The Immutable, Unchanging Rules of Civilization as Told by Your
Version 2458, Modified in Year 9878 GE
A Brief History of the Realm
Ten thousand years ago, The God Emperor and his infinite army came down from Heaven. In a single night they took over the continent, slew the demons who ruled here, and built the mountains from its bones. He has ruled with an iron fist ever since: perfect, infallible, and eternal. You know this because everyone says so...in public. There’s nothing to contradict it. He burnt all the history books.
Now, though, you hear the same people also whisper blasphemy: The God Emperor grows weak.
He is seen little, and makes few decrees. Soldiers desert his armies. The old religions, almost forgotten now, are re-sprouting like trees after a fire.
You are a member of a Noble House. As the God Emperor rots, your House has grown strong. Soon, the Empire will be yours. You will command armies. Make laws. Plan treason.
You will bring down the God Emperor.
You will become Divine Sovereign.
When you check in, you will be given a name badge and status strip. Your name tag will show your name, and you will affix buttons to your status strap showing your rank and house. House positions are randomly determined for the start of the game, with with 1 as the highest position. The items on your status strap will change during the game as you change position in your house, take wounds, get married, and other things.
Join the fellow members of your House at your House Table. House Tables are located in the War Room.
To seize the throne, your house will need Power (represented by gold poker chips). Each month, you can try to win Power by going to one of the three core sections of the game. As individuals, you will also carry Favor with one or more of the factions in the land. Favor grants the player special abilities, and, since nobles need not be so petty as to trade lucre, serves as the economy of the game.
The game has three sections:
- In the War Room, you will muster armies, investigate rumors, and take over castles.
- In the Court, you will propose and vote on binding laws to affect the Empire.
- In the Underground, you will use your spy network to advance secret schemes.
In between months you will gather back with your Noble House in the War Room to Marry, hold Funerals, and Duel challengers to protect your family’s honor.
The God Emperor starts the game as the Sovereign, though the laws state that any person who is currently on the throne is called the Sovereign. In order to become the Sovereign, you will need to get rid of them and seize the Empire. The reigning Sovereign can be deposed in three ways:
- On the War map, you can attempt a Military Coup.
- In the Court, you can attempt a Political Coup.
- In the Underground, you can Assassinate the ruler.
When the ruler is deposed by Political Coup or by Assassination, the House with the most Power will take control. However, when the ruler is deposed by Military Coup, the House that led the Coup will take control, even if that House does not have the most Power.
The leader of the triumphant House will become the ruling Sovereign. If there is a tie, the throne is left empty until the tie is broken.
Whoever is the Sovereign at the end of Month 10 will be declared the Divine Sovereign, and rule the world for the rest of time. If there is no Divine Sovereign in time for the winter solstice, it is said that Leviathan will rise once more to own and consume all.
What is Leviathan?
It is forbidden to ask.
Why is –
It is forbidden to ask.
MegaGames are run by the Control Team. Members of Control will manage the various aspects of the game, including the God Emperor himself. If you have any questions, or need assistance, please find a member of Control.
As with any MegaGame, the actions of the players can alter this timeline. Note that we will not break for lunch. Players are expected to manage lunch on their own, so please come prepared. The game will not stop for lunch!
- 9:30 AM: Check-in begins.
- 10:00 AM: Rules instruction for the game.
- 10:30 AM: Round 1 will begin. God Emperor is played over the course of 10 rounds (representing a month of time in-game). Each round is 30 minutes, but round 1 will be allotted extra time as players learn the game.
- 4:30 PM: Game concludes with the new Divine Sovereign being crowned. A game debrief and denouement will follow.
- 5:00 PM: Game completes. Players are encouraged to join Control for a group dinner afterward.
Each round takes a month of time in-game. Each round is broken up into five phases.
Phase 1: Ceremony (4 minutes)
Each house may hold a ceremony:
- A Marriage
- A Funeral
- A Duel
All available members of the House must be present at any ceremony.
Phase 2: Planning (10 minutes)
This is the primary time for planning within your House and for diplomacy with other Houses. Married couples must meet.
During Planning, all players choose their table for the month, and plan accordingly.
- Players going to the War Room write orders.
- Players going to the Court may write one proposal.
- Players going to the Underground may write one scheme.
Phase 3: Movement (1 minute)
Everyone moves to the table they have chosen for the month: The War Room, The Court, or The Underground.
Phase 4: Action (14 minutes)
Each room will play their own game.
- War Room: Everyone reveals and executes orders.
- Court: Everyone votes on the proposed laws.
- Underground: Everyone attempts to advance their schemes.
Phase 5: Return (1 minute)
Everyone returns to their House Table.
The War Room
All the Houses have started stockpiling armies.
No-one mentions it, or asks why.
But they all know.
Every House starts with 3 units, and one Castle. This is your ancestral home.
Your main goal on the War map is to hold more Castles, owned by other players and the remnants of the God Emperor’s army. This will give you Power, which will help you seize the throne.
Your side goal is to investigate Rumors. These are tokens which War Control will place in regions around the map, representing precious resources and strange occurrences. You can send a unit to these tokens to gain Favors with the five secret factions who rule in the shadows of the Empire.
You hold Castles and investigate Rumors by giving orders to your units each Month, using the War Orders form.
Each Month, everyone who goes to the War Room may issue two orders to their units using the War Orders form. You can’t show anyone else what orders you’re planning. There are two possible orders: move and recruit.
War Order: Move
You order any number of your units in a region to move to an adjacent region. Units can only move once per month. Any further move order affecting that unit are wasted. Move orders for all Houses are carried out before Recruit orders.
If you want to move 5 units from region Zen to region Inn, you would write the following on your War Orders form:
MOve 5 from ZEN to INN
War Order: Recruit
You may order your units to recruit one additional unit. Take one unit from your stockpile and place it on the target region. If there are no units in your stockpile, you may not Recruit. You can only do this in a region where you already have at least one unit. You may recruit in a region your units just moved to this turn. Recruit orders for all houses are carried out after Move orders.
If you want to recruit a unit in Zen, you would write the following on your War Orders form:
Recruit in ZEN
If a Recruit order is given to a region without any units, that order is wasted. Players issue orders individually, not as a House. If two players issue contradicting orders to the same unit, the player of the highest rank wins.
In the Alliance section of the sheet, tick the boxes of any Houses you plan to ally with this month. If you do not tick a box, you will oppose that House this month. Note that there is no "neutral" stance, and the default stance is to oppose unless you check otherwise. Your units will help any units from Houses of whom you are allied with, and attack any units from Houses against whom you are opposed. If you send no player to the War map, your units ally with everyone.
War Phase Timeline
The War Phase unfolds as follows, with approximate times listed:
- Updates (1 minute): War Control points out any changes that have occurred on the map.
- Orders (5 minutes): All players must finish writing orders for their units. The players may verbally discuss orders and alliances between Houses, but must not reveal their written sheets.
- Favors (2 minutes): Any player with a Favor card may use it now. Each player may only use one Favor each month.
- Move (1 minute): All players must execute any Move orders.
- Battle (2 minutes): Whenever units from different Houses end up in the same region after moving, War Control will check their alliances to see if a battle occurs. If all the Houses in the region chose to ally with each other House in the region, the units live together in peace. Otherwise, a battle occurs. See below for battle rules.
After the battle, if you have units on a castle, place a flag from your House on that castle, and remove flags from any House with whom you did not ally.
- Rewards (1 minute): All Houses get rewards for the castles and rumors they hold.
Every house gains 1 Power for every castle they control, after the first. You control a castle if you have a flag there. Multiple Houses can all control the same castle.
When you hold a Castle, you also gain 1 Power extra for each House you overcame in battle on that region this month. You are considered to have overcame a House if you killed at least one of their unit,
For every Rumor the House holds, one player will be given 1 Favor. When you hold a Rumor, you gain 1 Favor extra if you overcame a House on that region this month. Favors are evenly distributed among members of the House starting with the highest rank. Favors are given out face down, though players are free to say what a Favor does and says. Favors may be traded during the Planning phase.
- Recruit (1 minute): All houses must execute any Recruit orders.
Whenever a battle occurs, each House in the region counts up their attack value. Your attack value is:
- +1 Attack for each unit they own in the region.
- +1 Attack for each unit in the region from Houses that have chosen to ally with them.
- +1 Attack if the region contains a castle they hold.
The House with the highest total attack value is the winner. Every other House who did not ally with the winning Houst must remove all units from the region. In the event of a tie, both forces are massacred and remove all units. If there is a tie and only one of the sides of the battle was in an alliance, the fight is instead won by the allied forces.
Neutral castles are those unclaimed by a House. Each neutral castle has one unit from the remnants of the God Emperor’s army. If the region is ever empty of units, it will regenerate one unit. These units attack everybody, so you may need help to defeat them.
The Court and Immortals
Each month, one castle will have a physical Court marker next to it. This castle is hosting the Court this month. Details of how the Court moves are detailed in the Court rules.
The Court is guarded by three Immortals. These are the last of the infinite golden soldiers that came down from Heaven with the God Emperor. They each have 2 attack, and can move to any space. If they are defeated, they are removed from the board for one turn, and kill one opposing unit as they leave, as determined by War Control. The Immortals will not attack your units unless you attack them. You may attack them by ticking “Betray Sovereign” on your order form.
The Court may send the Immortals out to accomplish Court Military Actions. For example, the Court may vote to execute a player. Each turn, War Control will point out if any Immortals have been sent out, and what they have done. You can attack the Immortals to remove them from the board, weakening the Court and making it easier to carry out a Military Coup.
If the Sovereign goes to the War Room, they may give orders to the Immortals.
If you attack and defeat all the Immortals on the Court region, this constitutes a Military Coup. You have deposed the current Sovereign, your House becomes the Ruling House, and its leader becomes the new Sovereign. Long live the new Sovereign.
After a Military Coup, the Court will no longer move from this Castle, and you will rule for as long as you are able to hold it. The defeated Immortals will not return to the board if you are deposed, however the Sovereign may control any remaining Immortals. Should multiple Houses ally to take over the Court in a Military Coup, you must choose one from among you to rule as Sovereign.
If you have no units on the War Map, you may recruit in any empty space. Once you have recruited a single unit, the normal recruitment rules come back into effect.
Marriages create bonds between Houses, allowing for a certain amount of security against attack. In the War Room, if you attack a House into which that a member of your House is married, you must give the attacked House 1 Power.
There are two buildings players can create on the War Map. Buildings are created by turning in three Favors with the same faction icon. Buildings are owned by that House, and other Houses must obtain permission to use them. In addition, any House using a building belonging to another House loses 1 Power. Any House allowing other Houses to use their building that round gain 1 Power.
- Roads (Built by turning in 3 Favors from the Silk Hand.)
Place two Road buildings in different regions. These must be placed in-between adjacent regions, connecting them. Units may move between regions that are connected by roads in a single movement.
Tunnels (Built by turning in 3 Favors from the Rat King.)
Place two Tunnel buildings in different regions. These must be placed against the Mountain. Units may move in-between regions connected by tunnels in a single movement.
You should go to the War Room if you:
- Enjoy board games like Diplomacy, Game of Thrones, or Risk.
- Enjoy negotiating, arguing, and making alliances with other players, then viciously betraying them.
- Want to win on the strength of your strategy, alliance-building, and lying.
- Want a hard competitive experience, with the chance that you could be destroyed or destroy other players.
Secret Orders: Plan your orders with the other Houses before you go to the map. Talk to everyone. Communicate constantly. You need to know what the other players plan to do, so you can move your units accordingly. There’s nothing that stops you from lying through your teeth about what your units are doing, of course. You must not show other Houses what you have written down on your order sheet.
Treachery: To get anywhere, you will need other Houses to ally with you. However, you may have noticed that if a House allies with you, they become defenseless against you. When a House is allied with you, it’s easy to infiltrate and slaughter them. Consider this, and make your alliances and betrayals carefully.
The Prisoner's Dilemma: All players can share castles. If two Houses have units on a castle, they will both get 1 Power each month. This means everyone can co-operate, all taking the castle and all sharing in the reward. However, you also gain 1 Power extra for defeating units on a Castle. That’s double your return. You may take a castle with an ally, celebrate together, then watch them carefully out of the corner of your eye. You don’t know when or if they’ll betray you.
Military Coups: This is the only method of becoming Sovereign that does not rely on the Power you have stockpiled. It’s difficult! Consider it as a last resort if you have little Power.
Politics is the game of blusters and bargains.
Pass binding commandments that affect the Empire.
Provinces and Movement
The map is split into up to three different provinces, depending on the number of players.
- The West: Aka, Fog, Uhh, Pig, Mok, Dom, Zen, Aah, Amn, Zit, Zen, Cry, Ode
- The North: Eel, Vor, Old, Age, Dea, Kri, Civ, Bat, Chi, Big, All, End
- The East: Bog, Fat, Sus, Vol, Pet, Lum, Die, Hag, Non, Ice, New, Mil, Elf, Bat, Orr
The Court moves through the land, and is held in a different province each month. If the court is meeting in your province, your House may propose laws. Each month, a different House will play host to the Court in their castle. Below is an example of Court movement. Movement of Court is determined by the number of Houses and players in a given game.
- Month 1: The West Province, Hosted by Cat in Amn (Cat, Sword, and Snake may propose laws.)
- Month 2: The East Province, Hosted by Wolf in Chi (Wolf, Eagle, and Bear may propose laws.)
- Month 3: The North Province, Hosted by Ram in Hag (Ram, Unicorn, and Octopus may propose laws.)
- Month 4: The West Province, Hosted by Swords in Fog (Cat, Sword, and Snake may propose laws.)
- Month 5: The East Province, Hosted by Eagle in End (Wolf, Eagle, and Bear may propose laws.)
- Month 6: The North Province, Hosted by Unicorn in Orr (Ram, Unicorn, and Octopus may propose laws.)
- Month 7: The West Province, Hosted by Snake in Ode (Cat, Sword, and Snake may propose laws.)
- Month 8: The East Province, Hosted by Bear in Sus (Wolf, Eagle, and Bear may propose laws.)
- Month 9: The North Province, Hosted by Octopus in Eel (Ram, Unicorn, and Octopus may propose laws.)
- Month 10: The Court meets in God. (All Houses may propose laws.)
- Month 11: The Court meets in the home castle of the new Divine Sovereign.
If there is a Military Coup, the Court will be no longer move and be trapped in one province, and only Houses with castles in that region may suggest laws.
Each player you send to the Court may make one proposal by filling out the Court Proposal form. A Court Proposal must be one of the following from the two lists below. The second list is Court Military Actions, which require an Immortal to be moved to the affected region:
- Remove (3 cost): Remove an existing law.
- Fines (1 cost per Power): A House must lose X Power.
- Tariffs (2 cost per Power): A House must give X Power to another House.
- Tax (6 cost): Institute or remove a tax on three Houses. Taxed Houses must give 1 Power to you each month.
- Take Food (6 cost): Force 3 Houses to enter famine. (They lose 1 unit each month.)
- Border Watch (6 cost): Choose a region. Players must pay 1 Favor to go to that regions's table in the Underground each month.
- Gaes (6 cost): Three players from a House are banned from a specific regional table in the Underground.
- Forbid (6 cost): Up to three Houses may no longer enter a certain region on the map for as long as this law is in effect.
- Trade Embargo (6 cost): Up to three Houses cannot trade Favor with any other House.
- Immortal (6 cost): Choose two Houses. They may command Immortals next month.
- Build (5 cost): Create a building. This is in place of turning in Favor cards.
- Financial Aid (2 cost per Unit/Favor/Power): Give Units, Favor, or Power to a House.
- Recruitment (6 cost): Choose two Houses. The chosen Houses may halve the costs of one scheme in the Underground.
- Famine Aid (6 cost): Remove famine from all Houses.
- Crackdown (6 cost): Choose an Underground scheme (i.e. assassination). That scheme becomes twice as expensive.
The actions below are considered Court Military Actions, and an Immortal must be sent to the affected region:
- Hostages (3 cost per hostage): Force one House to release their hostages or give hostages to another House.
- Military Ban (3 cost per month): A House may not kill units from another House.
- Forced Alliance (4 cost per month): A House must ally with another House.
- Execution (6 cost): Execute two players.
- Disband (1 cost per unit): Destroy units owned by a House. The Sovereign will determine the units destroyed in the next Planning phase.
- Military Aid (6 cost): Choose two Houses. The chosen Houses' units have +1 attack next month.
- Propaganda (5 cost): A House may recruit double the amount of units next month.
- Travel Ban (3 cost per region): Choose a region. No units can enter that region in the War Room.
- Treaty (3 cost per region): Choose a region. No battles may occur in that region in the War Room.
- Destroy (6 cost): Destroy a building.
When Court assembles, 4 Power is placed in front of every House, and the Sovereign. This is the pool that will be used to pay for implementing new laws.
If present, the Sovereign will choose proposals from those put forward by each House to put before the Court. If there is no Sovereign at the Court, Court Control will take that role and choose on the Sovereign's behalf. If your proposal is chosen, a member of your House must stand up and explain:
- What the Law will accomplish.
- Who it will impact.
- How much it will cost.
The other assembled players may then ask further questions and debate the law, before a vote is called.
All court members in favor of the proposal must raise their hands in a fist. If a majority of the assembled players vote in favor of the proposal, it is made into a Commandment. If not, it is removed. The Sovereign or his agent decides ties.
When a law is passed, the Sovereign states who will pay the cost. The cost is taken only out of the Power provided to the players at the commencement of that Court round; that is, to a maximum of 4 Power per House. For example, a Law with a cost of 4 could be paid with 1 Power from one House, and 3 Power from another.
At the end of the month, every House keeps any Power remaining in front of them. Court Control enforces all Commandments, save those marked as Military Action.
Military Actions and Immortals
The Immortals are the last remnants of the infinite army that descended from Heaven with the God Emperor long ago. They are immense golden soldiers who do not eat, sleep, or die. It is said the mere glimpse of the God Emperor’s face nourishes them for days.
Three Immortal units are always stationed at the castle that is hosting the Court. Their first loyalty is to whomever holds the throne. Their second loyalty is to the Court. The Immortals have 2 attack each.
The proposals in the second list are considered Court Military Actions. When the Court passes a law involving Court Military Action, one Immortal must be moved to the region where the action needs to be completed. For example, if the Sovereign orders an execution, one Immortal must be in that player’s home castle.
The Court can order the Immortals to any region to enforce orders. The Court must pass a law to do this, but the Sovereign can bypass the Court and order the Immortals unilaterally. Be aware that this leaves the Court with one less Immortal to defend it in case of a Military Coup.
When the God Emperor descended into the world, he spoke to all. Every word he spoke fell to the ground as gold. These gold tablets now hang above the Court at all times. They represent the eternal, immutable truths of civilization. They are often updated.
You shall have no other Gods before me.
See nothing, speak nothing and hear nothing but what pleases the God Emperor.
No Houses may trade Power.
The God Emperor owns 4 hostages from each House.
The Court can annul any of these laws. There will be additional starting laws based on the number of players in a given game.
The God Emperor's Motivations
The God Emperor is:
in that order. Consider these priorities when creating your laws and arguing your proposals in the Court.
Once your house has built an Arena on the War map, you may challenge any player to a Duel in the Court during the Challenges phase.
If that player refuses, their House must give challenger's House 1 Power. Challenges are made to players, not to Houses. If the challenged player accepts, they may decide what the winner of the Duel will receive. Examples include 1 hostage from the loser, the loser’s Castle, etc. The challenger now has the option to refuse the terms. If so, the challenger's House gives the challenged's House 1 Power.
If your Duel is accepted, you must stay at the Court once the Court phase is over to Duel.
You are both given a bow with a single arrow. You must walk ten paces away from each other, turn, and shoot. If you are hit in the chest, arms, or legs, you suffer 1 Wound, which will be marked on your status strap. Any other location (namely, the head) does not cause a Wound.
After each round, both parties get a chance to forfeit. If neither party takes the option, another round begins. If either party dies or forfeits, they have lost, and must pay the previously agreed penalty.
At any time during the Court phase, any Noble may stand up and state “I declare an Uprising!” If at least 2/3 of the assembled players stands up with them, the current Sovereign is cast out. The House with the most Power chooses the new Sovereign. If a 2/3 majority does not stand up, it is the self-given right of the Sovereign to inflict any punishment they wish upon the transgressors.
Court Phase Timeline
- Updates (1 minute): Court Control alerts the assembled players of how many Immortals are available for Court Military Actions. Then all players provide Court Control with their written Proposals, amending them if necessary. Court Control puts all Proposals before the Sovereign to choose what will be voted upon. If there is no Sovereign at Court, Court Control takes that role.
- Challenges (2 minutes): Any player who has built an Arena may challenge other players to a duel. If there are multiple such players, the Sovereign decides who may make the first challenge.
- Proposals (4 minutes): Each proposal will go through the following steps, in order.
- Propose: The Sovereign chooses one proposal to put before the Court.
- Explain (1 minute): A player of the House which created the proposal must stand and explain to the Court:
- What the Law will accomplish.
- Who it will impact.
- How much it will cost.
- Debate (2 minutes): Houses may debate the law. The Sovereign controls the discussion and decides who may and may not speak.
- Vote (half a minute): All Houses vote for or against the law. If the majority voted for the law, it passes, and is posted on the Law Board.
- Payment (half a minute): The Sovereign decides who will pay for the law. They lose Power or Favors, up to a maximum of 4 Power per House.
The Proposals section repeats three times. Players can call for an Uprising at any point during this time.
After three proposals are complete, the Sovereign may distribute up to 5 Favors to those attending Court. The Sovereign hands these according to his Divine Whim. If the Sovereign is not present at Court, Court Control will choose who receives the Favors.
You should go to the Court if you:
- Enjoy conversation-heavy games like role-playing games, Model UN, or live-action RPGs.
- Love arguing, making speeches, and getting your point across.
- Want to win on the strength of your skills in Roleplaying, Debating, and Negotiating.
Skulduggery has its place in high society.
Even the highest of nobles has a crew of brigands to
lie, cheat and steal on their behalf.
Each month, each player who goes to the Underground can attempt one Scheme. This is a secret plan that can be assassinating a rival Noble, taking a hostage, or bribing Court members. See below for the full list of available schemes. If you choose to go to the Underground, pick 1 Scheme from that list, write it on your Scheme Form, and take it to the Underground with you.
You must have chosen your Scheme during the planning phase, before you come to the Underground. Choose from the list below.
Below are the list of schemes that you can choose to put on your Scheme Form, along with their costs and effects when advanced.
- Assassinate (3 cost): Choose a House. Deal two wounds to one character from the target House.
- Spread Rumors (3 cost): Take 1 Power from the target House.
- Slander (3 cost): Look at the Favors of one player from the target House. Steal one Favor from that player.
- Espionage (2 cost): Learn the current Power level of two Houses from Underground Control.
- Counterespionage (2 cost): Tell Underground Control a Power level for your House. This is what will be told to those completing Espionage this month.
- Capture (3 cost): Capture a hostage from the target House.
- Rescue (3 cost): Rescue a hostage held by the target House.
- Mass Poisoning (2 cost per unit): Choose a region and a House. Kill units from the target House in that region.
- Forged Order (5 cost): The target House must ally with you in the War Room next month.
- Secret Roads (2 cost per unit): Move units from the target House to an adjacent region. You must specify the destination region.
- Black Powder Weapons (3 cost): Give the target house a +1 attack bonus next month.
- Delay (4 cost): Choose a player and an area (War, Court, Underground). That player cannot go to the chosen table next month. Note: A player cannot be blocked from every table.
- Capture (8 cost): Capture a building owned by target House.
- Corrupt (7 cost): Choose a House and a region. Convert one unit from the target House in the chosen region into one of your units.
- Sabotage (12 cost): Choose a region. Destroy a castle owned by the target house in that region.
- Bribes (2 cost per vote): Target House gains +1 vote for against a single proposal in the Court next month.
- Destroy Proposal (4 cost): You may destroy a single proposal from the target House in the Court next month.
- Leverage (2 cost): Choose one proposal the target House has put before the Court. The Sovereign must choose that proposal next month, if able.
- Drag the Gods Down (5 cost): Remove a single Immortal from the War Map. It returns at the end of next month.
- Sow Dissent (2 cost per vote): Target House gains +1 vote toward an uprising next month.
- Exactly as Planned (Trap): The attacker must discard 2 advancements from his House's schemes. A random player from the House owning this Scheme in the Underground when this Scheme is revealed gains 1 Favor.
- Ambush (Trap): The attacker takes one Wound. A random player from the House owning this Scheme in the Underground when this Scheme is revealed gains 1 Favor.
If you specify a region on the War Map for your Scheme to take effect, and that region is not applicable for any reason, War Control will decide another region for it to effect.
Underground Phase Timeline
The Underground phase unfolds in the following rounds.
- Updates (1 minute): Underground Control alerts everyone of any changes to the Underground due to actions from the Court.
- Schemes (1 minute): Everyone shows their House Schemes to Underground Control, then places the Schemes face down in front of them. Then, each House draws 4 Schemes from the Scheme deck, and picks one to place in front of them, discarding the rest. If a House already has Schemes in play, they may choose to keep the schemes they have or replace them with their new Schemes.
- Minions (5 minutes): Each player draws minions from their House’s minion deck as follows:
- Highest ranked player: 4 minions.
- Second: 3 minions.
- Third: 2 minions.
- Fourth: 1 minion.
- Fifth: 1 minion.
- Advancement (2 minutes): Each player in turn may place any amount of minions on any scheme as Advancement. When a Scheme has advancement equal to its cost, it will complete at the end of the round.
- Protection (1 minute): Each player in turn may place any amount of minions in front of any scheme as Protection. They must discard 1 card for each minion already in front of the scheme.
- Attack (2 minutes): Each player in turn may choose 1 Scheme to attack. Attacks unfold as follows.
- The attacker chooses a Scheme to attack, and plays 1 minion.
- The defender reveals the outermost protection in front of the Scheme, if any.
- Both players compare minions.
- Rock beats Scissors
- Scissors beats Paper
- Paper beats Rock
- In the event of a tie, look at the colors. If both cards are the same colour (red or blue), the attacker wins. Otherwise, the defender wins.
- If the attacker wins, both minions are discarded and the attacker can continue the attack, repeating the above. The attacker can stop at any time.
- If the attacker reaches the Scheme, they may view it.
- If it’s a trap, the negative effect occurs. If not, the attacker may choose to foil the Scheme, (discarding it), or the attacker may decide to leave the Scheme in place.
- This continues around the table, with each player making 1 attack, until all players run out of cards or pass. You cannot attack a Scheme you have already attacked.
- Complete (2 minutes): Any Schemes with advancement equal to their cost are complete. All protection in front of those Schemes is removed. Show them to Underground Control. Underground Control will carry them out.
All other cards will remain in play on the table for the next round. In the next month, those Schemes may be Advanced or Attacked by any player of any House.
There are three tables in the Underground: one for each province on the map. Schemes are placed on the table of the home region of the target of the scheme. At the start, you may only target other Houses from your province. If you take over the Neutral Castles beside your province, you will be able to target Houses at other tables.
You may only play Schemes that affect the Sovereign when your province is hosting the Court. If the Sovereign dies, an upset is triggered, and the House with the most Power will seize the throne at the end of the month.
If the Sovereign goes to the Underground, they may go to any region. They may also look at 2 Schemes before the Round begins, suffering no ill effects for traps.
Marriage and Schemes
If you target a House you are married to with a Scheme, you must give them 1 Power when that scheme is revealed.
You should go to The Underground if you
- Enjoy card games like Android: Netrunner, Coup, or Skull.
- Love concocting outrageous secret schemes.
- Want to win on the strength of your skills in bluffing, strategy, and misdirection.
Every section of the game gives you a way to gain Favors. These cards represent influence with the major factions that rule the Empire. You can use them for their special ability, or trade them for powerful upgrades.
Below are the items found on Favor cards.
- Ability: What you can use this card to do.
- Faction: Who you have earned a favor from.
- Name: The name of the card.
- Timing: When you can play the card. During a part of a phase, during a ceremony, any time, etc.
- Location: Where you can use the card: On the War Map, in the Court, in the Underground, etc.
Factions and Buildings
You can spend the Favor for its special ability, or save them up. When members of your House bring three favors from the same Faction to Control during the Planning phase, you can trade them in to buy a building:
- Our Lady of the Infinite Repose manages secret funeral rites. Trading in three cards from this faction allows you to build a Spy Tower. (Each month, you may replace 1 minion from your deck with a Master Minion of your choice. These are more powerful versions of the normal minions.)
- The Rat King oversees historians who delve into the forbidden history of the Empire. Trading in three cards from this faction allows you to build Tunnels. (You may place two tunnel markers. These let you move through Mount Leviathan. Units may move through a tunnel in a single Move order.)
- The Spice Lords are traders who smuggle opium and forbidden coffee. Trading in three cards from this faction allows you to build a Trade Route. (Connect three regions with Road markers. Units can move along all regions connected by roads in one movement. If there are any non-allied units on the route, your units must stop on their space.)
- The Cult of the God Emperor practices ruthless imperialism and undying loyalty. Trading in three cards from this faction allows you to build a Chapel. (Choose one player in your House. They become a Priest, and may now perform Marriages.)
- The Outcasts are strange, mad people who follow the crooked path. Trading in three cards from this faction allows you to build an Arena. (Your House may now challenge players to Duels in the Court.)
Other Houses must get your permission to use your buildings. Anytime you grant permission for a House to use your building, your House gains 1 Power. Anytime you request permission and are given permission to use another's House, your House loses 1 Power.
Ceremonies & Hostages
There are several things you can do in the 15 minutes in-between months.
If you start a month with 3 or greater Wounds, you die. When you die, you lose all your Favors. These are given to the current Sovereign, or your Spouse if you are married. You reincarnate as a different character within your house. You become the lowest rank in your House, and everyone below you moves up one rank. Death happens during the Ceremony phase at the start of each month.
Unlocked with the Chapel. Once a House has built a Chapel they may anoint a single player as a Priest who can perform Weddings. Anyone can be married to anyone else by mutual agreement.
Marriage has the following effects:
- At the marriage ceremony, your Houses must exchange hostages. Each House must be left with at least one hostage from the other. These are placed in the “Marriage” section of your House playmat, and cannot be rescued.
- If you attack your married House the War Map, you must give them 1 Power.
- If you target your married House with a Scheme, you must give them 1 Power when the scheme is revealed.
- Spouses must meet in the Planning Round each month.
- If your character dies, your partner inherits your Favors.
- If the Sovereign dies, their Spouse becomes Sovereign.
Hostages represent holding a person of value from a House, and give you leverage over that House. When you take a Hostage from a House, your House gains 1 Power, and places a hostage marker of the target House's color in the “Hostages” section of your House playmat. Hostages may be killed or released during the Planning phase by the House holding the hostage. If a hostage is killed, the kidnapper loses 1 Power, and the hostage's House loses 2 Power. If a hostage is released by the kidnapper or rescued (as through the Court or Underground), the kidnapper loses 1 Power.