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Elves are anarchists, Dwarves are communists

Content of the article: "Elves are anarchists, Dwarves are communists"

Laws and economics, you probably ignore them at your table. It's just not central to a game about exploring dungeons and killing dragons.

The following is presented not for you to incorporate into your game, but rather for you to muse over and say "oh yeah, that's kind of interesting."

Elves are anarchists. You won't find shops on their streets, and while they have currency and trade, it is not the primary way they exchange goods. They feed, clothe, and arm each other as needed in whatever way seems logical. If you are welcome in their city, food and lodging is provided. If you are not welcome then you are already leaving or fighting.

They do not have laws, if you offend the community then the community reacts. Perhaps a few individuals will decide what reparations are to be paid, or a trusted community member will decide the punishment. Elves follow respected leaders, not dusty old rules.


Dwarven Clans are basically small communist nations. Any wealth acquired by an individual immediately becomes the clan's property, and resources are redistributed by Elders based on need, merit, and social status. Trade occurs between clans and with outsiders, not within the clan. Codified rules govern conduct, and are much stricter for clan members than for outsiders. Kings occasionally rule over multiple clans, but more often cooperation between clans is based on treaty, social expectation, and tradition.


Halflings are agrarian capitalists. Individuals own farms, homes, shops. Wealthier individuals tend to own land and hire labourers. Barter and currency trade occurs within the society, and currency trade without. Simple sets of laws are enforced by local elected burgomasters and backed by informal militias. When laws do not cover all cases burgomasters apply common sense and improvise. Apologetic and helpful offenders tend to be treated leniently.

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Gnomes are capitalists and form loose societies when their numbers grow in an area. They are often wealthy and spend money frequently, sometimes eccentrically. Close family members buy from each other with no expectation of a discount. They do not recognize the distinction between barter and currency. Most large homes double as shops and are willing to rent rooms to travellers.

Councils are selected from the community by vote or random ballot from a list of nominees. They tend to accumulate massive libraries of laws but do not rigorously enforce them, instead relying on social pressure and council rulings to keep the peace. Trespassers or villains hostile to the community may suddenly find themselves guilty of dozens of bizarre infractions. Punishment often involves embarrassing or impractical chores in addition to monetary reparations.


Humans vary. PCs spend a lot of time in human lands, so this is important. Most settings and adventures describe human settings like liberal, capitalist societies. There are shops to buy whatever you need, you can take loans, and guards patrol the streets enforcing codified common laws. Local rulers won't bother the players unless they do something to really piss them off. This is a bit anachronistic but it works well for a game.

If you want to add some historical fluff include elements of feudalism and mercantilism. Maybe the town is property of the local lord, you need her permission to buy land, own a sword, or cast spells. Maybe the trade of some goods is prohibited, only one merchant can trade in armour, or it's illegal to sell foreign goods unless you spend the proceeds locally. Maybe the laws are vague, differing wildly from duchy to duchy, and are enforced inconsistently by the lord and his sheriffs rather than fairly by courts and judges.

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Tieflings are liberal capitalists like humans, with elements of mercantilism and feudalism depending on who is calling the shots. There's a higher emphasis on contracts, and loans and investment are more common than even in human lands. Black market goods in other lands are often legal here, including slavery and trading of souls.

Laws are strictly observed, although it can be very hard for outsiders to know the laws, and many protections and rights only apply if you know how to invoke them. Hiring a lawyer is advisable. Laws of devils and The Nine Hells carry weight, as do the whims of the local ruler. Tiefling societies are exceptional in that courts will openly side against the local lord without fear of repercussions when adhering to the letter of the law, especially on matters of contract.


Orcs and Goblins are Hordes. Everything "belongs" to the leaders, but individuals keep some of what they loot, until they consume or trade it, or someone stronger takes it. There are no codified laws, with the leader enforcing a few loose rules and subjecting the horde to their whims. Regardless of how succession works a leader must always be ready to defend their position. The Horde is generally hostile to outsiders, but trade occurs when it is more practical than fighting.

Source: reddit.com

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