An opportunity represents a chance to do something that players could not normally do themselves. Opportunities are seeded into the game by our plot team. An opportunity often brings with it the ability to do something at a reduced cost, or in a way that could not normally be achieved.
For example, a group of talented armour smiths might offer to outfit several military units with light-weight armour, effectively upgrading them at a reduced cost in mithril - but only a handful of units can benefit from this opportunity.
A common type of opportunity is the chance to pass a judgement of mandate in the Imperial Synod; these often arise as a result of a statement of principle passed with a greater majority at an earlier event.
Opportunities are intended to present the players with choices that they can make - or ignore. For example, the armour smiths above might also suggest that they could instead turn their attention to making a single suit of runeplate every Summer to presented to a specific general on the Imperial Military Council, in return for a supply of mithril they can use to improve their forges. It would be up to the Imperial Senate which option they choose to exploit.
Opportunities generally present options or chances - they will usually not be framed in terms of things the players must do. In the example above, the players could decline the offer if they wanted to or considered the cost to be too great. Depending on the nature of the opportunity they might be able to take advantage of it at a later date, or it might be a one-time offer.
The parameters of the opportunity are often carefully set and while the players have some leeway in how to respond it is not usually possible to spread or increase the benefit being offered. In the example above, they could not, however, try to get the armour smiths to equip four armies at a reduced cost even if they had the mithril.
Example: The HeliopticonThe Urizen Heliopticon networks are powerful fortifications that use incredibly fast communication over distance to co-ordinate the defence of the nation. Each network has a central tower, constructed with a powerful magical light-source and a specially calibrated mirror. While these networks are very expensive to produce, the fallen tower of Spiral offers an opportunity. If the light source and mirror were recovered, they could be installed in a new central tower, either reconnecting Spiral to the Urizen network or allowing a territory outside the nation to be tied into the network.
In game terms, this might allow the creation of a rank one fortification in a year at the cost of 25 wains of white granite, 25 wains of weirwood and 10 wains of mithril (rather than the usual 100 wains of white granite a fortification would require). This cost reduction presented by the opportunity reflects the chance to spend different resources constructing the outlying towers that make the heliopticon network function.
Under normal circumstances, the player who raises a motion can define the necessary details. With an opportunity, some or all of those details will either be predefined, or only a small number of options will be available.
This also applies to flavour text. With a normal construction you have a large amount of sway to basically write the flavour text for the shape and structure. Provided that the flavour text is consistent with the setting. With an opportunity much of the work will be being done by active NPCs rather than being overseen by a player - and that can significantly curtail their input. Instead of being the archtiect, the player is often in the role of a rich patron trying to get an artist to do what they want. Effectively, the player can make requests - but the artist has a vision - and they may or may not accommodate outside input.
For example, when taking advantage of the opportunity presented by Almodin Oktístis, it is not possible to prevent him from adding Asavean elements to any design he oversees. The player might be able to guide or suggest the broad outline of a commission, but ultimately the NPC determines the shape of a structure if he is involved in a construction.