Okay, so my world is basically classified into 9 quadrants, with 8 being land and the other being a single gigantic body of water. All of these land quadrants are separated from each other by water. But there has been a constant despise and a cold war going on between the quadrant 4 (Q4) and Q6, which are separated by about 10,000 km of water, for the last two centuries.

I want to know what could be an extremely complex reason for the war to prolong for so long?


  1. It is not set in the 21st century or anything, but the technology is almost on par or may be slightly advanced than now and things like aeroplanes and computer technology have been present since the last two centuries.

  2. The war is not because of reasons like resources such as land or money-related goods or power, but rather because of some complicated misunderstanding that happened centuries ago, in which both parties are correct in their own stand.

  3. Both the quadrants are almost equally advanced and developed.

Remember, the cause is supposed to be highly convoluted (something that hasn't happened in our history ever) as both the quadrants are right in their prospective since it has been the cause of war for over 2 centuries.

Edited for further details:

In reference to query in the comments,

1) The cause for war is quite complex since there are only a handful of experts on either parties who can actually understand the essence of the cause in depth and it is quite difficult for the general population to comprehend it. This is one of the reasons for the war prolonging for so long.

2) The technology hasn't stagnated for two centuries. I mentioned that it may be considered to be slightly more advanced than present era's. This is in reference to the fact that how in the real world, technology was almost stagnant for millenniums together, but suddenly all the modern things that were invented which we use now, happened only in the last two centuries.


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    $\begingroup$ One side eats their boiled eggs pointy side up and the other side eats them pointy side down. That is unless they want to insult their host. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange May 27 '18 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Why does it need to be complex? Could it not be something simple that has caused a long war? Also, is there a reason technology has stagnated? If they have had computers for two centuries, it seems odd that they are only around 21st century tech. $\endgroup$ – Richard Hansen May 27 '18 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ There actually was a rather famous Hundred Years' War between two quadrants separated by a 40 km wide body of water... And after it supposedly ended it continued on and off for another four centuries... $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 27 '18 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ separated by about 10,000 km of water Do you mean an area of 10,000 $km^2$ or a minimum distance of 10,000 km? It's quite a difference in terms of sustaining a war. $\endgroup$ – StephenG May 27 '18 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ Excellent classical reference @candied_orange $\endgroup$ – Thucydides May 27 '18 at 23:43

If it is extremely complex, your readers are not going to want it laid out in all of its complexity.

Instead, each time the reason for the war comes up in the story, have it be something completely different. Maybe it is a list of historic slights and misdeeds, or cultural differences, or ways that one side gets the lyrics of a song wrong every time, or how much pepper one side wastes on its food and doesn't even eat!

Each new thing that comes up in the course of the story as a reason for a war will be seemingly unrelated to what went before, but it turns out there is some sort of relationship.

The protagonist later in the story might guess at the relationship between the newest reason and those that have gone before, and get it wrong. He guesses at new reasons and gets it wrong.

It is extremely convoluted.

  • $\begingroup$ Seems reasonable enough. If I don't get any better answer, I'll go with your answer. $\endgroup$ – Your IDE May 28 '18 at 9:38

A possible reason could be differing inheritance laws. This is sometimes alluded to in discussions about the Trojan War, and why neither the Greeks nor the Trojans were willing to settle the war for ten years.

In the Greek kingdoms, things were very male oriented, and a king like Agamemnon or Menelaus was in complete control of the kingdom, and any inheritance would be through the male sons. Wives and daughters were important essentially because they could be used to cement alliances between various kingdoms (Odysseus resolved the problem of Helen by getting all the suitors to agree to assist whoever Helen married. Since he received Penelope as his bride as a reward for his cleverness, it seems he got the better deal after all....).

On the Trojan side, although it isn't stated outright, marriage to a royal household seems to secure rights to that house as well. Paris may have seduced Helen with the idea of making a rightful claim to rule Sparta after Menelaus (or even usurping the throne). While the Greeks would obviously have none of this, it may well have been supported by the Trojans (and presumably the surrounding kingdoms, such as the Hittites). Indeed the Trojans went to great lengths to derail negotiations to end the war, and when Paris was killed, Helen was immediately married to Deiphobus, another member of the Trojan royal family. It seems the Trojans were determined to maintain some sort of claim on Greece, for whatever reasons.

Now much of this is extrapolated from both the Iliad itself and what is known of Mycenaean and Hittite societies. Some sort of complicated feud between the ruling families over who is entitled to rule what has been a feature of dynastic war throughout much of history (the 100 years war also revolved around a disputed succession)


Various possible answers, but i'd go with a mix of inheritance disagreements and other things

There are tons of possible answers to this question. I think that my first two suggestions fit in better with the "misunderstanding that happened centuries ago":

  • What if one of the warring quadrants stole a (culturaly) precious or religious artifact from the other, and won't give it back?

  • Maybe the old ruler of one side, at his deathbed, wished that his quadrant be given over to the ruler of the other quadrant. This could be recent or ancient.

  • Perhaps one of the quandrant's people think that the other's are inferior to them and should be conquered/slaughterd, or maybe their God told them so.

I personally prefer the second option, but you could easily mix these in for the one that best suits you. I don't know if in your world the distance provided is considered extense, but for something to go on for so long not for economic reasons, I'd go with a war based on moral principles (as you said, each side thinks they are in the right).

You stated that it must be a higly complicated reason, so i'd suggest combining one of the options, or, as @AlexP pointed out, something based on inheritance and inheritance laws, like I suggest in the second option. You could take this and further develop and "complicate" it.


In the "real world" history many reasons have been stated as the root of wars. Such reasons have been religion, personal conflicts between rulers, national traits of populations and a search of glory for the military. Although such reasons might have influenced the start of wars, the only thing that kept them going was hunger for resources like land, trade or wealth. It is simply to expensive to wage war without real economic incentives. Such incentives have been situations where the losing nation gives up its sovereignty or loses a vital resource like part of a its territory. But you have excluded those kinds of reasons.

An alternative might be a war that is not really waged to be won. The rulers of your two quadrants might have agreed long ago to initiate a war in order to control their own populations. A nation at war is a unified nation, etc. Over time the war has become a tool to for the ruling classes to stay in power. They claim that they personally are the only thing that prevents the war from being lost, while in reality they have no intention of ever letting it end. An ongoing war is also very convenient for getting rid of internal enemies. Political competitors, economic adversaries and people that fall out of grace can simply be sent to the front, never to be heard of again. The experts you mention who are the only ones who understand the reason for the war, might be in on the hoax. There simply is no reason, but this is shrouded by layers upon layers of deception.


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