Glorious Empire, a paper tiger?

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
I know that systems do not necessarily translate over, but I did not have a way to simulate the Glorious Empire except T4's Pocket Empires. According to some preliminary economic calculations to get the GWP and RU budget, I don't see how the Glorious Empire can support its military forces. It has only 1 significant industrial world, yet its capital is the main ship production site for non-expendable ships. It has an autarkic ideology and has no trade partners of any size and scale.

By the T4 Pocket Empire rules, or the T4 Imperial Squadron rules, the Glorious Empire should be bankrupt or have only very limited military forces. Their capital world Syoakh itself seems to be unable to support a BatRon if it is also supporting ground forces so would have to rely on a supply line from the industrial world Htourlao, though that gets expensive, and prohibitively so for any other forces further away. Yet the Glorious Empire book describes multiple Jump 3 battleships, and a squadron over both Syoakh and Htourlao, and dreadnoughts converted to monitors in other systems. The rest of the worlds are economically insignificant so Htourlao in theory would have to support them all. This seems incompatible with a high T4 Culture score which is what seems to fit the Glorious Empire's heavy handed control and high level of state welfare (also encompassing propaganda, and an intrusive bureaucracy). That is further budget that is eaten up. I seem unable to balance the economic books to generate a Glorious Empire that is true to the background and yet also economically and therefore militarily viable, without a high discretionary tax rate on top of the income tax (and I don't think that really solves the underlying problem, just adjusts the scale of it).

To summarize, it seems that if the Glorious Empire is a version of N. Korea with heavy state control of the populace and being a virtual economic wasteland, it would be unable to be a military threat. Of course, if that were the case, why hasn't it collapsed yet? I am aware of the canon ending of the Glorious Empire, and yes it could be argued they are in economic freefall towards collapse. I am just trying to reason to myself how they can be credible antagonists or a threat to other polities in 1105 if they are insolvent and unable to actually support operations of their ships.
 

DickTurpin

Banded Mongoose
I am not an expert on Traveller lore, so this is my opinion rather than an official ruling. The Glorious Empire relies heavily on slave labor (primarily human) to support their production. They also rely on piracy and slave raids for outside income. Pure conjecture, but they may also have under the table support from outside groups that like the destabilization that their presence brings to the region or Aslan from groups that share their vision of what "true" Aslan should be.

Taking a brief look at the official lore, it seems your analysis is accurate and the G.E. is indeed failing due to their lack of resources. The inevitable collapse has already begun and the end is in sight. In the Pirates of Drinax campaign that I am playing, I identified several G.E. worlds that appeared to be easy conquests for the Ihate. In the end the Ihate threat was resolved another way but maybe word of their vulnerability has reached clan leader ears and started the chain of events that will eventually end the Empire for good.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
The UWP for the worlds includes the slave population. I am skeptical of the significance of slaving raids or even mercenary contracts as a form of state financing. Sure, they might bring in desperately needed Credits or workers for local concerns, alleviating perhaps very small scale shortages, but on a macro-scale? Also how is GE taxation handled on such operations? It is described as quite corrupt so I imagine there would be a lot lost due to needing to grease palms.

In T4, 1 RU is on the scale of MCr, approximately 5,000 MCr in year 0. Now granted, the difference in maintenance costs of military forces between T4 Pocket Empires and Mongoose Traveller may make the difference, though I have yet to crunch the numbers.

Just off the cuff, the GE battleship is listed as costing 8.129664 MCr per month in equipment maintenance (not counting salaries) so that's 97.555968 MCr per year. However that does not account for the fact that its meson screens are TL 13 while the capital Syoakh where all the ship building happens is TL 12. This seems to suggest Htourlao has to ship parts over, which probably adds to cost.
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
Interesting analysis, most of which points to the fact that the Glorious Empire is indeed failing. They may be a paper tiger, but like North Korea – an apt analog – they still have their teeth. Sounds like you've read the book (which I wrote, by the way) so you see the many devices by which they attempt to prop up their dying empire. Many of the discoveries you made in your analysis were the challenges of writing the book. How does one describe something that should not be able to exist? There are many passages in the book that attempt to convey the why, but perhaps the best summary is in "Why the Empire Refuses to Fall" on p. 31.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
paltrysum said:
Interesting analysis, most of which points to the fact that the Glorious Empire is indeed failing. They may be a paper tiger, but like North Korea – an apt analog – they still have their teeth. Sounds like you've read the book (which I wrote, by the way) so you see the many devices by which they attempt to prop up their dying empire. Many of the discoveries you made in your analysis were the challenges of writing the book. How does one describe something that should not be able to exist? There are many passages in the book that attempt to convey the why, but perhaps the best summary is in "Why the Empire Refuses to Fall" on p. 31.

Hi! I really liked the book BTW which is why I bothered to try and crunch the numbers for the GE. It was nice to have this exploration of an Aslan state and pocket empire, along with the first Aslan battleship ever presented AFAIK.

As far as I can tell, on p. 31, the main reason the GE has not fallen is because the other Aslan have not wanted it to, and therefore not pressed the attack too strongly.

I made a spreadsheet to crunch the T4 economic numbers, and even with some generous concessions to the GE in terms of Culture rating and such, it seems to barely tread water (if that) in terms of RU budget and seems like a house of cards ready to collapse. Its autarkic trade policy ironically made it easier on the number crunching as I just assumed it only traded with its own worlds to any significant extent. Literally all the other worlds except for Syoakh and Htourlao are insignificant, with their RU budgets being less than rounding errors and measured in how many decimal places.

The only way I can sort of make the economic budget work is make the GE's military pitiful and/or impose crushingly high tax rates. I don't see how it would be possible to even conduct significant offensive operations to take more territory yet the alternative, peaceful development of its other economically backwater worlds, would require such vast sustained investment of RU over a prolonged series of years that I also don't see how that is viable given that the GE is also said to maintain heavy military spending and with hostile neighbours. This is made even worse when the GE's rulers are explicitly described to be an Emperor that is more of an artist and archaelogist than active administrator, and a military junta that seems to drink its own Kool-Aid and be in denial.

Again I question how much effect mercenary work in the Dustbelt would really make on the macro-economic scale, when T4 RUs represent trillions of credits. As a pure gaming exercise and mental challenge, I don't see any real way out for the GE if it were to be gamed using T4 Pocket Empires or other simulationist attempts. That I find unfortunate because it makes the GE less of a credible threat and antagonists for PCs and the other worlds they might travel to. Everyone loves to hate the evil militaristic slavers, but antagonists also have to be powerful enough to be threatening, but from a cold eyed looked at the numbers, it seems the GE is more pitiful than fear inducing. Not meant as criticism of the author or writing, as there were constraints of existing material that had to be incorporated and worked around.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
If we're using best Korea as a role model, and the other Aslan clans don't really want this political entity to collapse, then a little nuclear blackmail, racketeering, human trafficking, forgery, and other illicit activities would be in order.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
Condottiere said:
If we're using best Korea as a role model, and the other Aslan clans don't really want this political entity to collapse, then a little nuclear blackmail, racketeering, human trafficking, forgery, and other illicit activities would be in order.

Don't think the GE has any effective WMD that would provide sufficient leverage. Also they already engage in a lot of black market trade, as it is described that is how a lot of the upper classes maintain their lifestyle or even how the government gets desperately needed critical supplies. The problem though is the magnitude of those kinds of activities does not seem to be sufficient on a macro scale.
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
Iracundus said:
As far as I can tell, on p. 31, the main reason the GE has not fallen is because the other Aslan have not wanted it to, and therefore not pressed the attack too strongly.

I'm a big fan of that reason. A lot of the clans in the Trojan Reach do things... differently. Having a fallguy, a bogeyman, who has really gone over the deep end is convenient for many of them. If the Glorious Empire should fall, who does the 'light of justice' shine upon next? Most clans don't want to know.

Iracundus said:
I made a spreadsheet to crunch the T4 economic numbers, and even with some generous concessions to the GE in terms of Culture rating and such, it seems to barely tread water (if that) in terms of RU budget and seems like a house of cards ready to collapse. Its autarkic trade policy ironically made it easier on the number crunching as I just assumed it only traded with its own worlds to any significant extent. Literally all the other worlds except for Syoakh and Htourlao are insignificant, with their RU budgets being less than rounding errors and measured in how many decimal places.

The only way I can sort of make the economic budget work is make the GE's military pitiful and/or impose crushingly high tax rates. I don't see how it would be possible to even conduct significant offensive operations to take more territory yet the alternative, peaceful development of its other economically backwater worlds, would require such vast sustained investment of RU over a prolonged series of years that I also don't see how that is viable given that the GE is also said to maintain heavy military spending and with hostile neighbours. This is made even worse when the GE's rulers are explicitly described to be an Emperor that is more of an artist and archaelogist than active administrator, and a military junta that seems to drink its own Kool-Aid and be in denial.

I know. They're so wonderfully dysfunctional. Completely ready for collapse. Could very well go like the two Gulf Wars, I suppose. A lot was made of how Iraq had the fourth-largest army in the world, but when it came right down to it, 1970s-era Russian tanks couldn't hold up to the onslaught of a concerted attack by a modern military. (Not an endorsement of that war by any means, by the way. Just a comparison.)

Iracundus said:
Again I question how much effect mercenary work in the Dustbelt would really make on the macro-economic scale, when T4 RUs represent trillions of credits. As a pure gaming exercise and mental challenge, I don't see any real way out for the GE if it were to be gamed using T4 Pocket Empires or other simulationist attempts. That I find unfortunate because it makes the GE less of a credible threat and antagonists for PCs and the other worlds they might travel to. Everyone loves to hate the evil militaristic slavers, but antagonists also have to be powerful enough to be threatening, but from a cold eyed looked at the numbers, it seems the GE is more pitiful than fear inducing. Not meant as criticism of the author or writing, as there were constraints of existing material that had to be incorporated and worked around.

Fair critique. I would assume that it wouldn't make much of a ding, but I may have overstated it. Given how few other prospects they have, their mercenary endeavors were one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal economy. Plus it may have opened a back door for them to escape to as the barbarians eventually climb the gates.
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
Condottiere said:
If we're using best Korea as a role model, and the other Aslan clans don't really want this political entity to collapse, then a little nuclear blackmail, racketeering, human trafficking, forgery, and other illicit activities would be in order.

I wouldn't put it past them. These are slavers after all. As for 'nuclear blackmail,' well, they do have a TL14 industrial world. Who knows what they're up to. It always blows my mind that North Korea has its own nuclear arsenal and that they're also launching rockets into space.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
paltrysum said:
Condottiere said:
If we're using best Korea as a role model, and the other Aslan clans don't really want this political entity to collapse, then a little nuclear blackmail, racketeering, human trafficking, forgery, and other illicit activities would be in order.

I wouldn't put it past them. These are slavers after all. As for 'nuclear blackmail,' well, they do have a TL14 industrial world. Who knows what they're up to. It always blows my mind that North Korea has its own nuclear arsenal and that they're also launching rockets into space.

A nuclear arsenal for North Korea makes sense from a real politick perspective as it allows a small country to diplomatically and miltiarily punch above its weight and it is an ultimate "don't tread on me" fallback. TL14 doesn't have such an equivalent WMD that would cause its interstellar neighbours to definitely refrain from attacking it. The closest equivalent I can think of offhand is the Darrian TL 16 Star Trigger (and we all know that is not even real). Even if the GE should hypothetically bombard and glass a world say of one of the other clans, they could absorb the loss without political collapse (a nuclear attack is something that no current Terran nation can probably survive politically right now even if there are actual physical survivors) and the GE would be destroyed in the resulting counterattack.

Although if we are talking blackmail, maybe the GE could engage in a form of refugee blackmail. The other Aslan clans are described as already having trouble integrating or otherwise coming up with methods of deal with their liberated slave populations. Maybe the GE could threaten to unleash a horde of slave refugees on the other clans unless the clans refrain from attacking? Maybe even some under the table payments of credits or raw materials?
 

Galadrion

Banded Mongoose
Iracundus said:
That I find unfortunate because it makes the GE less of a credible threat and antagonists for PCs and the other worlds they might travel to. Everyone loves to hate the evil militaristic slavers, but antagonists also have to be powerful enough to be threatening, but from a cold eyed looked at the numbers, it seems the GE is more pitiful than fear inducing.

Something to bear in mind is that there is a wide difference in scale between a small group of wayfaring travellers and an interstellar polity. While the GE is is little more than a rogue state satrapy on the scale the Imperium operates on, they are still far above the level that player characters should be able to handle. Even if the players are running a small- to medium-scale mercenary company, the GE military should be able to completely crush them in a direct confrontation... so a smart group will never allow it to come to a direct confrontation. (And a stupid group will have demonstrated to them, yet again, that Darwin and Malthus had their points.)

As to why the other polities don't simply eliminate the GE, well, that's likely a question of politics - or economics. There's no question that any of the big dogs in the vicinity could wipe them out without any problem whatsoever, and in fact many of the smaller groups in the area could probably defeat them as well. What is in question is whether the benefit to any particular group in conquering/wiping out the GE would outweigh the costs involved in the effort. To put it simply, it really isn't worth the time and expense for anyone capable of taking them on to actually do so. As you've pointed out, they're already in a fatal decline, and the policy wonks in all their possible antagonists can see that quite clearly, so there's really not much to be gained by risking soldiers and materiel hastening the inevitable.
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
I tried a brief exercise at being Emperor of the Glorious Empire, either being Krial who maybe was just playing dumb, or maybe a successor that challenges him and overthrows him, using T4 Pocket Empires rules.

In the limited time constraints, before the Empire's official canonical ending, there just isn't very much that can be done from a civil perspective. The other hampering thing with the Glorious Empire is that it is 13 worlds but relatively low population, and a poor combination of infrastructure to population. There are sparsely populated worlds like Alr with Pop 5 and an A class starport. The worlds with any significant population Syoakh, Htourlao, Eikhaaw, Yero'ilra all have their own problems too. The first two have overbuilt infrastructure exceeding local resource availability that causes a budget drain due to maintenance and makes them reliant on imports from offworld to offset that budget drain. The 2nd two have lower Tech Level, Starports, and Infrastructure that limits their productivity. Upgrading all of those would take quite a lot of RU and perhaps even more critically, lots of time.

In the end I think the most quickest feasible option I could find for rapid economic growth as Emperor was to use funding from Htourlao 1 parsec away to invest in uplifting Eikhaaw from TL9 to TL10 at a base cost of 30 RU and 3 years. If 60 RU is spent, then the uplift can be done in 1.5 years. The increased productivity from TL10 also raises base popularity from increased standard of living. Since this is the Glorious Empire and we are not about making treacherous rebellious humans happy, a 1% extra discretionary tax can be levied to keep popularity at the lower end of contentment (i.e. not revolting). Total tax rate 66%! Increase in Gross World Product of 11.11%, and total planetary budget by about 12.8% or .066 RU equating to roughly 609.69 MCr. By any measure, a growth of 11% in GWP and 12.8% in budget in 1.5-3 years sounds pretty good, but the time til return on RU investment is 455 years!

Actually, uplifting Yero'ilra from TL7 to TL8 at a cost of 14 RU in 7 years or 28 RU in 3.5 years gives better growth still, but there are the story elements of the Yetrai clan possibly being restive and independent. Uplifting the tech level then may just be building up a potential rival. Absolute gain is still ~.23 RU or so, thus even then we are talking dust trading kind of levels on the interstellar macro-economic scale.
 

paltrysum

Emperor Mongoose
Sounds like a great campaign. Add in skulduggery by the leading Hierate clans of the region, who probably do not want to see a resurgent Glorious Empire, and you have quite a story for your Travellers to operate within.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Galadrion said:
Iracundus said:
As to why the other polities don't simply eliminate the GE, well, that's likely a question of politics - or economics. There's no question that any of the big dogs in the vicinity could wipe them out without any problem whatsoever, and in fact many of the smaller groups in the area could probably defeat them as well. What is in question is whether the benefit to any particular group in conquering/wiping out the GE would outweigh the costs involved in the effort. To put it simply, it really isn't worth the time and expense for anyone capable of taking them on to actually do so. As you've pointed out, they're already in a fatal decline, and the policy wonks in all their possible antagonists can see that quite clearly, so there's really not much to be gained by risking soldiers and materiel hastening the inevitable.

Rather like why a certain state with asperations props up a certain other state to its south, so that when people start eyeing the big state for its abuses, they can poke the little one to be stupid, thereby providing a distraction.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Hard to describe best Korea as a puppet state.

More like a vicious starving dog, who's willing to commit certain acts since you semi regularly feed him.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Condottiere said:
Hard to describe best Korea as a puppet state.

More like a vicious starving dog, who's willing to commit certain acts since you semi regularly feed him.

Considering reports of the normal diet, along with a birthday allotment of a bowl of rice, where your family sits by watching and tells you to enjoy your rice, semi-regular might be generous.

I maintain the comparison is apt. Who's going after the Hierate when the annoying cat slavers will say hold my beer?
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
It's also a question of whose interests an interstellar polity's foreign policy serves.

Outside aid comes with conditions, in whatever subtle form they take, and compliance rationale may be as simple as allowing the ruling family (and their clientele) to stay in power.
 
I would say that the Glorious Empire is a failing state living off of the capital it built up earlier. Most of their capital ships were built earlier and they are struggling to maintain the ships and troops they still have and they are helped that they do not face a united Hierate but Individual clans or alliances of clans which are not individually vastly more powerful and said clan alliances do not want to take too many losses in a big battle as that would leave them weak against their internal rivals in the Hierate.
It is even possible that if a Hierate Clan's rivals are fighting the Glorious Empire they may want to slip some raw materials to the Glorious Empire to hurt their rival.
Another thing to consider is the poison pill defense if you occupy a major Glorious Empire world you get a huge human slave population which makes the world of little use to the Hierate unless they massacre the population which has strong implications for Imperial relations.

There is also the WMD deterrant , if Glorious Empire BB emerges at 100 diameters from a Hierate world, thats a lot of missiles your defenses have to stop without losing a city. In traveller I assume the reason why great powers don't carry out such attacks on planets is that the favour will be returned. Pushed into a corner the Glorious Empire may want to make the threat
 

Iracundus

Banded Mongoose
In order to correct the economic situation, the Glorious Empire has to take a high population, high TL world. The only real nearby candidate is their former world of Hliyh, the same world they narrowly lost to the Hierate. That was arguably the nail in the coffin for the Glorious Empire. However the Hierate no doubt has heavily garrisoned Hliyh. Even if by some miracle the Glorious Empire were to retake it, it would surely invite counterattack by the Hierate. The looming threat would likely force the devotion of large portions of Hliyh's planetary budget towards building up defensive forces, meaning little available to act as an economic lifeline to the rest of the Glorious Empire.

The sad fact is right now the Glorious Empire has only 2 real major worlds out of their 13. The capital Syoakh is effectively just a showpiece like Pyongyang, with Htourlao being the only real source of industrial production. Everything else is insignificant. I crunched the Pocket Empires numbers and even the best case internal development scenario of scraping enough resources on Htourlao for rapid uplifting of TL on other planets to raise productivity, is basically shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. It is a case of uplifting the TL to increase the slave workforce productivity through better less rickety technology. That also raises the risk of revolt. Even in the best case scenario of no revolt, the economic gains, while respectable for an individual world, are too little too late on an interstellar scale. The Glorious Empire would need many years, decades even, of development of its backwater worlds to get into a viable economic state, and it just doesn't have those years.
 

Grievous

Mongoose
Hmm, looking at my spreadsheet for the factions (which incorporates T4 stats and other sources), I get the following stats for the Glorious Empire:

Glorious Empire
13 of systems
Population (M): 5,693
GWP: 94
Available Budget: 21
Trade Surplus: 1
SDBs: 163
Starship Squadrons: 6
Defense Battalions: 2211

So, I think it works out.. not a paper tiger perhaps, but I agree that it won't last, which is right.
 
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