In between elections the player must see to the day-to-day management of the faction. A faction is centered around a Senator – the faction leader – whom you select at the start of the game. In addition, each faction also has two other leaders; the “Spokesperson” (preferably a leader with high prestige and organizational skills – he assists your faction leader with Senate-related tasks) and the “Lawspeaker” (preferably a leader with high oratory and knowledge-based skills – he assist your faction with preparing legislation). Each of these leaders will tend to be from different families, as the Senators of a family affiliated in this way are loyal to the faction.
The political gameplay has been tough nut to crack (for that matter, I am not convinced that the current version is the “right” one), but for better or worse, here is what I have planned out.
As is general for all gameplay in Imperium, the player acts through his/her characters. In the case of Politics, the player may each turn issue one political order in the forum. This order is performed by the faction leader; if the faction leader is not present then the second most prestigious leader, etc. If neither of the players leaders is present in Rome, then no order can be carried out.
An alternative would have been to allow the player to issue orders to each of the leaders, or to each Senator in his faction. The latter would obviously soon have been tiring (as well as unduly pushing the balance in favor of big factions). The former would penalize a player for being successful (fewer orders when your Senators go abroad) – not necessarily a bad thing – but it encourages a micro-management of characters that I found somewhat unfortunate. In addition, I like the thought of limiting the player to one order – it creates a scarcity on one of the player’s political resources (actions) – which can lead to more interesting decisions. Thus the (current) system.
The kind of actions available to the player is stuff like:
Calling for an Election: performs the obvious action of making an election happen this turn.
Hold Games: Builds up the popularity of your faction with the people of Rome.
Persuade Senator: Entice a Senatorial family to support your faction for the next election OR talk with disgruntled families of your own faction. This will allow the player to make promises to the Senator (e.g., to promise a person the Consulship within a set period) – a very effective means of persuasion. Of course, the player needs to fulfil the promises as well, or risk the anger of the Senator in question.
Spend Time with Family: Rests the Senator from work, required for procreation (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and allows the proposal of marriage alliances between members of the faction leaders own family and other families. Family connections are another good way of building up a support network.
Socialize: Allows the Senator to spend some time in “High Society”, creating friendships (and potentially enmities).
Political Proposal: Allows the Senator to make political proposals that don’t fit within the regular Senate order. This is how Roman diplomacy is controlled; if the player wishes Rome to declare war on Carthage, then it’s a matter of proposing a war declaration and hoping that the other factions agree (of course, you can always provide them a bribe or offer political favors to make them see your point of view).
In addition to core actions, the player may also have actions available to him through the offices held by his faction; e.g., prosecutions (Peregrine Praetor), administration of Rome (Urban Praetor and Censor), etc.
If this works out as intended, the player should hopefully have something interesting to perform each turn in the Roman forum; hopefully without this turning tedious. This, of course, is the great challenge… hopefully, the limited actions also mean that the player always has something they want to do, making the choice of what to do an interesting one.