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Posted by: Paul M
« on: March 05, 2013, 02:07:20 AM »

Mwhahahahahahahaha...and other sounds of maniacal laughter.

Good news to hear.
Posted by: Edsel
« on: March 04, 2013, 05:53:23 PM »

If anyone is curious paranoia about espionage has reared its head in our campaign.  One of the player races is now dropping the Trade Intercourse of his race & controlled NPRs to Non-Intercourse with the other player races.
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 25, 2013, 07:25:18 AM »

My original comment looks like a good starting point.  But the proof will be in the pudding and I think you will just have to see how it works out in the end.
Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 24, 2013, 07:47:16 PM »

How about this for a way to make Destabilization costs more closely balanced in relation to the economies being assaulted.

Destabilization vs. Non-Aggression is not modified in any way.  It is not especially difficult to destabilize such a relationship.  However destabilizing higher level treaties becomes more difficult and perilous, based on the trade income of the two partners.

If you try to destabilize a Trade Intercourse then trade income generated by the relationship is divided by 8 and that amount of free counter-espionage is considered to be in effect.  Destabilizing a Military Alliance and the divisor for bonus counter-espionage is 6 (in this case you will have to calculate what the trade income would be if the two races were trading).  Trade & Military Alliance means that the divisor is 4. If you try to destabilize a Partnership then trade income of the lesser race is divided by 2 and that amount of bonus counter-espionage is considered to be in effect. If you are going after an Amalgamation in progress then the divisor is 1.  This bonus counter-espionage counts as purely defensive counter-espionage specifically targeted to protect that specific treaty.  Any additional counter-espionage stacks on top of the free bonus amount.

The advantage here is that more valuable relationships are automatically harder to destabilize and will require a larger investment to make work.  As the game progresses and incomes increase so too should the value of targeted treaties so the inflation of income is alleviated to some extent.

Example:  Player A and NPR B are in a treaty relationship.  In this case the value of the trade income is 2000 MC.  If the two are in Trade Intercourse then 2000/8= 250 MC of bonus Counter-Espionage is automatically in effect for purposes of protecting that relationship.  If they were in a Trade & Military Alliance then 2000/4= 500 MC of bonus Counter-espionage would be in effect.  If they two races had agreed on an Amalgamation, which was in progress but not yet finalized (the 6 month gap) then they would have 2000/1= 2000 MC of bonus Counter-Espionage protection.

Of course if you use this system it might be necessary for another verison of economic espionage to be added, Trade Espionage.  This version costs the same as Economic Espionage and if successful it will give the you trade income value of a treaty between the targeted race and a randomly selected other race with whom they have have a treaty.  For a 0.5 multiplier you can choose to target a specific trade relationship.  In this way you can see just how valuable certain relationships are and have a ballpark idea of how much it would cost you to take a shot a destabilizing it.  Of course if you are trading with both of the races involved you would be able to deduce this information without the need for Trade Espionage.
Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 21, 2013, 10:07:50 AM »

I think I will play around with a modifier based on the production value of the lesser party in the treaty that has been targeted for destabilization.  That way it will be more costly to target valuable treaties and as income increases so too will the cost of destabilizing them.

From a rational point of view it might not make as much sense.  Why would it cost more to assassinate ambassador A than ambassador B?  But it makes for a better game balance.
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 21, 2013, 02:35:10 AM »

This is something that is hard to judge without seeing it in action.  I am afraid the best I can say is it looks like a good starting point.

A Trade treaty costs the player 3 months of trade income to set up, so that means that destabilizing a trade agreement is a net loss to the player of up to 30% of his income.  As the cost to do the destabalization is likely to be less than the cost of setting up the trade treaty it is a good deal for the person doing the destabilization.  Also the cost to destabilize the trade treaty is pretty much fixed while the cost to re-establishe the treaty is ever increasing.  Late game it is likely a very good investment to destabilize a races trade deals.  It is one of the reasons I would not be keen to make that "covert" it is an overt effort of propaganda against one race.  In effect it is "attack adds" and lobbying to influence one government negatively towards the other. 

The point you bring up about costs is completely correct.  Early game SM2 economics produce a smaller income than ISF so serious espoinage investment would come at a very stiff penalty and likely would drop the player off the "curve."  But at the same time you have to look at the cost to the other player.  Still overall I'd think early game espoinage will be essentially non-existant.  The problem is that incomes in Starfire under SM2 standard economics grow according to a compound interest formula.  This means around turn 40 I'd suspect that incomes will be at the point where espoinage could be viewed as affordable...this will be probably also be the point where players need to be again warned that it is in the game.  By turn 80 incomes will be such that spending 10K MCr for espoinage will barely be noticed by the player as incomes will likely be in the multiple hundreds of thousands of MCr and you are talking about pocket change.  I'm pretty sure in previous games I've provided economic assistance to an NPR that was in excess of that.

Investement in espoinage activities will slow the growth of incomes down but I would be mostly worried about players getting out of the habit of thinking about espoinage and then getting blindsided. 
Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 20, 2013, 09:47:07 PM »

How does this sound?

Destabilizing higher level treaties is more difficult since the races involved have a higher level of trust toward one another.  With this in mind the following modifiers are made to the Difficulty of Espionage, these modifiers are in addition to those due to the “Espionage Climate.”

Destabilization vs. Non-Intercourse, Non-Aggression or Trade (no modifier)
Destabilization vs. Military Alliance -15%
Destabilization vs. Trade & Military Alliance -30%
Destabilization vs. Partnership -45%
Destabilization vs. Amalgamation (note this is only possible while the amalgamation is in progress, if the amalgamation is finalized then it cannot be destabilized) -60%

Example:  Player A spends 3000 MC in an effort to destabilize a Partnership between Player B and NPR C.  Player A and Player B are in Trade Intercourse with each other.
3000 x (1+0.3) x (1-0.45) = 2145 MC equivalent.  2145 rounds to 2100.  2100x0.03=63% chance of success.

If Player B had spent 1000 MC on general counter-espionage the example would be:
(3000-1000) x (1+0.3) x (1-0.45) = 1430 MC equivalent.  1430 rounds to 1400.  1400x0.03=42% chance of success.

The problem I can still see is the economic power involved.  In the early campaign this sort of investment is going to take a sizable percentage of a Player Empire's budget.  But in the later campaign it could be that a Player Empire would thing nothing of dumping 5000, 6000 or even 10,000 MC to Destabilize something.

NOTE:  I deleted one of my previous posts in this thread because I said certain things that would not be good for my players to see.  I don't think any of them ever visit here, but just in case I felt I should play it safe.
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 20, 2013, 10:25:37 AM »

About the only thing I would suggest is some sort of modification for the current status.  Otherwise it is pretty much 3000 MCr to destabilize any treaty up to an amalgamation (that gives a base 90% chance of success).

Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 19, 2013, 07:32:29 PM »

Here are the house rules I am contemplating using for specific sorts of espionage.

Political Espionage:  When successful this will reveal the political relationship between two races and it will also reveal when new offers may be made.  You can launch more than one Political Espionage effort against the same race in the same turn in order to find out about multiple relationships at once, but if the enemy has successfully used offensive counter-espionage against you the multiple efforts still count as a single spy ring.  Multiple efforts will require multiple rolls which could increase your chance of discovery.

Destabilization Espionage:    When successful this acts much like the Diplomatic Blunder result, when resolving political offers.  If the Destabilization effort is properly timed it will be indistinguishable from a Diplomatic Blunder, otherwise it will be apparent that something unusual must have happened.  A successful Destabilization will do the following:

* If an offer is being made this turn it will be rejected.
* Any current treaty is canceled but a counter-offer of one state lower is automatically made.  Partnership becomes Trade & Military Alliance, Trade & Military Alliance becomes Trade Intercourse, Trade Intercourse or Military Alliance becomes Non-Aggression, Non-Aggression reverts to a state of Negotiation.
* The NPR who was destabilized will have a +10% RC modifier to the first new offer made but this will diminish with cooling down.

Destabilizion vs. Non-Intercourse:  This must be used against an NPR only.  If successful it will cause them to make a War Check against the race who they are in Non-Intercourse with.

Any critique or suggestions?
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 19, 2013, 03:54:20 AM »

One of the biggest problems with this particular rule section is that is doesn't define the effect of the rule particularily well except for the section about agitating a conqoured population.  It doesn't state to what treaty level you drop to after sucess, only that the existing treaty is null and void.  It also doesn't give modifiers to sucess based on the level of treat that you are attempting to destabilize.  It should be very difficult to destabilize an amalgamation or partnership while a non agression treaty would take limited propoganda efforts.  I also can't see how you can successfully do such an action covertly.  This is the kind of thing diplomats do not secret agents, unless you are supposed to be infiltrating the government.

I would be very reluctant to use it as written.
Posted by: procyon
« on: February 18, 2013, 04:22:16 PM »

From my point of view, I don't think I would allow an amalgamation to be disrupted after finalized.  They are technically one entity, and it would be a pain after a couple dozen turns to split them up.
But doing it during the process - hey, all is fair in love and SF.

A place where the SM earns their free pizza.

Oh, that just reeks.
My players expect me to pick up the tab when we order pizza.
Of course, if I try to convince the wife and kids to pay...

Ah, I'll just pay for it...
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 18, 2013, 11:39:23 AM »

Drat I did it again...

Anyway looking at the rules it seems pretty cut and dried that the rule does not prohibit the destabilization of either an existing amalgamation treaty or one that is in the process of being carried out.

In my view:  "Do you want to let this genie out of the bottle?"

I would suggest if you are going to use the espionage rules from ISF that you make some strong house rules to control the possible carnage.  The good thing about using them is that the players will be substantially more reluctant to enter into trade agreements with each other.  It will encourage substantial player paranoia...a postive thing usualy.
Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 18, 2013, 10:39:30 AM »

Another situation I can forsee as a possibility in the campaign I am currently running.

Destabilization can be used to disrupt any treaty relationship greater than Non-Intercourse.  I wonder if you can use it to destabilize an Amalgamation that has been agreed to but not yet completed?  For example Player Race A has offered Amalgamation to NPR B and NPR B has accepted.  The MC for Amalagmation cost has been spent and in 6 months the populations of NPR B will become part of Player A's imperial population.  With 4 months to go until the Amalgamation is finialized Player Race C tries to Destabilize the relationship between Player A and NPR B.  Can this be done or is it too late to stop the Amalgamation?
Posted by: Paul M
« on: February 18, 2013, 02:59:10 AM »

My response should be interpreted as:  "The SM has to make a decision and write it down.  The players have to undestand that there are different ways the rules can be interpreted but the SM is making what they think is the best call."

The rule is written poorly, and it is hard to determine the intent so overall it is just murky.  A place where the SM earns their free pizza.
Posted by: Edsel
« on: February 17, 2013, 12:12:29 PM »

Thanks for the input.  You seem to agree with my own reasoning that the +10% RC is a temporary modifier that only applies until a new relationship is determined.
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