I’ve been busy moving to a new apartment this weekend which delayed this post a bit. Here we go, though.
The Roman politics module is a part of the game that has gone through a lot of re-design over the years, almost as much as the many battle engine iterations, although it hasn’t seen quite as much implementation. The reason is that it offers some unique challenges with respect to the gameplay; for instance, the frequency of elections. Given the time scale (250 years), having an election every year (as was historical) is right out. The obvious alternative is to have them occuring at longer intervals; in my designs usually every three years. Another problem is how to distribute offices. Should it be vote based? Resolved automatically according to some “popularity” (the Pax Romana way, IIRC)? Some completely different approach? This would not be so hard if each election had the same amount of “prizes”, but in a game of world conquest, one would invariably have few provinces being assigned at the beginning and many (up to 15) assigned toward the end of the game. How to make sure that the elections in the early part of the game remain as “exciting” as the ones at the end?
In this, and the following posts, I’ll try and describe the ideas of the political gameplay for the Romans in Imperium. Your thoughts, reactions, etc., are all very welcome (use the forum). As usual when discussing the Imperium design, I’ll note that these are primarily “ideas”; the actual implementation may differ considerably.
The core of Imperium is its characters; the nobles of your factions. In Roman politics, the most important person(s) is the “Pater Familias”, the head of each family. In each faction, you may appoint three Nobles: a Faction Leader (your “avatar”), a Political Spokesperson (prepares legislation) and a Lawspeaker (affects prosecution). The families of these three personalities will be directly connected to your faction, and will follow your lead, until you either alienate them or dismiss them. The three persons in your faction “council” are the agents for your political gameplay (i.e., they are the ones that can perform political actions).
In addition to the up to three families the player can control through these offices, the player may have a number of additional families affiliated to his faction through “political favors” (more on these latter). These affiliated families are a crucial element of the game play.
The object of the political game play is to win the benefits of elections: provinces and prestige. An election is “called” by a faction when it feels the time is right; once an election is called, it is then the job of the officiating faction to try and create a distribution of the election benefits that will be accepted by the other factions.
Once the proposal is ready, all of the factions vote for the proposal; a majority for passes the proposal into law, a majority against cancels the proposals. Each faction receives votes for its senators in Rome, and may choose to use up the votes of its affiliated families (if an affiliated family is used in a vote, it will consider its obligations to the faction discharged and become unaligned again). As there will usually be anywhere from 8-12 families not directly affiliated to factions, this ensures that the balance of power between factions may shift frequently as the families outside of the core factions change allegiances from year to year.
If the officiating faction fails in its proposal, the faction of the Princeps Senatus (official head of the Senate) gets a chance to put together a proposal.
In the turns after an election, offices and benefits gradually become available again; how soon depends on the office and how much time has passed since the office was last reassigned. In general, offices will follow a cycle where they come up for reassignment every 3-5 years. It is thus up to the factions to determine when to call for an election. Since the side that calls the election gets a big advantage in being able to form a coalition, it is advantageous to call before the other factions; but of course, the earlier the call, the fewer benefits are available for distribution. Hopefully, the decision of when to call and when to let other factions call will provide for some interesting decision making.
In the next post, I will discuss the “benefits” that the factions are fighting for in the election system.