What is it?
Empire is a tabletop Role-Playing Game (RPG) where a group of 1-4 players take on the roles of leaders of an empire just as it is founded, and control the empire through its history, as players narrate the events that unfold across 1,000 years of growth and decay.
On each player’s turn, a player draws a card from the oracle deck, and then narrates what happens to their empire based on the result of the card drawn. Using a map the players themselves will draw, they will build and expand their empire, research new technologies, explore the world around them, and wage war or establish peace with other empires. Players do this across four eras, or until their empire reaches certain win or lose conditions. Throughout play, the players will need to balance their ambitions against their empire’s needs, and navigate the twists and turns that time and change inevitably bring.
Empire is ultimately a map-making and world building game. Players will construct a civilization together, and draw it collaboratively on a piece of paper they share. Throughout the game, as events occur, new additions will be made to the map, and the players’ scores will rise and fall with their fortunes, based on the decisions they make.
3-5 hours play time
I was the sole game designer and writer for Empire. Empire was designed in a two-week sprint for the class Role-Playing on the Margins at the NYU Game Center. The project was designed to be a riff and extension of a group of games that were explored in that class, including Dreams Askew, The Quiet Year, and Kingdom, all of which explore community-scale role-playing.
I created the game to explore this space deeper, and to make a game that was at an even grander scale. As a world builder and lover of the Civilization series, I wanted to create a story-telling experience where time and space are much larger scale than most RPGs, which are highly granular.
Empire is an artistic project that can teach players about the patterns that empires follow. It is more designed to explore the narrative space of talking about empires as individual players with ideological agendas, need-driven strategies, and historical conflicts that motivate actions.