Rules update 2015
- 1 Overview
- 2 Venom
- 3 Roleplaying effects
- 4 Mage Blood and Heavenly Lore
- 5 The Purge spell
- 6 Battle Magic
- 7 Spontaneous Magic
- 8 IC Explanation
- 9 Battlefield rituals
- 10 The Dean of the Lyceum and the Provost of the Halls of Knowledge
- 11 Safety Calls
- 12 IC Explanations
- 13 Magic Armour
- 14 Further Reading
Over winter of 2014/2015 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.
We have changed venom so that it reduces your bleed time to 30 seconds rather than zero. Characters with the fortitude skill will now find their bleed time is increased by ten seconds per level while under the venom condition. Your character card will list your bleed time with and without venom separated by a slash. For example a character with one level of fortitude would see "Bleed time: 4 mins/40 secs"
We are in the process of updating a small number of magical items and rituals to make them compatible with the new rules. They will be listed here as they are updated.
- Abraxus Stone
- Bloodfire Periapt
- Curse of Gangrenous Flesh
- Healer's Harness
- Pallid Flesh of the Dead King
- Vitality of Rushing Water
- Warcaster's Oath
Under the previous rules, venom was such a potent call that it was difficult for us to use the call more than sporadically. This conflicted with elements of the campaign since both Druj and Vallorn make extensive use of poisons. A call that is highly lethal but extraordinarily uncommon is also not good rules design. Since characters will rarely encounter it, player knowledge of how it works tends to be limited and it is hard to play balance items and rituals that help to mitigate the effects.
The aim of the rules change for venom is to allow the call to be used more commonly on battles and skirmishes without simply wiping out large numbers of characters. The goal is to ensure that venom remains a dangerous and scary call - but is one that players can protect themselves against through good fighters, good healers, and good military organization.
Fortitude is a relatively uncommon skill perhaps because it is not well valued by players, so the new rules change allows us to make fortitude slightly stronger by allowing it to effect venom. The unstoppable heroic skill is very common, reflecting the fact that it is very popular with players, so we did not see any reason to change the fact that unstoppable cannot be used while under the venom condition.
A few players had expressed concerns that "Venom-Impale" was the call of choice for all assassins working in pairs and represented something of an exploit that went against the spirit of the game. While we didn't agree with that judgement particularly, we aren't unhappy that the new rules make this particular combination significantly less potent as an assassination tool - it will mean that assassination remains difficult and dangerous, a last resort rather than a first option and that assassins will have more choices to consider when planning a carefully executed hit rather than a single optimal strategy.
We have changed the rules for roleplaying effects to remove the option to resist roleplaying effects based on your characterisation being unique to the circumstances. It is now only possible to resist roleplaying effects if your character has some effective defense, such as hero points or magical or spiritual protection.
There are many ways to resist roleplaying effects and having an additional option that was purely subjective and judgement base only served to further reduce the number of people being affected. The new rules are simpler, clearer and easier to follow and underline the fact that roleplaying effects are significant and affect everybody unless they have appropriate protection or spend a hero point.
Mage Blood and Heavenly Lore
These two potions have been improved, so that they provide more mana back to the magician who consumes them. This is part of the changes implemented to improve battle magic.
The Purge spell
A new incantation has been added to the Imperial lexicon - the purge spell is an offensive spell that immediately removes the VENOM, WEAKNESS, ENTANGLE and PARALYSE conditions from the target. It is an improvement of the purify spell, and possesses even more utility, but costs 2 personal mana to cast.
- Offensive spells no longer suffer sympathy
- Offensive spells no longer take five seconds to cast
- Offensive spellcasting cannot be interrupted
- Mana is not expended if the spell clearly does not work
- Paralysis no longer affects a target if it strikes heavy armour
The three spells Venom, Weakness, and Paralysis used to also affect the spellcaster at the same time that they affected the target. This sympathetic backlash has been removed from these spells, so casters no longer suffer these affects themselves by casting these spells. The power of the paralysis call has been reduced to mitigate its very significant improvement as a spell.
In addition offensive spells have been made quicker and easier to cast. They now require only a few words of appropriate roleplaying which can be uttered as you deliver an arcane strike with your implement. Regular spells have been updated so that you need to be close enough to touch the target, but do not need to touch them.
In either cast the mana is not longer lost if the caster is hit while attempting to perform it or if the target clearly fails to take the effect.
The original game design deliberately set out to make warriors more powerful than wizards on the battlefield in combat. This was a play balance decision based off the fact that we wanted battles to be primarily military endeavours and one where warriors could shine. While the rules achieved that aim, it is clear after two years that battle magic was so weak that it was proving largely ineffectual. It was simply unable to compete with heroic abilities and was largely being ignored in favour of other options.
The new rules will continue to give warriors the edge in a one-on-one fight, but a skilled battle mage should now be a dangerous opponent and a useful ally in any fight.
- Spontaneous magic now takes a night to prepare an arcane preparation
- You can request an arcane projection at any time using the computers in GOD
- Creating each arcane preparation now costs 10 mana crystals
- The cost of the arcane preparation is used towards the cost of the ritual when it is performed
- The arcane preparation lasts until it is used but is then consumed
- The 50% penalty for casting a ritual that is not in Imperial Lore has now been removed
- You can now request an arcane preparation before an event - it will be ready for you in your pack
All spontaneous magic will now take a night to prepare the arcane preparation needed to perform the ritual. Rather than wait for a referee you can submit your request using one of the computers in GOD at any time. You can also submit a request before the event if you have sufficient mana crystals in your account.
Each arcane projection now costs ten mana crystals to prepare. The preparation does not expire at the end of the event but it is one-shot, once the ritual has been cast then the projection is consumed. As before, players should not assume that an arcane preparation will be repeatable later in time.
The 50% penalty for casting a ritual that is not in Imperial Lore has been removed. In addition the first ten mana crystals needed to perform the ritual are provided by the arcane projection (so a ritual that is ten magnitude or less does not need any additional mana to perform). The ritual still requires skilled magicians to handle all the mana used in the ritual, regardless of what the power comes from.
At the start of the year we introduced a cost to ask for a spontaneous costing; previously, it was free to every magician. Players were placing demand on our senior referees that we simply could not support, with emails requesting dozens or scores of separate costings. In the overwhelming majority of cases these rituals were never being cast - players were using the fact the system was free to explore the magic system and find out what was possible. The cost was intended to deter this kind of behaviour.
Sadly for us, and happily for students of behavioural economics the cost had the opposite effect. There is a famous study on this effect in the real world. More players were requesting even more arcane preparations than ever before - and even less were being cast. In particular it was clear that despite the fact that we had stressed that arcane preparations were not repeatable and did not represent some arcane truth about the Empire universe, many players were using them for exactly that reason. At the previous event, our head referee spent 85% of the entire event just producing costings for spontaneous magic effects - the system was simply not sustainable and we were faced with a stark choice whether to remove spontaneous ritual casting altogether.
We have spent time since the last event coding additions to the website that will make it easier for players to submit requests for arcane preparations, and also make it easier for us to process, record and produce them for players. However, we wanted to make a significant change to the rules to get the emphasis on characters casting ritual magic during time-in, rather than players requesting them from refs while OOC.
The new rules are designed to put a very significant cost on requesting an arcane preparation that you do not intend to cast. However, the entire cost will be set against the cost of the ritual if it is performed and we have scrapped the 50% penalty that used to apply. This makes the ritual costings much simpler to understand for refs and players and makes higher level spontaneous effects much cheaper. Our hope is that most spontaneous spells that are cast will be similar in cost to the previous system or cheaper in most cases.
While we want players to explore the realms of magical possibilities in Empire, we want them to do so by creating spontaneous magic effects, not simply by asking to have them costed. We believe that the new rules will strongly emphasize the benefits of casting spontaneous magic and support players who want to do that.
These changes are the result of the lingering effects of the powerful conjunction that took place at the start of the year. Changes resulting from that conjunction are still being felt across the Empire.
- We have removed the ability to do battlefield enchantments
We have reduced the number of battlefield rituals that it is possible to perform by removing ongoing enchantments from the list.
The administrative burden for processing an enchantment is significant, not least because it strips off any existing enchantment from the target. The need to get the identity of the target exactly right made battlefield enchantments without a referee problematic. The new list focuses clearly on those rituals which have an instantaneous battlefield effect.
We will continue to endeavour to recruit and train more refs for quests, skirmishes and battles. If you are certain that you intend to perform a formulaic ritual on the battlefield that isn't a battlefield ritual, then try to speak to a ref before the battle if at all possible.
The Dean of the Lyceum and the Provost of the Halls of Knowledge
The powers of the Dean of the Lyceum and the Provost of the Halls of Knowledge have been adjusted to bring them into line with our new rules on Spontaneous magic, and their ability to create ritual texts has been tweaked. Both positions have gained the ability to arrange a arcane projection via e-mail during downtime, but they can now only formulate a ritual that already exists as an arcane projection.
- We have added a TIME FREEZE call to the list of safety calls
- We have clarified the MAN DOWN call
We have updated the rules and brought all the calls together on a single page. As part of this we have clarified the man down call to make clear how players should respond and added a time freeze call.
The time freeze call is intended to allow referees to OOC control a fight for safety reasons. As such, in Empire, we would ask players to keep their eyes open and be as quiet as possible, to get safety direction from the referee, so that they can restart the fight safely.
WizardStar Did It
At the last event there was an enormously powerful grand conjunction. Such events are exceptionally rare, and they can foreshadow enduring changes that last for centuries or more. Now that the conjunction has passed, Imperial magicians are discovering that some of the fundamental laws of magic have subtly altered. Spontaneous magic has become more difficult, requiring time and precious crystal mana to be expended to prepare it. Conversely spellcasting, particularly offensive spells have become much easier to cast. Magicians have even been able to create a "swift" version of purify, something that was previously impossible.
Such grand conjunctions are rare, we don't anticipate making further changes to magic, but minor changes to minor rules to do with magic may take place later as the effects of the conjunction ripple on. Obviously we have made these changes for reason of out-of-character game balance - they are done to improve the game for everybody; this isn't some kind of actual plot you can interact with - but the justification is provided so that characters that exist in the game world have a framework with which to describe the changes and the causes of them in in-character language if they wish to do so.
We have updated the rules for Gryphonsoul Aegis, Goldenfire Scale and Gravedigger's Vest. In addition we have removed Soldier's Coat from the game - characters with this skill or one of these items have had it replaced with Baersark's Rage.
It was widely acknowledged by many players that Goldenfire Scale was over powered - the benefits were out of proportion to the costs. Critically the design of the item was flawed because the number of hits regained was very much dependent on the benefits from other magical items, and any enchantment or tonic the character had running. One of our goals when designing Empire was to try and avoid situations where an item become substantially more powerful by stacking it with other items and benefits. It was very clear that we had failed to follow that design logic to a logical conclusion with this armour.
As a result we have changed the rules to set the number of hits you can regain (obviously you cannot go above your maximum hits in this way). We have also updated Gryphonsoul Aegis to bring it into line with the power balance for the new rules by allowing unlimited use of the item (while you have hero points).
The new rules update also required a change to the Soldier's Coat item, but any coherent change would have made it indistinguishable from other items. As a result we have removed the item and replaced all references to it with the Baersark's Rage. As usual, any player whose choice of skills is directly affected by this rules change such that they would have chosen different skills is welcome to email us to discuss the situation.