Dungeonocracy: The Revanwall Kings
The tribes of the Revanwall coast are pagans who worship the Revaydra, a living mountain. During times of peace, the mountain dwindles. The sides become smoother and the stones fade to blue, and mosses grow over the summit as the altitude drops. Dreams stop appearing to the tribe's shamans.
During times of war, the mountains swells and darkens. New peaks grip the sky like claws, and dark clouds die in its grip.
Every king of the Revanwall tribes is given back to the mountain, buried in a cave near the peak which is believed to swallow him.
After the king is swallowed, all the caves on the mountainside slide lower, and the dungeon inside grows. The dungeon grows a new level, that corresponds to the newly buried king. His body becomes the dungeon, and will tend to follow the shape of the king's body. For example, the level that appeared after the death of Ivak the Legless was said to be smaller than average.
Each floor is stocked with the trappings of the king's life. Scenes are recreated, and people from their memories are imitated (sometimes well, sometimes poorly). Enemies, both real and imagined, are recreated as well.
Somewhere in the dungeon is the crown. It is never on the floor corresponding to the dead king, but always somewhere deeper. Whoever returns with it will crown the next king.
It is customary for each tribe to allow their neighbors time to explore the dungeon in order to find their crown. But there have been times when multiple tribes have plumbed the dungeon simultaneously, during honorless wars, or when two kings have died at the same time.
It is less chaotic than it seems.
Generally, all the tribes work together to keep outsiders away from the Revaydra, and only allow one or two parties in at a time. The mountain is sacred.
Furthermore, it is very difficult to find the crown without a good knowledge of the dead king's personality, his life history, and where he would think to hide a crown. Because this sort of knowledge tends to cluster closely to a particular tribe, outsiders have an even more difficult time making progress within the great mountain.
Large armies, and those who show disrespect to the mountain, are swallowed by the steep jaws of the mountain.
|by Timofey Stepanov|
Pure Plutocracy: Bar Chakka
The Beastfolk have a simple form of democracy. One gold coin, one vote.
Voting is held at the Cloud's Fountain, a natural spring inside the royal compound. Once the exact terms of the vote have been decided on, and the vote has been pared down into a single yes/no question, the vote is held.
Voters walk down the dock to the middle of the Fountain, display their gold to the authenticators, announce their vote to the tally-beasts, and then throw their coin into the Fountain with as much pomp as they can muster.
There is applause. There are jeers.
If a great amount of gold is deposited at once, it may take a very long time for all of it to be authenticated and counted. This has happened for votes in the past, when there is a high amount of public interest.
Voting days are also festival days. Many have traveled across the island in order to cast their coins into the Fountain. What else will they do?
The Cloud's Fountain also functions as the vault. It is deep, and even a talented diver can only bring up a small amount of gold with every dive. The theft of any appreciable sum would require many divers working for many hours, which is as intended.
The money is not carefully inventoried; no one knows exactly how much lies at the bottom of the Fountain. Embezzling smaller amounts is very easy, which is also as intended.
The king is an elk-man, Mad King Ketch. Like his predecessors, his job is only to carry out what was decided democratically. This is a auxiliary duty, as his job is primarily a religious one.
The beastfolk consider their system to be the best and most honest in the world. All governments are ruled by money. If you pretend otherwise, you make the process even murkier and dishonest.
Long ago, Brynth's last king was strangled with the intestines of its last priest.
In fact, kings are despised in Brynth. Their citizens are known to be powerfully patriotic, and take a large amount of interest in their own governance.
Priests are likewise scorned in Brynth. If the gods are a concern for every citizen, then religion is certainly something that is worth administering personally. Religion is just another civic duty, and an honorable one.
The government is built entirely from the judiciary.
There are different types of judges. Some are elected, while some are appointed by other judges.
Judges make rulings on cases. These precedents become new laws, and so each old law spawns new ones.
Brynth is also famous for its legal system--it is strictly gladitorial.
Cases are argued by barristers, a specialized caste of warrior-lawyers. The judge hears both sides and then makes a ruling, informed by precedent. The stronger case is given advantageous terms in the ensuing gladitorial combat, while the party found to be at fault begins at a disadvantage.
In the most severe scenario, a murderer will be blinded and emasculated before fighting the victim's family in the arena. In a case where the case is less unambiguous, one party might begin armed with a dagger, while the other begins with a spear, a sword, and a shield. The judge decides the terms of the combat.
When possible, the combat is made to suit the crime. Liars are strangled, conspirators are forced to fight with hoods over their heads, and traitors are forced to fight against their own loved ones.
Its practitioners describe the system as fair. No one describes it as kind.
Barristers often stand in for their clients, during these fights. Aside from the accused, they are the only ones allowed to do so.