HE EMPIRE IS DEAD.  After hundreds of years in which the civilised world was united and peaceful under the Emperor, the collapse, when it came, was rapid and devastating.  Under pressure from barbarians outside, and decadence within, neither the military might nor the diplomatic subtleties of the Imperial government were able to save the great edifice.  Although emperors sat in the capital for years after the collapse, they were mere figureheads, replaced frequently as they outlived their usefulness, ignored by the nobility jostling for power.

The time that followed was one of anarchy, as new realms rose and fell, and waves of new settlers poured in, attracted by the lure of land that could be taken by anyone with a will to fight.  Much of the imperial legacy was lost in that time, as cities were ransacked and pillaged.  Some dedicated individuals and groups fought on, however, determined to save what they could. 

At length, peace of a sort returned, albeit a peace of exhaustion rather than contentment, and the economic and cultural rebirth began.  Ancient manuscripts were discovered or brought out of hiding-places where they had lain for lifetimes; crafts like glass-making, long-forgotten, were re-invented or re-introduced.  Customs of the Empire, made hollow by years of empty repetition, began to assume more significance.

Now, centuries later, a new generation of leaders are emerging.  As the ancient civilised peoples and invading barbarian tribes merged, new realms have arisen from the old provinces, and their rulers look for new horizons to conquer, or hearken to tales of old Imperial glories with a strange stirring in their hearts.  Though mixed with many foreign strains, the blood of the great families of the Imperium runs in the veins of many who now command their own domains, however large or small.

Across all the nations, many people recall the period of the Empire as being a time of peace and plenty.  In the eyes of many, a return to that time would bring back the days of glory.  All that is needed is a single powerful figure to assume the title of Emperor and ascend the Golden Throne, and all the peoples will gladly accede to a new ruler.  Perhaps that time, and that individual, are now near at hand...

OU ARE THE HEAD of one of the noble houses of your country.  Following your recent succession to the title, only now do you feel sure enough of the loyalty of your vassals and security of your domain to turn your attention to the wider stage of diplomacy.  As you observe the other nobles, and the monarch to whom you owe allegiance, you begin to feel that, with the wealth and power of your family behind you, you deserve a higher position than you have been allotted.  At the very least, you deserve to stand ahead of the other nobles in the king's councils; the king himself is ineffectual, and you are sure that, given the right support, you could take his place; even the Imperial throne could be filled again soon - if not by you, then your son, or grandson...

Copyright © 2001-03 James Doyle. All rights reserved.