As mentioned earlier, the players will have a chance for great freedom in this game. But for freedom to have any meaning in a game context, there also has to be a framework all players are familiar with. Otherwise the choice to go against social convention is meaningless, as there is no clear answer to what accepted convention is. More info can be found elsewhere, but we would like to point out some of the central points here.
In the old days, the Emperor was the source of what was accepted behaviour, and as such accepted protocol was quite clear-cut. What follows below is what has been agreed on as accepted protocol in the aftermath of the Empire's downfall. Many decide to break with such convention, and this might very well be wise for these parties at times. Still, for those who wish to seem respectable for their peers, keeping to etiquette is often prudent.
Those who rule, those who pray, those
The nobility are the ruling class of Anuire, given their position by Haelyn himself. Thus it is a source of some theological debate whether or not Theocracies are acceptable – a debate where different sects of the church have quite differing viewpoints. Still, in most cases the blooded nobility hold all formal temporal authority. On the other side, they are usually expected not to interfere over-much in Church doctrine, and the church also fervently keep the rights to sit judge over religious matters and crimes.
In the years of the Boeruine
rebellion/Civil War, both the Temple (later temples) and the guilds' position
Where they once were under the strict thumbs of the feudal lords, they have since slowly become more and more independent and strong as the old Empire has dissolved. In the more traditionalistic realms of Avanil, Boeruine, Alamie and Diemed, the nobility still are the most important. In the border realms as well as in newer realms, the temples, guilds or both tend to be very influential. In some realms like Endier, Cariele, Talinie, and Medoere these organisations might be said to be more powerful then the nobles. Adding to this decline, some faiths of Haelyn have in the last couple of centuries begun preaching a less strict interpretation of the Book of Laws, questioning the doctrine of the nobility governing all lands. The religions whom did not have any strong presence in the old Empire supports this, and have gained popularity to suite the tastes of the merchant and scholar classes (notably the faiths of Sarimie and Avanalae).
The guilds took some more time to reach their current level of influence. Although they may not have much in the way of formal power, most pragmatic rulers know that to ignore their resident guilder might well cause their coffers to become uncomfortably empty. Yet the guilds have little in the way of formal privilege compared to the clergy and nobility. In 1244 HC however, the guilds banded together in the Guild Hall of Endier and stood together against nobility and clergy both, threatening economic sanction if certain demands were not met. They named one of their numbers, the head of The Southern Imperial Traders, as Tribune and gave him authority to deliver a message on behalf of all of them. The petition was heard in the Senate and, pragmatism winning out against the desire to swat down the merchants, was passed. This helped bring about a lot of the monopoly organized trade and craft guilds have over disorganized labour, yet are the only time enough of the merchants of Anuire have stood together to make their voice heard as one...yet. Since though, over the years, all major guilds in Anuire is permitted to speak in the senate as any noble house would.
Imperial authority – This term is almost an oxymoron at present. Although the Imperial Chamberlain has a bit of influence, most of this comes from his office as place-holder of tradition. It seems extremely unlikely that any Regent of Anuire would be acknowledged as Emperor without the support of the Chamberlain, yet he has nowhere near the influence to merely name someone Emperor. Still, Imperial tradition and history remains a powerful source of propaganda and rhetoric.
The other source of Imperial authority is the Sword & Crown. For ease sake, you can read more about the Sword & Crown here.
Over the centuries Imperial Law has evolved into the traditions and laws seen today. They're based on how the Empire was governed while there still was an Emperor and a local government. Since then new laws have been made at the Sword and Crown gatherings, mainly based on the old ones. The new laws detail the feudal structure of the Empire, the role of the Chamberlain, the Senate, and other officials of the Empire. Still there are a lot of laws from the times of the old Empire which still stand, some contradicting each other. Sadly, this was the case even before the decline of the Anuirean Empire.
Between the Sword and Crowns, local lords tend to interpret laws as they see fit. With several laws standing opposite each other one can see several small differences in how the realms are run in the relative small area that is Anuire. As personal power and influence have supplanted the authority of Imperial Law, anyone with a power base strong enough can find people that can interpret the law as they wish it - despite what might be the spirit of the law. The churches of Haelyn try to limit this, but unfortunately, they tend not to agree with each other either.
Imperial Power remained within the descendants of Roele. This was established,
known and accepted. With Haelyns backing that family became strong over the
time, and the nobility (mostly) accepted this as the divine right of the Roeles.
As such, little of Imperial Law deals with Imperial Succession. Over some few
laws and edicts did arise to deal with the situation of more then one eligible
heir to claim the Iron Throne. In such cases, a special council of lords would
be called upon to vote for whom would be most suited to become the next Emperor.
Such a council, simply called the Council of the Twelve, would consist of the
regents of the Twelve Duchies with the Lord High Chamberlain presiding. The
council would decide upon the most eligible candidate to sit the Iron Throne by
majority vote. The Chamberlain was permitted only to cast a tie breaking vote.
Emperors named by a Council of the Twelve include Shaene I, Caercuillen I (in
which the Chamberlain broke a tie), Alandalae II, and Caercuillen II (in which
the Chamberlain broke a tie).
election, the winning candidate had to be confirmed by the Chamberlain. Should
the Chamberlain refuse, the elections must be held again (this took place during
the election of Caercuillen I). Following that, the candidate would be crowned
by the His Holiness the Patriarch of the Imperial Temple of Haelyn and named
Of course, should the Chamberlain or the Patriarch refuse to recognize the candidate, a particularly strong candidate might be able to depose them and force the matter (such was the case in the succession of Alandalae II, who deposed Vaedric Dosiere and replaced him with Arlen Dosiere, Vaedric's nephew).
An election could conceivably be called for in order to name an Emperor today, but the situation is greatly muddled (as proven by the election at the Sword & Crown of 295 MR). As some of the original Twelve Duchies no longer exist or are ruled by different families, assembling such a council would be a daunting task.
The original twelve duchies are as
Aerenwe, Alamie, Avanil, Boeruine, Cariele, Diemed, Dhalaene, Elinie, Ghieste, Mhoried, Osoerde and Taeghas.
War – In the times of the Empire, there was no war within Anuire itself. Such rebellion was swiftly quelled. Ideally speaking this should still be the case, but present-day Anuire is no ideal place. Still, it has been agreed that if realms of Anuire are to make war on each other they should have a reason to do so – or casus belli in Latin. Accepted ones are a claim on holdings within another's territory (through marriage, inheritance or other reasons), retaliation for earlier unsettled wars between the lands, grave insults on a regent level, or a call from a church for holy war. The latter is not something temples give out easily, and should usually have a theological basis. As for what defines an "unsettled war", the definition is a war where no formal peace agreement was reached – or one where one of the parties was under undue pressure to sign. Of course, what constitutes "undue pressure" is up for debate. Other reasons can very well be thought of – or fabricated – but a war with no reason for all gives good reason for neighbours to intervene against you, and might cause unrest in your own realm. Lastly, when declaring war, it is expected one delivers a message to the White Halls a week before declaring war formally, for it to be counted as an "honourable" war.
Noble titles of Anuire, in descending order of importance
This is the traditional usage of titles in Anuire. Note that ruling a duchy and being a duke need not be the same. Gavin Tael is just a Baron, but he rules what used to be two duchies. Yet he would still be expected to be deferential in social function to Eluve Cariele, who is a Duchess who does not rule a duchy. A family's traditional rank, not their current holdings, decides what title they may use.
Emperor / Empress
The supreme leader of a gathered Anuire. The last one was Michael Roele who died in 973 HC.
Addressed as: Your Imperial Majesty
Traditionally: the children and grandchildren of the Emperor. Interestingly enough also currently used by the ruler of Avanil by virtue of holding land that was traditionally the Emperor's demesne. Some contest how proper this is, but it has come to be accepted over the years because of the strength of the Avan family. Addressed as: Your Highness
Archduke & Archduchess
A title held only by the Archduke of Boeruine, showing his family's special position in Imperial Anuire. This makes him the highest ranking nobleman in Anuire excepting the Prince of Avanil... if one accepts the claim of the latter. Was was also held by the Alamian family back when Alamie and Tuornen was one realm. The Archduke of the time renounced his Arch-ducal title, and only claiming a Ducal one until he could regain the other half of the Arch-duchy.
Addressed as: Your Imperial Grace
Duke & Duchess
The highest of the ordinary noble titles in use. A Duke normally has to at least rule five provinces. Only those who rule a duchy can vote for an Emperor at the Sword & Crown.
Addressed as: Your Grace
Baron & Baroness
Traditionally a ruler of at least three provinces was referred to by this title. Gavin Tael rules far more than a traditional barony.
Addressed as: My Lord Baron/Lady Baroness
Marquis & Marchioness
Originally a Brecht noble title, but was in 762 HC (shortly after Emperor Alandalae took the Iron Throne, and just before the same started his new campaign against the Basarji) granted to a family who previously had been Counts to rule over the domain called Iron Hills (now Chimaeron). The family (presumably) eventually died out, and the title have not been used since in Anuire. Addressed as: My Lord Marquis
Count & Countess
Traditionally a province-ruler, and the lowest rank of the high nobility. Harald Khorien of Taeghas is an example of a Count who rules a duchy. Addressed as: Your Excellency
Viscount & Viscountess
A noble title awarded not by the Emperor, but by another member of the high nobility.
Addressed as: My Lord
Knight & Dame
The rank of lower nobility. Some knights hold tracts of lands, others are little more than mercenaries with a title. Yet they are undeniable set above the commoners, with the privileges and duties this entails.
Addressed as: Sir/Dame
Also, for those who are Barons, Counts or Viscounts, after using their title or the proper term of address, "My Lord" or "My Lady" may be acceptable.
In addition there are some other titles floating about. The Mhor is a unique title granted to the Duke of Mhoried. One still addressed the Mhor as Your Grace. And in Aerenwe one has Kings and Queens. They are called Your Majesty. But most Anuireans consider them not part of the Empire any more.
Experienced Wizards are usually called Master, while younger or more inexperienced one's are usually only called Wizard.
If two families who bear the same rank happen to meet, and one had to decide whom has the traditionally pre-eminence is the family who can trace their family back as nobility the longest. Thus a family made into Counts in the first century would go before one that was granted the title in the 10th.
Nobles are expected not to perform physical labour, to extend hospitality to each other, and to always conduct themselves with honour.
This is, of course, an ideal rather than the real state of affairs, but keeping up appearances is important – courtesy particularly so. Although all know that Darien Avan and Aeric Boeruine despise each other, those not in the know would probably not guess it from the civil smiles and pleasantries they tend to give each other at social functions. (Before pointedly ignoring each other.) Losing face and composure can be disastrous – causing one's rivals to do so can be a worthwhile stratagem.
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