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Collegium of Political Arts and Sciences

Discussion in 'Machiavel: Ambition' started by Ravana, Sep 30, 2011.

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  1. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    This thread is dedicated to keeping track, not of individuals, but their functions: not who's who, but what they do. Some descriptions are more complete than others; some of the latter will be expanded over time. Also gives descriptions of some of the factions and interest groups that influence imperial policy… or at least attempt to.

    This thread is in the process of being updated to reflect recent changes. Outdated posts are shown in red (though for #2 and #3, current information can be found in "Dramatis Personae"; for #4, many of the offices themselves have changed, not merely their holders).

    Post 2: Great Offices
    Post 3: Imperial Privy Council
    Post 4: Ministries
    Post 5: Miscellaneous other offices
    Post 6: Orders of Chivalry [current]
    Posts 7-10: Balance of Power in the Imperium
    Post 11: Religious Titles and Offices
    Post 12 (and forward): List of Realms in the Empire and Kingdoms
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  2. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    in no particular order…

    Lord Marshal:
    In theory, he is in charge of all the land forces in the empire. In practice, he's in charge of all the forces no one else is in charge of… which are few. However, he does get to give all those other people orders when their forces are joined together for large actions. He doesn't even technically command the Imperial Guard: that falls under the Captain-General, who reports directly to the emperor–though should the duties of the two ever find themselves overlapping, the Captain-General will normally put his forces at the Lord Marshal's disposal, inasmuch as such a situation could only arise if there was a direct military threat to the emperor. The Lord Marshal is in direct command of all the Constables of Royal Castles (or co-command, with the Lord Admiral, if the castle is next to a body of water); he also commands the Wardens of the fifteen Regions of the empire, who themselves have theoretically considerable but practically negligible influence on troops from their regions. Still, the Marshall and his Wardens are empowered to raise troops directly for the empire (as opposed to calling on the nobility to provide theirs), a power backed by the imperial purse… which enables him to gather large forces of ill-trained men on very short notice. As long as the empire is solvent. This post is presently empty, due to the untimely demise of the previous office-holder, Gesigert, Count of Aldenthau, from complications believed to have arisen from a knife in the back.

    Lord Admiral:
    Essentially the counterpart of the Lord Marshal, with a couple of important differences. First, he has more real authority over his sphere, since while the land troops have to be summoned from all over, and can avoid serving simply by not showing up, there are only so many places a boat can go to try to remain out of sight; thus, if he wants to mobilize all the ships in a harbor, he usually gets his way. While, second, unlike land troops, boats don't just appear when you need them–so his activities require more long-term planning. The admiral has co-command over all Royal Castles–all military matters, in fact–when bodies of water are involved; this includes the empire's vast riverine systems as well as its seacoasts. This has led to friction between these offices in the past, but Admiral Zerich got along unusually well with his previous counterpart. Whether he will continue to do so with the next Marshal remains to be seen.

    Minister of State:
    The only Ministerial position that is one of the Great Offices; he also sits on the Privy Council. His is the only high office with a primary duty that doesn't exist–conducting relations with the three kingdoms formerly part of the empire, which, of course, he can't do in an official capacity, since according to the empire, they still fall under its domestic authority, not its foreign affairs division. State is also tasked with conducting relations with less important entities, such as the rest of the world, which it actually finds simpler, since it can at least acknowledge the existence of embassies from these other realms. Prince Mazosyr, the current Minister, is the youngest person ever to be entrusted with this office–would almost be still, even after five years in it–and has spent more of his tenure abroad than almost any other person to hold it–even after only five years in it. Which is just as well, probably, as it cuts down on the number of occasions for the emperor's brothers to challenge him to duels… the declining of which have been nearly the only times anyone has ever seen him be undiplomatic.

    Lord Steward of the Realm:
    Completely different from the Lord Steward of the Imperial Household. This office "oversees the conduct and well-being of civil life in the Imperium," according to its charter. Which means absolutely nothing… since there are also a horde of Ministers responsible for most individual aspects of that "civil life," and since both they and the Lord Steward himself answer to the Lord Chancellor–whereas the Ministers do not answer to the Lord Steward. The Governors of the Regions do answer to the Lord Steward, and so this office's influence often depends heavily upon the strengths of their influence… though the reverse has also been true from time to time. The best way to describe this office's function, and that of the Governors', is that this is the office that sees imperial policies in general get carried out, whereas if a particular function is involved, it becomes the task of a minister. (If you think this is confusing, don't worry: so do they.) The second best way to describe this office's function is "redundant."

    Lord Justicar:
    The officer tasked with overseeing the administration of justice within the empire. Except when someone with Imperium interferes, or it's an Electoral or Curia matter, or it involves ecclesiastic, chivalric, military, admiralty, Imperial City or palatine jurisdiction, or when the Lord Chancellor or the emperor takes it into his head to intervene or override, or when it's a "purely internal" matter falling under the jurisdiction and local laws of a single noble realm–even when those laws contradict imperial ones. Incredible as it may sound, this actually leaves quite a bit for the justiciary to deal with. This office's greatest power arises from the fact that it must approve all judicial appointments, regardless of level. The present office-holder, Hunyevert, Prince of Diekelsmal, has a distinguished history of rubber-stamping every appointment that crosses his desk, without even having the good sense to require bribes for his consent. Oh, well: at least he's honest.

    Lord Treasurer:
    If you guessed that this is the person in charge of money going in and out of imperial strongboxes… you'd be correct. If you haven't guessed that this makes the Treasurer one of the most powerful persons in the realm, you need to rethink a bit. True, the Treasurer doesn't decide what the money gets spent on… but who tells the emperor (or anyone else) if there even is money to spend–or how much? And it's a rare official who has the nerve to challenge the Treasurer to "go look with him" to see if his account is true… and a far rarer one who knows where to look, if the Treasurer has decided a portion of the royal wealth needs to become temporarily invisible. It's an absolute certainty no emperor would know where to look: it's long-established practice that part of the Treasurer's duty is to prevent them from spending the empire into oblivion. In those cases where the Treasurer has been a person of sufficient character and willpower, this has even worked at times.

    Lord Chancellor:
    Some have suggested that the best way to characterize this office is "the person in charge of people who are in charge of things." As brief descriptions go, it's hard to argue with–since a list of those persons the Lord Chancellor isn't in charge of would be far shorter, and far, far easier to compile, than a list of those he is. Of the Great Offices, only two–the Lords Marshal and Admiral–are outside his sphere; of the Privy Council, only three more–the Lord Steward of the Imperial Household and the Lord Privy Seal, who answer personally to the emperor, and the Pursuivant General, who doesn't technically answer to anybody. The entire balance of the imperial bureaucracy falls under the Lord Chancellor's supervision. Of course, palatine nobles, all princes, and any offices carrying Imperium are outside of the Lord Chancellor's supervision as well, Imperial Cities at least nominally are, the heads of the chivalric orders like to think they are, and religious officials tend to claim they are… which may sound like quite a bit, but apart form the Imperium offices, none of those people are responsible for actually running the empire–not even the other high offices. The entire great mass of the imperial bureacracy ultimately channels up to this one person… whose job it then is to filter out those things the emperor needs to know, and deal with the ones he doesn't. The Lord Chancellor also sits at the top of the Chancery–a parallel bureacracy within the bureaucracy, the nominal duty of which is to provide administrative "assistance" to all the other bureaucrats… though it also serves the unspoken function of keeping tabs on everyone else, conveying the Lord Chancellor's wishes, expediting policies which meet with his approval, and employing delay and obfuscation to circumvent those which do not. The Chancery, in its capacity as the mouthpiece of the Lord Chancellor, utilizes as its foremost implement lengthy, convoluted syntax and lots of big words–except when she has something to say: the present office-holder, Princess Rineyard of Grassmer, has a reputation of being direct almost to the point of tactlessness.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  3. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    The Imperial Privy Council includes all of the above, plus the following four offices.

    Lord Steward of the Imperial Household:
    Not to be confused with the Lord Steward of the Realm; this office is responsible only for the conduct of life in the Winter and Summer Palaces. But that's one hell of an "only." For starters, the Lord Steward supervises everyone in the palace except for the Guards… and the housekeeping staff alone outnumbers the Guards well over 20-to-1. Never mind the scribes, heralds, craftsmen, entertainers, doctors, tutors, provisioners, cellarers, messengers, and absolutely everyone who has a key to anything. The Lord Steward's greatest power is controlling who has access to the emperor; only the Great Officers and the highest nobles even stand a chance of blustering their way past "helpful" servants with orders to misdirect unwanted visitors. The Lord Steward is also in charge of assigning quarters within the palaces–so he gets to decide who gets to live there, in what comfort, and in what proximity to the emperor or anyone or anything else. (It's not unknown for stewards to assign rooms on opposite sides of a corridor to sworn enemies, in hopes that random encounters so engendered will lead to duels… preferably fatal ones.) The occupant of this office is generally from the emperor's own line, and when not will be someone the emperor is at least as closely connected to and has as much (or more) confidence and trust in. The present holder of this office, Tulegrid, Countess of Hernesval, falls into the latter category.

    Pursuivant General:
    The one office of the imperium that comes closest to being completely "neutral" in the affairs of the empire. The College of Pursuivants is tasked with maintaining records on the heraldry of everyone in the empire and associated territories who is entitled to bear heraldic arms. What most people fail to consider is that, as a prerequisite of this task, it must also maintain records on the lineages of everyone of importance in the empire and associated territories… which in turn means that it also has records on just about every other public aspect of their lives as well–and no few "private" ones. Considering these are the people who have the ultimate say on, for instance, whether or not someone is a bastard, it's generally a poor idea to incur their opprobrium.

    Secretary of the Imperial Privy Council:
    The person who keeps the Privy Council running. Not particularly powerful in his own right… but as the person who is responsible for organizing Council meetings, managing its agenda, keeping its records and promulgating its decisions, he isn't a bad person to have on your side–as a source, if nothing else. Technically an independent official, "servant" to the Council itself, in fact he is answerable, as is nearly everyone else, to the Lord Chancellor.

    Lord Privy Seal:
    Invariably occupied by a trusted member of the emperor's own line, this officer's sole official duty is to carry around sealing wax and a stamp. If that makes him sound like a glorified "gopher," well… you wouldn't be far wrong. On the other hand, the "glorified" part should be taken seriously, as he is often tasked with handling ad hoc duties which don't fall into the sphere of any other high officer, at least as long as they don't take him far from the side of the emperor. Which is the office's other significant "power": unlimited access to the emperor, which not even the Lord Steward of the Imperial House could hope to circumvent. The Lord Privy Seal is generally the first high officer to see the emperor each day, almost always the last to see him each night, is more likely than not to be seeing him at the same time anyone else is seeing him (truly "private" meetings with the emperor are rare), and certainly knows of every official action the emperor takes, no matter how private or secret it might otherwise be–since the action only becomes official when the imperial seal is affixed to it. Think about that for a few minutes.…
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  4. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    MINISTERS and Such

    The actual number of imperial ministries, and their spheres of activity, is something that is left to the emperor's pleasure (apart from the Ministry of State, which is a permanent fixture). Which would seem to indicate that Emperor Nikovar has derived great pleasure from his tenure, since he has far and away the greatest number of ministers. All sit on the Council of Ministers, which also includes the Lords Chancellor, Treasurer, and Justicar. The Minister of State, being a Great Office, has already been dealt with. The remainder, of which there are presently eighteen, are (in order of seniority, with State coming ahead of the rest):

    of Court and Protocol
    of Roads and Transport
    of Commerce
    of Crown Lands
    of Imperial Cities and Towns
    to the Principalities
    of Procurement
    of Navigation and Harbors
    of Construction
    Curia Minster
    of the Imperial Census
    of Culture
    to the Chivalry
    of Religion
    of Police
    of Agriculture
    to the Trades
    of Public Welfare
    without Portfolio [presently none]

    Only the Minstries of State, Court and Protocol, and Roads and Transport existed in the First Empirium. The Ministries of Commerce, Crown Lands and Imperial Cities and Towns were created when the Second Imperium was declared. The Ministries of Agriculture, Police, Public Welfare, Religion and Trades have all been created under Nikovar's reign, the other eight having been added by one or another of his nine predecessors. Given the proliferation of appointments, it is perhaps surprising there are no Ministers without Portfolio at present… though perhaps that’s because new ministries keep being created.

    What They Do:

    See under Great Officers. Departments: Embassies and Consulates; Deputations; Foreign Law. “Secret” Department (which everyone knows about): Intelligence. Departments that don’t officially exist: one for each of the three Kingdoms.

    Court and Protocol:
    Responsible for seeing that the privileges rank hath are observed. Departments: Regalia; Progresses; to the College of Pursuivants.

    Roads and Transport:
    The obvious. Departments: Highways; Byways; Bridges; Internal Transportation; the Post.

    Tasked with keeping trade flowing–ideally, in some fashion consistent across the empire–in the face of obstacles presented by innumerable jurisdictions and other ministries. Departments: Internal Commerce; Foreign Trade; Weights and Measures; Prices; Wages.

    Crown Lands:
    The obvious. Departments: Crown Reach; Crown Vale.

    Imperial Cities and Towns:
    The point of contact between the empire and the thirty-and-growing independent jurisdictions it has created to keep population centers out of the hands of the nobility. Departments: none.

    The point of contact between the empire and the people eligible to some day run it; also tasked with trying to coordinate the activities of the principalities with the rest of the empire. Departments: one for each Royal Line.

    Not pimps. Well, not always. Tasked with seeing that other ministries get the resources they need to operate. Departments: Marshalate; Admiralty; Labor; Conscription; plus one for each other ministry.

    Navigation and Harbors:
    The obvious. Departments: Imperial Harbors; Harbors (other); Rivers; Canals; Merchant Marine; Shipbuilding.

    Builds and maintains the infrastructure… in most cases, at the request of some other ministry in charge of whatever it is that needs built or maintained (at which point, this ministry needs to go to Procurement for the materials and labor to do the project…). Departments: Fortifications; Water; Mines; Public Buildings; Public Safety; Sewers; plus one for each other ministry that may require their services.

    Curia Minister:
    An essentially powerless position, intended to provide a point of contact with the higher nobility: the minister is more servant than supervisor, though he is also responsible for conveying the emperor’s wishes to the Curia when appropriate. What the Curia does then is beyond his control. Departments: none.

    Imperial Census:
    In charge of keeping track of who’s in the empire, who’s allowed to be, and where they are. Treasury leans heavily on this ministry… that’s both “relies upon” and “browbeats.” Departments: Enumeration; Immigration; Passports; Internal Migration.

    Intended to promote same; actual activities vary wildly. Departments: Art; Education; Faculty; Universities; Monuments; Philosophy; Censor General.

    The point of contact between the seven Orders and the empire; similar to Curia Ministry in being essentially powerless to control its sphere. Also tracks and attempts to coordinate activities of other chivarly not members of any order, in which sphere it exercises marginally more influence. Departments: Imperial Knights; plus one per Order.

    Ecclesiastic Affairs:
    A recent innovation, purportedly to enhance the welfare and coordination of religious life in the empire; in fact, created under pressure from the “official” clergy, and displays ill-disguised favoritism to them. On the other hand, also provides much-needed oversight of benefices and other ecclesiastic holdings, which do not fall under any other jurisdiction. Departments: Ecclesiastic Offices; Ecclesiastic Properties; Orthodoxy; Foreign Faiths.

    “Police” is actually a fairly new concept in the empire, in the sense of a force separate from the soldiery of the empire or the armed retainers of various nobles. Still small and–in its view–undersupported to the point of being incapable of discharging its duties, especially in its most often called-upon role: Compliance… the department tasked with seeing to it that the requirements and mandates of other ministries are met (especially those of Procurement, when Labor or Conscription is involved). Departments: Prisons; Civil Order; Compliance.

    Another innovation, intended to optimize the empire’s production, ideally without burning out croplands or overharvesting forests. Still very much in its infancy; to the good, it exerts considerable effort researching its sphere. Departments: Farms; Husbandry; Forests.

    A recent addition, indicative of the growing power of craft and industry. Tends to spend more time representing those in its sphere to the empire than vice versa… which was exactly what the trades intended, of course. Is also unfortunately tasked with supervising mercantile interests (the middlemen, whose interests often conflict with those of the producers), as well as handling both guild and non-guild producers (ditto). Departments: Guilds; Merchants; Craftsmen (non-guild); Innovation.

    Public Welfare:
    Yes, this is the newest ministry. Which says a great deal about the feudal system. While this may seem a benevolent innovation, it was in fact created at the request (insistence) of urban interests, in order to shift the burden of dealing with the indigent onto someone else… ideally, in a fashion conducive to turning them into useful labor. Still, its bureaucrats do occasionally act altruistically (as long as it’s in the budget), and have genuinely improved living conditions in many larger urban areas (whether acting altruistically or not). Of all of Nikovar’s new minisries, this appears to be the one most likely to endure: it’s too useful to too many people. Departments: Health; Employment; Hospitals and Asylums; Orphanages and Workshops; the Destitute (widows, crippled, etc.).

    Grandee of Imperial Sinecures:
    You've heard of "Minsters without Portfolio"? They're people who have been elevated to the rank of minister, but who have no particular responsibilities. Well, this is the man tasked with seeing that they carry them out. Proof that someone, somewhere, in the imperial hierarchy has a sense of humor. The present holder of this office, Marquis of the Court Mayerdin of Schleutzlich, is a perfect fit for the job. (A noble "of the court," by the way, is someone who's been given a title, but no lands to oversee.) Marquis Mayerdin takes his job quite seriously, too… as far as anyone can tell. He is, at any rate, the first holder of this office to see fit to hire a staff to assist him in it… all of whom are fairly close relatives of his. Such dedication to the empire's welfare on the part of one family cannot but be admired.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  5. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    Captain-General of the Imperial Guard:
    Take a guess. This position was separated from the authority of the Lord Marshal to forestall the possibility of military coups: the military can't simply command the Guard to aid in overthrowing a monarch, whereas the Guard is not powerful enough to withstand the military and so does not itself stand much of a chance of accomplishing a successful coup. This arrangement has worked so far.

    Chancery officials:
    The administrative hierarchy of the Lord Chancellor. Specific high-level offices include the Lord Chancery (which runs this hierarchy, as opposed to the Lord Chancellor, who runs just about everything), the Superintendant of Records, the Lord Registrar, and the Lord Archivist, as well as the Secretary-General to the Ministries, who administers the staffs of the various ministries (as opposed to the Ministers, who just make the decisions the staffs have to execute).

    Ministerial subordinates:
    A bewildering array of Deputy Ministers heads various Departments under each Minister. The largest numbers appear under entities that aren't even called "Ministries"–the Justiciary and Treasury, each of which has well over a dozen (the Department heads are still called "Deputy Minister"). The most fascinating ministry is State, which in addition to its four official Departments, also has three unofficial ones… one for each of the kingdoms that were once part of the empire, but with which official diplomacy cannot be conducted, since officially they still are part of it.

    Imperial Household subordinates:
    And if you thought the ministries were bewildering…: the number of people with titles here is almost incalculable. There are 55 people in Housekeeping alone with unique titles (three sets of Supervisor, Vice-Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor for each of seventeen aspects of palace cleanliness, plus one Supervisor Superior overseeing the whole bunch)–and those are the ones in charge of keeping the interior of the palaces clean, so, for example, there are actually two Supervisors in charge of Windows: one for washing their insides, and another for washing the outsides. (Nor do they get along well very often.) The Imperial Private Secretary supervises Secretaries of Public Appointments and Private Appointments–and when they aren't getting along, things can get really ugly–among others. And so on. The good news is that it's unlikely any of these people is ever going to be in a position of authority over you. The bad news is that they probably already know everybody who is.

    Governor (of a Region)
    Imperial regions are drawn along the following lines: (1) geographical; (2) historical; (3) inconvenient. Their purpose is to provide continuity of administration in the face of ever-changing internal borders… as well as to provide the empire with a more direct way to administer its lands at all: essentially, an end-run around its nobles. Sometimes it even works out that way. Governors are appointed by the emperor, and are as likely to be from someplace far removed from the region as native to it. Their actual level of influence in their jurisdictions varies considerably… as do their attempts to exercise it: some governors see their positions as largely honorary, apart from providing a convenient source of extra income, while others actually try to administer their regions. The latter tend to be less popular with the nobility, though if effective they can prove quite popular with the populace at large.

    Warden (of a Region)
    The representative of the Marshalate to a region. Their assigned task, coordinating the military assets within their area, is all but impossible to achieve in most instances, due to the fact that regional borders tend to split duchies… with the result that a duke may decide he needs his troops to be in a neighboring region rather than the one in question. Still, the best Wardens can cut through individual noble interests in times of crisis, forcing them to work together in spite of themselves.

    Magistrate (of a Region)
    The representative of the Judiciary in a region. As the Judiciary is technically independent, nobles and others generally cannot duck jurisdiction as they can in the other cases of regional officials. Mainly functions in an appellate role, as well as having original jurisdiction over cases involving two subordinate jurisdictions with no common higher authority.

    Lord Mayor (of an Imperial Free City)
    The senior authority in one of the thirty urban areas made independent of all feudal overlords by an act of the empire… if terminally dependent on its ability to sustain enough industry to see its populace fed. For most cities, this isn’t a problem. Lords Mayor are usually appointed by the emperor, sometimes from prominent inhabitants of the city but usually from the ranks of the lower nobility (never higher nobles, as that would defeat the purpose of independent cities). A few cities have managed to impose their wills and have their own selection methods, most notably the cities of the Funfberg, the five commercial powerhouses that compelled the institution of free cities in the first place. One city has its own unique institution: Friudigen, an exclave of the empire, which is governed by a Lord Mayor-Castellan, inasmuch as the city is essentially one huge citadel.

    Constable (of an Imperial Castle):
    In addition to the two crown realms, there are several imperial castles dotted about the empire, their purposes being to host progresses and to provide military bases independent of local nobles. The Constables are in charge of all aspects of life in the castles–technically: in practice, they may rarely ever be present, as these offices are as likely to be handed out as rewards to favorites as to competent military commanders. The Constables answer to the Lord Marshal, unless the castle happens to be situated next to a large body of water–as most of them are, once the rivers are factored in–in which case they answer to both Lords Marshal and Admiral.

    Seneschal, Exchequer, Bailiff:
    Officers subordinate to a specific noble. The first is analogous to the Lord Steward of the Realm–and has no other direct superiors or subordinates, though they have indirect power over all other offices that fall within that noble's realm, including lower nobles. The other two are parts of the treasury and justiciary hierarches, respectively, and thus answer to both their liege lord and to their own chain of command.

    Chamberlain, Castellan:
    Officers subordinate to a specific noble, and answerable only to that noble. The first is analogous to the Steward of the Imperial Household, the second to Constable.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  6. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    THE ORDERS OF CHIVALRY [updated to Year 373]

    There are seven official Orders of Chivalry in the Empire–two largely honorary, the other five far from it. Each has its own internal and external politics, some at odds with one another. All members are considered to rank higher than knights who are not members of any Order (knights bachelor and errant, and even most knights banneret); among themselves, precedence is based on how when the order was established–with the exception of the first listed, but who’s going to argue with the Emperor? The first four predate the Civil Wars; the next two formed during them, the newest shortly after they ended. Most have five ranks (some fewer, some include ranks below knighthood); actual titles vary, “generic” versions are:
    - Grand Master
    - Knight Commander
    - Knight Companion
    - Knight Officer
    - Knight (Member)

    Order of the Royal Bloom:
    Membership is by imperial favor, and is limited to 100 persons (plus the emperor). Within the order, promotion is by strict seniority, with the exception of Grand Master, who is appointed by the emperor from the four knights commander. Largely honorary; many members are appointed to it after leaving one of the other orders. Members can “retire” from the active affairs of the order, and receive the title of knight banneret should they do so; they are entitled to bear the badge of the order (an iris, or fleur-de-lis) for life. The ranks are:
    - Grand Master of the Royal Bloom
    ╞ Marquis of the Court Prince Munsimer of Erchevold-Torgenrik
    - Knight of the Plume (limited to four persons)
    - Knight of the Blossom (limited to 15)
    - Knight of the Branch (limited to 30)
    - Knight of the Sprig (usually 50, unless a vacancy does not get filled immediately)

    Order of Naubelblud:
    Open only to junior members of noble lines (at least third in birth order), who are enrolled as novices at age four or five; they are promoted to page at age ten, to squire at fifteen, are knighted at twenty. Upon accepting knighthood, they must forever renounce any other title they would normally bear, and all rights of inheritance, even if the succession reaches them. May retire honorably any time after they reach thirty, though they are never obliged to; many never do, remaining as preceptors for the next generation. Very much a military order–the highest-quality elite soldiers of the empire, though members of the Order of the Holly might contest this… and members of the Order of the Ward wish they could. Strictly loyal to the current emperor, whoever that may be, otherwise tending to be neutral politically. Ranks are:
    - Grand Master
    ╞ Henryci Degesh
    - Knight Commander (limited to three persons)
    - Knight Companion (limited to 12)
    - Knight Officer (optimally 48)
    - Knight (Member) (optimally 11 per officer; often less, depending on the current pool of students coming up through the ranks)
    - lower ranks: Squire, Page, Novice

    Order of the Holly:
    A military order open to all; new members are nominated by an officer of the order, generally for performance on the battlefield. Unlike most other orders, members, once their training is complete, normally lead other troops in battle rather than fighting as a self-contained unit. Symbol is a holly leaf (or wreath at higher ranks). All ranks above knight retire as knights banneret–subject to approval of the emperor, which is rarely withheld. Ranks are the normal ones.
    - current Grand Master: Sir Rezinya, Viscountess of Dromenetsu, Baroness of Ushtep

    Order of the Coronet:
    The most exclusive order, open only to nobles of baronial rank or higher, or their family members (in other words, people entitled to wear coronets); symbol is a plain gold circlet. Also the smallest order, though this has more to do with their politics than exclusivity. The order’s purpose is to act as a unifying force in the empire: members are expected to renounce the right to feud, and strive to bring the noble families of the empire into greater harmony–a challenge well-demonstrated by the fact that some “chapters” are presently entirely empty. The order is mainly political rather than military in nature, though nothing prevents members from serving in the field. Membership is expected to be lifelong; the order can only be left dishonorably–usually by expulsion, in the rare instances it happens at all. Unlike other orders, there is no Grand Master: each of the empire’s Regions constitutes a separate chapter, headed by a knight commander. There is also only one other rank. (Note that the Order has yet to realign its divisions in light of the recent reduction in Regions, apart from eliminating the empty Vahir-Dascu chapter.)
    - Commander of the [Region] Chapter
    - Companion of the [Region] Chapter
    - chapter commanders:
    Northmark: Rudimer, Duke Palatine of Tyrvenhagn
    Altgau: Geserich, Duke of Evanstad
    Northern Riding: Felzamir, Prince-Baron of Andevlet
    Eastern Riding: Naszatno, Marquis of Sangor
    Maritszeklar: Prince Segridoch of Maritsa
    Eastmark: –
    Lower Dascu: Zerich, Lord Admiral
    Upper Dascu: –
    Saxachar: Baronet Ruving of Badligern
    Maritsthegn: Lady Elga of Ludostein
    Funfberg: Prince Holdir of Maritsa, Lord Mayor of Trelingdor
    Neugau: Ergon, Viscount of Sakvikvegn
    Daarwold: Prininga, Countess Palatine of Fyrstevegn
    Westmark: Keredur, Baron of Leitzen

    Samite Order:
    The first and so far only religious chivalric order to arise in the empire, formed during the Civil Wars. A military order, but not a militant one; its expressed purpose is to see the empire reunited, and it sees toleration as a better route toward this than sectarianism. Members rarely involve themselves in conflicts within the empire, and avoid those between empire and kingdoms–in fact, the order does not recognize the existence of those borders: generally, those active in the ranks can be found on the far borders of the kingdoms fighting external enemies. This has caused them to be viewed with suspicion by some, though they have always been loyal to the empire when it’s mattered. Perhaps surprisingly, they are viewed with less suspicion in the kingdoms, in spite of this loyalty, and of being from the “wrong” religion. The order’s symbol is a vestment of white cloth–a contrast to the normal greens and browns of their priestly brethren outside the order. Open to all who meet their standards; accepts ages 10 and up. All members receive religious instruction; all beyond the lowest rank are ordained as priests of the Earth Mother. Honorable retirement can be taken any time after ten years; retired members are expected to provide support for the order ever after; conversely, the order arranges benefices to retired members who elect to become active priests. Ranks:
    - Grand Master
    ╞ Exarch Sir Heglinda, Viscountess of Waldesmuhl
    - Knight of the Mantle
    - Knight of the Surplice
    - Knight of the Tabard
    - Knight of the Samite Cloth
    - Novice

    Order of the Cistern:
    Definitely not a military order; its members are accorded knightly rank nonetheless. Formed during the Civil Wars as a service order, mostly by members of the imperial bureaucracy; their stated purpose was “to keep the empire running while everyone else is trying to tear it to shreds.” It remains a service order to this day, even if it didn’t quite manage to accomplish its original goal; it is now seen as largely honorary, a reward for those who devote their lives to the administration of the empire. Its symbol is an overflowing earthenware goblet. The Grand Master is always the current Pursuivant General, who is held up as exemplifying the highest standards of neutrality and service–an honorary appointment, appropriate for the head of an honorary order. Ranks are the normal ones, though they mean little.
    - current Grand Master: Rigobert of Fulgau

    Order of the Ward:
    In many ways the opposite of the Samite Order: they want to see the empire reunited, too–by force. The stated purpose is to “secure and extend the borders of the empire,” but since the empire presently lacks land borders apart from those facing the kingdoms, it’s difficult to interpret this any other way. Its symbol is a plain green shield, which all its members bear, as do troops under their command. Open to anyone with military training; new members must spend at least two years fighting on foot, usually leading non-knightly troops affiliated with the order; following this they are promoted to the second rank and allowed to get on (or back on) a horse. Honorable retirement permitted after five years at current rank–so anyone planning retirement had best refuse promotion. Especially since leaving the order in any other fashion is considered “desertion”… and dealt with accordingly. Retirees are expected to provide lifelong tithes, and to send promising subordinates the order’s way; those who retire as officer or above are nominated to the Order of the Royal Bloom, and are usually admitted if there is an opening; as a result, perhaps a third of that order were originally members of this one. Is very touchy about their status as the “youngest” order, and matters of honor in general: don’t ever expect members to refuse an opportunity for a duel… especially with a member of the Samites. Considerable tension exists between this order and the rest of the empire following its open support of Prince Sebeschar during his recent failed maneuvering for the throne; they also regard the newly-united Kingdom of Althegnar as an open challenge to the empire’s supremacy. Divides spheres of operation into three “Wards,” corresponding to the (former) three kindgoms. Ranks:
    - Grand Master
    ╞ Sir Gavard von Muderich
    - Commander of the [X] Ward (one each)
    ╞ Western Ward: Sir Levretsu, Viscount of Adlarechu
    ╞ Northern Ward: Sir Domnuvar of Farijssel
    ╞ Eastern Ward: Baronet Sir Heugerim of Threschanval
    - Knight Officer
    - Knight Caparisoned
    - Knight of the Ward
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  7. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    An Essay on Where the Powers that Be… Be.
    Part 1

    The Emperor sits atop a hierarchy of nobles, bureaucrats, military and various other functionaries, and his decree is the law of the land.

    Yeah, right.

    That statement contains two inaccuracies. First, the Emperor sits atop not one but several hierarchies, some of which are independent of one another, some of which are interconnected to a greater or lesser extent, a few of which are opposed to one another, and at least a couple of which stand in both of the latter relations. From this, you can probably guess what the other inaccuracy is.

    Saying that the Emperor "sits atop" the Imperium is akin to saying that an acrobat balancing himself upon a three-legged milking stool placed upon a tightrope is "sitting atop" it… though the comparison is really only valid if he's also trying to milk a cow at the same time, the stool is upside-down, and it in fact has more than three legs. (Some would add that the cow must likewise have more than three legs, though others would say that would make the task sound deceptively simple. The number of legs the acrobat ought to have is generally held to be a negotiable quantity.) Given just how many different factions are constantly vying for imperial favor—or the throne itself—it's really quite astonishing how few of the Second Imperium's ten monarchs have been assassinated. Specifically: none. (Well, there are still rumors about the most recent death.) Three died in battle, one was executed as a traitor, and one was slain accidentally in routine sword practice… but none has been assassinated. Still, it's enough to cause one to wonder why anybody would want the job. (It's not entirely clear all of them did, but so far no one's turned it down.) And even when these many factions aren't vying for the imperial favor, they're busily engaged looking out for their own interests in various other ways not always conducive to the good of the empire, nor the stability or sanity of the emperor. So how does an emperor do it?

    Just that way: keeps them engaged with one another, rather than him. As long as no one faction can dominate its rivals, and no combination of factions can dominate their collective rivals, they all require his good will. And in the meantime have to curry favor with one another, which keeps most of them at peace with most of the rest of them most of the time, and have to be fairly constantly engaged in seeking out that other great currency of influence—that is, currency—which keeps the economy moving at it ought.

    Who's Who

    The Imperial Bureaucracy: Again, this is deceptively oversimplified, as many portions of the bureaucracy are rivals with one another for the power and influence of their own departments. On the whole, though, this can be thought of as an organ whose function it is to carry out the emperor's will. Or at least tell him why it isn't possible to do so. Infighting tends to get more vicious—if also more petty—the farther down any given hierarchy you go. Infighting between different branches could put street riots to shame were it not for the fact that most bureaucrats generally go about unarmed, apart from their vocabularies. (Especially if they want to have a prayer of ever working around anybody important.) For other details, see the section describing the various Great Offices, Ministries, and other organs of bureaucracy.

    Imperium: The emperor's ultimate weapon: persons vested with Imperium are considered to be extensions of the emperor himself, and can exercise any power he can, other than vesting someone else with Imperium, or removing same. The areas within which these powers can be exercised may be a sphere of operations (administering justice, as with Tribunes), in relation to a certain set of tasks (as with Intendants), a geographical area (Viceroys; Tribunes and Intendants are often limited geographically as well)… or with no limits whatsoever: the Legates. The power of Imperium is used by the emperors as a counterbalance to all the other power groups: the sudden appearance of someone carrying the full power of the emperor and the full authority to employ it without further consultation can preempt coordinated action between members of any other bloc. The mere appointment of an Intendant is a screaming warning that something within his warranted sphere has gone farther than the emperor is willing to permit, and it had best get straightened out before the Intendant starts making "recommendations"; the arrival of a Legate in a region is a cause for trepidation—or rejoicing, depending on which side of events the Legate is expected to come down on.

    Needless to say, only the most trusted of the emperor's vassals will ever be vested with Imperium, and in most cases the appointments are temporary, intended to give the emperor an on-the-spot representative to resolve a given problem without his having to go there in person, or to attempt addressing the issue remotely. Only Legates tend to be appointed permanently, and it is rare for an emperor to have more than one or two of these; indeed, if he feels the need for more, it's an indication that circumstances have spun so far beyond his control that even this measure is unlikely to be able to correct it.

    As should come as no surprise, those exercising Imperium tend not to be among the most popular persons in the empire; accordingly, they are protected against retaliation by imperial law. Persons vested with Imperium by one emperor cannot be held responsible at a later date for actions taken on his behalf—their actions being regarded as those of the emperor who appointed them. The only exception to this is if their actions can be deemed treasonous.

    The Princes: These are the descendants of the Last Emperor, Palagyr, who, according to his Will, are the ones eligible to be chosen as successors to the throne. Normally when spoken of, these "royal lines" are limited to the descendants of his three daughters, from whom successors were supposed to be chosen, according to his Will; in a broader sense, it includes the lines of his three sons as well, the ones that now rule the three breakaway Kingdoms. (The narrower sense should be understood unless specifically mentioned otherwise.) All members of a royal line bear the title "Prince," in addition to whatever other titles he might hold, and in spite of whether or not he has any real power of any sort. In general, princes who also hold other titles or offices will identify more strongly with whatever other group they are part of—since the odds of them being elected emperor are slim, while conversely their other position is something they'll have to deal with every day of their lives. Still, few are willing to alienate other members of their lines… from which the lines derive their real influence: collective action by a given line can potentially mobilize as much as a third of the empire at a stroke.

    The three royal lines of the empire are the lines of Helderau, descended from Princess Angrid; the multitude of hyphenated lines of Erchevold-X (Erchevold-Herzerik, -Fulgau, -Saxar, -Rachevnar, etc.), informally if more conveniently referred to as the Clothildan line, descended from Princess Clothilde; and the line of Maritsa, descended from Princess Maritsana. Under the original terms of Palagyr's Will, the senior members of these three lines, along with the senior members of the lines of the sons, are supposed to choose a member of one of the above three lines whenever the throne becomes empty: this became the basis for the present Electorate, albeit in heavily modified form following the Civil Wars. (For starters, the kingdom lines don't have any input in the matter.)

    Due to prolific intermarriage over the succeeding generations, there are now a couple hundred persons eligible to be elected emperor, in the sense that the original Will intended. These include, unsurprisingly, about half the middle- and upper-level nobles of the empire (who of course married into one or another of the lines to give their heirs a chance at the throne), as well as no few persons outside the empire (ditto)—including a great many of both who are also descended from one of the kingdom lines. Also unsurprisingly, as generations increased the distance between cousins, a great many princes are now descended from more than one line even within the empire. Most princes, however, will identify with one specific line, no matter how many he's actually related to… especially if they ever hope to receive that line's support, for the throne or anything else.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  8. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Part 2

    The Princes: These are the descendants of the Last Emperor, Palagyr, who, according to his Will, are the ones eligible to be chosen as successors to the throne. Normally when spoken of, these "royal lines" are limited to the descendants of his three daughters, from whom successors were supposed to be chosen, according to his Will; in a broader sense, it includes the lines of his three sons as well, the ones that now rule the three breakaway Kingdoms. (The narrower sense should be understood unless specifically mentioned otherwise.) All members of a royal line bear the title "Prince," in addition to whatever other titles he might hold, and in spite of whether or not he has any real power of any sort. In general, princes who also hold other titles or offices will identify more strongly with whatever other group they are part of–since the odds of them being elected emperor are slim, while conversely their other position is something they'll have to deal with every day of their lives. Still, few are willing to alienate other members of their lines… from which the lines derive their real influence: collective action by a given line can potentially mobilize as much as a third of the empire at a stroke.

    The three royal lines of the empire are the lines of Helderau, descended from Princess Angrid; the multitude of hyphenated lines of Erchevold-X (Erchevold-Herzerik, -Fulgau, -Saxar, -Rachevnar, etc.), informally if more conveniently referred to as the Clothildan line, descended from Princess Clothilde; and the line of Maritsa, descended from Princess Maritsana. Under the original terms of Palagyr's Will, the senior members of these three lines, along with the senior members of the lines of the sons, are supposed to choose a member of one of the above three lines whenever the throne becomes empty: this became the basis for the present Electorate, albeit in heavily modified form following the Civil Wars. (For starters, the kingdom lines don't have any input in the matter.)

    Due to prolific intermarriage over the succeeding generations, there are now a couple hundred persons eligible to be elected emperor, in the sense that the original Will intended. These include, unsurprisingly, about half the middle- and upper-level nobles of the empire (who of course married into one or another of the lines to give their heirs a chance at the throne), as well as no few persons outside the empire (ditto)–including a great many of both who are also descended from one of the kingdom lines. Also unsurprisingly, as generations increased the distance between cousins, a great many princes are now descended from more than one line even within the empire. Most princes, however, will identify with one specific line, no matter how many he's actually related to… especially if they ever hope to receive that line's support, for the throne or anything else.


    The Electors: Seven people whose collective job it is to decide who gets to sit on the throne. Only matters when the throne is unoccupied. Again: yeah, right. Usually by the time the throne comes vacant, it's a little late to be making friends–and usually far too late to be avoiding making enemies. There are seven Electors: originally, three were the heads of the royal lines, and the other four were dukes; election of an emperor required five of the seven votes, thus making it impossible for the dukes to control an election without the agreement of at least one of the royal lines. However, the Clothildan line has since lost its Electoral dignity–in a legalistic sense: the duke who received it is in fact a member of that line; however, he is not the head of that line, and is not obliged to follow the wishes of the line's head. Of the other duchies, only two of the original four retain their Electorates: one of the originals was stripped of its dignity as a result of a scandal, the other when its lands were split between two heirs–the Curia and the emperor were unwilling to give both heirs votes, nor to decide as to which one should retain it. (This has since been written into kingdom law: if an Electoral duchy is split, it automatically loses its dignity.)

    By tradition, Electors are not themselves eligible to be elected to the throne. This, however, is tradition, not law.

    The kingdoms have all technically adopted some version of an electorate as well, though in general these electors have more limited powers; in any case, the thrones of the kingdoms have all descended along strictly hereditary lines to date. The only thing resembling an exception is that, due to an accident of history, the Kingdom of Vaesthegnar is ruled not by the descendants of the seniormost member of its royal line, but by the descendants of the second senior member.


    The Greater Nobility: This consists of all the dukes and marquises, and all the counts palatine. Note that counts and viscounts of "peculiar" realms are not regarded as part of the greater nobility, even though they rule top-level states. (And don't imagine they don't resent this exclusion.) Apart from the various personal rivalries involved, there are three potential subdivisions to be considered: those dukes who are Electors (there are five); those nobles who happen to also be part of the Privy Council (generally, none); and the Curia, which consists of all the greater nobility who are not on the Privy Council (generally, all, including the Electors). These are "potential" subdivisions in the sense that normally there will be no actual "division": except when there is an election, the Electors will simply be functioning as dukes, and except in the rare case of a member of the greater nobility being seated on the Privy Council, all of the greater nobility will be part of the Curia… so in general when the Curia is mentioned, it is shorthand for and synonymous with "all the greater nobility"–which is how it will be used for the rest of this section. (The Grand Masters of the chivalric orders and the highest level of religious officialdom–the metropolitans–are also allowed to sit on Curia, though legally this is only in an “advisory” capacity. Of course, legally, that’s all the Curia is supposed to be, too…)

    Combined, the Curia are the top-level overlords of roughly 90% of the empire (the bulk of the remainder being principalities or crown lands)… with roughly 80% of the empire being ruled by the dukes. Which points up an unofficial but important subdivision within the Curia: the dukes, and the other members. The marquises are technically equal in law to the dukes; however, the marches were formed primarily through the elevation of counts who remained loyal to the empire when the Civil Wars split duchies along the borders with the kingdoms–and the dukes generally tend to still view the marches as counties. Many of the dukes would like to see the marches eliminated altogether, their status as counties restored, and their realms subordinated to higher authorities–that is, merged into the duchies they border. Needless to say, this attitude is more common among those dukes who would actually benefit from this: dukes whose lands don't border any of the marches are less enthusiastic about seeing their fellows' realms so expanded. Also needless to say, the marquises aren't keen on the idea at all… and the counts palatine tend to side with the marquises, given the implied threat to their own lands.

    In the First Imperium, the Curia was principally an advisory body, convened whenever an emperor felt a need to "seek their counsel"–that is to say, to convince them to do something he wanted done, such as levy a new tax. The Civil Wars resulted in vastly increased influence of this body: it was the Curia who put a stop to the wars (basically by refusing to fight them any longer), and who imposed the modified Electorate on the new imperium. They have assumed the power, in fact if not in law, to remove Electorates from its members when circumstances warrant, and to reassign these to others of its members. While this has rarely been exercised, and in any event requires the concurrence of the emperor, it is probably the single most powerful check–indeed, perhaps the only check–on the powers of the Electors. Most notably, it was the Curia who recently forced the Clothildan royal line to transfer its Electoral vote to the Duke (now Archduke) of Eszerthagn… in the process significantly altering the balance of power between the dukes and the princes within the Electors.


    The Lesser Nobility: All the other counts, plus all the viscounts and barons. While there is no official division here, the interests of the barons and those of the other levels often differs, since, while the county and viscounty titles are heritable (by law), baronial fiefs are held at the pleasure of the emperor (by law). More importantly, only the baronial fiefs have actual land attached to them: any higher noble who holds land directly does so by virtue of being a baron as well.

    The qualification "by law" is an important one: in practice, baronies descend along hereditary lines; higher titles can be created, transferred or revoked by the emperor–though doing so will generally require the consent of the Curia, whose interests such actions directly affects. The contradictory nature of this dual structure can be both a convenience and a hindrance to the emperor's exercise of power, depending on his level of influence relative to that of the Curia and of the nobility in general.

    While the interests of the barons occasionally puts them at odds with other levels of nobility, it should be remembered that a great many baronies are held by other nobles–indeed, nearly all higher nobles are also barons, so they will have a strong voice in any collective action the barons attempt to take.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  9. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Part 3

    The Imperial Free Cities and Chartered Towns: A bloc that has arisen entirely since the Civil Wars, beginning with the Funfbergkreis, the “circle” of five cities nestled at the heart of the empire, where the four great riverine systems converge. Their combined ability to dominate inland trade—particularly at a time when that was almost the only trade the empire had, the seas having grown hostile during the wars—gave them the power to demand independence from feudal overlords more interested in controlling land than in seeing to the welfare of population centers. (It didn’t hurt any that their specific overlords were actually more or less sympathetic to their desires—though they weren’t about to stand up in court and say a much in front of their peers.) It wasn’t long before the empire realized that removing centers of commerce and industry from noble hands might be a good idea in general, the more so given uneven population distributions that afforded some nobles considerably greater power relative to others with fewer urban centers in their realms. Most importantly, the empire has striven to keep its major port cities away from the nobles, so that they would be less able to restrict external trade… or inhibit it with excessive taxes, or profit inordinately from same. As a result, applications for an Imperial Charter are all but pro forma these days: any noble who wants to keep a city under his control had best find ways to do it before the application reaches court. While many of these cities are commercial rivals, this is probably the most homogenous of all the power blocs: the overall interests of each are the same, unlike those of just about any other such group.

    The Military: It’s difficult to say whether this should be considered a power bloc or not, since the overwhelming majority of the empire’s soldiery is supplied by its nobles. And while the emperor—or the empire, through the Marshalate—can call these forces together and put them under a unified command, it’s rarely the case anyone else can: first of all, it would take a minor miracle to get two nobles of equal rank to agree which of them should be in charge, let alone more than two; and second, doing so would invariably mean one of them was commanding troops who had tried to kill him, or at least some relative of his, within living memory.

    Which deserves a special comment of its own. One thing the emperor almost never does is try to prevent his subjects from fighting one another. In part, this is because he generally can’t… since he’d have to borrow the troops to do it from other nobles. (Similar reasons apply to the other levels of noble hierarchy, all the way down.) Also, the right to feud, as well as to duel, is protected under imperial law—for the upper classes, at least: peasants do not have these rights. As much as an emperor might wish to suppress violence between his subjects, the only way he can realistically do so is if he can make it out to be a threat to the empire… which is usually a tough notion to sell a bunch of nobles jealously protective of their prerogatives to behave in exactly the same way when they want to, and who know full well what it is the emperor is really up to. Besides, doing so would let the emperor reduce them one at a time, in detail, and then where would they be?

    So the emperor usually accepts the arrangement, permitting small-scale internal wars, as long as they don’t get out of hand and spread. This has the advantage of holding down imperial expenditures on military matters… which in turn is a big help when the empire decides it does need a large body of troops quickly: it can afford to pay for them, whereas everybody else has had to pay for theirs all along. This also has the advantage—from the point of view of both emperor and nobles, one of few things they agree upon—of preventing the military from becoming an independent power, capable of overwhelming any single noble at will, or of making and unmaking emperors.

    Which, so far, is how it’s actually turned out, too.

    The Justiciary: An independent, politically disinterested group of civil servants dedicated to rising above the conflicts of the imperium and seeing that all its citizens are treated equitably before the law.

    Astonishingly enough, this is actually not terribly far from the truth.

    If there’s one leg of the milking stool the emperor can’t use in the butter-churn of powers to mix his metaphor of balance (or any other) with, it’s this one. The justiciary is indeed legally independent; and while the emperor can override its decisions, he does so at his own peril. After all, what other recourse does the empire’s citizenry—at all levels—have, to protect them from arbitrary rule—at any level?

    Of course, the positions are appointed, which cuts into their “independence” somewhat, and there are numerous ways to circumvent or subvert these “disinterested” judges, but it’s a rare individual who will blatantly disregard the decisions of a court. He might need to appeal to one himself, some day.

    The Orders of Chivalry: The seven Orders of the empire are quasi-independent organizations—five of them military; the other two are primarily honorary in nature, one of which is specifically non-military. Of the first five, one, the Order of Naubelblud, is devoted specifically to the well-being and preservation of the empire, and will rarely oppose the will of the emperor—though as a result it constitutes one of the more potent tools for enforcing this will. The Order of the Coronet, the smallest of the seven, is dedicated to promoting harmony among the empire's nobles, and thus will generally act as a unifying force. The other three military orders, however, can find themselves on any side of an issue, and two, the Samite Order and the Order of the Ward, have philosophies that largely guarantee their opposition to each other; the Order of the Holly, the most independent of them all, makes its own decisions as to who or what is deserving of its support.

    See the entry for the Orders above for more details.

    Ecclesiastical Interests: In terms of direct power, this is a weak group—there is little in the way of organized religion within the empire—but their influence is pervasive, and should strong leaders emerge from among the clergy, they could motivate vast portions of the populace. And there are certainly ecclesiastics who would like to see their positions and power increase.

    The dominant, and "official," religion within the empire is Earth Mother. Other religions are generally tolerated, but often looked askance at, especially those of Sky Father and Sun—these being the official religions of the kingdoms (Sun for Kereszney, Sky Father for the other two). The making of these other religions "official" in the kingdoms was almost entirely politically motivated, a device for clarifying the lines of difference among their populaces—and for circumventing the possibility of ecclesiastics from the empire influencing them against their rulers, should they ever become organized. (The empire adopted an official religion last, in response to the actions of the others.) These religions are more organized in the kingdoms than Earth Mother (or any religion) is in the empire, but they are still far from being dominant forces in the political lives of those realms. (Nor are the two churches of Sky Father in the two different kingdoms strongly connected to one another.)

    "Minor" religions include that of Sea Mother, popular in coastal areas and less frowned upon by virtue of not being the official religion of any particular political rival; Mountain Father, rare in the empire and uncommon even in nearby regions, and Huntress, rare in nearly every "civilized" land. Other religions exist in distant lands, but are generally only rumors within the empire.

    One minor but potentially important addendum: the Samite Order is a religious as well as a military order—all of its members are trained in the religion of Earth Mother, and very often retire to become active priests.

    [Note that all of these religions exist to at least some small extent everywhere in the world, and their level of organization and political influence may be vastly different in other lands. Earth Mother, in particular, is common just about everywhere—even in the kingdoms where a different religion is the dominant one. Note also that none of these religions is monotheistic: the existence of other gods is acknowledged by all, even where they are not particularly revered.]

    Everybody Else: The artisans, craftsmen, merchants, guilds, professions, and sometimes even the peasantry. The main power of any of these groups is economic, and is generally limited to aiding or (more often) hindering trade, in order to obtain whatever concessions they are seeking. Still, it's not difficult for an emperor to sway some other power bloc by courting—or threatening the interests of—one or more of these groups, thereby exerting pressure on other power blocs from below… hitting them where they're most vulnerable: their purses.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  10. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Coda 1

    Balance of Power between Athringen and the Kingdoms

    The Second Imperium and the breakaway kingdoms have been at peace ever since the Civil Wars ended. Just ask anybody. Especially the respective rulers. Oh, there are minor incursions by overzealous barons along the borders pretty much every year; intermittent feuding as a result of personal enmities between nobles of middling levels–pretty much every year; and occasional full-blown invasions by one or more dukes into or from at least one of the kingdoms… pretty much every year. But apart from that, nothing, really.

    That's the point here: the kindgoms themselves, and the empire itself, aren't at war with one another. And since the rest is routine within the borders of each, it should hardly surprising similar activities would take place across the borders as well, right?


    Coda 2

    The Imperial Diet (proposed)

    Nothing would upset the present balance of power more than a permanent parliamentary body… especially one that had actual, legally-established powers of its own, unlike the Curia.

    Of course, depending on your own lot in life, you may regard this as a good thing.…
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  11. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    and Associated Lands

    [Note: few of the offices have names associated with them at present. Additional names will be added over time.]

    While religion in the Empire doesn’t exactly reach the levels usually associated with the word “organized,” there is an organization. Fortunately, given that it isn’t a complex, highly inbred one like the imperial bureaucracy, it will take considerably less space to summarize. Note that as with any other office, appointment and promotion may have very little to do with the virtues of the individual… or his piety.

    There are seven titles used within the empire, though there are only five real “ranks” (or four, or three). Starting from the bottom, these are:

    Priest: your basic ordained cleric in charge of a church or similar religious site. Not all churches, and certainly not all religious sites of any description, even have a priest: many smaller ones (including most chapels found in villages) are actually run by an assistant or lay cleric.

    Prelate: technically a priest, but accorded a higher “rank” due to the size and/or importance of the see they are charged with. The head priest of a cathedral, for example, will always be regarded as a prelate.

    Vicarch: either an assistant to one of the higher-ranking clergy, or else a specific (often administrative) office. Vicarchs have no sees in the normal (geographic) sense, though they might minister to certain bodies, such as the Army, Navy, or an upper-level court… in the latter case, the appointment is controlled by the noble in question, and the church has no say in the matter.
    specific vicarchs: of the Imperial Court, of the Army, of the Navy; others

    Metropolitan and Exarch: these two titles are equivalent in rank; the difference is that metropolitans administer specific–and vast–geographical areas, whereas exarchs are “at large.” There are fourteen metropolitans in the empire, each of them based in a cathedral in one of the Imperial Cities. There are at present six exarchs, one of them the Grand Master of the Samite Order (a position that automatically makes one an exarch).
    - metropolitan sees of the empire (alphabetically) and their areas of responsibility:

    Barash–Meinerthagn, Sjaermund, Kasselberg
    Daarmuth–Lower Fulgau, Engving, County of Veigenmark [Torgevegn], Viscounty of Helderik [Helderau]
    Edlingford–Elgau, Gyrfalconsrest, Upper Fulgau
    Efvingsthal–Evanstad, Gorendam, Juliberg, Geblevegn, County of Helbinglinden [Alstein… or maybe Evanstad now]
    - Mernich, Viscount of Radaborn
    Kronenhavn–Crown Reach, Shevidhagn, Sakvikvegn, Viscounty of Heldeviksgau [Helderau], principalities north of Crown Reach
    Mereghedara–Muretsu, Vahir-Dascu, Cantrescu
    - Levistru of Gorovetznu
    Minglenford–Bergeheim [except Malodbord], Venden, Hesjedal, Torgevegn [except County of Veigenmark], Gramanstadt
    Nygesha–Trebidascu, Temes, County of Felegyhaza [south Zanarvec]
    Ruderiksburg–Tyrvenhagn, Tyrsreach, Malodbord [north Bergeheim]
    Saxenfurt–Dravuchim [except County of Rachevnar], Hedan-Saxar, Nieden-Saxar, Markovar
    Svanvik–Kalaszlar, Kurfsjin, Sangor
    Tordemischa–Eszerthagn, Zanarvec [except County of Felegyhaza], Niksmund, Herzerik
    Turingischel–Crown Vale, Maritsdor, Cunedor, Ludostein, County of Dorlingen [south Alstein]
    - Princess Suzilda of Maritsa
    Vedrichvar–Herchevar, County of Rachevnar [north Dravuchim]

    - exarchs of the empire:
    Sir Heglinda, Viscountess of Waldesmuhl, Grand Master of the Samite Order
    Julivet of Sigerten
    Tregotny of Mezovashely

    Council of Cardinals: five persons collectively tasked with coordinating the overall well-being of the church of Earth Mother. One is the Vicarch of the Imperial Court (who is not a cardinal); the other four are metropolitans or exarchs who have been elected for life by the vote of their peers, and are officially known as “Cardinal-[other title].” The council must always include at least one exarch and one metropolitan; the remaining two will vary over time.
    - current cardinals, in order of seniority:
    Cardinal-Exarch Julivet of Sigerten
    Cardinal-Metropolitan [of Mereghedara] Levistru of Gorovetznu
    Cardinal-Metropolitan [of Turingischel] Suzilda of Maritsa
    Cardinal-Exarch Tregotny of Mezovashely

    The remaining title is Abbot: these are independent of the hierarchy, and are allowed to regard even the decisions of the Council of Cardinals as “advisory” in nature, at least in relation to the practices of their abbeys and monastaries. In precedence, they get ranked between vicarch and metropolitan/exarch. There are several of these scattered throughout the empire.

    There are several other positions–not technically “ranks”–below priest: these include assistant priest, novice, monk, and suchlike. None of these carries any authority outside of the church’s structure.


    Other Religions in the Empire:
    Religion is, at least in theory, not restricted within the empire. Practice is another story. No cleric of a faith other than Earth Mother is allowed to call himself metropolitan or vicarch; each faith is permitted a single exarch… assuming they can agree on one. Abbots are permitted, but abbeys aren’t, so it’s something of a moot point. (If someone wants to call a dwelling he owns an “abbey,” the empire won’t stop him; if he tries to register it for tax purposes, or if a parcel of land is bequeathed to another faith for the purpose of establishing an abbey or monastery, that’s quite another thing.)

    How the populace at large feels about neighbors following a “foreign faith” sometimes leads to less than illustrious exemplars of toleration.



    The same ranks exist, though the priesthood is of course either that of Sky Father (for Vaesthegnar and Lorthegnar) or Sun (for Kereszney). Each kingdom has a single cardinal. The metropolitans and exarchs, if any, are:

    North–Varaborn, Vygirsvegn
    Central–Argenstone, Mittelvald, Sondehagn, Buerding
    South–Dorgeschanz, Habichtsvegn, Harding, Thanding [Cardinal]
    exarchs: one

    West–Hjamanfast, Maergert, Rek
    Central–Alschberg, Gundershavn, Kolving, Elingfast
    East–Delharrow, Nichemhagn, Sjaellig, Tuormu [Cardinal]
    exarchs: none

    Northwest–Nezerysed, Ulyrveg, Varad, Garadag, Ilkeshzehely
    Northeast–Akaslomovo, Fegsedachar, Kilpishjarvi, Iluyoja
    Central–Andelezyi, Sabhionesta, Vedrosani, Daneshvar
    Southwest–Razudrev, Voydulescu, Vredyinestu
    Southeast–Keredrechu, Kerecsantu, Subhidetsu, Techarig
    exarchs: three [one is Cardinal]


    Other Religions in the Kingdoms:

    Lorthegnar, and to a lesser extent Vaesthegnar, made efforts in the early days of their independence to “convert” all their subjects–or at least all of the priests–to the Sky Father faith; this was done for political rather than ideological purposes. These restrictions were relaxed after the first couple decades, and now freedom of religion is approximately the same there as it is in the empire. The Sky Father and Earth Mother faiths have never gotten along especially well, however, so those still following the latter tend to keep their devotions quiet.

    Kereszney took a less heavy-handed approach: it simply withheld royal permission for the promotion of any cleric beyond his current grade unless he converted, and then let natural selection do the rest. The populace of Kereszney today is split almost evenly between Sun and Earth Mother (plus a smattering of others); however, the latter has no officil ranking higher than “priest.” Foreign priests of any rank are permitted to operate openly, so it’s common for at least one of the empire’s exarchs to be found in Kereszney. The Sun and Earth Mother faiths get along reasonably well, so occasions for conflict are rare.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  12. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

    Part 1

    I’d like to do this four different ways: broken down by top-level entities (so it’s easy to see who answers to whom), by rank (so you can see how many of each there are), by map reference number (so you can find them), and alphabetically.

    Eventually, all four will probably show up (at which point they'll probably receive their own thread); at the moment, it’s going to be too difficult to do the first, meaningless to do the third without a numbered map, and most likely confusing to do the fourth, so we start with #2. Also, we start with Athringen only: I have names for all the kingdoms made up, but they’re still mostly in handwritten form. These posts will be updated with interpolated data when it becomes available. The number of each type of realm appears next to it, down to viscounty level; for principalities and baronies, see the notes. In a couple cases, a realm might have more than one title–for instance, Grichfeng is both a county and a viscounty; in all such cases, the two occupy the same land unless specifically noted to the contrary. Subtypes (archduchies, grand duchies, palatine realms, etc.) are under the major title type.

    Keep in mind that this is a list of the different realms in the empire: many nobles hold multiple titles. (The Archduke of Eszerthagn accounts for a couple dozen all by himself.)


    NOBLE REALMS of the EMPIRE of ATHRINGEN, by rank:

    DUCHIES [22]
    Eszerthagn (Archduchy)
    Gorendam (Archduchy)
    Kerecsantu (also a viscounty)
    Lower Fulgau
    Meinerthagn (Grand Duchy)
    Tyrvenhagn (Duchy Palatine)
    Upper Fulgau

    Duchies that no longer exist independently:
    Alstein (maybe)
    Malodbord (held by Bergeheim)
    Turingdor (held by Prince of Maritsdor)
    Upper Dascu

    MARCHES [10]

    COUNTIES [96]
    Cunedor (peculiar)
    Dundriksvegn (County Palatine)
    Fyrstevegn (County Palatine)
    Geblevegn (County Palatine)
    Gramanstadt (peculiar)
    Grichfeng (also a viscounty)
    Markovar (County Palatine)
    Upper Minglensval

    Engving (peculiar)
    Grichfeng (also a county)
    Kerecsantu (also a duchy)
    Lower Minglensval
    Ludostein (peculiar)
    Sakvikvegn (peculiar)

    …for a total of 307 higher and middle noble realms. Now it gets messy.…

    Many prinicipalities are also other noble realms, based on their status prior to the end of the Civil Wars. These are given in parentheses. Those without other titles are “only” principalities. Only a handful of the principalities are large enough to appear on the map; all those listed below do, either as top-level entities or as subdivisions of larger principalities (two viscounties in Helderau, three counties and seven viscounties in Maritsdor), with the exceptions of Andevlet, Brudehul and Diekelsmal. (Actually, Andevlet does in a way: it’s coterminous with Ziludrev, it’s just held by a different person.) Not all the principality-baronies are listed, and there are probably at least another hundred “principalities” on top of those… some of which don’t extend past the prince’s garden walls, and a few of which might not even extend out of doors. Note that anyone who is a prince, but who has title to lands not part of a principality, isn’t even considered here: 13 out of 22 dukes fall into this category, for instance.

    Andevlet (barony)
    Apatfanu (county)
    Auserdich (county)
    Bagatrik (barony)
    Butzheim (barony)
    Darvingdel (viscounty)
    Dasselburg (barony)
    Haveling (county)
    Helderau (county)
    Helderik (viscounty)
    Heldevikgau (viscounty)
    Heligloch (viscounty)
    Highfair (viscounty)
    Highgate (county)
    Hrednichvar (viscounty)
    Kahlingborg (viscounty)
    Leichsheim (barony)
    Maglised (barony)
    Maritsdor (the title of Duke of Turingdor is also held by this prince)
    Maritsvegn (county)
    Mezesnash (viscounty)
    Namsturming (viscounty)
    Pfesen (barony)
    Ragnavik (viscounty)
    Rhusigvikvegn (viscounty)
    Rohringen (viscounty)
    Rushingdel (viscounty)
    Sachsendascu (barony)
    Sudenlich (barony)
    Uhrsigen (viscounty)

    BARONIES (Known)
    Not counting baronies that exist on Crown Lands (which are rare, but sometimes the emperor wants a parcel of land overseen more carefully than by ministerial advisers), there are 668 baronial fiefs in the empire–or at least were as of last Midwinter Court. Roughly half of these (no, I don’t have the exact numbers yet) are held by nobles who also have higher titles, including 60 held by princes (that one is exact); the balance are held by people who have no title other than baron (though some barons hold more than one barony). The following are, to the best of my knowledge, the only ones that have appeared by name thus far, including all the ones played by PCs.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  13. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    The names will be forthcoming (not tonight), but the numbers are easy enough to add up. Neither Vaesthegnar nor Lorthegnar has independent principalities large enough to appear on the map; apart from that, the same comments apply as with Athringen. Kereszney… will be dealt with in a minute.

    duchies: 9
    counties: 23
    viscounties: 32
    baronies: 117, plus a variable number in the unorganized territories

    duchies: 10
    counties: 23
    viscounties: 35
    baronies: 110

    Given the truly bewildering variety of titles this kingdom has handed out over the years, either as a result of allowing local nobles to retain their traditional ones after assimilation or as sops to someone’s ego, we here present what the kingdom's Precedence Minister insists is the correct ordering, without attempting to consolidate them further:
    regal duchies: 1
    crown principalities: 1
    archduchies: 1
    crown duchies: 2
    first duchies: 1
    principalities (first mention): 1
    palatine duchies: 2
    duchies: 7
    crown provinces (ruled by a viceroy): 1
    hezubegs (whatever the hell that is): 1
    palatine counties: 2
    principalities (second mention): 1 more
    margraviates: 1
    vice-principalities: 2
    grand counties: 2
    high counties: 1
    samovegs (subdivisions of the hezubeg, whatever the hell that is): 2
    counties: 23
    riksjarldoms: 1
    marksjarldoms: 2
    viscounties major: 2
    viscounties: 32
    baronies: 140, plus 14 other subdivisions that apparently are too much trouble even for Kereszney to track, and so are simply held to be equal to baronies in precedence, plus a variable number within the Crown Province of Daneshvar, Kereszney's version of "unorganized territories."

    principalities (other): As with the empire and the other kingdoms, there are numerous small principalities scattered about, in addition to the "territorial" ones. The precise number is not presently available.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  14. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    Okay, here we go. I've largely surrendered the dream of full legibility, and have instead taken screen shots straight off my spreadsheet–since nothing else seems to work better, and most alternatives don't work at all. But the test shot I uploaded could at least be read, so I guess that's what matters.

    Key to the Key:

    The Numbers
    whole numbers: the marked realm
    decimals n.1-n.7: baronies within the marked realm
    - these do not appear on the map, only on the list so you can find them; they'll appear on tighter-focus maps eventually
    decimals n.8-n.9: cities within the marked realm
    - the cities are marked on the map, but are not numbered; very few realms have more than one city in them
    #1-49: top-level realms of the Empire of Athringen
    - these numbers only appear on the map when the realm has no (map-visible) subdivisions; for those that do, they are omitted–refer to the maps with names, or just look up any number within the realm on this list
    #50-99: top-level principalities of the Empire
    #100-499: lower-level realms of the Empire
    #500-500: realms (all levels) of the Kingdom of Vaesthegnar
    #600-699: realms (all levels) of the Kingdom of Lorthegnar
    #700-700: realms (all levels) of the Kingdom of Kereszney
    #1000+: realms outside the Empire and Kingdoms
    - none appear on the map yet–so far, they all have actual names, if marked at all

    The Other Stuff:
    - In addition to the name of the realm, its type is also given; these are also colored in what is (hopefully) a helpful manner, to make it easier to find what's a division of what else:
    duchy-level entities: medium blue
    marches (Empire only): aqua
    county-level entities: light blue
    viscounty-level entities: very pale blue
    baronies: pale yellow
    principalities: light olive
    crown realms/capitals: ugly medium orange
    imperial free cities (Empire only): baby-aspirin orange
    unorganized territories: no color
    client states: light brown.
    - After the type is listed the higher-level realms each one belongs to, if any (apart from the empire/kingdom). This is the easy way to figure out what duchy you're looking at: look up a number, and the duchy or march will be the first thing listed after the type.

    Now, about the map…:

    I'm going to post the full-size map, even though I doubt there's a prayer you'll be able to read anything on it, simply so that you can have a general reference to where things are in relation to each other once you look at the tighter-focus sections. After which, I'll play with the sections until I get them to come out legibly. There will be one for each of the kingdoms, as with the named versions; the empire will probably require several.

    On the map:
    - one- and two-digit numbers in black are top-level entities with no subdivisions (or none larger than baronies);
    - three-digit numbers in black are viscounties or their equivalents;
    - three-digit numbers in dark orange are imperial free cities [which themselves appear as orange squares];
    - three-digit numbers in red normal type are counties that have no viscounty subdivisions;
    - three-digit numbers in red italics are counties that do have viscounty subdivisions.
    Anything other than a viscounty is also in a larger font size.

    Other cities appear on the map, but are not numbered: blue squares are cities within the empire, green ones within the kingdoms, purple ones in states outside the kingdoms, and red ones are independent cities not part of any state. Also, I added mountain passes: the icons for these look like an "X" or a diagonal "H" depending on its direction; I'll probably have to redo them, since they're fairly small and may not be visible, though.

    Borders (assuming you can make any out):
    - purple: national
    - red: top-level (usually duchies)
    - orange: counties within duchies
    - green: viscounties within larger realms

    Now for the only thing that seems likely to cause possible confusion: sometimes, a number for a county with subdivisions will also be the only number appearing in its own subdivision–that is, that part of the county does not have viscounties further subdividing it, but other parts do. This is rare, and once you see one, it's unlikely to cause confusion again: as an example, look at county #175 in the upper right of the empire: its northeast corner is a viscounty, #176, but the rest of that county's baronies answer directly to its count, with no viscounts in between.

    Whenever possible, I've tried to have county numbers fall across the borders of at least two of the viscounties that comprise it, to make it clear it administers both; this has not always been feasible, and in any event it isn't always possible for a number to cross all the subdivisions if there are more than two. I similarly tried to position numbers to cross rivers where a realm includes lands on both sides. I also tried very hard to make the numbers not obscure any significant part of those lines: no number is placed across a horizontal boundary, so if you can't see where the line runs, you can at least make a solid guess that it runs more or less vertically between two digits.

    I've made one further experiment in trying to show which viscounties comprise a given county–so far, in the empire only, but matters beyond it tend to be much simpler. I've added texture layers on top of the colors for each duchy, to show where the counties are; hopefully, this will do more good than harm. (It worked out better than trying to shade them, at any rate.)

    Why am I telling you all this here, rather than with the map(s)? Because of that plural. You're going to have to keep more than one document open anyway, and the maps are going to require more than one post anyway, so I might as well say it all just once and have it all in the same spot.

    MSmap numberkey1.jpg
    Msmap numberkey2.jpg
    MSmap numberkey3.jpg
    MSmap numberkey4.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  15. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    This takes the list nearly to the end of the Empire; only a couple cities appear in the following post.

    MSmap numberkey5.jpg
    MSmap numberkey6.jpg
    MSmap numberkey7.jpg
    MSmap numberkey8.jpg
  16. Ravana

    Ravana Istar


    The last few cities of the Empire, plus all the numbers for the kingdoms of Vaesthegnar, Lorthegnar and Kereszney.

    MSmap numberkey9.jpg
    MSmap numberkey10.jpg
    MSmap numberkey11.jpg
    MSmap numberkey12.jpg
    MSmap numberkey13.JPG
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