BUILD YOUR OWN WORLD Like what you see? Become the Master of your own Universe!

Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

Politics in the Empire

Political Techniques

  Politics in the Empire is a bit different than Earthly politics. One of the main tools, marriage, is limited in a world where there are several different species that can’t interbreed, and have very different lifespans. “Marriage of Convenience” takes on an entirely new dimension on Velyri. Mixed race bloodlines aren’t a thing, so the laws regarding inheritance are a little more relaxed than what we would normally imagine. Primogeniture isn’t always a thing, although the firstborn is usually designated as the heir. Not always, however; it’s entirely possible that a later child will be considered a better heir. Adopted children can also be heirs, and this is a necessity in those rare interspecies marriages.   Having multiple spouses are occasionally practiced; mixed race spouses for alliance (and perhaps even love) but using same race spouses for childbearing (and perhaps love). Dwarves already practice polyandry; Orcs might as well, especially in the more brutish, primitive tribes where male aggression and combat take out significant numbers of the males. Strong Orc males may also have multiple wives as a show of strength, virility, and the ability to provide for them. Aarakocra are strongly monogamist, but their numbers are so low it’s irrelevant. Th other races vary depending upon the local conditions. Legally, there are no laws against polygamy. In practice, it’s rare, and usually limited to the more wealthy classes, as they are the ones that can economically support multiple spouses.   The Tondene Imperial Army and the Tondene Imperial Navy both have policies that involve shifting soldiers and sailors around to different areas of the Empire. This is done for several reasons: 1) to promote patriotism and loyalty to the Empire as a whole, rather than just for a local part of it; 2) to give different experiences to the military personnel; 3) to encourage social mixing with other races and local cultures; 4) to lessen loyalty ties of the personnel to their birthplaces (technically, this is part of the first point and 5) to reduce conflicts of interest between the personnel and their birthplaces.   Fostering (the modern term for “holding hostages”) is commonly used to cement alliances. This exposes the young children to other cultures and ideas, and helps foster loyalties, and helps curtail the spread of racism. This is a very common tactic to tie families together, regardless of race, and happens all over the Empire, and has for centuries. The fosterlings are typically given a high-quality education, usually the same tutoring as the biological children.  

Racism and Interspecies Relationships in the Empire

  From the beginning, the emperors have discouraged racism, and nearly a thousand years of social engineering has gone a long way towards racial equality. Are the races equal? Legally, yes; the laws make no distinction between Elves and Humans, Orcs and Goblins. Socially, though, there are still ghettos: enclaves of people mainly of one species. They aren’t as widespread as say, 1880’s New York City, but pockets of peoples still exist in most large cities, despite being cosmopolitan. And individuals still have their own likes and dislikes; racism just isn’t as institutionalized as much as 21st Century America.   The Empire, however, still has its racial issues. Mixed race marriages can happen, and occasionally do, they are still rare and, to a certain extent, cause for attention. The different species can not interbreed; there are no half orcs, half elves, half dwarves, and whatnot. No half breeds at all. So any marriage will be childless, although adoption is common enough. And interracial love affairs happen, commonly enough as to not draw undue attention or sidelong glances, at least in the cities. Aarakocra being the exception; while they may develop deep friendships with nonavians, their body parts are just too different to encourage love that isn’t more familial rather than romantic.   Which brings us to sex between the species. Aarakocra have cloaca; to them, that is the norm, but to the ground-bound, it can be a deal breaker. It’s just too different. For other races, it’s both more and less complicated. Elves, Orcs, Humans, Dwarves, Goblins, and Hobbits all share similar “geometries”. To put it bluntly, the parts fit. At one end of the spectrum are the Orcs, whose males tend to be rather large, typically 20-30% larger than Humans in girth and about 10% longer in length. Orc females are sized to fit, but due to vaginal elasticity, only a gynecologist would be able to tell (although since Orc babies are slightly smaller than Human babies, childbirth tends to be easier). Elves and Humans have genitals that are more-or-less equivalently sized. Dwarven males tend to be shorter in length by about 20%, but of similar width to their Human counterparts. Dwarven females are sized accordingly, which can theoretically be a problem with “larger” individuals of the larger races. Hobbits are sized about the same as Dwarves. The Goblins are the smallest; their males tend to be 30% shorter and 20% thinner than Humans, and thus the Goblin females tend to be shorter and tighter. They are the most susceptible to damage from larger races. Since the Empire doesn’t have Kler’nak as citizens (with the exception of a few individuals), we won’t go into them here, although like the Aarakocra, they have cloaca.   Prostitution is legal, and a House of Prostitution will have sex workers of just about any race (Aarakocra being an exception, since there are so few of them). Some people like choosing prostitutes of different races, although in a professional scenario the sex worker has the right to refuse service (female Goblin sex workers do this more often than others, for obvious reasons, especially with Orc clients). The House will fully support them in this as well, as they don’t want their employees damaged. In fact, since pregnancy isn’t a concern, many people will deliberately choose a prostitute of another race.   Rape still happens, unfortunately. And since there are some significant size and strength differences between the races, the Hobbits and Goblins suffer the most when it happens. The Dwarves not so much, mostly due to the fact that there are so few Dwarven women outside of their undercities. Orc women, statistically, also don’t suffer as much, simply due to their size and strength.   Despite every effort, chauvinism and discrimination still exist. It’s in our natures to favor those closest to us, and the trick is to fool the mind into accepting that people far away are still “your people”, and not the “other”. Even after 879 years (the age of the Empire) racism is still in existence, although it’s almost exclusively a local problem that manifests in small pockets here and there. Nearly 900 years of top-down messaging about the unity of the Empire has done a lot to fight the idea that some races are inferior to others. The messaging, almost from the beginning, has been more along the lines of “people may be different, and have different strengths and weaknesses, but we are all in this together.”  

Resource Sharing Between Areas

  The Tondene Empire does not have modern transportation infrastructure. The coastal cities are technically connected by the sea, so getting materials to and from coastal cities is relatively easy and common. Inland settlements, however, can be more isolated. Much of the southern part of the Empire is tropical/subtropical, which means that infrastructure such as roads and bridges take a lot of effort and resources to maintain. This means that overland trade is more limited than ocean or river trading. So most settlements “isolated” in this way tend towards being self-sufficient, at least under normal circumstances. A bad harvest will still cripple most settlements, and they will require resources from elsewhere.   The Empire does what it can to shift resources (mostly food) around as much as required, but the Empire is large, and there is a certain amount of lag time between when the people in charge find out about the issue to when the needed supplies get where they need to be. This can range in time from weeks to months.   Some areas will share more than others. For example, the Aarakocra are communally minded, and typically share a lot when necessary, but they are so few and so isolated that in any practical sense, they are irrelevant. Hobbits also tend to be quite generous, and primarily-Hobbit communities tend to donate more than other races. Dwarves, who tend to be miserly and greedy, tend to share the least. In their defense, their cities tend to not have huge surpluses anyway, both from lack of farmland, and their corporate mindset when it comes to inventory storage.  

Historical Racial Tensions

  Elves tend to not like most of the more ephemeral species; this is due to 1) ephemerals will die before most Elves can get to know them, so it is more difficult for Elves to form strong relationships with ephemerals; 2) ephemerals tend to be short sighted, which the Elves don’t think is a good problem solving technique; and 3) non-Elves tend to not care for the environment, which is an insult to their philosophy and deeply held beliefs (it’s also a symptom of point 2).   Orcs tend to have the most racism targeted at them. This is due to their tendency towards brutishness. Even in the Empire, with centuries of “civilization”, this biological behavior pattern still exists, to a certain extent. But despite being as civilized as any other group in the Empire, this leftover chauvinism still exists. It may not be codified, but like racism in the US, it’s systemic and shows up in subtle, but real, ways. And this chauvinism against Orcs comes from just about all of the other races, with the exception of the Hobbits, who tend towards generosity in both material ways and spiritual ones, and Goblins, who have faced similar issues with their reputation. On the other hand, Orcs can fall prey to thinking that the smaller, less bulkier races are weak. And while that is true when compared to Orcs, it’s not really relevant. That doesn’t stop some Orcs from believing that physical strength is an indication of strength in general.   Speaking of Goblins, they have suffered from racist ideas about themselves as well. Goblins are primarily carnivorous, and many of their old value sets included ritual cannibalism. Some modern (non-Imperial) Goblins still practice it. This is a form of ancestor worship, and while a few tribes may eat captives, most of them “keep it in the family”, so to speak. However, the rumors aren’t that nuanced, and it turns into the simple idea that Goblins eat people. This is frowned upon, of course, so even “civilized” Goblins can suffer from it. Again, like the Orcs, it’s not codified into the law, but it is still rather systemic.   Aarakocra are often thought of as simpletons. They aren’t, but due to their short lifespans and quick maturity, they tend to be very naïve. The ultimate in “country bumpkins”, despite the excellent memories and mental acuity. It’s just that 1) most have had little to no experience with the groundbound, and 2) haven’t lived long enough to gather a lot of life experiences in general, and 3) they are typically pretty isolated from others. Aarakocra become adults at age 3, and fully trained members of their society by about age 5 or 6, most of which time has been spent training, so even that time hasn’t provided for a lot of life experience. And, of course, their bodies are very different than the rest of the races, and little to no accommodations have been made for them. Any such accommodations have usually been done by the Aarakocra themselves. Furniture isn’t made for them; architecture doesn’t usually account for them; cities aren’t built for them in mind, etc.   Dwarves typically don’t really have much problem with racism in the Empire. At most, they are considered “predatory businessmen”, but that rarely, if ever, carries over into outright racism. That said, in the Dwarven undercities, architecture and furniture is designed primarily with Dwarves in mind, so larger races can have troubles getting around or being comfortable. Aarakocra avoid going into them to such an extent that there might be four individuals in the entire Empire that know what a Dwarven city actually looks like. Within those cities, non-Dwarves definitely stand out, draw attention, and don’t look like they belong. That said, there are still many establishments that have accommodations for the larger races. After all, the larger races make up a big slice of the market, and Dwarves are almost Ferengi-like in their attitude towards commerce (that’s not really true; it’s more along the lines of neo-liberal capitalism, such as Wall Street or American big business).   Hobbits, having been integrated into Human society since long before the founding of the Empire, also don’t suffer from racism. Marshfolk can be considered “hicks”, but that’s about it. Hobbits are such a part of society that most public places have at least a few “Hobbit-sized” items on hand for Hobbit customers. This can take the form of “Hobbit-sized portions”, or booster seats, or even taller seats or shorter table heights. Most counters in retail stores are built with a step in front, to accommodate shorter patrons (these modifications also benefit Goblins).   Humans, being nominally in charge of most of the Empire (especially at the highest levels), have the least racism directed against them. Humans are just too “generic” and well-rounded in both body and mind to really have any issues that the other races would aim their racism at. At least at the race level; there is enough cultural diversity to create some racist-like attitudes to specific cultures.   Kler’naktha are a relative unknown in the Empire. Most live in the deserts, on the other side of large mountain ranges, far from the Empire. And most of those are pretty isolationist. But there have been some that have passed through the lands of the Tondene Empire, and a smaller number actually live within the boundaries. Their fearsome aspect and quiet inscrutability predisposes Imperial citizens towards believing that they eat people, and most people think that they could “explode” at any time in a frenzy of violence. A lot of that comes from mammals not knowing how to read the reptilian body language, so when a Kler’nak does turn violent, there is often no apparent warning.

Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!