This section covers politics in all of its ramifications: the actual politcal system, the military, taxes, and some economic functions.
i) What type of society is this?
Enlightened monarchy: meaning, the monarch isn’t out to make his peoples’ lives miserable. At least not at the moment.
ii) How did this society choose this particular political path?
I suppose the monarchy grew out of old tribal systems. Namely, the tribe would chose/be persuaded to let the toughest or smartest or best fighter around run the show. Eventually, as tribes came together or if one tribe conquered a lot of territory, the chief would become in charge of a larger and larger amount of square footage. From there, hereditary kingship evolved. In more recent days, however, the kingdom of Albion split off from the larger kingdom of Glasonland.
iii) Who is in charge of this society?
(1) Is anyone?
Yes. The person in charge of the society is the King. At the moment, this is King Arthur Pendragon. Since he is mortal, that will change – but, if all goes well (at least according to Arthur’s lights), the kingship will remain within the Pendragon line.
The country also has a closely-knit group of nobles, who fill most of the high offices and take care of those parts of running the country that one person can’t do alone.
(2) How did this person become in charge?
Long story: See The Origins of Albion. Long story short: King Arthur’s father, King Uther of Glasonland, gave him the land of Albion (which until then was part of Glasonland) as a separate kingdom.
Long story: See The Origins of Albion. Long story short: King Uther wanted to avoid a civil war in Glasonland between his two sons, and thought giving his younger son a nice chunk of his own land to do with as he pleased would be a good way to accomplish that. So far, it’s been pretty successful!
(3) How will their successor be chosen?
Through a system of (mostly) male primogeniture. For example, when King Arthur dies, Crown Prince Thomas, as his eldest son, will become king (assuming he’s still alive, of course – and NO, this is not to say that I have plans to kill him off soon!). If Tommy is dead, but has legitimate male issue (babies), the crown will go to the eldest. If Tommy is alive when Arthur dies, then the crown will go to him, and from him to his eldest son or his eldest son’s eldest son – if he doesn’t have any sons or male-line grandsons, then it will go his eldest daughter or, if she’s not alive, her eldest son (or eldest daughter, if she doesn’t have any sons). If Tommy dies without any heirs, the crown would pass to Prince Kay and his heirs, using the same system (i.e., sons first, male-line grandsons next, daughters & issue next). If Kay and all of HIS kids and grandkids are dead, then and only then do Princess Jessica and her children get a shot at the throne. To sum up: eldest sons of eldest sons get the first crack. Then younger sons get their chance. Lastly, daughters in order of age.
iv) How long has this system of government stood?
Arthur and his family have only ruled Albion for this generation. Before that, the territory was fought over by Glasonland and the Empire of Reme for several hundred years. But it’s been under a monarchy of one sort or another (I mean, really, an emperor is basically a king with a lot more land) ever since the dawn of written history.
(1) What came before it?
Tribal and small city-state rule. Again, basically it’s been one sort of authoritarian rule or another, the only question is who particularly is in charge, and how much other territory do they control.
(2) Why did the system change?
From monarchy? It really hasn’t. From rule from Glasonland to direct rule by King Arthur? See The Origins of Albion for the long story. The short story is that King Uther wanted to keep his two sons from fighting, and thought that Arthur would do well with Albion.
v) How does the general public feel about this system?
Democracy hasn’t been invented yet (well, ok, there were a few city-states that tried something like it it forever and a half ago, but only scholars in dusty old libraries know about them), so the people really don’t know anything different. Since the character of the monarchy in Albion and Glasonland is heavily dependent on the character of the monarch, how the general public feel about the system is generally dependent on who, precisely, is in charge.
(1) If this is not good, why has it not changed?
The people really don’t know any better – and, as far as Albion is concerned, this question doesn’t even really “count” (at the moment). See below.
vi) How does the general public feel about the person/people in charge?
King Arthur is a wise and good king, generally, so the people love him. He does his best to deal justice with an even hand and make sure that everyone in his kingdom is taken care of – so really, why wouldn’t they like him? Of course there are a few malcontents, and everyone is naturally convinced that, if they ruled the world, they’d do just a bit better, but most people are happy with the way King Arthur is running the show.
(1) If this is not good, why has it not changed?
vii) Is this system better or worse than what came before it?
So far, it’s been better. King Arthur has given Albion some of the first real security it’s seen in a long time. The increased population has brought trade and jobs. The system, of course, hasn’t really changed, just the face on the coin – but that has meant a lot of improvement and opportunity for the citizens of Albion, both the (somewhat scarce) natives and the people Arthur brought with him.
viii) Is this system likely to change any time soon?
Not if Arthur has his way! Seriously though, I don’t see a French – or Russian – Revolution heading to Albion anytime in the near future. ‘Twould sort of defeat the purpose of a Royal Kingdom Challenge, wouldn’t it? 😉
ix) How does this system finance itself?
Taxes and rents from Crown lands (basically, property like apartment buildings and homes purchased using Inge’s Property Ownership System).
(1) If through taxes are the taxes fair?
For the most part. The King charges a flat tax of 10% to all “stable” families – i.e., everyone but the gypsies and whores (they pay 20% to the king and none to any noble families). The citizens of Albion are pretty happy with this, especially since the nobles, simply because they have more money, end up paying for the lion’s share of everything.
(a) If not, why does the general public pay them?
(b) Who collects the taxes?
So far, Albion isn’t big enough to merit an independent bureaucracy in charge of the taxes. Peasants hand their royal tax money over to their nobles, who give it to the King; merchants pay their taxes directly to the King – or rather Ambrosius, his robot-steward, since the King is usually busy, you know, running the country. (This is in story terms, in game terms, everybody cuts a check using Paladin’s Checkbook.) King Arthur has a rough idea of what everybody’s worth, and thus what he’s due in taxes, so this keeps people honest. This could all change once Albion gets bigger, of course.
(c) What sort of balances are there in the tax system?
Again, everybody pays a flat tax to the king. (Peasants and merchants also pay a certain amount to the nobles.) I’ll explain how those taxes are calculated below. However, King Arthur wants to encourage commerce, so merchants get a key break: if they have a thriving business (read: Level 10 in game terms), they aren’t taxed on the “extra” valuation of that business (read: the $50K in value the game adds to the lot value). Nobles also get a break in that they are not taxed on the value of any non-commercial real property they own – vacation homes, apartment blocks, peasant accommodation – though they are taxed on any income that comes from those properties. Peasants are screwed, but King Arthur did convince – i.e., twisted their arms until they said “uncle” – the nobles to give any peasants who actually worked on their lands a certain tax break. Military Sims might also get special tax breaks, but I haven’t figured those out yet. (I’ll worry about it when I have an actual military!)
(d) How much say does the general public have in how the taxes are spent?
Formally? None. However, all citizens of Albion are free to petition the King, and if your idea is good, he might just take you up on it. Furthermore, King Arthur isn’t particularly draconian and welcomes all criticism within reason; if the people don’t like what he’s doing, he’s open to changing course. Lastly, there’s also the route of rioting and looting if they get pissed off enough. So far, this hasn’t happened.
(e) What sort of taxes are they? Tariff, income, sales, flat?
A mixture of property and income taxes. In game terms, I calculate everyone’s net worth (property + cash + businesses) and take the taxes from there. Citizens can save money after it’s been taxed (i.e., by buying things and sticking them in inventory, though I only use this for “special” stuff – like dowries and college savings) and it won’t be taxed again. There are no special taxes on things like legacies or inheritance, whether though “normal” methods (i.e., Dad dies and everything goes to the kids) or through the game’s life insurance payouts.
(2) If not through taxes, what is the method?
Some minor money comes from the rental of Crown lands.
(a) Why is this method used?
Well, the King owns some land directly, and he’d like to make money off it …
(b) Who governs this method?
The King directly.
(c) How much say does the general public have in this method?
Formally? None. However, the King isn’t forcing anyone to live on his lands, so if citizens think that the rent is too high, they’re free to live somewhere else.
x) What kind of military does this society use?
At the top echelons, there is a system of knighthood and cavalry fighters. Below them are the common infantry. In between are infantry officers, though people who have the titles of knights can also command groups of infantry fighters.
(1) How is the military financed?
They are financed directly by the Crown, through the taxes collected by the people.
(2) What sort of equipment is used?
General medieval battle equipment: mostly swords, maces, axes, spears, etc. for close fighting, bows for distance, some old and rickety siege engines that Uther gave them before they left Glasonland – but they haven’t really invested in heavy-duty equipment yet, simply because they haven’t fought a major war and have had other things going higher on their priority list. Oh! But they also have castles!
(a) Is this technology standard?
Pretty much, at least, it’s not appreciably higher or lower than everyone else’s.
(i) If it’s more advanced than standard, how was it discovered?
(b) How is research and development paid for?
There isn’t any concentrated “research and development” – if someone comes up with something snazzy, the King will use tax money to buy it, if he can afford it. But there isn’t a branch of the military focused on making the equipment better.
(3) How are the members chosen?
A mix of volunteers and “familial conscription.” By “familial conscription” I mean that most sons of the nobility (and by “most” I mean “everybody who doesn’t go into the church or become a wizard”) gets a knighthood: whether they use that knighthood is up to them.
As far as the volunteers go (i.e., the infantry), again, Albion hasn’t fought in a major conflict yet, so King Arthur (so far) sees no point in forcing a bunch of people into the military in order to pay them to stand around and do nothing all day. As far as “familial conscription” is concerned, all of the nobles of Albion come from Glasonland, which is a much more militaristic culture than Albion is currently. Becoming a knight is just expected in Glasonland, the nobles of Albion have imported their expectation and passed it on to their sons.
(b) If this is by conscription, how do the conscripts feel about their duty?
(c) If this is a by volunteer, how do the volunteers feel about their duty?
They don’t mind it, they volunteered for it! And so far most of their job consists of serving as royal guards. Someday, though, I’ll actually get to use that … well, not-so-fancy barracks that I built, and then we can have more of a range of feelings. As far as the noble Sims who get forced into by their families are concerned, they don’t mind it either, because even though you’re a knight by title, you don’t have to actively serve unless there’s a war. Then, you might be screwed.
(d) How easy is it to get out of military service?
For nobles, the only escape is death or complete incompetence – and even then, unless you commit treason, chances are you won’t be stripped of knighthood, just relegated to doing something that means you won’t cause much damage. As far as other volunteers are concerned, if you join the military, you’re stuck in it for 10 years (unless you get seriously injured). After that, you’re free to leave if you wish, or stay on. If you decide to stay on, you can still leave later, but you’ll have to give the government a few months’ notice – and you probably won’t get to leave if there’s a war on.
(e) Are there age restrictions?
Sims can join the military (move to the shiny barracks and take the military career) as young as age 15. Knight’s training (once I actually get a knight to do the training!) starts at 12 and continues until age 18, and is only open to noble sons. For non-nobles, retirement is mandatory at age 50. No use throwing geezers on the front lines!
(f) Are there weight/height/sight/disability restrictions?
Sight/disability, yes, but they’re mostly common-sense restrictions. If you can’t see two feet in front of your face, sorry, you can’t join the military – and while Sims don’t really have disabilities, if I give some characters some for story purposes, they probably won’t be able to join the military either. Weight/height, not so much.
(i) Why or why not?
Again, for the sight/disability restrictions, they’re based on common sense. If you can’t tell the difference between friend and foe on the battlefield, you’re not much use, so the military doesn’t want you. If you can’t lift a weapon or use it effectively, or run in a charge (or ride a horse in a charge), again, you’re not much use to the military. As for weight/height … well, all Sims are the same height, and the weight system is pretty much a joke anyway.
(g) Is the military egalitarian?
For practical purposes, no.
(i) Why or why not?
Nobody in Albion has even thought of women wanting to fight. This could change, however, in the near (or not-so-near) future. If pressed, King Arthur would probably allow women into certain areas of the military, provided they could keep up with the men.
(ii) If so, how are women chosen for duty?
- Is this the same or different than men?
- Are the restrictions for this different or the same as for men?
(4) How large is the standing army if there is one?
Ack, you want numbers? How about we go with – not very large. Albion doesn’t have a big enough population to support a large army. Let’s say … no more than 10% of the total population of young(ish) men, not counting nobles.
(a) How are they housed?
I have this really spiffy barracks that I am dying to use. It’s set up as an apartment lot. Soldiers (i.e., Sims in the military career) at less than level 6 (i.e., levels 1-5) will live in one of the apartments. Knights’ training will take up another apartment. A third apartment will be filled by the general (a non-heir nobleman who is the most senior of the Sims who have reached the General level in the military career track) and his family. The fourth will be left open for a high-ranking officer in the military career track, or a knight (i.e., nobleman in the athletic career track) who does not have his own home. Regular soldiers who are above level 5 on the military career track will probably get to move into special officers’ homes … once I get around to building them.
Oh, and once I have Sims to put in them.
(b) How are they fed?
For common soldiers in the barracks, the King provides food. For the general, knights, and other high-ranking officers, they pay for their own food at their own homes (though if they’re at the barracks at a mealtime, they can eat there).
(c) How are they clothed?
All soldiers get uniforms consisting of a plain surcoat, chain mail, padding for underneath the chain mail, boots, underwear, etc. They’re free to buy any other clothes they like out of their salary.
(d) How are they paid?
By a regular Military/Athletic career track salary – in story-terms, the soldiers get a salary, active knights get a stipend “from the Crown.”
(5) What is the pay for army duty?
A pretty good deal for peasants, the starting salary at the lowest level is higher than they might expect for working on their lords’ lands. On the other hand, it’s not going to catapult them into Seriously Rich territory (unless they like, save the King’s life and get granted a knighthood or something). For nobles, however, the pay is beans. They’re likely to supplement their income in other ways, i.e., inheritance or property investment.
(a) Is it monetary?
(6) Is equipment provided?
For ordinary soldiers, yes. Knights are expected to provide their own horses, armor, etc., though King Arthur would probably pack along some extra in case somebody’s breastplate broke or their horse got killed.
(a) If so, how is this financed?
(7) What kind of espionage is common?
Very low-tech, low-level – basically, paying people to listen at doorways, intercept letters, etc. King Arthur also keeps contact with some people in Glasonland and Reme for general news and information. But there’s no sophisticated spy system, yet. Though maybe a future monarch might think to experiment in magical ways of spying … but you didn’t hear that from me.
Because Q, alas, has not yet been born, and James Bond isn’t even a distant dream. Also because Albion is a new kingdom and doesn’t have the manpower/treasury to be seeding spies in every court. They’re too small to be of importance, too, so they can get away with not having a big spy system. Once it can be easily afforded, though, you bet either King Arthur or Crown Prince Thomas is going to think about expanding the spy system.
(b) How is it paid for?
Taxes, and the Magical Money Mint of Maxis (i.e., wherever money in the Espionage career track comes from).
(c) Is it part of the military or is it a separate body?
It’s a separate body.
Albion is at peace, and any spies they have are mostly focused on different courts, and court intrigues and politics – not on spying for the battlefield. If the military needs battlefield spies, they’ll get some. Until then, average soldiers do not good spies make.
(d) What kind of stigma do spies get?
Right now, I’d say it’s pretty mild – especially since most of Albion’s spies (what spies they have) aren’t even in Albion.
Simply because they’re not around to be stigmatized! Besides, I see spies as being rather secretive folks, so most of their neighbors probably don’t even know they’re spies. Let me put it like this: spies certainly aren’t glorified like James Bond, but on the other hand, they’re not scum of the earth, either. For the most part, spies operate in the courtly realm, where most citizens of Albion will never go and thus don’t really care about. The life they’re living generally presents more than enough problems! 😉
xi) How does religion affect the social/economic/military norms of this country?
The Church frowns upon most military excursions (though if the people are of a different religion, anything goes! – ditto if the country is unfairly attacked); they’re quite straight-laced in terms of social/sexual mores, and they encourage charity and are suspicious of what they deem to be “excessive” trade and commerce. Basically, they think people should be either producing food or simple products, keeping order, or praying – anything else is a severe distraction. Most people pay lip service to the Church’s teachings, and most people try to obey the Church in most things but are bound to screw up somewhere.
The Church currently holds a monopoly on religion in Albion – it’s either listen to what they say, or be tossed into a lake of fire with the cow demons and hula zombies. Most people listen to what they say, though of course there are always exceptions.
(2) Is it common to see religious persons in political office?
Not really, not in Albion at any rate.
(a) Why or why not?
First of all, the Church in Albion consists of only 5 Sims, two of which are running an orphanage – they haven’t got the spare manpower to be holding political office. Secondly, King Arthur holds his cards close to his chest and wants to keep as much power to himself and his secular buddies as possible – and he doesn’t want to get his fledgling kingdom dragged into the Church’s fights, none of which would benefit Albion at this point in time.
(3) Is there a separation of church and state?
(a) Why or why not?
The Church is still the official religion of Albion, however, like I said, King Arthur likes to keep actual Church officials at an arm’s length. He’s also not interested in prosecuting “crimes” like heresy, blasphemy, etc. – at least, not as seriously as some elements in the Church would like him too (i.e., he’s more likely to hand out a fine instead of a prison sentence, exile instead of death).
(i) Should there be if there is not?
Probably, because King Arthur’s arrangement could very well die with him. (Well … not likely, knowing Crown Prince Thomas, but still.)
- Why or why not?
Because things can get nasty if the church and state are all buddy-buddy. If you don’t believe me, check out the Protestant Reformation, Afghanistan under the Taliban, Iran today …
(4) Do the major religions lobby the government?
Yes, in the sense that Church members, like all other citizens of Albion, are free to petition the King. And since King Arthur knows all five of them personally, they’ll probably get an appointment – if not what they want to have happen, happen.
(a) Why or why not?
Because the Church has no official secular power – if they want real changes to be made, other than haranguing the people, going to the King is the only way to go.
(b) Is this regulated?
(c) Does this grant the religion political influence?
(i) Why or why not?
Because Albion is a one-man government, and what that one man – the King – says, goes. If he likes what the Church has to say, then what they want will get put into action. If not, it goes into the circular file.
xii) What types of money are there?
A hard currency system.
(1) How many types of money are there?
Just one – or three, depending on how you want to measure them.
(a) Are there coins?
(i) How many are there?
Three – coppers, silvers, and gold coins. They’re all stamped with the King’s face, and worth the amount of copper, silver or gold that went into them.
(ii) How big are their denominations?
1 copper = 100 Simoleons.
1 silver = 1000 Simoleons (10 coppers).
1 gold = 10,000 Simoleons (10 silvers, 100 coppers).
Basically, most monetary transactions take place using coppers and silvers. Gold coins are mainly used for large transactions, like dowries and land purchases. Otherwise, they sort of sit in treasuries. The average working man’s (i.e., peasants’) daily wage is generally measured in coppers; merchants, between their jobs and shops, generally take home a few silvers every day. Nobles take home a lot more silvers between jobs, businesses and taxes.
(iii) What are they called?
(b) Are there paper bills?
(c) Is there a credit system?
Only a very informal one.
(i) How does it function?
You need some extra cash for whatever, you ask your neighbor, “Hey, buddy, can I borrow 5 coppers? I’ll pay you back as soon as I can.” Some merchants will loan out money at interest, but a real banking system hasn’t taken off yet.
(ii) How is it regulated?
There are laws against usury (here defined as excessive interest rates); other than that, it isn’t really. It’s simply not big enough.
(iii) How does the general public feel about it?
They don’t really think about it much, since the system is so small and so informal – generally, it’s just ordinary people lending money to other ordinary people to help them out of a tight spot.
(iv) Does it work in terms of coins/bills/credit cards?