British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The same can truly be said of the Romulan Star Empire and its peoples.
The Romulans returned back to prominence in the 2260s and by the 2290s had established an Embassy on Earth and a diplomatic presence on Nimbus III. Romulans are all for the long game and waiting for a moment of weakness in which to strike. The perceived breakdown of relations with the Klingons by 2270 overlooked the fact that some Klingon houses still traded with the Romulans for their superior technology and other gains (most notably the House of Duras).
Romulans always seek to improve their military advantage; their cloaking technology is the best in the known universe. (ST:Countdown showed they had reverse-engineered Borg technology). The Romulans came to prominence in the Tabula Rasa incident, indeed the subspace Shiva device detonated by the Melak created the whole campaign. The Romulans were only too happy to exploit the new star systems and their Taubat inhabitants. Once the Metar themselves appeared, the Romulans soon realised it would require a temporary alliance with the Klingons and Federation to resolve the issue.
The Romulans left the situation in 2291 with technological and biological samples from both the Taubat and the Metar. This technology would be pored over and reverse-engineered at the secretive Vault facility, deep in Romulan space. Shortly afterwards, the House of G’Iogh approached the Romulan Star Empire in an attempt to ascend to become Emperor of the Klingon Empire. In the event, the ambitions of this House were overthrown by their over-extension. The surviving members of House G’Iogh fled to the Romulan border, only to be assassinated by forces loyal to Gorkon.
The Romulans attempted to manipulate the Federation and Klingon Empires into fighting following the assassination of Gorkon in 2293. This attempt failed with Ambassador Nanclus being recalled in disgrace; he was publicly disintergrated for his crimes. The next attempt was in 2300 and the Kriosian seperatists known as The Thorn were aided in an attempt to disrupt the Empire. Nanclus, actually a Tal Shiar agent, was finally killed along with all the Tal Shiar section chiefs.
Aventeer Vokar was one of the biggest threats to peace along the Federation border. Outwitted by the USS Hunley and Dakota, Vokar was demoted to sub-lieutenant and only escaped execution from strong senate connections. He would later rebuild his career and achieve flag rank by the early 24th century. It was known from his earlier disgrace that Vokar had a personal grudge against John Harriman. Gell Kamemor from the empire world of Glintara was the Romulan representative to Earth at this time. She had a friendship since 2296 with Captain John Harriman. This friendship would later be exploited in order to set up the Tomed Incident and remove the Romulan threat.
Romulan starship technology was advancing fast with the advent of the Melak A-type Warbird. The prototype vessel was lost whilst using the Shiva Device. A Klingon K’tinga class battlecruiser had tailed the prototype vessel and provided the first information on the design. Early intelligence suggests the Romulans have abandoned matter/anti-matter energy generation in favour of a forced quantum singularity.
Starfleet Intelligence, concerned at the Romulan advantage could cause a first-strike from that nation, sent undercover operatives into Romulan space in a desperate measure to gain information. Lieutenant Commander Ilani, a Deltan national, was placed as a Tal Shiar captain for a long-duration intelligence-gathering mission. Ilani was placed into the role of a dead Tal Shiar officer with an assigned protection asset, Leena Tamkivi, to watch over and extract her should her cover be blown. Ilani uncovered Tal Shiar atrocities including the systematic annihilation of the population and culture of Tablis’el. Along with the abuse of prisoners whose identities had been erased. Once Ilani had been compromised, her shadow Tamkivi took her on a circuitous route back to the Federation, via Orion and other freighters. Despite taking this information to the Federation President, the information could not be acted upon for fear of exposing the illegal operation within another sovereign nation.
Romulans are the cousins to the Vulcans. They left Vulcan around 2000 years ago and found a new home world deep in the Beta Quadrant that they christened Romulus. The small number of refugees meant that there was a small starting genepool. The militant philosophy of the Romulans, forged in part from their long voyage, found full expression on this new planet. In a natural harbour near the edge of swampy woodlands the Romulans built their capital city.
Plot holes, big wide and plentiful.
First issue: Romulans, up to 'Balance of Terror' are not supposed to have warp drive. Truth is it would take HUNDREDS of years at sublight to get from Vulcan to Romulus. Then in the Coalition of Planets-Romulan War (2156 - 2160) the Coalition ships had warp drive (warp 5 for Earth and warp SEVEN or Vulcan ships, which would make the Romulan ships look static and stupid. 1966 knowledge gave us the Romulans (before we'd set foot on the Moon or sent space probes to the other planets in the Seventies onwards. With 2017 knowledge, I'd argue the Romulans must have had COMPARABLE warp technology to the Vulcans and MUST have had warp drive to get to Romulus (landing after hundreds of years just to turn around and spend hundreds more rushing to start a war against the Coalition of Planets on your distant border, is just plain silly).
So the Romulans had and have warp drive. The next point is these exiles from Vulcan needed ships to get to Romulus. Where did these warp-powered colony ships come from and how many would fit on these ships? Thousands, possibly a few million seems a sensible figure, with some lost on the way from going different paths or being lost to Space Perils © (TM)... So a few million Romulans start off their planet colony a few months or years of exploration after exile by Surak. That gives time to grow your Star Empire and have ships ready to fight the Coalition of Planets in 2155 (and sneak Romulan operatives to Vulcan some years before this). Romulan ships armed with nuclear missiles? Again, a 1966 idea which seems silly given NX-01 Enterprise had proto-photon torpedoes and phasers by 2154.
Over the following millennia or so the Romulans forged their culture and attained their unique look. The small genepool meant that recessive genes found expression, such as the forehead ridge found in ancient proto-Vulcan species. As the Romulans left Vulcan before the philosophies of Surak became the culture, they never realised their psionic abilities. (Author note: although the backstory for Nero shows he did achieve this through drugs and imprisonment. So Romulans DO have the potential).
The Romulans do not have the emotional restraint that the Vulcans have, very much in the spirit of the ancient warring Vulcans of 2000 years ago. The Romulans needed to increase their population rapidly, given only a few thousand refugees arrived, to populate their planet. The Romulans discovered the native Reman race on their twin planet of Remus, soon enslaved to mine dilithium to fuel the construction of their Empire.
Author Notes: The population would have to increase rapidly to create the Romulan Star Empire. The Remans would be enslaved first. Two thousand years to reach Romulus, populate the planet to 5 billion or so and expand to other worlds. Why attack the Federation? A massive plot hole really...
The Romulans developed a class or caste system that depended on background, political connections and genetic purity. The wealthy Romulans soon had vast villas in prime locations across the planet, whilst the lower classes stayed in the small domiciles in the cities. The Romulans had expansionist plans and militant ambitions whih created the Imperial Romulan Navy and warships capable of both defending their worlds and defeating new ones to add to their empire.
Romulans have a great variation of look. The Star Trek original series featured Romulans as being identical to their Vulcan cousins. By TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT, the make-up was changed by Michael Westmore to feature a V-ridge on the forehead, like a permanent scowl. JJ Abram's Star Trek (2009) had an intermediate make-up by Neville Page. There is therefore a range of Romulan looks. The Mintaken proto-Vulcans also had this look so maybe this is a recessive gene that has found expression in the Romulan phenotype from the small starting genepool of Romulan refugees.
The differences between the Vulcans and Romulans is 'explained' by 2000 years since the Romulans left Vulcan. Just how much does a couple of millenia explain things? Human civilisation has existed for about 6000 years and certainly things like the forehead ridge cannot be explained. Neanderthal and Homo sapiens co-existing with facial diferences could be used as an explanation. I personally do for racial differences brought out by recessive genes, hence the Vulcans do not have any ridges. With regards the language side of things, they will have a common starting point with Ancient Vulcan.
Romulan language will have evolved differently for 2000 years, moving away from the original language like Latin to Modern English. However they will still be recognisable from the original linguistic roots - unless a conscious effort is made from the Romulans to mask the original source of their language (why bother?). So how Starfleet didn't know who the Romualans were over the war (from DNA and linguistic similarities) is a double-decker bus-sized plot hole that has to be ignored or acknowledged later. Truth is, any competant DNA or linguistic analysis will show similarities.
The Romulans were developed as cousins to the Vulcans and as the Roman Empire that never fell. Their first appearance in TOS: 'Balance of Terror' emphasised this Roman nature. Over TNG and DS9 the Romulans became the devious strategic thinkers that mirrored Comunist China more in their ways. This is reflected in my Romulan pages that retain the Roman heritage whilst adopting Chinese elements - although why have both a Senate and a Continuing Committee?
The Senate and the Continuing Committee
Praetor Domitius ran the Continuing Committee since 2280s...
Domitius wanted a policy of engaging both the Klingons and Federation, making use of the technical advantage that the Romulan Star Empire possessed. The temporary alliance at Tabula Rasa was seen as a strategic move to gain the advantage – and technical information – before a later prepared treachery. In the event there were enough prisoners and technical relics obtained to keep the Empire ahead for the next decade and a half.
Domitius made extensive use of the Tal Shiar to cement his position at the top, ensuring any voices of dissent were made to disappear during the night. This would prove to be a double-edged sword as the Tal Shiar head, General Neval, would become king-maker at the perfect time. Domitius had a villa on the outskirts of the First City of ki Baratan/Dartha, with a vineyard that produced some of the finest ale in the Empire. His family connections within the senate went back for centuries and his lineage went back as far as the original settlers on Romulus . He firmly believed in expansionism, pressing the borders outwards and was frustrated by the neutral zone. His predecessor had attempted to put the former alliance with the Klingon Empire behind them. Domitius knew better than this and planned to use the D-7 battlecruisers they had acquired to good use. Given the right signatures and external decoration, he knew they could fool – even for a moment – the Klingon Border defences and lead a fleet to victory by surprise.
Domitius had a good working relationship with Admiral Aventeer Vokar, developing strategies to face off against the Federation with a hope that could buy time for a decisive strike against the Klingon Empire. The wounds of battle of klach d'kel brakt still ran deep after forty years. With the Admiral disgraced after the Tomed Incident, Domitius found his policy of engaging the Federation and Klingon Empire had back fired with signs of them forging an alliance. All of this was too much for the senate and the Tal Shiar leader Neval. The Praetor was assassinated in a ‘night of the long knives’-style rebalancing of the Senate.
Proconsul Caecilius emerged as the new Praetor after a short reshuffle. The new Praetor aimed to reassert the borders of the Empire in a Hadrian-esque move to keep the barbarians from the gates. Caecilius realised that a long-term strategy was required and as part of the treaty of Algeron, they would withdraw behind their neutral zone. Caecilius addressed the Continuing Committee to list that his predecessor had mistakenly concentrated on two enemies at the same time. He knew that the misguided Federation would sue for peace and respect their neutral zone, allowing them time to deal with the immediate threat in the Klingon Empire. Caecilius would talk at length with the Chairman of the Tal Shiar, plotting revenge on the Federation for their recent humiliation; meanwhile they would address the Klingon Empire with the use of force as soon as a weakness presented itself.
The new Pro-Consul is Priscus, a friend to Caithlin Dar and her connection to the new senate and Continuing Committee. After her assignment to Nimbus III to escape from the scandal of loving a lower status Romulan, this could be her route back to political prominence after her successes on Nimbus.
Chairman Neval is the leader of the Tal Shiar, who achieved the top table job after the unfortunate early death of his predecessor. Neval is known in whispers to be the kingmaker and has survived numerous plots. He is a grand master at the Romulan national game of “Alliances and Betrayals”, a curious cross of Risk with Poker, involving three or more players. Neval’s skill has even included achieving single-player wins, a rarity in the game. Neval, like all Tal Shiar members, is immediately noticeable in Continuing Committee meetings due to his wearing of plain dark uniform with black gloves rather than the ornate robes of state worn by the senators.
Senate and Continuing Committee differences.
The Senate is the public face of the government. Decisions about running the Empire and making treatise/war or public declarations for show are all done here. The senate is run with formal language and robes displaying the high statuses of the senators. The Senate is very much run like a power game with alliances and betrayals all a part of the government system – much like the popular game. The Senate runs the Empire, approving budgets and internal matters. Diplomatic matters are also discussed here as are non-sensitive military matters. For more covert affairs and external policies, the Continuing Committee is employed. The Senate has 44 members. The matters of the people are discussed here and the affairs of the various homeland and provinces are discussed; the regular affairs of state-running.
The Continuing Committee by contrast is held behind closed doors. Whereas the Senate has 44 members, there are only a dozen on the Continuing Committee. This is a display of the elite of Romulan Society and includes the Chairman of the Tal Shiar as one of the permanent seats. The Continuing Committee works on matters of Romulan policy and external affairs. Matters too sensitive for public dissection are discussed such as placement of agents, future targets for expansion and war plans. There are no showy robes like in the Senate; this is more the forum for plain positions of power. Praetors are selected here and the direction of the Romulan Star Empire and its policies are decided here.
Members of the Continuing Committee:
Praetor, Emperor of the Romulan Star Empire, Chairman of the Central Military Commission
Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the Romulan Star Empire
Party secretary of the Standing Committee of the Romulan People's Congress
Party secretary of the National Committee of the Romulan People's Political Consultative Conference
Chairman of the Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization. President of the CPC Central Party School.
Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
Deputy Party secretary of the State Council of the Romulan Star Empire
Chairman of the Tal Shiar
Author Notes: The movie Nemesis showed the Romulan senate as being like a Roman forum, with nobles dressed in fine robes. This contrasts with DS9 episode Inter Arma… showed the Continuing Committee as being a small venue with all dark grey/black robed officials rather more in keeping with the Chinese communist Party Politburo Standing Committee.
The Senate deals with the public face of politics and running the Star Empire. The Continuing Committee is the equivalent of the British Cabinet or the Executive Office of the US President.
Chinese Standing Committee
Ki Baratan, formerly called Dartha, is the first city of Romulus . It is located by the Apnex Sea and contains the Hall of State where the Senate is held. The upper echelons of Romulan society tend to live in large villas on on the outskirts of the city, distancing themselves from the somewhat cramped, smaller dwellings in the centre of the city itself. The city still has the walls that were erected when the colony was first founded. The senate and central buildings stand in the marshy core of the city and the outer regions have the more technologically sophisticated properties.
Amongst the smaller shared dwellings in the city itself, there are larger town houses owned by the higher classes, offering better proximity to both the senate and the large restaurants where they can dine in luxury. There are also exclusive tailors, theatres and baths that are exploited by the senators and higher class citizens. The social life of the higher classes is as important as the power that they wield within the senate.
Baths, theatres, tea houses, restaurants – these are amongst the social gathering places that make up much of the centre of Ki Baratan, providing a place for the wealthy and powerful to be seen and to see their friends and fellow power-mongers. An unofficial policy of social-cleansing maintains the upper social atmosphere of the centre. Other buildings of importance include the High Court where the law of the land is shown to be all-powerful and never wrong. The Tal Shiar has a presence in the capital, although this may not actually be the head office as to have all the eggs in one basket would be too tempting a target. The Romulan Science Council also has a base in the capital; a visible display of the advancement of Romulan Society when compared to the inferior civilizations outside of the Star Empire.
Ancient Romulan rulings dictate that the Romulan Military must remain outside of the capital; a law created to reduce the risk of a military coup. Senior military members may be requested to face either the Senate or the Continuing Committee, but are generally not regular standing members of either forum.
The Vault is the base run by the Romulan Military designed to be the last refuge for the Romulan Senate should the planet be overrun or destroyed. All of the best military technology is kept at this cloaked facility, including captured Federation, Klingon, Tholian, Gorn, Hydran, Kinshaya, Metar and Taubat technology. Amongst the cutting edge designs include forced singularity powerplants, advanced cloaking technology including phasing cloak, organic and plasma technology. The best designs get prototyped and then the design is built in production at one of the closed colonies run by the Star Empire. These closed colonies, much like the old closed cities of the Soviet Union on Earth, are closed to outsiders and work on a single purpose, such as building type A Warbird warships.
Author’s Note: the Vault was depicted in the ST: Countdown graphic novel, used by Nero after the destruction of Romulus . It requires a code known only to the Praetor and his entourage to access the facility.
Romulans are educated from a young age to understand their position in society and their superiority over other races and nations. Romulans learn about loyalty and debating skills, especially for those in higher political echelons. Strategic games are also played to prepare them for ascension into Romulan society.
Roman social classes
Social classes are an important indicator in Romulan society. Highest rank is the Senatorial class, comprising of Senators and members of the Continuing Committee. This class is dominated by Nobles whose ancestry contains one Consul. The first Romulan qualifying to this position is referred informally as a new man/new woman. Senatorial class are banned from non-agricultural business, trade or public contracts.
Equestrian class membership is based on accumulated wealth and power. Should they reach a senate seat they become Senatorial class. They primarily engage in the businesses banned to senatorial. Ascension to equestrian class is possible through prestige and wealth of power; senatorial class is very much the elite families and those with influence over the Continuing Committee having the connections to achieve the leap to senatorial position.
Common class are freeborn Romulans that make up the majority. Freed people were former slaves, with foreigners and slaves with them at the bottom of the class structure.
The exodus from Vulcan is covered in education, with the viewpoint that Surak was misguided and that the Romulan way was the one true way. Romulans have the intellect of a Vulcan but the psionic abilities are latent and untrained. Mental discipline is part of a Romulan training in the military and Tal Shiar and, as such, they can resist Vulcan mind-melds.
Food and the state of the accommodation can also identify the social rank of a Romulan individual. Villas are made to be physical symbols of power and wealth, with many rooms, extra wings and grand gardens to allow the noble Romulan time to walk and admire the beauty of their garden, whilst planning the next move in their ascension. It is a popular misconception that Romulans know nothing but paranoia, they have feelings like a Vulcan but unrestrained. Emotions such as anger, love and betrayal are felt more strongly in a Romulan, without the emotional control.
Romulan women are the subject of much speculation. Unlike Vulcans, who had the emotional controls that have evolved into Ponn Farr, Romulan women embrace their passions and have a regular love life. Certain anatomical differences have been suggested with Romulan women, but the evidence suggests they are no different than Vulcan woman. Romulan women have no issues in rising to all levels of the military and political ladders. Indeed, Romulans have had empresses before in their history. It is commonplace for Romulan commanders and senators to be female.
Alliance and Betrayals is the game of choice for Romulans. The game is a curious mix of Risk and Poker, with three or more players moving tactical pieces over a board with different territory on. All players send secret messages to the other players offering to assist, or to threaten, the other players. The game is won, generally, by two players forging a secret alliance to destroy the third player in an act of betrayal. Masters of the game can also be found to betray their ally in victory as well.
Loyalty to the Star Empire is bred into Romulans from childhood. They understand that the Tal Shiar monitor the people as protectors, and conversations overheard by neighbours could be reported back to the secret police. The door knock in the middle of the night is still feared by Romulans. Citizenship is valued by Romulans as a status of their standing. Slavery is part of society as social level zero, with menial tasks performed by slaves and servants. The loss of social status is seen as one of the harshest punishments in Romulan society, beaten only by the loss of citizenship. As far as is known, no non-Romulan has ever been made a citizen.
Family is important to Romulans, with children being seen as the legacy to the family, heirs to the power and status. Upon the death of a family member, Romulans mark or score their faces and bodies to imprint their grief onto their visage, as the tattoos and marks fade so does their grief. Counter to this is the Romulan ideal for perfection in both looks and abilities. Children born with disabilities are euthanized This keeps the family image of a perfect front for status reasons and ensures there is no sign of weakness that can be exploited. Equally by tradition a Romulan unable to reproduce and continue on the family was banned from a political career. To that end castration was seen as worse than death for someone in the Senate; servants and conquered individuals were often castrated to curtail any political aspirations.
Social relationships are careful in Romulan society. Scandals are particularly damaging and can result in the loss of social status. Scheming is a way of life for Romulans, with plans in place as to how to achieve the social rank or position the individual wants. It is only a case of what alliances are to be made or what conspiracies or personal obstacles are to be removed to achieve this. Sexual encounters with the lower classes exists in Romulan society but is scorned on becoming anything more than a casual encounter for the sexual act itself. Pregnancy from such an encounter brings shame and scandal; marriage to a lower class is stopped by the family, such a scandal being unthinkable. Whilst sexual encounters are allowed between multiple people, being promiscuous is seen as a character flaw and a weakness, so such encounters were carried out secretly. Encounters with a non-Romulan are scandalous in the extreme as being seen as tainting the Romulan genome. This is different to sex being used as a weapon to humiliate the receiver.
Roman culture link.
Expansion of the Empire
The Romulan Star Empire is in a constant state of growth, cloaked scout ships explore beyond the borders of Romulan space to discover new worlds with minerals and colonising aspects. The Tal Shiar helps to ‘socially-cleanse’ any nation found to be working in conflict against the Romulan order of things. New races are subjugated as slaves to the Empire with the Tal Shiar being willing to use extreme methods to remove dissenters for world colonising or resources. This extends to genocide.
The Federation neutral zone keeps the Romulan Star Empire in check in the Spinward direction, however expansion Rimward is unhindered. The Klingon Border is officially logged as a war zone, with clashes between warships a not uncommon occurrence.
One recurring question is with the technical prowess of the Romulan Star Empire and the efficiency of their Tal Shiar, why have they not expanded with great efficiency against the Federation and Klingon Empires? The answer comprises partially that the Romulan psyche errs on the side of caution when dealing with an enemy that they cannot confirm the abilities of. Having worked with the Federation against the Metar and Interstellar Concordium, they got a firsthand view of the technical and scientific abilities of the Federation up close.
Romulan military and intelligence agencies have been directed against the Klingon Empire, not least of which because the Klingons have chosen to act upon their dislike of the Romulans. The interference in succession of power in 2292 was sufficient to have a blood feud declared against the Romulan people. Skirmishes along the border have been commonplace since the declaration. Superior Romulan cloaking and cloaking detection systems have prevented any significant encroachment into Romulan territory.