Dungeon Master's Guide 5E

(Jeff_L) #1


often have considerable hereditary wealth). In exchange,
they promise to protect their citizens from threats
such as ore marauders, hobgoblin armies, and roving
human bandits.
Nobles appoint officers as their agents in villages, to
supervise the collection of taxes and serve as judges
in disputes and criminal trials. These reeves, sheriffs,
or bailiffs are commoners native to the villages they
govern, chosen for their positions because they already
hold the respect of their fellow citizens.
Within towns and cities, lords share authority and
administrative responsibility with lesser nobles (usually
their own relatives), and also with representatives of
the middle class, such as traders and artisans. A lord
mayor of noble birth is appointed to head the town or
city council and to perform the same administrative
functions that reeves carry out in villages. The council
consists of representatives elected by the middle class.
Only foolish nobles ignore the wishes of their councils,
since the economic power of the middle class is often
more important to the prosperity of a town or city than
the hereditary authority of the nobility.
The larger a settlement, the more likely that other
individuals or organizations hold significant power
there as well. Even in a village, a popular individual-a
wise elder or a well-liked farmer-can wield more
influence than the appointed reeve, and a wise reeve
avoids making an enemy of such a person. In towns
and cities, the same power might lie in the hands of a
prominent temple, a guild independent of the council, or
an individual with magical power.

A settlement rarely stands alone. A given town or city
might be a theocratic city-state or a prosperous free city
governed by a merchant council. More likely, it's part of
a feudal kingdom, a bureaucratic empire, or a remote
realm ruled by an iron-fisted tyrant. Consider how your
settlement fits into the bigger picture of your world or
region-who rules its ruler, and what other settlements
might also lie under its control.

dlOO Government dlOO Government
01-08 Autocracy 59-64 Militocracy
09-13 Bureaucracy 65-74 Monarchy
14-19 Confederacy 75-78 Oligarchy
20-22 Democracy 79-80 Patriarchy
23-27 Dictatorship 81-83 Meritocracy
28-42 Feudalism 84-85 Plutocracy
43-44 Gerontocracy 86-92 Republic
45-53 Hierarchy 93-94 Satrapy
54-56 Magocracy 95 Kleptocracy
57-58 Matriarchy 96-00 Theocracy

Typical and fantastical forms of government are
described below. Choose one or randomly determine a
form of government for a nation or city from the Forms
of Government table.


Autocracy. One hereditary ruler wields absolute
power. The autocrat either is supported by a well-
developed bureaucracy or military or stands as the
only authority in an otherwise anarchic society. The
dynastic ruler could be immortal or undead. Aundair
and Karrnath, two kingdoms in the Eberron campaign
setting, have autocrats with royal blood in their veins.
Whereas Queen Aurala of Aundair relies on wizar.ds
and spies to enforce her will, Kaius, the vampire king of
Karrnath, has a formidable army of living and undead
soldiers under his command.
Bureaucracy. Various departments compose the
government, each responsible for an aspect of rule. The
department heads, ministers, or secretaries answer to a
figurehead autocrat or council.
Confederacy. Each individual city or town within
the confederacy governs itself, but all contribute to a
league or federation that promotes (at least in theory)
the common good of all member states. Conditions and
attitudes toward the central government vary from place
to place within the confederacy. The Lords' Alliance in
the Forgotten Realms setting is a loose confederacy of
cities, while the Mror Holds in the Eberron campaign
setting is a confederacy of allied dwarf clans.
Democracy. Citizens or their elected representatives
determine the laws in a democracy. A bureaucracy or
military carries out the day-to-day work of government,
with positions filled through open elections.
Dictatorship. One supreme ruler holds absolute
authority, but his or her rule isn't necessarily dynastic.
In other respects this resembles an autocracy. In the
Greyhawk campaign setting, a half-demon named Iuz is
the dictator of a conquered land that bears his name.
Feudalism. The typical government of Europe in
the Middle Ages, a feudalistic society consists of layers
of lords and vassals. The vassals provide soldiers or
scutage (payment in lieu of military service) to the lords,
who in turn promise protection to their vassals.
Gerontocracy. Elders preside over this society. In
some cases, long-lived races such as elves or dragons
are entrusted with the leadership of the land.
Hierarchy. A feudal or bureaucratic government
where every member, except one, is subordinate to
another member. In the Dragonlance campaign setting,
the dragonarmies of Krynn form a military hierarchy,
with the Dragon Highlords as leaders under the dragon
queen Takhisis.
Kleptocracy. This government is composed of groups
or individuals primarily seeking wealth for themselves,
often at the expense of their subjects. The grasping
Bandit Kingdoms in the Grey hawk campaign setting
are prime examples. A kingdom run by thieves' guilds
would also fall into this category.
Magocracy. The governing body is composed of
spellcasters who rule directly as oligarchs or feudal
lords, or participate in a democracy or bureaucracy.
Examples include the Red Wizards of Thay in the
Forgotten Realms campaign setting and the sorcerer-
kings of Athas in the Dark Sun campaign setting.
Matriarchy or Patriarchy. This society is governed
by the eldest or most important members of one gender.
Draw cities are examples of theocratic matriarchies, for
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