Well, it's a new year and past time for another dev diary on The Republic - the upcoming DLC for Crusader Kings II! This time, I'll talk about the intricacies of Republican government. Republics - at least the Italian ones - are ruled by a Doge, who is elected for life by the senate. The senate is not represented directly in the game, but each Patrician has a "Respect" value which shows how well liked and respected he (yes, it's always a he - republics are even less gender equal than monarchies) is by the senators. Respect comes mostly with age, so that old - and hopefully wise - Patricians have a definite advantage, but Prestige also helps a great deal. These factors are known and predictable, but there is also a hidden variable called the "Campaign Fund", which is how much money a Family has reserved for the next election campaign; including things like bribes, strong-arming and good old fashioned blackmail. Players can add or subtract money from the Campaign Fund until the reigning Doge dies, when it's all spent regardless of who wins the election. Although there is an "expected successor", there is also an element of chance.
If you were the Doge and lose the election, don't panic; it is perfectly normal and to be expected from time to time. After all, your heir is unlikely to have as much Prestige as the other Family heads. You will just keep on playing as a regular Patrician. However, unlike Feudal Elective realms where your "default" heir is chosen by Agnatic-Cognatic Primogeniture, in Merchant Republics it is done by Agnatic Seniority. So you can never play as a woman in Merchant Republics; instead you will tend to play a lot of grumpy old men... but there is a neat loophole. Since you are in many ways the leader of a "family firm", you can designate your heir and pick any male family member by giving him a special honorary title. Be careful with your choice though; it cannot be undone. Also, a child cannot be elected Doge, and a young man will have a much harder time winning an election.
Speaking of the "family firm", Patricians - while they do tend to make a lot of money compared to Feudal Lords - have to provide for their entire family. Every adult male member of your Dynasty will get a cut of all the money you make; the closer related to you the bigger the share. If your Dynasty is large, this expense will become significant. Thus, you may want to be slightly careful with marrying off every male in the family. Having them killed also works, of course, but even if you are their heir, you will not inherit their entire treasury. This creates an interesting dynamic, where you want to keep your Dynasty big enough to ensure a healthy number of potential heirs to choose from, but not so big that it cripples your income. It also means that it might be beneficial to pick an heir with a lot of money rather than the most skilled one.
I think I'll round off this dev diary with a few words about job titles and honorary titles in Merchant Republics: Patricians expect a position on the ruling Council, and will dislike the Doge if he has picked someone more competent. This is not just because of the Prestige involved, but due to the salary that comes with the position, which is higher in Merchant Republics than in Feudal realms. Lastly, Merchant Republics, for flavor, have a different set of honorary titles (apart, of course from the "Designated Heir" one.)
That's all for now. Next week's entry is about the new events and decisions, as well as a few words about patch 1.09!