Sun, 06 Oct 2013
I'm a huge fan of the card game Illuminati! by Steve Jackson Games. I'm also rather fond of the literary source material, and,indeed, the concept itself.
But I've been thinking. There is room for improvement. And not just little balancing tweeks. What I have in mind is more of a complete rewrite.
The basis is still warring secret societies, fighting behind the scenes for control of the world. They are still fighting over groups. The basic unit of action are agents, who can influence other groups either through legal, above the board ways, or through cloak and dagger. Agents can be trained to become better at their tasks and to specialize. Groups can also hire regular staff, who passively improve the groups stats.
The biggest change, and the one that makes this a new game rather than just a mod or custom rule set, is that no one has any idea who is in control of what. Even you will not know if you really control all the groups in your network. This is because the same group can be in multiple networks. This works because groups are self-contained. They produce their own resources, which you can only get access to through the work of your spies.
Public actions are cheaper than private ones, since you don't need to hide. Depending on the public mood, different things are possible to do publicly. For example, in times of high crime and high fear about nuclear power, you will be able to sabotage nuclear power plants more easily since unaligned groups will be engaging in these kind of actions. And engaging in these actions will, in turn, affect pubic opinion.
All turns will be taken simultaneously. This means that it will not be possible to determine who owns what through the usual progression of turns.
The idea for groups is for them to be more numerous, varied and structured. For example, I intend to implement whole branches of government. Political parties. I intend for them to have elections (results based on citizen moods). Say, maybe, your Secret Society is made of pacifists. And you feel like you need to dismantle the armed forces. You could fight them, but that is hardly a pacifist way to go about it. So you can fight to control the political parties, win elections (or fix them).
Groups will not just be flavour-texted collections of two or three stats. They are to have abilities that differ based on their function in society. But your use of these abilities is restricted by the public opinion and by the degree to which you control these groups.
Obviously, there is a lot to work out. The exact mechanics need to be fleshed out and the whole mess needs to be coded. Exactly how much (and, more importantly, little) information is available to each player about a specific situation needs to be determined. But all that is for the future.