Content MorkaisChosen remembered from Empire focus group- we specifically checked that it was OK to tell people this. Everything posted here is subject to change, some more than others.

May be inaccurate due to faulty memory, what I noticed and what I didn’t.

Quite An Important Comment

This focus group was discussion of what will be different about Empire. The fact that there’s not a huge amount of detail on politics, economics, or whatever doesn’t mean it won’t be there- PD are trying to keep the things that really worked with Maelstrom working as well in Empire. This is a point that was raised and discussed at the meeting. If this stuff doesn’t enthuse you, don’t let that put you off just yet; wait for PD to tell you things that don’t enthuse you.

The game is intended to replace Maelstrom. PD acknowledged that this means they will try to include the things that people liked about Maelstrom.

Setting and Empire

General style: Mediaeval to Renaissance. No frock coats, tricorns or guns. Examples of style include The Borgias, A Song of Ice and Fire, many others that don’t immediately spring to mind.
The Emperor died. (There’s some back-and-forth going on as to whether it was an Emperor or an Empress, according to a pre-meeting comment, though this wasn’t really discussed- I know the website says Empress.)
Empire split into Nations- think Strom cultures. No mechanical differences between them, entirely an RP and kit thing.
Nations have Egregores- essentially a manifestation of the Nation as a whole. Not in charge, it’s a source of magical power for the members of the Nation and embodies the Nation’s attitudes. Very difficult to destroy, but a given incarnation will be killable, forcing the Egregore to create a new manifestation. Likely to be played by different people from time to time.
It will be possible to change your alleigance from one Nation to another- this requires the acceptance of the Nation’s Egregore.
Empire has a Senate, all Senators are PCs. Will be open for non-Senators to watch, probably also to speak to the Senators. A Senator for each seat- tied to territories (?).
Political parties: all Senators required to join one, but it’s more “Senators are elected, and must join a party” than “partied choose candidates and effectively dictate who can get seats”; less power for whips/party authorities, essentially “I dislike these people the least.”
NPC organises the Senate- mostly there to keep it flowing.
The Civil Service will be NPCs, handling admin and bringing messages to appropriate PCs.
NPC judiciary, Militia for law enforcement with NPCs but also a PC option- mention that this is expected to be good for bringing new players in.
Laws will be subject to change by the Senate.
Empire surrounded by barbarians- not a unified culture, defined as People Who Are Not The Empire Who We Are At War With. Military game option of conquering them for new territory.
Orcs and humans, possibly ratmen, lizardmen as barbarian races. Orcs and Humans definitely playable, others under discussion.
All PCs will be either Imperial or (possibly) foreign embassies; foreign languages to be physrepped by foreign languages (option for overseas players, considering ways to make it worth them dropping in once a year rather than every game).
Barbarians will not be playable. Imperial citizens who were barbarians until recently may be, especially if PCs have been out a-conquerin’. Orcs playable at game start- Imperial citizens, but not culturally assimilated.
Eternals – powerful extraplanar beings, concept-themed. Think Fae, Demon Lords, Elemental Lords. Will not be a common sight, but the Eternal game will exist- possibly magical means to visit them. Intended to have a sense of occasion when you meet them, so not likely to see Eternals wandering the field.
Lineages – PCs may be of Eternal descent. No mechanical effect. Amount of Eternal blood directly proportional to physrepping- essentially a spectrum. A descendant of a demon lord with small forehead horns will have a little demon blood, if you paint yourself bright red, grow a goatee, physrep goat legs and attach three-foot spiralling horns to your head, you might be the son of an Eternal. Will have an effect on reactions of NPCs, encouraged to act in line with the themes of your Lineage.
Eternals likely to be from a few defined types.
PD have scrapped the second rewrite of the Eternal stuff, so related issues are very much subject to change.
Religion and faith: no interventionist gods. Likely to be a philosophically-based system, possibly based on Imperial Virtues. Mention of warrior/monastic orders. Belief in a god will be an option, but not a requirement, and equally as valid as a dedication to the concept – one PC may follow Evarb, God of Valour, another may be dedicated to the concept, and they can have similar beliefs but argue about them. Much arguing in religious game.
When asked about what subgames there are, MattP mentioned the religion game as one of them.
Mention in the concept document of the possibility of something akin to Strom’s ceremonial skills.
(Note: MorkaisChosen is quite a big fan of religious game, especially as a source of reasons to be unreasonable and fanatical at people. This may have influenced points noticed here.)
Event hosting: centralised Imperial thing with Imperial law, avoids Maelstrom’s hosting problem.
Secession from the Empire will be possible.

Combat, wars and such

Global hits
Fairly low-call combat system under consideration- the majority of attacks for SINGLE, call not required. This is something they specifically asked for thoughts on the lack of call, and problems with that have been mentioned.
Suggested: if this is the case, combat skills should be more “TRIPLE 3/encounter” than “DOUBLE by sword,” else all “true” combat characters won’t be on SINGLE anyway.
No RESIST – new characters don’t feel as impotent, as more established/powerful characters are just likely to kill the in a straight fight, rather than unaffected by their skills.
PCs will have the option of taking some friends for a mission in uptime to support downtime armies that are fighting wars- think going behind enemy lines to kill the enemy mages, or dropping a small team on a forest moon to knock out the shield generator protecting the Death Star. Reference in the document to teleporting.
Mission size will vary from “skirmishes” to “400 orcs come over the hill screaming, 400 PCs go to meet them.”
50-strong monster team from the crew, players will have the option of joining them if they feel like it; at times (see above “400 orcs”) “a flag will go up” saying PD want monsters, please volunteer if you can.
Armies will move on a Risk-like map of the Empire and surrounding barbarian territories, able to move to an adjacent territory each DT.
Option of army-support missions might make the difference between taking a territory or your armies being repulsed, or it might mean the difference between taking the territory and taking the territory with few losses. (Poor wording on my part here, implication is it’s a spectrum, not a three-state either/or choice.)
Combat intended to carry a risk of character death even if the PCs win- mechanics under consideration are a bleed count starting at zero. Not mentioned in the outline document we saw, but on questioning MattP agrees that it’s also important to be able to lose without dying.
Most combat likely to be player versus monster- PvP combat will be possible, but more difficult to get away with due to IC law enforcement.
Point-and-click combat magic under consideration. Pros: allows “combat mage” as a character, not just combatant supporter; allows players to engage in combat without combat hard skills (replacing Maelstrom gunnery). Cons: Callspace issues; getting-calls-taken hardskills required.


Way simplified.
Learn 1 skill per DT.
PCs intended to start more powerful than in Maelstrom, so the deficit between starting character and starting character plus one year of skill learning is less.
Plan seems to be “choose an action from each of these categories” – learning action, resource action, other action (crafting et cetera- potions mentioned here).
Resources: personal and campaign.
All PCs start with a personal resource- a mine, some troops, a social position, or something of that order. Can be upgraded in DT; costs money.
Campaign resources, such as important positions- Warden of the Northern Marches, Imperial Librarian, etc. Assigned through uptime politics.
Resources give options in DT- assigning movement of armies, other stuff for other things. The Warden of the Northern marches example gave command of a powerful army.
Resources also carry benefits- if you have a gold mine, you get some gold each DT.
Creating buildings – “assign subordinates to make building” not “deploy my woodworking skills to lead workers in making building”.
Simple system implemented into the DT programming to allow crew to quickly add Events- “Famine in Pogotania- resources in Pogotania produce 10% less due to lack of workers.” Could be temporary or permanent.
Description of personal resources in player hands – you’ll have a level 1/2/3 guildhouse, which you can define to be a brothel, bar, trading house…

Other Stuff

Current plan: children to be allowed.
IC Civil Service-run Tests of Adulthood to determine whether a child is ready to join the adults- serves the same OC purpose, mention of a combat test implies there’s more than one for different spheres of the game.
Mention of deliberate planning for child-friendly stuff (IC as well as OC) – example: releasing an orc into the woods for the kids to chase down.
Document specifically mentioned that there will not be a rule restricting RP around children – swearing and such not disallowed, may be discouraged. (Discouragement is one of the fuzzier ends of what I remember, that may not have been in there.)
If children cause problems, their parents will be banned from bringing them again.
Children was something PD specifically wanted to discuss, but the Cambridge group I was with had No Strong Opinion.
There was discussion of the fact that some players would prefer to play a lower-status character, servants and the like. MattP acknowledged this, mentioned that it’s usually a specific choice and that most people prefer to play more important types. Not clear precisely how this interacts with the resources- non-meeting speculation: definition may be in player hands, I’d incline towards “the boss lets me administrate this,” but it may be down to personal preferences here.
Wiki with all/almost all available skills on it; in each instance of a potential hidden skill, this will be considered, individually, for whether having it hidden adds anything to the game.
Wiki will also have setting information- Coyote Tales-style IC/OC markings. (For those who haven’t seen that – it’s pretty obvious which bits are OC fact and which are example IC beliefs, opinions, and rumours.)
Player input to the wiki possible, but PD-moderated – likely to be used for additions to national flavour and customs, IC library, et cetera.
Some discussion of the fact that players like the little details of cultural characterisation; player input here likely to be a Big Thing.
Probable option to put contact details up for IC communication.
Discussion of a change of approach from PD – previously treated players as customers, intending to give them more input. Setting stuff on wiki, community days where players can volunteer to help build Awesome Stuff for events (eg. national command tent type thing), some money set aside for players to suggest Awesome Things to spend it on (likely some cash for each nation, also other ideas people bring forward). General benevolent dictatorship style – open to suggestions, but will take the thing they think is best, rather than necessarily what the most people say they want (I think).
Events at Tournament Stud for the foreseeable future, due to the owners being happy for them to do pretty much anything.
All set intended to be awesome but moveable, rather than generic and permanent; allows extremely flavourful Empire stuff that doesn’t get in the way for Odyssey.
Possible set elements include Senate chamber, Hall of the Eternals.

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Revised by MorkaisChosen @ Sun, 23 Oct 2011 23:10:10 +0100

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  1. Sun, 23 Oct 2011 23:10:10 +0100 – MorkaisChosen : Start of a brand new world [ Current ]
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