Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

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Sigtrygg
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:58 pm

By direct rule I mean Imperial nobles actually rule the planets of the core sectors, the Imperial bureaucracy provides the government administration machinery and the local population all consider themselves to be Imperial Citizens. This is perfectly doable with communication with the Emperor taking a couple of months, I'm sure I need not quote historical examples of empires with communication times measured in weeks or months.

Contrast that with the Spinward Marches where subsector dukes can't even directly rule the planet that they hold title over...
HalC
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby HalC » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:57 am

As evidenced by some of the responses in this thread, even now, there is a disparate expectation of what is or is not canon - what is or is not expected of a governmental body, etc.

THIS is what I meant by a major lack of clarification as to who or what is ruled by who or what governmental level etc.

When you talk about "Jurisdiction" - it is understood that there are potentially multiple agencies of note, who can claim to have the right to determine what happens to an individual - based upon which law applies to that incident/person at a given moment. The agency that ultimately ends up with Jurisdiction, would be the one deemed to have the supreme right to handle the situation. A diplomat who violates a speeding law, can be pulled over and subject to a fine. A diplomat who fails to pay parking fines can pretty much laugh and ignore the fines, as they can't be locked up, nor can they be charged with anything. At best, they can be kicked out of the country after being declared personae non grata (or what ever the spelling might be). So, what exactly are Imperial Nobles? Are they over-rulers of a local world, higher in the food chain as far as jurisdiction goes, or are they the equal of, or subservient to, the local government?

So, riddle me this...

A person is born on a world, let's call it the world of Clah. Members of the world are named to be Clahds. A noble, born on the World Clah, in the confines of his mother's immediate vicinity - which happens to be a fief...

Is such a child a native of Clah? Is he subject to the governmental laws as a citizen of Clah? Or is he an IMPERIAL citizen, excempt from the laws of Clah in the same way that Diplomatics whose children are born in a country, are deemed not to be citizens/subjects of the nation they are born in, but remain citizens of their "home country"?

Ask yourself this...

CLah is ruled by planetary Nobility, as opposed to Imperial Nobility as far as their local government goes. If Imperial children born on Clah are citizens of Clah first, Imperial second - then yes, one would expect that the Nobles born on Clah are local nobility. But what sets apart those who are Imperial Nobility? By definition, they are nobility in the eyes of the Emperor. They meet certain criteria that differences them from local nobility on the planet, and Imperial Nobility. In the real world, these things are SPELLED out, either by treaty, or by law, or a treaty that has the force of law. In the Third Imperium, NONE of this is spelled out with specifics. Granted, this may be because Marc wanted GM's to be able to make up their own minds, but when talking about the OTU (Official Traveller Unierse), he should have actively DEFINED it.

Historically, what is the difference between a world that voluntarily joined the Third Imperium, or was Annexed forcibly into the Imperium by means of war etc? Do the worlds have different terms or requirements or laws or even taxation burdens because they joined peaceably or are all worlds treated the same? After a period of time, do subject worlds become citizen worlds?

What are the rights of Imperial Citizens as opposed to the rights of Clahd's? Can a Noble be taxed for his owning of his Fief? If the world government passes a law stating that all couples can only have one child, and any child born after the first, is put to death, as is the mother - what happens to the Noble who has seven kids on his own fief?

In the end, it is answers to questions like this, that determines how laws work within the Imperium. It determines whether or not Imperial Nobles are above the law in the sense that they are outside the jurisdiction of the local world governments, and that the Throne has treaties that specify what laws will carry equal weight in the Eyes of the Emperor, and which laws his nobility and Imperial citizens are bound by (ie, not bound by the laws of say, the world of Clah).

How each of us as GM's wrestle with that question, and the answers we apply as the norm for our version of the Traveller Universe, determines the character or nature of the Third Imperium. But OUR Traveler Universes of necessity, are not the OTU. It is the OTU that I am interested in for purposes of my own Traveller Universe.

And yes, the Imperium has the ability and power and apparently, the authority, to sterilize entire worlds as it sees fit. If Agent of the Imperium is deemed to be Marc Miller's vision of his creation, then technically, it IS canon for the OTU. But think about that for a second. We're talking about ABSOLUTE POWER here. A supremacy of Imperial power over local planetary power.

Which brings me to my final point.

Imperial Nobles, if they are to be a stabilizing factor, or ruling factor at keeping the Imperium Alive and well, of necessity, have to be supreme to any and all local governments. Otherwise, they are subject to their world's power, not users of power themselves. Put in its simplest form? You can't set a guard dog over an individual who can compel the dog's obedience at any given time. If the Knights and nobility are to guard the Imperium and safeguard it, they have to be able to ignore the local governments.
HalC
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby HalC » Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:15 am

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:58 pm
By direct rule I mean Imperial nobles actually rule the planets of the core sectors, the Imperial bureaucracy provides the government administration machinery and the local population all consider themselves to be Imperial Citizens. This is perfectly doable with communication with the Emperor taking a couple of months, I'm sure I need not quote historical examples of empires with communication times measured in weeks or months.

Contrast that with the Spinward Marches where subsector dukes can't even directly rule the planet that they hold title over...
Authority without power is no authority at all seems to be what you're arguing here.

So based on the "Contrast that with the Spinward Marches where the subsector dukes can't even directly rule the planet they hold title over" - would it be safe to assume, that perhaps the Imperial Nobles do not control power by means of local governments per se, but control the levers of power that is external to the planets?

If so, what levers are those? The Imperial Navy? The Imperial military? The power to shut down space ports entirely with a declaration of "Red zones" and the ability to interdict worlds from trade? The power to raise taxes against offending governments?

First, identify the power structure, then identify how that power structure controls all lesser power structures under it, subservient to it, or what have you. Heck, even the power to state something as simple as...

"Anyone born on a Fief, is deemed to be an Imperial Citizen regardless of the world they are born upon" is a power in its own right. It identifies who the Iridium Throne lays claim to as having jurisdiction over in a manner that trumps the local government's ability or desire to claim jurisdiction over such an individual. Having a treaty that specifies "On fiefs, the law of the land will be the same as that of the Capital and the laws shall be enforced by the Noble holding ownership of that particular fief" would go a long way towards defining what is or is not the norm for the OTU. Now? Although a noble killing another on his land might be deemed murder, he will be held accountable by the authorities and the laws of the Capital World, rather than those of the world in which the murder takes place. Perhaps on Clah (gotta keep using it as an example world) it might be deemed manslaughter to accidentally kill someone, but Murder if a pistol is used to cause the death, and subject to the death penalty. On the Capital World, using a gun in self defense is not murder, and its jurisdiction superseded that of the local world.

In the end, until everyone gets to see how the OTU is spelled out, everyone gets to say "hey, there is no standard in the OTU, any standard is as good as any other in its absence". But the truth is? The lack of details means that largely, ANYTHING goes.

The Sylean government before the start/birth of the Third Imperium was a true confederacy. It functions largely it seems, the same way that people run their Traveller Universes today (World governments take precedence over anything else) and where you are determines what laws you operate under. Something changed when the Emperor took the Throne. Something happened where the Throne concentrated its power in some way, levered some instruments of power for its own use.

Until we can agree on what is a citizen, and who holds what power in what jurisdictions? I don't think we can accurately create a functioning model to pattern our own Universes off of the OTU. I will state however, that the Agent of the Imperium has some rather *cough* interesting implications. Oddly enough, we only see the Imperium through the eyes of the agent - not through the eyes of those in power. For that, we would need another book from Marc Miller, or a new supplement that spells things out, or perhaps Mongoose publishing to put out a new book that is approved by Marc Miller that spells things out more carefully.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:07 am

Making mountains out of molehills. The governments are fantasy. Do with them as you will as Referee. In the end, 95% of players won't care how every planet is being run. If a player does have a great idea for one, let them narrate the workings of it.
HalC
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby HalC » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:46 am

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 6:07 am
Making mountains out of molehills. The governments are fantasy. Do with them as you will as Referee. In the end, 95% of players won't care how every planet is being run. If a player does have a great idea for one, let them narrate the workings of it.
To be clear, you mean to imply that fleshing out the "how things work" matters little. Any attempt at verisimilitude or realism is a waste of time? So, trying for realistic depictations for physical sciences is worthwhile, but not for socio-political? Ironically, for a story to ring true, human nature is the driving force, but the details of political power is not? Ok, so the nuts and bolts of things don't interest you as you clearly state above. Having a character with social status 11+ means what ever the story as driven by the players means it to mean rather than how it needs to mean in order for a stable power structure that has lasted for centuries to exist.

THIS is why we never get to see how the Imperial government works, and also why it appears, it is so jumbled. Each writer worked as God without a general writers guideline. That would be like a tv series portraying a character one week as thoughtful, and the next week as an impulsive. If there is no structure, there is no continuity. Without real power, there can be no real authority. GURPS NOBLES fails to define power where it is inherited. It fails to show how said power benefits those who wield it. It largely counts on an altruism that human nature as a whole, has failed to exhibit throughout all of history. To wit:

A culture starts off principled
Over time, the power brokers amass more power
Over time, wealth accumulates in the hands of power brokers
Corruption sets in and rules/laws/customs become less constricting for the brokers
Power brokers become totally corrupted, culture declines until...

The barbarians (those not of the culture nor interested in joining said culture) come into conflict and ultimately over run the now weak culture rotted from within by corruption.The

But hey, we can hand wave it all with the sentence "the nobles are noble to a fault, and the Imperium remains as strong today as it was in year zero". All of the power struggles, like cockroaches, occur in the dark - sight unseen. The barracks emperor years were an anomaly, and player character nobles have no real power.

;)
Sigtrygg
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:51 pm

The Third Imperium lacks the strength it once had... according to the original Spinward Marches.

Not to mention that in said frontier sector the Imperial nobles don't hesitate to kidnap political dissenters and imprison them without trial, use Imperial forces to bully and threaten worlds to stay in line (or interdict if they don't obey).

This declining, corrupt, authoritarian Imperium has been there from the start, but for some reason the fan base wrongly juxtaposed the Imperium with liberal western democracy and wanted the Imperium to be the good guys so there was a subtle shift - especially with the painting of the Zhodani as nefarious villains (imagine wanting to stop an aggressive rival power fro occupying every system right up to your border, how unreasonable of the Zhos) - in the setting propaganda we were being exposed to.

It didn't really come as a surprise when the Imperium imploded with the assassination and rebellion, the seeds for it were in the earliest GDW Traveller releases. If MgT ever advances their timeline to the rebellion era I hoe they learn some lessons from what MegaTraveller did wrong.
HalC
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby HalC » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:53 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:51 pm
The Third Imperium lacks the strength it once had... according to the original Spinward Marches.
<snipped stuff>

It didn't really come as a surprise when the Imperium imploded with the assassination and rebellion, the seeds for it were in the earliest GDW Traveller releases. If MgT ever advances their timeline to the rebellion era I hoe they learn some lessons from what MegaTraveller did wrong.
I hear you there. One thing I hope that gets done, is to have some means of a campaign game much like Supplement 12, outlining events and such for the making and maintenance of Dynasties. If they do have a six way (or how ever many differing factions of the Civil War, it's been a while since I read up on it) - they should set it up such that the resources and skills of each faction can be used as a foundation for a meta-game. How many remember "IMPERIUM" the board game? THAT would be an AWESOME game concept and design in my opinion. Fifth Frontier War played double blind would also be a FUN game. Heck, maybe someday, I'll dust off the rules, and set it up for an online game. But, that's for another day perhaps.

In the end though - having a campaign set of rules to resolve the civil war means that the whole thing doesn't bog down and cause people to lose interest. The civil war takes a given amount of time, the writing is placed on the wall, and various factions wheel and deal until the war is brought to a conclusion. Alternatively? Members of the Moot, stricken by the Black War concepts utilized by the various fleets, meet one last time to dissolve the Imperium entirely, fearing that what was supposed to work and preserve the peace, instead has only made things worse. Then an era of "Pocket empires" can arrive and the various fractures of the Imperium become smaller states.

So many differing ways to go to be sure!

Before I forget, this is from T5 page 693 on Fiefs...

"A Title (Lord, Lady, or a local equivalent) reflecting possession of the land, and the accompanying responsibilities as the final authority to which locals may appeal for the righting of injustice (this authority may be locally delegated)."

Elsewhere, on the same page, it has this to say...

"A Land Grant differs from ordinary ownership of land; it confers specific rights and privileges on its holder. These rights include:
Economic Control over one Terrain Hex (6,500 square km) on a world and an associated income based on taxes and production. Economic Control is similar to governmental control: the ability (within reason) to create law and behavioral expectations; the ability to control who can occupy the land (and pay rent or taxes).
Outright Ownership of one Local Hex (approximately 65 square km= 6500 hectares= 16,000 acres)."

Note: Being able to approach an Imperial Noble who is the holder of the title of enfeofed land, can be approached for righting of wrongs. Note too, that such a noble is the FINAL authority. This is at odds with the fief being a property of a world government, where the world government itself is often deemed to be the final authority over its citizens/subjects. You can't have two final authorities where the Lord is the final authority, and the World Government is the final authority!

Now for the other thing...

If a "hex" that is granted to a Noble is 6,500 hectares or 16,000 acres (at 640 acres per square mile, this works out to 25 square miles (or roughly a five mile by five mile area!). What happens to individuals who are born within that 5 mile by 5 mile area? Are they legally residents of the World itself, or are they legally residents of the Fief itself? For those who want to say "Yes" to both questions - then you have to ask "Who has jurisdiction over those born in that area?" Both the world and the Fief Holder can't have joint jurisdiction without there being turf wars. As in all things, such a joint jurisdiction has to be resolved one way or another. Either the Lord is the final authority, and can thus forbid the local government from intruding, or they can't. Either they hold sway over the land they own, or they don't. The fact is, Economic Control indicates that the Lord can create/craft his own laws for his own fief.

So, Fiefs are Land Grants - granted by the Imperium itself by means of the Emperor. Said land comes into the Emperor's possession how? By treaty? If so, what were the terms of the treaty? By outright ownership as a sort of Embassy? Again, not spelled out in the book, but not an outlandish expectation based on what was written on page 693. The Lord is the final authority of the land he holds, he can enact economic laws much like a government can, and can determine who is or is not permitted to settle within his acreage.

What do we have in human history that even comes close to this approach? THAT is what I'd like to see this thread do - open a discussion where people point out the issues involved, and try to offer solutions, and sort of act like a debate...

Make a position, outline why you take that position as a sort of "show all work" kind of approach. Some who read this thread may say "hey, there are some good points being raised in this thread, and I like them and will adapt them for use with my campaigns. Some will say "hey, I don't like approach A, but I like approach B - because the author(s) of approach B laid out a convincing argument."

In the end? This is more about raising the issues, giving GM's a tool for which they can construct their game universes and run them. Having some fair idea of what being a Noble Family is/does in the Imperium, coupled with the rules from SUPPLEMENT 12: DYNASTIES might make for a game world worth investigating.

For those who think the whole thing is a monumental waste of time? Don't waste the time reading it. ;)

For those who want to see where this ends up or see the various conclusions drawn - I say, join in, roll up your sleeves, and contribute to how you THINK the Imperium should be run. As ever, don't be afraid to examine ideas you DON'T like simply because - seeing what you don't like might give you inspiration to realize what it is that you DO like. Sort of like when an Artist uses a pencil to draw a line and suggest a shape, or another artist uses a brush and shades a background black, highlighting the shape via the contrast in white not being black.

As I've told my daughter about dating: Dating any guy is not a waste of time. If he has traits you like you learn what you're looking for by means of those traits you liked. If you find traits you didn't like, it helps determine by its opposite, what you are looking for, or what you're trying to avoid. Same here I think.
HalC
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby HalC » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:02 pm

Resolution: Be it resolved, that this debate is to argue the merits of how jurisdiction works when dealing with the Local Government, and when dealing with Fiefs which are plots of land on a world in which an off world Noble is deeded the land.

Needed: One side to argue for the merits of a World Government holding ultimate jurisdiction over all land within the world's surface, and one side to argue the merits of Limited Jurisdiction of the World Government over the fief proper, yet, also maintaining that due to the boundaries involved, jurisdiction of an Imperial nature is also limited.

For example: If a Noble has land that is serviced by the power utility located on the World Government (henceforth abbrev as WG) held land, he is at the mercy of having his power shut down and rendered without power. On the other hand, the Noble could import a power generation system of his own, and be independent of the utilities.

Example 2: The Lord may have businesses and such on his lands, and are run by people employed from the world itself. Since there is a boundary that determines where the Lord's land ends, and the WG's land begins - do we see a similar situation with Fiefs as Starports? Or perhaps, the Lord is responsible for any and all infractions of the boundaries by his people when dealing with the locals who are employed on his lands. In such a situation, argue the merits of who holds ultimate jurisdiction one way or another - and how thorny "falls through the cracks" situations can arise and also be resolved.

Ultimately? This is a role playing exercise in which you try to imagine what life would be like in the circumstances being specified.

I suggest that ANYONE can pose a hypothetical, and try to get answers to questions they are wrestling with for their Imperium. That's why this thread is titled "Nuts and Bolts" - some assembly required. :)
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Jan 28, 2018 7:00 pm

HalC wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:02 pm
I suggest that ANYONE can pose a hypothetical, and try to get answers to questions they are wrestling with for their Imperium. That's why this thread is titled "Nuts and Bolts" - some assembly required. :)
Also, I would say that there is no "one rule fits all situations", as far as how worlds are governed and how world systems are governed. Each has a different circumstance.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Linwood » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:32 pm

I’m more in line with Shawn’s earlier comment about making mountains out of molehills. There’s a lot of great ideas coming up in this thread and if I was running a campaign focused on the nobility I’d be all over them. But for the campaign I’m currently running the actual mechanics of how their fiefs work aren’t that important. I’m also assuming that their real power is more in their influence than any direct authority. That seems to work fine - for my campaign at least.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:15 am

Linwood wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:32 pm
But for the campaign I’m currently running the actual mechanics of how their fiefs work aren’t that important. I’m also assuming that their real power is more in their influence than any direct authority. That seems to work fine - for my campaign at least.
I'll have NPCs that are running government stuff. But unless the Travellers ever encounter them, they probably won't know or care who's running the show. When Travellers do meet/bump into such NPCs, they can "discuss" about worldly things needing to be done. NPCs might not know exactly how Travellers do the things that they do either. Government NPCs are not omnipotent. And they may not care at all how Free Traders make their living, or how they spend their "free" time.

In games like SKYRIM, often times just delivering a note to another city can make or break a war.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby NOLATrav » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:38 am

True but I do think there's value in understanding how things work, even at the most simplistic level. Much like reading a UWP and interpreting the digits, knowing if an Imperial dignitary is a real force or just a facade can lead to adventure opportunities.

I've mentioned upthread how this works IMTU but yes, every world is different and the idea doesn't cover or work for all situations. There's often cracks for the PC's to fall thru and crying to the Imperials won't always work - Adventure opportunity!

On the flip side of the coin, non-Imperial PC parties can benefit from these 'opportunities' too - just put them in trouble in a system where the Imperium does hold sway...
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:30 am

Travellers will over time figure out how things work in a society or a government. Part of the explore/discover stuff they might choose or need to do in a campaign. I never read a description of a world to players. "Your group is orbiting a planet with a UWP of blah blah... The Law Level is blah blah... There is a type D government blah blah ...

What they learn is what they find out from reactions of people, from looking up current news events, from the library data, from what they see/hear in a city they visit.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Grievous » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:49 am

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:51 pm
Before I forget, this is from T5 page 693 on Fiefs...

"A Title (Lord, Lady, or a local equivalent) reflecting possession of the land, and the accompanying responsibilities as the final authority to which locals may appeal for the righting of injustice (this authority may be locally delegated)."

Elsewhere, on the same page, it has this to say...

"A Land Grant differs from ordinary ownership of land; it confers specific rights and privileges on its holder. These rights include:
Economic Control over one Terrain Hex (6,500 square km) on a world and an associated income based on taxes and production. Economic Control is similar to governmental control: the ability (within reason) to create law and behavioral expectations; the ability to control who can occupy the land (and pay rent or taxes).
Outright Ownership of one Local Hex (approximately 65 square km= 6500 hectares= 16,000 acres)."

Note: Being able to approach an Imperial Noble who is the holder of the title of enfeofed land, can be approached for righting of wrongs. Note too, that such a noble is the FINAL authority. This is at odds with the fief being a property of a world government, where the world government itself is often deemed to be the final authority over its citizens/subjects. You can't have two final authorities where the Lord is the final authority, and the World Government is the final authority!

Now for the other thing...

If a "hex" that is granted to a Noble is 6,500 hectares or 16,000 acres (at 640 acres per square mile, this works out to 25 square miles (or roughly a five mile by five mile area!). What happens to individuals who are born within that 5 mile by 5 mile area? Are they legally residents of the World itself, or are they legally residents of the Fief itself? For those who want to say "Yes" to both questions - then you have to ask "Who has jurisdiction over those born in that area?" Both the world and the Fief Holder can't have joint jurisdiction without there being turf wars. As in all things, such a joint jurisdiction has to be resolved one way or another. Either the Lord is the final authority, and can thus forbid the local government from intruding, or they can't. Either they hold sway over the land they own, or they don't. The fact is, Economic Control indicates that the Lord can create/craft his own laws for his own fief.

So, Fiefs are Land Grants - granted by the Imperium itself by means of the Emperor. Said land comes into the Emperor's possession how? By treaty? If so, what were the terms of the treaty? By outright ownership as a sort of Embassy? Again, not spelled out in the book, but not an outlandish expectation based on what was written on page 693. The Lord is the final authority of the land he holds, he can enact economic laws much like a government can, and can determine who is or is not permitted to settle within his acreage.

What do we have in human history that even comes close to this approach? THAT is what I'd like to see this thread do - open a discussion where people point out the issues involved, and try to offer solutions, and sort of act like a debate...
While I agree that this is quite a sketchy area, I don't think the implications of how things work are quite as murky as people are making them out to be.

Re: Titles and Land Grants. It's explicit that the ruling noble is the main authority on that piece of land - in a rather absolutist manner. This means that he and his domain is independent of the world's government as guaranteed by the power of the Imperium. That is, at least, the theoretical and legal (from the perspective of the Imperium) underpinning. This does seem to contradict the old idea that the Imperium only rules the space between worlds, but it does make sense they'd have some investment in terrestrial property, so it's not really that strange of an expansion to that idea.

HOWEVER, that does not mean that things actually play out that way for a multitude of reasons. While this variance can be annoying, it's also great for allowing people to do what they want on different worlds. So, to truly understand the system, let's look at the exceptions (that prove the rule, so to say).

A world could be entirely owned by an Imperial noble. In this situation there would be no conflict.

However, even in this kind of case, the noble in question could have set-up advisory bodies, councils, senates, legates, administrators, etc. to assist him in ruling. Yes, their authority would ultimately derive from the noble's, but with time, their powers, rights and privileges would begin to have the weight of tradition behind them and ignoring or sidelining them could be perilous. They could become de facto legal entities in this manner. Tradition and time are powerful forces in human society. In a conflict, the rest of the Imperium would of course defend the noble's absolutist rule. On the world itself, the people might do otherwise. Which would be the more important concern would depend then on the exact context of the world and the conflict. On an outlying world in a time/situation when the Imperium was in decline, the noble might actually be limited in his powers. In fact, a conflict like this could be the birth of a recognized world government on a world where there was none to begin with! In the Imperial core, with naval ships on orbit and the nearest friendly noble (with a possible army) only one jump away, the situation would be entirely different and such a rebellion would be impossible.

What about when there is an actual world government that precedes the noble though?

How is the fief created in the first place? The world could be conquered and the fief is simply taken. The world could be peacefully annexed, and the fief granted to the Imperium as gift. In some situations, the fief could also be bought, or claimed to negate existing debts. Taking further fiefs from worlds already in the Imperium could follow any of those practices. How these things are done sets up the context for the relations between the world government and the Imperium, possibly greatly effecting politics and popular opinion on the world.

What about the interaction between the laws of the fief and the world? Again, this could go in many different directions and a lot could depend on the relationship between the world and the Imperium. There is no ultimate, legal need for the noble to respect the world's laws at all, but there could be a host of practical ones. Still, the legal circumstances in the fief and the world could be entirely different. In this way the fief could even become a refuge for exiles, refugees, criminals, Imperial agents, etc. People could go gambling, buying drugs, acquiring weapons, hunting people in blood sports, or anything really, on the fief. Of course, again, whether a noble wants to harbor such creatures and things on his fief depends on the noble's character, motivations, etc. AND his or her relationship with the world government. The situation could also easily be reversed, where the fief is an area of puritan behavior and strict laws, while the world itself is a hive of scum and villainy.

Still, in most cases, I would assume that the relationship would actually not be so antagonistic. The noble might be absolute, but he might be willing to make occasional concessions. There could be a working relationship between the two legislations. There might be agencies and police forces specifically created with powers on both sides, bridging the gap. Alternatively, the noble could allow the world's police forces access to his domain (perhaps with limitations) or restrict these things only to his own forces. Then again, it isn't hard to imagine a situation where the noble might also wholesale adopt local laws as his own, for any reason. Where there is difference, there is also often exchange of ideas, for better or worse, in one way or the other. Considering that if the noble's family lives on the world, they might slowly go native. Heck, they might have been native from the start, when it would make sense that they'd adopt laws that fit their culture, making the shift from fief to world almost unnoticeable from the start. On the other hand, on a world where Imperials are looked upon with awe, where their ways are emulated by those who hold power, the noble's liberal (or puritan, or whatever) policies might start infusing into the world's culture, slowly also changing it's laws to reflect those on the fief.

So, we see these things are often dynamic, or on a spectrum and that things are not always black or white. Much of this depends on the noble in question, and his or her (and by proxy the Imperium's) relationship with the world government, in the specific context where the noble and world exist. Remember also that these are supposed to be actual people who have to live in these societies and cultures, where they exercise power, but also love, laugh, empathize, make intrigue and war, etc. There's a lot of things that you can do with this system and it actually isn't all that murky in principle, though it can certainly be murky in application, but only when the GM wants to make it so.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Condottiere » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:50 am

It's a complex subject, and your parsecage will vary.

What's the function of the lower nobility?

1. Basically, it's to be an agent for their overlord, and spy and influence the locality he resides in to the benefit of his overlord.

2. He may actively participate as the local justice of the peace.

3. He probably acts as a liaison representing his locality's interests (and his by extension) to a higher governing authority.

He's there to keep an eye on things, and report up the chain, presumably the immediate magnate and/or subsector duke on the economic and political developments, and try and influence local societies or oversee carrying out of Imperium policy.

The interaction regarding Imperium sovereignty regarding his person with local jurisdictions, personnel and land may be dictated by custom, rather than law, and in any case, can be appealed to his immediate superior in the hierarchy.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Grievous » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:39 pm

In fact, if I had to develop a baseline example of a noble, fief and it's workings in relations to the world government, I think it would be something like the following:

For the most part, the fief follows the legal precedents of the world government. There are certain exceptions to this that pertain to the noble's personal character, motivations and/or politics, where the fief's laws diverge from the world. These can be relatively mundane ("all real estate transactions must be approved by a signature of the Count's personal clerk" or "No representations of the Duke's family are allowed without approval by the Palace Media Department") or quite obscure ("Denebian Furred Parrots are strictly forbidden and will be exterminated as pests"). These additional laws can often be obviously self-serving, sometimes venal, or may appear convoluted in an effort to obfuscate matters.

So, the police work and bureaucracy largely follows the planet's standard, but the police organization and government administrators are usually separate from those who operate outside the fief. This is to help keep things in check and to give the noble a working power base. Allegations of favoritism and out-and-out corruption are usually standard fare from the world government.

Additional exceptions to the law come in as a set of relatively standardized Imperial laws embedded into the legal code that make life easier for Imperial nobility or other Imperial agents/functionaries. The Imperium and its agents then occasionally call on some byzantine or lesser known laws to allow them to accomplish their business, politics, or intrigues. This keeps the corruption mentioned above in check, under a veneer of legality supported by Imperial power. How much this is resented by the world depends on their relationship with the Imperium and how much these laws are abused to their disadvantage.

I think this relatively unoffensive and unintrusive approach would be doubly likely to be in place when the Imperial noble acts as an absentee landlord. There really is little reason to diverge too much from the local culture, except to facilitate the noble's personal agenda and a certain embedded Imperial advantage when those needs rise.

However, that's just if I was asked to lay down a baseline. Otherwise, I refer to the dynamic tensions presented in my previous post in this thread.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby phavoc » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:19 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:30 am
Travellers will over time figure out how things work in a society or a government. Part of the explore/discover stuff they might choose or need to do in a campaign. I never read a description of a world to players. "Your group is orbiting a planet with a UWP of blah blah... The Law Level is blah blah... There is a type D government blah blah ...

What they learn is what they find out from reactions of people, from looking up current news events, from the library data, from what they see/hear in a city they visit.
That's a terribly unhelpful answer Shawn. BOTH players and gamemasters can benefit from having well-written and logical background materials. As you stated, the players have to learn. But all those people, news events, etc.... they don't come out of thin air. EACH has to be created by the gamemaster as part of the campaign. One of the purposes of purchasing gaming materials is the essentially paying someone else to do all the heavy lifting for the players and gamemaster. So when you buy books for a game setting and there are large holes in it, your choices are to fill it in all yourself or not bother with it.

TL:DR - all players and GM's benefit from background books.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:32 pm

phavoc wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:19 pm
ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:30 am
Travellers will over time figure out how things work in a society or a government. Part of the explore/discover stuff they might choose or need to do in a campaign. I never read a description of a world to players. "Your group is orbiting a planet with a UWP of blah blah... The Law Level is blah blah... There is a type D government blah blah ...

What they learn is what they find out from reactions of people, from looking up current news events, from the library data, from what they see/hear in a city they visit.
That's a terribly unhelpful answer Shawn. BOTH players and gamemasters can benefit from having well-written and logical background materials. As you stated, the players have to learn. But all those people, news events, etc.... they don't come out of thin air. EACH has to be created by the gamemaster as part of the campaign. One of the purposes of purchasing gaming materials is the essentially paying someone else to do all the heavy lifting for the players and gamemaster. So when you buy books for a game setting and there are large holes in it, your choices are to fill it in all yourself or not bother with it.

TL:DR - all players and GM's benefit from background books.
Yes. Of course any good Referee will know how a world government works. Otherwise, why bother being a Referee? And yes, some Referees like to run canned modules for their players and have books to read to them. Players aren't doing anything with their Travellers while that is going on. Makes for boring Travellers if the session is supposed to be action-packed like a movie.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby Condottiere » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:40 am

It also depends on whether the appointee adopts a stand offish attitude, gets fully integrated into the power structures of the locality, or is picked out from said power structures.
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Re: Nuts and bolts of the Imperium (gov't - how it works)

Postby NOLATrav » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:55 am

Condottiere wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:40 am
It also depends on whether the appointee adopts a stand offish attitude, gets fully integrated into the power structures of the locality, or is picked out from said power structures.
This, IMTU.

A given noble is chosen for a given world. It could be a dream job for the noble, or a nightmare; punishment or reward. The locals could love them or hate them. It all depends on myriad factors. I have a basic structure in place that defines what the Imperium would like the norm to be but the norm doesn't really exist except back in the Core around Terra (I run an Earth-centric ATU).

But even in my 3I campaign, the Imperium is not all-powerful, nor benign nor necessarily interested in what is best for the member worlds. So there is no 'norm' there either. Some world governments, unhappy with their Imperial representative, are actively seeking to have the rep replaced, removed or worse. Others are happily trundling along. Some are trying to decide if Imperial membership was a good idea and what else can they do if they deem it wasn't.

Once a world gets a base however... let's just say it's very difficult to request a change in representation.

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