Friday, 13 March 2015

Politics in Hell; or, The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast

Hell has been a democracy ever since the Infernal Revolution in the Year of the Goat, though don't make too much of this, since it is always the Year of the Goat in hell. (The next year is the Year of the Rat. The last year is the Year of the Fly.) This is exactly the kind of dumb, laboured satire that they love in Hell. "Ooh, we took this thing that you thought was good and made it bad somehow! We had a birthday party where all the presents were rusty nails!" Very clever, Hell. Anyway they run on a vaguely Westminsterian system, though adjusted to make it more Hellish, of course. ("Isn't it bad enough already? Maybe they could take lessons from us???") There is a Prime Minister of Hell and six hundred and sixteen electorates, each with its own representative. Each electorate is themed differently, so that one will be Boolbellissri, the Hell of Salt Water, one will be Aurrocoyox, the Hell of Hungry Earth, &c. Each one used to hold responsibility for a different kind of sinner but they've been gerrymandered to, ahem hem, Hell and back. So Gitchjigahoonga, the Hell of Nervous Laughter, used to contain only bad improvisational comedians, but the local MP (Droon Yjx, Grand Heckler and Secretary of the Shivering Cramp) got a bill through that redefined his boundaries to include sections of Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzh, the Hell of Howling Chalk, on the basis that its occupants (economics professors) would be more likely to vote for his Archaeoconservatives than the hippies he's traditionally been charged with. This involved a deal with the Antisocial Democrats whereby they got part of Xivtulin, the Hell of Stinging Ferns, and the arrogant vegans imprisoned within. Hell has more political parties than politicians and, yes, every sinner gets a vote.

Hell also has a King and a House of Lords. It's a constitutional monarchy. The constitution is not actually written down anywhere but everyone is very adamant that it exists and there are whole schools of law dedicated to its interpretation. Yes, (sigh) Hell has lawyers. Even if your campaign setting doesn't have lawyers, because it is a medieval theocracy or a Viking waste, Hell still has all this stuff. It's in no way concerned with being relevant.

d12 Reasons You Care About This:

1. Solxcahamb the Lugubrious, independent member for East Gzwlp (the Hell of Burning Copper, traditional home of moneylenders, even the nice ones) is on the verge of losing his seat. The moneylenders remain loyal, even the nice ones, but the recent overflow of excess skinheads from West Gzwlp, Hell of Burning Hair, has tipped the balance in favour of his opponent, Mnm!dlot Fub of the Damnocrats. Demons are pretty limited as to what they're allowed to do on the mortal world, so he's made a pact with a human lord: standard infinite power deal in exchange for rounding up all the moneylenders and chopping off their heads, which ought to boost his polls nicely. Anyone not wanting to confront the lord directly might want to try and figure out what's killing all the skinheads.

2. Imps are canvassing peasants on behalf of the Primary Front, which lobbies for the rights of people who haven't committed any specific sin, but were just douchebags. They're offering a free cow in this life in exchange for a secure vote after death. Anyone who accepts the bargain the imps will give a cow to, then strangle, then take the cow back. If confronted they will explain apologetically that they only have the one cow.

3. An activist succubus in the employ of transparency advocates the Panoptic Legation is trying to prove that the boundaries of Hell have been illegally redrawn to squeeze out her party from its traditional stronghold, Argjakagra, Hell of Crawling Mirrors. To do this she needs two maps of Hell, one old, one new. Check wizards' libraries and the secret studies of cartographers. You could also show up at the Hell Hall of Records with a duly signed requisition form if you were, you know, an idiot.

4. An up-and-coming young lawyer, Fesswick, is running for the seat of Dry-and-Mandible on behalf of the Illibertarians. Despite his inexperience and weird name, word around the magma cooler (it really does cool magma) is that he stands a fair chance of beating the incumbent, Citizen 001268325 of the Computational Secularists. Dry-and-Mandible is a diverse seat, home to tortured souls from all walks of death, and many of the younger, more recently deceased voters genuinely believe that a new, fresh face working on their behalf in Parliament will in any way mitigate their eternal agony. Which is, of course, the joke. Anyway you've been hired to promote his campaign, which will involve putting up posters, knocking on doors, booking lecture halls, not being devoured alive and reduced to a sequence of your component numbers by secularist-dispatched Abacus Lizards, and making tea.

5. Parliament has passed draconian new trade restrictions, tripling at a stroke the import duty on human souls, which threatens to cripple the wish-granting industry. On behalf of the Summoner's Union you are dispatched to Pandemonium (capital city of Hell, look it up) to lobby the ruling Rejectionist Bloc for a free-trade agreement. This may involve making some concessions, such as your soul.

6. A minor member of the House of Lords, Sir Henry Cholomollelogram, is up in arms over the reforms on estate tax introduced in the new budget, which are designed to drastically reduce income inequality by confiscating huge proportions of all inherited wealth and redistributing it among the poor. Of course, no-one ever dies in Hell, but it's the thought that counts. Anyway, an obscure by-law allows him to block the passage of the bill for as long as he continues to speak on the floor of Parliament, which he has been doing for the last seven years. Occasionally he pauses to piss in a bucket and change to one of his other mouths. Find a way to get him to shut up and extricate Hell from total financial paralysis, at which point you'll be sure to start seeing some real changes.

7. There are two types of Lords in the House thereof: Lords Temporal, who are just ordinary Lords, what you imagine when you imagine a Lord, and Lords Spiritual, who are bishops of the Church of Hell. Recently, however, members of a competing faith - the Hungry Brethren - have been demanding that, as Hell is technically a secular state, they deserve equal political representation. The Computational Secularists, meanwhile, want the Church of Hell abolished altogether, and certainly feel that it should play no part in the political system. The Primate of All Hell (one of the Lords Spiritual) will pay you good money to play these latter two factions off against each other, perhaps by conducting some sort of false flag operation. Be wary of Abacus Lizards.

8. Anarchists have stolen the Ceremonial Mace! Parliament cannot lawfully meet without the Ceremonial Mace present in their chambers, and cannot lawfully conclude if at least one person has not been beaten to death with it. (Yes, I know we previously established that no-one can die in Hell. Also, nothing is true in Hell, and logic does not apply. Let's say for the purposes of any fantasy role-playing game you might happen to be playing that this person is either reduced to a bloody, squirming but still-living pulp or winds up in Underhell, the worse Hell you go to when you die in Hell.) Get the Ceremonial Mace back from the anarchists. They are led by a Rules Angel, who is literally from Heaven and who means well but does not quite understand that nothing she can do will help. She is in disguise so that the anarchists do not turn against her.

9. Plzzlpine Felch of the People's Republicans is giving a speech in her home electorate of Hnnsifut, Hell of Choking Dust. The only industry in Hnnsifut is coalmining. If you don't mine coal you have no money and starve eternally without dying. The subject of the speech is that the coal mines are costing the government too much money and will be closed. Run security for her. Hard mode: get her re-elected.

10. A scandal has rocked Parliament. Though it swears it's innocent, it seems that Glaarghlaxigreezm, Carnivore Prince of Torment and Champion of a Thousand Agonies, may have accepted thousands of dollars in under-the-table donations from the mucus industry in order to push for the deregulation of phlegm plants. One of his aides blew the whistle and is now in hiding in the mortal world, possessing a nun. Track her down and get the full story.

11. The Minister for Alphabets is thinking of tightening Hell's name illegibility standards, making it even more difficult for any entity equipped with throat and tongue to make its way around without developing a permanent cough. The Archaeoconservatives and the Damnocrats are for it: the Computational Secularists and the Illibertarians are against it, and a representative from the latter party has hired you to infiltrate the Minister's electorate, n^KBvZ$%)2gh, the Hell of Public Speaking, and destroy all six of his proposed new letters before they can be released upon the general public. n^KBvZ$%)2gh resembles an infinitely large library where the corridors occasionally open out onto massive lecture halls filled with everyone you've ever known and also some monsters.

12. You are John Constantine. You would care about this if you were John Constantine.

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