The evil empire has this organization called the IG. They are a state within the state and represent the emperor's will.
They serve as more than mere bodyguards. Protecting the imperial household is only one of their duties. They are also expected to be front line soldiers, be administrators, artists, spies, assassins, generals, and pretty much whatever else they show intelligence in. This is to just tell you the background, not a point of argument as it would clutter things explaining why and how.
The corner stone of the IG is absolute loyalty to the emperor which is achieved by brainwashing children and instilling in them absolute obedience to the emperor.
The main methods of recruitment that concern us here are:
- Slaves put into orphanages.
Orphanages do more than merely provide recruits to the IG, I'm only limiting it to the IG here. The orphanages accept all males and females below the age of 16, above that there is other systems. Whatever the cause for putting the child into an orphanage might be the empire accepts all and cares for them.
The second things is that the empire does not deal in slaves internally and so the slaves are either bought from abroad, a big trade actually, or are the children of slaves in the empire already.
Once there they are taught basic subjects and even advanced ones, as well as sports. And whoever shows a talent in a field they are given the chance to do that for a living or so on. Like if a child seems to be a good musician then the orphanage tries to find them an apprenticeship so they can be taught better music by a master and have their own life. They are also generally cared for not treated like test subjects but I digress. So. Orphanages can screen children and they cooperate with the IG to supply them with good applicants.
Once a child is marked for the IG training it's outside the scoop of this question.
I'm is not concerned about the morality of the practice, nor the economics. I'm not worried about the training or why that system works or not...etc I'm only asking and focusing about what I'm asking about. No need to get distracted with anything else here please. Frame challenges are fine of course.
The dilemma now is that the older people get the more difficult it becomes to brainwash them. Catch them young? The younger the less likely for them to show intelligence or athleticism in anything. Yes Capablanca or Mozart are the exception I'm afraid.
Why do they need special people? Because why waste precious imperial funds on an average person?
Lastly the tech is only up to 1650.
So a compromise is needed where the kids in the orphanages are taken to be IG trainees at such an age so they are easier to brainwash, but old enough to show intelligence and/or athleticism . So can that work? If so how?
Please understand I'm aware that people mature in different rates and a universal standard answer is not easy. I'm looking for the best compromise What I'm looking for is like how in real-life countries have an age for maturity or sex or drinking despite the fact that people grow up in different rates. I also put systems in the training to amount for that but I digress.