Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
W.H Auden, Epitath on a Tyrant
When I first started thinking about S&T, I knew I wanted it to be political. I rapidly felt the need to have a kind of pendulum effect between two eras in the setting’s fake history: a strict authoritarian rule which would naturally be followed by a period of lawlessness and civil disarray. This leads me to some more (vague) thoughts:
- some people are genuinely nostalgic about the period when there was stricter control and they forget or just don’t want to remember how it was so terribly oppressive
- tyranny really is just around the corner, a few unfortunate events and a well-placed charismatic figure is all it takes
- It’s all about scale, local leadership is far more accountable
- The absence of local leadership, be it forcefully removed or just lacking, is awfully detrimental to the people
The authoritarian rule I mentioned is in fact divided between three tyrants, one after another. I don’t yet feel the need (or I’m too lazy maybe) to be very precise about these characters as the actual play will be at a point further in time, but I have to create some modicum of lore about them. Could come in handy.
So here’s a list of quirks I can use to flesh out these tyrants. I’ll keep the fantasy stuff for another time. I didn’t invent anything new really, just stole eccentricities from a bunch of dead dudes (thank you Muammar Gaddafi, you’re malignant life helped my purpose).
The Tyrant has:
- burned down part of the city to make some space for a project of his.
- a harem with dozens of multiracial concubines.
- the habit of staging fake combat/sport/art performances where he can demonstrate his rather mediocre skills.
- female bodyguards in very alluring attires.
- written a treatise on proper behavior that is now set in stone everywhere.
- orchestrated a massacre of a minority group.
- the deep conviction that his people loves him, even with a rebellion raging all around.
- taken all of his armies in one big convoy to show off at a neighboring power’s frontier before going back.
- built a 50′ statue of himself.
- built a 50′ statue of his favorite pet animal.
- been pleased that the people chant whenever they see him.
- claimed that he received mandate from the gods.
- demanded that be erased all things concerning a famous hero.
- claimed to be the rightful successor of a famous hero.
- the habit of keeping exotic/dangerous pet animals.
- one or more secret prisons, nobody knows what happens inside.
- a few delusional pet theories that he likes to share in long-winded public speeches.
- the habit of receiving young virgins at least once a week.
- banned a long list of goods that he personally dislikes.
- a favorite sport team that doesn’t seem to be able to lose no matter how bad they play.
- a crush on a well-known beauty. She fled in exile.
- large portrays of him on the buildings of the city. Its a capital offense to put graffitis on them.
- the monopoly on a luxury good. It used to be available, now it’s his.
- once ordered a man to be executed. He didn’t chant with the crowd.
- once ordered a man to be executed, he wore a hat that was more ornate than his.
- once ordered a man to be executed. He coveted the man’s wife. She killed herself.
- once ordered a man to be executed, he was way too ugly.
- once ordered a man to be executed, he remembered him of someone.
- once ordered a man to be executed, he was his best friend.
- once ordered a man to be executed but then felt generous. He commuted the sentence to prison for life. The man was never seen again.
- built an extensive tomb to be buried with riches and his entire staff of (killed) servants.
- a bath made of gold.
- an artificial lake excavated in order to please his favorite concubine.
- often said that he doesn’t hold any power. The people have power. He’s merely the Guide.
- spies everywhere. Watch your words.
- no trust for spies. Not one bit.
- secretly helped the rebels organize so that he could better crushed them.
- named his half-wit older brother to the office of Minister of Public Health.
- banished his youngest son after a failed attempt on his life. He loves him very much.
- always consulted oracles before taking his most important decisions.