Government in PoL

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I'm designing a 4E campaign. The obvious focus for heroic-tier play is politics. I'm especially interested in the conflict between democracy and monarchy.

What kind of government would PoL have? What would the politics be like, or are they too small to support interesting politics?
I'm designing a 4E campaign. The obvious focus for heroic-tier play is politics. I'm especially interested in the conflict between democracy and monarchy.

What kind of government would PoL have? What would the politics be like, or are they too small to support interesting politics?

Do you mean a representative democracy or true "every citizen gets an equal vote on every matter" democracy?

I think population size/distance of influence would be the biggest difference.
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I'm designing a 4E campaign. The obvious focus for heroic-tier play is politics. I'm especially interested in the conflict between democracy and monarchy.

What kind of government would PoL have? What would the politics be like, or are they too small to support interesting politics?

I'd imagine that there would still be a wide variety of goverments, something akin to the city states of Greece - some places might be fledgling democracies, while the larger cities might be ruled by a collection of guilds, and another group of towns might slowly be coming under the rule of a up and coming king.

There should be plenty of opportunities for politics to be interesting.
Yeah, I think the post before me has it pretty much nailed on the head. Having a series of various governments ruling over different city-states is probably the most suitable for such a campaign. This would also be good for a DM becuaase you would be able to offer various sorts of governments: the martial-based hierarchial society like Sparta, or democratically based Polis like Athens.

I would toy with this idea.
-Roman-style republics

-Empires of various kind

-Theocracies

-Kingdoms with assemblies like norses, or just an assemblies

etc
I also see a lot of small villages where "government" is kind of hand-waved and trade is largely done with goods.
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One thing to consider is that states and empires should be rare. Part of the assumption of Point of Light is that the surrounding darkness makes trade, communication, and projection of power between cities difficult.

City-states (like the example of the ancient Greece mentioned above) could flourish, but a feudal kingdom is going to be tenuous and fractious due to the difficulty of mobilizing troops by any central authority. Expect a lot of regional autonomy and commonly weak loyalty to the crown, especially in any borderlands.

After all, you can't easily keep nobles on a short leash if marshaling your forces is a major undertaking. Then again, this was the situation for most of medieval history, which is why so many states merged and split over the centuries.
One of my main areas is a province where the last vestiges of the old order (the human empire mentioned in worlds and monsters) is hanging on, under the reign of a self-appointed regent (previously the provincial governor)...

In a points of light setting, who holds the positions of power is likely to be dependent entirely on who has the power to take a position of authority, and/or who has the power to get rid of other claimants to that position of authority...

I honestly don't see many fledgling democracies springing up unless they're councils of the individuals who have power (sort of Baldur's Gate style), or unless they answer to more powerful regional authority...

An example of the first might be a desert town ruled by a guild of water-finding mages...

The second scenario would be the council of village elders serving at the sufferance of the lord of the castle.


PoL doesn't do politics.

Have fun anyway.
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On the viability of democracies:
A democracy is created when enough of the populace and people with swords believe that a democracy is a good idea.
A democracy is maintained by enough people being more loyal to the democracy then any specific person to form a standing army.
Are either of these impossible in a point of light? Just because times are tough doesn't mean people have to be selfish.
In addition, PoL are always being created. Newly created PoL have very flexible power structures.


PoL doesn't do politics.

Have fun anyway.

Wrong. Ravenloft and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are both examples of Points of Light settings. And both have a good deal of politics.
To the topic at hand - I'd wager most of the Points of Light have are either republics or weak "kingdoms" with no real borders.
I'd bring here again the Norses example as PoL governements ideas. If my memory is well, you had local nobles, with assemblies and an elected king (except for Iceland, who was a bit more egalitarian on that aspect due to the origins of the country). And their world was, while not as dark, aplicable there - settlements here and there, spareely populated lands, distances and possible warfare and banditry.

Could work for a more 'barbaric' yet not savage land.
.... An honored, good king lies dying. He Has no heir, and his advisors are already squabbling over the spoils. In a last attempt to save his people from tyrrany, he drafts one final edict - the People will Choose their rulers from henceforth. He trusts the document to the only person he can - his Manservant / Bodyguard (Let's call him Elfred), and then dies. Elfred is forced into hiding for his life untill he can come forward with his master's will....


Maybe your adventurers are hired to protect Elfred, or maybe they are tricked into finding him for the bad guys, Or maybe the adventurers themselves have an agenda against poor Elfred.

As for the "science" of Politics... Sun Tsu's "the Art of War," maybe? or Machievelli's "The Prince"? And Nothing beats a good old fashioned American Histroy textbook for ideas on the birthing of a democratic nation.


................. Heh, Elfred. Maybe my first 4E character will be a Half-Elf Warlord w/Warlock tendancies and a Hispanic Accent.
The kinds of governments you get will greatly depend on just what you mean by Points of Light. Are you talking penlights? Or things like a good Texas Bonfire?

If your PoLs are going to mainly be tiny villages and hamlets in the wider darkness of the wild, then naturally more dictatorial governments will dominate. People flocking to be near/under the protection of a more powerful and dynamic individual who presumably can protect them.

This does not mean that a true democracy or variation is impossible, just that it's far less likely. You might well find a community that was founded by refugees from a destroyed town. People who to this day rue their former lord's statement of, "Oh seriously people. What are the Ogres going to do? So I raided their stronghold and drew an arrow in the dirt pointing this direction, we'll be fine!" As a result they vowed never to let any single person rule over them again, in the hopes that a council won't be as stupid as any single individual can be.

Now if you are talking about towns, cities and even city-states the opportunities for any kind of government opens wide. Just about everything you can think of becomes possible with the advantages of time, tradition and history backing you up. From omnipotent self-proclaimed god rulers to the Town That Gets Nothing Done Because Everyone Is Voting On Everything. It's your playground, go nuts.
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Hrm... there should be at least one small/medium town ruled over by a band of evil adventurers who decided it was better to live like kings by bullying people around then by doing heroic things.

They've taken over a small town and rule with fear, but make the place suprisingly attractive to traders. Alternatively, they're on a mountain pass so trades/travellers need to go through their little despotic town or face an extremely long or hazardous detour.

While they're still young and weak the players can get bullied by these guys a bit, but overall be powerless to do anything about it. Gives them reason later on to come back and kick ass.
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Maybe CROATOAN should be my tag, after the Indian tribe rumored to have slain or assimilated the first English colonists in the New World.

In my world, "Light" and "Darkness" are relative qualities. There are a few areas that a medieval Chinese or German world would call "civilized" surrounded by wilderness. The wilderness is populated by monsters (of course!) but also by bands and tribes of people, some of whom live better lives than the PoL affords.

The PoL themselves range from autocratic (European feudal) to tyrannical (present-day North Korea). At best, most people are farmers bound in feudal agreements, supplemented by outright slaves and a few unattached cottagers. Above them are tradesmen and nobility; the nebulous lines between tradesman, yeoman and noble are the usual breeders of adventurers. At worst, the PoL is ruled by a complete tyrant whose people are essentially slaves: the only protection enjoyed by most people is that afforded by the losses incurred by their ill-treatment. Between tyrant and subject lay minions, generally of divided loyalty.

In the opening scenes, a farmer is missing, and within a few days so are his wife and children. A shepherd gone missing a few weeks earlier is brought back dead, but his body's condition is that of a healthy young man slain hours earlier; the goblins get blamed...
In case you care, this is how I am handwaving it.

Within the region my setting takes place in (as I only deal with a portion of a continent, not a whole world) there are a number of countries.

Most countries are kingdoms (a la pulp medieval representations of northern Europe), ruled either as a Monarchy or Theocracy.

Each smaller community is responsible for its own government. Most have lesser regional lords who are either elected by the local community in a 1 land-owner = 1 vote election -or- are appointed by a local council of elders. Rarely they are appointed to or awarded with lordship by the King/Queen/head of the ruling religion.

There are a few exceptions such as the representative democracy/magocracy city-state (cosmopolitan), the ever expanding warrior-society (orcs) and the government-less migrating tribes (dragonborn).
[INDENT][/INDENT]I like the recommendation of looking into works such as Art of War and The Prince.

[INDENT][/INDENT]I for one hope to find as many distinct ways of running a government as possible and then finding ways to apply those different methods within the context of D&D.

[INDENT][/INDENT]I think one thing to keep in mind is that understanding the political philosophy of a given system is very useful when setting up a government that the PCs can effectively role-play with. Understanding that philosophy will help in deciding how the NPCs will react to the PCs in an engaging way.
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