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"They are attacking us, I tell you. They have surrounded our lands, burned our warehouses, and threaten to kill anyone who comes too close to our home! What are you to do about this travesty?"

"To do about it? You started it. You finish it. This is not a problem of the Kingdom but a problem of your house."

Arkland Political Structure[]

Arkland is a feudal kingdom, and as such, the primary leader of politics in the nation is by the ruling monarch. The King or Queen of Arkland is set in place by the Council of Barons when there is no heir apparent or when the heir is out of favor of the council. From there, the regent is the final authority in all matters of the Kingdom. The monarch directs the business of the entire nation, leading Arkland into the future as well as acting as the governing authority for the entire Arkland bureaucracy.

Beneath the monarch is the Council of Barons. Each baron on the council is the sole authority for the barony over which he or she resides. Barons, similarly to the monarch, are put into power by belonging to a powerful family of nobility that comes to power through various means within their respective Baronies. The ways in which a baron comes to power are myriad and can vary greatly from region to region. In any event, the baron acts as the final word for his or her barony, and that word can only be usurped by the monarch.

Beneath the barons are the nobility. The nobility are land owners within the Kingdom, controlling the sum total of all the land in Arkland. The fortunes of nobility vary greatly, with some families barely being moderately wealthy while others being political powerhouses fueled by vast fortunes. Land ownership is granted by either purchase, by gift, or by surrender. In short, a noble family owns its land so long as it can hold onto it. As land owners, the nobility act as the authority over their land, answering only to the baron or perhaps to councils of nobility that their region supports.

Beneath the nobility still are small land owners, typically in service to the nobility. These are often smaller political officials, powerful bureaucrats, business people, or Lord Commanders. A noble bequeaths his or her land to the smaller governing officials usually in exchange for service. Such individuals can never sell their land to anyone who is not also beholding to the noble family they received it from without expecting reprisal. However, they are still further free to divvy up and tax their land in the same manner.

Still beneath these land owners are smaller political and governing officials which make up the bureaucracies of Arkland. Each institution of governance is thereby working for either nobility or a smaller land owner towards some goal. This can be tax collection, law enforcement, public works, or any type of political body.

Power Struggles[]

The struggle to acquire more wealth, land, and power is constantly ongoing within the upper echelons of Arkland's society. There are many ways in which a noble family can acquire power. The most common is through wealth. With more access to gold, a family can easily ply its will across many sectors of society and eventually force lesser nobility to come off of land and power.

The never-ending struggle for wealth and land entertains the lives of most nobility. So far removed from the day to day operation are nobles that they do not concern themselves greatly with the plight of the commoner. They typically leave such things to lesser officials and to business leaders. Nobility will, however, intervene on behalf of the commoners in regards to judicial matters as well as just in general good will. It is, after all, in the interest of a noble to ensure his or her people are happy and more importantly, happily productive of taxes.

The political machinations of the nobility are many. From building alliances through inter-marriage or to outright attacking each other with armed forces, the nobility are constantly struggling to set right the current power structure of Arkland in the way they believe it to be. The personalities of nobility also drives many of these struggles for power. A particularly aggressive noble may see his way to greater power through force of arms. A particularly clever noble might find her way to more power by undermining the businesses of a rival. Some nobility are simply content to live their lives, and do not even chase power. Their families typically do not retain power for long.

Typical means for wresting power away from those that have it are economical. This can be by the noble investing in his own lands, and thereby people, to increase their wealth. It can also mean undermining or outright sabotaging the people or businesses of another noble. Although economic struggles are typical, other means exist as well. In rare circumstances, assassination has been used, but this is punishable by death if someone is caught. Less dangerous to the noble directly, but certainly more indirectly, is the use of soldiers. All a noble need do is manufacture a conflict, perhaps a smirch upon honor or an accusation that another noble is interfering with their lands, and then, they can find cause to march their bannermen on another noble's lands. As such, internal warfare between noble houses is quite common in Arkland. These do not typically lead to all out wars, but it has happened in the past, many times.

Declaring War on Another House[]

There are political means by which a noble may declare war on another house. This is not a simple thing to do as the ruling barons and monarch do not let outright hostility between their citizens go lightly. However, should a noble family be able to prove a claim of hostility, they are free to defend their lands. Such a claim of hostility requires first and foremost that a noble be able to prove that another noble is purposefully and maliciously targeting either the honor, business, or lands of that person. For example, if a noble can show that another noble has been hard at work sabotaging business in his region, perhaps by burning a warehouse, robbing the local peasantry, or other nefarious acts, he or she now may have cause to march to war against that noble.

Many such claims of hostility throughout the years have been later shown to be false. It is therefore not uncommon for a noble to try and manufacture a false claim against another noble in order to seize land or wealth. One must be careful of creating such false claims, for if the noble does not have sufficient political clout to withstand a false claim, especially after having already marched to war, this may open the noble up to reprisal by other houses or even by the monarchy should the case show need for that. Many a noble, thinking herself clever, has tried to manufacture a war in order to seize power only to have been discovered by the cunning work of the agents of another family. The result of discovery is usually a sharp punishment that may take many forms including stripping of title and land or execution.

Once a claim is made, a noble may begin rallying his or her banners. This is the act of calling upon the Lord Commanders which serve the noble and asking them to come to war council. From there, a strategy will be developed, and the Lord Commanders will march to war in the noble's name. This process can take some time depending on the readiness of the Lord Commanders for such an engagement. It is therefore common that the seeds of war have been planted in the ears of Lord Commanders long before an actual claim is made.

Wars Between Houses[]

Wars between houses take place almost solely between the Lord Commanders of the houses. It is very uncommon for a war to also include commoners of a land. The reason for this is that the average commoner feels that he or she owes very little to the nobility to whom they pay tax, and they do not take kindly to being pressed into service. It was learned long ago that the noble who maintains a powerful, standing roster of banners has a far superior military advantage over a noble who simply tries to press his commoners into service.

Furthermore, by unspoken rules of engagement, it is uncommon for soldiers to sack cities or otherwise involve commoners in the war. Such events could easily be spun as war crimes against the people of Arkland, and that is the fastest way for the monarchy to become involved in the conflict, usually against the aggressor. Therefore, the banners typically only focus their efforts on the enemy banners or on the direct properties or holdings of the houses they are attacking. Commoners barely bat an eye if the home of a noble is ransacked or burnt. Small scale battles are typical of such wars where the armies of banners will meet in a field and determine a victor. Such victories usually lead to one army or another having a decisive enough of a victory to then begin a march towards the primary holdings of the enemy, and thus, capitulating a hasty surrender.

The outcome of wars is typically the exchange of land and money. Sometimes it also results in the exchange of hostages or even executions, depending on the circumstance which led to the war. Often, the winning army is also paid well in reparations by the loser, and this exchange of extra pay and status keeps the desire to engage in warfare fairly high among the Lord Commanders. The most desperate wars have led to the full stripping of title or complete execution of a noble family. Thus, their land and wealth would become the property of the victorious house. Such a total war is uncommon, mostly by the good graces of human nature and fear that if you are the person who institutes such a brutal hostility that those around you may be tempted to do the same back to you.

Priests of Light in the Political Structure[]

Having gained substantial political power through wealth accrual but also by winning the heart of the commoners, the Priests of Light have established themselves as a very powerful, yet outside political force within Arkland. The monastery of the Light of Arkland is the second tallest structure in King's Crossing outside of the palace. The Light of Arkland is often asked to advise the monarch as well as the Council of Barons. Many Barons also give great weight to the words of the Light as they themselves are devout members of the religion.

Outside of the macro-level, Priests of Light who have built congregations in a given area are also held in high regard by government officials and nobility. Since these Priests often control the hearts of minds of their flocks, it is unwise to anger a Priest or not to listen to his requests. Often, Priests speak for the commoner in official ways. Over time, they have become the community leaders and voice of the commoner when it comes to dealing with local nobility or government.

Priests are a constant thorn in the side of the nobility. Before Priests, so long as the populace was relatively well maintained, the nobility could act fairly independently from those people who lived on their lands. However, with the rise of the religion, the commoners now have a powerful voice in all matters political within a region. This voice is backed up by the might of the Priesthood. Many times has the Priesthood come to war to defend flocks. Their Paladins will march from the fortress monastery in Felderelle and engage a noble who has been deemed uncooperative or otherwise deviant. The Priesthood is now capable of fielding forces much larger than the combined banners of any one house, and as a result, with both the military muscle and the political muscle well in place, the Priesthood has been free to intervene quite deeply into the machinations of the nobility.

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--Neil (talk) 21:52, 15 October 2016 (AST)