This original edition of Nobilis is affectionately called "The Little Pink Book" by fans, to differentiate it from "The Great White Book" of Second Edition. It describes a game of playing gods of concepts known as Powers, working for even greater gods called Imperators, engaged in political machinations against each other and open warfare against the Excrucians, beings from beyond our universe who wish to destroy it utterly. The rules of the game are substantially similar to the subsequent edition, but much denser, with wargame-style numerical subheadings and less illustrated with examples.
Characters have only four numerical characteristics: Aspect covers all tasks mortal humans can perform. Domain covers the miraculous concept that the Power represents. Realm reflects the Power's authority within their Imperator's home territory, known as a Chancel. Spirit is the supernatural force of the Power's personality and protects against hostile miracles via the shield known as Auctoritas.
Task resolution does not use dice or other randomizers. Instead, characters can accomplish any task of difficulty up to their characteristic's rating automatically, and can spend some of their limited supply of Miracle Points to accomplish harder tasks. When opposed by other miraculous beings, this leads to a blind bidding mechanic that introduces uncertainty. The difficulty of tasks is characterized by a simple-yet-comprehensive nine-point scale.