Empire Building

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Ruling Wide Domains

The location of the King governs what territory can be effectively controlled. High Bureaucratic Level and whether or not a King is performing a Rule action help determine the efficacy of the Command Control Radius (CCR) on outlying regions. The CCR is roughly equal to your Bureaucratic Level, plus the King’s Administration stat (which is usually unknown to you). If the Nation has regions and / or cities that are outside the Command Control Radius at the end of the turn, then they may revolt.

Tracing the Command Control Radius

This happy activity is undertaken by the Game Master at the end of each turn for each country, just to see if your realm has grown too fat to be supported by the efforts of your King and his dutiful bureaucrats. To determine this, the Game Master traces Lines of Communication from your Capital (if you have one) or from your King (if you do not have a Capital) to your outlying regions, counting each CCR point as if it were an Action Point for a “messenger” traveling from the King (or Capital) to each outlying region.

For these purposes, each complete Trade Conduit counts as one Sea Zone for CCR ‘movement’. A complete Trade Conduit is one that is ‘anchored’ at each end by a controlled Port City of at least Tributary status. If a controlled region exists at the very end of a Sea Trade route and is not anchored by a controlled Port City, then the Sea Zones in the last portion of the Sea Trade Route are counted individually for CCR purposes.

Control has to be traced back to the Capital (or Holy City, Home Office or whatever). Locations that are isolated from the Capital will degrade. For instance, even though a Merchant House Cartel City is within range of another Cartel City, if one or the other cannot trace control back to the Home Office, both will degrade. The control web of a Primacy, Religious Order, Secret Empire or Merchant House has a hierarchy from low control to high.

If it is impossible to move from the Capital to the outlying region with (CCR) Action Points, then the region is ‘out of control’ and may revolt.

The usual movement point costs are used for tracing, with some supplemental items, as detailed here:

Table 6-1. CCR Costs Supplement

Border / Region Type CCR Cost
Controlled land border along a Royal or Postal Road segment × ½
Unsettled (empty, Barbarian / Pre-Columbian / Nomadic) regions +1
Any kind of region within the tsetse Fly zone (unless traversed by a Railroad) +1
‘Anchored’ Trade Conduit 1
Submarine Telegraph Cable 1
Controlled land border along a Railroad × ¼


Example: The Nisei realm has established control of various colonies in Scandinavia. To support control of these regions, the Shogunate possesses controlled port cities in the intervening area. At the end of the given turn, a Nisei general has completed the conquest of the province of Norway. The Game Master, checking the CCR, observes that the Nisei capital is in the province of Gosiute on the Great Inland Sea in the New World. The Nisei BL is 8, and their current Shogun has an Administration of 4 and is, in fact, ruling this turn.

This set of circumstances gives the Nisei a CCR of (8 + 4 = 12ap). From Gosiute an Imperial Highway runs through the provinces of Bohogue, Lemhi, Shoshone, Crow, Teton, Okoboji, Minnewaska, Yankotnai and into Chippewa. The CCR cost for this section is seven due to the Road. The base would be fourteen (9 for nine controlled regions, plus 5 for two Type-2 and one Type-1 mountain range in the way), divided by two for the Royal Road passing through all of the involved provinces.
From Chippewa the Nisei have a set of Trade Conduits anchored on the cities of Joetsu in Chippewa, Achi in Sokoki, Nuri in Naskapi, and Ukio-ye in the Shetlands. This adds three more to the cost of the CCR (1 CCR for the Trade Conduit between Joetsu and Achi, 1 CCR for the Trade Conduit between Achi and Nuri, and 1 CCR for the Trade Conduit between Nuri and Ukio-ye) bringing it to 10 of its 12 points. Since the city of Bergen in Hordaland is still under siege by Nisei and Dakotan troops, it cannot serve as an ‘anchor’ city. The last section must be traced sea zone by sea zone then, which adds another 3 to the total CCR cost (1 CCR for Viking Bank, 1 CCR for the Skaggerak and 1 CCR for the region of Norway) bringing it to 13.
Well, this is one more than the Nisei can support with their CCR of 12, so the army in Norway will be checked for revolt at the end of the turn. Should the army pass the check and move out of the province, then the province will be checked for revolt each turn following while it remains out of the CCR.

Tracing a Line of Communication

When required to establish a Line of Communication, you trace a series of contiguous controlled land regions and/or unblockaded Sea Zones or Ferry Points to the designated region or city from the national capital (or homeland, if there is no capital) to the location in question - see the Basic Rules for the full details.

Inter-National Banking

There exist, in all nations blessed with Renaissance (Tech Level 8 or better) culture; banks, moneylenders, brokers and merchants who are willing to loan varying sums to their own rulers, and perchance, to the rulers of neighboring realms with which their own princes are of good accord. Obviously, such merchants must make a little something for their troubles and risks. Thus the borrower must pay a hefty interest surcharge as well as the amount initially borrowed.

Depending on the decision of the player for each civilized nation, other nations may also borrow from his banks, paying a greater fee.

Of course, if a borrower defaults on a loan and is unable or unwilling to pay it back, the bank suffers. When a bank is forced into collapse by defaulting borrowers the economy of the nation suffers. This is reflected as a reduction in the Tax Rate of the country whose bank has suffered collapse, for one or more turns.

More than one loan may be taken out against the national bank simultaneously as long as the total value of all currently outstanding loans does not exceed the amount of funds on hand for the bank to lend.

The profits from these loans are re-invested in the bank, improving its value and ability to lend.

Only Open Nations have banks. Religious Primacies, Orders, Merchant Houses and Secret Empires do not have banks, though they may borrow from them.

The Loan Payment Schedule

The principal and the interest of a loan are due at the beginning of the third turn following the initial borrowing, regardless of the number of years per turn. The loan may, of course, be paid back before this time, but the full amount (principal + interest) must be paid.

Catholic National Banks

For campaigns that began at 1000AD (or earlier) the proscription against usury stands until the Roman Pope rescinds it. Though unlikely, this state of affairs may still pertain during the Renaissance Period.

While this edict is in effect, only the Papacy can make external (nation to nation) loans. A very small amount of internal loan capacity is available to each Catholic nation. Once the Papacy rescinds the proscription, then each Catholic nation may make external loans to one another.

Note that Catholic nations may freely acquire external loans from non-Catholic national banks during this time.

Banking System Status

Each national banking system has one of three statuses; Open, Closed or Defaulted. An Open bank can make loans to its own national government and other nations with which its nation is currently trading. A Closed bank can only make loans to its own national government. A Defaulted bank cannot make any loans to any nation until it recovers from the default.

Each player may decide whether his nation’s bank will be Open or Closed at the beginning of each turn, as it pleases him. Additionally, a player may declare that his bank is closed to specific other nations, even ones that he is trading with. Finally, Nations that are not trading with his nation at the beginning of the turn cannot take out loans from his bank.

Loan Capacity

Each national bank has a basic loan capacity, which is roughly (though not exactly) equal to that nation’s Base Revenue. In addition to this base capacity, nations may invest in their bank by spending Gold Points. Each 10 GP spent increases the Loan Capacity of the bank by one (1) GP. These investment increases are permanent until such time as the bank suffers a collapse due to a defaulted loan (or loans), whereupon the investment increase is reduced by the amount of the defaulted loan. If the defaulted loan is greater than the amount invested, then the base capacity is reduced by the remainder.

The Loan Capacity of a nation may also grow or shrink as its base assets grow and shrink. When loans are paid back, the profits are invested in the bank, raising its capacity.

Interest Rates

Each national bank has two interest rates, one for internal loans (to the national government) and one for external loans (to other governments). The internal rate is generally 30%, the external 40%. Bank systems that have defaulted and then recover are required to boost their interest rates by 10%, to 40% and 50%, respectively.

The player can increase or decrease the external loan rate as he pleases, bearing in mind that the minimum is the current internal loan rate and the maximum is the highest rate that the international market can bear.

The internal loan rate can also be adjusted, with a minimum of interest rate of 20%.

The calculation to determine the amount that must be repaid is:

Amount Owed = Principal + (Principal × Interest)

There is no compounding for each year or turn. If you borrow 100gp at 30%, you pay back 130gp. Very simple. This amount is due whether your nation takes one turn or three to pay back the outstanding loan.

Example: Florence has a Loan Capacity of 450gp. Charles the Bold of Burgundy wants to borrow 200gp to finance a war against the Swiss cantons. The Florentine internal rate is at 25% (due to internal stock manipulations and excessive government intervention in the Florentine banking houses) and the external is 43%. Charles will have to pay back (200 × 1.43 = 286gp) to the Florentines. When (and if) he does so, the Florentine bank will get 36gp in cold hard cash, which will be invested, raising the base value of the Bank by (36 / 10 = 3.6) GP.

Loan Defaults

When a nation that has taken out a loan is unwilling or unable to repay the loan principal and interest on the beginning of the third turn, that nation is considered to have defaulted on the loan. The bank that made the loan, and the nation that the bank resides in, suffer a number of deleterious effects.

  • First, the defaulting nation (regardless of the type of Nation — Normal, Religious, Merchant House, it matters not!) loses all external borrowing privileges to all banking systems, including the nation’s own until such time as the Penalty Payment is made.
  • Second, the bank defaulted against loses loan capacity equal to the amount of the forfeited loan (starting with any Investment and proceeding to the Base Capacity thereafter). If the bank capacity is reduced to zero or less then the Bank has 'Collapsed'.
  • Third, the tax rate of the nation with a bank in collapse is reduced by the same proportion of the banking capacity that was lost for the following turn. The turn thereafter the Tax Rate is reduced by half of that proportion, and the third turn by one quarter of the proportion. On the fourth turn the nation regains its full tax rate.

Any current Government Investment is reduced (wiped out) by defaulted loans. If the base capacity is reduced, it recovers during the turns that the Tax Rate is reduced. During this period loans may still be taken out by allowed parties (that is, NOT those who defaulted) to the maximum of the reduced Capacity. If the bank Collapses, however, no loans may be taken out until the bank regains its full capacity (that is, four turns later).

Example: Charles the Bold of Burgundy, having previously borrowed 200gp from the Florentine banks, launches his campaign against the Swiss and the southern German cities and is utterly trounced at the battle of Nancy. So crushing is his defeat that he is forced to default on a large number of loans, including the one to the Florentine banks.

So. The initial Florentine capacity was 450gp, and Charles borrowed 200gp. He, then, has defaulted on 44% of the Florentine capacity. This means that the next turn, the Florentine Tax Rate (normally, say, 100%) will be reduced by 44%, to 56%. Needless to say, this will not please the Florentine government (and in fact will lead to the collapse of the Florentine merchant republic and lead to the foundation of the first of a series of tyrannies and eventually the establishment of a Dukedom and autocratic rule). The second turn following, the base Tax Rate (again, say it’s 100%) will be reduced by half of the forfeited percentage, or 22% to 78%. The third and final turn of the process the Florentine Tax Rate will be 89%, as the reduction will be 11%.

Penalty Payments

Nations that have defaulted on loans from foreign banks must make Penalty Payments in order to resume taking out foreign loans. The Penalty Payment is twice the total amount of any defaulted loans. Once this large pile of cash is paid, then the defaulting nation’s foreign borrowing rights are restored.

Rebuilding a Collapsed Bank

Once a bank has collapsed, you have to rebuild it by paying out bags of cash. In short, you have to pay 4gp per GP of the bank before it collapsed. Yes, it is quite expensive, but those are the breaks.

These payments may be spread out over several turns, but the bank is not restored until all of the money has been paid. At that point it will reset its value to that of your base economy.

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Lords of the Earth, 6th Edition © 2010 Thomas Harlan
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