Guidelines for a Centauri Houses political game (long)


OK, I found that article really interesting for a GM who's campaign revolves a lot
around political feuds between Centauri Houses for instance. Here it goes :

Creating Campaign Politics
From: Joachim de Ravenbel (aka J.M. Bravo)
Source: Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #243
In order to launch a political campaign, I have designed the
following guidelines:

1) Make a list of all the groups involved, then order then
from the lowest to the highest in terms of power and
influence. This will yield something like:

#1 Tailor Gralg
#2 "Lord" Surl
#3 Merchant Hustor
#4 Lord Waser
#5 Lord Trend
#6 Master Ornhild
#7 Lord Leril
#8 Lady Minst
#9 High Inquisitor Korn
#10 King Morin

2) Assign each group a Political Rating (PR) as follows:

* First: 1 point
* Second: 1+2 points
* Third: 1+2+3 points
* ...
* Ninth: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 points
* Tenth: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 points

In fact, each group has his order in points over the
preceding one, or for those more versed in maths, n-th group
= n*(n+1)/2. In our example, this gives:

#1 Tailor Gralg 1 pt
#2 "Lord" Surl 3 pts
#3 Merchant Hustor 6 pts
#4 Lord Waser 10 pts
#5 Lord Trend 15 pts
#6 Master Ornhild 21 pts
#7 Lord Leril 28 pts
#8 Lady Minst 36 pts
#9 High Inquisitor Korn 45 pts
#10 King Morin 55 pts

Or, you could rule that some groups are much closer than
that, but it will somehow tend to that in the future (see
point 4).

3) Politics
As far as I understand it, politics is being played by
someone lower in the scale trying to discredit someone
higher. There are several means to achieve that, and each
method yields a number of additional points to the winner,
the same amount being subtracted from the loser.

3a) One point discredit
Each of the following kinds of discredit gives the winner 1
point and the loser 1 point less:

* Slight insult. A makes a joking comment about B in a
political meeting where B is not attending. "If lord Trend
negotiates with the Boldans with the same efficiency he
married his daughter, we must begin to fortify the city, my

A must make an easy check (Intelligence, Etiquette,
Innuendo, Social...) to receive the point B will lose.
Should A fail his check, it either means that nobody
understood the insult or that someone came to the rescue of
B: "Yes, but if the mortar is as thick as your wine, a fly
could knock the wall down...." In that case, B wins
(unknowingly) a point and A loses it.

* Minor incapacity. A puts one of B's minions out of the way
and replaces her by one of his group. The minion should not
be harmed but only neutralised temporarily. For example, A
puts a sleeping draught in the wine of B's bard who falls
before his performance for the King. Luckily, A had her own
singer handy. A must make a check (whatever suitable). If he
fails, the plot is discovered and B gains the point (and A
loses). This can induce investigation. Should A's
culpability be ascertained, he loses 2 points but B gains
nothing as he will still be laughed at for falling.

3b) Two points discredit
* Open insult. A insults B in a political group where B is
present but unable to find a suitable answer. A and B must
make opposition checks (whatever significant), but B suffers
a penalty (say -4). Should B win, he will gain 2 points and
A loses two points. "Master Ornhild, this magnificent cape
of black silk surely reflects the mood of your son awaiting
his betrothal, yes?"

* Major incapacity/Duel. Same as above, but the
incapacitated victim is more than a mere minion of B.

* Financial coup. A manages to make B lose a lot of money,
either by making a contract superseding B's, or by
destroying B's goods. Either way, a check should occur with
B at a penalty.

* Minor neutralisation. As Minor incapacity above except
that B's minion is killed, maimed, or made to flee the area.

3c) Three points discredit
* Head incapacity/Duel. Same as Major Incapacity, but the
incapacitated victim is the head of group B.

* Major neutralisation. Same as Minor neutralisation, but
the killed/maimed/exiled victim is more than a mere minion
of B.

3d) Alliances
Alliances are powerful possibilities for gaining PR. A and B
temporarily make an AB group with the PR of the higher group
added to half the PR of the lowest one. This alliance will
stay until either A or B makes a hostile movement toward the
other, in which case the PRs are split according to an
opposition check. Use the following table to split the PR:

Checks A B PR A PR B
failed OK 1 AB-1
OK failed AB-1 1
failed failed retry retry

SM: Success margin (result - difficulty)

4) How to handle politics in game: the political turn.
Depending on your setting, you should decide on the length
of the political turn. A week might be a good period, while
in some cases you could use one day or one month in a
high/low political land.

At the beginning of each turn, roll randomly for A, B, and
the event. Should A and B be in the same group, it means
that the group splits into Aa and Ab unless the event is an
alliance, in which case either re-roll or ignore.

Political Event Table
1d10 Event
1 Slight insult (1pt)
2 Minor incapacity (1pt)
3 Open insult (2pts)
4 Major incapacity (2pts)
5 Minor neutralisation/Duel (2pts)
6 Financial coup (2pts)
7 Head incapacity (3pts)
8 Major neutralisation/Duel (3pts)
9 Roll twice
10 Roll thrice, ignore, or reroll (your choice).

Well that's it. I welcome any additions to the event chart
and hope that this might be useful.