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"Ave Imperator. Morituri te salutant."
(Hail Emperor. We who are about to die salute you.)

"The Gladiator's Homage". Trad. Imperial Roman.

Basic Information

An emperor is, broadly, a monarch who has at least one king (or equivalent trade) as a vassal1. The title, interestingly enough, has fairly humble origins in the Latin word for a military commander (Imperator) and was used - at least initially - by the Augustine emperors specifically to disguise themselves from charges of seeking to be "King of Rome" by claiming to be merely first citizen and commander-in-chief of the armies. A few centuries of memetic mutation later and it had transformed into a synomyn for ancient titles such as High King or King of Kings. The female cognate (but more generally the consort) of an emperor is an emperess.

Technically an emperor's domain is known as an Empire - although it may not be called such, and it is quite possible to have an empire without an emperor.

In some times and places, being a "king of kings" won't be that big a deal - if anyone who can keep sixty men at arms (say) can call himself a king, Empire is never far away. In other places - and in more traditional treatments - an Emperor will be a force to be reckoned with (at least on paper). In reality, the amout of effort required to hold an empire together may turn out to be more than it is worth.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Playing an emperor is likely to be quite a dull game - unless, like Elric, you are going to more or less pack the job in and wander off. In which case you are, arguably, not playing an emperor.
  • The Imperial court … on the other hand … is likely to be the sort of place where you can have weeks of adventures without putting your glass down. Many of them at least as life-threatening as can be had down a dungeon, with the difference that violence probably won't help you … much.
  • Might make a useful "boss" for PC monarchs - becoming king of a vassal state might be an interesting acheivement.
  • Also a referee between PCs royal patrons and employers.
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