each is ruled by a council of drow high priestesses who
answer to Lolth, the Demon Queen of Spiders.
Meritocracy. The most intelligent and educated
people oversee the society, often with a bureaucracy
to handle the day-to-day work of government. In the
Forgotten Realms, scholarly monks preside over the
fortress-library of Candlekeep, overseen by a maste r of
lore called the Keeper.
Militocracy. Military leaders run the nation under
martial law, using the army and other armed forces. A
militocracy might be based on an elite group of soldiers,
an order of dragon riders, or a league of sea princes.
olamnia, a nation ruled by knights in the Dragonlance
campaign setting, falls into this category.
Monarchy. A single hereditary sovereign wears the
crown. Unlike the autocrat, the monarch's powers are
limited by law, and the rule r serves as the head of a
democracy, fe udal state, or militocracy. The kingdom
of Breland, in the Eberron campaign setting, has both
a parliament that makes laws and a monarch who
enforces the m.
Oligarchy. A small number of absolute rulers share
power, possibly dividing the land into districts or
provinces unde r their control, or jointly ruling together.
_.\group of adventurers who take control of a nation
together might form an oligarchy. The Free City of
Greyhawk is an oligarchy composed of various faction
le aders, with a Lord Mayor as its figurehead.
Plutocracy. Society is governed by the wealthy. The
e lite form a ruling council, purchase representati"on at
rhe court of a figurehead monarch, or rule by default
because money is the true power in the realm. Many
cities in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting,
in cluding Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate, are plutocracies.
Republic. Government is entrusted to representatives
of an established electorate who rule on behalf of the
electors. Any democracy in which only landowners or
certain classes can vote could be considered a republic.
Satrapy. Conquerors and representatives of another
governme nt wield power, ruling the settlement or region
as part of a large r empire. The satraps are bureaucrats
and military officers, or unusual characters or monsters.
The cities of High port and Suder ham in the Greyhawk
ca mpaign setting are satrapies controlled by agents of a
,·icious gang of marauders known as the Slave Lords.
Theocracy. Rulership falls to a direct representative
or a collection of agents of a deity. The centers of power
in a theocracy are usually located on sacred sites. In
th e Eberron campaign setting, the nation of Thrane is
a theocracy devoted to the Silver Flame, a divine spirit
th at resides in Thrane's capital of Flamekeep.
SAMPLE HIERARCHY oF NoBLE TITLES
Rank Title Rank Title
1st Emperor/Empress 7th Viscount/
2nd King/Queen Viscountess
3rd Duke/Duchess 8th Baron/Baroness
4th Prince/Princess 9th Baronet
5th Marquess/Marquise lOth Knight
6th Earl or Count/
Even small villages can provide characters access to the
gear they need to pursue the ir adventures. Provisions,
tents, backpacks, and simple weapons are commonly
available. Traveling merchants carry armor, martial
weapons, and more specialized gear. Most villages have
inns that cater to travelers, where adventurers can find
a hot meal and a bed, even if the quality le aves much to
Villages rely heavily on trade with other settlements,
including larger towns and cities. Merchants pass
through regularly, selling necessities and luxuries to the
vil,Iagers, and any successful merchant has far-reaching
contacts across the region. Traveling merchants pass
on gossip and adventure hooks to the characters as
they conduct their business. Since merchants make
their living traversing roads that might be menaced
by bandits or wandering monsters, they hire guards to
keep their goods safe. They also carry news from town
to town, including reports of situations that cry out for
the attention of adventurers.
These merchants can't provide the services normally
found in a city. For instance, when the characters are in
need of a library or a dedicated sage, a trainer who can
handle the griffon eggs they've found, or an architect to
design their castle, they'r e better off going to a large city
than looking in a village.
The straightforward terms "gold piece" (gp), "silver
piece" (sp), "copper piece" (cp), "electrum piece" (ep),
and "platinum piece" (pp) are used throughout the game
rules for clarity. You can imbue these denominations
with more interesting descriptions in your game
world. People give coins specific names, whether
as plain as "dime" or lively as "gold double-eagle." A
country typically mints its own currency, which might
correspond to the basic rules terms. In most worlds, few
currencies achieve widespread distribution, but nearly
all coins are accepted worldwide-except by those
looking to pick a fight with a foreigner.
ExAMPLE: THE FoRGOTTEN REALMS
The world of the Forgotten Realms provides an
extensive example of currencies. Although barter,
blood notes, and similar letters of trade are common
enough in Faerfin, metal coins and trade bars are the
Common Coinage. Coins appear in a bewildering
variety of shapes, sizes, names, and materials. Thanks
to the ambitious traders of Sembia, that nation's oddly
shaped coins can be found throughout Faerfin. In
S embia, square iron steelpence replace copper coins.
Triangular silver pieces are ravens, diamond-shaped
electrum pieces are harmarks (commonly called "blue
eyes"), and five-sided gold pieces are nobles. Sembia
doesn't mint platinum coins. All coinage is accepted
in Sembia, including copper and platinum pieces
In Waterdeep, the bustling cosmopolitan center
of trade, coppers are called nibs, silvers are shards,
CHAPTER 1 I A WORLD OF YOUR OWN