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Worldbuilding: Governance

The idea of ownership and borders evolved as people began congregating in large numbers in specific places. Before then, families probably staked out camping grounds, caves, or hunting territories.

Did people have the concept of ownership of land or territory, such as hunting regions, homesteads, clans, villages, towns, cities, townships, counties, colonies, provinces, shires, states, countries, or intergalactic territories?

How did they designate borders: natural landmarks (rivers, natural formations, etc.), cairns, hedges, border crossings, walls, fences, land surveys and markers, flags, castles, towers, or some other method such as force fields or magical protection?

Who owned land: anyone, everyone, certain groups or castes?

Who owned the local natural resources: individuals, groups, governments, rulers?

Did they have legal means of owning land or resources such as deeds, titles, or land grants?

Were they mutually agreed upon or enforced?

How dense was the population: dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions?

Who ran each section: tribal or clan leaders, wisemen or women, warriors, kings, priests, elected leaders or appointed boards, an elite class, or council?

What governing system did they have: tribal leaders, matriarchal, or patriarchal chieftans?

Democracy: Rule by the majority. Individuals or group of individuals composing a minority have no protection against the unlimited power of the majority.

Republic: Has a written constitution of basic rights that protect the minority from being completely unrepresented or overridden by the majority.

Theocracy: A deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities or a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.

Demagogue: A leader who makes promises based on popular prejudices and false claims in order to gain power.

Plutocracy: A society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.

Autocrat: Power rests with a small number of people distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education, or corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next, but inheritance is not a necessary condition.

Socialist: Public, collective, or cooperative ownership equally by all citizens.

Communist: Originally an egalitarian Utopian ideology removing class and religious control of government where everyone had common ownership. 

Capitalist: A working class who must work to survive that makes up the majority of society and a capitalist class minority who derives profit from employing the working class.

Monarchy: A group, usually a family, exercises a role of sovereignty and rule until death or abdication based on rules of heredity.

Dictatorship: A ruler exercising absolute unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession.

Utopian: Highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens where everyone is treated equally well, eliminating poverty and deprivation through fairly distributed resources.

Dystopian: A totalitarian state in cataclysmic decline that is undesirable or frightening.

Other Fantasy or Science Fiction government model?

Did they have the position by election, heredity, or force?

Who were the political parties or influential groups?

Did they have knowledge of the wider world and other systems?

Did they have groups determined to change the government system?

Did they have oppositional parties or representatives (congress, house of lords, etc.)?

Was it a time of peace or war?

Was there a history of great conflict?

Next week, we will explore Law & Order.

For advanced world-building, the SBB Build A World Workbook is available in print and e-book.

Other titles in the series:

Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict available in print and e-book takes you from story seed to conflict outline. The fourteen companion Build A Plot Workbooks, in print and e-book, offer step by step development prompts: ComedyCon, Heist & Prison BreakFantasyGothicHistoricalHorrorLiterary
(Drama),  MysteryRoad TripRomanceScience FictionTeam VictoryThriller & SuspenseWestern.

SBB II Crafting Believable Conflict in print and e-book and the Build A Cast Workbook in print and e-book help you build a believable cast and add conflict based on the sixteen personality types.

SBB III The Revision Layers in print and e-book helps you self-edit your manuscript.

Free story building tools are available at  

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