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Thanks for your detailed responses - I backed your KS and best of luck with it! Here are a few more thoughts after some further gameplay:

Maybe you're right about enthralled action restrictions getting micromanage-y. But I agree it would add a lot to gameplay if NPCs can take independent actions and form committees etc. I wasn't aware there were some "hidden" character stats controlling rate of Shadow spread and Suspicion growth, etc. That's actually a cool feature, and it is good to add more variability between NPCs (with some being weak-willed and easy to enshadow, and others less so, etc).

Adding more Traits to NPCs will help a lot, and I hope you'll also consider giving them a few stats/skills similar to games like CK2 (Warfare, Stewardship, Diplomacy, Perception, Magic, etc). These could influence the results they gain from taking various actions and their susceptibility to certain dark powers, as well as influencing how they're respected by NPCs with various traits. This could also make entourage members a lot more interesting, if their stats can sometimes contribute to employer's stats and actions (a skilled Captain of the Guard protecting from assassination attempts, a devout Priest making hostile dark actions more difficult, etc etc).

It's also kind of neat that all these NPC stats aren't all visible from the start on everyone. Maybe visibility into stats/traits of local NPCs could gradually get unlocked with time as you gain more infiltration or visibility in the local area (e.g. from local Shadow spread and enthralled NPCs, Fish Man spies, or controlling nearby Eye-of-Sauron like buildings etc :)

I also like that you're planning to add more customization to the player "Shadow" character itself. Rather than having a few fixed archetypes like Undead or Trickster (which would be totally different from others but play the same each time you choose them), it could make sense to let the player have adjustable stats for various powers (like Solium Infernum let players buy or earn points in Wrath, Prophecy, Deceit, Diabolism and Destruction), and allocate points to these and other special powers (Trickster, Deathlord, etc) during game setup, similar to character customization in games like Master of Magic. I'm hoping a system like this could be easier to balance than making a few dramatically different archetypes with unexpected dramatic effects like in your Undeath post :D

It could be cool if controlling certain Buildings and special map tiles (representing mana nodes, dark towers, ancient tombs etc) and performing certain rituals (e.g. sacrificing population in controlled cities) could let you upgrade stats and unlock more powers and increase Dark Power generation, at the cost of attracting Suspicion. This would let your character start out weak and expand its range of dark powers as the world falls into shadow, while having to strike a balance between growing your power and not becoming too obvious >:D

Anyway, hope these suggestions are useful and that your KS goes well. If you hadn't heard of SI, the manual could be worth a read for inspiration:

I like the idea of entourage acting as defenses for particular lords, preventing certain actions or increasing their costs. I'll have to see what works and what doesn't, and add in the inverse, some lords being particularly weak due to have ineffective entourages. Some of these bonuses would probably then pass over to the player, for example if a captain of the guard were effective they would slow the rate of population uprisings, provided they were still loyal to the lord.

Adding buildings which increase power regen at the cost of world evidence would probably also be a good idea. Those certainly shouldn't be too hard to implement. Might make one which is ritual based, so you can choose when you're okay with gaining some suspicion/evidence/world-evidence and when you feel the heat's on and you gotta lie low for a while.

In regards to some of the other stuff:

Back in the day, in the very first concepts I did in late January over the course of a week or so, the game was very different. All lords could plot at all times, not just the player. Every action available to the player was available to everyone else. To add to this you could only interact with people you had a direct connection to, but could persuade others to become loyal to you, so use them as gateways to others. For example you could try to gain access to the king by first convincing the queen's chambermaid to support you, then use the chambermaid to convince the queen, then the queen to convince the king. The reason the game is so radically different from this idea is due to the insane amount of chaos it produced. It was almost impossible to keep track of anything, with many plots ending every single turn, which would mean that your own plot was now completely useless or impossible, and the giant network of people was a nightmare to get on the screen.

As a result, I'm unsure I want to try making all other NPCs have their own plots, or have a "discovery" mechanic for information. I've no doubt it would make for a good game if it were implemented, but I'm personally not sure I know how to do so successfully. I've actually got a document for "ideas for a sequel" which are ideas which I don't think I can risk spending the time on, in case they completely don't work and just harm the project as a whole. I'll add the infiltration and discovery mechanics to the list, and maybe someday they'll see the light.

I think the best way to handle the "too many plots, is too complex" problem is to add stuff back in a tiny bit at a time, and see where the line lies.  I think the world feels a LITTLE sterile with only you having plots, but I can DEFINITELY see that if everyone had plots, there'd be no game left underneath all the madness.  However... what if you added a random personality type, a "schemer", who does have plots just like you do.  They'd be rare, and they could be noticeable-- a special border on their portrait, for instance.  Furthermore, they could have more than one kind of scheme... so some might want the highest throne in the empire, but others might want to push a particular policy, or spread a belief.  You could hitch a ride with some plots that way, but have to fight against others.  Their plots should be visible in their information screen, and if you "watch" them, you can see what efforts they are taking to further that plot.  And if you really wanted, you could always just enthrall the schemer, removing any REALLY inconvenient plots from the game!

Regarding entourages... I like the idea of bonuses and penalties based on who you have in your staff.  (Of course, you should be allowed to fire staff... but there's a risk of doing so if they have any of your secrets)  There may also be a reason yo enthrall a staff member... if you do, you could get some extra "world actions", like subdue populace (or the reverse, cause peasant uprising) for captains, or aid in stone rituals for priests/priestesses, or aid in contagious disease for physicians.  Bolster your area, or weaken an opponent's.  The effects can be strong, because enthralling is so darn expensive in power expended.