Some Ideas about diplomacy and Mechanics

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Hey everyone, I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts, obviously as the game is in early access a bunch of future features are speculative. I am very curious about the future of diplomacy and family/clan dynamics. 10 ideas that I would really like to see but may just be wishful thinking or just bad ideas, let me know what you guys think.

1) First with existing diplomacy. I think that when failing a persuasion it should not permanently block the desired action. For example when pursuing marriage save scumming should not be a thing. If a persuasion fails maybe it should have a slightly negative relation hit. I am not sure if this is in the game (I think it is not) but relation should factor in persuasion.

2) That leads into the second point, there needs to be more consistent ways to build relations. Every village needs to have a more reliable way of building relation, maybe like an investment mechanic, or like a religious themed donation mechanic (not just money but like maybe rare items like relics) and then doing these things in a village or cities spawns more notable given quests as the settlement starts to trust you. I think this is important for emersion because in the early game it makes you invest time in cities and villages to get troops and better prices. I think you should also need high relation with a kingdom to join as a vassal. This is to make the player invest time and resources in the land and area they want to play in and then they can reap the rewards of better troops, better prices, and vassalage.

3) This leads into the third point. Managing relations should be more important and more dynamic and there should be a general relation modifier per kingdom not just clans and heroes. For example if you work as a mercenary and fight than you should get a generic relationship with the whole nation. This should affect clans in the kingdom but also notables so that recruitment becomes better and it should affect access and prices for trade. Like mentioned earlier rare items like relics or better equipment should need investment in the area to unlock. Basically there needs to be more ways to lose and gain relation. Marrying someone from a clan should provide special relation with that clan, maybe even required to become a vassal you need to marry into one of the kingdom's clans (think season one of the last kingdom for fans of it on Netflix)

4) This leads to the next point about clans switching kingdoms. To me this breaks the immersion completely. For example Battania starts losing and then later in the game their clans are all over the place and even joined the kingdoms that took their lands and kingdom. This really broke my emersion of my sturgia play through when the Kuzaits attacked and my castle was sieged by 3 Battanian nobles. I think clans should have a permanent "claim" to their ancestral home and should work to try to get them back. Then it makes more sense that they may join another kingdom if that kingdom goes to war with the kingdom that took their land.

5) For this to work there needs to be a change to war and diplomacy. We already see it a bit in 1.4 where the whole kingdom needs to agree to go to war. I think this should be expanded. Clans in the kingdom should spend influence to form "claims" on neighboring lands (even within a faction). I think if you build high relations with the settlement next door, even if in another kingdom would make the influence cost of fabricating a claim cheaper and take less time. Also the starting clans should get a permanent claim on their ancestral home. So they should be able to pledge fealty to a new lord that promises to give them back the land and the that kingdom will get that claim as justification for war. I also think that it should be easier/cheaper for a character and the player to fabricate a claim on lands in their own culture. I also think once a claim is taken it should take a few years and loads of investment to make it a "core" fief which means you get less culture penalty, and more loyalty and then other kingdoms view the ownership of that province as legitimate and less likely to support the original owners claim.

6) This leads into the next mechanic. There should be a penalty if the Lord then betrays that clan after using their claim and keeping it for yourself. The cost of the claim or alliance should be based on what the agreement is. One: Return land to the clan AND it is loyal to its original faction but the original faction gets a relation boost with your faction if you do it; this should be the easiest and cost nothing because it returns the status quo. This can help independent players because they can be hired by the homeless clan to help them reclaim their homeland. This can also help slow down snowballing. Second and third options are to take back the land and the clan will join your faction in return for giving you their claim but this will cost you or the kingdom for adding new land and a new clan and the third is grant them independence. This could make it easier to arrange a marriage and make it possible for AI independent kingdoms under special circumstances.

7) Marriages should also carry claims. If you maneuver to get high relation and for example accept a marriage in exchange for helping a clan regain their land than you get a spot on the inheritance tree. This leads to an intrigue action mechanic. Like assassination or framing the lord for a crime or accusing them of heresy and getting them executed (hardest to do because no negative effect on player). If you can then kill those ahead of you in inheritance or use diplomacy to get them to revoke their spot than you can get the settlement without going to war. This exists already a bit with spending influence to get a settlement transferred but this feature should only work if you have a claim that way the AI does not immediately do another vote and you lose the fief you just got like it happens now. I think religion could play in here too, and also a trust mechanic, where you can use intrigue actions to get the rest of the clan to distrust the guy ahead of you in inheritance so you do not have to kill him/her but can get their own clan to change their standing or even force them to maybe become a monk or nun or something and therefore give up their claim to the next in line.

:cool: I think clans should be able to fight other clans within a nation for land or for just influence, power, and intrigue/power projection purposes. This can lead to a way for the player to become the king of an actual existing kingdom. I think when a player becomes a vassal there should be ranks. Like King for the king of a faction. Duke for lords of cities, baron/count for castles, and Knights for unlanded nobles (this also helps clans leaving kingdoms so much). That way you use relation to get different levels of fiefs. So for example you can't just become the vassal of the king, it is much easier to become a knight for a baron and a bit harder for a duke and hardest for a king. This means kings need to maneuver relation to stay in power and stay stronger than their dukes. This can be done by making family members dukes for example but this may piss off other dukes since all the cities are owned by the king's clan. This allows the player to use diplomacy, use intrigue, or military force to work their way up and into a kingdom (including using foreign powers but this will cost the player?). There also needs to be more positions at each level so that for example if a duke loses a city the clan stays in the kingdom because that duke also has a position in court and also has a claim to their land. There should be a set number of court positions available that the king can give out based on how many cores are in the kingdom's clans and the closer you come to filling that limit the more expensive it is for the king because of the massive loyalty bonus those positions offer and because those clans stay in the kingdom and can make smaller countries have a substantially better chance of fighting. These positions in court may also be inherited and count towards a clan's assets that can be taken using marriage, diplomacy, intrigue, and/or force or any combination just like taking fiefs, basically it is a fief but with no land but still hugely important and valuable. Also a kingdoms could get bonuses for having the roles filled and penalties for having the jobs vacant or having too many lords (being over the limit in the size of the court). Like having a chief steward or chief tax collector or lord marshal of the army or Chief justice of the peace. Having these filled provides kingdom wide modifiers for prosperity, food, tax, building cost (and building maintenance, having level 3 fortifications should cost more to maintain than level 2) and militia.

9) this can create interesting situations where you can be the King of Vlandia for example but also you have a claim on being a duke in the western empire and are the duke of a city. This means that you would owe fighting men and tax to the king of the other kingdom and it can give them a claim for war if you do not. Also you would have to go to war to integrate it into Vlandia instead and would have to make a claim and then core it. Think of the start of the hundred years war when William the conqueror's descendants claimed the crown of England and the dukedom of Normandy and how the French backed a non English claimant to the dukedom which than lead to England and France fighting. I think this could provide a deeper and more immersive gameplay as you have to manage loyalties and commitments that come with different inheritances you can maneuver for. This also means that parties would not just be tied to your clan rank but also a second kind of party, maybe called a retinue that is tied to a fief. So for example a city gets 2 while a castle gets 1 maybe? and it would work as a party but be bound to the land so that if you have land then maybe the retinue is taken from local militia from castles, cities, and villages. So that means as the lord you have an obligation to maintain a certain militia strength and tax to the lord above you that can be modified in policies. Also unlanded knights parties are the same where you owe your party to the lord above you and the lord pays you and gives you the knighthood in exchange for your party basically; and depending on your clan rank the lord would expect you to maintain a certain number of fighting men. So belonging to 2 or more kingdoms you would owe the king or the nobles forming an army those retinues and it costs relation if you do not pay to muster them and send them. This could lead to war or even civil war. There should also be a war exhaustion mechanic where you cities and fiefs lose loyalty and prosperity for the longer you are at war. This means that if you are fighting to give back land or to force a policy change or something you are penalized if you ignore that war claim and instead start sieging to try and take land. This helps the AI not steamroll because once they get their war aim, like a castle or city they will want to form peace and then the kingdom that lost the city get war exhaustion because they failed to protect the war goal so they will seek peace. This also means that if the attack fails to take the target, the longer that takes the more exponentially war exhaustion increases so a peace can happen even if nothing changed in the war. Basically making it possible for kingdoms that successfully defend themselves to make peace. I think this is more immersive because the people and the lords of a kingdom will begin to lose heart and not like the war if they are losing or if they already achieved their war aim and will want the king to make peace.

10) Lastly, internal kingdom politics and civil war. Those retinues should be owed to the lord above you. This means that as you maneuver from being unlanded to having a castle or even a city you can maneuver to become more powerful and more influential than the king. The same way you can fabricate claims for land and titles you can do it to become king. You can use intrigue to reduce the king's relation in the nation wide modifier and also keep increasing yours. You can use civil wars or marriages or diplomacy to get barons and dukes to be under you. So not just a war for taking a settlement but a war that costs less to justify which is to bring them under your peerage. If you do it by force they would have a loyalty hit and relation hit so they may wait for an opportunity to rebel and become an an independent lord in the kingdom or under another lord. The king himself may use the mechanics to get them to rebel and go under their peerage instead. (they naturally want to be independent but part of the kingdom unless your relation and loyalty is high enough for the clan to be content being under a peerage). I think this is key for long term playability with multiple generations because now instead of kingdoms constantly fighting each other, clans can fight within a kingdom for influence and power and makes it harder for kings to build up enough influence and stability to justify a war with a neighbor (or a clan in the kingdom getting enough to justify calling the whole kingdom to fight for their claim). This means that if a clan you forced under you peerage rebels and succeeds but they are not loyal to the king they may rebel and form a new nation and that nation can survive if the king does not have enough influence or relation to call his other dukes and barons to force the independent kingdom back into the original kingdom. This means if this happens the player or AI can support the new independent AI kingdom until they can core it and force a peace thereby creating interesting politics and rare but possible new AI kingdoms. The player and AI may want to support a new independent kingdom in a civil war because it is cheaper than fabricating a claim and they do not have to worry about coring and if they win, they have a new ally while also weakening their rival. The player or dukes that get enough peerage can force a civil war to be king or try to form a new kingdom (to form a new kingdom the existing king needs to have low relation with in the generic kingdom relation otherwise the clans under you would prefer staying in the kingdom but making you the new king).

To encourage the player and AI to not just snowball there should be an aggressive expansion mechanic where if the clans of a kingdom take fiefs they did not fabricate claims on than other kingdoms take notice and may form a special alliance to check the expansion. Expansion is still possible but it needs to be methodical and you need to pay attention to diplomacy and not over extend. This over extension should also have penalties on the fiefs you take. A fief with no claim will be expensive to hold and maintain and will be rebellious (militia will sporadically rise up in an attempt to bring old clan back and the old clan can help and fight you). Claimed land is better but only once it is cored it will act normally and only have a negative culture modifier. This means kings will be more likely to give land to their unlanded knight clans because it is to much to core all that land and it is easier if you give it to another clan. This helps because there should be a limit on how many fiefs you can core at once and the more you core at once the cost becomes exponentially more expensive. So to avoid local peasant revolts and rebel uprisings the kind of vlandia can't just take everything the way he does now. This aggressive modifier can be in inter-kingdom policies too where if you are the kings and you fight a war to raise taxes or retinues or to force all your dukes under your peerage there is an aggressive expansion modifier within the kingdom which the ai or player can exploit to their interests. I think this is better than fighting so many bandits. It does kind of break emersion that there are so many bandits and they are the only things you can fight while your kingdom is at peace. I think It is way better if clans with in a kingdom can have minor fights for a purpose, like imposing a tax on them or getting them under your peerage.

Lastly I think there should be inter kingdom diplomacy between kingdoms. For example trade agreements where caravans need permission to enter borders (usually only lost in the case of a war) and there would be negative and positive modifiers to the trade and the potential profits based on the type of agreement and the strength of the relationship. For example nations can form alliances and allies can make more profit trading with each other. This means that the player, even if independent needs to make agreements to maximize caravan profits and needs to secure trade routes. I also think the trade agreements should affect what caravans or the player can trade so that building a high relationship with a city will provide better trade opportunities. So for example if you are a king you can force dukes to be loyal to you by making their city like you by having high relationship and trading. If a clan is not under the peerage of a king or another clan in that kingdom then they can make their own trade agreements. So for example at the start of the game you build high relation at Poros and with their clan and make an agreement so that you and your caravans get better prices there. This lets the player control caravans more and caravans would want to seek out more rare goods because they are harder to get because you need a higher relation to unlock better goods. This extra control means the play can tell the caravan to try and "smuggle" goods into areas they are at war with or to try and sell or buy goods from gang leaders that you have not unlocked yet using the intrigue modifier. This means on a global scale if a kingdom gets to aggressive than the first step before a coalition war would be the other kingdoms making embargo pacts that you than have to work to remove as your aggressive expansion ticks off. (maybe giving and find relics for churches and temples can help increase the rate at which aggressive expansion dissipates as well as help remove negative modifiers for failed intrigue). So you as the play knows your pissing off your neighbors when the guy next door revokes your trade even though you aren't at war with them.

Anyways this is the longest post ever and if anyone reads it let me know what you think. I love this game and these are just ideas I had for what I would like to see. It may be niche because people may recognize a lot of the inspiration for this came from CK2 and EU4. Super niche games that are hard to learn and play. But to me Bnanerlord is already so close to those that making more dipolacy and clan mechanics seems natural and I think would make the best game ever made.