The Court of the Empress is a very simple roleplaying game that uses not materials at all. One player is selected to play the Empress, an exceptionally cruel and all-powerful despot. The remaining players play courtiers. Courtiers have only two game characteristics--a name, and a favor to beg from the empress. Sample names and favors are provided--favors, for example: tax exemptions, favorable marriage for child, local monopoly, additional lands or titles, etc.
The Empress opens court and makes a request of some entertainment or activity to be provided by the courtiers. Courtiers then take turns presenting themselves and begging their favor. The Empress may engage in conversation with the Courtier, but does not have to do so. After some point the Empress either sends the Courtier away to death, banishes them, or speaks to the next courtier. This cycle continues until only a single courtier remains present at which time that player has won the round and accumulates points. Play proceeds to the next round where the next player is the Empress and the former empress is now a courtier. At the end of several rounds, the player with the most points is declared the game's winner.
The rules encourage suitable body language and demand first-person voice. For example, the Empress should sit straight up and speak clearly. Courtiers should be obsequious and pleading.