Hearken, ye citizen-shareholders of the Empire of the Star, great and glorious beyond all greatness and glory, to this Harmonious Proclamation of Deliberate Wisdom and Thoughtful Contemplation, the seventeenth of this current session.

Know that your Emperor, Calan Amanyr, First of His Name, by Right of Coronargyr and Chartered Mandate Emperor of the Eldrae, Chief Executive Officer of the Imperium Incorporate, First of the Free, Defender of the Star’s Flame, Heart of the Realm, Sovereign Lord of the Heights and Depths, Diarch of the Infinite, has been afflicted by the plague of Gray Wasting that currently troubles Our Realm.

Know further that in accordance with His wishes and those of the Empress, to assure the continuance of governance, the Senate has performed the necessary rituals and declared the proper successors to the Imperial right and authority to be Grand Prince Corin Amanyr, First of His Name, and Grand Princess Linariel Varavelen, First of Her Name; and furthermore, have affirmed that by Order-in-Council, the successors shall act as Regents until such time as the Emperor may have recovered or until the succession is mandated.

Be calm, and know that even in these troubled times, our rightful and meritorious sovereigns sit upon the Dragon Throne.

Published under my hand and seal this day 1104 Gradakhmath 11,

Haydith Septimiel-ith-Septimiel
by appointment of the President of the Senate
Incorruptible Secretary


(Have a free snippet from a work in progress.)

“Are you really in line for the throne?”

“Oh, yes. House Vintar is neither most ancient nor particularly high, and we Vidutars are a collateral line, so I’m something like… three and a quarter billionth in line for the throne, if you want to get into the fine details. Which he really should have.”

The chain of command, you see, extends right to the bottom. Inasmuch as Valentia I really disliked the possibility of succession crises, and wanted to make a point with her characteristic subtlety, heh, that you literally couldn’t kill off the Empire’s center with assassinations because there was always someone new to be chosen to step into the role.

Which did rather dilute “Unchosen Heir to the Dragon Throne, Successor of the Imperium” as a meaningful courtesy title, inasmuch as it means little more than the intersection of “alive” and “citizen-shareholder”.

But, hey, if you need something to beat officious airport security flunkies over the head with at the ass end of the galaxy, it sounds mighty impressive.

Questions: Pattern Identity and Succession

More from Specialist290, because it’s post-dinner:

A few small questions regarding pattern identity and the metaphysics thereof:

1. Are there any possible scenarios where two forks of the same personality can diverge from one another significantly enough for them to be regarded as different persons, when the result of either individual pattern shift would not have resulted in enough variation in the pre-fork pattern to constitute a legal change in identity?

In the fork case, it’s the divergence that matters. Actually, it’s almost always the divergence that matters – usually, the only time you’re comparing to a backup is immediately post-reinstantiation to check that the process was carried out correctly, or in the event of some accident or missing-person scenario when there’s some doubt.

Anyway, for fork divergence, it’s always difference from each other that matters. Difference from some pre-fork backup is irrelevant.

2. A purely hypothetical case:  If, without the intervention of any causal agency, two individuals are found to have such closely-matching patterns of personality that one would have been considered a fork of the other had one been created as an act of will, would they still be legally the same person? (Put another way:  If, by blind chance, someone had such a fundamentally identical life experience to your own that your memories would be practically interchangeable to the extent that you could easily mistake your memories for theirs and write off any divergences as a product of your own faults in recollection, would the two of you be considered the same person?)

(Put yet another way:  Could a doppelganger fork arise out of pure synchronicity?)

Hypothetically, yes, they would be – although they would have to be identical on a rather deeper level than just consciously recalled memories. As the legal and philosophical principle puts it, íthal íthalavar: “A is A”, or “a thing is itself”. Two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.

Of course, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation based off the number of bits contained in any one mind-state vector suggests that this could happen considerably less often than once per universe-lifetime, so it’s not like there’s case law on the point…

And Mark Atwood asks:

Which reminds me of an ongoing question I’ve been having. Is being the a member of the Imperial Couple a time-limited term of service, or is it “until (permanent?) death, abdication, or removal”. Given they were immortal even before the tech takeoff, someone could end up being the Lord of some city state for a very very very very long time…

There are no term limits for that particular office. (Or most, but there’s a fair amount of diversity so I’m not saying there are none anywhere.) By wording of the Imperial Charter, you can have it until death, permanent incapacity, abdication, or impeachment.

That said, they are subject to the not-a-law-but-relatively-firm-custom of the Six-Century Rule which suggests to everyone that you find a new career after three centuries1, i.e. 432 Imperial years, if they haven’t done so already. That was never a firm term limit for anyone mostly because if it required someone to leave in the middle of a crisis, that would be a bad idea, right?

So, anyway, I had the dates of the first 15 Imperial Couples handy, and the average reign is rather shorter at 285 years, almost entirely due to abdications. (High of 505 – Alphas I, making sure his empire stuck – and low of 100.) That is almost entirely because it’s a really damned hard job that would age you quickly if you, well, could. I imagine it’s quite a relief to be an Emperor Emeritus with no more pressing Imperial obligations than to sit in the Privy Council and quietly kibitz.

(I’m sure there are some veryn old rulers around in various backwaters, though. I don’t think anyone minds, or in most cases, has noticed.)


  1. Because they changed the calendar after they made the rule. The Calendar of Rhoës used 72-year centuries. Of course, no-one but scholars has used said calendar for nearly 8,000 years at this point, so the main function of the name these days is to confuse and disorient people learning about it who aren’t masters of horological trivia.

Imperial Succession

In a comment in the previous post, there is some curiosity as to how the Imperial Couple is selected. So, behold, I answer:

It’s semi-hereditarian. The heir is notionally picked from among the members of the Imperial family, in an attempt to capture the hereditarian advantage of having someone trained for the job lined up, not just some random schmuck1; especially since the Imperial family also serves the Imperial Couple as a talent pool for extraordinary tasks so they can get an idea of what their on-the-job performance is like.

But it’s not directly primogenitive, etc.: the current incumbents get to nominate their heir from among all the possible candidates, so if Mr. Firstborn wants to succeed to the throne, he’s got to work hard at putting himself out in front of the rest of his generation. And also any really exceptional candidates from outside, because succession-by-adoption is also part of how the system works.

After that, first, in order to be nominated in the first place, you have to be, well, a couple. This is a diarchy; the system’s not set up to have singletons on the Dragon Throne. It would eliminate checks and stabilization factors that are supposed to be there. (You also have to be a happy, well-adjusted, non-dysfunctional one that’s capable of working together successfully, but that pretty much goes without saying.)

(Now, as for triads and other topologically-different marital forms, to broach the obvious question: well, it will be an interesting day, Charter-law-wise, when one of those is the best candidate for succession, but it hasn’t happened yet.)

After being nominated, as a check to ensure the process is working properly, they have a triple gauntlet to run:

First, the Senate can veto successions they don’t approve of, which eliminates anyone who either lacks the arete to lead – which, eldrae being eldrae, culls everyone who isn’t an adequately polymathic genius with a history of achievement in multiple fields to prove it – or who can’t garner enough support to lead.

Second, the Eupraxic Collegium can veto anyone who doesn’t meet their strictest standards of sanity and rationality, because no-one wants a crazy person on the throne, even a well-hidden one.

And third, they have to be accepted by the Imperial Presence, the composite mentality of Imperial Couples past dwelling in the Transcend’s mind, as a subset of itself.

…but after fulfilling all those hurdles, then they get to be the officially designated heirs.

1. Just to continue a little on the theme of the Democracy Is Bad trope, while I’m at it, the Imperial opinion of the sort of people we put in charge of various executive branches on Earth is that while the process does ensure that they have some talents in the areas of rhetoric, amateur memetics, and graft, their gifts in the areas of actual leadership and sovereign administration wouldn’t qualify them to run a lemonade stand in, y’know, civilized parts.