Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Senate of the Alliance

The last time we looked at "the Senate," it was a relic of the Federation's past, a rubber stamp for the Emperor's wishes.  Naturally, the Alliance, which claims to be the true heir to the Federation, has a Senate of its own, one with real teeth and real power.

Today, I'll look at this ultimate government for the Alliance, the one point at which all members of the Alliance converge to air their grievances, to welcome new members, to plot the overthrow of the Empire, and to make panicked plans with the Empire finally turns its great military juggernaut upon them.

Governing the Alliance: The Alliance Senate

Where the Emperor and his Ministries rule the Empire directly, the remnants of the Federation still cling to their traditions. While the aristocracy might lack the power it once had, in the heart of its last bastion, its members still rule worlds directly, and where they do not, they still retain at least ceremonial power. The alliance also believes in autonomy, rather than direct, centralized control by the state. Aristocrats do not rule one another, but act as “Peers,” and likewise, they accept the sovereignty of individual worlds or corporations, and even grant them a degree of representation. These principles act as the bedrock upon which the old Federation, and the new Alliance, build their government: the Senate.
The Senate unifies the Alliance. Each world and noble domain is independently sovereign, and the Senate may not violate that sovereignty except in that worlds may not violate certain core principles of the alliance (for example, slavery is prohibited on all Alliance worlds, though some worlds follow this law more closely than others), and it make regulate what goes on between worlds and domains, such as immigration and trade. It also determines the foreign policy of the Alliance as a whole.
In principle, the Alliance is founded upon the idea of representation for everyone; in practice, it worries about representing everyone important, and in indirect representation. The senate has representatives from the major aristocratic houses, worlds or interstellar regions of critical importance, and major organizations (typically large, interstellar corporations), and the senate itself decides when and how to expand this, based on tradition, votes and advocacy. Currently, Senate representation is largely determined by the treaties worlds sign when they vote to enter into the Alliance (for example, if a block of worlds enter together, then only the most critical world might have representation, or the region might elect representatives as a whole, etc), and by later legal proposals if circumstances change; the Senate usually uses the ability to expand or contract representation as a political weapon to advance its own interests.
The Senate’s sole purpose to to arbitrate laws and disputes between its various members. To facilitate it, the Senate has three additional minor branches that serve it:
The Inspector Bureau, which investigates worlds for compliance with Senate law
The Diplomatic Bureau, which concerns itself with the foreign policy of the Senate (and, to a lesser extent, issuing the the edicts of the Senate to its own members)
The Knight Protectors, those appointed by the Senate to defend the Senate (and nothing more! The Senate can issue calls to war, but it cannot, itself, go to war, an exceedingly important limitation!)

Agendas of the Senate

The Alliance Senate faces two major pressing issues, which determines to the axes along which all senators can be measured. The first is how to deal with the Empire:
Reconcilers argue that what is done is done. The Empire has the galactic core and the Alliance has its arm of the Galaxy, and that the Alliance should seek to form a treaty with the Empire, making these boundaries official. They promote trade with the Empire, and mutual defense against the greater enemies of Humanity. They argue that, while the Empire is indubitably vile, idealistic conflict will cast the galaxy into a thousand year dark-age, “the Great Nightmare,” as they like to put it. As the war wears on, they slowly gain support, especially among border worlds.
Restorers argue that if the Empire is so abhorrent, it must be destroyed. They expound on the sins of the Empire, and hold vigils for the fallen. They argue that the Reconcilers are cowards or traitors, already in the pocket of the Empire. For them, nothing is acceptable except the toppling of the Empire and the restoration of the old Federation. These have the strongest support amongst nobles who lost everything during the fall of the Federation.
The second pressing issue is one of power and who should truly rule the Alliance
Elitists argue that the Alliance is the Federation, and that its laws should be retained. They argue that only the aristocracy has the right to rule the Alliance, and work to undermine the Lesser Senate, which they see as an advisory body at best, and an illegal travesty at worst. They point out that the real power in the Alliance resides in Aristocratic hands, who provide the wealth and firepower necessary to win the war.
Populists argue that the Alliance is a new entity, one not based on freedom for the aristocracy, but freedom for all. They further argue that the Alliance risks alienating allies and insurgents by demanding more power. For populists, the Aristocracy and Greater Senate are, at best, a relic of a bygone age and, at worse, symptoms of what gave rise to the Empire in the first place. They point out that the common man has as much at stake in the fight against the Empire as the aristocracy does.
Well defined parties don’t exist within the Senate, but instead alliances and cliques form and flow with time, usually centering on particularly powerful senators, especially those with ties to members of both Chambers (Houses, corporations and planetary governments often form voting blocs within the Senate as a whole if they’re already associated with one another. For example, a noble who has Courtesy Rank to rule a world and a seat on a corporate board might vote along with the senators from that world and that corporation). These tend to fall somewhere along the lines of the two axes above. Agreeing with a clique on one axis isn’t mutually exclusive with agreeing with a clique on another axis (that is, one can be a reconciler and an Elitist, or a Restorer and a Populist).

The Alliance Government as Opposition

The Alliance Senate has modest protection and security systems, though individual senators (especially aristocratic senators) may have superior protection and power. The Senate is BAD -2. The Knight Protectors, however, often represent the best of the best the Alliance has to offer, and easily reach BAD -5 when protecting members of the Senate from physical harm.

Serving in the Alliance Government

Political Ranks
Senators do not have political rank (they do not govern anyone directly), though they make an informal distinction between “Junior” senators and “Senior” senators. Instead, their power comes from their right to vote, and their increased social status, represented by Title [1] and Status +2 [10]. Furthermore, Senators are only answerable to the Senate and the polity that elected them, and thus have the equivalent to Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [20], but as this only applies within the Alliance, it costs 4 points.
To avoid dealing with political minutia, the Senate appoints committees with the authority to decide minor issues. For example, rather than authorize every act of a war, a war committee might be empowered to make those decisions for the Senate. Characters appointed to a committee gain Political Rank 5-6, with the heads of those committees (the “Committee Chairman”) having one rank higher (6-7). The rank of those involved is determined by the importance of the committee (Major committees with sweeping powers have a chairman with rank 7, while minor committees with a narrow or geographically isolated focus have a chairman with rank 6). Each Chamber has a Speaker, who governs the procedure of his Chamber (which means he decides who may speak, calls for votes, and begins or ends sessions); Speakers have Political Rank 8. The Chancellor, elected to control the whole of the Senate, has Political Rank 9, and is the closest thing the Senate has to an executive leader.
For bureaucrats or senatorial staff, use Administrative ranks; see the Imperial Ministry for suggestions.
Law Enforcement Ranks
The Senate does not engage in direct law enforcement. Instead, the Senate has the ability to appoint inspectors to member worlds, where they investigate the planetary government to ensure that the government is fulfilling all the obligations of its Alliance membership, including paying proper taxes, having appropriate levels of defense (neither more nor less than expected), and protecting the rights guaranteed to the citizens of the Alliance. Inspectors only have the right to arrest if the Senate itself grants an interstellar warrant to bring a particular person before the Senate to answer for his crimes.
Inspectors may also be appointed to investigate other Senators, but this also requires political action, and they can only bring that evidence before the Senate, and only have the authority to arrest a Senator to bring him before the Senator to answer for his crimes. As always, the Senate decides on the punishment (which typically ends at impeachment, whereupon he is returned to his world as a free citizen, and barred from further service as a senator, though in particularly egregious cases, the Senate may vote for more explicit punishments).
Note that while they have the authority to make arrests, a typical inspector is not a combat character. If faced with an armed opponent, they have the legal right to demand assistance from local law enforcement or, in the case of serious opposition, the local military. Typically, though, if the Senate expects trouble, it either appoints a highly competent or powerful noble as an inspector, or requests that a noble lend his military to assist the inspector while he makes his arrest. This last, though, typically requires careful negotiation and considerations, though generally most worlds will go along with the aristocracy temporarily landing military forces on a world to remove a dangerous criminal. However, if that criminal is the leadership of the alliance member itself, the Senate finds it easier to just expect the corrupt or traitorous member.
While, in principle, the Senate may ordain anyone to be an inspector (and it often appoints particularly powerful nobles to do just that), the Senate finds it useful to maintain a bureau of inspectors for particular regions of the Alliance. The head of each bureau is an Inspector General, who answer directly to the Senate. These are assisted by a body of Secretaries, who handle specific bureaucratic departments within their Bureau. Large investigations might be run by a Chief Inspector, who might be assisted by Staff Inspectors if a particular investigation needs a host of inspectors.
8: Inspector General
7: Secretary of (Department)
6: Chief Inspector
5: Staff Inspector
4: Inspector
Diplomacy Ranks
The Senate, and the Senate alone, has the right to engage in foreign affairs with parties outside of the Alliance (diplomacy can and does exist within the Alliance, but this is usually handled by Senators, who can be seen as “diplomats to the Senate,” or by privately controlled diplomats; such diplomats have legal immunity with 1/5th cost, as only entities within the Alliance recognize their immunity). As with inspectors, above, the Senate may appoint anyone they wish to the role of Diplomat, though they generally prefer to appoint one of their own. To assist with their foreign diplomacy, the Senate has bureaus of existing diplomats and attaches who retain familiarity with the territory and can work to assist the appointed diplomat in whatever task they wish. Generally, to retain continuity, the Senate retains a diplomat until retirement, resignation or death, whereupon they appoint a new one closely associated with the old one (such as a member of the same house, corporation or planet), usually the Senator selected to replace the previous Senator!
Such diplomats have full Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [20], as their status as diplomat is recognized across the Galaxy (though only grudgingly by the Empire)
6: Ambassador
5: Special Envoy
4: Envoy
3: Secretary
0-2: Attache or Assistant

Favors of the Senate

The Senate can generally only grant favors if they can vote for them. This depends on the current mood of the Senate and the populace of the Alliance. As a result, consider rolling an additional Reaction Roll for any request, with bonuses and penalties based on how the people might view such a request, which reflects how likely the Senate is to support such an action, a Bad or worse reaction delays or kills the request.
Senators do not generally have Political Rank, so any Senator may use the better of his Political Rank or Status when Pulling Rank in the Senate. This reflects the ability of a senator to push through a particular request, whether by procedure or raw influence.
Diplomats and Inspectors may also Pull Rank, but they tend to have access to a far more limited set of Favors, noted below.
Authorization (Pulling Rank page 13): The Senate may appoint inspectors to investigate worlds, granting anyone temporary Legal Enforcement Powers; they may also authorize investigations of crimes committed by member bodies or by other senators. The Senate may appoint diplomats to attend to foreign affairs in other worlds, granting anyone temporary legal immunity. The Senate may authorize the inclusion of a new member body (a world, a corporation or a noble house), or for the expulsion of the same. The Senate may authorize acts of war. The Senate may pass laws governing interstellar trade, taxation and other governmental minutia. These tend to be larger than most PCs need, and should take additional time unless they represent smaller elements, such as authorization for a quick strike, an investigation, or the revocation of some immunity.
Inspectors can apply for expedited authorization to investigate someone; diplomats can apply for expedited authorization for negotiation needs. Anyone can apply for gain free admission into the Alliance.
Warrant (Pulling Rank 14): If given sufficient evidence, the Senate may issue a warrant for the arrest of an interstellar criminal. The Senate typically only concerns itself with leaders of member worlds, heads of corporations, or major aristocrats. Such a warrant is only issued to duly appointed Inspectors, and only grants the legal ability to detain the arrestee for the purposes of bringing them before the Senate to answer for their crimes.
Consultation (Pulling Rank page 15): Senators do not “consult” with adventurers, but they have staff members who do, and their inspectors and diplomats can.
Staff Members can provide Administration, Accounting and Politics.
Inspectors can provide Administration, Accounting, Criminology, Forensics, Law (Alliance Criminal) and Politics.
Diplomats can provide Administration, Current Events (Local to their mission), Diplomacy, Law (International) and Politics.
Files (Pulling Rank page 15): Most senatorial proceedings and voting results are publically available, but the records of the Chamber of Lords are sealed except to the Houses, and both Chambers can have secret sessions and secret votes.
Inspectors also keep case files for ongoing or past investigations, and diplomats keep extensive records on current events in their negotiations and on the polity they have been sent to. All can be made available via Pulling Rank.
Cash and Funding (Pulling Rank page 16): Inspectors and Diplomats may ask their specific departments for cash. Senators may not ask for cash, but may ask for large-scale funding for major projects, up to and including war.
The Cavalry and Fire Support (Pulling Rank page 18): The Senate does have forces it an deploy on its own, its Knight Protectors, but being excessively aggressive with their forces could create a constitutional crisis. If a Senator needs direct assistance, the Senate can certainly send in the Knight Protectors, but if an ally of a Senator needs help, the Senate can issue a call of war, or even just ask some allies to send assistance. Either way, help could be on the way, though it will likely take time to get into place and, as usual, requires a reaction roll based on current political opinions!
Senatorial Character Considerations
Requirements: Characters serving in the Senate or as a governor must have a minimum of Wealth (Wealthy) [20], Title (Senator) [1] with Status +2 [10], unless they already have a title of equal or greater ascribed Status, and Legal Immunity (Alliance Senator) [4]. Unlike their imperial counterparts, they may purchase Political Rank.
Characters serving as Inspectors must take at least Legal Enforcement Rank 4 [20], Duty (9 or less) [-5], and Legal Enforcement Powers (Alliance Inspector) [5]which grants specific jurisdiction (determined by the Senate, though this can be changed later), the right to conduct searches with a warrant, the right to arrest (if issued a warrant), and the right to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense.
Characters serving as diplomats must take at least Diplomatic Rank 4 [20], Duty (9 or less) [-5] and Legal Immunity (Diplomatic) [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 15 points as a base. A Senator as an Enemy is worth -20 points, and is typically only a Rival and thus worth half points. An Inspector or Diplomat is a Patron worth 10 points as a base, and -10 points as an enemy.

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