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Character Assignment Gameplay

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One of the main immersive point of Warband is most actions were not automatic from a click in the user interface, you had to travel to see different lords or gather them around a feast to facilitate your interactions with them, request favors and improve your relations.

In Bannerlord a lot of it has been replaced by a wonderful Clan and Kingdom UI which allows you to enact policy and form armies at a single click of a button, which makes the game much more fast paced and easy to get into, but at the cost of the immersion and RPG factor.

So first of all i'm not suggesting a roll back or remove the wonderful UI that have been built, i think they are necessary and facilitate a lot of the tedious aspects of Warband. My suggestion, will rather be to build on this better UI foundation to bring back some elements of Warband and other games to increase the immersion, slow down the pace of the game a bit, which as many users have noticed might be too fast paced (constant wars, and very quick conquest of entire parts of the map) as well as further automate some tasks, but rather than having them happen automatically, they would be performed by one of your clan members.

1. What is Character Assignements ?

A gameplay concept I discovered by playing KOEI strategy games such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Nobunaga's Ambition, where any kingdom or fief management decision such as recruiting other lords and retainers, negotiating peace and alliances, enacting new policies, construction of buildings etc. has to be performed by a character (either yourself, or one of your lords/retainers in your clan) which then have to confront their own skills, to improve results of the tasks, or against other characters to convince them to accept the proposal (sometime leading to special duel and debate gameplay!).
This extend as well to the management of fiefs, where training troops, developping the farms, or increasing trade are tasks that need to be overseen by characters, requiring different skills for each tasks (which they can also improve in the process!)

As a ruler (of a clan, a kingdom etc.) one of the main skill that is required is your ability to surround yourself with the right people for the right jobs, because your ability as a single person is limited. In Mount and Blade, this dimension in warband was not present enough as you ended up doing most menial tasks by yourself, and in Bannerlord a lot of it as been abstracted behind UI elements. Introducing character based diplomacy is a natural way to expand the gameplay from single character to clan/kingdom management, where you can assign your clan and your lords the very same tasks you used to do by yourself, or that lords where giving to you.

This will also make companions and vassal lords much more relevant since you not only want trustworthy people surrounding you, but with the right set of skills to perform the task you need to assign them.

Another side is giving the player, as a ruler or as a vassal a more direct and immersive way to influence the course of the game in important ways, by creating real opportunities to engage with other lords and character in meaningful ways.

Finally, the result is a dynamic world where you care about what every character is doing, how they are doing it, and every death of an important retainer is a tragedy because you relied on them for X and Y.

2. Concrete suggestions in practice

Let's start on how we can improve existing features :

Declaring war, and enacting policies:
For now :
You just have an overview of the lords opinion on war/policy declaration with a % value based on variables that are obscure to the player, with apparently no real way of influencing it. A click of a button and some influence spend decide whether war/policy is declared or not.

Suggestion :
  • You should be able to talk to other lords to know their stance about declaring war on X or Y kingdom, and be able to spend influence and/or pass a conversation test to convince them to change their mind. The more powerful you are, and the better your relationship with them, the more easily they will be convinced to hear your case (nobody will listen to a tier 1 peasant they don't know no matter how good their charm is).
  • I guess this is a simple mechanic to implement (a few dialogue options, similar to existing ones like the quests to convince another lord of something) but could add a great deal of immersion as well as giving the player a true way to have an influence on the kingdom.
  • To further expand upon it, at a certain clan level you should be able to send one of your companion (or later a trustworthy vassal) to convince the other lord for you. AI lords could also generate a quest where you as a player need to go convince another lord of backing them up on such issues.
  • Additionaly, to make these tasks easier you could summon a war council or a kingdom council to physically gather all the clan heads of your kingdom to your keep, giving you a chance to talk with all of them and ask their opinion on the matter and convince them to switch their vote. After the war is declared, this would also make it more easy to gather the main lords of your kingdom into an army.
  • This would significantly improve immersion, give a way for the player to influence politics, as well as slowing down the pace of the game since war declaration would have to be preceded by a gathering of the clan heads.

Convincing a lord to join your clan :
For now :
After a conversation check you have to offer money (or other valuables/diplomacy sticks) which is the only case of character based diplomacy currently in the game.

Suggestion :
  • We should build upon the existing system but make it clearer to the player how they can influence lords, and how to simplify the process when you are king. Going yourself to see the lord in the field or in his castle, or just before a battle should remain the most effective, especially if you can display your strength with a big army, but you should also be able to send a companion or vassal who has a way with words (high Social/Charm/Roguery) to go and convince the other lord for you, giving player characters who didn't invest heavily in social skills a way to still be able to recruit other lords (that's why kings use diplomats).
  • The trade interface should also display the factors influencing the choice (hates you -100, own a city -1000, bad relation with liege +100 etc.) , and different ways to counterbalance the proposition (such as giving fiefs or soldiers, not only money or items)
  • A similar system could be used to negotiate peace with an enemy leader, where the skill of the player or the clan member sent to negotiate the peace would make it easier or harder to get a successful result.

Fief Management :
For now :
Less related to diplomacy, the governor feature and interface is currently underwhelming and a few steps could really improve the experience and make it character based

Suggestion :
  • Governor of fief should be a more defined title in the game, and should not lock the character inside the fief's wall. He should be able to roam around the fief, build a party and defend it, fill the garrison with recruits (following a ratio of the fief income), and resolve issues around the fief. Governor would then be an important position that require the best members of your clan to be efficient, and it would also help them train a varied number of skills (since they would still fight and lead a party as well as undertaking projects)
  • NPCs should also be able to appoint governors to their fief by using members of their clan to perform a similar role (i don't know if this is the case currently
  • Interacting with the governor of the fief should enable the player to give them directives and areas to focus on (defend the fief, improve the income, recruit troops etc.)
  • The automatic tasks like train militia, irrigation, etc. as well as construction of new buildings should not be so automatic and each require a clan member to take care of. Your clan level, size, and position in the kingdom should allow you to be able to perform several tasks at the same time using different companions for each tasks, involving different skills. They would train those skills while performing the task
  • To these tasks you could add another one which is train soldiers to allow promotion of recruits in the garrison up to a certain tier (tier 2 or tier 3) this should be really slow and costly, but a good trainer could make the difference. Performing tasks would lock the companion/clan member inside the fief.
  • You could always have the option to select yourself as governor, which would use your skills for the passive bonuses, but you would have to defend the fief and resolve issues by yourself, not automatically. You should also be to perform the fief tasks by yourself but it would be like waiting inside the fief. The player couldn't manage several fiefs at same time for balance.

Down the line this would give your companions and clan members more usefulness in the end game, as well as restrict the ability for small clans to manage a large number of fief, including the player. For instance building better walls in all your 4 fiefs at the same time would require 4 experienced engineers to perform this task simultaneously in all 4 fiefs, this would force you to really focus on the most important needs for your domain, potentially at the expense of others. (and it would slow down the AI which has a tendency of upgrading the whole map in tier 3 castles/cities in 10-20 years).

Bring back Features from other Mount and Blade games in an improved way:

Hold a Feast/Tournament/Hunt :

  • Social events should be the main way for a fief owners to build relations with other lords. But to spice things up you should be free to invite any character/clan from calradia with a likelyhood of acceptance/influence cost that increase with relations and geographical proximity, and not be restricted to people from your kingdom. Of course this could backfire when you invite people who hate each other which would then decrease their relation with you instead of increasing them. The opulence and atmosphere of the event would also be a factor as you could impress or trigger jealousy with other lords as well as your quality in the relevant skills.
  • I add tournaments and hunts because they were other important social events for nobility in medieval times and the mechanics of tournaments are already in the game, and hunting was done in Viking Conquest (although it was a solo affair, i would transform it into a hunting contest between lords for bannerlord).
  • If you do not have the skills yourself, you could rely on members of your clan to organize/perform during those events, where the reknown and relations could increase if any member of your clan win the tournament/hunt.
  • All of these events should give opportunities for lords to interact with each other in good and bad ways to shuffle around their relations points (and create some drama).
  • This would also be a great peacetime feature and further contribute to slow down the pace of the game, and give lords something to spend their influence and gold when they are not at war, other than creating useless armies.

Convincing a lord to perform X action :
  • Like following you, besiege, raid, form an army etc. a feature that was present in Warband and VC, which should come back in Bannerlord, enhanced with the influence system.
  • Except as a king you should be able to send a companion/clan member to give orders to your lords. They could also refuse by spending influence and degrading your relation points.
  • This would give your more control during wars between kingdoms whether you are vassal or king, but also mitigate the power of kings when their vassals become more powerful, as vassals hoarding influence could refuse your orders.

Other ideas that could be based on the same system of character based diplomacy :
- Send a character to gather troops for yourself
- Send a character to improve relations with another lord (send him a gift, etc.)
- Hold a fair in your city involving the local and nearby notables
- Feel free to give more ideas !

By modifying and improving existing features to take better advantage of existing NPCs, lords and clan members, Bannerlord could really improve the dynamism of the campaign world, by providing meaningful interactions with other lords world, and an additional layer of diplomacy/relationship gameplay that would contrast with the pure battle gameplay, when you are a vassal or a ruler.
This would enhance the gameplay for the player, and help with the pacing of the game, to prevent it becoming too monotonous fast, and give a place for the dynasty and clan management features to really shine, as well as give more purpose to the less used scenes of the game (the keep for instance)
I feel like thoses suggestions are all doable using the current engine, scenes and UI, the bigger issue would be to create the AI logic underneath, but once the structure is there, modders could also really expand upon it to build even more meaningful character interactions between NPCs.
I think a decision to refuse a fief is a good start...
Indeed but you should get an slap on the hand for it to for dismissing such fine offer :wink: -2 in influence for at least one month or something
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