Overview

Every year we carry out a review of some part of the game looking to see what we can improve. 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 update to explain the reasoning behind the change, as well as providing an in-character rationale for what has changed where appropriate.

International Diplomacy

We've taken the decision to change the way we handle foreign diplomacy. From now on, we'll put all the major content regarding foreign powers, their activities, and their communication with the Empire into the winds of fortune, so that they are available for everyone. All characters will have the normal options they would have with any wind of fortune, to react and respond using the levers that exist in the game such as Senate motions, Synod judgements, Conclave declarations, and so on. In addition to that, each ambassador has the ability to write a letter each event to the foreign power they deal with that will influence the tenor of any response and guide any future opportunities presented in the winds of fortune. The foreign nations will continue to react and respond both to the actions taken by characters in the game and to the official communications they get from the relevant ambassador as a representative of the Empire.

This will replace the previous way we handled the actions of foreign nations, where we provided the ambassador with a personal briefing on what was happening and what offers had been made. It is possible that a foreign ambassador may still receive a personal response in some cases, just as any NPC might respond to a letter they receive from a PC, but any official response or change will be laid out in the winds of fortune before each event.

Reasoning

We have had recurrent problems delivering personal briefs to the eleven players who play ambassadors. Because they resemble a personal communication to a small number of players they are left until the major game updates that affect everybody are complete first. As a result players have been left waiting, sometimes half an event or more, to find out what is going on with the foreign nation they are an ambassador to. That is clearly not what we want to happen, but every attempt to get them written earlier has foundered because the format means the content is inherently less important than what is happening with the winds themselves.

Using personal briefs for individual players has other significant problems - it makes it much harder for characters to challenge another PC for the position of ambassador, because the incumbent can justifiably claim to have access to information on the relationship that only they know. We don't want access to PD resources to be a factor in elections, so publishing that content so that everyone has access to it makes sense.

Ultimately, the approach we've adopted going forwards is consistent with the way Empire works. Major world-affecting plots are delivered via winds of fortune, so that everyone is aware of them and everyone can take a view on them. The game is designed to be played by thousands of players simultaneously and the only way that works is to deliver the major world plots to everyone at the same time - which means using a wind of fortune, not a briefing in the packs of a dozen players.

Making this change should allow us to produce better foreign nation plot, with more time spent on it, and that is more responsive to player actions in the field. It means the ambassadors no longer have access to secret information, but they retain their ability to influence the relationship between the Empire and the foreign nation they deal with.

In-character Explanation

As indicated last season, following numerous requests for previous ambassadorial briefings, the civil service have determined that the most effective way for them to support Imperial diplomatic efforts is to change the way they deliver those briefings. Going forward, civil service briefings prepared for each foreign nation will be a matter of public record.

Martial Titles

We've created a new designation of "martial title" and applied it to a small number of existing Imperial titles: the champions of virtue, the knight protectors, and the Captain of the Throne Guard.

The majority of Imperial titles are concerned with matters of politics, economics, religion or strategy where it makes no sense to choose between candidates based on a character's capacity to fight or their ability to take part in battles or skirmishes. How well you can fight, or whether you take the battlefield is not relevant to most Imperial titles, even those connected to matters of strategy and war such as general or strategos.

Martial titles are a specific exception to this rule. These titles have responsibilities that explicitly require them to take part in battle - and thus a character's fighting skills and willingness to engage in battle are directly relevant to their ability to do the job. Players are not required to pick the candidate who is the best fighter for a martial title, but candidates can promote themselves on that basis and characters are welcome to take it into account.

We've been conscious for some time that this is an area that urgently required clarity. We've had situations where players have misunderstood the role of generals and assumed that fighting skills were relevant to these titles - and we were concerned that these issues would come up again with the new strategos positions that were recently created. At the same time we know that players have struggled with the accessibility issues raised by champions and knight-protectors that have been painful to try to address in-character.

Our original intention when we created both the background for the champions of virtue and when we created the Dawnish knight-protector titles was that these would be positions that more martial players could aspire to, and could put themselves forward for the role of on the basis of their fighting skills. We tried to promote that with the in-character text describing the titles, their responsibilities, and their regalia, but in hindsight it is clear that this approach was inadequate. We apologise to everyone for failing to communicate clearly what our intent was here. Hopefully, the new designation will make it much easier for us to be clear in the future and more importantly for players to be clear with each other with any new title they create.

There is no reason that a Champion of Virtue needs to be the most virtuous warrior in sight, but we do appreciate that this rules change may change the way people perceive and elect these roles. We did consider making seven new virtue titles, positions that could be a non-martial counter-point to the champions, but in the end we decided that it was better to leave this to players to accomplish. We'd prefer players who want such titles to exist to define what they think they should do rather than us try to guess. In this specific case, players are better able to create something iconic that can play an important role in the game and feel credible and significant than we are. A single, appropriately-worded, Senate motion could create one title for each of the seven Virtues, if it passed the Senate. If anyone wants help with wording for a Senate motion they can talk to the Civil Service at the event or email us between events.

Reasoning

Festival LRP reflects some of the wider disablism of our society. This is particularly true of Empire LRP because core elements of the game design are intended to test the skills of the player, not the character. Because of that it is essential to ensure that the wide majority of Imperial titles are explicit in that they do not allow participants to take into account a participant's mobility and ability to fight when considering who to elect for a position, since none of these abilities are relevant to the position.

There is no single solution that solves accessibility challenges in LRP - we want to widen access for as many different Empire players as possible by employing different solutions in different situations. Martial titles exist to provide something to aspire to for players who enjoy fighting but find the political manoeuvring of Empire less accessible for any reason. We hope they will remove the need to discuss when it is, and when it is not, appropriate to discuss a character's fighting ability when assessing their capability for a role. This is a contentious issue and one that is difficult to resolve effectively when in-character.

We want the new martial title designation to reinforce the fact that fighting skills are not relevant for any official position in the game which isn't designated as a martial title. We have had instances with players assuming that generals ought to take the battlefield, which is incorrect. We do want players to be able to support a character to be the Champion of Courage because they are a courageous warrior who will lead the charge in battle, but we don't want players to make the same assumptions about generals, the new strategos positions, or similar.

IC Justification

The Imperial civil service have identified some old guidance that was issued previously regarding the Knight-protector and champion titles that is still applicable. They have updated their official records accordingly.

Criminal Intent

We've added an additional page to the wiki explaining how criminal intent affects the outcome of a trial in terms of the sentencing of anyone found guilty of breaking Imperial law. The new page makes clear that the most serious punishment - execution - is reserved for crimes where the magistrate judges that accused intended to break the law. This has always been an explicit component of murder/manslaughter and a few other crimes but this update makes clear that the principle applies to all crimes committed in Empire.

Reasoning

Understandably, we had a lot of feedback following the dramatic confrontations in Conclave at the final event last year, following the casting of Bright Eyes Gleam in the Depths and the emergence of Cold Sun. We didn't anticipate before the event how quickly misinformation would spread about how significant and widespread the legal consequences would be. We took crude steps to correct that the next day once we realised what had gone wrong, and we've now used the winter to completely review our legal system to look at how that happened, what we can do to stop it happening again and how we can improve this part of the game.

It was clear from the feedback at the event and later, that some players didn't understand how something could be a crime if you didn't intend to break the law. People can readily understand the difference between murder and manslaughter, but because we don't have those distinctions for every crime, people assumed that we meant that intent was not a factor. Adding the new page lays out clearly how intent applies in all criminal cases and hopefully makes that clearer. It's still a crime to kill someone in Empire, even if you didn't mean to, but you won't get executed for murder unless the evidence suggests you meant to take someone's life.

It is also clear from feedback that many people didn't appreciate the design of the criminal system, what role it has in the game and what that implied for any outcomes from any trials. People talked up the worst possible outcomes in Conclave - and without clear information available in the game to indicate what the limits might be, it was understandable that people believed that might happen. The new page will help to prevent that in the future, by making the limits of any potential investigation clearer. We've provided OOC game design notes at the bottom of the new page so that people can understand the ideas behind the rules and make better assumptions about the principles involved.

IC Explanation

The magistrates have published the guidance on the role of intent following the situation at the Autumn Equinox where it became clear that some citizens did not understand how something could be a crime when there was no intent while other citizens did not appreciate that a demonstrable lack of intent would have a significant impact on the outcome of any trial.

Orcs in the League

We have updated the League brief to incorporate new material relevant to playing an orc in the League, reflecting current developments. It is now possible for players creating a new character in the League to choose whether they are playing an orc or a human. As part of the change we've made a number of updates to several League pages:

Tribes in the Brass Coast

We have updated the character generation system to allow Brass Coast players to pick which Tribe they belong to - Erigo, Riqueza, or Guerra - from a drop down when creating the character. Any Brass Coast player who wishes to update their character record can do so by email admin@profounddecisions.co.uk.

Electing senators

We have made changes to the senatorial elections for Dawn, Highguard, Urizen, and Varushka. In Dawn and Urizen we have removed the element of the voting that used ribboned items: favours and sigils, respectively. In all four cases we have switched the voting so that eligibility to vote is determined by your resource being in the territory in question.

This means that Dawnish senators are now elected by simple vote of the nobles whose resource is in the relevant territory. The new process for the vote is described on the page for Dawn leadership and involves noble houses entering the Glory Square one by one to pledge their support for their chosen candidate.

In Urizen, the senator is now elected by simple vote of the magicians whose resource is in that territory. In addition, we have updated the demos so that only spires who are in the territory being contested can submit a dictum for consideration.

In Varushka, the senator is now elected by simple vote of the wise ones whose resource is in that territory. In Highguard, voting is still done by strength of congregation, with voters voting against the least virtuous candidate - but now only congregations in the territory will have votes for the senator of the territory.

Dawnish and Urizeni players who possess an existing favour or sigil ribbon are welcome to continue to attach them to phys-reps, but we won't issue any new ones, as they are no longer needed.

The restriction of not being able to vote in an election until a year has passed since you were previously eligible to vote is starting for these nations from the Winter Solstice 385YE.

Anyone affected by this change can e-mail plot@profounddecisions.co.uk with your CID before the 15th of April to discuss moving the territory that your resource is based in.

Reasoning

Unfortunately, a very fundamental change to the Dawn and Urizen voting methods was required. The previous methods, involving sigils and favours, had complex political options, but they were too complex and too subject to failure. There was a well-publicized failure in the Dawn elections, as we were unable to adjudicate the election fairly, which resulted in the entire election having to be rerun. That forced us to acknowledge that this process was too complex and too likely to fail catastrophically due to our error. Therefore, we have dropped it completely.

Instead, we have elected to make the elections territorial - that means that only citizens whose resource is located in the relevant territory can register their support in the election. We've also chosen to extend this principle to Varushka and Highguard, where previously the entire nation could vote in every election. While that helps with engagement, it creates the potential for a single dominant voting block to control every election (this is the key thing the favours and sigils were aiming to avoid). One of our goals with Empire is to try to ensure a wide distribution of power and having territorial elections is one of the more effective ways to do that. If a nation is very small, it can make more sense to allow them to decide senators together, because there aren't enough players in each territory to enable a lot of political conflict between them, but as Empire has doubled in size over the last five years of play, it makes sense to move as many nations as possible to voting by territory.

For Dawn, we have attempted to create a physical process for the election that reflects its glorious nature. That is difficult to do, since elections are by their nature grubby political affairs. We've presented a new process which we hope players will support and do their best to make as glorious and filled with pomp and splendour as possible, but we welcome feedback on ways that we can make that even more of a spectacle.

IC Explanation

The new political systems have been introduced following change discussed between the civil service and the egregores of the respective nations. Over winter the egregores have worked with the civil service to create voting mechanisms that better reflect the spirit of the nation.

Sinecures

We have updated sinecures so that they no longer provide votes in the Imperial Synod. Sinecures can benefit by producing liao, but not votes in the Synod; as a result, they will not provide membership in the Imperial Synod. In most circumstances we have identified where a sinecure's nature and responsibilities warrant something, as if we were offering them as a part of an opportunity. These are similar to the items offered to the Guardian of the Maze of Zoria and the Master of the School of Exorcism.

In other circumstances we have identified titles where the nature of the commission means it makes more sense for the title to receive money in addition to liao. These tend to be constructions like museums, tombs, or libraries intended to spread knowledge for a price. There are also a number of titles appointed by the Assembly of Prosperity, or the National Assemblies of the Brass Coast and the League, where the location of the sinecure also lends itself well to receiving funds in addition to liao. These titles will also gain an increase in the amount of liao they receive each season, alongside an income in rings each season.

Reasoning

Empire is a game of politics in which amassing and wielding power is a central theme. It is intended to support corruption and entices characters to act in their best interests. However we put some limits on the power that a character can hold - such as limiting a citizen to a single Imperial title, to keep an element of game balance. We identified some time ago that allowing players to create commissions that gave votes in Senate elections was too powerful and too distorting to the game, however we shied away from applying the same logic to Synod votes due to the scale of the challenge. Having had the winter to look at the changes needed, we're now implementing the consistent approach for Synod votes. Players can obtain a sinecure - or other title that gives them income of one form or another - but they can't create a title that grants them more votes. The option to do that has been removed because it distorts the core game too much.

We still want to encourage characters using rituals, like Mantle of the Golden Orator, and particularly upgrading your personal resource to improve your congregation. The benefits that these options provide are on a different scale to those available from commissions and are much more widely accessible to characters with less political influence.

Removing votes from sinecures means that anyone with one of these titles that does not have a congregation will cease being a member of the Imperial Synod after the Winter Solstice. This is a deliberate design choice: being part of the Imperial Synod is meant to be a big deal, one that requires a significant sacrifice on the part of the character. It's no longer possible for a character to wield votes in the Synod unless they have opted to take a congregation and thus are on the same footing as all the other characters in Synod. As part of this change, anyone can email admin@profounddecisions.co.uk to change their personal resource to a congregation in a territory in their nation without the usual cost.

Changes

TitlePrevious OutputNew Output
Armarius of the Anvil Library7 vials of liao, 14 votes in the Imperial Synod7 vials of liao and 54 rings each season
Seer's Probe at the Spring Equinox
Azure Sutannir6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod9 vials of liao and 4 crowns each season
Captain of the Throne Guard7 vials of liao, 14 votes in the Imperial Synod8 vials of liao and three doses of the Sovereign Specific each season
Bondring at the Winter Solstice
Castellan of the Silent Sentinel10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao and 135 rings each season
Challenger in Waiting6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod11 vials of liao each season
Icon of the Witness at the Spring Equinox
Claviger of the Basilica of Cora Holdfast10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao each season
Phial of the Sun at the Spring Equinox
Crimson Sutannir7 vials of liao, 14 votes in the Imperial Synod11 vials of liao and 4 crowns each season
Crow Keeper of the Rest6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod8 vials of liao and 3 doses of Goosewhisper Infusion each season
Curator of the Blood Red River8 vials of liao, 16 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao and 8 crowns each season
Curator of the Printer's Guild Museum6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod7 mana crystals and 4 crowns each season
Curator of the White City Museum7 vials of liao, 14 votes in the Imperial Synod11 vials of liao and 4 crowns each season
Custodian of the Imperial War Memorial6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod9 vials of liao and 4 crowns each season
Dean of Laroc Cathedral6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod9 vials of liao and 3 doses of Skop's Mead each season
Friar of Honour's Rest7 vials of liao, 14 votes in the Imperial Synod11 vials of liao and 4 crowns each season
Guardian of Britta's Memorial5 vials of liao, 10 votes in the Imperial Synod8 vials of liao and 68 rings each season
Guardian of Giselle's Tomb5 vials of liao, 10 votes in the Imperial Synod8 vials of liao and 68 rings each season
Guardian of the Maze of Zoria9 vials of liao, 18 votes in the Imperial Synod18 vials of liao each season
Guide to the Lost6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod12 vials of liao each season
Keeper of the Orchard11 vials of liao, 22 votes in the Imperial Synod, 2 bright red apples15 vials of liao and 4 bright red apples each season
Lady of the Proffered Hand6 vials of liao, 12 votes in the Imperial Synod12 vials of liao each season
Patron of the Pavilion10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao and 135 rings each season
Prelate of Adelmar's Shrine10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod12 vials of liao each season
Lowther's Gaze at the Spring Equinox
Greensteel Bracelets at the Summer Solstice
Alder's Edge at the Autumn Equinox
Prelate of the Little Mother15 vials of liao, 30 votes in the Imperial Synod20 vials of liao and 13 crowns each season
Queen's Rose12 vials of liao, 24 votes in the Imperial Synod18 vials of liao each season
Fireglass at the Spring Equinox
Speaker of the Highborn Assembly10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao and 135 rings each season
Tender of the Hearth9 vials of liao, 18 votes in the Imperial Synod16 vials of liao each season
Icon of the Pilgrim at the Spring Equinox
Voice of Barbs8 vials of liao, 16 votes in the Imperial Synod10 vials of liao and 12 random herbs each season
Voice of the Twin Roses9 vials of liao, 18 votes in the Imperial Synod14 vials of liao each season
Bondring at the Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox
Watcher of Britta's Pool9 vials of liao, 18 votes in the Imperial Synod13 vials of liao and 3 Winterskin Tonics each season
Watcher of Ratibor's Torch10 vials of liao, 20 votes in the Imperial Synod15 vials of liao and 135 rings each season

Great Works

The system for calculating the benefits of a great work has been completely replaced. A great work now provides a fixed benefit to every matching resource in the territory where it is built. We have updated every existing great work to state the benefits they provide going forwards. Benefits this downtime are not affected, but all future downtime benefits will be based on the outputs now listed on the wiki.

We have removed the option to have great works that provide additional votes in the Synod.

Any existing great work opportunities that are still valid have been updated to bring them into line with the new rules.

Reasoning

We've elected to completely rewrite the rules for great works. The existing rules were insanely complex, so complex that almost no great work was ever built without it being a plot opportunity that laid out how much it cost and what benefits it provided. Without that clarity, it was almost impossible to tell what would happen. Worse, as the game has gone on, the rules had become so cumbersome and complex, it became impossible for us to identify what the right play balance should be for any of these opportunities.

Hence we have elected to scrap all the existing rules, and replace them with a completely new framework, one that is much simpler to understand. We can't guarantee it is simple, but it is much simpler than it was. A player can look up the level of investment in a territory, and use that lone single-digit number to work out how many wains would be needed for a great work that further raised the level of investment in the territory.

As part of this change, we have removed the ability to get votes in the Synod from a great work. Due to various factors, the number of votes it was possible to receive in this way was potentially very large, sometimes much larger than those provided by a starting congregation. That had the capacity to distort Synod politics in a way that was not positive for the game. As part of this update we have removed all votes from all great works - that will no longer be an option going forwards.

To make these changes consistent we have gone back and edited all the existing great works to bring them into line with the new rules. There will be some winners and some losers in this process - a lot of people will see the benefits their great work provides increase, some people who were lucky enough to get nearly all the benefits of a single great work previously will see those benefits slashed. While we don't want to make changes that create winners and losers where possible, that is an inevitable consequence in a situation like this where the benefits were so unevenly distributed. We apologise to everyone who is losing out, but the new system will produce a better, fairer game, where great works provide more even benefits to characters across a territory.

Stealing

  • We have rewritten our rules so that entering tents and stealing game items is no longer permitted in most circumstances
  • The new rules mean you cannot enter a private tent without the owner's invitation
  • The new rules are designed to permit looting on battlefields and allow players to steal unique game items like the Imperial Crown

We have completely rewritten our rules on stealing game items at Empire. It is no longer possible to take game items without the owner's OOC knowledge, unless they are marked with a gold ribbon (indicating a unique game item). In line with these changes we have updated the rules to prohibit people from entering another participant's IC tent without their permission.

Reasoning

The core game design of Empire includes a major focus on player-versus-player (PvP) politics. We try to be as explicit as possible that Empire is a PvP game, that the primary source of conflict derives from the tension between different players' ambitions. We want inter-personal rivalries and clashing political agendas to form the mainstay of the plot for each event.

That conflict includes the possibility for criminality but Empire deliberately aims to discourage PvP combat. The conflict between characters is intended to be social and political in nature - you can defeat a rival in many different ways, none of which require violence. The explicit social contract for the game is that murder is allowed, provided it is the absolute last resort for any character.

We took the decision to adopt that approach because we weren't interested in supporting PvP combat in Empire. Our experience from previous games was that PvP combat can be deeply unsatisfying unless it is carefully managed. It is often over incredibly quickly and usually because one side is attacking with surprise and overwhelming numbers. It also tends to be overwhelmingly fatal - involving one side wiping out the other. In summary, it often involves only the most limited interactions that are utterly one-sided and very rarely enjoyable for the loser. We realised that we were simply not interested in creating a game that provides experiences that we no longer think the majority of our players are going to enjoy.

There are undoubtedly live roleplayers who enjoy being the victim of a clever theft but that is not the game many people come to Empire wanting to play. They simply don't enjoy returning to their tent to find it has been robbed and that everything of value they spent years working to accumulate is gone. There are rarely any interactions between the thieves and their victims. IC theft can be fun for the thieves, but it can be a really miserable experience for the people who get robbed. It is not consistent with the broader game design of Empire to support something that the majority of our players don't enjoy.

Previously we have shied away from the logical conclusions of this line of thinking because there are some types of theft that we do want to support - the idea of the clever confidence trick is an integral part of the League brief, so trickery and deception have to be supported in the game. Likewise, we want to allow players to loot characters while they are on skirmishes and battles or other encounters outside Anvil, so we need that to still be possible. We also want people to be able to steal unique game items - such as the archmage regalia. For a long time we were stymied by the apparent difficulty in creating a single definitive rule that would rule out the kinds of petty theft that add nothing to the game, but still leave room for this, and still allow the overwhelming majority of players to play the game without intrusive restrictions.

Over the years we have tried to tighten up the rules in specific ways to make theft more difficult, by introducing rules for locked boxes and rules for sealed tents. The latter in particular was especially important, as there are many people sleeping in in-character tents who find the idea of anyone coming into them deeply unpleasant, especially when there are children sleeping in the field. In practice, we've no doubt that nobody engaged in IC theft wanted to be entering a tent with anyone in it, but just the potential for it to happen was unpleasant for many.

Having spent some time examining our rules over winter, we've decided that the best way to support our desired approach is to simply write the best set of rules we can that support the game we want to run and then supplement that by trying to clearly spell out how we want people to play Empire. All our experience shows that having a clear social contract of what the game is one of the best ways to get a vision on how to play the game and what you can expect that is shared between everyone who plays Empire.

We have to recognise that any rules we create for this won't be perfect. There are bound to be questions and edge cases and with broad rules such as these that include an element of judgement. We want to allow looting on the battlefields - that is important - but we don't want players mugging each other for their lose change. Empire is a game of grand politics in which the great and the good come together to make crucial decisions about the future of the Empire. That's the game we want to run, that's what we want people to play. Larceny, muggings, and random murders are not part of what we want players at Empire to do. In theory we could prohibit mugging but we can't see how to do that without making it impossible for characters to threaten and cajole others in negotiations. But we hope that by clearly communicating the kinds of roleplaying that Empire does and does not encourage, participants will be able to identify the spirit of the rules and be able to pursue that when playing at events.

In theory there is a risk that people might cheat and steal game items and then claim they were lost property. In practice very few people come to GOD to cheat, but again this is another compromise. Lost property frequently includes things that are important out-of-character, like credit cards, a phone, or personal medicines. Our overwhelming priority is to ensure it gets back to the rightful owner by the quickest route possible. So we write our rules to support that goal and try to explain why we want to reward players for bringing lost property to GOD as quickly as possible.

Of course these new rules won't stop all IC thefts at events, because there are players that will cheat, so securing your IC valuables is still the best course of action. However it does mean that if your tent has been robbed while you were out, then you should report it to the referee desk so that they can take note of it. From this point on, stealing items in this way is cheating, and will be treated as such when it happens.

Rough Music

  • Rough music is only for Imperial institutions like the Senate or large national groups like the Brands or the Earls' Council
  • You must get a referee to accompany you before the rough music begins
  • It starts with a riotous procession that moves through Anvil and ends within a minute or two of arriving at the destination
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the targets; do not loom over people or physically intimidate them with your size
  • Do not enter their building or tent
  • Leave enough room for them to flee if they want to; do not shout at or pursue anyone who is leaving the scene

We have changed rough music so that it now consists of a loud procession through Anvil that culminates at the target's location, rather than the racket beginning there. We have added extra emphasis to the previous in-character rules for rough music that always existed, but were rarely followed in practice. We have added a third rule insisting that the target is allowed to flee the scene if they find the confrontation too overwhelming for any reason. We have also included guidance on when rough music can be used.

Reasoning

Empire is an avowedly political game, one where the decisions that people make are crucial to what happens because they have profound consequences. It's not possible to have a game in which the decisions players make are important yet have no consequences. However we want those decisions to result in in-character confrontations that are filled with drama and tension, not out-of-character unpleasantness. The point of rough music is to highlight important decisions that have been taken, to draw attention to them and emphasize the drama and impact they have had. Participants must take active steps to avoid their actions becoming so daunting that they make other players feel out-of-character punished or intimidated.

The existing information already presented clear rules for rough music, like not attacking the targets and not entering their house. There have been a number of occasions at recent events where that IC guidance has been ignored. So we have updated the wiki entry to make it clear in-character why these rules exist but also to state clearly that we require participants to treat these as part of the out-of-character rules of the game. If you engage in rough music you must follow the three golden rules for everyone's benefit.

We've changed rough music to emphasize a procession that ends at the target, so that players can maximise the drama of what they are doing. The rough music must end within a few minutes of arriving at the destination: it achieves very little in-character to prolong the racket at that point, it simply makes it more out-of-character unpleasant. Starting the rough music early and as part of a procession to the destination means that people can still make a hullabaloo and get everyone's attention, but should prevent any single group of players from being on the receiving end of the noise for too long.

We know that Marcher players enjoy engaging in rough music, but the best way to roleplay at Empire is to make the things you do enjoyable for other players as well as yourself. We don't want the Marchers to have a reputation as bullies, so rough music must be a dramatic, climactic confrontation not a punishment.

IC Explanation

As the guardians of Marcher culture, the egregores have taken steps to remind all Marchers of the importance of following the rules when engaging in rough music. Having spoken with Marchers throughout the nation, they've collated the wisdom of the Marches to provide some best practices that they expect everyone to follow.

Weakness

We have updated the rules to make absolutely explicit that you cannot make any calls while under the effects of WEAKNESS (this includes EXECUTE). We have also added religious skills to the list of skills you cannot use while suffering from weakness. We've simplified the rules wording to make it clear that you can't cast any spells or contribute to any rituals while under the effects of weakness.

Reasoning

The previous rules implied you couldn't make any calls by listing all the sources of power that you couldn't use while suffering from weakness. That left room for an interpretation that said you could make a call if it was from some source that wasn't mentioned in the list. That was never our intention - one of the primary things that weakness does is stop you making any calls. We've rewritten the rules to make it clear that that is always the case.

We've also added religious skills to the list of skills you cannot use while suffering from weakness. You have never been able to use heroic skills or cast spells or rituals while under the effect. Omitting religious skills was an oversight on our part that suggested that these skills weren't as taxing or important as heroic or magical skills. That's not the case - and we've added religious skills to list of skills that prohibited by by the weakness condition.

Writ of Consecration

We've added the rules for the new Synod judgement for a writ of consecration to the wiki. This follows the decision of the Imperial Senate to use a motion to create a new law requiring such a writ before any citizen can use true liao to create an inspirational location dedicated to a paragon, exemplar or other inspirational location. The appropriate virtue assembly must raise the writ of consecration and pass it with a greater majority. If that happens, then the Imperial civil service prognosticators will produce a report on the options available to the Synod and the likely outcomes of each - it will create a plot opportunity that is published as a wind of fortune or as part of another wind of fortune. The report will provide one or more possible competing mandates for the Synod to consider at the following summit.

These mandates will be available for a single season. Any opportunities to create inspirational locations that have not been previously taken up have now expired, as the new law represents a significant change in circumstances.

Reasoning

For the most part this is a small wiki update to reflect the changes made by players, however we have included it here because we have made some tweaks to the process as part of our rules review over winter. We've changed the timing of the various parts of the writ, so that we have time to produce a wind of fortune laying out all the consequences of a decision before the General Assembly makes its decision. That means we can ensure that players can make an informed decision based on the consequences rather than having to guess what the outcome will be. We've also made it so that any options will be accessed using a mandate that a priest has to raise in the General Assembly, rather than being automatically raised by the Tribune. We've done this because there are likely to be options to pick between and because we want the mandate to name the priest who will carry out the true liao consecration.

Previously the options presented by these kind of winds of fortune have often been open-ended, so that players can take as long as they wish to decide if they want to take them up. That tends to leave a history of open options that can be a problem to deal with later when circumstances change. Given the involvement of the virtue assembly in creating the original writ, the new process means that they will have to reaffirm that is their wish (by passing a new writ) if any opportunity it produces is not taken up at the following summit.

IC Explanation

The Imperial civil service have issued guidance for the new writ of consecration. The guidance has been amended to allow the civil service to provide the maximum possible information to the Synod before they make their final decision. The civil service have also submitted an administrative motion to the Imperial Senate to ask them to consider if the new writ should also cover the use of true liao to create sacred sites as well as memorials to inspirational figures. The civil service recommend this change - as it will significantly simplify Imperial governance - but are cognizant of the fact that the Imperial Senate may have wanted to deliberately exclude sacred sites from the new law.

Tally of the Votes

We've changed Tally of the Votes so that all players who are eligible to vote will receive a single voting slip in their pack at the start of the event. The bond will give the character's name, the in-character date of the summit and list all titles that are elected by Tally of the Votes that season. Bonds are only valid at the summit they are issued on. Elections will take place in the nation camps on Saturday afternoon; the winner is whoever presents the most votes to support their claim to the position.

Each bond can be used by a single successful candidate. The votes of the winner will be destroyed; anyone who has not won the election is entitled to keep their votes. Voting will then proceed to any remaining titles. This means that if more than one title is being elected, then any citizen who is unsuccessful can use the votes they hold for a subsequent election, if they wish to do so.

A small number of Imperial titles have had their election season shifted to provide the best balance of limiting election administration and maximising interaction between players. Where a title has been shifted, there will be a short election in 2024 at the old date to bring the election cycle into line, and then the next election will be at the new date.

Reasoning

The new rules will enable more electioneering because candidates will be able to seek out potential supporters and ask for their votes directly. Rather than ask them to go to the hub to vote, a process that can be bureaucratic and burdensome for some players, a candidate can ask an eligible voter to show their support by giving them their bond. By putting the bonds in the packs of every player, we make it easier for players, especially new players, to be more aware that they have votes and what they can vote on.

In situations where more than one title is being voted on, it will be much harder for a single powerful voting block to ensure they win all the elections - the new system will support rival groups vying for power to get something even if they can't get the title they wanted. The new process should also make it simpler for our civil service who will no longer need to record each individual vote, just identify the winners.

IC Explanation

With the number of Bourse elections continuing to increase, the Imperial Civil Service have been forced to make some changes to the election protocols to ensure that they can continue to fairly assess the will of the nations in these matters.

New Election Schedule

The schedule below shows the titles elected by Tally of the Votes and the order and season they will now be elected. Titles will be elected in the order listed below. Titles shown in italics have had their election season shifted.

NationWinterSpringSummerAutumn
Brass CoastVizier of the Incarnadine Satchel
Marracossa Sendito
Cerevado NetsHakima of Salt and Sand
Mistress of the Glass Parador
Dhomiro of the Cinnabar Hills
Mistress of the Dust Parador
DawnCastellan of Spiral Castle
Reeve of Boar's Market
HighguardBursar of the House of SpiritsVigilant Swan
Cinderpath Custodian
Imperial OrcsFour Seasons' Boneweaver
Steward of the Mines of Gulhule
Steel Fist
Bonesetter of Torfast Trading Post
Legion Engineer
Preceptor of the Skarsind College of Warcasting
The LeagueMaster of Rings
Chair of the Wolf
Tassatan Hills
Custodian of the Assayer's Guild
Northbound Trademaster
Keeper of the Tome
The MarchesSteward of Good Leaf Gardens
Bailiff of the Grand Market
Singing Caves
Master of the Root and Stem
NavarrThimble
Broker of the Invisible Cord
Broker of Treji Wayhouse
UrizenQuaymaster of the Elosian Docks
Architect of the Crucible
Brilliant Star
VarushkaOverseer of the Westward Road
Warden of the Trees and Hills
Harbourmaster of the Semmerlak
Eagle of Triosk
Gift of the Dwindling Star
Merchant Boyar of the Bittershore
Custodian of Ivarsgard Docks
Granites of Veltsgorsk
Burgher of Ketsov
Boyar of the Iron Roads
Eternal Shafts of Time
Bargainer of the Iron Tower
Tolvoli Butcher
WintermarkMediator of Wreck
Talon of Kauppahall
Pride of Ikka's Tears
Kalpaheim Tradeholder

Moved Titles

Artificial Intelligence

  • Content generated using Artificial Intelligence cannot be used at Empire events

Content that is made using generative-AI tools (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generative_artificial_intelligence) cannot be used in the field at Empire. It is fine for digital artists to use procedural tools to create art for the game, but images manufactured by AI art engines must not be used in-character. Likewise, writers can use modern tools to proof their writing, but any substantial block of prose that is generated using a large-language model or any equivalent AI tool must not be used in-character. We also ask people not to post images, video or text created using generative-AI to our forums or Facebook groups.

Reasoning

Empire is a game of hard skills by design - we want success in Empire to derive primarily from your abilities as a player to a large extent. This is why we have always asked people not to play recorded music at events: we want to highlight the role of the many skilled IC musicians in Anvil.

To be consistent with that approach we've decided to ban the use of all AI generated content in-character. Human creativity is at the heart of Empire - we want our game to showcase the abilities of the artists and writers who create art for the game - we're not interested in creating events for machines to attend.

We've also chosen to prohibit the posting of generative-AI content on our forum and in our Facebook groups. These groups are very busy already and generative content adds little value. It is also ethically contentious and invariably leads to unproductive arguments about the use of AI, rather than positive discussions about Empire. This is not a conduct issue; players are welcome to post Empire content that is generated using AI to their own walls. This rule only limits what is used at events and what is posted in our social media spaces.

Further Reading