Inter-map movement, the Dynasty, and other mechanics

Following up some Bucket’s suggestions.  Comments welcome!

Inter-map Movement

Inter-map movement for Grand Strategy games can be problematic.  Partly this is because units teleporting in can disrupt the local balance of power, in an unanticipated way, but also because the movement can interrupt the current sequence of play on the map.  This disrupts GM attention and can lead to errors in game mechanic resolution.

One way of mitigating this is by reducing turns to one turn = one action on the game map.  So to move from A to B is one action.  To then trigger a combat at B is a second action.  The other method I am considering is having a GM in charge of inter-map movement.

So for a Big Damn Galactic Empire game, we establish some kind of network of hyperspace pseudo-relay gates.

Step One: Player has a Fleet in a sector with a Hyperspace Gate.  Player tells Map GM they wish to enter hyperspace.

Step Two: Player takes Fleet to the Hyperspace Map.  Player places the Fleet to indicate the intended destination.

Step Three: The Hyperspace Map GM moves the Fleet from the Hyperspace Map to the destination sector on a real map.

Note: its possible the GM will make a mistake, and send the Fleet to the wrong location.  This navigation error can be considered a feature, not a bug.  Its also possible the GM may move units out of order (i.e. a fleet emerges from Hyperspace well before a fleet that jumped into Hyperspace before it does), this can also be considered a feature and not a bug.  if a lot of people are crowding into Hyperspace, then it could also take a while to resolve.

Spies: if you keep an eye on the Hyperspace map, then you may gain some degree of warning of a planned attack.

Gates: can probably be destroyed by various game actions, and should be expensive to replace.

Downsides: if no one actually uses inter-map movement, then the map GM could get really bored.  So this might have to be paired with another function, such as managing a trading game.

The Dynasty

A large team, with an internal zero sum game, and external game they play versus the rest of the factions.  Lets call it the Imperial Dynasty.  So the internal game is over who gets to be Emperor next, the external game is keeping the Dynasty as a whole in charge of the BDGE, and keeping the BDGE as a going concern.

As its Space Opera, we will say that all ten members of the Dynasty have an infinite number of clones.  So assassination, execution or accidental mortality is just a disruptive event, but not a permanent one.

Some mechanics:

1. Each Dynasty member has a ranking from 1 to 10.  10 is the Emperor.  9 is the heir presumptive.

2. If an Emperor reigns for twenty minutes, they retire to their pleasure palace and are replaced by their heir.  So the rank 9 player becomes rank 10, everyone else shifts up one rank, and the former Emperor’s new clone fills in at rank 1.

3. If accidental mortality occurs to anyone but the Emperor, the players of lower rank are promoted one rank

4. If accidental mortality occurs to the Emperor, a Power Struggle occurs.  When the Power Struggle concludes, the new Emperor assigns all Dynasty players into ranks 1-9 as they see fit.

5. Each time an Emperor is crowned, all Dynasty players score Victory Points equal to their rank.

For this to work, I need practical Assassination and Power Struggle mechanics.

Power Struggle

My first thoughts were to imitate the Junta map.  Zones with various para-military forces that fight over key objectives in the Imperial Palace complex.  But, its likely to be a slow resolution, as I remember some Junta coup’s taking half an hour or more to play out.  So rather than several dozen sets of decisions, the Power Struggle probably needs to focus on just a few.

1. Do I want to try to become Emperor?  If so, how much am I willing to spend?

2. If I don’t want to become Emperor, who do I want to support?

Lets give the Dynasty players a special resource to manipulate, I could call it power, but that could be confusing with Atomic Power elsewhere in the game, so lets call it Votes.  Each Dynasty player starts the game with 20 Votes, and gets three more Votes (to a maximum of 20) each time an Emperor is crowned.

Step 1: Declarations, starting with the Rank 9 player and descending in order of rank to Rank 1, each player either declares their claim to the throne or passes.

Step 2: Commitment, starting with the Rank 9 player and descending in order of rank to Rank 1, each Claimant writes down how many votes they are spending, while each non-Claimant  publicly announces which claimant they are backing and how many votes they are doing it with.

Step 3: Reveal the secret votes spent by Claimants.  Add supporting votes.  Add current Rank.  High total is Emperor.  If a Draw, highest rank wins the tie.

I suspect a strong game theory approach, is to score points by being consistently in places 6-9 after a new Emperor reshuffles the ranks, rather than by spending many Votes to become Emperor.


I am tempted to recycle the Dark Lord mechanic.  So there is a ballot box, in which people can place slips of paper with target names on it.  Draw one name every twenty minutes or so (aiming for around the mid-way point in an Imperial reign).  The person named is killed.

The key consideration here, is how many ballots you can stuff into the box.  It’s difficult to assess the demand for this mechanic.  If only a few people use it, then its easy to get lucky.  If everyone stuffs hundreds of ballots in, then its expensive and never works.

I think my approach here, is that each player in the game, can fill out one ballot every twenty minutes.  Forms could be pre-printed with a time stamp, although then people might trade and sell blank forms. But its useful to keep the “supply” side fixed to a known quantity, and having beanies to trade is not a bad thing.


One thought on “Inter-map movement, the Dynasty, and other mechanics

  1. hamish September 17, 2011 / 8:42 pm

    (I just posted about inter-map movement on the last thread)

    I like the idea of the Imperial family jostling for control, but can we keep Assassinations restricted to that group with an opt in option at sign in?

    I like the Junta idea! Here’s an expansion of it:
    The entire empire is the Junta map. The Imperial family have a certain number of influence cards each. These are keyed to events and locations. They are displayed publicly in the imperial palace (so they can be seen by all members of the imperial family, but not by the rest of the players. They can be bought, sold and traded.

    Cards say things like: “10 Votes, if the Regel system is at war, 5 votes”, “5 votes, +1 vote for every system in the Gold sector that is empty of capital ships”, “5 votes, if you control the Imperial Flagship 15 votes”, etc…

    So there is motivation for the imperial family to manipulate and make alliance with external forces to gain political advantage in the palace power struggle.

    Give the imperial family a bunch of resources that they can’t use except for paying externals to do their dirty work. Give the externals resources, but make sure they need the imperial family to start paying.


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