Do you have to have shown people your characters are talking about when discussing politics? Let's say there's a political intrigue, and there's this character who mentions a far away nation who might support their country, and there's this political intrigue in that other court where price B is supported by a powerful lord instead of prince A. Do you need to have shown those characters beforehand, or you can mention their names without ever showing or mentioning them again, or only mention them in a second-hand way.

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I do not think that you have to show them before mentioning them. I do think that the reference has to be more than just the name. I would have one character mention the remote name and have another character criticize the notion that said remote character is anyway useful.

An example might help:

Handsome but naive Crown Prince: I have it on good authority that Duke Tottingham will not react if we advance against the Woggins.

Beautiful but cynical Sister of the Crown Prince: There is a rat in the Royal Grainery who would be more trustworthy than an aristocratic asshole chasing anything in a skirt in a court that is a thousand miles away. He has repeatedly betrayed his King and he will certainly betray you.

Pragmatic Elder Advisor: And, dear lady, when you have a better choice for an ally, please be so kind as to inform us. Until then, we will go forward with the backing of an ally that still strikes fear into many of our enemies.

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