THE POLITICAL SITUATION OF FOLERA
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Folera is a semi-arid planet towards the fringes of the Imperium. It subsists mostly on local trade, as well as various crooked deals with local systems that give Folera a measure of power, wealth, and security than it's circumstances might otherwise afford.
Folera has had a long history of partial association with the Imperium, having fallen off the charters and into local autonomy every time that the Imperium has been in a state of crisis. It should be noted that Folera has never actively joined any anti-Imperium force or movement, preferring to sit on the fence and lean whichever way the winds happen to blow (always making sure to keep a lookout for themselves first, of course).
Though Folera has had a governor sent by the Imperium for most of it's history, the real power (more or less, depending on the circumstances) rests on the shoulders of the king. The king of Folera is the chief reagent of one of the princeley houses. These Kallistas of the different houses (which have varied in number between 7 and 12 over the millenium) run their respective principalities with one of them being the "arch-prince", or king, which also runs general planetary affairs in addition to his own house. The system of governance runs in a typical "client - patron" style from the king down to the lesser princes, which in turn divide their autocracy into grand counties and so forth.
The furthest reaches of Foleran history are naturally shrouded in mystery. It can be said with a fair degree of certainty, however, that the current Foleran political system reaches back to the Great Crusade. It was during this time that Rogue Traders marked Folera as a local hub for trade. This caused many small guild houses (most likely political representations of the myriad of trading companies that took over after the decline of the Rogue Traders in the area) to arise into a patchwork system of economic and political control.
Folera was cut off from the Imperium with the dawn of the Great Heresy. Though never invaded directly by Chaos forces, the Emperor did not see Folera, nor any of its neighbors to be of any particular strategic value, and so did little to maintain it's connection with the planet. It was during this mostly autonomous period that Folera's political institutions finally matured as centuries of inter-guild warfare finally yielded to the kallisteriate system.
Since the Heresy, Folera has remained a part of the Imperium, though it's relative lack of value marked by infrequent breaks in communication with the Imperium altogether have allowed Folera to retain a fair degree of autonomy over the millennia. Though there is an imperial governor present most of the time, real power more or less resides in the king of Folera. So long as nothing overly fiendish or downright heretical occurs, Imperial governors have usually been happy simply accepting enormous bribes to stay out of politics, and living out their days in the high life.
The Kallisteriate System:
The arable lands of Folera are currently collected under the banner of nine great houses, or kallisteriates. The autocrat of each of the kallisteriates is known as a kallista, an ancient Foleran word for prince.
At any given time, one of the kallistas also occupies the position of beltista, or king of Folera. The kingship of Folera passes down in a semi-feudal way though the generations, keeping the beltista in the lineage of a single kallisteriate, barring any external force.
The beltista runs all planetary affairs, usually appointing a relative to the position of "mikrallista" a person who acts as a kallista, but only because the real kallista is otherwise occupied as king. The king does, however, still regain control of both Folera and his kallisteriate.
The King of Folera and his entire government reside in the Royal City, which completely covers a small, centrally located island. From there the king is the nexus of the complicated interweave of money and power in all of Folera. Given that the administration of the government is completely appointed by the beltista, it is usually not that difficult for a particularly shrewd and enterprising kallista to maintain their control of the throne once they have it, and all the luxuries that come with it.
The kingship of Folera is the end prize for any kallista (or any Foleran for that matter), and most of the political happenings revolve around the different great houses jockeying for money, power, prestiege, and other forms of capital for both self-indulgence and aggrandizement, but also with the end goal of taking, and keeping the beltista crown for their houses.
With such a complex political system, it is not uncommon for their to be political turmoil in Folera. Secret exchanges of money, oaths, and alliances in the multi-tiered client-patron system with no strict rules for the seizure and holding of power make for a complicated system indeed. At every level of government there is the chronic attempts by lower-downs to unseat higher-ups. Usually this is accomplished by intrigue and subtlety, but it is definitely not unknown for political situations to devolve into violence, whether it be assassination, or even outright civil war as can sometimes accompany the changeover of a beltista.
What follows is a brief overview of the current nine great houses of Folera:
Also known as the East Extopies
The house of Keleria has dominion over the eastern edge of the East Sea. It is a loose federation of counties that usually remains united under a regional great house for fear of long-range domination by a central Kallisteriate. Much of the population in this area tends to hug very close to the coast, as it does not take long for a traveler going inland to run into the Great Desert.
As formidable as the desert is, however, the regions dominated by Keleria have basically unhindered access to it, including any resources contained there within. As such, there are many profitable trading companies that work out in the deep desert bringing back exotic materials and raw resources needed for much of the industry and manufacturing on Folera.
Despite being on the artery of resources going to the rest of Folera, it's distance from the capitol and the number of middle men required to push the goods, Keleria is generally unable to leverage it's position to anything more than a subordinate role. It has held the crown of Folera only once, making it the kallista who has held the beltista position the fewest times.
Militarily, Keleria tends to produce a much higher percentage of hardened desert fighters, used to keeping their heads down, and being left alone for weeks on end, even in the toughest of conditions. As well, the tough conditions and being far from the economic heart of the planet have created generations of particularly skilled mechanics and technicians, especially in logistic support areas.
The house of Lutera stretches over a long and verdant stretch of coastline in the northern and western East Sea. While much of the population resides on the fertile coastline near the sea, there are also large population centers that run up the near innumerable river valleys that run up into the mountain.
Given its predominance in agriculture, Lutera has engaged in innumerable long, drawn out conflicts over territorial disputes. This has caused Lutera to develop an unusually strong internal political system (and as such, Lutera generally enjoys a more peaceful environment than other Foleran holdings). This system is thought to survive better due to the more consistent performance of agriculture compared to other economic forms, and the money that it consistently brings in is more equitably dispensed than in other houses (often along family lines. This familial connection is much stronger in Lutera than elsewhere). While this does give Lutera less leveraging power, it's stability allows it to more consistently plan and succeed in long-term planning.
The current beltista, King Staccos IV, is from the house of Lutera.
Militarily, Lutera tends to field poor quality troops. This is because the Luteran political system is systemic through the whole culture, making it difficult for Luterans to integrate will with soldiers of other houses. As well, Lutera practices protectionist policies with its citizens which mean that many of the soldiers Lutera fields are mercenaries, conscripts, debtors, and other assorted rabble. That being said, in places where there is less integration, such as in the Aeronautica, Luteran forces will tend to stick together, which heightens their performance.
Ulenikos currently holds dominion over massive tracts of land that run from the North Sea across most of the eastern coast of the West Sea. After Almera, Ulenikos has the largest population of the Kallisteriates.
Given its massive size and relative isolation from the center of power, the house of Ulenikos has a general history of being somewhat disassociated with the central government of Folera. Its size and population allow for a greater self-sufficiency than other Kallisteriates, which is partly the cause for this general withdrawl.
As well, given this slight lack of behaving "by the rules" of the Kallisteriate system, Ulenikos behaves slightly differently in its pursuit of power. The biggest difference is that rather than spending all of its resources on achieving the beltistan crown, Ulenikos is more likely than other houses to engage in direct attacks against other houses in concentrated land grabs. As well, Ulenic strategy tends to revolve more around acquiring and hoarding wealth, rather than spending much of it's resources in the ultimate contest for riches. This strategy has understandably made relations between Ulenikos and the central houses more or less strained over the years.
Ulenikos' slow, self-interested growth translates to the military forces it fields for the tithes. Ulenikos tends to bring forward large blocks of sufficiently trained infantry backed up by vehicles and big guns. It is not uncommon to have an integrated mass of Ulenic soldiers making up the core of operations of any scale.
Also known as the West Extopies
The house of Dantharia stretches over a long, arid stretch of coast covering a vast majority of the south and western West Sea. This poor area is comprised of isolated, independent counties that have managed to carve out a bleak existence at the edge of the Great Desert.
Dantharian control over much of its territory is weak, but it is unchallenged most of the time due to total lack of strategic value of much of Dantharian territory. While the Medric plain in the south is much more arable than the rest of the territory, the poor soil quality tends to relegate much of the land use to pastoralism and even nomadism.
Dantharian kallistas, however, have been able to build up and extend their power beyond their normal worth. It's mostly useless and difficult to govern territory is able to be given away in the short term to make military attempts against it generally come to disastrous failure. In this sense of security, Dantharia has shrewdly played the role of power broker among greater houses and often is able to manipulate situations to win maximum gains at the least amount of risk possible.
Given its unique projection of power, and the independent nature of its territories in the fierce wild conditions of the desert, Dantharia produces an unusually high amount of officers for its size. Flexibility and initiative are prized traits among Danthars, and a more liberal political system allows for people to gain rank through merit more easily than other kallisteriates. As well, Dantharian forces contain a large number of light vehicles including their famed rough rider biker brigades.
The house of Almera, over time, has generally controlled most of the heart of Folera, although control tends to be as easily lost as it is gained. Almera controls some of the most developed parts of Folera. It's current boundaries encompass a full quarter of Folera's industrial output. Flush with people and money, Almera often plays a dominant role in Foleran politics, and has put more kallistas on the throne of Folera than any other kallisteriate.
Despite the power that its central location gives it, Almera is able to keep its large wealth and holdings at great cost. Bordered by nearly all the other great houses, it has survived though an endless political nightmare in a situation where the price of failure is high. Almera by now would have been extinguished if it weren't for the quality of the real estate that it holds.
The amount of capital and industry available to Almera causes it to contribute much of the armored backbone of the Imperial tithe forces that leave Folera. Though it is the most populated Kallisteriate, Almera tends to keep its infantry contributions low, preferring to use the manpower to further its own economic ends. Almera is also the near sole producer of more specialty military units such as space-ready fighters.
Generally speaking, Istpheria is the weakest of the central houses. This kallistariate has frequently lost its eastern most counties to other kallisteriates and while it's center of power is furthest away from the maelstrom of central Folera, this has acted as much as a blessing as it has as a curse for Istpheria.
Istpheria, for much of its history, has played an uncomfortable middle man in the power struggle between the central houses. It has frequently been bullied and badgered into alliances, and its relative lack of resources, population, and shrewd intellect of rulers has made it hard for Istpheria to get ahead.
A part of the problem as well is that the kallisteriate's attention is divided between the lucrative, but challenging east, and the less lucrative, but lower risk west. As the chief controller of the flow of goods into and out from the West Sea, many an Ispherian ruler has decided to simply face west and reap in the rewards while the eastern part of their lands burn in constant political struggle.
The general lack of Istpherian initiative in politics has slowly lead to a defensive style of warfare. Thus Istpherian forces tend to be good at holding fortifications, and launching elaborate defenses "in depth". While the "we've got your rear" strategy is odious and impossible to many of the Foleran top brass, more than one commander has been thankful for sudden Istpherian reinforcements, or at least a safe place to retreat to. As well, Istpheria has the industry to create many long range weapons such as earthshaker cannons and mortars.
Kopera is the oldest single running house on Folera. Its homeland resides on the Kopera river valley. Kopera has a very rigid, stratified social structure which is definitely at least part of the reason for its long term success.
Koperan society is divided into two classes. The "citizens" constitute the vast majority of the population. This farming and industrial class is kept in a state of near-serfdom, with indenture rates as high as they can be without inciting revolts among the populace. The upper class are the "ouketes". This upper class makes up about a tenth of the population, and are determinable by their political freedom, and ability to acquire independent wealth.
The ouketes follow a strict martial and moral code that determines advancement and punishment at a societal level. Thus it's easy to know what to do to get ahead in Kopera, but it's often difficult to be able to actually work the regimented system to one's advantage.
All ouketes are trained, at least slightly, in some form of martial art, and thus Koperan troops tend to be of high quality. There is a higher rate of Koperans in the King's Guard than any other house. Koperan troops are often trained in the ways of quick, brutal assaults: being willing to accept high casualties for comprehensive dominance of any military situation. As such, their diplomacy is usually accompanied by the vague threat of force, which can be quickly mobilized and demobilized depending on how much utility the use of force has in any given situation.
Mergos' relative distance from the worst of Foleran affairs has granted it a certain amount of security. This has allowed the house of Mergos, more than any other house to pursue money as its primary form of politics.
Mergos' mix of agriculture, population, and industrial output has caused great, long-term economic growth. A mix of bribery and one-sided alliances has kept the region mostly safe from the ravages of the kallisteriate system. This peace has shown to be very delicate in the past, in situations where Mergos has had to output ruinous levels of bribes, or when dealing with kallistas for whom money is simply not enough.
Mergos as well finds itself a safe-haven for the rich-but-endangered of other kallisteriates. More than one deposed beltista has wiled away his days in a Mergan villa. As well, Mergos has been able to leverage its position to take control of a bigger slice of the off-planet shipping pie than have other kallisteriates.
Militarily, the Mergans do not contribute troops, if they can help it. Instead, Mergos focuses on funding war efforts, and providing logistics support, especially in the realm of inter-stellar shipping.
The house of Holexa currently controls almost all of the island of Epithalia, a massive sub-continent that sits in the middle of the East Sea. Given its proximity to other houses, and its seat of power which is distant from much of its holdings, Holexa has had a very difficult time holding onto all of its dominion, as many of its counties tend to have loyalty to costal houses.
When Holexa has been able to gain firm control of its holdings, it has been a very formidable power among the kallisteriates, but internal divisions are nearly always the reason for Holexa's inevitable loss of status. Thus, most of a Holexan kallista's efforts are turned inwards, confident that things will go well outside if they can just keep a lid on what's inside the region.
Holexan forces, like Holexa itself, is a patchwork of myriad county forces that can sometimes have very different military cultures. Whether it's the iron fist of western Holexa's industrial base, or snipers from the far east, or any of the diverse units in between, Holexa tends to field nicely balanced armies, if it is able to get all of the pieces into a single place.
The Gallikoi are not actually a great house proper. Instead, they are a loose confederacy of Gallik people, ordered in a tribal system, who live in the Great Desert, particularly in the northern reaches of Folera. Gallikoi are a different race of men from the rest of Folera, sporting such odd features as blonde hair and broader shoulders.
While their origins are unknown, some scholars believe that they may be indigenous to Folera since before the Great Crusade, although there is no way of knowing for certain. Shrouded in mystery, mostly due to the fact that few wish to venture out into the desert, the Gallikoi have little, if any impact on the political workings of Folera, however individual Gallikoi have a tendency to find themselves in the Foleran Army now and again.