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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Post Empire that rules the world.

    Empire (part 1)

    Well, the history is over. The contest of countries, cultures and leaders – all gone. The winner is decided: Empire.
    It currently has no additional names – there is no need in them, but centuries ago it was known as Empire of Dwarves, Elves and Vilds (as humans called in this world). Yet, now there is way more races in Empire than anyone could remember.
    From eastern to wester oceans, from icy wasteland on the north to wild jungles on the south – all world is conquered. All, but one little northern island and some wild tribes of jungles, bow to the Emperor.
    It been almost 30 years since last pice of land was subjugated. Joan XXIV was crowned as 400th ruler of Empire. From now it seems like everything will be the same forever – emperors, Empire... But something is off. Something is missing. And that is a story about that.

    What's missing is war. For centuries each new generation of Old lands went on war – some people die there, some make their name and money, returned home and gives life to a new generation. Not anymore – the new generation has no place in the world – there is no need in recruits in army to make up for losses, there is no chance to acquire new land or became administrator in the new imperial province. Old lands – the heart of Empire – became overcrowded, some jobless men became bandits, others just beggaring in the cities or divide lands of their fathers between themselves. Huge imperial army, now useless, drains treasury of Emperor leaving no funds for development. Cutting army will results only in increasing amounts of poor and homeless rouges. There was hope on wars between lords and peers, but emperors ban them from having any significant armies long ago to ensure stability in Empire. So, no war was able to shake the Empire, but now the peace slowly killing it.

    Of corse even with conquest of world intrigues of High Lords, ethnic tensions, inequality of estates and religious conflicts don't disappear. On the other hand technological and scientific progress goes on, constantly changing the rules of game with new alchemical elixirs, mechanisation and political ideologies.

    Table of contents



    Spoiler: Behind the curtain
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    Spoiler: Geography
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    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-09-19 at 05:39 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    In "our" world, Empires without an external threat turn inward and tear themselves apart.

    If you want power (as many do), and there is no external threat, your biggest threat is the fellow members of the Empire.

    If the Emperor is unassailable, you still want to gain power relative to him, and that can be vicious. You'll destroy others. And, because the Empire is a given, the impact of your machinations on the "health" of the Empire doesn't matter to you; if you care about the health of the Empire (other than coincidentally), that will restrict your moves, and you'll lose in the game of politics.

    Taking control away from the Emperor is really simple; no person can manage even a few 100 people directly. The Emperor must delegate. And from that delegation comes power.

    Even the people the Emperor delegates to must in turn delegate. By undermining the other organizations the Emperor delegates to (covertly, of course), you can make yourself seem the only reliable individual and organization to delegate important things to.

    Over time, you are your organization become the power behind the throne. And at that point, the Emperor is just a figure head. You yourself run the risk of that happening to you, of course, but there are dozens of people playing the "I want to be the power behind the throne"; if 99/100 of them fail to infighting, you still get 1 that succeeds. There is only one Emperor.

    Geographic delegation also occurs. To maintain order, you need a security apparatus, and unless you have teleportation, that security apparatus needs to be localized. Any area which is locally defensible by the local security apparatus can break off if there is any loosening of central control.

    Areas that can economically separate and grow are equal threats. If 60% of your resources come from one region, the rest of the empire will grow dependent on it. A strike, supply disruption or a rebellion there will tear down your empires trade, and cause unrest everywhere. Which can in turn lead to more isolated areas breaking off.

    Those seeking favor in the court can cause this thing to happen _on purpose_ or by neglect or by sabotage, because such a crisis is a great way to increase your standing in the court. And who cares if the west marches break free of the empire? There isn't anything of worth there anyhow.

    Technology itself proves a problem. Technology doesn't grow uniformly, and when one dominant area discovers that change has led it to be less and less dominant, it will start oppressing and containing the areas that are growing to maintain its position. Eventually the vigorous areas will rebel against this constraint, the old guard will smack it down, and there will be conflict.

    Taxes are an issue. In ancient times, the central government was weak and unable to levy significant taxes. This is one of the reasons why rebellion was so easy; if the central government captures under 1% of the GDP, and area 1/10th the size that captures 50% of its the GDP for a rebellion will have more resources than the central government! An effective imperial state must have an effective taxation scheme. For the taxation scheme to be effective, the locals must believe it is a good idea to pay taxes.

    Doing so with oppression is expensive. So is doing it with bribes. Economic expansion, like building roads and infrastructure, both increases the local wealth (hence increasing taxes), acts as a bribe (until they get used to it), and can be cheaper than oppression. In addition, transport links make local military rebellion more dangerous, as centralized armies can deploy faster.

    Empires of old stopped growing when they ran into natural barriers and economies of scale. Something about this empire had to solve those things.

    A means to prevent some of the instability problems above is needed. Democracy and Capitalism are two examples.

    Democracy permits power-hungry people and groups to vote themselves into revolution, instead of having to blow things up when they want a change.

    Capitalism aligns what people can do with their market and economic power, control and usefulness. Classes of people who make more money become more powerful in controlling society, and oppressing them isn't done at the scales it might in a Feudalism.

    Both provide relief valves and provide a way for society to be aimed along the axis of power growth within that society, which can prevent stress fractures from forming as an old guard contains a new one.

    Think up ways your Empire handled these problems up until now.

    Telepathy? Binding Gaeses? Teleportation? Airships? Long-distance sending spells? Mageocracy? Inheritances partly mediated by meritocratic trials?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    Sandersons' Mistborn and the Wheel of Time have good basis for this.
    Spoiler: Fictional spoilers
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    In Mistborn they start out in the Last Empire, ruled over by a demi-god who uses magic super soldiers to retain control. There are quite vicious conflicts between nobles for positions in his government but since there is no chance of beating him in a fight they are more smoke and dagger with occasional riots.

    The Wheel of Time has teleporter grids and the continent is policed by magic users and tribal warriors of the messianic god king at the end of the story. Rebellion would involve dealing with all of the continents magic users and their best soldiers, and the existence of the magical teleportation makes this impossible. Armies can just appear in each other's capitals, spread out rebellions are easy to find and squash, their only rival is the similarly huge continental empire across the ocean.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Empire, part 2: Emperor

    Empire, part 2: Emperor

    Please note, that everything below is written from in-game perspective.

    Many would say that Empire is ruled by Emperor but nobody rules alone. Emperor may be sitting on the throne but it's not only him who gives orders and not only his will is followed by the citizens of Empire. There are several figures and houses that has comparable influence – The Great Powers. Rumours said that each Power has its own dark secret and may be more than one. First and most noticeable of the Powers is of course Emperor himself.

    Joan XXIV Highdell is a newly crowned leader of Empire. He's power comes from two separate sources: he is a head of mighty House of Highdell and a head of the State – all administration that runs the Empire and armies and money under its control.
    As a head of the House he owns his personal lands (perhaps the best lands in Empire), can use money of the treasury of the House and lead the army of the House into the battles (figuratively of course).
    As a head of the State Joan could dissolve the parliament and veto any law it passes, he appointed Generalissimos, Supreme Marshal, Supreme Admiral of Empire and other Great Officers of Empire. His edicts are just as important as laws of the parliament and he answers to gods for all of Empire.
    However Joan Highdell is quite young and unprepared – he didn't planned to wear the crown until disappearance of his elder brother – Charles, while his father suddenly lays hands on himself and left no time for Joan's preparations to the throne.
    Joan was known as quiet man before coronation, who prefers books over the dances and shades of parks over tournaments. His plans on the future (if any) remains unclear and his political stances – mostly unknown.
    Of course such obscurity creates many rumours about him: some portraits him as enlightened reformer, others as ardent protector of true imperial ideas or as cold-blooded and provident murderer of his relatives who covered himself behind the books as a part of a greater plan. But he is the youngest among the Great Powers and whatever he wants, he destined to lose to other great powers until he gains more experience.
    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-09-19 at 07:59 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Empire, part 3: religion

    Empire, part 3: religion

    Please note, that everything below is written from in-game perspective.

    One of the wisest choices Empire have ever made was religious neutrality – Empire has no interest in affairs of gods, their eternal conflicts, vengeance for traumas inflicted centuries ago, personal disagreements, etc.
    But no interests in affairs of gods doesn't mean Empire is irreligious – it welcomes members of any authorised religion, i.e. religions that agrees to follow imperial law – after all Empire doesn't need such rebels as Kord, Gruumsh or Hieroneous with their ideas of some "superior" justice that is above laws of mortals, sword law, etc. Empire also doesn't need suspicious sects with their secret affairs – if all you do is legal than why keep it secret?

    Empire was able to influence decisions of gods by controlling their followers – Empire can or restrict cults and religions within its limits and gods after all dependant on dependant on their followers – not on their faith, but on their praying and offerings. So many deities decide to be authorised, others, like Pelor, was too important to leave behind and was authorised automatically with some level of autonomy, and still others, like Corellon, had a strong political backing within Empire.

    Of the many authorised gods the Throne favours no one – unlike many nations of the past it doesn't empower any church to make its god stronger to protect its own interests with his power. That already saved Empire from dependancy on the desires and wellbeing of one deity, where many nations of the past faced their end with defeat or wrath of their god. In fact Throne tries to be on the same distance from every deity and because of that every authorised deity represented to the emperor by one particular person – by the Herald of gods, second most powerful person within the Empire.

    Herald is chosen by five major deities: Moradin, Corellon, Gruumsh, Annam and Shekinster (she is LE in this setting) and served as long as deities desire, sometimes for centuries. He speaks with gods directly, transfers their words to the Emperor and all of Empire and protect interests of the Empire before gods. Many gods even put the Herald above their high priests.

    Current Herald of Gods is Jophiel XIII, a vild (human) that was chosen on a role a century ago, blessed by gods with eternal youth. She known as brilliant orator. As her position assumes she doesn't have any solid political stances, but overall spirituality, yet she is a major player of political games and with power of gods behind she is one of the most dangerous players. She is often do something to please gods, but she never lose the opportunity to increase her personal power.
    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-07-28 at 10:35 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    Behind the curtain, part 1: Herald of gods.

    It's hard to determine the true place of the Herald in the Empire with only what's known to general public.
    Despite formally being just Emperor's religious adviser Herald is de-facto completely independent from Emperor – Emperor can't appoint or fire Herald, he doesn't control Herald's money since he doesn't pay and doesn't give lands to Herald. Instead Emperor just recognise Herald's ownership over Sacred island – land that was raised from the bottom of the sea by gods for Herald specifically.
    Even more strange may seems the fact, that one of five deities that choose Herald – Gruumsh – never was authorised or even followed in the Empire.
    The true reason behind that is simple: Herald is a tool of gods and not of an Emperor.
    Empire believes that politics of Herald should be neutral and driven in all sides simultaneously because of the disagreements or even open hatred between the deities – after all it seems highly unlikely for the four most powerful gods – Gruumsh, Corellon, Moradin and Shekinster – to ever agree on something.
    But the most impossible is exactly what happened: Gruumsh, Corellon, Moradin and Shekinster became allies and together decide to make a "present" for the Emperor, the poisoned apple called Herald of gods and his little Sacred island.
    Empire crushed orcs in a war and almost makes them extinct, Empire crushed dwarves then they rebelled and robe them from all their influence and future, Empire never value nagas or any other reptilian race treating them as third class citizens, slaves or even monsters and Corellon know that elves could at any moment became next in this list, since with each new generation of vilds they become less and less important for the Empire. Despite being ancient gods they all found themselves in the world, where their favourite races, their cults and even ideas lost or loosing significance.
    However the prohibition of any religion within the Empire by Joan XIII became last straw. Joan XIII and his prohibition didn't last long but it makes Four gods unite despite all hatred and disagreements in order to control Empire.
    Together they choose first Herald, create Sacred island, and present them to Emperor. They let Emperors think that Heralds serve to them, while Heralds were nothing more than loyal pawns in the long game of gods. Four gods use Heralds to influence decisions of Emperors and their courts.
    Empire refuse to see any distinctive politics in the actions of Heralds however for a distant observer it would became clear that Heralds plays against Emperors slowly but steadily reducing their power, causing decentralisation and growth of Four gods influence. Of corse their goal is not just blindly destroy Empire – that won't solve the problem of lost significance – but to drain its power, to divide its citizens, to create a world where both their ideas and their races will matter again with or without Empire.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    It sounds hard for me to believe that the Empire has maintained a continuous line of rule without rebellions and splintering, if it is really a new person being Emperor (e.g., no eternal emperor with eternal youth) or other magical way for rule to be maintained. At some point, a different House, a neglected heir, or a younger brother will want to rule in place of the 'rightful' ruler.
    However, perhaps your setting's idea is that THIS is the time for rebellion? The stuff about the Herald makes me think that.

    I have two ideas that might be helpful:
    1) War can occur, if the Emperor lies about a threat and sends ships of soldiers (perhaps mostly from discontent houses or political enemies) only to have them die of starvation when they find there's nowhere to land. Or send it with some trusthworthy agents who poison the soldiers or somehow otherwise kill them off, so just the few "survivors" return... and then they gotta mount another crusade, since obviously the enemy is so strong.
    That gets rid of the excess soldiers, political rivals, and (if you get the Houses instead of the Throne to pay for it) doesn't cost the emperor a lot. The latter could be framed in that the Houses who are victorious get boons, so they have to finance their own ships and soldiers... but just making sure there aren't any victors.

    2) On delegation, the agency of the Scarlet Empress in Exalted could be an inspiration. She ruled partially through magical might and immortality that made her an unparalleled force, but she also set up the government so that power was delegated from her to more decentralized forces. And she made sure those governmental forces had infighting, inefficiency, and the right amount of corruption such that they couldn't be a threat to her power. Plus she had spies and secret police.
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2020-08-03 at 01:13 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    It sounds hard for me to believe that the Empire has maintained a continuous line of rule without rebellions and splintering, if it is really a new person being Emperor (e.g., no eternal emperor with eternal youth) or other magical way for rule to be maintained. At some point, a different House, a neglected heir, or a younger brother will want to rule in place of the 'rightful' ruler.
    However, perhaps your setting's idea is that THIS is the time for rebellion? The stuff about the Herald makes me think that.

    I have two ideas that might be helpful:
    1) War can occur, if the Emperor lies about a threat and sends ships of soldiers (perhaps mostly from discontent houses or political enemies) only to have them die of starvation when they find there's nowhere to land. Or send it with some trusthworthy agents who poison the soldiers or somehow otherwise kill them off, so just the few "survivors" return... and then they gotta mount another crusade, since obviously the enemy is so strong.
    That gets rid of the excess soldiers, political rivals, and (if you get the Houses instead of the Throne to pay for it) doesn't cost the emperor a lot. The latter could be framed in that the Houses who are victorious get boons, so they have to finance their own ships and soldiers... but just making sure there aren't any victors.

    2) On delegation, the agency of the Scarlet Empress in Exalted could be an inspiration. She ruled partially through magical might and immortality that made her an unparalleled force, but she also set up the government so that power was delegated from her to more decentralized forces. And she made sure those governmental forces had infighting, inefficiency, and the right amount of corruption such that they couldn't be a threat to her power. Plus she had spies and secret police.
    Thank your for answer. THIS is not specifically the time of rebellion. This is time of great changes and its outcomes (including collapse of Empire, turning it into constitutional monarchy or totalitarian state) depend on choices of players.

    Empire of course wasn't unstoppable through all of its history – it had a lot of rebellions and even Civil war, but eventually it was able to crush or pacify them. I guess I wright next post about it and how Empire percepts itself.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Empire, part 4: the Ice Marshal

    Empire, part 4: the Ice Marshal

    Please note, that everything below is written from in-game perspective.

    Elector of Sunkeeper. Elector of Northhaven. High king of the North. Biped dragon. Supreme marshal of the Empire. Hero of the Empire. One of the Founders of the Empire. Etc, etc.
    The man, whose power rivals that of the Emperor and Herald – Foregal Sunkeeper, the Ice Marshal and the most loyal servant of the Throne.
    Rigid king of the Northern elves, as all elves gifted with eternal life, stood at the origins of the Empire with Dwarven and Vildic kings. In some way entire Empire is his personal project and he spend many ages building and strengthen it.
    Empire is his dream of peace, of a land that gives the rest to his people exhausted from millennium of history, conflicts and unrests. And for this dream and his loyalty he sacrifice a lot. His son was slain during the Civil war and as many elves he never was granted another one, he break up with his wife on disagreements, and he turned away from Corellon then the god ask him to show more mercy to his enemies.
    Ice marshal was an architect of imperial policy – centralised, authoritarian and militaristic – he believed that only strong ruler with loyal warriors can pacify his lands. He forge Empire from the blood of wars – never-ending expansion was a way to ensure that no other power is able to disturb controllable tranquility of the Empire.
    Ice marshal is a genius of war and he knows it in every possible shape – he frighted on the frontline as one of the most powerful mage of ice, he planned tactic and strategies for countless battles and conflicts, he always carefully watch for development of weapons and war spells and all that he does for millennium. Simply no one is better than him at war.
    Emperor was born with power and Herald was chosen, but Marshal earned his title.

    Yes, his authority was indisputable, but when he made imperial army the best army in the world he wasn't needed anymore: army was victorious under any general and art of war isn't needed than your enemy can not fight you back. Moreover Empire is finally at the peace. He still is a major player in the political games, but only #3 after Emperor and Herald.
    And now, then his dream of peaceful land finally comes true it slowly cripples into nightmare... A horrible fate for such a loyal servant.

    His political stances has been unchanged until very recently (until Yellow Tower to be exact) – he always advocated for the strict civil order, absolute monarchy and supremacy of army interests. But ten years ago, then the messenger told about events of Yellow Tower in front of High Lords, he was first to step ahed and asked Emperor for reforms. So it is remains unclear if he keep loyalty to his ideals.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Empire, part 5: People and monsters

    Empire, part 5: People and monsters


    What's human in the world of fantasy? Among elves, dwarves, goblins what make them so distinct?
    In the world of Empire it's nothing: they are merely one more race on the list.
    In old fairytales humans is what match against the "others" and one of a main trait of elves and dwarves was that they are not humans, something alien. But in the world of Empire it doesn't make sense – different races exist nearby for ages, trading and fighting just like England and France. They are not so different in their psychology and thinking and they aren't alien to each other.

    That's why I decide to rename human race in this world: to erase the opposition between humans and others, to put them in the same row with other races. That's why humans here called "vilds".

    But that doesn't mean that races of the world match themselves against something. They all see themselves as a part of a bigger group – people or mortals and match themselves against spirits, monsters and animals.
    People usually described as any sapient creature that can live as a part of Empire and until recently it was a common knowledge who are people and who aren't – so elves, vilds, orcs, goblins, lizardmen, merfolk, even nagas are people, but kobolds are of corse not. Dragons aren't people, so are vampires, treants, trolls, etc.

    Until recently it was clear who are people, it was clear that Empire exist to protect them from chaos of nature, spirits, divine wars and monsters. Then Yellow tower happened.
    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-08-23 at 05:42 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    Geography 1: Map of Old lands

    Spoiler
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    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-08-31 at 01:26 PM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Empire, part 6: the Yellow Tower

    Empire, part 6: the Yellow Tower.
    So what exactly is a Yellow tower? Well, it’s a tower in the Golden city, so old and famous, that lords of Golden city put it on their coat of arms. Aside of that Yellow tower wasn’t a special place until the recent events.
    Events of Yellow tower are famous – everybody heard a story or two about them –, but on the other hand not a single soul actually knows what about these events was so special, that they caused consequences they caused:
    On the council of High Lords the first one to break silence was Ice Marshal – “Your Overmajesty, Empire need reforms” he said. The very same marshal who had entombed towns in the ice just for a thought of necessity of changes. The very same marshal who had praised the iron fist and unrestricted autocracy – the reign of the strong leader – above everything else.
    The Herald of Gods, examplar of conservatism, suddenly became the inspirator of reforms, the guiding hand behind them; dwarven dukes, the ones who rot so many people in their mines that lakes filled with miners’ bones break their banks, overnight became humanist who “value lives and dignity of people above anything else”; savage lisardfolk who just a century ago had saw all other races as a new kinds of food became ardent liberals; many noble houses loyal to Empire and its traditions for centuries was now among reformist. It’s like the history itself changed its course, but nobody could explain why such seemingly unimportant and minor events as Events of Yellow tower was able to change it.
    What was founded in the Yellow tower?
    Well, nothing special really. There were people there, but at the same time there were no people left.
    Then guard stepped in the dungeon below the tower his lantern pull out of the darkness cages full of misshapen creatures, with mange fur or feathers, with scares, bow-baked, with crook fingers and fearful glance.
    Lords of Yellow tower was famous for their mastery of biomancy and knowledge of life and medicine. There were rumors that they wanted to create new race loyal only to them.
    The fear came with realization: some of the creatures keep ability to speak, they could sing the song that their mother sing to them, they could tell how they lived in cities, could tell their dreams and fears – with all their mastery Lords of Yellow tower could not create souls and intelligence of their own: creatures in cages wasn’t created from nothing. There were people in the cages, but at the same time there were no people left.
    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-09-18 at 09:26 AM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Empire that rules the world.

    Behind the curtain, part 2: Consequences of Yellow tower


    As many notice there is simply no way, how events of Yellow tower could alone shake an Empire. And it's true – it wasn't Yellow tower alone, however all rumours of divine punishment, mortal curse or diabolic plot are nothing but conspiracy theories.
    Yellow tower just wasn't the only reason behind its consequences.
    Empire tend to think that Empire is the best for the people, it saw itself as the beacon of civilisation, stability and progress in the world of savages and barbarians. With the conquest of last piece of land Empire awaited its golden age, people wait for the great changes that would supposedly bring prosperity and solution of all problems. Empire has been waiting for twenty years but golden age hadn't come, instead the Yellow tower happens.
    Yellow tower wasn't such important by itself, but it was event that made Empire realise: since it conquered all lands things only went worse – there is no golden age on the horizon – the Empire was ruled wrong. This horror of realisation was the real reason behind behind all changes thereafter, behind the Great purge, behind the Great Reforms, behind political fractions of modern Empire, and Yellow tower was just a butterfly by which storm is caused.
    This horror make the Ice Marshal admit that maybe he was wrong, that maybe he spend most of his eternal life on the wrong ideas. And admitting his greatest defeat the founder of Empire said “Your Overmajesty, Empire need reforms”.
    Last edited by MercuryAlloy; 2020-09-19 at 07:38 AM.

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