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In my world, because of how difficult the dark lord antagonist is to kill, he was permanently trapped in a weird substance. However, centuries later, he gets out and he is free. He awakens now in my world's equivalent to the 19th century, and he is from the 17th century. People are shocked that he is back and alive, and now he has to regain his kingdom. What would cause the people to allow him back into politics, even though he is a literal dark lord covered in armor? While this may be for one dark lord, this is meant to dark lords in general, because this happens a lot in the lore, but in different parts of the world. Notes to mention:

  • He was originally from the Renaissance era, and is now in the Victorian era
  • He was originally an absolute monarch, though now the kingdom is a constitutional monarchy
  • The kingdom is based on the Ottoman Empire
  • He cannot influence with "evil powers", because there is no such thing, his powers are mainly based around durability and near-immortality (he can live forever, but can get killed. Extremely difficult, but not impossible)
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  • $\begingroup$ Questions about the motivations of organizations or characters are a story detail not a fact of the world. They are not permitted on this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Aug 29, 2022 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ Supporting @sphennings' comment, the help center states, "If on the other hand you aren’t sure what a character (be it an individual or organization) should do, that is out of scope for the site." However, I'm happy to retract my vote if the question changes (and whether or not you can change the question is important). Your question is off-topic if it asks "why" a person would do something. But it would be on-topic if you tell us what choice will be made and are asking about the world mechanics that would permit that choice. (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 29, 2022 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ ...An example of the difference: "Why would I vote to elect a nefarious U.S. president to a second term?" can be answered in too many ways with non-worldbuilding reasons or reasons that can't apply universally to all people (I'm uneducated, I'm brainwashed, I'm a psycopath, I'm devoted, I'm loyal, I hate the competition more than he, I owe him money, I'm employed by him.... none of which are worldbuilding reasons). On the other hand, if you ask, "the people of my world want to accept the return of a dark lord. Here's a description of my people and their society (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 29, 2022 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ ... and I can provide details of their legal and philisophical systems if needed. How must my world change (changes to the law, changes to the philosophical structures, etc.) to allow that choice?" That's a (somewhat broad, but still legitimate) worldbuilding question. The point is this: we'll help you build your world, but we won't help you write your story. Right now you're asking us to help you write your story. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 29, 2022 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ Your last edit doesn't save your question. You're still asking what choices a character would make. That's always off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 29, 2022 at 6:38

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Because when he was the ruler, the kingdom was at its peak in terms of global power. Now it's a bit-part player bending to the will of the new upstart kingdoms. The local people are always hungry and cannot afford to feed their families.

The people in the country dream of returning to their rightful place as the greatest empire in the world, with prosperity for all.
Who better to lead them into this glorious future but the man who did it last time? Nobody alive remembers how cruel he was to his own people, only that they used to dominate their rivals.

For a real world example just look at Putin's campaign to reignite the glory of the USSR, just replace Putin with a literal reincarnation of Stalin.

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The General Population is Suffering

enter image description here

Most advanced 19th century countries had huge gaps between the wealth of the elite and the wealth of the general population. Workers worked in factories and mines and on farms 12-15 hours a day for starvation wages, with no worker rights or unemployment benefits. Even children down to the age of 4 worked long hours in unsafe conditions, while the elite (nobility, merchants and factory owners) lived in huge estates without having to work much, if at all. Starvation and abject poverty were a fact for at least half the population.

Into this comes the Dark Lord reborn and promises the suffering population better times if they rise up against the elite and put him in power. The Dark Lord also galvanizes nationalists who dream of a return to the glory when the Dark Lord first ruled and the "Ottoman" Empire was a force to be reckoned with. This unholy alliance of the disenfranchised poor and middle-class nationalists scares the elite, and many of them swear allegiance to the Dark Lord for fear of losing not only their wealth, but also their heads.

Such things have happened many times in the past: Large shares of the population see no future in the status quo and are willing to follow any demagogue who promises something different. They may not entirely trust the Dark Lord, but at the very least he will upset the status quo, and that is something, after all. Think of Hitler, the Russian Revolution and today's nationalist populists on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Apologists and Conspiracy Theories

“The lying media wants you to think the Dark Lord was evil! He was only dark in the sense of his handsome swarthiness! He didn’t put people into slavery, he merely promoted hard and honest work for all! Genocide? You really believe that the dark lord could kill millions of people and burn all the bodies! What nonsense!”

In the real world people make apologies and work very hard to rehabilitate absolutely horrendous dictators. The Holocaust is incredibly well attested yet there are thousands of people who are Holocaust denialists. Stalin has a large fan club in Russia and to a lesser degree in other Former Soviet States, and he killed millions.

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Ambitious climber sees benefit in an alliance with the Dark Lord.

Tarkin and Vader

The risen Dark Lord is creepy. No-one knows him any more. His accent is strange. But the Dark Lord back in the day was not always a Dark Lord. He worked his way up. He is immortal and he is fine with the long game. He will work his way up again.

There is an upstart schemer who perceives that allying himself with the Dark Lord will be advantageous to himself. He is not afraid of the Dark Lord because he is a powerful person himself and the Dark Lord is not what he once was. This schemer is no dope and his calculus may be correct.

The Dark Lord is not egotistical. He is fine being wingman. He will not be wingman forever and he can afford to wait, and learn about this new world as he serves. His time will come. Again.

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"good old times" feeling is a powerful driver which often cancel other more rational thoughts.

For example in countries of the former USSR the worsening of life standard has lead to an increase of nostalgic feeling toward the Stalin era, Argentina has had a few waves of Peron and Peronism guiding the country and Italy has periodically politicians claiming that Mussolini did good things and was a good leader.

Like Clinton's staff said during his run for the presidential seat, "it's the economy, stupid!". People can afford being rational when they are not hungry. If instead they are, many would trade higher ideals for materials benefit.

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For all the same reasons we see currently.

  • Some people/families were benefiting from the Dark Lord being in power and would want to be back in power/have more power.

  • some people agreed with "his" ideologies. Similar to some people saying Hitler kind of had a point murdering gays, Jews etc and that we should continue that kind of stuff. This has some grey areas as some people might not agree with the wholesale murder but do agree with other parts of the ideology.

  • some people dont believe it was that bad. "Nah there wasnt a holocaust", "the victors write history so he looks way worse than he was".

  • some people point to what went well. This is basically what is happening in China: while people might not agree with some parts of Chinese policy (say the "cultural re-educationcamps" that outright torture people just for being a certain background many people say "well overall its going better and its not like everyone else is perfect"). An idea of "as long as you keep your head down and do your thing you can live happily with virtually no limitations" is fairly common. So why not take on this Dark Lord? He had a great economy, a swift and (mostly) just justice system and a solid political system (as far as they can tell). Its not like this King has been an angel!

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  1. He Is needed to protect their country from external threat. As we've seen he already has super power so hes very valuable as a soldier. And if he is anything like other dark lords then he probably is also a skilled general. Someone times the best way to grab power is to point out that the other side is even worse.

If a foreign Invader is coming the people just might see the dark Lord as the lesser of 2 evils.

  1. Political instability and Civil War. What could make the freedom loving Romans literally threatening to revolt if Augustus did not seize power? Generations of political instability, two brutal purges and Civil War. After years of constant bloodshed Having a strong man you can keep relative peace even if he is a tyrant then perhaps a tyrant doesn't sound so bad.

  2. Time passes and people forget. Imagine if you were to find a book title " The upside of the Third Reich and Hitler ". I'm sure you would be horrified as you should, But the sad truth is that book will be written. Not today, not in a 100 years, probably, but given a 1000? Consider this Hitler killed millions of people for , At least according to his own propaganda, The good of Germany. Genghis Khan also killed millions of people, The reason To get him and his allies more stuff.

Yet Historians are full of praise for the mongols invasion. They talk about how they connected the East and West and how it jump started technology and trade.

We would never accept A resurrected Hitler's attempt to become president of the United States, But a resurrected Genghis Khan ? We probably at least let him run if reluctantly. If time enough has passed since the dark Lord's death Then perhaps people Don't consider him as dark as the use to. Maybe some of the worst stories are dismissed as anti dark Lord propaganda or the history of the winners. Maybe historians have begun pointing out the benefits to the dark Lord brought during his reign.

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He's rich

enter image description here

Before being trapped, he stashed much gold and artefacts in hidden vaults around the place.

He can use the wealth to hire advisors to make him look good. Buy a knighthood or a barony. Plenty of poor nobility you can get titles off. Buy businesses to amass a financial empire, control trade and commerce.

Once you have enough power, you can get into politics as people will be afraid to upset you.

Muhahahaha

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Chaos

One Dark Lord is better than a thousand feuding petty tyrants and bandits and sorcerers. Oppressive taxes that are at least consistent are better than having everything you own seized at random intervals. Better to have the prettiest maiden in town taken to his harem than for different bandits to abduct a maiden every month.

Heck, one overlord might even mean you could follow his laws.

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Welp, there the obvious answer based on the premise of working within the system ...

What is Not Forbidden is Allowed

Technically, there is nothing preventing the awakened Dark Lord from entering politics. They have, as of now, committed no crimes nor have they engaged in illegal acts as defined by the laws of the new constitutional monarchy. So long as they are aware of the laws and follow them, there is no reason why an awakened Dark Lord can't enter politics. Believe the people who went over the laws intensely to try to disqualify the Dark Lord -- they found nothing and they dig through everything.

Oh yes, it will possibly anger people immensely -- after all that's a Dark Lord! But the rules need to apply to everyone equally, much to everyone's annoyance.

Odds are that the new constitutional monarchy never considered the Dark Lord regaining their freedom so have never put the appropriate laws into place to safeguard the system from them. Term limits likely wouldn't be considered as that might weaken their own power in politics if they have to retire after so many years.

Difference in Opinion

Given the difference in both the time they ruled and the style of government, the Dark Lord will have different ideas of how to run a nation than the rest of the politicians. On the surface this is a net neutral as they are only one person initially. Even at the head of a major party in the future, it should still be neutral as there should be factions that have differing viewpoints.

Some of their initial views might not be as popular, but theirs was a different time. Harsher justice was needed, and people needed to rule with more power then they do now. But the seeds of those ideas, the ideals of how the Dark Lord may have ruled, are still potentially valid even two centuries later. This is not to say that they should be adopted wholesale, but an avocation of a stronger government on certain things is not necessarily wrong.

Even though their ideas are 200 years out of date, but so long as the Dark Lord can adapt to the changing times in thoughts and deeds, then they can mold the new nation into something that they want to take over and reclaim.

Perspective of Time

The returned Dark Lord want control of their kingdom back, sure. But they can wait -- they are immortal until killed after all. They do not need to reclaim their kingdom tomorrow. They don't even need to do it in a year. They have the option of planning things out over the span of decades and adjusting those plans when the global situation changes. A slow and patient game will suit them best and plays to their strength of longevity -- they can simply outlive their opponents. It's about molding the nation into a kingdom worthy of ruling.

Alternative Plots

Everything above operates on the premise of entering politics to work up the system to eventually rule. To work within the confines of the constitutional monarchy to amass power and retain it. And done correctly, it could work.

Politics could be a way to gain prestige to begin to hobnob with royalty. Some words here, some money there, and a strategic assassination, and they could be at the top of the monarchy. And as they don't die under normal circumstances, their reign will last centuries. Then the issue becomes how much power has the monarchy given away to the constitution and how could they reclaim it. Same issues, but from the other side of the political system.

This doesn't even get into the murkiness of the fact that as a previous monarch, they are Not Dead. Technically, their rule has been usurped by those that overthrew and sealed them and they could attempt to make a case of it. They might even win depending on how the laws were written.

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He's a Dark Lord to most of the modern world... but he's a hero to his own people and had some impressive reforms that he spearheaded for there own improvement. It's just that his reputation around the world was due to his very aggressive foreign policy. This is not uncommon among several real life rulers with hated reputations. The best example is probably Vlad III Drăculea who's reputation for being a very bloody 13th century leader inspired the titular villian of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula." But in his native Romania, Vlad the Impaler is one of the most celebrated heroes of the nation, where his barbaric prefered method of slaying his foes was mostly used on the Turks... who would have done much worse to the majority Christian Romanians who refused to convert to Islam if they got control over Vlad's holdings.

Genghis Khan and Atilla the Hun are still heroes in their modern homelands of Mongolia and Hungary respectively, and Pablo Escobar is still beloved in Colombia, where he used much of the wealth of his drug empire to help local communities.

Your Dark Lord could be similarly popular. Sure, he was a warlord... but he improved education, helped the poor, provided for orphans, rebuilt critical infrastructure and rebuilt it better, increased the rights of his people, reformed the peerage system, granted religious freedom, reformed the courts and protected the rights of the accused, ended public executions in the gladiatorial pits, patroned the arts, and now that he's back in the 19th century, will not only set up the railroads, but make them run on time! Sure... he's terrible on the international stage, but look at what he can do for you once he's invalid your terrible backwards land.

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Ummah versus Sultan or other factionalism

The Ottomans used to have some pretty gnarly court intrigues. Aside from scheming by royal family members, viziers, and court officials, they also had a fairly meddlesome Islamic clergy/ummah/judiciary.

Now, if your Dark Lord ruled an Ottoman-like Empire for centuries, you can bet that at least a significant proportion of the religious leadership supported him at one point or another.

Since his downfall, he has been condemned as a heretic on certain grounds, but a similar heresy is now in vogue, and a large part of the ummah has reassessed the former Caliph, noting his former military victories and political unity.

There's also the possibility that the Janissaries remember him fondly, having been soldiers under him, and their wealthy and powerful descendants support him as a result.

Either way, you need a faction that did well under him that has recently emerged as a major political player and has a bitter struggle with the current rulers.

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The Dark Lord was a Progressive

Back in the day he was a very intelligent and well traveled interlecttual. This was what gave his his immortality. However, he discovered other things as well. He saw how decadent aristocrats and old power structures stifled prosperity and had studied why city states were so unreasonably effective historically. He had seen "primitive" democratic societies whose people seemed to be filled with energy. Thus he decided to change his own nation.

He took power, purged the clergy, the nobility and the guilds and set up more bottom up structured in their place. Land reforms and irrigation projects, public education, free trade and the like. Perhaps he banned slavery or broke up an ethic caste system. He was beloved by the people.

However, an alliance of surrounding kingdoms brought him down in the end and most of his reforms were undone. His atrocities in removing the old power structures were exaggerated (though employed a rather brutal strategy of executing his enemies and their families publicly or something like this). The was painted to be dark.

However, his policies were considered to be successful and his memory could only be tainted so far. Current day reformists see him as their prophet or spiritual founder. Kinda like Karl Marx for the Communists. Thus, he has many ideological supporters in current day politics.

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His successor turned out to be a corrupt liar

200 years ago the leader of the group that trapped the Dark Lord took it upon himself to become his successor. But he didn't free the people, he was just as power-hungry as the Dark Lord. As the new leader he became known for running a corrupt government and used absurd levels of propaganda to control his people. The new leader had history books burned and rewritten with fake stories to make him and his ancestors look heroic. All that is left of the country's history prior to the Dark Lord's trapping remains only in the memories of those who were there to live it.

200 years later the Dark Lord returns, and no one is sure if the stories they heard about his evil 200 years ago were true or if they were lies from his successor. They decide to hear him out and give him a chance.

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