Emperor Mechanic

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How To Be Emperor

According to Dragon, there are 9 steps to being Emperor. It used to be the case that you were Emperor when you could demonstrate all of these, but now there are protocol books that I believe let you fudge one or more of these requirements. Check my facts here, Li Merit, or someone?

We enumerate the 9 steps, plus additional research, below:

  • Support of the People

There are a lot of anecdotes about beloved rulers, or respected wise men, or feared-but-treasured warriors.... it seems to boil down to

A reason for popularity (what do you do for them in general)
A reason for cheering right now (what did you just do)

From the anecdotes, it sounds like it's possible to fake one or the other with propaganda / persuasion / etc, but that trying to fake both of them will lead to Being Found Out In The End. At least in the stories. :)

  • Support of the Army

You skip past some stories about being an acclaimed general, or about being a heroic soldier, or about being an acclaimed general or a heroic soldier in a different army, or about being a retired soldier, and find one small anecdote about having an acclaimed general in the army who is your best friend and boon companion. (But mostly, it seems that army tends to like army).

  • Being a blood heir

In general, the line of the Emperor passes through male primogeniture, but the general is not always the specific. The younger son of the Consort is sometimes chosen over the elder son of a lesser wife or a concubine. If the Emperor is alive and declares his legitimate heir, that pretty much goes, but if he dies before declaring an heir (for example, if the rightful first born son is born after he dies), then there will be factions, and those who have lesser and older bloodlines will sometimes make a claim.

  • Support of the Regency Council
The book does not mention the Regency Council, but it does say:

"Blessed is he who encounters a mechanic he already knows."

so...one presumes that means support of the regency council can be gained by arranging a vote and arranging a suitable number of regents to vote your way.

  • Support of the Dragon

Having the blessing of a spirit, Great or otherwise, upon one's house or family, is always an advantage, but it is possible to fall, through lazy thought, into regarding it as a burden or a curse.

When a single man or woman has the blessing of a Great Spirit, then all things which are smiled upon by that Spirit become more easily learned, more easily accomplished. Those things which are not in the favor of that Spirit, however, are harder. How easy it is to slide into believing that when accomplishing a harder thing, that the disfavor of the Spirit is a great weight that one must struggle against - but no, it is but the lack of favor buoying one up which one had become accustomed to.

  • Omens of Thrones

And when the wandering pilgrim Guoxiu first rode to the City of Spires, as he passed through the gate into the city, the clouds overhead split, and a beam of light shone down upon him. The clouds swiftly blew away, save a golden sunlit cloud shaped like a crown, which sat above the city, unmoved by the wind, all the rest of the day.

(Also, "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England.". Also, "In the case of the Stone of Destiny, it was said that when a king of the royal blood sat on it, it would cry out. If an imposter sat on the throne, it would remain silent.")

From thinking about Imperial Shticks:

Omen of Thrones needs to be something that other people can observe well enough to make an Interpret Omens roll on (though possibly after it's pointed out to them.)

Demonstrating some of the Imperial shticks might be part of an Omen of Thrones. (For example, one of the Omen of Thrones for the Dalai Lama clearly involves the use of Imperial Eye, picking out the correct items that belonged to the previous Dalai Lama).

  • Support of the Bureaucracy

The Bureaucracy is the mechanism of government, a weighty and well-oiled clockwork that continues on, no matter whose hand is at the helm. The Bureaucracy is that which causes there to be an Imperial Concubine, and a cooking staff which makes the Emperor's Breakfast, when there is no Emperor. The Bureacracy is all-pervasive (though thickest in the Dragon's Throne), and surprisingly egalitarian. Anyone can become a bureaucrat; anyone can submit a form. There are those who are masters of bureaucracy, but even they cannot change the course of the bureaucracy on a whim, only with concerted effort over time, and they are bound by the rules as much as they enforce them.

Support of the Bureaucracy is granted to those who understand it, live by its rules, and make them stronger through use and expansion. It is more a Way than a means, more a Path than a signpost. True Bureaucracy is not the means to the end, it is itself the Goal.

...after reading that bit, I got a weird feeling, like something went wrong with that reading session. Or perhaps something went... better than expected and you just weren't used to it working like that? Hard to say.
Well, all of that ends in itself business is clearly a disaster. However, a rule of the bureaucracy is that the the bureaucracy has to follow the rules of the bureaucracy. So if we understand it better, we may be able to use it enough to our advantage to get something that counts.

  • Support of the Nobility

The book tends to make a smaller distinction between the nobility and the government mechanics than you might expect. The most effective way to get the country's elite behind you is to leverage strength/victory in their national mechanics. In the Dragon's Throne, that's Illumineaucracy, in the Arcade that's the Game of Houses, in the Meadows that's the Court of Distinction. In the others, it varies...

  • Support of the Imperial Consort

The Imperial Consort is essentially the First Lady of the Empire - she will tend to have a sphere of influence which is narrower and distinct from the Emperor's, but she is kind of pre-eminent in that sphere. Choosing the proper Consort will allow an Emperor to fill a weakness, or protect a vulnerability, for no one can be pre-eminent in all things.

There have been some cases where an Emperor died young and his heir was not of age; the Consort tends to continue on until he comes of age, and sometimes continues on for a second Emperor; this would be like having a First Lady who isn't your wife - not the usual, but it happens.

And from research done by Yue, Shen-Ji's wife:

Most of the time the Consort is the first wife, but she outranks the other wives by more than the usual first wife. If there is a non-wife Consort and wives, the Consort outranks the wives.

Wives outrank concubines. Concubines can be love matches or they can be political alliances, but one difference is that it's not until death the way marriage is. A concubine can be set aside with greater or lesser benefits - it is not unheard of for a concubine to leave the Emperor's court to become a noble in the Dragon's Throne or elsewhere, or even to make a later good marriage.

Xiao Fa

How is Xiao Fa doing?

  • Support of the People
Plan: Hm, Xiao Fa does a lot for the people, but unfortunately there may need to be a propaganda campaign to make sure the people know. He didn't do it to gain notoriety in the first place, but some measure of notoriety is required, it seems. I do not know at what point he would just become a name on the lips of the people through unsolicited word of mouth, though.

  • Support of the Army
Plan: Xiao Fa has been up on the Wall, helping out with healing troops for some of the Winter, I don't know how well we may have done on this score yet.

  • Being a blood heir
Plan: We are at 152 out of ?? successes researching Xiao Fa's ancestry in the Exalted Library.

  • Support of the Regency Council
Plan: How many regents do we know, and how many can we convince to help with this in return for other favors?

  • Support of the Dragon
Plan: If we can interpret the above to mean having a Dragon aspect, I think we can claim this one.

  • Omens of Thrones

  • Support of the Bureaucracy

  • Support of the Nobility

  • Support of the Imperial Consort

Other Contenders

  • Lucky Chiang
  • The Obsidian Warlord
  • The Butterfly Prince
  • Tai Lung
  • Lijuan? (although not by any effort on her part)

Exalted Library Heir Researchers


  • a long-time library patron named Hadisen
  • the Cryptomancer
  • and a monk named Huian
  • a young man who was quite the best, who looked through the book, but he hasn't been back.
  • Li Merit