[Concept] - Diplomacy 3.0 / Diplomat Warfare

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Alblaka

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Diplomacy, in it's current implementation, is dull and very linear, with no character or intricative details to it. You click through the usual chain of NAP-DP-Fed agreements, probably repeat the same mutual Research Pact trade deal every 30 years, or just rival everything. Diplomacy is instant, unlimited and with no actual purpose or discernible agenda.

To remedy that, I suggest the following:


Diplomatic Warfare
We create a new Leader type 'Diplomat'. For each foreign empire, exactly one Diplomat must be assigned to perform any kind of diplomacy. However, a single Diplomat can be assigned to as many foreign empires as you wish. Additionally, if you do not assign a Diplomat, per default your ruler acts as a Diplomat for to those foreign empires. (Bonus gimmick: in the diplomacy screen, the alien you are talking to is the assigned Diplomat, not necessarily the ruler or the original species.) Note that a ruler working as Diplomat saves you 'a leader slot', but since rulers do not gain Diplomat-specific traits, he will likely be less useful at that position (albeit an experienced high level ruler might outperform a freshly hired level 1 Diplomat).

Instead of beign able to instantly sign treaties and trade agreements, every form of diplomacy but basic hostile ones (aka, declaring rivalry, closing borders, declaring war, and offering peace deals) is locked behind a new mechanic named 'Negotiation'.

Any empire can open a negotiation towards any other known empire (and can only have one such negotiation per other empire), which can include any kind of uni- or bidirectional demand. Demanding a onesided Research Agreement is just as possible as asking for a bothsided NAP.

To complete a negotiation (and cause the demands to take effect), a certain amount of 'progress' points has to be achieved. The number of points needed depends on the size of the demand being negotiated (i.e. a few for 'Open Border's, a lot for vassalizing a multi-planet star empire).

The diplomat assigned to the foreign empire will start generating a base income of progress per month, based upon his level, leader traits, species traits and other modifiers (i.e. tech, diplomatic traditions, etc). Important to note: A diplomat working on multiple negotiations for multiple foreign empires will split his base progress generation across those negotiations (prior to applying modifiers), meaning that any empire intending to do a lot of parallel diplomacy will need to have multiple Diplomats.

An empire can support it's Diplomat's efforts by investing additional political ressources, represented by influence. A toggle in the negotiation can add +1 base progress (which is the same amount a non-modified level 1 diplomat produces) to the monthly progress, at the expense of -1 Influence per months. (This option is not avaible to the 'other' side of the negotiation.)

A foreign empire can react to each currently running negotiation, either taking a 'Welcoming' or a 'Protesting' stance. When Welcoming, a large (+200%) bonus is applied to the progress made on the negotiation, and the assigned foreign diplomat will add his own base progress in favor of the negotiation (so basically both sides' diplomats will work together with a significant boost). When Protesting, the foreign Diplomat will instead subtract his own progress income from the negotiation, either stalling or at the very least slowing it.

Alternatively, the empire may remain 'Undecided' and have a neutral stance (which may also be relevant to avoid splitting up the foreign diplomats attention further, in case he's working on a more important negotiation on a entirely different diplomatic channel). Furthermore, the foreign empire can make a counter-demand, which is another set of negotiable conditions, which it wants to see added to the negotiation. The empire that originally initiated the negotiation can then decide to accept these additional conditions, merging them into the currently ongoing negotiation, which automatically locks the foreign empire into a 'Welcoming' stance. (Trivial case: You demand X minerals, and the other empire counter-demands Y energy, you agree, the negotiation switches to welcome and is done with in a month or two.)


To make this system more than just a 'more complex' and 'less instant' version of current diplomacy, unfavorable negotiations (aka, those the foreign empire is Protesting against) contain a more complex mechanic simulating 'diplomatic combat':

Whilst a negotiation is running against a Protesting Stance, each month generates 'tension', up to a level of '100%'. This applies, regardless of whether the negotiation is stuck at 0% or progressing rapidly. Diplomat leader traits (think 'Skilled Appeaser') can reduce the build-up of tension.

Active tension has a direct impact on relations, and will decay slowly if there is no active negotiation (i.e. because the negotiation was cancelled by the initiator, or finished).

Additionally, certain levels of tension can have additional adverse effects. Once tension surpasses 25%, the other empire can 'intervene', which is a instant action triggered by button, which consumes a lump sum of Influence, but significantly reduces the progress of the negotiation, whilst increasing the tension in return. This represents the empire's official 'stop trying to force this bullshit onto us' proclamation and similar actions.

Once tension passes 50%, there's a (small) monthly chance for negative events to fire, which basically indicate the conflict of interests between the two sides. Squabbles in the embassy, political intrigue, public unrest and other topics come to mind. Generally, the events should be negative in nature, moreso for the instigator of the negotiation, and frequently contain choises that either penalize the empire or increase tension further (or offer expensive options to reduce tension).
The events become mor frequent, the higher tension rises.

Until the tension htis 100%, at which point the negotiation 'escalates' and fails. At that point, it 'becomes clear' that there is no way to reach an agreement 'diplomatically' and the instigator of the negotiation can either chose to back down (which may have adverse effects similar to humiliation) or go to war over the issue (potentially tearing alliances and NAP's apart, assuming they haven't already broken apart due to the negative relations incurred by having a long-running 'protested' negotiation). Using the new casus belli system from Cherry, I feel like a 'Enforce demands by military might' situation would be great for both small and large-scale conflicts (i.e. trying to negotiate your small isolationist neighbour to finally stop being an ass and open his borders for your fleet to fight the Devouring Swarm on the other side, before finally just declaring war on the neighbour to force him to comply).


Additional lines of thought regarding this concept:
  • Xenophobe ethics could give a -25/50% penality to all positive negotiation progress in either direction, meaning that Isolationists both suck at making diplomatic arrangements, but as well are far harder to diplomatically influence.
  • Further penality for Inward Perfectionist Civic?
  • Xenophile ethics could get a significant boost to diplomatic progress grain or gain a tension reduction.
  • Since tension can be approximately calculated before a negotiation starts, a player designing a demand could have an interface telling them whether the negotiation will succeed (assuming no outwards influences or changes) before tension reaches 100%, or is a futile attempt in first place.
  • Having a significantly more powerful empire, either in economy or/and in military, could provide a bonus to diplomatic progress, representing 'gunboat diplomacy'.
  • Diplomatic Traditions could be changed to grant boni to actual diplomacy instead of federations.
  • Having pops of the foreign empire's primary species in your own empire could benefit diplomacy. Same for both diplomats being of the same species.
  • Closed Borders could apply a general minor (-25%?) penality to diplomatic arrangements between the respective empires.
  • Forcing an empire to give up on a rival (including a one-sided rivalry towards the diplomatically initiating empire) could be a negotiateable demand. ("Stop hating on us, we don't want your planets and we would really rather focus on those Exterminators over there.")
  • 'Establish Embassy' could be reintroduced as a demand that boosts diplomatic progress for the empire that established the embassy.
  • Add a 'Diplomat Enclave' from which you can purchase 'Diplomatic Advice' (general bonus), hire highly skilled Diplomat Leaders or obtain new contacts. Maybe even pay them to 'smooth over' bad relations with a select group of other empires.
  • Maybe create a negotiateable demand which applies a 10-year ethical influence to the target empire, to allow diplomatizing empires to swoon other empires to their ethics over time?

Overall, I think this concept would make diplomacy less 'default 4X', give Stellaris more of it's unique storyteling character and furthermore add a significantly large layer of 'peace time interaction' towards other empires.
 

Narva

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This is extremely my jam
 

VoidEmperor

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like.
perhaps make xenophobe diplomats have special events as well like xenophobe admirals?
Currently, if you have a xenophobe admiral flying through neutral territory they might insult the other empire, which causes an event that allows you to stand with the admiral, or to give him to the xeno empire resulting in an opinion malus/bonus with the other empire.
Same can happen if a xenophobe admiral is flying through your territory, they can insult you and you can make demands from the xenophobe empire.

Would like to see something like that with xenophobe or repugnant diplomats :D
 

Narva

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like.
perhaps make xenophobe diplomats have special events as well like xenophobe admirals?
Currently, if you have a xenophobe admiral flying through neutral territory they might insult the other empire, which causes an event that allows you to stand with the admiral, or to give him to the xeno empire resulting in an opinion malus/bonus with the other empire.
Same can happen if a xenophobe admiral is flying through your territory, they can insult you and you can make demands from the xenophobe empire.

Would like to see something like that with xenophobe or repugnant diplomats :D
Hell, take it further - this system's ripe for the introduction of a 'diplomatic incident' mechanic, working something like this:

When Empire A does something that treads on Empire B's toes - settling a system B has claimed, moving troops through their space in violation of their Closed Borders, etc - it sparks a Diplomatic Incident. This is an ongoing event with a countdown timer, in which Empire A and Empire B both have 'scores'. Whoever has the highest score when the timer ends wins - but if the sum of their scores reaches 100, war breaks out between them. The loser in a diplomatic incident suffers a temporary penalty to all negotiation progress for a while, as well as, potentially, penalties to Influence production, public happiness, and so on, similarly to a Humiliate war outcome (which also ought to give a negotiation progress malus, to represent the humiliated empire not being taken as seriously as before). The winner might gain temporary bonuses to their negotiation progress, public support, lump sums of Influence, and the approval of their internal belligerent factions and the loser's enemies. The higher the total score when the timer runs out, the more extreme the effects, and the worse the effect on A and B's relations. The more egregious the incident, the higher the starting score - marching a fleet into someone's territory will be higher-stakes straight off the bat than a diplomat shooting his mouth off at a party.

In order to increase their scores, empires would have a variety of actions they could take - issuing denunciations, expelling ambassadors, cancelling trade deals, closing borders, and so on. Some actions might add other conditions to the win/lose consequences - eg. if B demands reparation payments, then if B wins, A has to pay them said reparations. Actions performed on the map might also contribute to the ongoing incident - for example, if either side were to violate the other's Closed Borders while a Diplomatic Incident was going on between them, it would increase their score. With each action taken, the countdown timer is reset, to give the other side time to respond. An empire could, however, choose to back down, immediately losing the Incident regardless of the total score.
 

Narva

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Besides the suggestion I just made, what could make this diplomacy system even more interesting would be the potential for third-party interventions of some kind - perhaps through an espionage system that eg. allows empires to build relationships with other empires' Factions that can then be used to make mischief, or just gated with technologies, the need for relationships of a certain closeness, and Influence/diplomats'-time costs. The ability to facilitate or disrupt other empires' negotiations would take the system to the next level.

EDIT: The ultimate cherry on the cherry on the cake would be to make diplomats fly around on the map to conduct negotiations, rather than just sitting at home producing diplomatic capital. That way you might see your diplomats racing across the galaxy to handle an incident - and Pdox could then build things like diplomats being captured and assassinated and so on on top of that. It would open up opportunities for Babylon 5-style neutral venues where diplomats could meet even when the empires they represent aren't admitting them. With the combination of these elements, the whole system could make preventing a war as exciting as fighting one.
 
Last edited:

Narva

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Apologies for the triple-post, but the demands this diplomacy system could enable could even include demands the other side conduct certain negotiations with third parties - for example, empire A might negotiate with empire B to get B to negotiate with C to stop C's war against A. Or C's war against D, for that matter. On A's winning the negotiation, B automatically begins theirs, regardless of whether B wants to. B would probably also have to keep the post 'diplomat to C' staffed for the duration. This is one of those systems that gets more promising the more you think about it.
 

Narva

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Hey @Wiz, I don't know about my contributions, but the OP is gold, you should think about doing something like this
 

Drinko

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How do you feel about this?
You are immune to this type of action if haven't yet agreed to a 01_embassy_propose allowing you to avoid this but, without a embassy you can't have any defence pacts or share technically and so on.

Each embassy requires a diplomat working in it.

Say I want to vassalize an other same sized empire and so I assign my diplomat to vassalize them.

I gain +2 per month. One for having a diplomat going the work and one for having my own pops in the other empire. I need a total of 200 to completely vasselize them. (Size difference)*200.

The other empire can either support my progress having their own diplomat working besides me giving me and extra 5 per month, or protest withdrawing 5 per month. They can also do nothing and thereby slowly letting me subjugate them.

If they stop me I can't try again for a set amount of time.
 

Narva

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How do you feel about this?
You are immune to this type of action if haven't yet agreed to a 01_embassy_propose allowing you to avoid this but, without a embassy you can't have any defence pacts or share technically and so on.

Each embassy requires a diplomat working in it.

Say I want to vassalize an other same sized empire and so I assign my diplomat to vassalize them.

I gain +2 per month. One for having a diplomat going the work and one for having my own pops in the other empire. I need a total of 200 to completely vasselize them. (Size difference)*200.

The other empire can either support my progress having their own diplomat working besides me giving me and extra 5 per month, or protest withdrawing 5 per month. They can also do nothing and thereby slowly letting me subjugate them.

If they stop me I can't try again for a set amount of time.
This sounds like the sort of scenario the OP suggests, except in the original, instead of them being able to withdraw 5 a month, they can withdraw just 1 a month using their own ambassador. But tensions grow at 1 a month up to 100. So you (the annexer) need to find ways to boost your speed - for example, assigning an ambassador who has developed a particularly good relationship with this empire, giving him +2. Perhaps you can even (using a separate negotiation) bring in a third-party mediator on your side, giving you an instant boost of 30 points. Now the target empire has to work out a way to stop you, because you're on track to annexe them before their tensions reach 100. So perhaps they spend some Influence to pass measures against the bill in their Senate, increasing tensions by 20 - or perhaps they don't have enough Influence, because you've been secretly funding their Factions, forcing them to spend Influence to keep said factions down. So they have the option of kicking out your Ambassadors and thereby stopping the negotiations completely. But that will cause a Diplomatic Incident, and without ambassadors, most of the low-stakes options in that will be unavailable to you - it'll be big gestures or none at all, meaning they might have to suck up the consequences of a humiliating incident - or go to war. So this high-stakes game of international diplomacy plays out over the course of months. (I really want to play this game now.)
 

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This sounds like the sort of scenario the OP suggests, except in the original, instead of them being able to withdraw 5 a month, they can withdraw just 1 a month using their own ambassador. But tensions grow at 1 a month up to 100. So you (the annexer) need to find ways to boost your speed - for example, assigning an ambassador who has developed a particularly good relationship with this empire, giving him +2. Perhaps you can even (using a separate negotiation) bring in a third-party mediator on your side, giving you an instant boost of 30 points. Now the target empire has to work out a way to stop you, because you're on track to annexe them before their tensions reach 100. So perhaps they spend some Influence to pass measures against the bill in their Senate, increasing tensions by 20 - or perhaps they don't have enough Influence, because you've been secretly funding their Factions, forcing them to spend Influence to keep said factions down. So they have the option of kicking out your Ambassadors and thereby stopping the negotiations completely. But that will cause a Diplomatic Incident, and without ambassadors, most of the low-stakes options in that will be unavailable to you - it'll be big gestures or none at all, meaning they might have to suck up the consequences of a humiliating incident - or go to war. So this high-stakes game of international diplomacy plays out over the course of months. (I really want to play this game now.)

So if the tension reaches 100 I automatically get them as a subject?
Or do they get a popup that says "war or subjugation"? And they can pick one.
 

Narva

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So if the tension reaches 100 I automatically get them as a subject?
Or do they get a popup that says "war or subjugation"? And they can pick one.
As @Alblaka set it out in the original post, when the tension reaches 100, the negotiation fails, and you have to choose between going to war with them or being diplomatically humiliated. As the party proposing the negotiation, you don't want the tension to reach 100!

EDIT: I should clarify, the score you want to reach 200 (or whatever the target is) is the negotiation progress. The tension is another, different counter.
 

Alblaka

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So if the tension reaches 100 I automatically get them as a subject?
As @Alblaka set it out in the original post, when the tension reaches 100, the negotiation fails, and you have to choose between going to war with them or being diplomatically humiliated. As the party proposing the negotiation, you don't want the tension to reach 100!
It's as Drinko explained. Basically, the tension mechanic prevents you from vassalizing another empire that is FAR too large to realistically vassalize, simply because you keep the negotiation open for 200 years.
Any negotiation that goes on unsuccessfully for too long (aka, is too big in content) is forced to fail or to lead to a war (and in most cases you could obtain what you're negotiating for with war anyways).

The idea is that tension limits what you can negotiate for, and as well serves as a cooldown (if you negotiate something that raises tension to 90, you will have to wait some time for tension to drop before starting a new negotiation). Reaching tension 100 means you either WANT a war to happen, or planned to complete the negotiation with a high, but < 100 tension, and a mix of events or diplomatic changes caused you to accidentally jump to 100 before realizing you should rather cancel the negotiation. Having wars break out (between AIs, too), about occasional diplomatic misshaps sounds like a great way to generate immersion.
 

Drinko

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This could also replace the claim system, you negotiate over a set number of systems creating a lot of tension and this allows you to declare war, because the tension is so high.

If you want to subjugate them you negotiate for that.

Or do you thinks that's too much?
 

Narva

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This could also replace the claim system, you negotiate over a set number of systems creating a lot of tension and this allows you to declare war, because the tension is so high.

If you want to subjugate them you negotiate for that.

Or do you thinks that's too much?
I'd be reluctant to make that change - the claims system is nice and elegant, and allows you to address the whole galaxy at once, as it were, rather than negotiating one-on-one. Plus, I wouldn't want to have to go through a lengthy diplomatic rigmarole every time I wanted to go to war. Having a claim on a system might make it cheaper to negotiate for, though.
 

Drinko

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I'd be reluctant to make that change - the claims system is nice and elegant, and allows you to address the whole galaxy at once, as it were, rather than negotiating one-on-one. Plus, I wouldn't want to have to go through a lengthy diplomatic rigmarole every time I wanted to go to war. Having a claim on a system might make it cheaper to negotiate for, though.

Well say you need 75 tension and when negotiating for for claims you gain 5 tension per month. This means 15 months. Things like already being rivals, closing borders, insulting increases base tension. So it would be less say 8 months worth of negotiations. But I do agree it has it's problems too.
 

Alblaka

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This could also replace the claim system, you negotiate over a set number of systems creating a lot of tension and this allows you to declare war, because the tension is so high.

If you want to subjugate them you negotiate for that.

Or do you thinks that's too much?

I don't think replacing the claims system is viable (both because it might be a nice enough system as is, and because the chances are low Wiz will kick over a system that he just added recently), but it's very well possible that the negotiation-tension mechanic could become the main way of obtaining other war goals. I.e. instead of declaring war to get something, you basically but it on negotiations and simply demand it from the other empire, giving them the choice of yielding to the demands instead of being DoWd.
 

Narva

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I don't think replacing the claims system is viable (both because it might be a nice enough system as is, and because the chances are low Wiz will kick over a system that he just added recently), but it's very well possible that the negotiation-tension mechanic could become the main way of obtaining other war goals. I.e. instead of declaring war to get something, you basically but it on negotiations and simply demand it from the other empire, giving them the choice of yielding to the demands instead of being DoWd.
What might add more depth to war declarations, without eating into other systems, is that you can declare war for some given goal without negotiating for it, but at the cost of a trust penalty with other empires. A system like that might tie into a future Galactic UN system - I know @Wiz has talked about wanting to put something like that in.

There are also some war goals, like humiliation, that wouldn't really work with negotiations coming first. And you might gain extra support from frothing militarist factions by just jumping in there and attacking. It's another dimension of choice, I guess.

I've also been considering how diplomatic incidents might interact with ongoing protested negotiations, and basically I would guess they'd just increase tensions in line with their total score - possibly even on a one-to-one basis. If both tensions and the diplomatic incident score hit 100 at the same time, obviously the declaration of war from the incident ought to take precedence over the option of war produced by the collapse of negotiations. Other than that tensions increase, I'd guess negotiations (protested or otherwise) would be frozen/decay for the duration of the diplomatic incident, as if the proposing party had taken their diplomat off the case (which in a sense they would have).
 

Obak

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I dont know how the new starbase system will work in practice, but the outpodt creep tactics is hopefully a thing of the past. Perhaps in a future update, we could also get contested zones, or "neutral zones" between empires that fiplomats could fight to sway or preserve. Zones full of smugglers, spies, free traders and planets named Casablanca.