There was a recent question on where the Red Emperor’s revenues come from. Here’s a few thoughts:
- The Red Emperor in legal theory “owns” the Lunar Heartlands. Much of that has been given to his satraps who pay him annually in taxes (mostly in coin, rice, and grain, but also in crafted goods, animals, etc.), and soldiers. He has kept the Silver Shadow, although parts of that have been given to friends and favorites (although Red Emperor is perfectly willing to reclaim that whenever they feel like it). Everything in the Lunar Heartlands is theoretically his.
- The West Reaches and the Provincial Kingdoms pay regular tribute to the Red Emperor.
- The Red Emperor owns the Red Haired Caravan. He gets at least 2 tons of silk a year.
- The Red Emperor is the head of the Red Goddess cult and the Yelm cult. This is probably tied into 1 though.
So when the Red Emperor wants something, he just decrees it. It is up to his scribes and administrators, satraps and generals to make it happen. Woe to the scribe who has to explain that the Red Emperor lacks the resources to send ten Heartland regiments to Dragon Pass while simultaneously suppressing the White Moon Movement and fighting off a Pentan invasion of the Redlands.
This creates a situation where the Red Emperor can have the resources to give everyone feasting with him a priceless living crystal goblet so that they might drink wine from Fonrit and wipe their mouths with silk kerchiefs while they watch cleansed broo breath fire and dance around a live unicorn, but not have enough coin to pay the Arrowstone regiment in their war in the Redlands.
Note that the Roman Emperor has a very very different history and legal justification from the Red Emperor. The Lunar Heartlands were not a oligarchical republic before the Red Emperor came to power. It was an alliance of a theocratic monarchy with a self-made goddess who liberated/conquered the land from those that had conquered it about 60 years previously.
And more recently (like a century and a half ago), the Red Emperor reclaimed the Heartlands from the Pentan nomads that ruled it for the better part of a century.
So in the Fifth Wane, the Red Emperor reclaimed land from the Pentan bands. This land was given to temples or individuals. Of course what the Red Emperor gives, he can take away, and of course the inhabitants of that land need to give the Red Emperor his share. Of course some places were ruled by the Pentans – and these cities and temples have land, markets, and other resources, which of course they acknowledge are derived from the Red Emperor.For tradition and for convenience, the Red Emperor has appointed satraps to rule over most of his domains. All of these satraps are by now descendants of the Red Emperor, although some of the original satraps were allied kings or other rulers. The satraps must pay the Red Emperor regular tribute of coin, worship, food, goods, and soldiers – and legions of Irrippi Ontor scribes are present to make sure all has been paid. Even here, the Red Emperor has estates, temples, and other resources that are personally administered by his household.
So expanding a bit on this, although legally the Red Emperor “owns” everything except the stuff he says (right now!) that he doesn’t own, in practice, probably about half the land is owned by the state (including imperial estates, Lunar and Yelm temples, satraps, etc.). Another third is owned by “autonomous” cities, independent temples, or by nobles who derive their position from something other than the state.
Maybe about 10% of the land is owned by the farmers that work it. The rest is worked by semi- or unfree peasants.
Which category do the Yelmic (Yelm Imperator) nobles usually fall into, state or non-state or varied or simply controlling what is officially temple owned? State. The Yelm cult is an instrument of the state. A key pillar so to speak. And Yelm Imperator initiates are rulers by definition.