I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Saturday, November 30, 2019

LESS BORING types of government

You read the DMG: a nation (or village etc.) can be governd by democracy, monarchy, theocracy, etc. Maybe even a magocracy, I guess. Or kleptocracy - a lot more realist, right?

This is good and all, but sometimes we need something more interesting.

Here are a a few options:

Who governs?
The highest bidders
Magical curses and laws that enforce themselves
A secret society which cannot be mentioned
The church
An oracle
The winners (or losers) of the annual lottery
A powerful monster
A set of ancient written laws of unknown origin (which are barely understood)
A witches’ coven
A semi-mummified elder
A genetically-altered ethnic minority
The wielder of a sacred artifact
Whoever can survive the local deities’ ordeal
The family that sacrificed the greatest number of members
The mob rules
A conquering warlord (or local thugs)
The brain-damaged survivor of hard drugs
Blind counsellors, relying on lies
A dying monarch with no apparent heirs
None – govern yourself

A world in which everyone is under these types of government might strain your suspension of disbelief, but I assume you'll only use random tables when you're looking for new ideas.

I have often considering leaving two columns on my tables - one for "ordinary" stuff and the other for stuff like this. Not sure how useful that would be.

This is from my book Dark Fantasy Places, by the way.

Like the rest of my stuff, it is currently on sale until Monday due to DTRPG's Black Friday-Cyber Monday sale.

If you like this table, you'll find more stuff like this on my Dark Fantasy line.

Hope you enjoy it!


  1. my campaign city has a Byzantine city government designed specifically for nothing to get done, so that if one faction or another takes control of the body they can’t grab too much power.

    So it’s representative republicanism of a kind (but oh there’s also a prince) but really nobody can do anything more interesting than filling potholes.

    ...inside the normal power structure that is

    1. And how do your players interact with that kind of power structure and bureaucracy?

    2. Oh my.

      There are four main guilds and three noble houses in the city - seven political power centers. Most PCs will be aligned with one (although I also have a guy who isn’t part of any of them.)

      the guilds form one chamber of the legislature. The noble houses plus the main churches form the other.

      The guild chamber originates legislation and the noble/church chamber has legislative oversight. At the end of each year they send bills to the Prince to enact or veto but he usually just enacts them.

      So one chamber is anarcho-capitalist (rule by guild or union) and the other is more like a confederation.

      Depending on the faction the player aligns with he could conceivably run for office. But if not he can garner favor by working in the interest of his faction.

      Day to day tasks are usually under the purview of one of the guilds.

      But the whole thing is set up specifically to keep any one power center from taking over and to keep all of them from being able to challenge the prince.

      Who incidentally just died.

      We don’t really know what will happen in this year’s political season!

  2. That is an awesome concept! I like the idea of a monarch who has no actual political power, but maybe some kind of symbolic power that is significant nonetheless... IIRC something like that happened in the history of China. Of course, this can also be played for laughs, as the ineffectual ruler gets nothing done... Or for surprise/plot twist, as suddenly someone threatens the prince making the actual political forces rise up in defense of the status quo.