From trade agreements to open warfare, foreign affairs covers all interaction between the nations or kingdoms of your world. A relationship between nations may be friendly, or it may be hostile. Publicly it may be one thing, while privately it may be another. The relationship may be firmly established with any number of treaties and agreements, or it may be fledgling with both parties just starting to learn about one another. Creating detail in the foreign relations sphere of your world generates a sense of realism and depth that might otherwise be lacking.
One of the most important aspects of foreign relations between adjacent nations is the establishment of borders. Borders will often follow natural geological features such as mountain ranges and rivers and will often change locations throughout history. Two ancient kingdoms or nations next to one another will have had borders that have changed numerous times, creating a unique culture and mix of naming conventions in the lands that have been traded back and forth. In addition to this, there may be disputed territories or no man’s lands present between them.
Borders are often guarded, populated with soldiers and fortifications such as castles/military installations, and protected via physical deterrent measures such as walls and/or minefields.
Travel across borders is often regulated, with individuals needing to present identification and writ of passage to be able to enter or exit though specific checkpoints. During times of hostility, borders are often closed completely.
Is it easy or hard for individuals in your world to cross borders?
Does your world contain disputed territories or no man’s lands?
Often nations will keep either embassies or a diplomatic mission present in other nations to allow for an easy and established means of communication. In addition to this, unofficial channels between nations may be kept. These unofficial channels can come in the form of businesses that operate in both nations, personal friendships between high-ranking individuals of each nation, or even popular figures whose fame crosses borders. While official communication channels may close during times of hostility or in protest for some unilateral action, unofficial channels are often maintained as a last resort.
If official communication channels are closed between two nations in your world, what unofficial channels are used?
Treaties & Alliances
Nations will often make agreements with one another. Examples of these include mutual defense pacts, arms agreements, trade agreements, the establishment of embassies, etc. Honoring or not honoring these agreements is a reoccurring event in fictional worlds, particularly with old alliances being reforged due a common enemy.
What is the oldest treaty or alliance in your world and is it still in effect?
Nations will often use spies and subterfuge to gain insight into other nations’ present and future intentions. This espionage could be technological, industrial, military, diplomatic, or economic in nature.
How common are acts of espionage in your world?
If the relationship deteriorates completely, two nations or kingdoms may go to war with one another. The reasons for war are many and varied, and will be unique to your world, but below is a list of common reasons nations go to war with one another.
- Scarce Resource
- Economic Incentive
- Territorial Gain
- Defensive War
- Religious/Cultural Differences
- Alliance, Defensive Pact, or Other Existing Agreement
- War of Vengeance
Foreign Affairs Terminology
- Accord: concurrence of opinion
- Alliance: a mutually beneficial union between countries
- Ally: a friendly nation
- Ambassador: a high-rank diplomat
- Annexation: incorporation by joining or uniting
- Attaché: a specialist assigned to staff on a diplomatic mission
- Balance of Power: countries aligning themselves so that no one country is able to pose a major threat to the others
- Consulate: the residence or workplace of a diplomat
- Declaration: a clear, authoritative statement on a subject
- Delegation: a group of representatives
- Diplomacy: negotiation between nations
- Diplomat: one engaging in diplomacy
- Diplomatic Immunity: exemption from certain laws offered to diplomatic personnel in a foreign country
- Embargo: a government order imposing a barrier to trade
- Embassy: a building where diplomats work
- Emissary: one sent to represent the interests of another
- Envoy: a minor diplomat
- Espionage: the use of spies to obtain knowledge
- Extradition: surrender of an accused person by one nation to another
- Foreign Agent: a spy or a foreign country
- Hegemon: the most powerful political, economic, and military nation-state
- Insurgence: an organized rebellion
- Nation: a set of people with common language, history, and culture but with no country
- Nation-State: a set of people with common language, history, and culture and are contained within defined borders with an organized government
- Negotiation: a discussion intended to end in agreement over a topic
- Pact: a written agreement between two states
- Precedence: established order
- Regime: the governing authority of a political unit
- Resolution: a decision to act or behave in a certain way
- Rogue State: a state that does not respect other states in its international actions
- Sanction: official permission or approval
- Sovereignty: the authority of a state to govern another state
- Surveillance: observation of a person or group
- Treaty: a written agreement between two states
- Unilateral: involving only a single part or side
- Upheaval: a violent disturbance