The dying Qing Dynasty that once ruled all of China was overthrown in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution. Through a compromise between revolutionary leader Sun Yat-Sen, and Beiyang Armynote leader Yuan Shikai, the Qing court was deposed, creating the Republic of China. However, Yuan, with the Beiyang Army as his powerbase, started abusing his powers and attempted to crown himself Emperor. This triggered a massive rebellion against Yuan, and Yuan soon stepped down. Immediately afterwards, the Beiyang Army fragmented. Its generals became regional warlords vying for power, beginning the Warlord Era.
The Republican government in Beijing, known as the Beiyang government, enjoys some semblance of legitimacy. It is the site of a power struggle between several warlord factions, most notably the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, led by Wu Peifu and Zhang Zuolin respectively. During Kuomintang's Northern Expedition in 1926, Zhili and Fengtian formed an alliance against the KMT. However, with KMT's defeat due to German intervention, Zhili and Fengtian began a new power struggle, sparking the Fourth Zhili-Fengtian War.
Unexpectedly, Germany had provided support to Zhili, allowing them to defeat Fengtian and seize Beijing. In exchange for the support, Germany had requested Zhili to restore the deposed Qing Emperor, Aisin-Gioro Puyi, due to Kaiser Wilhelm's personal beliefs that China's anarchy was the result of a lack of proper monarchy. However, Wu Peifu still holds all the real power. For a decade, Wu Peifu uses his newfound legitimacy to consolidate Northern China, while his subordinate Sun Chuanfang consolidates Southern China through the League of Eight Provinces. By 1936, most warlords recognize Qing as their leader, and China is in a period of relative peace. However, the LEP's collapse in that year would collapse the Zhili-Qing hegemony, beginning a new round of power struggles.
- The Alcoholic: Cao Kun, current President of Qing, mentor of Wu Peifu, and former President of the Republic of China, is an old, depressed raging alcoholic whose condition continues to deteriorate. He was betrayed in the Beijing coup and locked under house arrest for several years, during which his brother committed suicide, reducing him to a shell of his former self.
- Authority in Name Only: Qing is technically recognized as the legitimate government of China, ruling over every province from Xinjiang to Fengtian. In reality, Qing's power barely extends beyond Zhili clique turf, with most of the other provinces being warlord territory, who respect the Beijing government out of convenience. Even Sun Chuanfang's LEP, technically Zhili territory, doesn't totally respect Wu Peifu's Beijing leadership, and the LEP soon collapses anyways.
- Puppet King: Wu Peifu rules Qing territory (more aptly Zhili clique territory with an imperial makeover) through Emperor Puyi and President Cao Kun.
- Puppet State: Downplayed. While independent for the most part, Puyi was indeed installed by Germany, and Germany still has a lot of say on matters of Qing governance through the Peking-Kommission. They're not a full German puppet state, but they are German-backed.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Northern Zhili clique controlled by Wu Peifu (represented by "Qing" territory) and Southern Zhili clique controlled by Sun Chuanfang (represented by the LEP) are technically the same group, but Sun is very ambitious and resisted control from the central government. The two tolerate each other mainly because having a stronger Zhili clique means more power for both of them.
For most of his life, Aisin-Gioro Puyi never held any real power. Emperor at 2 then deposed at 5, Puyi lived through his early years as a spoiled child inside the Forbidden City. He was abruptly ejected in 1924 during the Beijing Coup, and moved to the German concession at Tianjin. There, Germany took interest of him as a possible bargaining chip in East Asia, and installed him onto the throne again.
For another decade, the Zhili clique handled all the governance while Puyi lived idly in the Forbidden City, performing ceremonial rituals and rarely venturing outside. However, Puyi had been studying textbooks on philosophy, history, and politics. While powerless now, Puyi might have plans for something greater if he somehow gets the power to achieve it.
- 0% Approval Rating: The general population does not like Puyi and his restoration. Fortunately for him, most don't care that much to try to remove him, and the actual powers resided in the Zhili clique, so most of the political fighting are directed at the Zhili clique instead.
- Allohistorical Allusion:
- Puyi had an English teacher during his years in the Forbidden City. In real life, it was British official Reginald Johnston. In Kaiserreich, American diplomat Charles Denby Jr. served as Puyi's teacher for a period of time, since Johnston was busy. Denby was kicked out of the Forbidden City after he tried to teach Puyi about American Constitution, and then Johnston came back to teach Puyi English.
- Puyi's general status as a powerless puppet king living in a Gilded Cage is more or less how his time as a puppet king of Japan in Manchukuo went.
- Authority in Name Only: Puyi doesn't really have much power. For the past decade actual governance was done by the Zhili clique. As if that was not enough, Qing (Zhili clique territory) itself barely has control over the whole of China.
- The Coup: If Wu Peifu fails to intervene in the LEP collapse, a faction of Zhili generals will launch a coup with support from other warlord powers to remove Wu from power and install Puyi. If the coup is successful, Puyi will become the true Emperor of China, not shackled by the Zhili clique. If the coup fails, Wu will purge the Manchus from Zhili and make plans to institute a new republican regime.
- Puppet King: Puyi was installed by the Germans and controlled by the Zhili Clique for a decade.
- Rightful King Returns: Deconstructed. The restoration of the Qing dynasty was generally unpopular (there is a reason why they were overthrown in the first place), and the only reason Puyi was restored was so that he can be used as a pawn in the political games of Germany and Zhili clique. However, if he works hard enough, he might actually be able to become a good and legitimate Emperor of China, reconstructing the trope.
The leader of the Zhili clique, and de facto ruler of the Qing territory. Wu is a traditionalist, and has dreams of a Republican China not controlled by foreign powers or Manchu monarchs, but political pragmatism led him to collaborate with Germans and Qing to consolidate the Zhili clique's power. For a decade, Wu had controlled the restored Qing as his puppet, and refused to give in to any further German demands. But the collapse of the Southern Zhili clique poses a significant roadblock to his career, and Wu will have to maneuver between the factions in the government to come out on top.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While Wu Peifu is a highly superstitious man with weird beliefs like that the airplane was invented in the Warring States Period and the automobile was invented by Zhuge Liang during the Three Kingdoms Period, he is China's finest general.
- Cincinnatus: Wu believes that he is personally unfit for ruling China as he's a "military man". If the Manchus get purged, Wu will form a new republican China and hand over most of the powers to them. However, he'll still be running some of the things from the shadows.
- Irony: Wu Peifu is ideologically republican, but leads the monarchist Qing government.
- Just the First Citizen: Wu Peifu, the true ruler of China, is officially just the Imperial Commissioner of the Qing Empire.
- Realpolitik: Wu's ultimate goal is the creation of a new republican China without foreign influences (which is why he rejected Sun Yat-sen, as he thought that Sun is too influenced by foreigners). To this end, he works with a lot of people he doesn't want to work with, such as Manchu remnants and German foreigners, to strengthen himself and make it possible to make a better republic in the future.
- Red Baron: Wu is nicknamed the Jade Marshal due to his stellar history of tactical leadership.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Fengtian is a Japanese puppet state (or at least a Japanese-aligned) state on the Northeastern Provinces of China. Just like Manchukuo in real life.
- Hereditary Republic: While it claims to be the heir to the Republic of China, the real rulers of the Fengtian Government are a warlord clique under the leadership of Zhang Zuolin, who in turn is subject to the "benevolent" oversight of the Empire of Japan.
- Manchukuo in real life is a Japanese-installed puppet state with Puyi as a puppet king, while the rest of China is a Han-led Republic. In Kaiserreich, Manchuria is now a Han-led Republic, while the rest of China is a German-installed puppet state with Puyi as a puppet king.
- Doubly ironic is that the restored Qing has no access to the Manchuria, the homeland of the Manchu people that formed the Qing dynasty.
- Puppet State: Downplayed. Fengtian is independent but Japanese-backed. Japan has significant influence over Fengtian, and Fengtian is a member of the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
- The Remnant: The Fengtian Government is made up of remnants from the Beiyang government, who were exiled following the Qing restoration.
Zhang Zuolin is the ultimate rags to riches story among the Chinese warlords. Marshal Zhang was born to a poor family, received no formal education and was illiterate, and started his career as a bandit in Northeastern China. He would later join the Qing Army and rapidly rise through the ranks, eventually becoming the warlord king of the Northeast after the collapse of Qing. He would rapidly develop the Northeast, and even controlled Beijing for some periods of time. An ambitious and savvy figure, it remains to be seen how much higher can the Old Marshal rise in times like these.
- Rags to Riches: Zhang Zuolin started off as a poor and uneducated bandit in rural China before rising up to become one of the most powerful warlords in China, and he can go even higher from there.
- Irony: Zhang Zuolin is a staunch monarchist in real life, and had close connections with Puyi, even attempting restoration on a few occasions. Despite this, in Kaiserreich he leads an anti-Puyi Republican government, while his ideologically Republican rival Wu Peifu leads the monarchist Qing government.
The Shandong province is the site of an unstable balance between three factions: the military clique of the infamous Fengtian warlord Zhang Zongchang, the religious movement of Yiguandao led by Honored Teacher Zhang Tianran, and the underground force of Song Zheyuan's Society for Restoring Benevolence, which aims to restore Qing authority over Shandong.
Zongchang and Tianran crossed paths in 1935, when Zhang Zongchang, gravely sick from his opium addiction, met with Yiguandao doctors, and then Zhang Tianran himself. Adopting the the esoteric lifestyle of Yiguandao, Zongchang's health recovered for a year, but he's since relapsed into addiction, and begins to see Tianran as a threat to his rule.
In 1936, Zongchang invited a competing claimant to Yiguandao leadership, Lu Zhongjie, to Shandong, in order to spite Tianran. Meanwhile, Song Zheyuan had observed Zongchang's illegal opium dealings and plans to report them to Beijing to legally depose Zongchang. These events would shatter the unstable balance in Shandong, leading to one side coming out on top in the end.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Almost all of Zongchang's generals have some form of criminal record or another. Many are former bandits, others are murderers and serial arsonists, the two Japanese mercenaries he has are disgraced samurai also with criminal backgrounds, and the only general that doesn't have a criminal record is a drug addict.
- Mêlée à Trois: The Shandong Clique, Yiguandao, and the Society for Restoring Benevolence all want to end the other two to secure their rule over the Shandong province.
- Wretched Hive: Zhang Zongchang's rule has turned Shandong into a mess, with his opium dealings, brutal generals, and awful leadership creating a province with rampant crime and violence.
No warlord in China is as infamous, and as colorful, as Zhang Zongchang. His history of neglectful management and pompous personality had earned him nicknames like "Dogmeat General"note and "Three Don't Knows"note . Originally appointed by Fengtian as the military governor of Shandong in 1925, Zongchang declared his neutrality in the Fengtian-Zhili rivalry in 1928, under pressure from the German garrison in Qingdao.
Zongchang's clique currently sits in a precarious state of neutrality between Zhili and Fengtian, nominally aligned with Qing's rule. Zongchang has ambitions to rekindle his Fengtian relationship and take a slice of the Qing pie, but he will have to first kick the opium addiction that is slowly killing him, and remove the enemies that surround him on all sides.
- Addled Addict: Zongchang's health is steadily declining due to his addiction, which can kill him during gameplay, replacing him with the far more brutal Sun Dianying as the leader of the Shandong Clique.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While he is really bonkers when it comes to ruling a territory, Zongchang is a capable general and has had many successes in the past.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Zongchang is very eccentric and unpredictable, and gives no respect to anyone or anybody. This gave him an infamous but also fearsome reputation, and also gave him several like-minded followers.
- Getting High on Their Own Supply: Zongchang deals drugs through Shandong, and is also a drug addict himself.
- Recovered Addict: Zongchang can go clean through Lu Zhongjie, improving his health. If he doesn't drop his addiction, his organs will fail sooner or later.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Zongchang was assassinated in 1932 in real life by the nephew of one of his victims. In Kaiserreich, without the Northern Expedition defeating his army, he was able to survive past 1932.
Zhang Tianran is the current Honored Teacher of the Yiguandao, a syncretic religion blending elements of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism. Under his leadership, Yiguandao organized a network of social service wings across China, and became massively popular among the peasantry, with as many as 7 million followers by 1936. Militias like the Big Swords Society and Red Spear Society had converted Yiguandao, swearing to defend its upright values.
With his influence, Tianran is making far more ambitious plans to return order to the chaotic China. Should he be able to remove the brutal warlord Zhang Zongchang from Shandong, the declaration of Shangqing Tianguo (The Heavenly Host of the Pure Kingdom) would return China to a new age of pure and orderly Chinese rule.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Qing and Shangqing have some aligned interests, and Qing can use Shangqing to defeat all the foreign influences in Southern China before having Shangqing submit to Qing and annexing all of Southern China.
- Retcon: Zhang Tianran, Yiguandao, and Shangqing Tianguo are quite different in earlier versions of Kaiserreich.
- While Shangqing Tianguo now serves as a path for Shandong Clique, in earlier versions of the mod Shangqing is present at the start of the game, located in Shaanxi.note They can potentially unify all of China under a new imperial dynasty.
- Shangqing Tianguo can install Ming descendant Zhu Rongji as the Emperor of China, which is no longer possible.
- The pre-retcon lore of Yiguandao is partially based on the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, which is inaccurate and anachronistic.
- The Theocracy: Zhang Tianran's Shangqing Tianguo is a theocracy built around Yiguandao.
- Non-Indicative Name: Yiguandao is National Populist In Name Only. It doesn't fit at all with the pseudofascist national populist paths other countries have, and is a whole different beast onto itself. The developers have admitted that Yiguandao doesn't really fit National Populist, but they basically have nowhere else to put it.
- Warrior Monk: Zhang Tianran has militias dedicated to Yiguandao, and new military units formed after his ascension to power will all be fully dedicated to the teachings of Yiguandao.
Song Zheyuan was formerly a General for the KMT, but was falsely branded a traitor by Chiang Kai-shek and exiled by the KMT. After the Northern Expedition was defeated, Song Zheyuan grew disillusioned with the KMT, and has since aligned with Qing Constitutionalism. Wanting a chance to redeem himself to the Chinese people, he created the Society for Restoring Benevolence that aims to depose Zongchang and suppress Tianran, both of which he sees are corrupting forces.
- Grave Robbing: Sun Dianying is notorious for robbing the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi. If he comes to power, he'll plunder even more cultural artifacts along his path of conquest.
Much like how China is a divided nation, Sichuan is a divided province. Between 1912 and 1926, the Sichuan province was embroiled in coups, assassinations, and skirmishes between many different factions, and saw no less than five different rulers in those years. The advent of the Zhili hegemony brought Wu Peifu's trusted ally Yang Sen in charge of the province but war and conflict continued.
Tang Jiyao's Yunnan Clique launched two invasions into Sichuan, attempting and failing to remove its Zhili-aligned government. Tibet invaded the Xikang region west of Sichuan, kicking out Sichuan's army and occupying half of the province. These conflicts damaged the ruling faction of Sichuan badly, and empowered competing warlords. With the collapse of the Zhili hegemony by 1936, things in Sichuan are about to get very ugly very fast.
- The Famine: A drought in March 1936 will plunge the Sichuan province into a massive famine (which happened in reality). As the LEP collapses around the same time, this forces the warlords of the province (who are beginning to turn on each other and collapsing the province into a civil war) to manage it by themselves, causing massive troubles for everyone.
- Mêlée à Trois: There are four major warlord factions in Sichuan (though one is massively weakened): Armament Department, Industrial Corps, Baoding Department, and Officer Department. The former three are currently in a shaky alliance, which shatters when the LEP collapses and the Industrial Corps backstabs the others in an attempt to gain power.
The Yunnan clique is primarily known for two things: its elite army, and its loyalty to Chinese republicanism. Its foundations were set in 1909, when the Yunnan Military Academy was established. The academy trained a generation of revolutionary Republican generals, and many later joined the KMT. The clique was properly founded during Yuan Shikai's attempted restoration. The former and current Military Governors of Yunnan, Cai E and Tang Jiyao, led the province's army to spearhead the National Protection War that deposed Yuan. Cai E died shortly after their victory, and Tang Jiyao became the new leader of the Yunnan clique. Tang soon demonstrates his true ambitions, and pursued an expansionist policy, launching several expeditions into neighboring provinces. The failures of his expeditions soon caused internal discontent, and Tang was temporarily ousted from power, but he eventually managed to come back and hold on.
When the Northern Expedition was defeated, many National Revolutionary Army forces, including former Yunnanese generals, retreated into Yunnan Clique territory. While Tang Jiyao wanted to see his NRA-aligned rivals destroyed, factions within the clique led by Long Yun forced Tang Jiyao to grant them sanctuary. Yunnan was now jam-packed with forces of different agendas and ideology, who maintained an uneasy co-existence through their shared enemy, the German-backed Zhili clique. During the Fourth Zhili-Fengtian War, Yunnan audaciously sided with Fengtian, only to be defeated due to their disunited command and forced to recognize Qing leadership. In 1936, Yunnan stands at a crossroads, as Tang Jiyao's authority continues to decline, his generals are becoming increasingly factionalized, and the NRA remnants desire to come to power again. A power struggle of spectacular proportions is a near certainty.
- Enemy Mine: Tang Jiyao's personal clique and the NRA forces are not friends in the slightest, but are forced to collaborate inside Yunnan since both sides hate the Zhili-controlled Qing government more.
- Mêlée à Trois: If Tang Jiyao tries to invade Hunan immediately after the LEP collapses, he will get couped by Long Yun, and the Yunnan clique collapses in on itself. A four-way power struggle begins between Long Yun, Yunnan clique general Hu Ruoyu, and the KMT-associated generals Zhu Peide and Lu Han.
- The Remnant: A large portion of KMT's National Revolutionary Army is holed up in Yunnan, and represent the remnants of Chiang's right-wing KMT.
- Retcon: Prior to the rework, Yunnan is led by Long Yun at the start of the game, and also fully controls Sichuan.
- Ambition Is Evil: Tang is too ambitious for his own good. If he maintains power, he might choose to expand into Indochina, start the National Protection Alliance to launch a second National Protection War and overthrow Qing, or even declare himself King. The last one of course, does not sit well with his large base of republican-minded subordinates.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Declaring himself King in China's most republican province results in him being overthrown and executed by Long Yun shortly afterwards.
- When the LEP collapses, Tang wants to invade Hunan to take Zhenyuan. However, Yunnan was in a lot of economic trouble in 1936, and he has a very weak grip over his clique. If he immediately declares his ambitions to invade Hunan, Long Yun will coup him and execute Tang. He even mocks Long Yun as a coward when Long Yun sends his ultimatum.
- The Coup: Long Yun can launch a coup on the unpopular Tang Jiyao to seize power, after Tang Jiyao completely alienates all his generals by declaring war on Hunan. However, Long Yun will have to face a civil war inside Yunnan after his coup, as many different warlord generals try to seize power from him.
- Retired Badass: Zhu De was a retired teacher at the Yunnan Military Academy, and a very capable general. If the Yunnan conflict goes on for too long, he'll come out of retirement, gather an army, and curb-stomp all the other petty warlords in Yunnan to return order to the province. Then he'll voluntarily cede power to a KMT leader, because he's not interested in politics.
The Ma Clique, which ruled Qinghai, Gansu, and Ningxia, is unique amongst the Chinese warlord cliques for their background and structure. The clique originates from Hui (Chinese Muslim) generals in the Kansu Braves army that fought for Qing, and is composed of two major Hui families, the southern Qinghai Clique and northern Gansu Clique. The Ma families were strongly nationalist, and declared their allegiance to the Republic of China.
Following Zhili's victory in the Fourth Zhili-Fengtian War and the restoration of the Qing, the Ma families respected the new Zhili authority, and Ma family leaders were respected as the leaders of the three provinces. However, in 1936, the leader of the clique Ma Fuxiang dies. The multiple personalities of the Ma families each have their own ideas on how to continue their governorship of the three provinces, beginning a power struggle between family members. The same year also sees the collapse of the League of Eight Provinces and the Zhili hegemony. The clique finds itself sandwiched between a hostile Tibet to the South, a hostile Mongolia to the North, and another conflict brewing in Xinjiang to the West. Ultimately nationalists, the Ma clique aims to protect their rule over the provinces and pacify Northwest China.
- The Family That Slays Together: Ma clique generals all come from a few related Ma families, with many being cousins of each other.
- Retcon: Prior to the rework, the Ma clique also controls Xinjiang at the start of the game.
- Warrior Monk: The Ma Clique are all Muslim Chinese warlords. The surname "Ma" is a Chinese rendering of "Muhammad".
League of Eight Provinces & LEP Collapse
League of Eight Provinces
While officially subservient to Wu Peifu, Sun is unhappy about his position, and desires more. Exploiting Wu's unwillingness for further concessions, Sun made several exploitative (and somewhat illegal) deals with German East Asia, leasing out port cities in exchange for arms and capital. These port cities would be put under the administration of the AOG, (Aufsichtsrat der Ostasiatische Generalverwaltung, Supervisory Board of the East Asian General Administration), and provide benefits both Germany and Sun Chuanfang, at the cost of significant local resentment.
While Sun currently sits on a throne of power, surrounded by provincial governments loyal to his stronghold in Nanjing, the corruption in Sun's government and his Germans collaboration may soon come back to haunt him, crashing his empire on his head.
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: The LEP is a vast kleptocracy, with corruption on almost every level. The exclusive German economic exploitation allowed the corrupt leadership to swindle even more money for themselves, and crimes organized by corrupt officials is rampant.
- Demoted to Extra: The role of the AOG is steadily reduced over the process of the China rework. Pre-rework, it was a Mega-Corp that controlled actual Chinese territory as a de facto government, which was reduced to a series of coastal concessions in the rework, then reworked again (over gameplay considerations) with its tag being removed from the game entirely, and it remaining in the game solely as a part of the lore.
- Puppet State: Thanks to Sun Chuanfang's collaboration, Germany has even more power in Southern China than in the North, through their Nanking-Kommission. The Nanjing Clique is even more explicitly a German collaborator faction, being led by a warlord that collaborated with Japan in real life.
- The League of Eight Provinces did not exist prior to the China rework. Instead, all their territory is controlled by the AOG.
- The AOG is formerly Allgemeine Ostasien-Gesellschaft (General East Asian Company), a German Mega-Corp that effectively controls everything south of the Yangtze River on lease as its own state. After the rework, they are now more properly a governmental organization, and only controls some port cities.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: AOG's decision to buy out several rail lines in China causes a massive unrest in the LEP, which causes the assassination of Sun Chuanfang, collapses the LEP, and shakes up the power dynamic in China so much that it literally triggers a period of renewed active warfare after a decade of relative peace following the Shanghai Conference.
Sun Chuanfang, nicknamed "The Smiling Tiger", is the leader of the Southern Zhili clique, and the head of the League of Eight Provinces. Sun hides his ruthlessness behind a mask of smiles, and he has ambitions to subvert the rule of Wu Peifu's Northern Zhili clique. With his carefully cultivated German connections, Sun had gathered significant power for himself and became one of the most powerful men in China. However, his actions had also made him a lot of enemies, which may soon bring him and his empire to a swift end.
- 0% Approval Rating: Sun Chuanfang's decision to lease out territory to the Germans made him massively unpopular among the people, which is what eventually led to his death and the subsequent collapse of his League.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Sun lives past his real-life assassination by a few months, before getting assassinated in almost the same way.
- Decapitated Army: The League had already been a very loosely unified confederation, unified only because there's a man with a very big army at the top. With Sun's death, the resultant power vacuum instantly collapses the League.
- Famous Last Words: Subverted. Sun's last words were him complaining about his breakfast, before he succumbed to his wounds.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Sun's inevitable assassination collapses the League of Eight Provinces, and also completely shakes up the power dynamic across China, allowing all sides to enact their plans and begin a new round of power struggle.
- The Starscream: Sun's long-term goal is to usurp the rule of Wu Peifu's Northern Zhili and possibly control all of China for himself. Unfortunately, the LEP's collapse cut that short.
- The Quisling: Sun Chuanfang is far more willing to work with the Germans than Wu Peifu, and it is Sun who agreed to lease coastal cities to Germany and created the AOG.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Sun is inevitably assassinated in February 1936, just two months into the game.
General Qi Xieyuan was originally Sun's superior in the Zhili clique, before he was exiled after a defeat, but then returned and remade himself as Sun's subordinate. Immediately following Sun's death, General Qi Xieyuan assumes control over the remnants of Sun's power in Nanjing, declaring himself the Acting League-Marshal. Rumors say that Sun's assassination was no accident after all, and Qi definitely has big plans of his own.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Qi Xieyuan in real life worked in the Japanese collaborationist government of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In Kaiserreich, large parts of Qi's tree involves him expanding German collaboration, basically selling out to Germany.
- Cult of Personality: One of his later focuses (after he pacifies the original five provinces of the League of Five Provinces) involves building a cult of personality around him.
- The Quisling: Qi Xieyuan will scale up the German collaboration, selling out even more of China to secure more power for him and his clique.
Anqing CliqueDuring the Shanghai uprising of 1932, LEP intervention under German command crushed the people's uprising into a bloodbath. However, the nature of the uprising meant that several generals refused to send forces to crush the rebels, among which includes governor of the Anhui province, Chen Tiaoyuan. Sun Chuanfang did not remove Chen in the aftermath of the uprising in the interest of his own stability, but the incident did show that Chen was falling out with Sun.
Come 1936, and the LEP is in the midst of a massive crisis. After the Wuhu Incident, when hundreds of striking workers were killed by the local authorities, Chen refuses to collaborate with the League any further. When Sun dies, and Qi Xieyuan assumes control over Nanjing, Chen uses the chance to declare war on Nanjing, accusing Qi of ordering Sun's assassination.
- Occupiers Out of Our Country: One of the primary motivations for clique is the Anti-Concessions Movement, aiming to remove the AOG from China.
Zhao Hengti's rule ended in 1926, when Hunan general Tang Shengzhi rebelled and joined the National Revolutionary Army. With the help of the NRA, Tang Shengzhi deposed Zhao Hengti and became the ruler of Hunan, replacing the Hunan Constitution with his "Revolutionary Buddhism" ideology. However, his rule would only last a year before the NRA's Northern Expedition failed, and his rule collapsed. Zhao Hengti was restored to power, but as a military governor installed by Beijing, rather than a Democratic governor like Zhao Hengti wished. While Hunan was incorporated into the League of Eight Provinces, Zhao Hengti would rule over Hunan with a high degree of autonomy.
A decade later, the League's crisis gave Zhao Hengti a chance to secede. Now free from political meddling, Zhao Hengti has a choice to restore the 1922 Constitution. However, the restoration of the constitution and democracy also means that Tang Shengzhi and KMT general Cheng Qian would return from exile to run in the elections for Governor of Hunan. Whether or not the Constitution is restored, and the outcome of the democratic election, will decide Hunan's future.
Tang Shengzhi, nicknamed "Buddhist General", holds a synthetic ideology that combines Buddhism with Socialism, known as "Revolutionary Buddhism". During his short tenure as the leader of Hunan, he launched a Buddhisisation Program and supported farmers and workers. Removed from the position for ten years, Tang Shengzhi now has a chance to come back in the midst of the LEP's collapse, and reestablish his Revolutionary Buddhist province.
- Warrior Monk: As the "Buddhist General", Tang Shengzhi wants to create an army with buddhist beliefs.
The Liangguang Clique (literally "Two Guangs Clique") was a union between two provinces: Guangdong under governor Chen Jiongming, and Guangxi under governor Lu Rongting. Both leaders were overthrown by the KMT before the Northern Expedition, and forged an alliance during their exile. After being restored to power, the two worked with Sun Chuanfang's League out of necessity, but maintained the autonomy of the two provinces. Chen Jiongming is an idealistic democratic federalist, while Lu Rongting is the pluralist warlord of the Guangxi clique. The alliance between the two has Guangxi providing military protection while Guangdong providing economic support.
When the League begins to unravel and collapse, the two provinces secede under Chen Jiongming's leadership. However, the aging Lu Rongting soon dies, creating a succession crisis in the Guangxi Clique between Ma Ji, Lu Rongting's ambitious adopted son, and Li Zongren, the leader of the KMT-aligned New Guangxi Clique. In either case, the ambitions of the newly acceded leader means that a conflict between Guangdong and Guangxi is inevitable. If Chen Jiongming wants to make his federalist dreams a reality, he will need to weather the Guangxi clique's invasion, his opponents in Guangdong, and all the other factions across the whole of China.
The current Governor-General of Liangguang, Chen Jiongming is unique among the Chinese warlords for having a very thorough set of ideologies, being democratic federalism. Leading the Public Interest Party in Liangguang's provincial democracy, his ultimate dream is to pursuit a federalist United Provinces of China.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Chen endorses democratic federalism. However, the KMT hates him because he betrayed Sun Yat-sen due to differences between Chen and Sun's ideologies.
- Retcon: Pre-rework, Chen is one of the President options in the Republic of China that arises from the AOG.
The head of the Merchant Corps in Guangzhou, Chen Lianbo represents the interests of the merchants in the coastal province of Guangdong.
A former member of the KMT, now operating in the democracy of Guangdong as the head of the Productive People's Party, which is more or less a front for the KMT remnants. Chen Mingshu supports Song Qingling's Minquan faction of the KMT, and distrusts Wang Jingwei's Central Committee.
The head of the Guangxi clique following Lu Rongting's death, Ma Ji is the younger adopted son of Lu Rongting, and shares his father's views of regionalism and pluralism.
One of the most skilled leaders of the National Revolutionary Army, Li Zongren originally rose through the ranks of the Guangxi clique before declaring his allegiance to the KMT and ousting the Guangxi clique to form the New Guangxi clique. Following the defeat of the Northern Expedition, Li Zongren retreated into Yunnan. He has been rebuilding his forces and plans to re-invade Guangxi to reestablish KMT presence in Southern China. Opposing the left-wing KMT Central Committee led by Wang Jingwei, Li Zongren is the unofficial leader of the right-wing KMT.
- The Usurper: As the unofficial head of the Right-KMT, Li Zongren has no love for Wang Jingwei's Left-KMT dominated Central Committee. As such, he wants to form his own Central Committee and eventually usurp Wang Jingwei's leadership.
The Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) was founded by Sun Yat-sen to fulfill his dream of a Chinese republic. Following Yuan's attempted restoration, and the warlordism and corruption in the Beiyang government that followed, Sun established a KMT-led military government in Guangzhou, aiming to counteract the Beiyang government. Throughout the warlord era, the KMT gathered forces and strengthened its National Revolutionary Army for an eventual military expedition to reunify China. They received support from revolutionaries abroad, including French syndicalists.
Following Sun Yat-sen's death in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek assumed leadership, and launched the Northern Expedition in 1926. However, Germany, fearing the Syndicalist side of the KMT, intervened with full force, and crushed the Northern Expedition. Chiang was assassinated, the NRA collapsed, and Sun Chuanfang's forces secured their former provinces. KMT remnants fled abroad or scattered across Southern China, avoiding being hunted down by LEP forces.
From 1926 to 1936, KMT remnants across the country have been biding their time, waiting for an opportunity to rise up again. They helped to organize the Shanghai Uprising of 1932, and their guerrillas have been hiding in the mountains between Jiangxi and Fujian, creating the "Jiangfu Insurgent Zone" that LEP struggled to root out. With the LEP facing a massive crisis in 1936, the KMT found a perfect opportunity to strike.
- Allohistorical Allusion:
- The L-KMT uprising in Jiangxi and Fujian mirrors the real JiangxiFujian Soviet.
- Kuomintang in general takes the place of the CCP in real life, having a much stronger left wing faction.
- La Résistance: The left-KMT guerrillas in Jiangxi-Fujian is a force of resistance against the Qing rule.
- The Remnant: When the Northern Expedition collapsed, several things happened to the Kuomintang:
- A large faction of the KMT Central Committee escaped abroad, either to Paris or Hawaii. The biggest faction is led by Wang Jingwei, located in France.
- A big portion of the National Revolutionary Army escaped into Tang Jiyao's Yunnan, and stopped taking orders from Wang Jingwei's Central Committee. They represent the split-off remnants of the right-wing faction of the KMT.
- A section of Left KMT troops and some of the Central Committee escaped into Southern Fujian, and went underground. They started waging a guerrilla war on Qing forces.
- Pre-rework, Chinese republicans (among which includes the KMT) can rise up in AOG territory through rebellion, foreign intervention, or peaceful transition via AOG's de-Germanization program. Post-rework, they now rise up in LEP territory instead, as AOG was reduced to just a few port cities.
- Huang Xing, who's dead before the point of divergence, can become the head of state in the pre-rework Republic of China, a massive Plot Hole. He is removed in the rework.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Much like real life, there is a left-wing and right-wing faction of the KMT that claims to be the "real" successor of Sun's ideals. The death of Chiang Kai Shek has prevented the purge of the left-wing KMT and their exile into a communist party, and instead, the Syndicalist powers are actively supporting the dominant leftist faction. Of course, infighting between the leftists and rightists can still occur in other regions with KMT influence.
- Allohistorical Allusion: Wang Jingwei, leader of the Radical Socialist Minsheng Faction of the KMT, proposes the "Wang Jingwei Thought" that desires to create a national social revolution that will change China top-down. This is more or less a modified version of "Mao Zedong Thought".
- Historical Villain Downgrade: Because of the completely different circumstances around the world, Wang Jingwei did not turn to right-wing and does not get a chance to collaborate with Fascist Axis powers and getting remembered as a traitor. The worst he can do in Kaiserreich instead is instituting an authoritarian socialist, but still ultimately nationalist and non-collaborationist government.
- Determined Widow: She is Sun Yat-sen's widow, and she desires to continue her husband's legacy. She currently leads the Jiangfu Insurgents and is the head of the Social Democrat Minquan Faction of the KMT.
- Rebel Leader: Song Qingling is the leader of the Jiangfu Insurgents.
- Dark Horse Victory: Sun Fo is not particularly charismatic or exceptional himself, and his Minquan Moderates tendency holds little power outside overseas KMT communities in Insulindia and the USA, mainly persisting on its leadership's long-term credentials and ties to the first generation of Chinese revolutionaries (for example, Sun Fo is Sun Yat-sen's son), but they have one advantage that it has been indicated can propel them (and therefore Sun Fo) to power: amicable relations with non-KMT liberal opposition groups in China and parts of the Right-KMT. If the (Left) KMT finds itself needing to reconcile and unite with liberal Chinese factions and/or the Right KMT, Sun Fo and the Minquan Moderates could be the only acceptable compromise.
- The Coup: Dai Li's path involves him launching a coup against the victorious KMT.
- Retcon: Earlier versions called the Totalist faction of KMT "Xintefa". It was supposedly retconned due to being a "Blind Idiot" Translation of an English name that makes no sense in Chinese.
- Shadow Dictator: Dai Li doesn't directly take over China, but instead puppets the government through his bureaucratic network.
- The Spymaster: Dai Li is the leader of KMT's intelligence network, the "Bureau for Intelligence and Special Methods", or "ZhongTeJu".
Xinjiang, the "new frontier", is the largest, most desolate, and least Chinese province of China. Conquered by the Qing in mid-18th century, Xinjiang is populated by a mixture of Han Chinese and Turkic Uyghur populations, causing significant ethnic tensions that often turn bloody. Xingjiang at 1936 is ruled by former Qing bureaucrat Yang Zengxin, who respects the Beijing government to avoid trouble, maintains Xinjiang's isolation and neutrality, and quells local dissent with a mix of leniency and repression.
However, Yang Zengxin is growing old, paranoid, and reclusive. When the Qing hegemony collapses, Yang Zengxin is pushed over the edge, and disappears with the entire Xinjiang treasury. His right-hand-man, Jin Shuren, quickly seizes power, whose ambitions to cement Han rule quickly backfires, exploding the ethnic tensions that Yang suppressed. As the order in Xinjiang collapses, the Xinjiang clique gathers whatever forces they have, and tries to hold on.
- Civil War: The Xinjiang conflict is a local ethnic conflict between the Han-led Xinjiang clique, the more moderate Uyghur Kumul Khanate to the East, and the more radical Uyghur Nationalists to the Southwest.
- Evil vs. Evil: All three sides in the Xinjiang conflict have a lot of autocratic and xenophobic tendencies. Ethnic violence and oppression are likely to be committed by all sides in the war.
- In Spite of a Nail: The Kumul and Uyghur revolt in Kaiserreich happens in an identical fashion to real life, though at 1936 instead of real life's 1931. Kaiserreich merely pushed the events' trigger (Jin Shuren taking power) further down a few years, with Yang Zengxin not getting assassinated in 1928.
- The Wild West: Xinjiang is the westernmost province of China, and is a place of lawlessness, cruelty, violence, and war.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the LEP collapses, the paranoid Yang Zengxin flees Xinjiang with all of Xinjiang's money.
- 0% Approval Rating: Jin Shuren's opening up of Han immigration, abolition of the Kumul Khanate, and doubling of local taxes resulted in the rebellion from the locals. His subordinates are also losing faith in him because it was his actions that put them in such a bad position.
- The Coup: After Yang Zengxin disappears, Jin Shuren and his army (that was supposed to pacify Mongolian bandits) marches into the Xinjiang capital of Dihua and secures his position as the new leader of Xinjiang.
- Crushing the Populace: If Jin Shuren wins out in the end, he'll double down on oppressing the locals to punish them for rebelling against him.
- Evil Colonialist: Jin Shuren will actively increase Han Chinese colonization of Xinjiang, ignoring the desires of the locals.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: While Yang Zengxin is no saint, Jin Shuren is much worse. Jin Shuren will exploit the locals, annex Kumul, and appoint his close friends to the new Hami administration, leading to widespread corruption and dissidence.
- You Don't Look Like You: A generic portrait is used to represent Jin Shuren, since his only known photograph is very low quality.
- The Coup: If Jin Shuren's subordinates completely loses faith in him, they will defect to Sheng Shicai's powerbase, giving Sheng Shicai a chance to coup Jin Shuren.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: Without the Soviet Union and the communists, Sheng Shicai's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is not portrayed in Kaiserreich, as Sheng doesn't get a chance to defect to the Soviets and back. Sheng Shicai of Kaiserreich is loyal to the KMT from start to finish, though he is still as power-hungry as in real life.
- Nominal Hero: While Sheng is loyal to the KMT's cause, he is primarily motivated for his own own gain rather than the people's.
- The Purge: While relatively more libertarian among the multitude of evil leaders in Xinjiang, Sheng Shicai still has his own ambitions and many autocratic policies, and one of his moves is to purge his political enemies, much like in real life.
- Token Good Teammate: Sheng Shicai is the only man with some Republican ideals in a clique full of power-hungry autocrats (while still being a power-hungry autocrat himself). If he comes to power, he will liberalize and modernize Xinjiang somewhat while cracking down on the locals for power.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: Ma Shaowu is a "moderate" leader in Xinjiang terms. His rule is repressive, but not as repressive as Jin Shuren.
- Secret Police: Ma Shaowu's rule is based on isolating the locals from outside information, and to this end he will set up a secret police to suppress information and dissent.
The Kumul Khanate, lying on the Eastern corner of Xinjiang, was a Turkic khanate established during the Dzungar-Qing War in the 18th century, when Kumul leaders offered themselves to the Qing to preserve their rule. Kumul survived as a protectorate through the Xinhai Revolution, and acted as a stabilizing factor in Xinjiang, showing the possibility of peaceful Turkic self-rule respected by the Chinese.
The previous leader of Kumul, Maqsud Shah, was an autocrat, whose raising of the corvée (forced unpaid labor) led to two uprisings in 1907 and 1912. After Maqsud died in 1930, his son Nasīr succeeded him. Nasīr is more open to reforms to protect his rule, but before he can do that, Jin Shuren throws a spanner into the works.
Jin Shuren desires to abolish the khanate and integrate it into Xinjiang as Hami ("Kumul" in Chinese). Kumul had been closed to Chinese immigration, and Jin Shuren wants to open it up. While Nasīr is in no position to object, the people are, and they are enraged by the actions of the Chinese. Under the lead of Nasīr's right-hand man Yulbars Khan, the people of Kumul rebels against the Chinese in an attempt to restore the rule of the Khanate.
- Internal Reformist: Nasīr is interested in reforming the Kumul Khanate and deal with the ugly autocratic legacy of his predecessor Maqsud.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Kumul Revolt starts off with massacres of Han populations, and only gets worse from there.
- Revolving Door Revolution: If Kumul wins the war, they will need to assert their monarchic leadership over all of Xinjiang, which is a difficult task. If things don't go so well, the leadership can get deposed and replaced by Uyghur nationalist Hoja-Niyaz, Han bureaucrat Fan Yaonan, or Hui warlord Ma Zhongying.
- Realpolitik: Niyaz is a Uyghur nationalist, but he's not a radically anti-Chinese one. He is willing to make some deals with major Chinese factions to secure his own rule.
- Meet the New Boss: Fan Yaonan will return Xinjiang back to a Han-led Xinjiang Administration, opening up Xinjiang for Han settlers.
- You Don't Look Like You: Because all the real pictures of Fan Yaonan are low-quality and unsuitable for coloration, a generic photo of a Han Chinese bureaucrat is used to represent Fan Yaonan, which also inadvertently makes him look much younger.
Ma Zhongying is known by many nicknames, none of them good. "The Butcher of Gansu", "The Child General", "The Fourth Horseman". The Ma family outcast was young, ambitious, and brutal. He came to prominence during his brutal raids against the Guominjun in Gansu, and was later exiled by the Ma Clique after he turned on them and tried to seize power for himself. When the Kumul Revolt breaks out, Yulbars Khan came to Ma clique territory to find someone willing to provide military support. Ma Zhongying, seeing a chance to expand his powers, accepted Yulbars' plea.
- Ambition Is Evil: Ma Zhongying has some very extreme ambitions, and wants to gain as much power as possible.
- Ax-Crazy: Ma Zhongying is a very violent man and seeks to assert his dominance through war and bloodshed.
- Black Sheep: Ma Zhongying was originally from the Ma Clique, but was expelled because he had extreme ambitions that led him to raid other Ma clique members. In addition, while the Ma Clique is already one of the more brutal warlord cliques in China, Ma Zhongying is considered one of the worst among them.
- Crushing the Populace: If Ma Zhongying comes to power, he will start a brutal conquest going from Mongolia to Tibet, crushing all locals who dare to oppose him in the way.
- Psycho for Hire: After being expelled by the Ma Clique, Yulbars Khan, leader of the Kumul Revolt, recruits Ma Zhongying's clique for their cause. Ma Zhongying accepts because it gives him a good chance to expand his powers.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Ma Zhongying is infamous for his raids and pillages on the Guominjun during his time in Gansu.
- Young and in Charge: Ma Zhongying is only 26 in 1936, making him one of the youngest warlords in China and earning him the nickname "The Child General".
- Young Conqueror: For such a young warlord (or perhaps because he's such a young warlord), Ma Zhongying is very ambitious and very violent, and wants to conquer as much territory as possible.
The Uyghur populations of Southern Xinjiang have always been more conservative, nationalistic, and anti-Chinese than the North. The schools established by the Young Turks in the region encouraged pan-Turkism, only increasing their radicalism. When news of Kumul's annexation and uprising reaches the South, unrest spreads like wildfire, soon coalescing into a violent rebellion. When Ma Shaowu the administrator of the South retreats back to the North, the South would soon be completely lost to the rebelling Uyghur Nationalists, leaving the Xinjiang clique to face a two-front war.
- Enemy Mine: The Uyghur nationalists and the Kumul Khanate share the initial goal of trying to overthrow the rule of Jin Shuren. Their relations sour soon after however, as the Kumuliks want to restore the monarchic Kumul Khanate, while the Uyghur nationalists want to create a pan-Turkic Uyghur state, and are ideologically aligned with the populist Uyghur rebels that rebelled against the Kumul Khanate in 1907 and 1912. War eventually breaks out between the Kumuliks and the nationalists if the Xinjiang clique is defeated.
The International Mandate for the Chinese Concessions, commonly known as Legation Cities, is an international authority that governs former British possessions on the Chinese coast, modeled on the Shanghai International Settlement. Following the collapse of the British Empire, Germany and Japan both found an opening to further their interests in East Asia. With the rest of China still deadlocked between warring factions, Japanese and German troops scrambled to occupy the former British concessions in the name of "protection", escalating tensions between Berlin and Tokyo.
Following the Jade Wind Incident of 1928, when German and Japanese forces directly clashed with each other, United States organized the Shanghai Conference to negotiate a ceasefire. The International Mandate is created to balance international interests and maintain USA's Open Door Policy. Cities in the Mandate are governed by their own governor or council, but all would answer to the Legation Council, an international council of ambassadors representing the interests of all member countries. While the Legation Cities are at peace for now, the Council regularly fails to achieve any consensus due to the conflicting interests of Germany and Japan, whose diplomatic cold war could reignite tensions in the future.
- Balance of Power: The Legation Cities are designed so that foreign powers, especially Germany and Japan, have a balanced influence over the cities.
- City of Spies: The Legation Cities are a bloodless battleground of German, Japanese, and Chinese nationalist interests, and secret wars of ideology and espionage happen beneath the peace on the surface.
- The Neutral Zone: Each of the Legation Cities is surrounded by a thirty-mile neutral zone, where Chinese military forces are not allowed to enter.
- Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Legation Council often fails to reach a consensus because the conflicting interests of the foreign nations.
- Occupiers Out of Our Country: Leftist nationalists in the cities launched an uprising against the foreign powers in 1932. The uprising was ended with the help of the forces of League of Eight Provinces under the lead of Germany.
- Port Town: The Legation Cities consists of multiple foreign concessions on the Chinese coast, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Ningbo, Fuzhou, and Shantou.
- Prior to the China rework, Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's wife and leader of the hardline "Gang of Four" in reality, can set herself up as a Triad boss ruling Legation Shanghai.
- Prior to the rework, the Triads can actually take over the Legation Cities and run the city as a pseudo-government. This can lead to intervention from several major nations (including Japan and Canada), resulting in them declaring war on the Cities, and usually defeating them easily.
- Truce Zone: Germany and Japan both have interests in the Legation Cities, but for the moment they lay down their arms and negotiate with diplomacy instead.
- The Triads and the Tongs: Chinese criminal syndicates have a significant amount of influence in the Legation Cities. The people in power can work with Chinese gangsters like Du Yuesheng and Zhang Xiaolin to undercut the Legation Council through focuses.
Former Qing Territory
Once the greatest empire in the world, Mongolia was under Chinese rule for more than 200 years before 1912, when the Xinhai Revolution gave the Mongols an opportunity to declare their independence. The newly formed Bogd Khanate of Mongolia aligned with Russia for protection, but after Russia fell into civil war in 1919, the Beiyang government took the opportunity to re-occupy Mongolia. Just a few years later however, the brutal White Russian General Roman von Ungern-Sternberg invaded Mongolia and expelled the Chinese. Ungern restored the deposed Bogd Khan, while he himself rules Mongolia as a warlord general.
For the past decade, Ungern's White forces have consolidated his rule through violence, and his ambitions led him to expand into Tuva and Inner Mongolia. However, Ungern's grip on power is becoming increasingly challenged. Bogd Khan died in 1924. Socialists from the Mongol Ardīn Nam (Mongolian People's Party) are gathering forces for another revolution after Ungern crushed the first and the second. Extreme Buddhists organized under the Buddyn Zövlöl (Buddhist Council) are plotting their own uprising to prevent Ungern from perverting Mongolia. The old aristocrats known as the Yazgurtan Survaljtan are getting tired of Ungern too, and may be looking to rule Mongolia themselves. The death of President Kerensky in Russia would certainly end Russia's assistance to Ungern, and the mad baron will need to withstand wars and rebellions if he still wants to be the baron of Mongolia.
- The Fundamentalist: Played With. The Buddyn Zövlöl can either ban alternate religions, or allow them and try to reform them into something that fits with Buddhism.
- Puppet King: Ungern, being a foreigner, is unable to unite Mongolia in spirit. The person that actually acts as the unifying figure and official ruler of Mongolia is the 9th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, but he's 3 when the game begins, and thus subservient to whomever is in power. Whatever leader that comes to power will still have to respect the existence of the 9th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu.
- The Theocracy: Mongolia under the Buddyn Zövlöl is built entirely around Buddhist teachings.
- Warrior Monk: Buddyn Zövlöl will reform the Mongolian military into a force that fights for Buddhism.
- We ARE Struggling Together: The Mongol Ardīn Nam has a lot of unsavory folks within its ranks, and its first leader Soliin Danzan can get backstabbed and replaced soon after the MAN comes to power.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Buddyn Zövlöl Buddhist extremists are certainly religiously extreme, but they do have the noble goal of trying to defend the Mongolian spirit against legitimate tyrants like Ungern. They will actually implement welfare policies to uplift the poor.
A Russian nobleman of Baltic German extraction, Baron Ungern first rose to prominence commanding Russian troops in Galicia during the Weltkrieg, where he gained notoriety as a brave but reckless and unstable leader. During the Russian Civil War, he aligned himself with the anti-Bolshevik Whites yet contributed little to the overall war effort, effectively carving out a domain in Siberia which he lorded over as a petty warlord. In 1921, he extended his reach into Mongolia, restoring the Bogd Khan, and rules Mongolia through brutality and bloodshed. Since then, his rule has become increasingly challenged, and he may have to escalate his actions if he wants to hold onto power.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: He is of Russian nobility, though by the game's start he's obviously long-forsaken it.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: His military power and sheer brutality towards his enemies are the only reasons why Ungern stays in power in Mongolia.
- Ax-Crazy: Ungern-Sternberg is a violent and unpredictable man prone who revels in warfare and slaughter and seeks and turns on allies on a whim.
- Badass in Charge: Baron Sternberg is a battlefield leader, and rules Mongolia with an iron fist.
- Beware the Silly Ones: No matter how insane he appears, he is still in charge of the entire country and doesn't hesitate to fulfill his ambitions with his army.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: To put it lightly, the Baron is a very eccentric man. However, he's still a skilled and ruthless military commander who didn't get where he is by luck alone.
- Cult of Personality: To keep Ungern in power, he can start a large propaganda campaign in Mongolia to promote a cult of personality around him, encouraging the locals to mythify him.
- Going Native: The "military officer goes rogue and starts ruling over the natives" model par excellence.
- Immigrant Patriotism: Ungern is a fierce pan-Mongolist and seeks to unite the Mongolians under one banner, even though he himself isn't of Mongolian extraction.
- Mighty Whitey: Ungern, in spite of being a German Russian, managed to secure independent Mongolia from the foreign threat and rules his new country with an iron fist.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, the appropriately named "Mad Baron of Mongolia".
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Let's see. He's a Baltic German that was born in Austria-Hungary and was a prominent Russian noble, served as a White General in the Russian Civil War, and now he leads Mongolia as a warlord and is ostensibly Buddhist. Quite a background.
- The Red Baron: He is known, like in real life, as the Mad Baron and the Bloody Baron.
- Retcon: Ungern was significantly reworked in the China rework. Before that, his character was a flanderized version of him in reality; he starts to believe that he is a reincarnation of Genghis Khan, and usurps the Khagan title and wants to restore the Mongolian Empire. Now he acts in a (relatively) more sane way, being a power-hungry and brutal warlord general.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: He can personally lead his army to the battle, and does it quite effectively.
- Spared by the Adaptation: In Real Life, Ungern-Sternberg was captured in a battle with the Red Army, brought before a Kangaroo Court, sentenced to death, and executed by firing squad in 1921 (though most historians agree that even a legitimate court would have found him guilty and sentenced him to greatest extent legally allowed). In Kaiserreich, the Whites defeated the Reds, and provided support to Ungern's White Russian government. With most neighboring powers being completely neutral to his existence, Ungern used his military to crush any rebellions in his rule, allowing him to rule more or less uncontested and survive to the 30s.
Tibet declared its independence from China under the 13th Dalai Lama in 1913, and has used the chaos in India and China to move in their army and claim areas with Tibetan populations. Their move into Xikang brought them into conflict with the strongly nationalist Ma Clique, who invaded Yushu in 1932 and occupied Yushu and Golmud. The death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933 brought 5th Reting Ripoche, Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen, as the regent of Tibet until a new Dalai Lama can be found. Regent Jamphel has very little influence however, and he acts as a figurehead to the chaotic government. With chaos within, and threats without, Tibet's future is an uncertain one.
- Feudal Overlord: Tibet in 1936 still maintains its feudal society with a serf system.
- The Theocracy: Tibet is a theocratic country based on Tibetan buddhism. Their head of state is supposed to be the Dalai Lama, who are religious leaders as well. However, the 13th Dalai Lama died in 1933, and currently 5th Reting Ripoche, Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen, is serving as the regent.
- Warrior Monk: Tibet maintains a group of ultraconservative warrior monks who keeps peace in the countryside, known as the Dob-Dobs.
- Going Native: Roerich is a Russian (of Baltic German descent) that can become the leader of a post-revolution Tibet.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Roerich's background is just as, if not even more insane than Roman von Ungern-Sternberg. Roerich is a Russian Baltic German (coincidentally just like Sternberg) who became an artist and a mystic. In Kaiserreich, Roerich initially opposed Lenin due to his social conservatism, but after a meeting with Gandhi in the Baharatiya Commune and a trip to Tibet, he had a religious experience that made him snap back to a Lenin supporter and synthesize his spiritualism with socialism to create esoteric Leninsm. He was then endorsed by Gandhi to create the Sacred Union party in Tibet, in order to lead a new Tibet that would be both socialist and Buddhist.
- Truth in Television: As batshit as "Esoteric Leninism" sounds, Nicholas in real life did synthesize Buddhism with Leninism, and even had plans for a massive Buddhist-Communist utopia in Central Asia, stretching across Siberia, Mongolia, and Tibet. His talks of "Mahatma Lenin" are real too.