In my story, a lord comes to power through tyrannical means and is forced to rely on ruling through fear for the following reasons :
a) To assert his power against his opponents and remain in leadership.
b) The conquered settlements are suppressed. He believes that providing more to people will lead to bigger and bigger demands (Greed), demands that he cannot satisfy with his current economy. Open minds could lead to riots.

Current Economy: The society relies on agriculture and the lowest class, the slaves must live in poverty for the society to function. The nobles assist in wars.

He asks his advisers to find other applicable systems of government that don't rule by fear.

In relation to something of historical context, Oda Nobunaga would closely match what kind of ruler I am talking about.

EDIT: How can a ruthless leader win back favor with the population after obtaining lordship through tyrannical means without losing control or increase of benefits due to low economic power?

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    $\begingroup$ This feels heavily plot-centric. You're asking us to tell you how one individual character (who you created) successfully convinces another individual character (also who you created) of the incorrectness of the latter's personal beliefs. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Feb 9 '17 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ While an interesting question, this is off-topic, as @Frostfyre said: we can create the setting for your world, the contents, and to a degree, the events, but this seems more like a plot element. In addition, this may be too broad: there are a hundred ways to convince him based on the information given. Perhaps specifics would help. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 9 '17 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ If he is willing to listen, then he isn't tyrannical. Picking charismatic advisers over knowledge means that he purposely picked people who can do propaganda with a smile and not provide him with in depth kingdom analysis. Tyranny isn't a form of economics either. It is a government. There are 4 forms of economy blog.udemy.com/types-of-economic-systems which are used in modern day systems such as thismatter.com/economics/economic-systems.htm. $\endgroup$ – ggiaquin16 Feb 9 '17 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ Religion is always a pretty good bet here. Saddam Hussein, or the current rulers of ISIS, for instance. Or the quasi-religious Kim dynasty in North Korea. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 9 '17 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ Would this count: Employ a number of stooges as semi-democratic governors. Each in turn will deliberately do a bad job of running the country. Then he comes back and picks up the pieces, hoping to convince the population that democracy or whatever has failed and he is the only one who can run the country well. A kind of fear I suppose, but maybe not the kind you want to avoid. $\endgroup$ – colmde Feb 10 '17 at 14:29

The simple answer is... he won't. If he has a tyrannical rule then more than likely means there is no adviser who openly opposes his view. If they do, they are fired/executed for being a traitor of the kingdom. You pretty much already stated how his personality is. He is already set in his opinion about what is best because he has already considered the alternatives to be worse.

He seems to be very headstrong/stubborn which means that more than likely little outside influence can sway his opinion unless something that he highly values changes such stance. Say a top general's son is dying who the emperor is close with, but due to his belief in the social structure, is unable to get proper treatment and dies.

Ultimately though, this sounds like something that happened in Nazi Germany as a reenacted/dramatized movie Valkyrie. The actual event that happened was that the top advisers to Hitler tried to convince him to change his ways and ultimately ended up trying to plot his assassination and failed which lead to their execution.

EDIT: Since OP modified question pretty drastically to almost take away most of my answer, I will add in to research Oda Nobunaga as this seems to fit what he is looking to do. He is considered one of the most brutal leaders of all time and tried to unite Japan to a similar means of what you seem to describe and then implement a country wide peace. He was killed in the process but his retainer Toyotomi Hideyoshi fulfilled the dream to unite Japan and began the process to present day Japan.

EDIT II: In terms of economic philosophy, you will probably want Socialism. Socialism is still a centralized economy with most critical aspects while still allowing free market to allow for economic growth. Now for the government system, you could still be a dictator or provide a monarchy starting with his family and NOT rule by fear. The issue is that after a while, corruption of absolute power such as dictatorship leads to fear that the people will revolt and take away their power and in turn rule by fear so that the population doesn't get bold.

Based on what you want this character to do, democracy or republics would not be on the table as a form of government as they give power to the people. In the government link, is a wiki page that breaks down all the different sub-sects and you can go through them yourself. I believe though the answer you are looking for would closely resemble an authoritarian/fascism/dictatorship. These are all good government styles in theory just like communism. The problem is that the absolute power ends up corrupting and that is where the fear tactics fall into play.


This is a tricky one. If there was one easy answer, then the world would be a much more peaceful place than it is today. However, there are some general trends your advisor can follow.

The first is to try to use logic to convince the Emperor. This will most likely not work, but it is by far the shortest and simplest approach. If it works, great!

The next approach is not really part of your scope, but outlasting the Emperor is always an option. If you can start a movement that is still going when he is on his deathbed, you can win. Of course, that is obviously not the kind of thing you are looking for.

The real solution is to start small. Really small. If you cannot convince the Emperor to change his ways, he has to convince himself to change his ways. He needs to "discover" what you already know. He needs an environment conducive to learning what you preach. Of course, you don't have the power to make this a reality on your own; you're just an advisor. That's why you start small. Start within your own power. Perhaps you have been gifted control of a village or two. Or perhaps you are the head of a guild to whom you can preach. Or perhaps you just have to start within yourself and be the change you seek for the world. It all depends on the situation -- adapt as needed. Whatever core you choose, you will use it to create environments that help the Emperor see what you want him to see.

Obviously what you are creating is at odds with a tyranical emperor, so it is more than likely that, if he sees it, he will try to destroy it. His actions towards it will typically be destructive or controlling in nature. However, he is not the only one acting in this area. You also have a say in what happens (just as there are two sides in every argument). You also can focus more on this core than the Emperor can, because he has an empire to run. This gives you the equivalent of mechanical advantage.

However, you cannot just put up walls, insulating you from these actions. The Emperor needs to "discover" what you are showing him, so he needs to actually be able to interact with what you have created, and he needs to believe its on his terms. If you put up walls, his efforts to tear them down will more than likely destroy what you protected within. This is far harder to accomplish than merely isolating yourself, and will take skill. Hopefully the advisor has this skill (note to OP: it is entirely reasonable that an individual advisor cannot accomplish this because they lack the skill. I assume here that your world can support writing in such a skillful advisor).

Now it would be rude for me to just say "go find an advisor character with this skill" without explaining what that skill looks like, but it would also be hubris for me to claim that I know the one way to make this happen. However, I can share some observations which suggest the kind of shape the advisors skill should take.

The message should be tiered. Don't rely on everyone fully understanding the purpose of your rebellion, because then that limits who you can involve. The softest tier should be something that requires little to no energy at all to maintain, and it should be infectious. Show off your skills at understanding how not to be a tyrant: find something subtle and small that everyone needs and give it to them. In exchange, you can rely on that something existing wherever you go.

The next layer may call for more energy, but should still be subtle. It should be difficult for the emperor to stop, even as a tyrant. Capoeira may be a good example to draw from. Technically it's just a dance, and its very dangerous to try to tell slaves not to dance, even if you're a tyrant. It quickly makes them unproductive. However, those who understand the dance also understand that it is a martial art, capable of resistance. This gives you power because people like beautiful dances. If you can teach them how to refine their dance skills, they give you an opportunity to teach them more.

Above that layer is where the nature of the resistance becomes apparent. This is where you start to have to move slower. You can throw out hundreds of small tidbits to help people with their lives as you travel. You can change the dance to suit the times. The resistence... it needs to be palpable, and it needs to have a focus. This doesn't have to be the true focus of your efforts, but it needs to be something people are willing to sacrifice for. Those in the resistance might suffer losses as you try to convince the Emperor, and they need to be ready to accept them.

Finally, you have your core, the people you trust. These are the people who actually understand what you are trying to do, and have bought in on it. These people guide the resistance, for a plan old resistance is not what you need. You need a resistance when gives the Emperor opportunities to discover what you are teaching, and that isn't so simple. Your core would be those who you trust to shape the resistance to give opportunity after opportunity to change the Emperor's mind.

These are also the people you trust to stay the hand of the resistance when they achieve too great of a victory. The impulse in such an event would be to jump in and claim the spoils of the victory, but to do so might harden the Emperor's heart. These core individuals are the ones you rely on to keep the resistance from actually cutting into the Emperor's rein, and to find ways to convert those victories into win-win situations where the Emperor felt he was helped by your cause.

Once the Emperor feels like the cause is helping him, you will quickly find there is less need for resistance, and he is more likely to listen to your new approach to governance.


Machiavelli has the answer to this one

You appoint a prefect to conquer, terrorise and repress the population. When the population are appropriately scared to breathe in public, in rolls the new emperor. He makes a few grand gestures to show how nice he is, then leaves bits of the prefect all over town to show how upset he was about the way the prefect behaved. Even though the prefect was acting under the emperor's orders the town now loves the emperor for saving them from the oppressive prefect.

This is why grand viziers are always evil while the king/sultan/emperor is always kind and graceful. Always do your evil through a proxy so you can remain loved.

If your emperor has been more hands on with his tyranny then he's got a fair bit of work to do to recover the population. The best way would be to start by distancing himself from the routine of daily administration, and allow a prefect to repress the population for him.


Easily the best solution would be to play the game of Intrigue. No matter how powerful the emperor may be, an empire is still simply too much for one person to efficiently manage. As an adviser, you would already be familiar with having diplomatic influence. A good strong plot or coup e'tat can easily enforce any political ultimatum.


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