WHO OR WHAT IS THE EMPEROR?
1. Tween-king, spoiled and ignorant, prone to whimsical decrees
2. Mummified corpse, as interpreted by coterie of court-mediums
3. A revolving door of princelings continually assassinating each other
4. An especially holy rock, covered in mantras for how to live
5. Title shared by three different individuals, bureaucracy paralysed
6. Ate an immortality peach. Seven hundred years old, irredeemably senile
7. Gnomic pronouncements dispensed by proto-Babbage-Engine
8. Highest-ranking scholar, but 'knowledge' is a thousand years out of date
9. A broken-telephone system of eunuchs relaying information to and from a baffled king
10. Absolutely NOT a horse wearing a robe. It is a crime to even think that.
WHAT WAS THE EMPIRE'S STRENGTH, NOW A LIABILITY?
1. Vast and powerful military ... now obsolete and shackled to centuries-old tactics
2. Meritocratic civil service exams ... now a Kafka-esque profusion of minor bureaucrats
3. Famous thinkers and scientists ... now calcified into tradition-bound schools
4. Rich and affluent trade cities ... now competing fiefdoms ruled by rival families
5. Unifying national religion ... now geomancers and diviners obsessed with interpreting signs
6. Monasteries as centers of culture ... now a profusion of competing apocalypse sects
7. Government by organised ministries ... now obsessed with court infighting
8. Independent and capable clans ... now a scattering of bandit-kings and warlords
9. Thriving merchant economy ... now actively profiteering in collusion with outsiders
10. Elaborate public works ... now prone to failure with consequent flood/famine/earthquakes
WHAT DOES THE EMPIRE HAVE THAT IS VALUABLE TO OUTSIDERS?
1. Conqueror-worm silk
2. Medicinal fungi
3. Necromantic bone-china
4. Radiant jadestone
5. Tea. It's very good tea
6. Longevity pears
7. Wool-monkey fabrics
8. Porcelain serving-golems
9. Hell-turtle ivory
10. Edible dream-scrolls