Thursday, June 7, 2012
Designing a Planet Part 11 - Nations
While this closely relates to the idea of powerful factions this is not quite the same because of the realm of responsibility, the authority and official identity of governments, and their ability to enforce with no regard for the law because they are the law. Nations are entities that are to be feared and respected if they are powerful, a screen and joke if it is weak and manipulated by other groups; in any case Nations are useful for just about anything under the sun, be it plot, character development, setting definition, current events, etc. Characters can work with the government, against it, not be involved with it at all for instance, or armies could be funded by or under orders directly from politicians and so those battles being played out on the tabletop could be influenced by the politics going on in the world or between you and your buddies in a campaign system that allows for negotiation and the lot. Discussion on campaign systems is a long way in the future so don't hold your breath on that article. [a quick sidebar: I love how as I write this stuff more and more things open up as topics. Sometimes its hard to come up with ideas on what to write about, and then while thinking I fire out several concepts that are ripe for the taking and practically write themselves. End sidebar]
So how would you end up creating your nation or nations? First you want to decide its purpose in the setting, just like everything else I've written about. If in doubt move to the purpose of the whole thing. How do you want this masterpiece you are crafting to be changed by the presence of this nation or nations and also how should everything else that you are using the planet for be affected (characters, battles, stories, etc.). With this in mind you have to decide, similarly to creating a faction, on the power level and scale of influence this nation has. In general these are far more powerful than any faction, though factions often have hands in the workings of the government of a nation so keep that in mind as well. Should this nation be one of puppets with a small group being the true masters of the planet, or is this an actual bureaucracy like so many planets of the Imperium claim to be aside from the Planetary Governorship's overruling authority. Will this be a planet governed by many strict laws that cover every possible problem and occurrence or is this a planet that is relaxed. This is influenced of course by the type of world it is, sometimes a government is lax because the planet is well behaved on its own, other times it is a pirate world and any attempt at putting some order on the place would result in a revolt and all the people in government would be killed (which of course none of them want. They just pray that the Administratum does not find out about their problems or else they will die long and horrible deaths for their inability to solve the problem). What is the prime directive of the government, does it stand for civil rights, is the economy its main interest, or does the safety of the planet and its assets override all other concerns? These things will determine how the nation will act in accordance with a plethora of situations that you may not have thought of when initially designing the nation.
An additional part of a Nation is how it is perceived to be. This image should be defined from as many viewpoints as possible, from the lowliest citizen to the high ranking nobles and maybe even the Planetary Governor himself. Is it considered to be fascist or authoritarian, is it just, is it loved or hated? Do people believe that it is powerful? This is an entirely different question on is it powerful, image is a very important thing, ask any politician or successful businessperson. If the nation is perceived to be strong then that avoids the problem of wars with other nations or rebels even if the case is not true. This is the value of Propaganda in government as so many of us see daily from a variety of politicians in our different governments.
One of the final ingredients in cooking up this nation is deciding on a theme for it and what sort of government is it. What policies does it believe in, does it compromise or is it unyielding? What tactic has it employed the most, brute military force, tactical strike teams, closed door negotiations, bold and open declarations, what is the favored method of dealing with situations that arise?
Our favored Jungle planet (that I capitalize sometimes and don't capitalize others) has one nation because it is a typical nation of the imperium. It is run by the military and so binding laws are commonplace and exist for every possible happenstance. It does not negotiate with xenos, traitors, or heretics and uses military force like a sledgehammer. Though there are groups within the government that favor specialist teams, they are few in number and have little influence and so rarely are elite forces sent out, only large waves of overwhelming strength. The concern of the government is keeping order and safety for the entire planet and the system preferably, a responsibility it keeps in mind at all times. This is a strong government that is not manipulated by others, the generals may have personal agendas but they are not manipulated by outsiders because of their contempt for any non-military personnel and their jealousy and hatred for rival officers. A little political civil-war, but nothing that will get out of hand. At least, not unless it is influenced by outsiders...