Hey - Same political “spoiler alert” on this post. What is said here is going to contradict what your sociology professor told you. So if you think I’m too political, skip to a post about magic items.
It occurred to me that you might have read the last post and thought that I assumed that some of these groups had too much power. Maybe. If De Beers controls or destroys the world market in diamonds, so what? Well, it has consequences, but maybe not earth shattering ones. But let me point out some of the things that have happened because of the world oil supply as controlled by OPEC.
In August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Beginning in 1991 a coalition of nations led by the USA kicked the holy crap out of Iraq. The UN imposed harsh sanctions on Iraq. Iraq spends the next ten years refusing to follow the sanctions that were imposed, including (but not limited to) shooting at weapons inspectors, blocking the weapons inspectors from getting into places, refusing to allow the weapons inspectors out of some places, admitting to being involved in biological weapon research, having Russian missile parts “hidden”, and being officially noted (as late as 2003) by UN inspectors for violating the resolutions concerning their missile programs.
Finally, the USA leads a much smaller coalition into Iraq and shock and awe ensue.
What does this have to do with OPEC? Well, you may not be old enough to remember it, and hopefully you’re not believing the hype on either side, but the USA had a very difficult time getting the UN to enforce the sanctions and to build a coalition. You’ve been told that was all due to the Bush administration faking the evidence about weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? It was all about the oil baby! The “Oil for Food” program was supposed to keep Iraqi civilians from starving to death. Instead, it put an estimated $10 billion (yep, with a B) into the pockets of Saddam Hussein and his cronies. But it didn’t stop there. The problem at the UN was that many of the member nations were profiting from illegal oil trade with Iraq and didn’t want the USA to stick its “goody two shoes” nose in and mess the profitable (but illegal!) business up. Only one of the investigations showed that the corruption wasn’t as bad as previously thought, though most folks question that investigation. One of the top guys on the sunny investigation agreed to be a whistle blower, until someone put a bomb under his car.
So what am I saying? Due to controls on the oil markets, we have modern day examples of organized corruption across multiple countries and the UN. We have examples of people being assassinated. Why did everyone defend Kuwait? Because it was the front door to Saudi Arabia, and we couldn’t let Iraq control the Saudi oil fields. You want your blood for oil? It was in the first one, not the second. Now I don’t think we should ignore small countries that are taken over by bigger more powerful countries, but in recent history no one went to defend Ukraine. No one marshalled a coalition of nations to defend the folks in Rwanda. OK, maybe that was a civil war, maybe, but no one seemed to care about genocidal issues going on inside Iraq before they threatened Saudi Arabia.
OK - Maybe OPEC did not directly orchestrate either of the Iraq wars. I think they might have, but I cannot prove it. So assuming that they did not directly cause them, did they indirectly cause them? I say yes. Iraq wanted more oil wells, so they invaded Kuwait. Europe (including Russia) wanted more oil, so they created a situation where sanctions could not work which directly led to the second war.
Even if you don’t believe me, and too many of you have been too indoctrinated by your universities to believe me, you should still see the fictional wealth here. Just suppose that there was a war like country in your game world. They annex their neighbor, feeling that they must for their survival. The next neighbor in line gets nervous and drums up support for the liberation of the annexed country. This only works if the neighboring country has something everyone else wants. We may have moved from secret societies into the secret machinations of countries, but they are similar. And remember - countries have ambassadors, who may be the front face of the secret organization working behind the scenes. This would give the ambassador real power outside his own country. Maybe it’s a religious organization serving as a front for the real criminals? That would allow the ambassador easy access where he wouldn’t be watched.
I’m getting a huge slave lord vibe here. The slavers are using the politicians to cover up their activities while also instigating wars in order to gather more war slaves, and to kill farmers, which drives up demand. I’ll want it to be hugely complicated, so it’s going to take me a while to craft it, but my players better look out once I do.