Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Imperial Ministry and Senate

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict....  
-The Phantom Menace

"Control the coinage and the courts—let the rabble have the rest." Thus the Padishah Emperor advised you. 
Dreary politics and statecraft is probably the furthest thing from the minds of the players of any action scenario, and yet politics feeds into every action scenario: The Expendables features a political coup against a South American dictator at its core, and James Bond stories revolve around Cold War politics.  The action hero might not be a politician, but politics often drives the context of his action.

Thus, I'd like to  get the "least exciting" of our Imperial triumvirate out of the way first, and take a look at imperial politics.  Of all the character types, I expect only the Diplomat will really invest deeply into the organ of state within the Empire, but any character with an aristocratic background might find himself or herself tied into it.

But everyone and anyone might find themselves at the beck and call of a powerful imperial official or a wealthy imperial senator.  They'll call upon Assassins to destroy their rivals, or find themselves the marks of the Con Artist, or they'll confer quietly with their personal Spies.  The point of this organization, more than anything, is to provide context for the actions of our characters.

The Imperial Ministry

The Imperial Ministry represents a large collection of smaller organizations that run the day-to-day affairs of the Empire.  Given the somewhat incestuous nature of appointments and competing agendas, treat it as a single, large organization with the understanding that it has competing sub-organizations all vying for funding and the political clout of their masters.

Some example ministries within the Empire:
  • Ministry of Finance: Tasked with collecting taxes, governing business and expressing Imperial will to galactic corporations.
  • Ministry of Heritage: Tasked with creating and censoring art, this ministry is the core of imperial propaganda efforts, as well as the indoctrination of the youth.  They're also tasked with antiquities and museums, and thus psionic conspirators seeking to uncover ancient relics often co-opt the ministry.
  • Ministry of Science: This branch of the government competes with the Ministry of Culture and Legacy over universities and handles funding for major research projects, usually for military purposes.  This ministry is a hot-bed of Neo-Rationlists.
  • Ministry of Affairs: The most powerful of the ministries (outside of Justice), this governs diplomatic efforts both inside and outside of the Empire.  In practice, internal "diplomacy" means the indirect governance of worlds, and those highest in its ranks can become legally untouchable and virtual dictators.
  • Ministry of Justice: This governs Imperial Security and is handled separately.
  • Ministry of Defense: This governs the Imperial Navy, in principle, and is handled sparately.

Agendas of the Imperial Ministry

The Imperial Ministry typically engages in the same agendas as any Imperial group, mainly that of covering up its own corruption and attempting to ruthlessly expand their own personal power.  The Ministries certainly bicker with one another, arguing over who has what jurisdiction in a particular, specific case.  But individual ministries might have unique agendas based on their actual roles within the empire.
  • Ministry of Finance and Commerce: 
    • A minister has long been skimming from tax funds from a backwater world that has turned out to be more lucrative than expected, which he launders through bogus contracts to a company; An auditor has decided that something strange is going on, and now the Minister needs evidence his crimes and connections hidden, or the auditor conveniently assassinated.
    • A corporation, with ties to an outspoken senator has grown powerful and, with their rise, so too does the senator's power increase.  The Emperor wants the senator's power-base eliminated without visibly eliminating the senator himself. This requires concocting evidence of criminal activity on the part of the company (or even finding legitimate wrong-doing) or, barring that, create new policies that hurt the company's profits.
  • Ministry of Heritage: 
    • Due to imperial infighting and incompetence, the rebellion won a great victory!  The Emperor moves swiftly to shore up his defenses, but meanwhile the increase in military spending paired with the high profile win for the rebel alliance has pushed many people on neighboring worlds to reconsider their position against the rebellion.  Thus, the ministry must censor all reports of the rebellious victory and step up efforts to paint the rebellion in a negative light.  Confessions of a known rebel to terroristic warcrimes would certainly help!
    • Archaeologists of the Ministry of Heritage have uncovered the location of a temple sacred to the local population, and this temple might contain psionic secrets the Emperor desperately wants.  However, a full Imperial dig on the site will certainly incite local revolt amongst the populace.  The minister plans to censor any reports of the dig, paired with propaganda about the unity of the Empire and the local faith, to provide cover stories for the sudden Imperial presence on the supposedly hidden temple (for example, co-opting a local priest and showing footage of him inviting them into the temple).
  • Ministry of Science: 
    • A plague wiped out an entire imperial garrison to a man!  The Ministry of Science sends in its researchers, backed by Imperial Chem Troopers, to investigate the plague the caused the sudden death, and to see if they can find some way to weaponize it.
    • A planet known for its top-notch university and data-libraries has finally fallen under imperial sway.  The Ministry of Science intends to remove old administrators and education programs and replace them with their own, and neo-rationalists within the Ministry want to be sure that their particular philosophy is spread among the students.
  • Ministry of Affairs: 
    • An alien king, despite reservations, has finally allowed an Imperial embassy onto his world.  Now, the real work begins: first the ministry must build ties with locals sympathetic to the Empire and ensure that they're dazzled and glorified by invitations to the Imperial Capital, while those who support the King are consistently undermined.  Then, once informal alliances have been made, maneuver one into a position of inheritance under the king, and then have someone assassinate him: Bonus points if you can pin the assassination on the Rebellion as a response to the King's diplomatic gestures to the Empire.
    • An old ally of the Empire demands both senatorial representation and citizenship for his people, both of which are opposed by nearby worlds which are senatorially represented and citizens, for fear that their unique status will be watered down.  Neither really matter much to the Empire, but this is a perfect opportunity for a minister to advance his career by carefully "negotiating" a compromise among the various parties.

Imperial Ministry as Opposition

The Imperial Ministry has no minions of its own: it relies on the Imperial Security (the Ministry of Justice) to handle its security. If one can penetrate its velvet ropes, they'll find that he ministry is rarely difficult to deal with, usually no worse than BAD -0 or -2.  They're not the true source of power in the Galaxy, but rather, they are used (or protected) by worse or more powerful organizations and conspiracies

Serving the Imperial Ministry

The Imperial Ministry is a Galactic Organization with 10 Administrative Ranks and a Patron cost of 30 points.  An individual ministry is smaller and has a Patron cost of 20 points.

The Imperial Ministry has Comfortable wealth: If you serve the Ministry, you'll be well-compensated with a cushy job and not much responsibility.

Ranks of the Imperial Ministry

The Ranks of the Imperial Ministry are as follows:

10: The Emperor
9: The Chancellor
8: High Minister
7: Minister
6: Director, Viceroy or Ambassador
5: Deputy Director or Special Envoy
4: Auditor or Envoy
3: Secretary
2: Supervisor
1: Attache or Assistant
0: Civil Servant

The titles for Administrative Ranks 0-3 are informal, though the ranks themselves definitely matter.  The actual names might well change from Ministry to Ministry.  Administrative Rank 0 represents the average schlub working a desk-job for the Empire.  These are your wretched bean-counters who put in their 8 hours before dragging themselves back home.  Administrative Rank 1 and 2 represent supervisors or managers of higher level positions in the management of a particular office, while Administrative Rank 3 represents someone who governs an entire office, and usually have explicit titles like "Secretary of the Office of Indigenous Taxation for Grist."

The title of Attache at Administrative Rank 1 represents someone with unique powers and is often attached to higher level ministers as personal assistants, or to diplomatic missions.  They do not generally govern people directly, but gain special legal privileges or security clearances.  This represents things like the bodyguard or intelligence liaison of a more powerful official.  Characters with the title might have higher levels of rank, but no higher than 3 (if you need to break them down, do so into Deputy Attache, Attache and Special Attache at 1, 2 and 3 respectively).

Administrative Rank 4 of Auditor represents a special position: Auditors investigate their own ministries, looking for signs of corruption or deviation from the Imperial will.  Auditors have ranks as well, answering to Special Auditors at rank 5, and Chief Auditors at rank 6.  They have Legal Enforcement Powers (Auditor) [10] which means they may make arrests within the purview of their own, specific ministry, but are not required to obey your civil rights while investigating you (that is, they can peer into your private life, raid your private communications, etc; the ministers of the empire must be beyond reproach!). They are the boogeymen of the Ministry.

Administrative Rank 4 also contains the lowest rank of imperial diplomats.  Envoys, Special Envoys, Ambassadors and Viceroys all receive Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [20].  This grants them complete immunity to all laws and access to a "diplomatic pouch" as well as the ability to extend some of this legal protection to some of their subordinates (typically attaches and assistants), in that if they do something on the diplomat's behalf (or the diplomat can claim that they were), they might be able to get them out of trouble.  The difference between the ranks of Ambassador and Viceroy is that the former is sent to external powers and the latter to internal powers.  That is, if the Empire wants to open up negotiations with, say, the Cybernetic Union, they send an Ambassador because the Empire has no sovereignty there.  But if they want to "send an ambassador" to a conquered world that lives under the fiction of their own sovereignty, the empire will send a Viceroy, who rules through the local ruler.

Administrative Rank 5 and 6 represent regional ministry command.  Directors and Deputy Directors have complete command over a planetary-scale branch of the ministry, such as total taxation of a world (or even a limited region of space) or some specific element of the ministry (such as an entire course of research).

Administrative Rank 7 and 8, the ranks of Minister and High Minister, represent complete control over a ministry itself.  The Ministers make up a council that advise the High Minister, and the directors of several subsidiary ministries will report to a single Minister.

Beyond those ranks, we reach the Imperial Court; The Chancellor handles the domestic affairs of the Empire, and all Ministries other than the Ministries of Defense and Justice answer to him. And he, ultimately, answers to the Emperor.

Favors of the Imperial Ministry

Authorization and License (Pulling Rank page 13): The Imperial Ministry, as a legal body, can authorize anything within their purview:
  • The Ministry of Finance can grant license to form a corporation or to collect taxes on their behalf, or authorize a trade deal.
  • The Ministry of Heritage can authorize archaeological digs or the distribution of a "news" story.
  • The Ministry of Science can license a particular scientific institution or allow research into "forbidden" topics.
  • The Ministry of Affairs can grant an individual full Imperial citizenship, or allow a foreigner access to the Empire (a visa).
Entry Clearance (Pulling Rank 13): Most ministry buildings are, technically, open to the public, though in practice many of them have security layers that prevent the public from gaining access to the deepest recesses.  For the most part, actual employees are allowed free access.  The Ministry of Science and Research, though, usually has top-secret research facilities, and the Ministry of Culture and Legacy has libraries of forbidden knowledge.  Both could require Pulling Rank to access.

Consultation and Specialists (Pulling Rank page 15 and 19): The Imperial Ministry has access to skilled bureaucrats and attaches who can assist you.  A typical Contact within the Ministry has skills such as Administration, Current Affairs (Politics), Diplomacy, Savoir-Faire (High Society), Law, Politics and Propaganda. Specific ministries have access to specific skills:
  • Ministry of Finance: Accounting, Finance
  • Ministry of Heritage: Archaeology, History, Literature
  • Ministry of Science: Engineering (Any), Expert Skill (Psionics), Research
  • Ministry of Affairs: Current Affairs (High Society or Regional), Law (International)
Files (Pulling Rank page 15): Each ministry has pages and pages of diplomatic dossiers, accounting books, or top-secret research documents or archaeological finds, that one can access via the proper channels.

Cash and Funding (Pulling Rank page 16): Ministries regularly grant money to their officials for some specific cause (and double the values shown: a Rank 4 diplomat can access $50k on a successful pulling rank roll), but they're more likely to fund a major expedition, such as an archeological dig or a prototype warship.  For those purposes, treat the funds as effectively unlimited.

Facilities (Pulling Rank 18): The Imperial Ministry can grant access to top-of-the-line Archaeology, Engineering. Propaganda and Research tools, as well as the ideal places to throw a party.  These facilities all grant +5 to any roll for these purposes.

Transportation and Travel (Pulling Rank 19): The Imperial Ministry will help  you get to anywhere you need to go, inside the Empire and, to some extent, outside of it too.  Transporation is generally limited to the Ministry of Affairs (private shuttles will move literally anything you want and bypass any customs agent), but all the Ministries have things like they like to transport, from valuables to antiquities to secret prototypes.

Propaganda: Given sufficient time (say, a week ahead of time, but it's ultimately up to the GM), the Ministry of Heritage or Affairs can spread a particular idea.  Treat this as Compliments of the Boss: A successful request applies +3, a critical success applies +6, a failure applies -1 and a critical failure applies -2.  This applies to appropriate influence rolls and to Communion reactions for path-based miracles for the appropriate path.  This effect is temporary: usually no more than one adventure (usually lasting no longer than a week: for more permanent effects, buy some manner of Reputation), and only to a single world.  The player needs to define the nature of the propaganda up front and it only applies as appropriate (for example, if you spread the idea that you are the reincarnation of a world's savior, you cannot use it to impress off-worlders or the non-religious, or when you behave "out of character").

Character Considerations

Requirements: Duty (Imperial Ministry, 9 or less or 12 or less) [-5 or -10], Wealth (Comfortable) [10].
Administrative Rank: 0-10 (Galactic)

For those serving ministries, Auditors (Administrative Rank 4-6) can gain Legal Enforcement (Auditor) [10] which allows them to investigate a single ministry with complete impunity, able to do anything necessary within the jurisdiction of that ministry, to uncover corruption.

Those serving as envoys, ambassadors or viceroys (Administrative Rank 4-6) may purchase Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [20], granting them total legal immunity to any group where they represent the Empire, including a diplomatic pouch, with the full weight of the Empire's disapproval to anyone who overrides this immunity.

Most characters won't directly serve a ministry, but might have a minister who looks out for them.  Having a Favor with the ministry is 1 point/rank for a single successful use of Pulling Rank with a ministry.  A single minister as a Patron is worth 10 points as a base.  Most Contacts in the ministry are skill 12-15.  A Minister as an Enemy is worth -20 points, and is typically only a Rival and thus worth half point, and is usually only on a 6 or less, and this is at default -5.

The Imperial Senate

In principle, the Imperial Senate is not an organization so much as it is a body of elected representatives of the Imperial worlds who introduce, debate and approve or veto laws and imperial policy.  Each world (that has been granted senatorial rights by the Ministry of Affairs) may elect a single senator who will represent their world to the whole of the Empire.  In practice, the Senate has no real power, and can be legally overridden by the Empire.  Nonetheless, the appearance of blatant dictatorship still does not set well with a galaxy still convulsing with revolution, and thus the Senate has some weight in granting legitimacy to the Emperor, though senators who stand against the Emperor with too much forcefulness will find the political engines of the Empire turned against them, and they'll be arrested for sedition in short order, or simply vanish mysteriously and tragically in the night (and the Emperor will mourn  your passing quite public ally, of course).

Agendas of the Senate

Individual Senators want to ensure that they continue to be elected and that their rivals are not.  The actual mechanics of elections are too tedious for Psi-Wars; instead, they'll hire the characters to sabotage, assassinate or scandalize their opponent, while digging up any information that their rivals might use against them.

Broadly, the Senate all toes the Imperial line (to do otherwise is to invite death or arrest), but they break down into a few parties:
  • Militarists, who vocally support the Empire's expansion, regularly call for the defeat of the Rebellion and generally celebrate any Imperial conquest.  They tend to be those most pro the Emperor himself, but they can be critical of him when the Empire's warmachine slows down, and often express dissatisfaction with the direction the suppression of the rebellion has taken.
  • Industrialists who support increases subsidies for corporations and increased cooperation between corporations and the Empire.  They tend to be in the pocket of various corporations and lobby on their behalf before the Senate (and thus, by extension, the Emperor).
  • Populists worry about the plight of the people.  They tend to come from worlds recently granted senatorial status and whose people are the worst off.  They remind the Emperor of his promises of populism, and are the most ardent opponents of the old aristocracy.  They're the most likely to criticize the Empire and to express support for the rebellion, on account of the fact that the Emperor and his Ministries often don't follow through on their promises for the people.  Those who remain loyal to the Emperor make excuses for his lapsed promises and laud any movement made towards the people as an example of the Emperor's grand magnanimity, making him sound more generous than he is. 

The Senate as Opposition

The Senate lacks minions or even major security systems beyond what the Senators themselves bring.  Going up against the Senate is strictly BAD -0.

Serving on the Senate

Being a Senator requires election by a planetary population that has been granted senatorial status by the Ministry of Affairs.  "Senator" is a Title [1] with a Status of +4.  This can be granted and revoked by the changing political climates of the planet, but in practice, the politics of planets and their interactions with imperial bureaucracy means that once a senator, you're often a senator for a very long time, unless some terrible scandal means the Emperor must retract his protection and your people throw you out.

Senatorial Ranks

The Senate doesn't have ranks, though they do differentiate between "Junior" and "Senior" senators, but this is a purely informal distinction that makes no difference to one's status.  However, they do integrate in the Ministry, in the form of oversight committees that theoretically have the ability to demand information from a particular ministry as well propose regulations, hire or fire ministers. In practice, as all of this must go through Imperial channels, this is (again) a role without real power.  Thus, Senators may gain Courtesy Administrative Rank worth 1 point per level.  For those who have high ranks in their party, they have Courtesy Political Rank, also worth 1 point/level.

Rank 6: Committee member
Rank 7: Committee Chair, Party Whip, Party Secretary
Rank 8: Party Speaker
Rank 9: Speaker

A Committee Member has the right to sit on a board overseeing a specific ministry.  They are managed by a Committee Chair. Parties have their own ranks as well.  Being a member of a committee allows one to Pull Rank with the overseen ministry via Common Courtesy: It counts as full rank for minor, cosmetic things (gaining access to buildings or insecure files), but as rank 0 for more substantial requests (but the senator can make them).

The minority parties have Party Secretaries (who govern day-to-day affairs of the party) and Party Whips (who ensure that everyone falls in line and votes properly) at Courtesy Rank 7, while the head of the entire party is Courtesy Rank 8.  The majority party has the same roles, but one rank higher (8 for Majority Party Secretary and Whip), and they have the Senate Speaker, the highest rank within the Senate, who determines the agenda of the Senate himself and answers directly the Emperor.

Senatorial Favors

The Senate has no power, and thus can grant no favors.  In practice, it acts as a social club, so ranks within the Senate can replace Status when it comes to "Status as Pulling Rank" in regards to the Senate alone.  Thus, if one wants to be invited to the Senatorial ball, then naturally the Speaker will be invited, but when it comes to, say, getting funding for planetary renovations, a Senator is as stuck as anyone else.

That said, most clever Senators learn to curry Favor with the Ministry, and can usually pull more strings than people realize.  The Senate can lend considerable legitimacy to a cause, after all, and so wise Senators learn to turn their symbolic weight into real (if delicate) power.

Senatorial Character Considerations

Minimum Wealth: Comfortable.
Courtesy Political Rank: 0-9 (Galactic)

Being elected Senator is a Title [1] worth Status +4 [20].

A Favor from a Senator is worth 1 point/status level of the Senator for a single successful use of Status as Pulling Rank. A single senator as a Patron is worth 10 points as a base.  A Senator as an Enemy is worth -20 points, and is typically only a Rival and thus worth half point, and is usually only on a 6 or less, and this is at default -5.

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