View Full Version : Political Powers in a City

2010-08-26, 07:40 PM
I'm making a cityscape campaign for my players and I'm looking for what sorts of political powers to include. I'm looking to make it somewhat freeform, offering jobs from multiple groups who all have their own agendas and relations with each other.

Right now I have
- The official government
- The nobles
- Mage's Guild
- 2 Rival Warrior Type Guilds
- Church of some sort
- Thieves Guild
- Merchant Organization

Also if you have any suggestions for who likes/doesn't like who, that would be great.

2010-08-26, 07:45 PM
If you specifically want conflicting agendas and lots of parties, just drop the whole simplistic "Merchants Guild". Replace them with a few major trading houses with different, slightly overlapping specialties. They'll fight like dogs, and you can slip plenty of mom and pop operations in between.

Tiki Snakes
2010-08-26, 07:47 PM
Likewise, I'd suggest lose the 'Theives Guild' and flesh out a couple of unrelated. competing and/or cooperating crime-lords.

IE, the Drugs guy, the slave trade guy, the mafia guy, etc.

2010-08-26, 07:49 PM
If the city is big enough there would be multiple different churchs each dedicated to a different diety. And you know that there will be conflicting agendas between some of the churches/gods

2010-08-26, 07:54 PM
Don't forget the myriad tradesmen guilds/associations or unions, if you want to be slightly more anachronistic.

As well as churches, there's always room for redundant thieves' guilds, perhaps fighting over turf, and different racial interest groups.

2010-08-26, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the suggestions.

Gave the Merchant's guild a competitor in the Worker's Union
Added another church
Put in a crime lord

2010-08-26, 08:14 PM
oh and don't forget about the underground rebelion that is unhappy with what is happening at that point and wishes to overthrow the current reigning faction.

Edit: There would also be outside influences. Both Political and Military

2010-08-26, 08:31 PM
Depends on what kind of government you'd like to.

Limited Monarchy? Perhaps there are political parties who aspire to democratically elect a potential heir should the king/queen's official heir fail?

If the kingdom is fairly old (at least a few centuries of limited monarchy) then maybe their are some well developed existing political parties - one could be in favor of more a more conservative heir and another more liberal heir. Another might be in favor of the workers while another still would be in favor of the rich and their ability to influence and benefit society. Another still would wish to restore more power to the royalty and the expansion of available hereditary heirs to the current monarch (maybe the monarch had a cousin thrice removed from a harem girl who once performed in his bed chambers; blood can go farther). All would support all alignments.

Put in a crime lord

Such a person wouldn't be a favorite of society, since I'm assuming the society is held together by law. Chances are the crime lord would not hold power out of fear (unless the kingdom is largely chaotic in its consideration of laws on purpose rather than hectic), but because of wealth or nobility instead. He just happened to be a crime lord and/or evil (if he's wealthy, he may be wealthy because he's a crime lord).

If he represents any political siding, it's that of the 'wealthy owners' or simply 'the wealthy' if their agenda is more plutocratic.

2010-08-26, 09:43 PM
Don't forget that there will always be multiple levels of everything.
Every group, guild, and political gang has the old codger, the young upstart, the rebellion

Don't forget to flesh them out and make them cool
My thieves guild was one of my favorites
It was ruled by the Emperor of Cards
each of the 4 thieves groups had a card dedicated to them
the clubs sold drugs
the hearts were the prostitutes
the spades were the fighters
and the diamonds were the thieves
(the jokers were twin assassins)
each group had a hierarchy based on the card they possesed (A->K)

2010-08-26, 11:59 PM
Keep in mind, you can always add in groups of people related to events in the wider world. For example, let's say you've got a magical plague sweeping across the next kingdom. Naturally, you're going to get a ton of refugees, with weird magical stuff going on. They'll have an agenda, supporters, people who hate them, etc.

Or if there's an imperialist army of hobgoblins, they might send in spies, that can be killed, traded with, exposed, worked for, and so on.

Or maybe it's just a diplomatic mission from a large, slightly unfriendly neighbor. Sympathetic of course, not even necessarily villains. That doesn't mean they aren't bringing spies with them though.

There might a big prophet that's said to be traveling this way. The establish church hate him, but the small-folk love him.

Any of these events can really change the feel of the campaign, even if the players never actually get involved.

2010-08-27, 08:35 AM
This sounds kind of cliché, but you could create alot of conflict with your council of nobles.

For example, let's say that there's one member of the council who's pretty much in charge of the city (the consul), but there's another member (of a very wealthy family) that controls most of his political actions (through magic or mundane means). That would create three factions in the council of nobles:
1. The nobles that aren't pleased with the current situation and blame the consul.
2. The nobles that aren't pleased with the current situation and know who's really behind it.
3. The nobles that enjoy the status quo.

Of course each one of these factions would have more than enough money to raise a small army. Of course one faction could employ one of the two rivalling warrior's guilds for said army, creating more tension between the two guilds, or they could hire wizards from the mage's guild, assassins from the thieves guild, they could find merchant guilds willing to lend them some extra money etc. etc.

This may sound stupid, but using some historical conflicts revolving around the Italian city-states (like the De Medici family in Florence) as a source of inspiration could help.

2010-08-27, 08:37 AM
the clubs sold drugs

Mostly X, I take it? :smalltongue:

2010-08-27, 02:46 PM
You might consider looking at the factions from Planescape, where one of the main elements of the setting was all the different groups jockeying for power in Sigil. That's what I'd do. Then again, I'd probably just run a Planescape campaign. :smalltongue:

2010-08-27, 03:16 PM
Don't forget ambassadors from other nations, foreign agents to do dirty deeds, and intra-organization conflict.

A better way to go about this is to define the city. Why does it exist? How is it run? Who cares about it? This will tell you a lot about what sort of organizations are active in the city and who their friends and enemies are.