Feedback on David Berg’s Blackmailed Kingdoms Blurb

The most exciting thing about this blurb is the idea of high-stakes diplomacy as the core could really take social conflict mechanics to the next level. And since perception and judgement is such an essential part of the outcomes of diplomacy seeking to borrow from games like Kagematsu is an excellent plan. Likewise having the emissaries be a collection of peers, rather than a hierarchical group suggests the same diplomacy system is mirrored for intra-party conflict. I suspect making that work will be the chief design hurdle to make Blackmailed Kingdoms a solid game.

Things I think might help or add to that basis:

  • Making interpersonal subtext more explicit – like the contempt mechanic in Quiet Year.
  • Touching on espionage as the flip-side of diplomacy, without letting it dominate the game. (After all how else will you get the dirt to blackmail someone?)
  • Networks of contacts, relationships, debts, and agreements (alluded to in the blurb) – the key here is how to make these grow organically without becoming unwieldy.

I think there is a substantial amount of meat to “diplomatic dream team of their world”. I don’t think it requires the dream team to also be undergoing transformations into beings of incredible power. At the first, I suspect focusing on the tree of setting elements and its relationship with the baseline diplomacy system is ample to design and playtest.