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  1. #1
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    Your vision of ideal play

    Out of curiosity, what is your vision of ideal play for the different holding types? What should ruling the various domain types look and feel like?

    What domain actions should be most common (i.e., what should most regents spend their time on)?

    What should resources (GB and RP) be spent on most commonly?

    I don't ask these questions to pigeonhole any player or regent type into certain actions, but figuring out what different domain types should often feel like in game play helps inform better DMing and perhaps better house rules to encourage that feel.

    For instance, I have said before on these forums that I see Wizards spending a lot of time cultivating Sources across the land, irrespective of political boundaries, competing with other Wizards. Thus, a lot of creation of Ley Lines and casting of those spells related to them, as well as Scry and Regent Sight and such. Even some duels, whether they be of realm spells or personal. A lot of time spent in research, as well, including the creation of expendable magical items and occasional empowerment of just a few more powerful ones.

    Most diplomacy for a wizard would be with the other regent types, typically maintaining an aloofness or aura of mystery, but performing some spells for and advising patrons and allies. Scry, again, would be common, as might Protection from Realm Magic to protect from Scrying or more offensive magics from others. Close alliances or strong patronage may result in the Wizard making more deliberate preparations to help in his allies' warfare, such as establishing strategic ley lines. The constant low-level Wizard "warfare" that goes on unbeknownst to most non-spellcasters would lead rivals to speculate about a Wizard's goals and allies, and so Wizards would tend to keep their alliances, their plans, and their knowledge of other Wizards' networks pretty secret, even from their patrons (for fear that the patrons might give away information as well, and to keep themselves invaluable).

    Tension would come in with the development of provinces--which Guilds would probably be clamoring for most strongly. So while Wizards might seek agreements with Guilds to gain money, the two might often be at odds. Temples might also advocate province expansion, and the very fact of their spellcasting capability might cause competition insofar as casting spells either for their own purposes or for their allies.

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    For a wizard the pressing issue is cash - they need a patron, although not necessarily the realm regent. Wizards can trade RP for gold via a vassalage arrangement, or agree to cast a certain number of spells, or simply agree to act as 'adviser' in exchange for a stipend. i see typical wizard activity as 'being weird' - only the wizard truly understands the flows of mebhaighl or the need to shore up mystical barriers to defend against the encroachment of the Shadow World and so the regents are likely to spend a lot of time on actions that landed regents are completely unaware of.

    I see priests doing a lot of agitation, both for and against the realm, but even more I see them using diplomacy - they are the obvious mediators for warring nobles. Otherwise torturing, looting and slaughtering (aka spreading the faith and driving out heresy) should be the order of the day along with the old staples of encouragement of poverty, opposition to free will and creative thinking on the one hand and charity and religious education on the other.

    Guilds should be happily forming duopolies and cartels - or contesting to try and become a monopoly. Bribery of the nobility (law holdings) should be common. Also common should be agitation, commissioning works of art, building fine mansions and great structures, and holdings grand festivities. Trying to impose laws against potential competitors, prevent laws permitting trade, encouraging foreign domination (to create markets or permit exploitation thereof) are also typical trade actions.

    The Nobles should many be sleeping with, stealing, or slaughtering everything not nailed down or on fire. Otherwise arranging marriages, fosterings, imposing taxes, keeping the peasants in line, festivities, etc are all in vogue.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Espionage is the first action. Every regent should do it early and often. Stuff doesn't happen overnight, or in a single domain turn. Regents need to spend about a turn per season looking at their own domain, and rotating through everyone else who might possibly do them harm, to keep up to date on what kinds of things they have going on. Regents who take this seriously have both spies and diviners, diplomats and astronomers, contacts and crystal balls all looking out for tips, developments, or secrets. Regents should expect to find rival operators, secrets about the other domains plans and projects, and other kinds of information that really don't have much do to with domain activity, like adventure hooks.

    Contest actions. With all the other domains out there. Someone, somewhere, has to either be placing holdings you need to contest, or is contesting holdings you have already. Probably happens about once a season, unless you have made serious enemies, in which case this could be a full time buffet of fun.

    Random events, the kinds of actions Andrew described, normal development, adventuring, and PC projects fit in as possible.

  4. #4
    Administrator Green Knight's Avatar
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    Diplomacy - You should be talking to other domains - both allies, neutrals and enemies - on a regular basis. Once per turn should be about right.

    Espionage - I'll just second what Kenneth said. Once per turn; very handy if you have a friendly guild regent who can help you with this.
    Cheers
    Bjørn
    DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    I concur with Green Knight.

    Number one non-reactive domain action (overall) should be Diplomacy.

    Wizards may not use Espionage as frequently as other regents would - they could easily be swapping research for that one. They need to do a lot of research - realm spells take a lot of effort to learn and are really the thing they "market" themselves with.
    Duane Eggert

  6. #6
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    I tend to agree with you all that generally, Espionage, Diplomacy, Contest, and Agitate should be the most common actions, as the Domain Action manifestations of a lot of the intrigue that you've talked about.

    In my experience, however, they are fairly rare, largely because of what these things cost in the game, and what game effect the actions will have. Diplomacy is too limited by the rules, since its standard application involves communication with only one realm. To encourage diplomacy, most PBEMs eliminate the standard action, requiring just Court actions to ratify alliances and such. I think that's a better approach.

    Agitate isn't that necessary until your attitude levels drop enough to penalize your actions. Otherwise, chucking in another GB or RP to increase your success chance is usually more worthwhile than spending the precious Standard or Realm action and associated resources to do it. Agitating down against an enemy requires you to have a holding in the same province, which provokes reactions, and costs a lot of RP in bidding wars. It might be used during or before a war, but otherwise Contest tends to be a more direct, less-military-based way of affecting your opponents.

    Contest isn't often used, however, because of the huge bidding wars it causes. It's just too costly. Better to spend your resources Ruling and helping province holders Rule. The return on income is much better without generating enemies.

    Espionage is also very costly and chews up actions for fairly limited results (when limited to single provinces and not nation-wide). Again, it may be used prior to war, to do an occasional assassination, or to discover the terms of an alliance, but its routine use is just too costly--largely because when it IS used offensively, the originating regent is likely devoting tons of resources to it to make it successful, so that a defending regent must spend tons of resources to ensure that a "no info" result didn't just fail because he was outbid. It is often cheaper to spend money in reaction to an Espionage-caused event than to spend it up front continually to try to avoid them.

    Based on these observations, the four actions that should likely be among the most frequent in the game are often in fact the least frequent, due to a discouragement in how the rules are set up.

    Does anyone else perceive this problem?


    As an additional question, I have heard it said that there's not much for temples to do with their incomes, in comparison with the other holding types. Realm spells are cheap as compared to wizards, and their incomes tend to be much higher. Other holding actions are fairly cheap. What do you think their money is spent on?

    I tend to think they do save more of it than other holding types, to provide relief in emergencies or after some random events. They may even serve as moneylenders. I do think that they also maintain small armies (knights of holy orders), but many people don't seem to like the idea of anyone other than province owners maintaining army units. Temples of Haelyn and Cuiraecen may wage low level wars against humanoids, particularly, with some frequency, even on the far wilderness outside the borders of Anuire (quests and pilgrimages). More close to home targets might be the Five Peaks, Thurazor, the Spider, Rhuobhe, Chimaera, Markazor. Small quests and mission campaigns from temples would be less provocative than full realm-instigated wars.

  7. #7
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    In my experience, however, they are fairly rare, largely because of what these things cost in the game, and what game effect the actions will have. Diplomacy is too limited by the rules, since its standard application involves communication with only one realm. To encourage diplomacy, most PBEMs eliminate the standard action, requiring just Court actions to ratify alliances and such. I think that's a better approach.
    I see no reason why you can't expand diplomacy - either the same agreement with many realms, or multiple agreements with one realm, in the one action - but I'd keep court actions for the more humdrum stuff as 'the people' would expect their 'king' to oversee major diplomatic deals. I do disagree with PBEM's where diplomacy is purely a decree - regents are running a domain, and for the hundreds and thousands of members to obey an action they need to a) be told about it, b) know what to do and c) be motivated to do it - decree's are mere words, you need the action to put some meat on the bones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Agitate isn't that necessary until your attitude levels drop enough to penalize your actions. Otherwise, chucking in another GB or RP to increase your success chance is usually more worthwhile than spending the precious Standard or Realm action and associated resources to do it. Agitating down against an enemy requires you to have a holding in the same province, which provokes reactions, and costs a lot of RP in bidding wars.
    to me realm attitude is more than just a bonus/penalty to the roll, its how your domain feels about you as a regent - low morale should make random events more common (people leave problems to the ruler who is paid to deal with them and generally bicker more), possibly impact regency, and most of all, have a major 'story' effect - who would rather be 'bad' king john when they could be 'good' king richard? As a priest regent I'd see it as my holy duty to maintain morale - realms where the people are unhappy, disloyal, dishonest, etc are ungodly, realms where the community works together and people are positive is one open to the word of [insert diety] - obviously priests of eloele, etc would disagree...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Contest isn't often used, however, because of the huge bidding wars it causes. It's just too costly. Better to spend your resources Ruling and helping province holders Rule. The return on income is much better without generating enemies.
    Actually the most cost effective way to wage a contest war in a system of 'sealed bid' RP spend is by multiple court actions - the GB cost is higher, but at 5 RP:1 GB 4 or 5 contests with no RP spend pays off better than 1 or 2 contests with 50-60 RP chucked in each time - remember that the opponent needs to pay 10 RP generally to eliminate the contest as a threat so its very expensive for them to defend against such attacks.

    In terms of 'this means war!' - well yes, some people will see it like that, but generally if they over-react to regent 'a' they will do it to regent 'b' - so rapidly exhaust themselves with a war on every front (albeit not in a d4-1 game).

    I'd increase the cost to rule provinces severely - it has an exponential effect as it allows all regents to increase their holdings as well, by limited expansion 'p' you force expansion 'out' - and so force contests...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Espionage is also very costly and chews up actions for fairly limited results (when limited to single provinces and not nation-wide). Again, it may be used prior to war, to do an occasional assassination, or to discover the terms of an alliance, but its routine use is just too costly--largely because when it IS used offensively, the originating regent is likely devoting tons of resources to it to make it successful, so that a defending regent must spend tons of resources to ensure that a "no info" result didn't just fail because he was outbid. It is often cheaper to spend money in reaction to an Espionage-caused event than to spend it up front continually to try to avoid them.
    That depends how widely the dm interprets espionage - if you uncover a reasonable amount of information you can guage your opponents power, where they are devoting resources, etc - and thus direct your energies where they are uninterested sparing yourself a lot of effort. Once a war is impending espionage really does little beyond confirm the point.

    Again with the RP 'tower' strategy, I'd suggest making RP bids sealed, have 3 rounds of exchange maximum with the success stated as 'minimal, low, fair, good, excellent' - that way if one person routinely dumps in 50 points their opponents learn to attack with feints of 1-2 points, sacrifice opening positions then counter-attack and rebuild, etc - if you are operating an 'open spend' method of RP, in particular one where the spend is decided after the success roll, then the tower strategy dominates and gameplay suffers imho.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Based on these observations, the four actions that should likely be among the most frequent in the game are often in fact the least frequent, due to a discouragement in how the rules are set up.
    I think some of this is game style - I'd expect the 'festivity' action to be very common along with the 'great art' - both permitting GB to by turned into RP at, say 1:4 - the aim being to boost the families prestige, show off wealth and enjoy themselves - proving themselves to the point of gaining bloodline being a side benefit rather than the purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    As an additional question, I have heard it said that there's not much for temples to do with their incomes, in comparison with the other holding types. Realm spells are cheap as compared to wizards, and their incomes tend to be much higher. Other holding actions are fairly cheap. What do you think their money is spent on?
    big cathedrals, little churches, donations to the poor (see festivities and art above), witchburning, meddling, and the like - not to mention loans to nobles and the realm, money buys influence and thus power...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    I do think that they also maintain small armies (knights of holy orders), but many people don't seem to like the idea of anyone other than province owners maintaining army units.
    I'd expect every noble to have a small retinue of leg-breakers, churches are full of nobles so should also expect a certain show of force as normal. Holy orders in BR are quite martial so most should be leaning on realm regents to have an army - or have earned the right centuries before. I wouldn't expect them to have big armies in most cases, and some troops might be purely ceremonial, but most major temples should have at least 1 unit even if it is dispersed across 3-4 provinces.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Small quests and mission campaigns from temples would be less provocative than full realm-instigated wars.
    I see temples as fighting defensive wars, raids on the ungodly, and only in extremely rare cases actually attacking another temple or a realm in open warfare - that would be treading heavily on the toes of the nobility.

  8. #8
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    You have some good house rule suggestions, Andrew. My original point was that the standard rules seem to work against "ideal" game play, so that a DM has to come up with stuff to throw at PC's to get them taking actions that play to the story better than the numbers, or come up with house rules to fix the problem. A good rules system should support and encourage the type of game play you're striving for, not work against it.

    So you've proposed a few rules adjustments that would help the system work with the story better:
    1. RP adjustment with province attitude
    2. Province attitudes affect random event frequency and type
    3. Festivals and public works grant RP/convert GB to RP
    4. 3 rounds of sealed bids for any RP bid actions
    5. One standard Diplomacy action applying for extensive communication with multiple realms
    6. Wider Espionage actions (not province by province)

    My responses:
    1. This may be problematic, since tyrants are just as iconic to the game, IMO, as benevolent monarchs, perhaps even moreso. Therefore, the benevolent monarch should not have great advantages over a tyrant whose provinces are typically unhappy. This adjustment would also affect the definition of RP gain, making it based more on approval ratings. Perhaps having a one time RP penalty each time a province's attitude drops might work, though.
    2. I agree that "Random" events need some work and manipulation. I haven't spent much thought on it yet, though.
    3. I like this. I was working on a system that granted RP gains due to various actions, but a more direct, sort of Alchemy-in-reverse action might work well. It seems that these things would affect province attitude, as well.
    4. I would prefer open bids. RP expenditures are usually pretty visible, IMO. The extent to which one guildmaster can get his people to wage a deep price war, get the populace to boycott the other or just advertise better, or sends thugs out to harass, bully, and steal from another guild can be readily seen and opposed in kind by the victim. I actually think that realm-action Contestation is evidence of a problem in the system. It is indeed more effective to just attack a wide variety of holdings continually until you bleed your foe down with RP, not even spending RP of your own on the effort (you don't really need to). Better yet, collude with another regent or two to do the same. Or even more insidious, open with an initial salvo of Contestations as a probing Trojan horse to bleed away RP, then slam away with a second round backed up by RP. Such an attacker's advantage is remedied somewhat by an open bid system, as well as by perhaps allowing the defender to spend RP once to defend against all attempts in that season.
    5. I would prefer that the implementation of alliances, wedding agreements, etc be performed by the action, but the negotiation itself is more of a Free action (or Character, if done in person).
    6. I agree. Basic reconnaissance should be easier. Holdings and troops, unless hidden by espionage, should be pretty visible things and discoverable on a realm-wide basis (for contiguous provinces, anyway). I like Chris Linebarger's "Counter-Espionage" pool of RP.

  9. #9
    I like these two ideas:
    * RP adjustment with province attitude- but I wouldn't really add anything for High loyalty, just use it more for below average loyalty.
    * Province attitudes affect random event frequency and type

    In my Shadows of Empire game, I was thinking of making a change which I’ll describe in a moment, but never got around to introducing it. The change is this:
    Each 1 GB loss due to a random event = 5% loss of pre-maintenance income for the turn and 5% of current treasury (before adding the turn’s income),
    It just makes more sense that a larger realm should lose more from random events than on a “fixed” rate. Eg, corruption loses 2 GB (per turn). What does that matter to someone like Avanil? (Rhetorical).
    With my modification, then corruption loses 10% of current treasury and 10% of that turn’s pre-maintenance income.
    So a small country, with say 10 GB treasury, and 30 GB income (& 20 GB maintenance) affected by corruption would suffer 2 GB loss of their treasury, and 3 GB from that turn’s income, with a resulting current treasury of 15 GB (that’s 10-2+30-3-20).
    On the other hand, a big country with 200 GB treasury, and 120 GB income (& 80 GB maintenance) affected by corruption would suffer 20 GB loss of their treasury, and 15 GB from that turn’s income, with a resulting current treasury of 213 GB (that’s 200-15+120-12-80).
    If that same big realm was instead hit by a 6 GB brigandage or natural disaster event, that would translate to a 30% hit for that turn, so the resulting current treasury would be 135 GB (200-60+120-45-80).

    Regarding your comment about increased costs for Rule Province, I’ve thought about that, too. If I run SoE2, then I’ll be increasing the cost of that action in GB terms by 10, so it would cost 30 GB (& 3 RP) to Rule a level 3 province, and 50 GB (& 5 RP) for a level 5 province.
    I’m also considering increasing the cost of Rule Holding to 1 GB and 1 RP per current level for the Rule Holding action, too, but only for Temple and Guild holdings. Law and Source holdings would cost 1 RP per current level, plus 1 GB.
    Maybe the GB increase is too much for the Rule Province action, but as long as the new level makes a contribution to overall income, then it doesn’t necessarily become prohibitively expensive!

    Regarding the Espionage actions, in SoE realm/domain tables were closed. However, no players used actions to “Reveal the domain statistics of a province (attitude, regents, holding levels, etc.)”. So I think that with SoE2, I’ll introduce a rule that, as long as at least one Espionage action is used for that purpose (that can include the free action rogues etc get), then court actions can be used to make it a realm action. Spy Networks won’t be needed for that use of Espionage. Of course, they would be needed for other uses of the action (eg. “Reveal the nature of diplomatic talks, etc).
    Last edited by ericthecleric; 12-05-2008 at 12:51 AM.

  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Diplomacy is too limited by the rules, since its standard application involves communication with only one realm. To encourage diplomacy, most PBEMs eliminate the standard action, requiring just Court actions to ratify alliances and such. I think that's a better approach.
    Here's what I do. Diplomacy is a court action unless the effect of the communication is supposed to be binding. Any treaty requires a domain action. Simple communication can be handled by a court action. Most diplomacy is a simple diplomacy, and it goes on all the time.

    Agitate isn't that necessary until your attitude levels drop enough to penalize your actions.
    Easy fix is to add more random events (or consequences of events) that reduce loyalty a step or two (even temporarily) so that most regents prefer a default friendly position, if not better. Temporary loyalty adjustments are very handy.

    Agitating down against an enemy requires you to have a holding in the same province, which provokes reactions, and costs a lot of RP in bidding wars.
    I only require holdings if you want to spend regency to improve your success chance. Anyone can spend gold to improve the success chance of agitate more or less anywhere.

    Contest isn't often used, however, because of the huge bidding wars it causes. It's just too costly. Better to spend your resources Ruling and helping province holders Rule. The return on income is much better without generating enemies.
    Well, bidding wars is the point. If players don't get into serious bidding wars with frequency, the game gives them way, way too much gold and RP. If bidding wars went away, I'd be inclined to eliminate RP collection and change GB income to costs + 1d4-1.

    Espionage is also very costly and chews up actions for fairly limited results (when limited to single provinces and not nation-wide).
    Espionage needs to cover whole domains. Or it needs to work like diplomacy - some routine actions (intelligence collection) are court actions and things that have an effect one someone else are domain actions.

    As an additional question, I have heard it said that there's not much for temples to do with their incomes, in comparison with the other holding types. What do you think their money is spent on?
    Bidding. Once you run out of RP, spend GB. Cash is a sterile asset. A big pile of money gets you nothing. Its not good for anything until you spend it. (To a certain extent a reserve is useful because it creates options, but at very best, until its spent, its a potential good, not an actual good).

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    I'd keep court actions for the more humdrum stuff as 'the people' would expect their 'king' to oversee major diplomatic deals.
    Clarification? Is that a way of saying treaties are domain actions, but "I think the Chimera is allowing pirates to port in Lyssan," is a court action? Elaborate you thoughts on this, if you please.

    To me realm attitude is more than just a bonus/penalty to the roll, its how your domain feels about you as a regent - low morale should make random events more common
    Interesting idea.

    Holy orders in BR are quite martial so most should be leaning on realm regents to have an army - or have earned the right centuries before. I wouldn't expect them to have big armies in most cases, and some troops might be purely ceremonial, but most major temples should have at least 1 unit even if it is dispersed across 3-4 provinces.
    I think temples (and guilds) maintain regular forces. Military power is just too useful to opt out of that arena. And gods of war are simply going to have war fighting capacity. I don't think temples fight wars on their own very often, but they do fight along side realms whenever the realms fight.

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