Chaos in the Old World
The Empire is a federation of independent states – often called provinces –governed by hereditary rulers that derive their authority from the founder of the Empire himself – Sigmar Heldenhammer. It is from the ranks of these ruling ‘Elector Counts’ that an Emperor is chosen, an individual fated to lead this conglomeration of disparate peoples against whatever evils the world may conspire to inflict upon it. Though united by Sigmar so long ago, the people of each state are proud, and the entire federation has been plunged into bitter civil war many times over the millennia.
Each Province is ruled according to it’s own laws and traditions, many inherited and evolved from those of the tribe it’s people are descended from. Over the millenia, such an impossibly convoluted feudal system has evolved, an army of scribes and historians are required to make sense of it. Despite it’s inefficiency, the model of imperial feudalism has seen the empire thropugh numerous crises and survived more or less intact despite every challenge.
Though the structure itself is so intricate that no two nobles can ever be entirely sure who is the senior until their credentials are well and truly established, the core principle by which each state is governed is fairly simple. It’s ruler, by virtue of of hereditary right, is the lord of all the land. In effect, the count owns the land, and those that hold title over specific parts of it do so in trust and on his sufferance. This practice has it’s roots in the formalisation of power that occured when the territories of the old tribes were set down and allocated to each king, and as power was desentralised after Sigmar’s departure, it grew in importance. Initially, each king, or count, found himself the sole steward of the land, but in order to defend it against the numerous threats which he alone was responsible for defeating, he had to make a compact with the nobles below him. This was acheived by way of deviding the land between the kings followers, granting each a region in return for his fealty and his promise to lend military aid when called upon to do so. Within the terms of this compact with the king, the nobles were free to rule the land granted to them as they wished, raising taxes, settling disputes, and further subdividing it between their own vassals as they saw fit.
For Example the von Yungfreud house has holdings all around the upper Teufel, including Ubersreik, and elsewhere in Reikland, however while they might pass the laws that govern an area, as might the nobles below them, law and order itself is deputised to Chief Justices, local worthies, alderman, and guardsmen. For more information see Law and Order.
As with all rulers, good men and bad have lorded over their subjects. The folk of some regions exist in abject misery, forced to eke a meagre living from the mud, while those of other areas grow fat under the largesse of beneficent masters. Some impose rigid laws upon their subjects while others remain aloof from their affairs. In theory, a lord may rule as he pleases, though in practice his title can be revoked by the Count in whose name he reigns. Such a drastic course of action is generally only undertaken when when the lord in question is unable to meet the duties to his master, such as taxation or military service, or the rule has become so remiss that anarchy threatens to explode and effect neighboring estates.
Such as if one city set off bombs in the streets of another. And attacked their guardsmen. And set the city on fire.