Revision as of 21:37, 20 May 2024 by Matt (talk | contribs) (→‎Small Monuments)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Dialagos smiled at his young friend as he paced up and down in front of him, his hands waving animatedly as he talked. What it was to be young and energetic he thought to himself. They rarely saw eye-to-eye but he relished these conversations, they kept him young. They both had such different views of the world but shared the same passions - it was fun to thrash ideas out.

"Vice is contagious - that is an established fact." Haravgi was in his element now, always confident on matters of philosophy like this. "That means, If we allow the Imperial Senate to access these funds, they will be corrupted by it, the vice will consume them like a fire, till all that is left is a house of cowards and thieves! The only way to check that is to ensure virtuous dispensation of the proceeds."

"I hope you're not going to make an argument based on hypothecation?" Dialogos winced in mock pain.

"It's a question of axiology! It's about fundamental values. Putting the money in the hands of the Synod gives it a completely different meaning." said Dialogos

"Axiology? I think you've got a stronger argument pointing out that the status quo encourages Senate to maximise the amount of crime committed. Either way you're not going to move the Imperial Senate with this, trust me."

"I've thought of that..." Dialogos grinned, clearly pleased to have an opportunity to reveal his master plan.

Rewards and Forwards.jpg
The General Assembly of the Imperial Synod controls the Virtue Fund - a pool of money endowed to the Synod so that they may directly reward virtuous behaviour.
Click for audio version


At the Autumn Equinox, Cassia Silkweaver raised a judgement in the Urizen national Assembly that explicitly thanked the Varushkan boyars for their aid in providing an Imperial Wayleave to support the construction of the Gardens of Pallas. Such statements are not uncommon in the national assemblies, where the priests wish to put acts of generosity and Prosperity by citizens of other nations on record.

In theory the Imperial Synod already possesses the means to thank a nation for virtuous acts like the gift of the boyars, but in practice the Virtue fund rarely has the means to provide meaningful restitution on this scale. Even with the proceeds of the sale of Imperial liao, the fund has only a tiny fraction of the money at its disposal that the Imperial Senate has from the treasury.

Inspired by Cassia Silkweavers statement, two Urizeni priests, the semi-retired architect, Dialagos of the isles of spires, and Haravgi, a young questor of no fixed abode have a pair of proposals that they believe might help. Their aim is to significantly boost the funds available to the virtue fund, on a permanent basis, thereby empowering the Imperial Synod to actively reward those who are judged to have acted virtuously.

The Prosperous are not selfish, all that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it. Last season, the Varushkan boyars donated the use of an Imperial Wayleave to ensure that the Gardens of Pallas could be built in Zenith. We the Urizen National Assembly Witness this act of sharing. Be it hearthside hospitality or uplifting their fellows at a time when much feels broken and uncertain, the Varushkan people have held out their hand to us, and we thank them from the depths of our souls. Despise those who take without giving - this act will not be forgotten by the people of Urizen

Cassia Silkweaver, Urizen National Assembly, Autumn Equinox 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority (314-0))

Prosperity and Posterity

  • Dialagos proposes the construction of Prosperous Counting Houses in each territory in the Empire, to gather donations to the Virtue fund and keep a record for Posterity
Prosperous Counting House
Commission Type: Folly
Cost: 5 weirwood, 5 white granite, 30 crowns, and three months to construct
Effect: Adds funds to the Virtue Fund based on territory
Tassato 16 crowns
Holberg 15 crowns
Sarvos 14 crowns
Temeschwar 14 crowns
Segura 13 crowns
Skarsind 13 crowns
Karsk 12 crowns
Mitwold 12 crowns
Miaren 11 crowns
Hahnmak 11 crowns
Semmerholm 11 crowns
Reikos 10 crowns
Zenith 10 crowns

Dialagos has a simple if expensive solution to the problem - he has created a design for what he calls a Prosperous counting house - a small stone building to be constructed somewhere relatively safe in each territory of the Empire, potentially. The counting house need not be large, they would require just 5 wains of white granite, 5 wains of weirwood and 30 crowns to build and could be completed in a single season. Each counting house would provide a convenient location where Imperial citizens might make a donation to the virtue fund and have their names recorded in an official ledger.

While the inherent virtue of the proposal appeals to Dialagos, the old architect is keenly aware that the ultimate goal is to ensure that the virtue fund has enough money to reward citizens appropriately. A counting house in Sermersuaq is a virtuous thing to do, but it's unlikely to receive the same donations as a counting house in Sarvos in the City of Sarvos in Cigno, simply because there are so many more wealthy merchants living there. To that end he has devoted considerable time to identifying the ten most effective territories in the Empire in which to build a counting house.

In each of the territories identified by Dialagos, a counting house would result in significant donations to the Virtue fund, boosting income by at least 10 crowns each season. Those built in especially wealthy locations like the cities of Sarvos would produce comfortably more. Individually these are small amounts, but if enough counting houses were built, then the Virtue Fund would soon find itself the recipient of a considerable income.

Fines and Funds

  • Haravgi proposes that the Imperial Senate pass a motion instructive the magistrates to pass all fines collected to the Virtue fund
  • Haravgi suggests that the virtuous across the Empire "persuade" the Imperial Senate to pursue this course of action by withdrawing their labour

Haravgi has a rather different proposal, one which might prove somewhat more controversial. Having given the issue some thought, the young questor has hit on the novel idea that those who dabble in vice should be the made to support the Virtue fund. In that way, vice becomes expensive, while virtue is rewarded. Of course there is no legal mechanism to compel those who lack virtue to hand their money over, indeed any proposal of that kind is unlikely to be compatible with the Constitution. However Haravgi points out that the unvirtuous are already handing their money over - or at least some of them - those who are fined by the Imperial magistrates for any crimes they are found guilty of.

In pursuit of this idea, Haravgi spent time chasing the Civil Service to find out exactly what happens to the fines collected by the Imperial magistrates. It soon became clear that that money was being spent by the magistrates to fund the efforts of law enforcement to identify and catch criminals. It took a lot more work to identify that this was based on tradition, extending back all the way to the time of Empress Deanne. In fact there was no legal basis for the practice. Eventually Gerard La Salle was forced to accept that this money should in fact be added to the Imperial treasury and confirmed that henceforth that is what would happen.

Having achieved precisely half of what he wanted, Haravgi then obtained a ruling from the Constitutional Court confirming that the Imperial Senate could pass a law indicating that all fines collected should be passed to the Virtue fund. Haravgi has it in writing that such a motion would not violate the Constitutional prohobition on taxation. All he needs to complete his novel idea is to persuade the Imperial Senate to give up the money they have just gained - and pass it to the Synod.

Haravgi's critics have pointed out how unlikely that is to happen. The Empire is always short of money... the Imperial Senate has more money than any individual citizen could dream of, and yet it never seems to be enough. Given the regular friction between them and the Imperial Synod, why would they pass the fines to the Imperial Synod. Haravgi's philosophical arguments about how the money from the fines is tainted and needs the virtuous hand of the Synod to wash the coins clean are unlikely to build any spires according to Dialogus.

Undetterred Haravgi suggests that if virtuous arguments will not carry the day, then the virtuous must enforce their will on the Senate. The Way of Virtue is about actions not words, says Haravgi, or in the case of his proposal, actions not taken. To that end, Haravgi has asked each assembly of Virtue to consider the following mandate.

Despise those who take without giving. The Imperial Senate taxes our Prosperity, but it may not tax our Virtue. We send {named priest} with 25 doses of liao to persuade the faithful to withdraw their labour until the Senate ensures that all fines become the property of the Virtue fund.

Synod Mandate, Any Virtue Assembly

Each virtue assembly that passes this judgement will be able to influence members of the faithful across the Empire, encouraging them to refuse to support the Imperial Senate. If that happens, then the Imperial Senate will have one less commission slot for each Virtue Assembly (including the Assembly of the Way) that enacts this mandate.

Velko Perunovich Razoradze has submitted an alternate mandate for the General Assembly to consider.

Imperial laws are the boundary that separates mortals from monsters. Fines from crimes being spent by magistrates to try and reduce crime is a virtuous self-funding cycle. We send {named priest} with 200 doses of liao to persuade the faithful to withdraw their labour until the Senate ensures that all fines become the property of the Magistrates, as has been tradition since the reign of Empress Deanne.

Synod Mandate, General Assembly

If enacted this mandate would prevent any commissions that have a direct labour cost until the Senate assigns the fines back to the Magistrates or until the start of the Winter Solstice 386YE. If this mandate is not enacted with a greater majority then it will still be possible to build commissions in Varushka and Urizen territories - and the Boyar of the Iron Roads would not be affected. The Master of the Koboldi would be the only person able to freely build commissions. This mandate is not considered to be competing with those available to the Virtue Assemblies.

Golden Windfalls

  • The presence of the Golden Cascade has boosted the production of farms and herb gardens across Zenith
  • Dialogos has persuaded the virtuous citizens of the territory to share this windfall to serve the nation's interests
Beneficiary of the Golden Cascade
Commission Type: Sinecure
Cost: 8 weirwood, 8 white granite, 48 crowns
Effect: Provides 10 crowns to the Imperial Virtue fund each season
Effect: Also creates the Beneficiary of the Golden Cascade, who receives 20 random herbs, 3 elixir vitae, 3 Ossean solutions, 3 philtres of heavenly lore, and 10 crowns each season
Requirement: Must include all of the responsibilities outlined in the text
Appointment: Must be annual appointment by Urizen National Assembly

Now that the Golden Cascade is complete, it is providing invaluable support to farms and herb gardens across Zenith boosting the Prosperity of everyone in the territory. However Cassia Silkweavers statement has reminded everyone of the requirement to remain virtuous and remember that all that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it. Countless Urizen citizens have benefitted from the Golden Cascade but precious few of them attend Anvil - making it harder for them to share their Prosperity with those who deserve it.

Dialagos has a proposal for this too. In this case though, he thinks that there is an opportunity for Urizen to benefit from it's newfound Prosperity. The aging architect is familiar with arguments of Virtue, but he is more comfortable with more prosaic matters, like economics... and diplomacy. Dialagos points out that Urizen has benefitted from friendship and support of Varushka and further argues that such support is essential for the nation to thrive. His view of the Empire is a somewhat stark idea of a family of ten siblings, each arguing over who will get what from the family estate. In Dialagos mind, the way for Urizen to grow stronger as a nation is not through words of gratitude but gestures of thanks. After all, Loyalty is not displayed by words or deeds alone...

To that end, Dialagos has spent some considerable time corresponding with scores of citizens across Zenith who own a farm or garden that has benefitted from the Golden Cascade. In each case, he has asked them to consider if they would put aside, permanently, a small portion of that Prosperity, to benefit the nation. Inspired by Cassia's statement, the architect proposes a way to create a bounty that could be used not just to thank the boyars of Varushka - but proactively in the future. His goal is to create someone who is specifically chosen by the Urizen Assembly with the remit to find citizens in other nations and help them - thereby creating friends and allies of Urizen across the Empire.

Such a position would need offices from which to operate, somewhere where the various contributions could be gathered and collated. By good fortune, that just happens to fit with Dialogos' proposal for a counting house in Zenith. If that house were made a little bigger, then it could also serve as the offices for Dialogos proposed Imperial title, the Beneficiary of the Golden Cascade. It would require the counting house be built with 8 wains of white granite and 8 wains of weirwood and 48 crowns, but it would still only require a season to complete.

The Beneficiary would need to be a national appointment by the Urizen National Assembly and it would need to have very clear responsibilities - to use the harvest of the Golden Cascade to creates friends and allies in other nations by actively seeking out opportunities to help and reward them for the aid they have or might give Urizen in the future. The idea is that they would give the herbs and potions to any Imperial citizen who could benefit from them, and thereby improve the nation's standing in the Empire.

If that happens, and only if that happens, then the position will gain a windfall of herbs and potions each season, a share of the Prosperity provided by the Golden Cascade. If the title does not explicitly include the responsibilities that Dialogos has proposed, then it won't get the wider support, and will only get half of the listed benefits.

High Benefits

  • Virtuous citizens in Reikos would also be willing to share their windfall from the Gardens of Chalcis to serve the nation's interests
Benefactor of High Chalcis
Commission Type: Sinecure
Cost: 7 weirwood, 7 white granite, 52 crowns
Effect: Provides 10 crowns to the Imperial Virtue fund each season
Effect: Also creates the Benefactor of High Chalcis, who receives 7 of each herb each season
Requirement: Must include all of the responsibilities outlined in the text
Appointment: Must be yearly appointment elected by Highborn National Assembly
Special: If this title is created with a Senate motion it could be given the legal ability to use a Senate announcement to redirect all the benefits of the Gardens of High Chalcis to address an opportunity

Dialogos' suggestion for creating a virtuous position funded by the beneficiaries of the Golden Cascade finds a receptive audience outside Urizen. The benefactors of Highguard have long been committed to the idea of using wealth to invest in projects for the good of the nation and the Empire. The idea of creating a new Imperial title and endowing it with a bounty of herbs appeals, is particularly appealing to those who have benefitted from the Gardens of High Chalcis. In 381YE the Imperial Senate took the decision to direct the benefits of the Gardens to support the Great Forest Orcs for a year, providing them with more than enough herbs for their needs.

That act has not been repeated since, but the memory of it lingers on in the minds of many. What if the bounty of the Gardens were needed again in the future? Creating a formal arrangement for people to share some of the bounty with an Imperial title given the responsibility to use the herbs for the good of Highguard would enable the nation to invest in their future, but it would also remind everyone of the past success with the Great Forest Orcs. That way, if the opportunity presented arose for the Gardens to act in the same way in the future, it could be easier to accomplish.

Jemimah of Chalcis Ford suggests that the proposed counting houses might be the best way to achieve this. If Highguard built a slightly larger counting house in Reikos, it could be constructed next to the Gardens of High Chalcis. If it were made a little bigger than originally planned, Jemimah proposes to make it 7 wains of white granite, 7 wains of weirwood and 42 crowns, then it could be large enough to house the offices of a new Imperial title - the Benefactor of High Chalcis. If the Benefactor were given the responsibility to use the bounty of the Gardens to heal the virtuous throughout the Empire, then the people of Reikos would support the title with a bounty of herbs, 7 each of True Vervain, Cerulean Mazzarine, Imperial Roseweald, Marrowort and Bladeroot.

As Jemimah sees it, the role of the apothecary is not just to treat the sick, but to make them healthier and stronger. If the Highborn National Assembly choose the right candidate, they can be charged to use the herbs they are given to seek out the deserving and the virtuous. By healing them, by strengthening the parts of the Empire that are committed to the Way, the Benefactor can help the Empire thrive and become more virtuous. It is an ambitious agenda, to use the bounty of High Chalcis to promote Virtue, but what higher purpose could there be?

Jemimah also suggests that the title be given legal authority over the Gardens so that if another crisis like the ones with the Great Forest Orcs ever arose, then the Benefactor would be in a position to respond to it quickly. Their proposal would give the Benefactor the power to use a Senate Announcement to redirect the output of the Gardens to address a direct need identified in an civil service briefing, as happened last time with the Great Forest Orcs. If the Benefactor chose to do that, then neither the benefactor, nor the Herb Gardens of Reikos would gain any benefit from the Gardens for as long as the redirection were in place.

Allowing the Benefactor of High Chalcis to redirect the bounty of the Gardens in this way would mean that no senator would have to give up their Senate motion to achieve the outcome. It would also place the ability to redirect the benefits of the gardens more directly in the power of those who benefit from the Gardens. Of course no such opportunity might ever present itself - it would not be possible to redirect the bounty of the Gardens unless a specific opportunity presented itself that explicitly stated that the bounty of the Gardens could help. But making these changes now, would mean that Reikos was prepared to act and act quickly if the need ever arose.

We recognise the vigilance of Jonathan Piper of Cockscroft for raising hue and cry about the threat of hostile heralds across the Marches. We exalt him!

Rhubarb Ironwood, Marcher Assembly, Autumn Equinox 385YE, Upheld (Greater Majority (264-0) and Primacy)

Small Monuments

  • A monument has been proposed in Mitwold to Jonathon Piper of Cockscroft
  • The proposal has led to a wider discussion about the creation of monuments in the Empire

During the Autumn Equinox any number of statements of principle have been mooted calling for citizens to be rewarded. One, however, catches particular attention. Jonathan Piper of Cockscroft warned the Marches of the imminent threat from Siakha. Supported by the rest of the Marcher Assembly their words were heard loud and clear, and when heralds of the Mother of Wrecks started causing trouble in Mitwold, people were prepared for it. Forward-thinking like that, say some of the Mitwolders, deserves a bit of recognition. Even if, as a Cockscroft, Jonathon is an Upwolder. Even a daft rooster can call out sunrise and sunset, as one cruel Marcher aphorism has it.

Obviously anyone can slap a statue up and call it a day, but for it to have any actual impact it needs to be commissioned. There's a whole bunch of folks who do things that are worth remembering – that might inspire people in years to come – but aren't about being recognised as a paragon or exemplar. Not just people either – there's a lot of things you might build a monument for.

A couple of Mitwolders who might have lost family to Siakha have found a nice spot at the old Wayford Wanderers practice ground. A sculptor would need to be found, and a block of white granite, but with a bit of ambition those should be surmountable tasks. Then someone could make a statue of the Cokscroft lad – and at the same time maybe remember the Wayford Wanderers and the thirty or so folk who got eaten by shark heralds. A nice statue that, should the Cockscroft lad keep on the same path, would make a good place to consecrate with true liao one day, maybe.

Statue of the Cockscroft Lad
Commission Type: Folly
Location: Wayford, Maiden Downs
Cost: 5 white granite, 15 crowns
Effect: Commemorates the hue and cry that warned of Siakha's attack
Option: The commissioner can name a sculptor who will describe the work of art they create

What's being proposed is a folly. It would require 5 wains of white granite, and 15 crowns in labour costs to get the statue into position. Whoever raised the commission could name a specific sculptor to immortalise Jonathan Cockscroft and the attack of Siakha. If that sculptor was a player character, they're be able to submit up to fifty words describing the statue they created that would inform the description added to the wiki on the Mitwold territory page.

There's another possibility as well, partly inspired by all this talk of rewarding and recognising people, partly by the recent statements of the Pride assembly. The Senate could create an Imperial title - the Mistress of Monuments perhaps - whose specific responsibility would be finding folk who deserve a statue, or events that deserve a monument, and building something. Nothing massive – Pride in small things after all. But the kind of thing the Senate doesn't have time for, what with all the castles and colleges of magic it needs to construct. The title would be limited to creating follies, and limited to spending a maximum of 9 wains on any given commission. It'd be appointed through the Imperial Synod – the Assembly of the Way might be a good choice, but the General Assembly or any of the Virtue Assemblies would also be appropriate – and it'd be responsible for recognising people who can provide an inspiration or events that ought not to be forgotten. it could have tenure if the Senate wished, or it could be created each year, as detailed in the motion that creates it.

Mistress of Monuments
Title: Imperial position
Appointment: Imperial Synod; General Assembly or Virtue Assembly
Powers: Ability to commission a folly of up to 9 wains in size each season
Responsibilities: Work with Imperial artists to commemorate inspirational actions and significant events with monuments and statues
Necessary Details: The title could have tenure, or could be appointed yearly, depending on how the Senate creates it.

When the proposal is mooted to the Constitutional Court (someone traps Leontes the Scribe against the buffet table at a wedding for nearly an hour), they are of the opinion that the title could be created and as long as its responsibility was finding sculptors, paying some labourers to put a statue into position, and then telling people about it it wouldn't count against the Senate's limited number of commissions each season. Indeed, the Senate might wish to give them a small stipend - even a few Thrones each season - with which to acquire materials, pay artists, and employ burly folk with their own wheelbarrows.

OOC Note: The title proposed would in theory be able to build any folly that used nine wains or fewer. These kinds of follies are not going to change the face of the Empire - they'd be added to existing pages with a few lines of description at most, the nature of which would be guided by the sculptor and the nature of the title holder's announcement. There is nothing legally to stop the title holder from commissioning a folly that isn't a statue or monument, but the expectation is that if they did so the Synod would step in to remind them of their responsibilities, or the Senate would simply abrogate the title. It's also worth noting that the title as designed does not have the power of concedence so wouldn't be able to give anything away.

OOC Design Notes

We've made a small game update, so that all the fines that arise from magistrates trials at Anvil will now be collected and passed to the Imperial treasury. We've looked at a few options on how best to dispose of these funds in recent times, and after some trial and error we've decided this is the best outcome. This way the money circulates back into the game, but hopefully in a way that ensures it doesn't just quickly end up back in the pockets of those who paid it.

Having opted to move it to the Senate, that puts the funds cleanly and clearly in the remit of players to decide on what happens to them, (within the normal limits of the checks and balances provided by the Constitution for game balance), so we created this little wind of fortune partly to advertise the fact that it is another option for players to politic over!

Eeli stood patiently while the aging magistrate hung his new painting. There were pictures going up all over the Castle of Thrones depicting the new Empress, so naturally the contrarian had paid an artist to paint one of the previous Empress. It was a rather dour impression, done in the Highborn style, which in this case meant the Imperatrix had a deeply improbable halo of light issuing forth in an otherwise miserably dark canvas. Flattering it was not. "Good, isn't it?" the old man asked over his shoulder.

Eeli was far too experienced to answer that question. "I've come about the enquiry about taxation, Magistrate? The one from Haravgi of Urizen."

"Best Throne we ever had you know? Brilliant mind. Quite brilliant." The old man made an attempt to stand his ground, but when Eeli refused to be drawn he admitted defeat. He turned to face the civil servant with a sour look on his face. "I thought I said to ignore it and hope he went away? Yes, I definitely said that." he continued nodding to himself. "I said to tell him to ask when he gets to Anvil."

"I'm afraid he's not planning to attend Anvil magistrate. And he's sent two more letters since then. We will have to let him know if it's constitutional or not."

"Bloody Urizen trouble-maker... Course it's not bloody constitutional! You pass that money to the Synod and it's taxation!" The querulous magistrate was looking very agitated now.

"I can tell him that easily enough Magistrate" suggested Eeli.

"What?!? You'd have us all murdered in our beds I suppose? I think not..." the old man fixed him with a stare as if attempting to prove this ridiculous non-sequitur made sense by glaring. Eeli ensured his sigh was inaudible and waited. I had a great career ahead of me in Hahnmark he thought to himself.

"If it's not constitutional for the Synod to have it - then the Senate can't have it either can they? And if that's not constitutional then the entire basis for punishments under Imperial law is unconstitutional. Does that sound like a good outcome to you? Right! So clearly that can't be the answer either."

The old man slumped in his chair. He pulled out a slim purple volume from his robes and began to flick through the well-thumbed pages. "Tell him it's fine, that's all the bloody questor cares about." he said at last. "We'll work out why it's fine later."

"Thank you, magistrate" said Eeli closing the door behind him as he smoothly exited the room.