Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Space empire - how it works?


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
9 replies to this topic

#1 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3663

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:36 AM

I would like to discuss how exactly a space empire works (internally). Just to get hang of it, to better understand it (it does not need to be directly usable in game design). Why emperor is the emperor? Why they don't try to overthrow him? What happens if the emperor dies (or he can't die)? Why it can't revert to democracy? What are the imperial institutions? What is the social structure? Who rule the planets? How law is enforced? Who makes law?

 

It can any kind of empire you like (since there are different definitions I guess), as long as:

- the emperor has real power (not necessarily absolute power, but a lot of power)

- it's not a federation of planets

- it's not a democracy

 

Preferably if this was an old, big, bureaucratic empire in decline, but if you can explain how a different kind of empire works I would be delighted to read about it too.

 


Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


Sponsor:

#2 Navezof   Members   -  Reputation: 1266

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 11 September 2013 - 02:03 AM

Well, I don't know if this question is at the right place, but anyway there is some advices :)

You want to know how an empire would work in space, right?

First look at past empire, before going into the future. Make some research about real empire (History has quit a lot : Rome, China, France, England, etc...) Try to find the answers for the question you asked but for a smaller scale. And then transpose in space. (For exemple, a province on earth would be a planet in space)

And for the fun some answers :

Why emperor is the emperor? Because he is the chosen one, he/she is the smartest person of the world, his father was the previous emperor, he made a coup d'état
Why they don't try to overthrow him? Why would they overthrow him? An emperor is not always bad except for the other countries.
What happens if the emperor dies (or he can't die)? His son/daughter take his place. Being the chosen one, is whole empire crumble into dust.
Why it can't revert to democracy? Same as above, why would they do that? Is democracy the bestest solution?
What are the imperial institutions? The same existing nowadays I presume. Plus the one responsible for the propagenda.
What is the social structure? There is so many possibilities here. It can be a society divided by class (warrior, religious, worker) or with the classical rich versus poor. 
Who rule the planets? If there is an emperor, I would say that governor are ruling the planets and report to the emperor.
How law is enforced? Police, robots, psyonic enforcer, by people themselves.
Who makes law? The emperor and his advisor, a magical oracle that only the emperor can see/hear

Bonus : You can also have some sort of psyonic entity as en emperor. And you can start with this to answer all the previous question.

And there it is, I hope I answers a bit to your interogations.



#3 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3663

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 11 September 2013 - 06:24 AM

First of all, I primarily want to talk about the subject, not necessarily just to find the answers. You could for example write about a hypothetical empire (how you would model it to work) or what kind of empire you would like to run as a player, things like that. The questions were just to start the discussion.

 

look at past empire

I have trouble locating any real emperors in our history which were stable (long run). On Earth in the middle ages there was everywhere a feudal system (not an absolute monarchy) and basicly the moment it turned into absolute monarchy all these persihed (French revolution, and all that follows), note that only monarchies that did not turn into an absolute monarchies survived (like in England). It simply seems that the most tasty (from the storytelling point of view) imperial goverment systems simply do not work too well in a long run... Not that we need to make it that realistic, but still.

 

The only situation when an absolute (or nearly absolute) rule woudl work i can think of is war or tother big danger. The "dictator" was a title invented by Romans in the time of deadly barbarian threat to their empire. It seems that only a big danger makes people willing to bestow huge power into the hands of one individual.

 

Why would they overthrow him? An emperor is not always bad except for the other countries.

Exactly, oppressive regime can only go so far. In the end there must be some benefit to majority of the population (or at least to the majority of the most rich/influential people). The question is, what is so benefitial in a strong imperial system?

 

Why it can't revert to democracy? Same as above, why would they do that? Is democracy the bestest solution?

Well, here I have a problem. So far it has been proven that democratic system is the best :D In Poland not that long ago we overthrow communist system and installed capitalistic democracy, the comparison in overall wealth and well being of everyone (even the poor workers abused by big corporations who think only about profits) is soo huge in favour of democracy that there is nothing to compare.

Note that it is about our current times (and technological level and transport capabilities), in medieval times a feudal system seems much more efficient.

Same for slavery, it persihed the moment it became unfeasible (machines required educated workers and steam engines that made physical strength during production process unimportant).

 

The thing is, we need to invent some circumstances when an imperial system is the best solution.

 

What are the imperial institutions? The same existing nowadays I presume. Plus the one responsible for the propagenda.

Well, I'm not sure it sould very appealing :) Probably realistic but not appelaing :) At least these should be somehow named differently.

 

Bonus : You can also have some sort of psyonic entity as en emperor. And you can start with this to answer all the previous question.

LOL, a dirty cheat. Yet it solves all possible problems indeed :)


Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


#4 Dodopod   Members   -  Reputation: 601

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 11 September 2013 - 03:54 PM

If you're looking for a situation where absolute monarchy is (arguably) a better government than democracy, I can think of two possibilities:

  • Everyone must agree: There is some immediate threat, (war, plague, supernova) which the citizens are willing to give up their liberty to stop. That is, like the dictators of Rome. Of course, Julius Caesar was the only one not to give up power afterwards (and he was assassinated in short order), so if you don't want your empire to go away in a few years, the threat has to be constant (or at least, everyone has to think it is).
  • Benevolent dictator: The emperor knows what the people want and is willing to give it to them. Why would this happen? Maybe they're more compassionate than most emperors. Maybe they want to be remembered fondly by future generations. Maybe the reason why so many absolute monarchies crumble is because the rulers just have no idea what they're doing. Maybe they're an AI, robot, or cyborg who was specifically built to rule. Whatever the case, the ruler isn't simply a power-hungry tyrant, and isn't an incompetent, obsessed with having larger monuments than everyone else.

If you aren't looking for an empire that's better to live in than a democracy, but you still need it to be stable, you could simply make the emperor more powerful than their subjects. They could be a super-powerful alien or have an intensely loyal (or mind-controlled) army. Perhaps the emperor lives in another dimension where they can hurt you but you can't hurt them or they are a hive mind made up of all the ships of the starfleet. For example, cyberpunk fiction tends to depict a future where the powers that be have technology so much more advanced than the common person that there's no hope of overthrowing them. Cosmic horror, on the other hand, has aliens so old and powerful that human weapons are lucky if they even cause flesh wounds, and their followers see them more as gods than kings.

 

Of course, if your space empire isn't populated by humans, you could come up with all sorts of psychological reasons why they would choose to form an absolute monarchy.



#5 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3663

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:53 PM


Whatever the case, the ruler isn't simply a power-hungry tyrant, and isn't an incompetent, obsessed with
Hmmm, that's an important point. It especially fits well with player's megalomania (the people who play these games do believe they would be an excellent emperor in a real empire, at least that's my strong impression :D), so playing the card of "emperor is smarter than others" would be very convincing (as long as the player is the emperor :D).

 

Of course, if your space empire isn't populated by humans, you could come up with all sorts of psychological reasons why they would choose to form an absolute monarchy.

Yes... Another nice trick. Or maybe we could make it work for humans as well somehow?

 

If you aren't looking for an empire that's better to live in than a democracy, but you still need it to be stable, you could simply make the emperor more powerful than their subjects. They could be a super-powerful alien or have an intensely loyal (or mind-controlled) army.

I would like to avoid the emperor (player) being an alien or a monster from another dimension. He should be the sime species as the subjects.

But the overall notion of the emperor being personally more powerfull than the subject is very interesting. Or at least to have some access to powers to are available to the empire as long as he is in commnad (on Earth we had it in Aztec empire, where the king was using his own blood in rituals that were to bring the prosperity to the land, it was an extremelly stable and absolute monarchy - I guess, subjects are not that willing to rebel, even if the government is cruel, if the top guy is to bleed regularly for the good of the kingdom :) )


Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


#6 herbertsworld   Members   -  Reputation: 276

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 24 September 2013 - 05:43 AM

I've been reading a book about this recently and I'm recommending it to everyone right now. It's called The War of the World, no not the H.G Wells one, but it does reference him a lot. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-War-World-Twentieth-Century-Conflict/dp/0143112392

 

The book takes a detailed look at religion, race and economics and links them all together to describe how each one can be used to create conflict if they're manipulated correctly.

 

I would imagine that this is how an empire is established and how they stay on top. They own the economy and manipulate it so they are always the winner. They establish racial boundaries and force their views and religion onto everyone. If they resist then death is the ultimate penalty. 

 

Who's to say the Emperor has to be the same person or even a single person? What if it was a group of people who ruled the empire and they spoke through the emperor who they control? 



#7 Dodopod   Members   -  Reputation: 601

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 24 September 2013 - 10:04 AM


They own the economy and manipulate it so they are always the winner. They establish racial boundaries and force their views and religion onto everyone.

Depending on how you interpret the first sentence, isn't this the essence of fascism?

 

Through some variation of romantic nationalism, every race is declared entitled to their respective home-system. The remaining stars are dealt out "fairly" by the Human Master Race (or maybe they're space-elves or whatever).

 

In sci-fi that takes place on an interstellar scale, the concepts of a home-system and homeworld are near-universal, so there probably won't be any claims to territories that aren't in the immediate vicinity of a star. However, depending on how FTL works, space-lanes or stargates might be claimed by someone. Perhaps by the Human Master Race, in order to consolidate imperial infrastructure, or by the races that have traditionally used them. In the latter case, expect the ruling party to call eminent domain.

 

On the other hand, there are occasionally two races that claim the same system as their home. If humans are one of them, the other is often from Mars, and is usually the first alien species they contact. If not, the two races are likely from the same planet, and have a symbiotic relationship (keep in mind there are 3 forms of symbiosis). It is also common for there to be at least one artificial race, whether robot, clone, or uplifted animal. (Though this probably goes without saying, their creators almost always consider them as property.) Regardless, the two races either fiercely hate each other or rabidly protect each other. Both of these are easily manipulated.

 

 

 


Who's to say the Emperor has to be the same person or even a single person? What if it was a group of people who ruled the empire and they spoke through the emperor who they control?

Like how in Equilibrium, Father has been dead for years, but his successors pretend to be him (for reasons that aren't clear to me). Or 1984, where the Inner Party speaks through Big Brother, in order to seem like they have a more coherent voice than they really do. Or in That Hideous Strength where NICE pretends to be run by a disembodied head, because no one would be stupid enough to join them if they knew they were really a Satanic cult. Or The Wizard of Oz where Oz pretends to be a giant flaming head so people will take him seriously. I should stop here, or this list isn't going to end anytime soon.

 

Also, I believe this link is relevant (keep in mind, the comments tend to be the most important part of this blog): High Kings and Galactic Emperors.


Edited by Dodopod, 24 September 2013 - 10:27 AM.


#8 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3663

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 25 September 2013 - 03:18 AM


Who's to say the Emperor has to be the same person or even a single person? What if it was a group of people who ruled the empire and they spoke through the emperor who they control?
Good for a book, but not for a game. The player is the emperor, so it has to be a single person. And, due to nature of games, the emperor(player) needs to be very powerful (making all/most decisions, because that's where the fun comes from).

 

As for race I was wondering if such empire should be single race or multi race... In basicly all 4X games it's a single race (and it's fit for that kind of game), but if we are to portrait a mature and big, old empire multi race might be more interesting...


Europe1300.eu - Historical Realistic Medieval Sim (RELEASED!)


#9 Dodopod   Members   -  Reputation: 601

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:26 AM

In basicly all 4X games it's a single race

 

Though, the reason these games (I'm mostly thinking Master of Orion, here) equate race and empire is because there are other empires in the game, and race (i.e. appearance and abilities) is an easy way of distinguishing them.

 

I'll invoke the Rule of Personification Conservation to describe this. (That's a link to TV Tropes, by the way, so don't click on it if you're not free for the rest of the day.) The rule suggests that if a character isn't human, there should be a good reason for it. There are still a couple of non-reasons that work -- you could add in a few token aliens, just to make your galaxy seem bigger and less human-centric, or you could purposely reject this trope, and add alien races willy-nilly.

 

But supposing that you want to follow the rule, here are a few options that spring to mind:

  • One species per empire - each faction of the game is composed of one race. Normally, each faction will gain certain perks based on their race's biology and culture. This also tends to make certain races natural allies, and others natural enemies. Personally, I despise this trope, but it is the most common way of doing things.
  • Certain factions are multi-racial - Some factions are composed of multiple races, possibly to demonstrate their tolerance for other species and points of view. If not, it's probably because the faction works by one of the paradigms I list below.

I get the impression that the player of your game isn't supposed to be ruling one empire among several (a la Master of Orion, Civilization, Alpha Centauri, etc.), but is trying to manage a single, monolithic empire, whose only enemies lie within its borders. In that case, the rule applies a bit differently; here are some examples:

 

  • Xenofiction - you remove humans from the game, wholesale, or just push them off to the side because you want to make a point of the fact that your characters don't act like humans. If you don't think that humans would form a galaxy-spanning absolute monarchy like you want, you could just make them aliens, and claim that that's the way their brains are wired up (as I said in my earlier post).
  • One species per province - different regions of the galaxy are populated by different species. In this case, the player will associate each race with its particular needs. So for example, if the space-elves and space-dwarfs hate each other, the player will have to get them to cooperate, and make sure that neither one feels that the other is getting a better deal.
  • One species per function - different species are traditionally given different types of work, based on what (popular belief thinks) they are best suited to. Parallels can be drawn to traditional gender roles or to a caste system. If you need to highlight a character's rebellious nature, you could show them doing a job that isn't traditional for their species.
  • Master and slave races - certain species -- especially robots -- get the short end of the stick, and are (almost) always seen in servitude or doing menial labor. Naturally, the master race will believe that this arrangement is actually "one species per function", and that the slave race is more suited to slavery, while the master race is suited towards leadership. The key difference between this one and the last one is that the master race is clearly better off. If you have a race of priests, a race of politicians, a race of warriors, and a race of artists, which one has the higher status? But if you have one race that runs things and another that does them, it's a bit more obvious.


#10 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3617

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 01 October 2013 - 03:00 PM

 


Who's to say the Emperor has to be the same person or even a single person? What if it was a group of people who ruled the empire and they spoke through the emperor who they control?
Good for a book, but not for a game. The player is the emperor, so it has to be a single person. And, due to nature of games, the emperor(player) needs to be very powerful (making all/most decisions, because that's where the fun comes from).

 

As for race I was wondering if such empire should be single race or multi race... In basicly all 4X games it's a single race (and it's fit for that kind of game), but if we are to portrait a mature and big, old empire multi race might be more interesting...

 

 

Well, you could always say the player is actually some awakened ancient, immortal AI that's pulling the strings and the Emperor is just a puppet. 


-Mark the Artist

Digital Art and Technical Design
Developer Journal





Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS