DevDiary 7 - Rebellions
Hello friends, and welcome to the 7th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! This time we will look into stability, revolt risk, rebellious population and rebellions – the final stage of population’s uproar. As it was historically, in KoH2:S, empires can also crumble from the inside. It is crucial for the players with ambitions to rule vast lands to know well what factors play a role in stability and how they can prevent or deal with the population’s discontent.
Stability and revolt risk are the two elements, competing with each other, that represent how content a kingdom’s people are. There are many factors, some local to a specific province, others regional, or even global, for a kingdom. On a global scale, the easy (but not cheap) steps to reduce the tension are to increase Crown authority (a very important parameter of each kingdom we will discuss later on) and decrease taxes. Some problems can be pretty difficult to tackle once created, like too high war exhaustion, built over time, or hunger and starvation amongst the people. There are some factors you cannot even really control – e.g. recent death of your king!
On a local level, there is much more you can do to prevent a crisis – mainly, providing establishments (buildings, districts), that increase the happiness and local authority, as well as assigning a governor, whose class and skills provide positive effects. Thus, even if the overall state in your kingdom is not too good, some of your provinces may remain more obedient than others. The opposite is true as well – some provinces may be more problematic and here the usual wrongdoers are religious and cultural tension, when the majority of the population in the region differs with your kingdom in those aspects. Also, rebellions that are already underway and any rebel presence in a province or its neighbors can increase revolt risk too. So, as we spoke in earlier DevDiaries, it is very important which strategies a player chooses and how much care they spend on cultural and religious conversion of the population, influence of their kingdom, and how fast they will expand.
We didn’t want to make the rebellions simply a punishing mechanic, but to provide the players with many choices, and to achieve that we needed to provide them with time to react and a clear visual representation. So, what we added is “rebellious population”. These are generally the people, unsatisfied by your rulership. How fast they grow in a province depends on the revolt risk, but even if its value is high, it will take time for them to multiply and take actions. Thus, watchful players can react and turn the tides.
As an economy effect, the rebellious population is inefficient – it does not help in new construction, refuses to pay tax, and won’t join the army. As more of your people “turn red”, chances for them to act increase and the actions they take become more dire. Initially, they can migrate to nearby provinces or reinforce ongoing rebellions. Only if the tension continues to rise unchecked can they start a rebellion of their own – you never know exactly when this will happen, but leave the masses unsatisfied for a long period and it surely will.
A wise ruler must always expect rebellions, though. Even if everything looks perfect, some special events and sometimes foreign intervention, especially from those sneaky spies, might cause a rebel problem within your seemingly stable kingdom. Single missteps might make your knights go rogue (e.g. a cleric, unable to accept the change of a kingdom’s religion) and riots in your royal dungeon might escalate. Sometimes, you might just be misfortunate. For example, crusaders may decide to go rogue while passing through your kingdom, or rebel armies that formed in a neighboring kingdom, could decide to pay you a visit. This means some preparation to react to such situations is always beneficial. Prevention is crucial, but you can never be 100% sure.
We wanted to add more gameplay and choices in the fights against rebels as well, so we are trying to make them a bit more complex and, hopefully, interesting. That’s why we created more cohesive feature set around rebellions themselves. Rebellions are a larger “structure”, that includes occupied provinces, zones of operation, and of course, the rebel armies – this time with a hierarchy. They always have one rebel leader, who controls the strongest army and is proclaimed king if the rebels claim independence and form a new kingdom. Second in command are the generals, also leading strong armies and able to take control of the rebellion if the initial leader dies. Finally, we have minor rebel armies, which do not have a leader and are initially smaller.
What rebels do at their core is still similar to Knights of Honor – they cause havoc by pillaging settlements and occupying towns, but now rebel armies can reinforce each other and act together. Once a rebellion gets a considerable strength and holds provinces for a period of time, they either form a new kingdom (or restore a destroyed one), or join a near-by kingdom they are sympathetic to.
From all that, some possible strategies emerge. Firstly, time is of the essence, since rebellions grow in strength, number of armies and new generals can emerge. A player can strike them fast or take his time to prepare well and try to outgrow the danger. Secondly, there are choices on which armies to attack, and when. Picking on the smaller armies reduces the rebellion strength and the damage it does, and is subsequently much easier to do. Fighting the leader directly may result in the immediate end of a rebellion, and thus all its armies will disperse, but usually it is hardest to do. We also plan to include other non-military ways to deal with rebels and possibly even benefit from them, if you can meet their demands and send them towards your enemies. One way is arming rebel leaders you have captured in the royal dungeon. Since they remain rebels and not strictly your armies, such actions are not considered as an act of war from your kingdom and players can use such means as a cunning and effective part of their strategy to weaken enemies or even gain new territories.
A special type of rebellion, and those you could benefit most from, are the Loyalists. Such rebellions can be formed in many ways – they can emerge without your direct control, if you have strong influence in foreign lands that have high rebel risk or if your own loyal provinces are occupied by an enemy - people that love their king and nation, and are ready to risk their life defending it. You can also turn enemy knights to your loyalist rebels in various ways, e.g. bribing a foreign marshal to fight against his unworthy ruler. Loyalists are also not such renegades as normal rebels – they do not attack the kingdom they are loyal to and its allies, nor pillage their settlements. You can even fight side by side with loyalists, though you’ll be unable to directly control their armies. Once the time for independence comes, they always join the kingdom they are loyal to or form it once again, if it has been previous eliminated; leaders and generals can join the royal court, respectively.
Another thing we wanted to reinforce is providing incentives for players to fight against rebels in the foreign lands of their friends and good neighbors. Your armies grow more experienced in the battles they undertake, you get the gold these rebels have pillaged, relations with the attacked kingdom improves, since you help them with the threat. You reduce the tension in your own neighboring provinces, since rebels nearby can cause it, even if they are not within your kingdom. Finally, you don’t want immensely strong rebellions growing near you anyway, since their armies might march towards you as well! In many cases, this is more than a worthy motivation to get involved. Though, sometimes it also may be fun to stay calm and watch the neighboring lands burn and fade, especially if you have plans to take a piece of the falling kingdom afterwards.
The bottom line is that we put a lot of focus and attention in trying to make rebels not just a tedious problem that players must deal with in one possible manner – extermination – but rather allow more strategies for how to face them and even to use them to your advantage.
We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, June 11th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. 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.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you find rebel armies an important part of the KoH series, or rather something tiresome to deal with? Do you prefer just to deal with the emerging rebels by force or prefer to make some effort in keeping your population calm – and by making them happy or instilling fear? What reactions of the disobedient population do you find interesting – maybe strikes, crimes, robberies and corruption, or something fancier? Or do you prefer less significant events to be left out of the game and focus just on the important stuff – rebellions?
Next time we will take a break from the gameplay and talk about another significant aspect of the game – Audio design and Music. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!