The Imperium is huge and travel is slow so the Capital may be a year or more away from the frontier.
Historically this sort of problem is solved by decentralization and the problem that arises from that – risk of rebellion – is solved with some kind of feudal structure – hence the importance of the nobility in Traveller.
There are a lot of different historical models for this so the question is which suits the Traveller OTU best.
Apparently the Traveller nobility were based on the Russian Imperial model of Boyars and that does seem to me to be a good model.
So I’ll use that as the basis for the nobility IMTU
The key distinction is that being a member of the Boyar class doesn’t automatically imply actual Imperial authority. Imperial authority comes from Imperial titles. Being a member of the Boyar class is pre-requisite for getting a title but the two are separate.
When someone reaches certain ranks in the Imperial service (particularly the Navy) they get either a lifetime or hereditary knighthood and become part of the Boyar class e.g. a Navy Captain gets an honorary knighthood and lifetime membership of the Boyars, an Admiral gets a hereditary knighthood.
A lifetime knight gets the title and some standard perks like the right to bear arms. A banner knight gets those and also a knight’s fee – ttile to some land and a hereditary source of income.
Let’s say the Imperium taxes 25% of star port revenue traditionally divided
– 5% to Capital
– 5% to Sector
– 5% to Sub-Sector
– 10% as knight’s fees
Say traditionally a knight’s fee was 0.001% of a star port’s revenue so the 10% above would be 10,000 knight’s fees however this was A class star ports on the core worlds so the percentage may vary greatly. A knight’s fee from a C star port on a backwater planet might be 1% and ten knights. The fee from an even more backwater D star port might the full 10% and a single knight.
Once a Boyar then additional promotion to an Imperial title gains extra fees.
If a later member of a Boyar family also reaches such a rank they get additional knight’s fees.
The Imperium is governed through titles. For example the commander of a sub-sector’s scout service might have the title of Baron-Commander. The commander of a sector scout service has the title Count-Commander. The commander of a particular interdiction or imperial prison planet might be a knight-commander.
So knight and banner knight simply denote Boyar status. Knight-commander, Baron, Count, Duke etc denote Imperial titles and the titles confer imperial authority over their assigned facet of imperial governance.
A commoner joins the navy and rises to Captain and is knighted, switches to “Noble” career and spends a term as the Knight-Commander of a prison ship followed by a term as the Baron-Commander of a designated colony project, then a term as the Count-Commander of the sector scout service then a term as sub-sector Duke and then finally a term as sector Duke.
Each promotion would get a fee so five fees in this case.
If their great-grandson becomes an admiral later they would add another fee to the family collection.
Types of Noble
The distinction between Boyar and title means there are various types of noble.
1) Standard Banner Knight
The family gained a fee or two some time in the past but haven’t added more to it since. They have an estate and some funds but they are not wealthy. Most join the Imperial service in some form for some amount of time.
2) Wealthy Banner Knight
Often these are families that got fees on under developed planets that have since developed. A Boyar family who owned a lot of the land around a D star port on a low population world which eventually grew into a B star port on a developed world might own 10% of everything on the planet. The family would still only be Boyars and have no imperial authority but could be fabulously wealthy with a great deal of unofficial authority based on their wealth and local status. A family like that could actually run things behind the scenes with any government type.
3) Imperial Title
A Knight (from either of the two backgrounds above) who has an imperial title will have authority and power commensurate with their position: a Knight-Commander of an interdiction might have a squadron of ships, a Knight-Ambassador on a minor system might have an Imperial Ambassador’s yacht, an escort ship and a company of marines, a sub-sector Duke will generally have a massive war fleet. Once the person leaves the position the assets that came with the title are lost.
4) Hereditary Imperial Title
Although the system is designed not to be hereditary at various times and places hereditary titles were granted generally due to a temporary weakness of central Imperial authority. Once given they are hard to get back although the imperial center tries whenever it can.
5) Hereditary non-Imperial Title
In some situations the rulers of a system incorporated into the Imperium may have been given an honorary title. The power and authority of the family depends on their local power base and has no imperial backing. The title is a status and courtesy thing (but may include perks like right to bear arms and huscarls).
The standard Boyar perks are the right to bear arms and a fee (land and income) if hereditary. Further fees can include the right to armed household retainers known as “Huscarls”.
Further fees can be taken from a random table from issue #2 found here
Using this char gen shoul dhave two noble careers.
1) An independent noble with lots of varied skill tables to choose from from farming to space exploration to business.
2) An extension of the standard char gen such that a character that reaches a Boyar rank can switch to an Imperial administration career path. This would be a bit like the Roman Cursus Honorarum.