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Basic Information

A theocracy is a form of government dominated by some form of religious establishment - or perhaps one directly ruled by the worshiped entity in question. Despotisms ruled by a king who also claims divinity (or even a monarchy with a strong focus on divine right) are an interesting point, especially in settings with very low end deities kicking about.



Game and Story Use

  • A theocratic government can play any role from villain to good guy, depending on the religion involved (and on how that religion is actually put into practice). And in settings where some form of "divine" magic exist, they can make especially potent enemies or allies.
  • An interesting version would be a largely autarchic state with little or no government but a strong theologically derived legal code such as sharia or the Mosaic Law.
  • The literal theocracy - where a god rules directly - requires a communicative and probably interventionist god. It's almost certainly also autocracy, especially if the god has the mental power to act as an entire government on Their own.
  • Where gods tend to be more secretive, there are potential overlaps with virtually every other form of government: a Technocracy based on memorization of holy scriptures and theological debate, a Demarchy based on the assumption that the god will make Their will known through random events, a Magocracy ruled by divine spellcasters…
    • Exact form aside, citizenship will likely be tied more or less directly to membership of the state religion, with non-adherents relegated to limited or non-citizen roles or resident alien status. This was, incidentally, normal for many real world nations as late as the twentieth century … and actually remains the case in some places into the present day.
  • Regardless of hero/villain status, and the tendency or lack thereof of the god to issue commandments, any theocracy is likely to end up as a religious version of an ethnocracy. Quite possibly both at once if the religion is tied to a particular ethnic group.
  • Any kind of theocratic state is going to blur the line between schism and civil war.
  • Unless someone is able to take the role of mouthpiece of the gods (such as a "god-emperor") a polytheistic theocracy could look very odd indeed - probably the least weird option would be for the various priesthoods to administer their deity's portfolios in government (so that the head of the pantheon's high priest was de-facto head of state, the priests of the god of merchants look after business and trade, the priests of the god of war run the military etc.).
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