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Paul93

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Hello folks, here I would like to put some ideas about an aspect of the game that IMO is totally lacking and that will, for sure, not be developed anytime soon. To be clear, the rework of the diplomacy and federations were long due and therefore this is not a complaint about the upcoming dlc. Recently I have seen the video of ASpec in which he calls for more internal politics through the addition of institutions and a better usage of the faction mechanics. I entirely subscribe what he says but I would also like to expand it to include the thing that I think lacks the most in the current version of the game: INTERNAL STRIFE.

The problem

Stellaris is a game in which players manage interstellar empires filled with billions of individuals of dozens of different species dispersed on tens of planets. It is both reasonable and thematically appropriate to have strong tensions between different cultures and political objectives of the inhabitants of such an empire.

Stellaris is also a game that currently has a quite uninteresting mid-to-late game experience. When you dominate a third of the Galaxy there is not so much to do apart from waiting the endgame crisis. If you have a more pacifistic-managerial playstile there is even less to do.

Adding sources internal strife would fix both of these things: it would add a new type of challenge both for large and otherwise invincible empires and for smaller pacifistic empires. Plus, it would give a sense of life to our empires and it would allow for new, epic stories in our playthroughs.

The proposal

Instead of adding new ad hoc metrics (a thing that personally I don’t like), internal strife can be modeled expanding the currently unused or underdeveloped mechanics already present in Stellaris.

After a few single- and multi-player games I have made the following observations:
- it is easy to increase and maintain planetary stability (apart on newly conquered planets);
- it is easy to have 0 crime everywhere (apart on newly conquered planets);
- it is easy to have a very happy and productive population (apart on newly conquered planets);
- it is by far too easy to manage factions. Damn, I usually play democracies and it is shockingly easy to ignore that 30% or more of population with an ethic opposed to that of the government.

So, there are plenty of good starting points. For example:
- planets with large proportions of different ethics can elect local governments that opposes the central one. This would hit the productivity of the planet and open up the possibility of foreign interventions (in a CK2-esque way);
- in democracies and oligarchies, large disgruntled factions should have the power to interfere with the government. For example, democracies can have a legislature that can block certain player actions like in I:R. This also would help to better characterize different authority types;
- in a similar way, sectors with different dominant species/ethics under authoritarian empires should be prone to armed rebellions. Civil wars should be a concrete reality for large empires;
- a zero crime society should be the final aspiration of a very well oiled empire, not the absolute norm for non war-ravaged planets. Crime interaction can be modeled through frequent (every few years) random events where the player can choose different courses of action (like events in EU4 or CK2);
- class warfare (or at least class politics). The game includes a very flexible system in which each stratum of the society has its own influence, happiness and needs, but currently there is only one, linear and static interaction with it: the living standards. There is a great amount of untapped potential for interesting situations and choices in this mechanic. Vic2 can be a source of inspiration for this;
- mid game mass migrations and late game unemployment/overpopulation can be strengthened and become a full fledged part of the life threatening crises that players have to face. To the very least, a massive influx of foreigners should hit the planetary stability of the place where they arrive;
- massive wars, even won, should left some lasting scars. Mortality rate for pops should be far higher. Manning the fleet and the army should require a lot of soldier pops and when many thousands of fleet power or dozens of division are destroyed, some of those pops should die. Right now there is literally nothing that simulates war exhaustion or manpower loss;
- the many times proposed institutions should be modeled on the feudal lords of CK2, each of them with a given attitude toward the government and with specific policy request. Ideally, there should also be possible for a foreign empire to interact with our institutions to try weaken us (and obviously, the other way around). But this requires entirely new mechanics and so it strays from my point.

I am also aware of the fact that some people simply don’t like to have to fiddle with the socio-economic aspects of their empires and instead prefer to enjoy big and colorful battles. A good way to accommodate both gameplay could be adding an “internal difficulty” setting, much like the IA aggressiveness setting. The severity of the internal strife added will be tuned by the players and therefore the game will maintain its casual outlook.
 

This thread is more than 5 months old.

It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose. If you feel it is necessary to make a new reply, you can still do so though.

Objulen

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The basic mechanics for this are mostly in the game already - factions affect influence, and faction happiness affects the pop's happiness. Pop happiness affects how much crime the pop generates.

The only thing you'd really need to tweak to implement what you suggest is how much of an effect faction happiness has on associated pops. The maximum impact is, -10%, -20%, IIRC? So if you have 0% approval rating with a faction it's not that hard to do other things to keep the pops at least at the stability-maintaining neutral 50%. If the pop's happiness penalty based on faction was -1 for every point under 50%, then you'd have very unhappy, unproductive, criminal pops for factions you don't placate.

Anything more extensive would require additional mechanics for espianoge, with rebel factions getting outside help to boost their effective political power, recruiting, radicalizing outside of stability events, and the like. That is something the devs have said they want to add down the road.
 

Paul93

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Exactly, most of the structure for tougher internal attrition is already present. What is needed, IMO, is a harsher approach to the thing (and in general a better usage of these mechanics).

The point is, right now it is too simple (at least in my experience) to maintain a zero crime, high stability empire that dominates a good portion of the Galaxy. When a condition like this is reached, you have not a lot other to do, aside from waiting the endgame crisis.

In CK2, managing a large empire is by itself an enternaining and satisfactory challenge. I think that Stellaris could adopt this kind of challenge and that it would be a good thing both in terms of gameplay and in terms of flavour.
 

Jin_Cardassian

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One idea I had was for each ethic to have two factions with mostly opposing demands, the way that Xenophobe divides into both Supremacist and Isolationist. Each faction would always be present in a single empire, and different pops would be drawn to different ones based on stratum, species, and species rights.

Even a tall, pacifistic empire would have to contend with faction unhappiness in the ways you describe.
 

Objulen

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Maybe? It seems odd to have, at the extreme end, an Inward Perfection empire to develop a strong Supremist faction when they don't have many avenues for divergent opinions to come from. The only way for pops with other ethics to really get into an Inward Perfection Empire is for another Empire of the same species to form.

I think the mechanism for internal factions are already present to an adequate degree - once an empire begins getting pops with divergent ethics, the factions for them form pretty quickly. The main mechanism that's missing is espianoge promoting other ethics, and thus factions, within an Empire.
 

Rodmar18

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I'm not saying that this should be a modder's thing, but playing with dedicated mods help feeling the potential and limitations of existing mechanics, and why their inclusion (after mutual balancing) in base game would be welcome.

Potent Rebellions for civil unrest and revolutions.
Cosmic Religions for heavier impact of religions (one pop, one religion, possible pogroms, etc).
Expanded Ideologies, Dynamic Political Events for factions.
 

Spaceception

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I would also like to see strife in Stellaris.

There should be things like protests happening when you change the living standards to something worse or do something a large faction doesn't like. And that's a problem with internal politics because outside of giving you low influence gain, they don't do much, they don't demand anything. Your (happy) large factions should influence your future development so they remain approved of you, and your (unhappy) large factions could be a source of worry for you, as they could possibly rebel, or force your hand in some way.

So what I would do is add more policies that affect your Empire, some of these can be expanded on by current policies. Like having a base resource policy. Or an Environmental policy (prioritize production, or happiness, maybe habitability could even be lowered if you prioritize production heavily)

If voting was added, we could see factions vote on policies within your Empire, and this could be a source of strife if you override too many policy changes, or disregard certain factions. They could start getting angrier/more powerful, and become a problem within your Empire.

After a war, the pops you capture in some circumstances could try to influence your government to be more like their previous one, or try to rebel.

Later in the game, you could have "radical" factions who take your typical issues to an extreme, and try to fulfill their agenda. This can lead to anarchy, civil war, or genocide. I'm not sure how possible this is, but it could be a mid-game crisis of sorts as your Empire is still growing and people are starting to slip through the cracks.

To make players care about factions over the game in other ways, factions which have their needs mostly met could lose attraction, as they grow complacent, while factions which are unhappy for a long time could gain attraction as they grow resentful and fervent.
 

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Maybe? It seems odd to have, at the extreme end, an Inward Perfection empire to develop a strong Supremist faction when they don't have many avenues for divergent opinions to come from. The only way for pops with other ethics to really get into an Inward Perfection Empire is for another Empire of the same species to form.

It's more like the Xenophobic pops have a different conception of what Xenophobia should mean. They're tired of the "city on the hill" approach and think they should rule the stars. So if they're not managed, you might have a supremacist breakaway faction.

Inward Perfectionists wouldn't have as many options to please the faction, that's true. That's the price you pay for being an extremist.

The flipside would also be true. Even Fanatical Purifiers would have to deal with isolationists.

The goals of this are to:
  • Give even homogeneous empires some factional strife.
  • Give other empires some more levers to interact with. For example, it would be hard for a Xenophile to push a 70% Xenophobe Fanatical Purifier all the way toward Xenophilia, but they could support the isolationist faction to temper their expansionism.
  • Add some volatility. You might think your border with those Inward Perfectionists is totally secure, until the day those supremacist rebels rise up and start a civil war.
 

Objulen

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It's more like the Xenophobic pops have a different conception of what Xenophobia should mean....

Perhaps - but where are they getting these ideas from, exactly? You have to consider that A) Outside of, maybe, Egalitarian empires, nothing provides any kind of guarantee for freedom of social discourse in an empire and B) Ideas don't just crop up out of nowhere in a population.

To build a better system, there has to be an established baseline for population deviancy based on neutral ethics that is "natural" to an empire, an ethics axis needs to be tied to it, and then mechanics from ethics, civics, and the like must be balanced around it.

Already happy populations are less likely to deviate from the empire's ethics, so existing pop happiness, based on lifestyle, should be a baseline factor IMHO. Political power ties directly into this - the pop multiplier makes happy rulers and specialists more important than happy workers.

Then, the mechanics should be tied to the Authoritarian/Egalitarian axis IMHO. I believe it should be a mixture of benefits and penalties that emphasize the concepts of those ethics.

Authoritarians would get a bonus to Ethics Attraction, representing crack downs (violent and otherwise) on non-conforming ideas, and economic options that emphasize the political power of the ruler, but larger happiness/influence penalties from the oppressed and/or marginalized non-conforming pops. Authoritarians benefit from civics and traits that emphasize Ethics Attraction, I.E. loyalty to the state. Immigration can be a mixed bag for Authoritarians. Loyal pops readily stay loyal, but disloyal pops need to be made loyal relatively quickly.

Egalitarians, on the other hand, would have penalties to ethics attraction, but also have reduced penalties for unhappy factions, who are taken seriously and included more readily, and given social platforms for outlets of expression, even if their ideas aren't mainstream. Civics that reduce faction approval penalties would be a good mix for Egalitarians (and would need to be added), while negative traits like Deviant, and the affects of divergent immigrant pop ethics would be easier to manage. Egalitarians would be garunteed to deal with unhappy factions, essentially, but the impact of those factions would be reduced.
 

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Perhaps - but where are they getting these ideas from, exactly? You have to consider that A) Outside of, maybe, Egalitarian empires, nothing provides any kind of guarantee for freedom of social discourse in an empire and B) Ideas don't just crop up out of nowhere in a population.

Philosophers commonly invent things from scratch, whether or not they have state endorsement. Differences in interpretation naturally arise. No need for external influence (although it helps).

For an example, take a look at all the Inquisitorial factions in the Imperium in Man.

The pops' species rights and stratum can also affect attraction. Right now, in a non-Pacifist Xenophobe empire, xeno pops will join the Isolationist faction. We could imagine Authoritarians breaking down into a Totalitarian faction that attracts specialists (being focused on managerialism) and an Elitist faction that attracts rulers (being focused on privilege at the expense of efficiency).

Living Standards could be used to shift the balance of political power between the two, in the same way you can use Residency/Slavery to disempower Isolationist xeno pops.

The other tools you describe would provide another layer, with additional means for controlling this.
 

Objulen

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Philosophers commonly invent things from scratch....

Individuals, yes, but that doesn't mean anyone listens to them or takes them seriously. Making an idea is much different than making other people aware of that idea, making that idea popular, and getting people to support those ideas.

The issue with your 40k example is that the Inquistors who don't toe the party line generally end up as Excommunicatus Traitorus. 40k is a much better example of what happens when you have, at best, a stratified economy with constant resource shortfalls and unhappy pops. And even then

Extra complexity can be good, but it needs to be meaningful. What benefit is there to, say, Totalitarianism vs Elitism? The difference between the Isolationist faction and the Supremist faction is that the Supremist faction is very aggressive and Militant, which is incompatible with Pacifists, and they have very dissimilar issues of interedt. They are, essentially, multi-ethic factions. That provides a meaningful basis for extra factions.

Mutual incompatibility - it's not really possible, IIRC, to make the Isolationists and Supremists both happy - is important, but so is not steamrolling other factions unless it is necessary, like the above. For example, you can a Spiritualist Crusader faction, but how will that be meaniningfully different than a having both a Spiritualist faction and a Militant faction to keep happy?

An example would be a Spiritualist Xenophile faction that is OK with robots. Awesome, we have disagreement on a fundamental issue. But how do you make the Spiritualist Xenophile different enough from either the Spiritualist faction or the Xenophile faction to make it a meaningful addition? Replacing the robotics issue with something else appropriate may be enough, given how important it is for Spiritualists by default. But it needs to make the faction feel unique compared to its counterparts, or it's just going to come across as spam.
 

Paul93

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Adding a second faction for every ethics is surely a simple way to increase diversity. There is also plenty of room (also in terms of flavor) for such a move: for example, divide progressives in individualists and communalists, totalitarians in elitists (monarchists/aristocrats) and *proper* totalitarians (populist fascists), pacifists in a mercantile faction and an environmentalist faction and so on. Aside from different (even if not outright contrasting) issues, different factions of a same ethics will attract differently people in different strata (or even job positions) and, in the hypothesis of an Imperator:Rome-like legislature, will support the implementation of different policies.

Another, more difficult but maybe more interesting path is to rethink the faction system altogether. For example, instead of one faction per ethics, let empires generate two-ethics factions (maybe up to a total of five or six). These factions will:
(1) have mixed issues (picked randomly from the list of issues of the current single-ethic factions);
(2) attract transversal support on a more per-issue basis, generating a more dynamic and responsive feedback between what happens in and around our empire, our choices and the stability of our state;
(3) be far more difficult to sideline in the case that they become disgruntled;
(4) will contribute to make every empire diverse and every playthrough unique;
(5) give another way for pops to change ethics: for example, a pacifist-xenophobe (aka isolationist) faction that pop up in respose of an high war exhaustion, stealing support to a militarist-xenophobe (aka expansionist) government, quenching imperialism and producing in the long run a core group of pacifists. Moreover, these factions will grow and decay in response of what happens and so different party systems will alternate along the game.
 
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Jin_Cardassian

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Adding a second faction for every ethics is surely a simple way to increase diversity. There is also plenty of room (also in terms of flavor) for such a move: for example, divide progressives in individualists and communalists, totalitarians in elitists (monarchists/aristocrats) and *proper* totalitarians (populist fascists), pacifists in a mercantile faction and an environmentalist faction and so on. Aside from different (even if not outright contrasting) issues, different factions of a same ethics will attract differently people in different strata (or even job positions) and, in the hypothesis of an Imperator:Rome-like legislature, will support the implementation of different policies.

One note is that to provide the basis for new faction demands, we would need a certain expansion of content. Not hugely complex. Primarily we need more policies dealing with environmental regulations, weapon controls, property, the education system, labor regulations etc.

Take a look at all the policies that Alphamod added. These could add more depth to the game in general, not just the faction system.

solpoliciessum.png


I definitely agree with the OP that different government types should have different ways of relating to minority factions. Democracies have to cave to their demands more, but out-of-power factions are less disgruntled, since they have a voice. Dictatorships don't have to listen, but dissidents are more dangerous and they must suppress them.

To sum up, what we want is a multilayered approach:
  • More policies to provide the content base for more demands
  • Multiple factions per ethic, with at least partly exclusive demands.
  • Government types limiting how you can interact with factions
Then, the mechanics should be tied to the Authoritarian/Egalitarian axis IMHO. I believe it should be a mixture of benefits and penalties that emphasize the concepts of those ethics.

I think this can be rolled into the different government types. Tying it to ethics specifically would be redundant. Being an Egalitarian means that by default you can't behave like a dictatorship or monarchy, because you can't select that government type. Vice versa for Authoritarians.

One of the problems with the existing Progressive faction is that so many of its demands pertain to all species, not just the primary one. That makes it very difficult to play an Egalitarian/Xenophobe. It's another situation where, like Xenophobe, the game would benefit from having two opposing factions.
 
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