Liao is a powerful substance - the auras it creates last a full season or more and they can motivate citizens to great acts of virtue. Without clear direction, such actions are often personal and individual - they are significant to the individual that receives the aura - but the effects may not be visible on the grand scale. But when combined with a direct mandate from the Imperial Synod, citizens tend to act in a concerted and determined way that can produce significant change. The Imperial Senate may decide Imperial law and allocate the treasury, but it is the Synod that leads the soul of the Empire.
Due to the potential impact, the right to use large quantities of liao, as part of a campaign, crusade, or simply to proselytize, is carefully controlled by the Synod. A priest may only act with the backing of the Synod once they have receive a formal mandate to do so and only using the wording provided for them by the civil service.
Each season, the civil service carefully analyse ongoing events in the Empire to identify situations where it would be possible for the Synod to influence the Empire. Where there is an opportunity for the Synod to influence events by issuing a mandate, this will be identified and reported. The briefing prepared by the civil service will prepare the necessary wording that the mandate would require and using divination to calculate the amount of liao needed to achieve the outcome.
A judgement to issue a mandate must be raised and passed by the relevant assembly outlined in the civil service briefing. In many cases this will include the General Assembly but not always. In some instances citizens are more likely to be motivated to act by a mandate issued by their national assembly or even by a virtue assembly. If the judgement is not passed by one of the assemblies listed for that opportunity it will fail.
The judgement must identify a single named priest who will be issued with the mandate. They will be expected to take the lead role in spreading words of the edict or decision of the Synod - using their skills to motivate citizens and apply auras to judicious individuals who are most likely to support the cause. If no priest is named in the judgement then the mandate will apply to the priest who raises the judgement.
The judgement must state how much liao is permitted to be used. The civil service will identify how much liao is needed to achieve an outcome. In some cases using different amounts of liao will produce different results; consequently a mandate must specify the quantity of liao the priest is authorized to use.
Other than this, the judgement must use the wording prepared by the civil service. It is not possible to submit a judgement of mandate without using the specific wording prepared by the civil service. Before each summit, the civil service assess any developing situation and identify what possible judgements could address it. They using various divination rituals to help them assess what the impact of a mandate would be. This information is then presented to all Synod members attending Anvil, so that they can make an informed judgement on the matter.
When the civil service release details of a mandate, it is common for members of the Synod to approach the civil service to ask them to consider the impact of a different mandate to address the same opportunity. If the civil service are able to confirm that the wording of the new mandate will produce a substantially different outcome to those already presented, then they will attempt to communicate that information, along with the name of the priest who requested it, to every citizen travelling to Anvil provided that there is sufficient time to do so.
Only a recognised member of the Imperial Synod may request a mandate in this way. The civil service will discuss different possibilities with a priest to try to help them identify what the possible effects might be, but each citizen may only request that a single mandate be formally published in this way.
If the judgement passes then the priest who has been identified in the judgement has the mandate of the Synod. They may then choose to enact that mandate or to ignore it. They may not enact a different mandate - they cannot use more liao than is stipulated in the mandate nor may they use a different message to the one passed by the Synod. Their options are to do nothing - or to enact the mandate given to them by the Synod.
If the judgement fails, then no priest is authorized to act. The effects of this are identical to the situation in which no attempt was made to pass a mandate.
Every field looks green from a distance, even a cemetery.Marcher Proverb
Implementing a Mandate
Any player whose character is providing liao for a mandate, must put the cards representing the liao that they are committing in the bag that they hand in at the end of the event. The liao needs to be in the inventory of the priest named in the mandate. If the mandate the Synod has passed meets all the conditions identified in the plot opportunity then we will remove the liao from the named priest's inventory before downtime opens. If the correct amount of liao is not present in the charater's inventory before downtime opens, the mandate will not be enacted. Please do not include a note when you hand in your liao as it is impossible to process these notes at the point where your bag is processed.
A character may be named in multiple mandates - but they can only implement a single mandate in a downtime. Any mandate which is not implemented in the season following the judgement of the Synod automatically lapses.
If a single opportunity offers the potential for two or more competing mandates - either because there were two or more possible outcomes identified or because a member of the Synod submits an alternative mandate for consideration - then the Synod may only choose one of the options to endorse. In any situation where two or more different mandates relate to the same opportunity, whichever judgement passed with the greatest margin is considered to be successful and all other competing mandates fail. If two mandates tie for the greatest margin, then all mandates fail; the Synod is considered to have been unable to choose which mandate should be authorized.
In most cases, mandates are only available at the summit where they are provided. While it might be possible to get similar mandates at a future summit, that would be dependent on the use of an appropriate statement of principle with a greater majority. There is no guarantee that the same mandates would be relevant at a future summit.
A judgement to grant a mandate is designed to create a system for the Synod to collectively provide leadership to the citizens of the Empire on moral problems and dilemmas facing it. While other judgements allow the Synod to influence the significant citizens of the Empire attending the summits at Anvil (the player-characters), a statement of principle and a mandate give the Synod levers with which to influence the setting outside Anvil. The two judgements are complimentary - a statement of principle gives the Synod a means to create potential opportunities - a mandate gives them a way to act on that opportunity.
It is not possible to issue a mandate other than in response to a plot opportunity, and then only using the wording provided in the options presented in the plot opportunity on the wiki. We are determined to avoid any situation in which Profound Decisions have to judge after the fact whether the wording is sufficient to meet the requirements.
There is a small window of opportunity up to a week before the event starts for players who wish the Synod to consider a different option for a mandate to the ones presented. If a player emails us with wording they would like to use then we will assess that. If the new wording will produce a substantially different outcome to those presented on the wiki, then we may edit the plot opportunity on the wiki to include the new possibility. If we do this the new option will state the name of the priest who has requested the additional opportunity - at that point the request is considered to be an in-character request from the character - not the player. The deadline for any changes of this kind is the Friday before the event begins. We will not devote time to assessing alternative judgements after this date.
It is important to note however that in most cases the response to any variant wording is likely to be "that will not work" or "that will have the same effect as X". Achieving a different outcome to a plot opportunity is only possible if you pass a judgement that expresses a genuinely different sentiment. Merely watering down the suggested wording will achieve nothing. Players who understand the underlying criteria on which plot opportunities are based have a better chance of success if they use that understanding when requesting a different approach.
There are two core design themes that are pertinent to the plot. The first is the idea of no hidden numbers. As far as possible in Empire, we try to ensure that players know what will happen if they take an action. There is a massive amount of uncertainty in Empire - you don't know how your political rivals will act - you don't know how the Conclave, Synod or Senate will vote, and nobody knows what will happen on a battlefield once 400 PCs and 400 NPCs are fighting. But what we try to make sure is not in doubt is what game effect will ensue if you pass a judgement, motion or declaration.
Empire is intended to be a game in which players can make decisions that are momentous and significant - decisions that are meaningful. To be meaningful - a judgement needs to be an informed decision. This precept is the one of the most crucial elements of the game design. Opportunities, particularly Synod plot opportunities are specifically designed to present the player base with difficult politica and morall decisions. They are meant to be contentious - they are intended to have the potential for conflict. This is why the wording is crucial. The liao is important - but it is not sufficient to pile up enough liao to get the game effect - you have to get the Synod to agree to the wording of your mandate to get a game effect.
Watering down the sentiments identified in the plot opportunity is the single most certain way to ensure a mandate will fail. If the General Assembly has an opportunity to achieve a game benefit for Wintermark by issuing a mandate calling for the Varushkan territory of Miekarova to be ceded to the Thule - it is likely that that will be a controversial decision. In that situation you can't get the benefits outlined in the plot opportunity by passing a mandate calling for the Varushkans to consider whether they would like to give Miekarova to the Thule. If you can't achieve the political support needed to pass a mandate with a contentious political message - then you can't get the benefits.
You may be able to achieve a different outcome with a different wording. If in response to the above plot opportunity - you come up with your own idea and get the General Assembly issues a mandate calling for Skarsind to be ceded to the Thule... that is likely to be equally contentious. It is not certain to produce an equal game effect between events - but it has a good chance of achieving something different. But to do this, you will need to get us to approve the new idea before the event - so that we have time to assess it and add it to the wiki so that every player is aware of the option and what it will do.
In all cases you must use the wording provided on the plot opportunity. If we update the plot opportunity to include another option, then the wording of the new option will be specified on the wiki. If you request a different judgement by email to us - then you can only access the benefits of that judgement by using the new wording provided on the wiki.
- The Judgements of the Synod
- Synod Positions
- Religious Crime
- Imperial Theology