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City Votes

by Kenneth Baggaley

Here's a little system we use for subsidy voting from a city.

A SUBSIDY equals a percent of the taxable income of that city. The percent should depend on how you tax cities in your game, and how expensive things are! Since our city taxes are not onerous (we get our money other ways, through tolls, tithes, duties and taxes on certain merchandise), each subsidy equals one full year's taxation of the city proper.

1. The ruler must summon the cortes of the city to assemble within 30 days.

2. The ruler must physically go to the city and be present at the cortes while it sits. If a representative is sent instead, REGARDLESS OF RANK, an big automatic negative modifier is applied.

3. The ruler can only ask subsidies of "capital" or first class cities. Thus the pool for pickings is slim. Smaller cities were usually just squeezed for small forced loans.

4. Depending on the culture, the ruler is limited to the number of cities per year in which he/she can summon a cortes. Generally we use 3 cities per year, and this is rare. This can be a negotiated point for each new ruler.

5. The personality of the ruler is VERY important to the success of the roll. Personality in our game is determined by drawing playing cards, each card having a personality trait. Rulers have these traits for life. Not all traits affect subsidy votes. The ones that do are: - Good Temper, Bad Temper, Charm, Personality, Wise, Stupid, and Arrogant.

CHARM is the best trait. It means a courtly, skilled ability to handle official formal court functions, including the manipulation of a cortes. It also helps in diplomacy and meeting other nobles & rulers.

PERSONALITY means the ruler is popular with the masses. "The people love him!". Not as effective as charm ,but positive. It helps in rallying the masses and leading armies.

GOOD/BAD TEMPER, WISE, STUPID and ARROGANT are self explanatory.

6. The ruler rolls one six sided die. The result is modified as noted below. On a 1-3, no subsidy is granted. On a 4 = 1 subsidy, on a 5 = 2 subsidies, and on a 6 = 3 subsidies. Rolls modified over 6 are treated as 6.

+1 At War
+1 Invaded (used in addition to At War).
+1 Good Temper, Wise, or Personality (each +1)
+1 Haven't requested subsidy in last 5 years (not cumulative!)
+1 Each Concession granted, to get total up to 4 (no higher than 4). Asked for and granted only after the modified die roll fails to reach a total of 4. (see 7 below).
+2 Charm (hey, some people are good at this stuff!)
-1 Bad Temper, Stupid, Arrogant (each -1)
-1 Each Year a subsidy has already been granted over the last five years (we're broke!).
-1 Each REALLY BAD THING DONE, at umpire's discretion (rare stuff, like patricide!).
-3 Ruler didn't bother to come in person. All the representative's NEGATIVE personality modifiers count, with ARROGANT at -2! His/her POSITIVE personality modifiers don't count, except CHARM at +1. Other +/- count as listed.

If the modified roll is 1, we usually create a character in the cortes who organized the successful opposition to the royal request. He can be noble or commoner, but is assumed to be the fiery speaker, troublemaker, and general thorn in your royal backside. After the cortes is dismissed, he can linger, or be assassinated, or pop up again - he's a great character for a possible future rebellion!

If the modified roll is a negative number, a Tax Revolt occurs! We don't allow concessions to avoid tax revolts. If the negative roll occurs against a representative, you can treat it as an objection to that minister, not outright rebellion (they just toss the MINISTER out the window!). It STILL counts as a requested subsidy, though.

7. CONCESSIONS. The best part. To get the roll up to 4 and get a subsidy, the ruler can ask what concession the cortes would accept for granting a subsidy. Each concession asked and granted ups the total by one. Therefore, a roll of 1 would need 3 concessions, a roll of 2, 2 concessions, etc.

Concessions are playing with fire. The ruler is saying, open handed, "tell me what you want". A die is rolled for each concession asked, one at a time. The table below is consulted. Rulers cannot bypass a concession (i.e., roll for a less onerous one). Grant it or lose the vote. Period.

Rulers can only grant concessions to get up to one subsidy (adjust the roll up to 4). Extra concession are pointless.

Once the total is adjusted up to 4, a subsidy is granted, the ruler graciously thanks the cortes, dismisses it, and must act on the concession(s) granted. Failure to do so results in grievous umpire penalties on future rolls; plus possible additional penalties. These can include no subsidies from that city until the concession is granted, a permanent negative modifier for that ruler in that city, possible negative modifiers in other cities (they saith hys worde keepeth not Trewe), or other nasties up to the umpire.

If the ruler turns down the concession, and dismisses the cortes, he cannot recall it until next year at the earliest. Regardless, whenever he does recall it, the cortes will remember its refused concession request. If a concession is required this time, roll one die. 1-3, the old concession is requested. 4-6, refer to the table as usual. The only exception is if the concession is no longer possible (i.e., the war has ended, or the minister dead or gone, etc.). In that case, roll on the table as usual.

When a new ruler comes to the throne, he/she will NOT carry over lingering concession requests. It is assumed each ruler gets a clean slate on which to create his/her own problems.

CONCESSION TABLE - (roll two six-sided dice)
2 - Grant the cortes the right to control all taxation!(The kiss of death to kings).
3 - Declare Peace now!(or Umpire discretion).
4 - No more abuse by royal courts - disband them! (Reformed courts have some independence).
5 - Grant religious tolerance to somebody (umpire discretion).
6 - No more subsidy requests from us for x years (roll 2 dice).
7 - Remove a minister/favorite/administrator from office (see below for how deeply he is hated!).
8 - No tolls (or port duties) for x years (roll 2 dice).
9 - Organize a crackdown on religious dissidents (umpire discretion).
10 - We want consultation on all tolls, duties and merchant matters (a subsidy-like vote required for every income area).
11 - Declare War immediately (or) Break that Alliance!! (This is really stepping on royal prerogative).
12 - We want consultation rights on the Succession! (Or the right to rewrite the constitution, or vote out the king, or some threat to the established monarchical order).

If a 7 was rolled, roll again to see how badly the cortes demands the rogue be treated. 1-2, he is dismissed from his position and/or the court, 3-4, he is sent to the tower (or equivalent) for investigation of alleged crimes (should be a fun trial to stage!), or 5-6 they want him executed! These parts of the concession must be granted the same as any others. If the ruler wishes to "allow" the minister to flee the country ("Oops, he got away!"), a roll must be made to see if the deception is accepted by the people. If the people smell a rat, treat the event as a broken concession listed above.

8. BRIBES. We don't allow them. However, you might let concessions include bribing key members with royal offices and titles, or even cash. We find this hard to control. If included, the bribes should succeed only on a roll of 5-6. All bribes combined count as only 1 concession. This way, bribes can only get you over the top if you're close to winning (you're getting those few key swing votes). Bribes can only be used on an adjusted roll of 3. Umpire decides the cost/titles granted.

NOTES: Most of the time, you'll find, with a little cleverness, a ruler can get a subsidy. Sometimes its a forgone conclusion - that's life! The randomness reflects the instabilities of representative bodies. Each new summons could bring different representatives, reflecting deaths, new elections or royal tampering and manipulation. This is why a ruler can still get away from an ungranted concession next year!

This virtually plays like a game within itself. Rulers are strapped for cash, fighting back encroachment on their preogatives by the city merchants or local nobles. If this introduces too much instability to your ruler's income, good! That's the idea, and it reflects reality. Rulers had growing costs, especially for war, and income methods didn't keep up. Any Renaissance game has three key components - Religious, Economic, and Dynastic. I've described the first two. Next time I'll give you some insight into how we do the dynastic side.

I hope you find this interesting - it's not that hard to manage, really. For historical reference, I recommend the Pelican series "Tudor England" by Bindoff and "Stuart England" by Kenyon, plus "The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road" by Parker and "Imperial Spain - 1469-1716" by Elliott.