The advantages in the absence of tree stealing are mild. By the same
token, it's not a large change to the mechanics, so it's mostly a shift
in game feel.
Here is an update to my original faction trees proposal. I just posted
this to rec.games.pbm to see what the net-at-large thinks of it.
I had some new ideas about faction trees. My goal with this new design is to filter out all of the disadvantages of faction trees, and leave only the good parts.
o SWEAR <unit> swears fealty to the specified character. The character must be present.
Loyalty is from a unit to its lord (another unit), so a tree of loyalties may be built.
o There is no limit on how many units may be sworn to a character.
o In the location report, instead of the "faction [n]" which is displayed if you have enough observation skill, instead you would see "lord [n]". This indicates the character's immediate superior.
o If a character's default attitude was "default to lord", the immediate superior's attitude would instead be used. Attitudes could continue defaulting up the tree to the player character.
o If a unit was PERSUADEd away or killed then the units beneath it would swear loyalty to its lord.
For example: C is sworn to B, B is sworn to A. If B is killed, C would then swear fealty to A.
o A unit's original loyalty would be to the character that FORMed it.
(It could SWEAR fealty to another character, but only if it visited its new lord -- you can't swear to someone who isn't present.)
Optional additions to this plan are:
o Units stacked with their lord would be very difficult to persuade.
o Units in the same location as their lord would be difficult to persuade.
Previous faction tree proposals have been all-negative: only penalties for neglecting your organizational hierarchy, and rules to force a complex hierarchy on your faction.
In the plan above, there are a couple of reasons why a player might want to make use of the tree system:
o Since only the immediate lord can be determined from a character, even with good observation, it becomes harder to tell what player a character belongs to.
o Concentrated empires can be made stronger by making it harder to persuade units near their lord. Zyzak's potent four unit faction would not be as suspeptible to having units stolen away by a gift from Rocko.
o Trees can be structured with an eye towards the attitude system, or roleplay. Want three separate empires? Have three main characters leading them. Separate default attitudes for each mini empire can be easily set.
This plan tries not to force loyalty trees down the player's throats. They can engineer a flat organization if they want. It's harder to do for far-flung empires, but still possible. Besides, it should be hard to manage a vast empire.
Heir systems ------------
Faction trees work well with heir systems, where one of the PC's followers could rise to take his place.
More Intruige -------------
This system can be made more vicious by having followers stick with their lord if he is persuaded or sworn away, or go independent if he is killed. T'Nyc used this method. Some Olympia players have expressed dismay that they might lose 1/3 of their faction if a key unit deserts, however.
-- Rich Skrenta <firstname.lastname@example.org> N2QAV