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The New Realm
East of the Scarlet Imperium lie the River Worlds; a network of Manses whose waters flow through the Wyld, defining geomantic routes and passages. Once fiercely independant, the River Worlds are now under the dominion of the New Realm; an organization of close to two hundred thousand worlds and over a billion and a half mortals, united under the benevolant dictatorship of Emperor Markian Sunflame, who has ruled his New Realm in the name of the Solar Exalted for five hundred years, and looks set to rule it for two thousand more.
The New Realm, however, hides dark shadows under an idyllic surface. Rumours surface of citizens vanishing into the night, of border worlds eradicated, and of a king who no longer pays attention to the needs of a nation that depends on the natural talents of the Solar Exalted for its very survival. While the currently instability in the Imperium opens it to vunerability, the New Realm tightens its grip, and dark deeds are committed in the name of safety and unity.
The New Realm is a hierarchy of merit by potential, in which everything is controlled from a central authority. The Realm has no real autonomy; all businesses and productions are controlled by the government, with salaries and costs regulated and everyone guaranteed a job of some sort. Thanks to Solar planned economics, the system even functions, with no official seperations due to family or historical reasons.
All citizens of the New Realm are required to attend mandatory education from the age of 4 to the age of 16; this education is funded entirely by the state, and has been standardized across every world that owes allegiance to the Realm. For the first six years, this education is identical for every student; starting at age 12, students gradually gain more choice in what they would like to study. When they turn 16, they take special aptitude tests that are meant to cover every aspect of their training and aptitudes; agents of the Division of Employment then study these tests and assign each student a job where they will be most effective. Top students receive their choice of up to three jobs, while students farther down the line must simply take whatever they are most suited for out of the remaining choices. Students then spend four years training extensively for their new position, entering the workforce officially at age 20. Changing one's career requires a special application to the Ministry that is rarely made and more rarely granted.
The sole exception to this situation is Exaltation. Whenever a citizen of the New Realm Exalts, regardless of what they might Exalt as, it is standard policy to remove them from their current position and put them through a one-year training program, after which they join one of the three branches of government that uses Exalts (at their choice). Dragon-Blooded who Exalt while still in the normal education system remain in it until age 16, after which they undergo a four-year course for their chosen career path rather than the one-year course given to Celestial Exalts. This also applies to the very rare cases of Celestials who Exalt before the age of 16.
Luxuries are common within the New Realm; every nation has a power grid linked into their Manse network, which allows for such conveniences as lighting, plumbing, and refrigeration to be available to even the most impoverished member of society. Similarly, every person in the Realm has a house and a job, and there is not the same degree of wealth hoarding that occurs in many other areas - as no job exists where someone could legally acquire that much money, and thus anyone displaying such wealth must be doing so criminally, making them rather easy to track. As a side effect of this, begging and sleeping on the streets of the cities of the New Realm is illegal, as such people are assumed to be simply shirking their duties. The New Realm allows the less addictive recreational drugs, while most heavy drugs are illegal - as is slavery; Markian has strong views on the matter, and has been known to execute those who would dare traffic in slaves in his domain.
What the New Realm lacks is a mechanism for those whose interests and talents do not properly align. The requirement for every job to be done means that many people are forced into positions they might not prefer, and that a subtle brand of classism exists based on what talents someone has displayed. School years in particular are extremely stressful and harrowing, as they literally define the course of a child's life. In addition, punishments for crime tend to be very severe; minor crimes such as theft are often punished by severe pay garnishment, combined with enforced oaths of honesty, while more serious crimes such as fraud or murder are usually punished by death. Anyone who violates the social strictures of the Realm, such as by attempting to work a job that they have not been authorized at, is generally exiled.
The government of the New Realm is monolithic in nature; there is a Department to cover every possible permutation of events, although it sometimes takes some research to determine exactly whose purview a given task might fall in (such research is always taken to the Department of Bureaucratic Organization, which documents which ministries are responsible for what tasks). The Departments are grouped together into five Ministries, which serve as the organizing and lawmaking force of the government. They are, in turn, ruled over by Emperor Markian Sunflame. His word automatically overrides any other decision made by anyone, anywhere in the organization. A complaint against the Emperor is brought to the Emperor. Markian has listed a successor with the Department of Government Personnel, but the average person does not know who this might be, and as the Emperor seems unlikely to die in the next few centuries, it is generally considered to be a non-issue.
The five major Ministries are as follows:
Ministry of Supernatural Affairs: The Ministry of Divine Affairs is the smallest of the five Ministries, but that does not reduce its importance. Its role is to interact with beings that are beyond mortal - gods, elementals, ghosts, those few Fair Folk that still wish to negotiate, the occasional demon, and the like. This Ministry covers policies regarding god-bloods, Exalts, and Dragon Kings; however, actual social integration of these groups falls under the Ministry of Social Affairs. Each Department of this Ministry covers a different area of supernatural interaction, with a seperate Division for different sorts of gods, compared to a single Division of Fair Folk Relations. Branches of this Ministry often co-ordinate with branches of the Economic and Foreign Ministries.
Ministry of Economic Affairs: This is the largest of the five Ministries; it is charged with planning the economics and work roles of the entire New Realm; designing the fiscal policies of the entire vast population of the nation requires the work of thousands of scribes and clerks, whose work funnels up to the Exalts at the top of the Ministry. It is this Ministry that decides when shifts in supply necessitate a rise or fall in prices, control the trading rights of merchants, and screen the results of aptitude tests, which are compared against the lists of current and soon-to-be needed jobs to determine where people will be placed.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: This Ministry, holding the fewest Departments, covers interaction with all non-native members of the Span. Its largest Deparment is the Department of Defense, which governs the nations' armed forces. It also has a seperate Department each for interactions with the Imperium, the Mountain Folk, the Ot, and certain larger leagues. The Ministry of Ambassadorial Affairs deals with all smaller nations, and decides when a nation has grown large enough to demand its own department. Finally, the Ministry of Exploration is dedicated to crafting Wyldfarers and mapping the Span, as well as finding new worlds and expanding the Realm.
Ministry of Legal Affairs: The most powerful Ministry, the Ministry of Legal Affairs governs the legal interaction of the Realm, and rules on both civil laws and issues of jurisdiction; it is they that must approve any new interaction that does not fall into a given Ministry's purview, and who decide when two Departments both claim precedence in an issue. This Ministry also runs the Department of Safety, which manages local guard forces, and the Department of the Judiciary, which rules on specific crimes that have been committed. It is generally considered to be the most powerful Ministry; if they rule something, the only higher authority is the Emperor himself. And the Emperor almost never gainsays this Ministry, trusting in their judgement.
Ministry of Social Affairs: Finally, the Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with ensuring that the general networks of society continue to function; funding the various luxuries and necessities that keep the population going about its affairs. This Ministry also contains the Department of Approprite Materials, which decides whether arts and literature are appropriate for the population (they tend to be fairly accomadating of anything that is not outright seditious or heretical), and deals with re-zonings of areas and handling any non-legal complaints of the population.
The New Realm succeeds only because of those who lead it; the ninty Solar Exalts, thirty Lunar Exalts, six Sidereals, and approximately seventy thousand Dragon-Bloods who sit at the top of the Ministries. All Exalts are required to go into service working their way towards the top of the Ministries, as their work is considered crucial. Dragon-Blooded fill the largest Departments, ensuring that they flow smoothly, while Celestial Exalts lead them as warlords, civic planners, and leaders. Exalts are given the best benefits, and the population is taught to revere them for their ceaseless hard work for the Realm. In theory, no Exalt is favoured over another, but the simple fact of experience means that Celestial Exalts end up promoted faster than anyone else, quickly rising to the top; every Ministry is led by a Celestial Exalt, as are all of the thirty most important Departments. In addition, half-castes and magically enhanced mortals fill out the ranks, doing a variety of jobs that the Celestials require, but are not numerous enough to complete themselves.