neighbors," he repeated. "Do you mean the Japanese, who are militarisitic and religious, and the Indians, who are religious and commercial?"

    "Your bright young mind is not there for nothing, after all," said the Emperor with a smile. "That is correct."

    "Then do I succeed if I build all the wonders before the Indians and Japanese?" asked Sima Qian.

    "That is the most ignorant comment you have made all day," sneered Wu Di. "Did you think that simply by building alone we would be able to rule the world? No, that is ridiculous. You are required to win by domination, but your opponents will seek to win by any other means. I have simplified things by disabling cultural victory, but keep in mind that you are still vulnerable to conquest, space race, diplomatic, and histographic defeat."

    "That is fine with me," said the young minister. "As long as I eliminate the other civilizations before they have a chance to build the wonders, I would win automatically."

    "No, that would contradict the purpose of this exercise. When I said you must build all wonders, I mean every one of them, including the ones from the far future. That is why I enabled diplomatic victory, so that you can build the United Nations. But I forbid you from using it."

    "Then I shall reduce each civilization to one city, and pound them into submission while I build my wonders in peace."

    "Sima Qian!" Wu Di's patience was running dangerously low. "No! You shall concentrate on your wonders from the start. Do not even bother attacking the other civilizations until all wonders are completed. You must also reject all offers by foreign cities to join us before that point as well. The only exception I will make of this rule is that if you ever lose a city you built to an opponent, you are free to retake it, but no more.

    "How will I be able to achieve domination if I cannot attack?"

    "Remember, I said you should not attack them if there are still wonders you have to build. You are free to do as you wish after all wonders are completed, but I ask that you keep each civilization alive, so that there will always be admirers of the great Empire of Han."

    "I understand, my lord."

    "Then it is settled. I will be awaiting your report. You are now dismissed."

    As Sima Qian slowly descended the steps from the imperial palace, he examined the image drawn on the bamboo slat he had received from the eunuch:


    Quick Index

    Chapter 1: The Yellow River
    Chapter 2: Dragon King of the Eastern Sea
    Chapter 3: Mahatma, the Spiritual One
    Chapter 4: If "Ainu" This Would Happen...
    Chapter 5: A Clear Coast for Expansion
    Chapter 6: Forced Labor and the Discovery of Outsourcing
    Chapter 7: A Wonderful Time
    Chapter 8: The Shogun
    Chapter 9: Arrival of the Sage
    Chapter 10: The War of Nobunaga's Cheek
    Chapter 11: Deferred Republic
    Chapter 12: Dawn of a New Era
    Chapter 13: Double Jeopardy
    Chapter 14: One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Chapter 15: Just Hanging in There
    Chapter 16: A Fisherman's Chance
    Chapter 17: The Scripture Collection of the Great Library
    Chapter 18: Nobunaga's Successor
    Chapter 19: An Eye Toward the Heavens
    Chapter 20: Betrayal at Nanjing
    Chapter 21: Observers of a War
    Chapter 22: A Wonder Lost?
    Chapter 23: The Mahatma's Folly and the Shogun's Defeat
    Chapter 24: Out of Steam
    Chapter 25: Cleaning Up the Mess
    Chapter 26: Gandhi's Smoky Factories and Tokugawa's Stinky Toilet
    Chapter 27: Shocking Discoveries
    Chapter 28: Half the Sky
    Chapter 29: The Origin of New Ideas
    Chapter 30: Water Power
    Chapter 31: Like a Tiger with Wings
    Chapter 32: Smaller Is Friendlier
    Chapter 33: The Eleventh Hour
    Chapter 34: Awakening of the Dragon
    Chapter 35: The Ultimatum
    Chapter 36: Operation Kan-She-Tou, Decapitating the Snake
    Chapter 37: March Toward Victory
    Chapter 38: Descent of the Whirlwind
    Chapter 39: The Wonders Redeemed
    Epilogue
    Saves and Replay Summary
     
  2. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Player's note: This game is being played on Civilization III Vanilla, so there are fewer wonders available in the early game (only the Colossus, Pyramids, Oracle, Great Library, Great Lighthouse, Great Wall, and Hanging Gardens).
     
  3. Invisible Rhino

    Invisible Rhino Prince

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    What difficulty?

    p.s. have you read Jung Chang's new book on Mao? It's really good!
     
  4. stocktracker

    stocktracker Prince

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    This does look like a game that can last a long time and requires you to be very careful.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Smart

    Smart King

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    Sima Qian, welcome to Civfanatics [party]

    Please post game settings, and on which difficulty level you are playing.
     
  6. stocktracker

    stocktracker Prince

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    They are in the story.
     
  7. Mirc

    Mirc Not mIRC!!!

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    Nice start!
    It's really hard to build all the wonders above Regent!
     
  8. Invisible Rhino

    Invisible Rhino Prince

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    Thanks stocktracker
     
  9. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    The Grand Historian returned to his home and consulted the scrolls in his library. Somehow a new tome had appeared there, one that described in detail the decline of imperial power in China, the rise of nationalism and communism, and the eventual triumph of Mao Zedong and his comrades.

    He was a bit puzzled by how the scroll had gotten there, but assumed it was perhaps a gift from the emperor. Having perused it to his heart's content, he began to write.

    And thus the saga begins...

    Chapter 1: The Yellow River



    The sun beyond the mountains glows
    The Yellow River seaward flows
    You will enjoy a grander sight
    By climbing to a greater height

    "Climbing the Crane Pagoda," Wang Zhihuan (A.D. 688-742)​

    For miles in either direction, Mao Zedong could only see the yellow loess deposits along the river. It was a long but remarkably slow river, one that hid very well its proud but sorrowful history of being both the greatest blessing to agriculture and the greatest curse during floods. Here was the cradle of Chinese civilization.

    It had been reported to Mao that directly across the river was a grassland which, despite its uninteresting appearance, actually offered a bonus of resources that could increase production. Seizing the opportunity, Mao ordered a worker to cross the Yellow River and investigate, with the ultimate goal of building a mine and a road. With the worker dispatched, it was time to begin building the great Chinese capital, Beijing.


    Travelers to the west of the city learned of a forest where dyes could be extracted from the bark and berries native plants. These dyes could then be used to color cloth in all kinds of different colors, to each citizen's heart's content. Upon the recommendation of economic advisor Liu Shaoqi, a road would be built to bring those dyes for consumption in Beijing.

    Though Mao knew that his civilization was destined to build the Great Wonders of the world, he was not yet sure where or which one to start. Over the centuries the Chinese people had mastered the art of masonry, making the Pyramids the first wonder available, but Mao was hesitant to begin construction as there were other priorities. One city would never be enough to build all the wonders, so another town must be founded soon. Yet population growth was slow; the Yellow River would flood at some of the most inconvenient times, and the grain harvested would be consumed all too quickly.

    Technology advisor Deng Xiaoping understood this problem well. Despite his innate urge to appease Mao's love of wonders by suggesting bronze working for potentially constructing the Colossus, he decided it would be better to research pottery and build a granary. Early expansion, he argued, would be much more efficient with reliable food supply.

    At first he met with resistance from other members of Mao's council. "Why build a granary when we can start working on the Pyramids immediately?" The reason was simple: the Pyramids would take far too long to build, and this would not be the right time.

    Military advisor Zhu De interrupted at this point. "I appreciate your vision for population growth," he said, "but we still lack the capabilities for building granaries. In fact, we need to wait 32 turns before your research completes. Why not build something more meaningful and more practical in the meantime, such as some warriors to protect our city from barbarians?"

    Mao thought this was an excellent idea. Beijing was ordered to assemble a contingent of able-bodied men assigned to the task of public safety. Research for pottery was funded with 1 gold per turn, as increased spending did not seem to improve prospects for discovery.

    When the first warriors were recruited, however, there was no sign of any potential threats. Upon consideration by the state council, these warriors would be sent to explore the western territory, to seek out one goal: the destination of the waters of the Yellow River. In their absence, a new warrior contingent would be readied in the capital.

    Soon afterwards a report came back from the explorers. It was a detailed view of the mouth of the Yellow River, with an incredible panorama from the sea all the way to the northern mountains, where it was reported the most beautiful gemstones could be mined and sent back to the capital as a luxury.


    ... to be continued
     
  10. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    If you are talking about Mao, the Unknown Story, I've picked that up in a bookstore once, never read it in entirety. It's an interesting read, though I take each statement made there with a grain of salt. I think it's an oversimplification to blame Mao for all of China's problems in the 20th century, as there are many more factors that would contribute to the situation--the mis-implementation of Mao's plans during the Great Leap Forward, the cover-up scandals instigated by provincial officials who wished to appease Mao, the weather, and the refusal of the international community to cooperate.

    While Mao undoubtedly made many mistakes (the official Communist Party opinion is that he was 70% correct, 30% wrong), it would be a very one-sided judgment to attribute the deaths of 70 million Chinese (probably an exaggerated figure) directly to him. And despite the setbacks, Mao significantly improved the standard of living of the average Chinese, a remarkable feat considering the lack of international support.
     
  11. stocktracker

    stocktracker Prince

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    Well, it looks like you have a good start. Is that corruption benefit just for you or does it apply to other civilizations?
     
  12. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Thanks for the comments everyone, I'll try to get more posted in my next update. (I know, I know, not even a second city in the first chapter is somewhat disappointing, but that's life.)

    Oh, I'm pretty sure they get benefit from that as well. The setting was changed in the "World Sizes" tab of the editor, simply adjusted Tiny to the same OCN and tech rate as Huge.

    It wouldn't be an interesting story if I gave myself artificial advantages, now would it? I'm no expert player, but I do want to be creative and put together scenarios that are both challenging and fun to play.
     
  13. conquer_dude

    conquer_dude Imperial Slave

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    Nice story, good start, want to see this continue.:goodjob:
     
  14. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Chapter 2: Dragon King of the Eastern Sea



    Come east of Jieshi Cliff
    I gaze out across the ocean,
    Its rolling waves
    Studded with rocks and islets;
    Dense the trees and bushes here,
    Rank the undergrowth;
    The autumn wind is soughing,
    Huge billows are breaking.
    Sun and moon take their course
    As if risen from the sea;
    The bright galaxy of stars
    Seems sprung from the deep.
    And so, with joy in my heart,
    I hum this song.


    "Walk along the shore of Xiamen," Cao Cao (A.D. 155-220)​

    Mao carefully examined the map that had been brought before him. The Yellow River delta was a truly incredible scene. Wheat grew in the fields along the banks of the great river, and a herd of cattle gathered in the pasture by the sea. A fertile plain surrounded by green hills, he thought to himself, a beautiful background for the wonders to be built.

    But then a sudden gust of cold wind blew from the north, almost snatching the map out of his hands. Though it lasted mere seconds, it chilled Mao to the bone, reminding him of the harsh winters in the lands north of the Yellow River. The Chinese people must seek more hospitable climates, he silently wondered.

    He summoned a messenger and ordered him thus: "Inform the expedition that I want them to move south. I have heard of a rich land in that direction, one where our citizens can live and work happily for the years to come." The messenger gave a polite bow and went on his way.

    Not long afterward another report came from the exploration party, with startling findings:

    "We have met a tribe of barbarian peoples who speak a strange language and call themselves the Tartars. They are skilled traders who have long exploited the resources in this region to make a handy profit. But selfish fools they are not. We told them about the great nation of China to the north, and they were genuinely impressed. They offer you their maps of the surrounding lands as a sign of friendship."


    Liu Shaoqi, the economic advisor, looked at the map over Mao's shoulder. "My, what detail these Tartars have put in this map," said Liu. "They have pinpointed the exact location of dyes and wines that our people can enjoy."

    "We already have a supply of dyes," said Mao. "Wines would be an excellent addition to our city's luxury market, but remember, we must never lose sight of our purpose: we must build all the Great Wonders."

    The advisors nodded in agreement. The terrain around wine country was not well suited for building; there were not enough forests or hills to provide raw materials. But it was suggested that the region could be settled and irrigated to produce food to support the growing population.

    By this time the second band of warriors had assembled, but still seeing no danger to the city, Mao ordered them to march east. Legends had told of a great ocean in the east, where the powerful Dragon King lived in an undersea palace of gold and jewels, guarded by an army of jumbo shrimp and crabs. If only we could secure the aid of such a mythical creature, Mao mused. But it is probably just a legend anyway.


    Some of the men, though fearsome warriors, were terrified at the thought of encountering the Dragon King. But the general consensus was that this would be an exciting adventure, and as it was Mao's command, they could not wish for anything better. They left through the forest east of Beijing, rising early each morning and marching toward the rising sun to seek out the fabulous underwater palace.

    Finally one day they surmounted a hill overlooking the coast, and were much surprised by what they saw. No sign of any dragon, but the largest schools of fish swimming in the shallow waters just offshore, and beyond that, the dark shadow of a distant land against the morning sun...


    ... to be continued
     
  15. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Chapter 3: Mahatma, the Spiritual One



    My heart in middle age found the Way.
    And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain.
    When the spirit moves, I wander alone
    Amid beauty that is all for me....
    I will walk till the water checks my path,
    Then sit and watch the rising clouds--
    And some day meet an old wood-cutter
    And talk and laugh and never return.


    "Southern Mountain Retreat," Wang Wei (A.D. 698-761)​

    The discovery of a new land in the east was celebrated in the capital, but the explorers, unable to find any way to reach it, eventually returned home emptyhanded. With no way available yet to cross the sea, Mao turned his attention back to the south, where two expeditions were now making rapid progress.

    The first party, having thanked the Tartars for their maps, was ready to move on and presently came upon another barbarian village. But upon reaching it, not a soul was to be found. The tired explorers decided to camp there for the night, with the intention of leaving the village untouched the next day.

    Around dusk a sudden uproar was heard, and suddenly the village was stormed by Ghuzz warriors returning from their daily hunt. Obviously they were not pleased with their uninvited guests, and charged them with their flint axes. Fortunately, the explorers had not let their military training down during their long journey, and successfully repulsed the attackers.


    "A truly vile and barbaric people, these Ghuzz," said Mao upon hearing the news back at the capital. "One day we shall either have to teach them a lesson, or eradicate them."

    The second exploration party had left Beijing somewhat later, and was following the east coast of the continent past the wine country identified by the Tartars' maps. Not long after the battle with the Ghuzz, this group met a remarkably advanced tribe. They were darker skinned, perhaps from the additional exposure to the sun in the southern regions, avoided eating most kinds of meat, carved intricate curved patterns into stone and clay to record ideas, and had an intriguing practice of holding great rituals for burying the dead. These were the people known as the Indians.


    Their leader was a short, elderly man named Mohandas Gandhi, but everyone called him by the honorific title Mahatma, the Spiritual One. He was a deeply religious man, a believer in peace and nonviolence.

    "A fine leader indeed," said Mao. "We have much to learn from the Indian people." Thus a meeting was arranged.

    The Mahatma was a humble man. "I am most honored to be in your presence, Mao," he said, greeting the Chinese leader. "The peaceful people of India welcome you. Would you like a nice vegetarian curry?"

    The food that Gandhi served his guests were modest, but strongly flavored and delightful to the tongue. During the meal, science advisor Deng Xiaoping, who had accompanied Mao to the visit, boasted of the Chinese people's achievements.

    "We have mastered the art of masonry and developed a code for our warriors to succeed in battle," he told the Indian audience. "Would you be interested in learning these techniques?"

    Gandhi seemed impressed. "That is a most wonderful ability of the Chinese people," he said. "We will offer to demonstrate the proper way to lay the dead to rest, as well as introduce you to our way of recording sounds with symbols."

    "A fair trade," said Mao. He beckoned toward the hallway, summoning the team of artisans who had traveled with him.

    "I am pleased that we have agreed," said the Mahatma. They parted on polite terms.


    Upon their return to China, it was discovered that the Indian alphabet was not well-suited to the Chinese tongue, as it was missing many of the essential phonics of the Chinese language. But, drawing from the inspiration of the Indian technique, the Chinese would soon create their own system, using pictures to describe basic objects and ideas. Gandhi had not recognized this possibility, and he was not blamed for the slight inconvenience. Deng would continue to direct research on pottery, while Beijing began work on a variety of the mystical building that the Indians used in their rituals, the temple.

    ... to be continued
     
  16. stocktracker

    stocktracker Prince

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    Are you planning to expand quickly in order to get more cities that can build wonders, or does the capital have to grow in order to build all of the early wonders?
     
  17. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Player comments:

    A lot of the early wonders are pretty cheap (200 shields for Colossus and Great Wall, 300 shields for Oracle and Hanging Gardens), so I don't want to take any chances. Expansion will be minimal, focus will be on building. But I do plan to have at least two cities work on wonders, since there are so many of them available at this early stage.

    Additionally, the capital isn't exactly in a nice place to be a settler or worker farm, as this is despotism and irrigation won't be much help, and there are no food bonuses within reach.

    The key will be the order in which the wonders are built. If I build the expensive wonders first, like the Pyramids, then if any AI has already started on that it will likely switch to a cheaper wonder like Colossus and possibly complete it the next turn. But if the cheap wonders get built first, the AI will have to switch to the more expensive wonders, giving me more opportunity to catch up in production.

    Naturally, this will mess up growth and expansion a lot, but I think that was implied in my scenario description ;)
     
  18. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    FYI:


    Score, Power, and Culture graphs at 2850 BC (first contact with India)

    Each side has only one city at the moment, so the numbers aren't very meaningful.
     
  19. stocktracker

    stocktracker Prince

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    I never really bother building Ancient Age wonders, I would rather get a better start by building more cities. I did capture the Great Wall and the Great Library in one game, giving me a defensive and scientific boost. It is true that smaller to bigger is the way to go, hopefully the AI will waste a lot of production sometime in this game.

    If you have a smaller land area than India or Japan, will you run the risk of getting taken over militaristically by them? I would like to see how that plays out.
     
  20. Sima Qian

    Sima Qian 太史令

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    Not only that, I also run the risk of losing to a domination victory if they attack me (or each other, for that matter). This result could also be quite likely, since I'm not allowed to attack them until all wonders are built.
     

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