Embassy personnel

Which kind of figures are essential for a foreign embassy to work?

A character of mine is an Elf, working as a bodyguard/agent for an Elven dignitary, in the Elven quartier of a big Human capital city.
I was trying to detail the network of people around this char and his boss, but I realized I don't know about what kind of figures are useful/necessary in a foreign embassy.

Setting tech level is somewhat not!reinassance, but I can go with every hint you can throw me as long as it's interesting. I can provide more detail if needed.

Thanks in advance.

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Administrators and scriveners.
Administrators and scriveners fucking everywhere.

Elves tend to be at a literacy level higher than their human counterparts here, so they can be "converted" to translators, since luckily we don't have any common tongue around the setting. Thanks for that.
Any details about what different branches the administrators can administer?

If it makes sense in the setting, stick in a few missionaries or other religious dignitaries. Since it's a Renaissance setting, maybe take inspiration from the Jesuits in 16th-17th century Asia. You might also have some specialist possessing skills or knowledge unknown in the host country, offering their services to gain favour with the ruler, like the way the Jesuits introduced all kinds of European sciences to China to gain influence and prestige for Christianity.


This sounds very cool, do you have any article you can point me at, or something easily readable about their missions, as you described?

Not him but:

Yeah. I suppose that even deserved a lmgtfy, thank you very much

Lot's of excess 'secretaries' that are really just people who get free money to wine, dine and spy on the chatter of the very important city their embassy is in.

>stick in a few missionaries or other religious dignitaries
Of course all the religious dignitaries are utterly loyal to God and the Church and totally aren't on the payroll of the Big Bad Kingdom on the block.

Pic unrelated right? du Plessis is the father of the modern nation. Or do you get all your history from fiction books you ignorant baboon?

I have family who are diplomats- at last, relevant life experience!

So for an embassy to work, you have to have one vital role, and that is the Ambassador. It may seem like a kind of redundant post today, with modern communications, but an ambassador is an agent directly appointed by the head of state to speak for them in another kingdom or nation. So in a setting where it could be weeks or months before word from a head of state arrives, the Ambassador basically gets to make foriegn policy decisions on the spot. They're like the president of the embassy.
As has been said, most embassies have a lot of secretaries to help handle paperwork. These secretaries are managed by agents who work for the ambassador directly.
And pretty much all embassies have a security detail. This ranges from soldiers who guard the gates to counter-intelligence experts who suss out spies. It's not uncommon for some of the embassy staff to be spies, using their position to gather information about the country they're in.

How is your point even remotely related to what I said? Richelieu's masterful use of spies in foreign courts is widely acknowledged in non-fiction sources. Priests would almost certainly be among them because they were quite commonly used as spies at the time (due to among other reasons their mastery of multiple languages). In fact, some believe that France's infamous "cabinet noir" had its origins in Richelieu's network.

No reason to get butthurt over what's historically affirmed, and no need to call others "ignorant baboons" when you barely even understand the point being made.

Thanks for sharing, I suppose you don't lack interesting stories coming from that part of the family.
So I can diversify with a spymaster working for the ambassador, some kind of guard captain in charge of the security of the embassy and the ambassador, and lastly all the personnel working as the bureaucratic arm of the ambassador.
Anything else?

Also, I'm not really sure how elves can be used as spies here. I mean, they are easily recognizable as non humans, and they generally don't mix well with the general population, either because of xenophoby/racism on both side, or because they are not so many that they can't be traced to the elven quartier residents.
I guess stealthy types still do their works but I would have preferred a more diplomatic-spy and less black-thight-spy.

Not going to be easy here because humans and elves have very different kind of deities, and elven ones aren't really keen on proselitism, but I suppose I can find a sufficiently useful parallel that suits me.

They use money to get involved with local high society and/or merchant classes. If this is not viable they funnel their money through locals who do that for them.

some kind of "court" of very close friends to the ambassador that he brings along wherever he goes, especially on formal meetings?

I like that. I suppose they can even use that money to open up shops for the rich and nobles to get appreciation from the high society and get invited to parties.

*outside of the elven quartier, that is.
Showing up as "independents" on the radar but really closely linked to the diplomatic mission

Yep sounds good, why doesn't the Ambassador need an economic, cultural, religious and etiquette advisor with them at all times? And how could we forget his personal guard, scribe, deputy and romantic companion.

Political officers, administrative staff, intelligence officers, and, uh, I guess scribes to make copies of all the documents.


An embassy is just a public safe house for spies.

sure, i was just thinking about the cover roles for those spies

A whole army of servants to do the manual labour keeping an embassy presentable. Some who might be whores. Or spies. Or both.

Considering their first posting was the embassy in East Berlin during the 1970's, no, there's no dearth of interesting stuff that's happened to them. And continues to- my cousin is getting ready to change stations from Bangkok, Thailand to Warsaw, Poland.

To understand how embassies serve as intelligence hubs, you need to get a good idea of how spying works. We like to imagine it's all James Bond, sneaking into secured vaults and seducing pretty enemy agents so they spill. And that's perfectly fine in a game because it;s fun and interesting. But a lot of it is gathered in pretty mundane ways.
For instance, take my family members in the Diplomatic service of the US. For the most part, they get letters, petitions, and thousands of mundane items of business every week, and it''s their job to either answer them in standard ways, or pass them up the line to someone who can do something about it. And they have to report everything they do to the agent in charge. Taken separately, these reports are mundane and fairly meaningless. But once the senior analysts filter it all together, a larger picture becomes clear. Maybe there are a number of requests to set up purchases of lumber from the elven kingdom. Not very interesting, but once enough come through, you begin to ask "What the hell do they need with all these trees?" A little more digging can show that the lumber is being sent to a major port for processing. An excuse can be made up for a diplomatic envoy to visit the port and see if the kingdom is building more ships. If so, what kind? And once the ships are built, where will they sail? All this can be found out through some well placed questions that people won't hesitate to answer. Once you have gathered enough information that people will happily give you for free, you can process it into a very good guess as to the goals and plans of the kingdom you're in, and you can pass that on to the Ambassador, who can decide to take action.

bump for interest

If your elves are as fussy about their food as IRL French, then they will definitely import their own chef !

>embassy in East Berlin during the 1970's
WHOA, well feel free to share if you want, might as well find some plot hook in there!

> letters, petitions, and thousands of mundane items of business
can you elaborate more on these? Are these informations directly aimed at the embassy, like i don't know, even advertising flyers? Any example you can give is good for me to understand them better.

Why would any country want secretaries, who does nothing but to spy on them?

No country wants them, but all of them get them.

Vast majority of embassy personel are spies or agents of spies.

>Vast majority of embassy personel are spies or agents of spies.
Then why keep them?

Because you will do the same. And also because embassies are an asset to conduct international politics without spending fortunes on armies - or on more armies, allowing you to use the ones you already have on other problems.

At the very least you have the ambassador who is the representative of the nation. They can be cordial and even like the people we speaks with but ultimately should be serving his people first. If the elven nations want war or to be a dick, the ambassador must convey it. Indeed ambassadors are commonly withdrawn if their loyalty is ever in question.

The ambassadors will almost certainly have a couple of secretaries or personal assistants to manage the paper work, filing and generally boring stuff. As well as an honour guard for protecting the embassy. Most of the time their job is fairly boring as well.

Everyone here should be fluent in the local language, translators shouldnt be necessary unless alot of non speakers arrive.

For more advanced embassies you could have:

-Trade representatives to facilitate smooth trading relations and red tape
-Minor functionaries that keep tabs on the expat communities and provide legal council
-Legal personell with extensive knowledge on elven and human laws/customs, usually boring stuff but often they are the ones who think of legal solutions when brute force and hostility in not on the tables
-Scholars might come and go to translate historical documents for exchanges
-Embassies are almost always a hot bed of espionage activities, especailly with rival powers. You would have people working with agents on the ground in discreet ways (often with local humans), ones who receive and give orders, cyphers, etc...
-Since its notrenaissance you could have religious orders or an embassy that is completely a religious order. The Jesuits are one, who are very flexible in melding christianity with existing belief and governmental systems. There are other religious orders that are far more dogmatic and demand adherence to existing structures but that often just pisses off the host country.

Finally for big embassies you would have a large support staff such as people in the cafeteria, doctors, janitors or people who arrange cultural events.

There also could be attachés with specific responsibilities, ie trade attaché, attaché for magical issues etc.

Thanks a lot for your comment, it's really helpful and gives me a lot of ideas to fill the network I need.