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HistoryDude

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Well, I see that he rebuilt his capital entirely. That's... extreme, but I suppose it worked...
 
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GangsterSynod

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Taking a page from the Emperor Augustus, I see. ("I found Rome a city of bricks, and left it a city of marble.")
Augustus as filtered through Napoleon and the Borgias, at least.
Well, I see that he rebuilt his capital entirely. That's... extreme, but I suppose it worked...
Oh yes, Elton is very much a man of extremes. If he'd had a downfall, that'd be an easy thing for future historians to pick up on and nail him for, but his penchant for grand gestures certainly will cost him somewhat down the road anyway...

@TheButterflyComposer I'm too lazy to go back and quote your post, but thank you for the kind words.
______________________________
This AAR is not dead! It's just that I have an internship that's currently chewing through my weekends. It'll be over in about a week, and hopefully I can get a post out then if not before.
 
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For some reason I missed the last update at the time, but all caught up now. Great stuff. I’m put in mind particularly of the Alhambra, which sort of fits in a slightly ironic way (what about this isn’t?) with the Imamite Spanish-inflected stuff.
 
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Meta-update and Methodological Approach Going Forward

GangsterSynod

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I have sort of a busy weekend coming up, but hopefully I can get something out by Sunday. I also want to note that Elton has taken up quite a lot of space so far, though only because I've really found no way to avoid him. He set everything up and made very radical changes from what came before that the reader will need for context. This AAR will basically be all Elton, all the time, until he dies. After that happens, however, I'm likely to compress more, especially because once we get to gametime, I won't have any notes, just some screenshots I took after it was all over and some years of the Chronicle. So, vague memory and invention are going to be the order of the day at that point. Not that they weren't before. But there were two Emperors who were radical changemakers on an Eltonian scale, so we'll probably zoom in on them again.

I also want to note that I'm no fan of "great-man" history, and I've tried to make that come across in my writing and deemphasize them insofar as I could, but the thing is that strong Californian emperors = top-down, personality-driven radical change, so there will be a bit of a delicate balancing act between these big personalities and broader trends (I'm also not a Marxist historian, so don't expect everything to purely boil down to class either). Sound good? Also, are there any particular topics you'll want to see covered in future (bearing in mind forum rules, of course; I'd love to have a chapter about Cetic narcotic theology in here, for example, but I don't think I could get away with it)? I know there was interest for a sports update somewhere down the line...
 
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DensleyBlair

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I'd love to have a chapter about Cetic narcotic theology in here, for example, but I don't think I could get away with it
Maybe instead we can get a nice update about the mythical White Rabbit of California, with its reputed psychedelic powers. :D
 
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Chapter VII: We Don't Need No Thought Control New

GangsterSynod

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Suggested musical accompaniment (or at least what I was listening to when writing)

The Imperial Qualification Exam is one of the most intriguing and genuinely intellectually novel ideas to have come from Elton’s pen (while he was a great writer, Ceticism is met with more than a hint of distaste in the historiography of California because of its perceived lack of theological coherence and innovation. Some of this criticism abates when the Matthewian Doctrines are discussed, however, and certainly the Doctrines represent a clarifying moment in the religion). While historians of the modern prefer to look at much later figures (Albertinus Des Moines, Sandra Tenyle, Zakariyya XXIX) in discussing the evolution of the foundational ideas of our age, there cannot be any doubt that Elton’s Invincible Letter, with its enclosed exam, marked the revivification of the idea of meritocracy, dormant since the Event (and indeed, while the Celestial Empire was brutal and arbitrary in many ways, its commitment to meritocracy (outside the imperial family) and social mobility remained constant through even its darkest periods, though the advantages of the traditionally bureaucratic families would accrue over time). The exam itself was split into five parts: History, Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, and the Bureaucratic Treatise, all intended to “measure the cultivation and attitudes of the most promising minds in order to approach a state of total collective chillness and serenity, so that we as a realm might all be on the same page as regards administration”. The questions on test 1:1 presupposed very little knowledge, though the trend over the centuries was eventually towards the complex and abstruse. Elton believed, however, that the realm was not learned enough for questions requiring some degree of background knowledge, and he designed a test that would “work as much for an intelligent peasant of thirteen years in Yolo as it would for the most garlanded scholar in Goldengate”. Once it had been tested on the military and on the remnants of the noble class successfully, Elton deemed it ready to be rolled out more broadly, though the Exam Revolt and the Abbas War would intervene and delay his plans. Once peace came to California, however, Elton jumped at the chance to expand the availability of the test.

As part of his implementation of Cetic doctrine into Imperial policy, Elton set up a school in Carmel where Cetic Teachers (missionaries, essentially) could be trained. Teachers were non-hierarchical and answerable to nobody save the Emperor in their capacity as Teachers, but they carried out a dual role when they were posted to the countryside. Teachers were also Imperial Proctors, responsible for basic children’s education and the administration of the Exam to all individuals of age in their area (in Abbas, they were theoretically just trained as Proctors, though there were constant tensions involving Proctors allegedly covertly indoctrinating Imamite children into Cetic thought). Next to art and architecture, the training of these Teachers and the copying of their books and teaching materials was the largest expense of the early days of Empire, and it would remain a substantial chunk of the budget until the Empire’s collapse.

By all accounts, the program was effective. The geographic origins of occupants of entry-level bureaucratic positions roughly matched the geographic population dispersal of the rest of California up until (roughly) the reigns of the Stephens. Literacy rates of normal people in the provinces were at somewhere around 20% by the time of Elton’s death, reaching 40% by the time of Elton IV, and 70% by the reign of Karen and the Collapse (though it’s important to note that literacy, as the Empire defined it, was somewhat flexible. Being able to write and read one’s name counted for qualification as literate, and most probably only 10-15% of standard peasants had the writing and reading skills to take the written Exam with any hope of passing by this time). The Exam was also delivered orally, but the acceptance rates were much lower, largely because the Imperial bureaucracy tended to, unsurprisingly, prefer candidates who did not need to be taught to read. Nevertheless, some of the most gifted bureaucrats to ever serve came to Sacramento ignorant of the written word. Talent-sometimes-did out.

The curriculum itself was also largely effective, both as propaganda and as pedagogy. Teachers would “ride circuit” all around their assigned area, on horseback from farm to farm and town to town. The average pupil would get instruction for about two weeks three times a year from the age of four until the age of sixteen (and if a homestead paid for it, increased rates of visits in the year before a boy’s Exam date). A visit from a Teacher, once scheduled, was mandatory, and an extra tax of twenty percent of goods produced would be charged to a homestead if a teacher was met with hostility or a child was deemed truant. Unsurprisingly, there were very few cases of open parental refusal of education, though when religious minorities or dissatisfied peasants took up arms, Teachers were second only to tax collectors in their ratios of murder. One reason for that was likely the mandatory nature of the Exam itself, and of its consequences. A candidate with a passing grade on the exam would, if offered a place in the bureaucracy, be required to accept and to be posted wherever it was deemed necessary for them to be. With sufficiently good grades (a rank of Great Egret or above, or 60%+), a candidate would be required to travel to Sacramento, even if there were no immediate spots open, and await assignment indefinitely. While advantageous for the candidate, this meant one less pair of hands back at the family farm, and if crop yields were poor one year for one reason or another, or if there were few other surviving siblings, starvation could and did often result.

In addition to their pedagogical roles, Teachers acted as vital links between homesteads and the regime. They could-and did-often report community sentiment and individual issues up the chain of command, and were generally regarded as one of the Yudkows’ finest sources of information about the mood of the provinces, acting as a sort of informal espionage system (see particularly C. Lise Krishna’s Spies and Secrets: Espionage in the Celestial Empire). They were also often the communicators of new laws coming down from the top, and the regime’s fastest-moving deliverers of news (at least that news that it wanted people to hear).

Teachers also had a more personal role. As spiritual advisors, they engaged in Therapy with those who had questions. Therapy functioned broadly like Catholic Confession, but with more of a focus on practicalities. Teachers were encouraged to “heighten your questioner’s potential to revolve not only their headspace, but their methods and results”. Sadly, very few Teachers lived to write much down, and fewer still described how their practice of Therapy functioned, but one Teacher, Franklin of Shasta, lived to the age of ninety-two and spent his last twelve years living in Imperial favor under Terpen the Timekeeper. Franklin was interviewed by several senior bureaucrats on behalf of the interested Emperor, and his recollection that “…of Therapy I can say very little. It has a tendency to work, though not drastically, and only if the participant truly wills it. The participant must hear all and accept all, not only all they wish to hear. Oftentimes as I opened my copy of the Letters [the collected works of Elton, with commentaries from assorted emperors] and invited searchers to study their wisdom with me, though, I found opened hearts and ready eyes”, seems to imply that some elements of theological study proper were interspersed with practical life advice and a discussion between participant and Teacher over the course of a Therapy session.

Teachers were vital in translating the often bizarre, insular, and self-consuming world of Sacramento into a context that rural peasants could understand and of encouraging the development of political Californianism. They acted as conduits, funneling local talent and information to the Imperial center and bringing education to the periphery in return. Teachers, in conjunction with the Exam, could be said, not inaccurately, to have made Imperial California what it would become at its height.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Maybe instead we can get a nice update about the mythical White Rabbit of California, with its reputed psychedelic powers. :D
I do keep meaning to talk about centuries-long misinterpreted song lyrics, and every time I realize that means I need to decide roughly when the Event happened and decide to stop worrying about it and write about something else. But I'm sure I'll get to it soon. It's got potential.
 
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Pants McPants

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I do keep meaning to talk about centuries-long misinterpreted song lyrics, and every time I realize that means I need to decide roughly when the Event happened and decide to stop worrying about it and write about something else. But I'm sure I'll get to it soon. It's got potential.
Now this part I'm interested in, mainly because I find myself doing the same thing. Interested to know if your version is affected by geography and where certain songwriters came from.
 
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GangsterSynod

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Now this part I'm interested in, mainly because I find myself doing the same thing. Interested to know if your version is affected by geography and where certain songwriters came from.
All of the following is me thinking out loud. At the very least, I can toss in some blues legends. I'd imagine the idea of someone selling their soul at the crossroads might still be resonant in many parts of the South. But pretty much everything after 1950 is kind of up in the air as regards mod canon. Now, climate change hasn't affected the in-game map much. The Plaquemines are still there, for example, and they're beginning to be on their way out right now, so I'm also assuming it'd have to have happened before 2000 or so (?). I also talked about computers and consumer electronics existing, but not as PCs, really, so presumably the Event happened somewhere between, say, 1970 and 1999, which does give me a good amount to work with.
 
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Pants McPants

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All of the following is me thinking out loud. At the very least, I can toss in some blues legends. I'd imagine the idea of someone selling their soul at the crossroads might still be resonant in many parts of the South. But pretty much everything after 1950 is kind of up in the air as regards mod canon. Now, climate change hasn't affected the in-game map much. The Plaquemines are still there, for example, and they're beginning to be on their way out right now, so I'm also assuming it'd have to have happened before 2000 or so (?). I also talked about computers and consumer electronics existing, but not as PCs, really, so presumably the Event happened somewhere between, say, 1970 and 1999, which does give me a good amount to work with.
That's way more thought in it than I did.

My version for the AAR I'm toying with basically has The Event as more of a broad term describing...eh...let's say the century after the first atomic bomb test. Literally the only thing I have going for me on this front is the Mahonic family crest being basically an upside-down version of WWE's current logo which didn't come around until 2014 or so.

As for songs, no idea.
 
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GangsterSynod

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That's way more thought in it than I did.

My version for the AAR I'm toying with basically has The Event as more of a broad term describing...eh...let's say the century after the first atomic bomb test. Literally the only thing I have going for me on this front is the Mahonic family crest being basically an upside-down version of WWE's current logo which didn't come around until 2014 or so.

As for songs, no idea.
That's an interesting approach to take. If and when you do start the AAR, be sure to link me to it if I haven't dropped in already. It sounds like a fun one.
 
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DensleyBlair

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It all reminds me a bit of the Glass Bead Game, though I can’t quite pinpoint how. Probably the general and slightly sinister air of scholarship as statecraft. Teachers as political and religious instructors as well as possible intelligence agents is quite the potent combination. You can see why many did not take well to their arrival on the family farm…

The Stevie was appreciated as well. I’d be interested in hearing what the post-Event interpretation of Misstra Know It All is.
 
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The Feculent Spectacle Stretches into its Fourth Day, Leaving the Author Totally and Completely Unable to Get Anything Done New

GangsterSynod

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Hey all. Our election happened recently/is still ongoing. You may have heard about it. I've been totally unable to get non-AAR things done while votes are being counted and states decided, annoyingly. So, depending on how much longer this all takes, an update might also be delayed. Sorry.
 
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Gangster, Chill. Twiddle-Dee will defeat Twiddle-Dum as always. If you call the boss Twiddle-Dum, bad things happen. Life will be the same for most people.
 

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Well, Elton is certainly influential.

I do wonder if he ever actually existed, though. Perhaps, many people actually did deeds attributed to Elton?
 
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DensleyBlair

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Well, Elton is certainly influential.

I do wonder if he ever actually existed, though. Perhaps, many people actually did deeds attributed to Elton?
Interesting thought. Elton as folk hero would be a fun spin on things.
 
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Chapter VIII: Childhood and Empire New

GangsterSynod

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Suggested accompaniment

Elton only had one child in his lifetime, despite years of trying with both Empress Heather and, judging by constant notations in Imperial records of this period of payments for gifts for “the Emperor’s consort-companions”, a fairly large assortment of noble and somewhat less-than-noble ladies (though of course Elton’s chroniclers insisted he was always faithful to his wife). Presley was born in 2400, when Elton was, astonishingly, 62. Elton’s succession plans were not finalized prior to Presley’s birth, but most likely would have involved some sort of adoption process, some bright young prospect, competent but ultimately controllable by the emergent bureaucracy, elevated to the throne and the House Yudkow. But Presley was born (there were obviously questions as to his legitimacy, promptly deemed treasonous and quashed, but it is certainly possible that Elton simply had low spermatozoic motility for one reason or another, making children unlikely but not impossible) and Elton’s empire would become hereditary, with a national month of celebration declared across the whole of California.

Presley’s birth and its attendant celebrations coincided with a change in courtly customs. Elton, for all his patronage of arts and culture, was never by inclination given to entertainments or splendor. Art, to him, was only a means to his end of retaining power. Prior to 2400, Elton’s court was remarkably compact, consisting of only his most loyal retainers, some of the more prominent bureaucrats that found themselves in imperial favor at any given time, their immediate relations, and maybe at most a musician or two. The court itself was peripatetic for most of Elton’s heirless period. While its nominal base was in the partially-built Sacramento and Elton did indeed stay there for approximately a month out of the year, the court ranged as far north as the Shasta Cascade and as far south as Los Angeles, with San Francisco being a particularly popular choice. But with a son and heir, Elton realized that a hereditary empire and grandiose future plans required in turn a court environment of sophistication. At this time, too, Sacramento had started to take shape and appear as both a finished capital and as a place where people who were not part of Elton’s regime could actually live. The Imperial Palace was essentially complete and many of the main roads of the city boasted small, organically developing markets sprouting up in between the grand, newly-built houses of Elton’s new elite class. The time was ripe, in short, for a permanent court, not least because it gave the ever-pragmatic Elton yet more control over the aspirants to power and position. The potential benefits of keeping all the intriguers of California in close proximity to the Emperor’s best-trained and most loyal soldiers (mostly Idahoans and steppe peoples, in the dimly-remembered model of the Roman emperors) in the geographical area where the Emperor had the most direct control could not have gone unnoticed by the imperial person.

The move of the court to the Imperial Palace on a permanent basis was accompanied by an exponential rise in leisure activities. Playwrights and their companies regularly performed in Sacramento’s amphitheater, poets from far-away Iowa recited at Elton’s feasts (which, along with hunting, was the rare activity Elton did seem to enjoy), and the post of Imperial Entertainer, responsible for designing masques and dances of all kinds, was created. Some of this development was of course top-down, instituted in much the same way as Elton’s other works, but just as much developed naturally from the concentration of people of means in a small area. If the poets, actors, playwrights, musicians, and painters originally came to Sacramento because Elton paid them to, they stayed because Elton’s upper class kept paying them. This, if anything could, marked the beginning of a distinctive court and capital culture, the moment Sacramento became not just an expensive building project built on the remnants of a minor city but a proper capital of Empire.

Presley, named for a famous mythological figure who symbolized action, energy, and male sexuality, grew up in this dynamic capital, surrounded by tutors and servants. A typical day’s schedule for the then-eight-year-old (as seen in some of the richest portions of the imperial records that we possess) began with meditation at eight in the morning, followed by a large breakfast. After breakfast came the morning’s lessons: an hour of English study (the mother tongue of all Old American dialects and the language of the educated upper class), an hour of mathematics, and an hour of rulership lessons, the specifics of which varied, but could be anything from philosophy to ancient history to practical lessons on etiquette. In the afternoons, Presley’s time was his own. Typically, he spent that time at the palace’s barracks watching the guards train or riding in the woods with his friends (and, one may assume, several guards to make sure of his safety). The picture we get of Presley’s childhood is by and large an idyllic one, though there is reason to complicate that picture somewhat. Elton showed great interest in Presley’s progress and education, going so far as to at one point imprison a tutor who he felt had failed to properly explain division to the child, but little in Presley himself. The two rarely interacted, and when they did, Elton was, in the words of Lucinda Bihari, the rare Imperial chronicler to acknowledge any faults in Elton the man, “distant, sealed off, and most assuredly unchill”. It is perhaps too much of a leap to see in this lack of paternal love a hint of the future reign of Presley, but certainly Presley grew up to be, in the words of the historian Celia Zilen, somewhat of a “cold man, prone to rages, obsessed by the military and driven by a desire to make everything he touched optimal and efficient”. Perhaps, however, that was needed. Along with the cultural growth of the court and the city came the first cases of a disease that would become endemic in the capital.

The murder of Michael Garlick occurred in broad daylight. Garlick, newly appointed head of the Imperial Commission on Rivers and Fisheries, was walking from his home on the Grand Way, in the heart of the city, to his new office near the Palace on February 12th, 2407, when three men with crossbows fired at him from a granary rooftop. The bolts struck him in the shoulder, the stomach, and the top of the head, and Garlick fell to the ground. By the time passers-by dared to approach, he was dead and the assassins gone. An irate Elton ordered an investigation, which discovered that Arnold of Chesterville, a rival for the post, had ordered the murder. Arnold was put to death (the assassins were never found), but he was not by any means the last to die in this way, and many of his successors would remain unpunished for their crimes. The politics of Sacramento were brutal and cutthroat from the beginning, and successful emperors in many ways had to reflect that in order to survive.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Sorry about the wait. I had a major case of writer's block on this one and I feel like it's one of the weaker updates I've written so far. But we're finally beginning to see a post-Elton future. Another year or so at this rate and I might actually get to gameplay!

Well, Elton is certainly influential.

I do wonder if he ever actually existed, though. Perhaps, many people actually did deeds attributed to Elton?
Interesting thought. Elton as folk hero would be a fun spin on things.
I definitely considered it, but I decided against writing it that way because the situation seemed complicated enough already. That said, certainly the author is at the very least emphasizing Elton's role in affairs.
 
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HistoryDude

Emperor of Greece and Rome and Holy Roman Emperor
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So... Elvis Presley got deified?

Also, nice to see the development of a capital!
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Such an interesting universe and continued good writing. Looked like Presley will be in charge soon with Elton's advanced age...
 
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DensleyBlair

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Another nice look at Elton's courtly life. It certainly is only at the top.

(there were obviously and unsurprisingly questions as to his legitimacy, promptly deemed treasonous and quashed, but it is certainly possible that Elton simply had low spermatozoic motility for one reason or another, making children unlikely but not impossible)
Elton giving off big Hank Hill energy here.

Elton showed great interest in Presley’s progress and education, going so far as to at one point imprison a tutor who he felt had failed to properly explain division to the child
Yikes! (but very funny yikes)

Elton was, in the words of Lucinda Bihari, the rare Imperial chronicler to acknowledge any faults in Elton the man, “distant, sealed off, and most assuredly unchill”.
This sort of reminds me of the future people in Bill & Ted, all still talking like 80s teenagers. Lovely touch.

Another year or so at this rate and I might actually get to gameplay!
Hey, don't let a lack of gameplay stop you. All great stuff in the mean time. :)
 
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