When reading about kingdoms, people usually want to learn more about just how the country functions, the characteristics of the state (busy trade? economy, military, government etc), its citizens and their unique culture than about say the climate or landscape. Kingdom overviews should both be a) accessible to total foreigners to the area, and b) an easy reference source for other developers. If information is organized in a simple, structured way which is suited to the purpose at hand, it sticks. For instance it shouldn’t be hard to hunt for bits of information in a kingdom overview – especially if you are developing an adjacent region! This comprehensive guideline on what sections to cover should help developers finding their way on how to write kingdom and state entries:
How to write names
If you describe something, always write the first letter of the thing/being and in this case the person's full name including a possible title or surname in capitalized form (e.g. "Thar the Great", "King Redbeard", "Captain Dimeye Beringstin") throughout the entry. On the other hand always use lowercase letters if you mention other things/beings which are mentioned within the entry ("dragonfly", "ranlesh" or "black rose").
Keep it as Santharian as possible
Also try to make your people as unique "Santharian" as possible. Try to use names which represent the culture they come from, not simply random, exchangeable names. Also if you describe a person there should be a reason why this man or woman got his/her own entry in the Compendium, so try to make clear why this person has become such a celebrity.
HOW TO DO KINGDOMS AND STATES
What is the title used in official documents? Any variations? How do the citizens call their country? How do other nations refer to the state? Any shortened names?
The purpose of this section is to describe the exact geographical location of the country. Neighbouring states, key landmarks and kingdom borders should be mentioned. Please include a map if possible. It would be ideal if you also have some sort of development map at hand which is used during further development. This doesn't need to be a map drawn for the site, but it should be available somewhere at the Forum (continent forum) and serve for reference for others and the developer himself/herself.
Here you describe the place itself. Think of this more along a birds-view depiction of the landscape, kingdom and its towns. An option is to be as atmospheric as you can be in your writing to bring the place alive in your readers’ imagination. Try at least to mention the landscape, description of houses (if there is a distinct style; if there are quite a number of architectural styles do not mention them all here! Try to keep the kingdom overview as simple and straightforward as possible – remember you are writing for people who know nothing about this place not a fellow scholar on the subject!), natural surroundings.
Coat of Arms
Describe the official coat of arms, if any, and perhaps add why it looks like this, what the symbols mean and what historical, cosmological or mythical significance they have. If there are more than one, try to give a brief description of all or mention the most important or frequently used one, make an entry on the various coat of arms used in your kingdom and link it here.
People and Culture
This section can perhaps be regarded as a “Tribes Overview”, where you explain who lives in the kingdom a bit. Unless you have a pressing reason, the passage should be precise and brief per tribe. Recommended to be contained in this section are the following:
* Culture Abstract
There could be several tribes and even races living there (just think of Santharia!), and this determines the culture in general. But remember: each of the tribes already has (or should soon have ) their Tribe Entries.
Social life, unique cultural elements/rituals, education can be mentioned here if there is an established one for the whole of the kingdom (i.e. if there is a common education system in place throughout the kingdom write about that here instead of mentioning how each tribe prepares its individuals for life. Same goes for the culture: Does the culture of the kingdom greatly resemble one of the tribes’ or is it something like ‘more than the sum of the parts?)
Holidays, festivals and observances celebrated throughout the state too can be revealed here.
* Tribes Overview
What’s important here is the rough outline of what defines these people and their orientation in life. Below are a few ideas you might wish to touch on. You can decide for yourself if you want to make a separate sub-section for each. That depends entirely on the complexity of your kingdom’s society and your plans!
a) Appearance & Characteristics
Physical and psychological characteristics as well as their perspective towards life go here. If several tribes occupy your kingdom please list & describe them in order.
b) Pursuits & Occupations
What do these people do with their lives? What do they do to earn a living? Mention only the most common and important ones (Avennorian pearl divers, Caltharian dyers etc.) – remember that this is an overview! It is impossible, awfully time-consuming – and unnecessary – to talk about every single occupation known to these people. Broadly speaking are these people farmers, traders, warriors or have primarily other interests? You may also wish to mention a few ‘unique’ occupations if there are any (like Aesteran “Soothers” and Eyelian “Beastmasters”).
How is the state or kingdom organized? Around one person or several? How is the political hierarchy structured? Strong central authority? Unified or federal? What type of government does the kingdom have? Is it a monarchy, republic, a tribal one? Is it an empire, a normal kingdom or a city-state? What are the ruling principles: democracy, tyranny, absolute authority etc. Anything unusual about the politics or the government of this kingdom? And optionally: Can you see any major drawbacks or flaws?
Weather conditions. This is especially important for agricultural societies but it will generally influence modes of living (housing styles and city planning), production or even their culture and psychology (ever wondered why Holthans look so miserable the whole time?)
What is the major source of income? What is the economy based on? What type is it - e.g. feudal, entrepreneurial (free market), state-controlled? This abstract should be followed by the following sections:
This section should contain some details about minerals and raw materials, fauna and flora. Make a different section for each of the above. Try to be as concise and close to a bullet style (though of course with proper sentences) as possible. This should be an informative section, one which other developers can a quick glance to see what resources the kingdom has.
This is again is meant to be a quick reference for developers working on adjacent places or trade networks.
Give some general information about the production system. For instance if this is mainly an agricultural society: how fields are allotted, who works there, who owns the fields (government, monarchy or individuals?), where does the product go. I.e. does the state control or own production facilities? If so how is the produce allotted, collected? Also: What are the main items of production? In what quality and quantity are they produced – barely enough to support the populace or in abundance? Any commodities the kingdom is famous for (like the Zhunite with their olive oil & wine and the Anpagan with their tobacco and perfume)?
What do we absolutely need to know? What are their specialities or items the people living in the kingdom/state trade most frequently? Or are they a secluded people and prefer to depend on themselves for survival, shut to the outside world? Remember trade affects prosperity, affluence prompts refinement and sophisticated pleasures – so whatever you write here is going to influence your whole kingdom and tribe(s)!
If you’re feeling really cooperative, you may include a table of major imports and exports (if possible with the trading partners) – remember to consult the other developers in the region first though!
This section is of greater importance in aggressive or expansionist (empires for instance) states. How is the military structured? Is the kingdom known for a specific army type (for instance Aca-Santerra and the Anpagan Rebuplic are major players in the Nybelmarian seas whereas the Krath Empire once had a legendary land army)? Are there any legions, soldier types unique to this kingdom?
Once again the overview rule: Making sure that the reader sees what the prevalent religion is (if there is any – or there may be several!), what are its outstanding characteristics (you could include here: the deities and their roles, the belief outlines, its prophet or founder (if it is of importance like Prophetess Neehra is for the Azhorhria of Aeruillin) - Are there any religious holidays, festivals, observances?
Although this features more prominently in theocratic states, you may wish to mention why the religion is of relevance to the kingdom (e.g. are the citizens’ passionate believers, zealots, bigots or do they have a very relaxed attitude to belief – by the way: does the religion have a holy book or text? Do clerics play an important part in daily life? What about government affairs? Do religious teachings have a say over way things are done? Does it constitute the basis of the "moral code"?)
Important Achievements (optional)
You can mention here for what exactly the kingdom or its citizens are famous for - like an important building which was erected, inventions, political breakthroughs etc.
From the day the kingdom was created to the day it was destroyed or to the present, a general outline of all events happening in between should be given here. It’s recommended to make some sort of table for the history and you should follow this scheme:
Date (e.g. 10.000 b.S.), Caption (e.g. Battle at XYZ), Description (What exactly happened in this battle, written in present tense)
Items you may include in your History overview:
* Origin/development of the kingdom (rise, expansion, golden age, fall).
* Important people (plus living dates) or events in this tribe's or race's history.
* Any unique/important cities, castles, strongholds etc. built by the tribe/race should also be put in the History section.
Don’t feel obligated to mention all of the mentioned optional sections! Just decide on what is crucial or what we need to know to better understand the kingdom (remember this is primarily an entry about your kingdom). You may pick some of these or add some of your own! Good luck! If you follow these guidelines I'm sure developing kingdoms and states is much easier and will produce better results. - In this regard: Happy developing!
Information provided by Coren FrozenZephyr