Hello everyone! It’s Steve with a new dev diary. It’s been a while but I’ve been hard at work on a major new system that will be implement fully over the next several weeks. I am super proud of this system, and I think it will expand game play significantly without being overly ‘fiddly’. Anyway, here’s how it works!
There are 2 overall Intel ratings to track: Intel Progress and Spec Ops Progress. Every Character, Planet, and House has this rating. Intel Progress refers to how through (or not) that entity is being surveilled, from 0-100. 0 means that you know basically nothing about that entity, while 100 represents maximum surveillance/intelligence gathering ability. In practical terms this means:
- 0-24 IP: No information about plans or strategies, no information about House resources, no information about Plots. You always know Holdings. No information about Projects other than Claims.
- 25-49 IP: Limited information about plans – you know the House Grand Strategy, but not the secondary strategies. You know a wide range of resources, example a House may have between 25-300 Basic Materials. You know a House has active Projects, but you don’t have a target or expected time to completion.
- 50-75 IP: You know a House Grand Strategy, and you have a 50-50 chance each turn to learn the Secondary Strategy. You know a much narrower range of resources and Power. You know all House Projects and their target, but not their expected time to completion.
- 76+ IP: You have essentially complete information about a House (think pre-Intel version).
- 0-24 IP: No practical Intel on this Character. You do not know their skills or any of their relationships. You do not know how they feel about you (they will be considered neutral/indifferent). You do not know their resources such as money and you do not know their personality traits such as Intelligence or Charisma. You have no chance to learn any part of a Secret/Rumor on a Plot, if any, with this character.
- 25-49 IP: Low Intel on this character. You know a few Skills and you have a small chance to learn additional Skills each turn. You may reveal up to one Trait. You have a range of resources known, and you have a significant spread of their personality traits.
- 50-64 IP: Moderate Intel on this character. You know about half their Skills and you know their relationship towards you. You may reveal up to 2 Traits. You have a narrower range of resources known, and you have a smaller spread of their traits. You still do not know their relationships with other Characters.
- 65-79 IP: High Intel on this character. You know most of their Skills and you may reveal all Traits. You know their exact resources and you have a very close spread of their traits. You know all relationships with other Characters. You have a small chance each month (turn) (roughly the IP/20 chance) to learn a part of any Secrets/Rumors for Plots.
- 80-100 IP: Max Intel on this character. You know all Skills and all Traits, and you have exact ratings for their traits. You also have a larger chance (roughly the IP/10 percent chance) of learning a part of any Secrets/Rumors.
OCCUPIED PLANET (unoccupied planets use Scan Levels to determine ratings)
- 0-24 IP: No Intel. You do not know the current Population of the planet, the GPP, or any significant demographics. You do not know the Planet’s Fear or Love rating, nor do you know their Unrest Level. Practically speaking, you will have at least some intel on all of your Empire planets; this primarily applies to planets owned by other civilizations that you meet. You have no chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
- 25-49 IP: Low Intel. You know the Population of the planet, and you know the reported GPP and employment levels. You do not know significant demographics, including happiness and reasons people do or do not have unrest, and you will have a range for Fear and Love, as well as Unrest. You have a very small chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet (~1%)
- 50-64 IP: Moderate Intel: You know the population of the planet, GPP, and demographics. You do not know planet happiness demographics but you do know all other demographics, including culture breakdown. You have close ranges on Fear and Love and Unrest. You have a small chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
- 65-79 IP: High Intel: You know all statistics on the planet exactly, and you have a somewhat greater chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
- 80-100 IP: Max Intel: You know all statistics on the planet exactly, and you have the highest chance to increase IP levels on any Characters on the planet.
IP can be increased by the following each turn:
- Informants on Planets can increase Planet IP and Characters on that planet IP. If the Planet is a House Throneworld, House IP can increase as well.
- Inquisitors that are investigating (using an Active Intel Mission) a specific House, Character, or Planet will greatly increase the IP of that entity. Inquisitors that are using a Passive Intel Mission will increase a small amount depending on scope. An Inquisitor can be assigned to a planet, system, or province, with a corresponding loss of effectiveness the wider their assigned scope is.
- IP can randomly increase depending on the overall Intel Budget.
- Active Empire Intelligence Centers.
- Random events.
IP can decrease by the following each turn:
- Lack of budget for Informers (you will know the break-even point to maintain this budget)
- Characters going into Exile/Hiding status.
- Houses going into Lockdown (this is an Action they can take to decrease their IP level)
- Planets can decrease by moving away Inquisitors that are actively surveying or by a Viceroy increasing a Planet’s Autonomy Level.
- IP will gradually decay each turn about 2-3 points due to attrition and information age.
Spec Ops Progress (SOP) is also a number from 0-100 and represents an Inquisitor Squad’s ‘preparation’ to execute, pardon the pun, a special/black Operation (Op) on a Character or a House. Planets are generally too large to impact, although they can be impacted indirectly by Ops that affect their Viceroy or Governors. Generally speaking, the larger the number, the more Ops that become available and the higher the SOP number is over the minimum required, the better chance the Op has of succeeding. You will be able to see accumulated SOP points on each Character and House, as well as a general chance of success for each Op. For example, Assassination requires 70 SOPs to be accumulated. This is done by assigning an Inquisitor Squad to ‘Spec Op Preparation’ status and their scope is the targeted Character. Once the SOP threshold reaches 70, the Action will unlock and it may be attempted at any time. The closer the SOP is to 100, the better chance of success, although an Op with a low SOP requirement will have a much better chance of success since you can go much higher over the threshold than a higher SOP requirement. Once an Op is activated, one of 5 things can happen each turn:
- The Op did not go off for whatever reason. The Inquisitor Squad will try again next turn.
- The Op failed, but the Inquisitor was not caught.
- Critical Failure. The Op failed, and the Inquisitor was caught attempting it. This will result in a loss of Intel Skill for your Inquisitor, and a large uptick in Fear from your population, as well as a violent reaction from the Character and their House that was attacked.
- The Op succeeded, and the Inquisitor was not caught.
- Pyrrhic Success. The Op succeeded, but the Inquisitor was caught during the egress phase. See Critical Failure results, but with the addition that what you wanted to happen actually did.
INFORMERS: These are passive Pops that depending on the intel budget allocated to informers on that planet, will act as a passive intel net. They will (very) slowly raise the IP of planets, and can randomly raise the IP of Characters on the planet. There is also a chance they will hear of a Rumor and will pass it long as an Event. There is no Fear effect from using Informers. Pops will only act as Informers if their unrest level is below 40, and certain Cultures are more likely than others to act as Informants. Beyond allocating the budget for each planet and the overall Intel budget, you can not control Informants directly.
INQUISITORS. Inquisitors are the heart of the Intel System in AotSS. You initially start with 3, and they act as your eyes and ears (and blasters, and lasers, and knives…) of the Empire. They are always 100% loyal to you, and they can only be trained in Empire Intelligence Centers that can be built on your Holdings. EICs can be Level 1, 2, or 3, and the level represents how many Inquisitors they can support. So if you have a level 2, level 3, and level 1 EIC on 3 different planets, you can support up to 6 total Inquisitors.
Inquisitors are actually squads – the Inquisitor is the actual investigator and leader of the squad, while the squad (around 15 highly trained soldiers) are used for protection, muscle, and intimidation when needed. Inquisitors can be sent to any planet in the Empire at any time, and travel twice as fast as merchant ships. There is no limit to the number of Inquisitors that can be on a planet at any time, or assigned to a House, although only one Inquisitor can be attached to a Character at a time.
Inquisitors have 3 main ratings: Intel Skill, Ops Skill, and XP. Intel Skill is a rating from 1-10 and represents how able the squad is in gathering Intel passively and actively. This skill is somewhat of a logarithmic progression, so a jump from 1 to 2 is greater then a jump between 6 and 7. Still, it’s worth having highly skilled Inquisitors since they are rare commodities. XP is a number from 1-100, tracked for both Intel and Ops, and represents the experience that the Inquisitor Squad is getting from activities. XP decreases slightly each turn when a Inquisitor Squad is stood down, and if the XP drops below 0 a random Skill drops a level. Once the XP reaches 100, the relevant skill will increase by 1 point and the XP will drop back down to 0.
Inquisitors cost a lot of money, especially more skilled ones. They may be loyal, but you pay them to be loyal! You will see the base cost to maintain your squads on the Intel Window, as well as the Budget window when you set your yearly budget. You can stand down individual Squads as a Mission, and they will count for very little against your budget, but each turn that they are stood down will require that many turns to be reactivated. In addition, if they are stood down more than 2 years (20 turns) there is a greater chance each turn after which they may disband forever to pursue personal goals (and get paid). You must be able to pay the cost per month of each Inquisitor Squad that is active during the previous year for the upcoming year, or they will disband. This is prorated during the year, so if the cost for an entire year is 200 BC for a squad, and they are stood down for 5 months (half the year), you will be responsible for 100 BC for the following fiscal year, or else they will disband. In addition, they will take 5 months to reactivate to readiness. Once a Inquisitor Squad is disbanded, they are lost forever – you will have to raise, train, and equip a new one from scratch! It takes 10 turns to raise a new Inquisitor divided by the level of the Empire Intelligence Center that they are raised from.
Inquisitors also have another effect: they raise Fear throughout your Empire. Pops are unsettled to know that you wield highly trained, unflappable, professional killing squads at your beck and call. Thus, you will always have a small amount of Fear per month as a ‘baseline’ based on the number of Inquisitors you have active. If they perform Active Intel on a planet, they will significantly raise the Fear level. This effect will be dampened somewhat if they are performing Passive Intel, and even less if they are at a System or Province scope. Stood down Squads have no effect since the populace do not know they are stood down – they are assumed to be lying in wait for their next mission! Missions like Target Unrest will have a large effect on Fear on the target planet, and act as a ‘wave’ of Fear moving to other planets in the system and outward to the province (with less effect with distance).
MISSIONS: Inquisitors can perform several Missions.
- PASSIVE INTEL: This is simply information and intelligence gathering, with a planet, system, or province scope. This is the least impactful of Fear levels, but also the least effective, and the least experience gathering.
- ACTIVE INTEL: This is active information gathering on a Character or a House. This will quickly raise the IP much more quickly and on a specific target, but will raise Fear levels somewhat. This will also not do much for your relationship with this Character and/or House.
- SPEC OPS PREPARATION: Use this Mission when you are looking to use a Spec Op on a Character or a House. Each turn that your Inquisitor is in this status will add Spec Ops points to the targeted Character/House.
- INDICT CHARACTER: If you are reasonably sure of a Plot’s initiator, you can move to Indict a Character, basically sending them to trial. The result of the trial will be known after 2-4 months. If you’re right, the Character can be sentenced to exile or death, and your Power and Love will soar, but if you’re wrong and they are innocent they and their House will be justifiably pissed, and your Love rating and Power will take a large hit.
- TARGET UNREST: The Inquisitor Squad will look to find instigator Pops that have the highest Unrest levels and ‘silence’ them. In game terms, they will disappear from the game, put in prison or killed outright. Naturally, while quite effective in lowering Unrest on a specific planet, it will significantly raise Fear and lower Love on the planet and radiate throughout the system. It will also have the effect of lowering Unrest to a degree in any other planets in the system.
- STAND DOWN: If you can’t afford to have all your Inquisitor Squads active, you can stand them down so your budget will be less next turn.
- TRAIN: You still pay full price for the Inquisitors, but they will accumulate XP faster and across both types of skills (intel and ops). They can also be assigned a new mission at any time.
The following are Spec Ops:
- BLACKMAIL CHARACTER/HOUSE: This is a Spec Op that looks to find compromising information about a House or a Character. If successful, they will always accede to your requests for at least a year. Failure means that no information was discovered. In rare instances, if the Inquisitor is caught snooping, the Character/House will use it for propaganda against your rule, and you will lose Power and the Inquisitor will lose Skill.
- INTERROGATE CHARACTER: This is a Spec Op that will basically do what it says; the Character will end up in an intelligence room and they will be strongly coerced to talk about what they know. This is a very quick way to increase IP on a character, as well as learn about any Plots they may be a part of, but they will be very unhappy about the process, as will their House. This Op can not fail.
- ASSASSINATE CHARACTER: What it says. It’s a hit on a character. If successful, the character dies and is removed from the game. If a failure, and the Inquisitor is discovered, you will take a massive Power and Fear hit, and if the Character is a high-ranking House member the House may well declare Limited or Total war.
- DESTROY HOUSE RESOURCES: The squad looks to sabotage House resource holdings such as materials or energy. If successful, the resources are destroyed and can not be used by anyone.
- STEAL HOUSE RESOURCES: Similar to destroy, but much harder. The difference is the resources will go to your House instead of being destroyed.
Viceroys have one significant defense against intel: they can decrease the Autonomy of the planet. This will affect GPP, happiness, and unrest in a negative way, but it will make it much more difficult to raise the IP of Houses or Characters on the planet. A proactive Viceroy may decide it’s worth the negative effects to keep you from critical Characters or protect the House throneworld! Autonomy has 4 levels – Full, Significant, Moderate, or Limited. The ‘less’ autonomy on a planet, the less migration occurs, the lower the PDL drops (since people are more controlled, they do not shop, eat, or entertain as often), and in a nice bonus, it will actually increase production somewhat! (This may be offset by eventual unrest and happiness penalties, however). You can not control this level – other Houses do not have spy networks and you do not need to defend against ‘rival’ Inquisitors.
So that’s a fairly in-depth overview of the Intel system. Hopefully it will give you some idea of what to expect when the entire system is added in about a month! It will be added over the next several releases, so be ready – it will radically change the way the game is played!