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A Truly Magical Empire Building Game

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One of the major issues I've had with games about ruling some sort of nation or tribe is that they lack magic. I'm not interested in ruling historical states in the Civilization of Paradox traditions. With that in mind, I've developed, over quite a bit of time, a model for the kind of system I want.


Firstly the disclaimers/caveats:

Not concerned with balance

No multiplayer

No specific mythological influences


Helpful assumptions:

Assume there are systems to simulate politics

Ditto for some what complex economics

Assume that tribes/nations/characters in the game have, comparatively, detailed data on beliefs/culture/traditions/personality


I will try to stay as concise as possible in order to avoid walls of text and I will attempt to avoid the issue of not having a description of other parts of the game laid out.


Major Concepts:

1. Initial Magic Level defines the magical nature of a given play through

The player can set the initial magic level in the new game menu. This value has two effects. Firstly it defines the limit of creation power. Exploratory magical research is easier or harder based on several factors. A major global factor is creation power. As more unique research is done this value lowers until it reaches a floor. New research thus becomes progressively more unlikely. However as nations fall and their magical knowledge is lost to time, the ability to find ancient ruins will increase but you will be limited to what you find instead of picking your own research targets. Initial magic level also sets the amount of magical energy in the world. Resources that provide magical power, the number of natural magical entities, the significance of Primal Entities, etc.


2. Primal Entities represent various concepts like fire anger and tradition

Primal entities represent a single abstract concept. So there is one for each element, for certain emotions, and for certain beliefs. Examples of standard magic are obvious, fire,ice,lightning/shadow, but, the others are less set in stone. Emotions include anger, pleasure, pride, greed, pain, etc. Concepts include loyalty, tradition, physicality, pacifism, innovation, magic, nature, intellect, etc. Entities will provide various rewards, both of their own volition and requested, based on adherence to their assigned concept. Rewards will be based on their concept as well. Primal entities do not punish those beneath them, their interactions are all neutral or positive.


3. Lesser Entities have multiple concepts and draw power from the same limited source as primals and each other

While primals are more like forces of nature or supercharged spirits, lesser entities are more similar to later pagan gods. A lesser entity might have a primary concept of fire, and be aligned with both forging and tradition. Such a deity might grant a powerful magical sword or axe to an aggressive tribal champion or something of that nature. Lesser entities may punish populations characters or whole nations that turn away from them. They may be geographically limited and probably won't hand our curses or plagues or w/e to societies that don't interact with them.


4. At the start random lesser entities are spawned, the player may also spawn player designed entity to lead their nation

Random lesser entities spawned at the start of the game have no affiliation to a specific group. They tend to be in the habit of rewarding all who worship them or endorse their beliefs. The player's starting ruler is not really an entity in the same sense. They are more like an immortal who is the founder of the player's society. They directly support the player society, exist physically as its ruler, and can't turn on the society since the player is in control of them.


5. All tribes/nations can, if meeting the requirements, spawn an entity with a selected primary attribute and secondary ones based on their culture

All lesser entities draw from the same well of power. Primal entities are not limited in this way. The well is larger if the Initial Magic Level setting is higher. Randomly spawned lesser entities have a small starting portion of the power but by no means a majority of it. Tribes and nations and characters can intentionally spawn a lesser entity as a new god in their pantheon with a primary focus they select and secondary ones based on their society. Lesser entities of all sorts draw power from worship. Randomly spawned entities start at a fixed level and gain power from there. National/Tribal entities perfectly correlate to the worship given them. If they lose their adherents they perish. These entities only reward their own worshippers and they will also punish their worshippers enemies. All entities with similar attributes draw from the same well so the more forge gods there are the weaker they get assuming the totality of the well has been claimed.


6. Entities can grant magical knowledge to their adherents

Entities including primals, spirits, and random and created deities can grant magical knowledge to adherents. However, this is a trade off against other potential benefits of worship and sacrifice, and the effort put into that worship or sacrifice in the first place. Up to the point of creation energy hitting its floor, this method of gaining magical knowledge is inferior to independent research. Creation energy based research becomes less effective over time, entity granted magic is stable, and found magic, basically discovering the secrets of dead civilizations or trading magical knowledge between nations becomes more effective. However, because found knowledge is based on magical knowledge that was actually gained before being lost, as time goes on it eventually peters out as well because the chance of knowledge being totally wiped out vastly decreases.


7. Magical power is derived from several factors

The actual ability to use magic is based on a multitude of factors. Each race has a natural aptitude for all magic, although this score can easily be really low or 0. Enchanted items, divine assistance, natural features, and cooperation raise the power of the magic that can be performed in a single burst. Racial capability can be altered by breeding or rituals or divine interference but it becomes progressively harder to increase rather quickly. Various resources can provide magical effects but won't increase the casting of regular spells. Both ritual spells and items can have their energy provided by magical resources. Some resources contain and some channel magical power. A magical vehicle or weapon must be powered by fuel or by a magically active component. Characters and artifacts have a sort of throughput limit as well as an energy reserve.


8. Magic affects every aspect of a society

Magic can be used for both war, espionage, politics, economics, and science. There are physical, technological, and magical solutions to most things. You can build a road with human labor, machines, and/or magic and the same for most structures. Structures can not only be built but be run with magic. You can magically enchant a freezing based food storage facility or you can create and/or ship in ice to keep food edible.



I'm sure many people are more concerned with the chance of a game actually being made than with its "awesome features." Here I'll discuss how I plan to actually create the features described above.


1. Magic as fuel and labor

In the last section above I talked about how magic can be used in the economy. How is that going to work?


Well, buildings have creation and processing costs. These costs are managed as name/value pairs. In the example of the frozen food storage I would need a certain amount of temperature reduction to achieve the purpose of the building. The obvious real life solution is to create a material that retains temperature well and has an empty layer for ice, and finally the food is kept in the innermost cavity. That is more or less how the ICEBOX worked pre-refrigerator. Assuming the size of my unit was static, I could assign a value of 400 units of cold per time period, or w/e. Ice as a resource would provide some amount of cold and degrade over time. So I'd have to my freezer with new ice. Alternatively I could use a temperature changing spell using ice magic to provide my CU or cold units. I could make an item that produces CU from Mana. I could have a mage channel mana for me or I could have a crystal mine in my nation and use crystals as mana fuel to power the machine. Nations with productive crystal mines would probably use such a method while nations in nordic or arctic climates could use their direct ice resources. I could potentially assign a citizen or work animal that gives off a chill to provide my CU as well. Assuming for instance that I had conquered a settlement of icekin or enslaved some lesser beast of a similar nature.


As far as construction goes, I would give a building a labor cost. Workers would produce labor per time period and so could a spell or magical machine.


Complexity Issues:

Now, even assuming the ideas are cool and the implementation is actually not too difficult I expect the main complaint against what I've laid out is in complexity for the player. Depending on the size of the game world, how can a player track all this stuff? Well, there are going to be some serious automation options. The player supporting AI will be given a lot of things to analyze as well. It will take more time to hunt down potential issues. Still nothing is perfect. The game has a very large possibility space and a lot of potential fiddling.


The most important question is what all the extra complexity brings to the table. The most obvious benefit is player narrative and role playing. You could potentially create a society in which the majority of activities involve magic. This is something that is not possible in other games. Suppose you find a large deposit of powerful magic storing crystals. You could convert to a magitech based society and become very powerful. But you'd be reliant on the crystals so if you lost the deposit in war or just ran out you'd be in big trouble. Now, this is less appealing to humans perhaps but consider that the AI is running on the same system. Based on the resources available to you, and this goes beyond just the magical system in the game, AI societies could function in crazy fun ways.


Having a more complex simulation involves the potential for more interesting results at the cost of much higher complexity. Is it worth it? Probably a pretty personal question. I'll be happy to talk about the issues of complexity and implementation but I would also really like to see what you think of the system from a purely conceptual standpoint.


Conflict Drivers And Society Shapers:

1. One of the major purposes of the magical system is to drive conflict.

Obviously wargods giving you bonuses for fighting directly promotes conflict. But other concepts and attributes of deities can promote conflict. Both your populace and your deities may dislike a certain thing, and it benefits you as a leader to attack people with the opposite belief. Similarly you get benefits from supporting another society that is under assault for its ideology if that is similar to yours.

2. Ideology and its consequences shape your society

Part of the reason you may want to engage in conflict abroad is the way it affects your nation at home. The population of your society has various beliefs and characteristics and based on how you interact with those things their relations to you are affected. A majority martial populace with martially inclined deities would dislike being at peace for a long time and may attempt a coup or a secession against a society that wasn't promoting those ideals. If early on in the game you spawned and attracted the attention of a powerful war loving entity who hates dragons, you could have trouble down the road if you need to create a prolonged peace with a dragon loving or draconic nation. If a liberal social wave begins to overtake your part of the world you would face consequences from your traditionally inclined deities if you attempted to roll with it. If you discover powerful magic knowledge and need to being to educate your agrarian citizens to learn magic, the long term benefits may be limited by the short term costs of opposition to reform. This allows for the modelling of various real life events which caused internal dissent and allowed for more dynamic politics. Essentially, if for any reason you need to go against the views you inculcated in your society or deities you'll have a problem.

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Didn't mean to give you a -1, that was a misclick :( 


This seems like some really cool ideas, though

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