October 15, 2019 at 12:19 pm #98860
So this is one people have been asking since the beginning of writers. How do you create a government for a fantasy world that’s not cliche??? I understand this depends a lot on the world itself, (and unfortunately I can’t really say anything about my story/world idea) but does anyone have any general tips or ideas of other fantasy (or even real life) government system to be inspired by? I could really use some help.
"I never made a deal with Kanjiklub."October 15, 2019 at 12:25 pm #98861
First of all, I would recommend not doing your typical medieval fantasy run by a king and queen. I would even just recommend not doing medieval fantasy. XD (I don’t.) But there are lots of interesting governments. I know in AP Gov, we studied varying governments—Iran (a theocracy—those are interesting), Britain (a prime minister who runs the legislature if I’m remembering correctly), Nigeria (can’t remember much about that), China (dictatorship), Mexico (can’t remember), and Russia (basic dictatorship). I would look into other world governments and histories—it’s such a relief to study a country that isn’t your own when you’ve been hearing about your own country all your life—and trying to learn about other cultures. A collectivist honor-shame culture is gonna be way different than an individualistic culture like the United States, and it’ll likely show in the government. You can create some really interesting cultures and governments if you think outside the medieval fantasy box 🙂
I crush readers' souls like grapes.October 15, 2019 at 1:19 pm #98870R.M. Archer@r-m-archer
Like @cassandraia said, I’d recommend looking at real-world government types. After you’re sort of familiar with how they work, you can even adapt them. For instance, there are theocracies (nations run by the religious leaders), but what if instead of religion it was science that was most important and you had a technocracy? Or what if the nation was run by its greatest artists?
The values a nation was founded on will influence the type of government it has. Take the U.S. as an example: because we were built on values of freedom and designed to escape tyranny, our government was originally built to give the people say in what goes on. And don’t be afraid to mix government types; the U.S. is a democratic republic, not purely a republic or a democracy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that governments change and/or degrade over time, so the age of your nation will make some difference to its government.
Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.October 15, 2019 at 3:45 pm #98882Evelyn@evelyn
@padawanpadme Kinda to echo @r-m-archer … figure out your government based off of the people. The people (or at least some of the people) in your country are the ones that build it. What are their values? What do they look too? What are their religion?
Government is not a one-size-fits-all. 😉
The way to get a unique government is to base it off of your peoples’ unique view of the world, their surroundings, and what they care about most.October 22, 2019 at 1:48 pm #99232
@cassandraia Hi and sorry it took me so long to respond! Thank you so much for your detailed response, it was great!
Well, that’s okay because I’m not crazy about medieval fantasies about kings and queens either. They’re not bad, just grossly overdone and a little boring to me at the moment.
Thanks for those examples, they gave me some great ideas! I really want to study some other governments and cultures to help figure out my own. 😀
Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it!
"I never made a deal with Kanjiklub."October 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm #99233
Hey! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you!
Thanks for these ideas! They are so brilliant. I never thought of thinking like that when putting a twist on governments.
And great tips! Keeping these things in mind will make the world much more rich, I think.
Thank you again for your time!
"I never made a deal with Kanjiklub."October 22, 2019 at 1:53 pm #99234
@evelyn Hi! Sorry it took forever for me to get back to you!
That’s really a good way to look at it. The government really reflects (most of the time) what the people themselves think and value. So that’s a great angle to think about.
Thanks for this great tip, it really helped!
"I never made a deal with Kanjiklub."October 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm #99240Evelyn@evelyn
@padawanpadme Hey, no problem. I’m glad to be of help!
Looking back I probably should have given an example or something. 😛October 23, 2019 at 12:37 pm #99291R.M. Archer@r-m-archer
@padawanpadme Absolutely! Happy to help! 🙂
Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.October 23, 2019 at 6:11 pm #99298Daeus Lamb@daeus-lamb
@padawanpadme Well, it helps to understand why governments work certain ways–what were the pressures or ideologies that caused them to form so?
A non-cliché government is largely one filled with non-cliché characters with complex ficades, vices, and virtues.
👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢October 27, 2019 at 1:45 pm #99548October 27, 2019 at 7:32 pm #99566Sarah Inkdragon@sarah-inkdragon
Okay, well first off I’m going to recommend watching some of Hello Future Me’s great video essays on fantasy governments on Youtube. They’re really great. 😉
And secondly, I’m going to echo Evelyn for a moment. Values. Values are possibly the single most important thing of a government – because in essence, a government is a group of people attempting to uphold their own values. Even if those values contradict those of the people, or harm the people below them – that’s what a government does. They uphold the values of those who run it, or those who created it, or those who control it.
Think about it. What does the American government uphold? (Or at least, what did they attempt to uphold?) The values of the founding fathers – values based on the Bible. A final and absolute truth of equality of all men, upheld and overseen by an all-powerful, all-knowing, and loving God. In the beginning, that was the purpose of the American democratic republic – to provide a nation in which people can live and be free as people, and still be confined under the truth. Obviously, it’s strayed since then, but at the very basis the purpose of our government was to uphold the values of freedom and justice. Other governments uphold the values of money, or the values of revenge, or the values of family. What a people value is the single defining characteristic that can determine the use and authority and power of any government, and just how far they will go to uphold this value.
The thing that makes many fantasy governments cliche is that they are not based off the values and wants of the people, but the idea that there must be government to create order. Government is often seen as an opposing force in many novels, but it’s simply an organization of destruction rather than a government made to uphold the values of people – even if it’s only a select few people. Government is not an organization – it’s created by people to gain something. It doesn’t matter what that thing is – it may be protection from enemies, it may be money, it may be power – but there’s always something being sought after by someone in the process of the government. You cannot have a government without people, and the people will define the government.
So my best advice – create your people. Create your culture. Define what matters the most to these people – are they a rich people? A poor people? Do they value revenge or family? Are they nomadic and tribal, or are they centrally organized and tightly bonded in patriotism. People like to belong to something – a smaller part of a bigger whole. Determine what that bigger whole is, and you can determine what the people will create to oversea that bigger whole. For oppressive governments, it’s slightly backwards – it’s the will of a few that determine the values and wants of the whole. A king might come and conquer a smaller country, and then rule with an oppressive hand, looking to gain money and food. Meanwhile, the people will be looking to gain freedom and survive. There will always be a goal in mind, a thing that is valued above all else. Look for it, and when you find it, you’ll have your government. Base the freedoms and restrictions over what is valued by those who rule the government. The people often have different goals and values than the rulers – use that, and make it a point of tension.
Lastly, but certainly not least – don’t create the perfect government. Unless whatever you’re writing is heaven, there is no perfect government. It’s impossible. You cannot create peace out of the chaotic wants and needs of sinful people – there will never be a perfectly functioning government that pleases all people or provides for all people, and if there is, there’s a twist. The wants of the many override the needs of the few, and the values of the powerful override the cries of the people.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by Sarah Inkdragon.
"A hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head."
- C. S. LewisOctober 27, 2019 at 10:04 pm #99583October 27, 2019 at 11:12 pm #99586Sarah Inkdragon@sarah-inkdragonOctober 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm #99629Chelsea R.H.@seekjustice
I second @sarah-inkdragon ‘s suggestion to watch Hello Future Me’s videos on the subject. He has some really good ones that make a lot of sense. Also, have a look at the Mythcreants website. They often examine politics and government in fantasy/scifi worlds and why or why not they work.
Mahalo keia huiʻana
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