Government:

One Governing Body To Rule Them All

BrothersHTheDark

Founding Father Or Mother

Hope you have been practicing your John Hancocks, because you are about to become a founding father or mother.  I am certain that most of you have a good semblance of what you want the countries of your world to be like; who will be ruling what and where and who.  But how deep have you taken them? And if you don’t have any idea of what to do about creating a government, keep reading, something will trigger.
Traditionally you tend to see only kingdoms ruled by some king or queen in fantasy. I want to help you avoid that, because there is no one government to rule them all. I don’t care if you have the One Ring or not. Even if you had plans to create a second form of government for the antagonist, how often have you seen those, and they tend to be half baked.
And even on the flip side  many governments are created just to fulfil the obligatory fact that, yes, these people do in fact have some form of government.

Then the ruler goes off and dies, or whatever else, and the country somehow stays intact; the king’s son takes his place and the dilemma of an empty throne lasts no more than a chapter, if that.
Where is the life in that? What about a struggle for the throne by rivalling siblings? In history the eldest didn’t always take the throne, siblings often killed one another for the throne. Sisters would plot deeply and marry the “right” man to stand beside her as a puppet.

How about adding some real life.  What if a council of lords seize the palace, and the prince must now challenge them? Maybe marshal law is called in and the general becomes the Warlord whom declares war on the neighbouring country? A plethora of events can chain into each other, and none of it has to be a part of the plot if you don’t want it to be. Of course it will affect plot, but this is static plot, background that will shape everything else around it.

Here are a few examples of government to think about and use possibly:

Aristocracy – Form of government in which a few elite citizens rule.

Meritocracy – Ruled by a group selected on the basis of their ability.

Monarchy – Ruled by an individual who has inherited the role and expects to bequeath it to their heir.

Stratocracy – Form of military government.

And many others I cannot list, but you can find it here in this Wikipedia article on government.

Coronation

coronation-of-napoleon_davidWhat elements of those governments are you going to use?  Below are a list of ideas and questions to help get you thinking about the direction you could have taken them:

Coersolan is ruled by a queen.  Nobels of the court can only rise to royalty from the High Court. 

  • Firstly, how do you get into this High Court?
  • How do they rise from this court of high lords and ladies?
  • When does one have the chance to rise?
  • Are they only a figure head?
  • Is being a Royal actually an undesired position?

You’ve begun to question the initial idea and it begins to take on a new form:

“The queen is elected from the High Court by the lesser nobles of the Lower Court to rule in the nation’s absolute-elective monarchy.”

  • This sets the lesser nobles into a place of power?

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  • Do the lesser nobles set demands of the high nobles to meet in order to earn their support and loyalty?
  • Or are the lesser nobles bullied and threatened into support?
  • What about the other members of the royal family?  Would they, too, fight fortosupport from the lesser nobles?
  • Must the Heads of lower noble houses keep an eye out for assailants if not all of the members of their family support them? As if the head of the lower nobles must follow the wishes of the family?
  • Would some try to marry into a potential royal family?
  • Or would a neighbouring court put their claim on the throne?  And what happens then?

Another idea:

“Ver Na’slin City is ruled by the Archmage, who is placed in charge after passing an exam determined by the Vast, the all seeing crystal of the city.”

KatrinaArchmage

  • What type of exams are we talking?  Something written, with great knowledge and wisdom? Or maybe power?
  • Is the position for life?
  • Is the exam a formal way of choosing, but the actual exam is informal? For example, by accident?
  • Is there also a council of mages to rule along side the Archmage or are they just advisers?

During a natural disaster a sorcerer saves the city and is named Archmage by the Vast. 

  • Was this situation by design of the Vast?

The Vast conjures a natural disaster to destroy Ver Na’slin.  A traveling sorcerer steps in and stops the disaster and is named the new Archmage. 

  • But what if the sorcerer failed?
  • What if there is already an Archmage in power?
  • Has the Vast become corrupted?
  • What type of rule does the Archmage implement, remember, this is by examination, it doesn’t say how they are to rule.: Dictatorship, communism, republic.  What does your
  • Archmage rule in?

And one last idea:

“Ul’lourin is ruled by the Council of Warlords.”

Peach_Garden_Oath_(ROTK12)

  • How organised is the military?
  • Do certain military positions have equivalent ranks of Lords and Ladies?
  • Are these positions tied to the responsibilities of lords and ladies?
  • Or do they denounce politics and Ul’lourin is ruled by a strict honour code of the military?

Ul’lourin was once ruled by High Lords, but they had worked with the enemy and betrayed the people.  Upon discovery, their generals deposed them and since then Ul’lourin has  avoided thick politics.

  • But wait, what is happening now to the country? Without politics for so long, is the nation starting to come undone? Or is it better off?
  • Are the positions duty bound with certain tasks of maintaining the city, but without the same perks as a lord and lady?
  • Are the dirty tasks not only given to lower ranked officers but to the punished officers of higher ranks, for acting like politicians?
  • In war for so long, is their government finally out of breath from the constant fight? What is your strategy to run this government?

The Loyal Subjects

How will the people of these lands be shaped by their rulers? In the old days, royalty and nobility were unreachable statuses for the commoner. Even the rich class of the early Americas was unreachable.  Few strived to be them, commoners didn’t even hate them-well that is debatable, but the point is, back when commoners “knew their place” and didn’t do much about it (unless the royals pissed them off). It is like upper class is another species and it still exists today. Think about it, how many of you have ever looked at a big name in Hollywood with awe?  Or an author, for that matter?  And you think that you could never be like them.  Take that and multiply it by ten and there you go. The mentality of a common everyday person ending about less than 200 years ago.

Why does this information matter?  It doesn’t.  No one said that your people have to be like ours, with a past like ours, but it is something that can be used.  Think about your world and the countries within it. What kind of impact are expecting your ruling class to have on the “commoners” because economics may not trickle down to the power as well as the government would like it to, but the influence of your upper class citizens does. How will your characters respond or intermingle with these people? What do your characters experience?

  • Are the people very loyal, but would rebel if the queen or king married someone from a foreign court, an ancient enemy?
  • Do the people of Ul’lourin disrespect officials, nobels and royals, because title means nothing in their nation?
  • Is the attention of the commoners so caught up in the High Court that they do not notice the corrupt policies and high robbery of the Lower Court?
  • Would mages avoid Ver Na’slin for fear of being selected by the Vast?
  • Is trade becoming harder in Ul’lourin, because people are intimidated to enter such an aggressive nation?
  • Are the people demanding peace and freedom from the hardship of war?
  • Are the people aware of the Vast? And if so, are they afraid of it?
  • Do people avoid Ver Na’slin for fear of being attacked by the Vast? Or even being taken over by it?
  • Is it hard to find a wife in Ul’lourin if you are not a decorated veteran?
  • Is it difficult to earn any kind of work in Ver Na’slin, due to difficult examinations? But wouldn’t that mean that Ver Na’slin only provides the best?
  • Or is it a city filled with tricky mages?
  • Would the citizens of Ver Na’slin be distrusted for their prestige?

These are the questions you must ask about the people you populate your world with.  Who are they? And what do your characters think of them, or are they one of them?

Governments create great conflict for the plot, but try to let it be in the background.  Let the atmosphere of a deposed Archmage bring uncertainty to the people and distrust of strangers.  Why not allow a queen from a foreign power take the throne and bring with her prosperity to the land and welcome strangers from far off places.  Allow the Warlords to promote a soldier to the council and with his promotion a new campaign to begin.  Breath life into your world the wil bring true conflict to the plot.

The Multifaceted Diamond

How many types of governments are you going to employ?  Too often are worlds written with the same type of government beaten across its face.  Many times it is only the opposing ruling antagonist whose nation runs an alternative government, just to dehumanise the citizens of that land and the antagonist.

And even then, it is a failed attempt to bring a 3D feel to the world.

Take the three from above, put the three into the same world, far or near each other and every person will have a preconceived notion about the Coersolanish, Ver Na’slinese, or Ul’louricans.

What if these nations neighboured one another? You could have a number of influences on government.

  • Local government of Coersolan bordering Ver Na’slin may in fact require more sturdy evidence of competence from ruling members of government officials, rather than just accepting pedigrees. Even the people may push for more examining of worthiness.
    The High Court nobles may find Lesser nobles harder to win over, but due to greater expectancies of these nobles, a vote from them may be greater credit than three other noble houses combined.
  • Ver Na’slin local officials where the border meets Ul’Lourin may be War Mages, rather than just your every day mage, and the prestige of proving one’s worth is on the battle field, which would be accepted above all other types of exams for proof of worthiness.
    Mages from this region may scoff at non-War Mages, and snivel at what the others feel passes for prestige.
  • In Ul’lourin along the boarder of Coersolan, Warriors may seek the approval of lesser officers to feel that they are serving for the betterment of their people and fulfilling their responsibilities to them.
    Warriors from this area may be much more humble than those who feel that the lower ranked officers are just underlings that do their dirty work.

What if these nations were far from one another?

  • How would the Warlords of Ul’lourin view the Ver Na’slinese mages? Would their strategies be useless if they ever went to war with them? Would they ever dare go to war with powers that have always been so far and distant from home?
    Would Coersolanish mages overwhelm the Ul’lourican warriors? And if so, would Ul’lourin summon the help of the Ver Na’slinese mages? Would this bring shame to them? Or debt to the warriors because they could not fight their own battle, alone?
    Would new Warlords need to be selected, and would the Ver Na’slinese mages be the ones to test the strength and wisdom of the Ul’lourican warriors here on out? What kind of political influence would this begin within Ul’lourin?
    What would Coersolan think of not only Ul’lourin summoning Ver Na’slin’s help, but of Ver Na’slin in general? Would they now be enemies?

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  • How would Coersolan deal commerce and trade with Ver Na’slin? Would their goods be highly regarded due to such severe testing? Or would they have greater trade taxes on Ver Na’slinese goods so that the government can share in the wealth the products would bring to their country? Would trade be one way, considering that Coersolanish products would be inferior?
    Would craftsmen of Ver Na’slin find better work in Coersolan? Without such government regulation on them they would feel free to work as they pleased, but would they be disgusted by the lack of care the local Coersolanish workers carried out?
    Or would Ver Na’slinese workers find more pressure to make better goods? Due to the fact that they are propelled up the social work ladder, because of the “lesser people” support system of Coersolan, and work harder than they did in Ver Na’slin?
    What of trade with Ul’lourin? Would merchants be to scared to travel to Ul’lourin? Would they have to come to Ul’lourin to trade at all? Would there have to be trades made using emissaries instead?
  • Ver Na’slin seeking prestige in all corners of the world would send out Emissary Mages to prove Ver Na’slin’s worth to the world, but may avoid places like Ul’lourin who wage war constantly. They would never want to have their power used to show the world what terror they can bring, unless it was justified and used for the most worthy of causes. Many mages may be prohibited from ever participating in war, unless they had strict permission from the Archmage.
    Emissary Mages may have a hard time working with lower classes of Coersolan, since it is the High nobles that would be the “tested” ones to prove their usefulness to Ver Na’slin. Would lesser nobles pull support from High nobles who would use these mages that dare look down their noses at them? Does this now mean that Ver Na’slin has a shaky relationship with them? It could explain why Coersolan mages are used over any mage or any of Ver Na’slin.

We The People

Government influence permeates all levels of a country. A government’s structure and rule will change how a people function in society and ultimate shift their moral ground. You as the writer need to think about more than who sits on the throne, but how? And what kind of effect will it have on their citizens?

So tell me, what kind are you looking into? And have you thought about impact?

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