Sima Qian, Prefect of the Grand Scribes, was exhausted after completing his last assignment, Project Kaguya. While it was quite fun to recover from last place after the expansion phase, he had found the final turns to be incredibly dry and uninteresting, as most of his time was spent micromanaging and waiting for technology to be researched. But he did not dare raise any complaint about that to the unpredictable Emperor Han Wu Di, as this was not the first time he had been threatened with bodily mutilation. All he could do was hope that something better was on the way. What could he expect from a master who was a Civilization junkie, anyway? The Son of Heaven had asked him to get a good night of sleep, which Sima Qian found to be both a blessing and a curse. It was the first time in over a month that he was allowed to have a break from his duties, but deep inside he feared this was a sign that the next assignment would be even harsher than the last. Never before had the Emperor shown any kind of concern for his health, so he wondered what might be the reason behind that suggestion. Much to Sima Qian's surprise, Wu Di was in a cheerful mood when he showed up at the palace the next morning. "Have a seat," said the Emperor after the young minister had performed the formalities of kowtowing. A royal servant brought them a steaming kettle of tea. "Drink," said Wu Di. "You will need it." He must be testing my alertness, thought Sima Qian. But he kept his mouth shut, focusing intently on the servant instead, who nervously poured their drinks. Something seemed abnormal with the tea. It was not the dragonwell green tea that was the Emperor's favorite, but a strange dark red variety that he had sometimes seen in his travels in the south. "Is something bothering you?" asked Wu Di. "You look troubled." Sima Qian quickly shook his head. "No, no, I am very fine, thank you." "You are lying. I can tell from the look on your face that you think something is wrong with the tea." The Emperor grinned at him for a moment, then continued. "I am sharing a special treat with you today, for this is some of the most expensive black tea that I have ever acquired from the faraway country of India. It will do a fine job of sharpening your mind." "India," repeated the historian. "Is that where you are sending me on this next assignment?" "Exactly. This time you will take on the role of Mohandas Gandhi of India, the very Mahatma himself. And this tea will help warm you up for that task. I'm sure you are aware that many Indians are vegetarians, and you might find this strong-flavored black tea essential to satisfying your palate." Wu Di paused, as if waiting for the message to get across. "Now let me explain. You probably remember the last comment that Gandhi made after you completed the Wonders of the Orient, and he was clearly dismayed with the fact that you cheated in the game." "I did not cheat!" interrupted Sima Qian adamantly. "He has absolutely no grounds for making that accusation." "Quiet, you." Wu Di would not let him continue. "I don't care what you might think of this, but as far as Gandhi is concerned, you broke the rules that he plays by. You, unfortunately, were not a proper vegetarian." Sima Qian was quite confused by this. "How does that have anything to do with a game of Civilization?" "Much more than you may think. What he means is that you worked tiles that had the resources that no vegetarian in his right mind would ever touch. Clearly, in Project Kaguya, you demonstrated that it was not enough to just deprive you of resources. And so this time, I will allow you to have resources near your starting location, but you will be forbidden from using some of them. There are six resources that a vegetarian may never touch, and those are cattle, game, whales, fish, ivory, and furs." "That doesn't make much sense," said Sima Qian. "You can still be a vegetarian around cattle, you just do not ever have to eat them. Cows are still highly beneficial in terms of helping out with work in the fields." "Ahh, but the Indians consider cows to be sacred. It is best if they roam free." "But what does a vegetarian have to care about ivory and furs? Surely they do not eat elephants and minks, now do they?" The Emperor frowned. "You realize that the religious Indian people are not vegetarian just for the sake of their own health, do you? The harvesting of ivory and furs inflicts such excruciating pain and torture, and often death, upon their animal sources. Surely a true vegetarian cannot condone such behavior." "What about horses, then? Aren't they animals exploited by human beings, too?" "Horses are permitted. The Indian people take very good care of their horses, as well as their elephants, so the animal cruelty argument will not apply there. And the other reason why I'm letting you use them is because as India, you do not know the secret of the wheel at the start. How would you be able to avoid the horses if you have no idea where they are?" Sima Qian thought this was a reasonable exception, so he did not question it further. But he was still unsure about the idea of "forbidding" the use of these resources. "So then, I will have to manage my cities carefully in order to make sure that those tiles are never worked." But Wu Di shook his head. "No, I cannot trust you to be careful enough to do that. The city governors are very stupid, so I must impose a stronger restriction upon you. You may never have any of the forbidden resources in the city radius of any of your cities, so make sure that you choose your city locations properly. And in addition to that, you may not build any terrain improvements upon those forbidden tiles, so do not even bother to irrigate, mine, or connect a road through them." It was a very strange restriction, but so far everything seemed quite fair in terms of setting up a balanced scenario. Still, there were other points he was unsure about. "Then what would you like me to do once I have my cities built?" "Hahaha!" chuckled the Emperor. "This is where it gets truly interesting. Your opponents will be the most unforgivable mass consumers of meat in this world, where their cuisine is dominated by non-vegetarian dishes. And so this time you shall be going up against the Americans, the English, the French, the Germans, and the Romans." "Five rival civilizations, so this is will be a small sized map?" "Precisely. The map I have prepared for you will be small continents on a world with 70% ocean cover. I have also given it a wet and warm climate to simulate the environment in hot, humid India. And just like your other two assignments, you will play at monarch difficulty." "Fair enough," said Sima Qian. "May I ask what victory condition you desire?" "Like always, I have set some very special rules for you." Wu Di grinned at him again. "As a deeply religious vegetarian, you cannot allow the violations of the sanctity of animalkind to continue. So as soon as you meet a rival civilization, you must trade for their territory map at the earliest opportunity. Then you must examine it carefully, and check if any of their cities are using a tile with a forbidden resource. If they are, you must declare war on them immediately. No more trading after that map if they are guilty of such crimes, so be sure you get everything you want to trade up front. But if they happen to be proper vegetarians, you can feel free to maintain any kind of relationship with them, both peace and war, and also make diplomatic agreements such as alliances, rights of passage, trade embargoes, and mutual protection pacts." Woah! Sima Qian. Suddenly the game dynamics had changed dramatically. But the Emperor was not done. "If they are not guilty of such crimes, you are still responsible for maintaining updated maps of their territory to make sure they remain on good vegetarian behavior. Any violations where they start to use a forbidden resource, and you must declare war as well." "What if I have a diplomatic or trade agreement with them at the moment they adopt the non-vegetarian ways?" "Then you must cancel it, or if it hasn't expired, you must break the deal and declare war anyway." My reputation is going to be ruined! muttered Sima Qian under his breath. Still, Wu Di seemed to have more to say. "Naturally, your duty is to teach these meat-eating barbarians a lesson. Every offending city that has access to a tile with forbidden resources must be razed. And every tile with the forbidden resources must be pillaged. You may not make peace with that civilization until you have done all of those things. But in the process, you do not want to hurt the innocent bystanders who abide by vegetarian principles. So if a city is not using any forbidden resources, you may not attack, bombard, or pillage that city or any of the tiles surrounding it." "What if I capture an offending city and then abandon it? Will that be allowed?" "No! When I say that you may never have the forbidden resources in your cities, I do mean at every moment in time. So this also means that you may not receive offending cities in a peace treaty, or through culture flips or propaganda, but non-offending cities can still be acquired in those ways." Oh dear, thought Sima Qian. This is going to be a lot of war. "I must emphasize again that all offending cities must be razed and all forbidden resource tiles must be pillaged by the end of the game. If even a single one of them still stands, or if any tile with a forbidden resource still has terrain improvements upon it, I will count this as a loss. Speaking of which, I don't think I have described the victory condition to you yet." Sima Qian cringed for a moment. He was sure the Emperor would have yet another nasty surprise for him. Wu Di cleared his throat and said, "It will not be enough to simply dominate the world and destroy your opponents. No, that is insufficient. You must convince them that the vegetarian culture of India is superior, and must amass at least 100,000 culture points for a cultural victory. Be warned that this is not easy when you are fighting wars for the majority of the time." The Son of Heaven has gone insane, thought Sima Qian. He was not looking forward to starting this assignment. "I understand that this is a difficult scenario," said Wu Di. "And so I've prepared a very good starting location for you. I'm sure you have often dreamed of a start like this one you are about to see." He motioned to a eunuch, who delivered a bamboo slat with the assignment scenario to the scribe. "Holy cow!" Sima Qian's eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw this, but the Emperor sternly reminded him, "Remember, no forbidden resources allowed!" With a long sigh, he accepted the bamboo slat from the eunuch and made his way out of the palace. Once again, what he had thought was a blessing turned out to be a curse, and now he had yet another nasty situation to deal with.