Lost Cause
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The line breaks and the guns go under,
The lords and the lackeys ride the plain;
I draw deep breaths of the dawn and thunder,
And the whole of my heart grows young again.
For our chiefs said ‘Done,’ and I did not deem it;
Our seers said ‘Peace,’ and it was not peace;
Earth will grow worse till men redeem it,
And wars more evil, ere all wars cease.
But the old flags reel and the old drums rattle,
As once in my life they throbbed and reeled;
I have found my youth in the lost battle,
I have found my heart on the battlefield.
For we that fight till the world is free,
We are not easy in victory:
We have known each other too long, my brother,
And fought each other, the world and we.

(from)A Song Of Defeat G. K. Chesterton

Alliance Commander: "Seems odd you'd name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of."

Malcom Reynolds: "May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."


Basic Information

It's been said that History is written by the Winning Side. But the losers have their own history; and when they gather together over a beer to reminisce about past regrets, one of them is bound to tell the story of the Lost Cause; the Noble Defeat; that Glorious Quixotic Crusade that was Doomed to Failure, but which, for a while, seemed so close to succeeding. Even now, in retrospect, it seems like it could have succeeded, if only…

The archetypical Lost Cause, and the one identified by that name by the Other Wiki, is the War of Northern Aggression, (known to those damned Yankees as the Civil War), but there have been many, many others throughout history: the Fall of the Alamo, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Al Gore Election Campaign of 2000, etc. There's something romantic about these ill-fated enterprises, and their tragic outcomes only enhances their mystique.

But sometimes the mystique covers darker elements. Those who romanticize the Confederate Cause like to emphasize the chivalry and honor of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, and the nobility of the men who fought against overwhelming odds to protect their homes and the sacred principles of States Rights; but they downplay the Slavery aspect.

Notable Lost Causes


Game and Story Use

  • A PC might have been involved in such a Lost Cause in his backstory, such as Mal from the TV series Firefly, who was on the losing side of a rebellion.
  • The PC's might become involved with partisans from a Lost Cause, as David Balfour does in the Robert Louis Stevenson novel Kidnapped.
  • Or the campaign itself might be set in the middle of such a cause. The PCs are fighting on a side which, historically, is doomed to fail; but feel honor-bound to fight anyway.
    • And perhaps they might make a difference, creating an Alternate History in which the Jacobite Cause triumphs after all…
  • Historically many nations have survived as a "lost cause", some of them to re-emerge centuries later (the Poles, for example, kept their national identity alive for centuries with no nation state to support it, the nation of Israel even more so).
  • Royal houses likewise - the Jacobite cause is a famous one, but there were Plantagenet restorationists long into the Tudor period (and to some degree into the present day) and other, less well know causes in other nations.
  • Lost cause partisans may also find that their cause is all that unites them and that without it they have significant issues with one another (typical examples include the blood fallings out amongst assorted resistance movements once their nation is liberated - once the occupier against which they were united is gone, they fall back into conflict with one another).
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