The Imperial Shadow - Demo Added 04/15/18

It is the eighth year of the reign of the seventh Veiled Emperor, Gulhan I. And it is mere months after the end of a decade-long war that has ground at the Mirajin Empire. The Empire, though still functioning, strains under the pressures the war has caused and the devastation of its sudden conclusion. The Old Capital lies in ruins, while the New Capital buckles under the pressure of a wave of displaced refugees. Now, more than ever, the Weave unifies and propels the country forward.

To the north, the Union of Bagrat stands. A kingdom, propped up by the mercenary princes upon its borders and the enclave of mystics within the most remote portion of its interior create works of wonder, and items of horror. Those who fight, rule. Those who do not, are ground under the heel of those who do.

To the East, the United Tribes of Azif rule the vast, inhospitable stretches, where fire and wind are their bread and butter. It is a hard land that has cultivated a hard people, ultimately united by the Ten Hands of God that rule from the Holy Seat, and pass judgement on foreigners and heretics alike.

To the south, the Maimed King holds his throne. With the Callers backing his regime, and the far-flung horse lords of his native people, he rules with an iron hand. You are free, free to serve him. And if you rebel, you are free to die in agony.

In this land, in the midst of a fragile peace, there is you. Chosen by the Veiled Emperor, a former commander, and current member of the Imperial Shadow. Keep the peace, keep the Mirajin Empire ahead of its enemies, and you might just make it out with your sanity and life intact.

Demo here, finally! 2k words, part of character creation and the prologue.

67 Likes

That is an interesting idea. A more detailed synopsis would be needed (probably a plotline delivered to the moderators??) to make sure it is acceptable. But as is, I am interested!

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I love it. Lots of potential here.

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Don’t see any reason it wouldn’t fly with COG–unless you envision the Emperor using his mind control powers for sexual assault of the MC. With no reason to think that you’re going there, I don’t think the concept crosses any do-not-publish lines.

It’s an intriguing gameworld idea… and the idea that your every choice is being judged by someone who will end the game if they don’t like your choice is a nice metaphor for playing these kinds of games. :slight_smile:

If the plot took you too often to those choices that cross the tangible line it could be frustrating – “I couldn’t ever do what I wanted because the Emperor kept killing me!” – but used in moderation it could be a great source of tension.

Count me supportive!

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I agree with what @Havenstone says, with one caveat. I don’t see any issues with CoG staff - the app platform sellers will be where you might be forced to make changes. Apple, Google, Steam all will review your game and will ask you to change it if it, for any reason they deem important.

For the most part they are good to go with things but once in while they insist on something (Steam less so then Apple)

Count me supportive too :two_hearts:

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Thank you all for your statements, everyone.

My biggest concern, honestly, is balancing what I’m going for – the horror and paranoia of knowing you tread a fine line with someone far more powerful than you, who you can keep no secrets from – with an enjoyable game experience. So, the title is honestly a bit misleading.

For those who want to know more about the setting/tone I’m going for:

Summary

Basically, a setting based very, very loosely off the Middle East, Early Modern-level technology, with a bit of magic thrown in, and crossed with Cold War-style espionage and realpolitik. After a horrific four-sided war, each country is trying its best to win the peace in their own way.

The nation I mentioned is culturally rich and diverse, but is basically propped up by a slave-based bureaucracy and a massive police state, of which you are an agent.

Another, to the east, is a highly theocratic state with a might-makes-right attitude and a very high level of hostility towards outsiders. You would play as a commander/inquisitor.

The third is another empire that abhors slavery and values personal freedom, but also regularly organizes pogroms against ethnic and religious minorities as a form of social engineering, to keep the empire “united”. You would play as an actual diplomat, albeit one capable of leveling a small town.

The fourth rules most benevolently – by not ruling at all. It’s an enclave that lets the mercenary princes it employs to rule the land aroun it do as they will, and treats people nominally under their protection with indifference or outright disdain. You would play as one of these aforementioned mercenary princes.

You know those tense moments in Affairs of the Court, where you agonize over whether what you’ve said has ultimately ruined both your own life and the lives of others? I’m trying to make a game pretty much full of those.

EDIT: Actually, you know what, I’m polling.

  • Secret agent connected to a magical espionage network, whose sovereign is watching you at all times.
  • Inquisitorial agent whose superiors will berate you or possibly put you to death for ultimately petty reasons.
  • Diplomat who, due to various discriminatory factors, is marginalized by the country they serve.
  • Mercenary and landholder who is beset by internal problems with loyalties, whose “allies” are willing to stab them in the back quite readily.

0 voters

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So far, the poll’s split on either the diplomat, or the inquisitor-type commander. If it’ll help the tie, here’s a little summary of magic for each of the Big Four:

Summary

The first nation has the Weave, a magical neural network which both the Emperor and a few Chosen can transmit thought, memory, commands and even emotions. Long-term drawbacks, other than being connected for life to the Emperor, are an Assassin’s Creed-esque “bleeding effect”.

The second nation has one called Becoming, where they can absorb a natural element (including less tangible elements such as fire, lightning and wind) and take on both the physical and metaphysical traits of that element. The long-term negative effects, especially for using highly unstable elements like lightning, include multiple organ failure and other nasty physical effects.

The third nation has an ability known as Calling, which allows you to exert will in order to control the natural world around you. The consequences of repeated use include permanent brain damage, developing degenerative mental and nervous disorders, and outright catatonia.

The fourth nation’s enclave has a strange, alien geometry they study called the Pattern. Applying this to objects allows them to be strengthened, or modified in various ways. Such as a gun which, instead of firing normally, will teleport its ammo into the closest solid object in its aim. Long-term consequences of actually studying the pattern include erosion of your emotions, mental drives and autonomy until you are a mindless husk being cared for by your fellows. Actually using items with the Pattern has no seperate effects.

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I like the inquisitor and diplomat so i’m kinda torn

There would never be the possibility of getting free though, unless we can manage to sever the tie at some point.
Likely with the emperor enforcing it this would be even worse than XoR as you cannot aspire to be anything more then a slave. A game acting out a life of drudgery would quickly get boring, unless it is really well written. In any case it would be very dark and might not make for fun escapism.

Now the diplomat is a role I could play, the slave who is being monitored at all times with no chance to ever get free, well I can see that driving my mc utterly insane in no time.
What is even more surprising is that the Emperor and the .0001% who do the monitoring do not all go crazy from the brain overload, which leads me to believe they are actually androids with quantum computers for brains or something like that.

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There’s ways to sever the tie, but other than fairly extreme measures (like removing the mark forcibly), it mostly comes to the Emperor favoring you. Or losing use for you. Either would likely end with the potential MC living the rest of their life on a comfortable pension in a government-owned apartment, or in a low-stress job like sorting shipping manifests. And, of course, the Chosen occupy as privileged a position as you can get outside of the Emperor or his family, sans freedom.

As for the surveillance: other than telling if someone has the Weave or not, it takes active concentration to look into someone else’s mind, or transmit thoughts (with the Emperor being a special case, because spoilers). But the people being affected don’t notice it’s happening, and there’s the paranoia.

Can you even trust your own feelings and thoughts? And are they your own?
Or is there someone behind you, pushing you in the right direction?

On that note, it looks like the Chosen was… chosen. rimshot
I’ll keep the poll open for a few more hours, but it seems like we’ve come to a conclusion.

1 Like

Poll’s closed! I’ll reopen it if there’s enough demand. For now, I’ll dump some hastily-finished worldbuilding.

The Mirajin Empire

The Mirajin Empire has not always been the monolithic entity it is today. Before its rise as a military power, it was merely the largest of a group of petty kingdoms. It wasn’t until the grandson of Miraj, Ekrem I, absorbed the other kingdoms that Miraj, the Lady of War and Guardian of Paradise, was enshrined as the ancestor to a mighty dynasty. And it was not until İshak II Hamit, Ekrem’s grandson, that the Weave was discovered, the eastern portion of the former Grand Empire fell, and the first Veiled Emperor sat upon the throne. Now there are three things that keep the Empire stable.

The Offering – also known as the Blood Tithe, for those less reverential – that takes one tenth of all able boded children every four years, turning them into the soldiers and bureaucrats that keep the Empire thriving aainst its enemies.

The Chosen, who navigate the Weave, in war and in peace, for the good of their ruler.

And the Veiled Emperor himself, who sits upon the throne and has a million eyes.

Ooooooh, seems like a great idea to me! I would play it for sure! The relationship between the Emperor and the MC would be really interesting… No sense of privacy at all for our MC. However, how does the Emperor feel? Because he sees and hears EVERYTHING from every slave he has? Such a headache. Can he read your thoughts? I hope not, because unless you have a undying loyalty for him, you’re as good as dead.

It would be tricky in the romance aspect, maybe. If that’s even an option. But I can imagine him freeing MC if she/he is persuasive enough? Hehe, I’m getting ahead of myself, sorry.

But, yeah, it’s green light for me! I love old stories of power and court affairs.

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even when a slave and another slave are doing this and that?

Summary

mm oh my

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The Veiled Emperor (gotta specify now, since I’ve ended up putting two imperial powers in this story whoops) is… ah… secure, at least as far as loyalty goes. The kind of guy who will never demand you like the job, only that it is done. Romance? He doesn’t care, love who you want. Gender expression? Sure! Be who you want, as long as you do what he tells you. Even sedition, as long as you keep it out of the hands of the general populace, is permissible.

Actual treason? No, no, no.

And, of course, remember that at the end of the day, who you are is second to what you are. His.

As for how the Emperor feels about all of the noise he has to sift through, I’m going to unfortunately cop out with a “you’ll see”.

Hey. When you’re managing a vast bureaucratic empire held together with the mental Internet, you make your own entertainment.

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Is there any possibility of sneaking something past him while he’s distracted (sleeping, doing something else, monitoring another spy) or can he retroactively review our thoughts/actions?

I honestly really like the idea of psychic enslavement, but I’d 100% want to try to subvert the ability or rebel.

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I have a possible name for your work in progress:

Shadow of the Beholder

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“OK, this guy has had the same song stuck in his head for THREE DAYS. He has to die.”

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For most Marked, the Weave is basically an instinctual thing that unconsciously causes them to be more in-sync with others that are connected to it. For the Chosen, they can view and transmit conscious thought, and also read very, very fresh memories. The Veiled Emperor’s reach is going to deliberately be left vague, but I’m keeping two things in mind:

The Veiled Emperor is more powerful than the MC, in the same way that The Red King is more powerful than the MC in Deathless.

The Veiled Emperor, as much as he postures, is not a god.

6 Likes

Color me interested!

As a way of having something to show, because of the horribly slow pace caused by coding this on a smartphone, here’s a summary of the ROs. Trying to make two for each nation, but I’m definitely open to adding more.

Dramatis Personae

Mirajin Empire

Esmeray, Minister of Foreign Affairs. She’s a cunning woman with a mind for tinkering, and – if the situation calls for it – a hand that can easily slip poison or a dagger where it shouldn’t belong. Unflinchingly friendly to the MC and other servants of the Emperor, deeply philosophical, and unwavering in her duties.

Halim, Minister of the Treasury. Aloof, hedonistic, and honest – almost to a fault. He is a very big proponent of keeping business and pleasure separate. Appreciates art very much, hates math even though he has a prodigious talent for it, and prefers to keep his conversations short and to the point.

Union of Bagrat

Tafsut of the Tamaz, Mercenary Prince. Tafsut is a bold, occasionally even brash woman who is a warrior at heart. The kind who is willing to show up to a diplomatic meeting that could very well decide the fate of the entire region and challenge another delegate to an arm wrestling match. In spite of – or perhaps because of – her eccentricities, she is adept at reading people, moods, and situations.
She enjoys sports, music, and lively conversation.

Levan, second son of King Aleksander I. A dour, bookish man who’d much rather be at home in his study than in a foreign palace. Lover of science, especially astronomy.

The Timhal Empire

Ganbaatar, Border Lord and cousin to the Maimed King. Ganbaatar does nothing in half-measures: he drinks hard, he fights hard, he laughs with all his heart, and Heaven and Earth help you if you make him angry. What he lacks in introspection he more than makes up for in force of personality. While he loves good food and drink, his first love will always be war.

Prama, Caller and Attendant to High Caller Diyah. Reserved and unassuming, Prama is willing to fade in the background while her superior does the talking. Underneath the stoic facade, however, is a brimming fount of revolutionary ideas and thoughts that she’s not willing to divulge just yet. A big fan of music, and foreign board games.

United Tribes of Azif

Jibril Mukhtar, Eye of the Holy Seat and Dancer on Lightning. Jibril is terse, prickly, and distant, only warming up to people who have proven themselves trustworthy to him. Along with his naturalfighting skills, he has a keen eye and a sharp mind that’s suited for finding things that are out of place. Loves poetry, and exotic clothing.

Alia Bey, Hand of the Holy Seat and Dancer on Lightning. Alia is a thoughtful and empathic young woman. Though she is not one for crowds, she is eager to engage people in one-on-one conversations, and is genuinely pleased to learn more about others. In addition to her considerable combat prowess and leadership ability, she is a graceful dancer. Has an interest in architecture and painting.

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