A few more numbers that may help give some context to the Imperial nobility. There are about 5.56 million people in the Lunar Heartlands. There are another 1.38 million in the Provinces. That is more than 40 times the population of Sartar.
Let’s say there are 20,000 imperial nobles (that’s the families descended from the Red Emperor). Let’s put half of them in Glamour, and scattered the remaining 10,000 across the Heartlands and Provinces. That gets us to somewhere around one in one thousand people are imperial aristocrats, more in the Silver Shadow, less in places like Aggar or Vanch.
Outside of Glamour, the imperial aristocracy are or are married into the local ruling dynasties. For example, the ancient city of Raibanth is dominated by the Assiday family, who control many key priesthoods and temples. In Tarsh, the ruling dynasty is a branch of the Eel-ariash. And so on. The most powerful of these families control entire satrapies, have private armies, and their own personal deities. When we say that the princes of Sartar were as rich as Lunar satraps, that is an impressive statement!
Even out in the Provinces, the members of the Imperial aristocracy are likely to reflect the interests and culture of Glamour, rather than the local satrapy or province. Few can speak the local Pelorian farmer tongue – New Pelorian is the language of the nobility. If another language is learned, it is usually Firespeech (to speak with old gods of Dara Happa). Phargentes’ grasp of Tarshite was notoriously shaky! Many were educated in Glamour, and marriage arrangements reflect Glamour priorities as often as local ambitions.
The competition between these families is fierce. Command of a province gives almost limitless wealth. Control of the Red Emperor gives even more wealth and power. Some even seek control of the Silver Bridge between the mundane world and the Red Moon. The Dart Wars allow the families to compete without threatening the Empire with Civil War. Assassination, betrayal, usurpations – all are permitted as long as the taxes are paid and order maintained. Otherwise, the Tax Demons are unleashed and entire lineages threatened.
The amorality and paranoia associated with the Dart Wars has been given as one of the reasons why some members of the imperial aristocracy prefer their barbarian friends. Sor-eel the Short was notorious for his admiration of his barbarian friends. When asked how he could trust the Praxians he surrounded himself with, he replied that they would kill him openly rather than poison him at his meal. Fazzur Wideread (a famed associate of the Eel-ariash) once said he would feel safer unarmed among a dozen angry Sartarite chiefs than in the company of any of his imperial “friends”.
Imagine life as a typical member of the Imperial aristocracy. Taught to read and speak New Pelorian as a child. Initiated into a Lunar cult – most commonly Yelm, Yanafal Tarnils, Irrippi Ontor for men, Deezola, Irrippi Ontor, Jakaleel, Hwarin Dalthippa, or Hon-eel for women – as soon as possible. Remember, your family likely runs the temple, so rules can be bent if not broken. Illumination schooling with a family member or maybe a Nysalorean school. Maybe you are destined to become an officer, administrator, or priest, or perhaps you have family estates where you might study, meditate, or contemplate the Red Moon.
You live in a different world – not only from Sartarites and Praxians, but even the rest of the Lunar population!
So if you imagine that much if not most of your family is Illuminated, many are Red Goddess initiates, and Chaos simply is a part of the world. Heck, you know folk who have been blessed or gifted with Chaos features.