In my SWN milieu, war is brewing in Ceres Sector. The ruler of the planet Galaran has crowned himself Emperor and annexed several nearby planets with the might of his Pre-Tech space fleet. He has now turned his sights on the rest of Ceres Sector.
Relatively little is known about this mysterious Emperor of Galaran, but he has become the subject of much worried speculation. Character inquiry into the Emperor will require a Culture/Spacer, Culture/Criminal, or Culture/Traveler roll, depending on where you are. If the characters are on one of the Four Worlds (a faction that opposes Galaran), the roll is at +2. If they are on one of the worlds that have been subjugated by Galaran, the roll is at -2, and failing it by more than 3 will prompt attention of the local authorities within 1d6 hours.
If the roll is successful, the PCs can make a second roll to see what piece of information they glean about the enigmatic Emperor of Galaran:
1. The Emperor adheres to some ancient mystical religion. Some say he has psionic powers such as telekinesis and the ability to throw lightning from his hands.
2. The Emperor is actually one of the original Mandarins, kept alive all these centuries by Pre-Tech nanites.
3. The Emperor is a withered husk, kept alive by a machine that can only sustain him if it is fed copious psychics.
4. The Emperor is actually a massive ancient computer.
5. The Emperor is a foppish figurehead, and the aggressive expansion of Galaran is plotted by a sinister conspiracy.
6. The Emperor is a feral psychic who has the ability to completely dominate the minds around him due to an ancient and powerful Mandate discipline he has mastered.
7. The Emperor strides around naked. Anyone who points this out is executed.
8. It is an Empress, not an Emperor.
9. The Emperor was an ordinary noble until he was corrupted by a horrible alien artifact.
10. The real Emperor was a benevolent and kind man. He was clearly assassinated and replaced by an evil shape-shifting Solphir.
11. The Emperor is secretly trying to unite Ceres Sector against a horrific alien menace of incomprehensible power. If he doesn't succeed, all sentient life will be surely destroyed.
12. The Emperor is just a man with delusions of grandeur.
13. The Emperor drinks human blood.
14. The Emperor drinks alien blood. (Or the closest equivalent)
15. The Emperor is merciless.
16. The Emperor survives by having his brain patters transferred to a new body every century. His most recent transplant was partially unsuccessful, making this incarnation recklessly aggressive compared to its more calculating predecessors.
17. The Emperor fell in love with a beautiful Queen from another planet. He has started this war in order to take possession of her. (Which planet she is on varies widely and should be determined more or less randomly)
18. The Emperor is an AI Godmind whose interstellar war is a front for some other, likely baleful, agenda.
19. The Emperor is long dead. Galaran was a peaceful planet. The invading fleets look nothing like Galaranian ships and its soldiers remain obscured behind enclosed helmets. All footage of the Emperor looks like it is from several decades ago. There is some kind of invasion going on, but Galaran is clearly not behind it.
20. The Emperor is dying,and he simply wishes to take as many people and planets with him as possible before he goes.