Culture, Government and Law

As the PCs charge about my little sandbox, I need to tell them about the local official language, government, and laws (oh all right then, weapons restrictions). As usual in such situations, I use the contemporary real world as a template. Is that accurate? Who knows. Does it give answers which are intuitively familiar to the players? Probably. Is it fast and easy? Oh yes.

For the most part, it’s clear which present-day nation I should use as an example for each of the cultures in the Stars Without Number rulebook; for English I selected the UK based on the cuisine described, and for Arabic I chose Egypt as it has the biggest population among Arabic-speaking countries and influences many of the others.

Then I added Turkish to the mix because many of the worlds in my Dark Nebula campaign turned out to be Turkish. You’ll see a Turkish cultural writeup along SWN lines shortly.

THE CULTURES

Government: The notes in parenthesis after the government description are the SWN Core Edition government type (the word) and the Classic Traveller government type (the number or letter).

Weapons Restrictions: Legal weapons usually require a licence which depends on passing background checks and possibly other tests, and takes weeks or longer to get. Unlawful possession of weapons is generally punished by years to decades in prison, possibly with a fine as well; Egypt might let you off with a month in jail, China might execute you. (“Rifles” in this context means hunting or sporting weapons, not semi-auto battle rifles. Nice try.) The number in parenthesis after the weapons restrictions is the Classic Traveller law level.

Arabic

Template: Arab Republic of Egypt. Official Language: Arabic. Government: Republic (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Handguns permitted (7, sort of).

Chinese

Template: People’s Republic of China. Official Language: Mandarin. Government: Communist state (Oligarchy or Theocracy? C or D?). Weapons Restrictions: No firearms permitted (7).

English

Template: United Kingdom. Official Language: English. Government: Constitutional monarchy (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles and shotguns permitted (5).

Indian

Template: Republic of India. Official Languages: English, Hindi. Government: Federal republic (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles, shotguns, handguns and semi-auto assault weapons permitted (3).

Japanese

Template: State of Japan. Official Language: Japanese. Government: Parliamentary with constitutional monarchy (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: All firearms and swords prohibited (8).

Nigerian

Template: Federal Republic of Nigeria. Official Language: English. Government: Federal republic (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles and shotguns permitted (5).

Russian

Template: Russian Federation. Official Language: Russian. Government: Federation(Oligarchy? 7?). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles and shotguns permitted (5).

Spanish

Template: Kingdom of Spain. Official Language: Spanish. Government: Parliamentary monarchy (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles and shotguns permitted (5).

Turkish

Template: Republic of Turkey. Official Language: Turkish. Government: Republican parliamentary democracy (Republic, 4). Weapons Restrictions: Rifles, shotguns and handguns permitted (4).

REFLECTIONS

All PCs speak English for a reason. It’s an official language for three of the eight basic cultures in SWN, in the case of Nigeria and India because they have literally hundreds of languages and dialects each, and you need some sort of official language.

Not only is the representative democracy the default and most intuitive option for a planetary government, it’s also the commonest type among SWN cultures; except for the PRC and the Russian Federation, all of them have some form of it.

If you have no special plans for a world’s weapons restrictions, you won’t go far wrong by assuming that all firearms are prohibited except for shotguns and hunting rifles, which require a licence, and attract unwelcome attention from local law enforcement in urban areas.

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