The most common forms of government in Vaniya are feudal monarchies, and plutocratic monarchies, common among city-states and realms dominated by trade. In either case, a hereditary lord, king, monarch, or potentate holds the power to make laws, dispense justice, and manage foreign affairs. The monarch’s power is checked to a greater or lesser degree by the powerful feudal lords or wealthy merchant princes who owe him allegiance.

Since the nobles or great merchants are ruled only by their own consent, many Vaniyan city-states and kingdoms are realms of weak central authority, and strongly independent nobility. A monarch who pushes a willful noble too far might drive that noble to open revolt – and in many cases the noble’s strength-of-war is nearly the match of the overlord’s, so quelling a rebellious province is hardly an easy undertaking. Worse yet, a monarch may be forced to solicit the support (or at least neutrality) of other nobles of the realm as he goes about suppressing one of their peers. This support usually comes at a price.

Strong thrones may be rare, but they do exist. Romara was a shining example of the good that can come of a strong monarchy in the hands of a wise and courageous leader. Unfortunately, the assult of the Ogre Lords and the plague of evils that descended on that land have left Romara’s fate uncertain.

Civil warfare in the mercantile Southernwestern Lands are rare, but the lords and princes who rule these small realms must contend with merchant-nobles every bit as willful and haughty as a feudal lord in his castle. In the walls of a city-state, a wealthy noble thinks carefully before defying the ruler, since he lacks the safety of miles of roads and empty lands between his demesne and his ruler’s army. But it also means that any noble’s own private army is only an hour’s march from the seat of power. Powerful lords deal with overmasters they don’t like through palace coups, feuds, and assassinations.


Hayworth Shadowkiller