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Mercenary suggestions / contractual additions after playing e1.0.8

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This was based upon an older post I made, but wanted to get my thoughts down in a more clean and concise manner for feedback.
I have split this up into:
  • UI changes (that are not strictly tied to mercenary gameplay, but would be very helpful for it) and
  • Mercenary contract changes.
  • How the AI would assign contract clauses

UI changes.
  • A mercenary statistics tab in the clan screen [visible when a mercenary contract is active] to show me my stats on my current contract, stuff like:
    • Employed for N days
    • Gold accrued from contract
    • Gold spent buying replacement units during this contract
    • Friendly units lost / friendly parties lost (i.e. run by companions or spouse)
    • Hostile units / parties destroyed
    • Nobles captured / freed / killed (see below)
  • A world information tab in the clan screen
    • Let us see how many men each empire has, and who is at war with whom.
      • (you cannot currently see this without joining a kingdom)
    • This is important now as mercenary contract payouts are now linked to the relative power of empires in wars.
Mercenary contract changes
  • Contract length & termination.
    • Make contracts last for a year (84 days)
      • You can then extend a contract with the same terms when it matures - provided your employer is still in a war with someone.
      • Or end it / not extend it with no rep-hit with your employer.
    • Reputation hit from ending contracts prematurely.
      • If an empire is at peace, you should be able to end a contract by speaking to the lord and take no reputation hit.
      • If an empire is at war and you end a contract prematurely, you should still get a reputation hit.
        • (which is how it works currently - but maybe reduce it a little as it's -20 same as leaving as a vassal).
Currently, in 1.0.8 I've been releasing every noble/hero character I find after a victory as I'm technically not being paid to kill nobles (and I am not being paid extra for that long-term reputation hit from cutting their heads off). I'd like to see something like the "terms and conditions" of my contract in addition to the offered pay when i'm negotiating with a lord, they'd set a statute of limitations, of what I can and cannot do, per my contract.

I have included 3 main clauses below that cover most of the (existing) game interactions:

Contractual terms and conditions of warfare
  1. Nobles clause
    • [No Nobles clause] - You may do whatever you want to nobles after a battle (i.e. how things are by default)
    • [Executing Nobles Prohibited] - You may not execute any nobles that you capture from any empires we are at war with.
      • A bonus cash sum is paid to the mercenary captain for each Noble prisoner delivered to an allied castle / dungeon.
        • Your contract gets voided & you get a BIG reputation hit with your employer if you execute a noble
          • (A warning should pop up and remind players that executing someone would violate their terms and conditions).
    • [Mandatory executions] - You must execute any nobles that you capture from any empires we are at war with.
      • A large bonus cash-sum is paid to the mercenary captain for each severed noble head delivered.
        • If you let an enemy noble go free you receive a small, but repeatable, reputation hit with your employer.
        • Do it too many times and they may void your contract.
  2. Pillage clause
    • [No Raiding clause] - You may do whatever you want to villages & roaming villager parties. (i.e. how things are by default)
    • [Raiding villages Prohibited] - You may not raid enemy villages & roaming villager parties.
      • Raided villages are out of comission for a while and harm the local economy, a shrewd king knows that tyranny begets a prosperous rule. Your employer might not want their mercenary companies ravaging their new lands and it's people.
  3. Caravan clause
    • [No Caravan clause] - You may raid enemy caravans if you like (i.e. how things are by default)
    • [Attacking Caravans Prohibited] - You may not raid enemy caravans.
      • Caravans operate across war-fronts, servicing multiple cities, destroying caravans could hurt your employer's own economy / city prosperity.
      • So it may not be in your employers best interests to have you wiping out every enemy caravan you see.
So when you negotiate a contract with a lord they would tell you:
  1. The contract lasts for 1 full year (i.e. current date to next year, current date) with the option to roll-over if they are still at war with someone.
    • And that they expect a full year of service from you unless they are at peace (to remind the player there is a reputation hit if you leave your employer, whilst they are at war and counting on you).
  2. The amount you can expect to be paid
  3. The terms and conditions (if any) as they apply to
    1. Nobles.
      • If there is a noble clause active they would also state
        • the bonus cash amount (e.g. 1000 gold) for each noble prisoner brought to a dungeon,
        • or each noble executed (e.g. 5000 gold)
    2. Pillaging Villages & attacking villagers.
    3. Caravans.
  4. And the consequences of breaking any contractual clause (e.g. -10 reputation for first time, contract is voided if you do it again)
How the AI would pick which clause to offer the player / other mercenaries: Clauses would be given by the AI based upon the lord's character traits
  • e.g. cruel lords might be happy to let you raid villages,
  • Merciful or virtuous lords with other "good" traits might demand that executing nobles is a prohibited action whilst you work for them.
  • To make sure mandatory-execution clause contracts are rarer, they should only be offered by lords with deceitful or other "evil" character traits.
Additional thoughts

The nobles requirements would be a good way to actually make me want to stop-off at castles to drop off noble prisoners.
  • My rationale is nobles still stick to their own kind/class, they'd probably want to avoid hiring/financing a bloodthirsty noble-killing mercenary - as they know it could be their own neck on the chopping block one day - mercenaries are only loyal to gold.
There is some historical basis in trying to minimise collateral damage in war, too, so not unduly harming peasants or caravans makes some sense too.
  • Mostly this was done for religious reasons in Europe, that one should be decent to their fellow man,
  • Or it was implicit within the "feudal contract" between noble and commoner. Nobility were meant to look out for their charges (whether they always did or not, is another matter).
  • Or shrewd kings / lords who knew that ruling over a rubble pile was worthless to them etc
Though these medieval measures were nowhere near as robust as more modern attempts (Geneva convention etc).

Any opinions on all of this?

  • Clarified that execution clauses should only be offered by "non-virtuous lords" - like deceitful (or cruel?) lords, to make sure they're rarer
    • There are always going to be a few "evil" or mentally twisted lords in each generation, but most nobles probably don't want to set a precedent of cutting each other's heads off.
  • Someone on reddit also suggested that players should be able to set the terms of contracts they can offer [I havent personally tried recruiting mercenaries as a lord so IDK how this would play out] but IMO player traits should be considered, too, I.e. only deceitful/ or "evil" trait players could force AI mercenary companies to execute kill enemy lords, at a higher price, for example.
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Bonus idea after discussing this on Reddit with u/TheGreatDoofus

Procedural Mercenary quests:
  1. Siege/conquer Fief X for your employer
  2. Raid N number of caravans
    • (this quest spawning, depends on the active clauses in your contract)
  3. Raid N number of villages
    • (this quest spawning, depends on the active clauses in your contract)
  4. Assassinate/capture (the type depends on active clauses) Noble X for your employer
  5. Rescue/Free Noble X from Castle Y for your employer
These would be procedural "secondary" or "Bonus" quests that automatically appear in your quest log (maybe just 1 of each type can be active at a time):
  • They would be active, for say, 1-2 seasons, before disappearing or being replaced with another one
    • [and would be cleared when you end your current contract].
  • You would not suffer any consequences by not doing them / by ignoring them.
  • Payout includes: cash, items or even extra high level empire-specific troops for your party
    • e.g. You might be gifted 9 cataphract horsemen for rescuing the daughter of an imperial noble who is being held captive in castle X.
And because these are quests, you could then assign a companion (leading another party) to go and complete them, whilst you focus on other things. This would mean you could run your mercenary clan more like a company, delegating duties for certain jobs (right now companion parties go wherever they want and lack any way for players to direct them as you give them orders or even form armies as a clan - only in a kingdom).
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Some additional quests. The hope would be that multiple mercenary companies would be spawned and paid to do the same thing, so it doesn't seem like some suicidal quest. These are more focused on the direct conflict, to try and get the player more involved in the major events happening.

- Join the siege of X city/keep. Paid based on number of men you bring to the siege. Paid every day you are at the siege. A bonus is rewarded for a successful siege. Possible bonuses for "distinguished" service, like your company getting the most kills, killing a lord, etc.

- Help defend / lift the siege of X city/keep. Same deal as above. Bonus reputation with the town and its denizens.

- Garrison inside a city/keep on a war border. Paid for each day you remain in the area of the garrison, and paid a bonus if it is held for a certain number of days.Bonus reputation with the town and its denizens.

- Deal with brigands back home. Paid per head, with bonuses at certain thresholds or if you destroy a hideout.

- Do not allow enemies through a particular choke-point into the kingdom. An encampment should pop up at the choke-point, providing a bit better terrain for the defenders than just an open field. You join the encampment and hold it.
- Deal with brigands back home. Paid per head, with bonuses at certain thresholds or if you destroy a hideout.

- Do not allow enemies through a particular choke-point into the kingdom. An encampment should pop up at the choke-point, providing a bit better terrain for the defenders than just an open field. You join the encampment and hold it.
Some cool ideas, but I really quite like the sound of that last one. The game even seems to have a system that it could be derived from - hideouts.
  • Hideouts seem to spawn on the map at random (IDK if they are pre-placed and just revealed as needed, or if its a true RNG spawn) and are basically forts already.
  • But that could apply here too with a mini wooden fort appearing on the map for you to go and garrison for X days - the AI would have to be told to attack it if it gets within X units, too, though.

For the brigands one, I get this is basically to contain the "looter plague" that appears after a while, but I feel like if we're going to be chasing brigands they need a leader we can focus on and hunt down so it feels more interesting and doesnt just feel like grinding looter mobs mindlessly.
  • Maybe "Hunt down Bob the smelly" - draw him out by slaying or capturing X looters, then kill him or turn him in for your fat bounty.
    • It amounts to doing the same thing, but now you have a definite goal to focus on so it feels less like busywork and more like hunting down criminal scum.
  • The leader could even have a generic name or archetype in the encyclopedia, describing his personal guard, effectively turning him in to a miniboss/"banditlord".
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- The inclusion of camps first of all but also advanced mercenary castle / fortresses, either as an improved army camp or a permanent base of operations.

- Custom units, in general but even moreso for an immersive mercenary playthrough.

- When a mercenary company has gained significant renown, lords / factions themselves should a) ask via messengers b) leave out contracts to all mercenaries (like "x faction is willing to hire able fighters from around the world for x gold" and so on)

- More specific objectives. (ex. raid x amount of caravans, raid this village, join us to conquer x castle, or more rogue/spywork)
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