Explanatory Memoranda on the Treaty of Alesia

The Treaty of Alesia (aka "the Treaty") has been developed by the kingdom's leadership as a proposal for the foundational agreement regarding the structure, authority, powers, and responsibilities of what can be considered the government of Alesia. Whether called a charter, constitution, or treaty, the purpose of the document is to establish the social contract for the kingdom, and provide us with power structures that, to the extent reasonable within the tone and setting of this game, set up a series of checks and balances for the exercise of authority and power. This Treaty makes abuses of power, like the unilateral and inexplciable removal of Dukes and Counts by the Monarch, impossible to lawfully happen without warning, and even harder to avoid political and social retribution for breaching the Treaty or undermining its intent.

The Treaty establishes a tripod of power within the kingdom. The Monarch, the nobility, the people. To each of these legs we have afforded a series of powers and responsibilities, and we acknowledge that power is concentrated towards the nobility and Monarch; that is an inevitable and unavoidable aspect of the game we are playing at launch. That said, we have proposed a body known as The White Council which is made up of non-titled individuals only, and this council will form both part of the Monarch's Privy Council, but also be granted a seat in one of the two legislative bodies for the kingdom.

Before we go further, we have to make some points very clear to everyone.

Firstly, the Treaty is not a complete document at this stage as there are many game-mechanics which may interfere with specific ideals we may have, or concepts we wanted to implement. We have, to the best of our ability and forethought, tried to propose a foundational document which worked with the known and reasonably anticipated game-mechanics. We expect this document to be amended and adjusted as the game itself evolves, and things like timeframes are a great example of something we'll need to adjust as we learn more about the game. We have included mechanisms for how amendments can be made to the Treaty through the previously mentioned power structures, and it's fully expected those will be used to keep the Treaty relevant and contextual to whatever future we find ourselves in.

Secondly, the Treaty is not designed to be all-encompassing from a legislative basis. It's not meant to dictate speed limits in Counties or even detail every aspect of kingdom law. This proposal sets up the framework of expectations for how the government will function and define authorities. It's the genesis of the kingdom's legal existence and framework, not its totality. The reason for this is that it is meant to set the tone and expectations that people can have a high confidence will not change much once established, and the amendment process requires broad agreement from three key institutions within the kingdom to be successful. The Treaty is the launching board for everything that is to come, including kingdom, duchy, and county laws, and even settlement ordinances.

Third, there are a lot of articles which are currently missing. This is simply a limiting factor of the game's state at this point, and many areas we have drafted some principles or ideas but these are so heavily dependent on game-mechanics that we know so little about at this point, none of the kingdom's leadership felt confident enough to start drafting. These articles are going to be built as the game progresses and we know enough to determine what we're going to put into ink in those articles.

Lastly, the Treaty has been written in as plain a way as we possibly could, and while it is formal and legal in tone and content, it's not written to be confusing legalese. It is written from an in-character standpoint, as it is the in-game foundational document, and it's not meant to be a community code of conduct or anything like that. When reading the Treaty and trying to interpret it, you need to read entire sections or even articles before you necessarily get the full picture and are able see how the different sections and sub-sections build on each other and work.

The Treaty will define something once, and then that definition will apply throughout the document, so sometimes you may need to refer to another sub-section or even article to have a complete and full understanding of all of the concepts. We tried to keep this to a minimum, but it does need to be done, otherwise the document would be much longer, and we could run into some big issues in the future if we have things defined multiple times within the document.
To assist in wrapping your head around it all more simply though, or for those who just want the cliff-notes version, we have written this explanatory memoranda.

Structure of the Kingdom's Laws and Policies
In approaching the Treaty, we had to come up with a concept for how the kingdom's laws and policies were going to fit together, and how we could retain a reasonable level of fiefdom autonomy. To solve that, we've defined a series of elements to this structure, and designated a hierarchy of legislation and policy which can be used when these elements come into conflict. The hierarchy is as pictured below:

Structure of the Kingdom's Laws and Policies

  • Legislation: Is considered to be those laws which have been passed in accordance with the requirements of the Treaty (for Kingdom legislation) or other appropriate means (for Duchy and County legislation). Legislation is hierarchial and must fit within the boundaries and requirements of all higher tiers of legislation.

  • Ordinances: Are considered to be those proscriptive rules and regulations of a settlement which govern commercial activity, land-use, and public behaviour. Ordinances must adhere to all applicable legislation, and breaches of ordinances may not be considered to be serious offences.

  • Policies: Are considered to be those procedures and rules which must be adhered to in the conduct of official business by a Royal Institution. They are not considered binding to anyone but Royal Officials and other employees of Royal Institutions, and in complying with policies may be exempted from all legislation except that of the Treaty and Kingdom. Policy is hierarchial and must fit within the boundaries and requirements of all higher tiers of policy.

  • Directives: Are instructions given to officials and employees of Royal Institutions and must be complied with for the scope of the directive, but such persons must comply with all applicable legislation, policies, and ordinances.

The Kingdom's Leadership
The Treaty proposes a Monarch which heads a Royal House and has broad-ranging powers to create and enforce kingdom-wide law within the confines of the Treaty. The Monarch has management responsibilities for the tone, culture, structure, laws, and actions of the kingdom in the broad sense. The Monarch is the top of the fuedal hierarchy, but the Treaty does establish limits to the Monarch's power, and prevents them from ruling as an absolute monarchy or dictatorship. The kingdom's powerbase  is composed of a tripod of power; the Monarch, the nobility, the people. This tripod is represented within the kingdom's highest levels of leadership by three councils which collectively advise and assist the Monarch in the governance and administration of the kingdom.

The Tripod of Power
There are no set numbers or positions within the Crimson Council. This is designed to allow the Monarch to determine what individuals they will appoint to the Crimson Council based on their needs and the range of skills available. We didn't want to try and tie the kingdom to set numbers for this, and instead let the Crimson Council member's port-folios remain flexible.

The Nobility
Within the game-mechanics, we know that the nobility is stratified into two layers: the Dukes/Duchesses, and Counts/Countesses. For ease of referencing these two layers, and to acknowledge that these power structures are not just single individuals, we have introduced the concepts of noble houses . Houses are the families and their close retainers and officers, and are divided into Great Houses for duchy-level nobles, and Minor Houses for all other nobles below that. All Noble Houses have a seat and single vote in the Conclave of Lords, which will be explained in the section below. For clarity, Barons are not considered nobles under the Treaty, but aristocrats.

The Treaty also proposes that Minor Houses are not restricted to just those land-holding Counts of the Kingdom, but also those people who have made significant contributions to the prosperity, safety, and renown of the kingdom. The Treaty provides a mechanism for the Conclave of Lords to give special recognition to such individuals, which the Monarch may at their discretion, elevate such a person to Minor House status. This type of elevation includes a seat in the Conclave of Lords and is a means to involve outstanding citizens of the kingdom, in the governance and management of the kingdom even if they do not have a fiefdom.

Included in the article on Noble Houses are clauses which restrict and define the criteria under which it is acceptable for the Monarch to remove a Great House from power, or for the Monarch/Great House to remove a Minor House from power. Effectively, this is only permitted where there is widespread agreement by the rest of their peers that they are grossly negligent or people have committed high crimes (as defined in Article 14) which are those actions such as treason.

Recognition of Minor or Great Houses is also contingent on approval by the Monarch, and is not automatically granted simply because someone has the title within a land claimed by the kingdom. This assists in keeping invaders out of our government institutions, and also creates a balance against people just murdering their way into power and simply being accepted into the government's institutions and have voting powers. Effectively, so long as someone is in good standing with the kingdom, and their actions for getting into that position are accepted by the Monarch, then things will be fine.

The Conclave of Lords
People said we'd be mad to have this institution within the kingdom, but we're having it anyway! The second source of legislation for the kingdom, the Conclave of Lords is composed of the Royal House, all Great and Minor Houses, and the members of the White Council. The Conclave will be able to develop legislation that applies to the whole kingdom, but only at the kingdom level (no duchy laws in the Conclave). The purpose is to provide a second font of legislative process, and provide a voice to the nobility and elected representatives of the kingdom within a single assembly. To this end, the Conclave has five principle motions at its disposal:

The Principle Motions of the Conclave of Lords

Conclave business will primarily be managed through the kingdom's forums. This will allow for it to be more structured, and ensure people are presented with an environment which encourages thought out opinion and debates, not just an ongoing argument in an open channel or voice chat. It will also make it much easier to format proposals, conduct votes, and archive/search motions and discussions. A forum also has the added benefit of enabling us to more easily release specific Conclave business to the public if the Conclave determines that it should.

The Conclave can set its own rules of conduct and decorum, and in the initial tranche we will be using a watered down version of Robert's Rules; this will enable orderly conduct of business by such a large group and to prevent it from becoming just a yelling match or bogged down in silly procedures and arguments.
Overseeing and managing this large body of opinions as they debate issues out in the kingdom's forum, is The Speaker and The Deputy Speaker. A very important position which is going to ensure business is conducted within the rules of the Conclave, that motions are formatted properly, that people behave etc. It is a very important job, and is going to require someone highly active in the community, and with the right set of skills and temperament to do the job.

The Speaker of the Conclave of Lords

The Conclave of Lords is the reason why we have implemented various restrictions on the division of duchies and counties so as to prevent any shennanigans by stacking nobility. Similarly, we have included a limitation on the Monarch appointing non-land owning Minor Houses to prevent them from similarly interfereing with the balance of the Conclave. We want the Conclave to be truly representative of the Houses of the kingdom.

Questions about the Treaty

Why a Treaty and not a Constitution or Charter?
Well, basically to be a little different and to also pay hommage to our in-game history. Alesia was a land of chaos and war after the fall of the Mad King, and so by having a treaty as the basis of the kingdom of Alesia, it has the connotations and backstory that this document was a peace accord which ended the violence and conflict by agreeing to the foundation of a single government to rule with a series of checks and balances.

How do our titles fit into this?
Glad you asked! Below you'll find a diagram outlining who reports to who and which titles make up the various governing bodies.

The Tripod of Power