Fantastic Governments

This is a repost from October 20, 2008. It is being reposted as there is another article being posted soon that will follow it.

Here I will deal with fantastic forms of government, and the RPG community’s thoughts on it. I would like to focus specifically on the influence magic, psionics, and monstrous races could have on government. Feedback is appreciated, and post your own fantastic forms of government. Some basic concepts I had so far:

Simple enough. A powerful dragon flies in and establishes itself as ruler of a humanoid community. Dracocracies are usually noted for being large exporters of goods, but tend to import mainly a) absolute needs or b) the dragon’s favorite horde items. They tend to have a very aggressive foreign policy, and if the dragon is evil and has been in power for awhile, the communities armed forces tend to consist of a large number of half-dragons bred for this purpose. Other than that, dracocracies tend to follow the views of the dragon that rules them. Due to the long lifespan of their rulers, most dracocracies have a very unstable period when the dragon takes power and when the dragon dies or is deposed, but a very stable period between the two times. This pattern is more common with Lawful dracocracies than chaotic, and most common in Lawful Good dracocracies. Chaotic Evil dracocracies tend to be short lived, as the population is usually rapidly depleted by their master or they flee in fear. Only very powerful (old or older) evil dragons have the power to rule long lasting evil dracocracies, while it is possible for a young “good” dragon to rule a dracocracy. In D&D terms, evil dragons usually need to be adult to enforce their power, while good dragons tend to need to be adult to mature to stay in power.

Dragons tend to take the long view, so they usually employ others to run the day to day business of what they rule. In good dracocracies, this tends to take the form of natives. In evil dracocracies, this is usually done by natives at first, later by half-dragon and draconic offspring of the ruling dragon, who form an elite upper class blessed with longevity as well as additional powers. Dracocacies rarely feature more than one dragon, or a mated pair and their children – most dragons do not show the ability to share territory and work together that would allow for multiple draconic families to rule the same city.

A conferosentenocracy* is ruled by a psionic entity that is formed by powerful psions. This entity, referred to as the Group Sentience, is made up of the emanations of every single psionic entity in the nation that is bound to it, and those who are bound to it are considered citizens. In a nation of psionic races, such as dromites or duegar, this means that every member of the species is a citizen. A conferosentenocracy that arises among humans, however, tends to form an aristocracy of psionically-endowed humans while those born without psionic talent are considered a lower class. Citizenship can be revoked, divorcing yourself from the Group Sentience, while someone can gain citizenship by binding themselves to the Group Sentience. Being bound to the Sentience has no ill effects on the character, or any at all: all it means is that your existence powers the Sentience, who is aware of your existence and is influenced by your viewpoints. They tend to be very democratic in actual implementation, but conferosentenocracies require passive, not active, participation. The Group Sentience itself sometimes tends to take the form of a large psionic entity in crystalline form, similar to a psicrystal, but far more powerful.

*(from Latin confero, meaning group, and sententia, meaning thought. Usually shortened to just Sentocracy in the vernacular.)

A mortocracy is a government by the undead. Any type of intelligent undead can rule, but rulership usually falls to liches and the like. There are many cultures in which the elders of the society are given the right to rule; in the case of mortocracies, this is extended to its logical conclusion. Usually such governments are evilly-inclined, though such a government may be quite tolerable to live in – undead have few material needs, and a lich or cabal of liches may not even find taxes necessary, so long as the community is able to trade for the rare items and research materials they need. Because evil is often quite jealous, these governments are usually autocratic, with one undead ruler or a strict hierarchy of undead answerable to the most powerful of them. A mortocracy may have come about by the conquest of an enterprising undead creature, or perhaps the community was ruled by a spellcaster or other being who decided to extend his rule into un-life. There could be a whole dynasty of lich-kings, each one siring heirs while mortal and then becoming undead, to pass the throne on to their (now also undead) heir once they transcend the mortal realm and attain archlichdom.

In some cases, a mortocracy may be revered, if still feared. Imagine a desert society living around the ancient tombs of their distant ancestors, who now rule as mummies from within. Though few commoners truly want mummies around, the ruling class is still held in considerable respect by the people (their descendants), and perhaps these rotting elders are consulted on occasion – after all, they have had quite a bit of experience in their long existences. These undead might rule through priests or clergymen that act as their bureaucracy within the community. Needless to say, such a community would not look kindly on adventurers arriving with undead-slaying on their minds.

That’s what I’ve got for now. Please bring your own!

6 thoughts on “Fantastic Governments

  1. Hopefully I’ll remember to postback once I get home from work… becuase somewhere in my bottomless D&D PDF Drive there’s an article in Dragon Mag from the days long gone where they tackled this same topic. Actually, i think there were two articles…. anywho… hopefully I’ll remember to check that when I get home and link the references here. Nice post btw!

  2. Good thing I remembered to link back here… (btw: your comment feed doesn’t seem to be enable because I did not get an email that anyone replied to this post after me)

    OK, here goes –

    Dragon Magazine #25 (1979) is where this first appeared; then later in 1E AD&D DMG, then again in the 2E AD&D Campaign Source Book,
    ANARCHY — No formal government and no social classes
    ARISTOCRACY — Government by a privileged class, this class so vested
    with power to rule being determined by virtually any circumstances
    of social or economic relevance
    AUTOCRACY — Government which rests in self-derived, absolute
    power (an emperor or dictator is typically an autocrat, but the variations
    are many)
    BUREAUCRACY — Government by department, rule being through
    the heads and chief administrators of the various departments of the
    CONFEDERACY — A league of possibly diverse governmental and
    social entities designed to promote the common weal of each
    DEMOCRACY— Government by the people, i.e. the established body
    of citizens, whether direct or through elected representatives
    FEODALITY — Feudal government where each authority derives authority
    and power from the one above and pledges fealty in like manner
    GERIATOCRACY — Government by the very old
    GYNARCHY — Government by females only
    HIERARCHY — Typically religious government with a structure
    somewhat similar to a feodality
    MACOCRACY — Government by professional magic-users
    MATRIARCHY — Government by the eldest females of whatever social
    units exist
    MILITOCRACY — Government by military leaders and the armed
    forces in general
    MONARCHY— Government by a single sovereign, usually hereditary,
    whether absolute in power or limited (such as the English monarchs
    were by the Magna Carta)
    OLIGARCHY — Government by a few, usually absolute, rulers who
    are co-equal
    PEDOCRACY — Government by the learned and savants
    PLUTOCRACY — Government by the wealthy
    REPUBLIC — A government of representatives of an established electorate
    THEOCRACY — God-rule, or rule by a god’s direct representative

    By the time 3E made its appearance, the DMG presented far fewer ‘governments’ to choose from (3.5E DMG, p.140). The 3E Cityscape suppliment did provide half-a-dozen or so City Governments.

    Of course, your imagination has not real limits on this…

  3. Interesting, the macocracy is now called a magocracy. Thanks for the list!

    Also, how do I set up that feed in wordpress so people will know when there have been comments?

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