Political Election

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So my campaign is technically Eberron, but this question is a general enough that I thought it fit here. I have a character (a human rogue) in my campaign who would like to run for the office of Prime Minister of Breland (in my campaign the Monarchy in Breland has fallen and the country has moved in an increasingly democratic direction). I'm uncertain how to handle this from a mechanical perspective. Story-wise it works fine.

So I suppose my question is whether any of the resident DMs have held a political election in any of their games, and how did you determine the success or failure of the character's bid for office? Put another way, how would you simulate a vote?

A Skill Challenge, difficulty and DCs determined by how likely you want the party to succeed. It would be focused on Cha/Int/Wis skills.


The scenario is that the guy running for PM is giving a rousing political speech to the assembled masses, the rest of the party are the speech writers.


Diplomacy: Counts as a success, limit the number of times it can be attempted.
Bluff: Cancel a failure


Nature/Religion/Arcana and other Cha/Int/Wis skills, pandering to particular bases. So nature is aiming for the Farmer/hunter vote, Religion is the well religious vote, Streetwise could be crafter/townsfolk.


You'll need to flesh the idea out a bit, and of course adapt it to your game, but could be one way to run the idea. If you wanted to make it a longer affair, you could create a nested skill challenge and probably have the election be multi-session.

Definitely a Skill Challenge.

As stated by Mithrynn:-

Speeches could use the following skills to pander to the voters:-

Diplomacy: General Flannel and speech.
Insight: To read the crowd during the speech and play to the crowds expectations.
Streetwise: To talk about what will be done to improve the common peoples lives.
History: How the opponents plans will be a disaster as demonstrated in year XXXX when lord such and such did try this approach etc.
Religion: We will embrace and support XXX religion as their beliefs are important for growth and public morals.
Heal: The offer to improve the medical systems in the city, to setup medical teams etc.
Intimidate: To outline what disasters will occur, how the people will suffer under their opponents rule.
Thievery or Stealth: To plant embarrassing, damning evidence on the opposition.
Perception: To spot and deal with opposition 'nay sayers' and have them dealt with.
Athletics: How the armed forces will get improved training to make them stronger, more effective.
Bluff: Downright lies and BS to make outrageous claims( like a real election!!!) or cancel a failure.
Arcane: To offer improved education to the common man and will support the Arcane arts for the betterment of the land.
On a meta-level...

Does it fit your campaign if the PC rogue wins? It would not fit mine. I am not into Politics and Parties in my D&D. But if it fits yours, run with it. I would assume the riogue has to retire, as being prime minister takes more time than the other players would likely be willing to give him.

Assuming his winning does not fit your campaign, rather than just saying "you lose", run with the skill challenge ideas described above to determine how badly the PC loses. And let the outcome of each challenge element create plot hooks for the future. Uncover vote rigging. Learn of some political insiders who can serve as patrons. Perhaps even some campaign contributors who decide they want some return on their unsuccessful investment. And certainly, by running for office, the rogue has guaranteed recognition in any tavern, bank, and jewelry shop in the land.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
well first he has to roleplay a debate with the other cantidate(s) 

then he has to make a speech,

then he has to get coorprate sponsorship

then he has to make an infernal pact 

then he has to attack the credibility the other cantidates (if he wishes)

then he has to wait for the election and hope he wins!

this can be an ongoing thing, elections are usually months after people start running so this dosent have to be one scene and your other adventures can come into play here 
Turn it into a little mini-game.  Build a campaign staff for each of the candidate's rivals.  Have them "fight" one another in an abstract campaign game.  Each round represents a single news cycle.  Roll initiative and have each character announce what they plan to do that news cycle.  Each skill would be opposed by a skill of the rival's camp or by a generic DC.  Give each candidate a number of "candidacy points" ("CP"), like hp, to represent their likelihood of victory at the start of the campaign.  If someone drops to zero hp, they drop out of the race.  A campaign lasts 10 rounds.  Candidate with the most CP at the end of the campaign wins.  If there's a tie, have a runoff election two news cycles long.  The candidate himself alwasy gets a +2 bonus to any Skill check he personally rolls.

No character may roll the same skill twice in a row.  Here's some examples.  (Having trouble with coming up with reasonable uses of Acrobatics, Dungeoneering, or Heal.)

Athletics (candidate only, moderate DC): Go on a photo op that demonstrates your virility.  On a success, gain 10 CP.  If you fail by more than 5, take 10 ongoing damage (save ends)

Arcane (opposed by Insight): Use astrology and divinations to figure out what a rival will do.  Opposed by rival's Insight.  If successful, allows you to force someone in rival's camp to reroll one of their Skill checks this news cycle.

Bluff (opposed by Diplomacy): Spread a lie about a rival.  On a success, the rival takes 10 ongoing damage (save ends)

Bluff (staff only): Style Consultant.  Until the end of your next turn, replace your caniddate's Bluff check with your own whenever a rival makes a skill check opposed by your candidate's Bluff.

Diplomacy (difficult DC): Set forth you or your candidate's platform.  If successful, the candidate can spend a healing surge.

Diplomacy (opposed by Diplomacy): Attack a candidate's platform.  If successful, you inflict 10 hp damage.

Diplomacy (staff only): Spokesman.  Until the end of your next turn, replace your caniddate's Diplomacy check with your own whenever a rival makes a skill check opposed by your candidate's Diplmacy.

Endurance (candidate only, moderate DC): Whistlestop tour.  You try to visit every voting district in a single news cycle.  If successful, you gain 20 CP. Only usable once a campaign.

Endurance (staff only): Damage control.  Until the end of your next turn, replace your caniddate's Endurance check with your own whenever a rival makes a skill check opposed by your candidate's Endurance.

History (opposed by Perception): You use your knowledge of prior campaigns to outmaneuver an opponent.  If successful, you inflict 10 damage.  Gain a cumulative -1 penalty each time you use this Skill to attack.

History (staff only): Outmaneuver.  Until the end of your next turn, replace your candidate's History check with your own whenever a rival makes a skill check opposed by your candidate's History .

Insight (opposed by History): You discern a candidate's strategy against you.  You or your candidate gains Resist 5 against attacks by that candidate.

Intimidate (opposed by Diplomacy): Fearmonger by raising a parade of horribles you claim rivals can't handle.  Each rival you hit takes 5 damage.  If you hit fewer than half your rivals, you look paranoid and take 20 damage.

Nature (candidate only, moderate DC): Show your love for the environment (i.e., hunting, conservation, whatever the people want).  On a success, gain 10 CP.  If you fail by more than 5 you seem like a kook and take 10 ongoing damage (save ends)

Perception (opposed by Bluff): Find a weakness in a rival's campaign style.  That candidate becomes vulnerable 5 to attacks by you or your candidate.

Perception (staff only): Until the end of your next turn, replace your caniddate's Perception check with your own whenever a rival makes a skill check opposed by your candidate's Perception.

Religion (candidate only, moderate DC): Demonstrate piety.  On a success, gain 10 CP.  If you fail by more than 5 you seem like a zealot and take 10 ongoing damage (save ends).

Stealth (opposed by Endurance): Find a dirty secret about the candidate, if he has one.  (Most should have a few.)  The next time you or your candidate attacks that candidate, he also inflicts ongoing 20 damage.  If you fail by 5 or more, you are exposed, embarrassing the candidate and inflicting ongoing 20 damage.

Thievery (opposed by Perception): Sabotage a rival's campaign stop.  If successful, until the end of your next turn the rival's skill checks (though not his staff) incur a -2 penalty.

In addition, throw in some social combats.  There could be a few debates where it's candidate against candidate.  Or have some sort of outside disaster like an earthquake or flood that challenges the candidates to look like they care, without turning the tragedy into a photo op. Or even some other news item that threatens to throw the election off the news for an election cycle.  Maybe if the candidate is bloodied, he is deemed "irrelevant" and his and his staff's actions are ineffective until he does smoethign dramatic to get back into the race and restore credibility.
"Do you want to retire your character?"

Adventuring tends to involve a lot of travel in my games.  If you're tied down to one place by local politics, you're not going to be able to adventure; 'Politician' is now your job title, not 'Adventurer'.  If you stay home and deal with tax bills while your buddies are out adventuring, you're not really playing the game, and if you don't stay, well, you're likely to be ousted from your position because you aren't doing your job.

So, if he does want to retire the character, he wins.
If not, he loses.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Dynasties & Demagogues contains rules for running elections, and politically oriented campaigns in general.  It is mostly skill based, so if you translate some of the skills used and the DCs to 4E, it should work fairly well.
Echoing salla. Political leadership is a full time job of rubbing elbows and tending relationships. An absent leader would have his power base snatched up in the blink of an eye. Anyone who wins office has changed careers.
Echoing salla. Political leadership is a full time job of rubbing elbows and tending relationships. An absent leader would have his power base snatched up in the blink of an eye. Anyone who wins office has changed careers.



This is a fantasy political leader. I'm sure you can find some examples from fiction of leaders who are secretly (or not so secretly) heroes, and for whom this bit of realism doesn't apply. Or simply fit the adventures in as political recess, spread out over several years (in game time, a PC need only spend 60 or 70 days of actual solid adventuring to get from level 1 to level 30, it is in fact something that by RAW you could do in your summer holidays). Some of them may include rationale for why it works, such as a very loyal minister who looks after the show whilst the head is away.

Also, of course this kind of event - an evil want-to-leader taking over whilt the good guys are away - could be a fine piece of plot.



Thank you all for the great advice. Lots of ideas I had not considered. I will probably go with sometihng akin to wrecan's mini-game idea, since that could be done to a certain degree in the background while other adventures go on. I can also see some small encounters working into it (the party goes and fights bandits in a very public way to garner public support, or breaks into a rival's campaign HQ just depending on how dirty they want to play).

Also thanks to Barvas of the book recommendation. I will check that out.

As to concerns about his character having to retire, I'm not particularly worried about it. I actually enjoy the concept of him trying to live a double-life. So as long as they player is having fun and it doesn't make my game explode, I'm content to stretch the 'realism' of it. Probably there will be times where his new job (assuming success) forces him to not go adventuring, and in such cases I'll just have him role up a more fleshed out version of one of their companion NPCs that they have picked up in the course of the campaign. Also as slobo points out, there is a lot of good plot to be had if he absents himself from the office too often or does a poor job of it. Impeachment, coups, or even assassination attempts seem like they could all make grand adventures in their own ways.
If it helps in the "if he wins" scenario, in my campaign, one of the characters is actually one of 3 justicars which sits and listens to issues as they arise from the populace.  Knowing that he is a hero of lore (and it is expected that he would range somewhat on the behalf of the kingdom), while he and his compatriots are out adventuring (defending the town, stopping the evil from rising, killing the storm giants who have placed a constant storm over the port town, essentially stopping trade) the other two justicars take care of business. 

When the other 2 justicars cannot come to agreement, that issue is tabled until the character (and his consular compatriots) return.

What I've found is pretty cool about this is that upon their return, the PCs always find some interesting issues (and ONLY the interesting issues - the justicars took care of the other mundane schtuff) to deal with, and they have really integrated themselves into the background.

On top of that, I have plot hooks galore. 

On top of that, if you really get feisty (and have the kind of table that can see this as fun), you can actually put some near-real moral conundrums in front of them for their judgement.  For instance, in their town, they were built from adventurers and are tolerant, in general.  What do they do when the priests of Asmodeus come forward seeking to build a cathedral in town?  What do they do when the assassin's guild has virtually abolished killings locally, but is really quite active in the neighboring towns (to the point which the neighbors are demanding action!).  What do you do with the thief who has been caught 6 times stealing, and the people are demanding that you cut off his hand(s) to teach him a lesson.

In short, as the others have said, make it fun for you and the players.  If it becomes like real government (without the highlights like I just mentioned), you probably are losing out on the whole "fantasy game" thing...

I hope this helps.
Keep it fun.
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