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So it occurred to me while developing the political landscape for my world, that throwing fantasy races into the mix in an absolute monarchy/feudal system and pretending they just fit right in may in fact have some problems.

What I am attempting to generally figure out is: How would including fantasy races impact the politics of a particular medieval monarchy?


For aid in answering this question here is what can be generalized about each of the fantasy races and what is known about the kingdom in question

Orcs

  • Orcs are big and value strength, they share a lifespan in common to humans
  • Their society is tribal, with a war chief being chosen based on combat and feats of strength.
  • Some tribes are nomadic but others are not
  • This practice leads the orcs into conflict with other races as young orcs must prove themselves in battle to get a mate and for a chance at power.
  • Orcs as a race virtually never band together and regularly fight with neighboring tribes be they orc or not.
  • Orcs tend to distrust gnomes and dwarves whose small stature leads to a belief that they are sneaky and underhanded (which is sometimes true)
  • Orcs respect humans and elves mainly due to the wars they have fought with the two races
  • Few orcs are capable of using magic, those that do become shaman and are revered...until they are sacrificed to the gods at age 30.

Elves:

  • Elves are long lived though not immortal. On average elves live to be 350
  • Each elf tends to choose a few skills (usually fewer than 6) to perfect in their lifetime. These can be manufacturing skills, martial skills, as well as things like trading and public speaking.
  • Elves would rather be working on honing their skills (even martial skills) than fighting with others. They are not so much peaceful as often self absorbed and will ignore provocations
  • Once roused to fight they are deadly. They are not naturally stronger or faster but their combat skills are second to none.
  • Elves live in multi-racial cities for the most part, though some shun society and live in small enclaves reserved for elves (yes, in the forest mostly).
  • Elves can excel at pretty much anything due to their long lives and penchant for focus on certain things.
  • Elves generally tolerate most races, though can often see them as lesser beings due to their short lives
  • Elves inherently distrust orcs due to the fact that the orcs can't keep long term agreements
  • Elves would probably rule the world if they were not the smallest race by population
  • Elves have a higher percentage of their population capable of using magic

Humans:

  • As usual humans are sort of the in-between race and have no race wide tendencies appearing to most other races as infuriatingly random in their actions (on the whole)
  • On average humans live to about 60 years of age, though social status can skew those numbers significantly.
  • Humans generally live in multi-racial cities though there are many human villages/farming communities. In the rural setting humans are often much more distrustful, though not outright racists.
  • Magic is uncommon as a general rule, but humans fall somewhere between elves and orcs in the regularity of a person using magic

Dwarves:

  • Short and stocky and fond of mountains, caves and basically rocks in general. The average lifespan is around 100 years
  • Dwarves are excellent traders and craftsmen
  • Dwarven society is very organized particularly in dwarf only settlements
  • Social standing is very important and a sort of caste system has developed though above average individuals are capable of changing their caste.
  • The only other race to frequently live among the dwarves are gnomes
  • Dwarves tend to be secretive and self interested (as a race)
  • Similar to orcs dwarven mages are uncommon. Those that do have magic tend to become priests.
  • Dwarves tend to mistrust virtually all other races with the exception of gnomes and are generally closed off to outsiders
  • Dwarven cities are well organized militarily and all dwarves are expected to serve in the military for a period of time when they come of age. In mixed cities you will often find dwarves as leaders of city guards/militias/militaries

Gnomes:

  • Similar in height to dwarves but not as stocky, gnomes tend to live to about 130.
  • The most friendly of the races and most welcoming. A stranger in a gnomish village can expect that they will be welcomed fed and given a place to sleep
  • This friendliness probably developed as a defense mechanism for a race that is smaller and weaker than all the others.
  • Gnomes also have a natural curiosity for anything new and different...this can make them appear eccentric to the other races
  • With the exception of small villages there are no gnomish kingdoms
  • Like elves mages are fairly common among gnomes (though still rare)
  • Gnomes tend to like everyone, even orcs who seem fascinated with "the wee people"

The kingdom in question is a monarchy.

Within its borders it contains:

  • 4 large multi-racial cities (all races present in the city limits)
  • 2 Elven forest settlements
  • Many human villages
  • Many gnome villages (Humans and gnomes often mix together in these smaller towns)
  • 1 dwarven stronghold
  • A section of the orc tribe lands (though the orcs would probably disagree that they are part of the kingdom at all)
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    $\begingroup$ While I do appreciate a lot of the information given, are we trying to fit these people/creatures into a European middle-age style setting? I know most people mean "a fantasy setting based off of middle-age/early renaissance Europe" when they say "fantasy," but I just want to confirm. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Oct 28 '15 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I would like it to style-wise be European middle ages/feudalism. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 28 '15 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Are all of these different races existing in a feudal society (even the dwarves and orcs in their respective strongholds) or are you looking at how a predominantly human feudal society would be impacted by being in a multi-racial kingdom where their king happens to also rule over separate racial "kingdoms" that follow different methods of internal governance? $\endgroup$ – Avernium Oct 28 '15 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ In practically all the fantasy settings I can think of, various races control their own territory and don't bow to a ruler of a different race. Tolkien's Middle Earth, as one example, pretty much has each tribe of each race controlling a radius of territory; Gondor, Rohan, Mordor, the Shire, then smaller elvish, dwarvish and wizard holdings like Erebor, Moria, Lorien, Arnor, Isengard, Mirkwood etc. In between major settlements, the land was fairly lawless. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Oct 28 '15 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @James Take a look at Divinity: Dragon Commander. Much of what other users answered is simulated quite nicely in that game. $\endgroup$ – PCSgtL Oct 29 '15 at 16:17
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Model each race as equivalent to modern political parties in relation to racial priorities and pressures. Doing so will simplify mental construction of the political interactions, and the checks and balances. By making a comparison in political ideology between the various races and modern human political parties, the author can find quickly find examples of how a particular ideology played out in real life then merge pattern of events in with their story.

Modern political parties are the aggregation of people who share similar background, religions, cultural priorities and other factors. As these factors do not change much, the emergent political parties don't change much either. We can expect the same kind of political momentum/stability from each race's preferred politics.

Issues to deal with

Any political system will need to deal with the following issues:

  • War
  • Taxes/Treasury
  • Economy
  • Domestic Peacekeeping
  • Diplomacy
  • Regulations
  • Education

Each race will have a different set of default approaches to dealing with (or not) all of these areas.

Interactions with the Absolute Monarch

The personality and disposition of the king on the above list of issues will dictate to a large degree which races fair better and hold more power than another. For example, if the king is prone to violent conflicts then the Dwarves, Orcs and Humans will be his favorites. Conversely, if the king is an empathetic man interested in social programs then the hospitality and caring of the Gnomes will resonate with him.

Interactions along the political spectrum

  • Elves - Gnomes on Social Issues: This is the classic socially conservative vs socially liberal dichotomy. Elves don't really care what happens to other races while the Gnome's natural hospitality will push them towards what we would call social liberalism or socialism. Oddly, the free roaming Orcs may be natural allies to the Elves in social questions because the Orcs will have a "bootstrap yourself" attitude to the Elves' apathy.
  • Dwarves - Orcs on War: Both races are highly militant but with different aims. Orcs need warfare for the sake of warfare, as younger Orcs need it to prove themselves. Dwarves on the other hand are equally militant but have no cultural pressures for constant combat. So when war does break out, the Dwarves will aim for an isolationist policy while the Orcs will push for fast, aggressive action.
  • Gnomes - Orcs on Education: The Gnomes' natural curiosity lends itself to education, science and knowledge which they acquire as quickly as possible. In opposition, the Orcs need no more education than how hunt and fight.

Degree of Politically Activity

  • Dwarves - distant and minimally involved with the larger kingdom (Isolationist to the core)
  • Elves - Selectively involved, usually in diplomacy due to longevity and skill specialization
  • Gnomes - highly involved
  • Humans - highly involved
  • Orcs - Minimally involved and minimally represented at the kingdom level (the roaming Orcs don't often come into the cities so they send representatives when needed).
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    $\begingroup$ Modern political parties are about ideas and what means are used to solve problems. You cant' switch over to being an elf when you like their program. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Oct 28 '15 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Oldcat true, you can't change your race, but each race tends to have a general way of doing things, goals and priorities, just as political parties do. $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 28 '15 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ For example, the Orcs may switch from combat by blood letting to combat by ritual, nonlethal combat as a means to establish maturity/adulthood. $\endgroup$ – Green Dec 22 '15 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ Since there is zero real world experience with how different species of intelligent life reacts in the same world, this still seems quite iffy. Even among humans and actual races, the preponderance seems to favor one side dominating over the others. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Dec 22 '15 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ It is a convention in literature that science fiction species and fantasy races encapsulate some subset of broader real world human behavior. The fantasy races are archetypes of different types of humans, collective or individual. Sounds like this based on contemporary RPG with morally relative races. Back in my day, Orcs were just bleeping evil. They existed to attack and destroy, you couldn't even think of integrating them into a broader society. now they're cast more like some Stepe peoples and made progressively more real-world human like. Boring. $\endgroup$ – TechZen Feb 2 '17 at 15:39
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First question is to answer is :

Will it change anything compare to actual feudal society ?

Of course there were not different races in medieval Europe, but the cultural differences were huge. And whatever was the reality, numerous clichés did modelled the feudal society. For example, the martial reputation of Swiss leads to an extensive use of Swiss mercenaries, or the Varangian guard which was mainly composed of Germanic soldiers serving the Byzantine empire.

You can therefore think the diversity of races as just a new kind of diversity adding to the ones which existed in reality, and use them the same way as the others. Really the point about politics is that the king will try to use any particularity (real or imaginary) of the different races to stabilize its power. Therefore it is not very different to what happened in the real world.

Here are some examples of the impact on politics that these races can have. I tried to give a historical counterpart for each of them.

  • Most royal advisers or ministers will be elves since they can be trusted, they have a tendency to be talented and they can even ensure a continuity between a king and his heir due to their increased lifespan. This implies a lot of jealousy from non-elvish courtiers, and some fine political tuning from the king to avoid too violent clashes and the same time to avoid a too big power for the elves (it can somehow be related to the way priests and monks served as advisers).
  • There will probably a standing army of dwarves, serving directly the king since they are "naturally" prone to be organized and militarized. Such army could have a big influence in politics since it is an army on the hearth of the power (similar to the Varangian guard in the Byzantine empire or Cossacks in the Russian empire).
  • Since dwarves tend to be traders, the king may contract debts toward them. This has to be taken in account when dealing with them, and may lead to some civil war or executions of dwarves to reduce the debt (as did some European kings did towards Templars or Italian cities).
  • Tribal orcs inside the kingdom will most likely be used as a shield against other tribal orcs (more or less like the Roman empire used some Germanic tribes). -The only utility I found for gnomes is being a scapegoat (as were Jews or witches in medieval times). However, any sufficient minority race could do the stuff.
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  • $\begingroup$ This combined with @Green answer is the best. But I wanted to add that there would be a high ranking military office that was always held by an ork. This would then give the Orks something to work for/fight for within the Kingdom. Gnomes might be social workers, or bureaucrats. With a natural tendency to work towards the good of others. Similar to "Abnegation" in the "Divergence" book. $\endgroup$ – PCSgtL Oct 29 '15 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ You could also expect gnomes to form priestly societies dedicated to aiding the poor and healing and the like. Their attitude towards learning and helping others could well drive them towards early medical science, and a holy aspect would protect them somewhat from the predations of others. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Mar 14 at 9:50
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I think a feudalism system would be quite suitable. In short words, feudalism leads to the building of territories of various size who are bound together by a common liege. But which, for all other purposes are quite independent.

Some examples:

  • If you look at France during the 100-Years war. Burgundy, Anjou, Normandy, Guyenne, Provence were more or less independent politically and economically from the Kingdom of France. But most or all were nominally dependent on the French Crown.

  • The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) would probably be a suitable example for you. It was composed of various territories, each with their own form of government. Some were lead by Religious leaders (e.g. Würzburg, Salzburg), Princes (Austria, Bohemia), Dukes (Swabia), independent cities (Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Strasbourg), etc. All were free to decide on their local political system, and a lot of economics freedom. Even, aside from the 30 years war, some religious freedom. Each large region were free to choose the religion they wanted/authorised within their boundaries. All were finally united by an elected Emperor (in practice from the Habsbourg dynasty).

Contrary to a previous answer, I would compare most of your races with religions.

The HRE was a mix between various reformed churches, Roman Catholic and Jews. For historical reasons there were no Muslims in that political entity, but you can imagine how it could be if you throw them in the pot. The Jews were a minority everywhere, but even if they often focused on some trades, and tended to form closed communities, they could be found overall. You can see that they sometimes were banned from some regions at time (Frankfurt, Vienna, etc.). Roman Catholic and reformed churches usually couldn't live together, except maybe in some independent states. And the different reformed churches were more tolerant of each other but nevertheless tended not to mix.


Back to your case, I could imagine something like

  • Humans would be the Roman Catholic,
  • Elves would be the Jews,
  • Dwarves and Gnomes various branch of reformation.

Please note that I am only referring to the political organisation. It is not meant to associate any other traits between the given races and the religions.

For the Orcs, I would see them as Gypsies. Nomadic, not actually building any settled structure.

The 4 large multi-racial cities are independent cities. The dwarves and elven settlements are Duchy. Humans and Gnomes form some separate entities (possibly more than one such), and maybe some mixed ones. Then depending on how many entities you have, you can give a few voting rights. One for each race would be a good idea. Then you create a parliament which is composed of a representative of every single entity.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just minor thing - Bohemia was a kingdom, only one in HRE. $\endgroup$ – Elas Mar 10 '17 at 14:33
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It would add diversity. Monarchy is basically based on obligations various groups and leaders of the groups have towards the king and his family. There is not necessarily an abstraction of the kingdom separate from the ruling dynasty. As such every group has essentially one-on-one relationship with the royal family. But generally as time goes by the relationships get formalized and homogenized because historical precedents tend to apply widely.

In a racially diverse country a precedent made on a case concerning a dwarf would be less likely to apply to cases concerning other races as there is an actual physical and cultural difference that would keep the races separate. So while the relationship the king has with the two elven settlements would probably be fairly similar and would get more so over time, it might have very little in common with the relationship the king has with the dwarven stronghold. Which relationship would probably be entirely unique just as the stronghold itself would be.

The primary political relationship for normal people would be with their own community, a village, a city, the stronghold, or a tribe. Only the leaders of these communities would have actual political relationship with the king and the wider world. Usually people would just interact with their own community and a few traders and travellers. The fact that people in other communities would be of different race, would not necessarily be that important. If you live in Florence, a person living in Venice is a Venetian regardless of whether they are a human, an orc, or an elf.

The exception to this is naturally racism. People seem to have a need to reaffirm their bond with their community by defining some people as different and suspicious. So it is likely there would be prejudice and discrimination against some groups. This would probably vary in different communities. Or it might not be related to race at all. The discriminated group could be a group of immigrants or a religious minority.

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I would suspect that there would be a lot of witch hunts and orcs would be blamed for almosts everything in the outlying provinces. like Ville Niemi said, racisim would be a major issue, humans would tend to have the most racist views due to their survival instincts different is threatening, the threat must be eliminated. hate begets hate. should this be around the RPG blog? I know that d+d stories dealt whith situations like this. There would probably be an organization like the KKK, and there would be the occasional race riot in the seedier parts of townI.e. the orks, and other unfortunates who woulld be attacked. There would be a great deal of fighting over wizard colleges and warlocks would definitely by prosecuted. (pacts w/ beings of questionable niceness, for lack of a better term.) there would be a class divide that many wouldn,t like. humans are apparently more versatile than elves.

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    $\begingroup$ This has promise. Maybe try expanding on your answer a little more. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Dec 17 '15 at 20:51

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