DevDiary 20 - Religion
Hello friends and welcome to the 20th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! Today we will start talking about religion, going through all key points of the feature and the common gameplay options it presents to all kingdoms. Though this is not one of the central elements of the game, it still plays a big importance and different religions offer quite a few unique elements, thus leading to unique strengths and strategies the players can explore.
So, starting with the basics, we have 3 different religious “families” – Christianity, Islam and Paganism. Christianity has a subdivision to Orthodoxy and Catholicism and Islam – to Sunnism and Shiism. Indeed, we have considered Coptic Christianity, Ibadi Islam, Bogomilism and many others, as well as simply adding “heresy,” but we wanted to keep this feature simple enough, so we didn’t branch the religions any further. Things were getting way too burdening for the average player and the gameplay differences we would introduce were too insignificant compared to all the confusion. Paganism is the “religion” we made the biggest “historical” simplification to, as we unified all religions that are not Christian and Islamic in that category. As a result, this turned Pagans into more of a sandbox, which led to some really cool gameplay options for players. In another two or three DevDiaries we will have a deeper look on the specifics of each religion and sub-religion, but right now, we will focus on the common stuff.
For starters, religion plays a role in kingdom-to-kingdom relations. This means that kingdoms from one and the same religion are more eager to sign trade agreements, non-aggression pacts, marriages and others. In the same vein, kingdoms from different religions are more aggressive towards each other, especially if a “heathen” (in their eyes) takes hold of a holy city.
Depending on the religion, kingdoms also have slightly different building possibilities – the Christians have Churches, Cathedrals and Universities, the Muslims have Mosques, Grand mosques and Madrasahs, while the Pagans only have Temples. Within those (and within other buildings), there are some different upgrades, effects and requirements, so some resources are more valuable to kingdoms following specific religions. Certain types of units may also require a specific religion – for example, only Catholic kingdoms may recruit Templar Knights.
Within a kingdom, religion plays a significant role, as provinces that preach religions different than the official one of the kingdom have some religious tension. Ruling over a Shia province within a Sunni kingdom leads to a smaller hit to the local stability, for example, but if it was within a Catholic kingdom – well, that could be trouble. On top of that, religious settlements such as Shrines and Monasteries aren’t so beneficial to a Muslim kingdom and pre-built (from the previous owner) buildings like Cathedrals or Temples also have very limited bonuses.
And here comes one very important role of each Cleric/Scholar/Shaman (called differently depending on their kingdoms’ religions) – the “Preach” action. This is a slow and very expensive action, which costs both gold and piety/faith/tradition – the main “currency” for all kinds of religious actions, named differently for each religion. Preaching is done in a region – a starting province is selected and once it’s converted, the religious character will simply continue to another near-by one. If he succeeds to convert the religion of a province, this will ease the tension and convert the religious settlements in it to the one of his kingdom’s type – e.g. Temples will convert to Monasteries if the religion of a Pagan province is converted to Christianity. All previously built structures will also continue to function, with the caveat that some effects related to buildings like Universities and Cathedrals might be altered, or even stop working. And besides being expensive, the “Preach” action also presents a serious threat to the life of the religious person doing it, especially if crown authority is low, the kingdom is at war, or the knight is of lower level.
If a religious character learns the “Charity” skill, he also gains an additional action – “Commit to charity”. As you’ve probably guessed, this is also an expensive one that has an upkeep, and while the cost scales with the size of the kingdom, so does its effect, as it increases the stability within all provinces. There is no limit to how many knights can perform this action at once, so if things start to get really ugly within a kingdom, having several of them committed to charity can really be life-saving.
Apart from these character actions, there are also a few key religion-specific ones that Clerics/Scholars/Shamans can utilize, but we’ll touch on them in more detail in future dev diaries, when we delve more in-depth into each specific religion. Of course, when not performing any actions, religious characters continue to play a key role in governing, particularly if you have provinces which have a lot of religious settlements. For example, putting a cleric in a province with many monasteries will result in a steady influx of faith and books, which in combination with the right buildings can turn the realm into an important location for boosting your kingdom’s culture.
Finally, one common action that is available to all kingdoms is the option to accept a new religion. This is a kingdom action, instead of a knight’s one, and can be extremely risky. Even upon success, it has some consequences, like possible rebellions, religious characters leaving your court due to disapproval of the change, and a severe drop of the opinion of your religious cast. Failing adds a huge crown authority drop on top of that. To increase its chances, a kingdom needs to have many provinces already preaching the target religion, as well as a respected king, preferably skilled in some particular disciplines like Theology, Leadership and others. But, of course, changing a religion can open huge gameplay possibilities and instantly has an effect on the diplomatic relations, both to kingdoms following its old and its new religion. This action is easiest for pagans, as they don’t have such a strong religious institution and are the least reluctant to accept another religion.
But in the end, we’d love to hear on your opinion on the topic! Are you the type of player who enjoys delving into the religious side of things in strategy games, or do you prefer to take on a different approach? And do you see yourself using many religious characters in your court, in comparison to other classes?
We’ll talk more about Religion in our DevStream on Thursday, July 22nd, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST and we’ll be thrilled if you join in our conversation – we will talk more in-depth about our approach to designing the religions in our game, some key differences between each one and how vital of a role religious characters have. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.
Next time we will return to the topic of Multiplayer, talking more about starting conditions, rules and how those can shape each campaign. Until then, we bid thee farewell!