The following is a list of frequently asked questions that players have sent us. If you have any queries about Empire then it is worth checking the FAQs first, to see if the answer to your question is here. Otherwise email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the rules or email@example.com with any other questions about the game. We'll answer as quickly as we can and we'll add your question to our FAQ if we think it is likely to be of interest to other players.
This section of the FAQ contains questions about the Setting. For questions about other parts of the game, please see the more general FAQ.
How big is the Empire?
Very roughly, the Empire is 900 miles by 900 miles.
When are the seasons?
Each event takes place on an equinox or solstice. The first event of each year takes place on the Winter Solstice - in-character that is the 21st December. Winter runs from December to February - so there is around a month of winter before the event and around two months of winter after the event. Obviously some years winter "comes early" just as is does in the real world depending on the weather. As a result accounts running up to the Winter Solstice will be written from the perspective that winter is starting, other times from the perspective that winter is well underway.
Seasonal rituals - such as Gathering the Harvest are linked to the seasons through the events. Magic does not move the seasons, but the Gathering the Harvest ritual does allow the farmer to "gather crops faster", so their crop can be assumed to come in a little early. In practice when the harvest happens will vary from farm to farm depending on the crops they have, the weather they have and other considerations. It happens around the time of the Autumn Equinox event - some before - some after. We abstract away exactly when - we don't care - that's down to individual roleplaying.
Flora and Fauna
Do mythical and real world beasts exist in Empire?
Most indigenous European fauna like boars or stags exist in Empire, but obviously they are unlikely to turn up at events. The notable exception are horses, which did exist but were wiped out centuries ago. Fantastic beasts like trolls and dragons also exist in Empire - some of them as myths, some of them as creatures that you can meet.
Mundane details of the setting are broadly European in character, so non-European flora and fauna such as lions are not found in the Empire but are known of in foreign lands.
What beasts of burden exist?
Horses are extinct in Empire and oxen are used as beasts of burden instead.
What are the coins and what are they worth?
Imperial coinage is made up of rings, crowns and thrones. There are eight crowns to a throne and twenty rings to a crown.
It is effectively meaningless to talk about what coins are worth, since Empire will use a free market economy system in which players set the prices of items rather than the organisers. As a result we have no idea what things will be worth and prices will change from event to event. The starting income of a normal character is 18 rings; every normal character will receive that amount of money every event.
What is Hearth Magic?
The simplest possible definition of Hearth magic is magic that works in the world, albeit unreliably, without any skill. Hearth magic is useful in rituals, where it can sometimes be combined with "true" magic to make the effects slightly more potent. But Hearth Magic is a real potent force, it's a superstition in the same way that people in the real world believe that a piece of lodestone suspended in water will turn to point north.
What is known about the Stars?
The art of Astronomancy is the study of the magical influence of the constellations. Beyond this, little is known about the "mundane" aspects of the stars. They are bright shining bodies in the night sky - when you look at them through a telescope they still just look like points of light. The constellations are known to move around very slightly - and some Urizen stargazers take thousands of painstaking measurements of these tiny motions to try and track them. However no stargazer has discovered any pattern to their trajectories.
There have been numerous efforts made to correlate the movements of the constellations with the major changes in the Empire, providing plenty of evidence to support their known properties, but nobody is sure whether the stars cause the changes or the stars are moved by the same forces that cause the changes.
The clear exception to the constellations is the Wanderer, which gets its name from its habit of moving across the heavens. Such motions are undoubtedly important; when the Wanderer moves closer to the Oak that is clearly very significant, for example - and very different to when it moves closer to the Stallion.
Most educated folk understand that the Empire is a geocentric world. The moon and the sun very clearly rise in the sky, go round the planet and then set again. They are indisputably in orbit around the world. Nobody really knows why - and they don't appear to have much magical influence, so aren't that interesting.
What are backgrounds all about?
There is some detailed guidance on creating character backgrounds here.
Who do I talk to about my background?
You can submit your background when you create your character using the online character generation system. If you have any questions or want to discuss your Empire backgrounds, personal and group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, where a team of friendly and helpful people are waiting to assist.
Can I email a longer background?
The character creation system allows you to submit a background which is up to 2000 characters (including spaces) long. We don't accept backgrounds longer than this because the workload involved in reading thousands of characters backgrounds is immense. The longer every player's background is, the less time members of plot team have to read any of them - and the less time they have for writing plot for the events. For this reason we refuse to accept any email for a background which is longer than 2000 characters.
Please appreciate that you are encouraged to submit a background as a series of bullet points. You are welcome to write your own epic version of the background for your own enjoyment and characterisation, but a bullet point summary is all our plot team will accept as a submission.
Can we use settlement X for our background?
It is usually fine, even preferable, to use an existing settlement in your background. It is often a good idea to check with us first, especially if you want your group to have control of that area or be particularly prominent. We will check to ensure that this request doesn't cause undue continuity errors.
How much can I make up in my background?
The map provides cities, towns and interesting places as a starting point. In coming up with new places for your background, the rule of thumb, really, is 'would it be widely known about'? If it would, it's best to avoid it. The existing map strives to provide a dense enough network of important places for you to refer to already, without the need to crowd our maps with more.
We're happy for participants to come up with hamlets, small settlements or steadings, points of interest such as hidden waterfalls or caves, sheltered valleys and the like. It is larger features, like towns and cities that are unlikely to fit in.
What accents can/should we use?
We are not specifying accents for individual nations, because many players find accents difficult to manage and we wish to avoid any assumption that people need to use a specific accent. It is also important to appreciate that while a nation like the Brass Coast is inspired by the costumes of South America and Moorish Spain it isn't meant to be Moorish Spain - you can use a Spanish accent to help develop your character but you don't need to.
It is worth appreciating that caricatures of accents have been used to ridicule ethnic groups for decades. It is appropriate therefore to avoid the kind of misanthropic mangled accents of bad cliches of ethnic groups from the Orient and Arabian Peninsula, because they will offend some players. However LRP is fundamentally about the appropriation of cultural motifs to create context and setting, in the same way that these motifs are used in literature, theatre and film. So it is absolutely fine to make your best attempt at a credible Spanish accent for your Freeborn character or Russian for a Varushkan character if you wish to do so.
Can I invent a Paragon or Exemplar?
The current paragons and exemplars outlined are not intended to be an exhaustive list but illustrative and to be expanded on. You can create an exemplar for your background but you should avoid creating paragons as these are few in number. As with any part of the setting, this will need to be checked to ensure its consistent with the setting game (i.e. an Inspector Clouseau like character will not be accepted as an exemplar of Wisdom).
It is worth reading about the signs of the paragon and exemplar.
Can I play a priest of a False Virtue?
It is possible to be a priest of a False Virtue and it is possible for such a priest to dedicate others to their False Virtue - but you cannot start out that way, you have to try to achieve it in play. Of course you can start out as a person who believes in the False Virtue and is seeking to become dedicated and to spread it.