Worldbuilding Questions: Post #10 – Social Organization: Government and Politics
Hey everyone! Welcome back to another Worldbuilding post. We’re about three quarters of the way through this worldbuilding series! I don’t know what we’re going to go into next after this questionnaire, but I know we’ll find something! Today, I want to focus on what can be one of the more intriguing elements in a world, if used properly: the introduction of government and politics.
Government and politics has a heavy influence over my novel. Conspiracy is a beautiful thing to create, but it requires a deep and intimate knowledge of how to undermine your own system. In order to do that, however, you must start with a system that you can either build on or poke holes in depending on your story. I hope that I can present these questions in a way that will be easy to understand and easy to build from.
Let’s go! (Here’s the link!)
Government: The Basics
First, we need to start with a structural question: how has magic and the presence of magic users affected the structure of government and the law? Are magic users barred for holding office, or is it mandatory to have magic to hold office? Once we know the answer to this, we can focus on the actual structure of the government.
You have a lot of government types to choose from. I’m going to outline a few options here:
Feudal system – The king grants land to the barons, who in turn provide money and knights to him. The barons grant land to their knights, who provide military and protection services to the barons. The knights grant lands to villeins, or serfs, who provides food, labor, and services whenever demanded.
Aristocratic system: a government ruled by a small privileged class of people made up of those who feel the best qualified to rule.
Oligarchy: power rests with a small group of people.
Absolute ruler: One monarch holds supreme authority. Authority is not restricted by any written laws or customs.
Democracy: a system of government by the whole population, or all of the eligible members, usually through elected representatives.
Pick something that fits. If one of these doesn’t feel right to you, choose another.
What kind of services is the government responsible for providing? These can include items as broad as maintaining an army or as specific as providing public education. Which services are then provided privately or locally?
Who has the right to levy taxes? What kind of taxes, and on who? This can help establish different social classes.
Who supports the heads of state? What kind of associates and assistants help them out? How are these people selected? Are they elected or selected by the heads of state themselves, or do they apply for the position like any other job?
Who is considered a citizen? What rights and privileges does that grant them? What responsibilities are theirs to take on? Are there any classes or groups of people have fewer rights than a citizen? Why are they kept repressed?
Government: Status and Succession
How can you advance in status? Does more money move you up further, or do you have to be placed in that position based on selection or election?
Then we need to focus on the rules of succession. Who takes over running the government if the head is incapacitated? Is there an apparent heir or successor? How many levels of succession are there? Is there potential for the land to dissolve into chaos? Who is responsible if the heir or successor turns out to be a minor? My story features this element rather prominently. Without giving anything away, I am playing around with who is expected to rule and who will end up ruling along with some ancient Fae laws that will throw the world into disarray.
Government: More Questions
The last several questions revolve around a variety of subjects. Some attest to the protection of the heads of state and the greater land at large. Others refer to coinage, education, and diplomatic relations. I will leave those to you to answer. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have.
I hope you all have enjoyed this article! It was a fun one to write. Happy worldbuilding!