Councils of Elporia

Benjamin Kanelos, based on As Thou Commands by Peter Nixon

As Thou Commands is a rules-light mass player experience (megagame) where the players procedurally generate and run fictional feudal Duchies. These Duchies comprise an entire medieval Kingdom, and players’ decisions will have impacts both near and far. Play alternates between drafting narrative elements and participating in council sessions where players attempt to negotiate beneficial outcomes to thorny issues bedeviling the Kingdom.

While the narrative elements created by the players will be edited by moderators to enforce tonal homogeneity between the Duchies (in a collaborative manner with player input), players will have a large say over the broader narrative universe in which the Kingdom exists. As Thou Commands aims to be a collaborative storytelling experience as much as an emulation of medieval power politics.

The Councils of Elporia logo

A Megagame of Collaborative Worldbuilding & Politicking

Based on As Thou Commands by Peter Nixon

Game Design: Benjamin Kanelos

Symbols from TheNounProject: kareemov1000, Hassan Ali, Sergey Demushkin, Rainbow Designs, texar tantular, hand shake by Robert Bjurshagen & Alina Oleynik.

Player Handbook

Centuries of war between the factions of the Elpor Basin has finally ended. With the Elporian Pact signed, there is finally a chance for peace! Now comes the hard part… Building a unified Kingdom from the ruins of war while working alongside your rivals whom you were fighting with until recently. Things were simpler when ‘might makes right’, but perhaps there are small victories to be won through diplomacy? Besides, the old adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” still holds true, right? A handshake here, a side-eye there, and hopefully you’ll come out ahead!

The Councils of Elporia is a rules-light mass player experience (megagame) where the players collectively generate and rule a Kingdom. Players will have a large say over the broader narrative universe, but their choices will be constrained by some light rules and edits by moderators to enforce tonal homogeneity. The Councils of Elporia aims to be a collaborative storytelling experience all players can enjoy.

Each player will procedurally generate and rule over a fictional Province. These Provinces comprise an entire medieval-fantasy Kingdom, and players’ decisions will have impacts both near and far. Players will alternate between drafting narrative elements for their Province, and then participating in council sessions. In the Council sessions, players will attempt to negotiate beneficial outcomes to thorny issues bedeviling the Kingdom.


  1. Tech Platforms
  2. Tonal Guide (High-Fantasy Medieval)
  3. The Elpor Basin
    1. The Councils of Elporia
  4. Player Safety and Inclusion
    1. Potentially Controversial Topics
    2. X-Card System
  5. General Structure of The Councils of Elporia
  6. Check-in Instructions
  7. Phase I. Draft Aspects
    1. Linking Aspects
    2. Collecting Resources
    3. Trading Resources & Forming Links
  8. Phase II. Council Sessions
    1. The Voting Process
    2. Voting Consequences
    3. Non-Council Options

Tech Platforms

Councils of Elporia uses Miro (browser-based app) for the shared game boards and Discord for text and voice communication. You must have access to both, and we highly recommend the use of a PC with a mouse. Please familiarize yourself with both apps prior to the game.

Miro will be the shared game board. Be aware that any changes you make will be visible to all players. Try not to move / change elements you are not meant to. A quick primer on the basic commands you will be using:

  • Pan the screen: Press and hold your center scroll wheel OR Use the arrow keys.
  • Zoom: Spin your control wheel OR Ctrl + / -
  • Edit an element: Use the ‘Select’ tool (press V) and then double-click the element.
  • Delete an element: Use the ‘Select’ tool (press V), select the element, and press Delete.
  • Move an element: Use the ‘Select’ tool (press V), select the element, drag and drop it by pressing and holding your left mouse button.
  • Copy an element: Use the ‘Select’ tool (press V), select the element, and press Ctrl + D (Duplicate)
  • Undo: If you make a mistake, press Ctrl + Z to undo.

Tonal Guide (High-Fantasy Medieval)

This is a high-fantasy medieval setting. (Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, etc.) Here are important thematic notes to keep in mind for the event:

  • There is a wide range of fantasy races and cultures. However, ‘fantasy racism’ will not be tolerated. Your character cannot dislike members of other races simply because they belong to that race.
    We will refer to races as ‘factions’ for the purposes of this game.
  • Only players of a specific faction are allowed to say what their faction’s appearance and customs are. If two (or more) players share a faction, they must agree on in-game lore related to their faction before it can become canon (with approval from their Control).
    Example: John is an elf. He says elves are small trickster fey with the innate magical ability to cause feelings of merriment in those around them. Jane isn’t an elf. She cannot change elves in this world to be tall, unnaturally beautiful, and long lived… she must defer to John’s description.
  • Magic is commonplace, but only practiced by those who have received training. While magic is powerful, it is not omnipotent. Multiple forms of magic can exist within the narrative.
  • Players should not incorporate pre-existing media (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, etc.) into the narrative.

The Elpor Basin

The Elpor Basin is home to a plenitude of different factions and geographies. Unfortunately, this has not led to prosperity. Each faction has at some time sought to dominate the Elpor Basin. Thus, for as long as anyone can remember, the Elpor Basin has always been at war. While small Kingdoms from each land would rise, the geographical layout and factional nature of its inhabitants always led to a quick downfall.

Plains of Duerbar
The majority of the Elpor Basin is made up of the Plains of Duerbar. These fertile rolling hills are home to humans, hobbits, centaurs, orcs, and giants. The Plains of Duerbar have no defensible chokepoint, so no great settlements of any kind were ever established.
Glimline Forests
The Elpor Basin is dotted with great stands of towering trees. These Glimline Forests are home to elves, treefolk, satyrs, fairies, and unicorns. The Glimline Forests are separated by great distances, making it impossible for one faction to rule them all.
Mountains of Skaar
Surrounding the Elpor Basin on three sides are the Mountains of Skaar. These treacherous cliffs are home to dragonborn, avian, gargoyles, ettercaps, and sphinx. Being a thin line of a mountain range surrounding the Basin, the length of the territory is interminable making it impractical for any ruler to control it in its entirety.
Under the entire Elpor Basin lies the Underland, a vast network of caves home to dwarves, goblins, myconids, minotaurs, and formians. The Underland connects to all other regions, making it impossible to form any real border to defend.
Silver Coast (may not occur in playtest)
The Elpor Basin empties into the Silver Sea on one side. This forms the Silver Coast which is populated by merfolk, reptilians, tortles, slimelings, and crabfolk. The residents of the Silver Coast were never adept enough and travelling inland, so any of their threats were pushed back to the sea.

The world outside the Elpor Basin is largely a mystery to the basin’s residents. Every now and again rumors, merchants, and delegations make their way into Elpor Basin… but the all consuming wars turn most of the Factions’ attention inwards.

The Councils of Elporia

Over generations it has become clear that no faction will ever control the territory in its entirety. After centuries of war, it finally seems the time for diplomacy has arisen. After plenty of consternation and political wrangling, each faction selected a leader to send to council to form a new allied government. Past borders were dissolved. Promises to share resources were made. Truces were struck between old enemies. Thus the Elporian Pact was signed, ratified, and a new Kingdom was born! Now comes the hard part of integration and administration. 3 main legislative bodies were formed by the Pact:

  • Hall of Champions: War has dominated the Elpor Basin for centuries. For many, fighting is all they’ve ever known. Military leaders have been called to discuss the future for Elporia’s armed forces now that the war is over. While some advocate peaceful alternatives, there are those who still feel the call of glory in their bones and wish to expand the Kingdom’s borders beyond the Elpor Basin.
  • Elporian Parliament: Different factions had their own forms of government and rule-of-law. Now it is time to come together and rule as one. Forging a unified domestic policy for such a wide a varied group of peoples has never been tried… or at least there are no surviving records of such a governing body. But now it’s time for the leaders to tackle the problems bubbling up for the fledgling Kingdom.
  • Conference of Scholars: There were those who dedicated themselves to discovery and magic even while the fighting raged around them. Now without the omnipresent threat of violence, scholarly opportunities abound with the new cultural exchange between factions. Unfortunately, not all agree on the moral and ethical ramifications of these discoveries. What should or should not be allowed in the Kingdom is hotly debated.

For the purposes of this game:

  • No players are traitors to the Kingdom. All players are working towards the good of the Kingdom, although you are likely to have differences of opinion on what exactly that means.
  • A new government will not be established. Players will NOT be allowed to leave the Kingdom or otherwise lead a political revolution. While certain factions will have their power wax and wane, there will be no coups requiring Control to create a new government.

Player Safety and Inclusion

The Councils of Elporia aims to be an inclusive experience

  • All races and genders will be treated equally. The societal roles for various groups will not be featured as a point of debate in the gameplay.
  • Homosexual relationships will be considered normal and acceptable for obvious contemporary reasons. Inheritance issues and dynastic crises stemming from homosexual relations should be pro-actively considered by players and may be leveraged as story beats to move plotlines forward by the moderators.
  • As always, do your best to respect the pronouns and titles of others. If in doubt, consider using a player’s title (Count, Baron, etc.) in place of their gendered pronoun (Sir, Madam, etc.)
  • Control reserves the right to remove players.
Potentially Controversial Topics

It’s impossible to avoid every potentially controversial topic, but Control has been instructed to handle these topics with care:

  • In general, violence will be nondescript unless significantly relevant to the narrative. Torture will be avoided as a topic of conversation.
  • Diplomatic (arranged) marriages may be utilized to cement house relations and may be used to fuel narrative elements (Sir John is betrothed to Marquess Jennifer but loves Sir Jack).
  • As always, do your best to respect the pronouns and titles of others. If in doubt, consider using a player’s title (Count, Baron, etc.) in place of their gendered pronoun (Sir, Madam, etc.)
  • Serfdom and the overall poor treatment of peasants may be leveraged for narrative elements, but the grand view that feudal aristocracies are inherently evil or that serfdom is a vile system will not be presented.
  • Chattel slavery, harems, prisoner labor, and other forms of bondage (besides serfdom) will not be incorporated into the event narrative in ways that puts any players in the position of benefitting from such practices or having to defend those practices in debate.
  • There will be no real-world religions in the game, although we realize fictional religions always have contemporary counterparts. Players will be given leeway in how they create and cast various religious groups in the game world. However, Control will be on guard to moderate the discussions and keep players from overly characterizing religious communities as evil or from having contemporary bigotries be injected into the game.
    Pro-tip for uncertain players: Referring to other religious groups simply as ‘Barbarians’, ‘Heathens’ or ‘Heretics’ is enough in terms of justifying your actions against a rival religious community. There is no need to elaborate on why you dislike those of the rival religion’s way of life or philosophical underpinnings.
X-Card System

Players will have the ability to object to ongoing evolving narrative elements which may make them uncomfortable using an X-card system. A card with an X on it will be present for all players to gesture to.If a player gestures to that card, then the current narrative element being discussed will be skipped ASAP and without question. Because we are playing digitally, players may need to privately message or publicly signal Control to skip a topic.

General Structure of The Councils of Elporia

The Kingdom is composed of Provinces, which are overseen by Faction Leaders represented by the Players. All players will start on equal footing.

The role of the players and Control in The Councils of Elporia:

  • Faction Leaders:(up to 5 per Province) The players who draft Aspects and vote on Dilemmas to try and protect their interests and push forward their goals.
  • Province Control:(1 per Province) There will be 1 Control for each Province to lead the drafting sessions. The Province Control players will lead Dilemmas, formation of Links, and Player-Driven Narratives.
  • Head Control:(1) The lead Control who will manage the overarching game.

Each round will consist of 2 phases and generall be 1 hours long:

  1. Draft Aspects:(20-30 minutes) Players will select Aspects for their Faction via a snake draft (a draft that goes in opposite order each cycle). These Aspects will give the players access to Resources, potential narrative Links, or special abilities. Players will fill in descriptive text for each Aspect they choose, slowly building and filling in the details of the world. After drafting, players will collect Resources from their Province board.
  2. Council Sessions:(20-30 minutes) Players will use their Resources to vote on options choosing policies or resolving dilemmas presented by Control. The results of these choices can have repercussions on individual Aspects, a Province, or the entire Kingdom. Players can also use this time to form Links with players in other Provinces and participate in Player-Driven Narratives. After the Dilemmas, players will gather together to hear the consequences of their decisions.

The game is designed to be 4 rounds long after which Control will convene and decide the ultimate fate of your Kingdom. Each round is roughly equivalent to five years in-game.

Check-in Instructions

When you join the Discord server, please indicate which Province you would like to join and let Control know if you wish to play with another player. Your Province’s text channel will have a link to your Province’s Miro page. Claim one of the five boards and fill in the relevant information. Choose a faction to represent. Players are encouraged to play as different factions, but can be the same faction upon request. Please change your Nickname on the Discord server to your character name and faction.

For example:

  • Crag Skullcrusher-Orc [He/Him]
  • Countess Florin-Elf [She/Her]
  • Lightfoot - Centaur [They/Them]

Phase I. Draft Aspects

During Asset drafting, you must remain in your Provinces’s Discord Voice channels. You can move to back rooms, but only to speak with other members of your Province. You cannot send private messages (PMs) to other players, although you can PM Control at any time.

Players will draft Aspects of their Faction by selecting an Aspect from the tableau. Once an Aspect is selected, Control will mark it with the player’s color andno other player can select that Aspect. Aspects confer some benefit upon the player who selected it.

  • Some Aspects will have a Resource symbol on them. These Aspects will generate Resources for the player at the end of every Phase I.
  • Some Aspects tell the player to take something. Players receive that benefit once at the time the Aspect is selected.
  • Some Aspects will offer a player a choice between benefits, which must be chosen at the same time the Aspect is selected. Delete the unselected option.
  • All Aspects will have an italicized prompt on them which the player should answer by deleting this text and answering the prompt on the card. The answers to the prompts are canon and will be the primary method of generating the collective narrative content for the game.

In the first round, a player will randomly be given the Leader token, represented by the crest of your Province. The player with the Leader token will make a draft selection first, followed by the next clockwise player. Drafting assets occurs as a “snake draft”, meaning the draft proceeds with players selecting their picks in clockwise order until the last player drafts their pick. Then the draft order reverses (counterclockwise) and starts with the player who picked last in the previous round.Each player can only have 1 Aspect per row, but can pick from any legal spot on the board (they do not have to draft from the top row down).

When drafting, players are encouraged to discuss and share their visions for their Province in a collaborative manner, but to also keep peer pressure to a minimum. When drafting, players do not need to wait for the previous player to finish their writing prompt before they pick their draft pick and Control may politely push players to draft asset cards in a brisk manner. Players can also use this time to Link their Aspects.

Linking Aspects

Players are encouraged to come up with ways their Aspects relate with each other. Here are some ideas:

  • Player A’s Paladins feature prominently in holy texts sacred to Player B’s Glory.
  • A Manufacturing District from Player A produces paper which is prized by the Library of Player B.
  • Player A patronizes a Large Corps of Knights which frequently train at Player B’s Training Grounds.

For narrative purposes, relating Aspects can stretch to multiple players and between Provinces:

  • Player A’s Alchemists work in player B’s Laboratory to produce fairy dust which is transported by Player C’s Merchants to a neighboring Province where they are stored in Player D’s Storehouse before being sold to Player E’s Wizards for use in spells.

To make such a relationship official, a player can spend a Link Token to form a Link between two Aspects.

Icon used for a link

When a player chooses an Aspect that gives them a Link Token, they add it to their player board.

Link Tokens do not need to be spent the moment they are acquired.

Link Tokens are not Resources. They cannot be used to vote, but they can be traded.

If Control approves a Link, they will draw the Link and label it. When forming a Link:

  • A single Aspect can have up to 4 different Links.
  • Links must be between different players (a player cannot Link their own Aspects). Both players whose Aspects will be Linked must agree to the Link.
  • Only one player of the two Linked Aspects has to spend a Link Token.
  • When forming a Link, both players gain 2 Resources. Control will pick the type(s) of Resources gained.
Collecting Resources

After Drafting, players will collect Resources. Each symbol on an Aspect a player has drafted will create 1 matching Resource. There are 3 Resources in the game: Wealth, Might, and Magic. While all these Resources can all be used to vote on options during the Council Sessions, players can earn these Resources in different ways and they may have different effects at various points of the game.

Icon used for wealth

Represents material assets and other objects of quantifiable value

Icon used for might

Represents military power and the ability to accomplish things through acts of violence.

Icon used for magic
Represents magical abilities and spellcraft.
Trading Resources & Forming Links

The Councils of Elporia is meant to be a game of diplomacy, negotiations, and backstabbing. As part of this, players can trade with one another or establish links at any time they share the same voice channel. Players can trade Resources and Link Tokens, but cannot trade Aspects. If players have the Resources to complete an agreed upon trade, they must do so immediately. However, if the trade is for future Resources, the player does not have to honor the deal in the future.

Phase II. Council Sessions

Each player can pick a single Council Session they would like to attend and enter that Council’s Voice Channel on Discord. Once you enter a Council session for the round, you cannot enter a different Council that round. You can attend a different Council in the following rounds.

During this phase, players are free to move between their chosen Council’s Voice Channel, their Province’s Voice Channel, the Inter-Province Link Voice Channel, and the Player-Driven Narrative Voice Channel.

In the Council Voice Channel, the players will meet to discuss and debate the pressing issues facing the Kingdom. Control will present a dilemma that will likely have far-reaching effects. Some example dilemmas include:

  • A controversial religious figure has been touring the Kingdom and engaging in debates with local clergy. Should we allow these debates to occur?
  • A neighboring Kingdom is asking our Kingdom for military assistance. Should we send aid?
  • A fire swept through the Plains of Duerbar. Should the Kingdom compensate the landlords?

Along with presenting the dilemma, Control will present the potential options to the dilemma which will be voted on by the players (voting process described below). Players vote by spending Resources.

Creative solutions or options in addressing certain dilemmas can be proposed by players but require the approval of Control. This is not meant to allow players to find a convenient ‘middle-ground’ option, which is often unrealistic. The goal of the game is to debate and negotiate tough and oftentimes binary decisions, and Control will push players to do so. Player-proposed solutions can only be proposed before voting on the options begins.

The Voting Process

Players are encouraged to have a brief open-ended discussion / negotiation about the dilemma. Players can dedicate resources to a vote at any time. To do so, players write their name in the ledger and indicate how many Resources of each type they would like to dedicate. Players can only add Resources, and cannot remove them once dedicated to a voting option. Players cannot vote with more than 5 Resources. A player can vote for more than one option. A player can abstain from the voting by not dedicating any Resources.

Control will set a secret timer (roughly 5 minutes) and will warn players when the voting is closing. Once closed, players cannot add any additional Resources and the results are tallied. The option with the most Resources wins. If there is a tie, the player who dedicated the most Resources breaks the tie. If there is still a tie, Control will break the tie.

  • For the winning option: The Resources used to vote for the Option are spent. Each player who dedicated Resources to the winning option removes that many Resources from their player mat.
  • For the losing option(s): The Resources used to vote for the Option are not spent. Each player who dedicated Resources to the losing option(s) leaves their player mat unchanged.

Control will note which option won. They will adjudicate the consequences of the winning option at the end of the Dilemma Phase. They will then announce the next dilemma or inform the players if that was the final dilemma of the Council Session.

Voting Consequences

At the end of the Dilemma phase, all players should gather in the Kingdom-Wide Announcements Channel where Control will adjudicate the consequences of the Dilemmas. There may be positive or negative effects. For example:

  • The controversial religious figure was allowed to tour the Kingdom, upsetting the local clergy. Each player with the Cleric or Paladins Aspect loses 1 Resource. Each player with the Knowledge Aspect gains 1 Resource.
  • The Council decides to aid the neighboring Kingdom by going to war. Each player with the Glory Aspect gains 2 Might Resources.
  • The Council decided the Kingdom should compensate landowners on the Plains of Duerbar following the fire. Each Province other than the Plains of Duerbar must lose 1 Wealth, and each Player in the Plains of Duerbar Province gains 1 Wealth Resource.

If a player is directly Linked to an affected Aspect, they share that benefit or loss. These benefits or losses do not continue to chain through Links.

Non-Council Options

Players do not need to stay in a Council session the entire time. Players are free to move to other voice channels as long as it is not a different Council or Province from their own. You can do the following during this phase:

  • Share information and discuss matters of concern. Players can use this time to gather information on the happenings and development of the Kingdom outside of their Province.
  • Trade Resources and establish Inter-Province Links. Players can trade Resources with one another. As Control is not managing player Resources, we ask that you do not cheat and give yourself Resources. Players can also establish Links between Aspects in different Provinces. If they agree to form a Link, they should go to the Narratives & Links voice channel where a member of Control can Link their Aspects in Miro.
  • Spend Resources for a Player-Driven Narrative. Players can meet in the Narratives & Links voice channel with Control and propose narrative effects they would like to see. Control will determine what Resources are required for such an effect, whether the proposed event is successful, and what (if any) effect it has.
    For example: A player wants to open diplomatic relations with the Barbarian Savages, so they send a ship bearing gifts. Control asks them to spend 2 Wealth tells the player they will have to wait until a later round to find out if and how the gifts were received.
  • Take a break IRL. There will be an in-game break for all players (most likely between rounds 2 and 3). However, remember that participating in the Council is not mandatory. Feel free to step away from your computer and stretch if you need to.