Feasibility check: Generic Game politics structure for a fantasy setting (Non political)

Faylar

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Hi. I recently shifted focus away from traditional RPGs to work on making a framework for a computer game. One aspect of the game will be medieval court politics. I plan on having named characters move their way through court politics towards offices like Governor of a settlement, General, etc... The idea being it is a 4x with many spaces for promoting competence and loyalty. So that brings me to the structure of the politics mini game. I need to have a tier system with ranks and privilege, a council, and a ruling class. Also, the nature of the game allows for people from any social class to become very powerful (Hero units) so there needs to be an upgrade path. Also... it needs to be malleable to fit into different cultures with some name changes.

Slave/Thrall - Lowest Rank possible (Often the recently conquered who eventually become citizens (Commoners)
Commoner - the vast majority of people
Gentry - Non noble aristocracy (Yeomen, Marshalls, Mayors, Sherriffs, Court Officers, Privateeers, etc...) Basically people who are awarded an office and rank but are not born to it.
Nobility - Barons, Knights, and lesser nobles.
Peerage - Landed Nobles such as Counts and Earls
Royalty - The Royal family, Dukes, Princes, etc... (Dukes are also former rulers of conquered lands of lesser members of alliances who are charged with maintaining rule as a proxy of the king/queen)
Monarchy - The King and Queen.

The Idea is that there are two courts, (Really just one with two classes in it) The Noble court consisting of the Nobility and is called the Council of Barons. This court is mostly a method for assigning tasks and awarding rewards. Playing favor in this court grants prestige and can allow a promotion of a character to a higher rank. Then there is the Council of Peers, or the Royal Court. This court is important because it is part of the game play and can lead to rebellion if mismanaged as the Dukes play this court for political favor too, and most dukes are only a few people away from rulership.

Im planning on using Courtiers as a talent pool from which to promote new characters as Envoys (Diplomacy), Commanders (Generals), Governors (Settlements), and Public offices (Exchequer, Senseschal, etc...).

Does this structure seem okay? It can be adapted to say...

Slave > Citizen > Merchant > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
 

saskganesh

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I think it looks good. However, in a European style medieval game, you need to account for the Church. Why this matters is that clergy often filled out administrative roles in a lord's government, and could hold lands as a vassal. At the same time, those clergy men were also part of a second, parallel hierarchy, that of the Church, which also had its own lands and titles. As a complication, many of the higher clergy were drawn from noble houses, usually younger sons and what not. Loyalties would be divided. And there were other arrangements: William the Conqueror’s half brother Odo, was Bishop of Bayeux, but he was also made Earl of Kent.

Under this model, the parallel hierarchy could look something like novice>monk>priest>abbot/canon>bishop>archbishop>cardinal>pope/patriarch.

This general state of affairs led to all sorts of struggles between King and Priest, as to who controlled who or what and who had primacy (and who would get the revenue). The appointment of a Bishop was fraught with political and administrative complications -- see Investiture Controversy. The balance of power between Crown and Mitre swung back and forth over centuries; we see kings being excommunicated by activist popes, and some kings becoming vassals of the papacy and we also see the pope arrested, captured and controlled by the Crown, as well as the creation of anti-popes to make a rival church hierarchy. Of course, there was also the medieval Roman mob, which is another matter.

Not sure how this would port to other, non-Christian cultures, or even Orthodox rites polities especially after the schism. But the tension was an essential feature of European medieval political landscape. You probably do not now want to create a church mini or parallel game, but what one could do as a designer is to make the appointment of clergy to posts Desirable, but this would bring in Complications, which is where the fun is anyway.
 

Faylar

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Interesting. Religion is only in it's infancy as an idea. There was a singular event about 120 years ago known as the god's War (placeholder name) where humanity, under the cruel yolk of living gods found a way to slay them and take their power. This formed a sort of apocalypse as each god died spectacularly. Not all gods died, especially from other pantheons, but about half of all total gods on the world were murdered.

In the distant past, the gods subjugated and sealed away the disembodied forms of a rival pantheon. That seal was broken when half the gods who lent the seal it's power died off. This created a new conflict that goes to the day.

The role of the player is to restore the pantheon. This is done by recruiting gods, or claiming the essence of the fallen gods from the usurpers to make gods of your own characters.

I haven't fully decided how I want religion to even work, let alone the role it plays in society. I guess I probably should do that :tongue:

Thanks! good input.
 

saskganesh

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With polytheism, you can have your own kind of fun, as appointing priests to political posts might exacerbate rivalries between various sects, and a player's job would be to try to balance the influences of various creeds. Given that players (and assumedly many priests) they want to restore the pantheon, this could get very tricky. Anyway hard choices are good.
 

Count Otto Black

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If a new arrival might make a small suggestion, Niccolò Macciavelli's short book The Prince (written in 1513 so you'll find a public domain copy easily enough) is literally a handbook on how to succeed as an amoral self-serving tyrant in post-Medieval Italy - kind of Despotism For Dummies. His example of the perfect 16th. century statesman is Cesare Borgia, who most historians regard as pretty much the oppposite of the perfect anything!

The advice he gives to would-be Renaissance dictators is probably far too complex to be used as simplified game-rules, but the work is jam-packed with quotes which would give this part of your game exactly the right flavour. And, being a practical guide rather than an attempt to show off the author's literary skills, it contains very little of the over-elaborate flowery language you expect from this era, and is surprisingly readable.
 

soltakss

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Some cultures have the concept of a Freedman, which is a person who was a slave but is now free. They have different rights to a Freeman, someone who was born free.

Often a Citizen isn't just a free person, Citizens often have to have some kind of extra requirement, born in the place, own property, own slaves or whatever.

Paths could be one of the following, perhaps:
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Merchant > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Merchant > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Freed > Citizen > Merchant > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.

Merchants have wealth, by and large, but that doesn't give them a higher status, unless you have guilds and membership of a Guild is important. Then you might have:
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Guilder > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Guilder > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Freed > Citizen > Guilder > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.

Sometimes, Freedmen cannot become members of the Aristocracy, but their children can. Gentry might be OK, if you have Gentry for important officials, as a Freedman can work their way up. Some cultures had slaves in high office, due to their usefulness, so a Slave could also be part of the Gentry.

Religion can make a difference, too. In medieval Europe, non-Christians were not allowed to be members of a Guild, which restricted the social mobility of Jews, for example. A similar path could be for members of religious orders etc, but with the different classes representing different offices.

  • Slave > Laity > Monk/Nun > Priest > Prior/Abbot/Canon > Bishop > Archbishop > Cardinal > Pope
 

Faylar

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If a new arrival might make a small suggestion, Niccolò Macciavelli's short book The Prince (written in 1513 so you'll find a public domain copy easily enough) is literally a handbook on how to succeed as an amoral self-serving tyrant in post-Medieval Italy - kind of Despotism For Dummies. His example of the perfect 16th. century statesman is Cesare Borgia, who most historians regard as pretty much the oppposite of the perfect anything!

The advice he gives to would-be Renaissance dictators is probably far too complex to be used as simplified game-rules, but the work is jam-packed with quotes which would give this part of your game exactly the right flavour. And, being a practical guide rather than an attempt to show off the author's literary skills, it contains very little of the over-elaborate flowery language you expect from this era, and is surprisingly readable.
Input form newcomers are always welcome :smile:
Welcome to the pub, and thanks.I will try and find a copy.
 

Faylar

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Some cultures have the concept of a Freedman, which is a person who was a slave but is now free. They have different rights to a Freeman, someone who was born free.

Often a Citizen isn't just a free person, Citizens often have to have some kind of extra requirement, born in the place, own property, own slaves or whatever.

Paths could be one of the following, perhaps:
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Merchant > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Merchant > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Freed > Citizen > Merchant > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.

Merchants have wealth, by and large, but that doesn't give them a higher status, unless you have guilds and membership of a Guild is important. Then you might have:
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Guilder > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Free > Citizen > Guilder > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.
  • Slave > Freed > Citizen > Guilder > Gentry > Aristocracy > Equestrian > Senate > Imperial family for a Romanesque society.

Sometimes, Freedmen cannot become members of the Aristocracy, but their children can. Gentry might be OK, if you have Gentry for important officials, as a Freedman can work their way up. Some cultures had slaves in high office, due to their usefulness, so a Slave could also be part of the Gentry.

Religion can make a difference, too. In medieval Europe, non-Christians were not allowed to be members of a Guild, which restricted the social mobility of Jews, for example. A similar path could be for members of religious orders etc, but with the different classes representing different offices.

  • Slave > Laity > Monk/Nun > Priest > Prior/Abbot/Canon > Bishop > Archbishop > Cardinal > Pope
Slavery is a tricky one. I am thinking I will keep it separate from the political game because not all cultures will adopt slavery. I am thinking of having it work like a thralldom. You get conquered, you are a slave for a few seasons (turns) then after an arbitrary amount of time, that slave population flips to regular population. Game mechanics wise a slave can only be used for labor but a citizen can take on actual jobs.
This is an addon mechanic instead of something baked into the rules structure, if you know what I mean?

Good input though. I am sort of hashing out religion more. Having living gods as opposed to ideals makes a huge difference to politics. There seems to be more influence to be had if a God can actually intervene on a nation's behalf.
 
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