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Medieval Political Intrigue Simulation Game Idea

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Hello. This post is meant to get feedback/constructive criticism of a game idea I have, and to see if anyone might like to test it.

 

Generally What It Is:

 

I'll try and do my best to be as concise as I can with this. As the title states, it is a political intrigue simulation. Think Diplomacy meets Game of Thrones. 10 to 12 people play, each representing a person, family, or organization with power. (Examples: Noble houses, powerful merchants, large mercenary groups, spymasters) There must also be a GM, though if this game was, say, a browser game, it would just be code running on the server.

 

Basic Concept:

 

The basic idea is that each player has resources (People under their command / wealth) and orders that they can give. (Spending money, directing soldiers or spies)

 

Every turn, they are free to communicate with the other players, in private or public. Every turn, they give their orders to the GM. (Ex: Send 2 gold to Jon. Send 50 soldiers to attempt to kill Bob.) Just to clarify, there would be preset orders that the players are limited to, they would just get to specify the target player and the amount to send, along with any other parameters the order might need.

 

On the following turn (or turns, if an order takes more than one turn to resolve) the players' orders would resolve and their effects would happen. It is important to note that most orders are private, so only the player who ordered them and any players who were directly affected will be notified of their effects. (If an order is given from Bob to send Jane money, only Jane will be notified that she received money.)

 

To make things more clear, here's an example of a possible scenario:

 

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Bob, who represents a noble house, wants to hire some mercenaries to attack his rival, Kevin. He talks to Jon, a player representing a mercenary group, and they negotiate a price of 10 gold. Bob puts in his orders: Send 10 gold to Jon, and sends his orders to the GM. Before the turn is over, Kevin contacts Jon. Kevin suspects that Bob might be planning to hire mercenaries to attack him, so he talks to Jon and offers him 15 gold if he will attack Bob instead. Jon accepts, and puts in his orders: Send 100 soldiers to attack Bob. Kevin could decide not to put in orders for giving Jon 15 gold, but he doesn't want to offend someone with substantial military power. However, thinking back on his negotiation, he thinks that 15 is too high a price, so he puts in his orders: Send 14 gold to Jon, hoping that a small drop in pay will not provoke Jon to attack him.

 

The GM receives orders and notifies those who were sent money of how much they were sent. He also does combat calculations between Bob's army and Jon's mercenaries and determines that Jon's mercenaries win. He notifies Jon of his success and how many men he captured, and he notifies Bob of his defeat.

 

------------------

 

That is the kind of gameplay that I'd like to promote. I want to have gameplay where information and knowledge of what your opponents are doing is very important. I have rules and specific numbers worked out for how much of everything each player starts with and which actions are available to which players. They are below, but if you don't want to read them and just would like to comment/discuss/critique what you have read so far, I don't blame you. :)

 

Rules:

 

The Players(12 Total): (A couple things first, the unit of money I'm using right now is Wealth, and the unit of land I'm using is Fiefs. Fiefs generate one Wealth per turn.)

 

Note that if a Noble House buys infantry, they have an expense of 1 Wealth per 20 infantry. If they buy spies, they have an expense of 1 Wealth per 1 spy.

 

1 Royal House - Starts with: 30 Knights, 30 Wealth, 9 Fiefs, 1 Stronghold

 

2 Major Houses - Starts with: 20 Knights, 20 Wealth, 6 Fiefs, 1 Castle

 

4 Minor Houses - Starts with: 10 Knights, 10 Wealth, 3 Fiefs, 1 Fort

 

2 Mercenary Companies - Starts with: 100 Infantry, 8 Wealth, Expense of 1 Wealth per 100 Infantry

 

1 Spymaster - Starts with: 5 Spies, 8 Wealth, Expense of 1 Wealth per 5 spies

 

2 Merchants - Starts with: 15 Wealth, 5 Wealth income per turn (This income is innate and does not come from Fiefs)

 

Soldier Types:

 

Knights - Combat Score 4

Infantry - Combat Score 2

Rabble - Combat Score 1 (How you get rabble is explained later.)

 

Orders:

 

Every order is either long or short. Short orders resolve the turn after they are ordered. Long orders resolve 2 turns after they are ordered.

 

Every order is either public or private. Public orders are announced to every player at the beginning of the turn they resolve. Private orders are not.

 

Every order is either anonymous or signed. If an order is signed, the player who ordered it is identified when another player is notified of the effects of that order. If an order is anonymous, they are simply notified of the effects, not who did it. Note that even if an order is public, it can be anonymous. Players must choose whether or not to make an order anonymous or signed. Orders involving knights cannot be anonymous.

 

Some orders can only be done by certain kinds of players. For instance, some orders are unique to mercenaries.

 

Soldier Orders:

 

Attack(long, public): Send X troops to attack Player X. If Player X has any soldiers available to defend with, combat commences. If you win, you capture Player X.

 

Pillage(long, public): Send X troops to pillage the lands of Player X. If Player X has any soldiers assigned to defend land, combat commences. If you win, you ruin one of their fiefs. If Player X has no soldiers assigned to defend land, you ruin one of their fiefs. Ruined fiefs do not produce income and cannot be Mustered for rabble. (Mustering is explained later.)

 

Seize(long, public, cannot be anonymous): Send X troops to seize the lands of Player X. If Player X has any soldiers assigned to defend land, combat commences. If you win, you take one of their fiefs for your own. If player X has no soldiers assigned to defend land, you take one of their fiefs for your own.

 

Defend(short, private): Defend Player X’s lands from Pillage and Seize missions. Note that while soldiers are defending land, they cannot defend you.

 

Money Orders:

 

Send Wealth(short, private): Sends X Wealth to Player X.

 

Recruit Mercenaries(Unique to Mercenaries, long, private): You gain 100 infantry. They count towards your expenses. Has an initial cost of 8 Wealth.

 

Recruit Spies(Unique to Spymasters, long, private): You gain 5 spies. They count towards your expenses. Has an initial cost of 8 Wealth.

 

Buy Infantry(Unique to Nobles, short, private): You gain 20 infantry. These infantry count towards expenses. Has an initial cost of 4 Wealth.

 

Buy Spies(Unique to Nobles, short, private): You gain 1 spy. Spies gained through this action count towards your expenses. Has an initial cost of 4 Wealth.

 

Spy Orders:

 

Espionage(short, private): Send X spies to spy on Player X. If Player X has as many or more spies defending them from espionage (Accomplished through the counter-espionage order) then this order fails. If not, you succeed and may view every action they sent to the GM that turn.

 

Counter-Espionage(short, private): Send X spies to protect Player X from espionage.

 

Land Orders(These actions are unique to Land Owners):

 

Give Land(short, private, cannot be anonymous): Gives X Fiefs to Player X.

 

Muster Rabble(long, private, cannot be anonymous): You gain 40 Rabble. While this squad of rabble is active, its fief does not produce income. A squad of Rabble costs 1 Wealth per turn.

 

Captive Orders:

 

Execute Captive(short, private): Kills Captive X.

Give Captive(short, private): Gives Captive X to Player X. Ransoms are encouraged.

Free Captive(short, private): Frees Captive X.

 

Combat:

 

In order for combat to occur, there must be two opposing armies. Orders which may result in combat are labeled as such.

 

When combat commences, the combat scores of each unit of each army are added up to get a single combat score for each army. At this point, if the order causing the battle is an Attack order, and if the defending player owns a structure, they apply the structure’s combat modifier to their Combat Score. That is then their final score.

 

Now, the two scores are compared. The player with the higher score always wins. There are two kinds of victories: Decisive and Normal. A Decisive victory occurs if the winning army’s Combat Score is double or more that of the losing army’s. In a Decisive Victory, every unit in the losing army is captured by the winning army.

 

A Normal Victory occurs when the winning army’s combat score is not double or more that of the losing army’s. In a Normal Victory, X knights are captured, where X is the difference in the Winner’s CS and the Loser’s CS, divided by four. ((W - L)/4) = Amount of enemy knights captured. So if the combat scores were 18 to 10, the winner would capture 2 knights.

 

The final scenario is one in which the Scores are tied. In this case, the defender wins, and neither side loses anything.

 

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And that’s it…. If you’re reading this, you (probably) read all those rules, or at least skimmed them, so thanks for your time!

 

The way that I was thinking of testing this was through email, with me as the GM. Orders and information would be submitted through emails, and the chat functionality of Gmail could be used for real-time communication between players. The reason I said, the game was 10-12 players was because, I could easily fiddle with some of the numbers of certain kinds of players to accommodate a smaller group. (I could go as low as 8 or 9, I suppose.) The same could be done for a larger group, for that matter. If you’re interested, in perhaps testing it, PM me.

 

The alternative (and almost certainly better) way of playing this game would be to make it a browser game and have many games going on at once, with options for playing a game over multiple weeks. (Where each turn would last a day.) That would also allow for larger games with upwards of 30 people, and perhaps other player types.

 

Any and all feedback / criticism would be appreciated. I’ve tried to do my best to balance the numbers and rules, but I won’t really know how balanced it is until I’ve playtested it with a group.

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These kind of games (mechanic) are very dated... People rarely play them anymore (BTW, you can download free source code of these and just run it, no need to recode it from scratch). I mean nowadays you can use full blown graphical interface and "send orders to move unit X to province Y" simply won't make it today.

 

I think you should go the role playing route, make the GM the "selling point" (and use the mechanic only as a guide, but focus on the storytelling). The human GM can never be outdated (fortunatelly) :D

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These kind of games (mechanic) are very dated... People rarely play them anymore (BTW, you can download free source code of these and just run it, no need to recode it from scratch). I mean nowadays you can use full blown graphical interface and "send orders to move unit X to province Y" simply won't make it today.

 

I think you should go the role playing route, make the GM the "selling point" (and use the mechanic only as a guide, but focus on the storytelling). The human GM can never be outdated (fortunatelly) biggrin.png

 

A good GM/GM system seems like the key to an idea like this because the actions are limited and strategies could probably be gamed out without too much effort. Who cares if the mechanics aren't new? That's true of most games in most genres, but people still play pen-and-paper role playing games forty years after they morphed into their current form. People rarely play point-and-click adventure games, but some still do. People rarely play MUDs these days, but for those that do a cool new MUD would be great. Hell, people still play chess and card games thousands of years old, with exactly zero new rules or mechanics having ever been introduced.

 

I do think that the potential audience for this game may be on the small side, and in practice it seems like it would play out like the casual games where people get X energy per day and can take some variety of actions. Your game idea, however, suggests a bit more attention from players than such casual games. I doubt that this idea would earn enough for you to live off of (though you never know), but that doesn't meant that it won't be fun or that there won't be people that enjoy it.

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A good GM/GM system seems like the key to an idea like this because the actions are limited and strategies could probably be gamed out without too much effort. Who cares if the mechanics aren't new? That's true of most games in most genres, but people still play pen-and-paper role playing games
I meant the computer version. The mechanic is too primitive/old for a computer game (plus there are many almost identical ones), so it would makes sense only if it was GM based. So basicly I said the same thing you did :)

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This looks like an interesting board game mechanic though. I wouldn't make it into a computer game, but it feels a lot like Diplomacy, which is an ageless classic.

The problem with these types of games, is getting 10-12 people seated to play at once.

Unlike what some might believe, its still easier to play these games around a table, than logged on a device, because they require extensive involvement.

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