The Empire is ruled by the Galactic Emperor, the Aegios of a Million Suns. He rules from System 1, the star system containing the Imperial capital planet of Principality. Every 10 years or so a great festival takes place on Principality as planetary systems are ranked according to various measures of prestige. This produces a competitive climate that promotes economic development and stability within the Empire.
The Imperial territory covers nearly two billion stars. Only 100,000 or so of those systems have an appreciable population, native or otherwise. The only presently threatening neighbor of the Empire is the Vl'Hurgh, a militant race that has subjugated many client races. The Vl'Hurgh have some ties with the Imperial rebellion 1,200 years ago (see Historical Timeline).
The Emperor solidifies his rule by granting systems and colonies to the aristocracy, which at its highest level is composed of Archons, Exarchs, Panarchs, and Overlords. These individuals gain titles based on how many of their worlds are turned over to the Empire in the form of colonies dedicated to Imperial use; the more planets which they dedicate to these purposes, the more likely the Emperor is to grant them new systems.
The Emperor grants each of the most prestigious nobles large tracts of intergalactic space to rule the Hegemonies of the Empire. When an Emperor dies, the rulership of these districts are redistributed according to the dictates of the new Emperor. This is how each GE game ends, with the Hegemony rulerships being redistributed according to the final scores of the players.
Many major and minor factions exist amongst the Ruling Races, and they fade in and out of importance with each passing Emperor. The four factions that are the most constant, however, are the Thrile Psicabinet, the Grune Tribal Council, the Iyali Prime Factor, and the Sorvu Collective. These four factions represent each of the Ruling Races, and all Archons are part of their race's faction by default at the start of any game.
Archons of like mind but different races who do not wish to stay with their racial faction but rather group with others to form their own may do so at any time. If you are not elected to be the Emperor, but you belong to the Emperor's faction at the end of the game, it is more likely that you will be granted perquisites by the new Emperor.
Species and Communication
While there are a few hundred species in the Empire, there are only four Ruling Races: the Thrile, the Grune, the Sorvu and the Iyali. The primary reason for this is that the four Ruling Races developed and expanded faster than the other, minor races; additionally, the four Ruling Races have the best ability to communicate with one another.
Atmosphere in the Station is kept the same for all four Ruling Races, as they thrive in each other's atmospheres (though the Iyali require suspensor devices which keep them off the ground as well as moist in the station's environment).
Imperial starships, or Motherships, are the largest, and perhaps strangest, citizens of the Empire. They are living beings, and as such pursue their destinies like any other creature, according to its desires and capabilities.
They are the product of biomechanical technologies, developed by the alliance between Iyali engineering, Thrile psionic nurturing of the intelligence, Grune military technology, and Sorvu biotechnology. Starships find employment with the Archons, the rulers of the most prestigious systems in the Empire, acting as cargo transports and military transports in times of crisis.
Motherships are incapable of reproduction without the assistance of the Shipyards, and thus a mutual dependence between the Empire and the motherships has been formed. The motherships tend to form small family units once reproduction is complete, however, and they often travel in fleets together, especially during times of war. This link between the ships lends itself to excellent group tactics in space combat.
There has been a major split in the mothership species, however. 1,200 years ago, when a rebellion was squelched (see Historical Timeline), the losers retreated with their motherships to a far-off place to start over. These rebels were conquered by the Vl'Hurgh, and the motherships that decided to stay on were integrated with Vl'Hurgh culture. These motherships have followed their own evolutionary path and look quite different today from Imperial motherships, which have also undergone evolutionary changes over the last 1200 years. One can see from their appearance that they still bear many similarities to one another.