How to run a mayoral election in a campaign? (setting neutral version)


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Events have come about that have prompted a somewhat shady challenger to run against the current respected mayor of the town our campaign is set in, as well as one of my PCs entering the race. The challenger has recently gained some headway and respect, and the incumbent mayor has recently had to deal with some troubling familial matters (but this has cost him both focus and funding for his campaigning). My party is currently exploring the megadungeon near town (and likely to soon trigger events that directly and adversely affect one or more participants), and the election I set for two weeks hence.

How would you run this election? I am leaning toward two political debate mini-games wherein my PC-candidate makes skill checks against the other two, with options for the other PCs to assist by working the crowd, digging up dirt on the opponents, glowing testimonials of the PC's deeds, etc.

I want to make this fun and interactive, but I am cool with anyone winning. Campaign specific details with minor AV spoilers posted in this thread.

Advice appreciated!

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Like in any election, the key is to identify the “thought leaders” in the settlement and win their endorsement.

A newcomer giving speeches in the marketplace is never going to build enough credibility in two weeks to win by Election Day unless influential and trendsetting people endorse them.

Contests of ideas are for courtrooms, not politics.

Break the settlement up into blocs (the flock of the village priest, the members of the thieves’ guild, that one huge family that makes half the town into cousins, workers on a rich guy’s estate, regulars at a particular establishment, etc) and assign the blocs values according to their size.

It’s the players’ task to identify the blocs, who each bloc’s leader is (guild master, family patriarch, tavern keeper, etc), and acquire more Influence Points (GMG 151) with the leader than any other candidate. Each bloc you do this with by Election Day earns you points based on the bloc’s size, and whoever gets the most points wins.

If you want to include the “win by giving speeches in the marketplace” route, you can leave a few floating points to represent the independent thinkers, and whoever gives the best speeches wins those points. If you do a really good job you can impress leaders and win some Influence Points with them by swaying their followers. “Gee, my people like this guy. He must be alright!”

You can complicate matters by including a runoff vote between the top two candidates in a multi-person race, in which case one or more of the leaders in the second round are the candidates who didn’t make the top two!

An addendum to the previous post: by discrediting an influential person (revealing they’re corrupt or dishonest), you can keep anybody from earning points for getting their endorsement.

If this happens, reassign their followers to other blocs (possibly including the independent thinker pseudo-bloc I mentioned earlier) and adjust their relative point values accordingly.

Running an election depends on how complex you want to get.

Many people rely on an individual they trust to have expertise on politics for their political perspective. Endorsements from prominent figures (religious leaders, businesspeople, law enforcement) are extremely valuable. This can boil down to an influence encounter where players attempt to acquire the endorsement of community leaders.

Create a list of community figures, assign each one a hidden value (votes) and award that value to the winner of that influence encounter. Winning the endorsement of one community figure might make influencing community figure with an opposing agenda more difficult.

You could create a “undecided” block of voters who are only influenced by town square speeches.

For a little action, you could also explore the 1946 Battle of Athens historical event. You can research it yourself, but basically the account unfolded over a series of confrontations between World War 2 veterans and a corrupt Tennessee political apparatus.

a) Eligible voters were prevented from voting at a polling place by armed deputies loyal to the bad guy (in this case, Paul Cantrell). A voter was shot.

b) WW2 veterans organized and armed themselves and there was an exchange of gunfire between them and the Cantrell deputies who had closed polling. Some people were taken hostage, others were thrown in jail.

c) When vote counting began, Cantrell’s opponent was winning. In response, ballot boxes were taken by Cantrell and his deputies to a barricaded jail - presumably to be opened and stuffed with votes for Cantrell. This culminated in a siege of the jail where WW2 veterans, knowledgeable in demolition, deployed dynamite, breached the jail and recovered the ballot boxes.

There is an old move about this with is actually worth a watch.

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