Medieval 2: Total War Designer Diary #5 - Rigging Papal Elections

Designer Dan Toose returns to tell us how you'll be able to manipulate religion to your advantage in Medieval 2: Total War.

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With Medieval 2: Total War, designer Creative Assembly is revisiting the setting to one of its most popular games. The Total War series is renowned for its epic-scale strategy gameplay. In it, you get the chance to take command of a historical faction and rewrite history your own way. On a strategic level, you'll figure out whom to ally with, whom to attack, and what sorts of armies to build, while on a tactical level, you can command your forces in combat on the battlefield, telling them where to move and attack. Medieval 2 is more than just a beautiful graphical upgrade, though, as there are extensive improvements throughout the gameplay. To tell us more about the fascinating religious aspect of the game, we have designer Dan Toose. Medieval 2 is scheduled to ship later this year.

Religion, Part Two

By Dan Toose
Game Designer, Creative Assembly Australia

In part one of my diary on religion in Medieval 2: Total War, I talked you through the basic mechanic of how religion worked within your regions. We also touched on the role of priests, which led us to the introduction of one of the most powerful figures in the game: the pope. In this second part, I'm going to begin by taking you through the options you have when playing as a Catholic faction to interact with the pope and the papal states, before I move on to look at the crusades and jihads.

Medieval armies come to life like never before in Medieval 2.

For the most part, so long as you do what the pope asks of you, he'll approve of your people and you should have no problems. Of course, that's very limited, and we wanted to ensure that the player can have lots of interaction with the pope and the papacy as a whole.

In Rome: Total War, the senate wasn't really tangible. You could attack the armies of SPQR (the senate and people of Rome), but you couldn't actually have the members of the senate killed. This is something we wanted to change with Medieval 2 and the pope. The pope is the leader of the papal states, and as such can be targeted and killed, just like any other faction leader. He can even take to the field of battle, although a pope who wants to get involved in combat himself is very rare.

Not only did we want the player to be able to attack the pope directly (which is an incredibly drastic measure in the campaign), we also wanted them to be able to spend time influencing the Catholic Church from within. The pope is not a constant. If you have a horrible relationship with the pope, things may improve remarkably after the next papal election.

Catholicism is a religion with a very established system of hierarchy, and Medieval 2 covers this with several ranks of priest for Catholic factions. A Catholic priest can become a bishop if created in a major church such as a cathedral, something that is entirely within the player's power to build.

However, the Catholic Church denotes its higher ranks itself, and during the course of the game, various priests will be promoted to the rank of cardinal, joining the Sacred College of Cardinals. There are 13 seats within the college, and these are only ever filled by rather pious priests. Once a priest becomes a cardinal, further emphasis on their personality becomes apparent in their traits. This is how you can glean what sort of pope they might make, should they ever be elected to the position.

Sacking and pillaging cities is all part of the job of being a medieval general.

The papal elections themselves are always between three candidates, called the preferati. These are usually the most pious of the cardinals, although priests who achieve certain things during their lives can become more eligible for the role of pope, so there is reason to be proactive with your priests.

When the pope passes away and a papal election is called, factions that have a cardinal will be able to vote in the election. Since there are only ever three candidates, most Catholic factions won't have a cardinal from their lands as a preferati. For that reason, there's a huge opportunity for Catholic powers to haggle over their votes, and we ensured that the player can do this by allowing them to jump straight into a request for support in the election.

Holy Wars

There is more scope than simply asking for support, though. At any time you can look at the College of Cardinals and consider taking out a potential rival at the next election. You could also look for other factions with cardinals that don't have preferati and start buttering those people up so that they are more likely to support you in the election, as most people relish the prospect of a positive relationship with the future pope.

The new graphics engine is undeniably beautiful and a huge improvement over that of the original Medieval.

The reason that your relationship with the pope is so important is that he is the one person who can give the green light to other Catholic factions to attack you. If you upset the pope badly enough, he may excommunicate your faction, meaning that your people are no longer considered to be true followers of the faith. Excommunication has been designed as a personal issue between the pope and your faction leader. If either dies, there's a chance to make amends. However, it may only take a few turns for the rest of Christendom assaulting your people to make all the difference, so waiting for the pope to die isn't an effective safety plan.

Aside from how the pope feels about you personally, he is generally concerned about how large a problem heresy becomes in your lands. To ensure the player had to deal with this, we set things up so that if they let heresy get out of control, the Catholic Church will start sending inquisitors into your realm in an effort to root out the problem. Inquisitors are not averse to looking for heresy in high places, and may actually put your generals and family members through a trial for heresy. Unless your characters appear to have a truly pious nature, chances are that they will be found guilty and put to death. So although you may not fear heresy itself, you'd be wise to fear what may happen should the church feel the need to deal with the matter personally.

The last major aspect of the Medieval 2 religion design is the crusades and jihads, a very special kind of religious mission for Catholic and Islamic factions respectively. These are essentially conquest missions that multiple factions can join, both cooperating and competing on their mutual quest to claim a certain place in the name of their faith. The benefits for joining a crusade or a jihad are identical, but the way they come about is somewhat different.

The pope may call crusades spontaneously, but they will more typically come about because one of the Catholic factions has requested one. This is yet another area where the relationship with the pope is important for a Catholic power. Islamic factions can call a jihad so long as they have an imam with sufficient piety. This is one of the few areas where we make the religions work differently.

Once a crusade or jihad is called, armies of the same faith with a general or family member can join them. This will grant the army some amazing benefits, such as doubling the movement speed of the entire force, removing all upkeep costs, the ability to move through Catholic lands without it being an act of war, and allowing the recruitment of religious mercenaries who will not join your forces at any other time.

The game is scheduled to be released later this year.

These benefits are all a result of religious zeal; this is an age where many men were prepared to go well above and beyond for their faith. For that reason, the men in these armies are not prepared to follow a leader who isn't going to share their drive and conviction. Generals who don't make progress toward the crusade or jihad target will see their troops begin to desert. So, while joining a crusade or jihad offers great benefits, such as the chance to quickly fly across the map to secure a distant region and receive outstanding rewards, it's not something to undertake lightly.

As you can see, religion plays a large role in Medieval 2, and although we've gone to great lengths to ensure that those who don't find it interesting don't have to get bogged down in something complex to avoid problems, we've gone to even greater lengths to ensure those of you who do want to work religion into your schemes have a means to do so.

Discussion

49 comments
clayton21
clayton21

its gonna cost me $300 but i dont care i gotta have it

clayton21
clayton21

What are all the factions???

NorTor
NorTor

the biggest problem in the other games in the series was: its near impossible to survive as å faktion without war... medieval 2 lets us do it :D total war are the best games ever :O I NEED THE DEMO NOW......

zeke47
zeke47

I think that religion isn't going to be as big of an issue as everyone thinks probably just a very very small part of the game.even in medieval total war it had religion involved this just makes that part more realistic

hedesel
hedesel

I have been playing this series ever since Shougun. A great game and allready pretty excited for this new one. Graphics look amazing.

intence_gamer
intence_gamer

k, people, stop complaining about the religion stuff its not that bad, we dont want a fight.... ME WANNA PLAY COOL GAME. ME LIKE IT lol

niceman9
niceman9

Sorry about spelling my key board is a piece of crap :( (and i forgot to use spell check). :) ---------------------------------------------------- I am WIERD!!! Warcraft Halo 2 :)

niceman9
niceman9

Doesnt this make the game mor political then war like????? The game is called medieval 2 TOTAL WAR. I think that they are straying of topic, but Ithink it is a goond twist. All it did was change the hole point of the game!!!!!!!

SonofNurgle
SonofNurgle

Shouldn't ot be called "Medievil: Total War 2"? Whats up wid' dat?!

aepicoor2
aepicoor2

MarysSoldier Are you insaine? Where the hell do you get your information from? Goverment inquisitors? For what? Failure to pay tax? I don't know what they are feeding you in the States but in Europe the Inquisiton happened and killed a ton of people. I read on some christian site the number was 2000. HAHAHAHAHA Can't wait for the game thou...

suomies
suomies

During the last 2000 years, someone has always been waging war because of their religion. So to make any sense as a historical game Medieval 2 must have the religion implemented somehow.

cenet
cenet

i think religion isnt that bad an idea. i mean look back in real history..religion has to be the largest cause of war ever..and..demo it!!

JaMeS4418
JaMeS4418

I really need a demo for this game

MarysSoldier
MarysSoldier

I am afraid this game will further the misconception that heretics were mercilessly executed so the Church could gain more power. In real history, there were Church inquisitors and there were government inquisitors. The Church's inquisitors were known for their mercy. Records show that prisoners of the government would purposely commit blasphemy so as to be tried by the Church's inquisitors and likely receive mercy. The Spanish inquisition, which resulted in so many deaths, and the one most known in secular history, was actually run by the government and not by the Church.

BigPim
BigPim

I didn't saw a line about Eastern Christianity. Until 1453, the role of Patriarch of Constantinopolis was in the Eastern Europe same as the Pope in the West. And how about the Bizantine Empire, theocratic state (rule with the Church), who was the major european Power for almost 800 years? If you choose to play with the bizantines, do you have some religious advantages (or disadvantages)?

OpEnMaDnEsS
OpEnMaDnEsS

For all of you Jihad debaters. As a clarification, Jihad (Jiim, Haa, Alif, Daal) does literally mean 'struggle' the nature of which is largely determined by the context in which it is placed. As in all semitic languages, all words have a 2 or three letter root word from which other words draw meaning. The root of Jihad is 'Jiim, Haa, Daal' which is equivicable to 'effort'. The most common and originally intended usage was Jihad Nuffs (nuffs is oneself, or ones subconcious). Jihad's equivocation with violent struggle or war likely arose to place significance on a military action to rally people and leaders to strive to victory as if it were a religious duty, or struggle. But I don't know for sure, if someone knows post a reply.

rustix88
rustix88

whiteknight is right. its just a goddam game that i can't wait to get ^^

Whiteknight1981
Whiteknight1981

Man, I hate that they put in religion, for exactly the reason that you see in these comments. Its bound to happen that people whine and moan "ohhhh they don't have this religion" or "that's not how it is really like in the real world wahhhhh." Well, amazingly, this is A GAME! That means that, to make the game fun, they fudge many details about many things. Medievil 2 is not supposed to be historically accurate, nor does it have any pretence to claim itself a historical representation. The developers are only using this time period to make a good strategy game. They added religion to add another little complexity that we as players must think about as we play the game. It was never ment to fully emcompass the entire spectrum of faith or religion during this time period. If they changed an aspect of a religion, it is only to make the game more fun. Get over it or buy a game that panders to every tiny little detail like you want, and let this game be as fun as it can be.

klyzzard
klyzzard

I CANT WAIT NO LONGER! I need to play now this game jajajajajajajaja ....

ciro_xyz
ciro_xyz

i want budhism and antichrist and hinduism and many others...so I could choose a religion for my nation like in civization IV at least

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

What about orthodox or pagans? It seems this big religious overhaul only is for Catholics and to a lesser extent muslims, I don't find it very fair

Nuclear_Kernel
Nuclear_Kernel

I AGREE WITH GHASEK. In theory the highest (there many levels of) jihad isn' t an armed struggle against the unbelievers (or pagans) is the struggle that takes place in your soul to become a better person.

schnarr
schnarr

The muslim conquest of Spain is called war or invasion - they were expanding their empire after completing the conquest of northwestern Africa. The invading moorish armies were defeated ultimately by Charles Martel (the Hammer, known as that for his ruthless bludgeoning of his enemies) in the battle of Tours and the remaining armies retreated and settled in the Iberian Peninsula, thus ending their conquest. A bit ironically, the Moors were aided in their conquest of Iberia by the Jews, whom, at the time, were typically persecuted by Christians. The Christians started what amounted to a long war called the Reconquista, which started in the 720s and ended in 1492 and the losers were forced to either convert to Christianity or leave. Jihad is indeed supposed to be defense of the land, but you can't blame Christians for twisting the meaning around because it was, in fact, extremist Muslims that did it first. If an Imam has the power to do that today in some believer's eyes, why not at any other time? I certainly don't believe a truly faithful Muslim could validate 9/11 without twisting the words of Mohammed, but suicide bombing in an invaded country such as Iraq might be validable if they justify the death as a "death in battle" (suicide is bad in Islam, as I recall, just as it is in Catholicism, but death in battle is rewarded), and reconquering invaded territory is certainly validable.

blitzkrieg13
blitzkrieg13

What were these invasions called alternatively? Do they have a name that should be included in the game instead of Jihad for the sake of accuracy? I simply mean whatever you call the invasions, they occurred.

SunnySimantov
SunnySimantov

I'm sorry mates, Jihad is indeed a holy war. It is a war to spread a religion... the Islam in our history case (Jihad is an arabian word so even arabian christians can use it, if I'm not wrong yes?) Anyway, call Jihad a war or defencive act, the Islam have spread their religion through sheer force (Muhamad conquered huge parts of the middle east and converted many pegan's into Muslims... therefore Saudi Arabia and all the area is Muslim). Muhamad's legacy even conquered big parts of Spain. So you see, Jihad or not, Muslims anyway spread their religion through war so it's a "holy war" or whatever anyway. And if I'm wrong, please correct me nicely, because this comes only from my history lessons and general knowlegde and I might be wrong, I never state I must be right.

paul_mortimer
paul_mortimer

It was not a jihad blitzkrieg13, because when the moors were in spain, spain had not been conquered moor land before the spanish were there, it was the spanishes in the first place. So it would be called an invasion.

blitzkrieg13
blitzkrieg13

If it is not Jihad, what was it called it when the Muslims invaded, conquered and occupied Spain from 711-1492

visuallin
visuallin

On another note I agree with mpohagan and Bob_the_insane. Both of you are totally correct in what you said but as a muslim, I have already received enough flak because of my beliefs and I do not want anymore misunderstandings to arise of such erroneous facts. It is nice to see people like you who always look on both sides of the coin and taking things with a pinch of salt and my gratitude to you. However there are those who don't and end up thinking we muslims go on "jihads" for our summer holidays. Anyway, no offense to anyone and I hope this game turns up great as I wait with bated breath.

mpohagan
mpohagan

Its all in how you use it. If you only wish to use the Jihad part of the game to reclaim lost lands, do so - I wouldn't let yourself miss out on playing as an Islamic faction just because of a design error. I guess concessions must be made as to historical accuracy in the interests of game mechanics. While I'm a complete history buff - the more attention to detail, the better, for me - by now I'm used to this trade-off. And hey, thats what the modding community is for. But anyway, sounds a heap better than the mechanics in Medieval TW1, hope it lives up to its promise!

Bob_the_Insane
Bob_the_Insane

Amrikove - you need to look at the previous dev diary where they cover that the Jihads are called to reclaim former Islamic lands. I do not know about the Imam thing but this is a game and their have to be abstractions. I don;t think they are trying to offend anyone...

visuallin
visuallin

I agree with Amrikove, the term "jihad" literally means "to struggle" and not "holy war" as many ignorant people will believe. In that sense, "jihad" was only declared in DEFENSE of the land and faith against intruders during Prophet Muhammad's time. Of course as the centuries go by, the term and meaning got skewed terribly. I love the Total War Series, really look forward to playing Medieval 2 but as a muslim, I would probably play a crusade campaign rather then a "jihad" because of this misconception. I'm sure Total Assembly did a great deal of research in this but I still do not think the word is suited to its context. Thank you for your understanding, apologies for a long post.

Amrikove
Amrikove

Thats not right !! Jihad is not called by an Imam. It is a term used somewhat similar to war, but a war that is for the intentions to defend the Islamic religion and justic. Totaly different for the term crusade which was an excuse to sack the Islam providances that were very advanced

ghasek
ghasek

wow this sounds amazing! I gotta buy this!

Basez2
Basez2

We can't have the game now otherwsie it would be half-good:P Still, I understand the hype we're all in:P:wink:

drummer_1
drummer_1

I agree. Give us the game please.

MRZA
MRZA

Stop teasing me and give me the game!!!!!!!!!

darkdaej
darkdaej

I'm a huge total war fan and I play for the campaign. this looks fabulous. I cant wait

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

This is great. I love the strategic map almost as much as the battle map. Go CA!