Magna Mundi Developer Diary 28 - Government Mechanics and National AssembliesGovernment Mechanics and National Assemblies
After the posting of my last Developer Diary, it was decided that there was a great interest in the functioning of government institutions. In response the team decided that in this Developer Diary we should explore the mechanics further and highlight one of the most dynamic institutions - Parliaments and Diets in depth. Without further fanfare, let's explore both the basic mechanics and gameplay. Basic Governmental MechanicsThe Holy Roman Empire is an Elective Monarchy. Unlike in hereditary monarchies, the heir and successor to the Emperor does not automatically inherit the Imperial Crown. For that, an election among Electors is required, and a different candidate may be chosen, instead. Like any feudal state, the Empire’s institutions are a complicated mesh of competing claims to power and competency. These institutions include the Emperor, the Electors, the Imperial Diet (Reichstag), the Conveners of Imperial Circuits, and the Imperial High Court (Reichskammergericht).
The basics of governmental mechanics begins with the ruler and how he is chosen. While the Holy Roman Empire is a unique entity within the Magna Mundi world with its individual mechanics developed, all governmental forms share some elements in common. A ruler that dies, dies everywhere for example. (Although Helius claims in internal emails that he has seen one zombie ruler die, only to see him still ruling over a foreign country where he had been the union major.)
In Monarchies of all flavors, the monarchs serve for life. Upon death, one of the following will happen: an adult monarch will come to power, a minor monarch will come to power resulting in a Regency, or a succession war between two different countries will occur over the right to rule - if the player is controlling the country with the empty throne, they will be able to chose which side to back.
If option one or two occurs, there will be a chance that a pretender rebellion will also occur at the same time. Religious leaders of all types also always serve for life. There will always be a successor to carry forth the office, and succession is always assured.
For the governments that have elections, rulers will either serve their elected term or die in office. In any case, once this happens the player will be able to keep the current guy in power (unless he died) or chose among up to three alternative choices. This decision is the most straight forward in Imperial Cities and in Merchant Republics.
Elective Monarchies (outside of the HRE government) will normally allow the player to chose between a local noble (chosen by the internal factions of their country) or to look abroad among foreign countries that bid for the throne. If the elective monarchy is currently in a union with another country, the player will be able to continue the union by choosing the new ruler of the partner, break the union choosing a local noble, or break the union and look abroad among foreign countries that bid for the throne.
Republics with parliamentary systems (administrative republics, constitutional republics, and revolutionary republics) have rulers elected by parliament. Whenever parliaments are elected for a new legislative session there are four different options that the player may chose from. First, if the party of the old ruler retained its majority, the player may appoint the strongest opposition leader or keep the old leader in power. Secondly, if the party of the old ruler lost its majority, the player may select a new majority leader or keep the old one as head of a minority government. Third, if there were no ruler (because the old one died), the player can appoint the new majority leader or pick one of three random candidates. Lastly, if the old ruler was non-partisan ( due to event or picking a random candidate at the start of the last session), the player can appoint a new majority leader or keep the old one.Assembly (Parliament and Diet) Mechanics
In France, under the Old Regime, the Estates-General was a legislative assembly that represented the French subjects in distinct and separate estates. It had a separate assembly for each of the three estates that were called and dismissed by the king. The Estates-General had no true power, instead it functioned as an advisory board to the king. It met intermittently until 1614 and rarely afterwards, but it was not dissolved until 1789. France was not alone in having a similar institution: England had the Parliament, the Holy Roman Empire the Diet, and Spain had the Cortes, just to name a few. Each of these institutions had their unique characteristics and some were more powerful then others, yet they all shared elements that could be used to model mechanics in our game.
The way assemblies are organized, each time Parliament or the Diet is called, whether after a set period of time (Republican Form) or by National Decision (Monarchial Form), a single event fires which allocates seats to the various houses. Which houses are available and which Factions or Factors contribute to the makeup of the various houses is determined by Government type primarily and by history of specific countries. Essentially, each government type has a "Default" Parliamentary organization, with specific countries having exceptions. So while Feudal and Elective Monarchies are Tricameral by default, England has a Bicameral Parliament and Sweden actually has a Tetrecameral Parliament! The following chart lays everything out:
As you can see in the table above, the type of representation each government form has is divided into either Estates or Parliament. In Estates systems, Factions compete for seats directly, while in Parliament systems, competition is between the Liberal and Conservative Parties in each Faction, sometimes bridging differences between Factions.
Which Faction or Party has influence in the Assembly determines what Laws can be proposed. Factions will be unlikely to propose major laws, only occasionally suggesting changes to policy. The more policy is out of whack with their desires or the more grievances a Faction has, the more pro-active it will be. Liberal or Conservative Parties, on the other hand, will be deeply involved with proposing changes to policy, as they feel their support throughout society is broader and thus more powerful. This is something to keep in mind when the choice to change government types occurs!
Laws are proposed in an event, and then each house will vote on it, using a system very similar to the Reichstag mechanic of the HRE. Each available house will have a choice of passing the law or refusing to pass the law, the decision is not always made in the same time-frame as others. Any law that hasn't been fully voted on by the time the Assembly goes out of session is automatically declined.
There is a particular type of law called: The Compromise Law. The way "Compromise" laws work is through Emergence. Essentially, when multiple competing laws are proposed by the different Factions or Parties, they become bundled together and are thus all voted on together. In this way, as an example, the Merchant Faction can propose a shift towards Free Markets, while the Noble Faction can push for more aristocratic privileges at the same time. These laws then are bundled together and allow Factions to combine together their voting power, getting both passed, where normally they may not get them passed individually. The more each house of the assembly is active, the higher the chance that compromise law comes into being.
The player's role in this process is to "Endorse" or "Oppose" a law each time it is proposed. The player's endorsement will attempt to put the law on the fast track towards acceptance, while opposing a law will start a stalling campaign against the law. Note that this works for AND against the player and the Factions. A clever player can, for instance, speak out against a law that she wants to go through, because they expect a house to vote the law down, and thereby delay its defeat. The player will want to be careful here, because if the Factions have a low alignment, they might instead vote for the law to spite the ruler. The possibilities for politics is quite in depth here.
Every time a house votes, depending on your ruler's stats, the player may have access to a number of special events options that tie into the corruption system. Essentially, if your ruler has enough diplomatic ability and flexible ethics, the player can take on some corruption to "modify" a house's vote. Corruption is easier to use for houses populated by Factions that like you.
The conclusion here is: the entire system is designed to both allow and encourage manipulation by the player. There is no "correct" or "ideal" way to do things in an Assembly, and in this case Ends might justify the Means.
National Assembly Gameplay Elements
The Gunpowder Treason Plot of 1605 was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby. The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the opening of England's Parliament on November 5th, 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt to install a new monarch. The conspirators' principle aim was to kill the king, but many other important targets of competing factions were to attend the opening as well. The aristocracy, the bishops of the church, important military men and even members of the House of Commons all would have been taken out, forcing a new order to rise.
In Magna Mundi, the talented Ruler has powerful tools in dealing with factions through the National Assemblies. First, it is possible for a Parliamentary Assembly to grant Suffrage to the citizens of the Nation, in which case the membership of one or more of the Houses will be determined by General Election. This can disenfranchise a Faction completely.
Calling a National Assembly will never be guaranteed to prevent a civil war, and can actually make it worse, as factions that attend the assembly will not join a civil war, either against or for the player until the assembly is finished. Furthermore, if the capital is the site of a battle or occupation attempt, this will damage stability and prestige.
Once voting concludes, you will be informed of the outcome, and depending on the form of government and the power of the Assembly you may have multiple options of how to deal with the Law. Possible options include: Passing the law as voted, Vetoing it, Dissolving the Assembly, or Passing a failed Law. In all cases going against the Assembly will carry consequences, however accepting its judgments will increase its power.
Beyond Laws, once every Session of the Assembly, the ruler may Request the Dispensation of Funds. This is done by National Decision, and will prompt an immediate vote from all Houses. In most cases the Petition will be accepted, at the cost of some Prestige, and the addition of one or more Side Effects such as slight policy changes, an increase to a certain factions power, or the addition of some Corruption. After voting is done, an event will fire informing the Player of the conditions for funds to be dispensed, and you may accept the terms or reject them.
Furthermore, should there be outstanding Grievances against the government, they may be resolved while an Assembly is in Session. An event may fire for any Grievance, and the Houses of the Assembly will attempt to determine a resolution to this Grievance according to their membership. Of course, it is entirely possible, and likely, should no member of the Opposition have a seat on any of the houses, for this attempted resolution to further inflame the Opposition, and just make things worse...
Here is a bonus screenshot. Enjoy!