In the Empire of Light in the world of Nimbus, the emperor is both the head of government and the head of the church, as the symbolic husband of the chief goddess Tatekami. He runs the empire by means of various ministers and officials selected by examination. The kingdoms that make up the empire have long felt the imperial system to be ineffective and most are members of the empire in name only or in outright rebellion. In reality, the emperor only rules over the territory of Shenguo and the surrounding kingdoms.
Advising the emperor is his Supreme Council, who are often the power behind the throne. The Supreme Council manages the Imperial Ministers and the aides and clerks beneath them as well as the governance of the empire’s protectorates. The empire also maintains a few high level offices in the Imperial City, as well as the imperial army, church, and inquisition.
Supreme Council of the Emperor
Supreme Chancellor: The highest ranked civil office, after the emperor. The Supreme Chancellor has the primary responsibility for managing the imperial ministers, and is also responsible for managing the imperial budget and protectorate governance.
Supreme Inquisitor: The Supreme Inquisitor manages the Imperial Inquisition, which is primarily a collection of forensic accountants and detectives tasked with ensuring proper conduct among other imperial officials. The lowest ranked officers, inspectors, are also responsible for investigating local crimes.
Supreme Commander: The highest ranked military office, after the emperor. The Supreme Commander of the Imperial Army commands the generals of the army in order to put down rebels and constantly battle the Shadow. In the present state of the empire, few imperial forces exist outside of the continent of Tatekami, which means rebels often do not face much opposition.
Supreme Cleric: The highest ranked religious office, after the emperor. The Supreme Cleric is responsible for performing the most important rituals and advising the emperor on religious matters.
Supreme Agriculturalist: The Supreme Agriculturalist is responsible for managing the consistent operation of the ever-normal granary system, which is the basis for the empire’s economic influence. The Supreme Agriculturalist provides the farmers of the empire with calendars and almanacs forecasting crop outputs and advising on planting and harvesting times.
The emperor, with the advice of the Supreme Council, appoints 12 ministers to manage lower-level concerns with running the empire. These ministers are accountable to the Supreme Council, with the Supreme Chancellor bearing the primary responsibility for managing them.
Minister of Ceremonies: Conducts religious and secular ceremonies requiring a high ranking imperial official of lower level than the Supreme Cleric.
Minister of the Emperor: Manages the emperor’s household, family, and household staff.
Minister of the Guards: Manages Imperial Guards in and around the palace.
Minister Quartermaster: Manages resources owned by the emperor – horses, carriages, equipment, etc. – across the empire, but mostly in and around the palace.
Minister of Justice: The highest ranking judicial office, after the emperor. Decides complex legal cases and manages Imperial Lawgivers who decide local cases across the empire.
Minister of Finance: The Minister of Finance manages the Imperial Treasury with the help of several Aides, including the Chief Aide of Public Obligation, responsible for tax collection, and the Chief Aide of Imperial Credit, responsible for distributing funds.
Minister Steward: The Minister Steward is responsible for the emperor’s personal funds, as well as managing imperial seals and symbols and welcoming guests.
Minister of Public Works: Manages Imperial Engineers who construct public works.
Minister of Arts and Crafts: Certifies Imperial Workshops across the empire who make top quality items and who are the only ones allowed to manufacture arms and armor.
Minister of States: Manages the Grand Administrators of the empire’s protectorates. Given the current standing of the empire with its member kingdoms, the Minister of States has no real power.
Minister of Scholars: Responsible for administering imperial exams to select competent clerks to manage the empire’s day-to-day affairs. Also responsible for selecting the emperor’s Masters of the Arts.
Minister of Measures: Sets weights and measures for various important trade units and conducts the census for the empire with the aid of Censors in each protectorate.
Offices of the Imperial City
The Imperial City is the capital of the empire and contains the emperor’s palace and the central offices for all sections of the government. The city is governed by three officers appointed by the emperor. Unlike most local governance, these positions are accountable directly to the emperor rather than the ministers and Supreme Council.
Defender of the Capital: A military position outside the main Imperial Army. The Defender of the Capital is responsible for the defense of the city and must be an Imperial Defender.
Chancellor of the Capital: Responsible for day-to-day governance and policies in the Imperial City.
Marquise of Tatekami: Largely a ceremonial position, but has veto power over the decisions of the Chancellor of the Capital. The Marquise is required to be female and the position is usually filled by one of the emperor’s sisters or daughters.
There are 11 protectorates in the Empire, a Western and Eastern protectorate for each of the five continents, plus a separate one for Garn and the surrounding islands. Each protectorate is officially governed by a Grand Administrator, but how much power this administrator and other imperial appointed positions have depends on local politics.
Grand Administrator: Governs a protectorate indirectly by managing the kings, chancellors, and local officials within it. Reports to the Minister of States.
King: A hereditary, unappointed position ruling over a kingdom within a protectorate. Officially should take orders from the Grand Administrator, and defer to their chancellor on local policy, but in practice most kings rule how they see fit. Similarly, kings are responsible for delivering the taxes of their kingdom’s residents to the Minister of Finance, but many do not do so.
Chancellor: An optional position responsible for day-to-day management and policy decisions in a kingdom. Must be appointed by agreement between the king and Grand Administrator. In practice, this means most chancellorships are unfilled.
Prefects, Senior Clerks, Chiefs, Marquis, or Magistrates: These positions may be optionally appointed to handle the lowest level local governance. They are all more or less equivalent and are granted broad power to govern areas between the size of a city and a county. Prefects have the most prestige and most regulations they must follow and are what officials most closely following the imperial code will appoint. Magistrates have more freedom, but govern a smaller area. Chiefs have the least prestige and no government salary. Marquis are inherited by default, have a high salary and must be appointed by Ministers or higher.
Every good empire needs a good army. Due to the fractured loyalty of most kings, the army has reduced recruitment and most of the army is concentrated within the Shenguo territory, but it is still the largest army in the world. Because the army is concentrated near the center of the empire, the Grand Protectors for further flung protectorates have no troops under their command and the positions are often given to fat nobles to keep them happy or given to warmongers to prevent them from obtaining real power.
Grand Protectors: One for each protectorate. Nominally in charge of all the military forces in that protectorate, but since most armies are more loyal to their kings than the empire, only the Grand Protector of Tatekami has any real power. Reports to the Supreme Commander.
Generals: Ranked as bronze, silver, or gold, generals command 1-3 legions of soldiers, based on rank, plus up to half a dozen or so auxiliary units of up to 200 cavalry or archers each. Reports to the Grand Protector and Supreme Commander.
Colonels: Five per legion. They help the general organize the legion at a lower level. Of them, they are divided by the area that they organize: North, East, South, West, Center. The Center Colonel ranks above the others when it is important.
Centurions: Commands a century of 100 men; reports to their general.
Knights: A soldier, usually mounted and armored, granted license to roam the empire independently of the rest of the military and assume command of units up to a century wherever they find themselves. Knights always try to help the people of the empire and so their authority to assume command of small military units is usually honored by local kings even if the kings don’t like the rest of the empire. Rank equivalent to a Colonel.
Defenders: A heavily armored foot soldier with a tower shield. Imperial Defenders are a holy order of Tatekami. They are well respected and can hold high positions in the military.
Grand Admiral: Commander of the Imperial Navy. Holds the same honor rank as the Grand Protectors on the basis that the sea is its own protectorate.
Captains: Captain of a ship in the Imperial Navy. Reports to the Grand Admiral. Also used for leaders of small specialist auxiliary units in which case the rank is equivalent to a Centurion and they officially report to a General, but they often operate independently for practical purposes.
The Imperial Church is the one and only church for the Pantheon of Light, the primary deities of Nimbus. The chief goddess of the Pantheon of Light is Tatekami, who the emperor is symbolically married to by the Supreme Cleric upon his ascension, cementing the divine mandate for his power. The Imperial Church supports a strict orthodox interpretation of the holy books, filtered down from the Supreme Cleric through the Grand Elders and Clerics to the illiterate masses.
Grand Elders: Church leader at the protectorate level. Reports to the Supreme Cleric
Clerics: Leader of large churches, monasteries, abbies. Reports to a Grand Elder.
Acolytes: Standard church priests and staff. Reports to a Cleric in large churches or may lead a small church themselves and report to a Grand Elder.
The Imperial Inquisition is primarily a collection of forensic accountants and detectives tasked with ensuring proper conduct among other imperial officials. The lowest ranked officers, inspectors, are also responsible for investigating local crimes.
Grand Inquisitors: One for each protectorate. Manages the local inspectors and reports to the Supreme Inquisitor.
Inspectors: The local officers of the Inquisition. Audits the finances of other local officials and investigates crimes. Reports to a Grand Inquisitor when necessary.
Lawgivers: Not part of the Imperial Inquisition, but frequently summoned by inspectors, and sometimes by wealthy suspects, after a suspect has been captured. Lawgivers are appointed by the Minister of Justice and have the authority to decide cases in dispute. The presence of a lawgiver is not necessary to assign punishment in most cases, however. Inspectors have the authority to assign appropriate punishment themselves in clear cases. Lawgivers are needed when there are legal questions or when the suspect has sufficient social clout to make it difficult for an inspector to carry out their verdict.
There are several other important imperial institutions with smaller amounts of staff run by various ministers. These are important to maintaining the structure and stability of the empire, but do not have the prestige, size, or power of the army, church, and inquisition.
Imperial Exams: The Minister of Scholars is responsible for creating exams used to select talented individuals for official positions. The primary exams used as qualifiers for most official positions are the Provincial, College, and Palace exams. The Provincial Exam is used for very low level work like being a generic scribe or secretary to a county clerk, and it is administered in each protectorate. The College Exam qualifies the individual for most local official positions, but not those at the protectorate level or higher. It is administered in the Imperial City to those who have passed the Provincial Exam. First rank performers in the College Exam also gain admittance to the Imperial College to study for the Palace Exam. The Palace Exam is held once every three years in the Imperial City and has a pass rate of less than 1% of the thousands who take it. Passing the Palace exam is required only for top official positions, but will effectively guarantee any lower position desired. Those who pass the exam are divided into three ranks by score; some positions require those holding them to be of a certain rank, e.g., second rank or higher on the Provincial Exam. Non-bureaucratic positions have their own exams. There is an Inquisition Exam required for Inspectors, a Religious Exam required for Clerics, and a Military Exam required for Generals and sometimes Colonels. These exams are all easier than the main line exams, but require more specific knowledge.
Masters of the Arts: The emperor keeps several masters of their fields in his service at the palace in case he needs advice or a task performed for him related to that field. The Minister of Scholars is responsible for selecting these masters, occasionally with the help of the Minister of Arts and Crafts. The precise number and variety of masters varies, but may include: a Master Arcanist, a Master of Horse, a Master Poet, a Master Physician, a Master Sculptor, a Master Smith, etc.
Imperial Workshops: Workshops that produce high quality goods can apply to become Imperial Workshops. The Minister of Arts and Crafts sends an inspector to verify that the workshop produces some of the highest quality goods of its kind in the land and then provides a certificate confirming this for a fee. Since they produce the highest quality goods, Imperial Workshops tend to mark up their prices 10-20%, and they are the only workshops allowed to produce arms and armor.
Imperial Granaries: Granaries for wheat, rice, and millet are scattered across the empire. The Supreme Agriculturalist is responsible for maintaining them as ever-normal granaries, buying grain when it is in good supply, then selling back the grain when times are hard. The empire will also redistribute grain around the empire if there is famine in a particular location.
Department of Public Works: The empire builds numerous aqueducts, dams, mills, granaries, wells, roads, and other useful public infrastructure across its protectorates. In order to accomplish this level of construction, the Minister of Public works employs many Imperial Engineers to plan out the work and presses surrounding residents into service as corvee labor to carry it out.
Imperial Census: Conducted once every five years by the Minister of Measures, the primary purpose of the Imperial Census is to determine the number of people in each prefecture, city, kingdom, and protectorate of the empire so they may be taxed appropriately. In order to accomplish this, the Minister of Measures hires a number of short-term censors in each protectorate.