Aerthen Imperial Federation
SummaryThe dominant power in the heartlands of Aerthen, and one of the greatest living human civilizations, the Aerthen Imperial Federation stands as a beacon of accomplishment. Unifying various human queendoms together, it ushered in a semi-democratic forum, liberating the working classes from servitude, and blowing open the idea of common governance. For, in Aerthen long ruled by dragons or those emulating them, the strong dominated the weak. It would be the downfall of the Imperium, and humanity's uprising, that saw this age-old standard finally torn apart. Despite the glory of these accomplishments, the starting of the Federation was much more uncertain. Following the clearing skies from the Great Darkness, Aerthen was besieged by the baarham and their vile Dominion. Although the baarham adored humans as comrades-in-arms, both of them suffering under the dragons, the baarham weren't content to be equals. Their anxiety-stricken way of living mandated control, and humanity sought to reject yet another tyrannical overlady. Faced against such overwhelming might, the various human queens came together, conspiring a mutual alliance. They went on to war against the Dominion, drawing out terrible battles across Aerthen. It is a testament to those who overthrew the dragons, and had the admiration of the baarham, that they held out. Barely, but they did. When the Dominion vanished, the alliance collapsed quickly. The various human queendoms had grown divisively different from each other. Some despised monsters, others embraced them, and many more fell in between these two. The cultural and religious schism was epitomized in Volapaws, the pseudo-faith that changed as much as the people in Aerthen. Centuries of bloodshed followed, and humanity grew far apart from the once unified glory it had within Aerthen. From the ashes, however, arose the beginnings of the Federation. Deep in the center of Aerthen, a landlocked queendom called Bucaho amassed its might before embarking upon its neighbors. Some submitted immediately, being financially controlled or politically maneuvered; others required war to bring into line. One-by-one Bucaho expanded, putting into practice what any of the long-lived peoples considered a ridiculous risk. Liberty as an idea had existed for many centuries; few willingly tried incorporating it into government. The strong ruled the weak, such was the heinously towering shadow draconic thinking cast upon the world. But that same history taught Bucaho's queen a different idea, and human determination was willing to put the insanity to practice. For, if it failed, Bucaho would be destroyed. The concept of land ownership, nobility, and civil liberties was turned upside down over night. Slavery would be abolished in all its forms, and anyone who lived upon their lands would be free–citizen, or not. Secondly, a hierarchy of governmental responsibility would be made. The people would choose (or have chosen for them temporarily) a representative that spoke on their behalf. These representatives then spoke to their representatives, and a chain of governmental rule was established. The final step would be the Senators, a method modeled after the Dominion's mage-seers, who held the final decision-making for all governmental work. This formed the free government, who then wrapped around the Imperial State. The Imperial State took from the Imperium the clarity of overwhelming might, brought to bear with singular purpose. It would control all major military power and foreign affairs, and serve to ensure all member states behaved in order. However, in the Senate, its voice would be weighty but controlled; overturned, if the members truly wanted to do so. They would both keep swords at each others' throats, and so honesty would be kept. If, in the platform of the free Senate, tyranny was to appear then the members would all-too-willingly tear each other apart. Lofty ideals, insured by hard, unrelenting violence; a very Aerthian way to go about things. Unfortunately, Bucaho's queen wouldn't live to see these ideas laid into the veltron. Political disagreement, intrigue, insurrection, rebellions, and every other problem under the sun struck time and again. A proto-form of a government would arise then be torn down just as quick. More centuries passed, but Bucaho's influence remained, even when as a nation it ceased to exist. The ideas of liberty took root deeper and deeper, attracting more than just the humans. Perhaps, in a small way, it could even work. It came down to one of the other heartland queendoms who would take the idea, then run with it. Shocking everyone, they succeeded. Centuries of hardship, intellectual growth, and so many other factors finally coalesced together in the newborn Aerthen Imperial Federation. Formed by nine distinct queendoms unifying together, they took a modernized version of Bucaho's ambitions for their model. Various adjustments were made, such as maintaining noble ranks but making them elected instead of designated, to appease commoners and nobles alike. More importantly, while pro-human ideals remained, they were extremely accommodating of non-human species as members. This in turn made many of the monster queendoms who bordered the human ones being very willing to join in on the Federation. For some decades the Federation spent most of its time codifying law, handling outsider invasions, and establishing its identity. Then they started invading their neighbors back. Some were for direct conquest, others revenge; many more, however, were threatened by the Federation and sought to tear it down. It was becoming an enormous political power, and a social sinkhole that sucked up fleeing serfs and slaves from neighboring queendoms. In a century the Federation doubled in size, subsuming almost the entirety of central Aerthen. By then, its newer neighbors had unified into their own political groups. More out of fear of the Federation than cooperation, they successfully blunted the constant expansion. Combined with social instability, the Federation has since remained in a much slower state of affairs. Securing its populations and internal order, while also trying to subjugate new member states. One of its greatest goals is acquiring a warm-water port territory, wherever they can. If they succeed, many fear the Federation's economic power will be the greatest in the world. Thus, those who would stop the Federation are quite keen on keeping them away from the oceans. This idea has since defined war for, and against, the Federation, and bent the entirety of Aerthen around itself. How it will shape up is a mystery, and the next great conflict that will inevitably strike.
The Federation can be divided up into four distinct layers. While mostly purpose driven, it is also a function of population size. The polhen, or more colloquially 'the People', is the foundational basis being basically everyone. If one lives on Federation land, they are part of the polhen, and so entitled to its universal laws. However, to receive social benefits, one must become registered with the government, which entails paying taxes and other citizenry-required activities. This is especially important if one wishes to operate a business of more than ten people, as they are now financially significant and must be citizens. Voting, however, has since moved from a citizen's only bracket and into a universal law, so even non-citizens can vote in the Federation. Provided they are registered to begin with, that is. For the most part, a little over 80% of the Federation is a polhen, and so most everything starts and ends here. Masqupol form the body of the Representative Government. These are all elected officials, voted for by the polhen or other masqupol. Most nobles were grandmothered into this role, being equivalent in function, and their titles were kept on honorary terms. Masqupol can be anything from a small town mayor to even a former queen, so they have a varied hierarchy. Not all workers for the Representative Government are masqupol, however–such as the staff, clerical workers, and so forth. If the government workers are just that, masqupol are their figureheads who handle all the leadership functions. Most of these positions are for life, or until voted out of office. Federation Senators are the quasi-queens of the Federation, voted for by their state's masqupol and polhen. Being term-limited to fifteen years and two maximum terms (thirty max years), they write the laws, vote on those laws, hold meetings on matters of importance, and handle all the major decisions of the Federation. The Senate's other majorly important function is budget control for the military. While the Imperial State is given great freedom in how it operates the military, their purse is owned by the member states, and so funding threats keep them in line quite cleanly. While wrapped up in its own special rules, the Imperial State largely acts as a military-centric organization. Headed by the royal family of the Empress/Emperor, they have absolute authority in matters of war and military allocation. With their budget controlled by the Senate, the Imperial State focuses on protecting the Federation, securing peace, and handling foreign political intrigue that may appear. What matters are important but not strictly under their purview, they hand off to the Senate. The Imperial State is a special condition given to a member state, voted upon by the Senate with a 55% or more approval. The polhen and masqupol can hold a special vote, the Retraction of Imperial Authority, and select a new Imperial State with 70% or more approval. Conversely, the Imperial State has a powerful voting option, able to weigh in on matters with a 50% vote. However, they can only do this once per Senate session, so it is of importance to use that vote wisely. Naturally they cannot vote on some matters, such as retaining their own power. These mechanisms ensure an Imperial State can be revoked and reallocated if it is in defiance of Federation desires. Conversely, the Imperial State can temporarily stall radical change in the Federation if it needs to. The Imperial State is voted upon in fifty-year intervals.
Demography and Population
The Federation's military is split into two branches: the global Imperial Army, and then the Federal Army(armies). Much of the actual fighting power of the Federation is held by the Imperial Army. Solely under the command of the Imperial State, they handle war, conquest, national defense, and strategic emergencies. They are equipped with the best the Federation can create or acquire, and adhere to a strict code of conduct. They may sometimes function as a peacekeeping army during civil unrest, if Federation states petition for the aide. Federal Armies are primarily peacekeeping forces, normally a mix of retired Imperial Army soldiers and a Federation state's native population. Their chief responsibilities fall under their state's jurisdiction only, unless requested to by another member state. Civil unrest, protection of important but local assets, and patrol of the territory against bandits, monsters, the Forsaken, etc, are all the concerns of a Federal Army. As a whole their equipment is considered decent, but they are never given the arms to make them comparable to the Imperial Army. Adventurer guilds and other paramilitary organizations are heavily regulated and overseen by Federal Armies. While encouraged as a means of letting exceptional people acquire fame, fortune, and power, the armies watch them carefully to insure these paramilitary guilds don't acquire too much. Whatever Federal Armies cannot or will not handle, these ones pick up the scraps.
The official Federation religion is Volapaws, a martially-minded faith that upholds meritocratic values. It can be said the faith has massively shaped thinking in Aerthen at large, and so it can be no surprise the Federation upholds it so dearly. With much of its focus on the living world, matters of death are measured by one's accomplishments in life, providing a spiritual incentive to live a 'good' life in accordance to its values. Member states are permitted their own religious practices, so long as they do not conflict with Volapaws worship or incite disobedience to the Federation. Animism is a common source of some of these state-specific religions, as well as some polytheistic pantheons (of which Aerintor often sits at the top, if not the nearest to the top). Much of these divergent religions have sprawling roots feeding into and taking from Aerintor worship, often making them seem like branches rather than separate faiths entirely from Volapaws. In such a light, truly foreign religions are more unusual to find in the Federation. They are technically accepted and tolerated, but heavily scrutinized by the Volapaws Conclave. Nothing that would promote insurrection or occupation is tolerated, nor ideologies that threaten core Federal values. Some 'edits' may be required, thusly, to be accepted officially.
Agriculture & Industry
With a respectable industrial output of goods, and plentiful natural resources, the Federation enjoys luxury and economical prowess. However, not all member states are equal, which has resulted in some lopsided internal trade on a range of commodities. Bovine-heavy member states, for example, basically own the diary market and all its related products (cheese, etc). Other states must either import the products or hope their bovine can facilitate local markets. These bovine-heavy states, however, import tremendous amounts of grain and vegetable matter to sustain their high demand diets. This in turn creates a rock-solid steady revenue stream for the grassland states, especially those who can produce year-round in warm temperatures. Internal trade is regulated to prevent any one state from abusing their power–or being abused by their reliance on a fellow state. This does vary, however, as economic power is a frequent political tool, so it is not that tightly wrapped under regulation. Should the machinations of any one state begin to stir civil unrest, or cause potential crises thanks to trade shortcomings, the Imperial State will step in. None of the member states want that to happen, especially after what happened in the far west of Aerthen in the last expansion. In terms of foreign trade, the landlocked nature of the Federation means it’s difficult reaching very far. They willfully deliver out much of their own products for exotic goods, however, such as rachtoh silk, dragon processed metals, bieneren honey, or herbs and medicines. As they possess a more robustly developed industrial system, they tend to enjoy favorable trade conditions. Many of the underdeveloped or inadequate nations heavily buy arms from them, as even mid-range steel is profoundly desirable over others' own rudimentary attempts at steel-making.
To achieve greatness, one needs a great education–so the thinking goes within the Federation. Meritocracy being what it is, universal education is provided as the first step in a long road. Each member state is different in what they prioritize, such as rural farming versus craftswomanship. There is a general standard that must be met, and so most everyone in the Federation receives a fairly successful education. Much of this concerns their history, laws, and the capable skills needed to survive on Veltrona. Specialization is a more personal endeavor, and citizens are expected to pursue it as they desire. Higher education, in the form of university and otherwise, are much more stringent to enroll in. A greater difficulty is in branching out one's talents. As there is great emphasis on practical knowledge versus intellectual, a lopsided nature arises. For example, smithing or civil engineering are easy to find, but philosophical centers debating the meaning of life are extremely rare. This has strengthened the Federation as a whole, but its innovative talents are all over the place. Combined with a scrutiny of foreign learnings, they can be surprisingly traditional in a fair few areas. Indeed, if the government cannot determine an adequate usage for some idea or another, it will not be supported, making startups for unproven ventures very tricky.
Official State Religion