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Cabbages & Kings: The Steampunk Renaisance

Political Systems of Wonderland
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"Round and round and round they run."

The Political Caste System of Cardonia

The government of Cardonia is composed of three rival political factions; the White (who are mostly lawful), the Red (who are mostly neutral) and the Black (who are mostly chaotic). Each group has a feudal caste structure. A Queen and King lead each color party; but they are not necessarily married to each other (the royal spouse is called the Consort). Bishops represent the official clergy of the party with a membership numbering in the hundreds. Bishops have their own internal ranking system, but to outsiders they are identified by region (i.e. Bishop of Greensward). Knights are the military officers of the party. Rooks are the bureaucrats of the party and hold government positions from mayor to dog catcher. Pawns are the landowners in the party. Any one below pawn (has no land or office) has no official ranking in the party and has no official voting rights. King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, and Pawn are titles inherited from parent to child for the most part. Rarely is a pawn able to advance up in caste.

The White Party is mostly elves and half-elves and currently dominates the government of Wonderland. They are conservative fiscally and politically. The Whites want to continue the feudal government of Wonderland, and the lesser races should continue to labor for the nobility. Half elves never become "kings" or "queens", but are very common since pure blood elves are known for their low birth rates. Whites commonly dress in Elizabethan clothes and stylized Roman armor.

Red Party is the wealthy merchant princes of the realm. Most of them are dwarves and gnomes, but some of the more mercenary elves and humans are also part of this party. Many people regard the Red with distaste since they are known to pander their support to either the White or the Black based on which is more to their advantage. Reds favor of Victorian period clothes of tailored uncomfortable suits and heavy all concealing dresses. Oriental robes are also fashionable and many reds have adopted this style.

The Black Party is the assembly of the angry, the displaced, and the dissatisfied. Their leaders often promise democracy and equality for all, but rarely act on these principles. The party's chaotic nature is that while they have adopted chess rankings, the party titles have no validity. At any one time their can be a dozen Kings or Queens, Bishops are rarely religious figures, and many claim the title of Duke, Grand Vizier, and even Pharaoh. The Black Party favors full body costumes that resemble animals such as birds, mammals, fish, or even crustaceans. The Black Party is very fond of masked balls since it is official policy that true equality exists when no one can recognize anyone else.

Wild Cards
A character that is expelled from a color party will be known as Wild, and is likely the be greeted with hostility and suspicion by everyone, even other Wilds, for their contrariness. Dress among Wilds varies dramatically. Some dress to fit in. Others, such as “Flower Children”, dress to resemble plant life. Luddites wear grey, homespun wool and unbleached cotton. Levelers tend to dress in shades of green to mark themselves as dangerous radicals. Most Wild humanoid tribes wear very little clothing at all, they prefer mud or body paint instead.

The Four Clans of Cardonia

In addition to political caste, people are divided by race and family. The four clans are the Hearts, the Clubs, the Spades, and the Diamonds. The head of any clan is called the King or Queen of their color suite. The Jack (or Jill if female) is the child of a King or Queen, and is generally the heir apparent. After the Jacks come the relations based on blood ties to the royal family. The direct descendants of Kings and Queens are “Tens” and are considered noble blood. The child of a Ten and a lesser number is a “Nine”; and so on, until you end up with Aces. Aces are the bottom rung.

To sum up, a person is identified either by their political caste (chess piece) or their blood rank (number) and racial clan (suite) depending on the situation. Rather than say elf or orc, a person is described as a Heart or Club and their race is understood. For example, the quarter-elf grand niece of the White Queen would be born an Eight of Hearts.  If she gains favor in the white court or financial success she can advance from a pawn to knight, bishop, or rook, as see acquires property and political power, but she will always be an Eight of Hearts.

A Wild Card loses all family connections and political titles.

The King is dead, long live the Queen!!!


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