Imperium Reginae, Part Two-Races of the Empire
The Austro-Russian Empire spans four planets, each brimming with life. Its subjects range from plain old, boring humanity to the Elves and Drow of Selene to even the alien Rakasha of Agathodaimon.
But what is the role and function of each of intelligent race of the Empire? How do they fit in the greater scheme of things? What is their position and function? In the interest of avoiding going into too much detail, I will instead provide a rough guide to the class and caste distinction of Imperial Society.
While the Austro-Russian empire is a strictly-set matriarchal monarchy with a considerable number of nobles, military and religious leaders at the head, the rest of the huddled masses are divided into certain categories (heretofore referred to as ‘castes’) according to their position and place of birth within the Empire. On a side note, these distinctions only apply to members of races that are either subjects of the Empire or natural-born citizens, currently living within its borders. Distinctions that take place in planets outside Imperial sovereignity will not be listed.
Castes are defined as follows:
Citizen: Citizens (while removed in many ways from actual nobility) are the highest caste any subject of the Empire may aspire to or be born in. Citiznes of the Empire are protected (and subject to) the full extent of the law. They are allowed to vote, own property on Terra, as well as apply for administrative positions in the Colonies. They are, furthermore, to enlist in the Imperial Army for a full tour (lasting 24 months) and may rise to the ranks of an officer, should they prove their distinction on the battlefield.
A Citizen of the Empire is also allowed access to academic education and candidacy in positions of power (and even, in certain cases, the opportunity to buy a title of royalty). While the majority of Imperial citizens is aware of the existence and accessibility to such privileges, a select few of them have ever managed to attain the titles of dukes or even higher positions of power within the Imperial army. This is, after all, an Empire.
Artisan: Artisans comprise the brunt of the Imperial workforce. The Artisan caste consists mostly of laborers, hired soldiers and sailors, with artificers and smiths at the top of the rung.
While Artisans cannot vote or apply for administrative positions, they are allowed to own property, in the form of Servitors (outlined below). These servitors are subjects to the Artisans and serve to alleviate the brunt of their troubles. Artisans also enlist in the Imperial Army, but cannot attain any rank higher than that of sergeant.
Despite their position however, higher-rank artisans are unofficially considered Citizens of the Empire and have, in many cases, attained administrative power in the Colonies with the blessings of their administrators. Artisans also maintain guilds, which allow them to retain their control over craft secrets, cementing their power in Imperial society.
Plebeans: Plebeians is a term that serves to encompass those subjects of the Empire that have not achieved citizenship and are excluded from artisanship. They exist at the edges of society and are the miners, merchants and traders of goods, their existence considered ‘parasitic’ by everyone else.
Plebeans till the fields, refine Amber and staff the nucleonic power plants that power the Empire or act as crews to the Voidships. Most plebeians choose enlisting professionally in the army or migrate to the Colonies of their own will, in order to eke out an existence as pioneers in the uncharted areas under Imperial control, instead of living in squalor within Terra.
Most natives of planets under Imperial control are automatically considered plebeians.
Servitors: Servitors are the slave workforce of the Empire, existing in a wrung below that of the lowest plebeian. While extensive laws have been put into place to ensure their protection, they are mostly laws that fall under the category which protects property.
Any member of any caste can be reduced to the rank of Servitor, by virtue of a capital offense or extensive debt. This demotion has become so popular in fact that it has replaced the death penalty, as the Empire finds itself in dire need of more and more workhorses for it to use in its attempts to extend its influence and mine for more planetary resources.
While laws do outline the process in which a Servitor might rise from his current predicament into the rank of a plebeian or even a citizen (by exemplary action or contributions to nobility, for example), they are hardly ever enforced.
The Intelligent Species of the Empire:
Humanity comprises the bulk of the Imperial population in the throne world of Terra. Their numbers include the Austro-Russian nobility, the majority of its Artisans, but a very small portion of its overall Plebeian and Servitor population.
Currently the highest-developed species, humanity enjoys its place at the top of the technological ladder, considering its superiority a given. With history being written by the victors, mankind has began the long and arduous process of re-writing and adjusting any historical finds to ensure their superiority.
But mankind, despite its current power, remains the youngest (and in some cases) the feeblest) of Imperial species. Despite their adaptability, their frames and minds cannot handle the extreme environments of other planets and have come to rely more and more on other intelligent species. Should mankind perhaps acknowledge their weaknesses and choose to adapt, they might yet survive the (certain) revolution that is to come.
But for now they reign and enjoy their (in their eyes) Gods-given positions of power.
Asimar exist at the highest positions of Imperial society, their birth and lives considered miraculous and their intelligence unparalleled.
While such praise is often undeserved of them, Asimars still enjoy the privileges of being born as beings currently seeked out by the Outsider cults that have sprung among nobility. They are adopted by eager Lords and Ladies and are provided with educations and positions in the clergy where they can be found, or simply handed prestigious positions as Imperial artificers, by virtue of their nature.
But that is only if they are found by nobility. Outside royal circles, an Asimar is a constant reminder
of the plight of the average subject of the Empire, a constant thorn in their side that one of those white-haired creatures might simply be handed a life of luxury, where they have to suffer and work and die. An Asimar born to plebeians or in the Colonies is usually and creature that is ostracized or harassed but rarely killed.
Because of their unnatural aptitude for divinging the purpose of Outsider artifacts or modifying them into new, functional (if inferior) mechanisms, Asimars are considered a viable commodity, no matter how despised.
Atlans consider themselves the eldest intelligent race of Terra, viewing mankind as Usurpers, creatures who have attained supremacy by ignoble means.
Creautres of the depths of the ocean, Atlans evolved alongside with humanity and soon came in contact (and later clashed) in the first decades of the Age of Amber. After being driven from their coastal holdings, they were hunted down to the greatest ocean depths or enslaved en masse.
Atlans harbor a deep hatred for land humanity, but know that their time to strike back and re-claim what is rightfully theirs is yet come. Practicing their ancient arcane magics, their wise men plot the destruction of humanity and plot to pave the way for Terra to be restored in its original, marine configuration, as it was in the millennia before history.
The once rightful lords of Fulcanelli, the Drack are a race of warriors, killers, conquerors. Such was their might and power, that even the Imperial Colonial army in all its might, could not stand a chance against the scaled warriors and their stone swords.
Until the Empire decided to ally itself with the Grippli, that is. The Drack, suddenly having to fight a war in two fronts (one against a technologically superior invader and the other against their own, armed, slaves) were finally forced to bend the knee to Empress Anastasia.
Currently maintaining positions as colonial officers, the Drack seek to find a way to unlocki the secrets of nucleonic power and restore themselves to their former glory. But even among their number, their leaders are swayed by the riches of the Empire, who abotage the rebellion for their own sake.
The dominant species of Artephius, Dromites are insectoid creatures with considerable psionic capabilities, who operate through a use of a hive-intelligence, capable of immediate information exchange.
The Dromites have magaed to successfully repel and and all attempts of the Imperial Armies to invade, mobilizing with impossible efficiency and destroying any and all strongholds within a decade, at the most.
Dromites that exist in Terra are usually larvae that have been taken from Hive-Cities and brought into Imperial space, to be raised as Servitors. However, Dromites that have been raised off Artephius do not seem to display such considerable psionic capability or access to the species’ hivemind. They develop distanct personalities, but each maintains some subconscious grasp of the workings of Dromite society. Their numbers remain considerably small, as no larva taken from Artephius has mutated into a Queen, thus making Dromite reproduction impossible.
While Dromites are mostly servitors, their aptitude with machinery has allowed a number of them to rise in the ranks of Artisans and even achieve some degree of influence in the Colonies.
Elves and Drow:
While the natives of Selene claim that their original name is Sid’He, the monicker of ‘Elf’ is one that has been deeply rooted in the mind of Imperial xenologists and popular imagination.
Elves, natives to the birght side of Terra’s satellite, claim their history to have begun in Terra, with their species as the original dominant intelligent lifeform. Their history (which they claim to be a long work of oral tradition, with very few written accounts) is said to have begun as refugees from a distant Solar System, where they had been driven after a cataclysm has led them to their current place of residence.
Certain finds of Imperial Xenologists on Selene could verify that indeed, Elven population might at one point have possessed the technological superiority they claimed, but much of their technical prowess has been lost through the ages. Extremely isolationist, most Elves deign to live in Terra as representatives of the nation of Selene or are simply abducted as hostages. The Empire has made no attempt to openly invade Selene however, as they wish to further catalogue and translate the Elven texts, in the hope of perhaps achieving some mastery over Outsider technology.
Drow, on the other hand,
Who lived on the dark side of Selene, are not only far more compliant to work with Imperial authorities, they have in fact chosen to subjugate themselves in their service and attain positions of considerable power as Colonial administrators or heads of the Imperial secret service.
Locked for millennia (according to their reckoning) with the Elven populations, the Drow see the Empire as a perfect host for their numbers and a perfect tool for their ambition, seeking to root themselves deeply in their workings before their bloody retaliation against their ancient enemies and mankind itself.
One of the oldest intelligent species on Terra, the Dwarves dwelt in secret cities beneath the surface for millennia, hidden from humanity. While the Outsider war does exist as a footnote in their annals of history, their own society was little affected by the disaster.
Their culture, largely unchanged in a thousand years, faced a direct and much-needed shock when the armies of the Empire came calling and crushed their defenses. But the Dwarves, adapting quickly to the new technologies introduced, instead chose to work for the Empire, using their advancements in their favor.
Comprising the makority of the higher-tier Artisan caste, the Dwarves have become a valuable asset to the Empire, with considerable political power in their hands.
Gnomes (and their Pygmy cousins) are a remarkably adaptable race, that has grown accustomed to adapting to its each would-be conqueror: after suffering the Dwarven Empires in the Age of Myth, the Gnomes achieved independence by migrating to the surface in the aftermath of the Outsider Conflict. Then, after finding themselves subjugated by the Orcs, they slowly managed to integrate their military practices in their society.
Now, mankind is to the Gnomes just another market. While most Gnomes belong to the Plebeian caste, they do not seem to take offense in that distinction, choosing instead to revel in it: using their obscurity and the segregation imposed upon them, Gnomes roam the spaceways and the Colonies as traders, innovators and handymen, performing odd jobs and infiltrating pretty much every aspect of Imperial Society.
Their plan is not to destroy the Empire, however: it offers them protection and stability that they know they could not go without: instead, they work from its fringes, turning the wheels to their favor.
Native beings to Magnus, Goliaths who live within planets under Imperial control are usually Servitors, who have been bought covertly from POW camps.
Raised in the crushing gravity of Magnus, the Goliath are formidable creatures that live in (what appear to be) tribal societies that are run by a system of warrior-priests. Despite their significant technological inferiority in comparison to the Empire, the crushing Gravity and their remarkable adaptability and ferocity makes a Goliath Servitor a prize catch, either as a gladiator or as a personal bodyguard.
Goliath religion is animistic and they cannot quite grasp the strict polytheistic tenets of Imperial doctrine. They do, however, pay considerable homage to the gods of war and chance, whom they consider to be the closest approximates to the faith of their fathers and become fierce adherents.
After millennia of enslavement under the Drack overlords of Fulcanelli, where they lived as menial laborers, jesters and playthings, subject to their overlords’ every whim, the Grippli jumped at the chance to ally with the Imperial forces, as soon as mankind filled their hand with firearms and ray-jectors.
After an exceedingly bloody rebellion, the Grippli became fiercely loyal to mankind and have since helped them maintain their control on the Red Planet without question. Gripped by an inferiority complex of titanic proportions, the Grippli see themselves as the One True Race of Fulcanelli and seek to impose on the planet a structure much like that of the Empire, with mixed results.
The Grippli are among the few races who can attain the status of citizen, both within and without, Terra.
After concluding their global conquest, the Orc Hordes slowly ceased their acts of bloodshed and were slowly incorporated into the various nations which they, themselves had conquered. By the year 1300, the full-blooded Orc population numbered in the thousands. By the advent of the Austro-Russian Empire, barely a few hundred remained.
Half-Orcs are considered an oddity in Terra. Their bloodline, heavily mixed with that of mankind, places them in a position in the social spectrum where they are neither inhuman, nor fully human. While some attain citizenship, most of them live their lives as members of the Artisan caste or man most voidships to the Colonies. Others live their lives as merchants, while still others choose to revert to the nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors and make a living in the tundras of Siberia, their ancestral home.
Members of the impossibly ancient civilizations of Agathodaimon, the Rakasha are a race of shapeshifters who are unabashedly hostile to mankind. Locked for millions of years (according to their claims) with the Slith over domination of the planet, the Rakasha have also been considered related to the Outsiders and their clash on Terra.
A shapeshifting race, the Rakasha are either captured or brought to Terra as members of a diplomatic mission. While tales abound of their usefulness as slaves or savants in a number of occult subjects, they are to be approached with caution.
Ancient, secretive and possessed of singular psionic power, the Slith are the aloof half of the ancient population of Agathodaimon. Their history (what little they choose to divulge) claims that once their species had access to methods of travel through the void without the use of voiships and the discovery of this Solar System and this insemination with life as a means to cultivate servants to serve their whims.
While such tall tales are highly disputed, the Slith choose not to divulge any further information, even under pain of death. To the Slith, the Empire is just an oddity that will fade away, in time.
Slith within the lands of the Empire usually take the role of cataloguers and historians, or even xenologists and choose to immerse themselves sin the society, so they can study it more comprehensively.
Natives to the Agathodaimon moon of Titan, the Tengu were trained and armed by the Empire in the hopes of acting as guerilla operatives in their war against the Slith and Rakasha.
The Tengu however, after facing constant defeat, turned on the Empire, then soon (finding themselves heavily armed and rudderless) turned against each other. Finding themselves in dire need of support, they enlisted the help of the Empire once again and soon enough found a home that perfectly suited their nature as mercenary members of the Artisan caste.
The Tengu revel in war and see the Empire as the perfect tool to further their passions. Despite the brittleness of their frame (or perhaps because of it) they make excellent snipers and saboteurs, fighting covertly for mankind in their constant battle against the natives of Magnus as well in aiding them with political assassination.
Where the birth and discovery of an Asimar is considered a boon (or a curse, depending on your point of view), the birth of a Tiefling is considered an ill omen.
With most of them born with what appear as sever deformities, tieflings usually find work in the plebeian caste, as circus freaks, or are sold as Servitors. A few of them, however, perhaps driven by some unconscious lust for power or innate malice, instead aim higher and use their innate abilities to rise through the ranks and infiltrate their closest social circles, manipulating people in positions of power.
Tieflings make for excellent slavers and have proven, time and again, to be perfectly suited to the roles of spies or as advisors to Colonial administrators. Most of them, however, have turned out to be exceedingly harmful traitors, allying themselves with Dromite or Goliath revolutionaries against the Empire.
Warmechs are remnants of the Age of Myth, their nature and creation process lost to time. Currently seen as little more than property with an opinion, the Warmech act as bodyguards and Servitors to the nobility of Terra.
While few of them are found (or restored) among the general populace, royalty would pay a hefty sum for one of them, to use as workers or scouts in the uninhabitable or exceedingly dangerous regions of the Colonies, as scouts.
Only a small percentage of the Warmech population can claim to have any coherent memory of the Age Of Myth or its workings. However, their natural affinity with Outsider artifacts makes them absolutely invaluable as a commodity.
With the major intelligent species of the Empire resolved, I guess it’s time to start looking more closely into the worlds of the Empire and their workings!
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