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Power – The Lifeblood of AotSS

Hey everyone!

I wanted to take this time to write a quick dev blog about the concept of Character and Emperor Power. It’s actually critically important to the game, but I don’t think I’ve spent that much time on it. It will be very important to understand how you win and lose Challenges, how likely characters are to do what you want, and what happens when you gain and lose Power as the Emperor.

The first thing to understand about Power is that there are actually 2 types of Power: Inherent Power and Accrued Power. Inherent Power comes from your rank, your House Power, and your personal possessions. House Leaders’ Inherent Power is the same as their House Power since they are essentially the one and the same for practicality’s sake. Accrued Power is what can fluctuate the most throughout the game. This is the Power that you can gain or lose through Projects, Actions, Events, Comms, and Challenges. It can go below 0 which means that it can drive your overall Power lower than your Inherent Power.

Remember that Accrued Power is in many respects a perception of your influence throughout your Empire. You can have the trappings of power like a military, government, and Holdings (which make up your Inherent Power) but if people perceive you as weak or that you can’t control these levers of power effectively, you have an effective Power much lower than what you might otherwise be able to project. This is what AotSS models – not just the tools of power (which virtually every other 4X game does) but your perceived ability to use and intelligently wield it!

Anyway, so when is Power used? It’s used many times throughout the game, but most notably in 3 areas: when a Character is determining whether or not to do an Action, when a House is deciding whether to take action against you or your House, and when you have been Challenged (not in the game yet, but added soon!)

I am going to be rewriting the Action check to be much simpler – currently there are a whole raft of factors influencing it, but the reality of this is that you the player have to have a reasonable understanding going into the interaction of what will happen, without being quite sure. So the calculation will be greatly simplified to this:

(CHARACTER POWER + (HOUSE POWER / 3)) * RELATIONSHIP MODIFIER) + TRAIT MODIFIERS – PRESSURE = DECISION SCORE.

If the Decision Score of the Character is LOWER than the Emperor’s Power, then the Character will agree to the Action request. If it is HIGHER or EQUAL, then they will not. Period. Characters who are your Friends will ALWAYS agree with an Action request. I want to make this process much more simple and transparent. So as an example:

I am asking Viceroy Thedonoius to increase production on the planet Vesuvius. He has a personal Power of 95 and his House (Hawken) has a Power of 315. We are Allies, which is a positive Relationship and has a modifier of .25. He is Industrious, which means he is more willing to back Actions that improve Industry in his COI (Chain of Influence) and gives a modifier of -50 to any positive Industry Action (and vice versa). He is not being Pressured by anyone above him, so his Pressure is 0. My power is 318. So:

(95 + (315/3 = 105)) * .25) – 50 – 0 = (200 * .25) – 50 = (50 – 50) = 0. Is 0 (Decision Score) lower than 315 (Emperor Power)? YES. Character will AGREE to Action.

You as the Player will have access to these modifiers on the decision screen. They will replace the Grand Vizier’s information. Originally the GV was going to give you a hint as to whether the character would say yes or no, but I felt that losing an AP to what essentially is a weighted guess would be too punitive in a game where every turn counts and you’re essentially racing the clock.

Note: Characters who are currently Blackmailed will also always agree, but then they will immediately make a Blackmail Break check to determine whether they stay blackmailed for future requests.

This will also make it clear what you need to do in order to sway a Character to your cause, and whether it’s better to go the slow route and build up a relationship with them or to be more devious and Pressure/Blackmail them, or simply strip their Power. That part is up to you as the player, but you will now have better tools to make that decision.

Let’s now talk about what Power means for you beyond Actions and Challenges. Generally, you want to keep your Power above 200 at a bare minimum. As to why, let’s take a look at an Action request to a higher-level Character, like a province governor with a Power of 150, a House Power of 410, and a Relationship of Shunning (1.25 modifier). So:

(150 + (410/3 = 137)) * 1.25 – 0 = 187 * 1.25 = 234. Is 234 lower than 200? NO. Character will NOT AGREE to Action.

When you have even stronger negative Relationship Modifiers (Rival = 1.5; Vendetta/Vengeance = 3.0) you need very high levels of Power to ‘break through’ their refusal. (In these cases, you can think of it as strong-arming them to do what you want. They won’t be happy about it, but since your Power imbalance is so great they are compelled to do so.) So if you have a Character who is acting as a roadblock to do what you want, you basically can work on 5 levers to change that:

  • Increase your Power
  • Reduce their Power (negative lever)
  • Reduce their House Power (negative lever)
  • Improve your relationship with that Character
  • Blackmail/Pressure the Character (negative lever)

A Negative Lever will hurt your relationship with both the character and with their House, so be careful if you go that route!

When your power gets below 100, you are in serious trouble. At that point, your assassination chance goes way up as rival Houses see weakness. You would want to take immediate steps to gain Power ASAP. If it ever ends up at or below 0 at the end of a turn, you lose the game due to becoming a Figurehead and the strongest House at that time claims the Celestial Throne.

So how do you gain Power? Great question! Lots of ways:

  • Complete (not just start!) Projects. Each Project has a Power Rating. As Emperor, you get half of this when the Project is completed. Projects that expand your Empire like claiming Systems, Colonizing planets and building Logistical Networks will greatly increase your Accrued Power, and in some cases also increase your Base Power if you are adding Holdings.
  • Improve your Holdings – i.e. increase their Production, GPP, etc. Planet Holdings have an overall Planet Value that take into account the overall productivity of a planet, as well as its size and influence. These then affect your Base Power)
  • Win Challenges (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Increase your Military Budget (will grow your Accrued Power)
  • Build Fleets and Armies (will grow your Base Power) (coming soon!)
  • Grow your House by adding Holdings and powerful Characters (this will increase your Base Power)
  • Get Married (coming soon!)
  • Refuse a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Publicly shame or denounce a character, with an Accrued Power boost proportionate to their Power. Keep in mind that they may then declare a Challenge, and their House won’t like it either, but your Pops and other Characters will see it as a sign of strength.
  • Completing Favors for Houses (coming soon!)
  • Build Inquisitor Squads
  • Events that pop up from time to time (coming soon!)

As important, how do you lose Power? Again, lots of ways:

  • Give in to a Demand or Threat from a Character
  • Lose a Challenge, or fail to accept a Challenge
  • Lose Holdings (i.e. weaken your House)
  • Have your Holdings become less efficient, usually by losing population, riots, or lack of productivity
  • Fail in Claiming a System
  • Fail at completing a Favor for a House
  • Reduce your Military Budget below the minimum threshold to maintain a reasonable threat posture (this will be indicated on the Budget Screen for now and expanded when the Military System is installed)
  • Disband Inquisitor Squads
  • Have an Action refused by a Character
  • Accrued Power will naturally attrit each turn a few points (the ‘what have you done for me lately’ effect)

The Power tooltip will be rewritten to show what factors are going into your current Power so it will help you make better decisions about what to do!

Last, let’s talk about Challenges. They are not really in the game yet but they will be soon! Basically, Challenges occur when a Character ‘challenges’ your authority in some way and ‘calls you out’ publicly, while ‘bidding’ an amount of Power at stake no more than 20% of their total Power.

At that time, you can decide whether to accept or decline the challenge. If you decline, you will lose 20 Power automatically. If you accept, you will have up to 5 turns to ‘recruit’ Characters to support you in this Challenge. This will be a personal Action. If they agree, they will add their Power to the Challenge Power (CP). You will have a general idea of the other Character’s current CP depending on the level of Intel you have on the Character (Max Intel will always show you their exact CP) After 5 turns, whoever has more CP wins the challenge, and gains the staked Power as Accrued Power while the losing Character loses that Power.

As you can hopefully see, Power is super important to how you rule, and you can’t forget about it as you consider your strategy. This is why it’s important to make friends with both Characters and Houses, and why it can be beneficial to ‘build up’ certain Characters whom you have a very positive relationship with to support you in Actions and Challenges.

That’s it for now… have a great day!

-Steve

1 thought on “Power – The Lifeblood of AotSS

  1. This sounds very intriguing and thought out.

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