Puppet State
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Basic Information

A puppet state represents a nation whose government is effectively controlled by a foreign power - this can include the governments of self-administrating colonies and autonomous regions, although the latter may not consider themselves such. Degrees of control vary, from the puppets being little more than managers reporting to the controlling power to near protectorate status where the puppet government is left to their own devices so long as they conform to the general principles of their masters. Degrees of autonomy may also vary by field - a puppet state may, for example, be free to manage its own civilian affairs as it wishes but essentially under occupation by its controller with its military and foreign affairs entirely alienated.



Game and Story Use

  • Odds are that there will be one or more revolutionary groups trying to overthrow the puppet government - with the player characters supporting either faction or just trying to balance them against each other.
    • Especially if the PCs become aware that there is no real possibility of defeating the controlling power and/or that the price of doing so would be horrifically high. The players may then find themselves trying to make sure that the level of unrest doesn't become such that the controllers are "forced" to intervene.
    • Of course, law enforcement in a puppet state might contain a lot of people who aren't that interested in protecting the interests of the controlling power as long as it isn't provoked too much.
    • Persuading the foreign power to change the government (or at least sanction the change) may help - history is full of puppet rulers who have been suddenly and surprisingly put out of work when their patrons got a better offer from the people they were meant to be ruling. A controlling power might well accept a new puppet government if it furthers their interests.
  • Maybe the controlling power is not a foreign government - but some other agency pulling the strings behind the scenes, such as vampires, demons, aliens or even stranger beings.
  • Controlling powers are a possible source of enigmatic minions for puppet rulers - usually in the shape of a liaison or "adviser" who is nominally there to assist them but actually serves to keep them under observation and control. This may well be the person that affects the changes when PCs demonstrate a better alternative to the puppet's patron.
  • In a fantasy or science fiction setting, one intelligent species which has conquered others might install puppet governments consisting of members of the local species to reduce tensions - while making it clear that it is still them who are ultimately in charge.
  • The conqueror left a lot of the existing power structure in place (whether by terms of a surrender agreement, as a reward to those who picked the winning side, to reduce tensions as previously stated, or because ripping out the old administration and building a new one was more work than they wanted to do), and just installed a new ruler or made it clear to the old one what would happen if the tribute stopped coming in.
    • The outsiders see the puppet state as a province. Back then, they considered harmonizing the law codes and bureaucracies a problem for future magistrates. Today, the entire thing is a mess of exactly the sort that can hide people acting against the controlling power.
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