Roleplay quick start guide

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Welcome to the SLU! This quick guide should hopefully help you get involved and have fun in our shared world!

Basic Principles

  • SLUan roleplay is designed to give you freedom and various forms of interaction to suit your personal needs and tastes.
  • All Member States are encouraged to use RP as a venue to explore their beliefs and indulge their creativity, as well as diverse interests.
  • The world is shared between all members of the region.
  • Flexibility is always reasonably required from both members of Domestic Affairs staff and nations.

Questions about the Contents of this Guide

This guide is not intended to answer every possible question someone may have about roleplay within the Social Liberal Union, but rather just to give a general idea about each major element. That said, we do want to hear your questions, and will look to revise the guide continually in order that it can answer more.

To this end we ask that, if you do have any questions about any topic relating to RP in the SLU, whether covered in this guide or not, that you post them in #RP-Discussion on the regional Discord, or send a direct message to a member of the Domestic Affairs team.

The World/ Settings

Miyana (primary)

Primarily, SLUan role-play takes place on a large, earth-like planet called Miyana. This planet is six times the surface area of Earth. Miyana has two moons and is in a system of six planets in orbit around a single star. Most RP within the SLU takes place on the surface of Miyana, though some events or settings may not; in the event they don’t, this will be stipulated by the person running that particular role-playing scenario.

Below are some details on the solar system, and (in the image below that) of Miyana’s two moons.

Miyana is, for all intents and purposes, at roughly the same level of development as Earth, and largely a realistic, modern setting. The world is still divided into various nations each with differing ethics and priorities. However, near-future technology is acceptable; Instances of nanobots and dragons have been used by nations in the past, so provided the setting is neither broken, nor the situation made unbalanced, nor a nation made too powerful to be fun for others, we will try to find a way to incorporate any ideas you have.

Miyana, being larger than earth and thus in its own Goldilocks zone further out, takes slightly longer to orbit its star. Thus a year consists of 400 days. Please see this example Gregorian-style calendar, made by Harndon, for details, and check the tool for the current regional time.

The month names (except Sintaie) are advisory - they will probably change in the future.

The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the start of the year.

Historical

This setting works the same way as Miyana, and is set in the same places, just longer ago, some care is needed here so as not to interfere with other nations’ histories, but it allows you to work out more of your national backstory. If you talk to other nations, you can include them in parts of your history if they’re ok with it: work with them to draw something up (eg. one nation colonising another).

Fantasy

A rare setting, this doesn’t take place on miyana, and the setting will be defined in each scenario.

Science Fiction

A supplementary guide for this setting is in development, along with resources for it. Scenarios in this setting take place in a distant corner of the galaxy and follow the separate diaspora from many nations that fled to, and diverged in the region of space.

International Organisations

The Social Liberal Union

Within the modern setting of Miyana, the Social Liberal Union (SLU) exists as an international body that coordinates responses between various nations. All Member States are assumed to be a part of the organization, although disagreements and conflicting responses frequently occur. Many nations exist that are not a part of the SLU, within our world, mostly in the form of NPCs that act in scenarios according to a Domestic Affairs coordinating staff member’s vision for the story.

Other International Organisations

Physicians without borders (PWB) - A group of internationally minded medical professionals who aid in disaster relief, poverty struck areas, and other situations where medical help is desperately required

Union Disease Control Centre (UDCC) - Responsible for coordinating health sciences research internationally, as well as monitoring potential health challenges, and providing advice on epidemics and related threats

International Tribunal for War Crimes (ITWC) - Responsible for investigating, assessing, and deciding guilt wherever war crimes are suspected

Association of Non-Nuclear States (ANNS) - A grouping of countries united by their lack of nuclear armament and opposition to the existence of such weapons elsewhere

City of Culture Commission (CoCC) - The in-character body behind organising City of Culture events. Chaired by the previous winner

SLUpol - A skeleton coordinating body between national police forces. Successor to ISPol

Miyana Energy Generator and Regulator Directorate (MEGARD) - Coordinates energy generation, transmission, and storage, as well as standards for these

Global Organisation for Safety and Health (GOSH)  - A voluntary, bureaucratic body responsible for providing guidance on and oversight of safety practices in various areas of life and work

Charities

Institute for Health and Economics - A research organisation come pressure group

Refugee International - An advocacy and support charity that provides aid for and campaigns for the rights of the globally displaced, as well as running various campaigns to make nations safer and more tolerant

Campaign Groups

PeaceNow! - Militant Pacifist campaign group

ecoLOGIC - campaigns for wildlife  preservation and habitat conservation

DeDeplete - Radical environmentalist group

Council of Druids - A Harndonian-aligned group that campaigns on matters of spirituality, religious pluralism, environmentalism, and the protection of Guvar, their religion.

Multinational Companies

Many companies exist within and beyond the SLU, the following have come under international scrutiny owing to links to certain events in the region:

Warrendale Mining LTD. - A conglomerate of mining interests with unclear ownership, but a global presence. Questionable workers rights record

Inter-Oil Systems - A vast multinational oil company that has funded terrorist groups in the past, and conducted a number of environmentally unsound operations

Global Chemicals - An opaque organisation with significant scientific and research resources, and multiple raw material sources

Others, with less immediate repute, are often listed on the SLU stock exchange (developed by NAR)

Militant Groups Operating Internationally

The Megas - A Rossian nationalist-imperial group found wherever there is a significant Rossian Diaspora

Libertad - A capitalist supporting group most often active in socialist nations, where it primarily operates via extortion and small-scale violence. Occasionally seen in capitalistic countries targeting economic progressives

Brotherhood of Romnobusha - a large network operating out of Be'thalia and seeking to restore it to religious rule. Have a hatred of the SLU for previous aid given to the Be'thalian government

YourDoom - hackers of extreme skill. Able to breach multiple government systems causing major disruption, and sometimes even explosions. Conservative aligned but exact motivations unknown

MyDoom - Splinter group of YourDoom, acts largely for fun and challenge, rather than the political goals of their progenitor organisation

Pial (Progress is a Lie) - Primitivist group that targets utilities, especially power and water infrastructure.

FSW (Federation for a Secular World) - A group that wants to suppress or destroy religious practice throughout the world. Known especially for the series of attacks they made in Harndon in 2019.

Max Unionists: Springing up in the wake of international movements towards socialism in the 20th century, this underground, cellular body of radicals engage in bombings, assassinations, and robbery in the pursuit of a Miyana-wide, immediate implementation of communism.

Citizens' Global Initiative (CGI): Self described "democratic extremists" that have existed for decades, but have flourished in the internet age. CGI produces elaborate and high quality media for the purposes of recruitment, messaging, to claim responsibility for actions, and, most concerning, to make coded threats. Minor violations of democratic will are met with bombs. Failure to become more democratic is met with assassinations.

International Culture

Many elements of culture transcend national boundaries, whether because they have proven inspirational, to have a political message that resonates, touching the heart uniquely, or just having a resonance with a mood, a feeling or a time.

Symbols of Miyana

Among these, visual depictions have often gained unique importance, examples include

The four pointed tapered star - found in flags throughout Miyana, the four pointed star's origins can be traced back to a set of symbols common to cave paintings found throughout the world. Its meaning appears to have been Success or a Successful endeavour. It is still often used in a similar way to these early examples.

The rose - Symbolising hearty growth in inhospitable conditions, the rose has, in recent years, come to be associated with the ‘soft left’, especially nations and parties that take a slower route to socialism, or attempt a compromise social democracy

The raised Fist - Marking both the angry roar of a crowd marching against what is seen as manifestly unjust, and the subsequent cheer and display of power upon the realisation of the collective power in removing it, the raised fist has become a symbol of the masses taking what is theirs

The hammer and sickle - Showing the twin forces that power everything, those of agriculture and industry, this symbol has powerful evocative tones for working class liberation, and the spreading of communism

The ‘nordic’ cross - typically associated with strong social welfare, the cross marks the intersection of the self with society

Vertical Tricolour Flags - A common trope in vexillology, the exact meaning changes with the colours invoked, but typically  shows either the three founding values of a nation, or the story of its creation

More to be added later

Languages

Although many nations have their own deep-rooted linguistic traditions, a handful of languages have risen to a level of extreme importance on the international stage.

Gibberish (Miyana's Lingua Franca)

A language that evolved from the Celtic language of Dūnonkoid and the classical Syntax of Sintai, before acquiring diverse influences once it became a standard amongst seafarers. Considered to have a home amongst the lower echelons of Courellian society, where it long ago became the standard means of communication. Gibberish is named after a ship's gib, and is nearly identical to what is called English on Earth.

Syntax

The classical languages of Miyana, analogous to ancient Greek and Latin. This language originated in Sintai, before being spread by first conquest, then trade, and finally religion. It has contributed much to various other forms of communication through spread alone, and has found homes in legal and scientific descriptions in many places. A modernised form is still spoken within Sintai.

The Map

A long standing feature in the Social Liberal Union, the map roots your nation into our world and forms the basis for much of the interaction between nations. The current version made by Kanoria is extremely large. The vector graphic used allows for more diversity of map types and a high degree of detail. That said, Kanoria is not always the fastest or most dedicated. He apologises.

Types

There are many types of map, these are those currently officially adopted for production

Key:

✅ Ready (for current nations)

⏱️ Partly done

⏳ Not Started

👻 Produced as needed, progress can't be measured

Pure Political ✅ - The simplest of maps, this is just an outline of land, with outlines of nations on top

Topographic ⏱️ - A representation of terrain height

Mixed ⏱️ - The previous two mixed together, with, eventually, rives, trees, etc

Oceans ✅ - Simply shows where the oceans are according to international consensus boundaries

Continents ✅ - The names and bounds of the various supercontinents of Miyana

Geological Plates ✅ - What the name implies

Military Garrisons ⏱️ - Detailed rules for these can be found in rp-discussion, though the system is yet to be fully worked out

Reefs ⏱️ - Where Coral and Coldwater reefs are in our world's oceans

International Rail ✅ - A Diagrammatic representation of where the major international high-speed rail routes are

Transportation ⏳ - A more detailed version of the above, using the main map, showing not only rail routes, but also major roads, ports, and airports

Timezones ✅ - The linearised conforming timezones for miyana. Suggestions, not compulsory.

Latitude Circles ✅ - Shows the equator, tropical range, subtropics, and polar circles

Coordinates ✅ - So you know where things are, I guess?

Early Human Migration ✅ - Probably irrelevant to everything you will do, simply shows how humans spread away from where they evolved within our regional lore

Ocean Currents ✅ - Again, self explanatory, shows the dominant current system for areas of water

Climate ⏳ - Will show prevailing climate zones

Foliation ⏳ - Will show types of vegetation cover, like temperate forest, boreal forest, etc

Terrestrial Water ⏱️ - Rivers, lakes, all that jazz

Habitation ⏳ - Significant permanent settlements

Biomes ⏳ - What type of habitat is there

Mineral Resources ⏳ - This will actually be several maps, but just showing viable ores etc of various types

Biological Resources ⏳ - I haven't worked out how this one will work yet, but it will show biodiversity

Human Populations ⏳ - Where various demographics are

Production ⏳ - An industry map, of sorts

Travel Times ⏳ - These will be a special version of the transportation map, with each section of routes marked or referenced with an expected travel time, allowing you to work out how long things will take to get where. Planned versions include shipping lanes, road, and rail.

Solar System ⏳ - Why stop mapping at just our own world? Basically a 3d model representing where we are in relation to the other celestial bodies of our system. This will be published in due course when Kanoria is able to make it. Until such a point, Harndon has kindly made a 2d Version

Event maps 👻 - One offs that may or may not be related to the main map

Lore maps 👻 - These exist to add flavour and depth to our world. Examples include refugee friendliness, oceanic garbage density, etc.

Special Maps 👻 - These are produced on request showing a type of feature I hadn't thought about and don't want to make regular

Application

You can only apply to be in Unclaimed Territory or to have new land made for you.

All applications that infringe on existing claims shall be immediately rejected.

Rules For Applications

  • You must be a Member State of the Social Liberal Union.
  • You may not apply for a territory of size exceeding El Dreq.
  • Being loose with realism is fine, totally ignoring it is not, please only ask for features that may plausibly be found near to your preferred location. (Examples include: hugging the coast, claiming all the fresh water in an area, weird shapes to get the interesting things, etc.)
  • No more than two overseas territories at creation
  • Cherry-picking of features by border design will not be allowed
  • No infringing upon other nations.
  • I may need to make some changes; I will talk to you before I do.
  • No real world lands, shapes, etc. Make it up.

Google Form

Alteration

Alterations of claims should ideally be rare things, but when they do take place, please follow the same rules as above, these may be a little more relaxed if you have been a member for a long time, especially if you have served the region. Keep your request interesting and have a backstory for it, and you are far more likely to have your request accepted.

Certain Council of Leaders role-plays and other events may reward good roleplay with expansion potential near to where they take place, though this will be rare, and will not be trailed in advance. If you wish to expand otherwise, then stay active in the region.

If you do have a request please talk to Kanoria on Discord, who will discuss it with the Domestic Affairs team, and make a determination.

Types of Roleplay

These classifications may not always be strictly accurate, and more represent archetypes commonly seen than fully distinct categories.

Basic Rules

Consent above all. Before engaging in any kind of situation, make sure you reach out to those who would be directly affected by something you want to do (say, invade one of their islands).

If you are adding to the regional canon, keep things within the realm of the world we’re in. The world of Miyana operates with near future tech, so you wouldn’t yet have access to wormhole technology (not that people aren’t theorizing about it). If you want to explore a time outside of the time operating in canon, you can help build an “Extended Universe” of sorts -- just label it with its appropriate time frame.

Types

Council of Leaders

Where all nations with the Social Liberal Union are invited to respond to incidents of international concern. Generally speaking, a scenario will be presented by a member of Domestic Affairs staff, and nations will be invited to outline their responses to it. An update will then be issued by the person running the scenario with consequences and new developments as a result of the actions taken.

Diplomatic

Any formal in-character interaction between you and another nation, such as exchanging embassies, agreeing to share intelligence, etc. See examples in the 'How to' section

Arts

Often in the form of a competition, these events will ask you to use your creativity on a theme to produce something. Sometimes it will be about a city in your nation, or a cultural practice, it could even be a song for an international concert. Much of this is covered in more detail in the nation building category.

Sports

Generally simulated using pieces of software called 'scorinators', sports role-play takes information from description and prose to give you stats that affect the outcome of a game being played, generally as part of a tournament. Tournaments outside of the SLU have long used 'the three Rs' that is -Rank, -Roleplay, and -Randomness, to produce Results. Players can (subject to their opponents roleplay permissions) then expand on these as they see fit. It is likely that the SLU will use a similar system. Events often take the form of a football (soccer) league, or similar.

Plenty of additional information can be found in the sports role-playing guide at:

https://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=611

Though this is focused more towards leagues across the entirety of NationStates, much of it is applicable in the region as well. There is also a Q&A page provided on the same basis:

https://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=612

Factbooks

Here you describe your nation in simple terms. Covered in more detail in Nation building and examples given in How To

Economics

This classification comes in two forms, events and nation building (described in the relevant section). As events often have a lot of crossover with a Council of Leaders and/or a diplomacy style of event, and may take the form of a discussion, summit, trade war, or commodity shortage.

Military

  A tricky category to do well, military role-play in the SLU centres around a cooperative form of storytelling. Two or more nations (sometimes including NPCs represented by a DA official) will talk in order to decide on the outline of a story they wish to tell, and then, through news and diplomacy posts, tell that story, generally referencing several items of lore they have established through nation building. Sometimes the story won't be entirely clear to all participants if it is DA led. Either way, however, it is of extreme importance that channels of communication are maintained actively between all participants for this type of roleplay to work

Nation Building

This section can seem overwhelming, it's not intended to be, just take it slow and design one thing at a time. Your nation can change as you talk about it and design other areas, don't be afraid to revise some decisions you made early on to better suit the overall idea behind the nation - thinking about one area can often end up bringing another into clearer focus.

Though we have tried to provide a wide range of Nation Building help, the topic is too large for us to cover everything. We will try to continue expanding it over time as more areas of focus occur to us. If a topic isn't covered here, try asking in #rp-discussion on the regional discord.

Likewise ask there if you run light on areas to create in, and, if that fails, the Factbooks and National Information section on the NationStates forum (linked below) always has many new threads asking questions about various parts of your nation and providing points to think about, though always ask yourself if a thread is relevant to your nation before you engage with it:

https://forum.nationstates.net/viewforum.php?f=23

Basic rules

  • Every scenario and interaction is a chance to both learn about and invent for your nation
  • Having a vision of your nation in your mind will always make better role-play
  • Rules regarding the preservation of the setting are even more flexible here, but please try to work with it not against it
  • As always, consent.

Culture

A culture is a vast and complicated thing, so designing a facsimile sounds a lot harder than it actually is. A culture is a combination of attitudes, behaviours, and tastes.

Generally there are several competing and cooperating cultures and subcultures in an area, so it's always worth thinking about what they take from each other as well as what they consist of so that they don't become static and unchanging, which can seem unrealistic

Adulthood, Gender, Social Roles

Conceptions of what an adult is, and what a child is have varied massively through time and between areas. Briefly consider how your nations' cultures regard

  • What a child is? What are their responsibilities? What level of freedom do they have?
  • What is an adult? How does this vary?
  • Is there an intermediate stage? More than one?
  • Many cultures have had coming of age ceremonies that mark the transition from one stage of life to another. Do your cultures have these? How seriously are they taken? Are they accompanied by a trial? If so, what is tested or demonstrated? Examples would include a 4 day dance at age 14 to demonstrate resilience and spiritual strength, or reciting a sacred passage at  age 12 to prove devotion

Likewise, understandings of gender have changed and varied

  • Are there considered to be separate categories of gender or spectrums of gender? [*]How many?
  • Are they rooted biologically? In appearance? Behaviourally? Or through upbringing?

Each of these, and several other factors have been used, at various times, to pressure individuals into conforming to certain ideas, or to serve certain social functions.

  • Is gender transition common?
  • Are there distinct social roles for different parts of the population?
  • How strong is the pressure? Is it social or official?
  • What problems does it cause?
  • Who is striving to change it?

Education

Individuals are massively shaped by how they are taught, and the environment in which it happens, and consequently society is shaped by it

  • Why are people taught? This philosophical question may seem needlessly abstract, but it can show a lot about a nation. Examples would be -to prepare them for work, -to help them grow as a person, -to give them greater freedom in life
  • What are people taught? Is it skills for life? Skills for interpreting information? Creativity? Is it knowledge for specific tasks?
  • Where are they taught? In a community? By their parents? In state provided schools? In another situation altogether? Does it vary between children? Is one child taught in several places?
  • How much freedom do they have over what they learn and how?
  • Is the system structured to meet anticipated needs of the nation?
  • Do children get educated in classes? By age? By ability? Are there considered to be stages of education?
  • Does education cost anything? Are people paid to get educated?
  • Is education life-long? How is adult education managed

Food

An often neglected element of role-play, cuisines have a strong influence on the culture and peoples that evolve in an area, according to what they need and what's available at different times, as well as both culture and cuisine being influenced by the other cultures they touch. Consider:

  • When would there historically have been plenty? How about scarcity?
  • Did seasons significantly affect what was available? How about what people wanted? A cold person might want a warming, hearty, dish, for instance?
  • Which foods would have been rare and become status symbols?
  • Had a spice palette developed?
  • Immigration always has an effect on the cuisine of a country. If your nation was either colonised or a colonising nation, this effect would have been intensified.
  • How does the climate and geography affect what might be eaten?
  • Warmer, flatter lands near rivers lend themselves to farming (though some ingenious solutions, mountain peoples have done the same, like the Incas and the Chinese).
  • The more this is, the more likely it is for cities and a settled, agricultural way of life to develop.
  • How would this affect your society’s structure?
  • Agricultural societies often end up being mighty powers, especially in earlier history (Rome, Egyptians, Chinese, Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Incans, Persians, Indus Valley)
  • Think about how the reliance on farming would affect the way your people treat water. This would be dependent on the climate and what they grow.
  • Religious aspects would play a large part, both in the spirituality of water and the spirituality of land and harvest.
  • What happens at Harvest?
  • Colder/more arid/less fertile climbs lend themselves to herding animals. If an area is less fertile/more ecologically fragile (like dense forests, steppes, swamps, savannas, deserts, mountains), how can the people survive?
  • Are they nomadic? If so, what animals do they herd, and what plants can they eat? (You can make your own plants and animals! For more info, check the How To section)
  • Do they have a reliance on bodies of water for their food? If so, they are more likely to become a naval power (think Veneti, Carthage, Micronesia, Norse.)
  • Is there a strict and rigid structure to their culture that enforces the preservation of food?
  • Do they raid and conquer more fertile lands or food?
  • Instead of more rigorous farming methods historically practiced by the larger empires and meditteranean peoples, would there be agricultural methods that values the preservation of the ecosystem above crop yield (native jungle tribes are an excellent living example of this).
  • Are your peoples thriving on forage as much as/instead of agriculture/animal husbandry? This tends only really to be possible in heavily forested places with high biodiversity, but high ecological fragility.
  • Fresh water is vital. How is it stored, preserved and/or sourced?
  • How does the hardships and the ways your people overcome them affect your nation’s spirituality?
  • How does your nation’s spirituality affect its cuisine? Many religion’s rules on food come from practicality (for example, pork is neither halal or kosher because it is very difficult to preserve properly, especially in the middle eastern heat).
  • What tools would’ve been used to make food? What materials would have been available?
  • How is food stored? This would depend highly on your climate, and whether your people were stationary or not.
  • Think about your culture: would it be more common for a joint meal between multiple families on regular occasions, or just at celebrations?
  • Every culture has some kind of fermented food, whether that be meat, milk, cheeses, vegetables, vinegars etc. With the above points, what would be practical or realistic?

Art and Music

Often a crucial part of counter-culture, art and music have been important in bringing about many political changes by tapping into and amplifying a public mood, or by showing people something that they hadn't seen, or had been unwilling to see.

  • Cultures often have one or more artistic styles unique or common to them
  • Often there is a special importance attached to certain styles
  • Artistic styles have changed and developed over time, so often a style will be associated with a political movement or cultural era
  • There are also both therapeutic and social uses for most art forms so behaviours and ceremonies have evolved around these quite frequently
  • In addition arts often gain importance in other ceremonies to intensify experiences, convey stories, and to build moods or atmospheres

Clothing

Fashion has often been viewed as a major element of cultural expression, both conformist and nonconformist, it has also had a key role in helping people adapt to the environments they live in, which adds an additional layer to expression through clothing.

  • Clothing serves many purposes, to identify, such as a uniform for a gang, or a military, to make a political point, or to provide insulation.
  • Think about what's practical where your nation is. Is it cold and necessitating heavy, insulating layers, or humid, needing lightweight, loose clothing
  • Are there times when nakedness is expected? How is it viewed generally?
  • How would people customise it to show individuality and affiliation?
  • Do several styles exist for different times of year?
  • Is clothing ever used devotionally?
  • Have groups moved from elsewhere and maintained their clothing customs?

Language

You can use either an established world language, or a conlang as your national language, these help add flavour and realism, though, it is worth noting, almost all interaction between nations happen in english for reasons of intelligibility and inclusion

A lot of information on how to ConLang exists online, notably at: https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Conlang/Beginner

More in-depth information is provided in the How To section.

Language shapes how we think about the world, with concepts having associations, and words often having more than one meaning, or coming from a shared root or origin with another. What we think of as opposites is also defined through language. This can all lead to a large impact on culture. You don't have to have a fully formed language, or even words for the concepts but think about how your people understand relations such as the following from a linguistic perspective:

  • Direction
  • Temperature
  • Personhood
  • Family
  • The nation
  • Abroad
  • Art
  • Violence
  • Peace
  • Religion
  • Home
  • Food
  • Basic logic
  • Similarity
  • Distance
  • Time
  • Size
  • Quantity
  • Action and inaction

Sexuality

One of the most fractious elements of culture to discuss, but nonetheless a massive one, sexuality has been viewed from every angle imaginable and some that most people would struggle to imagine as well. For most, but far from all, people, sexuality is a major part of how they understand and relate to the world, with the reproductive drive causing many wars throughout history.

Yet every culture known has formed a framework through which it understands sexual desires, orientations, actions, and stimulations, and which it considers to be taboo. These are not always consistent and are often exclusionary

When thinking about how your nation treats sexuality, the first, and most important question to ask, is 'How open and how inhibited are my people?' this will define more about their attitude to sex than anything else. Bearing this in mind, try to answer the following:

  • How is homosexuality viewed in your nation?
  • Bisexuality?
  • Is a certain strength of sexuality expected? How are Asexuals and demisexuals treated?
  • How are sexual minorities regarded?
  • Is bdsm tolerated? Or welcomed?
  • And other fetishes?
  • What is considered a sexual deviance, if anything? Why?
  • Is sex education taught to all?
  • Which, if any, sexual expressions are repressed? To what degree?
  • How does expressing atypically affect someone's life?
  • Through what framework is sexuality viewed?
  • Is having multiple partners tolerated? Are there rules describing when it is and isn't acceptable?
  • Is love an important factor in deciding which sexual relations are acceptable?

Values

What your people hold dear, what they consider to be most important, these will define them as much as anything. They are unlikely to all agree on every one of them, and they may be deeply divided on some

  • What ideals are culturally idolised?
  • What are children encouraged to aim for?
  • If a survey asked people in your nation to say three words that they most valued, what would your people say?
  • Where are the divisions on what to work towards?
  • Which ideas are difficult to question or taken as a given?
  • Did your religions teach your people these values? Or did schooling? The state?
  • Would people die for ideals? To prevent any?

Once you have a rough idea of what your population cares about, it's worth thinking, are there any means by which they wouldn't want them achieved? Any acts they abhor?

  • What are their anti-values
  • What would they sacrifice for their values, or to shield themselves or others from their anti-values?
  • Is there a movement to destigmatize the anti-values?
  • How about to reject some of the established ethics?

Mythologies

No culture has ever been without its tales to explain the unknown and unknowable. These take the forms of full blown religions at times, but can also be embellished stories, spiritualism, a framework for understanding of the universe, or even a simplified version of the scientific understanding. Likely several of the above will exist, and form competing narratives, so just try and work out a few sets of beliefs that go together

Religions

When designing a religion it is worth breaking it down into a few components. The questions below should allow you to draw up an outline of a religion. It may be worth doing more than once, as there are often several competing faiths in a nation.

  • Gods - who are they, what are they gods of, and how did they get there?
  • Creation myth - how was the world made and why?
  • Destruction myth - how will the world end, will it be a punishment? Is the world ending somehow a good thing?
  • Who, if anyone, can talk to, and understand messages from the gods
  • How does the religion regard death? How are the dead treated? What happens to the 'soul' (if there is one) after death
  • Are there divisions and sects within the faith?
  • What are the bonds between followers? Is there marriage? Any other kind of partnership?
  • Is there a devotional act, or prayer?
  • Which spaces, if any, are considered holy?
  • What is banned or prohibited for followers? What is considered a sin?
  • Are any days special? Are they holidays?
  • Rituals - who carries them out and what do they consist of?
  • Symbols - how do followers identify each other and their icons?
  • Observances - must a follower maintain their body in a certain way?
  • Are any art forms considered special or taught to followers?
  • How is reality defined? Are there any other worlds or planes?

Science and Philosophy

You should consider how your people, their cultures, and their philosophies, might view each of the following:

  • Reality: What is real? How do we know? Is realness dependent upon us, or intrinsic? Is there real beyond what we can prove?
  • Ethics: How do we decide what is ethical? Do we make use of all of ourselves in a moral judgement? How subjective should we allow ourselves to be in questions of right and wrong?
  • Belief: is belief concrete? Does it fluctuate? Does it have power, or confer power? Does it weaken or strengthen the believer? Does belief shape reality?
  • Coherence: if a proposition is coherent with all others that are taken to be true, can it also be said to be true? Does Coherence matter? If so, only internal, only external, or both?
  • Methodology: is one approach to finding answers or truth considered more legitimate? More valuable? Are starting assumptions taken as necessary, or as a threat to the method?
  • Reductionism:  is a concept or object just a combination of other, simpler, concepts and objects? If so, is what is collectively true of them, true of it? Do emergent properties exist? Do they change anything if they do?
  • Participants: which criteria are used to asses who can have an opinion on the big questions? Does it affect the philosophy and ideology produced?
  • Perspectives: What is the status of the voices included? Which traumas shape the ideas? Which cultural concepts? Who is excluded? How does that change the end philosophy? Does the different viewport alter the observed scene? The conclusions from it?  
  • Contradiction: How comfortable is the philosophy with contradiction? How about ambiguity? Does it allow for simultaneous, contradictory, truths?
  • Measurement: the way we measure alters how we perceive and respond to reality relative to ourselves and other objects, does it also thus alter reality itself? What makes a measurement good and valid? Must it reference the self to be applicable?
  • Reproducibility: What value is placed on the reproduction of results? Are freak occurrences considered irrelevant? Or special?
  • Abstraction: what degree of commonality is needed to form a class? Are pure abstractions and thought experiments of value in themselves? How real is the ultimate abstraction of a class? Does a blueprint of an object exist upon which all other things in that class are variations?
  • Disciplines: How are subjects or areas of study divided? How rigid are the divisions? Why do they occur? What happens where they intersect?
  • Materialism: are all things a response to physical conditions? Are they thus fully predictable with enough data? Do conflicts inevitably arise and resolve through synthesis?
  • Boundary: What are the limits on inquiry? Why? What happens if they are crossed? Does philosophy attempt to explain the unknowable?
  • Altruism: Is there justification? Which ones? Do philosophy and society agree about its value? How widely practiced is it?
  • Hedonism: What level results in the best lives? Is it universal?
  • Biases: Does science and philosophy recognise its own? Are some biases acceptable? Would they be recognized as biases? What happens if inquiry leads to the boas being challenged?

All of these questions have profound impact on science and technological development, the direction it takes, and how quickly. Consider how each answer you give would have changed your development.

History

Origin

The people living in your nation came from somewhere, they have a past, maybe several pasts, including conflicts and troubles. More importantly they have stories about how they came to be here that define how they perceive themselves. So who were the first people recognisably of your nation?

  • Did they consider themselves to be from there?
  • What stories are told about how they got where they are?
  • Did they come from somewhere else? What do they feel about that place?
  • Did your people find virgin land or dominate an existing group?

National origin stories frequently come with a measure of identity - a pride in doing a certain survival tactic well, for instance

  • Do your people have lessons about how to treat others in their origin stories?
  • How do your people ensure their own legacy?

The land

  Over time the land of your nation may well have been home to many different groups, and at times, no-one, so, how is the story of the land different from the story of the people?

  • Who was there in each age? (Eg. Ice age, prehistory, classical era, etc)
  • Did they leave behind any artifacts?
  • Do they have cultural legacy?
  • What physically happened to the terrain over time?
  • Did anyone cultivate it? Modify it for building?
  • Why is it good (or bad) for your people now? What made it that way?

The Peoples

The stories of peoples don't stay conveniently confined to one place, like the story of land does, and often includes upheavals that would be meaningless to the area itself, such as a new idea gaining traction, or an influx of new technologies from abroad. As well, of course, the people who live in your lands now might well not be quite the same as those when they were first established

  • Have any invasions occurred?
  • Who has left the area? Why?
  • Who arrived? As workers? Invaders? Slaves? Refugees?
  • How has power moved? Which groups lost out?

The Institutions

Over time, ways of getting things done break down as social and technological progress overtakes them. So back through time, which organisations existed and the purposes they served will have changed. So just thinking about the events that happened in your history, what was in place at what time, what was its purpose, and what made it change? You don't need to be super detailed here, just having a vague idea can help

Symbols, Aesthetics

One of the first, and most important pieces of visual design you will do for your nation is to choose some symbols that recur across your work and provide a visual identity. These should be

  • Identifiable
  • Related to your national story
  • Indicative of how your nation views itself
  • Common connections in visual coding include:
  • Hard edges to signal aggressiveness or domination
  • Natural or smooth shapes for a more harmonious relationship and viewing itself as a part of something larger
  • Compass, sextant, or strong parallel lines to show progress, especially socialist progress
  • Tools associated with certain groups considered to embody national values
  • Doves, olive branches, or shaking hands to signal peaceful cooperation
  • Globes for internationalism
  • Etc

Personally I would recommend using those examples to innovate on a theme so as to be more distinct.

You will also want to choose a colour palette. I recommend, if you aren't familiar with this, using an online tool, such as Adobe colour, especially if you are inexperienced at visual design:

https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel

Once you have decided on an aesthetic, it is often best to use elements of it throughout.

Architecture

Architecture is part function, part statement. What is emphasized will depend on your people's priorities.

  • If your people developed economically quickly, they are likely to have favoured quick, easy to build structure, such as brutalist apartment blocks
  • Conversely, if your people had a rigid class structure, or a need to show off, ornamentation is likely to be intricate and pervasive
  • Ornaments also serve the function to link building to story and to invoke past powers and thus form a mental connection between the concepts associated to the power invoked
  • How (and if) nature is integrated can also show a lot about a nation, its view of ecology, and if it prioritizes quality of life or productivity
  • How much space is reserved to the individual, the family, the community, and to other functions is also worth considering. [/list]

Time

Your cultures may well have had their own traditional calendars, and ways of measuring the passage of time. They will have their own times or days they consider special for whatever reasons. You may choose to use the regional default calendar (shown above in the Settings section), but if you don't then its worth thinking about the following

  • How would time have been measured during a day early in your nation's existence?
  • Which events would have been most important in the idea of a year? Were people dependent on agriculture historically? On hunting seasons?
  • Was there a spiritual significance to certain times of year that could lead them to be emphasized, or a certain duration to become a repeating unit?

Political Structure

In the simplest terms, political structures derive from a combination of groups who wield power compromising with each other with the intent to maintain and further their influence. This tends to lead, no matter how good the design, to some power finding itself in dark corners, endless corridors, and the haunts of an elite - how much gets there is up to you and the floors you see in your system, as well as which groups (and which values) the system was built to protect. When designing a political system having the following questions in mind:

  • Who does the political system serve?
  • What their interests would be?
  • Who would be an obstacle to those interests?
  • Who has power from each of
    • the streets,
    • the money,
    • the religion,
    • the media,
    • the essentials of life,
    • entertainment,
    • education,
    • formalised force (police and military)?
  • How if at all would competing interests be kept in check?

With these questions in mind it's time to think about divisions of power and how to keep the balance you want your nation to have. Think about how your people would change something that wasn't serving them? Could they change it? Also consider:

  • How clustered together is power? Is it all working to the same ends?
  • Are there any barriers to it working across different areas to the same end (regardless of if it doing so would hurt or help the people)?
  • How many steps removed from the people is it?
  • Is there a central executive (cabinet, president, prime minister, federal council etc?)
  • How are they chosen?
  • Is there a legislature? How does one get a seat there? How many houses does it have? Do the houses serve different roles?
  • Do either of the former control the law enforcement? How about the judiciary? If not, how are they run?
  • How would a foreigner understand your system?
  • How does one become a citizen and can they then change things?

Legal System

Laws and legal systems can function in a number of different ways, I have attempted to break these down into a few dimensions:

  • Specificity: does the law encode general principles, or individual prohibitions? A combination?
  • Which is considered to take priority?
  • Discretion: this describes how much a court (or other judicial body) can vary verdict and punishment from one similar case to another based on extenuating circumstances, motivations, etc
  • Precedent: does a decision having been made in a specific way before change how future decisions must or should be made?
  • Reference Point: where your legal system derives its ideas of what is allowable, to be encouraged, or disallowed and to be discouraged. Frequent examples are religious texts, social custom, political treetes, statements from an individual, etc
  • Adversarialism: whether a court (or equivalent) relies on arguments, debates, statements, etc. And thus whether it treats people as accuser and defendant, and whether what is said is treated as competing narratives
  • Guilt: to what extent does it matter? Can it be shared? What does a guilty verdict mean for someone's future?
  • Treaties: are treaties integrated whole into national law automatically when they are signed? Must they be translated and passed by the legislature?
  • Sovereign power: where does the ultimate decision to modify law take place? Can courts (or equivalent) do it? Only the legislature? The executive?
  • Primacy: when two or more laws apparently contradict each other, how is the conflict resolved? Is one considered to have greater weight than another?
  • Focus: does a judicial setting examine an incident? The case presented by the police? An individual's worthiness? Something else?
  • Applicability: is it possible for a topic to be ruled outside the scope of the law? Under which circumstances? Can this be undone?
  • Legal override: can a judicial system decide a law is illegal itself? Only when it contradicts the constitution? Are there other laws that cannot be contradicted?
  • Worth: can the judicial system allocate an equivalent value to legal concepts? To life? To property? If it does, can this be used in the eventual settlement or consequence of a case?
  • Appointment: are courts (or equivalent) convened by the state? By the people? Where does the authority come from? Election? Executive appointment? Somewhere else?

Law Enforcement

Policing can be done in a number of ways, generally speaking there are a few points that shape what a police force looks like, and how it behaves:

  • How consentual is the police's relationship with the community?
  • Is de-escalation taught to officers? Conflict resolution?
  • Can police promise help of various kinds? Are these promises binding?
  • Do infractions receive aid or to address the cause? Does this depend on how serious an offence is?
  • How is violence used?
  • Who is part of the enforcement process? Who can enforce? The community? Military? A civilian agency?
  • How much control does the community have of police policy and priorities? How?
  • Do the police enforce laws that are unjust?
  • Do the police enforce property rights?
  • Is there just one police agency, or are there several with different responsibilities? Do they cooperate?
  • How much coercion is inherent in policing?
  • Is policing preventative or reactive?
  • Do police act 'like social workers' and try to get help to those who need it, or 'like bouncers' to try and remove people doing prohibited things?
  • How closely linked are the police and the judiciary?
  • Does the state have a monopoly on violence?
  • If an officer abuses their power, what are the consequences? And if they commit a crime?
  • From where (if anywhere) is police legitimacy derived?

Judiciary

Nations separate judicial powers from policing powers to a variety of different degrees. How far does your nation take this? Is there involvement of investigators in prosecution?

Media

Nb: the following is written assuming you are aiming for some form of emancipatory society. If you are not, do the opposite

The media is a narrative producing machine, whilst it can be a source of criticism and necessary oversight of process and ethics when working properly, more commonly it is used to tell the stories that whoever controls it wants told, to increase the usage of certain frameworks for understanding the world. I recommend watching this short video from Al Jazeera before designing your own system:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34LGPIXvU5M

Once you have (or if you skipped it), start thinking about which filters exist in your nation, and how to reduce or eliminate their influence (or, if you are so inclined, enhance it, but please don't do that).

If you want to build a good media system you will need a critical populus that knows how to interrogate what is said and the meanings and manipulations behind it, and how to confirm and disconfirm claims. How advanced is this in your nation? Where do your people get it from?

You will ideally also need a model that gets the journalists the resources they need without creating conflicts of interest.

To make a truly good media, you need it to have extremely good access to information and ability to dig to research. You will also want its interests to align with those who it serves.

It is also worth asking whether your media views itself as having a purpose, or several competing purposes? Is education a part of this? How about entertainment? Economic stimulation? Obedience to the government? Devotion to a religion? Any of these will interfere with its ability to conduct the work of holding power to account. Also ask if the media routinely flouts laws? Can it get away with it? Is it even exempt from some?

Finally, think about:

  • Is there a regulator for the media? Is it voluntary? Who runs it?
  • Are there journalistic standards? Penalties for stepping outside them?
  • Are some groups protected from the media? Eg. The mentally ill, children, whistleblowers

Rights

Do your people consider anything to be universal? Or is everything earned? Does this extend to the body? People require many things and benefit from many others. What is held sacrosanct and inailliable, if anything? Rights to consider include:

  • Right to life: who has it, what exceptions
  • Right to democratic inclusion: in which areas of life? Politics? Work? How is this done? Who has a right to suffrage?
  • Is there a guarantee of equal access to public services?
  • Right to freedom from discrimination: does it exist? How is a group protected? How is a group deemed worthy of protection?
  • Are all groups given equal rights and protection of them under the law? Are people always people before the law
  • Is slavery or encorced servitude fully banned?
  • Is cruel, inhuman, or unusual punishment allowed?
  • Is there freedom from arbitrary arrest? From exile? From harassment by authorities?
  • Is there a right to a specific form of trial? A presumption of innocence?
  • Is there freedom from law applying post-facto?
  • Freedom of movement within the nation? Between nations? Freedom to leave the country?
  • Do you guarantee your people's right to their nationality? Are they free to change it? To swear it off?
  • Is there a right to family? To reproduce?
  • How is property treated in rights terms?
  • Can a person refuse an order on ethical grounds? Always?
  • Is freedom of conscience guaranteed? Freedom to hold a belief? To communicate it? To get information from elsewhere?
  • Is there a right to assemble? Peacefully? In protest? Violently?
  • Is there a right to social security?
  • Is there a right to repair devices?
  • Is there a right to work? To equal pay? For equal work, or absolutely? A right to unionize? To bargain collectively?
  • A right to leisure? How much of it?
  • Is there a right to a specific standard of living? Is this standard movable? How is it ensured?
  • Are the essentials of life considered a right? Food? Water? Shelter?
  • Is there a right to armament? To attempt revolution?
  • Is education a right? Lifelong? Is it free? How much choice in type of education their children recieve do parents have?
  • Is there a right to the cultural conversation? The scientific one? The benefits of culture and science? Just for the author or for everyone?
  • Is there a right to privacy?
  • Are there responsibilities that must be fulfilled to get these rights?
  • Does everyone have a duty to ensure that everyone benefits from these rights?
  • Is it deemed okay to charge for something that would fulfill a right?
  • Are animals afforded these rights? Which of them? Is there a right to a suitable habitat?
  • Is there a right to digital communication? Uncensored?
  • Do children get additional rights?
  • Do victims of crime?

Nature

Nowhere in the world is totally bereft of non-human life, in fact, you are likely to have rather a lot of it, and great diversity of life is a wonderful thing. However it can be hard to know what sort of plants and animals are in your nation, though you have likely already decided on one or more through your national animal. Think about the following:

  • Where in the world are you? What sort of things could survive there?
  • What might humans have tried to wipe out, or to increase?
  • Are there similar places on earth? If so, it's a good idea to do a delve on Wikipedia into what is native there
  • Bare in mind that every living thing interacts with all others nearby, so think about what your national animal might eat?

Just keep going through these steps, and inventing more animals if you want to (help to do this is available in the How To section), until you have an understanding of the ecology of your territories that you are happy with

Foreign Affairs

Nations employ various strategies to build their international position, often these are self-interested. The stances a nation takes will directly affect the way that states and non-state-actors view them, as will the rhetoric they use, the messages they send, and the showmanship they deliver it all with. You should consider:

  • What kind of nation would your people want to associate with?
  • Do they share your long term aims?
  • Would your people view other nations as people to be helped or tools to further their own self interest by use?
  • What image would your government like to portray?
  • Which resources would your people be willing to use on others?
  • One you have decided on the above, you can start to:
  • Build embassy applications (and apply yourself to nations you may be interested in), see the how to section.
  • Engage in treaty negotiations
  • Send your military abroad
  • Conduct international aid operations
  • Engage in espionage: does your nation use it, and if so, how? What aims do you try to achieve through it, and what methods do you use? To what extent is your FA reliant/based on espionage?

Sports

Sports although they often start out as recreation, practice, or demonstration of skills, quickly take on a life of their own in symbolism, identity, and often national chauvinism. You can use sports that are already popular, ignore this section entirely, or invent your own. To invent your own, consider:

  • Existing competitions, what makes people like them
  • What your culture has valued historically
  • Whether it would be enjoyable to play
  • Whether it would be enjoyable to watch
  • Your own interests, what would you like people to compete in
  • Once you have an idea of what sort of sports your people play, think about how they compete.
  • Are sports people amateur, semi-pro, or professional?
  • Are leagues formalised?
  • Are sports people highly regarded?
  • Are there societal rewards for performing well in sport?

(Kan knows there is more to be said but can give little more guidance on this topic, as sports fall largely outside his interests, sorry.)

For more guidance on setting up a domestic sports league please see this (extremely thorough) guide by the nation Nephara on NationStates:

https://www.nationstates.net/nation=nephara/detail=factbook/subcategory=111

Economics

With economic role-play, a number of thoughts come to mind:

  • What goods/services do you produce and consume?
  • How do your people buy/sell/trade goods and services domestically?
  • Is there a barter system, commodity-backed currency (like gold), fiat currency (like the US Dollar), an otherwise advanced currency system, or a system that distributes goods without need for currency? (see next subsection)
  • How do your people buy/sell/trade goods and services internationally?
  • Do you close off international trade, place quotas or tariffs, or do you just let trade happen?
  • Do you keep any currencies in reserve for international trade? Who performs exchanges in your country?
  • How does your central bank operate? A couple of types may be:
    • Non-existent (like Monaco)
    • Government-owned/controlled national bank (People's Bank of China)
    • Semi-independent central bank (Federal Reserve)
    • Completely independent central bank (Bundesbank)

If it exists, how might the central bank react to recessions/depressions, inflationary and deflationary shocks (think gas prices rapidly increasing/decreasing), and other economic activity?

  • Interest rates
  • Open market operations
  • Quantitative easing
  • Reserve requirements
  • Capital requirements
  • Credit guidance and controls
  • Exchange requirements
  • Margin requirements and other tools
  • More radical instruments (like “helicopter money”)
    • For more information, definitions, and some fun:
      • Central Banks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_bank
      • Federal Reserve data sets: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/
      • Federal Reserve game: https://www.sffed-education.org/chairthefed/
      • European Central Bank data sets: https://sdw.ecb.europa.eu/
      • European Central Bank game: https://www.ecb.europa.eu/ecb/educational/educational-games/economia/html/index.en.html

Do you have a stock market or commodity exchange market? (This could be a good way to add some flavor to your country while also forcing you to think up what kinds of goods and services you provide. You don’t need to go crazy with creating company financial statements (if you don’t want to), but even just a little list with items like “Company X: produces lumber” can go a long way to help build your economic world).

  • How are companies in your country owned?
  • Are workers involved in the management of a company? How about the wider economic planning?
  • Who is the economy there to serve?
  • Which hours and days do your people typically work?
  • Is there a holy day? Who is exempt?
  • Do most people work shifts? Or regular hours?
  • How much of the week is devoted to work, and how much to leisure?
  • Are there price controls or areas exempt from commerce?
  • Can people be guaranteed to be able to afford important and necessary commodities?
  • Are certain things allocated rather than bought?
  • Is anything simply free to take?

Currency

Not all nations use currency, some use more than one. To create a currency you will want to know what it is used for. Some purposes include

  • Day to day exchange - this is the cash in your pocket for getting all you need
  • Supplementary exchange - basic needs might be dealt with another way, in which case currency may be needed for the major items like cars, white goods, houses etc.
  • Organisational exchange - sometimes money is something citizens don't have to worry about at all, and is just used as a tool to coordinate production and distribution within and between organisations
  • International exchange - highly developed, left wing countries, sometimes choose to all but abolish currency and just use it in a promissory capacity to obtain resources they cannot produce enough of within their own borders, though most countries need to use it this way regardless of if they have

A country may use one currency for all of these, several for different aspects, or even reject the idea of currency altogether. If they do use currency, there are several models this can be based on, for instance:

  • Commodity Money - this is where an item of value itself is used as money
  • Commodity backed money - something representing a given quantity of commodity is used as money
  • Fiat Money - this is money that has value because authorities back it not because of any direct link to a commodity
  • Labour Vouchers - these represent a certain amount of work done and generally require a command economy
  • There are also gift economies, wherein what is needed by an individual is freely given to them with no guarantee of reward or remuneration.

Once you have decided how your currency works, it can be fun to design notes, coins, and bank cards for them, instructions will be available in How To.

Infrastructure

Modern people make extensive use of pipes, roads, railways, airports, cables, logistic chains, and transmissions. This all helps them to get their survival goods quickly and easily, to access information, to travel and experience, and to (if used that way) grow into better people. No two countries have the same infrastructure however and it will depend upon a number of things:

  • Economy - if your country doesn't have much then it can't devote resources into building as much infrastructure
  • Priority - has infrastructure ever been a focus of your government? For how long? How about your people? Companies?
  • Incentive - governments and powers have always tried to shape behaviour to suit a certain vision of the people of the nation(s) they have power over. If certain infrastructure helps achieve that goal, they are far more likely to prioritize it, it it undermines it, then they are more likely to find reasons no to
  • Country - does the terrain lend itself to that infrastructure? Is it already in use for something else the people would be loathe to give up?
  • Situation - where is your nation? Is it isolated or connected?

All of the above may cause you to do things in different ways than other countries. Types of infrastructure you may want to consider include:

  • Water - always vital, we can't live without it and it is used in many industries to boot
  • Food distribution - another necessity, where does the food in your citizens' bellies come from? Via where?
  • Housing - people also need protection from the elements, this could be personal, communal, state provided, or a number of other solutions
  • Information - primarily this will be data cables and transmissions now, but don't neglect the good old library and phone lines.
  • Healthcare - mostly covered in its own section, but people have to be able to get to it
  • Local transport - How do people get around in their day to day lives? Trams? Busses? Commuter rail? Bicycles? Cars? How about the mobility impaired?
  • National transport - communications between cities are vital in retaining a national identity, but also for day to day life. Is this mostly intercity rail? Road? Canal? Even domestic flights? Why?
  • International transport - it will help to know how your people regard travel for this. Is it a break? Or a growth opportunity? Should it be brief? For work only? Or should it be a major part of life? No matter the answers, people will need connections to other countries to do it. Ports, airports, international rail, and border crossings are worth thinking about here. Including how you treat people entering and leaving (other nations may return harsh treatment on your own people)
  • Mail and Logistics - objects have to be moved about somehow, and you will need the capacity to do so. Rail, cargo ports, roads, warehouses, and collection points will all be necessary, but it is also worth thinking about who is responsible for this both internationally and within your nation

Cities

Urban planning goes hand in hand with politics. Cities always reflect the political mood of the nation that builds them, and the economic priorities of those in charge, for instance:

  • A country that wants to boost its auto manufacturing will often use big, wide roads, and set housing a long way from shopping
  • Countries that want to ensure self reliance will make sure there is space to grow food near most accommodation
  • If psychological health is a priority, buildings will be set in nature, with lots of public utilities blended in snd space between buildings

If a town needs to be industrial, it will be built around two things in priority, the factory and the means to ship the produce where it is needed, other things will be fitted in where they can Likewise with raw material harvesting

All settlements become a ballance of six factors

  1. Living space
  2. Working space
  3. Public Utility
  4. Entertainment
  5. Nature
  6. Agriculture

Working out how you would generally balance those can tell you a lot about the nation you want to be.

Next work out how people get around the settlements, and how they get between them.

After you have decided on the sort of settlements you want to have, you will want to decide how specialised they should be, and then name them. Ideally use a scheme with some consistency to it for this.

Finally choose some locations for them within your nation and describe the settlements. If possible, find a few pictures that represent how you imagine the city looks.

Health

Health is a vital area of an individual's life, and one prone to a near limitless array of problems. On a population scale, as well as for the obvious and extremely important ethical reasons, governments get involved in health to ensure productivity, military fitness, overall quality of life, economic activity, and longevity.

In broad terms, healthcare systems can be divided into three types of mechanistic operations:

  • Market systems - generally highly inefficient and resulting in mass inequality, nations that use these systems tend to do so for ideological reasons or because of corruption. They operate via coercion and profit extraction
  • Mixed systems - these use a statutory insurance system backed by a system of private top ups, these tend to perform well for patient satisfaction and ability to seek the kind of care desired, but less well in terms of outcomes per amount spent. They also frequently neglect rare conditions.
  • Universal Provision Systems - these systems are funded out of general taxation, and work upon the principle of being free at the point of need. They generally create low levels of health inequality, and good overall outcomes for a low cost, however they are criticised for lacking freedom of choice with which kind of care to seek, and for seeming sterile.

Which you choose is likely to depend, in large part, on ideology, however the health problems they are needed for will depend upon your nation:

  • Climate: certain diseases perform well in different conditions
  • Work: Manual labour, especially with lax health and safety is likely to result in frequent physical injury
  • Heavy industry, especially without strong environmental regulations will lead to respiratory and developmental conditions through air and water pollution,Office work, likely to cause inactivity strains, obesity, Agriculture, likely to cause wear on the joints and skin problems
  • Diet: No diet is perfect, some lack nutrients, or overload on others, some are too energy dense, some make the body work for the energy, what you eat, no matter what it is, puts you at risk of something
  • Genetics: different populations are prone to different things, this can arise because of long term exposure to their opposite, or a side effect of a generally beneficial mutation, or through not having a wide enough gene pool, through infections, or just random chance
  • Fitness: keeping fit lowers risk of many systemic conditions, and generally means a longer life, bit can also lead to many injuries of its own
  • Epidemics: an infection can change how a body responds to thongs permanently, it can even leave parts of itself in the dna or stay dormant in the body. Old infections can lead to life long health problems for an individual, and for a society, leaving it more vulnerable to other things
  • Health education: simply knowing about how to stay healthy makes a greater portion of the population take an extra step or two that lets them be closer to whatever society considers healthiest at the time
  • Sex education: appropriate and responsible sexual relations can spare many injuries and diseases, education can make more people think about howbefore they do
  • Culture: Standards for what is considered healthy have varied between cultures and over time, each coming with its own sets of problems, and each affecting different demographics differently. Bare in mind what those pressures are, and how strong they might be

Military

Think of how nations on Earth have their militaries. Many are geared up for defence only, with a very limited capacity to intervene overseas. Others are mainly militia-based. Only a very few have almighty militaries that can make the earth quake (US, China, Russia). Others have smaller militaries that are still very formidable enough on a regional scale (Germany, Koreas, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil). Some have very little military power at all.

  • What purposes do you intend your military for?
  • Who makes decisions about your military?

Note that with each of the countries above, they have a particular focus: the more resources go towards the military, the less are able to be used in society. This is why many of the nations with the most militaristic outlooks have widespread poverty, crumbling infrastructure etc.

This will be a core part of your 'doctrine'. A doctrine is a military's goal and the ideas behind it. Let's focus just on the goal, to start with.

  • Who is the military there to protect?
  • From which threats? Are any of these culturally exaggerated
  • Does the nation consider itself complete?
  • Are there aggressive nations nearby?
  • Would the country like to expand?
  • With the basic goal in mind, think about the resources your nation has, its attitude to human life, and its foreign policy.
  • Is the military professional?
  • Is it voluntary?
  • Would the military be well funded?
  • What would constitute 'acceptable losses' for your military? Is deliberate defeat ever practiced?
  • What role does surprise take?
  • How does the command structure in your military operate? Is there civilian oversight?
  • Is gorilla warfare utilised?

Every military has its specialisations. With the above in mind, choose one or two for your own military. Think about the terrain and culture your nation has, and choose some that fit those characteristics.

Some examples: US: Air and amphibious. Russia: Fleets of tanks. Britain: Light fast-strike infantry. North Korea: Massive guns. Having chosen, you may then wish to design ships, tanks, boats, armour, aircraft, or other armorments. This can be done in a number of different ways, outlined in the how to section.

You may also want to consider if your military has a role at home, and in disaster relief, as well as the cultural impact it has

  • Can it arrest people?
  • What is its logistics operation like?
  • What portion of the population is in the military?
  • Is the military highly disciplined and regimented?
  • Can soldiers refuse an order?
  • Is there any democratic control of operations or policy?
  • Is support available for retired soldiers?
  • How do civilians regard your military?
  • How would Foreigners regard it?
  • When would it be deployed on home soil? Abroad?
  • Is anyone barred from joining the military? Why?

Miscellaneous

Where do weights and measures derive from? Are they based on the human body? A mathematical pattern? How easy are they to use?

Nations have flaws, what are some of yours? (Note: It is strongly advised to resist the temptation to make your nation perfect)

Huge, wasteful projects (follys) have been a recurring feature of history, what ridiculous things have your people, and your nation, invested in unwisely? Think about infrastructure, buildings, and appliances

How to

Create “twitter” posts

First, think about who is tweeting from your nation, and what they’re going to tweet about. Write it up before you start.

Create a profile image (circular) for this person, and any image you want to “attach” to the tweet.

Go to twitter, and find a post. (You don’t need an account!)

Click on it so you get something like this:


Right click and select Inspect Element:

Use the Pick Element from Page tool:

The things that you need to select and then edit are highlighted beside (note, you cannot change profile images or images here, this will be done later.)


In each case press this button shown: until you are met with the text to edit.


Once you have edited all you can, take a screenshot.

Paste that screenshot into any image editing programme (GIMP is great and free), and crop to size.

Grab the profile picture you made, and resize and move it so that it covers the original perfectly (and do the same with any additional image(s), if applicable)

Export the image.

Arts

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Diplomacy

Embassy application

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Construct a Language

Think about how you want it to sound – guttural (like German)? Tonal (like Chinese)? Somewhere in the middle?

Most of our RP is based on writing, so let us turn our attention to the alphabet. Do you want your own alphabet, or an existing one? If you want to make your own, look below for some pointers:

What is the alphabet based on?

A sound per character?

Some base sounds ascribed to characters with others made from a combination of them?

Characters that represent objects or whole words?

A combination?

How do you want it to look? Bear in mind that it must be able to be written in such a way that isn’t unnecessarily time consuming. Draw up some ideas, and using what you just decided above, start assigning them. I find a table really useful.

Who would have used the written word? Was it (until recently (or not!)) more exclusive, kept purely for the elite, the academics or the priesthood? Was it used more widely in the populace? The more widely used it was, the simpler the written form would need to be.

Once you have finished creating your alphabet, give each character a latin equivalent that can be used in transliteration (writing it in latin alphabet based on how it sounds), for that will allow you to use your language online (albeit in a slightly bastardised form).

There are some cases, however, where you can use your own language in RP, especially in more image-based methods. A handy way to make this easier is to turn your language into a font that can be used in any document writing programme!

I’d recommend Birdfont as it’s both free and intuitive.

Just make an electronic design of each character in paint, open office, office etc.

Then paste them into the assigned slots.

Once you’re done, export and place it into your document software’s font folder, and you’re good to go.

Once you’ve fiddled with alphabets, it’s time to start making words. I’d really say that trying to make words for the sake of it is a bad idea. What is a slightly less soul-destroying thing to do is to make a dictionary from your language into your native IRL language, and slowly fill it in with words as you create and use them in other aspects of your RP. I’d recommend making a factbook on it, so others can see your work as it develops!

Design a Flag

Use a colour palette you have already decided on, if possible, but be ready to change it as the design suggests to you throughout

For the most part, flags need to be RED. Not the colour, though socialist flags are welcomed:

Relevant: part of your cultural tradition, ideally tapping into symbolism that your people would associate to themselves

Easy to replicate: you can't expect people to respect a flag if they never saw, didn't associate to anything

Distinctive: if you are confused about who a flag represents, or which values, you are less likely to fight for or under it

To design a flag, make it BLACK. Whilst I would like to promote anarchism, that is not what this is either, rather, its a design order

Background: generally called the field, the background of your flag should be either a clear singular colour, or zones in distinct areas. There should not be a lot of intricacy or detail, and it should all be large

Lines: these are not small, individual lines, but rather the large sorts you see in places like scandinavian flags, or that of the USA

Areas: the last of the big blocks of colour, these should be in obvious areas, and often the basis for any more intricate symbols

Crest: any more detailed, intricate work. Should ideally be simple in design, and geometric, positioned either in the middle of the flag, at a third, or in the middle of an area, intersection of lines, or in the middle of a zone. There should always be space around the crest.

Kinetics: think about how the flag would look on a pole, or out on a railing. Keep doing this until you are satisfied.

Design currency

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Create flora and fauna for your nation

Choose what climate your nation has (will be related to where you are on the map), if you haven’t already. I would recommend having a desired climate in mind whilst you are choosing a place on the map - the map gods will help you find the place that fits!)

Research! Having the knowledge to be able to make something reasonable is always good. (We’re not after hyper-realism, just something that is both plausible and balanced.)

Is there a real life plant/animal etc. that is close to (or was, if they are extinct) what you’re after? If you want an animal or plant that fulfils a certain role, look up what flora/fauna already does those things around the world (or did). Take special notice to the animals that live in a similar climate/terrain as your nation/region.

Work out what makes the flora/fauna right for its environment - if it doesn’t have the right adaptations for your nation’s terrain and climate, it can’t live!

Please try to keep in the realms of what is actually possible with what we know of biology (there is some leeway, obviously, but don’t take it too far!)

If you see (in the Library of Parliament page etc.) fauna or flora from another nation that you want to have in yours, talk to them! Most of the time they’ll be fine with it, though it is also dependent on the distance between you and that nation: if there is a large distance, then the animal will not be native, though it can still have been introduced at a later date by settlers etc.

If you’re in any doubt about what you’ve created, whether it's realistic, or properly balanced, talk to one of our Domestic Affairs ministers/staff. They’ll be more than happy to help, or to point you towards someone who might have more knowledge on a particular area.

Examples from Harndon:

Ashkelun: Pony-like creatures with shaggy fur and stocky frames. They have grippy paws instead of hooves to help them move quickly and quietly in the dense forests of their home. More than capable of being excellent mounts if trained properly, and if their rider has a build similar to the small, lithe Harndonians which are famous for using them.

Forest Wyverns: Yes, like the wyverns from legend. Dragon-like creatures with two legs, two wings and a long, snakelike body. Their scales are feathered around the neck and tail, and usually their colours can vary from dappled green to black, dependent on the environment in which that subspecies of forest wyvern developed in. Adult forest wyverns can be anywhere from 4m to 7m in length, with a wingspan of 5m to 8m.

It is possible to tame a wyvern, though this takes years, and is only possible if the wyvern and the human grow up together.

Wyverns have an average lifespan of up to 45 years, and are at the top of the food chain. They prey on almost any of the smaller mammals within the ecosystem (avoiding bears, lynx and wolves.)

External Platforms

The Library of Parliament

https://parliament.slugov.com/index.php?title=Main_Page

A wiki site created and maintained by Anaaxes, we use this to record important information both in character and about the governance of the region. If you are curious about a nation, look it up here, and it will show both their history of involvement in the SLU, and, in many cases, some RP information about them. All NPC information is recorded here (when kan occasionally gets around to it)

NAR's RP Sites

Nationbook

https://slu.bhweb.ws/nationbook/

Currently still in concept stage, this site will allow you to show all sorts of information about your nation in an interactive way, and to look up the same for other SLUan nations

SLUstocks

https://slu.bhweb.ws/slustocks/

Developed by North American Republics, SLUstocks is a stock market simulator for the region. Nations can apply to have their large companies listed, and see how their values fluctuate over time. This can help to make your nation feel more alive, and inspire stories for you.

The forum

https://sluforum.com/portal.php

Technically the fourth forum the SLU has had, the current forum, developed by North American Republics has only recently become the region's forum.

In times gone by, the forums were the go-to location for role-play, though they have steadily declined in importance over time for this use.

That said, the forums are still the most suitable place for posting certain types of roleplay, and contain the reference directories for maps, embassies, and a number of other things.

Types you might see on the forums include:

  • Question threads: these provide stimulation for things about your nation to consider
  • Embassy programs: where nations establish formal relations with each other
  • Factbooks: though generally on NationStates, and if not, then on the Library of parliament, however, some nations prefer to put their country information on the forums
  • City of Culture: a special scenario where a lot of information and organisation is required
  • News Archives: for nations who choose to save their work in one place for posterity
  • Creativity contests: to keep them all in one place
  • Special scenarios: these could take any form

Discord

Our main communication platform, and where a significant portion of our RP happens, as well as social chatter, and significant amounts of regional affairs, but this is an RP guide, so we will focus on those channels

RP Discussion

The only out-of-character channel in the roleplay section of the discord, here you discuss ideas about your nation, and the world of Miyana, you can even start planning events you would like to see the SLU do. It is highly encouraged that all roleplayers in the SLU hang out here and run ideas past each other frequently, inspiration has often struck this way, and refined ideas are regularly produced. If nothing else, it helps encourage others to join in if this channel is nice and active.

News

A great place to illustrate aspects of your nation that can sometimes be hard to describe, news posts are written in-character, and can show attitudes of your nation or various groups within it. They can also show how your nation regards access to information and potentially even start diplomatic incidents if an unfavorable portrayal of another nation somehow gets published.

Diplomacy

For In-Character interactions between representatives of nations conducted via letter or communique. This can be vital for telling a story or for forming new bonds. Many nations, just like individuals, have suffered preventable tragedies simply by not talking to their neighbours.

Symbology

Previously called Vexillology (or, affectionately, Flag Porn), this channel is for showing off and discussing all RP related visual arts, be that logos for sports teams and companies, or flags. Visual arts often end up in the main RP-discussion channel as well, but this is their home.

Future Versions of this Guide

This guide will be kept under review with the aim of being periodically updated and expanded. Planned features for future versions currently include:

  • Government Revenue (tax and other sources)
  • Government Expenditure
  • Toolmaking
  • Expanded FAQ section
  • Limitations section

Credits

Authors

Additional Contributors

Editors

A Ministry of Domestic Affairs Publication