Fictional Political Systems: 45 Types With Examples
Ever wondered about the fictional political systems in your favourite fantasy worlds? From monarchies to democracies, this post explains the different types of imaginary governmental and political structures authors create when world-building fantasy realms.
- What is a Fictional Political System?
- Examples of Fantasy Political Systems
- 45 Types of Fantasy Political Systems
- How to Choose a Fictional Policitical System
- How To Create World Leaders For Your World
What is a Fictional Political System?
A fictional political system refers to the structure of government, laws, and political organisations that exist in an imaginary fantasy world. When authors build expansive fantasy realms, they often develop complex political systems to add realism and depth to their world. This includes elements like how the society is ruled, if there are multiple nations that interact, what laws govern the citizens, how leaders are chosen, etc.
Fictional political systems allow fantasy authors to explore themes around politics, power dynamics, equality, and more through the lens of fantastical races, magic, and invented histories. From monarchies and empires to democracies and anarchies, the political landscape of a fantasy realm plays a key role in shaping the characters and narratives.
Fictional Political Systems vs Fictional Govement Systems
While related, fictional political systems and fictional government systems have some key differences. A fictional government system refers specifically to the structure and institution of government in a fantasy world, like a monarchy, democracy, oligarchy, etc. It deals with how the society is governed on a practical level.
A fictional political system is broader – it encompasses the government structure but also additional elements like political parties, ideologies, laws, social hierarchies, and power dynamics between groups.
A fictional government system forms just one part of the wider political landscape. For example, a fantasy realm could have a monarchical government system, while also having complex political dynamics between aristocrats and commoners, or tensions between factions. The government system focuses on the singular ruling structure, while the political system includes the multifaceted political realities that shape the fantasy world.
For example, The Kingdom of Athelron in the fantasy series The Fire Mage has a monarchical government system – it is ruled by a hereditary king. However, its fictional political system is more complex. While the king holds ultimate power, there is also a council of aristocrats and guild leaders that influences policies. Political tensions exist between the old aristocratic families and the emerging merchant class in the cities. Additionally, each region of the kingdom has distinct political interests that create conflict – the northern counties rely on fishing and clash with the agricultural southern counties. So while the government system in Athelron is a monarchy, the political system includes factors like class divides, regional identities, and power balances between the nobles and the crown. This demonstrates how a fantasy world can have an overarching governmental structure while having a rich political landscape with competing principles and complex dynamics.
Elements of a Fictional Political System
Fictional political systems in fantasy worlds can contain many elements that parallel real-world politics while also having fantastical influences. Some key aspects authors consider when developing a fictional political system include:
- Government structure: Is there a monarchy, democracy, oligarchy etc? What are the mechanisms for leadership selection and transfer of power?
- Political principles and factions: What are the major political alignments, parties, or factions that exist? How do their philosophies differ?
- Laws and rights: What rights and freedoms are given to citizens? How are laws made and enforced? Is there equality under the law?
- Social hierarchy and dynamics: How is society stratified? What are the power relationships between social classes and groups defined by race, ethnicity, or species?
- International relations: If there are multiple nations and peoples, what are their relationships and history of conflict or alliance?
- Political history: How did the current political system develop over time from historical events?
- Fantastical elements: How do magic, mythical races, and other fantasy aspects influence politics?
By developing each of these areas, authors can construct a vivid, multidimensional political landscape within an imaginary world.
Examples of Fantasy Political Systems
In this section, we have included some famous examples of fictional political systems in fantasy worlds.
In the Elder Scrolls video game series, the fictional continent of Tamriel has a complex political landscape with diverse governmental structures across different regions. Cyrodiil has a hereditary emperor who wields absolute power, though nobility and merchant classes still influence politics. The provinces of Skyrim and Morrowind were recently annexed by the Empire and chafe under Imperial control, desiring independence. Skyrim has a hereditary High King and local monarchies called Jarls who rule each region, while Morrowind has a council of Great Houses made up of the dark elf noble families.
Outside Imperial control, the nations have their own rulers like the Kings of High Rock and the Khajiit chieftains of Elsweyr. The unaligned nations hold varying attitudes toward the Empire, with some like Hammerfell fiercely opposed to Cyrodiil’s dominance. This demonstrates how even one fantasy setting can have diverse political systems, factions, power dynamics, and tensions that drive conflict and storytelling.
The Inheritance Cycle
In the Inheritance Cycle books by Christopher Paolini, the nation of Alagaësia has a monarchical political system where a single king rules over the entire land and its people. Power resides in the monarchy, with King Galbatorix as the current tyrant who seized power through deception and maintained control through brute force. There is a clear social hierarchy, with aristocrats and nobles just below the king, followed by citizens and peasants.
However, tensions emerge as Galbatorix’s tyranny breeds resentment, and factions develop that challenge his rule. The Varden serve as freedom fighters against the king, led by Brom and later Nasuada, operating from exile. They ally with the elves, dwarves, and urgals to overthrow Galbatorix. The power struggles and ideological battles between the authoritarian Galbatorix and the rebel forces seeking democratic change form the backbone of the political conflict in the series. Magic factors heavily as well, with Dragon Riders and magical talents conferring political influence.
This demonstrates how even a monarchy can have complex dynamics between factions competing for control and resisting absolute rule. The themes of freedom, tyranny and rebellion in the political sphere drive much of the narrative.
The Chronicles of Narnia
The world of Narnia portrayed in C.S. Lewis’ fantasy series has a blend of political systems that shift over time. In the early history of Narnia, the land is ruled by the White Witch who maintains control through magical power and fear, acting as a cruel dictator. She is overthrown when the Pevensie children arrive and fulfil an ancient prophecy to rule Narnia as Kings and Queens of Old. This establishes a new monarchical system, with High King Peter and his siblings governing justly and benevolently with guidance from Aslan.
Over time, as the Pevensies leave Narnia, governmental forms change again – occupied territories are governed by foreign rulers like the Calormen Empire, while autonomous regions like Archenland have their own kings and queens. The changing of external and internal threats led Narnian politics to be dynamic, evolving based on specific leaders and eras. Throughout there is a hierarchy based on magical creatures and bloodlines, with Aslan himself symbolizing a theocratic influence on political events.
This example shows how fictional political systems can fluidly transform, from dictatorships to monarchies to occupied territories and more, shaped by both human and magical forces over time. The shifting dynamics illustrate creative world-building.
45 Types of Fantasy Political Systems
In general, there are around 45 types of fictional political systems which you can utilise in your fantasy world-building. We have explained each type below with an example:
- Absolute Monarchy: A monarchy where the ruler has complete authority and power.
- Example: In Sarah J. Maas’s “Throne of Glass” series the continent of Erilea is home to several kingdoms, one of which is Adarlan, ruled by a powerful and authoritative monarch. The ruler of Adarlan, King of Adarlan, holds absolute authority and power over the entire kingdom. The monarch’s decisions are unquestionable, and there are no constitutional or institutional constraints on their rule. The king’s word is law, and there is little room for dissent or opposition.
- Constitutional Monarchy: A monarchy with defined limits on the monarch’s power set out in law or constitution.
- Example: In The Ascendance book series by Jennifer A. Nielsen, the kingdom of Carthya is a constitutional monarchy, where the king and the queen share power with a council of regents, who represent the different regions of the kingdom. The council can veto the king’s decisions and elect a new ruler if the royal line is extinct.
- Feudal Monarchy: A monarchy where the king or queen is the supreme ruler, but they delegate some of their authority to lesser nobles.
- Example: In The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, the kingdom of Gondor is ruled by a king, who is the descendant of the ancient kings of Númenor. The king has several lords under him, such as the Steward of Gondor, the Prince of Dol Amroth, the Lord of Lossarnach, etc. These lords have their own lands and armies, and they are bound to serve the king in times of war and peace.
- Magical Monarchy: A monarchy where magic abilities give rulers the divine right to govern.
- Example: In the Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini, the nation of the elves is called Du Weldenvarden and is ruled by Queen Islanzadí. Islanzadí derives part of her authority from her magical talents – she is said to be one of the most powerful spellcasters among the elves. She can communicate telepathically with her subjects and exert control over the forest itself using her magic. Islanzadí also descended from a long royal bloodline of elf kings and queens before her who similarly possessed great magical power.
- Theocracy: A government ruled by religious authority based on spiritual philosophy.
- Example: In the Mistborn fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson, the nation of Fjordellis is controlled by the Ministry, a religious organization led by obligators who enforce worship of the Lord Ruler as a living god. The obligators make up a strict hierarchy, with the Canton of Inquisition at the top serving as the ultimate authority. They determine religious orthodoxy, punish heresy, and implement the Lord Ruler’s commands as spiritual edicts.
- Stratocracy: A system ruled by and composed of military warriors and generals.
- Example: In the Redwall fantasy series by Brian Jacques, the area of Salamandastron is the base of the Long Patrol, an elite military force of hares who defend Redwall and other lands from vermin foes. The Long Patrol is led by a Badger Lord who serves as the general and commander in chief. The Badger Lord has absolute authority over the hares in both military and civilian matters within Salamandastron. The highest ranks in the Long Patrol form a Council of Generals who advise the Badger Lord on defence strategies and military governance.
- Meritocracy: Leadership roles are earned through demonstrated talent, intelligence and achievement.
- Example: In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, admission and advancement at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is based on a meritocratic system. Students are admitted to Hogwarts based on their magical aptitude, rather than family status or wealth. Once there, students are sorted into houses based on their skills, qualities, and achievements. Leadership roles like prefects and Head Boy/Girl are given to students who demonstrate exceptional talent, good grades, or service to the school.
- Technocracy: Experts in technology and science form the ruling class.
- Example: In the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, the city of London is governed by the Guild of Engineers. They are a group of highly skilled scientists and engineers who use their expertise to run the traction city and make decisions through technical analysis and reason. The Head Engineer and guild masters use their knowledge of engineering and physics to optimize London’s operations. They determine the best speed, course, and use of resources based on calculations and energy requirements.
- Plutocracy: The wealthy upper-class rule.
- Example: In the Fablehaven fantasy series by Brandon Mull, the hidden realm of Lost Mesa is ruled by the Sphinx, a wealthy, powerful being who resides in a golden palace. The Sphinx accumulated his vast fortune over centuries by collecting magical artefacts, resources, and precious metals. He uses this wealth as the basis for controlling Lost Mesa – those who can pay his high demands and tribute gain residency and status in his kingdom, while those unable to meet his price are denied entry or access to resources.
- Ochlocracy: Rule by mob or mass populism.
- Example: In the Chronicles of Narnia novel The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis, the nation of Calormen is shown to be susceptible to ochlocratic rule by mobs. When the Tisroc dies with no clear heir, the city of Tashbaan erupts into lawless chaos as various factions fight for control. The peasants and commoners riot, looting and pillaging based on wild rumours swaying the crowds. Temporary leaders emerge from the mobs before being pulled down in fierce populism, as angry peasants and labourers exert brief control based solely on numbers and force.
- Demarchy: Positions of power are filled by randomly selected citizens.
- Example In the Maze Runner fantasy series by James Dashner, the community inside the Last City randomly selects civilians to serve brief terms as leaders through a process called the Lottery. When a leader position becomes vacant, a new leader is chosen by lottery from all eligible citizens regardless of background. For example, Lawrence is selected to be a Judge despite being only 19 years old. Similarly, Ava Paige randomly becomes Chancellor through the lottery system rather than being elected.
- Gerontocracy: Leadership is reserved for elders or the old.
- Example: The portrayal of the elves in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. In Middle-earth, the elves are an ancient and wise race, and their leaders, like Elrond and Galadriel, are depicted as elders who hold positions of authority and wisdom. While not a strict gerontocracy, as elves do not age in the same way humans do, their society values the wisdom and experience that comes with age. The elves’ leaders often play crucial roles in decision-making and guiding the younger members of their race.
- Geniocracy: Intelligence and problem-solving determine governance.
- Example: In Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, humanity is facing an alien threat, and gifted children are selected to attend a military school in space to be trained in the art of war and strategic thinking. The protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is chosen for his exceptional intelligence and problem-solving skills. The leadership in this context values the young characters’ intelligence and ability to strategize effectively in the face of a formidable enemy.
- Anarchy: An absence of rulers or complete lawlessness.
- Example: In The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, the main character, Nobody Owens (Bod), is raised by ghosts in a graveyard after his family is murdered. The graveyard operates as a sort of self-governing community where the ghosts, each with their unique personalities and experiences, coexist without a formal ruler or structured authority. While not a traditional representation of anarchy, the graveyard setting reflects a society without a central government or explicit laws.
- Communism: Classless, equal society with common ownership.
- Example: In the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”, hobbits live in a society characterized by simple living, shared resources, and a lack of a rigid class structure. The hobbits embrace a rural lifestyle, and there is a sense of community where individuals work together for the common good.
- Republic: Rule by elected representatives of the people.
- Example: In the world of “Redwall” by Brian Jacques, the community is led by an elected Abbot or Abbess. The characters, predominantly woodland creatures such as mice, squirrels, and badgers, come together to live in a peaceful and cooperative environment. The leaders are chosen based on their wisdom and suitability for the role, emphasizing the idea of representative governance.
- Democracy: Citizens hold political power through voting rights.
- Example: In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the wizarding world has a democratic system where citizens elect the Minister for Magic to lead the Ministry of Magic. The Minister is chosen by popular vote of the magical population rather than by bloodline or wealth. For instance, Millicent Bagnold is mentioned as a past Minister who was elected. At the end of the series Kingsley Shacklebolt is selected as Minister through democratic means after the fall of Voldemort.
- Bureaucracy: Hierarchical organization, extensive rules and procedures, and a focus on administrative efficiency.
- Example: In The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, the Unseen University, the heart of magic in the Discworld, functions with a complex organizational structure and seemingly endless rules. Archchancellor Ridcully presides over a hierarchy of wizards, each adhering to intricate procedures and regulations for studying and using magic. While not the central focus, the University’s bureaucracy provides humour and satire, highlighting the potential drawbacks and quirks of excessive administrative procedures.
- Federation: Smaller units form a larger entity with a central government. Each unit retains some control in rulings.
- Example: In the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, the Kingdom of Araluen has elements of a federalist political structure. While the kingdom has an overarching monarch in King Duncan, it is comprised of smaller units ruled by barons who govern local affairs. The barons exercise autonomy in administering justice, commanding militias, collecting taxes and upholding order in their land or unit, while still swearing allegiance to the king.
- Oligarchy: A society ruled by a small number of powerful individuals.
- Example: In the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, the vermin faction called the Juska are ruled by an oligarchy. The Juska are led by a small council comprised of a Chieftain and his inner circle of trusted captains and lieutenants, called Force Generals. This ruling council wields absolute power over the Juska horde, controlling their raids, military actions, laws and customs. No regular vermin can challenge their authority or rise above their station – power is concentrated solely in this close circle of elites picked by the Chieftain.
- Aristocracy: The elite rule based on hereditary titles or wealth.
- Example: In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, Mount Olympus is governed by the Council of Twelve Olympian Gods. This pantheon of Greek gods rule over Olympus and earthly affairs as the highest aristocracy. Membership in the Council of Twelve is based on divine birthright and pedigree – only the original twelve major gods from Greek myths can be on the council, as well as their demigod children. Other minor gods, demigods, and mythic beings have lower status.
- Cyberocracy: Rule by computer programs, AI, or virtual systems.
- Example: In The Softwire series by PJ Haarsma, the Rings of Orbis station is jointly governed by an elected Council and the Central Computer. The Central Computer handles day-to-day operations on the Rings, managing resources, navigation, life support functions, and security through automated systems. It has omnipresent visibility and control over infrastructure. While the Council makes high-level decisions, the unseen Central Computer has the power to override or manipulate Council edicts through system glitches and reprogramming if they violate its core directives.
- Corporatocracy: Rule by corporations or corporate interests.
- Example: In the animated film WALL-E by Pixar, the fictional company Buy-N-Large (BnL) is a mega-corporation that initially appears to be a retail corporation (similar to real-world corporations like Walmart or Amazon), but eventually takes over the world’s economy and government. The Earth becomes so polluted due to BnL’s mass consumerism that it becomes uninhabitable, and BnL creates a fleet of starliners like the Axiom where humanity lives in space for centuries. BnL controls every aspect of people’s lives on the Axiom, from what they eat to how they spend their time.
- Noocracy: A utopian system where enlightened thinkers govern wisely.
- Example: In The Giver by Lois Lowry, the role of the Receiver of Memory is an attempt at establishing a noocracy. The Receiver is chosen for their wisdom and intelligence, and entrusted with all memories of history, culture, and human experience from the community. The role was created to form an ideal government guided by an enlightened thinker with an expanded perspective from communal memory.
- Ecocracy: Ecological issues and sustainability are the priority for leaders.
- Example: In Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Princess Mononoke, the forest, known as the Cedar Forest or the Forest of the Forest Spirit, is inhabited by various creatures and spirits, including the Kodamas and the Forest Spirit. The Forest Spirit, as the leader, maintains the balance of life and death in the forest, embodying the principles of an ecocracy. In the film, the forest is threatened by the actions of humans who mine ore to make weapons, disrupting the balance of the ecosystem. Despite this, the forest continues to thrive, demonstrating resilience and the ability to regenerate.
- Magocracy: Those who can wield magic rule society.
- Example: In the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, the Ministry of Magic which governs the magical community of Britain has elements of a magocracy, with authority tied to magical ability. The Minister for Magic is always a powerful witch or wizard, as are the Heads of magical Departments like the Aurors. Important groups like the Wizengamot court are also staffed entirely by accomplished magic-users rather than ordinary citizens. Positions seem to be granted based on magical talent, pedigree, and connections rather than democratic processes.
- Theodemocracy: Combination of theocracy and democracy, with religion and citizenry leading together.
- Example: In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, the Magisterium is a religious and political body that governs the world in which Lyra Belacqua, the main character lives. It has some of the appearance and organization of the Catholic Church, but in Pullman’s universe, the centre of power has been moved from Rome to Geneva. This body exerts strong control over society, including the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford, where Lyra lives. The Magisterium represents the theocratic aspect as it is a religious authority that governs societal norms and laws. The democratic aspect is less explicit but can be inferred from the interactions and pushbacks from the citizenry, such as Lyra and other characters challenging the Magisterium’s authority throughout the series.
- Ethnocracy: A race/ethnic group dominates the political landscape.
- Example: In The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis the White Witch Jadis and her Telmarine army in Narnia represent an ethnocracy. After invading and conquering Narnia, Jadis establishes a regime where Telmarines hold all the power and privilege. Narnians, the native creatures of the land, are treated as second-class citizens, denied basic rights and forced to follow Telmarine laws and customs. Jadis openly expresses disdain for Narnians, calling them “beasts” and “savages.” and Telmarines are encouraged to view Narnians as inferior and unworthy of respect.
- Timocracy: Wealthy property owners rule.
- Example: In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Panem, the oppressive nation embodies a timocracy. While technically a republic with a president and elected officials, the true power resides with the wealthy Capitol citizens who control the vast majority of land, resources, and wealth. These “Capitollites” dominate the political landscape, ensuring laws and policies benefit their interests and maintain their status at the expense of the poorer districts. Elections, if they exist, are likely rigged to favour the wealthy elite.
- Kritarchy: Rule of judges in the legal system.
- Example: In the Judge Dredd franchise, the fictional regime of Mega-City One, the main setting for the series, is described as a kritarchy. In this world, the Judges not only enforce the law but also create and interpret it, embodying all branches of government in one role.
- Kleptocracy: Corrupt leaders define the dysfunctional system.
- Example: In the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, the city of Ankh-Morpork is effectively a kleptocracy under the rule of Lord Vetinari, who, while not corrupt himself, allows a certain level of corruption as a means of controlling the city’s various guilds.
- Kakistocracy: The least qualified or most unprincipled govern society.
- Example: In the later Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling, particularly “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, the Ministry of Magic is taken over by individuals who are either unqualified or unprincipled. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, refuses to believe that Lord Voldemort has returned, despite clear evidence. This leads to a series of poor decisions, such as the appointment of Dolores Umbridge as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. Umbridge is not only unqualified for the position, but she also rules with a cruel and heavy hand, making life miserable for students and staff alike.
- Adhocracy: Flexible, informal system focused on innovative solutions.
- Example: In the “Harry Potter” series, the concept of adhocracy is embodied in the formation of “Dumbledore’s Army”. The group is not formed through any formal school or Ministry of Magic channels. Instead, it’s initiated by Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley. The group’s structure is flexible, with Harry leading practical lessons, but all members have an equal say in decisions. They innovate by using the Room of Requirement for their meetings and practices, a room that only appears when someone is in real need of it.
- Magnocracy: Wealth alone determines political influence and power.
- Example: In the “Six of Crows” series by Leigh Bardugo, the bustling city of Ketterdam, is a hub for international trade where anything can be had for the right price. The city is run by wealthy merchant classes who control the trade and, therefore, hold the power. The protagonist, Kaz Brekker, is a criminal prodigy who assembles a crew of six outcasts for a perilous heist that could make them unimaginably rich.
- Autocracy: One absolute ruler has total power over society.
- Example: In the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling, Lord Voldemort, the main antagonist, seeks to become the absolute ruler of the wizarding world. He and his followers, known as Death Eaters, use fear and intimidation to try to seize control of all major institutions in the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort’s goal is to have total power over society, making decisions without input from others, which is a characteristic of an autocracy.
- Dynasty: Power passed down within a ruling royal family.
- Example: In the novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert, the Atreides family, consisting of the Duke, his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica, and their son Paul, have been entrusted with the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. Arrakis, also known as “Dune”, is the only source of a valuable substance called “melange” or “spice”, a drug that extends life and enhances mental abilities. Control of Arrakis is a coveted and dangerous undertaking due to the value of the spice. In this context, the Atreides family represents a dynasty as power, status, and the stewardship of Arrakis are passed down within the family.
- Diarchy: Joint rule by two individuals.
- Example: Queen Galadriel and Lord Celeborn in the Lord of the Rings series are often presented as joint rulers of Lothlórien and are referred to as “Lord and Lady of Lothlórien”. Both Galadriel and Celeborn are described as wielding significant power and influence within Lothlórien. They make decisions together, hold authority over the elves, and are equally respected by their people. Galadriel, with her wisdom and magical prowess, might represent the spiritual and magical aspects of Lothlórien, while Celeborn, a skilled warrior, focuses on leadership and defence.
- Matriarchy: Female leaders govern society.
- Example: In The Dark Crystal series, the Gelfling society is dominated by females. Each Gelfling clan is led by a Maudra, who is typically a female elder with wisdom and experience. The Maudras are responsible for making important decisions, maintaining the well-being of their clans, and acting as sources of guidance and leadership. While not a strict matriarchy in the sense of all leadership being exclusively held by females, the influence of female leaders, particularly the Maudras, is significant. The Gelfling society values the importance of lineage and the passing down of knowledge, and many key decisions are made by the female leaders.
- Patriarchy: Male leaders govern society.
- Example: In the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, the country of Araluen is governed solely by men under a patriarchal system. King Duncan is the monarch who rules from Castle Araluen, advised by an all-male senior council. The army is led entirely by male barons, knights and the Ranger Commandant. Villages are governed by male magistrates appointed by the king. Female characters like Lady Pauline work in service to the male leadership rather than holding positions of authority themselves.
- Fascism: Ruled by a dictator.
- Example: In The Hunger Games, the Capitol is the central seat of power in the nation of Panem. The Capitol exerts authoritarian control over the twelve districts, imposing strict laws and maintaining dominance through fear and manipulation. President Snow, the leader of the Capitol, serves as a dictator figure who rules with an iron fist.
- Empire: Group of countries and territories under a single authority.
- Example: In the “Inheritance Cycle,” the land of Alagaësia is ruled by a powerful and tyrannical empire led by King Galbatorix. Galbatorix, a former Dragon Rider who turned to darkness, seeks to dominate Alagaësia by bringing all the races and territories under his control. Galbatorix’s Empire is characterized by its centralized authority, where the king holds absolute power over the various regions and races within Alagaësia. The empire’s political structure involves vanquishing different races, including humans, dwarves, and Urgals, under a single authority. The imperial rule is maintained through fear, oppression, and the enforcement of strict laws. Galbatorix’s use of powerful magical forces and dragons further solidifies his control over the empire.
- Totalitarian: The government has absolute control over every aspect of public and private life.
- Example: In The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, In the world of Panem, the Capitol is the seat of absolute power and control. The Capitol tightly controls information, manipulating narratives and restricting access to knowledge. The citizens of Panem are subjected to constant surveillance, and dissent or rebellion is met with severe punishment.
- Tribalism: Allegiance to and identification with a particular tribe or ethnic group.
- Example: In the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, the wild cat clans adhere to a tribal political structure based on allegiance to their specific group. There are four main clans – ThunderClan, WindClan, ShadowClan and RiverClan – that inhabit separate territories in the forest. Each cat’s loyalty lies first and foremost with their own clan rather than any unified government. Clan identity shapes social order and politics, with inter-clan relationships ranging from tense to hostile. Leadership rests with the clan deputy and leader. Clan customs and law hold more sway than any universal code.
- Socialism: The public comes first, with equal distribution of resources and wealth among the general population.
- Example: In the fantasy book The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, the underground city of Ember was originally designed with socialist ideals in mind. Resources like food, supplies, and energy are distributed equally using ration cards, independent of inhabitants’ occupations or standing. Work assignments are rotated among citizens to avoid unequal prestige. Buildings and public spaces are standardized without private ownership of land or businesses allowed. Decisions are made by elected officials for the collective good of all.
- Despotism: A single ruler holds absolute power, often exercised cruelly (Tyrrany).
- Example: In The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Jadis, the White Witch, embodies a tyrannical ruler. She exercises absolute power through cruel laws, suppresses dissent with violence, and exploits her magic to maintain control. Narnia suffers under her oppressive regime, with darkness, fear, and hardship being the norm.
Remember, most fictional worlds are made up of multiple political systems, mirroring the complexity found in the real world. Just as Earth consists of various nations with diverse governance structures, your fictional realm can thrive with a tapestry of political entities. This diversity not only adds richness to your world but also provides opportunities for exploration and contrast.
How to Choose a Fictional Policitical System
Choosing a political system for your fictional world is a crucial aspect of world-building that adds depth and richness to your narrative. Consider the following factors when crafting the political framework of your imaginary realm:
- World Context: Begin by understanding the unique characteristics of your fictional world, including its creation, history, geography, and cultural diversity. Tailor your political system to align with these aspects to create a cohesive and believable setting.
- Power Dynamics: Decide on the distribution of power within your world. Are there centralized authorities, or does power reside among various factions or regions? Consider the balance of power and how it influences the relationships between different groups.
- Cultural Influences: Explore the cultural values and traditions of your fictional societies. Political systems often reflect the ethos of a culture, so take into account how your characters’ beliefs and customs shape the governance of their world.
- Conflict and Tension: Introduce elements of conflict or tension within your political system. This can provide opportunities for character development and drive the narrative forward. Consider how power struggles, revolutions, or diplomatic challenges might arise.
- Character Perspectives: Think about how your main characters fit into the political landscape. Are they part of the ruling elite, rebels challenging the system, or ordinary citizens affected by political decisions? Align the political structure with your characters’ roles and motivations.
- Balance Realism and Fantasy: Strike a balance between elements of realism and fantasy. While fantastical worlds allow for creative freedom, grounding your political system in relatable concepts can help readers engage more deeply with your story.
- Consider the Story’s Theme: Align the chosen political system with the overarching theme of your narrative. Whether exploring themes of justice, equality, or the consequences of power, ensure that your political framework enhances and supports the story you want to tell.
Remember, the political system you choose can become a character in itself, influencing the narrative and shaping the experiences of your fictional inhabitants. By thoughtfully weaving political elements into your world-building, you create a more immersive and captivating story for your readers.
How To Create World Leaders For Your World
Leaders are essential for shaping the political landscape of any fictional world. When building rulers for your setting, keep these tips in mind:
- Determine the government structure: Is leadership based on monarchy, democracy, oligarchy etc? This will inform the basis of authority.
- Define the leader’s background: Are they from an established dynasty, military hero, or elected official? What experiences shaped them?
- Develop a distinctive personality: Are they benevolent, tyrannical, wise, reckless? Give them clear traits.
- Consider their leadership style: Are they hands-on or detached? Inspiring or authoritarian? How do they wield power?
- Establish political views and agenda: What issues and policies do they support? What motivates them?
- Create relationships and advisors: Who do they align with? Who influences them? How do they interact with subordinates?
- Identify strengths and flaws: No leader is perfect. However capable leaders reflect on failures for growth.
- Decide on significant events and decisions: What defined moments shape their rule? Triumphs or blunders?
- Determine how they handle opposition: Do they listen to critics or silence dissent? How do they respond to threats?
By developing layered, complex world leaders, you can craft more compelling political stories that connect with readers. Bring the dynamics of power and governance to life through the leaders who shape societies.
The political structures and systems imagined in fantasy worlds showcase the creativity of authors in worldbuilding. Whether fantastical or modelled after real-life governments, fictional political systems add complexity and depth to the societies authors construct. As this post demonstrates, there is an array of compelling and illuminating ways writers develop the dynamics of power, conflict, and governance that drive stories.
What captivating fictional political systems from novels, movies, or games have you encountered? Share your thoughts and favourite examples of fictional political landscapes in the comments!