Forms of Goverment
Nearly every type of government imaginable has been attempted within the River Kingdoms, and will likely be attempted again. Below is a list of the most common government types that appear in the River Kingdoms. Government types can be mixed, such as an ethnocratic oligarchy. Types include:
Anarchy: The complete absence of organized government. This state exists intermittently throughout the River Kingdoms, but sustaining it as a form of actual policy is exceptionally difficult.
Aristocracy: Rule by a hereditary class of people. Usually subsumed under a monarchy.
Autocracy: Government in which one person has sole, unrestricted rule. Also known as despotism. The majority of River Kingdoms are ruled by autocrats.
Bureaucracy: Rule through a system of departments or bureaus, arranged in a hierarchy of authority. Department heads and staff are usually appointed rather than elected or openly decided.
Confederacy: Rule under a union of states, organizations, or individuals.
Democracy: Majority rule by the people. Rulers are elected from among the populace.
Dictatorship: Although a form of autocracy, a dictator has no plans or aspirations for hereditary rule.
Ethnocracy: Government in which rulership is limited to those of a particular ethnicity or race.
Feudality: A loosely defined form of government consisting of binding agreements between lords and vassals. The River Freedoms make traditional concepts of feudalism difficult to sustain, but versions of this agreement frequently crop up in unstable regions.
Gerontocracy: Rule determined by the eldest—usually a group of elders, rather than the single oldest person.
Gynarchy: Explicit rule by females. See “matriarchy.”
Kritocracy/Kritarchy: Rule by judges. The former is rule by a judge’s personal opinion, whereas the latter is rule by comparison to an external standard, such as “natural rights.”
Magocracy: Rule by secular magical authority, usually a single wizard or sorcerer.
Matriarchy: Rule by a mother figure, within a familial social system.
Meritocracy: Government by those who demonstrate talent or ability in a certain position.
Militocracy: System of rule where the military holds full authority (another River Kingdoms favorite).
Monarchy: Government where supreme authority is held by one hereditary ruler, typically referred to as a king or queen. Many River Kingdom autocrats declare themselves monarchs.
Ochlocracy: Rule by a mob with no formal authority.
Oligarchy: Rule by an elite few.
Patriarchy: Rule by a single father figure, within a familial social system.
Pedocracy: Government by the learned or scholarly.
Plutocracy: Rulership by the rich. Although the wealthy always have power over government, plutocracy is explicit, literal rule by the wealthiest.
Republic: A form of government where the people ruled can indirectly affect the government through representatives.
Syndicracy: Rule by a business group. Theocracy: Though technically meaning direct rule by a deity, theocracy is often defined as rule by clergy who act on a deity’s dictates. Also known as a hierocracy or emirate.
Within the River Kingdoms, “kingdom” is considered acceptable shorthand when referring to an autonomous state, and “lord” is the generic term of address for a ruler, regardless of a ruler’s form of government or sex.