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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Blood Royale Revisited

    I've always liked old board games, and though I've never played it, I consider this out-of-print marriage & warfare simulator to be an absolute gem. It's pretty much Game's Workshop's "tabletop Crusader Kings," a nations-game before that one ever existed.

    However, as with many old games, I understand it's a bit of a bear to play. Blood Royal was slow, unwieldy, and had no real end point. I got the rules a year ago and have been tinkering with them ever since in an effort to make them more approachable, to add more options, and otherwise resurrect it as something that could work on a game table or a play-by-post. Thinking it was time I asked for a review, I have posted what I've done below. If there are any Blood Royale players out there, they might find that there game has been hacked apart and sewn up so much that it's not really the same game any more, other than being a marriage & warfare simulator like the old one.

    The game is played in rounds representing about five years each, with each round broken into four phases. Players control characters, who age, die, and have kids in the dynasty phase; host or attend various events like marriages, jousts, and coronations in the festivals phase; marshal armies and fight each other in the campaign phase , which is a sort of variable-length minigame played like Axis & Allies without any unit purchasing; and finally upgrade their settlement in the settlement phase. The settlement is the economic engine of a realm: it's controlled by a ruler, your chief character, who decides how it develops and thereby what kind of troops it will provide his dynasty for campaigns.

    Reading the rules, you may note that there is no map. This is intentional, what I hope I've created is more of a universal rules set, like in a role-playing game, and which players can construct their own map and use the rules to play. One could easily replaces every reference to "spaces" with "inches," making the game more like a giant-scale miniatures battle, and the game would probably play the same way.

    I hope this is the right place and way to post things like this. I'll reserve the four posts below for the rules for the phases, then wait for any criticism and interest. I have some rules ready for setting-specific stuff -- one for historical Europe/Mediterranean, one for ASoIaF, and one for a more generic, Tolkienesque fantasy -- but I will wait and see what readers think first.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Dynasty Phase:

    • Each characterís age increases by +5 years.
    • Determine health trait at age 5, talent trait at age 10, and charm trait at age 15.
    • Trait is determined by a roll of 3d6 + double parentsí traits: 3 (-3), 4-5 (-2), 6-8 (-1), 9-12 (+0), 13-15 (+1), 16-17 (+2), 18 (+3).
    • Choose a parentís religion at age 10; become an adult at age 15.

    • Each character rolls 2d6 + health: age 5-25 (3+), age 30-40 (4+), age 55 (5+), age 60 (6+), age 65 (7+), age 70 (8+), age 75 (9+), age 80 (10+), age 85 (11+), age 90+ (12+). If you donít pass, you die.
    • If the old ruler dies, his current heir becomes the new ruler. No character can rule in two places at once, so if a character would inherit the rule of two places, he pick one to keep and places the other under occupation.

    • Each wife may roll 2d6: age 15-25 (5+), age 30 (6+), age 35 (7+), age 40 (8+), age 45 (9+), age 50 (10+), age 55+ (none). If you pass, a baby is born.
    • Babies are age 0 and roll 1d6: 1-3 (male), 4-6 (female). Which player (fatherís or motherís) controls them is decided by the player that controls the mother.
    • Couples cannot have a child if either is a prisoner or if husband is age 60+.
    • Each adult man that is not a prisoner or age 60+ may also attempt to father a bastard by rolling 2d6 + charm and scoring 8+; a bastardís motherís traits are all treated as +0. Bastards are only considered to be related to their fathers, and not to any other family members.

    Spoiler: Relatives
    Characters are considered related if they are within three ďstepsĒ on the family tree. Characters will always release relatives from captivity and never marry, execute, or declare war upon them; nor will they declare war upon a ruler that holds a relative prisoner.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-08-30 at 08:24 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Festivals Phase:

    Any ruler may host a festival, which involves one or more of the events below of his choice; he cannot host the same event multiple times, however. Each character may pick one festival to attend (children must be accompanied by a parent or captor). A ruler need not invite everyone, and attendees need not participate in all events.

    • Prisoners may be released (returned to their playerís control), kept as a guest, thrown in the dungeon (canít participate in any events, re-roll death check), or executed.

    • The ruler must have a willing priest present.
    • Bride and groom make a charm roll-off (bride uses mind; groom uses body) to determine which player (bride or groom) now controls the wife. The bride lives with her husband.
    • The newlyweds may make a free birth roll at the end of the festivals phase.
    • A character may convert to his spouseís religion, or when his ruler converts via marriage.

    Spoiler: Roll-offs
    Roll-off: Each character rolls 1D3 + trait, adding either body or mind modifiers; reroll ties until one gets the highest and thus wins.

    Body Mods: 5 (-5), 10 (-3), 15-20 (-1), 25-30 (+0), 35-40 (-1), 45-50 (-2), 55-60 (-3), 65-70 (-4), 75-80 (-5), 85+ (-6).

    Mind Mods: 10 (-3), 15-20 (-1), 25-30 (+0), 35-40 (+1), 45-50 (+2), 55-60 (+3), 65-70 (+4), 75-80 (+5), 85+ (+3).

    • All adults make a charm (mind) roll-off; there can be one winner per ten participants.
    • A winner may pick a willing participant to be his friend, or to be the friend of another participant that is the friend or relative of the winner.

    Spoiler: Friends
    Characters become friends by participating in festival events. Characters will always release friends from captivity and never execute or declare war upon them; nor will they declare war upon a ruler that holds a friend prisoner.

    • All adult men make a health (body) roll-off; there is only one winner.
    • Any participant that rolls a natural Ď1í must make a death check as above.
    • The winner gains a +1 bonus to fight when leading units and in future jousts.

    • All adult men make a health (mind) roll-off; there can be one winner per five participants.
    • Any participant that rolls a natural Ď1í must make a death check as above.
    • A winner may pick a willing participant to be his friend, or to be the friend of another participant that is the friend or relative of the winner.

    • One ruler may kneel to another, becoming his vassal (and his superior a liege). A ruler can also have a non-ruler kneel and grant him an occupied settlement to control as his vassal.
    • Vassals and lieges cannot declare war upon each other, and vassals cannot declare war without the permission of their liege. Vassals can declare independence if they are enemies, have a higher leadership than their liege, or are of different religions than their liege.
    • A character may convert to his liegeís religion upon kneeling, inheriting a vassal title, or when his ruler converts via kneeling or inheriting a vassal title.

    • This can only be performed once per ruler.
    • The ruler must have a willing priest present.
    • The ruler adds the priestís leadership score to his own.

    Spoiler: Leadership
    Leadership: All rulers gain a special trait called leadership upon becoming a ruler. Starting leadership is the sum of his traits, but increases whenÖ
    • He ages (+1).
    • He is thrown in the dungeon (-2).
    • He wins a major battle (+1).
    • He loses a major battle (-1).
    • He wins a hunt or joust (+1).

    Although only rulers have a leadership score, a ruler takes into account any major battles, dungeon time, and event victories that occurred before he inherited into account when determining leadership.

    High leadership allows a character to gain religion-specific skills. A character may take skills at any time, so long as his total skill value does not exceed his leadership. Once taken a skill cannot be removed.

    Take Vows
    • The ruler must have a willing priest present.
    • Any character that is not a child, heir, or married may take the vows, thereby becoming a priest. Priests cannot marry, inherit, convert, or fight, but allow marriages, coronations, and ordinations.

    • A host may attempt to capture his guests at any time, possibly interrupting planned events. The host does not announce this event ahead of time.
    • Each guest makes an escape check as in the campaign phase; on a failure they are captured.

    • The ruler must be an outlaw to hold this event.
    • Any adult character may roll 1D6 plus his body mods and +1 per five points of his leadership.
    • On a 1 or less the character is lost, killed, enslaved, or otherwise vanishes; 2-4 nothing happens; 5-7 he recruits one weak mercenary; 8+ he recruits a strong one. The type of mercenary is based on the characterís religion.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-08-30 at 08:39 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Campaign Phase

    • Place all characters on the map in their respective settlements.
    • Prisoners are placed in their captorís settlement.

    • The campaigns phase will last for three, four or five campaign turns; during each campaign turn, each player will get to take a player turn; the order of player turns for each campaign turn is decided at the start of each campaign turn in the following way.
    • One random player is selected, and he must choose to either take his turn immediately or go to the bottom of the turn order.
    • After that a new random player either takes his turn or goes to the bottom, or the turn order is followed if everyone has already been randomly picked.
    • Once all players have taken their turns, play proceeds to the next campaign turn.
    • On his turn, a player makes escape rolls as necessary, may declare he is raising (placing on the map) or disbanding (removing from the map) his troops, then moves his troops and characters, resolving any battles this may trigger, making any final moves and escape rolls.
    • Once a troop has been raised it cannot be raised again, unless it was disbanded. Troops can only be raised or disbanded in the settlement from which they came.
    • At the end of the third campaign turn, a die is rolled and a fourth campaign turn resolved on a 3+. Similarly, at the end of the fourth campaign turn, a die is rolled and a fifth campaign turn is resolved on a 4+. Otherwise the campaigns phase ends.

    Declaring War
    • Rulers must declare war on each other to attack; this declaration can be made at any time but cannot be rescinded once made.
    • Recall that a ruler may not declare war on a ruler that is his friend, relative, or holds a friend or relative prisoner; however, a ruler may declare war upon any ruler that is his enemy, attacked a friendly or related ruler this round, or attacked his units this round.
    • Once two rulers are at war, they are at war for the rest of the campaign phase.

    Spoiler: Enemies
    Characters become enemies by killing their friends and relatives. If a ruler executes prisoners or attempts to capture them via treachery, or a character kills another directly (via challenge or prisoner), then the victim and his friends and relatives will become the enemies of the killer. ďEnemiesĒ status overrules ďrelativesĒ and replaces ďfriends,Ē though if two enemies become friends later then their newfound friendship replaces their enmity. Characters will never marry enemies, fight for them in a challenge, or release them from captivity; further, a ruler can always declare war upon rulers that are his enemies.

    Becoming Allies
    • Rulers not at war may declare themselves allies and make their moves at the same time and fighting battles together; this is done at the start of a campaign turn before turn order is determined and lasts until the end of the campaign turn.
    • Two rulers must be friends or relatives in order to become allies and cannot currently be at war with each other, nor may allies may not declare war upon each other.

    Movement Rules
    • Characters move as land 3 units unless with troops, in which case they move at their rate. Captives are moved by their captors, not their player, and can be released or executed at any time. Troops (military units) and children need an adult leader to move.
    • Land units can move a number of spaces up to their move number over land but cannot cross mountains. Crossing rivers counts as two spaces and moving across forest/rough counts double. If they come within one space of enemy land units, they must stop and fight if either side declares a battle. Land units may move onto adjacent sea units if there is carrying space (major units count double). After fights are resolved, land units may keep moving as long as they donít start new fights or move farther than allowed.
    • Sea units can move a number of spaces up to their move number over water (oceans and rivers). If they come within one space of enemy sea units, they must stop and fight if either side declares a battle. After fights are resolved, sea units may keep moving as long as they donít start new fights or move farther than allowed. Land units can move on and off adjacent sea units if there is space; while carried, units still count as moving, but they can be moved farther than normal. If a sea unit does not move, its carrying capacity is doubled. Sea units may enter settlements adjacent to the water.
    • Air units can move a number of spaces up to their move number over any terrain. They may ignore enemy units when moving. After fights are resolved, air units may keep moving as long as they donít start new fights or move farther than allowed.
    • Some spaces are considered hazardous, and every unit ending its move in such a space must roll 1d6 and is destroyed on a 1. Additionally, any troops more than twelve spaces from their settlement (or an allied settlement) are considered to be in a hazardous space (if the space was hazardous already, units are destroyed on a 1-2). Characters ending their moves in such spaces must make death checks but get a +2 bonus if they are with troops.

    Spoiler: Escape Checks
    If your character begins or ends his turn within 1 space of enemy troops with no troops of his own to protect him, then he must make an escape check by rolling 1D6 (-2 if already captured): 1-4 escapes, 5-6 captured. Escaped characters return to their playerís control and can be moved.

    Children cannot escape without an adult; they do not roll but instead apply a -1 penalty per child to the adultís roll and are either captured or escape together.

    If your troops begin or end their turn within 1 space of unprotected enemy characters, they may force any of them to make escape checks.

    Fighting Rules
    • Resolve fights after you have finished all your initial movement. The acting player decides the order in which he resolves fights.
    • Combat takes place over three cycles; during a cycle, players roll 1D6 for each of their troops, and if the roll equals or exceeds its fight number, a hit is scored on the enemy. Players then assign hits generated by the enemy to their own units, each hit removing a unit.
    • Hits from units must be assigned to units of their type (land to land, sea to sea, air to air) if possible; at least one hit must be assigned to a major unit for every two assigned to minor units; carried units can still fight but are destroyed if their carrier unit is destroyed.
    • At the end of a cycle the attacker has the option to retreat (they must retreat after the third cycle). If he does not retreat, the defender may; otherwise another cycle is fought. A side must retreat if its commander falls or is forced off the field by a challenge. Once one side retreats or is destroyed the combat ends.
    • When a unit retreats it moves up to one space such that it is at least one space away from all enemy military units and settlements Ė retreating troops need not all go to the same space but must all retreat to legal spaces. An attacking unit may not use its retreat to reach a space beyond its move limit for the turn. If a unit cannot retreat it is destroyed. In a land battle the losing side surrenders its settlement and captives to the enemy if was guarding any.
    • As long as a side was not destroyed, it may regain units lost in the fight after it is over. Roll 1D6 per unit, +2 if you won, +1 for major units, -2 if your side was destroyed: 1-5 unit destroyed, 6 unit regained. These units are returned to the combat space and then stay or retreat with the rest.

    Spoiler: Major Battles
    A major battle is one in which there are twenty or more troops in total fighting, one side outnumbers the other by two-to-one, a ruler is captured or killed, or settlement is captured.

    Unit Leaders
    • Each adult non-captive male character may be a leader in battle and be designated a unit. The leaderís health is added to his unitís fight roll, but if the unit is removed the leader must make a death check; even if he survives, he is captured if the battle ends that cycle (if not, he may be assigned a new unit to lead and go back to the battle next cycle).
    • Before combat begins, each side designates one of its participating characters as its commanders and makes a tactics roll. Commanders are characters with leadership scores. A tactics roll is a special roll-off using only the commanderís unique abilities (if any) as modifiers. The winning side may pick a tactical bonus from among those available to its commander, which applies for the course of the battle.

    Spoiler: Challenges
    At the start of a cycle, leaders may issue challenges to other leaders; if no enemy leader accepts the challenge, the challenged leader and his unit are chased off the battlefield that cycle. If the challenge is accepted, then the two units make their fight rolls as normal, save that hits must be applied to the other in the challenge. Being in a challenge does not prevent hits from outside units being assigned to the fighters.

    Each leader may only issue/fight one challenge per cycle. Once a challenge has been accepted, other leaders may not challenge either participant while they fight. Challengers must target enemies leading the same type of unit, if possible. After the cycle is over, the challenge ends.

    Should a character die in a challenge, the other character is treated as having killed him, just as in an execution; if he is captured, he is the prisoner of the challenger.

    Settlement Sieges
    • When attacking a settlement, the attacker must choose to either besiege or assault it. To besiege it he must outnumber the defenders and (if it is on the water) have both land and sea/air units present.
    • If he besieges it there is no battle Ė instead every defending unit and rolls 1d6 and is destroyed on a 1. The defender may choose to sally out an attack instead but will not then gain the benefits of defending the settlement.
    • If the attacker assaults the settlement instead, a normal battle is fought except the defender cannot retreat and gains the advantage of the settlementís fortifications, if it has any.
    • If the attacker takes the settlement then he may choose to sack it, destroying one development per two units, generating one plunder per development destroyed, and removing the settlement if it has no developments left.
    • Settlements on the water can be attacked and taken by sea units as their crews disembark to fight on the shore, counting as land units.

    Resource Trade
    • Settlements with certain upgrades may produce special non-military units for trading.
    • These resources move and are captured like age-0 children, but cannot be executed and control of them can be transferred to players with units in the same space.
    • One resource, ransom, is special in that it is produced by rulers at the start of their turn if the ruler is free and in his settlement. Each unit of ransom produced lowers the rulerís leadership by 1, and a rulerís leadership cannot be reduced below zero from ransom.
    • A similar resource, plunder, is produced by sacking settlements.

    Phase End
    • All surviving units (characters, troops, and resources) are removed from the map.
    • Prisoners remain in the control of their captors.
    • Settlements occupied by enemy armies at the end of the campaign phase remain controlled by them in the settlement phase Ė they do not return to their rulerís control.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-08-30 at 08:38 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Settlement Phase

    Spoiler: Outlaws
    Outlaws: Rulers that lose their settlement become roving bands of outlaws and suffer numerous penalties.
    • In the dynasty phase, all outlaw characters suffer -1 to death checks and -1 to birth checks.
    • In the festivals phase, outlaw rulers can only host marriages, celebrations, and recruitment events.
    • In the campaign phase outlaws get a single mercenary unit, more if they held a recruitment event, and no resources; these are placed together with the outlaw characters anywhere on the map, but at least one space from all settlements and within six of where they ended last campaign phase.
    • In the settlements phase outlaws do not roll for growth but do generate income and can try to build a new settlement.

    • Each settlement has a growth value, a positive number indicating how large the settlement has grown. For every ten points of growth the settlement has it gains one development slot.
    • Each settlement gains growth points equal to the number of campaign turns in the previous campaign phase, minus the number of its troops lost and developments destroyed by sack during that campaign, minus a 1D6 roll result.

    • Each settlement then generates income equal to the total leadership of its characters, ignoring those currently in captivity.
    • Each unit of ransom or plunder captured by the settlement is consumed and added to its income. Other resources will be similarly consumed, but to different effects.
    • Income is then spent on developments, technologies, and institutions for the settlement.
    • Income cannot be saved between rounds, but it may be invested into upgrades without completely buying them out. The purchase can then be completed in later rounds.

    • Developments are physical structures within the settlement. Once bought, they can be removed by a sack or by the ruler destroying them to make space for a new one.
    • Each settlement has a limited number of development slots available, one slot per ten points of growth. An incomplete development still takes up a slot and can still be destroyed; it just provides no benefit to the settlement until finished.
    • When a new slot becomes available, the ruler may take it to place a development of his choice (a rulerís slot), or he may roll and place a random development there (a public slot). Some developments can only be gained through a rulerís slot, and some by the public.
    • In addition to sacking, a ruler may choose to destroy any developments in his settlement to clear space for new buildings. However, this does not provide plunder, and depending on the development there may be negative repercussions.
    • If the settlementís growth drops such that it actually loses a slot, the ruler must either destroy developments of his choice (and suffer the consequences) or destroy them at random.
    • Some developments, like walls or the keep around which the settlement is built, do not occupy slots; they are otherwise normal, and most settlements can only have a few of these.

    Public Religion
    • Since the kinds of developments, technologies, and institutions available for upgrades are dependent upon the rulerís religion, they can be said to have a religion themselves.
    • A settlementís religion is whatever faith constitutes the plurality of upgrades in the settlement.
    • Public-slot developments are rolled according to the settlementís religion, not the rulerís, and having a religious mismatch between the ruler and the settlement may cause penalties.

    • Technologies are new inventions for the settlement. Once bought they cannot be destroyed, though they may require regular investment of income to prevent them from decaying.

    • Institutions represent political and social changes for the settlement. Like technologies they are not physically present and cannot be removed by a sack, but in addition to the potential for decay, institutions can often be unbuilt or replaced by new institutions.

    New Titles
    • Settlement upgrades may allow the ruler to grant titles to other characters in his court.
    • Whatever else they do, titles grant the character a leadership score and thus allow him to contribute income to the settlement, though there may be restrictions on what he can buy.
    • Titles may be assigned at any time as long as no character has multiple titles and the prerequisite structures still exist.

    New Settlements
    • New settlements can be created by spending a combination of income and growth from the old settlement.
    • New settlements must normally be placed at least one space away from all other settlements, but no more than six spaces away from your settlements.
    • New settlements are effectively under occupation (see below) and are unproductive until granted to another character as a new vassal.

    • Settlements occupied by enemy troops at the end of the campaign phase remain under their control, and if you donít want to give it back to its original ruler you must occupy it.
    • Occupied settlements still experience growth but produce no income. Should any new slots appear they are always public, and should its growth drop such that it loses slots they are lost at random. The occupiers may spend income from their settlement on the occupied settlement, but only to establish certain institutions like a garrison.
    • Occupied settlements often gain dangerous institutions, like rebel factions.
    • Festivals cannot be held at an occupied settlement, and they generate resources but no troops (except for the garrison) in the campaign phase.
    • The best thing to do with occupied settlements is to grant them to a character as part of kneeling, thereby creating a new vassal ruler.
    • Once a settlement gains a new ruler it is no longer occupied and can act normally; it often loses the rebel and garrison institutions.

    Spoiler: New Players
    The game of Blood Royal has no real ďvictoryĒ condition, but it is quite possible for a player to lose the game by having no more characters under his control. Such lost players, and any new players that may wish to join, may (re)enter the game at the start of the round by either creating a group of adventurers to roam the map as outlaws, or taking control of an existing character ready to rebel.

    Adventurers are a party of between one and six characters of any age, sex, and religion you like, with random traits and no titles expect the one that is the ruler. The adventurers may be connected in any conceivable way: relatives, friends, even enemies. Otherwise they start with nothing. If you control characters but no rulers, you can always declare one of them the ruler of an outlaw band at the start of the round, taking him and any other characters away as outlaws. Rulers may also allow any outlaw attending his festival to join his settlement.

    New players can take over any character, even a vassal ruler, that is either the enemy of his ruler/liege or has a higher leadership than his ruler/liege and isnít his relative or friend; the player also takes control of all characters subservient to his own (such as his descendants and the rest of his court) except those that are the friend/relative of the old playerís ruler/liege and arenít also the friend/relative of the new playerís new character.
    Last edited by Magni's Hammer; 2019-08-30 at 08:46 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Have not played this game in years. More accurately, in decades...

    Back when I was younger I loved these longer all-day games - these days I personally much prefer shorter games (especially with competitive games - cooperative games are different for me), so a game that takes much longer than an hour to play through isn't really my thing - so bear this in mind when reading my criticism.

    I've not read your rules in full detail, but if your goal is to make it quicker & less unwieldy, adding a whole load of extra rules & options is not going to help in my opinion. Especially with extra dice-rolling, it is likely to slow the game down in board game format. It might work better as a computer game, or perhaps with a companion app to speed up some of this aspect. Without this, I expect this is going to be a lot longer game than the original.

    Also, you seem to have dropped marriage contracts? They were the best thing about the game for me.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    Shoot, I wish I had checked this a while ago, so I could have seen your response. I'm excited to hear from someone that actually played the game! And yeah, I fully understand that I've made the game more complicated in my attempts to rework it. If there's stuff to trim, please say so.

    As for marriage contracts, tell me how those worked in actual play. From my reading of the rules, it seemed like a very open concept that could be used and abused wildly, but in practice would not go much beyond the level of arranged truces and ceasefires, and the potential for dispute from poorly-worded contracts (and intentional subversion/manipulation of agreements as written) would bog down the game. I thought replacing that with the relatives/friends/enemies mechanic was much more clear as a means of creating truces, and the festivals system to create such contacts opened up fun new options in addition to creating treaties.

    No idea how it would work in play. I wish I had the wherewithal to code anything, but otherwise it'd probably have to remain a pbp game.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Blood Royale Revisited

    I can only speak for my group, but we did define some standard terms, and it could get a bit meta-gamey at times (things like possessions being provinces the player currently controls, as opposed to the provinces they start with. Can't remember what we called these). This made contracts a bit more reliable. You can still work round them of course - I remember in one game I had a mutual non-aggression pact with Italy - we could nto attack each others possessions. SO I made a second deal with France - he invaded & took one of Italy's provinces with a valuable resource. Now it is a French possession, not an Italian one. I can then legally attack - he withdraws, the province becomes a German possession (I am playing Germany), so Italy cannot attack & regain it by the terms of the marriage contract. France and I then get the resource every other turn. Italy no longer trusts me & won't sign any more contracts, so probably a long-term negative for me, but hey

    These would contain things like joint wars, promises of no attacks or exchange of commodities. The important thing is that you cannot break a marriage contract's terms - you have to honour them if you can, even if you'd prefer not to, until one of the partners in the marriage dies. This forced adherence reduces the chances of betrayal & changes the game in ways which a non-binding contract can't.
    This does bring up another aspect of the game though - trying for more children, which gives a increased chance of death for the wife. If you find yourself in a contract you don't like & you control the wife, you can try for maximum children in order to try to kill her early & get out of the contract... And you get more marriage fodder too!
    Of course if you have a good contract, you can end up with multiple couples with essentially the same contract (in many cases it was literally 'this contract has the same terms as Bob and Wendy's contract'), which makes it less likely to break as you need multiple deaths for that to happen.

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