06 March 2013

Metagame: On Imperial High Law and the Commons.

So I noticed that in my correspondence and social infonets that I do keep to different modes of interaction.

For example when I am dealing with someone on a professional level, such as with my company and others or when about His Imperial Majesty's business as us Imperial Naval Intelligence (Retired) are wont to be, I am quite the decent, upright, curbed tongued gentlebeing as one of my Standing in the Peerage, the Court, and of course with my fellow Imperial Chartered companies is expected and should be. I tend to keep the ranting to a minimum (I do a bit when defending things like keeping the Hull Codes in ACS) and try and remember I am an adult human thus keep a civil tongue in my head.

Now, when I hit the Commons, I am if you see me there, a rather opinionated, know it all, critic of the Empire's actions, a not so closet republican in ways of the ancient days of Terra's (and in the House of Thornwood, respected learned master Niccolo Machiavelli, who really gets a bad rep) and the founder's of his birth nation, and general pain in the ass. What I say there is not a reflection of how I handle myself (mostly) on the professional end. What I say there is what I say when I am not working. This me on me time, not company time. The Institute by the way, is on the Commons. When the company site goes up, on that it will again be more genteel.

Which led me to wonder, how have the Imperiums handled the situation?

For one, let us first acknowledge that I will have to address this in greater depth in a later post, but for now I thought I would put this out here on the Institute Node and see if it lured out some commentary. Surely some of you have some thoughts about the things I present here, please share them. (Yes, Kobold that means you, my previous commenter, as this touches on Nobles as you might recall some of them have the Right and Responsibility to Dispense both the High and Low Justice and Enforce the Laws of the Permatic Imperium. Or perhaps I hadn't mentioned that? Either way, it's out there now and thus part of Imperial High Law)

Here is what I have so far as written in the Institute's Notebooks Volume 1, Edition 1, Catalog Number: NB-1-1-11112011-XXXX2013. *he pauses to light up smokables, because he has bad habits*

"Another origin precedent in the Imperial High Law is the Ancient and Honored Right of the Commons to speak whatever you wish (within reason? This is a case somewhere, for example can you speak, but yet not act Treason & be hosed?) and not be punished."

This is what got me to post.

Now, some of you may have noticed that I first used the word "origin", struck it and replaced it with "precedent". Why, you may even wonder did I change the word and what was I originally thinking? Of course you may not, but now that I made that point you do, or maybe you could care less and wish the rambling old Noble would either get to point, offer a job or at least buy another round for you and crew of fellow Travellers since listening to all this boring shit is thirsty work.

The reason is because the notebook pages are small and I want to preserve that it was an Imperial Citizen Right. I know the origins. See above for some of them. And those personal examples above have their own origin which is the original rights such those shown in various empires that allow you to get away with just generally spouting what you wanted in the commons. People listen or they didn't or perhaps they dropped a dime on your crazy/seditious ass. In fact it might very well be a way to gather street level feedback on what is going on in the realm. Not necessarily to sniff out criminals and enemies of the state, but just see what is really going on without certain filters.

Perhaps the Imperiums, Republics and other interstellar polities of Man and Kin (later to collectively be known as the ManKind, as in "Oh, that Sophont, yeah, it's a ManKind, a Synthetic I if I recall correctly.") allowed their Agents to actually act in their official capacity while in the Commons or they are considered merely as Citizens when they speak there? I suspect it depends on the Imperium and in the case of the Fifth Imperium which it has been made plain for the last two centuries that Vladimir II takes his model, Agents of the Crown and Imperium are considered, not only Off Duty, but in fact merely a Citizen when present in the Commons. They may immediately revert back to On Duty status when they leave the Commons, depending on factors such as was this the Agent's Scheduled Day Off, on some form of Leave (perhaps they went their to protest the low level of actual care delivered to Agents when they are severely wounded in the line of duty), maybe they went due to some Creed's Registered Requirements*.

The point being just how far can you go and far is the State willing to let you go before "Something Bad Happens", also known as the dreaded "Imperial Entanglements". And does that mean they grab you on the way out or do they bust in full on SWAT dynamic mode (Perhaps even Moscow Militia style? For those who didn't shudder a bit when mashing that up with a Traveller TL-C+, please use the internet and catch some videos of the MM in action.) or even perhaps a bit of undercover Special Branch style work? (Yes, I do love some UK police stuff, which is why I so love DREDD 3D.)

These are things I am thinking about. Right now I am leaning toward a Citizen can speak what may considered treason, but if they are not acting on it, then they may blab revolution all they want. Now, the Imperium may very well look at you to see if you are just a bit pissed off today or a genuine threat to the safety and security of the Imperium. Referee's Call on that one, I think. I mean, let's face it the Emperor of the Permatic Imperium (me behind the screen) does not actually get involved at that level. Now Viscount Madeupth Isminute, head of the Imperial Security Special Branch being on the other hand does. I think the Permatic Imperium may even handle it a rational way the Zhodani do in the OTU and check with psionics to see if you are huffing or prepping. Then based on that either get you some help or arrest you and see how bad the damage really is.

Well, a friend has called and so I must close earlier than expected. Please forgive any glaring errors as I had no time to really proof it and as usual I am way past my bed time. I will however, if people show an interest pick this topic up later.


 *The future equivalent of what ancient Terrans might consider a religion or a philosophic movement with minor government oversight in its internal affairs (excepting Capital Crimes) and recognition of its official status, but no mucking about with it otherwise.


  1. Having a lightning rod for the vox populi, like Speakers' Corner in London, is an interesting experiment in attempting to graft Athenian Democracy onto Representative Democracy. Do the authorities pay attention to what is said at such places, or do they let the natural BS detectors of the people who frequent such places inform those spouting BS that their ideas are fertiliser?

    I assume that T5 has similar planetary Government types to CT and, as we know, some governments handle anti-government thought and speech differently to others (in that one man's expression of dissent and disagreement with the staus quo is another man's threat to the body political, attack on the glorious state and proof positive that all who don't think as WE do are insane and should be locked up).

    Now, anti-imperial dissent is another matter all together and that is bound up with how you envision the aristocracy and nobility of the Imperium in your Traveller setting.

    CT Nobles were inspired by the Dumerest (sp?) and Flandary novels, and possibly by the noble system as expressed in "The Mote in God's Eye". While the source material indicated an active, leading, ruling nobility in an almost medieval sense. CT didn't really do more than sketch out an idea of nobility and the Imperium.

    Since then, later writers have danced around the entire issue until we reach the Mongoose Spinward March book where the nobility have become Euro MPs, appointed from without and with little or no ties to the planet they "rule" or represent.

    So, if you are going to give nobles the power to dispense High and Low Justice (and I'm thinking that this something more for Subsector Dukes and upward as they are essentially acting in the Emperor's name), then I think that nobles in Traveller must rule their planets.

    Funny thing is, this isn't too alien a concept - many modern nations have a Head of State and while usually a figure head, it wasn't too long ago that the head of state actually ruled, set policy for the government of the day to develop and implement, listened to petitions, acted as the highest appeal court and dispensed justice.

    Now, would a ruler of a planet be worried about some hot head spouting rubbish concerning the Emperor or the Imperium? Probably not. I imagine that local intelligence and police agencies would keep an eye on such small groups of nutbars and, if you subscribe to such organisations as the Ministry of Justice, then multi-system groups can be investigated.

    Interesting question - too tired and hot from this darn summer weather to carry my thoughts much further forward at this time. G'night.

    1. Yeah, Traveller Government Codes are still Traveller Government Codes.

      Now as to Speaker's Corner, said the Yank, first off thanks. I could not for the life of me remember if it had a name. So, yeah, exactly like that. To the question of whether they pay attention or not, I think it might just be a bit of both. For instance they may leave it be until a like say a third to half of what they are hearing is getting pretty close to big-t Treason.

      As for my Nobles, I don't have much to go on, but RL ones and the ever cool "Mote In God's Eye", "The Gripping Hand", and some other Niven and Pournelle stuff. On the most part I am sort of well, ummm, making it up as I go along, so they aren't that nailed down yet. On the other hand being another of those folks who wanted to know more about the Imperial Nobility than that little bit we got in MT, I am going to be making some shit real.

      The High and Low Justice is for Counts and above, it is done in the name of the Imperium, but since I am running a somewhat constitutional monarchy...in space, their decisions are looked at. Another thing to keep in mind Justice wise is they are going to back you up before sentencing. Just in case. Because in the 21st Century we may not be able to fix dead by the time of the Permatic Imperium they can fix dead. Mostly. Given the right conditions. And tools.

      Now, why are Counts allowed to dispense Justice, well because it is a much smaller empire and my Nobles are much more personally involved.

      Which ties into the rulership of planets. That is a topic that gets dicey. Honestly, right now I kind of have them set up like say those Military Advisers the US sent to Vietnam back in the 1960s. Sure, they aren't supposed to directly interfere with the day to day workings, just advise and perhaps give them some nice tech from the Imperium to fight those nasty insurgents, but maybe sometimes they do sort of wander into the bush have a small battle or two. You know, by accident. Cesabe is an example of how this sort of arrangement works:

      "FS 0823] Cesabe C 757 7AB-8 Ga Ag {+1} {366+1) [4857] Nob: BC.

      Herbert the Stoic rules Cesabe with a gentle hand. ...
      While Herbert does in fact enjoy the confidence of the people of Cesabe, there are some who feel his exploitation of the people's fear of the "Star Travellers" is throttling their development of this agricultural garden world. Meanwhile Herbert and the Baron Wilkinson are maintaining a rather honorable, and quiet discrete, working relationship, the people support Herbert brings the bounties of the stars to them while keeping them safe from getting exploited by the superior Imperials. Dame Livonia serves her Order here and advises Herbert on occasion. She is also there to remind Herbert of the position that Baron Wilkinson negotiates from. "

      Herbert is in fact the Ruler of the World, but he understands that to a certain extent he does so because the Imperium doesn't have any problems with him personally. At first this may seem sort of dickish and well yeah, governments are like that, grow up Timmii, but the relationship is designed to slowly, centuries if need be, bring them fully into interacting with the other interstellar polities. Meanwhile there is an undercurrent of unhappiness with Herbert's keeping all the goodies under his control which suggests that there may be some chance for the other faction to convince Baron Wilkinson and Dame Livonia to support their coup. (Or where mercenary tickets come from :D)

      Still, Cesabe is a world with Gov Code that is not 6 Captive. Now, those worlds are directly ruled by some Imperial Noble. Jowern is a perfect example, it is the sole property of Rudolf Interhaus. Now, he is bound in his actions by having accepted the Imperial Banner as his House has done for Ages. Back when the world was outside the Imperium, Rudolf could do pretty much what he wanted.


Citizen, Subjects, Travellers and others are warned that the Imperium does encourage a certain amount of democracy, but never forget, here you are in the Domain of the Imperium.

Please do not make me be a Tyrant.

Thank you,
Lord Craig A. Glesner,
Count Smoug, Viscount Alell, Marquis Malroy & Phlume, Baron Donu-na,
Knight Retainer of the Emperor for Salla, Inarli, & Bhuur,
Knight Retainer of the Baron Jacha,
Knight Retainer of the Baronet Kiind,
Knight of the Third Imperium for Trane,
Travellers' Aid Society Member # 0543.