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The Grand Council of Alphatia

by Jamuga Khan

The Grand Council of Alphatia consists of 1000 members. An aspiring member has to fulfil two qualifications: He must have the ability to cast magical spells and he must be of level 36. Fulfilling these requirements does not guarantee candidacy.

First there must be a free place in the Council, second he must be elected. This is not done through a popular vote, but by a difficult and intricate procedure. First the empress (or emperor) has the right to propose a candidate. If she does not want to use this right, every member of the Grand Council has the right to propose one. Now this man or woman will be examined by the Committee for Internal Affairs. Should there be more than one at a time, the CIA will decide in which ranking the candidates will be examined.

The candidate has to prove that he is a spellcaster and of level 36, willing to work for the Empire, being faithful to the Empire and simply a good future Member of the Grand Council (MGC).To achieve this the speaker and the members of the CIA will ask many questions until they are content. The ability check is done free-style. When the candidate can convince the CIA, the matter is settled. After finishing this procedure the candidate will introduce himself to the GC. Besides he will try to collect as many votes as possible, by promises, friendships or bribery.

Finally there will be an election in the GC. The absolute majority of all voting MGCs is necessary to be elected. There is no minimum for the number of voting members. When 60 out of 1000 members are present and voting and 35 vote for a candidate he is elected. With more than one candidate the one with the fewest votes is rejected and the next vote can begin. Should a single candidate not get the majority for three times in a row he is rejected too. In the event of a tie the president of the Grand Council will make his decision.

The empress has the right to propose three candidates, one after another. Should she do this and all are rejected by the Council, every member has again the right for a proposal. The empress can even choose not to use her first- choice right, but to propose a candidate who has to compete with other candidates.

The whole procedure can be much simpler too. When Tylion IV, former emperor of Alphatia, were elected into the Grand Council, he was examined by the CIA in one minute during a session of the Council and he was elected by simple acclamation afterwards. This could work because a big number of MGCs had already worked for him in the background for more than three months before even proposing him a candidate.

The tasks of the GC are to examine the current state of the Empire, to develop laws, to administer the finances and the military. The empress had the right to rule the Empire in her own will, but in reality nobody really could do this. She has the right to counter any decision made by the GC, but in the long run she would have to step down because the GC would stop performing its function. This was what happened to emperor Tylion IV. During the Spike Attack he ignored some advises of the GC and when he finally lost the war he lost the assistance of the GC too.

Of course, despite having the honour of belonging to the Grand Council, most members are seldom present at the sessions. Every member gets some payment for attending the sessions, but normally there are no more than 200 members present. Additionally members of the Grand Council get free entry on many occasions, many invitations to parties, well paid speeches, and so on.

On the other hand there are some exceptions as the members with special positions do more work. These members often belong to one of the committees. Other positions are usually only temporary, like a special emissary.

Naturally most work is done by these committees, as the GC is simply too big for the day-to-day work, and some important question for Alphatia has been answered in one of those. One of the most important is the Committee of Internal Affairs (CIA), which controls the police, the judiciary, the Council itself and some more. Other committees are the Committee of Imperial Finances (CIF), the Committee of Alphatian Defence (CAD), lesser important the Committee of Expansion and Colonisation (CEC), the Committee for Science and Education (CSE), the Committee of Foreign Affairs (CFA) and the Committee for National Health (CNH), which controls the Alphatian Centre of Disease Control (ACDC). The names of these committees were developed over the centuries and differ in their construction simply because the creators wanted it this way.

The committees have about 10 members with the CIA on the top with about 20 and the CFA at the bottom with only 4 member. The number depends on the budget. When a committee decides to need more members it will have to negotiate with the CFI and the empress, the CFI itself with the CIA and the empress. When a committee has found an appropriate candidate it will come to an election. Again the absolute majority of the voting members is necessary. The membership in a committee will last for life, but there is no maximum to this number.

Each member of the GC has his own office, but the committee members will get adjacent ones which are better equipped, of course. From time to time it is necessary to make reports to the GC about the results and ongoing projects. Written copies will be sent to the empress, too.

Of course, the GC administration is a huge business as there are approximately ten to fifteen employees on each member of the Grand Council. In the buildings of the GC are some excellent libraries and laboratories which are opened to some employees and all members of the GC. Quite a number of the GC staff is working abroad, collecting information, supervising projects, and so forth. Among these are the intelligence services. The three great committees have some, of course, the civil Alphatian Security Agency (ASA) from the CIA, the Naval Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Military Intelligence and Protection Service (MIPS) from the CAD, and the Bureau of Investigation for Tax Offences (BITO) from the CFI. More than once in the past members of the services has clashed.

In AY 2009/2010 the number of the members were reduced dramatically. Many members died during the wars and were not resurrected during the panicked days that followed. Other remained in the Outer World, like ex-emperor Tylion. Only half of the number remained, one great hindrance to re-establish a working government. New names appeared, new members or old members who volunteered to bear more responsibility. In AY 2014 the Grand Council achieved to solve the most urgent problems, but there are still more than 200 positions empty in the ranks which have to be filled over the coming years. Some members are reported to be alive but left in the Outer World. The GC has not decided to replace those but the matter is not yet settled finally.

The Factions

Although it is difficult to find two wizards who share one opinion - somebody who knows Glantri would even deny the possibility - there are some factions in Grand Council of Alphatia, groups of members who have common interests. Indeed there is a great number of those. Some are small, some have quite a number of members. Among the greatest are the Party of Blue Wheels (PBW), the Party of Red Maces (PRM) and Brothers of Greenwood (BoG). Smaller factions are the Party of Azure Wave (PAW), Party of Black Tower (PBT), Party of White Tower (PWT), Party of Rainbow Tower (PRT) and the Imperial Tourist Unionists (ITU). The main goals of these factions will be explained later.

A candidate need not to say what party he wants to join, he is not obliged to join one neither. The mighty CIA isn't even allowed to ask. Of course the Blue Wheels which dominates the CIA for over a millennium now would like to reject all candidates not inclined to their ranks. But the last time they tried it all their candidates were rejected during the elections. This tie became a political crisis until emperor Tylion II decided to disallow the question, and all parties could live with that. Once a candidate has become a MGC he will have to decide whether he joins a party or stays independent. A seat in one of the committees is normally only then possible when the member belongs to the party which controls the committee. This is of course not a strict rule.

PBW: The Blue Wheels are the oldest and greatest of the GC factions. They have between a fifth and a fourth of the seats and dominate the CIA, the CFA and the CEC, plus a minority in the CIF. It consists mostly of mages and is a bunch of traditionalists. They think that Alphatia is good enough as it is, because it serves all needs of the mages. Nothing should be changed, and the primitive foreign countries can be left alone. Some Blue Wheels are going so far that they want to restrict the nobility to mages, but they do not have a majority within the party. Since the Blue Wheels have won the control over the CEC, the development of new colonies has dramatically decreased. Their greatest, though mostly friendly (no more than one or two duels per year), foe are the Red Maces.

PRM: The Red Maces consist to over 60 percent of clerics with a few numbers of paladins and avengers. They were founded by some blood-thirsty war-clerics but are now far from being fanatics. Most clerical members joined the ranks to oppose the Blue Wheels. They are interested in war, scholarship and health. The Red Maces dominate the CAD, the CSE and are minorities in the CNH and CIF. They have between 150 and 200 seats.

BoG: The Brothers of Greenwood are interested in the preservation of the woods and originated from Foresthome. A problem is arising in the last decades. More and more the female members are discontented with the name, they have even threatened to found the Sisters of Greenwood when not a new name would be chosen. This dispute is far from being settled. The Brothers (and Sisters?) of Greenwood are the majority in the CNH and a minority in the CIF, including the speaker of the CIF. The BoG never had more than 100 seats in the GC.

PAW: The Party of Azure Wave is a very small one as it has only five members in the Grand Council. They do not have too much influence, but even only one political goal: They want to construct a system of water channels throughout the Empire to connect the various rivers and lakes. One thing is special about the Azure Waves: As members of the Order of the Lakes, an organisation interested in shipping the inland and coastal waterways on galleys, they are assigned to the Grand Council to fight for the goals of their order. So these five are always present and in the past they were able to decide some elections, when there was only a small number present. Their plan is to get enough support from other parties by assisting them in matters importing for those. One member has even got a call into the CIF.

PBT: The Party of Black Tower wants to legalise all kind of magical researches as it is already in the kingdom of Blackheart. Their enemies are the White Towers.

PWT: The Party of the White Tower is opposed to the Black Towers and wants to criminalise unethical magical research, such as practised in Blackheart, throughout the Empire.

PRT: The Party of Rainbow Tower was founded by a mage who was both annoyed and amused about the both Tower parties. The goals of the Rainbow Towers are to maintain the status quo, and to show the rest of the GC how ridiculous the parties of the Black and White Towers really are. The first and constant joke of this party is its name, of course. Since the founding of the PRT, nobody has ever wanted to introduce another party upon a coloured tower.

ITU: The Imperial Tourist Unionists demands to develop the whole Empire as a tourist centre as it has be done with Gaity and Arogansa. They want get even foreign visitors in great numbers. The fact that most foreigners would not have the money to pay for a visit to Alphatia has no value for them. Since the founding of the ITU it is a constant puzzle for the rest of the GC whether they simply have a dream or a malicious plan.

Some prominent members of the Grand Council (AY 2000, AY 2010):

Tylion, former emperor of Alphatia:
For information about Tylion IV please look:
"A Life IV a Crown - The Unauthorised Biography about Emperor Tylion IV", Sundsvall University Press, AY 2004.

Prince Dalamar of Haaken, President of the Grand Council:
Motto: "Let's talk about it!"
Dalamar is a cousin of Prince Haldemar, but some years older. He has lived most of his life as a professor for politics at the University of Sundsvall. That he was elected to be the president has not hindered him in his scientific researches in any way. The position of the president is a formal one, but he could see living politic at work. The member of the Grand Council sometimes feel like an interesting specimen under the microscope, and for Dalamar they are. On the other hand there was never a scandal and he has lead the GC very silent and professional.

Marshall Dillon, Avenger of Vanya, Speaker of the Committee of Alphatian Defence:
Motto: "Life is life, and war is war!"
As a born citizen of Stonewall, Marshall Dillon can look back on a long career in the Imperial Army. During the spike attack he was a colonel and brought as many troops back to home as possible. Shortly thereafter he achieved the rank of an avenger and his military genius brought him a storm through the ranks of the generals. Reaching level 36 he has served as Grand Field Marshall for over 20 years. Empress Eriadna promoted him as a candidate for the Grand Council. During the examination he was asked what he would do when a member would challenge him to a duel. His answer is legend now: "I will need 10 seconds to kill a wizard, and 20 seconds for a patriarch. I really doubt that he or she would be able to kill me in this time." Annoyed about this statement some MGCs challenged him. Two mages and one cleric were killed immediately, one mage were lucky enough to survive the first attack and plead for mercy, one cleric recalled himself to his keep. Marshall Dillon resurrected them afterwards, and some are now good friends of him. After that the marshal were elected by a great majority. Shortly thereafter he became speaker of the CAD as a member of the Red Maces, as he was simply the best man for the job.
When the war with Glantri, Thyatis and Heldann broke out, one member asked in the GC if the Empire could trust him, an avenger of Vanya. Marshall Dillon answered: "I'm first an'foremost an'Phatian, an' I'd rather search a new boss to serve than harm Alphatia in any way! Vanya is the mistress of Warfare and Conquest, an'we'll see who'll win!"
As an avenger he was arrested by emperor Zandor in the last days of the war as the mad emperor did not like the idea about fighters in the Grand Council. Now he serves as CAD speaker again.

Master Horgan, Cleric of Valerias, Speaker of the Committee for Science and Education:
Motto: "The Master holds you dear!"
A born Amburian, Horgan is interested in astronomy and theatres. Instead of shaving his head as most Amburian do, Horgan has long hair, which seems to need a wash every five minutes, and he weighs some pounds more than he should. Despite that he is very favoured by the women. Obviously his mistress told him a few other tricks.
When he was younger he was a famous singer who were on tour constantly through all kingdoms in the whole empire. He even visited Darokin and Thyatis. His voice is still extraordinary but he does not like tours anymore. When he was chosen to be a member in the GC he joined the Red Maces and became engaged in questions of culture and education. He "survived" the destruction of Alphatia and has still the same position as before the war. His speeches before the Grand Council usually ends with the words "The Master holds you dear!"

Tiernan, Cleric of Ordana, Speaker of the Committee of Imperial Finances
Motto: "The peace of nature may come upon you!"
Being from Foresthome, Tiernan decided to choose the path as druid, but he could not make the final decision when he was at level 9. Now, as a cleric level 36 he is still thinking about it, but the problem is that he would have to challenge the High Druid of the Isles. That he is the head of the CIF is sheer politic. As one of the greatest battlefields of the GC, the Blue Wheels and the Red Maces decided to elect a Brother of Greenwood.

Elbe-Es, Wizard, Speaker of the Committee of Internal Affairs
Motto: "We will give your future a home!"
Elbe-Es inherited the small Wallstreet Bank in Bluenose, Arogansa from his father and together with his sister Swebbyshull he made a very good business in financing houses for freemen and made much money. During his career he took over the First Arogansa National Bank, bought parts of other Alphatian banks and became one of the wealthiest men in Alphatia. Being rich was not enough, though. Elbe-Es became a member of the Great Council and, of course, he joined the Blue Wheels, as nobody is more conservative than a banker. Finally he became the Speaker of the CIA, perhaps the most important position in the Empire.
When the war broke out, he was one of the few who spoke against it, but the Blue Wheels had another opinion. Elbe-Es trusts more in money than in magic, despite of being a level 36 wizard, but he did his very best to fight this war which was lead to preserve the magic. After the attack on Glantri City he did not return to Alphatia, but went to Darokin City and is now trying to recover from his heavy losses. As some of his money were placed in Norwold, Esterhold and Bellissaria it is very possible that he will become a very important person in Darokin in the next years. He uses his powers to disguise himself so that nobody knows his true identity.

Swebbyshull, Wizard, Speaker of the Committees of Internal Affairs/Expansion and Colonisation
Motto: "On these stones you can build!" Like her brother Elbe-Es Swebbyshull made some billions as a businesswomen. She has studied architecture and with the money of her brother's banks she built houses for the commoners and for immobile speculations. Swebbyshull Constructions is now the greatest company in the Empire. When Elbe-Es went into the politic, she became interested too, and later on she decided to became MGC too. In AY 997 she became speaker of the CEC for the Blue Wheels, but she had more plans than her party. Her dream was to build houses all over Mystara.
After the war she replaced her brother as speaker of the CIA.

Fredegar, Wizard, Speaker of the Committees of Expansion and Colonisation
Motto: "Say 'Cheese'!"
Fredegar is a master cheeser from Frisland, and he was quite content with it. He 's started as the apprentice of the famous master cheeser Klamordigan. When becoming a journeyman, he and his master decided to take this literally. Fredegar spent years travelling through the Empire. Besides other activities he also worked as a travelling salesman. Finally he founded his own company in Frisland.
After the war he was asked to help, and he did refusingly. But a master cheeser does not shy away before hard work or responsibility and authority. He is a member of the Party of Blue Wheels, but he could not care less about it. Right now he is developing a new dream about bringing wonderful cheeses to all people of the Hollow World and to find wonderful new cheeses likewise.

Angus McCarthy, Wizard, Speaker of the Committee of Foreign Affairs
Motto: "...and finally I'm the opinion that Glantri has to be destroyed!"
Angus is from Klantyre in Glantri, where he has met Prince Brannart McGregor once in his life under... unfortunate circumstances. After that he left Klantyre and emigrated to Alphatia, where he fought engaged for his new home, and for a war against Glantri. When he reached level 36 his deeds were well known and some MGCs decided to start a promotion. Quickly he entered the CFA as a member of the Blue Wheels as this committee is bad equipped, small and only responsible for some few matters. So it's no wonder that he even reached the position as speaker. One sign of Angus is his final sentence when holding a speech as he always demands to destroy Glantri.
After the war he is a bitter man, seeing his former home country be victorious because of some natural catastrophes. (As a Glantrian he does not put much faith in immortals and does not know what really has happened.)

Alram, Cleric of Alphatia, Speaker of the Committee for National Health
Motto: "Life is nothing without Health!"
In his youth he fought as an officer in the army of Bettellyn, but finally he could not endure the pain and death caused by battles any longer. He decided to work for the humans and for their health. When reaching the ranks of the GC he joined the Brothers of Greenwood and finally he was appointed as speaker of the CNH.
During the last days of the war he disappeared.

Lianna, Cleric of Noumena, Speaker of the Committee for National Health
Motto: "Every disease is a puzzle! I love puzzles!"
She served in the first aid units of Randel and left the army later to make a career at the university at Sundsvall with medical research.
After the destruction of Sundsvall and the university she was deacon of the medical faculty and where building up the department, when she was asked to join the ranks of the Grand Council. Seeing the necessity of rebuilding the government she entered the GC and became speaker of the CNH for the BoG.

Solturnun, Wizard, Member of the Committee of Imperial Finances
Motto: "A ship may sink, but the fleet will exist forever."
Admiral-Knight Solturnun from the Order of the Lake is a member of the Party of Azure Waves. He joined the Order of the Lake when he was young and lived most of his life on the wooden deck of a galley. Although he never was interested in politic he entered the Grand Council when he got the possibility as the High Master had convinced him to work for the order's goals in Sundsvall. Consequently he bought a own little river galley which is manned by young members of the order, which he uses both as ferry and simply for shipping the river after long sessions in the Council. The river parties for the members of Grand Council are famous.
With both the once mighty air armada as the ocean gone, his dream of connecting all natural waterways is probably coming true.

Galandan, Cleric of Asterius, Head of the Naval Intelligence Service
Motto: "You can even hide an entire fleet in a real thick fog."
Admiral Galandan is a cleric in the upper mid-levels and a aspirant to become a MGC in some decades. A born Eadrinian, he joined the navy which ships he has admired as a boy. After a good, although not excellent career, Marshall Dillon made him the head of one of the secret services the CAD controls. As a cleric of Asterius he was a good choice and he is leading the NIS on a very effective way. The Admiral is far better known as the high cleric of Asterius in the imperial capital. His naval career has officially ended.

"B"/ "The Spymaster", Thief(?), Head of the Alphatian Security Agency
Motto: "The truth lies in the eye of the beholder - sometimes even in all eleven."
One of the most unknown employees of the Alphatian government is the head of the ASA. One story says that he is a thief from Ambur who has sharpened his skills on the stages of Amburese theatres, another tells that he must be a beholder. Whatever might be true, "B" is the feared and effective leader of the likewise feared and effective ASA, known to be the sharpest dagger in the arsenal of the CIA. Actually the ASA does not do very spectacular actions, only enough to maintain its terrible fame.

The Council of the Kingdoms

Lesser known as the Grand Council is the so-called Council of the Kingdoms. Despite being an autocratic ruled Empire, Alphatia is a federal state and the kings and queens are whole-heartedly federalists. This of course means that they want to have as much authority about their kingdoms as possible without giving to much tasks to the central government, the empress and the Grand Council. In the borders of their realms and their given authority the rulers want to rule as autocratic as possible, and they do. The Grand Council as the main body of the central Imperial government is a centralistic institution, of course. Inevitably the kings and queens have convened from time to time to discuss the policy of the GC, new Imperial laws and what that would mean for the kingdoms. It started as an informal ruler's club, and even when it was named "Council of the Kingdoms" 400 years back by the King of Randel, it has not changed. The CK has no administrative capacity of its own, nor does it own any buildings; it is so informal that a session occurs whenever two rulers meet. No Alphatian law even noticed the CK, and it has no right to decide anything. On the other hand the members are kings and queens of Alphatia and so they can decide something on their own, but the CK has no right to enforce a decision when one rulers does not want to do it. Of course, sometimes there were wars between the kingdoms based on dissent between the kings and queens in the past, an event frowned upon by the GC.

This remained unchanged until AY 2012 when Prince Haldemar of Haaken proposed to form a new government for the remaining Alphatian kingdoms. The rulers had not seen each other very often since Alphatia has sunk, and all tried to rule their realm alone. Emperor Zandor had even permitted the existence of the CK for all territories he demanded. In 2012 the Council of the Kingdoms finally ceased to exist and was reformed as the Council of the New Alphatian Empire (CNAE). Two years later it became the Council of the NACE. Nowadays it is the main body of government as the Grand Council was it once (and is it still in the Hollow World). In the Hollow World the CK still exists, of course. The first members of the CNAE were the kings and queens of Aquas and Bellissaria, but now those positions are hold by representatives chosen by the rulers as they have the task to rule their kingdoms. First President of the CNAE, later CNACE, became Siaron Lagrius, formerly Queen of Lagrius, as Prima inter Pares. Decision are made with simple majority, in case of a tie the commander-in- chief, currently Commander Broderick, will make the decision.