Roleplaying effects are a core part of the rule system for Empire and may affect your character at any time. Roleplaying effects in Empire never tell you what you must do, they don't tell you what you want to do or how you want to react - there is no magic that can exert complete control over your mind in Empire.
Instead all roleplaying effects describe emotions and feelings that your character is experiencing - how you react to these feelings will be dependent on your characterisation. You can't ignore the effects - even if you are able to resist the urge, you character is still experiencing it. But as a player, you choose how your character responds to the roleplaying effects they are experiencing.
All roleplaying effects, have a number of features in common regardless of their source.
- Roleplaying effects are spiritual in origin, they represent a supernatural influence affecting your character's soul
- You decide how your character responds
- You cannot ignore roleplaying effects
You may be the target of a power or ability that includes direction marked “roleplaying effects”. This states an influence on your character’s soul - your personality and mood. It is common for religious characters to be able to produce positive spiritual effects, for instance a anointing by a priest may infuse your character with a feeling of courage and confidence. Although your character cannot ignore the effects it is up to you choose how your character responds to the feelings they are experiencing.
For example, a priest wishes to encourage you and half a dozen of your friends to risk death to retrieve a rare artefact from a large group of orc raiders. Just before the expedition departs the priest imparts a blessing of Courage to everyone making them feel confident, bold and fearless. You decide that your character responds to their new found courage by leaving the group and instead going to publicly confront the Cardinal of Prosperity for taking bribes, a challenge you have been afraid to tackle up to this point.
It is also common to encounter malign auras and influences that will produce negative effects such as feelings of fear or anger. Your character must respond to these effects but it is up to you to determine the manner with which your character responds. In some circumstances you may be able to resist or overcome roleplaying effects - but even then it should be clear that your character has been affected by the roleplaying effects, but has found the strength to overcome them.
Overcoming Roleplaying Effects
- All Imperial player characters are assumed to be brave heroes
- Roleplaying effects are spiritual - you must have a source of spiritual strength to resist them
- Hero points can also be expended to resist roleplaying effects
When your character is affected by roleplaying effects, the spiritual influence that your character is experiencing is supernatural in nature. All Imperial PCs are assumed to be bold heroes; the spiritual aura of dread and fear that surrounds a wraith cannot be resisted or overcome simply because your characterisation is that you are uncommonly brave. If you want to resist or overcome these effects then your character must have a source of spiritual strength.
Common sources of spiritual strength are:
- Aura - Most commonly the auras created by Imperial priests using an anointing or consecration.
- Hero points - you can expend a hero point if you have one
- Magic items & Rituals - a small number of magical items and rituals provide a source of spiritual strength
- Lineage - some lineages provide a source of spiritual strength in limited circumstances.
A magic item or ritual only provides a source of spiritual strength if that it is explicitly stated for that ritual or item. Most rituals and items do not act as a source of spiritual strength even if they come with a roleplaying effect of their own. As with the spiritual strength provided by some lineages, a magic item or ritual will often have a limited scope - restricting the kinds of roleplaying effects you can overcome, and/or specifying how you should respond. For example, when you use a Circlet of Falling Snow it requires you to remain calm and collected in response to a roleplaying effect; the Conspirator's Cloak enchantment only provides spiritual strength to overcome roleplaying effects that would coerce you into following someone, or to reveal information about your plans, schemes or actions.
Hero points represent inner reserves of willpower and determination. Spending a hero point allows you to respond to a roleplaying effect in any manner you wish, as described under Heroic skills. The source of spiritual strength gained lasts for the duration of the encounter.
- Some sources of spiritual strength are only valid against some spiritual effects
- Some sources of spiritual strength are only valid if you respond in the stated manner
Cambion, briars, and changelings all have a source of spiritual strength due to their inherent magical nature - but it is limited in scope. It can only be used to resist appropriate roleplaying effects - and only if the character responds accordingly - for example changelings can access a source of supernatural strength but only to resist roleplaying effects that cause fear and only by becoming angry.
Some magic items provide similar benefits - a source of spiritual strength - but only in response to a specific roleplaying effect - or only if you respond in the stated manner.
Other Effects Only
- Some roleplaying effects also act as a source of spiritual strength
- You cannot use the roleplaying effect that provides a source of spiritual strength to overcome that roleplaying effect
It is common for something that causes a roleplaying effect to act as a source of spiritual strength. You cannot use this source of strength to overcome the roleplaying effect that comes with it, only to resist other roleplaying effects.
For example, your character is anointed granting them the Trial of Courage Aura. This effect serves as a source of spiritual strength and has the roleplaying effect that "you feel an urge to seek new solutions to problems that you have failed to overcome. Where you have failed before, this time you feel sure you can succeed." You cannot use the strength provided by the aura to overcome the urge to seek new solutions to your problems - you can only use it to overcome other roleplaying effects.
If your character has two sources of spiritual strength, then you may choose which source of spiritual strength you are drawing on - but you cannot resist any roleplaying effects associated with that source of strength.