First and foremost, it's important to note that TERA's political system is entirely player-driven. There is no script and no plan, and it's entirely up to the game's populace to decide how the politics on each server will play out. The player's overarching goal within the political system is to become a Vanarch, the leader of a province. The benefits of becoming a Vanarch are many, and in the words of Mr. Ramirez, Vanarchs "have a shit-ton of power, a shit-ton of money, and a shit-ton of fame."
But before we get to any of that, perhaps we should clarify how exactly a player becomes a Vanarch. There are two ways to do this: through popular vote and through brute force. The popular vote route is precisely what it sounds like. A player campaigns, garners favor with the playerbase, makes promises he probably won't keep (hey, this is politics after all!), and does everything in his power to ensure that, come election time, he's the one who's put in office. Stefan was careful to note that exactly how a player does this is entirely up to the populace. The player could run a clean campaign, helping people out and making a name for himself as a paragon of goodness to sway the vote in his favor. Alternatively, he could go the underhanded route, making deals behind the scenes with other guilds and players and even buying votes if he's rolling in his money a la Scrooge McDuck. Needless to say, this leaves a lot to the players and offers a spectacular opportunity for those running for the position of Vanarch to get creative with their campaigns.
Then there's the brute force route. While Stefan didn't go into incredible detail as to how the brute force method exactly works, what we managed to glean was this: A player and his guildmates can go into TERA's battlegrounds and PvP their way to the top of the ladders, gaining infamy as they go. Eventually, a player can take control of a province through PvP supremacy or popular vote. Regardless of which route a player chooses, however, he will end up at the same endpoint with the same powers and the same term limit of two weeks.
Onward to the shit-tons of power, money, and fame!
We'll start with the power. A Vanarch's power comes in many forms, but what it essentially boils down to is this: A Vanarch has complete control over his province. He's able to raise or lower taxes, open specialty shops within his province, enable open PvP within his zone, run his own events, and imprison other players. I'd be willing to bet money that at least half of you did a double-take at that last one, but don't worry -- your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. Stefan very clearly stated that the Vanarch of a zone would have the power to imprison "jerks and assholes" who come through his province. Unfortunately, no other details on how exactly that will work could be provided. Still, a Vanarch has absolute power over his province, though how he runs it is entirely up to him. He could be a kind and benevolent ruler, lower the taxes, disable PvP, open a lot of lovely specialty shops, imprison problematic players, and throw grand parties for everyone. On the other end of the spectrum, he could be a complete despot, raising taxes to insane levels, encouraging a free-for-all PvP slaughterhouse, and imprisoning anyone who looks at him sideways.
And finally, the fame. If you're successful in getting yourself elected Vanarch, you'll probably have at least a little bit of this to begin with just from running your campaign or battling your way to the top of the PvP charts. But once you're firmly seated in the Vanarch's chair, the fame only rises from there. For starters, anyone entering your province will immediately see your name listed as the province's ruler. On top of that, you and your guild will get "the sexiest rides in the game," so anyone who sees you rollin' around with your posse will know immediately that you're in charge. The fact that you're probably rich enough to toss money around left and right might tip a few people off as well.
Of course, just like any sort of player-driven system (as sandboxes have shown us time and again), TERA's political system is ripe for corrupt players and guilds to take advantage of it. En Masse, however, anticipates this. The company realizes that players will become extremely cutthroat to get into, and remain in, positions of power, and the team looks forward to seeing what players do with the tools that the political system provides them.
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