WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE… The old Empire is no more. Long live the new. The senile Last Emperor, Palagyr, nearing his end, wished to provide worthy inheritances for all his children. So he bestowed each of the outlying regions to one of his three sons, styling them Kings after the old fashion, that they might by their strengths and that of their lines defend the borders of the empire; the inner half of the empire he divided among his three daughters, investing each with the title Princess Royal, that they might by their gentler guidance preserve the prosperity of the center and support their brothers in the maintenance of their protecting armies. From among the husbands of the three princesses royal, and in later generations from their descendants, the six siblings or their heirs were to jointly elect a new Emperor whenever the position fell vacant. Thereby, thought the Last Emperor, no one part of the empire, no one branch of the family, would achieve preponderance of power over the others; central administration would be maintained, and the borders would be secure from incursion. As if that were going to work.… It fell apart about as rapidly as one might expect it would. Of the six royal heirs, four claimed the throne and voted for themselves, while the remaining two, though willing to distance themselves from their own claims to the throne, were unwilling to vote for any of the others. When the dust of the civil wars settled, the three Kingdoms were all de facto independent of the old empire, though still claimed by (and claiming) it; the combined nobility of the core areas–the present Empire of Athringen–compelled a settlement on the heirs of the princesses, creating the office of Elector, separate from royal descent. From now on, it would be the nobility (or, rather, a select group thereof) who decided who would become emperor. And while the Electors have generally adhered to some branch or other of the royal line when the time came to fill the throne, they do not regard themselves as bound to do so: conceivably, any member of the nobility, through marriage or consanguinity with the royal line, or in spite of the lack of either, could one day find himself seated at the head of the empire. Even a lowly baron like you.… --- MACHIAVEL: AMBITION Machiavel is a cooperative-competitive RPG. You begin your rule with a castle, a town, and various other holdings. So does everyone else in the game. You can engage in trade, development of your lands, exploration on both land and sea of the existing continents–and possibly new, unknown lands; you can exert influence at court or attempt to manipulate (or become!) one of the empire's high officers; you can hire experts ranging from heralds and scribes to alchemists and astrologers; you can arrange marriages for yourself, your heirs, and your court, with nobles from other realms; you may attempt to discredit other nobles or their supporters; you can sponsor guilds, churches and universities; you will face random events, ranging from plagues and bandit incursions to bumper crops and new resource finds; you can attempt to reform or convert (or prevent reform or conversion of) your people's, or others', religions; you may attempt conquest of other realms within or beyond the borders of your empire; you may even rebel against your own feudal overlord or attempt to usurp his title. A COUPLE NOTES AT THE OUTSET I will for the sake of convenience use masculine titles and pronouns in all cases save where it is necessary to differentiate. This should not be taken to indicate that female characters or NPCs are in any way disadvantaged: there is no reason the "Emperor” could not in fact be an Empress–a couple of them have been. While this world partakes considerably of both reality and history–and only minimally of certain fantasy staples–it is still a fantasy world. Or to put it another way: don't assume that the richness and depth of detail (or lack thereof) accurately reflects any particular period or element of history, natural science, etc. In particular, I occasionally play fast and loose with titles to fit game needs. Anybody who wishes to play should contact me by PM, so that I can generate a barony for you. The game will be viewable by anyone, but posting will be limited to those who are actually playing. GAME MECHANICS For the time being, there isn't a whole lot in the way of mechanics. I will be using a set of tables to generate events, but these will not strictly be "random”–partly because I'll be tailoring the results to fit the ongoing story, partly because I don't have numbers assigned to all of them. Various resources, improvements, cultural and political factors will provide bonuses or penalties to the outcomes of player actions. For the most part, these will be obvious: if something sounds like it ought to be a good thing, it probably is. Combat between armed forces will be simple and abstract, and will in any event be less complex than your economy. [Though that has simplified considerably from what we started with.] The game will be quasi-turn-based: I will ask each player for a set of decisions for each turn, execute the actions all at the same time and inform you of the outcomes. Each game-turn represents a very roughly-abstracted month of "real” time. Game turns will be processed as frequently as practical, based largely on how rapidly input comes in from the players. You will be told if you attempt to take more actions than the present turn allows; in general, each specific aspect of your realm (specialist, resource, workforce or military unit) will be able to take one action per turn/month. [So far, I haven't processed a turn in less than a week, but that's largely because I'm making both the game and the world up as we go along. I actually could do them every 24 hours at this point, but I doubt I'll ever push them past one per week, certainly not more than one per 3-4 days, to make sure everyone has time to get activities in to me.] Communications in the game is faster than it would be in a "real” situation… messages travel faster than the fastest horse or ship. This is a practical, rather than a technological, consideration: I don't want to have to figure out how long it takes for messages to go back and forth. This doesn't mean you'll find out everything that happens everywhere in the empire instantly, only that you as players need not be restricted to a certain number of exchanges of messages in a given time period. Many activities will occur faster than normal, as well… your peasant workforce is more-or-less constantly harvesting food (though there will be specific harvest times when they better be doing that, or else they'll starve in the winter!), so you may receive multiple consecutive "harvest” events, for instance, rather than just one per game-year. People reach adulthood faster in this game, too… so an heir born to you on turn two doesn't need to wait until turn 181 or so to be useful for anything! (Nor, if you are a female character, need you suffer months of inactivity as a result of pregnancy.) Many actions will nonetheless take several turns: building a ship, or a wall around your city, or a new watchtower, will require more than a single turn's work; building a cathedral will require a lot more than a single turn's work. Travel time for your character will be abstract to the extent that you can get from any one point in the empire to any other within the same game-turn; if troop or other large movements are involved, travel may take somewhat longer. Each game month will receive a separate, new thread once the previous month's actions are resolved, to which everybody is invited to post their actions and interactions (apart from anything sneaky you don't want other players to know about). I will be maintaining threads summarizing past activity, as well as important events happening elsewhere in the world. Likewise, the "Introduction/Rules” thread and the various threads involving background and setting–however many that ultimately runs to–will be stickied. These will be closed to posts except by the GM, for clutter-avoidance reasons. I encourage you to create a unique thread for your character/barony as well, placing in it whatever information you wish to share with everyone (or that they would reasonably be able to find out anyway in the setting); your monthly activities can go here as well, if you'd rather keep them all together.