Hi all, Oliver here! Today I’m going to be talking in a little more detail about how our AI system will work.

Because Alliance of the Sacred Suns is a turn-based game, the AI isn’t constantly calculating what to do. Instead, each character, including the player, takes a turn, and over the course of that turn, the (other) AIs mostly just react to the active AI’s actions. (We may do some clever things with AI decision-making in the background of other characters’ turns, in order to shorten the turn calculation time, but the basic principle is IGOUGO.) The active character, in contrast, will be running quite a sophisticated algorithm to decide what exactly they’re going to do with their time.

First of all, they have to take stock of their situation. At the start of each character’s turn, they check their Attention Bidding System. This is a function that chooses between different possible goals for the character to work towards, based on weights assigned to those goals. For some goals, such as getting rich, these weights are pretty constant, only varying with the character’s fundamental personality and Ultimate Goal (their overall desire in life). For others, the weight will depend on their circumstances – ‘Survival’, for example, takes a weight determined by the highest Threat Level of any character to the active character. (Threat Level is a figure set by a combination of a character’s Power with modifiers for other factors, such as threats they’ve made and Secrets the active character knows about them.) The goal they’re currently working towards also has a bonus to its weight, to make sure characters stay plausibly focussed.

Once the Attention Bidding System’s check has been made, the character then starts moving on the Strategy Tree. This is a branching tree of hand-written decision nodes, designed to try and emulate real human reasoning by proceeding from ultimate motives, through general strategies, to specific actions. But rather than starting from the top of the tree each time, unless they’ve changed their end goal, the character will pick up wherever they left off at the end of their last turn. (Again, this is to make sure they maintain coherent courses of action over time.) The character will then proceed through the tree according to the rules on each node they come to, until they come to a node telling them to perform an action of some kind. When they come to a node of this sort, they will spend an Action Point, perform the action, and then check their Attention Bidding System again, to make sure circumstances haven’t changed what they ought to be doing – for example, if they’ve Challenged a character more powerful than they are, they may suddenly need to move to the Survival branch of the tree! Then, if they have Action Points left, they will start moving through the tree again, repeating the process until they run out of APs.

So that’s the overview of the system. Let’s have a look at an example, to see how this’ll work in practice.

Mancy Ononoke is the young viceroy of the planet Lucidia. Her Ultimate Goal in life is Wealth, which means that’s one of the goals she has under consideration, and since she’s a very Driven young woman, its weighting is quite high, outbidding the moderate threat from the popular Gaius Locke, also resident on Lucidia, for her attention. Now since she was busy on a pilgrimage until last turn, she starts from the top of the Wealth branch of the strategy tree. First, she decides what broad strategy she will pursue to make her money: since she’s a Viceroy, she makes the easy choice to Develop her Territory (a node directly under ‘Ultimate Goal: Wealth’). Now, how to do that? ‘Develop Territory’ has three child nodes, but two of them are available only to senior clergy and province governors, respectively. So she opts for the third, ‘Improve Economic Sector’.

‘Improve Economic Sector’ is a node that can be accessed from a number of different places, so it has options for which planet and sector of the economy to improve. Choosing which planet to improve is easy when there’s only one option, but selecting which sector to improve is more complex. Mancy considers unemployment, production capacity, and the skill of her workers in order to pick the Energy sector. She then, following the node’s script, determines that the best way to improve that sector is by building more power plants. Therefore, she moves down to Adjust Build Plan, and spends an Action Point to alter her planet’s build plan to favour building them. The instructions then tell her to wait to see how effective it is, so she discards the rest of her Action Points, and the turn ends.

Mancy doesn’t have to just sit around waiting, of course. Many goals can be pursued as ‘break activities’, meaning they can interrupt other activities without disrupting them completely – once the break activity is finished, the character goes right back to what they were doing. ‘Survival’ – in this case, tackling the threat of Mr. Locke – is such an activity, and, since she’s waiting, she gives break activities a higher weighting in the bidding for her attention. So, next turn, she might decide to deal with Locke once and for all! But she might also choose to start building a family, spend time with her friends, do something for the Church, or any one of a number of different things. There are over 500 nodes on the strategy tree, with twelve different goals bidding for characters’ attention, and many different ways to achieve those goals, creating a dynamic, storytelling system in which characters act plausibly in pursuit of believable motivations.

Not only that, but since the system is completely modular, modders will be able to add new nodes and modify existing ones. Different branches can cross-reference one another (with a customisable limit on absolute tree depth, to prevent infinite loops) meaning that some nodes added to one branch can be used intelligently by characters pursuing other goals. (Assuming, that is, the nodes are well-written!)

Now some of you will be reading this and thinking, ‘That’s all well and good, but how many hours am I going to have to sit and wait for each turn to resolve?’ We’re very aware of the potential performance issues involved in such a procedure, so we also plan to iteratively develop an ‘AI director’ system to switch characters between this process and a much simpler, more efficient one, in order to provide the player with a better experience. This other system will be much lower-fidelity and have many fewer options, making the decision process much faster, but crucially, you won’t know which character is running what at any given time – a character who doesn’t seem to be doing much proactively might not be, but on the other hand, they might be busy plotting behind your back…

It’s a very exciting time for me right now, because having worked on the detailed design of this system for almost a year, we’re on the point of beginning to implement it! Keep your eye on the blog – we’re going to have a lot to show off in the coming weeks and months.

Ave Imperator!


Hey everyone!

Well, we know what huge game just came out and hey, it’s Paradox and they make amazing games, so while everyone was out playing Stellaris (yes, we all got it as well, and played a LOT of it!) we are continuing to work on .4, otherwise known as The UI Release.

As you can see in the featured image, we’re revamping to the foundations, including fully-3D planets and stars that move, show rotating moons, and have their own light sources and show the amount of population and development on the planet! We’re also added a new artist to our stable, and he is doing incredible things for the UI design! You can see a preview of the ‘retro-futuristic’ look we’re going for above.

We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the command modes and the UI switches for each, revamped the galaxy view navigation, and worked on optimizing the system transitions.

We’ll be posting a more detailed blog about the redesign soon, along with a blog talking about the planets in Imperia – they are much more detailed beneath the surface then you might think!



Hi all, Oliver here. This week I’m going to talk about how we’re putting together Imperia’s story structure – or, I should say, taking it apart and putting it back together again. I’ll refrain from giving away any plot details, so if you’re worried about spoilers, you can relax now.

Initially, the plan was to produce a story tree on which a single ‘cursor’ (in the programming sense) would progress from node to node, reacting to the gamestate, producing in-game effects and Twine-like interludes at each, until it hit an ending. And this structure I actually designed. Now this had a certain obvious inelegance – by the time you got to the bottom, there were four or five duplicates of most of the endings. But the real issue was that between any given adjacent pair of plot points you had to account for a whole pile of different potential circumstances: the gamestate might shift one of a whole pile of different ways, meaning each branch point needed to have a number of permitted outcomes. In practice, they couldn’t all have that many, producing a design which, while flexible, would in practice have come up with some weird situations.

This was all brought into focus when we introduced a couple of minor changes to the plot. Having read some really interesting and useful articles on plot structure (here and here, both well worth a read if you’re interested in interactive story design) I realised that what we needed was a ground-up restructure of the whole system. The result – which I’m in the process of setting out right now – is a system involving a number of parallel ‘blocks’ along which independent cursors progress and sometimes regress. Each block has several parallel versions, between which its cursor can move according to the gamestate – in particular, when certain characters have progressed along one or another of their potential character arcs, booleans will be flipped that shift several blocks from one version to another. The Twine-esque interludes and the in-game effects are still very much there, and are still triggered by the arrival of cursors at nodes, but rather than an enormous combinatorial explosion like we would face in an old-school Choose Your Own Adventure-style decision tree, the system allows unrelated chains of events to proceed in parallel without interfering with one another. If a character is not involved in a given part of the story, for example, Booleans relating to their character arc simply need not be considered.

This doesn’t just apply to separate, parallel storylines – not to give too much away, there aren’t many of those – but also to fixed points in the story that are only affected by one or two variables. I would give an example, but that would rather spoil the fun – I’d better stop writing before I give anything away.

Until next time,


UPDATE: The video showing the highlights of .3 visually is now up here: https://youtu.be/IaLunW37ibU

Hey all!

With a new month comes a new update, and after several months of development, .3 is ready for internal testing! Since it’s a foundational update, much of the work was done behind the scenes, but here’s a partial list of the main additions:

  • Command Modes. Now you can work within a main command mode (Political, Military, Economic, Demographic) and all of your data, Project choices, and Actions will be filtered towards furthering that particular part of your strategy.
  • Project System added. Project Bar and Screen added, as well as filter for Command Mode
  • Trade System added, along with fleets, trade hubs, trade zones, and the concept of Importance with resources
  • Province generation revised to be more balanced
  • Manufacturing system balanced vastly downward in relation to the Trade system
  • Houses more fully implemented
  • House Banners functionality added
  • Holding concept implemented (the idea that Houses own planets, systems, etc. and gain tax from them)
  • Redesigned Main UI
  • Relationship States added and finalized
  • Emperor created (you!) as unique object in game
  • Cultures added and initialized among the galaxy within 3 ‘zones’ (Imperial Cultures/Inner Ring, Border Space Cultures/Second Ring, Outer Rim Cultures/Third Ring
  • GPP generation revised
  • Game rethreaded to allow turns to generate while the player is still interacting with the map (i.e. no ‘loading new turn pause screen’)
  • Trade Fleets added – they move on the map, show lines to their destination, etc
  • UI revised significantly for new Command Mode system, more to come
  • Political and Economic Galaxy Map filters added
  • Additional core Actions added

So that’s .3 – and I’m happy to say that it is pretty damn stable so far! So what’s coming for .4? Glad you asked! By June, Imperia should have the following:

  • Constellations
  • Updated System and Planet UIs
  • Military and Demographic Galaxy Filter Modes
  • Main Game Screen redesign
  • House Setup Screen/New Game Setup screen
  • Emperor Setup Screen
  • Power mechanic implemented
  • Complete work on Project creation and add Core Projects
  • Add core Actions for Characters
  • Add Religions
  • Add Options screen (save, load, etc)

There’s some other design work behind the scenes as well to prepare for future releases, but this is the stuff that you will see when you play. Very excited to release a new video in the next few days showing what we’ve done. As always, remember that we’re showing work that’s done way before a normal studio would – as we’ve always done, we’re showing people every step in the journey, and keep in mind that a ‘normal’ studio probably wouldn’t start showing work until about another 3-4 months in the process. Hopefully you like what we’re doing and we’ll keep doing it!



Hi all, Oliver here. Just a brief post today, outlining where we are and what we’re doing! Sunday 1st is our scheduled production deadline for Imperia Alpha 0.3, and Steve and I are both hard at work nailing down what’s left of that milestone.

Steve has been working on the trade system – planets in each trade zone now bid for goods, and automatically create trade fleets to dispatch them, all of which you can see on the map. He’s going to be polishing that up and adding tooltips this week, along with implementing the characters’ secret attitudes towards one another and a bunch of other stuff under the hood. For testers, there’s a very detailed log showing what the AI is considering when making trades, and what personality traits they are using. We haven’t added House affiliation yet when making these decisions, but when the House system is fully installed that will be a factor as well. He will also be adding the Project Bar and begin adding the Project data so that testers can start using the Project system in .4.

On my end, I’ve been polishing up the core of the AI’s strategy tree – which determines what each character wants and how they try to get it – and building a simplified model of the Threat Assessment AI in Python, to test out our design for that as it stands. Using test articles like this is a really good way to refine the design without having to mess with the game itself, and since Steve is doing all the proper coding, it saves him a lot of time, too. Initially we were going to model it in Excel (!), but the extra functionality you get with Python means it’s much easier to do it this way.

Come next milestone, which all going well will come at the start of June, the Threat Assessment AI (in whatever form it takes after this round of prototyping) will be implemented, along with the core of the Strategy Tree and a fairly minimal set of Actions and Projects. Imperia will go from being a fancy-pants galaxy simulator to an actual game for the first time since it was all written in XNA, and I for one am stoked about it.

We’ve also been recruiting alpha testers and UI artists, which is rather exciting. Having set out most of the UI in fairly Spartan ink-and-paper sketches over the past few months, it’s quite something to see them rendered professionally. Hopefully we’ll have some shiny new art to show you in the next few weeks, too!

Until next time,


One of the key ways we’re trying to make Human Space real and interesting is through ‘snippets’: short pieces of writing, perhaps tucked away in tooltips, that talk about the places, people, and events that made the world the way it is in 3050 AD. In today’s blog, I want to talk a little bit about my writing process and what I’m trying to achieve with these snippets.

The format for the snippets arose pretty organically from what we wanted to do with them: they would be short extracts from in-universe texts, that would first and foremost establish atmosphere, but on top of that hint at historical events, characters, and institutions by allusion. By going with this kind of always-partial (in both senses of the word) narration, we can make the writing much more interesting than some horrendous info-dump: as Pavlos rightly pointed out, ‘lore’ is boring.

More than that, this format helps reinforce the sense of distrust, corruption and ambiguity that we want Imperia to evoke. We have a canonical timeline of events in the history of the Empire, but you’ll never get to see it. What you will see is a range of different sources’ takes on events, replete with their own spin and particular disingenuities, from the Technik manifesto Technology for Humanity‘s techno-utopian fanaticism, to the sanitised Imperial party line of the Continuing History of the Empire, along with numerous one-off sources such as recorded conversations. Using these ‘sources’ also provides another avenue for extremely condensed storytelling: citing the time, the place, the author, and so on, in a single line can suggest a world beyond what the text describes.

When I’m writing one of these snippets, I start with the item to which the snippet will be attached – usually a House, planet, or constellation of a particular culture – and work out what aspects of that subject matter I want to show off here. It might be two contrasting sides of a culture, or some hint at how a House made their money. Then, I consider what source or sources to invent for it. And then, obviously, I write it, trying as best I can to get into the mindset and the writing style of the sources’ authors. Often the best way to communicate something is through the juxtaposition of two or more short snippets – two conflicting accounts can suggest a third truth underneath, or snippets from sources speaking at different times can illustrate some social or political change without having to describe it outright. The incidental details, too, are very useful – they can say all sorts of things about Imperial society and cultures in passing. Some cast new light on other snippets elsewhere, when you compare them with one another. Sometimes the whole story is in the citation, and the snippet is just a little piece of atmosphere, or a red herring. The overall idea is to provide a very high density of little hints, in a format you can read in ten seconds, and let your imagination do most of the work.

Next time, it’ll be Steve on the blog again, talking about the planets and how detailed they are – until then, Ave Imperator!


Hey all!

Steve here with some exciting news (well, we think so). With the finalization of the game design, and active development planned out, we can be much more accurate with our milestone builds, so even though giving out dates is always an exercise in disappointment, we’ve put a lot of time into scheduling out the releases, and we’re prepared to give at least tentative release dates for each build. So without further ado, here’s the alpha release schedule!


.3 BUILD: Adds new UI, command modes, updated Character Screens, Projects, Trade, Holdings, Houses, Cultures, core Actions, Relationship States between Characters, start of AI Strategy Tree implementation. TARGET DATE: 5/1

.4 BUILD: Adds Constellations, complete System UI, Planet UI, all Military/Economic Submodes, Political Submodes, Pops/Demographic Submodes, Main Game Screen, House Setup Screen, Emperor Setup Screen, Pop Ideas, Additional Actions and Projects, Power Mechanic, Religions, Other Civs Generation, End Game Manager, Music/Sound. TARGET DATE: 6/1

.5 BUILD: Adds Celestial Council, Budget system, Finance Prime, Save/Load, additional Core Actions and Projects, Emperor UI/Diary, Psychic System & UI, Begin implementation of Aitvaras Master AI, Character Attention AI, Threat Assessment AI, Opportunity Spotting AI, Council AI, Music Engine for dynamic music. TARGET DATE: 7/15

.6 BUILD: Includes Intel system & UI, Inquisitors, Secrets, Intel Prime, Secondary Actions, Secondary/Intel Projects. TARGET DATE: 8/15

.7 BUILD: Includes Military system & UI, Military units, Military Projects & Actions, Generals/Admirals TARGET DATE: 10/1 (Proposed Early Access Date)

.8 BUILD: Includes Reform system & UI, Reform/Military Projects, Reform Actions, Military Research system & UI, Academies TARGET DATE: 11/1

.9 BUILD: Includes Deals system & UI, tertriary Actions, Begin implementation of Dealmaking AI,  Xyl AI, Videos TARGET DATE: 12/15

1.0 ALPHA BUILD: Add Xyl mechanics & UI, Optimization, all end-game videos, intro video


So the plan for now(TM) is to have a viable playable release with the release of the .7 Build. This would contain about 80% of the game elements, and most of the AI. Obviously with a game like this a lot of balance is needed and that will take a lot of time, which is where early access comes in. I have made my stance clear about early access/Kickstarter projects for years now (for those new to this blog: I’m not a fan) because I don’t like the idea of releasing half-assed products for money. We haven’t made a final decision yet about what we’re going to do with regards to that – so we have a question for you.

Now that you’ve seen the feature schedule, we’ve added a poll that asks what build you would consider the earliest ‘playable’ release, if any. We think it’s .7, but we’d like your input. We want to do a lot of things like this, similar to Games2Gether, and get our community’s thoughts!

Thanks for your continued support!







Hi everyone! Oliver here. Today we’re going to be looking at the Culture system: what it is, what it means in gameplay terms, and a little introduction to some of the diverse cultures you’ll find among the heartworlds of your Empire.

One of the things we want to capture in Imperia is the sense that you’re bringing different ways of life together, in a cultural ferment, to renew the hidebound and crumbling Celestial Empire. To that end, rather than have different civilisations have different units, unique technologies, and so on, in Imperia the unique units and ‘technologies’ attach to different cultures, which you can integrate into your Empire. (I put ‘technologies’ in scare quotes because our Reforms system has some important differences from a normal technology tree – most significantly, it’s much broader than it is tall, enabling (indeed, forcing) you to customise your Empire rather than simply progress it along a linear track.) Once you have integrated a culture into your Empire, you can enact a number of special Reforms that build upon the interaction between the six core cultures of the Empire and the influence of the freshly-assimilated culture, as well as making Pops of that culture considerably happier under your rule.

Cultural integration isn’t simply a matter of joining hands and singing Kum-Ba-Yah, however. In the 31st Century, the differences between cultures that have developed over many lifetimes in almost total isolation from one another can be stark indeed. To represent this, alongside the Religion system (on which more in a later blog post) we have the Ideas system. Every single character and Pop in the game will have a position on each of ten different Idea scales, including technophilia versus technophobia, unity versus divisibility and illusoriness of the self, authoritarianism versus anti-authoritarianism, and more, each representing a fundamental question about human nature and society in the future. The Idea positions of characters and pops will be derived from their culture’s default positions on the scales, and will affect their opinions of many of the moves you make in-game, from colonising new worlds, to passing Reforms, to crushing rebellions – and when you are considering who to ally with and which worlds to take into your growing Empire, you will have to consider whether the cultures you are looking to rule will look kindly or angrily upon the moves you wish to make after you’ve won. Not to mention that wars and migration may cause tensions between Pops of different cultures, creating difficult political situations to manage (or, if you are Machiavellian enough, take advantage of).

But Cultures are not immutable. Both you and other characters can ‘lean towards’ one foreign culture or another, to improve your relations with characters and Pops of that Culture, but also to affect the opinions of your supporters. Your cultural leaning will, of course, set the tone at Court (as Peter the Great’s Europhilia did in Russia) but your viceroys and governors will have political needs, preferences, and agendas of their own. It will take cunning and sagacity to manage the varying affiliations of your vassals – for shared tastes can create shared trust – shared trust, shared interests – and shared interests, shared plans…

The Core Imperial Cultures

The cultures in Imperia are divided into three groups, separated by space – one group at the centre of human space, another found arrayed around it, and a third, strangest and most unfamiliar of all, at its very fringes. Not all of the cultures will appear in every game – slightly more than half ought to show up on a normal-sized map – so each game you play should provide a unique cultural landscape to navigate. We’ll give you some glimpses of the weirder cultures in time, but today I’m going to restrict myself to summarising the history and character of the six core Imperial cultures – the cultures of your people at the beginning of the game.

Neomerican: The worlds described as ‘Neomerican’ are those most heavily influenced by the popular movement of the same name that took hold in the late 28th century. Against a largely small-t traditionalist background, this renaissance of ancient American culture (as filtered through a 28th-century Solarian worldview) infiltrated all areas of art, politics, and life. Notably, the publications of Neomerican public associations influenced writers and journalists far beyond the Neomerican Renaissance’s heartlands, leading to the foundation in the 29th century of The Solarian, by far the most widely-read news distributor in the Empire at the time of your accession to the throne.

Traditionalist: Of all the Empire’s many social orders, ‘Traditionalist’ society is the most conservative and the most oriented towards implementing Solarian social doctrines. Traditionalism as it is today grew up around the families who formed the first oligarchic aristocracy of the Terran Alliance. The obvious problem they faced in the early years was how to justify their accumulation of wealth in what – in those first, hopeful days of the Exodus – seemed like a new start for Humanity, a chance to start again. The calamitous arrival of the Solarian revolution gave them an answer: the majority of the aristocratic families were early converts, forming the funding base of the Solarian Stewardship Party and propagating the ‘Wahhabaptist’ movement. They used public displays of piety and maintenance of the new Solarian church and customs to validate their preëminent position in society. The heartlands of the new faith became the heartlands of what would be thought of as Traditionalist culture, and among the foremost duties of Traditionalist scions has always been the maintenance of the perception that their society represents the divinely-ordained order of things. Their outspoken confidence in the righteousness of the Imperial way of doing things often belies a creeping doubt and fear of slipping ‘into shadow’ off the true path – like those Techniks, Mercantilists, and ‘Gilded World’ sybarites…

Technik: The Technologists or ‘Techniks’ burst onto the scene in the 2850s as an intellectual movement calling for the revival of technological projects long held taboo by the Empire, beginning with the publication of Lucida Nevsky’s multimedia manifesto, Technology for Humanity, in 2851. It soon evolved into a more all-encompassing philosophy and way of life, as the technologies revived – including varieties of mind-machine interface and unusual prosthetics – lent themselves to transformative, sometimes quasi-spiritual experiences. Though many of their discoveries eventually became widespread, their transformative social effect was never so strong as in the Techniks’ heartworlds. To survive at the top of Technik society, their Houses take the rôle, more or less, of media and entertainment empires: by providing – or monopolising – the ‘peak’ experiences central to the Technik way of life, they sell their subjects on their rule.

Spartic: The Spartic movement is actually very old – it can trace its antecedents right back to veterans of the First Xyl War who, on arriving on the new world, resolved that society ought to be ordered in such a way that it could move to defend itself against an unknown threat at any moment. In this way, they are a reaction to the Exodus. They are a militaristic culture with strong focus on discipline and personal hardiness, and this idea of a disciplined social order is what maintains their leaders’ positions. All citizens participate in extensive national service and related training, from quite a young age. Cybernetic implants for battlefield purposes are common amongst all classes. They tend to have poor economic performance, but produces great troops and generals.

Gilded Worlds: The Gilded Worlds exemplify an alternative solution to the problem of how an élite can maintain its position over the very long term. Rather than pacifying their subjects with ideology, the great Houses of the Gilded Worlds go straight for the limbic system, maintaining chemical acquiescence through the judicious deployment of recreational narcotics, Soma-style. The leeway this lends the privileged in Gilded society leads them to notorious excess.

Mercantile: Somewhere between Venice at the height of its glory and England in its nascent days of empire: built on a revival of interstellar trade, this culture loves wealth and will work and even innovate to get it. Renewed interaction with previously-long-separated worlds makes this culture a little bit of a melting-pot. Its great Houses are trading powers – a mixture of old families who took advantage of the return of interstellar trade in the 2820s and 30s and new trading families who arose from that flowering. Prominent among them are the Ilioaias (a mining clan with a tragic past) and the Milaks (whose unexpected geological windfall propelled them to sudden glory in a few short months in 2915).

Join us again next week, when Steve will be taking the blogging reins once more!


Hey all! Steve here, and as promised, I wanted to give you a little look into a few of the Great Houses, since they are going to be major factors in how your ruling House fares – and of course, youself!

The first Great House is your own! You will get to name this House whatever you want, along with assigning its primary and secondary colors (these will be by default the Empire’s colors as well) and its crest (also the Empire’s crest). Your House has been gutted by the history of Imperia, and you are the last heir (one reason that humanity’s position is so precarious). As a result, there are very few characters that are actively part of your House. It will be imperative to build a power structure where you have at least one or two Houses on your side – it might be expensive, but even the combined resources of the Empire can not stop a civil war from bringing down your House.


House Hawken (est. 2940)

One of the newest Great Houses in the Empire, House Hawken rose to power in 2940, when the brilliant young Octavius Hawken discovered a way to convert aluminum to keramium, an incredibly light and strong substance that could be used to coat traditional metals, but provide incredible protection using only 1/10 of the metal required. Naturally, this cut down tremendously on costs, particularly with aircraft and military craft, as well as lessen the stresses on starships.

The House, as a result of this discovery and a savvy negotiation with the War Prime of the time, resulted in the House being given a tremendous grant for further research on their House seat of Illitch. As a result, over the last 110 years the House has been given over to war research for the Empire, to the disgust and some fear of the other Houses. They are also the only House that is allowed a personal military, for purposes of experimentation. The current leader, Grand Duke Altus Hawken, is seen as somewhat more expansionist then his predecessors, and with the idea that his House is ‘new money’, is watched with equal parts scorn and trepidation. The affiliation of the House means that the War Prime is heavily influenced by this House, which could lead to trouble should the House move too far away from the Emperor.

From ‘The Complete Imperial Who’s Whom, entry on Grand Duchess Francia Hawken, 30.2.3014:

Francia, Grand Duchess of the Hawkens 2998-present day

Born: 12/9/2951

Throneworld: Illitch, home of the famed Illitch shipyards.

Parents: Grand Duke Altus Hawken, Duchess Consort Lydia Hawken

Ancestry: Great-niece of Grand Duchess (formerly Junior Technical Officer) Octavia Hawken, who claimed her throne from Gaius III Calabar in 2912 with the assistance of the Emperor Magnus VI Skye, who (unrelatedly) owed the Calabars a lot of money.

Noteworthy Achievements: Francia’s impeccably even-handed approach to the sale of her shipyards’ products have induced several quite-profitable planetary conflicts to develop into extremely-profitable interstellar wars, thereby vastly improving her House’s capacity to produce yet more lucrative, definitely-legal military innovations. Alongside this philanthropic work, she has also made sure to do due honor to her superiors, in particular the Marshal Prime – the dignity of whose office would be sorely wounded were it not for Francia’s selfless and unfailingly generous aid.

Biography: Francia was born at the Hawken palace outside Lorem City, Illitch, whilst her young parents were in stellar orbit, inspecting progress on their latest cruiser. This rather set the tone for her childhood as a whole…’


House Waldegrave (est. 2744)

“One of the numerous Houses tracing their station to their role in Pierce’s Revolution, the Waldegrave clan’s carefully-maintained martial traditions evoke ancient Earth’s Spartans as much as any modern dynasty’s drill program. Nurtured in the harsh worlds of the Outer Rim, their austerely vigorous way of life was always ill-suited to governance, and as a result – to their great shame – Maarten Waldegrave lost the family’s throne world to a popular revolt in what they refer to as the Catastrophe of 2744. Since that day, the family have repeatedly sought Imperial permission to retake the world, without success – and no child of theirs has been named Maarten.”

’ – RevenantWiki, entry on House Waldegrave, retrieved 4/4/3049

House Horlock (est. 2415)

This House was originally formed as a reaction to keep power from the Emperor’s hands. The first Grand Captain, Howard Horlock, was violently opposed to allowing so much power in the hands of an Emperor who did not represent the many. He was killed attempting to assassinate the first Sun Emperor, Magnus I, but he left with his son Zed a history and the knowledge to continue the crusade. While House Horlock has never been aggressively expansionist, what they do hold they manage well; their scions and staff are considered experts in wringing every last bit of efficiency from a planet or system. Though they publicly deny it in categorical terms, many Horlocks still yearn for the day they will rise up again against the Emperor, and take the Empire for their own, to protect it in the manner they deem best – with uncompromising force.

From various texts:

‘At 22:16, 15/8/2499, an attempt was made on the life of His Grace by Grand Captain Howard Horlock, head of the informal Court faction of the same name, using a handheld pistol-type weapon. Due to the prompt and fearless response of Security Officer Pablo Yamaguchi, the assassin was inhibited with lethal force before he could complete his mission. We believe Horlock to have acted alone, due to his making the attempt personally on his own behalf, and the weapon’s being originated from his family armory and bearing his symbology. Our inquiries into his associates in aforesaid Horlock Court faction proceed apace and we will endeavor to provide His Grace with further information as soon as it becomes available to the Security Corps. Inquiries are also being made urgently into how Horlock was able to bring aforesaid pistol-type weapon into the presence of His Grace undetected.’ – Imperial Security Corps post-incident report concerning failed assassination attempt on the Emperor Magnus I Pierce, 16/8/2499, Red Archives

‘The Horlocks of the present day, however, have risen far from their ignominious origins. Loyal allies of the Emperor, they have a centuries-long record of ruling their domains with authority and unquestionable justice. The competence and stability of their administration make them vital players in Imperial politics, almost always for the common good.’ – Continuing History, edition of 3024

“Sorry Oss, bad news – we have to cancel all our plans. The guest of honor has a friend on our side somewhere. Looks like we won’t be able to hold that party after all. But I suppose that’s our family motto by now – ‘We’ll do what’s right – later'” – Intercepted letter from Priebus Horlock to Austina Horlock, 31/4/3024, Red Archives. ‘The guest of honor’ almost certainly refers to the Emperor Ensino.

House Ilioaia (est. 2644)

‘In the aftermath of the Second Xyl War, a young miner named Bengamin Ilioaia set out, as many other space wildcatters did, to look for new sources of materials to rebuild the shattered Terran Alliance. While most of his peers were not very successful, Bengamin discovered a comet that was incredibly rich in rare minerals. He made 3 trips to the comet, telling nobody but his wife and two brothers about his find. On the third trip, he found his older brother, Ivan, waiting for him with a smile and a kinetic cannon, obliterating his small mining craft.

Upon telling their younger brother, Mihai, about what he did, Mihai became furious and killed Ivan on the spot. With most of the bloodline now dead in a single tragic day, Mihai took Bengamin’s wife in marriage and set out to build the Ilioaia line once more. Years of surveying led the House to discover multiple sources of materials, eventually cementing their legacy as the most powerful mining house in the Celestial Empire.’ – RevenantWiki, entry on House Ilioaia, page retrieved 16/4/3029

“When they say blood is thicker than water, they never saw the blood running down the side of our family’s crest. It is our burden, some would say our tragedy, but I say it is our triumph that so much good has sown from the soil of such anger. Let our position in the Empire remain strong, and let us remember that while we stand firmly today among our fellow Houses, what shockwaves can occur from one heinous and narcissistic act.” – Speech from House Leader Wyllmson Iiloaia to his Council, 29/2/2994, Red Archives.

House Barwon (est. 2723)

House Barwon is unusual only in that it was not formed by a significant event or crisis; rather, it was formed through a steady progression of shrewd and intelligent moves that slowly allowed House Barwon to consolidate power. Masters at trading, they are best known for helping the then-reeling Terran Federation through the aftermath of the second Xyl War, providing food and basic materials to planets that had been devastated or even partially assimilated in the war. The First Lord of the House is traditionally elected by their House vassals, another difference from most Houses, and this traditionally gives House Barwon the most stability of any Great House in the Empire.

‘The Game is not to be taken too seriously.

The Game is to be taken very seriously indeed.

The Game begins when all players have entered the pitch. Players of name may enter by any tier. Players without name may enter by the second or third tiers. Players without property may enter only by the third tier.

The Game ends when the last board is destroyed, or when to continue would be fatal to one or more of the first- or third-tier players.

The boards are to be arranged by the Host. A single Host player may enter by the first tier, but no other players may be fielded by the Host.

The boards are to be as specified in Appendix A, sections 1, 4 and 5.’ – Lucrezia Barwon, Rules of The Game, 4th edition

‘In the brightest and most fragrant corner of the Summit Lounge is to be found the Princex Aletheiu Barwon, heir to the throne of Olympia, quing of the festivities that surround the Game, and – it is whispered – privy to every supposedly clandestine conversation and secret tryst that happens anywhere in Jeux over the course of those exciting summer weeks. Accompanied at all times by a retinue of stunning servants, each individually dressed by them alone, Aletheiu is happy to act as patron to the most dazzling fashion houses on Olympia – which is why the very best of them congregate in Jeux! Good luck getting near them, though – Aletheiu values their privacy, and the security at the Summit Lounge is the very best.

Turning toward the shaded end of the bar, we encounter Duchess Mikhail of New Kent…’ – Camara Xu, ‘Olympia’s Capital Prepares for the Game’, in The Solarian, 15/1/2983

House Kiraly-Finn (est. 2390)

Heavily invested in the Technik movement, this dynasty’s family ties sit uncomfortably with the Technik ethos. More than five hundred years ago, General Zoltan Kiraly-Finn was one of Zed Pierce’s original co-conspirators in the foundation of the Empire. His loyal service earned him and his descendants a sector, and for centuries they were the Emperors’ most loyal stalwarts. But over the generations, especially with the rise of the trade houses in the 29th century, their star waned. In what seemed their fading years, the newly-inheriting Tera Kiraly-Finn refused to continue acquiescing. Instead, she turned to the nascent ‘Technik’ movement – which had begun as a niche subculture among the New Terran academic elite – and ran with it, pushing their innovations as far as she dared. More importantly, she made their ethos cool. Yet despite her achievements, the movement never quite trusted her, or her children and grandchildren. Their conversion to it was in the name of family loyalty, not true belief, and that suspicion still lingers…

‘Closest among the disciples of Father Sun’s chosen servant was General Zoltan Kiraly-Finn. Magnus conferred with him on almost every matter of note over the course of the Celestial Revolution, and for his wise counsel and fearless leadership, he would be anointed a Saint soon after his death in 2526.’ – ‘Personae of the Celestial Revolution’, Ecclesiastical History

‘But the opposite has happened: in the four years since her death, Nevsky’s sinister ideas have, if anything, found a wider audience. And they have friends in high places.

Loudest of the Techniks in high society is Tera Kiraly-Finn, direct descendant of St Zoltan. She has very publicly indicated her sympathies for certain of the ‘movement’s’ ideas, even going so far as to sport stick-on cranial stimulators at the Exclaim! Ball earlier this year. But investigation by this newspaper’s reporters suggests that she is not only disgracing her family’s name – she is doing so cynically and for profit. Inside sources have revealed that the Kiraly-Finn family own majority shares in over 45% of the Technik cyber-dens licensed across the entire Empire. By tacitly promoting this heresy, Kiraly-Finn is deliberately undermining the very fabric of our Empire for the crassest of reasons – a deeply irresponsible, even seditious, move.’ – Melchio Ignacci, ‘Lucida Nevsky’s Dangerous Legacy’ in The Solarian, 8/4/287

House Milak (est. 2915)

House Milak was a very minor House for most of their existence, only recently coming to power in 2915, when they uncovered a vast hoard of rare minerals during a routine mining expedition near their seat’s arctic pole. This allowed them to more or less corner the market on rare materials fabrication, and when the Empire is short on these critical minerals, as they often are, While technically a Minor House, House Milak is usually the final resort for Great Houses that do not wish to resort to the Empire’s draconian terms to secure the resources that their holdings need.

‘House Milak is a minor House whose throne world is Juthrbog. The present Head of House is Sir Krasivi Milak, b. 2868.’ – Entirety of the Continuing History entry on House Milak, edition of 2914

‘That can’t be right. Ask them to check it again.’ – Prospector-General Finant Anatol, on receipt of the first reports from the Northern Territory Mineralogical Survey, Juthrbog, 32/4/2915

‘EMP: Krasivi! My friend! So good to see you. How is your lovely husband?

KMK: [inaudible] the operation. We expect him to be much more, uh, docile. [laughs] And how is His Grace?

EMP: Fantastic, Krasivi, just fantastic. I’ve been renovating the old lodge at Lake Geneva, I must show you it sometime. Gorgeous place. Gorgeous. You must come by. Are you a hunting man?

KMK: I [inaudible]

EMP: You must be. Come, have you tried this? [clicks, sound of pouring drink]

KMK: I’m sure, uh, what-

EMP: It’s Calviador, grown on my personal estate outside New Berlin. Fantastic stuff. Very rare, you know, very rare. Speaking of rare things, actually, the Empire, as you may know, is presently terribly short of certain rare minerals…’ – Transcript of conversation between Emperor Eliezer III Housseini and Sir Krasivi Milak on 33/1/2916, in the Autumn Room, Vindoland Palace, New Terra. From the Red Archives.


These are just tastes of your opposition, to give you an idea of the Imperiaverse – much more to come!


Hey everyone! Steve here, with yet another new blog. We’re back to active development, so we look to have some screenshots soon but for now I wanted to talk about Houses: what they are, why we have them in the game, and how you can interact with them (and what can happen when things go bad).

So the entire structure of civilizations (including your Empire) are simply the sum of which Houses swear fealty to that particular civilization. What’s really happening is that there is always a ruling House (in the Empire, this is your House, with you as the head of House) and other Houses choose to swear fealty to that House, similar to the feudal system of yesteryear. All Houses have a head of House, their own treasury, their own crest and colors, and many Great and Minor Houses have a bespoke history as part of the Imperiaverse. Houses also have bonuses and specialties, and belong to a specific Culture group (which we will cover soon).

Holdings are simply what a House owns as part of the stellar landscape. Usually this means a planet, but if they have Holdings on a majority of the planets in a system, they are considered to Hold the system as well. This has implications for security in the system, as well as trade.

There are 3 broad sizes of Houses in Imperia. The largest and most impressive are Great Houses – they may have hand-crafted histories and special rules, they sometimes have Holdings of system size or larger, they may have their own military capability, and their leaders are often the most influential people in the game. There are 10 bespoke Great Houses that may appear in your Empire, though only around 5 are active at game start (selected randomly) while Great Houses in other civilizations are procedurally generated.

The second tier are Minor Houses. Within the Empire, these Houses are still bespoke, with a history and a base of operations, but do not have Holdings of any great size, usually no more than a single planet. Their leaders yearn for their House to rise to Great House status. There are 10 custom-made Minor Houses in the game, of which around 5 will be active in your Empire at game start, along with other, procedurally-generated Minor Houses.

The lowest and most common tier are Common Houses. These Houses are basically the ‘normal’ Houses of no great note, representing average families and House groups. There may be dozens of these Houses in the game. They do not have Holdings or military.

Houses are the entities that you are in conflict with throughout the game. As Emperor, you must work with the Great Houses to ensure that they support your Projects and Actions, and keep a close watch that they do not ally with each other in order to overthrow your House (and thus you). Your Inquisitors will be vital to stand watch over less-loyal Houses. It is important that you cultivate solid alliances with the Houses that you feel will benefit you the most. Due to ideology, it is impossible for you to ‘ally’ with all Houses – the other Houses are natural rivals, and acting in the best interests of one House will make other Houses jealous. Balancing your relations with the Houses is a critical part of your rule: do you more or less try to keep them neutral (‘a quiet dog is a safe dog’) or do you try to boost one or two Houses above the rest to gain their loyalty, but anger the rest of the Houses, especially those Houses’ sworn enemies? It’s up to you. You can also stop supporting Houses, but you might up angering everyone along the way.

To quickly pacify Houses, you have four powerful tools in your arsenal. The first is Projects. Proposing Projects that benefit a certain House will usually bump their Loyalty towards you and your House, depending on the benefit they will get.

The second is your administrative positions. You can assign a Character from a specific House to a viceroy position of a planet, a system or provincial governor, or even a Prime on your Council. The more power you give a character from a House, the happier and more loyal they will be, but obviously this will anger other Houses.

The third is more drastic, but has a huge impact – you can give a House a Holding of a planet, a system, or even a province (if it is yours to give). While this will delight Houses to no end, there are a few drawbacks. First of all, you no longer ‘own’ the Holding, so you can’t tax it or get supply from it as you did before. Second, you can’t get the Holding back by any means except force. In other words, if you decide you made a mistake in giving that system to a House that was threatening war, too bad – unless you decide to go to war yourself.

Which brings us to the fourth and final option: troops and guns. You can always use your military to destroy a House if you feel the need to do so. Keep in mind that this will raise your Fear rating to dizzying heights, and other Houses that are not cowed will actively plot to curb your power (unless the House that you took down was hated by all else, but even then self-preservation takes over). Repression – from military occupation to targeted kinetic strikes against their home planet – can keep your nobles in line, but such extreme measures will have repercussions…

Part II tomorrow!!