Leader Expansion and Overhaul: Biographies, Ethics, Factions, Traits and more!

Leader Expansion and Overhaul: Biographies, Ethics, Factions, Traits and more!

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Tamwin5

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This thread is borrowing heavily and building off of a previous thread, Leader Biographies, history & traits by Pancakelord. So probably go read that first.


Currently, leaders are five things: A type, a level, an xp bar, an age, and some traits. The only story or lore they have is that which the player head cannons for them. This is a tragic waste of potential, and why this thread is getting made.

Leader Changes
To start off, some base mechanical changes to leaders: The leader pool is much expanded, but does not fill emptied slots. You can't just constantly cycle energy for the specific traits you want; either the leader is there or it isn't. New candidates would slowly be added to the pool. A smaller number of current possible recruits and a larger population size increase the rate at which new candidates are added. There would be a slight bonus to the appearance of a species if it has no active leaders or candidates in *any* leader category, and a smaller bonus if there isn't a leader or candidate of that leader type (something like this might already exist). Candidates in the pool will gain XP at a slow rate, something like 0.5 xp per month (10% of normal xp gain). The hiring cost of leaders would be increased slightly per xp they have. Candidates would have a chance to leave the pool if they have been in it the longest, and will always leave once they hit their lifespan.

While I considered adding stats a la CKII or Imperator, I decided it was unnecessary. The main purpose of those stats is for any character to be able to play any roles, and that isn't a thing in Stellaris. Instead, there will simply be a significant increase in the number of traits (traits covered in a separate section at the end).

Every non-ruler Leader trait will have an associated Ruler trait (or possibly multiple possible), but there will also be a list of ruler only traits. Every leader would have a hidden Ruler trait, either from the list or a trait from another leader type, and it wouldn't be seen unless they are being offered as a candidate to be ruler. When an Imperial government creates an heir, an event fires where you can choose what type of leader they will be while in training. Certain civics would give bonus influence (like 25 or 50) for a specific choice:
  • Governor: Aristocratic Elite, Agrarian Idyll, Byzantine Bureaucracy
  • Scientist: Technocracy, Mechanist
  • Admiral: Distinguished Admiralty, Barbaric Despoilers
  • General: Warrior Culture, Fanatical Purifiers
Should the heir die before coronation, it would cause a temporary small unhappiness penalty, so having sub-par heirs suffer "unfortunate accidents" is less tempting... if still viable strategy.

Ethics and Satisfaction
All leaders would have two Ethic points (like old pops), and so can either be split across two non-opposed ethics or be fanatic in one. One point of the ethic is based on the ethics of the pop that generated the leaders, the other is semi-random (Deviant and conformist traits have a significant influence, general ethics attraction to a smaller degree). Leaders may shift in their ethics, this can happen by an event/anomaly/digsite, or be a chance to happen based on their traits, job, and situation (Restrained Generals become pacifist, scientists become materialist, Admirals fighting against Fanatic Purifiers become xenophobe, etc.). When this happens it would fire an alert which when clicked expands into a full event window with some flavor text and a generic image.

Factions would ONLY be able to be headed by a leader with at least 1 point of that ethic. If there is no faction leader the faction will still exist, but will not give the "existing faction" modifier to ethics attraction. Faction leadership can also change based on priority: a Fanatic leader of that ethic will take over from a split ethic leader, and a leader at least 2 level higher already in that faction will take over from an inexperienced leader (provided the lower level leader isn't more fanatic). The satisfaction of the Leader heading a faction would have a small effect on the happiness of that faction (-5 to +5). Factions do have room for more than one leader (although only 1 heads the faction), mainly for satisfaction reasons (see next paragraph). Here is a detailed breakdown of how Leaders decide which faction to join:
  • Am I a fanatic ethic? If so, join that faction OR create it if it doesn't exist.
  • Do I share no ethics with the faction I'm in? If so, leave current faction.
  • If I'm not heading a faction, Is there a faction of one of my ethics which I would head should I join? If so, join it and become leader.
  • Am I atleast 70% satisfied and share an ethic with the governing ethics? If so, join the faction for that governing ethic (coin flip if two shared).
  • Am I atleast 70% satisfied and is one of my ethics' faction is above 50% approval? If so, join highest approval faction sharing my ethic.
  • Am I atleast 70% satisfied and am not the leader of my faction, which has less then 50% approval? If so, leave current faction.
  • Am I under 50% satisfied and have a non-governing ethic? If so join the non governing faction(coin flip if two shared).
  • Am I under 40% satisfied and have two governing ethics, and am in a governing ethic faction? If so, leave current faction.

Leader satisfaction (or happiness, or contentment) is a measure of how much the leader enjoys working for your empire. The base happiness for a leader starts at 50 when hired (or 70 for starting leaders), and ticks towards the approval rating of the faction they are in, or towards 50 if in no faction. The farther away from the midpoint, the stronger the tick (something like -0.1 monthly for every 10 above, +0.1 monthly for every 10 below). What makes a leader satisfied depends on their traits, but it generally correlates to the bonus it gives: Expertise void craft scientists get satisfaction from researching void craft techs, roamer or meticulous scientists get satisfaction from surveying, etc. See the list of traits at the bottom for a full list of which traits grant satisfaction.

There are also generic things that will always grant satisfaction:
  • Scientists: Being assigned to a research devision (+0.1 monthly)
  • Governors: Being assigned to the core sector (+0.2 monthly)
  • Admirals/Generals: Being at war (+0.1 monthly)
  • Admirals: Being in command of a full fleet (+0.1 monthly)
  • Generals: Being in command of atleast 6 armies, and more then any other general (+0.1 monthly)
At above 80% satisfaction, leaders get a special temporary trait that increase their effectiveness. At Below 40% satisfaction, they get a negative trait which reduces effectiveness. Should they drop below 20% satisfaction, and are not heading a faction, it is likely that the leader will retire, or possibly run away to a different empire which matches their preferred ethics and accepts refugees. Authoritarian empires can forbid retirement, at an influence cost.

Leader Biographies
Let's cover how the system worked in Leader Biographies and the few changes I'm making to it. This also covers some mechanics behind the scenes for how leader work.

Leaders are generated long before they appear in the pool. They are born at the age of 0, and at that point the game caches what planet they were born on and what species they are(The Born on X to Y parents line). At the age of 5, 10, and 15 the game looks at if they planet they live on has any emigration. If it does, then there is a roll to see if the leader moves to a planet receiving immigration, adding an early life event if they do. At 20 the game checks how many available leaders there are waiting to be put I queue, and assigns a leader type based on that (trying to keep a proportional balance of the different types of leaders, with a base minimum). It also checks the planet the leader is living on, and what possible buildings/modifiers are there to pull traits from and generate life events (ie. published a revolutionary thesis at X research institute, made a small fortune on the galactic stock exchange of X, embraced egalitarian ideals during a period of unrest, etc.). Some life events would grant traits, some would give some non-trait bonus/change (like starting initial level or ethics shift), and some would be purely flavor.

Life events during game would be mostly the same, but on any event evolving that leader, there is a button at the top to say "add this to leader's timeline". Several things are always added: hiring, death, gaining traits, becoming leader, and joining/leaving a faction (all) serving in wars and capturing capitals (for generals), serving in wars, defeating the Khan/Tempest, slaying leviathans, and killing crisis objectives(for admirals), completing digsites, precursor anomalies, opening the L-Gate, and researching rare/dangerous technologies (for scientists), Being assigned to or removed from a sector(requires a year to 'stick' so won't trigger for constant shuffling), planets gaining or losing modifiers, Terraforming planets, or building megastructures within their sector (for governors). But any anomaly, technology, battle, or even building completion could be added to a leader's timeline, if you so choose.

For a battle, it might go something like this:
In 2254.3.20, Admiral X fought [A hopeless battle against/while greatly outnumbered by/the superior force of/the matched fleets of/the inferior forces of/a pathetic fleet from] the X Empire [(none)/over [planet X]/at [starbase X]] in the X system. His/her forces were [totally destroyed/utterly decimated/damaged badly/pummeled heavily/left mostly intact/dealt some losses/barely scratched/completely untouched] when he/she [was defeated by/withdrew from/pushed back/was victorious against] the [totally destroyed/utterly decimated/badly damaged/heavily pummeled/mostly intact/marginally damaged/barely scratched/completely untouched] enemy [fleet/fleets/armada] [led by admiral X/led by admirals X, Y, and Z/(none)].

The first variable is a comparison of fleet power between the two forces in the battle. Hopeless Battle is probably for 5+ to 1, Greatly outnumbered is 2+ to 1, etc. Next is the location of the battle: if a starbase is involved its name is pulled, or if it's over a planet/body the name is pulled. The system name would be a pointer rather than just a copy of the name, so that if the system is renamed you can still find the location of battles. Next up is how many losses your fleet took, whether you lost, emergency FTLed, made the enemy emergency FTL, or won; how many losses the enemy took, if they had 1, 2-3, or 4+ fleets, and the names of any enemy admirals present.

Leader Traits
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the paradox forums have a way to insert a table, so I had to use a google sheet instead. Feel free to add suggestions/corrections. I'm especially in need of scientist ruler variations, if people have ideas.

There are quite a number of traits, and going through them is going to take me a bit, so as of the moment I've only mostly completed the generic, leader, scientist, and admiral traits. Both the rest of existing traits, as well as more new traits are going to be added eventually.

One thing I did do, was make "eye for talent" and "selected lineages" add a special trait to new leaders, rather then just a flat buff to all. Didn't make much sense that your new selected lineage was buffing an 80 yo scientist. Capacity Boosters would apply to everyone though.
 

delta180

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I am not sure about satisfaction, it sounds like a needless mechanic that would be more of an annoyance than a fun aspect of the game, I personally am not going to pick undesirable techs or fleets for certain leaders and I don't want to have to swap out my leaders all the time
 

DukeLeto42

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Leader Changes
To start off, some base mechanical changes to leaders: The leader pool is much expanded, but does not fill emptied slots. You can't just constantly cycle energy for the specific traits you want; either the leader is there or it isn't. New candidates would slowly be added to the pool. A smaller number of current possible recruits and a larger population size increase the rate at which new candidates are added. There would be a slight bonus to the appearance of a species if it has no active leaders or candidates in *any* leader category, and a smaller bonus if there isn't a leader or candidate of that leader type (something like this might already exist). Candidates in the pool will gain XP at a slow rate, something like 0.5 xp per month (10% of normal xp gain). The hiring cost of leaders would be increased slightly per xp they have. Candidates would have a chance to leave the pool if they have been in it the longest, and will always leave once they hit their lifespan.
I love this. I can see a boost to new leader generation rate dependent on ethics, civics, etc. While not a major boost, having more regular new options would be a nice perk (so a secondary benefit to scientist leader generation for finishing the discovery tree or something).

Leader Biographies
Just going to talk generally about some of what you suggest. I like this idea, but I think it should be more clearly tied to events in the game players have control over. I'm also not certain that full personal biographies are necessary. For example:
  • Sector has no governor. The next time a leader is added to the pool, the leader comes from that sector. The new governor is given a "local leader" trait, reflecting how they emerged in a region with less clear authority. There could even be a couple different traits - as often as this "local leader" was a voice of reason, they could also be a demagogue, with a trait that encourages local particularism and ethics divergence. Conversely, if they come from sectors with a governor, they will be a protege of that governor, much more likely to pick up that leader's traits.
  • Fleet's admiral dies mid-battle, but battle is won. New leader is added to the pool, a ship's captain who led the fleet to victory despite their losses. You could also see similar systems of mentorship, where new admirals tend to come from the ranks of the fleets winning victories instead of the admirals for fleets sitting at drydock. A similar system could exist for generals.
  • Scientists are randomly chosen to come either from one of the three types of research or from crewed science ships, with relevant traits to what has been recently been done by that unit. This means an empire that wants to maintain large numbers of science ships will
All of this would mean that choosing where leaders are put and what actions you take would impact what new leaders are obtained, and rather than tracking a host of characters who may never truly exist, instead only tracking certain data from the places a leader could spawn (say, the last 5 bio researches completed, the last couple years of interesting events for a fleet or a sector). Once they spawn as potential leaders, then it would make sense for them to actually have specific assignments for their limited research gain ("commanding troops on __," "serving under admiral ___," bureaucrat of ___ sector"), meaning while they'd spawn in with a limited resume they could build up some interesting events under their belt until you actually go to hire them. You might hire an inexperienced but promising officer (that is, one with good traits but not much of a biography) or a grizzled veteran of the last several wars (who has acquired numerous positive traits by serving under the strongest admirals your empire has seen).

One thing I did do, was make "eye for talent" and "selected lineages" add a special trait to new leaders, rather then just a flat buff to all. Didn't make much sense that your new selected lineage was buffing an 80 yo scientist. Capacity Boosters would apply to everyone though.
This makes good sense. "Eye for talent" would be a good option for increased leader spawn rate.
 

Tamwin5

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I am not sure about satisfaction, it sounds like a needless mechanic that would be more of an annoyance than a fun aspect of the game, I personally am not going to pick undesirable techs or fleets for certain leaders and I don't want to have to swap out my leaders all the time
The thing is, you don't get anything bad happening unless you get under 50% satisfaction. This is literally impossible unless a leader has a negative trait, or an unhappy faction. There is no penalty for effectively ignoring it. The only leaders you'd probably pay much attention to are your faction leaders, and you might bribe them with good positions in order to get a little more influence out of their faction. For the people who really want to min-max, they can try to keep every leader above 80 mark to get an extra 5% research or 5 stability, but it's really not necessary, and hard to do for every leader.

One of the main reason I wanted to add a satisfaction system is so that an espionage update could then use and build off of those values, only allowing the kidnapping or double-agenting of leaders who are unhappy with their position. It would also be another value that could be played with or used in an internal politics. Basically, it's a hook for future mechanics more than something strictly necessary right now.
 

Tamwin5

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I love this. I can see a boost to new leader generation rate dependent on ethics, civics, etc. While not a major boost, having more regular new options would be a nice perk (so a secondary benefit to scientist leader generation for finishing the discovery tree or something).

Just going to talk generally about some of what you suggest. I like this idea, but I think it should be more clearly tied to events in the game players have control over. I'm also not certain that full personal biographies are necessary. For example:
  • Sector has no governor. The next time a leader is added to the pool, the leader comes from that sector. The new governor is given a "local leader" trait, reflecting how they emerged in a region with less clear authority. There could even be a couple different traits - as often as this "local leader" was a voice of reason, they could also be a demagogue, with a trait that encourages local particularism and ethics divergence. Conversely, if they come from sectors with a governor, they will be a protege of that governor, much more likely to pick up that leader's traits.
  • Fleet's admiral dies mid-battle, but battle is won. New leader is added to the pool, a ship's captain who led the fleet to victory despite their losses. You could also see similar systems of mentorship, where new admirals tend to come from the ranks of the fleets winning victories instead of the admirals for fleets sitting at drydock. A similar system could exist for generals.
  • Scientists are randomly chosen to come either from one of the three types of research or from crewed science ships, with relevant traits to what has been recently been done by that unit. This means an empire that wants to maintain large numbers of science ships will
All of this would mean that choosing where leaders are put and what actions you take would impact what new leaders are obtained, and rather than tracking a host of characters who may never truly exist, instead only tracking certain data from the places a leader could spawn (say, the last 5 bio researches completed, the last couple years of interesting events for a fleet or a sector). Once they spawn as potential leaders, then it would make sense for them to actually have specific assignments for their limited research gain ("commanding troops on __," "serving under admiral ___," bureaucrat of ___ sector"), meaning while they'd spawn in with a limited resume they could build up some interesting events under their belt until you actually go to hire them. You might hire an inexperienced but promising officer (that is, one with good traits but not much of a biography) or a grizzled veteran of the last several wars (who has acquired numerous positive traits by serving under the strongest admirals your empire has seen).
There are actually already events for a promising admiral or science captain, iirc. Just make them a little more common or add some variations, and it would work well with this system.

The trouble with only tracking the last couple of years, is you might end up with things like "born on Planet X" when you only just got Planet X. So to avoid weird situations like that, you do need to keep track of things since birth. It should be noted that the game would generate upward of twice as many leaders as would actually appear in the pool, so it's easy to add in more leaders on shorter notice should you hire a bunch, or if you get one of the "promising person" events the new leader still has an actual history.

I haven't yet expanded much on new traits gained via background, but it should 100% be a thing. Tying some of those traits to existing leaders is also smart, so a leader might have "wrote a groundbreaking thesis on the subject of Gamma Lasers" if you were researching gamma lasers during that time, or perhaps "Was tutored by Scientist X on the intricacies of material science" as an event for why they have expertise: materials. Ideally every single trait they get would be described by a background event, even the ones from level ups getting a bit of additional flavor text.

This makes good sense. "Eye for talent" would be a good option for increased leader spawn rate.
 

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The trouble with only tracking the last couple of years, is you might end up with things like "born on Planet X" when you only just got Planet X. So to avoid weird situations like that, you do need to keep track of things since birth. It should be noted that the game would generate upward of twice as many leaders as would actually appear in the pool, so it's easy to add in more leaders on shorter notice should you hire a bunch, or if you get one of the "promising person" events the new leader still has an actual history.
What I would probably do, instead of tracking a bunch of leaders that may or may not be used, is have a sort of running record of all planets/species in the galaxy which would include "hooks" for leader bio generation: then if you get a leader from a planet that you recently conquered from an enemy, the biography would say "Grew up in X empire before the annexation of planet X into our empire."

Same would work for species: if you conquered a planet where species were being purged/enslaved, it would add a potential "freed from purging/slavery" hook for leaders of that species. Or if you got refugees of that species, it would add a "came here as a refugee from X" hook.
 

DukeLeto42

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The trouble with only tracking the last couple of years, is you might end up with things like "born on Planet X" when you only just got Planet X. So to avoid weird situations like that, you do need to keep track of things since birth. It should be noted that the game would generate upward of twice as many leaders as would actually appear in the pool, so it's easy to add in more leaders on shorter notice should you hire a bunch, or if you get one of the "promising person" events the new leader still has an actual history.
The problem of missing important basic biographical information is a good one, though I think G S Palmer's solution is a good one, as you don't know what the future leader generation rate is going to be and you definitely don't want to run out of potential candidates.
 

Tamwin5

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What I would probably do, instead of tracking a bunch of leaders that may or may not be used, is have a sort of running record of all planets/species in the galaxy which would include "hooks" for leader bio generation: then if you get a leader from a planet that you recently conquered from an enemy, the biography would say "Grew up in X empire before the annexation of planet X into our empire."

Same would work for species: if you conquered a planet where species were being purged/enslaved, it would add a potential "freed from purging/slavery" hook for leaders of that species. Or if you got refugees of that species, it would add a "came here as a refugee from X" hook.
This would probably come down to coding, as for which one is easier/less intensive. With the system I described, aspiring leaders could move from empire to empire, if they planet they are on is captured (either just moving to the empire that conquered it, or going refugee), or if there is a migration treaty and the planet they are on has emigration. Both methods achieve the same rough result, so it comes down to ease of implementation.