Knights of Judah: Empire of the Stars

The Empire of the Stars (Byeol-ui Jegug) is a Korean-majority imperial power to the hyperspatial east of Old Sol. Significant (strictly controlled) minorities include Hungarian, Marathi, and Neo-American peoples. It directly controls 31 systems, with another 20 proxy-state systems, and a population of 62 billion; 99% of these billions are human, unlike the Empire’s great rival, the Federation of Peoples, which has a populace that is only 70% human.

Because nothing speaks to my imagination as much as a map or a spreadsheet.
The hyperspatial east of human-settled space, with the Empire of the Stars in red/orange

The Empire was founded on the principles of order, meritocratic oligarchy, and economic fairness. Organizationally, this means that it is has an authoritative but limited central authority (the emperor) surrounded by a coterie of nobles, two-thirds of whom earned their positions through civil, military, or economic service to the country. It maintains a separate method of governance–locally elected planetary governors–for its various minorities, who are generally allowed to participate in the wider country only in carefully delineated and monitored roles.

Economically, there are few large empire-spanning enterprises, as the empire has strict interstellar market share limits, with only a few exemption licenses handed out to “vital interest” research, engineering, and financing institutions, which are taxed more heavily for the privilege. Other “important producers” are allowed to franchise across the stars, or maintain loosely managed subsidiaries. What this means in practice is that the Empire is economically a place of hundreds of millions of small precision workshops, factories, and retailers fed with products to make, buy, sell, or develop from licensed intellectual properties generated by competing research groups, or by local decentralized media groups.

Schooling, from age 5 to 23, is compulsory (as is, for men, military service from age 24 to 25, and for women social service for 1 to 3 years depending on individual.) This is the primary source of unifying culture for the Empire, as the curriculum is set by the Imperial Household itself, even if standards and methods vary from planet to planet. The Imperial Cult included in the curriculum is that of veneration of ancestral heroes, but this is widely disregarded even in state-run schools, and in practice each planet sets its own religious policies.

Militarily, the Empire is rated as a great power, along with the Federation, the Twin Orders, the Grand Republic of Axum, the Old Sol Network, the collective Great Horde of the Stars, and the Swarm (the latter two being included by virtue of their large human populations; there are other alien great powers, but they are beyond what is thought of as the general area of human-settled space.)

Overall, the Empire of the Stars is feared or respected by most of humanity, but it has weaknesses that have thus far kept it from overpowering any of the other polities. Its lower population and population density keep it from having the centralized focus of the Federation, a problem not helped by the fact that it deemphasizes centralized economic planning, even when done by free market agents. It does not have the engineering genius of Axum or the Twin Orders, though it does not lag far behind on most military or industrial advances. This is partially corrected for by the defensive pact the Empire has entered into with Axum, as this means thee second and third most mighty human-ruled great powers protect one another from the supreme human domain, the Federation. This pact is specifically not in force should one of them get into a fight with the Knights, however, so even this is not without limitations.

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