Established Psionics Institutes in Traveller

Campaign Compatible takes priority. Canon Compatible is nice.

Canon is only mandatory for the writers.
I was just looking for canon compatible as an ideal since most of the books I will be using are Mongoose 2E. For the purposes of this, it was just that one of my players randomly got psionics in character creation so the suggestion of Wypoc was a perfect foil. I note that the planet does research in protecting vs. hazardous environments so have made that research centre a cover for psionics 'research'.😁
There is always the T4 psionic Institutes book
That's probably a pretty good source for how things were a thousand years ago, before the Psionic Suppressions :D Does it have more recent info? I have to admit, I didn't buy much T4 stuff and had forgotten all about that book.
And yet, this thread suggests that not everyone is aware of the *relative* importance of Canon.

If a Referee insists on staying Canon compliant in the face of little or no actual material, then that is a choice. But Campaign should *always* come first. Canon is, perhaps surprisingly, very flexible when it comes to some things. Institutes are one of those. The Imperial Orders that shut down, then reopened, the Institutes in the 800s make the case that Institutes in the 1100s can be anywhere, look like anything, and be as easy or as difficult to identify as the campaign needs.

If you know Canon well enough to be worried, then you should also be in an excellent position to design a Canon compliant encounter with an Institute. Trust yourself. Your players do.
Not in the Imperium but Blue has one as pieced together in the Drinax books. Also when doing research on mega corps there are a number that run psionics experiments, normally outside Imperium space but that info has to be used somewhere.
And yet, this thread suggests that not everyone is aware of the *relative* importance of Canon.

If a Referee insists on staying Canon compliant in the face of little or no actual material, then that is a choice. But Campaign should *always* come first. Canon is, perhaps surprisingly, very flexible when it comes to some things. Institutes are one of those. The Imperial Orders that shut down, then reopened, the Institutes in the 800s make the case that Institutes in the 1100s can be anywhere, look like anything, and be as easy or as difficult to identify as the campaign needs.

If you know Canon well enough to be worried, then you should also be in an excellent position to design a Canon compliant encounter with an Institute. Trust yourself. Your players do.
That's good advice, but I don't see how it has anything to do with anything in this thread. GURPS Psionics Institutes does have some pretty substantive divergence from the core setting, so it is a good idea to warn people about that, so that new players are aware before they buy. I was quibbling with Sigtrygg's "don't buy it at all", because I think that it has some useful info as long as you are aware you can't take all of it at face value for the OTU.
As an OTU source GT PI is worthless, as a generic guide to PI it isn't bad. Like I said, the author appears to know little about the setting and since the OP is asking about the Third Imperium...
I get that. I mentioned that I thought the Terra and Wypoc was from GURPS so had canonicity issues. He said he didn't care about that. So I recommended that book, as I found it has some value for the question at hand. It would be nice if there was something better, but the psionic underground is a sadly unexplored area of the universe.
If a Referee insists on staying Canon compliant in the face of little or no actual material, then that is a choice.
How is that even possible? Canon with no supporting material is... not Canon? Home-brew? Unable to be complied with?... I don't see a choice here. Either a thing is Canon or it's not.

Clearly everyone can play however they want and I wish them the best but I believe Canonicity is such a straightjacket. In whatever TTRPG system we're playing in. At best Canon should be a guide when you feel lost, or uninspired, or rushed; pick out something cool and run with it, feel free to ignore the rest. It's like everyone says, no prepped material ever survives contact with the players. Why should Canon be any different? Some player is going to say "Well, actually..." and boom they just re-wrote Canon.

And yet, this thread suggests that not everyone is aware of the *relative* importance of Canon.
This could be read as "Canon is irrelevant." Which is why I flipped the order of your statements, to hopefully make my own more clear.

Maybe it's just semantics. MWM said "I am bound by canon" but then he's retconned quite a bit of stuff over the last several years.
IMTU (In My Traveller Universe) is what matters at your table and no one in this thread has ever suggested that your table has to be canon compliant. That was a strawman put up, presumably as a result of misreading Sigtrygg's and my digression. But if someone asks on the forums for information about how a certain thing works, one should at least identify whether your answer is an official rule or a house rule. Or whether it is official lore or alternate universe lore. What they do with that information after that is up to them.
The OP asked about PI in the Third Imperium setting.

This highlights again the issue with many people thinking Traveller is the Third Imperium setting.

If someone asks for Traveller rules on PI I would direct them to the GURPS product, the T4 product and a couple of CE based products.

But if the question is about the setting then canon rears its contradictory, incomplete, liable to retcon hydra heads :)
Within the Imperium, the navy's Vanejen research base also deals with psionics. This is covered in a couple of places, including an adventure. It isn't an institute in the sense of teaching psionics skills; it's just for the study of psionic creatures and phenomena.

Still, it might be enough, depending on why the OP needs to place one.

If it's for the sake of a PC with psionics training then a hidden institute is probably the go-to option. A not-so-hidden institute outside of Imperial space also works; visiting the Zhodani to learn it would invite all kinds of trouble, both there and on returning to the Imperium, but they aren't the only ones who openly practice psionics.
The OP asked about PI in the Third Imperium setting.

This highlights again the issue with many people thinking Traveller is the Third Imperium setting.

If someone asks for Traveller rules on PI I would direct them to the GURPS product, the T4 product and a couple of CE based products.

But if the question is about the setting then canon rears its contradictory, incomplete, liable to retcon hydra heads :)

Yeah, I didn't actually recommend that GURPS product until after he said he didn't care about canonicity :D

But on the point of the Third Imperium setting.... even that isn't all Third Imperium. I could be misremembering, but I think only the "Third Imperium" sourcebook on Core is actually about a region that is entirely in the Imperium. Every other sector book IIRC is a frontier or completely outside the Third Imperium. Just because the default setting assumption is that the PCs are citizens of the Third Imperium doesn't mean that they are actually adventuring inside the Third Imperium.
The GURPS Psionics Institutes book is possibly the worst book they ever put out. The author had no clue that psionics are outlawed in the Imperium. Avoid it.
What on earth are you talking about? Unless the earlier version of this book was heavily revised, the author pretty clearly understands the canonical background. The introduction to my copy (Version 1.1 November 22, 2005) makes this clear:
Finding a psionics institute depends on who you are, where you are, and what year it is. . . .

[Within] the Imperium prior to the Psionic Suppressions (800 to 826), finding an institute for psionics was no more challenging than locating any mundane college. During the Suppressions, institutes lost their charters and their leaders were imprisoned. Whole families faced persecution and many fled to more sympathetic worlds outside the Imperium or to the Zhodani Consulate. The psions that remained in the Imperium went underground, changing their names, their occupations, and living double lives. In the nearly 300 years since, the use of psionics has remained ostensibly illegal and psionics institutes officially banned. However, the Imperium secretly established two psionics institutes of its own, disguising them as military installations, and continues the covert use of psions.

Worlds outside the Imperium and the Consulate vary from oppression to acceptance of psis, and everything in between.
It's all good. I guess my initial query was about using something written out for the OTU. However, when it became apparent that there was no such thing then I was grateful for any suggestions, be they books or planets. As it happens Wynoc fitted the pc perfectly due to its proximity from his homeworld and the wiki entry gave me ideas for a neat cover. It's not completely fleshed out but it doesn't need to be right now. Leaving it open has its advantages....(mwahaha...).
What on earth are you talking about? Unless the earlier version of this book was heavily revised, the author pretty clearly understands the canonical background. The introduction to my copy (Version 1.1 November 22, 2005) makes this clear:

I apologise, having now read v1.1 it is a much better book than the one I remember.
How is that even possible? Canon with no supporting material is... not Canon? Home-brew? Unable to be complied with?... I don't see a choice here. Either a thing is Canon or it's not.

Canon is only vital to writers of future published material. To a Referee, Canon is just a designation for universally familiar elements.

This could be read as "Canon is irrelevant."

To a Referee, it CAN BE irrelevant. The Campaign at the table should ALWAYS be the priority. If Canonicity helps the campaign design and player immersion, GREAT! If the body of Canon helps inform a decision that isn't specifically outlined, and that decision doesn't disrupt the Canon everyone is using at the table, EVEN BETTER. That's what "Canon Compliant" means.

In this case, there is little said directly about the internal structure of Psionics Institutes, and the few bits we have across all editions are different. To some, that leads to a crisis of Canon. To others, that says something else: "Published Canon says these institutes are not all the same, so I can make the one I'll be using different as well."

Canon is also, like the old saw about politics, *local*. If my campaign is in the Marches, the Canon regarding modern events in Diaspora is indeed irrelevant, and the Canonical list of historical events there is probably 99.9% irrelevant. Who cares how the Institute on Terra is run? I'm in Deneb! Years of travel away across an Imperium that is Canonically diverse. Terra's Institute is one example within that diversity, not a cookie cutter for every Institute everywhere.

And if you, the Referee, decide that Institutes in the 1100s are, in fact, all or mostly alike, you are still Canon compliant because Canon doesn't say anything. AND you've now implied a new Secret for the players to discover. After three centuries of scattering into hiding on diverse worlds, why are they all still so alike? If that answer doesn't invalidate the Canon in use at the table, then even this is Canon compliant.
I don't know if this is "canon": but it was interesting and maybe relevant, this is from another source.

The Secret History of Psionics in the Imperium
by W. Koala

Many questions about the History of Man puzzle Imperial scholars and armchair historians. Social activists and social architects debate the merits of feudalistic Imperial rule. Psychiatrists and physiologists debate the nature of human consciousness and potential (and danger) of psionics. Archaeologists and theologians wrangle over the panspermiatic spread of mankind throughout our region of the galaxy. These issues form the basis of much of the social debate that rumbles through the halls of academia and stumbles through countless starport bars at 2 a.m., local time.

Nothing in the Universe stands apart from the rest - all things are connected in some manner. Sometimes the connections are obvious, but the vast majority of them are subtle, hidden - and potentially destructive to those who would keep them hidden. The sociopolitical body known as the Third Imperium is tightly stretched over a framework of subversion, repression, and suppressed history. The truth about Humaniti, and the potential power that truth could unleash, threatens to remake the face of the galaxy.

The Origin of Human Consciousness

The historical development of human intelligence on Earth has been the subject of thousands of years of archaeological research. Neolithic stone circles, Bronze Age temples, iron-age cities - the development of primitive man's intelligence is clearly charted through the buildings and tools of his ancestors. It is in the arena of physiology and sociology, however, that the story of consciousness is told.

Factual information on the earliest of human cultures is scarce at best, but it seems clear that mankind first gathered together in small groups of individuals, bound together by the need for protection from predators, fairly early in their history. Large groups tend to drive off wary meat-eaters, and the chances of an individual mating and producing offspring are greatly increased as a member of a group rather than through chance encounters. Evolution seems to select against the "lone wolf", at least among primitive human societies.

As societies developed, the position of leader became more of a development of the society than the individual. Strong leaders became kings, priests, shamen - the vestments of control and power evolved beyond the application of physical force (although that remains the most prevalent form of control, even to this day) and moved into the realm of religion and magic. Physically weak or elderly individuals with the "ear of the gods" could and did control vast populations. How was it possibly that in a society where the intelligence of Man could produce calendars, agriculture, astronomy, and many other advanced sciences that priests and divine kings held sway over their subjects?

The answer lies in the evolution and structure of the human brain.

Voices of the Gods

The evolution of the cerebellum is the key to consciousness. The corpus callosum has not always been a large-capacity conduit for inter-hemispheric communication as it is today. This is a relatively recent development on the scale of evolution, a "bulking up" of mental muscle driven by the increasing intelligence of the human race. In primitive man, the weaker connection between the hemispheres led to poor communications between the two halves of the brain.

Prior to the advanced development of the corpus callosum, primitive near-humans perceived the world as do most animals. They acted primarily on the orders given by the hypothalamus and autonomic system: hungry, find food - wet, find shelter - hot, find a way to cool off. As intelligence evolved, the left hemisphere of the cerebrum, the logical "scientist" of the brain, noted and stored a great deal of useful, but rote, information. Water cools, fire warms, sharp rocks cut. The development of physical skills, physical knowledge, and physical intelligence is not necessarily dependent on the "creativity" housed in the right hemisphere. The right side still had an influence over primitive man, however, as the creator of myth, magic, and ultimately, religion.

As an example, a primitive human gathering grubs suddenly "sees" a dead relative (actually an old memory, triggered by the sight of stringy grass that resembled her hair). The image quickly disappears. How does a primitive, with no knowledge of the functioning of memory and who has seemingly been "contacted" by the holographic image of a dead relative, react? Being grounded in reality, having no conception of fantasy, illusion, or imagination, he would conclude that she is not really dead. If he saw her she was real, because it was not possible to conceive otherwise. He may conclude that she was looking for food with him because she was hungry, and he would take food to her last resting-place as a gesture of good will. Afterward, he would relate his experience to others in his tribe who would then follow his example. When other members of the tribe passed away, their family would provide them with food so that they would not get hungry and come begging for something to eat. Sometimes, the deceased might talk to their living relatives or other members of the tribe, passing on advice - or orders - forming the basis of ancestor worship and other simple religions. Hallucinations, illusions, and random packets of data passed across the underdeveloped callosum would have been a powerful influence on primitive man.

The poor communication between the fantasy rich right hemisphere and the common sense of the left continued to evolve, but in the meantime the disconnect between them shaped the evolution of society itself. As time passed, mankind, while still prone to flights of fancy, began to distinguish between the real and the unreal. Individuals who could function using their whole brain learned to use their heightened abilities to hold sway over their less developed neighbors. The deities spoke through these enlightened priest-kings, but the evolution of the brain ensured that their days were numbered.

As time passed, the connection between the hemispheres grew stable and the fantasies of primitive man gave way to a rational reality, enhanced by a newfound, controlled creativity. Rote learning and activities gave way to creative problem solving as the abilities of the human mind expanded and developed. The exponential growth of technology and civilization began when the connection between the two hemispheres finally strengthened to the point where they could work together under the intelligent control and direction of the Individual. Humans were freed from the tyranny of their own duality. It is no accident that the powers of the priest-kings began to decline as technology advanced and scientific discoveries were made. Man's million-year case of schizophrenia finally began to heal itself.

The Ancients - Looking For a Few Good Men

250,000 years ago, Yaskodray "awakened" his primitive Droyne brethren, beginning an era of technological and scientific discovery that the galaxy had not seen before or since. The primitive Droyne had latent psionic abilities that were refined and developed into powerful forces by Grandfather. Machines were invented that could increase their abilities tenfold as part of the multi-front arms race that would eventually lead to the Final War.

During their surveys of the galaxy, the Ancients discovered and studied dozens of lesser races. Aslan, Hiver, K'Kree, and on a small world one day to be known as Earth, the discovered a race unique in all the galaxy - a race of primitive hunter-gatherers with no civilization and little technology, but with one trait that marked them as the most valuable of the Ancient's possessions. They had an unbelievably potent, untapped psionic potential.

The right hemisphere of the human brain, unfettered by the strict rationalism of the left hemisphere, was the seat of human psionic potential. The Ancients studied primitive man closely, probing them with their advanced machines and their own psionic abilities, trying to determine how best to exploit the newly discovered resource. While the psionic potential of the race was strong, there was no focus, no direction for their power. As a result, humans were nothing more than psionic batteries - highly charged sources of power awaiting the application of Ancient's technology to direct and control that power.

The primitive humans were gathered and carried to distant worlds by Yaskodray and his children. There, they were tested, modified, trained, and put to work, serving their incomprehensible masters as components of their unknowable machines. The ancestors of modern Humaniti reclined on couches beneath holographic domes, their minds linked a hundred at a time to powerful psionic projectors, their powers used to fight a war they could not comprehend.

The Final War ended with the destruction of the Ancients and the self-imposed exile of Yaskodray from our galaxy. Their shattered machines drifted in endless space, their fragmented worlds formed asteroid belts around a hundred stars, and their servants, Humans among them, roamed the plains and forests of the worlds that survived the war. For a quarter-million years Humaniti grew and evolved on a dozen worlds, unaware of their brothers and sisters living around distant stars.

As the scattered enclaves of humans grew and evolved, their potent psionic powers faded, outshone by the increasing rationality and structured creativity of the united brain. Civilizations arose, technology advanced, and after two hundred millennia, mankind set out on expeditions of exploration from a dozen worlds.

Psionics - Untapped Resource or Threat to Mankind?

Societal attitudes towards psionics are directly related to the preponderance of psionically gifted individuals within a society. The branches of Humaniti that evolved on Terra, Vland, and other worlds had statistically insignificant numbers of powerfully psionic individuals. In these societies, powers such a telepathy, telekinesis, and prescience have always had an aura of the supernatural about them. The racial memories of the spirits, demons, and gods of primitive man still hold a measure of control over the rational mind. Many intelligent, reasonable people have visceral reactions to the thought that individuals with psionic powers could read their mind or look into their homes without their knowledge, despite the fact that technological means to duplicate many psionic abilities exist and are used regularly. This irrational fear and mistrust has led to persecutions such as the Psionic Suppressions in the Imperium.

The Zhodani present a mysterious exception to the rule that states mankind lost most of their psionic potential as the race advanced up the ladder of evolution. Zhodani have vastly more psionically talented individuals than any other galactic society. The Consulate has a long history of psionic acceptance, and powerful psionic individuals play major roles in Zhodani history. The very structure of modern Zhodani society is built around psionic abilities.

The reason for the widespread incidence of psionic powers among the Zhodani is still not fully understood. Physiologically, Zhodani are almost identical to other branches of Humaniti. The minor differences that do exist between Zhodani and other humans have been effectively ruled out as a cause for their psionic potency, leading many researchers to speculate that the secret may lie in the environment of Zhodane itself. Others have examined the possibly that the primitive Zhodani received additional genetic manipulation by the Ancients, though nothing definitive has been discovered to date.

Regardless of the reason, the openness with which Zhodani society treats psionic abilities is one of the major sociological stumbling blocks to more open and friendly relations between the Consulate and the Third Imperium. Imperial citizens distrust the Zhodani "brainwashers", while the Zhodani view Imperials as unenlightened, backward tyrants. As long as Imperial society and law persecutes those with psionic abilities, there is little hope for a lasting peace between the two great powers.

The Not-So-Secret History of Psionics in the Imperium

Despite the current status of psionics in the Imperium, these powers have not always been illegal. Shortly after the end of the Civil War in 622, psionics enjoyed a renaissance in the Imperium. Individuals with psionic abilities were actively sought out, nurtured, and encouraged to study at various Psionic Institutes that spread throughout the 11,000 worlds. There, talented individuals were given training and direction, allowing them to become not just productive, but valuable members of Imperial society. For decades, psionic abilities gained increasing acceptance among the average citizens of the Imperium. This era of open-mindedness was viewed with favor by the Zhodani Consulate, and increased diplomatic effort lead to a lessening of tension between the two empires.

Then, for reasons that are still debated to this day, the official attitude towards psionics changed radically. Beginning in 772, nobles and government officials who had been neutral at worst suddenly became openly critical of psionics and the Institutes. Between 772 and 798, progressively restrictive laws and regulations were passed. Public fears, submerged but not forgotten, were fanned into open flames by reports (some spurious) of corruption within the Institutes and crimes committed by those with psionic powers. Anti-Zhodani fears, fed by the isolationist tendencies of many Imperial citizens, were nurtured by politicians and nobles. Many of the Institutes were accused of being covertly supported, if not actively controlled, by Zhodani operatives. Beginning in 800, the Institutes were officially banned from operating within the Imperium. The Psionic Suppressions had begun.

For decades, the progress made regarding psionics in the Imperium was systematically turned back. Even those with weak abilities or latent powers were driven underground. Instructors from the Institutes were hunted down and arrested, placed on trial, and imprisoned or executed for their crimes - real or imagined. By 825 the purge was effectively completed. Teaching psionic abilities was punishable by life imprisonment. Using these powers was punishable by decades of incarceration and a series of damaging and painful "treatments" meant to disable a person's psionic potential. By 850, psionic abilities within the Imperium were declared non-existent.

After 160 years, the anti-psionic hysteria has lost its edge, but the Suppressions have succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of those who initiated them. Most Imperial citizens never even think about psionic abilities, but when questioned they parrot the official lines taught in classrooms across the Imperium - Psionics are an invasion of privacy. Psionics are a threat to the individual. Psionics are the tools of deception.

These mantra are correct, but in a way that the average Imperial citizen could scarcely imagine.

The Secret History of Psionics in the Imperium - Part II
By W. Koala

Despite centuries of official sanction and illegality, psionic powers are alive and well in the Third Imperium. Vast sums of public money are spent to build, staff, and maintain secret government research facilities spread across Imperial space. Powerful psionic savants spy on enemies both foreign and domestic. Military operatives use their abilities to give special Naval and Marine units the edge in combat. The very powers they profess to despise are used to help the Noble Houses maintain their control over 11,000 worlds. Without psionics, the Imperium might well shatter into a thousand squabbling, directionless worlds, engulfing them in darkness not seen since the Long Night.

After the establishment of the First Imperium, psionics were neither officially cherished nor chastised. Local governments, corporations, universities, and individuals pursued studies of psionic abilities, but there was no concentrated effort to either discover the most fundamental source of psionic powers or to expand the relatively feeble capabilities of human psionics. The Psionics Institutes were still centuries in the future, and the public attitude towards psionics, if it could be measured at all, was disinterested at best.

Then, in 597, a discovery was made that would threaten to destroy the entire Imperium and was the deciding factor in the resolution of the Civil War (606-622).

Project Athena

In 591, with the Imperium locked in a struggle that would come to be known as the First Frontier War (589-604), Imperial scientists were tasked with discovering ways to not only counter Zhodani psionic ability, but to identify, nurture, and enhance the abilities of low-potential psionic individuals within the Imperium. Military strategists and the Nobility understood that psionic powers gave the Zhodani a decided edge over their non-psionic opponents on the battlefield and in the arena of espionage. Project Athena, the Imperial effort to gain a deeper understanding of psionics and their potential uses, was born.

Project Athena encompassed dozens of research stations spread across several subsectors. The majority of the installations were located well behind the Spinward Marches front, but a handful of stations located in the Marches served as front-line testing facilities for new techniques and technologies, and as mustering points for research-related combat missions. Among the fruits of this crash program were the development of effective personal psi-shields, training and testing methods that enhanced psionic talent, and the discovery of drugs that could unlock and enhance psionic potential - or suppress it.

During their research, neurologists working at a research station on Depot discovered a provable link between the suppression of the conscious mind and an increase in psionic ability. Using potent hallucinogenic drugs, the researchers were able to increase the psionic potential of some individuals by as much as 125%. The only stumbling block proved to be the fact that the powers of the drugged individuals were uncontrolled due to the severe level of intoxication required to achieve the desired result.

The true breakthrough in psionic control came in 597 with the discovery of a neurological drug which created the desired disconnect between the hemispheres of the brain without impairing the judgment of the user. In effect, the drug relaxed the neurological “constriction” of the corpus callosum and allowed an unrestricted flow of information and psionic power from the right hemisphere to the left without completely paralyzing the rational brain. For the first time in tens of thousands of years, both halves of the brain were allowed to communicate freely while conscious, unlocking the power of primitive man that the Ancients had prized while allowing the control that rationality permitted.

The drug, code-named Hazel, was rushed through a series of tests on active and latent psionic individuals. The results were stunning - those with known psionic abilities experienced a tenfold increase in the potency of their abilities, while approximately 65% of those with no known powers manifested some abilities while under the influence of the drug. Research indicated that greater increases in power could be achieved with extended training and further refinement of the drug, but the High Command decided that Hazel needed to be rushed into production and utilized as soon as possible. Further research would have to wait until the war was over.

In early 598, Hazel-enhanced Special Forces commandos achieved the first of many stunning successes against Zhodani forces by conducting a hit-and-run raid against a front line command and control facility in the Jewell/Rhylanor system. The raid came as a complete surprise to the Zhodani forces, proving the effectiveness of the new Imperial psi-shields while the telekinetic and ESP powers manifested by the highly trained commandos proved decisive during the thirty-minute raid. After-action reports gave the proponents of psionic training for military purposes the ammunition they needed to silence the critics of Athena and Hazel, opening the way to the formation of special "Black" units within each branch of the Imperial military. For the duration of the First Frontier War, these units performed admirably, but secretly, giving the Imperium an edge that the Zhodani were unable to counter until the war was already lost.

Taxation Without Representation

The First Frontier War presented a different challenge to the authority and structure of Imperial government as well - unrest on the home front. Faced for the first time with a credible external threat, Imperial control over her client worlds was strengthened with the implementation of the Sector Duchies, in many cases against the will of the member worlds subjected to their dictates. The first serious internal clash between the Imperium and her worlds began to simmer as the war in the Marches heated up.

Travel times between Core and the borderlands (especially the Spinward Marches) made crisis management from Capital effectively impossible. This had not been an issue of great importance during the extended peace enjoyed by the Imperium since the Long Night - planetary nobles and military commanders were able to maintain the status quo so long as the situation did not become too dynamic. It soon became apparent, however, that a strong, centralized, local authority was needed in each sector to act as a focal point for Imperial power and authority.

As soon as news of the war reached Capital, Empress Jacqueline I, in a move that some suspect had been contemplated for some time, dispatched fast couriers proclaiming the establishment of powerful sector-wide Duchies beginning with the Domain of Deneb. These Archdukes were installed for the "duration of the emergency" and granted the newly installed Dukes sweeping powers second only to those of the Empress.

Among the decrees immediately enacted Imperium-wide were the Mutual Defense Mandates of 590. These mandates called on each client world to supply men, material, and funds over and above those normally levied during peacetime in order to increase the strength of the Imperial military to combat the new Zhodani threat. In addition, some of the newly seated Sector Dukes established local controls, laws, and mandates of their own that added to the burdens of their client worlds. The Mandates were actually in effect for only a short time (less than five years, owing mostly to the time delay in issuing proclamations establishing and then rescinding them from Capital), but the effect they had on the Imperium would live on for centuries.

Despite the increased demands of the Mandates, the burden on client worlds was hardly onerous. It was the precedent that the Mandates established that angered the population of hundreds of worlds. The increased taxation amounted to no more than one quarter of a percent on most worlds, while few worlds contributed were required to contribute more than a few thousand men over and above their peacetime levies. Despite this, the resentment among many Imperial worlds, especially those far from the fighting, grew rapidly. The installment of the Sector Dukes was seen as a move by the Empress to put more worlds "under her thumb", and the levies were characterized as the impersonal Imperium draining the lifeblood of a thousand worlds to save a distant sector from an even more distant foe.

The Mandates were officially rescinded in 595 with great official fanfare. Imperial officials admitted in oft-repeated press releases that the speed with which the Zhodani threat materialized led to the implementation of certain policies that were, in hindsight, probably unnecessary. The phrase "Better too much now than not enough later" was repeated thousands of times on thousands of worlds in an effort to sooth irate populations. Despite these admissions, many powerful factions, including many high-ranking nobles, scenting blood in the water, continued to denounce the way in which the Empress Jacqueline had treated her client worlds during the early years of the war. The most vocal critics of the new Imperial policies were the worlds of the Solomani Sphere, recently granted membership in the Third Imperium. The seeds of the Solomani Secession and the Rim War were planted admits cries of "Taxation Without Representation!" during this period.

The First Frontier War would drag on for another nine years, culminating in a successful campaign that finally threw the Zhodani and their allies from Imperial space. News of the victory reached Capital only weeks ahead of the victorious, battle-hardened Spinward Marches fleet under the command of Grand Admiral Olav hault-Plankwell. With the assassination of the politically weakened Empress Jacqueline I by hault-Plankwell, the Civil War began.

The Battle for Their Hearts and Minds

Despite its outward appearances, the Civil War was about more than raw power and control of the Imperium by individuals. It was an ideological struggle between those who wanted strong, authoritarian rule by the Nobility and those who felt that the nobles should merely be a guiding hand, advising and protecting their client worlds while allowing them to control their own destinies within the framework that the Imperium provided. As with most things, the end result was a mixture of the two visions.

During the distraction of the Civil War, member worlds enjoyed a measure of independence that they had not enjoyed in decades. With the attentions of the fleets, Archdukes, and nominal Emperors focused on a struggle for the Iridium Throne, the 11,000 worlds went about their daily business much as they had before Jacqueline established the Sector Duchies. Tax revenues fell unheard-of lows in the remote sectors and military levies were allowed to go unfilled on scores of planets. The Civil War, however, was to change the relationship between the client worlds and their Emperors forever. As the Emperors of the Flag fought for control of the Imperium, few realized that their main task upon the ascension to the throne would be trying to put the Genie of Independence back in the bottle.

For sixteen years the Imperium was a tapestry of scattered internal conflicts, punctuated by the successful prosecution of the Second Frontier War (615-620), the catalyst that would enable Admiral Arbellatra Alkhalikoi to seize and maintain control of the Imperium in 622. Her control of Capital would bring stability to an Imperium that had lived without a true Emperor for almost two decades.

Arbellatra Alkhalikoi - The Velvet Glove

(the rest of the manuscript trails off at this point, the only clue as to the fate of the author is a spray of blood on blank printout pages (where I stopped, actually - W.))
1. Imagination.

2. Conception and appreciation of cooperation.

3. Inducing cooperation.

4. Developing ideology, or religion.

5. I think an issue would be passive versus active psionic traits or skills.

6. Being able to perceive future events or empathy wouldn't require much power.

7. Telekinesis or reading someone's mind would.

8. Snipers, and orbital bombardment.

9. Sector Dukes are first among equals.

A. Domains should have been temporary, in relative terms, viceroys, preventing an aristocratic dynasty establishing a territorial power base.