S THIS SECTION is the essence of the game, it is difficult to describe without reiterating much of what has been said before.  This section, and the following sections on the Military and Economic Games, should be read in conjunction with Section Seven, the command descriptions.

There are two main media to be worked with in the diplomatic game - people, and land.

People can be some of your most powerful tools in this game.  In an age before any rapid and reliable means of long-distance communications, individuals - whether as ambassadors, hostages, potential marriage partners, or whatever - were essential to achieve agreements, and had to be relied on to act in your best interest, even when operating independently.  To many of the great lords of the period, this meant family.

Land serves many purposes in Blood Royal.  On a purely economic level (see Section Six for more details), owning land provides you with the wherewithal to support your lifestyle and your activities.  Beyond that, land can be given to other lords to establish diplomatic links, or given as part of a daughter's dowry.

S DISCUSSED ABOVE under 'Individuals', arranged marriages for your relatives can forge alliances with other houses.  Bear in mind also that you'll need to find a wife for your heir in order to continue the family line.

Being allied by blood with other families can be a two-edged sword: if you're closely related to another family, you might also find yourself drawn into their wars (or losing prestige if you want to stay aloof); it works the other way as well, however; you might find all sorts of people (players or NPCs) coming to your aid if you're in trouble.  Luckily you'll be provided with family trees and ongoing reports of your closeness to all the other houses to help you judge where best to make your alliances.

FTER A FEW YEARS, , or turns, the marriages, births, and so on will have begun to make the order of succession to any title quite complex.  Whenever a title, or royal throne, becomes vacant, the order of succession will be published.  Naturally, the first in line will expect to succeed to the title, but other claimants might put themselves forward (and there might be a bastard son or two around to complicate matters).

T THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME, you are neutral towards all lords other than your king, and peers within his kingdom.  Your alignments may change due to direct action, using the 'Diplomatic Alignment' command, the actions of others, or indirectly as a result of your other actions.

Alignment is measured on a scale from 1 to 9, along the following scale:

1. At war
2. Belligerent
3. Hostile
4. Cold
5. Neutral
6. Warm
7. Friendly
8. Peaceful
9. Allied

A change of alignment can move more than one stage at a time, but is more difficult and expensive to achieve the further you wish to depart from your current state.  Alignment between noble houses may affect actions between them, e.g. being 'at war' will reduce the effect of any negotiations for a marriage, but is a prerequisite to begin a military campaign.  Acting out of line with your alignment may affect your status amongst your peers.

Two houses may have different alignments to each other, but there will be a knock-on effect.  For example, A may be 'neutral' to B, while B is 'friendly' to A, because B wants to negotiate a treaty. If A became 'hostile' to B, B's attitude to A might change to 'warm' or 'neutral'.

ACH YEAR, in the autumn (i.e. after everyone's military campaigning has ceased), there will be an `Imperial Court'.  This was once the occasion at which, like the Papal Conclave in Rome, the peers of the empire would meet to elect the Emperor.  By now, the function has devolved from its original purpose to become a purely social function, where you can catch up on all the births, marriages and deaths of the previous year.  As the game progresses, and players gain prestige, the archaic institutions will be reinstated, and you may be called on to cast your vote for the candidate of your choice (or someone else's choice, if you are small enough to be pushed around).  Obviously, the more prominent you are, the more influence your vote has.

The Imperial Court is hosted by one of the most influential families.  It is not always the top family, but it will be one of the top 3 or 4, and may be a player or an NPC.  If it's you, you're doing well (but it will cost you!).  The host is never the same family two years running.

The Court Circular will form an important part of your turn report.  It might read a bit like a gossip column, but the terms and descriptions used may well give you clues to other players' status.  Pay attention, and it might tell you who you should be fawning over (or assassinating) next year!

T IS NOT INTENDED that the profusion of commands for diplomacy in this game should prevent players from engaging in more 'free-format' diplomacy outside these strictures.  If you wish to bargain with other players, go ahead. Obviously such deals will not have any effect on your status or diplomatic affinity within the game, but where possible use diplomatic actions to mirror the deals made.

As an example, you might wish to make a gift of an honour to an ally, but not wish to deprive the current lord of the land.  This was a frequent occurrence in medieval Europe, and the solution often used was to agree the gift, but suspend it until the current lord died or relinquished his territory.  In the interim, a monetary payment was made in lieu of the land's value each year.  This could be done using the 'Pay Fine' action.

Copyright © 2001-03 James Doyle. All rights reserved.