Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Blue? Green? Red? Refuse? It's time to talk about rules for a new community edition of the VBAM rules!
User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:35 pm

With the Galaxies core rules, how do players think the neutral / non-aligned worlds should be handled? Should they be handled like the 2E non-aligned worlds (NAW) that are more or less there to trade with or invade and that's it, should they be more active and function like 1E non-player empires (NPE), or some sort of strange middle ground where you use Intel missions to raise or lower relations with them?

And how active do you feel the neutral powers should be? Should they just sit in their home system and do nothing, or should they be actively trying to expand and grow more like a NPE would?

One concept I had for keeping the NAW dynamic would be to roll for "missions" for them that would direct what their goal was for the next so many turns. For example, the NAW might roll a "Build 10 construction cost of bases" mission which would indicate they want to build something, then when they complete that goal they roll randomly and get a "colonize a new system" mission. It would be like a VP-less WAP objective system, with the goal of keeping the neutral system active without it acting like a "real" empire.

Otherwise, I could port over a version of the NPE rules that I've been working on (and sliding backwards closer to 1E with every version, unfortunately, due to players wanting to keep their AIX values :mad: ) and have them in the book as a basic option. That would make solo play easier, which honestly is probably one of our bigger draws.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
murtalianconfederacy
Captain
Captain
Posts: 363
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:17 am
Location: Aboard the MCS Bavoralkin

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:37 am

I like the concept you outlined. It would give the NAW something to do, rather than sit around. Would it be similar to WAP, albeit simplified?
Not every laser dot has a loaded gun at the end of it

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Oct 08, 2016 2:24 pm

murtalianconfederacy wrote:I like the concept you outlined. It would give the NAW something to do, rather than sit around. Would it be similar to WAP, albeit simplified?


That's the idea I think, yeah. Have a limited set of objectives that they can roll against, and then they can go off and accomplish that goal. I would want to keep them pretty basic so that you can just kind of "eyeball" what they want to do and don't have to make any really involved plans to get them there.

It would keep the neutrals interesting without becoming too taxing on the player to decide what they might want to do. Otherwise, the neutral systems kind of sit there in stasis and don't do anything, unless they are CM controlled NPE, at which point then they are more active.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:37 pm

Another question as I stare at the Special Traits table some more:

How common do you want neutral systems to be in Galaxies? I had it at a 1 in 36 chance (3%), but that seems too low. Moving that to a "11" on the chart raises it to 2 in 36 chance (6%). The "Roll Twice" then moves into the "12" slot on the table. Anomalies would then drop down to "10" for a 3 in 36 chance (8%). EDIT: My math was off, and I have corrected it. After doing that, I think this looks better overall and has calmed some of my nerves about the change.

What I'm really trying to gauge is whether you'd like to see more neutral systems on the map? I think it would be more interesting if there were more of these one-system powers running around that you had to deal with, but I'm not sure if the previous 3% chance is fine, with the 8% chance of anomalies.

I'm just critically indecisive on system generation. :roll:
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
murtalianconfederacy
Captain
Captain
Posts: 363
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 9:17 am
Location: Aboard the MCS Bavoralkin

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby murtalianconfederacy » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:08 am

That would seem a good base rate...
Not every laser dot has a loaded gun at the end of it

User avatar
Emiricol
Captain
Captain
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:09 am
Location: Near Seattle
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Emiricol » Thu Oct 27, 2016 4:54 am

I haven't tested it, but my gut reaction is this: having NAWs be simple and limited in activity with reduced number of traty options, is a *very good thing*. For NPEs, using the slow-reveal method based on some posts from a long time ago as the default would also greatly speed things up, yet preserve some mystery for the players.

Anything that can be done to reduce the number of dice rolls for NPEs/diplomacy would help me a lot. And while I like the flexibility of the AIX system (or AHX), I am about 80% sure I'd like to use tension with racial traits for unusual races (Warlike/Pacifist, Honorable/Devious, Bigoted/Unbiased?).

User avatar
aelius
Commander
Commander
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:51 am

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby aelius » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:27 pm

Emiricol wrote:I haven't tested it, but my gut reaction is this: having NAWs be simple and limited in activity with reduced number of traty options, is a *very good thing*. For NPEs, using the slow-reveal method based on some posts from a long time ago as the default would also greatly speed things up, yet preserve some mystery for the players.

Anything that can be done to reduce the number of dice rolls for NPEs/diplomacy would help me a lot. And while I like the flexibility of the AIX system (or AHX), I am about 80% sure I'd like to use tension with racial traits for unusual races (Warlike/Pacifist, Honorable/Devious, Bigoted/Unbiased?).


Agreed on this one. The AIX rules are flexible and give a good feeling on what the race is like, but they require a lot of fiddling during play.
A tension rating modified by racial traits would be easier to manage as well as be good enough to give the right feel.
4. Killing is not too good for my enemies
Evil Overlords Survival Guide

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:03 pm

aelius wrote:Agreed on this one. The AIX rules are flexible and give a good feeling on what the race is like, but they require a lot of fiddling during play.
A tension rating modified by racial traits would be easier to manage as well as be good enough to give the right feel.


I did that for the 2E Companion playtest rules and everyone else hated it. They wanted AIX back :(

The system I had riffed off of MOO1 with the personalities, and then had them apply modifiers to certain actions as they interacted with the tension value. Then things like treaty acceptance were just Treaty Chance - Tension = Chance. If you were Xenophobic your Tension would be effectively higher, making it hard to sign treaties.

And the break/declare was a single roll, so you'd make a hostilities roll against your Tension, and if it was less than half then you were trying to declare war otherwise you were trying to break if you were less than or equal to your Tension.

But I'm trying to reconcile everything with the AIX system and at least try to keep the reduced number of die rolls. It's not as clean as my first pass, but like I said everyone seemed to absolutely hate not having AIX stats around.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
BroAdso
Commander
Commander
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:27 am
Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby BroAdso » Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:49 am

Tyrel Lohr wrote:
aelius wrote:Agreed on this one. The AIX rules are flexible and give a good feeling on what the race is like, but they require a lot of fiddling during play.
A tension rating modified by racial traits would be easier to manage as well as be good enough to give the right feel.


I did that for the 2E Companion playtest rules and everyone else hated it. They wanted AIX back :(


Well, is there a way to use AIX that reduces the fiddly nature of its interactions with the other rules, especially diplomacy? I can see why people like it - it is original, the three ideas it represents are intuitive and interesting, it does a good job of defining personalities without being similar to another property out there. I'll ponder this and drop some ideas if I can.

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:17 am

BroAdso wrote:Well, is there a way to use AIX that reduces the fiddly nature of its interactions with the other rules, especially diplomacy? I can see why people like it - it is original, the three ideas it represents are intuitive and interesting, it does a good job of defining personalities without being similar to another property out there. I'll ponder this and drop some ideas if I can.

A middle ground I tried was turning the AIX values into +-Tension modifiers instead for certain checks. So instead of 1-100 you had +-50 on a bell curve ((2d6-7)x10). That way you could keep a single stat to deal with (Tension/Relationship) and just have the AIX values be added to it.

But if there is enough support out there now for casting off AIX, I would be more than happy to revisit the idea. The model I had reused Tension as a "flipped" version of Relationship where the assumption was that Tension 0 was the optimal or "normal" condition you wanted to achieve.

The diplomatic states / treaties all had base percentages then that were balanced around this, and you took the treaty chance minus Tension to find the NPE's chance of accepting the treaty.

Then, when a critical negative diplomatic shift was rolled, you would roll against Tension for your hostilities check as I described above. Then the NPE had to adhere to the same rules for breaking/declaring that players do, as opposed to the parallel system that I gave them in 1E.

Speaking of that, there is still something to be said for just removing War from being something special and just making it another diplomatic state. Then you could have the hostilities roll check just how far down they could try to break a treaty, and if they hit a threshold then they will try to degrade relations to that point. That would put all of the diplomatic states on a shared spectrum. But it also diminishes the difference between Aggressive/Pacifist and Ruthless/Honorable, which I think we do want to maintain.

Another question worth asking is if it would make more sense to move the NPE diplomatic attitude to the First Contact traits instead? There is a bit of overlap there. The only issue would be if you weren't using the custom alien empire rules that all of your NPE would act exactly the same, which isn't exactly desirable.

Oh, going back to the traits system, I did experiment at one point with breaking the AIX modifiers down into the six basic characteristics, and then having a d6 roll for each "spectrum" to see what they had. That way an empire might roll absolutely nothing, or they could be Aggressive Xenophobes or something like that. I think I also had one where I required two of them per NPE, but they couldn't be mutually exclusive. That gave something like this for personalities:

Federation: Pacifistic, Xenophile
Klingon: Aggressive, Honorable
Romulans: Ruthless, Xenophobe
Cardassians: Aggressive, Ruthless

That way each NPE would always have two traits to guide their diplomacy. That's enough to provide some guidance, but not get in the way overly much. There's no graduation to the benefits, however, and if combined with the custom empire rules it ends up with stacking bonuses to the point that the diplomacy game kind of starts to break.

I am still keen on how MOO1 approached it, with their personalty + production emphasis system that way you get a distinct personality and then a play style indication for the empire.

# # #

The end game in any event is going to be to reduce the number of rolls required to maintain NPE relationships. That is why I moved to loading everything into the diplomatic shifts, which seems to work pretty well in my tests. It's just injecting NPE personality into the mix where you start running into issues.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
Emiricol
Captain
Captain
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:09 am
Location: Near Seattle
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Emiricol » Thu Nov 03, 2016 2:52 pm

While I love the idea of Tension +/- Race Trait mod, if AIX is kept I like the idea of having it be a modifier to rolls rather than be the target number, just as you described, Tyrel. I love AIX in concept but I don't love dealing with it.

Maybe roll d100 for each trait and get a resulting modifier to either Tension (A), Break Treaty mod (I or H), and Offer Treat mod (X). For example:

Aggression (Tension Modifier)
00-15 Pacifist -20%
16-30 Peaceful -10%
31-70 Average +0%
71-85 Aggressive +10%
86-100 Warlike =20%

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:43 pm

I am late getting back to the discussion, but I've continued to mull things over and am still on the fence of what the "right" solution is going to be for Galaxies.

As you mentioned, Emiricol, the idea of the modifiers is nice but it also isn't fun to have to do a lot of extra math. The other problem I'm running into is that, logically, it makes more sense to have a Tension value that ticks down over time than to have a Relationship value that ticks up over time. For the base game and player diplomacy, Tension just makes more sense as the way that you keep track of those diplomatic penalties that you're racked up based on provocative actions.

On the flip side, for AIX, Relationship makes more sense as then you're effectively taking Relationship - AIX (or vice versa) to get your modifier.

And then you add the custom empire rules in, and you end up "double dipping" with an empire having a declaration bonus from its empire traits plus another bonus from AIX.

For that reason I'm really leaning heavily towards removing AIX again, and instead rolling that into alien traits. So you could have your Aggressive species that gets +20% to declaring war, or your Xenophile that gets a +20 to signing treaties, but otherwise all other NPE would operate the same without any special rules if you're not using the custom empire rules. That would make the NPE easier to track. They would have less of a personality, but then you'd rely more on the alien traits for that personality.

And maybe that is a sign that the NPE rules should be in First Contact with the custom empire rules?

Taking that approach a step further, I would make the players be subject to the same offering rules as the NPEs, to make diplomatic Intel more important for everyone. That way if you have a base chance of like 60% for a treaty and you have 32 Tension, then the chance falls to 28%. But you could then spend 10 EP to use 10 Intel diplomatically and get a +50% bonus, raising it to 78%. Then being an Empath as a player empire would matter a lot more, as your diplomatic Intel would either be cheaper or more effective (however that shakes out).

As with 1E diplomacy, it would end up not being a huge problem getting enough Intel together to force through a treaty offer or declaration of war, but it would still have a cost associated with it and retain the concept that you're fighting with your own government to try and get things accomplished. It also maintains parity with the NPE rules as they would be subject to the same problems, but with the added complication of Tension changing randomly based on the diplomatic shifts.

There's a part of me that doesn't want to see the AIX rules disappear, either, but at the same time combining their effects with the custom empire rules might be for the best. Then if you want Ruthless Romulans or Honorable Klingons you'll just have to make sure that they take those traits.
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"

User avatar
aelius
Commander
Commander
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:51 am

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby aelius » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:54 am

I think that is the best way to go. By making AIX into traits you only worry about it when they are extreme.
Effectively most races can get along normally just dealing with Tension from interactions, but those Klingons (Aggressive) fight with everybody. And those Romulans (Xenophobic), hard to deal with. Etc.....
4. Killing is not too good for my enemies

Evil Overlords Survival Guide

User avatar
Emiricol
Captain
Captain
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 2:09 am
Location: Near Seattle
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Emiricol » Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:26 pm

The other problem I'm running into is that, logically, it makes more sense to have a Tension value that ticks down over time than to have a Relationship value that ticks up over time.

Definitely. And a tick-down Tension rating makes Treaty Delay modifiers a possible rule or option once again. Aelius' thinking is very much in line with mine, too.

User avatar
Tyrel Lohr
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:48 am
Location: Lusk, WY
Contact:

Re: Non-Aligned Worlds and Non-Player Empires

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Sat Nov 12, 2016 7:41 pm

Let's walk through what it would look like if we didn't have the AIX values and only had Tension.

Image

Image

The Asari and the Krogans have made first contact. At first contact we roll d100 and get a starting Tension of 32.

Turn 1:
The Asari roll 5 for diplomatic shift. Tension increases by 1.
The Krogan roll 2 for diplomatic shift. Tension increases by 10 and a hostilities check is required.

Tension is now 43. The Krogan hostilities check is an 81, which is a failure. It would have had to be less than or equal to Tension to have triggered a declaration or breaking attempt.

Tension increased this turn, so it doesn't get a natural reduction.

Turn 2:
The Asari roll 7 for diplomatic shift. Tension unchanged.
The Krogan roll 10 for diplomatic shift. Tension is reduced by 1.

Tension is now 42. Tension did not increase this turn, so it decreases 1 point to 41.

The old rules had an "At a Crossroads" critical shift that the current system lacks. If there was ever a desire to try putting that back in, it could be at the "7" result on the diplomatic shift. At that point you might have to roll against Tension to see what the NPE thinks about the situation. I wouldn't have a treaty offer or declaration/breaking attempt tied to this, but possibly a significant Tension shift?

Turn 3:
The Asari roll 8 for diplomatic shift. No effect.
The Krogan roll 5 for diplomatic shift. Tension is increased by 1.

Tension is now 42.

Turn 4:
The Asari roll 7 for diplomatic shift. No effect.
The Krogan roll 3 for diplomatic shift. +5 Tension.

Tension is now 47.

Turn 5:
The Asari roll 5 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 9 for diplomatic shift. -1 Tension.

Tension remains at 47.

Turn 6:
The Asari roll 4 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 8 for diplomatic shift. No effect.

Tension is now 48.

Turn 7:
The Asari roll 5 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 8 for diplomatic shift. No effect.

Tension is now 49.

Turn 8:
The Asari roll 5 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 3 for diplomatic shift. +5 Tension.

Tension is now 55.

Turn 9:
The Asari roll 8 for diplomatic shift. No effect.
The Krogan roll 9 for diplomatic shift. -1 Tension.

Tension did not rise, so it drops by an additional 1. Tension is now 53.

This does show an issue with the "Tension did not rise" rule. The At a Crossroads might be a better way to handle this after all, as then you just can have natural shifts one way or another over time.

Turn 10:
The Asari roll 9 for diplomatic shift. -1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 4 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.

Tension is still 53.

Turn 11:
The Asari roll 10 for diplomatic shift. -1 Tension.
The Krogan roll 5 for diplomatic shift. +1 Tension.

Tension is still 53.

There is a good argument for there to be a change in Tension lost/gained at each breakpoint. Right now it goes 1/1/5/10. It might make more sense to go 1/2/5/10 to show an escalation.

Turn 12:
The Asari roll 7 for diplomatic shift. No effect.
The Krogan roll 8 for diplomatic shift. No effect.

Tension drops to 52.

# # #

That was a year of diplomacy between two NPEs. Neither one of them rolled a treaty offer, and only the Krogans needed to make a hostilities check. This reduces the number of rolls per turn to one per NPE per relationship, which is far less than what the 1E rules had. There we had about a 5% chance per turn of offering/declaring in many circumstances. This 1/36 is decidedly worse odds for either one, but it makes it less likely that an alien is going to spam offers/declarations.

This is a good argument for "At a Crossroads" to come back, to make it much more likely that you'll have some decisive diplomacy between the two empires. For example, with the Asari "7" on the last turn, I could have rolled a d100 and got a "72". This is greater than Tension, which would have translated into -5 Tension and a treaty offer. If the Asari and Krogans are at Normal Relations, and we assume a 60% chance for Non-Aggression, when we offered the Krogans that treaty they would have a 60 - 47 = 13% chance of accepting. The roll is "59", which is a failure. Admittedly, once we get the Tension balance in place, I suspect Non-Aggression would be closer to 80%, at which the chance would be 33%. Still a failure, but closer to the realm of possibility.

Unlike the original diplomacy rules, I don't think we would see a diplomatic modifier here from breaking. The Tension mechanic already builds in the enmity between the empires. We'd still need a treaty delay to prevent players from spamming missions, but I'd probably change it from being an acceptance modifiers to being where if Tension + Treaty Delay is >= 100 then the NPE recalls its ambassador and you can't negotiate with them anymore.

# # #

Going back to that early turn when the Krogans did roll a hostilities check, Let's say they had rolled a "10". Tension was at 43, so "10" would be enough to trigger an attempt to declare war (or hostilities, if there is a desire to bring that back?). Before we had all of those diplomatic modifiers that determined the chance, but under this new system those sorts of things would be applied to Tension. So our chance is going to be equal to Tension. I roll d100 and get "51". The Krogan fail to declare war. At first I thought the failure to declare war should also reduce Tension, because obviously there isn't enough support for it in the Krogan government, however that makes it too easy for a player to just spam war declarations in order to drive Tension DOWN, which isn't intended.

As with player empires, the NPE Krogans would be able to spend economic points to use diplomatic Intel to boost their chances. This is paid for in the Intel Phase (out of sequence for normal), at the CM's discretion, with up to 10 Intel being applied, and each Intel giving a +5% bonus. If the Krogans had used even 2 diplomatic Intel they would have succeeded in making their declaration of war.

The diplomatic Intel cost may be too low, and it may be better to ratchet up the costs or each reduce the effect to just +1% per point of diplomatic Intel. This would scale the cost and effect better, too, as then it would have a substantial cost to try using it to influence your attempts.

I could also see the diplomatic Intel being used on treaty offers to increase the treaty chance. This would let a player offer a treaty that they may otherwise not be able to offer.

# # #

Under this system, the AIX effects would be rolled into custom empire traits that would achieve similar modifiers. This more than likely would take the form of Tension modifiers that apply when performing certain checks. An Aggressive empire might get a +20% bonus to attempts to declare war, while a Xenophobic empire gets a -20% penalty to treaty acceptance.

I may need to expand the maximum trait limit and number of design points to accommodate this on the custom empire side (I had it locked at 2 points of traits and max 4 traits), but that is all doable. Then to get the "full effect" of the NPEs you'd have to use the custom empire rules, or some stripped down version of them.

Relating this to our example, the Krogans would definitely have the diplomatic trait that gives them a +20% bonus to declaring war because they are so aggressive. However, the Asari are Charismatic and enemies have a -20% penalty to declaring or breaking with them. This results in a wash, unless the Krogans also have a Totalitarian government at which point they get an additional +20% declaring bonus from there.

I think you can kind of see where this is headed.

# # #

So what do you think about this approach? Does it look like it simplifies the NPE diplomatic maintenance down to a more reasonable level? Is the loss of AIX a major sticking point for everyone, or is rolling that into the custom empire rules going to be sufficient?
"Touch not the pylons, for they are the messengers!"


Return to “VBAM Galaxies”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest