Destiny of an Emperor utilizes a number of features that made it stand above and beyond other traditional RPGs of its time. The party consisted of up to 7 members, 5 of which actively participated in combat, 1 who served as back-up to replace any dead generals following combat, and 1 to both serve as back-up as well as party tactician[?]. The tactician provided spell-like effects that anyone in the party could utilize. Additionally, the player could capture or recruit somewhere around 120 different generals to add to his party over the course of the game.
At one point, the storyline splits, and the player is free to choose which path to pursue. Both paths rejoin shortly, but at the time it presented a unique experience that other RPGs of the time (Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior) did not offer.
In short, Liu Bei, Zhang Fei[?], and Guan Yu form an army to defend their village from the Yellow Scarves, the followers of a doctor called Zhang Bao. Liu Bei gathers other followers from the nearby villages and camps, and eventually defeats Zhang Bao. Tao Qian[?], the ruler of the area, falls ill and begs Liu Bei to become the ruler of the area. Liu Bei has no option but to agree, and begins his rise to fame in the era.
The game follows the events found in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, although in many cases, the outcome of the events is changed to favor Liu Bei over the other warlords of the time period. Most of the deviations occur late in the game, particularly involving the invasions of Wu[?] and Wei[?].