Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide: The Amarr Empire


The Empires

In the last part, we looked at some of the deeper history of New Eden, dating back to the discovery of New Eden itself. In this part, we’re going to be looking at something a little nearer and dearer to all of our RPing hearts: the history of the modern day empires and their current statuses. This is by no means intended to give you the full breadth of information on each of the empires. It won’t make you qualified to be a talking head on a news program (you know, if there were qualifications for that kind of thing), but it should be enough to point you in the right direction and at least make for some witty and charming dinnertime conversation. We’ll be covering the four empires in separate sections before turning our attentions to those lovable scamps in CONCORD.


The Amarr Empire: God Has a Plan


We start with the largest and, depending on who you talk to, most diabolical of the four nations of New Eden: the Amarr Empire. Two parts theological empire, one part bureaucratic morass, with a sprinkling of lifetime indentured servitude for just a bit flavor, the Amarr Empire is founded on the idea that the State and the Church are one. Thus, the head of state (currently Empress Jamyl Sarum) is head of the church as well. As with many religions, the Amarr religion is built on the idea that the only way to attain God’s favor is through following the Amarr path and only the Amarr path; this idea has led to a number of “Reclaimings” throughout Amarr’s history, as they try to save the rest of the Cluster. The itty bitty, teeny weeny little footnote to that is that the only truly “saved” people are the True Amarr; anyone who can’t trace their bloodline to the True Amarr are forced to serve the True Amarr. And if you don’t willingly serve the Chosen People, then the Amarr will be happy to provide you room and board and work for life in exchange for no pay and little hope of relief. Indeed, the Amarr’s slave control technology is cluster-renowned, with only the Sansha having more effective techniques.

History

The Amarr are notable not just for being the largest nation in New Eden and for being slavers: they also have the singular distinction of having the oldest recorded history, dating back almost back to the collapse of the EVE Gate. The Amarr Scriptures record the early history of the Amarr race, but like any book going on 15,000 years old, it’s entirely possible that some things may have been lost in translation over the millennia. Still, being able to trace your history that far back as a civilization is pretty neat.

The Amarr Empire originally started as a split off sect of the Unified Catholic Church of Mankind (not that they remember this). They eventually made their way through the EVE Gate and settled on a planet called Athra around 8000 AD. Don’t recognize the name? Well, the sect settled themselves on a portion of Athra called Amarr Island after the other colonists rejected the Amarr for their even-then crazy religious beliefs (spoiler alert: the Amarr like to name things after themselves). They were led by Dano Gheinok, who is generally recognized as the first prophet of the Amarr faith (creatively called just the Amarr faith; I think it was something in the water).

After the exile, like the other empires, the Amarr degenerated both technologically and socially as support from Earth was cut off. The island eventually splintered into a number of city-states who had little contact with each other. Although the church persisted through this time, it was rather decentralized and unable to exert much control over the various warlord-governed factions.

The status quo was maintained for an impressive 8,000 years or so (proving that armor ships aren’t the only Amarr things that are slow and plodding) until a guy named Amash-Akura entered the history books around 16450 AD. Amash-Akura was the warlord of the city-state of Dam-Torsad, and he came up with a brilliant idea: if the two driving forces of the island were the warlords and the religions… maybe you could try combining the two and seeing what happened? He quickly earned the approval of the Church, such as it was at the time, and by 16470, had conquered the entirety of the island through a combination of diplomacy and brute force. The warlords who capitulated without violence were named Amash-Akura’s Holders, and the most loyal Holders were brought together in his Council of Apostles. The union of church and state complete, he was crowned Emperor by the Church, and got a fancy new royal symbol to boot (the story to which is actually kind of neat but this guide is long enough already).

Under the reign of Amash-Akura, the Scriptures record that sefrim, or angels, guarded over the island, overseeing an unprecedented era of prosperity. Even without divine (or, as some theorize, Jove) influence, the historical records are clear that the island experienced a renaissance, which was undoubtedly well-overdue after 8,000 years of Civilization-type wargames. Amash-Akura allegedly reigned for about 100 years. It was around this time that Molok, a member of the Council of Apostles, attempted a coup against Amash-Akura. The Scriptures record that the emperor requested help from the sefrim, and when they refused, he banished them. In response, he aged all 100 years of his reign in a single night. Many historians, however, believe that Amash-Akura didn’t reign all 100 years. Rather, he died early on, and the Council of Apostles attempted to assume his identity, which Molok then tried to expose. Either way, Molok lost, Amash-Akura was either recently or long dead, and the Empire carried on.

The rebellion, however, devastated the countryside. In order to gain protection, many of the commoners of the island sought out Holders, and began working the Holders’ land in exchange for protection, thus proving the feudalism was not just a Middle Ages thing. Anyway, during this time the arts began making a comeback as well. Things stabilized to a nice and quiet (dare I say slow and plodding?) pace.

After a few thousand years (I mentioned the Amarr were a tad slow, right?), the island began to reach a critical mass; there simply was no more room to put people. Tensions were relieved by the arrival of the Udorians in 20022 AD. Whereas the Amarr had settled originally (before that whole exile thing) on the northern continent of Assimia, the Udorians had taken the two southern continents. Free to develop technologically (i.e. without a church to hold them down), in the 12,000 years since the collapse of the EVE Gate, they had managed to create… boats.  Not nuclear submarines, not cruise liners, or anything, just plain old boats. Something tells me the Athrans weren’t going for a science victory, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, in order to keep the commoners from seeing how wonderful freedom is when it lets you develop boats, the Emperor at the time decided to throw them into a religious fervor. Citing Scriptures for the proposition that the Amarr needed to convert the non-believers, the empire launched its first Reclaiming against the Udorians in 20078 AD. The Amarr eventually mastered the awesome power of boatcraft and was able to take the war to the Udorians, who were not exactly the most cohesive and organized of people. The Amarr began pressing captured Udorians into service in order to man the boats (starting a long and proud tradition of slavery in the process), and before long, the Amarr made real headway on the southern continents. It was at this point that the Udorians decided to get their crap together and offer a real resistance.

Bogged down in the south, the Amarr then turned their attention to the source of their mommy issues in the first place: Assimia, the continent from which they were originally exiled. Now filled with a variety of tribes, the Amarr first set about with their standard Reclaiming tactics: kill the non-believers and take them as slaves. But these nomadic tribes were actually fascinated with the Amarr religion, and soon the Amarr realized that they had potential allies on their hands. In exchange for converting to the Amarr religion, the nomads would help finish the fight with the Udorians. The nomadic tribes eventually earned the collective nickname of “Khanid” or “little lords.”

With their newfound Khanid allies, the Amarr eventually managed to finish the conquest of the southern continents. With the two southern continents, Amarr Island, and much of Assimia conquered, the Amarr consolidated their holdings instead of immediately pressing on to the heretofore unexplored eastern hemisphere. The conquest had spurred technological innovations of all sorts (perhaps adding the all-important “rudder” to the aforementioned boats). During this era of consolidation, the various great houses began to emerge, such as the Khanids and the Ardishapurs. They controlled vast swaths of territory, and were only nominally responsible to the then-dominant Council of Apostles. Eventually, however, there was a hunger for more slaves, and the Amarr pressed on with their Reclaiming of Athra. By 20544, the Amarr had conquered the rest of the planet and, in a move that once again called Athra’s water quality into question, renamed it Amarr Prime.

Within a few hundred years of conquering the planet, the Amarr had made it into space and begun exploring and colonizing the rest of the system. Progress was slow, but by 21134 AD, the Amarr were ready to look beyond their current system. Thankfully, around this time they stumbled across the ruins of a surprisingly well-preserved Terran stargate. They quickly realized the promise of the new/old technology, and set about constructing a companion gate in Hedion, the closest star to Amarr, with the gate opening for use in 21290 AD. With the cluster now as their oyster (that’s admittedly a metaphor I’ve never figured out), the Empire began spidering out from Amarr, with the Emperor soon granting the more powerful families vast swaths of interstellar space. Around this time, some issues cropped up with both the Equilibrium of Mankind and the Sani Sabik, but frankly this section is already bigger than intended so we’ll just come back to them later. Just note that this is about the Amarr had issues with crazies (as opposed to all the *other* times they dealt with crazies).

Like, you know, the crazy emperor. In 21346, Zaragram II was chosen by the Council of Apostles to ascend to the throne. Things started off innocuously enough, until Zaragram decided that he was the new divine manifestation of God in the universe (as opposed to merely being God’s representative, I think. Theology confuses me sometimes). He attempted to rewrite the Scriptures to place himself as the central figure of the story, and even tried to build his own City of God to prove his divinity (no this entire paragraph wasn’t included to pimp my blog, definitely not, don’t be ridiculous). Thankfully, the Council of Apostles came to see the error of their way and, in a move that surely proved constitutionally stable, had Zaragram assassinated, founding the Cult of St. Tetrimon in the process, who continues to pop up now and then as preservers of the “true” Amarr scriptures and general maintainers of Amarr culture.

Also during Zaragram’s reign, slavery began to die out. You see, while slavery is horrible and all, many Amarr had enough human decency to release their slaves once a Holder felt the slave was pious enough. Since there hadn’t been much of an infusion of new blood into Amarr society in quite some time, this meant that slavery was slowly fading as an institution as it was becoming prohibitively expensive to acquire new ones. Only something crazy like finding a completely new race of humans to enslave would save the institution at this point, which of course meant that the Ealur were discovered in 21423. The Amarr, in now familiar fashion, started a Reclaiming, a new slave population was secured, and slavery enthusiasts everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

A few hundred years after Zaragram’s disastrous reign, Emperor Heideran V, a Kador, decided that he too would like to make a power grab, it apparently being the style of the time. Alarmed and having seen this ploy before, the Council attempted to eliminate Heideran. Unlike Zaragram, however, Heideran was actually sane, and managed to get many of the most powerful families on his side, including the Kor-Azor, Ardishapur, Sarum, and Khanid (all names that should look at least vaguely familiar), and began enacting the Moral Reforms. Although these five families were members of the Council of Apostles, they didn’t have undisputed control of the Council. After encountering resistance to his reforms, Heideran declared the Council dissolved. Needless to say, the Council disagreed with that assertion. And so the Empire decided to go to war with itself. Never forced to fight technological equals before, the two sides of the Amarr Navy initially managed to cancel each other out. However, after over half a century, the Sarums and the Khanid learned the value of having actual strategic combat, and the Emperor’s side eventually won out (to be fair to the Amarr, not much strategy is necessary when many planets had just discovered the value of tying sharp rocks to a stick).

After the war concluded, the Emperor, along with his newly minted Theology and Privy Councils, finished up his Moral Reforms, bringing the Empire into the form we’re familiar with today. This involved heavy modification of the Scriptures to hand over more power to the Emperor. The Cult of St. Tetrimon, however, reared its head to save at least some of the original text. The Reforms are generally regarded as ending in 21950 AD. Afterward, Amarr exploration continued in its slow, plodding pace. The Ni-Kunni were discovered around this time, but given their low technology level and willingness to embrace the Amarr faith, they were incorporated with little difficulty.

In 22355 AD, the Amarr ran into another small tribal culture. You’ve probably never heard of that crazy tribal nation called the Minmatar. Without delving into too much detail here, suffice it to say for now that the Minmatar Empire spanned 3 systems at the time of discovery. The Matari were the first species the Amarr encountered who also had attained interstellar flight, and the Amarr held off and observed the Matari for quite a while before beginning to skim off populations in small strikes. It took another 125 years before the Amarr finally struck big. During a freak storm that cut off communications across much of Pator, the Amarr struck, lifting millions off the colonized planets in the system into slavery. That day quickly became known as the Day of Darkness. It took another 5 years, until 22485, before the Matari systems were completely incorporated into the Empire. Having learned a few tricks from the Ni-Kunni, the Amarr tried to entice the Matar with both honey and vinegar. Eventually, Amarr wooing won over the Nefantar tribe, who won much more autonomy than the other tribes in exchange for helping the Empire find the last few free Matari holdouts.

Following the conquest of Pator and its colonies, the Empire entered into an almost uninterrupted peace that lasted nearly 700 years. The Empire, following the well-established axiom of “don’t fix what ain’t broken” continued plodding its way slowly across the Cluster (here’s a fun game: count how many times I use “slow” and “plodding” in this section). Unfortunately, this era of peace ended with the ascension of Heideran VII to the throne in 23041, which led to the Empire losing one of the 5 Heir families. Following that, the Theology Council made the surprising move of elevating the first Udorian family, the Tash-Murkon, to Heir status. This was the first time a family of non-True Amarr ancestry was eligible for the throne.

As you may have noticed, we’re not all Amarr slaves, so at some point, the Amarr were bound to run into someone that they couldn’t Reclaim. That happened in 23180, when an Amarr scoutship discovered a Gallente scoutship. In my mind’s eye, the event went down as two incredibly wary 10 meter cats in space, slowly circling each other and eying each other up, which is both terrifying and adorable at once. The Amarr blinked first, activating a cyno, which scared off the Gallente (who hadn’t seen one before), who ran off using a warp drive, which then scared the Amarr (who hadn’t seen that before), who also ran off. I knew this cat analogy was going to work out. …Except the part where they initiated a diplomatic exchange, I suppose.

Anyway, it turns out the two nations hated each other. One liked to enslave people, and the other found that, uhh, not good. But because the Gallente were essentially on par with the Amarr, the Empire was hesitant to attempt what would undoubtedly be a costly and gruesome Reclaiming, even if the Gallente were godless heathens. Both sides realized that they could not fight one another and, in an effort to quell simmering tensions, entered into the Gallente-Amarr Free Trade Agreement in 23210. In a shocking turn of events, politicians gave a name to something that wasn’t entirely accurate, as the GAFTA imposed significant limitations on trade for both sides. But it was a start.

The Caldari eagerly introduced themselves to the Empire in 23187, hoping to find a new ally against the Gallente. But like most overeager people trying too hard to make friends, the Amarr ended up being put off by the Caldari (the lack of wanting to be slaves for the rest of their lives might also have had something to do with it).

Whereas the Caldari were overeager schoolchildren, the Jove were the creepy loner kids. They popped up on the Amarr border in 23191, announced that they existed, and then left. Taking this as a sign of weakness, the Amarr set their eyes on the Jove in 23216, being in a conquering mood at the time, and leading to the very, very short-lived Amarr-Jove War. The war consisted primarily of the Amarr getting their butts handed to them at the Battle of Vak’Atioth (the system, now called merely Atioth, unfortunately has no wreckage from the battle.  Trust me, I’ve checked. Repeatedly. It- it’s kind of a sore point with me). Templar One suggests that the impetus for the war was the result of some internal political strife led by Jamyl Sarum’s father.

The Minmatar, sensing opportunity, chose the Empire’s defeat at Vak’Atioth to begin their Star Warsian rebellion against the Empire, with millions of Amarr dying in the first few days. The Amarr were completely unprepared for a rebellion of such magnitude, and they quickly retreated out of Minmatar space. By the end of 23216, the Minmatar had claimed much of the modern day Republic, with sympathizers among the Minmatar (primarily the Nefantar) settling into the current day Ammatar Mandate to create a buffer zone between the two nations.

After the rebellion, things settled down quite a bit for the Empire. Fearing the Gallente would also take advantage of the newfound Amarr vulnerability, Heideran (remember him?) began negotiations for a Caldari non-aggression pact, entered into in 23222. The assault of peace continued in 23230 when Heideran agreed to enter into the negotiations that ultimately led to CONCORD. Tensions continued to simmer a bit with the Gallente, but capitalism proved its mettle by ultimately winning out over both sides.

Modern history of the Amarr arguably starts with the death of Heideran, who had recently published his magnum opus on the future of New Eden, the Pax Amarria. With Heideran’s passing in YC 105, the search for a new Emperor began, with Doriam II, the Kor-Azor Heir, eventually winning out. The Doriam Imperium was fraught with tensions, culminating with his assassination in YC 107. With the Heirs unwilling to give up their newfound power after only two years, the Empire collectively shrugged its shoulders and dealt with the Regency of Doriam’s court chamberlain, Dochuta Karsoth.

Karsoth’s regency was, to put it kindly, an unmitigated disaster. Heirs went crazy and then were born again, Holders fought Holders, and the Cult of St. Tetrimon (yes they still exist) was allowed back into the Empire.

Things culminated for the good regent in June YC 110. The Starkmanir, the Seventh Tribe of Pator that was long thought to be extinct, had recently been discovered tucked away in the Ammatar Mandate. Within a few weeks of discovery, a massive Matari fleet, led by the Minmatar Elders and constructed in secret, shut down CONCORD and invaded Amarr space. The invading fleet rescued scores of the Starkmanir, and then did what any good invading fleet should: sack and pillage. The fleet got as far as Sarum Prime, one jump from the Throne Worlds, when they were stopped by one Jamyl Sarum. Sarum, one of the Five Heirs during the Doriam succession trials, had been presumed dead due to, you know, society and millennia of tradition demanding it of her. But apparently this all worked out for the best, as Sarum was able to stop the invading fleet with what was apparently a Terran superweapon (fleshed out more in Empyrean Age). The Amarr then declared war on the Minmatar, starting up the faction wars (though to be fair, just about anything, including the Amarr finding more things to name after themselves, causes Amarr to declare war against the Republic). With the Empire secure, the Theology Council again apparently decided to say “screw it” to the Succession Trials, and we had ourselves a new Empress.

Oh, and did I mention that it turns out Karsoth was really a Blood Raider sympathizer and he got exiled and later executed? Man, you just don’t get this kind of excitement in Gallente space.

The reign of Jamyl so far has seen its ups and downs. Perhaps the most notable event (and since I’m the author I get to say what’s notable) demonstrated that the Amarr Empire, for all I make fun of them, are still capable of semi-decent acts now and then. First off, Jamyl declared soon after taking power that any slave of ninth generation or up was emancipated. This obviously sent shockwaves throughout the Empire and Republic alike, as the Holders hadn’t exactly been consulted about losing around 800 million members of their workforce, and the Republic wasn’t quite prepared to handle 800 million new citizens. I realize this is a bit like saying “see, they decided to kill fewer people so good for them” but a start is a start, I suppose.


Social Structure


The government of the Empire is delightfully complex, as you might have guessed, as it is essentially a modern day feudalist structure. Each governance layer can do whatever they want within their territories, as long as it doesn’t violate Scripture or law from higher up the chain. On the very top we have the Emperor, who can basically do whatever the heck he (or, as the case may be, she) wants. However, while her edicts are often unquestioned, she only really can exert direct power over the labyrinthine Amarrian bureaucracy when present in person to see that something is carried out (it turns out that Amarr never learned its lessons from Trantor).

Below the Emperor sits the rump of the Council of Apostles, the Privy Council. The various Heirs have a seat at the Council table, as do the heads of the various ministries, as well as the Court Chamberlain, who can often act as the voice of the Emperor.  Speaking of the Heirs, each governs a portion of the Empire (with either the region they rule or the home planet generally being named after the various Heirs, in a continuing display of Amarr humility). The five Heir families are the Ardishapurs, Kadors, Tash-Murkons, Kor-Azors, and Sarums. The current Heirs are Yonis, Uriam, Catiz, Aritcio, and Merimeth, respectively. The Khanids have also been granted a seat by Empress Jamyl in light of the Kingdom’s recent rapprochement with the Empire.

Alongside the Privy Council is the Theology Council, which acts as the final determiner of what the Scriptures say. Alongside this responsibility is the maintenance of the Book of Records: a nearly uninterrupted genealogy of the Empire dating back to Amash-Akura’s time. An Amarr citizen being stricken from the Book is one of the gravest punishments that exists (beyond, you know, death). Below the Heirs, Holders of various significance often control the nitty-gritty details of local governance.

A few notes about the Emperor. First off, Emperors are chosen by the Succession Trials, which have their roots in the Scriptures 2.0 (The Scripturing) that came into place following the Moral Reforms.  The Trials pit the five Heirs (or, in more recent years, Heir-appointed Champions) against each other in a series of tests designed to see who most holds God’s favor in becoming the next Emperor. The winner takes the Throne, while the losers, in an attempt to keep them from usurping said Throne, must commit Shathol’Syn: ritual suicide (continuing the Amarr’s reputation as a Super Cheery Bunch). Scandal the First rocked Jamyl’s reign when people realized that she had gotten around Shathol’Syn by having herself cloned as a capsuleer. The Empire (with the exception of the traditionalists who were hushed up by Jamyl’s supporters) collectively shrugged its shoulders at this shocking breach of tradition, though. Secondly, the Emperor must follow the Doctrine of Sacred Flesh, which practically speaking means that the Emperor’s body must be kept pure: i.e., no cloning. Scandal the Second rocked Jamyl’s reign when people realized that she had gotten around Shathol’Syn by having herself cloned as a capsuleer. The Empire continued to collectively shrug its shoulders at this shocking breach of tradition, with a firm but apathetic “meh.”

Anyway, below the Holders, we reach the commoners, or middle class of the Empire, and then everyone’s favorites, the slaves, who hold the approximate political rights of a toadstool (though with perhaps somewhat better housing options). As you might expect, the Empire is pretty regimented by class. It might surprise you to learn, however, that the Empire is surprisingly diverse, ethnically speaking. Though the majority are True Amarr, the Minmatar tribes and others take up a significant chunk as well (and not just as slaves!).


The Succession Trials were thrown into question with Jamyl Sarum. Although she lost the Trials and theoretically committed suicide, she was found resurrected in YC 110 during the Elder Fleet crisis (see the section on the Minmatar). She had apparently planned to be resurrected from the start. She swept through and saved the Empire from the Elder Fleet’s wrath with a Terran superweapon of enormous power. After that victory, she was proclaimed the new Empress. However, some sources (most notably, Templar One) suggest that all is not as it seems; Jamyl has often been observed to be fighting some kind of internal demon, which first appeared after her resurrection. Feelings on Sarum are mixed overall: she has in some cases shown great religious fervor, but some have questioned her decision to emancipate a significant fraction of Minmatar slaves.



Roleplaying Tips

Before I dig in to a few tips for RPing the Amarr, I just want to mention something for the aspiring RPers out there. In these sections, I’ll be mentioning some broad guidelines that MOST RPers try to adhere to in playing their characters in a respective background. But that being said, just as in real life, you can find all kinds of people in the Empires. Just because I might say that the Amarr are super religious, doesn’t mean they ALL are. Feel free to go against the grain or go with it, I’m just trying to offer some hints if you’re interested.

Those of you looking to RP an Amarr character should find it pretty easy. Broadly, there’s two categories of Amarr characters: those who honestly believe in the Amarr religion and will work to Reclaim other people, and those who really don’t believe in the religion but pretend to for greater personal gain (there is some suggestion in Templar One that even Empress Jamyl falls into this latter category). Regardless of personal motivations, Amarrians (Amarr? There’s no clear distinction in the literature either way and I use the terms interchangeably) are generally seen as haughty and, as could be expected, rather holier-than-thou. True Amarr suffer the most from this type of condition, of course, since they are God’s Chosen People.

What little is known about the Ni-Kunni suggests that they have long been absorbed by the Empire and accept their place, even if it is near the low rungs of the Empire’s society. The Khanid are a bit unique in that some of the race has split off into the Khanid Kingdom, but a significant chunk of the bloodline remains Imperial subjects. In general, the RP crowd tends to split amongst Royal Houses rather than the formal bloodlines. There are varying degrees of how dedicated to the faith a person is, how much they accept Jamyl’s rule, and how much sympathy they feel for slaves and former slaves. That said, Amarr also tend to be friendly towards the Caldari (apparently in an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” type approach), solidified by economic ties.


PREVIOUS: An Introduction
NEXT: The Minmatar Republic

3 comments:

  1. Why the picture of Grand Arbiter Augustin IV? :P

    http://magiccards.info/di/en/112.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oops. I borrowed it from another fansite that covered the same topic (Amarr Succession Trials). I assumed it was a CCP-sourced image.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "of the four main nations (collectively known as the Empires)"

    An empire is not really a nation though.

    Amarr society is quite medieval and authoritarian.

    ReplyDelete

Lay it on me.