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This page is part of our introduction to Empire, explaining more about the game. It is intended for people who are new to live roleplaying as well as experienced live roleplayers who have never done Empire before to give you a sense of how Empire is designed and how it plays in practice.

Character Driven

Empire is akin to a sandbox game in the sense that you will be entering a completely open world that you are free to explore as you choose. There is no grand narrative being created by us, rather the Empire campaign consists of the stories that emerge from the interactions of the characters who collectively run the Empire. You are part of a game with thousands of participants all playing together at the same time, together you decide what happens next. In one sense, Empire is a lot like the real world. There is no predetermined outcome and you are free to make your own choices within the constraints of the setting. You work with - and often against - other player-characters to determine what happens.

This means that it's really important to think about your character, their place in the setting, and what they aim to achieve. In many roleplaying games, your character's skills and abilities are crucial because they determine how you deal with the plot that is written for you. In Empire, your character's motivations and goals are crucial because they determine the plot you create for yourself as you interact with others.

Player vs Player Politics

At it's heart Empire is a game of politics that is quite deliberately player versus player (PvP). That means that if you are going to be active in the politics of the Empire then the protagonists that you encounter along the way will be other players. The game is deliberately designed to encourage many different forms of political rivalry, and the expectation is that you'll find yourself looking for allies to help you as you try to find ways to advance your agendas and defeat your rivals.

Although Empire has a strong emphasis on PvP politics, the setting has been delibrately designed to discourage physical violence between characters. The setting is a very lawful one, with magistrates and militia who will investigate any murder and try to execute those responsible. The aim is to make assasination the last act of desperation that is the result of an long-simmering political rivalry, not the first choice in any conflict between characters.

As part of this the game supports many different ways in which you can harm your political rivals. If they hold an Imperial title then you can try to get the Synod to revoke them or potentially even excommunicate them. Magicians can be declared sorcerors by the Imperial Conclave. Violence and murder are illegal, but coercion and blackmail are not. The setting works hard to encourage and support a wide range of options for social interactions.

Player vs Monster Battles

The ongoing military campaigns against the barbarian enemies that surround the Empire complement the politics. These battles are Player versus Monster (PvM). If your character chooses to take the field, then you'll be facing off against five hundred plus hostile enemies who are "monsters" - that is they are volunteers who are playing a role just for that battle that has been created and briefed by our team. They're there to give you a dramatic and difficult battle - one where victory is far from assured - but where death is uncommon provided you don't mess up too badly.

There are two big battles each weekend as well as many smaller quests and skirmishes. Taking part is completely optional - around half of our player-base usually do so each event. However if you do take the field for a battle as your character, then you must volunteer to monster the other battle (we have to get our five hundred orcs from somewhere!). We strive to make monstering as much as possible, and we provide a masks and an armoured breastplate for our orcs, so if you're just starting out then all you need to monster is your basic costume and a weapon if you've got one.

Where the battles take place, who you are fighting and why, is down to the decisions made by the generals and their advisors in the Military Council. Those decisions are strategic and political in nature - the Empire is fighting many wars and has limited forces at its disposal. Empire is designed so that success on the battlefield at the event helps the Empire significantly in its ongoing wars, while defeat may give the advantage to the enemy.

Player with Player Interactions

Politics and battles are just part of the appeal of Empire for many players. A huge part of the game is focussed on the interactions between players which aren't directly political or confrontational. Empire has beeen designed to support a wide a range of different interactions, between characters which is broadly cooperative in nature. Beyond the cuthroat politics and the adrenalin of the battlefield, the Empire is a world you can live in.

Trade and commerce are an important part of the game, with many characters striving to make as much money as possible. There are many things to buy and sell, with a position in the Imperial Bourse as the ultimate prize - bringing prestiege and wealth to those who can afford it. Characters can trade resources like mana, liao, herbs as well as items like potions and magic weapons. But you can also use your in-character money to trade for consumables and phys-reps like cakes, a bottle of wine, or jewellery that players make and then sell as their character. Everything is on sale in Anvil!

Religion and magic are possibly even more important. In addition to being politically powerful the Imperial Synod is the starting point for many religious and philosophical conversations as characters debate virtue and the Way. Magicians meet in the Imperial Conclave to decide matters of magic but they also share knowledge and learning in the form of arcane projections as well as seeking allies to cooperate with to perform the more powerful rituals.

Entertainment and culture provide yet more opportunities for players to interact with each other. There are plays and performances at the League theatre, there is music and singing at the Navarr Song and Story. Every nation has its own festivities and every event there are festivals and celebrations. Anvil comes alive at night with parties and singing, there is even a group that takes over the Senate building on Saturday evening to host and teach formal dancing.

Event Focussed

Profound Decisions run four Empire events each year; each event is a political summit held at Anvil, the Empire's capital. Players portray the powerful figures of the Empire as they come together to make the decisions that will decide the Empire's fate. The crucial decisions that determine developments in the world for the next season are taken by the players at the event.

Downtime takes place between events. We give players a week to use the website to let us know what decisions they made at the event if they have an appropriate resource or relevant skill. Then the setting is updated to reflect the changes the players have made; armies are moved and campaigns fought; colleges of magic research new spells, and so forth. As part of that you'll generate a handful of resources for your character to use at the next event they attend.

Before each event we release the Winds of War and the Winds of Fortune as we update the recent history. These updates describe the consequences of all the actions taken at the previous event, along with any new developments dreamed up by our plot team. You don't have to read them (it can be fun to roleplay finding out the latest news from other characters at Anvil) but they represent common knowledge of what is occurring in the world so if you do read them then you're free to choose how much of the details your character knows.

Immersive and Aspirational

High Magic, Low Fantasy

Further Reading