Mandate of Heaven Primer

Dominion Basics

In the Mandate of Heaven rules individual national entities are called Dominions. Dominions have stats similar to characters or mass combat units. These stats include

Magnitude The overall size of the nation, the city-states of Bewellen are 2, Nexus is 5

Attributes: Culture – Ability to keep citizens happy Government – Ability to affect treaties and run a tight ship Military – Ability to conquer and defend

Abilities Just like a character, these are what your populace is good at, not all abilities are represented.

Virtues Just like a character, these are what your populace believes in.

Willpower and Limit Somewhat like a character, Willpower is political will to change, Limit is civil unrest.

Leading Dominions

A character can guide a dominion by engaging in one of several levels of influence which are increasingly effective but also increasingly obvious.
  1. Sponsor, you may choose actions for the Dominion to take but not use charms or your own attributes in place of a Dominion’s. No one really could connect you with the leadership of the Dominion without considerable effort and essence. Note that this status is the unnamed default assumed in MoH, I have named it for my convenience.
  2. Savant, you gain the benefits of being a Sponsor plus you can use Excellency charms to enhance your Dominion’s rolls, and replace the Dominion’s Abilities with their own. To become a Savant the character must have 8+ total Dots in two eligible backgrounds. Savants can only be recognized by others with access to the wheels of power, and that task is made more difficult the slower they alter the course of the ship of state.
  3. Sorcerer, you gain the benefits of being a Savant plus you can use charms with the Mandate keyword. To become a Sorcerer you must have 11+ Dots in three or fewer eligible backgrounds. Any who interact with a Dominion can know of the Sorcerer.
  4. Supreme Leader, this is the term for a Sorcerer that has gained Legitimacy, the process for doing so and the benefits of such are listed on p139 of the Storyteller’s Companion.

Selecting Actions & Events Each Dominion has a pool of actions that they can take, these actions are divided between all of the characters who have a stake in the Dominion 1 at a time in order of Leadership class (with a roll-off dictated by current circumstances to break ties). Should any actions not be passed out, we will start at the top, doubling up on actions and so on.

For example, since each of the city-states of Bewellen are Magnitude 2 and thus have 2 actions. The Harmonious Homestead has a Supreme Leader in the form of Melgris Huttonten, thus he gets first pick of the actions. If two characters vie for the second action they roll off (Manipulation + Bureaucracy as they compete to infiltrate the merchant elite) and the winner get to pick the second action. If instead Harmonious Homestead had grown to Magnitude 4, Huttonten would get 1st and 4th pick of action and the players would roll off to choose 2 and 3.

In the beginning of the game I will select the challenging Events that each Dominion must face on their turn. Should the characters end up competitively controlling Domains they will be allowed to select these events for each other.


Lunars have Attribute based excellencies, and thus may boost the rolls of a dominion that they are a Savant (or better) of by up to the Dominion’s attribute in dice (or 1/2 that in successes as normal). Any Social Attribute Excellency can be use to boost Culture rolls, any Mental – Government and any Physical – Military.

Several charms have been altered or added when it comes to the Mandate of Heaven system, please read the house rules sections.

In Game

The way that I am planning on running Mandate of Heaven is as breaks in between the more in-person parts of the campaign. Each Mandate of Heaven turn will be of roughly season length and I generally plan on having 1 or 2 between the active campaign sessions, though there are some types of plans that may require longer gaps (breeding beastmen for example). Ideally these will be run at the end of sessions as cleanup or over email. I am not expecting players to come up to speed on the Mandate of Heaven system. I am expecting that characters will narrate what their character is doing to lead the Dominion in a given direction and that I will translate that into a roll that someone will make and then provide feedback. If players end up being interested in the system I will have character sheets for all of the Dominions and having a character who is a Savant or better would grant their player a copy of said sheet.

Mandate of Heaven Primer

The Thousand Streams of the River Country Xarei