Our code of conduct lays out what is required of everyone who wishes to be part of our community. These rules apply at all times to all participants.
The conduct rules are separate to the game rules, in that they cover how you treat other participants. Everyone should treat each other according to these conduct rules so that we can roleplay safely and respectfully. Game rules govern how the game is fairly played and explain what behaviour is classed as cheating. If you're worried someone is cheating, please contact the game team rather than the conduct team.
If you believe that anyone has breached any of the conduct rules below, we encourage you to let us know, regardless of where it took place.
If you have any questions about any of these rules, please contact the conduct team who will be happy to help.
If you are at an event, and a conduct experience has led to you feeling anxious or distressed, you can ask to speak with a member of the participant welfare team. You may do this before, after or instead of speaking with the conduct team.
- 1 Overview
- 2 When and Where do These Rules Apply?
- 3 Equality and Diversity
- 4 Disability
- 5 Gender Identity
- 6 Language
- 7 Sexual Harassment
- 8 Sexual Activity and Performances
- 9 Sexual Consent
- 10 Relationships with Minors
- 11 Bullying and Abuse of Power
- 12 Roleplaying Romance
- 13 Roleplaying Conflict
- 14 Grappling
- 15 Extremism
- 16 Crew
- 17 Challenging Bad Behaviour at Events
- 18 Online Conduct
- 19 Further Reading
When and Where do These Rules Apply?
- Our conduct rules apply equally to all participants - that is anyone who is attending the event in any capacity
- The relevant rules apply at all times, actions that breach our guidelines for behaviour are not acceptable no matter when or where they occur
Our conduct rules apply equally to everyone attending an event in any capacity, whether they are players, crew, staff, caterers or traders - whenever we refer to a participant it refers to everyone covered by this list. Most of our conduct rules apply at all times, including online. You can report any breach of these conduct rules, even if it takes place outside of an Empire event. For example, if you are concerned that another member of the Empire community has sexually harassed someone at work, or via online messages, then we would encourage you to report that.
The sections of our conduct rules that restrict your roleplaying are specific to the Empire setting and community. These include our rules restricting the types of character you can play, the in-character use of language, sexual performances, and roleplaying romance or certain types of conflict. These sections of our conduct rules apply at all Profound Decisions Empire events and social and sanctioned events run by players.
None of the following excuses are acceptable:
- "I was only joking"
- "I was in-character"
- "I was drunk"
- "I'm their mate and they don't mind"
- "I didn't know it was against the rules"
If you believe that anyone has breached any of these rules, we encourage you to let us know.
Equality and Diversity
- You must not insult another participant on the basis of an out-of-character attribute such as race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, gender, disability, sexuality, transgender status, age, or body shape
- You must not discriminate against other participants on the basis of any of these out-of-character attributes and must be aware of unconscious bias
- Empire is a gender-neutral setting - you cannot play a character who is sexist
- You cannot play a homophobic or transphobic character
The Empire setting includes in-character prejudice and bigotry - you can insult another character on the basis of an in-character attribute, such as their lineage, species, archetype, or in-character class, nationality or beliefs. What is not acceptable is any insults or prejudice based on the listed out-of-character attributes.
Empire includes a number of common attitudes towards matters of age, race, sexuality and gender throughout the setting. We have deliberately opted to discard real-world history to create a game setting that does not include any form of gender discrimination. It is not acceptable to play a character that doesn't conform to these common attitudes. There are no social roles reserved for specific genders - and the idea of assigning responsibilities based on gender should be seen as ridiculous by every character. Characters in the world of Empire do not make any assumptions about characters based on their gender.
- The option to use access aids or services are all done on a self-declared basis
- You must not challenge another participant's right to use aids and adaptations put in place for disabled players and crew
At Empire, the option to use access aids, such as the accessible camping areas, toilets, or the in-character camping fields and similar are all done on a self-declared basis. You must not challenge another participant's right to use these options. Many medical conditions are not obvious to an observer and even a friend you know well may have a medical condition that you are unaware of. Non-disabled people may also find they need to use these provisions from time to time, be it due to injury, having children, or other caring responsibilities. These provisions are there for those that find they have need of them.
If you are absolutely certain that someone is repeatedly using a facility or service they openly admit they don't have a need for, to the direct detriment of disabled players, then you may report the matter to Profound Decisions to deal with. Challenging other participants or publicly complaining about their behaviour is not acceptable under any circumstances.
- We support our trans and non-binary participants and their right to declare their own gender and that of their characters
- You must use a participant's stated pronoun
- All participants are entitled to use the toilets that they feel most comfortable using
We support our trans and non-binary participants and their right to declare their own gender and that of their characters. All participants must use a person's stated pronouns. We understand that it is easy to make honest mistakes in this regard, but refusing to acknowledge a correction or deliberately misgendering another player or their character is not acceptable. If you make a mistake, and are corrected, then accept the correction and move on with minimal fuss. We welcome and encourage the use of pronoun badges, they exist as part of the setting and can be worn in-character, by those who want to use them. It is fine to crossplay at Empire events, and for a player to use different pronouns to their character, provided it is done with serious intent.
Transgender and non-binary identities are commonplace in the setting and are considered unremarkable. Some individuals who choose to change their gender expression choose to use Groveblossom to pursue physical changes, but not all trans characters make that choice.
All the larger blocks of toilet and hygiene facilities that are located around the site are split into male, female and gender neutral toilets. All our participants are entitled to use the facilities that they feel most comfortable using. You must not challenge other participants when using the facilities.
- Avoid language that assumes gendered roles in the Empire setting
- Avoid gendered nouns when referring to mixed groups
- Your roleplaying must avoid any reference to rape or any form of non-consensual sexual activity
- Your roleplaying must avoid all references to slut-shaming
- These rules also apply to songs and performances
- Empire is not a family-friendly event - profanity is permissible
Suggestions for Addressing Mixed Gendered Groups
We specifically ask people to avoid using gendered nouns like "lads" or "boys" to describe mixed groups, but even phrases like "ladies and gentlemen" can be problematic in Empire, since the setting includes large numbers of non-binary characters. A better alternative is "citizens" which applies equally well to everyone, but you could use "honoured guests", "warriors" or similar in different circumstances. In Highguard it is quite common to refer to "brothers, sisters, and siblings" to make clear that you are referring to everyone, while in Dawn you might say "nobles and yeofolk" (or just nobles!).
There are no gendered roles in Empire, so you must make a good faith attempt to avoid phrases such as "protect the women" which wrongly imply that women in the setting are helpless or need protecting. You must make a similar effort to avoid gendered nouns like "men", "guys", "lads", or "boys" for groups that include members of other genders. Similarly, you should avoid using dismissive nouns and phrases that are gendered, such as "calm down love".
The Empire setting includes themes of mind-influencing magic, drugs and addiction, slavery, human sacrifice, racism and prejudice, sex work, violence, robbery, torture and murder. The setting does not include rape, non-consensual sex, or sex with minors - these concepts simply do not exist in Empire. You must avoid in-character references to rape or any form of non-consensual sex. Sexual activity is never intrinsically shameful in Empire and you must avoid slut-shaming language.
These rules also apply to songs, performances and any material you write or publish in-character. You can write and perform your own songs at Empire events, or filk existing material, but you must follow all the above guidelines. Songs like "Three Dirty Goblins", that notoriously celebrate non-consensual sex, may not be performed at Empire events, even if the offending verses are changed or removed.
Empire is not a family friendly event, so it is acceptable to use profanity while in-character. As with all language in Empire, you should make sure it fits with the setting.
- Sexual harassment will not be tolerated
A victim of sexual harassment can be of any gender, as can the perpetrator. Our definition of sexual harassment includes any of the following behaviour:
- Repeatedly asking a person to socialise when they have indicated they are not interested
- Repeatedly standing or sitting too close to or brushing up against a person without their consent
- Sexual comments, banter, jokes, or innuendo in company that includes people who are not comfortable with that
- Sexualising or sexually objectifying another person without their consent
- Touching a person in an intimate or sexual way without their consent
- Any form of slut-shaming
Bluntly, if you continue to hit on other participants after they have indicated that they are not interested or if you make sexual comments or jokes that make other participants uncomfortable - then we will treat that as sexual harassment and deal with you accordingly.
You must not sexualise another participant against their wishes. This rule covers how you speak to another participant, but also how you speak about them, as well as any writing or art that you publish. Portrayals of any character (PC or NPC) that is played by a person, needs the explicit & enthusiastic consent of that person. You and that person should also ensure you discuss how you'll remove them from the work should they change thier mind for any reason. If you have any doubts at all, don't do it.
Crew must not abuse their status to harass other participants.
Sexual Activity and Performances
- At Empire events, sexual touching in public spaces is prohibited
- At Empire events, nudity and sexual performances are prohibited
You must not make other people into an audience for overt sexual activity whether in-character or out-of-character at an Empire event. Everyone has different levels of comfort and we want to respect each other's boundaries. Consensually kissing someone else in public at an event is fine, but if things are progressing to a 'hot and heavy' level, then you must move to a private space such as your own tent. This rule also includes sharing erotic fiction with other participants - IC smut or erotica are fine at events but any promotion must be tasteful and discreet.
Nudity, overt sexual displays in public, and performance roleplaying that is focused on sexual displays are not acceptable at Empire events. This means that anything involving nudity, striptease, erotic dance, burlesque or similar is not permitted. Clothing and costume should ensure that genitalia are covered at all times.
- All sexual activity must be based on informed consent in and out-of-character
- People who are drunk, intoxicated, asleep, or passed out can't consent to sex
- Any individual with a conviction, or pending trial, for a sexual offence involving a minor or a lack of consent that is in the public record cannot attend Empire events
We expect all participants to meet the specific standards for consent based on the FRIES model. We encourage you to report any behaviour that falls short of these standards in any way that causes you distress.
- Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they feel like doing, anytime. Even if you’ve done it before, and even if you’re both naked in bed.
- Informed. You can only consent to something if you have the full story. For example, if someone says they’ll use a condom and then they don’t, there isn’t full consent.
- Enthusiastic. When it comes to sex, you should only do stuff you WANT to do, not things that you feel you’re expected to do.
- Specific. Saying yes to one thing (like going to the bedroom to make out) doesn’t mean you’ve said yes to others (like having sex).
People who are drunk, intoxicated, asleep, or passed out cannot consent to sex. Consent is never implied by things like your past behaviour, what you wear, or where you go. Sexual consent is always clearly communicated — silence is not consent. You get the final say over what happens with your body. It doesn’t matter if you’ve hooked up before or even if you said yes earlier and then changed your mind. You’re allowed to say “stop” at any time, and your partner must respect that.
We encourage you to report any incident involving a lack of sexual consent so that the conduct team can investigate it. If the team conclude that someone has engaged in sexual contact in recent years that left the other party distressed and did not stop at the point where lack of consent was indicated, then we will issue a ban. If the actions caused distress but the perpetrator stopped at the point where lack of consent should have been apparent, then we will issue a formal warning. For instance if someone freezes during intimacy, then we expect a person to become aware of that in a credible time-frame and stop.
Relationships with Minors
- All participants must observe the laws concerning the age of consent and act appropriately around younger participants
- Prominent members of the community must not use status, responsibility or power to groom, sexualise, or pressure participants who are under 18
The age of consent in the UK (the legal age when people can engage in sexual activity) is 16 years old. All participants who are over 16 must not engage in sexual activity with anyone who is under 16. The law says anyone under the age of 13 can never legally give consent; any sexual activity involving children will result in a ban and a child protection referral.
The law gives additional protection to young people who are over 16 but under 18 - in particular it is illegal for a person in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with anyone under the age of 18 who is in the care of their organisation. Because we operate a live roleplaying game, our crew are not the only people with positions of authority and trust. Player characters gain in-character authority as part of playing Empire or organising for the game. We will regard any participant who plays a significant national figure, holds an Imperial title such as general, senator, or cardinal, or who is a group leader, organiser, minibus driver or similar as holding a position of prominence in the community. This means that all participants who are over 18 and in a position of prominence must not sexualise or engage in sexual activity with participants who are under 18.
Bullying and Abuse of Power
- All participants must refrain from out-of-character bullying
- Participants must not out-of-character abuse any status they may have
Bullying can be any behaviour that is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting. It may involve the abuse or misuse of power that undermines, humiliates, or causes physical or emotional harm to someone. No participant may out-of-character bully another participant. We use the definition of bullying laid out by the anti-bullying alliance which states:
"Bullying is the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. It can happen face to face or online."
Empire is a game of politics - we expect players to try to seek in-character advantages when roleplaying with each other - but participants must keep in-character and out-of-character goals distinct and separate. Crew and players who have authority or status as part of playing Empire, or organising for the game, must avoid using their position to benefit themselves inappropriately. Anyone in a position of prominence must not abuse an in-character relationship with another participant for out-of-character gain - such as demanding sexual favours for in-character benefits. Likewise, you must not abuse an out-of-character relationship with another participant for in-character gain, such as the out-of-character group leader demanding people in their group give them their ribboned items and resources.
Our crew are entitled to the respect of the community for the hard work they do in supporting the game. Member of crews must not abuse this responsibility by invoking their crew status in any relationship with another participant in any way, for sexual, romantic or material gain.
If you have any concerns that a relationship between two or more Empire participants is unhealthy, bullying, or potentially abusive in any way, please let us know.
As per our costume guidelines, we don't allow participants to criticise anyone's costume unless constructive feedback has been requested.
- You need a participant's consent to roleplay a sexual or romantic relationship with their character
- You need another participant's consent to sexualise their character in any way
- Slut shaming is never acceptable at Empire
- You can always ask another player to stop if their roleplaying towards your character is making you uncomfortable
- If you are asked to stop roleplaying with someone then you must stop
When Should I Check In On IC Flirting?
Relationships between characters can develop organically at any time. For example, you don't normally need to check in with someone before politely complimenting them, offering to buy them a drink or asking them to dance with you.
But you need someone's out-of-character consent to take things further in-character. For example, expressing strong romantic or sexual feelings for someone's character, pursuing them romantically, sending them expensive gifts, or sending gifts to their home. You should check in with the player first to be sure they are happy with the idea. If they are, then you should mutually agree clear boundaries and discuss whether you both want to include affectionate touching as part of your roleplaying.
If you want to send someone anonymous expressions of your character's feelings, then you should find a third party who will agree to check that the other player is out-of-character happy to receive them.
Although Empire includes themes of romance, love, desire and sex, you must have another participant's ongoing consent to roleplay a sexual or romantic relationship with their character. You must never put pressure on another participant to consent and you must accept that they may withdraw their consent at any time.
Check out-of-character with another player before engaging in romantic roleplay with them to be certain they are enthusiastic for you to do that. You should mutually agree clear boundaries for physical contact and ensure that you respect them.
Empire is a sex-positive setting that includes bawdy humour and sex work. However, just as you must not sexualise another participant against their wishes, you must not sexualise their character without their consent, either verbally or in any writing you produce for the game. For example, check with another player before you create suggestive poetry or erotic fiction about their character. You may not slut-shame another participant under any circumstances.
Characters in nations like Dawn or the League might have reason to disdain or criticise another character for the decisions they make regarding love, romance and marriage. You should only engage in conflict of this nature within a context where you have respect for the other player involved and where you have good reason to believe that they are comfortable with it. Check in regularly and establish clear boundaries. Whatever you agree, your roleplaying must not include slut-shaming, which is not part of the setting.
You can roleplay dysfunctional, emotionally toxic or tempestuous relationships, or relationships which shift between romantic and adversarial - for example, someone falling in love with a person they have bullied, or former lovers becoming sworn foes. However, please remember that sexual assault, sexual coercion, and rape are not part of the Empire setting, so you should not include these themes in any character history or relationship roleplay.
If another participant's romantic roleplaying is making you feel uncomfortable, you can ask them to stop if you feel able to. If you do not feel able to, or if the participant persists, then please speak to a member of crew who will contact the conduct team for you.
If you are asked to stop romantic roleplaying with another character then you must do so immediately. You must minimise any further potential for out-of-character distress, regardless of any in-character considerations, even if you feel your actions have been misconstrued. By default, you should avoid any romantic references to their character and avoid referring in-character to any romantic history you have previously had.
- Empire is explicitly a PvP game; the primary source of conflict derives from the tension between different players' ambitions
- You should avoid in-character confrontations with other characters where there is out-of-character animosity, or when you are angry out-of-character for any reason
- You must not out-of-character intimidate other participants when confronting their character
- If you have a high intensity, in-your-face encounter with another character, then you should find a way to check in with the player afterwards
- If you regularly bully or belittle another character, you must check in periodically with the player
When Should I Check In On IC Conflict?
Empire is built around the idea of political struggle. The game is designed to give you opportunities to oppose characters whose ambitions run contrary to your own - everyone playing a politically active character has opted into that game. You may take all reasonable in-character actions to oppose another character, up to and including killing a player's character (though this should always be a last resort for any character) without discussing that with them.
Empire is a character-driven game where the majority of the conflict that you experience at events will come about from the competing agendas and rivalries of different player-characters. The game is intended to be a sandbox for player-vs-player politics and is designed for people who enjoy this kind of conflict in their live roleplaying games. Many people enjoy attending Empire without getting involved in the ruthless in-character politics, but if you play a political character, a character who pursues a political title or pushes a political agenda - or you seek to advance an unorthodox, contentious, or heretical view, then you must expect that you will encounter stiff in-character resistance from other characters who set out to oppose you.
This kind of in-character conflict can quickly become unpleasant if it is marred by any element of out-of-character animosity. You should take reasonable steps to avoid in-character conflicts with another character if there is a significant out-of-character disagreement between you. You must avoid in-character confrontations with another character if you are out-of-character angry with them for any reason. We ask participants to assume best faith of each other, but if you believe that another participant is not following the spirit of these rules, we encourage you to raise the matter with a member of the conduct team.
Avoiding Being Physically Intimidating
If you are engaged in a dramatic confrontation with another character, then consider your relative sizes. If you are taller or have a bigger build than someone you are talking to, then you can reduce the impact of your size by keeping an arm's length distance or more between you.
If you are confronting someone in a tent or building, make sure that you don't block the only exit from the area.If you know the other participant well, they are significantly less likely to be physically intimidated by your in-character actions. Checking in with someone after your character has been in a confrontation with them will help you establish appropriate boundaries and build out-of-character trust.
No participant should ever feel out-of-character intimidated or threatened by the roleplay they are participating in. You must take reasonable steps to ensure that nobody is out-of-character physically intimidated by your roleplaying in a dramatic confrontation. If you want to deliberately roleplay being physically intimidating towards another character, then you can must ensure that you have their specific, informed, and enthusiastic consent to the roleplaying beforehand.
If you have a dramatic confrontation with another character that involves shouting or hurling abuse, then you should check in with that player afterwards. Look for an opportunity to have a quiet chat with them after an in-character scene has concluded or after time-out if needed. If the other party does not enjoy being the recipient of this kind of open hostility, then you must reduce the intensity of any future encounters. You can still engage in political opposition to that character but you must ensure any future confrontations are less threatening.
If you regularly confront another character in ways that involve bullying or belittling them, then you must check in in periodically with that player to ensure that they are enjoying the interactions. If the other participant is not enjoying the roleplaying, then you can still engage in political opposition to their character but you must stop bullying or demeaning them.
The best reason to enter into an intensely antagonistic dynamic with another player-character is to make the event more enjoyable for them. The best people to roleplay these ongoing antagonistic relationships with are people you are good friends with out-of-character - they should be avoided with anyone with whom you have a poor out-of-character relationship.
- You must not grapple or roughly handle other participants without their consent
You must not grapple or physically roughly handle another participant without their prior consent at Empire events. We do not permit grappling on the battlefield under any circumstances. Please ensure that you are familiar with the specific rules for grappling at events if you wish to include that in your roleplaying.
- Symbols, slogans, and politics of any totalitarian or oppressive movement, such as the far-right, are not acceptable
Any extremist politics that are fundamentally intolerant are not acceptable to us. This includes political slogans, gestures, symbols and statements of the far right or any totalitarian or oppressive movement. It also includes 'alt-right' symbols, memes, and humour. Individuals who support any extremist, intolerant politics of this kind are not welcome at Empire events.
- All participants must remain civil when dealing with crew who are in pursuit of their Empire duties
- You must not argue with crew over their decisions; if you have a disagreement then ask to speak to the head of department
- Any member of crew who receives a formal warning for their conduct will be permanently removed from crew
All our crew are entitled to carry out their role without being abused or mistreated. We understand that events can be stressful, but Empire is completely dependent on the goodwill of our crew to create the events - without the hard work of our volunteers the events could not happen. You should assume good faith when dealing with a member of crew and must remain civil towards them when they are carrying out their appointed role.
Players are not permitted to argue decisions with game referees or any other member of crew. If you believe a member of crew has made a mistake, then you can raise that with them provided you remain civil. You must not raise your voice with a member of crew or attempt to intimidate them. If you disagree with the decision, then you should ask to speak to the head of department. If you are not satisfied with the answer, then you can ask for a meeting with Matt Pennington to discuss it. If you're not at an event then you can email email@example.com.
All our crew are required to uphold all our conduct policies. If any member of crew is the subject of a conduct complaint that results in a formal warning then they will be permanently removed from crew. If you have any complaint about a member of the conduct team then please speak to Matt Pennington.
Challenging Bad Behaviour at Events
- If you feel safe to, please challenge any behaviour at events that violates our conduct rules
- If you do not feel able to do so, then please speak to the conduct team about the incident
- You may ask another participant to leave your group tent or group campfire at any time
- If your behaviour is challenged at an event, you must apologise and back off
We ask all participants to support our efforts to enforce our conduct rules by making clear that misbehaviour will not be tolerated. If you encounter people breaching these conduct rules, we encourage you to challenge the people involved on the spot if you feel confident enough to do so. A simple forceful statement such as "OOC - please stop doing X" is ideal.
If a player is in a tent belonging to you or your group, or is around your group campfire, you may instruct them to leave if their behaviour is inappropriate. If your group has additional social rules for your own space, such as a ban on smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may instruct players to leave if they break your rules. Your social space at the event is considered to be your area - participants are only welcome to enter with your blessing.
If your behaviour is challenged in this way, then you must apologise for any offence caused and back off immediately. If you are asked to leave another group's tent or campfire by a member of the group then you must do so.
The Empire campsite can be very noisy - in some camps there is singing and celebrating late into the night. This isn't against our conduct rules. If you are struggling with noise after time-out, you can ask your neighbours to reduce the noise, or you can contact our security team, who can speak to them on your behalf.
- We expect reasonable and appropriate online behaviour from all our participants
- Breaches of our conduct rules are reportable regardless of where they take place
- Our code of conduct includes behaviour of all participants in online public forums and spaces devoted to Empire
Everyone in the Empire community should follow our code of conduct online and at events. Although we do not "police the internet", part of the function of our conduct guidelines is to lay out the standards of behaviour that we require from everyone who participates in our game. We will look into any evidence of behaviour that violates our rules that is reported to us, regardless of where it takes place. For example, it is not acceptable to sexually harass someone in private messages, or to post racist or homophobic content on any platform.
If you have concerns that the online behaviour of an individual who you believe attends Empire breaches our conduct policy (whether that is posts on social media or private messages sent), then please let us know. You can email our conduct team (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our team of online mods (email@example.com) between events. You can speak to any member of the conduct team at an event. We will investigate anything that is reported to us and attempt to identify who is responsible where necessary. If we find evidence of a breach of our rules by a member of the Empire community then we will take action.
Profound Decisions provides a set of official Empire forums and Facebook groups for all participants to discuss the game. These are overseen by a team of moderators - members of our crew who implement the published moderation guidelines. Moderation is distinct from conduct; there are additional guidelines designed to ensure that our groups remain welcoming, friendly and on topic. Having a post moderated does not automatically constitute a breach of conduct - but if a post does violate our conduct rules then the moderators will pass the matter to our conduct team to deal with after they remove it.