The Imperials worship a single god. Called either the Three-Faced God, The Aspected One or NOS. Each face of the god has a distinct name and purpose. Ney, the hidden face – represents summer, mystery and beauty. Olt is the owl face – the predator, representing middle seasons, change, knowledge and wisdom. And Sim is the skull face, representing winter and death.
Imperials believe that the influence of these aspects rises and falls. These changes can affect both the world as a whole and their lives as individuals. NOSians believe that balance between the three aspects is essential to the stability of the world. They believe that if they achieve balance of these three aspects in their own lives it will result in personal happiness and enlightenment. Likewise, balance between the aspects on a society level leads to prosperity and growth.
There is no room in Imperial theology for other gods. Anything claiming to be another god is interpreted either as a heretic, a fake or as an aspect of NOS. Anyone claiming to worship another god is dismissed as being a heathen.
The Church of NOS
The Church of NOS is a highly structured formal church. There is a hierarchy of priests called Primes and Arch-Primes. There are also monastic communities of monks and nuns.
The church holds a lot of wealth. In most Imperial towns and villages, the church is the most ornate building in town. The Church owns a lot of land and the slaves to work it. This money serves to further enforce the power of the Church. The upper echelons of the church are very political and can also be quite corrupt.
The Primus is the leader of the NOSian church. He is the ultimate religious authority in the Church. He controls the hierarchy of Arch-Primes and Primes.
During the life time of Medaka III, Medaka held both the position of Primus and that of Emperor. It became obvious during his reign that what was in the best interest of the church was not always in the best interest of the Empire and vice-versa. After that it was agreed that these roles were best kept separated.
The Imperials believe that magic is a gift of NOS. They believe that NOS unleashed it into the world, in order to compensate humanity for the horrors of The Plague. For more details see NOS and the Nature of Magic By Dor’garal, NOSian monk of the Third Order
The Knights of NOS
The Empire is a highly structured society, with few if any opportunities for upward social movement.
The Emperor is the ultimate civil authority in the Empire. His word is law and his power is backed up by the strength of the Imperial Army. The Emperor holds his position for life. At the time of his death, the crown passes to his eldest male child or nearest male relative.
Among his many titles the Emperor is also the Duke of Tawdonia.
The Empire is split into 62 administrative regions. These regions range in size from a single small town to huge tracts of rich farmland. Many of the borders of these regions trace the ancient borders between nations, prior to the great Tawdonian expansion. A member of the Tawdonian aristocracy governs each of these regions. The title given to the aristocrats varies based on the size and importance of their land. Dukes are in charge of the largest holdings, followed by Earls and then Barons. The Aristocrats govern at the pleasure of the Emperor. The Emperor can, but rarely does, remove an aristocrat from power. It is also the Emperor who determines who will govern the region following the death of the previous lord, however, it is rare that anyone except the eldest son is pronounced.
The Imperial Senate
The Senate has little real power. Their job is to be the voice of the aristocracy. The Emperor’s cabinet is almost always made up of members of the Senate. The Emperor may send issue to the Senate to be discussed or they can bring issues to the Emperor attention.
There are 86 seats in the Senate. Ten seats are filled by those appointed by the Imperial Army. Members of the church, including 3 seats for representatives of the Talon, fill fourteen seats. The remaining seats theoretically belong to the lords of each region of the Emperor. With the exception of those whose lands boarder the Imperial city, it is rare that one of the aristocracy actually sits in their Senate seat. Instead, their trusted representative occupies the seat. These representatives are often a brother or uncle of the region’s lord. Their job is to protect the interests of their region.
Theoretically, each member of the Senate has equal standing, but in practical terms, the voices of the Army, the Church and those who represent the most powerful regions sway the Emperor’s decisions more than the others.
The only time the Senate exercises real power is when the Emperor dies. It is the job of the Senate to name his successor. If the previous Emperor has an acknowledged son, all that is required is for the Senate to draft a proclamation. However, if the line of succession is less clear, the Senate will research any competing claims and vote on the most valid claims. During this process many, if not all, of the aristocracy will take their own seats in the Senate.
Imperial citizenship is available to anyone who can afford the annual 10 gold sovereign fee. For many people obtaining their citizenship is more important than any other concern. The Imperial City is rumored to contain a lot of homeless citizens, who cannot afford to put a roof over their head but still pay their citizenship yearly. Any Imperial Citizen can purchase a permit to own slaves for an additional 5 gold a year.
The vast majority of Imperials are slaves of one sort or another. Most slaves are bought at age 11 and work their whole life for a single family.
Many middle class Imperials, while technically slaves, enjoy many of the benefits of citizenship. Theses Imperials are generally owned by someone they know and trust such as a family member. There are also citizen-brokers who for a small annual fee (1 or 2 gold) will act as an owner for a number of slaves. For the most part the citizen-broker will not interfere in the life of their slaves in any way. Generally this is arranged as a matter of reputation and honour. There is nothing that prevents these citizen-brokers from selling the ‘slaves’ they have but the destruction of their good name. These brokers are often doing business with Imperials who can’t quite afford their citizenship but are very close.
Any citizen who fails to pay the annual citizenship fee, becomes a ‘slave of the Emperor’. A slave trader with an imperial permit can then claim the slave in the name of the Emperor. He or she can be sold to someone with a slave owning permit. The money raised in this sale is split between the Imperial Treasury and the slave trader.
The political structure of the towns and cities mimics that of the Empire. Mayors govern the municipalities. The Guild Masters of the town appoints a mayor. The local aristocrat must approve the appointment. These appointments last for 10 years. The Guild Masters of the town play a similar role to that of the Imperial Senate.
The seven largest cities and the land surrounding them are considered their own administrative region. The mayor of these cites is granted the title Lord Mayor. These mayors are also chosen by the Guild Masters of their city but the Emperor must approve their appointments, and for the 10 years of the appointment they have the right to sit in the senate (or send a representative.)
Politics and Power in the Tawdonian Empire
Officially, the Power Structure of the Empire Worked like this Before the Plague:
The Emperor (ess) > The Inner Council > The Imperial Senate > The Provincial Governors > The Provincial Councilmen > Citizens of the Empire > Servants of the Empire > Slaves
Of Course, since the Great Plague, things have changed. Sinciput is now an indipendant Territory under the dominion of the Fey, so now there are only four Imperial provinces. Each Province now sends twenty five delegates to the Imperial Senate. Also Five delegates from Sinciput are allowed to take part in the Senate discussions. They officially have no vote in political matters but more than one Imperial policy has been affected by the eloquent speeches of the Elven Senators. Also the power contains no official room for the Church. This by no means indicates that the Church has no power. Several Senators are also Church Officials and the Emperor consults frequently with the Primus on Spiritual Matters of State. Then there is the Order of the Talon, the army of the Church. Officially they exist to defend the faith, protect the Church, and obey the Primus. Of course on more than one occasion the will of the Primus has conflicted with the will of the Emperor and the Talon and the Imperial Army have been at odds. In such clashes the Talon has been out numbered by at least two to one (up to ten to one) but they are better trained and have more magical firepower than the regular army.
Also there are many powerful Imperial houses that are not represented directly in the Senate. Of course, every House has at least one Senator in their pocket.
The Senate exists to handle the mundane tasks of writing laws and handling all the bureaucracy that goes along with a large Empire. It is their job to do the bidding of the Emperor. They generally handle all the internal and foreign policy but the Emperor can make proclamations that overrule the Senate’s decisions. When this happens too frequently, the Senate tends to start thinking about how to get a new Emperor on the Throne. Through the ages, some Senates have been powerful “Old Boys Clubs” that considered the Throne just a figurehead, and some have been little more than bureaucratic clerks kowtowing to the Emperor’s every proclamation.
The Provincial Governors are appointed to their posts by the twenty five Senators who come from that Province. He is in charge of the Provinces internal affairs, collecting taxes, keeping an eye on individual municipalities. They can be removed from power at any time by the Senators who appointed them. Most act like miniature Emperors in their individual Provinces.
Birth and Childhood
Within a month of their birth, children born in the Empire are presented at a NOSian church for an Admission Service. At this simple service, the Prime welcomes the new life to the church and the community. He will also bless the child in the name of all three of NOS’s aspects
Sons of citizens and middle class slaves, generally attend school from ages 7 – 11. These schools concentrate on teaching religion, basic literacy and mathematics. Son of the rich will continue their education until age 15. Those boys who do not continue schooling after age 11 are either apprenticed to a guild to learn a trade or join their fathers in the family business.
Fewer girls than boys receive a formal education. Most daughters of citizens will be tutored at home in religion and basic literacy. They will also be taught to play a musical instrument. If the family is wealthy a tutor or slave will teach these lessons, otherwise their mothers teach them. Those girls who show talent and whose parents can afford to pay tuition, may go on to study at a formal school for the arts. These schools instruct the girls in dance, theatre, sculpture and music.
Love and Marriage
For the lower classes of society, the couple involved usually arranges marriages, however, they must seek the approval of their superiors. No slave can marry without permission of his/her owner. No soldier can marry without the approval of his officer. No guild member can marry without the permission of his/her Guild Master. The average age of marriage among the lower classes is much older. They tend to want to establish themselves prior to committing to marriage.
A traditional Imperial wedding is split into three parts, one for each aspect of NOS. In the ceremony of Ney the couple exchange wedding tokens and expresses their willingness to enter into marriage. During the ceremony of Olt, the couple vows to remain faithful to one another though out all the changes their lives may bring. In the ceremony of Sim the couple vows to stay together until separated by Sim’s final blessing.
Death and Burial
When an Imperial dies, their body is prepared for burial by washing it and putting it in clean clothes, then the body is wrapped in a shroud. Funeral prayers are said, ideally by a Prime at a church of NOS, but any of the faithful can say the prayers in the absence of a Prime.
It is then custom for family and friends to ‘sit’ with the body, for a full day. This custom has become even more prevalent since the dead began resurrecting. Once the day has passed the body is buried in a graveyard. The family will be in official mourning for three months.
The family will visit the grave every year during the festival of the Rise of Sim. At this time the grave is tended and food is left for the dead.
Imperials equate the Land Beyond with the Land of Sim. Here they expect good NOSians to be rewarded with Citizenship in the City of Sim.
Heathens and heretics must stand forever outside the city in the Swamps of Sim. They can see the reward of the good NOSians but can never partake.
Crime and Punishment
Non-citizens have no legal rights. Only a citizen can press a charge in a criminal matter. Only a citizen can be represented in a court of law. The testimony of a citizen against a non-citizen is practically a guaranteed conviction. Rich citizens will often keep their family members as slaves (even though they could afford to pay for their citizenship) as this allows them control over their family members’ lives. If a crime is committed against a slave, only the citizen who owns that slave is permitted to press charges. For example, if another citizen assaulted a slave owned by one citizen, the citizen who owned the slave could press charges for property damage but the slave could do nothing. Slave owners are permitted to do pretty much anything they like to their own slaves without legal repercussions.
This results in citizenship becoming the most important goal in the lives of many people of the Empire. The Imperial City is filled with vagrants who have hardly enough food to eat but manage to raise the 10 gold to buy their citizenship each year.
The simplified Imperial Legal Code is posted in all cities, towns and villiages withing the Empire.
The legal system has had to be altered because of questions like “If a murder victim testifies to the identity of his killer, how can the accused possibly be found guilty since the person he murdered is still alive?”. Soon after the resurrections began it was discovered that one need not return to the exact spot where one died. If the body is disposed of, or was say, under water for example, an entirely new body could be resurrected, wherever they wanted it. This also caused commotion in the courts. What’s the point of executing someone for treason if they’ll just resurrect miles away from jail? Torture and imprisonment have become much more common punishments since the end of The Plague.
Work and Play
Imperial human citizens who wish to become mages are encouraged to study at Imperial College of Wizards and Alchemists. The College was founded by Emperor Medaka IV in order to both spread the understanding of magic and to control it.
Work in the Empire is largely controlled through guilds. Most middle-class Imperials (whether citizens or not) will belong to some sort of guild. If there are two or more Imperials engaged in the same sort of work in the same town chances are they will form a guild. So it is not unusual to buy your meat from the butcher’s guild and your flour from the miller’s guild. Rich members of society will get their clothes sewn by the tailor’s guild and washed by the United Sisterhood of Washing Wenches Guild.
The Imperial bureaucracy and the NOSian priesthood are often seen as a form of guild and operate internally in a similar manner.
The vast majority of Imperials have no moral qualms about slavery. Slaves are slaves because that is their correct place. NOS has made them slaves because it is where they should be. Most slaves raised in the Empire will aspire to no more than being the very best slave they can. They have been raised to be slaves and any thought of raising enough money to be a citizen is beyond thinking about.
This does not, however, mean that most citizens would want to be slaves themselves, nor that they approve of people who “mistreat” their slaves. The majority of citizens are too poor to own slaves. Most merchant class citizens would be lucky to support one or two. In these households the slaves are considered valuable and as such are well treated. Their treatment differs very little from a paid servant who has their citizenship. It is only in the large houses and estates of the aristocracy and other wealth families were large numbers of slaves exist.
Festival of the Decline of Sim
Date: March 31
This festival is a time of new beginnings. In the week prior to the festival, homes and businesses are cleaned from top to bottom. This can even take on an air of ritualistic cleansing/purifying of the home. The day it’s self is a serious moment of inner reflection. Forgiveness is asked of others for wrongs against them. It is also a traditional day for the execution of criminals
Festival of the Rise of Ney
Date: April 1
This is a joyous day. It is the beginning of the Imperial New Year. The blessing of the fields in preparation for planting highlights the morning of the festival. The afternoon is marked by community celebrations such as plays and dances. Children perform ribbon and “May” pole dances for their parents. Coming-of-age parties are held in the evening for children who have reached the age of 13.
Sidram the First Day
Date: June 15
This day marks the anniversary of the day Sidram I declared NOSianism to be the State-Church of the empire. The defenders of the faith (The Talon Knights and the Imperial Army) are recognized on this day. Prayers are said for their success on the battlefield and the Army often puts on marching displays for the people to watch.
Festival of the Decline of Ney
Date: July 31
Many Imperials consider this their favorite holiday. The rich hold elaborate masked balls. Presents are exchanged. There is generally much drunken revelry in the streets. This festival is considered last chance to party before the more serious season of Olt begins.
Festival of the Rise of Olt
Date: August 1
On this day, recognition is given to workers. The highlight of the day is the Procession of the Guilds. All the guild members, church hierarchy and other professionals (e.g. Imperial college professors, Imperial bureaucrats etc.) gather at the largest guildhall in town. They all dress in ceremonial robes. From there, they hold a procession through town to the largest Church. The order each guild marches in is considered a symbol of their importance and strength in the town. The position of first guild in the procession is hotly contested throughout the year and is often the cause of feuds between guilds. Once at the church there is a service held where the guilds and their members are blessed
In addition to the Procession of the Guilds, The Emperor (and his representatives) traditionally hands out pardons on this day.
Date: September 15
It is on this day that all Emperors are crowned. Large feasts are held to celebrate the successes of the current Emperor and to wish his good fortune in the future. Lesser dignitaries will often sponsor public theatrical presentations of the great achievements of past Emperors.
All Imperial appointments and commissions begin on this day.
Festival of the Decline of Olt
Date: November 30
This is the Imperial harvest festival. Great feasts of all the best fall foods are prepared throughout the Empire. The Emperor (and regional officials) hands out food to the poor prior to joining their households for banquets of legendary proportions.
The Imperial Colleges hold final exams in the weeks prior to this festival. Those students that pass their exams are graduated on this day.
Festival of the rise of Sim
Date: December 1
This serious day is spent tending the graves of departed family members. Leftovers from the night before’s banquet are often left on the graves for the dead.
New traditions are forming to recognize those who have returned from the Land of Sim in the previous year. These traditions are still very new and vary widely from place to place.
Looking Like an Imperial
The dress of most Imperials resembles that of Medieval Europe. The upper classes wear expensive fabrics and ornately decorated robes and gowns. Wealthy men will dress their wives in a manner to indicate their women perform no manual labour. The Merchant classes, while they cannot afford the expensive fabrics or decoration of the aristocracy, will still dress in bright colours and may own several changes of clothing. The poorest labourers and slaves tend to dress in simple earth tone fabrics unless they are lucky enough to obtain an old garment from their employers. But under these circumstances the garment are likely to be mended.
Imperial soldiers wear mostly metal armor. A Knight of NOS would not be seen on the battlefield in anything less than full plate. It was the evening sun reflecting off the plate of the Imperials, which earned them the nickname “red men” during the first battles with the Confederacy. Foot soldiers wear as much armor as they can afford. Most veterans have chain and some plate.
Thinking Like an Imperial
Imperials have been raised to believe in a single god and a single church. They are unlikely to be tolerant of ideas different from the ones they were raised believing. They have been taught that anyone who does not believe in NOS is a barbarian, a heathen or both.
Despite the social disruptions caused by The Plague, the Empire is still a highly structured society. There is very little if any chance for upward social mobility. This is seen as the proper way of the world. “NOS has put me here for a reason”. The two pillars that are The State and The Church dominate the society. The driving financial motivation for most citizens is to earn enough money to buy their citizenship the following year.
Women, even female citizens, do no have the same rights as men. Wives of citizens are, for the most part, expected to stay at home and raise the family. Exceptions are made only for women of immense talents in The Arts (or the emerging fields of magic). They may be viewed as a helper to their husbands but never as their equal.
Acting Like an Imperial
From the time they are small children, Imperials are encouraged to pursue those talents they possess as far as they can take them. There is a great need in most Imperials to be the best at something (or possibly several things). To an Imperial there is no such thing as good enough. There is always some aspect of every skill to be perfected or improved on. There are no dabblers or “renaissance men” among the Imperials. Greatness is defined as being very, very good at one, two or three things, not being adequate at a great number. Even a lowly laundry wench will strive to be the best laundry wench in the household (town, province or land) and may be admired by her peers for her skills with soap. As such in designing an Imperial character, you should chose a few skills at which that character will excel at and pursue those fields almost exclusively.
The church of NOS teaches its followers that balance in life is the key to happiness. All Imperials strive to find balance in their lives. The happier an Imperial is with the state of his or her life, the more vigorously they will pursue balance. Fearing, that if they become too unbalanced, that they may lose those thing which are making them happiest.
Naming your Imperial
Many Imperials have Latin or German sounding names. Latin names are more common especially among those from the Imperial City and surrounding region.
For some ideas you might try the following web sites:
- On Choosing a Roman Name
- Common Names of the Aristocracy in the Roman Empire During the 6th and 7th Centuries
- First Names From Germanic Languages
Sounding Like an Imperial
Imperial speech is riddled with references to their god. Learn which areas of life are covered by each aspect and make reference to them when speaking of these things. For example, Sim is the aspect responsible for winter (and as such for snow and ice). While we might say, “Be careful, the bridge is slippery this morning”, an Imperial might say “Sim has left his touch on the bridge. Be careful not to slip.”
Telling Time Like an Imperial
The Imperials divide the year into three seasons. In each season, one aspect of NOS dominates over the other two. These seasons are called The Reign of Sim, The Reign of Ney and The Reign of Olt. Traditionally, weddings take place during the Reign of Ney and it is considered lucky to have been born during the Reign of Olt. See The Imperial Calendar for more details.