Brief(?) intro to past life visions

[tl;dr summary for existing players - past life vision accounts are updated! See Illithidbix’s post or the end of this post for links.]

For new players, I would like to share with you a cool bit of the game that there is not much info about on the wiki, and what there is is on several different pages.

Okay, so if you’re playing a priest at Empire you may know about liao - it’s the stuff that you get given if you have a congregation, and it lets you use religious skills if you have those. Pretty neat, right?

The wiki page on liao also mentions something called true liao (also called ‘pure liao’ or ‘imperial liao’). As it says, you can use this to do more permanent versions of many of the religious skills (see those skill pages for details), but you can also use it ‘to provide a human being with a special vision of another time and place’.

In the Empire setting, the common IC belief is that these visions are of people’s past lives (see that “True Liao” link above), and that’s why the IC religion, the Way of Virtue, talks about reincarnation.

As mentioned on the True Liao link again, the amount of true liao produced each season varies, though it’s generally half a dozen or fewer doses. One dose goes to the Throne; one dose can be bid on in a Bourse auction; and the Gatekeepers assign the rest.

Some of these might go on superpowered religious skills, like consecrating a tomb or hallowing a banner; others will go on visions!

So, how does the visions work in the game itself? Out of character, it’s a bit like a quest, but for just two people.

One of the people, the visionary, can talk to and act and interact with people from this other time and place, as if they were someone else. The other, the guide, can’t be seen or heard by anyone in the vision other than the visionary; but they also can’t touch anything, and if they do accidentally then things might go wrong.

There’s also an IC ceremony to help get you into the right frame of mind; I’ve gone through it before and it is really good at getting you involved in the vision.

Visionaries can be anyone in the game, apart from orcs, who cannot use liao (that includes true liao, but as a bonus you get to hear your ancestors!). I think you may need to have passed your Test of Citizenship, but we’ve had a couple of visionaries in their early teens, and they did just as well as the adults if not better. :slight_smile:

Guides need to have the Dedicate skill, but that’s it. (Again, since orcs can’t learn religious skills, they can’t be guides either.)

And, if you’d like to find out about the experiences that people have had in these visions - and about the historical and religious stuff that people have concluded afterwards - then some keener (that’s me) has been playing a character who’s been interviewing visionaries since the first event*, and there are records on the wiki of the vision accounts that that character has been publishing!

You can now read the accounts up to E2 last year. Anyone can have access to these IC, and feel free to print off your own copies - that’s why they’re in handy PDF booklet format. :slight_smile:

Accounts for E3 and E4 last year, and E1 and E2 this year, are currently only available at events.

If you want to have heard about this in character and have an Opinion about things, like “WHAT IS THIS BLASPHEMY” or “excellent, more of this”, or anything in between, there was a Winds of Fortune for it this time last year(

(* I actually missed one event, the second one, due to surgery, but other people recorded them too. Thank you Kath. :slight_smile: )


Cannot heart this part of the game enough.

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Gatekeeper and Guide Priesting are one of the most fun roles about.

You get to go upto people and be like

“Tell me about your character!” then debate some ethics and ontology and then be all:


*They almost always get better.


Edited the post to mention something one of my proofreaders mentioned (thanks H) - a visionary can be anyone, as long as they’ve passed their Test of Citizenship. A guide needs to have the Dedicate skill. That is all.


Note that it is still a use of Liao, so I believe Orcs can not benefit from it, so not quite anyone.

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Good point! Will update that in the main post. Orcs can’t learn Dedicate so also can’t be guides.

Can the visionary choose who their guide is, or is it assigned, or is this a random IC part of the game where either can happen? I know if I’m going to take crazy hallucinogens (Goosewhisper partaaayyyy), I tend to like a trusted buddy than someone I’ve never met.

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Oh definitely the visionary chooses who guides them, all the guide needs to have is the “Dedication” skill. I found guiding to be as much fun as being a visionary, well apart from that one “incident” but that almost never happens so I wouldn’t worry too much ;).


In theory the Gatekeeper Council/Bourse Dose holder/Empress could insist someone specific as the Guide Priest, but this tends to be very rare in practice.

And the potential visionary could always respond with “screw you, I’ll have my own crazy hallucinogens with blackjack and wine”

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I believe that they could insist on such, but would not have any automatic legal recourse if the visionary said “Sure” and then picked someone else on the day.


In uptime, to the best of my knowledge, the Gatekeepers in play have never made a grant of a dose of Pure Liao conditional on a Visionary taking a specific Guide-Priest with them. I understand there were negotiations in one instance, but that this was entirely consensual for the purpose of experimental theology.

If the Gatekeepers were to try to insist on a certain Guide-Priest being appointed for a candidate, I’d go ask the CC what they thought, but I’m certain they’d come down on the side of, “Visionary’s dose, Visionary’s choice,” and there would be no recourse to withdraw the gift if the Visionary chose a different Guide after falsely agreeing to the Gatekeepers’ stipulation. Once it’s given, it’s given.

This holds true of the dose made available by Bourse Auction and the Throne dose. Much as I’d hate to go toe-to-toe with the Imperatrix on a legal matter.

On a tragic but related matter, we do sometimes have the issue of what to do with a dose gifted to someone who is killed before they can experience their Vision. During the procedural uncertainty of the early Third Interregnum (ie. the first few years of the game), backup candidates were chosen by the Gatekeepers, and one or two actually got Visions based on the deaths of characters higher-up the priority list. It has been clarified since that “backup” candidates have no legal standing: that when the list is submitted to the Civil Service, it is final, and it can only be passed to another if that person expresses the wish that it do so - including in a written will, or in the absence of a written will, by agreement with the dead character’s inheritors. This last process has not been legally formalised, and in practice, tends to depend on national customs; the situation has only arisen once recently, and fortunately, the solution was quite simple, as the deceased had few groupmates.

Possession of a dose of Pure Liao is serious business.


Anyone wanting to know details of “Incident”, please read vision of Ysabel I Erigo of Handful of Dust. :slight_smile:

PD completely encourage shenanigans with true liao - if you want to do something against the rules of the Civil servants who run the true liao encounters, this is entirely supportable in game. I recommend emailing in with warning in advance so they can organise some lovely consequences :smiley:


This is true to an extent. Bear in mind that a PLV is a specific encounter written for one or two people only, one with extremely unusual constraints for a LARP, and that a lot of the extensive pre-Vision briefing is designed to encourage PCs to behave according to certain rules. The Doylean reason for those rules is to make sure the players have a good time, rather than losing out by making silly mistakes.

If you read the details of Ysabel i Erigo’s PLV, you’ll know that if the player had told us nothing beforehand, we wouldn’t have been able to provide any of that experience. The set would have been wrong, our reactions would have been un-agreed and unrehearsed, we’d have had to take an extensive break at a moment of exciting high-tension roleplay to check the consequences of her fuckery with a ref by radio and probably longer to go ask Management what the fuck, and nobody involved would have had any fun.

We don’t really encourage people to mess with the process because the design of the encounter in OOC terms is quite specific - but if you’re going to try something, you must let us know in advance, or you’re just not going to have any fun.