The Shattered Spectrum: Fragments
The Grand Imperium
The Grand Imperium:
“Our bold experiment is a study in contrast and in part an illusion. To the outside world, the Grand Imperium is a singular, heterogeneous monolith that broods and rumbles menacingly at the outside world. Guarded by an invincible army and ever present air force, a war machine without peer or fear, produced by a society without doubt or pity… but those of us within the safety of its protection know the illusion. The Grand Imperium is a coalition of cultures and societies, an experiment to create a shield around many civilizations and put an end to the conflicts and terrors that brought down our predecessors. Our frail, last, best hope for peace and prosperity. We are surrounded by barbarians who cannot understand the full scope of what we seek to achieve, by rivals who seek to snuff out the precious light to replace it with their own or worse those who would see nothing but red anarchy and darkness overtake the peoples of this world. Because of this, we cannot show weakness, we cannot show doubt and we dare not show mercy until lasting victory is achieved”
Adirim Justarian, addressing the Senate 3rd Castigation War.
Archaeological evidence and oral history shows a civilization that predated the founding of the Grand Imperium by several millennia not much is known about the culture of that civilization save that it was the predecessor to our own and it from the ruins of that ancient civilization that we derived the first principles of our magic and technology. The heartland of the Grand Imperium was divided up into several warring city states that shared language, religion and cultural mores but were unable to politically or militarily unite. This made them easy prey for the Dragonkin tribes, later self styles as the Free Peoples, who would raid far and wide for loot, captives and artifacts. Roughly 610 years ago from this writing, an untouched ruin was discovered that sat between 3 cities. The cities of Azuldan, Caerdan and Kyandan instead of throwing their armies into a brawl instead did something remarkable and rarely farsighted. They came to a diplomatic agreement to share the knowledge and gains from the ruins, even more shockingly they all abided the agreement. That would over time become the basis for a far ranging concord, that would become the governing document of the Grand Imperium. Their shared strength gave them more resources and manpower than their rivals, many of whom quickly became dependent vassal states and would later be subsumed into the Blue homelands.
At first the city-states maintained political separation under the Sapphire League, which quickly grew to expand over most of the ancient Blue homelands but during the 1st Castigation War, it was clear that greater centralization and coordination were needed. The Castigation Wars were a trio of epic confrontation between the Imperium peoples, and the Free Peoples, as the Free Peoples reacted to the increasing strength and unity of it’s former tributary nations and hunting grounds. The first war was fought across the length and breadth of Agora and ended with the ejection of the Dragonborn led forces and the utter domination of their allies. The Imperium forces were led by a charismatic priest of the Hammer God, Martella under his direction the first Imperial government was established, with the Senate with representative for each free city and 3 Adirim from the first 3 cities (before this the allied cities had no voice in the League and it is a widely know but little discussed fact that to pull this off Martella ended up leading 3 coups to pull this off). This was the end of the Sapphire League and the creation of the Sapphire Imperium. With the end of internal feuding and freedom from external predation, wealth exploded as infrastructure was created or rebuilt and trade bloomed across the region. With wealth came respect and power and the desire to use it. The Sapphire Imperium began to compete with the Free Peoples for clients and resources, both nations found willing allies in their maneuvers for influence and power. It was in the central lands of the continent known today as the Silk states that the confrontation turned bloody however.
*The Dragonborn General Zuma was the first born of the leader of the Red Armies in the 1st Castigation War, as a hatchling his father made him and his nestmates swear oaths before their dark and barbaric gods to never be a friend to the Sapphire Imperium or to let it rest. General Zuma had been exiled from the Free Peoples and had through force of personality and cunning gathered a mighty group of followers and was creating his own empire through force of arms and personal diplomacy. Among his followers were a fanatic band of elf armored horsemen he dubbed the Nestlings. He was able to oust the Sapphire Imperium and its allies from the Silk States entirely and return to the his state in triumph and take leadership for himself, supported by his followers and his nestmates. General Zuma then gathered his forces for he intended to follow up on his oath and reduce the Sapphire Imperium to dust. His strike was like lightning, using his Nestlings cavalry he was able to move swiftly into the enemy's rear and attack with near lethal force each time. His superior mobility left Sapphire armies floundering in the dust and cut to pieces. The armies of the Sapphire Imperium reeled back to their safeguarded homelands, leaving behind thousands upon thousands dead and more prisoner. General Zuma did not stop to conquer his enemies allies but instead marched directly on the capitol cities to rip out the heart of his foes. He was stopped by 3 men, the young artificer Scienziata, the Adirim Ritodara and in the end by a young officer who barely survived the retreat, a captain named Belisara. The Adirim came up the strategy of refusing a mass battle to General Zuma but instead using fortifications built since the last war and superior knowledge of the terrain fought a series of sieges and indecisive battles meant to maintain the Sapphire army in the field hoping that while he tied down General Zuma’s main force that the allies would raise enough men and weapons to surround Zuma and destroy him. General Zuma however was not the only military leader the Free Peoples had, nor was his army the lone weapon in its arsenal. His Nestmates had risen their own armies and battered at the allies of the Imperium, keeping a blockade between the heartland and relief. Any relieving army would have to fight it’s way to a confrontation with General Zuma. This state of affairs dragged out for 8 years. It was then that, The Artificer Scienziata had made a discovery that would shift the balance of military power, the power of flight. It was Captain Belisara who first saw the potential of the airship, it took 3 years to build the first crude airship fleet. It was incapable of bombing an enemy position and each ship was barely able to carry 40 fighting men, but it was enough.
Captain Belisara took his fleet and gathered volunteers from across the continent achieving in weeks what would have taken over a year. His fleet of 150 ships created a small but incredibly mobile army of well trained and equipped men able to deploy with a bird’s eye view of the battle field. With Artificer Scienziata’s trained mechanicals maintaining and crewing the ships, the Lagunari, the name chosen for the air troops by Captain Belisara moved hundreds of miles in a day. Their first attack was aimed at the Nestlings calvary of General Zuma, they attacked in the middle of a dark night with their main target being the mounts. The sauriun mounts of the Nestlings were magically breed and empowered to be stronger, faster and smarter than normal horses it took years to create and train such an animal. In a single night Captain Belisara killed the vast majority of them, leaving the Nestlings afoot and robbing General Zume of his striking arm. General Zuma was not however done yet.
He decamped and led his men through the shattered mountains where it was impossible to land the airships and while the Sapphire Army pursued, they were decimated in several ambushes when rough weather drove off the still comparably fragile airships. General Zuma was able to escape the seat of his power, the Silk States. Instead of confronting him, Captain Belisara struck at the strongholds of the Free Peoples state itself, forcing its submission. It was at this point that Adirim Ritodara promoted him to a new Rank, that of Air General. Air General Belisara would use the very tactics that he learned from defeat after defeat at the hands of General Zuma only with the Lagunari in the stead of the Nestlings. It was on the Longest Day, when the light last for over 20 hours that Belisara ran General Zuma to ground divided his army up into thirds and defeated them each in detail. Surrounded, his armies broken General Zuma threw himself into the Gold River rather than surrender. Sooth-sayers say that one day General Zuma may return to reap his venanage just yet to keep his spirit asleep, every day on the anniversary of the Longest day, a dozen white horses are killed and burned in front of the statue of General Zuma in the great square of Kyandan.
The Silk States were made protectorates of the Imperium, given the right to local self rule and exempted from military service but the states must pay taxes and can have no commerce or foreign relations with nations outside the Imperium. The elite of the Silk States have become since then something of a merchant class within the Grand Imperium. The end of the 2nd Castigation War saw the end of Red ambitions for empire or rule and it was made a tributary state of the Sapphire Imperium, which many saw as a justified payment for their old ways of raiding and demanding tribute themselves. The Sapphire Imperium was declared to be the Grand Imperium but the contest was not yet over.
The peace lasted for over a 100 years, until a young wizard named Surpatora went adventuring in the Silber Mountains. Surpatora was a wizard from a rising merchant family but due to the rather crass behavior of his father, he had been snubbed by upper classes of the Grand Imperium. He had gone adventuring to see if he could find his own glory. In the tallest mountains of the Silber range lay the lairs of the Sphinxes. It was there that Surpatora learned magics from the Sphinxes that had never been practiced by the Grand Imperium, nor the Gilded Preeminent. Magics to twist and subvert a mortal’s will. Surpatora returned home and began to methodically bend the wills of the wealthy and power to his beck and call. He also began to subvert the allies and vassal states of the Grand Imperium promising Senate representation and greater privileges in exchange for military support. For years he worked and plotted with the intent of being declared Dictator for Life. He was found out by the dagger priest Cadeci when he tried to overtake her temple. Cadeci exposed Surpatora and he fled to his home city Meladan and raised his standard. A third of the armies of the imperium marched under his command and over half the magic wielders present in the Imperium. The opening battles were bloody and inconclusive, this led to uprisings across the Imperium and most importantly rebellion by the Free Peoples.
The Free Peoples had never forgotten that once they were the dominate power of the land and had never stop feeling galled at the tribute they were forced to pay. They had planned, organized and waited for the right moment to strike. Once the civil war was in full swing, they rose. In a single night every Imperial soldier, wizard, merchant, and overseer was slain. Armories were plundered, homes burned. New armies risen and the the rebels invaded the Silk States. They had counted on the memory of General Zuma to rally the people of the Silk States to their banner, they were mistaken. The Grand Imperium had been much kinder to the Silk States than they had been to the Dragonborn, although they had limited the military strength each state could have. While the Silk States did resist the march, those same limits meant that they were unable to effectively stall the rebel armies who after a year of fighting were able to conquer the Silk States. They were in turn however attacked by a strange alliance of dwarves and elves. The Dwarves of the Brass Hills were a stubborn lot that had only signed a treaty with the Grand Imperium after decades of wrangling, the Elves of the Dapple Woods were a prideful people who had rebuffed the Grand Imperium before the war. The Dwarves marched to honor their treaty, the Elves for a more personal reason. 60 years ago, a young captain of the Imperial Army had at risk to both his life and career shut down a slaving ring that traded in elvish children. He then compounded his heroism by personally returning those children to their homes. Elves do not have children easily or often, so each child is rare gem that is greatly valued. For this human to have done so and knowing that he had made powerful enemies in doing so created a debt that the Elves of the Dapple Wood saw a chance to discharge. There is some justice in the fact that the army was lead by one of those same children, the Warrior Queen and sorceress Aife. The combined force of dwarf and elves gathered to it’s side the pitiful remains of the Imperial forces and local allies and engaged the rebels in a savage series of battles grinding the saurian advance to a crawl.
Across the continent allied states were battling each other or declaring neutrality while in the very heartland Imperial Armies were locked into battle. It seemed that Surpatora’s foes would flag and fail but for the leadership of the Adirim Justarian, a representative on the council from the nation of High Tel, a state that had voted to join the Grand Imperium peacefully and was granted full membership. Justarian had a fierce and unbreakable will, unflagging reserves of energy and a talent for warfare and civil leadership. He reorganized the Imperial Armies, while locked in a war to the death and found new officers to fill the holes that defections had left or to replace officers whose talents were found lacking. His appointed officials were everywhere rebuilding shattered logistical lines and rooting out spies. An additional means of salvation came from the one place it always does, the gods. The Dagger God was a god unlike the Hammer God, in that his temple and cult was prepared to resort to less open or honorable ways of solving conflict. The divine order of assassins was unleashed murdering many of Surpatora wizardly supporters in their beds. Additionally a defense against his will sapping magics was found within the confines of the temple of the Hawk God. The Hawk God is an ancient god, old and nearly forgotten even when the world was unmaimed and the Old states had not yet fallen. However despite everything his priesthood had continued. In their records they found defenses. Lastly came the temple armies of the Hammer. The Hammer priest had withdrawn much since the days of Martella, whose actions had created the Imperium but at the same time made the governing class suspicious of the temple. However they had remained popular among the adventurers, armies and lower classes as such recruiting the guardians and lay soldiers that their god commanded they do was not a problem. Donations from adventurers paid for it. The assassins, priests and religious soldiers gave Justarian the edge he needed but he lacked the battlefield commander to gain victory.
He found him in the dawn of the 3rd year of the war. Born outside imperial lands, from the city state of Bhrace, he had been sent by his father to a friend of the family for education and to make contacts in elite society. Solonan had joined the Imperial Army to try and protect the son of the family he had been staying with, he was made a Lt but rose quickly through the ranks through sheer ability. He came to Justarian’s attention when leading a force of 500 Lagunari he was able to capture an enemy force of 4,000. Given successively larger and more difficult field commands, Solonan delivered victory. In the 5th year of the war, Solonan was able to lure Surpatora out of his fortress city of Meldan and into the field where the priestess Cadeci killed him on the eve of battle, in which Surpatora’s main army was destroyed, Meldan’s walls were pulled down and it’s wizard school burned to ashes, his personal tower was destroyed and the earth salted. His followers in Blue lands would quickly surrender. After 5 violent years, the civil war was over, but the greater war still remained.
While their main advance was stymied by the Alliance of Wood and Brass, the Reds experienced additional successes and were wearing down the elves and dwarves who were simply unable to replace their losses as quickly. Solonan took a large army of Lagunari number almost 30,000 to reinforce the Alliance, meanwhile other commanders marched to subdue the still rebellious allies of Surpatora. While most of the elf and dwarf leaders were in favor of fighting a holding action until the main Imperial force could arrive, Solonan convinced Aife to led a counterattack into the Silk States. Using the airborne tactics of the Lagunari and wizards stationed on airships to advantage the Rebels were driven back and half the Silk States liberated. The dastardly saurians began a policy of scorched earth in response to this, burning everything and killing everyone who resisted. This was the final straw.
Justarian spoke to the Senate in a now historical speech and the Senate and Adirimate voted for the Final Sanction. Each rebel held city was to be taken, ruined and it’s people killed or driven out into the jungles. It would take 2 years to fight their way into the Free People state and another 10 years to enact the policy but enacted it was. Solonan would die in the fighting with Aife carrying his only child. The Free People state would be repopulated with Imperial colonists, mostly those whose homes were destroyed in the war and had lost everything creating a second Blue homeland. Rebuilding and reorganizing the Grand Imperium would take decades, Justarian would die only in his 50s worn out and crushed by his burdens. He would be buried in the main temple of the Hawk in Azuldan, in his funeral it was declared that he was not a man but something greater. He was an Imperial.
Government of the Modern Grand Imperium:
“To Labor for the state is both Duty and Dignity.” Senator Duncatil
From the outside the Grand Imperium seems a monolith, simple, homogeneous and overwhelming but from inside the Grand Imperium is a complex, multi-faceted machine of a state. There are several types of states within the Imperium, first is the Senatorial State. A Senatorial State is fully assimilated and empowered member of the Imperium. The people of that state are citizens of the Imperium with full legal rights and responsibilities. Each state chooses a Senator as it sees fit (most allow an election from a list of candidates approved by the local government) and is an equal member even to the Old Homelands with full self local rule. Associated States are states not yet fully assimilated or who have passed on Senatorial Representation for cultural or economic reasons. Their local elites are left in place but they must answer to a Governor selected by the Senate and are garrisoned with troops raised outside of the state in question, they must also pay taxes directly to the Imperium. Peoples of these states are classified as citizens in waiting, Imperial protections apply to them fully but they have limits upon their political freedoms. Protectorates, are states that are fully independent but have no foreign or military relations outside of the Grand Imperium (the Silk States are the largest example). The Imperium is not represented by a Governor here but by a Grand Ambassador, who is limited on what local affairs he can meddle in (critics will note that Grand Ambassadors have stretched this before in the past by invoking “Pressing Interests of the Imperium”). Protectorates are garrisoned and must pay the cost of their garrisoning and of maintaining the Imperial roads and airports but otherwise do not pay taxes. They are not citizens of the Imperium as such but are classified as Residents. Residents have protection from abuse (they may not be deprived of life, property or freedom without an order from a court of law) but are at the mercy of the local power structure and cannot appeal to Imperial justice (Imagine if you couldn’t appeal police harassment for example).
Citizens in waiting and Residents can become full Citizens through service to the Grand Imperium. The main method of this is military service (for 12 years) but other government posts do carry this award as well. Magic users of Associated states may also become citizens by putting themselves fully under the authority of the Magic Board. Temples and cults can do so by joining the Imperial Service. Citizenship can also be awarded by vote in the Senate. The recognized children of Citizens automatically gain citizenship. No matter the status of their parent on their birth.
The Government of the Grand Imperium is in the hands of the Senate and the Adirimate. The Senate represents every full member state of the Imperium (every State gets one Senator), with Associated States sending observers who have speaking privileges but not voting privileges. Associated States become Senatorial States by several means, one is by 2/3rd vote in the Senate, another is by having a bare majority of people living within the state become citizens upon a census which is taken every 10 years. Protectorate States may become Associated States by formal request. The lesser boards report directly to the Senate.
The Adirimate represents the Grand Imperium as a whole and is appointed by the Senate with the following limitations, there must always be 25 Adirms, 3 must always be from the Old Homelands and 2 from the Colonies (the conquered Red State), 1 must always be a dwarf from the Brass Hills and 1 must always be an Elf from the Dapple Woods. Adirms serve until retirement, death or impeachment by 2/3rd vote of the Senate. The Adirimate may overturn any Senate decision with a bare majority vote and they alone have the ability to approve any treaty. The greater boards (those of military, outer diplomacy, esponiage, magic, the Imperial Service and the beings board).
The Boards or the Pentarches are groups of 5 experts appointed by the Senate for lesser boards or by the Adirimate for the greater who are given the responsibility of running organs of the state or overseeing functions there fo. Each Board may in turn create 5 subordinate boards who report to a single member of the above board and each board has a different scope and remit for staff set for it during it’s creation by the Senate or Adirimate. The most powerful lesser board, the Board of Taxation has no less than 25 0,000 staff (who in turn have funds and authority to hire their own staff) spread over the Grand Imperium to ensure that taxes are collected in a fair and just manner and that the Grand Imperium collects every tax in full. Compared that to the lesser board of sewage maintenance for Capital which has barely 50 staff and no subordinate boards. The Greater boards are fixed and while their power can be lessened or increased, they cannot be destroyed. Lesser boards can be destroyed or created by a bare majority vote of the Senate. Each board is issued a charter by the Senate or Adirimate that must be updated every 25 years that outlines their responsibilities, powers and expected performances. Budgets are reviewed every 2 years.
“A Place for everyone and everyone in their place!” Agora Homeland proverb
House, Guild and State: In Senatorial States citizens find 3 major influences on their lives, first is their House. A House is a group of related powerful families who form a political-economic block and as a result wield influence over local and state government, each House has a large number of families who are not related but give loyalty and support in return for patronage and opportunities. They can be considered a cross between political parties and Old Boys networks. Guilds are professional associations that provide training, professional aide and contacts (sort of a cross between corporations and unions) in return for dues and obedience to Guild rules. There is a large overlap between Houses and Guilds but most Houses will be multi-Guild to ensure they don’t locked into a single power base. Guilds also stretch across the entire the empire while Houses are very local in nature. A member of the Smith Guild can find aide from Guild members across the entire empire while a House is likely only to be able to provide aide in a single city.
Education is provided by the State starting at age 7 for a 9 year period. Education is given in math, reading, writing, history and the basics in how the world works. Additionally from the very first day students are subjected to tests to determine their talents and possible abilities. Those who test for magical ability are brought to the attention of the Magic Board for possible training and induction. Those who display other talents are brought to the attention of other boards or guilds, a youth who is talented with numbers will be referred to the census board or the tax board perhaps for example or the engineering guild. The goal of the educational system is two fold, first to produce Imperial Citizens with the skills to be of benefit to the state and the understanding of why service to the state is vital and the state’s mission in the world. Second to ensure that a place is found in society for every member and that they are put in that place.
After education is finished, every able bodied male citizen must served in the military for 4 years, unless joining the Priesthood or Magic Guild, in which case military service is put off until their basic training is completed, they are tend assigned to the auxiliary service as specialists. Most men will serve their 4 years in the local militia after completing basic training, they will spend half the day on duty and the other half beginning their apprenticeship with a Guild or doing grunt work on the staff of a boardman. The best 35% will be sent to the full time army or navy, to serve as garrison in Associate states, Protectorates or to fight on the frontiers of the Grand Imperium. Some services such as the Lagunari only take volunteers. Serving 12 years in one of the volunteer services brings benefits and can earn an exemption for younger brothers from military service, as well as land from state holdings in the Colonies or from seized territories if they choose. Additional soldiers come from volunteers from Associate and Protectorates who earn citizenships.
*Religion plays an important part in Imperial life, families have patron gods who represent their ancestors whom they pray to. They also will attend state rituals and sacrifices for state gods. It’s here that the distinction between cult and temple starts. A cult is considered a private entity with little connection to the state beyond obeying Imperial law and being subject to the Imperial Service. A Temple is a state organization that conducts the great rituals and sacrifices. Temple leaders make up the state organization the Imperial Service that puts forth the acceptable religious rituals and forms of worship that must be followed on pain of banishment, imprisonment or death. A Temple priest will choose a patron god but be able to perform the rituals for other gods and give them sacrifices. A Cult Priest has a more exclusive relationship with his/her god but can still sacrifice to another god but only on the behalf of a layman.
The gods are seen as the embodiments of universal forces and ideals, in the Temples they are somewhat abstract often called by titles, such as the Hammer (God of Justice, Law and Rightful Warfare), the Hawk (Patron god of the Empire, Lord of Civilization, Light and Life, bringer of Dawn, smiter of the undead) or the Dagger (god of shadows, stealth, the hidden blow and secret blow, the Hawk’s hidden hand on the world). They are give no real gender, but their interests and agendas are fairly well understood. The Cults treat the gods as personal beings, that a person can have an individual relationship with. The Cult of Karlstaff for example is a cult of the Hammer, it’s a very disruptive cult often arguing that an unjust law must be opposed to the last and teaches that the Hammer was once a mortal man who walked on the land. The Temples regard the cults as necessary evils to help the common man understand the gods while the cults see the Temples as machines who drain all the individuality out of the gods to make it safer for the state. The tension can boil up at time into screaming debates on the streets or even brawls. Cultic Prophets can rise up to strike down corrupt Temple Priests and Temple Priest have lead army units in rooting out degenerate dangerous cults. Upper classes will patronize a temple that either is their patron god or associated with it, while lower classes tend to prefer cults.
Associated States have a greater variety of cultural difference, but state sanctioned education is still available and encouraged and one can see Associated States being slowly absorbed into the main stream culture of the Grand Imperium. While Protectorate States are completely divorced from cultural norms.