The Dim Wastes
The Empire of Alhena is currently ruled by Moreno Kezat Alhena III, commonly referred to simply as Moreno III. The empire has existed under some form of autocratic rule by an emperor since shortly after the War of Passage over 3200 years ago.
The basic governmental structure of the empire vests most power in the Imperial Office, which is the organization that supervises and executes the functions of the Emperor’s Court. Members of the court have very little power over the Emperor, in comparison to other such noble assemblies in other lands. Emperor Moreno III enjoys basic fiat power over all members of his court.
What power does not rest within the Imperial Office is exercised in the Common Senate. The Common Senate of today is a remnant of the varied ruling council bodies that preceded the Empire of Alhena. After Ezra Alhena organized what amounted to a peaceful coup and was crowned as the first emperor, he disbanded many of the commerce guilds and the ruling councils that they had created. Those committee-men who kept their lands and their seats were reorganized into the first Senate, intended as yes-men to ease the transition for commoners to the new style of government. Over time, the Senate proved its usefulness in dealing with day-to-day execution of laws and the formal deployment of imperial decrees as functioning legislation for the nation.
In time, the Senate became the Common Senate as laws were enacted that gave non-nobles access to voting seats. It has existed this way for several centuries now. For most citizens of the empire, interacting with a Senator is the closest they will ever come to the Emperor’s presence.
In recent years, the Emperor has re-established a new, smaller voting body to organize the voices of the trade industries within the empire. Although purists might see such a move as a violation of Ezra Alhena’s core philosophy, Moreno III regards himself as much more of a pragmatist. Tired of the constant low din of merchants that feel themselves shut out of the halls of power, Moreno III has re-established a token ruling council for those merchants, naming it the Commerce Senate. It is much smaller than the Common Senate, and has a much narrower legislative focus, but it seems to have done the job for now. The Emperor appointed most of the initial Commerce Senate personally, but has since handed that function over to the Common Senate.
Moreno III has been public in recent years about his disdain for the practice of slavery within the empire. He has already outlawed slavery for most humanoid races, but stopped short of outlawing goblinoid slaves. Such a change would constitute a major shift in empire society, with so much depending on the essentially free labor they provide. Many express dismay at the thought of goblins with the freedom to do as they please, walking the streets without masters that can be held accountable for their behavior. It is generally believed that the Emperor will outlaw goblin slaves as well, when the political waters are sufficiently calm to do so.
The Pillars of the Empire
The Emperor is advised on these matters (and many, many others) by a wide range of people. Most every day his court contains representatives from all manner of interests. Of these, two stand apart. They were created not long after the empire itself was founded, and have existed ever since to police the use of dangerous magic, monitor impending threats, and (in the case of one) serve as a goodwill outreach organization. These are the Order of Alhena and the Grand Council.
The empire is organized into 15 regional provinces. Each province has a capitol city, where it’s governor resides and rules from. Governors are generally appointed by the Emperor, and enjoy a lifetime appointment at the post. In turn, governors each select a share of members to the Common Senate from among their populace. How they select is left up to them, but the democratic foundation of each process tends to vary inversely with the governor’s popularity in his own province. Less popular governors must allow the people more power in the selection of Senators to avoid a midnight visit from a mob, while more popular governors usually enjoy the trust of their citizens to do what they will.