Ruling a vast continent isn't simple, and for an empire in decline it's even more difficult. As such, an emperor can't control every aspect of it directly - instead it's split up into twelve provinces:
- Tesqua & Montania
- Upper Fluvia
- Lower Fluvia
- Variana Inferior
- the Imperial Domain
Of these, only the Imperial Domain is under your direct control. All the others have their own governors - in some that's a senator, others a general, chief or king. These rulers have their own goals and ambitions, which can be a help or a hindrance when they come into conflict with your opponents or yourself respectively.
Each provincial ruler has a level of loyalty toward you. The exact value is hidden to the player, but you'll be able to make an educated guess on their opinion toward you, whether it's hostile, neutral or happy (let us know in the comments whether you'd prefer an actual indicator or whether it would be better to infer it from their dialogue).
The rulers will want you to do certain things for them. These can range from a bribe, to stationing troops at their cities to quell unrest to resolving a dispute with a neighbour in favour of them. It's a careful balancing act, and pushing a vassal too far can make them withhold taxes from you, refuse to allow you to recruit armies from their settlements or even completely turn against you.
Provinces vary in size and power, so you'll need to decide which rulers you want to placate and which ones can get thrown under the bus (or chariot) because you don't care about them. The only province which can never betray you is the Imperial Domain, which is powerful but not powerful enough to defeat two vassals if they went against you.
In future Dev Diaries we'll go more into detail about the provinces and their rulers, but next up is the game's combat system.