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In my world, there are many smaller worlds. There is an elite group of people who can create/change/wreak havoc upon these said worlds. (They can only make one.) But their word is binding, any official agreement they come to with their status invoked then becomes impossible for them to break. So a tyrannical King managed to capture one of these people, and made the world builder agree to create him a world.

Note - This is in medieval times, but the new kingdom will by no means be locked in some kind of medieval stasis.

This world is about the size of North America, with a sizable ocean surrounding it. In every other aspect it is like earth. (If the geography is really that important, you can imagine a mirror image of North America without Alaska and with the Rockies and the Appalachians switched. Because I don't have a picture right now.)

The king can bring along a large army, and as many people as he wants. This King has all of the resources that a very powerful medieval King would have. He gets to begin populating this area with whomever he chooses, and has no trouble with travel between his previous domain and his new one. This King will also age very slowly, going from mid twenties to mid forties over the space of one thousand years. He is also a shapeshifter, and able to change his physical form to anything, but with no changes in mass.

With these advantages come some impediments to his reign. Five sixths (83.33%) of all people born will have Magical elemental powers, which make them about twice as powerful/capable as a normal person. The rest are powerless.


The Question

How should a kingdom be structured, in order to keep the king in power for a thousand years? How would the issues of people with magic be dealt with?

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  • $\begingroup$ Possibly a bit too broad because it's about the entire political structure of the kingdom plus complications. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Mar 26 '16 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ I can't see why a living, active king would not be able stay in power for a thousand years (though, after a few centuries, perhaps some people might start to disbelieve that it's all the same king). And the magic parts should really be another question entirely. $\endgroup$ – January First-of-May Mar 26 '16 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ No medieval government could possibly rule a kingdom the size of North America. It takes too long to communicate and send armies to put down rebellions. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 26 '16 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast You might be wrong. It is surrounded by ocean, so ships can navigate around it. That might make uniting the coastal areas practical . The interior... probably not so much, but unless there are horses and the nomads get a great leader, nobody cares. Or you could have enough river valleys to make the interior controllable. Or just use Europe as basis instead of North America with long narrow seas giving access to all of the continent.. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 26 '16 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Also as a general note, medieval governments tended to be fairly decentralized with local lords and cities doing actual governing. The King would really be a source of arbitration and legitimacy between local governments, not someone who actually governs the entire continent. And the area where someone is the source of legitimacy can be larger than the area one can rule. Medieval catholic church might be a good analogy? $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Mar 26 '16 at 20:37
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Since his lifespan is taken care of, all he needs is to prevent being overthrown.

He can rule in a way that produces contentment among his people, so that the disgruntled few who oppose his rule are such a small minority that uprisings are rare and futile.

Or,

He can rule as most kings in history have (as a selfish prat), with a big enough army/secret police to keep the plebes down.

I know these are vague answers, but there are many things he could do or not do, which fall into these categories.

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How should a kingdom be structured, in order to keep the king in power for a thousand years? How would the issues of people with magic be dealt with?

The kingdom must be divided into several rival factions, all of whom are secretly led by the King. The King will use his shapeshifting abilities to claim to be the leadership of the factions (as well as the opposition of the leadership as well, just in case). If there's any brand new revolutionary ideals or beliefs, then the King must inflirate this movement and take it over as its new head.

It doesn't matter how powerful the people are if you are able to manipulate them to do your bidding. And the best way to manipulate the masses is to give the illusion of choice...make them think that it is meaningful if they join the Red Faction or the Blue Faction, even though it doesn't matter at all.

It doesn't even matter if the kingdom even survives...since the King is in still ultimately in charge (as he controls all the possible ideological factions within his realm). No matter what happens, the King will alway win.

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This question boils down to: How do I stay in power? Well, if there is a surefire answer, revolutions would never have existed in history.

Nonetheless, I'll offer the best answer I can. First up, some basic principles.

To stay in power, you must not lose it. Considering that you do not intend to abdicate, the only way that will happen is if it's taken from you against your will. This threat can come from three sources: The masses, the nobility, and foreign powers.

First of all, the people is the lifeblood of every nation. There are two influences to public order. The carrot is how well the people are treated, and the stick is how effectively unrest is suppressed. If all else fails and disorder breaks out, then care must be taken to prevent unrest from turning into riots, riots from turning into revolts, revolts from turning into rebellions, and rebellions from turning into revolution. Dissent is the rake that sows the seeds of rebellion.

Second are the nobility and the dirty game of politics. Unless you are self-replicating and of a single mind, or mentally omnipresent, you'll need to delegate responsibilities to govern effectively. That's what bosses and politicians do. Those responsibilities translate into power, authority and influence. Choosing the right people for the job is important, as is guarding against those who pose a genuine threat. Politics is complex, so I won't go into it.

Finally, foreign powers. This is a matter of warfare, so it's fairly straightforward what you need to do, although the art of war is one of the oldest and most complex disciplines on record.

In conventional civilisations, the key to staying in power tends to be military might. Revolutions are usually won when the military joins the rebels. Coups are dependent on military backing to succeed. Foreign invasions generally come down to a duel between numbers, training, equipment and experience (it is the rare general that wins entire wars with tactics and strategy alone while constantly at a material disadvantage). A good military - and keeping them on your side - depends on mainly money but also political charm.

With those principles in mind, here's a few considerations about your particular situation that I would point out:

  • Can non-magical folk develop technological means to match magical folk in what they can do, especially in combat?
  • Most of your society is made up of magical folk. If they are anything like human nature, the non-magical folk will suffer severe oppression and discrimination as the inferior race. How will you survive their perpetual anger at their own fates?
  • Can magical folk be born from non-magical folk? Such "Mudbloods" can grow up with different mindsets from other magic folk. Some may potentially blame you for their parents' suffering and seek to settle scores somehow.
  • Do you possess magical powers too? How can you resist unrest from magical folk?
  • Over time, how will your civilisation advance? In the real world, the introduction of gunpowder to Europe helps centralise power in the monarch as he becomes militarily superior to and independent of medieval lords and knights (only the national budget can afford an army's worth of cannons to bulldoze castles with). Does this happen in your world? How does it compare against magic? How will this change dynamics with non-magical folk, and the balance of power with the nobility?
  • In other words, how will you keep up with the times?
  • Are other worlds capable of invading at all? What do they possess compared to you? Is magic unique to your nation?
  • How effective is your national infrastructure? Rapid communications and troop movements can matter a lot. Are you a coastal nation? How deep inland do you go? How fast does news travel, and how rapid can your armies respond to threats?

There's a lot more to consider. A lot can happen in a thousand years. It all comes down to who holds the most power and possess the key to sustaining it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Here are your answers, in list form. (Semi-colons separate the items in the list.) No; I actually planned on them being salves (mostly); sometimes, but magic is generally hereditary and there is major social stigma against interbreeding; yes; I was thinking a way would be invented to form orbs of magic power, which can be converted into corresponding types of energy; ???; No no no; ??? $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 28 '16 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ They are actually rhetorical questions for your own thinking and reflection lol $\endgroup$ – thegreatjedi Mar 29 '16 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ @XandarTheZenon Perhaps a few points to take note of is how to prevent Muggles from accessing said magic orbs and weaponising them. It's not the first time a disadvantaged minority got hold of some power and successfully used it to become the elite instead. $\endgroup$ – thegreatjedi Mar 29 '16 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ I'd never thought of that. Someone with no magic getting their hands on a fire orb and a magical converter creating a flamethrower. Scary thought. It seems like a wonderful plot point to have in a story. Although just realizing that those questions where rhetorical makes my answer hilariously awesome. I've obviously thought about this way too much. Or just enough to be really detailed. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 29 '16 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ Also understand that a good physical or magical infrastructure for national logistics wrt communications and transportation is important to suppressing unrest. You need rapid response to crisis. Rebellions today are less likely to succeed compared to two centuries ago. Same goes between the developed and developing nations - resistance and unrest persists wherever they can hide, and the longer government response times are the more time to cover up or evacuate. $\endgroup$ – thegreatjedi Mar 29 '16 at 1:02
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Notice: Before proceeding to the references, note that both contain potential answers to these questions, however they would be considered (R) rated content. User discretion is advised.

In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series (now 17 epic novels, over 10,000 pages), a world is described in which an ancient magical tunnel network connects distant key locations and centers of power throughout a world with a medieval setting. Users may travel through the tunnel at very high speed by being enveloped by the Sliph - a creature created from a human woman by ancient wizards. This would solve many of the logistical problems of leadership/rule that are pointed out in comments - messages may be sent expeditiously in person this way and would not require the ruler to be on site, but would allow for greater decision making capability on a shorter schedule - a critical advantage. There is also a dragon that agrees to transport the main character (Richard) a bit later in the series - which is slower, but adequate for shorter range connectivity.

I will leave it to the reader to research the very interesting plot techniques developed by Goodkind. Ruling is far from a simple task. Goodkind's treatment of the kinds of wisdom and insight that a leader must develop (akin to philosophical objects described in Sun Tsu's Art of War), was, in my opinion quite enlivening and entertaining and it provided a good deal of depth and dimension to the story.

The second reference is Lev Grossman's The Magicians series (3 books). In this series a place called the Neither World is described which is perhaps "neither here nor there", but contains a seemingly endless array of courtyards with fountains - each fountain being a portal to another world. The time difference between worlds is pronounced such that it may be difficult to gauge how much time has passed when visiting another world and the difference in the rate of the passage of time seems to vary with each visit. So there are several elements there which may help to develop a world creation concept.

I wrote a 10 page report for a college course on the Magicians series (after the second book, but before the 3rd was released) in which I applied concepts described in P. T. Struck's Birth of a Symbol to the icons and symbolism used in the series. This greatly expanded my perspective and my appreciation for the techniques that the author used. My hypothesis was related to the use of magic itself as a symbol for divination and creativity - what starts as magical curiosity for the characters becomes religious or cult practice, which then turns to disillusionment, followed by growth (in the crafting of magic) that to an outside observer resembles ascendance to the level of deity. So magic itself is certainly a conduit for a 1000 years reign.

I would suggest paying particular attention to the charisma and the networking capability of your King. I'm a certain that it would be a wise decision for him to align himself with very powerful wizards and sorcerers, and for good dramatic effects, very dangerous and possibly unaligned ones too - the one who bows to no man is the one who can be expected to tell the unadulterated truth, for he does not fear the truth nor any of it's consequences. ;)

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