Rules update 2014
- 1 Overview
- 2 Merging Mage Armour and Mage Staff
- 3 Bands Streamlined
- 4 Rituals
- 5 Clarifying the Sentinel Gate
- 6 Ceremonies
- 7 Wains
- 8 Downtime Options
- 9 Further Reading
Over winter of 2013/2014 we carried out a review of the rules from the third year of Empire. As a result of that review we implemented some changes to the published rules. This page summarizes and explains the changes so that players can identify and understand the changes easily.
We try to include a section after each rules update to explain the reasoning behind the change.
Merging Mage Armour and Mage Staff
Mage armour and mage staff have been combined into a single skill - Battle Mage. This skill costs 2pts and allows the character to wear mage armour and to use a staff.
The goal of the Empire rules is to encourage people to make iconic choices - our goal is to encourage wizards to look like the classic image of a magician on a battlefield - arrayed in mystical armour and wielding a staff. It's absolutely fine for magicians to use shields on the battlefield - but we didn't want the rules to significantly advantage that choice (or others like it) over a staff and magical armour. The original rules did not support this very well, because using wearing mage armour and using a staff was exceptionally expensive but still left you very vulnerable to arrows.
Merging the two skills makes them much cheaper for anyone who wanted both, which produces an immediate benefit in terms of the original design intent. In addition, some players will already own a magical staff while others have a cool set of magical looking armour. Both of these items are very expensive phys-reps to purchase or make. Players who have the armour but not the staff, or vice versa, can make use of the other kit if they are able to borrow it for an event, allowing them to try it out the other part of the ability without having to spend character points.
Every character who has one of the two existing skills - but not the other - now has the new battle mage skill. Any character who previously had both will now have the single replacement skill and automatically receives their two experience points back.
We have eliminated the option to create groups which are not a banner, coven or sect. Analysis showed only 1.5% of characters were in a group that was not also either their banner, coven, or sect. Unfortunately the existing rules were exceptionally complex - it was very unclear whether characters were in a band just as a group member, in a band as a bonded member of the group, both or neither. Just trying to show the players who was actually in a band was sufficiently complicated that it was clear that many participants - including ourselves - could not follow it.
The new rules for bands present slightly fewer options but are vastly simpler to operate. You create bands, there are three types, banners, coven or sects. You can be in one of each. You are either in the band... because you are bonded to that band - or you are not. We are looking at some further simplifications to the way "band magic items" like magic standards work to further streamline the rules for bonding.
We have updated the character generation system so that new characters can pick a banner, a coven and a sect to begin play as part of if they wish. We have updated the group information screen for the group contact to show who is in a banner, coven or sect.
Groups that were just groups - that is they were not bands, covens, or sects are no longer shown on screen. Any group contact who wishes to update a group to set it to be a banner, coven, or sect; for any reason, can do so by email to Profound Decisions.
We have updated the duration of several rituals to make them last for a single "encounter" rather than for a day. This means that they can be used on the next quest, skirmish, or battle that the recipient takes part in, whereas previously these rituals lasted for a single day but could be used any number of times.
We have changed the rules to restore the original play balance of the rituals which was based on the assumption that the ritual was used once and then expended. In practice we realized that players were rearranging their battles to get as many chances to fight on the same day as possible. While this was ingenious, it played havoc with the play balance of the rituals, as well as encouraging the Military Council to make decisions based on ritual rules, rather than the most appropriate in-character choices.
There was also a more serious problem in that the day duration meant that players could only perform these enchantments of the day of the battle - leading to horrendous queues for refs on the morning just before a big battle when we had the least refs spare. The new rules encourage players to perform such rituals on the evening before the battle - allowing players more time for their roleplaying and less time having to queue for a referee.
We are going to update the description of several rituals to allow them to be performed on the battlefield without a referee present. Players who perform a ritual in this matter should tear their mana cards as normal, but keep them and hand them to a referee at the end of the battle, who will log the ritual.
The intention of this change is to make it easier for players to perform rituals designed to be used on the battlefield. We are actively recruiting new referees to try and increase the size of our team, but this is a slow process and we want players to be able to perform rituals in the meantime. The new rules will only affect a small number of rituals - all other rituals will still require a referee as normal.
We have clarified the rules to make clear that a ritual that targets a resource, such as Streams of Silver is an enchantment on the resource - not the character who owns the resource. This means that a character who be under the benefits of a personal enchantment, such as Splendid Panoply of Knighthood as well as having their resource enchanted.
This was always the design intention for the game, but there was a mistake in the way the rules were written down that caused confusion and various different ref rulings to be given. The outcome was that players tended to swap enchantments on the last day - leading to lots of last minute rituals. We're keen for ritualists to do lots of rituals, but should be no requirement to leave them until the last minute - or to have to swap them with personal enchantments.
The referees are currently compiling a list of rituals that will be affected by the rules for battlefield casting. The wiki description for each ritual will be updated once the list is complete and then the full list will be added to this page. If anyone wishes to change any of their rituals as a result of these specific ritual changes, then please email me to discuss your request.
Clarifying the Sentinel Gate
There was considerable confusion around the Sentinel Gate at events in 2013, how it operated, how it worked, etc. We have reviewed the situation and created a page to clarify exactly how the gate works and what the rules are. We have tried to remain consistent with ref rulings given out in the first year, but have favoured producing the best possible version of the gate for the game going forwards.
The information in this section has been superseded by the 2016 Religion update.
The definition of an Imperial wain is a caravan load of material. The original plan was to make clear that we did not expect/require/want players to phys-rep these enormous quantities of material and hence we picked a weight that was enormous to reflect this - several tonnes. In practice this caused problems in the first year, and it was clear that there were situations where we would want to phys-rep a wain of White Granite, Mithril, or Weirwood and let the players respond and roleplay accordingly. In addition there was some suggestion that we might have over-estimated how much a traditional medieval wagon could carry...
We have not changed the character description of a wain, but we have refined the OOC explanation to state that a wain is around 500Kg. IC you can expect that to be a volume of around half a cubic metre. We still don't remotely expect players to phys-rep these commodities; the intention is that players trade the promissory notes provided by the civil service. However, if we choose to phys-rep a wain of material on a battlefield then we will try to get the weight as close to 500Kg as reasonably possible.
We have reduced the cost to increase production from a mine, forest or herb garden from 1 Throne to 6 crowns. We are keen to avoid parity with this option - the ideal is that players trade with each other to gain additional materials rather than spending money in downtime to gain additional materials. However this option has a very useful role to play acting as an economic safety valve to prevent too much build up of money in the game and gives us as organizers a tool to identity what degree of inflation or deflation is present.
This change will be implemented for the downtime immediately following the first event of 2014. We have updated the wiki to reflect the new rules now.