Members of the Fourth Age Team have always been at the forefront of innovation. Early pioneers in Rome Total War modding, the Team were the first to discover many techniques and methods now used commonly in many mods. A number of landmark tutorials such as the Complete EDB Guide, the Complete EDU Guide, and the Guide to Adding a New Culture were written by Fourth Age modders. Their mods have found their way into best-selling magazines and coverdisks, and their work and their individual contributions have been consistently recognized in community awards at the most popular Total War sites.
In many ways The Dominion of Men represents the culmination and apex of their commitment to excellence in modding. We therefore feel confident that players will enjoy the features they will experience in this mod. For your convenience, we list and explain them below.
Ever since we set out to create the Dominion of Men, one of our main goals has been to create a unique experience for the player. What we perceive as a major shortcoming of most mods is that, if one takes away the different visuals and text, what remains is essentially the same, vanilla RTW experience in terms of how the game plays out. Our approach with DoM therefore has been to make its gameplay as unique and challenging as the engine we are working on allows. And although RTW is a 10-year-old game that most consider "finished" and fully explored, we believe that we have pushed its limits into new territory by including features in the mod that had been considered impossible. Apart from core features that take advantage of the engine's "hidden" capabilities, DoM also includes a plethora of other gameplay-related features and mechanics that aim to provide players with a challenging experience that feels both immersive and realistic. All these features are implemented without using background scripts, therefore being an intrinsic part of the game that does not cause either stability or performance issues and is dynamically used by the AI as well.
Below follows a list of the features you can expect to see in Dominion of Men:
Table of Contents
Core Changes & Balance
Population-independent Provincial Development
The game's AI cannot handle population effectively. It tends to recruit constantly when it can afford it, which leads to depopulated settlements that never reach the population thresholds required for settlement level upgrades, and as a result the AI has trouble getting access to better buildings and units as the campaign goes on. For that reason settlement development in DoM has been disassociated from population. All settlements start at their maximum possible level (large or huge cities), so that they are capable of eventually becoming fully developed regardless of their population. The role of measuring the development of a settlement and its surrounding province has been assigned to a new building line, called "Provincial Development", which of course is neither cheap nor fast to create. The different levels of that building line function as requirements for other buildings' upgrades, much in the way that government buildings and settlement levels do in vanilla, i.e. a building that was available only in large cities and above now requires level-4 Provincial Development.
Manpower and Population Control
In order to increase the importance of "available manpower" as a factional resource - and tying in with the implementation of population-independent provincial development - population growth rates and limits in DoM have been carefully readjusted and are much more tight and controlled. Population booms and unrest caused by overpopulation are extremely rare and population growth is generally relatively low, so that endless recruitment is not feasible, as provinces require time to replenish their pools of "available population". Negative growth is now a very real possibility as well, especially during transitional periods where provinces change ownership, increase their development level without having created the necessary infrastructure, etc.
Merged Military Development
In order to help the AI produce more balanced armies, Barracks and Stables have been merged into a single building line called "Military Development" (MD), which simulates the entire process of organising and maintaining a military presence in a province. Having most units recruited from a single building line alleviates the problem of the AI frequently recruiting inappropriately infantry-heavy or cavalry-heavy armies due to lacking infrastructure, especially during the early game, making its armies more formidable.
Advanced Unit Balance
The stats of every single unit in DoM are automatically created using EDUmatic, a system developed by FATW that is now also used for other major mods, such as EB2. The system takes into account all kinds of information, ranging from armour materials, weapon types and animation speeds to unit recruitment classes, cultures and specializations, and combines them all in order to generate a balanced unit stats structure, based on the team's extensive research and discoveries around the workings of unit attributes in RTW. The result is a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get approach, where unit stats accurately reflect the unit's appearance and role, unit costs reflect their way of recruitment and equipment, and culture- or faction-specific variations are supported and guided by lore. Even more importantly, this system guarantees that all units' stats are consistent with each other, consistency being the key to giving players the feeling of well-balanced gameplay.
The majority of battles during a campaign (all AI vs AI, and some AI vs player) are auto-resolved, making the particular mechanic very important. In its vanilla form the mechanic produces skewed results, because it underestimates the strength of certain unit types (e.g. cavalry or ranged) and overestimates the strength of others (e.g. multiple-HP units). In order to deal with this flaw, DoM uses an autoresolve-balance system, also present in TNS, which affects only the auto-resolve performance of units without affecting their behaviour on the battle-map. The auto-resolve performance of each unit can therefore be calibrated individually, to ensure auto-resolved battles with outcomes that reflect much more accurately what would happen on the battle-map.
The formulas used by RTW to calculate tax, trade and mining income have been deciphered and a new system has been created for DoM based on this knowledge and a bit of statistics. Trade resources have been carefully priced and placed on the map, trade-related building effects have been calibrated and appropriate universal effects implemented, in order to achieve our desired balance between tax-, sea trade-, land-trade-, and land-generated income. Campaign costs from construction costs to army upkeep are tailored to the new income levels to provide a much more balanced financial aspect of the campaign, without inescapable debt or infinite wealth.
Functional Building-based Conditionals
DoM features fully-functional building conditionals that do not cause CTDs or visual bugs. This allows us to have buildings with both effects and recruitment capabilities that automatically change depending on the current status of other buildings, instead of just simple requirements evaluated only when a building's construction begins. For example, let's take "Military Development lvl3", which requires the presence of the "Military Policy" building in order to be constructed. The way it usually works is that, if MD lvl3 is built and Mil. Policy is destroyed afterwards, the effects/units made available by MD lvl3 will remain available. In DoM, if Mil. Policy is destroyed, the capabilities introduced by MD lvl3 are automatically disabled and the building is essentially "downgraded" to "MD lvl2", i.e. the last level of the "Military Development" building line that can exist without Military Policy. This is of course expanded into other areas of gameplay and makes possible other mechanics that require dynamic updating of building capabilities.
AI Destroys Useless Buildings
A major shortcoming of RTW's campaign AI is that it does not destroy buildings. If a faction captures a settlement that has buildings which are useless or even damaging to it and beneficial to the previous owner, it simply lets them be. This is a big advantage for the player especially, who essentially suffers no long-term consequences for losing a settlement to the AI, as all his faction's buildings will be there when he takes it again. In order to counter this limitation, a new system has been implemented in DoM which makes the AI destroy any buildings it does not benefit from as soon as a province is stabilised (its official culture is not a minority). This has a very powerful impact, because losing a settlement even briefly can result in expensive, time-consuming buildings being destroyed and lots of money and time having to be invested again in order to rebuild.
The AI in RTW occasionally has trouble "understanding" where actual borders are, which affects some of its diplomatic and strategic decisions (e.g. if it detects extensive borders with the player's faction, it is more likely to be aggressive and use its armies as patrols there). In order to deal with this issue, certain parts of the map, such as the Misty Mountains, Forodwaith, Wetwang, etc. have been turned into separate provinces that not owned by any active faction. The way those provinces are coded makes them essentially invisible to the AI, and helps it understand the map better. For instance, the regions of Rohan and Gondor no longer share a border along the White Mountains, which are now a province of their own. Their only border is Anórien/Eastfold, so the AI knows where it must defend and can make correct calculations when it comes to evaluating its relations with other factions. Furthermore, since the "White Mountains" province is invisible to the AI, it does not try to set "guard armies" or build watchtowers alongside it, but correctly spends its resources elsewhere.
Partially tying in with the invisible provinces mechanic, certain areas of the map have been made impassable without having impassable ground-types (mountains, dense forest), that distort its accuracy. This has been done in order to block access to areas of the map where the AI can get stuck on (e.g. small islands) or cannot navigate without getting "lost" (e.g. Forodwaith), but also to increase realism by blocking areas that would be unreasonable to see armies marching through (e.g. Dead Marshes).
Emergent and Horde Faction Targeting
DoM features horde-capable factions. In vanilla the "desired" settlements that hordes target are relatively few and spread across the map in a way that results in most hordes either settling in an inaccurate location or being reduced to a few units before reaching their destination and being destroyed soon afterwards. In DoM specific, high-value settlements have been set as targets for hordes and spread across the map in such a way that a horde will have at least 2-3 desirable targets in relative proximity regardless of where it is formed. The exact target that each horde goes after, however, depends heavily on what happens in-game at the moment, thus adding a dynamic element into the equation.
AI-specific Bonuses / Custom-tailored Campaigns
Despite any manipulation of game features in order to help the AI, it remains a fact that it can not fully cope with the complexity of the game or be a match for the player, both on the campaign- and on the battle-map. For that reason AI factions in DoM receive small bonuses here and there, such as bonuses to public order and income or decreases in construction costs, which are tailored to the faction the player controls. For example, if the player controls the Reunited Kingdom, then Adûnabâr (as their arch-nemesis) will receive higher bonuses than the "default" ones, whereas Rohan (RK's ally) will receive slightly decreased bonuses. If the player controls Dunland, then it's Rohan that receives higher bonuses and so on. The starting conditions (treasury, armies, buildings, etc.) of the campaign will also differ based on which faction the player controls, with an aim to make the campaign more challenging for the player.
When a province is conquered, it is not particularly beneficial to the new owner right away. Tax and trade income, public order and population growth are very low, recruitment is impossible and construction is either impossible or slow and expensive. In order to turn the newly conquered province into a useful part of the realm, the new owners must first establish a firm rule over it, by developing "Provincial Control" (PC), which is a new building line simulating the process of pacifying a province after its conquest, driving the remaining enemies away, stabilising it and establishing a loyal government. There are three types of PC buildings (Homeland Dominion, Fiefdom Dominion and Outland Dominion), each available to the faction's homelands/fiefdoms/outlands respectively. If another faction has already established PC in a province, then the new owners will need to destroy it before they can establish their own, but the transition period until the new PC is ready will not be entirely smooth; population growth, trade, taxation and public order will suffer. Expansion for both the player and the AI becomes slower as a result, and steam-rolling is curbed, since there is a delay between the time a province is conquered and the time it is both stable in terms of public order and productive in terms of recruitment and income.
While a faction controls a province where it does not have established Provincial Control, there is a mild drop in public order and income levels across its lands. These penalties increase with every such province, simulating the unrest caused by over-extension, i.e. controlling lands that have not yet been properly integrated into the realm. As soon as the faction establishes Provincial Control in a province, then the province stops generating those penalties and over-extension decreases. This simple system will slow down both the player and the AI, since rapid expansion can cause massive unrest.
To simulate the increasing difficulty of efficiently managing a large kingdom, DoM features an "empire maintenance" cost, whereby each province held by a faction generates a small faction-wide penalty to tax income, the degree of the penalty depending on whether the province is a homeland, fiefdom or outland. Furthermore, every province where Provincial Control exists increases the time and cost required in order to establish Provincial Control in all other provinces. Therefore the more provinces a faction controls, the less money each one makes individually and the slower and more expensive integration of new territory becomes. As a result factions will be making less and less profit per province and expand with greater difficulty as they grow larger, therefore becoming less invincible and likely to steamroll smaller ones.
Most buildings in DoM have maintenance costs, meaning that every turn they are active, a certain amount is deducted from the province's total income. This is meant to simulate the expenses required for the upkeep of infrastructure and developments in a settlement, in contrast to vanilla, where once a building is paid for, it creates only profit. This system also provides balance during the province development cycle, in that a province slowly trades away some of its income in order to maintain buildings that produce other capabilities, such as public order, recruitment, higher growth or other forms of (usually higher) income. That way a fully developed province enjoys the benefits of having every available building constructed, but pays a hefty amount of money towards maintaining those benefits, so it can actually become less profitable than a less developed province from a financial perspective (unless it's a trading centre).
When it comes to developing their provinces, only Elves and Dwarves can develop all their provinces fully. Mannish factions must follow one out of three different policies, each one allowing certain buildings while restricting others. The available policies are Military, Administrative (only for Dúnedain and Haradrim) and Financial, while chief-cities have a special policy, Open, which allows full development. For example, a military-oriented province can have high-level Military Development, but can not upgrade its Markets or Places of Lore beyond the basic levels; financial settlements can have high-level Markets but low-level MD and Places of Lore; administrative settlements get high-level Places of Lore but low-level MD and Markets; and chief-cities can build everything. Allowing provinces to follow different paths gives each of them a distinct purpose and "personality", while creating the possibility for a variety of strategic and development plans. For example, a faction may have Military Policy provinces only on its borders, in order to increase the financial output of its interior, but if an enemy breaks through the border, the interior might not be able to raise strong enough armies for the defence. A faction that chooses a more military-oriented approach might find itself out-spent by the enemy or suffer by low public order, and so on.
Culture as Religion
The 3 alignments ("religions") of Men of the West, Men of Darkness, and the Shadow Cult represent the finer details of the cultural differences between provinces, but the alignment system is also tailored to create more balanced unrest levels (with a hidden alignment), unlike the previous configuration. Instead of memorials, factions now have "Cultural Conversion" buildings, which not only increase the influence of their culture in a province, but in many cases function as prerequisites for the development of certain projects, such as Military Development.
Cultic Domination Reforms
The factions of Adûnabâr, Harad, Rhûn, and Dunland have the option to build shrines and temples of the Shadow Cult in their provinces, instead of their respective "cultural conversion" buildings, increasing its local conversion power and defining provinces as being "cultic". As long as the presence of the Cult within a faction is above a certain threshold (currently that is half of the faction's provinces), then the faction is considered to be under "cultic domination", losing access to its "regular" unit roster and gaining access to a cultic roster instead. Adûnabâr replaces all its units with cultic ones, while the other three factions maintain a core of native units, framed by cultic levies and elites. Depending on the faction, the replacement of units can change battle-map strengths, weaknesses and tactics to varying degrees. If the cultic presence within a faction diminishes (new non-cultic provinces are captured, temples in existing provinces are destroyed, etc.) then the faction returns to its native roster.
A number of settlements have been created around the map with very low population and no buildings available, but where high-level fortifications already exist, representing forts and strongholds. They usually control important areas, such as mountain passes, and also serve as retraining centres for local mercenaries, as long as their population allows it. Some of them have small villages in their vicinity, which provide a bit of income. A special case are the orkish strongholds, where Adûnabâr and Dunland can develop buildings that allow the recruitment of orkish troops, as well as Wargs and/or Trolls, where those are available. Provinces with such strongholds can be cleansed of Orcs and turned into "regular" mannish forts, which is an irreversible, expensive and time-consuming process.
In order to simulate that the successful exploitation of a resource is a gradual progress that requires a certain degree of know-how and infrastructure, DoM includes 11 different industry building lines, grouped into 4 categories depending on the type of goods they process. Each trade resource on the map can be fully exploited by developing and upgrading one of those industries and has an appropriate effect: some will increase income from trade, others will increase income from taxes and others will decrease the cost of construction or the cost of fortifications. Some developed industries will offer faction-wide benefits as well, making them particularly lucrative.
A relatively minor change, ports in DoM have been split into trade- and war-harbours, the war-harbours being military expansions to the trade ones. Trade-harbours increase trade and make light ships available, but anything better than that will require a War-harbour. Those are available only in provinces with the timber resource and require Military Policy, so they are relatively rare.
When a province reaches the final stage of Provincial Development, it can be specialized along one of various possible paths, the availability of which depends on available resources, existing infrastructure and active Policy. This provides greater diversification for the settlements within each faction and it enhances their role in specific areas. As an example, the Chiefdom of Rhûn may develop a Thrall Stockade in order to have a province rely upon cheap slave labour for farming the land and the construction of buildings, Fighting Pits in order to increase public order and gain access to Berserkers, Tributary Camps in order to bolster local manpower and gain access to local specialized units, and so on.
Every province on the map is considered part of a larger group of provinces called a region (e.g. Lamedon is one of the provinces of the region of Gondor). In each province there is an indestructible building identifying the region it belongs to, providing information about its geography and climate, its history, its inhabitants and their affiliations, as well as a list of the provinces/settlements that comprise it. Apart from providing lore-related information, the regional building, in combination with hidden resources, marks the identity of the province's native population and determines its core cultural alignment, faction loyalty and population growth regardless of the actual owner. So, for example, provinces belonging to the Harondor region will lean mainly towards the haradrian culture and to a lesser extent the dúnedanic one, they will be most loyal to the Principality of Harondor and the Empire of Harad and they will have the relatively high base population growth typical of Haradrim even if controlled by the Elves.
Non-mannish Homeland Scattering
Provinces inhabited by Elves, Dwarves or Hobbits can be converted to mannish, simulating the withdrawal/removal of the native population and its replacement with mannish settlers, eventually and quite literally resulting in the Dominion of Men. For example, the Imladris province can be converted from "Elven Lands" to "Eriador Outlands". This is an expensive, time-consuming and irreversible process that will radically change the characteristics of the province: it will disable the recruitment of native units, increase population growth, unlock certain buildings, capabilities and units that are available only with mannish population (e.g. Farms) and change the populace-related effects (loyalty to certain factions, cultural conversion, etc.). Orkish strongholds, as explained in a previous section, can also be "cleansed" and turned into mannish.
Non-mannish Factions Characteristics
Non-mannish factions (Elves, Dwarves, Shire) are set in a "passive mode" and have certain distinguishing characteristics, in order to have a more lore-accurate behaviour. When controlled by the AI, they do not expand, they guard their provinces quite well, they focus on developing their settlements and are not aggressive to other factions. They also do not suffer from revolts and can survive without family members. Those "perks", however, are offset by a number of other restrictions, such as limited recruitment, restricted access to certain buildings and very low population growth.
Mannish Factions Characteristics
All mannish factions in DoM have loyalty activated, but without having shadow factions. Settlements will become independent if they revolt, and generals can also go rogue along with their armies. If left unchecked, governors with enough power and not enough loyalty can also drive entire provinces to rebellion, while inept or disliked rulers can suffer from wide-spread, organised rebellions that can tear realms apart and cost them their thrones and lives. Losing a throne is not necessarily the end for a mannish ruler though, as every mannish faction can horde and survive without settlements. Rhûn and Khand can form large hordes of many armies multiple times, while other factions can form a one-army horde just once, simulating the ruler mustering all the loyal forces he can and escaping into exile, looking for an opportunity to re-establish his dynasty.
Middle-earth Zones of Recruitment
DoM features its own complex and immersive "zone of recruitment" system, whereby different areas provide access to different local units and the recruitment options available in a province vary depending on the owner. Factions have access to their own roster straight away only in their homelands. In all other provinces they initially have to rely on local levies, who are less than eager to serve in foreign armies, becoming able to train units from their own roster only if they build up their Military Development to a sufficient level, which is higher in outlands than in fiefdoms. For example, a level-2 Military Development in Gondor allows the Reunited Kingdom to recruit mid-tier units such as Gondorian Swordsmen and Bowmen, while the same building gives access only to Rohan Levies and Dúnedanic Militia in Rohan, and only to Footmen Levies and Skirmisher Levies in Near Harad. As a result, factions expanding further away from their own homelands need more and more time and money to recruit and retrain their own units and become increasingly reliant on weak, disloyal levies for their first-line defence. Additionally to the regular levies however, certain factions have access to special levies, called Assimilation Units, if they own and sufficiently develop militarily a chief-city belonging to a faction of a similar culture. Those units, who are loyal to their new masters, fight in the manner of their native people, providing a useful advantage on the battlefield by fulfilling roles that other units can not. For example, well armoured Retainer Longbowmen become available for Rohan in Minas Anor and sturdy Vassal Pikemen in Dunhold for Harad.
The extra culture slot of RTW has been incorprorated and utilised in DoM, in order to allow us to enhance and complement a number of other mechanics. Not only does this seventh culture serve as the in-game culture of Hobbits, allowing us to give them their own culture-appropriate text, models and interface elements, it is also used as the generic catch-all culture of our "rebels", allowing us to determine effects, mechanics, construction and recruitment capabilities that apply only to them, in contrast to the usual practice. Furthermore, the implementation of the extra culture slot made available a number of slots for models, portraits and other bits and bytes of the game, which we have used to increase the mod's detail in various areas, such as adding more unique-looking settlement models, etc.
Near-permanent alliances have been set up between RK-Rohan and Dale-Dwarves in DoM, in order to increase DoM's levels of lore-adherence. They are not completely permanent, as the player is allowed to break them at any time and the AI allowed to break them under very specific circumstances (e.g. Rohan might break alliance with RK, if RK attacks Elves), but other than that they are permanent and binding. While those alliances are active, one party will always declare war on the enemies of the other party and will even send military aid or request it. For example, Dwarves will automatically declare war on the enemies of Dale (and get a ceasefire with them when Dale does) and march armies through other factions' lands in order to help Dale, while Rohan will send reinforcements to a assist RK in battle, if it has an army nearby, even if that army is not inside the battle-zone area. However, the player should be warned that leaving a settlement with a very light garrison (or none at all) near their ally's border may prove too much of a temptation for the AI - so keep a few units guarding your walls!
As another step towards increasing DoM's lore-accuracy, certain alliances are prohibited by default for AI factions. Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits will never ally themselves to Adûnabâr or any haradrian or barbarian faction while they remain on peaceful terms with the rest of the "Free Folk" (Elves, Dwarves, Shire, RK, Rohan and Dale). If there is a war between those factions and the "Free Folk" pact breaks down, then Elves, Dwarves and Shire are free to choose their diplomatic relations at will. The player is not bound by those limitations and can form alliances with anyone at any point when he controls Elves or Dwarves.
Traits & Ancillaries
Compact, Meaningful Character Profiles
There are two main principles behind character traits and ancillaries in DoM: Firstly, that they should be meaningful and have an appreciable impact on the campaign, so that the whole aspect of characters is an integral part of the game experience and not peripheral to it. Secondly, that they should be relatively few in number, so that a quick overview can give the player the information needed in order to utilise each character correctly. Instead of cluttering a character's profile with a hundred trivial traits, we have opted for a depth-based approach, where there are relatively few traits on-screen for the player to see, but each one of them is based on a number of other, hidden traits and extensive monitoring of in-game conditions. This results in characters with tangibly different skills/deficiencies and "personalities" who are not interchangeable and increases the significance of how each one is utilised during the campaign.
Origins System & Surnames
As soon as a character enters the game, he is assigned a "province of origin", marking the province where he supposedly grew up. In the case of characters born into the faction origin is determined by the last settlement their father stayed in before their coming of age, while in the case of married/adopted characters a settlement is picked randomly amongst those owned by their faction at that time. Agents' origins are associated with the settlement/province they are recruited from. A character's origin plays an important role, as it effects the acquisition of various other traits down the line. Furthermore, in order to increase immersion, character surnames are no longer picked randomly from a list, like in RTW, but reflect their province of origin. So, for example, a character from Belfalas will have a faction-appropriate surname, such as "of Dol Amroth", "of Belfalas", "of Tirith Aear" (if an Elf) or "of the Sea-ward Tower" (if not an Elf), etc.
Each faction in the mod is divided into a number of subcultures, representing different ethnicities within it, and each of those subcultures is associated with various characteristics, which are generally typical of its members although they do not always apply. For example, some subcultures traditionally produce charismatic diplomats but poor commanders, others capable but xenophobic administrators, while others brave, but naive warriors. As soon as a character enters the game, he is assigned one of his faction's subcultures in one of two ways: if he is born into the faction, he inherits his father's; if he is married or adopted into it, his subculture depends on his origin, as each province has different probabilities of producing different subcultures for different factions. So, for example, Adûnabâr adoptees or sons-in-law with origin from the province of Lithlad have a high chance to be "Men of Nurn", a lower chance to be "Men of Gondor", even lower chances of being "Men of Arnor" and so on. This system means that the settlements controlled by a faction at various points during the campaign directly affect the kind of leaders and nobles in it. If, for example, the Reunited Kingdom loses her possessions in Eriador, then Men of Bree and Men of Arnor will become a rarity and so will their special characteristics.
Similarly to the subculture system, each faction also has a number of major and minor subfactions (houses/tribes) within it. Those are rarely associated with specific characteristics, but the subfaction a character belongs to plays an important role when it comes to prestige, loyalty, rebellions and succession. Characters born into the faction inherit their fathers' subfaction, while characters adopted/married into the family are assigned to one randomly depending on their subculture, though such characters usually belong to minor, unnamed subfactions. Additionally, children of adopted characters can also inherit the subfaction of their father's benefactor.
Consistent and Realistic Character Profiles
In order to avoid the RTW shortcoming of characters often having a number of mutually conflicting traits, when a character enters the game in DoM, he is semi-randomly assigned values to a small number of core identity traits, influenced by his parents' traits, his race and subculture, and in some cases his cultural alignment or subfaction. Based on those core traits he is also assigned a number of primary personality traits. The combination of those "core" and "personality" traits is used for the acquisition of most other traits down the line, ensuring a rational, consistent and realistic profile for each character, without mutually incompatible or inappropriate traits.
Provincial Lordship Titles
In DoM each province on the map is associated with its own lordship title, which can be granted to a noble, naming him its lord. In order to be efficiently controlled and governed, a province requires its appointed lord to reside in its chief settlement and oversee its affairs. While this is the case he receives a number of benefits, such as bonuses to public order, income levels, unit recruitment, project development and protection against enemy agents, thus increasing the province's value as a part of the realm. A province still offers benefits to its owners without an appointed lord or if he is absent from his settlement, but it does not contribute to the faction's power at its full capacity, so it is a substantial, cumulative benefit for a faction if all its provinces have appointed lords who remain in their titled settlements. Children of noblemen with lordship titles have a claim to their father's title and, if he dies holding it, the eldest amongst them without a title of his own inherits it. Characters with claims that are not satisfied tend to look less favourably upon their liege, especially if it is the liege who usurps their rightful title, which can have dire consequences.
A new, immersive system has been implemented in DoM, to ensure that succession is neither random nor it depends on the acquisition of irrelevant traits and ancillaries, but that it follows realistic rules that fit the setting of the mod and each faction's "personality". For every character except the faction leader the role of the Influence attribute is to measure and determine his Succession Priority, which depends on three different factors. The first one is the character's parentage: the sons of the current heir, the sons of the current leader, the brothers of the current leader and the sons of the former leader have stronger claims (in descending order) to becoming the next heir in comparison to all other characters. The second factor is the character's subfaction affiliation: in certain factions there are houses/tribes that are viewed as traditionally ruling or traditionally high-ranking and characters from them have higher priority for succession, while in other factions there are no such traditions and the characters with higher priority are those belonging to the house/tribe currently in power. The third factor is the personal prestige of a character, which is divided into military and civic and depends on their skills as commanders and governors respectively. Finally, it is important to note that the significance of these three factors varies per faction. There are factions where one's military skills play little role in the succession, others where the subfaction one belongs to is unimportant, etc. This system results in succession that is both lore-friendly and adaptive to the game. For example, as long as there are characters of the Telcontar house in RK, then the throne will most probably go to the one amongst them that has the closest relation to the former king or else to the eldest male of the house. If the line is extinct, then the houses of Húrin (Princes of Ithilien) and Galador (Princes of Dol Amroth) will probably contend for the throne, since subfaction affiliation plays a major role in RK. In factions like the Chiefdom of North Rhûn, where military prestige is very important and only the current ruler matters, it is likely that the next heir will be a capable war-chief, possibly from the same house as the current ruler.
Another system has been introduced in DoM, in order to ensure that the fortunes of a faction during the campaign are intimately tied to and directly affect its ruler's authority. For the faction-leader the role of the Influence attribute is to measure and determine his Authority, that directly and significantly effects the effectiveness of his rule. A ruler's Authority generally mirrors how well his faction is doing and is affected by four different factors. Firstly, the length of his reign: the longer he sits on the throne, the more his rule will be accepted. Secondly, the status of his faction with regards to provinces: expanding his lands and controlling his faction's core settlements or other major settlements across the map boosts Authority, while losing territory and core settlements or having settlements under siege diminishes it. Another factor is the faction's finances: implementing low taxation, having a full treasury, and wise spending on infrastructure and military development are beneficial to Authority, while heavy taxation, empty coffers and spending only for army maintenance are harmful. The fourth factor is the diplomatic status of the faction: the more allies and the fewer enemies a faction has, the better for the ruler and vice versa, while relations that are viewed as inappropriate by the people (e.g. RK being at war wiith the Elves) will also damage Authority. Finally, rulers of factions with special relations will suffer Authority penalties if their ally/protectorate is long under siege, has lost core provinces or is destroyed during their reign. As with Succession Priority, different factions assign varying significance to each of those factors, meaning that attacking every neighbour in order to expand will boost the Chieftain of Rhûn's Authority, whereas it the same tactic will have the opposite effects for the Elven King, whose subjects care more about diplomatic relations than expansion.
One of our goals in DoM that has to do with both immersion and gameplay is to make the player feel less like an omnipotent god and more like the leader of a faction, ruling over various subjects who are not mere puppets mindlessly carrying out orders, but have desires and needs of their own. Every subject character in DoM has an opinion about his liege, which is influenced by a variety of factors, which include: the leader's Authority and his diplomatic skill, whether he belongs to a subfaction viewed as unfit to rule, the character's relations to him and the previous ruler (children like their father, royal princes like their brothers, sons of ex-leaders dislike new leaders), whether they share subculture, subfaction and alignment, whether they have similar or different personalities, as well as random positive/negative events between them, which sometimes result in rivalries or friendships. A subject character's opinion is also affected by his possession of a lordship title and the actual ownership of the respective settlement, the revocation of a lordship title, the leader's holding of a title the character feels entitled to and, if he is a lord, by the length of time he is kept away from his titled settlement and whether or not he is allowed to determine the taxation in his lands (and in case he is not, the tax level the leader sets). The system results in subjects who, on one hand lead their ruler's armies and govern his provinces, but on the other hand need to be taken care of and not constantly exploited as mere pawns. Managing one's vassals is not enough though. The ruler's authority plays a very important role too, meaning that problems can also arise due to territorial losses, financial trouble, diplomatic isolation or simply the succession of a new ruler to the throne, especially if he belongs to a subfaction viewed as unfit to rule. Ensuring that vassals have a high opinion of him is therefore a non-trivial task for the ruler, but it is also crucial. Vassals with high opinions can prove invaluable by encouraging soldiers to fight for their ruler and making sure their lands contribute generously to the royal coffers and armies, while displeased vassals tend to behave in the opposite way, making it harder to develop provinces, raise armies and convince soldiers to give their lives in battle.
Functional Military Hierarchy
Unlike RTW, where the command of an army with multiple characters always goes to the the character with the highest command skill (or the faction leader, if present), a new system has been implemented in DoM that enforces a functional military hierarchy. Being the ruler or the heir, holding a provincial lordship title, holding a military office or some combination of the aforementioned awards characters with a specific military rank. When there are multiple characters in an army, the highest-ranking one will always assume command (and therefore affect the army with his particular skills or incompetencies) regardless of his actual skill. So, for example, if a provincial lord and a landless-lord who is the Captain of the Hosts are in the same army, the Captain of the Hosts will be the commander, even if he has inferior military skill. If the heir to the throne joins the army, then he will be the ranking officer and assume command, and so on.
Wonders & Marvels
All 9 wonder slots of RTW are used in DoM to represent major landmarks on the map, such as the Argonath or the White Towers. Capturing a province with a wonder will not grant any bonuses immediately though. The two steps of establishing Provincial Control will each bring a small benefit to the faction, but in order to reap the wonder's benefits in full and beyond the local province, the owning faction will have to Exploit it. In addition to the 9 Wonders, there are various other lesser landmarks and structures in Middle-earth, such as the White Tree of Gondor or the Carrock, which usually exist in or nearby settlements and are thus considered captured as soon as a province is taken. These are called Marvels and may offer local or faction-wide bonuses to the factions associated with them - and in some cases to other factions as well.
Dwarven settlements have treasure hoards amassed, their size depending on the settlement's importance and wealth. Those can either be sold (destroyed) outright for a large price, or they can be left intact, generating a small amount of income over time, but also corruption if owned by people unaccustomed to dwarven riches. There is also a chance of finding smaller Troll-hoards in orkish strongholds. Rare and precious artefacts might come to light within hoards, as long as those remain intact.
At the beginning of the campaign certain factions have at their disposal a very limited number of unique and powerful units, which are retrainable, but not recruitable. If they are taken care of and their casualties in battle replenished, they can be a valuable asset during the course of a campaign. However, if such a unit is destroyed, it cannot be raised ever again. Mannish factions may train a non-unique, "lesser" version of their unit instead, but unique units of other factions can never be replaced in any way.
Restricted Fleet Embarking
In order to increase the strategic importance of ports and their locations on the campaign map, the player's armies are allowed to embark fleets only when these are docked in a haven, while disembarking is allowed everywhere. Having ports blockaded or destroyed can now seriously affect not only income, but also strategic movement on the map. This feature does not apply to factions controlled by the AI.
Every known mountain, river, forest, swamp, island or other feature of Middle-earth that is not otherwise represented is marked on the map with a special feature marker. Only the feature's name is visible on the map by default, but activating the marker opens a brief description with geographical and historical information about the particular feature; a sort of in-game encyclopaedia for those eager to sharpen their knowledge of Middle-earth's geography.
"Force Diplomacy" Script
A "force diplomacy" script has been implemented in the mod, which allows the player to force the AI to accept his very next diplomatic proposal. This is customarily used by players to make the AI accept beneficial proposals that would normally be rejected due to flaws in RTW's diplomatic system (e.g. when the player offers a ceasefire to an enemy that's being obliterated, and the AI rejects it). Every time the script is used, a randomly varying amount cash is removed from the player's treasury as a cost for this action, simulating "oiling the wheels" of the target faction's diplomacy. Usage of the script is completely optional and at the player's discretion.
"Peace with the Dead" Script
A "peace with the dead" script has been implemented in the mod, which resets the diplomatic relations between dead and alive factions to "neutral", since the game does not do this on its own. For example, if faction A is allied to faction B and at war with faction C, then B cannot ally itself with C. If A dies, there should be nothing preventing B and C from being able to ally, but the game forgets to "cancel" the alliance between B and the now dead A, which results in B and C being unable to ally for the remainder of the campaign. The script, the activation of which is requested from the player whenever a faction dies, fixes exactly this issue. Using the script is completely optional and at the player's discretion, but it is encouraged, as its function improves an important aspect of campaign gameplay.