Role-Playing Support

For what's not in 'Top Priority Game Design'. Post your ideas, visions, suggestions for the game, rules, modifications, etc.

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Yeeha
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#16 Post by Yeeha » Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:50 pm

Has anyone played imperium galactica 2 campaigne? I played human campaigne and there was good roleplaying. Your subjects asked for your help with missions like get scientist out of another empire for helping with certain planet disaster,traders asked for help with pirates and many other special missions.And when you did one mission then it could lead to another special mission like - when you helped scientist to escape from enemy empire then he was stolen again by pirates and both used him for some weapons research and when you again stole scientist back then scientist speakes about some ancient bomb what he was studying and you can use it. Imperium galactica 2 isnt turn based game but it is similar to Master of Orion games and following such story during the game was very cool.

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Geoff the Medio
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#17 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Feb 09, 2005 2:30 pm

Yeeha wrote:...missions like get scientist out of another empire for helping with certain planet disaster,traders asked for help with pirates and many other special missions.And when you did one mission then it could lead to another special mission like - when you helped scientist to escape from enemy empire then he was stolen again by pirates and both used him for some weapons research and when you again stole scientist back then scientist speakes about some ancient bomb what he was studying and you can use it.
Like racial preferences, a series of related events that tell a little story is certainly interesting and worthwhile, but is it really "roleplaying" ?

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#18 Post by Ray K » Wed Feb 09, 2005 6:15 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Ray Kerby is attempting something similar with his Java MOO clone - he is going to try and implement an approval/unrest system to try and constrain the player's behaviour when playing a certain race, just as the computer AI is 'forced' to roleplay that race.
Hey, thanks for the plug! :lol:

Although the racial personality changes in Java MOO can be seen as encouraging role-playing, they were mainly designed to keep the player on a more even footing with the AI.

GalCiv had an interesting take on adding roleplaying to a 4X space game... determining your alignment based on good/evil decisions whenever you colonize a planet.

That sounds like a potential avenue for ideas.

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#19 Post by Muside » Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:56 pm

Bastian-Bux wrote:Well, moo3planet.de, the fansite that localized MoO3 into german has also a project, which has RPG support build in from the first line of code.

Muside, one of the guys from that project floods my PM with german mails, trying to get my support for some cooperation.

Well Muside, go on, explain us how you do the RPG part in your project. Don't be shy anymore, we won't eat you (well not all of us will) ;).
Thanx, Bastian-Bux :)
Er… hi! *waves shyly* Hello folks! How's everything going?

Well. How to start? Some of you may know that FreeOrion has a brother in Germany, a game designed and developed by some reclusive diehard MoO-fans, called "Astralis" or "Orion Project".

As roleplaying aspects were high on our wishlists for a suitable successor of MoO2 & 3, they were under the first features to be integrated in our game concepts (which was about two years ago) and now into the code. You just seem to start the same discussions as we had back then, so I'm gonna give you some insights in the way we finally agreed to implement the roleplaying aspects. Several tests and "dummy runs" up to now make our concepts look waterproof, but I have to stress that they've been designed to fit into our approach of the game mechanics and may not always be transferable into the mechanics of FreeOrion.

All right, let's start.

In most strategy games, an emperor can always be identified with the empire he rules. He is nothing more than a representation of his empire for the player to have a talking head he can cope with. Astralis' new approach was to uncouple the emperor from his empire and to give him certain individual characteristics and special powers which will change from game to game.

For example, the geodic race of the Adamin, which is rather xenophobic and radical, is in one game ruled by the ferocious emperor Shard and in another by the calm emperor Pebble. As a result, the game with emperor Shard will be an inferno because he will give his folk exactly what it wants: War and expulsion. Death to the foreigners!

On the other hand, the game with Pebble will be smoother because he dampens the soaring aggressions that are the nature of his folk, but Pebble will get serious trouble with his domestic policy. He can't be overthrown as he is some kind of a godlike individual, but his civil service staff and intelligentsia will give him hell, not to mention a shitload of civil unrest. (" 'No more silicic acid for oil'? What the *beep* do you think you are – Mother Teresa?")

In the worst case the emperor's view of the cosmopolitan landscape will severely differ from the view of his people, which produces lots of conflicts. As any emperor has his own personality, it will happen that two AI-controlled emperors make friends while their people hate each other!

To solve this problem, we invented "secret diplomacy". This can be used to conspire against some third empire, but its main goal was to give emperors who can't dare to negotiate in public a platform to make treaties without their people's knowing in order to accustom the folks to each other, trade technology, exchange galaxy maps and so on. However, secret diplomacy is forbidden by the galactic senate (called "The Firmament") and will be prosecuted when discovered.

Both people and emperor change throughout the game. This is mainly to even up the disadvantages empires with extremely improper emperors will suffer from (unrest, sudden changes in policy, HFoG). People and emperor will adapt to each other. As the player is able to design his own character, he must not fear to play Winston Churchill for a group of hippie-like Yinar insectoids.

Designing an emperor is much like getting started with Baldur's Gate or Jagged Alliance 2. You choose gender, name and your appearance (picture). Then you assign your character points to a number of characteristics which involve wisdom (the emperor's ability to learn from his experiences which defines how fast he will get additional character points), constitution (the number of health points he has, which makes it harder for his enemies to kill him), mental capacity (which strengthens his psyche to make him less susceptible to stress), charisma (his ability to impress other people, which will make it easier for him to make friends with other emperors and to pull the wool over his people's eyes) diplomatic accuracy (which grants his success in negotiations with other people), and so forth. AI emperors have additional characteristics which are defined by scales (like "Will to fight: 0 (peaceful) – 100 (warmonger)" or "Tolerance: 0 (xenophobic) – 100 (mi casa su casa)").

The emperor is no abstract person, but present on the galaxy map like every other leader. Aside from the leadership of his empire he can apply for a post in the Firmament and some non-political institutions like churches. In fact, ANY leader in the game can do that. They are people like you and me, they have ambitions. Thus rivalries are not necessarily of political or personal nature, but can include religious fanaticism, avarice, mobbing, even family problems ("tu [in]felix Austria nube").

The emperor can be used both as a planetary governor and as a fleet commander, but you ought to handle him with care. ("Content: Emperor – fragile!") If the emperor dies, the game is over. (I must add that it is pretty difficult to kill an emperor because of his supernatural powers which are a vital part of our background story.)

Any emperor is some sort of an engineered mastermind. A little bit like in "God Emperor of Dune", if you read that one, but they maintained their old physical bodies without becoming some inhuman creature. They are bionic and able to control various aspects of cyberspace due to their mental structure which can link directly with computer networks.

The price for near-invulnerability and a lifespan around many thousand years is the need to "reincarnate". After a couple of centuries the emperor's physical body and mental capacity is so exhausted that his entity has to recreate and re-create itself from scratch. To achieve this, the emperor withdraws himself from the cybernet (which he normally controls with his spirit) into his sanctuary, the "Quantum Chalice". During the years of this reincarnation process the empire must restrict its activities to internal affairs because of the immense amount of administration work the bionic emperor normally computes being now at the hands of the bureaucrats, who will be utterly overstretched. Fleets cannot move to systems without allied colonies as long as they lack the emperor's coordination. The overall morale will decrease since the only one who is able to manage the empire has to undergo a critical life process.

But the reincarnation has its good points, too. As the emperor isn't concerned with the everyday routine during clearing, checking and regenerating his entity, he is able to restructure his own character, which means that the player can take character points once given to a certain characteristic and reassign them to another. He will, additionally, grow from this experience and gain some new powers – like, say, a special bonus when negotiating with pirates or an increased level of telepathic superiority. Even more important, the emperor's mental capacity will rise, which means he can manage a bigger empire with better efficiency and without getting under stress. Stress means that the emperor's psyche is put under strain which can cause severe damage in foreign politics, especially when the value drops below 25 % of normal mental sanity and the character becomes psychotic. That's what happens if you expand your empire too fast or cope with to many matters at a time. It's not like IFP – I mean, you have no fixed amount of points you can spend per turn, but you will get in danger overdoing the whole thing.

If one does not reincarnate himself, he/she might not survive the attacks of assassins any more, and his ability to rule the empire will decline. Only a limited amount of reincarnations is allowed over a game so that the masters of prospering empires won't reincarnate all century long in order to stay healthy. A reincarnation has to take place at the proper time to be of use. It also forces militarists to stop their expansion at least sometimes, so that other empires can forearm themselves again.


Well, so long from me. I could go on and on, but this seems to suffice for now. Unfortunately, Astralis occupies much of my spare time, so that I can't visit this board as often as I would like to, but if anybody is interested in certain aspects of our game design, he/she can always contact me via mail – I will answer as soon as possible. Of course I'll keep dropping over at FreeOrion from time to time, too :wink:
Thy soul shall find itself alone
Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

E.A. Poe, "Spirits of the Dead"

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PowerCrazy
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#20 Post by PowerCrazy » Thu Feb 10, 2005 6:06 am

Daveybaby wrote: We could call them.... Imperial Focus Points.
Yes, that sounds good. I like that name, its kinda catchy.
DIE

My only problem with Role-Playing is how is it supposed to affect the game? What purpose would it have? And most importantly would it detract from the "MoO" feel.

Now if we are simply talking about AI Emperor personallities that is one thing, but if we are talking about the players "Role-Playing" their emperor...I'm not sure how that is supposed to work.
Aquitaine is my Hero.... ;)

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Geoff the Medio
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#21 Post by Geoff the Medio » Thu Feb 10, 2005 6:29 am

PowerCrazy wrote:My only problem with Role-Playing is how is it supposed to affect the game? What purpose would it have? And most importantly would it detract from the "MoO" feel.
I think that roughly defines what should be the scope of FO role-playing and game-design for role-playing support. If there are things that we can add that will make it more fun for role-players, great. (That's the purpose of the additions). However, I don't expect that the focus of the game will be on role-playing... So it should be possible to play the game without role-playing at all, thus not detracting from whatever feel the game would otherwise have had, or to play the game while role-playing your leader in a meaningful way, for the amusement of yourself and those with whom you play... Also, a nice fringe benefit of role-playing support might be more interesting AI-diplomacy, depending how things are implemented.

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#22 Post by Impaler » Fri Feb 11, 2005 3:01 pm

These are some interesting ides Muside, the main points I am seeing is that your emperor is a game long "character" that grows and "levels up" in the RPG sense, gaining skills and having a major effect on the way the player plays the game. The regenerations dont to me seem all that usefull, it sounds like that are primarily intended to periodicaly but a brake on the plays expantion/interactions which I am not shure is desirable (players naturaly tend to cycle between inward and outward focus without any mechanism that requires this).

Your system reminds me quire a bit of StarWars Rebelion in which the Key Heros of StarWars (Vader, Palpatine for the Empire, Luke, Laya, Han Solo, Mon-Mothma for the Rebelion) needed to be captured as a victory condition. There Heros were explicitly unkillable, any event that might kill a normal character would only result in a Hero being captured and Injured. Character capture could be reversed with a rescue mission and their was ample oportunity for that because each side has more then one character.

The other idea you mentioned the "Emperor Stress" as one performes a large number of actions seems interesting. They dont smake of the IFP hard cap that ruined Moo3, but as a softer "Buracracy Stress Point" that the player accumulates by performing actions and then losses each turn at a rate that will incresse as the game progresses (probably you "build" goverment centers to shed more points). The more points a player has acumulated the more negative Heavy Foot of Goverment style penalties they will suffer, but taking fewer actions on following turns they will shed their points and things will "simmer down" so to speak. In essense you borrow against your future stability/power when you rack up points and need to be frugal in the future to pay down the dept. A system along these lines might be an acceptable IFP or buracracy like effect without actualy resurecting that beast.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

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utilae
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#23 Post by utilae » Fri Feb 11, 2005 7:46 pm

I don't know why people keep trying to combine different game types. RPG into 4X, I don't think so.

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#24 Post by Muside » Sat Feb 12, 2005 3:26 pm

@Impaler: You're right about every player making constant breaks in their expansion. The idea behind the regenerations was to make sure that these breaks really occur, which is to compensate the advantage of fast-growing empires. (They are always in advantage over slow-growing empires – be it Civ 2, Civ 3, MoO, IG.)

We gave the player the freedom to choose the time of the break by themselves so that they won't interfere with their own plans (like the "forced brake" of solar activity in Alpha Centauri which came periodically every 80 years and always made me angry).

To make the regeneration more pleasant for the player we added the ability to develop the emperor's character during the time of regeneration, so he will get more powerful once he awakes from his beauty sleep. That also means he has something to do while sleeping. The solar activity phases in Alpha Centauri were somewhat boring as you had no compensation for the lost communication with the other factions and could only manage your bases and armies.
Impaler wrote:Your system reminds me quire a bit of StarWars Rebelion in which the Key Heros of StarWars (Vader, Palpatine for the Empire, Luke, Laya, Han Solo, Mon-Mothma for the Rebelion) needed to be captured as a victory condition. There Heros were explicitly unkillable, any event that might kill a normal character would only result in a Hero being captured and Injured. Character capture could be reversed with a rescue mission and their was ample oportunity for that because each side has more then one character.
Well, I've never played SW Rebellion, but we have something quite similar in our concepts, which was originally inspired by Alpha Centauri:

When a player conquers another empire, that empire will contact you to surrender. If you accept that, the other empire will become your protectorate and has to do everything you want, but it also isn't responsible for its actions anymore (but you are). This relation can be (EDIT) cracked up by killing the protectorate's administrator (like the Bohemians tried with Reinhard Heydrich, but failed).

If you don't accept the surrender but choose to destroy the other empire, you have to conquer all of its worlds to accomplish that, until you get hold of its emperor. Once you captured the emperor, the other empire does not exist anymore, but you have to choose from two options again:
a) Either you put the emperor in jail
b) or you kill him.

If you put him in jail, someone may come to rescue them (his own people or another empire). Once the emperor escaped, all of his worlds that are still loyal to him will instantly rebel and again belong to him. Then he has the chance to become powerful again.

If you kill the emperor, the other empire is gone forever. It will never again rise to power and be a threat to you. The catch in it is that any emperor is, as we all know, a godlike being. If you execute him, his people will freak out and give you the next circle of hell. They won’t calm down very soon and never completely. Their emperor will become a martyr who will "return to redeem them from slavery", which means that they will never be completely integrated in your empire, resulting in lower productivity and highscore penalties for every citizen. Other emperors, even those who were at war with the killed emperor, will consider your mercilessness against one of their kind as a proof that you’re a menace for all of them. They won’t attack you because of that, but their trust in you will decrease.

This is to weaken militarists, to encourage players to head for winning conditions beyond "death and destruction" and players with a small empire not to give up the game to soon. (Besides, we have some winning conditions which can only be accomplished by small empires, like, controlling all pirates in the galaxy).


@utilae: You should consider that the different genres we know today were mainly "created" because of the limited capacity of early computers. If Peter Molyneux had had today's computers sixteen years ago when he made Populous, he would’ve created a game like Black & White then. But because of the restrictions in RAM, CPU and graphics acceleration he had to head for something quite simpler – a strategy game, the first of the god games, was born.

Most of all computer games try to reshape "reality" (sometimes a fictitious reality like a science fiction world) as good as possible. When the computers were weak, games like MoO and Civilization had to concentrate on certain aspects of the world they wanted to create, but with today's capacities there is no reason to disregard the fact that empires have to be ruled by somebody – and that in a dictatorship the character of this person will have great impact on the destiny of that empire.

I guess you just don't like the idea because you think of the strange genre-mixes flooding our screens in the last years (like "The Typing of the Dead", the worst game I've ever seen).

Don't forget (as Bastian-Bux pointed out already) that "role-playing aspects" does not mean we're doing "Neverwinter Nights" in space or a successor for "Earth & Beyond". It only means the emperors are no longer anonymous figures with nothing more than an individual name, but real characters with peculiarities you have to cope with and who can disagree with their own people.

Of course one can overdo that. For example, you need no polygon figure to represent the emperor on screen, killing evil bugs with his lightsaber or solving quests by returning the Sakkra's missing cat Tapsy to them so that he gets the crystal key to the tomb of Darth Vader to fight the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal to get his blue amulet of death with +2 stamina. The emperor also needs no "skin" or "catching fishes" skill and may not build his own houses. It will suffice when one emperor differs from the other by his powers over his senate, by his ability to recognise the plans of their opponents, by their emotions, and so on. I think those little differences to standard 4X-Games provide great variety, and thus, fun.

Role-playing aspects are to be found in many games: Soccer managers, 3D shooters, adventure games, tactic games, even simulations like MechWarrior. That's because of the efficient way role-playing aspects try to reproduce reality. They are a great way to improve the immersion of the game.

And don't tell me that the leaders you have in FreeOrion and who were big fun in MoO any day had nothing to do with role-playing aspects ;-)
Thy soul shall find itself alone
Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

E.A. Poe, "Spirits of the Dead"

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Dreamer
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Some ideas.

#25 Post by Dreamer » Thu Mar 17, 2005 6:47 pm

Well, i think that some rpg features would be nice, but not as many as to change the gmeplay radically. I have thought of this a little and I would do this:

1.- There is no physical emperor (in the galaxy). The player is the emperor. It cannot be killed, nor captured, nor injured.

2.- Each emperor has some attributes. Being a role-player myself and having created even my own rpg system I know that attributes must be focused to the kind of game, so nothing like "constitition" or the like. Here are some proposals:

Humanitarism: (or psilonism jeje) measure how do you respond to disasters and other random events. It's not a measure of how good or bad you are, but if you actually are willing to spent and make some sacrifices for the good of the people. Obviously affects morale, culture and politics.
Extreme cases are Ghandi (sacrifice for the people) and Hitler (sacrifices people for advantage).

Racism: how is your opinion and behavior with other races. Are you willing to help them if they ask for help (wich would be nice instead of the clasical AI behavior "hello scum, I DEMAND..."). Do you trade or exchange stuff? Do you assimilate other races or purge them? Etc. This will affect diplomacy as well and the desition of other races to trust you or consider you a friend or an enemy. Note that you can have a racist humanitarian wich could be kind of cool.

Pacifism: do you declare war? Do you propose or accept peace? Do you have an offensive position or just deffensive in war. Etc. Attack a pacifist rce should be an offensive act for all the galaxy.

Leadership: this includes charisma and the like. Response to leadership could go from a reticent to a fanatical response from you fleet, people (morale), etc. Think paul in Dune and the fremen. I think this value can change in game balancing your success in battles, political confrontations, etc.

Cunning: mesures the degree of trust and fear foe has from your reputation. It grows when you attack without provocation, break treaties when you have the upper hand, beg for mercy when needed, use spies, etc. The other side of the balance would be Honor I think.

Wisdom: Measures your hability to run an empire. It has a bonus/penalty on burocracy and administration costs.

This are only examples. I would use a defaul value of 0 for neutrality and move to positive or negative numbers. This way if more than I factor apply you just add them up. Also it colud be a good idea to asign some free point from time to time so the player coud influence his stats a little.

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#26 Post by Krikkitone » Thu Mar 17, 2005 10:07 pm

The player should NOT be the emperor/presdetnt/high pooh-bah/etc.

The player is NOT the government, the player is the whole Civ

If you are going to have "emperors", they should be
1. seperate from the players

2. temporary (cycling in and out) (unless the player develops some form of immortality)

3. have their own level of 'Impact' on the game (probably through bonuses rather than deciding what you can do (some emperors will give greater bonuses for war, some for peace to encourage the player to 'roleplay' that emperor))

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Elvis

#27 Post by herbert_vaucanson » Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:16 am

The one word "DIE" comment a few posts above nails it... and Utilae comments made it clear. I shall agree with the "don't mix" line.
Altough, if somebody wants to do a plugin/expansion later, fine with me. I just do not consider RPG part of the core of Orion.
Moreover, there are intrinsic problems like: why does an empire need an emperor? What about those hive-minded cockroaches? That nice punk pirate confederation? And more: empires split up, so do emperors? If I meet another terran empire, will I see my twin in the holoface at first contact?

Speaking of plugins, would it make sense to try to nail down a programming-formal structure that allows for expansions and plugins? Like, suppose the game engine goes on through threads (one per empire, say, one for any interface, plus a handful for the common objects/interaction elements, like the galaxy and the diplomacy thread), and suppose we implement a way of passing around information between thread that can be "catched" on request by an extra thread... so our implementation of the expansion would be this extra thread. Which for the RPG plugin could be named "Elvis" and live between the interface thread and anything else.

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#28 Post by Dreamer » Fri Mar 18, 2005 5:28 pm

Well. I think the idea of emperors, as used in Moo1 and Moo2 is not bad. What I propose is expanding the characteristics used to define an AI (xenophovic, etc) into several stats and then give the player the same stats, but with the difference that the player defines this stats dinamicly while playing. This also simplifies a lot the necessary descriptions for relations, trust and other factors of diplomatic relations between empires. It´s not really RPG but rpg-like. Personally I wouldn´t want more rpg structure that that.

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#29 Post by Impaler » Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:16 am

I agree with Krik's position that the player is "The whole Civilavation" thus the Emperor (and to an extent the whole chain of goverment down to Planetary Vicroys) are his puppets and tools much as a Fleet of Planet is his to comand. It will be nice for Hero/Character types to have various abilites and stats whitch are going to effect the Diplomacy/Trade/War ect ect of your empire. I lean towards a Heros of Might and Magic style inwhitch they gain specific skills and have a few basic stats. The player gets a "pool" of aplicants to draw from and puts characters in particular political positions as he likes (possibly some "transition of power" penalty to discourage instant switching). The Characrters will "level up" and gain new skills but eventualy they will die/retire/be assasinated (very hard for forign powers to do). And thus will need to be replaced. Each AI empire is also doing the same thing and should be inteligent enough to alter its strategy to take its personel into account. Human Players can select an "Automate Personel Managment" to have an AI do personel managment for them. Also a "Personel Off" setting at game creation alows this whole aspect of the game to be turned off so no empire will have any kind of personell or the bonuses resulting from them.
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

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#30 Post by Krikkitone » Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:55 pm

Two things on "Leaders"

A player should have Very limited control over them. (the player should essentially alway be on 'Automated Personnell management' also known as Government type)

So a player with a pure 'Unification' type government may not get any 'Leaders' at all, a 'Democracy' may replace them faster than a 'Dictatorship', and a 'Monarchy' may let some real losers in.

The idea is that they should have bonuses And penalties (so if you end up with an insane emperor..you will have penalties..but that's the risk you took choosing an absolute monarchy..fortunately, he should die eventually (either naturally or through assasination)..or if he's lucky forced exile/loss of power)

That would probably be a good time to change your government, but a paranoid emperor would probably mean that you would lose significant numbers of troops in the battles to do so.

So attempting to change your government to one that had less powerful leaders would get the least 'popular' penalties when the leader was bad, and the least 'governmental' penalties (special police attempting to suppress revolutionary activity) when the leader was weak.

So under a Strong, Good leader you can increase leadership impact easily
under a Weak, Bad leader you can decrease leadership impact easily
you do either of those through governmental change.

as for a long term 'leader' I can really see it working two ways
1. a Dynasty (under certain types of government, the last leader should affect the characteristics of the next leader)
2. Near Immortality, either as a tech or a racial trait for leaders (something that could allow leaders to last 100s of turns instead of merely 10s)

Leaders should change their effects while in power but it should be a rare event (and not Always positively) especially for short term leaders (for example a leader could change from a warmonger to a pacifist, or back)

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