“The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.”
“But that’s impossible. How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?”
“The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line.” Exchange between Governor Tarkin and General Tagge
Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.
“Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights, guardians of justice in the galaxy, the Imperial governors and bureaucrats prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the galaxy. Many used the imperal forces and the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions. – Journal of the Whills
The first Emperor came to power by exploiting a tradition in the history of the Republic. In multiple times of crisis the Senate had elected a dictator with absolute authority for a limited period of time. However, Senator ne Magister Populi Palpatine, using those very boot-lickers he would later appoint his Lictors and eventually Regional Governors, convinced the Senate to not place the traditional fixed limit but one “for the duration”. One cannot help but wonder if Palpatine was actually the power behind both sides of the Clone Wars in an effort to create an open ended crisis to justify his powers.
Regardless, by the time the Clone Wars had ended the Magister Populi had become the Emperor and, in theory, ran the galaxy as his personal fiefdom. The truth of the matter is by this point the aged Palpatine (he was a venerable 121 when first elected to the Senate and nearly 200 when he first became Magister Populi) no longer cared about the details of power but only engaged in their fruits. He considered the handful of rebellious fringe systems beyond his notice. With their victory at Corrin and rising support in the Senate he became tired of the buzzing of malcontents and, dissolving the Senate, sequestered himself in his splendor and turned over the galaxy to his former associates, the Regional Governors.
Still, some retain hope. The Jedi Knight Obi-wan Kenobi, who had both served on Palapine’s staff, believed the Emperor, who’s initial move to become dictator was driven by a desire to restore the Republic, could be reached. They believed his mind had been poisoned by certain of the Governors (Tarkin chief among them) and by Obi-wan’s student, Darth Vader, who had betrayed the Jedi to the Sith. He noted Palapine began to change when Vader replaced Anikan Skywalker as his staff Jedi upon Skywalker’s death. This was cemented when Obi-wan learned that Vader had been behind Skywalker’s death.
Now, the handful of Jedi, mostly semi-trained students, have rallied to Skywalker’s son Luke in the hopes of defeating the illegitimate governors in the name of the Emperor. They believe that should they secure enough of the galaxy they can regain the Emperor’s ear and draw out his original intent to restore the Republic.
This is another “limit the canon” idea. Specifically, this one only requires Star Wars itself and its novelization. It does, however, leave space for the early Marvel comics, Brian Daley novels, and similar material.
I believe this one is well adapted to Traveller or Stars without Number. Each governor could rule over one subsector map and the empire might be as small as a Traveller sector. The psionic assumptions of SWN in particular, lost disciplines with what is known trained by a handful psychics themselves feeling out the powers of the past, match these semi-trained Jedi trying to restore a lost order.