Within their domains, the rulers of the satrapies or sultanates of the Lunar Empire rule with inherent authority. They are not mere governors or administrators – they are rulers in their own right with few restrictions on their authority.
Nor is a satrap an appointee. As long as the satrap keeps order and meets the demands of the Red Emperor, they cannot be removed by imperial decree. And the satrapy is a personal possession, to be handed down to the satrap’s successors.
Unless of course someone else is able to seize power in the satrapy and be recognized as the new satrap by the Red Emperor. This is the source of most Dart Wars. Kill the satrap and his key supporters, install yourself as the new satrap and hold onto power long enough to be recognized by Glamour. If you can do that without causing civil disorder, congratulations – you are an elite player of the game of politics!
Each satrap rules a domain that would be a powerful kingdom in its own right. The smallest satrapies are Oraya and Karasal, each with more people than the kingdom of Tarsh. They are fabulously wealthy, able to hire their own private armies,
Satraps demand that they (or their family or their protective spirit) are offered worship in temples within the satrapy. This gives them access to large amounts of mana, far more than even powerful priests or lords. Satraps have many powerful guardians, allied spirits, and so forth. They can call upon the aid of powerful priests and lords, spirits and demons, and so forth.
The satraps are inextricably tied to the court of the Red Emperor, and often play oversized rolls in the overall direction of the empire. The most powerful satrapal clan is the Eel-ariash, who include Jar-eel as their most illustrious member. And even they are terrified of her.
How ruthless and cut-throat are Dart Wars compared to court intrigue in the rest of Glorantha? Secret murder, assassination, covert warfare, magical duels, and poisoning are all tools of the trade. Anything is fair game as long as it does not cause civil disorder (most importantly interfere with imperial revenues). All done in secret, often between people who have known each other their entire life. I’d say it makes Orlanthi politics look like a debating society.
Are Satraps by definition members of the cult of the Red Goddess, and therefore always Illuminated? Yes.
Is the Mad Sultan recognized by the Emperor? he’s an original.
Are Lunar temples within satrapies and provinces more loyal to their local leader or the Red Emperor himself? The Red Emperor is the supreme head of the Lunar religion. Doctrinally they are to be loyal to him above all. Doctrine and actually practice are often in conflict.
You’ve often said that the emperor’s descendants, also known as the imperial nobility, make up the majority of satraps/sultanates, but also the majority of provincial kings, the bureaucracy and high religious office. Why such privilege? Particularly in the context of the Lunar Way, which claims to abolish privilege and uphold equality. The Lunar Way does not claim to abolish privilege and uphold equality. That is not part of its liberation. It’s let’s free the people from the oppression of cosmic ignorance. Let’s break the chains of the Bull Shahs. Those who follow the Lunar Way towards Illumination can see that all this stuff you are talking about is just Malkioni nonsense.
How peaceful do transitions of power tend to be, for Satrapies? Are Dart Wars common, or more noteworthy if they reach that high up? In general, if you want to get rid of a satrapal dynasty you are going to do it through a Dart War.
I meant in the sense of ‘the old guy passed away peacefully’. Are his children going to be fighting like cats in a sack Caliphate style or do things tend to be fairly predictable? In this sense can trigger a small Dart War within the kinship group, if the group doesn’t agree on a successor. Now given that has a good chance to lead to losing the satrapy to another group there is tremendous pressure within the kinship group to agree on succession.
So let’s imagine that Tarkamenes is the aged satrap of First Blessed and head of the Taran-il clan. He’s killed this year by Pentans, and now the Taran-il need to agree on a successor. All the aged cousins gather and have a summit. They likely try to summon Flower Poem and if she appears and takes one as her lover, then we have a clear new satrap.
Assuming she does not show, the clan elders need to choose the successor. Since every elder likely figures they have every qualification to be the next satrap, this could be perilous. But if they wait too long, it is even more perilous – someone might decide to assassinate the other kin or even worse, someone like Jar-eel might nominate a successor!