View Full Version : Brainstorming and Developing Countries

Fiery Diamond
2011-05-01, 01:03 AM
Well, I'm getting ready to start running a new campaign (D&D 3.5, but that's not really the important part, which is why I'm posting it in this forum) and I'm creating the setting. I already have the cosmology and such worked out, and I have a map of the continent that the campaign takes place on, though the latter isn't fully fleshed out yet. No, what I'm working on at the moment is the set-up of the countries on that continent.

There are several countries on the continent of Meyyra (which is around the size of the United States).

The Tsadiris Empire: The largest country. Located in the central and southern portions of the continent, it borders all the other major countries. It is the largest country on the continent. It is not "empire in name only;" the empire has taken over a number of smaller states and absorbed them. It is militaristic, but has a lack of focus on magic. It has quite a bit of cultural diversity, but too much overt expression of former culture is frowned on by the central authority. The rulers are humans. Anyone who shows great potential (and great loyalty to the Emperor, of course) is given a chance to make him (or her) self great. Currently, after a decade of non-expansion, it seems to be looking into extending its reach into the...

Territories of Chandr: A collection of numerous small countries which have a VERY loose (and tenuous) "alliance" to assist in their interactions with the other major countries. Some of them style themselves as kingdoms, others are run by self-styled warlords, and a couple consider themselves democracies. Both individually and as a unit they are much weaker than any other country on the continent. Various races inhabit them. These countries are much less advanced than the major countries, and petty squabbles between the territories are frequent.

Republic of Asleruina: A primarily elven country which is run by a series of councils at various levels of government. They tend to stick to themselves, though they are not truly isolationist. They have strict rules, but they are not nearly as harsh as the empire, and the republic is considered a good place to live. It has a fairly high standard of living and is probably the most comfortable country for the common folk, though common folk rarely have the chance to advance their station. Because of the high volume of forest in this country, there is a fair amount of druidic magic, but arcane magic is looked down upon.

Yelurin Kingdom: A very large kingdom. The nobility consist primarily of humans (the King is a human) but there is a smattering of dwarven and elven nobility as well. The heads of the highest noble houses form a council under the king, which often has its own agenda. The king is the acting head of state, however, not a mere figurehead. The provinces of the kingdom are controlled directly by the nobility, however, which imposes some limits on the king's power. Yelurin has no overwhelming martial or magical might, but they are the most balanced in terms of having both military and magic. They have friendly relations with the Republic, very bad relations with the Empire, and neutral relations with...

Magocracy of Durs Amel: This country is run by a hierarchy of mages. While traditional military is lacking due to a contempt for those without magic, this country is arguably even more powerful than the empire, and is in fact the only country that the Empire is afraid of enough to treat with proper respect. While the arcane is more highly regarded than the divine, both are valued, as is scholarship in general. As a result, the magocracy is the most technologically advanced country on the continent, every city filled with magically-powered (and otherwise) features to enhance the lives of residents. However, while life in Durs Amel is convenient, those who have not the natural gift of sorcery, the intellectual capacity for wizardry, the talent for bardistry, or the faith for clerical or druidic magic are treated with complete contempt and are second-class citizens.

An outline map (without country labels)

The one in the center is the Empire, but I'm not sure where to place the others. I'm leaning toward having the Magocracy be the one on the west (good location for flourishing through trade with the continent to the south) but I'm not sure about it. The Republic I'm leaning toward having in the north-west but again I'm not sure. The Kingdom I definitely want to be one of the two in the east, but I'm not sure which one. I don't know which of the locations I want the territories to be. A note: the geological features of the terrain (in terms of where mountains or forests or deserts or such would be) don't have to follow real-world rules because of the specifics of how the setting's magiphysics functions.

So... what do you guys think about where I should put them? Do you have any ideas for further developing these countries? Internal conflict, laws, conflict between them, anything?


2011-05-01, 02:34 AM
Unless magic is a common way of transportation and communication I would actually suggest making the western one the empire and the central one Chandr. The reason is that the western land has comparatively the most coastline, which is a superior method to travel and thus provides the means to hold the empire together. In effect, armies to smash rebellions/coups/uprisings would be merely weeks away instead of months (a days march is 20-30 km... your continent is ~25 000 000 square km. The empire would take up a sizeable percentage of that).

Chandr, lacking the infrastructure of a centralized nation, can however take up a much greater amount of land since it'd be not one but thousands of small nations. Making it a hopeless and timeconsuming process of conquest.

This makes the empire an empire connected by trade and sealanes and Chandr a huge expanse of "empty, uncivilized" land.

If you go with that, I'd put the mages north of Chandr and Yelurin in the northwest. Having the empire and mages constantly send ambassadors to individual rulers and lobby them to support them in return for trade and protection. Constantly being involved in the internal politics of Yelurin.

This would make the republic the southeastern one, a tenous ally of the empire versus the mages. But an ally out of necessity, not liking the empire very much, and certainly not interested in provoking the mages when they have nothing to gain.

The political situation would then be (in summary):
Tsaridis and Durs Amel would operate a huge web of intrigue, cloak and dagger politics and such in their common neighbour Yelurin. Struggling for political control over the kingdom's individual parts (and/or the king). Asleruina and members of the royal family would be covertly working against this influence.

Durs Amel and Asleruina would be having tense border relations. Neither willing to go to war but constantly stepping on one another's toes. Asleruina would have a tenous alliance with the empire for mutual protection but in reality just be out for the benefits and none of the obligations. Asleruina would also try to influence Yelurin towards independence rather than dependence of their neighbours. To make sure the balance of power does not change.

Tsaridis is allied with Asleruina against Durs Amel, trying to establish protectorates in Yelurin and fighting a cold war over land, politics and sea against Durs Amel. Frequently funding privateers, assasinations and framing the mages. They are also funding Chandr warlords to raid the mages, as well as, rarely, Asleruina and Yelurin and frame the mages to make the two move closer to the empire. They are also fiercly protective of the peace treaties with the southern continents and trying to establish some trade-colony cities in Chandr.

Durs Amel would be struggling with Tsaridis over Yelurin and having tense border relations with Asleruina. But would be actively lobbying the elves to abandon the empire and sign a treaty of non-aggression. The price of this currently being a bit higher than the mages are willing to pay... for now.
Like the empire they'd be actively funding Chandr warlords to raid the other nations (and to fight the other nation's warlords).

Chandr is the "arena" of the civilised world. Tsaridis funds warlords to raid the mages and make everyone more inclined for imperial protection. Durs Amel hires warlords to raid the empire and undermine their position as protectors. Asleruina and Yelurin hires warlords to force the empire and the mages to spend money combatting it. Some warlords happily exploiting the situation to become rich and respected. Others grimly using it as means to an end, looking enviously at the thrones and lands of the civilised lands... wanting to create... or take... one for their own.

The southern continent merchants would be running very lucrative trade charters with the empire, but looking for ways to bypass the hefty tolls of the nation. Some trying to sneak past, others offering their services as privateers.

Fiery Diamond
2011-05-01, 08:42 PM
That's really quite interesting. Initially I was reluctant to change the empire's location, but the reasoning makes a lot of sense and while I probably won't use all of your suggestions, I will certainly use some of them. Thank you!

2011-05-01, 11:00 PM
Regarding the Magocracy, have them be really keen on attracting as many people with magical ability as possible. Have rumors of their great libraries, their numerous temples, and various other things along with the great wealth they have. Their goal is to make sure that their spellcasters are the most powerful around and that anyone else in the world who shows ability would want to travel there of their own accord.

Why waste your talents serving the needs of some warlord or petty king in Chandr or be constantly pestered by the people in the Empire when you can go to the Magocracy where you are pretty much seen as a god among other gods!

The Magocracy should be producing most of the magic items in the world and those would be known to be of exceptional quality (it might be that any weapon that comes out of their workshops has charms built in to let them spy on the user or ensure that said weapon is never used against them). Bards and those with 'buffing' powers help boost the skills of artisans so that they can mass produce masterwork items, their economy magically creates food or has farms and gardens that produce the finest fruits and vegetables.

The Magocracy exports the best stuff and almost all magic items, it might even have a good tourist trade where people from other nations can see the various decorated buildings and hanging gardens and illusions seen in the public space. They might even provide free food to visitors to show their wealth and have various concerts and games for people to see.

Its a place where everyone wants to visit, where spellcasters want to stay, and its where all the best things in life come from.

However, since pretty much everything is created with magic then people who can't use magic are seen pretty much as slaves, property, or tools for actual mages. Oh, they aren't abused or anything, they might even have a pretty comfortable life in a way. Its just that when a Magocracy Druid casts Plant Growth on a field or garden then he wants someone to do the actual farming and doesn't want them questioning him. When a Bard has an idea for a great new play then he's got hundreds of pretty young muggles all pretty much begging to get any role at all. Wizards are pretty much doing their spellcasting and research for their own sake and tend to expect their assistants do do as they are told without question or to automatically know what they need to do... like a construct or something that the wizard can control at-will.

In fact, a large percentage of the the 'muggle' population is magically charmed in some way (that's just the price you have to pay to live in such a great place!). Workers are dominated to make sure they stay loyal to their true masters, wizards assistants all have enchantments to make sure they don't talk about their masters secret experiments to potential spies, and there are plenty of actors and actresses who've gotten a little magical adjustment to make sure they are physically and mentally right for the part the director wants.

So their society has different classes of people, the spellcasters have their own groups with the higher ranking people on the top and the lower ones subserviant to them. And the muggles are pretty much seen as tools for them all. Muggles are primarily identified by who they work for and a muggle servant is usually considered to be just an extension of his masters will (often they actually are in the case of more powerful spellcasters), or they could be house-servants who are tied to a particular building or complex and are viewed as part of the machinery, or the absolute lowest of the low are those who are out in the street without jobs given to them by a spellcaster.

So... nonspellcasters might be broken down into groups like this:

The Young: Basically children, the Magocracy has plenty of well-funded orphanages and schools who will collect any unwanted or uncared for children and give them comfortable places to live. They are all tested for magical aptitude as they grow up. Those who are obviously never going to become spellcasters are sent to schools to learn menial tasks, those who show promise are given lessons and asked to cast cantrips or other spells. If they succeed then they are deemed Mages and go to the best schools. Those who show promise but lack that special spark are given above average schooling for muggles and may become servants of true spellcasters.

The Servants: These muggles are trained to serve mages, to carry their stuff, to remember things for them, to handle those tasks they don't want to do, etc. Think of them as butlers, servants, or valets. They are all trained to be loyal to the Magocracy and accept their station in life. There have been cases where servants have displayed magical powers of their own and this is seen as a great thing, they are welcomed into the society of Mages and their previous master gets a new servant.

The Workers: These muggles are less 'personal' with the spellcasters. They can be expert craftsmen who make tools and weapons for a spellcaster to use or enchant, they can be gardeners, actors, clerks, or 'companions' to serve their spellcasting overlords in whatever way they can. They are usually owned by agencies, companies, or basically made to live and work in buildings to keep things running. A typical mages house will have workers living in it to do the laundry or keep things orderly. While there are plenty of ways a spellcaster can cook and clean for himself with magic, they often have better things to do with their power and its up to workers to be there when a spellcaster doesn't feel like casting Unseen Servant to clean a room. He just has his actual servants clean it and ignores them while he does his work.

The Unemployed: These are workers who don't have a job to do. Traditionally, they had jobs but lost it due to a wizard automating their task and rendering them obsolete. Now they basically stay at the unemployment compound and keep themselves trained until a job comes up (at which point the employment folk get the message and choose whoever they feel is good for the task). The unemployed don't starve but since the system handles everything for them they have no real control over their lives. Its also quite possible that their previous employer erased some of their memory so they can't divulge 'company secrets' after they leave.

The Fodder: These poor saps are basically raw materials. Need someone to re-program for a job? Need someone to practice on to make sure you've learned your transfiguration spells properly? Need a fresh body for your necromancy project? Just contact Human Resources and they'll get you what you need!

Fodder are usually brought in from the Magocracies prisons which are regularly re-stocked with undesirables or anyone 'cluttering up the streets'. The Magocracy is pretty much free of crime due to all criminals being scryed out immediately, brought to jail, and then never heard from again.

There are some Fodder who get reasonably decent jobs... those who are sent to the Distilled Joy Factories (given a Nipple Clamp of masochism that converts pain to pleasure, placed under a symbol of pain to basically infuse them with total and unending bliss, and having said joy painlessly extracted from them to provide XP components for magic items or spells) can live for years or decades in a constant glow of pure pleasure. Sure, their brains sort of atrophy into nothingness and are completely incapable of functioning on any level after that (along with some concerns about what happens to the soul of someone who goes for twelve years without ever thinking about anything remotely divine or even self-aware) but existing in a state of pure bliss for years ought to be better than alot of things, right?

As for the spellcasters themselves, while they all have exceptional rights and powers they also have their responsibilities. All spellcasters have to swear their loyalty to the Magocracy... those who don't are mentally dominated and re-programmed to be loyal to the Magocracy. The Magocracy has solved alot of problems through the use of magic and politics is one of those. Everybody in the government is under constant Zones of Truth (they are quite certain to ensure no Mind Blank or other spells interfere with this) and their decisions are all checked for logic and truth by judged before they can be accepted (in a world where mental domination, charming, and spells like Glibness can make anything seem reasonable the wizards have worked to pretty much eliminate foolish feelings from their decisions). The Government is cold, calculating, and has all sorts of divinations, abjurations, and enchantments in place to make sure they know everything going on in the world and that nobody gets the one-up on them (not even eachother).

The thing is that the Magocracy governement may seem slow to act at times due to all the preparations they tend to go through before doing so, but once they do then they act like a deadly and unstoppable machine to disintegrate whatever is bothering them and reshape it how they see fit. Its often felt that the only reason they haven't taken over the whole world yet is that they enjoy scrying on civilizations other than their own too much or they are busy directing resources to some arcane experiment that nobody outside their civilization could understand.

Oh, and their nation hasn't tried expanding yet because they haven't yet reached a point where they might need to. But if their population increases to a point where it might get crowded then they might start looking for new real-estate.

And... there's really no guarantee that the Mages aren't secretly mentally dominating key figures of the other governments for their own purposes. Its a fair bet that they are scrying on them, but there's no evidence of actual mental domination yet.