In the small part of the world we are concentrating on, we have worked out the cultural archetypes, racial makeup and technology of the realms we are working with, resulting in an interesting mix, ranging from the more advanced socially and technologically tabaxi to the rather more backward giants.
Our next step on the path of building the world is to look at how the realms are ruled. Each culture can have a number of realms in it, each with differing forms of government. For this region we have five thri-kreen realms at the heart of it. Studying the maps, I have decided that there is room on it for 1 giant, 1 tabaxi and 2 human realms as well.
We start with the giants to the east, rolling a 1d100 on the Government Form table. The dice come up with a Dictatorship – a supreme ruler holds absolute power, but not necessarily dynastic. For their social alignment we roll another 1d100 and get chaotic evil.
From what we previously knew of the giants, this all fits together. The nation is ruled by the principle of ‘might makes right’, with local strongman bosses and their warbands obeying those above them out of fear, and at the top being the most dangerous of the lot. They may call themselves a king or warlord or by another title. Treachery and violence are an acceptable route of promotion, with one strongman taking down another while being on the lookout for other rivals. Beneath them are the slaves – ogres, orogs, orcs and humans, keeping society running. They are kept in check by the neogi slavemaster, valued and respected parts of the realm. And then there are the dwarves, living a precarious existence where only their valued skills keep them from being enslaved.
Next we come to the tabaxi. They roll confederacy for the Government Form, where individual cities and towns govern themselves but contribute to a league or federation for the common good of all, and neutral good for the social alignment.
Initially we were meant to have three tabaxi realms in the region, including an area across the water to the southwest. After this I decided to collapse them all into this single confederacy and model it in part on the Hansaetic League. The tabaxi are a confederation of mostly independent mercantile city-states that have banded together for mutual trade and protection, where their traders travel far and wide and brought back wealth and knowledge. They believe the well-being of all comes before the rule of law and the rule of individual liberty, and they extend that to all who live among them, regardless of race.
All in all, a place that stands starkly different to the land of the giants.
Moving on, we turn to the first of the human nations. They turn out to be an oligarchy, a small group of absolute rulers who share power, and the social alignment is lawful neutral.
For this I picture a feudal nation that is nominally a kingdom, but the king is weak and ineffective, and the true power in the land is a small group who form the King’s Council, ruling the land in the name of the king. They do it for what they perceive as the good of the nation, ruling through a slowly growing bureaucracy, where law and order is paramount and everyone is treated the same, regardless of circumstances. They see it as necessary to bring peace and stability to the land and to preserve their feudalistic system in the light of outside dangers.
The other human nation rolls up a hierarchy, a feudal or bureaucratic system of government which proceeds through different levels of a religious institution. Basically a highly stratified religious government, with power being concentrated at the top in the form of High Priest. The roll for social alignment also turns up as chaotic evil, which at first I don’t think would work with the stratified nature of the nation, but on second thoughts can see it working if there is a lot of infighting within the ranks of the religion, with frequent assassinations, blackmail, treachery, corruption and the works.
Given the nature of the place, I can see which of the gods they worship, that being the lesser power of fire and war we rolled up back in the deities section, a chaotic evil goddess who reveled in the destructive aspect of war, of burnt offerings and sacrificial victims set aflame. Not the most pleasant of neighbours.
Finally we come to the thri-kreen, with their five small nations that are in effect little more than city-states in the jungles. Given their small size and that they are all of the same culture, it is probable that they are fairly similar in the way they are governed and their outlook. They won’t necessarily be all the same, but I can’t see their being any extremes in differences, which we will have to keep in mind as we develop them.
Rolling up for the first one, we get a militocracy, where military leaders rule under martial law, while the alignment comes out as chaotic-neutral, a place where there is no central authority and no law. At first I consider throwing this out but after some reflection I can see how to make it work. A CN country can be one in the process of disintegration, such as through an invasion. Given the neighbours around them, this seems a good choice – the city-state has been invaded, the rulership fled or dead and the army is all that is left, trying to hold the nation together. It also makes a great place for adventures for players, to try and help stabilise and rebuild in the face of an aggressor army.
Following that up we roll up lawful good feudalism for the next state, a fairly standard state for a fantasy setting, if one that is someone unusual in its racial makeup.
The third is a chaotic good monarchy, one with less laws and more freedoms, which makes it less stratified and lacking the peasants the previous city-state had.
The fourth is another lawful good state, but this one another hierarchy – basically feudalism but with priests in place of nobles. Interestingly there is only one lawful good deity in the pantheon, the sole demigoddess whose portfolios are war, redemption and guardianship. Given who some of their neighbours are, including one that worships the evil goddess of fire and war, I can see how one city-state may have taken to worshiping her.
The last thri-kreen city-state is a neutral-good republic, where government is in the hands of representatives chosen by electors. This is an interesting place, having thrown off the shackles of the old style feudalism that was once common to the thri-kreen and instead embracing new ideas coming from their tabaxi neighours.
All of this does make the concept of giant slaves a bit hard to work in as good societies tend not to have them. What I am thinking is that the giants are actually captured raiders made into indentured servants and prisoners, not quite free but not true slaves either.
The final step of this part of the chapter is what is labeled situations – elements we want to introduce into the immediate area. This is one we don’t roll for but make up, and a number of suggestions are made.
This can range from typical things like raids, famines, wars and the like, to more unusual things like unusual laws, technology, the way magic works and even racial roles. Maybe only gnomes are allowed to be bards or maybe only red-heads can use clerical magic.
We have already come up with some as we designed our small nations – the main one being the invasion of one of the thri-kreen city-states and its fight for survival. The best fit for this is that the neighbouring giants have launched a large invasion. The other thri-kreen are aiding them in the fight, and most likely the tabaxi as well. Meanwhile the humans are not involved, though the evil human nation is probably involved in some raiding for victims to take off for sacrifice, and if keeping an eye out for weaknesses to exploit should the situation arise.
I would like to add some more unusual elements to the tabaxi at some point – it sounds an intriguing place and deserves more fleshing out.
Next time we return to the map and the physical cartography of the region.