Sunday, October 12, 2014

Political Parties

We’re in the thick of an election cycle here in the US. Looks like the Democrats are going to be losing seats in both the House and Senate, but that is normal for a President’s sixth year. I’d like to think it was the American citizens wising up, but I think it can better be attributed to our national ADHD.

So how do political parties in your fantasy world work? You use them right? At the very least, the king needs to have a cousin, brother or uncle who wishes that they were king and is maneuvering in the background to take over if ever given the chance. My most major campaign is based out of Forsbury, so I know the political parties in the Council of Barons best. The main parties there are the New Order, the Moderates, and the Old Guard. For the most part, this is a generational thing, but not entirely. The New Order is mostly made up of Barons in their 30s and 40s. They want to do new things in order to expand their power - more of the risk takers. The Old Guard is more Barons in their 50s and 60s. They want things to stay as they are, even if they lose opportunities, as long as they prevent others from rising to threaten them (others here really meaning the non-noble class). The Moderates don’t want to be mired in the mistakes of the past, but they are not the risk takers the New Guard is. So you can see how they would be in conflict - rivalries and debates, but not open warfare.

In Myork, there are also three parties. They don’t have cool names (at least not yet), but they have entirely different long-term goals. One group believes strongly that the only way they will ever be able to wipe evil from the world is to take over the world and rule it with one government (and a martial one at that). They are actively building a new capital from which to rule the world and mainly use diplomacy to bring other rulers and politicians into their organization. Another lacks that patience and demands that Myork take action now. They see evil running free in the world and want to transport troops there and destroy it. This backfires on them time and time again. As soon as they crush the evil ones, the locals seem to immediately forget that the soldiers came there to liberate them and start whining about their freedoms being squashed by these foreign troops. So the knights go back to Myork and within 10-15 years, the evil is running rampant through that area again. Sound familiar? Think I’m a little bitter about how the USA is treated around the world? The third group is more isolationist. They believe that they can form a utopian society within their own borders and the rest of the world be damned, and they expect it will. Many of them believe that they have practically achieved this level and want to focus all attention on maintaining what they have. Truth is, they are pretty darn close to a utopian society - close enough that they have the time to get philosophical about fixing the rest of the world.

Lastly, there are two political parties in Brinston. Anytime another starts to rise, it gets gobbled up by one of the two existing parties. There are the Vintners and Merchant Princes. The Vintners are more of the old money. They own huge estates and vineyards and craft the best wines in the world. Agriculture and tradition are their power base, plus they have managed to marry off their pretty young ladies to various military superstars and control the populace through these military heroes. The Merchant Princes or Merchant Houses are the ones who truly control the trade around the world. Their fleets and caravans (but especially the ships) carry the most products and the most wealth. With the Houses taking a good percentage off the top of everything, they are incredibly rich. These two parties feud constantly, but they are nearly the same. Both wish to increase their personal wealth, though they tend to measure wealth in different ways (land and belongings vs. trade assets and coinage). Both wish to do everything they can to keep the non-nobles down and prevent any from rising to become their equals. Both have been wealthy for so long that it is difficult to find a “do-er” amongst the families; most are spoiled brats both as children and as adults.

Did I give you any ideas? This is actually a very simplistic summary. I didn’t get into the Hunting Party (a subversive group considering assassinations), the impact of religions, etc., etc., etc.

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