I’m starting to feel like a nagging old lady but…: remember to treat every element as its own character! Religion? A character! Government? A character! City? A characterrrrrrgh! All with their own flaws, conflicts and loveable quirks.
Lets look at the types of government, bare in mind there will often be a mixture of multiple types within one system:
- Federalism: One general government with regional governments within to make a single system. E.g. United States
- Feudalism: A military hierarchy where a King will bestow land to nobles in exchange for their loyalty and military power. Lots of political instability and threat from powerful lords. E.g. Medieval England
- Unitary: One supreme central power which has authority over all other governments within. E.g. UK, France, Japan
- Confederation: An alliance or treaty between states. Usually united primarily to deal with critical issues. E.g. The European Union
- Anarchy: Absence of a government, the idea being that a ruling government is harmful to the people. Often comes after the toppling of a dictator.
- Aristocracy: A government with wealthy nobles in power. Generally built on a hereditary class system where certain wealth and ethnicity will give the ability or right to rule. E.g. The Brahman caste in India.
- Meritocracy: A government which grants power to the educated. A social hierachy based on achievement and those tested to be worthy. E.g. Confucianism in the Han Dynasty
- Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade is controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. E.g. United States.
- Communism: An equal, classless society where trade and major industries, such as mines and factories, are owned and controlled by the public. E.g. China – Mao Zedong.
- Colonialism: An expanding government usually occupying indigenous populations and resources. E.g. 15th century Europe.
- Democracy: Leadership comes to power through choice/vote of its citizens. Fair representation and no unchecked control. E.g. UK
- Kleptocracy: The government comes to power through corruption or embezzlement. Citizens and resources are exploited for personal gain.
- Dictatorship: One power rules with military power and establishes its own law. Order among the citizens is usually prioritised over personal freedom and rights.
- Monarchy: A single bloodline embodies the country’s national identity and its governing system, the monarch, exercises the role of supreme sovereignty. Sometimes chosen by god or a higher force.
- Oligarchy: A small number of people hold supreme power with absence of democracy and rights. Often set by dominant race, religion, wealth, family ties, education or military control. E.g. Oppression the the South African apartheid.
- Plutocracy: Society controlled by the wealthy. Can exacerbate poverty, greed and hedonism. E.g. Roman Empire
- Socialism: Government ownership of industries. Shared resources and control for the people. E.g. Providing free healthcare
- Theocracy: Religious ideologies form the laws, customs and leadership.
- Totalitarianism: Total power of the government to retain authority. There are no boundaries for citizens private lives and freedomes. E.g. mass media control, surveillance, suppression of opposition.
- Tribalism: No central authority. Groups are split off in there own tribes with their very own customs and laws.
The player character must have some link to the world to help the gamer connect. Their character must accept some of the bad things as normality even if they fear it or it’s immoral to our world. It will only make us hate the system more.
There must be disagreements from both sides for logic’s sake. It’s boring if everybody you meet agrees with the player’s point of view, and there are no supporters or simply oblivious citizens. Let the player take a side. Put arguments forward either directly or overheard, or read. No matter how bad, not all people should refute it – they’ve grown up in this world remember, this is normality to them.
Even squad members can have clashing views. Show child-like ignorance in people happy with current politics, maybe even brainwashed by propaganda. No matter how evil a government seems, fearful people en-mass can be a powerfully influential and uncontrollable force to reckon with, no matter how extreme their ideals. People are quick to jump on the same wagon under the peer pressure and influence of others.
“Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded” – Charlie Chaplin
Don’t spell out the atrocities of the government, let them develop slowly, let them unravel and tease the player. Drip feed suspect wording and imagery early on such as ‘sin’, ‘purging’, ‘cleansing’ in lore books, speech, maybe graffiti and art. Or show through actions – people with paranoid or fearful behaviours. Show it in the people’s clothing and interactions. Uniformed people acting without individuality can sometimes show an intolerance of dissent or standing out of line. Hold horrors back for later to get a stronger effect.
The best villains are the ones that think themselves the heroes. Or at least are not evil for the sheer sake of being evil. Work with humanity’s flaws – namely their fears and temptations.
- What is the government’s motive?
- How did they come to power?
- How does it function?
- Who are its enemies? Name two conflicts: One internal and one external.
- What are the differing disagreements among people? How do supporters label the behaviour of revolters?
- How does the government affect the player? Do they benefit at all?
- Who is the leader, and what is its hierarchy?
- What obstacles must the player overcome from the government’s effect?
- Who does benefit? Why do the people not revolt?
- What holds the player to this place?
- What sets the player apart from the political world compared to normal citizens?
- Are the negatives of the government known or secret?
- If secret, how are these secrets revealed to the player?
- What are its laws?
- Is there warfare? How does it fight and what are its weapons?
- How are citizens controlled? E.g. Freedom of speech, movement or privacy? Or even freedom of birth or death?
- How will you portray this in the game?
I realise there’s a huge overlap with my previous post on society. Some of the above questions you may have answered already, some of them may simply apply to smaller tribes.