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Video Game / Suzerain

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A Morgna wes core, Vectern sis da!
"A Morgna wes core, Vectern sis da!
(Morning will come, Victory is close!)"
— Motto of the Republic of Sordland.

Suzerain is a text-based Political Strategy Game and RPG in where you play as Anton Rayne, newly elected President of the Republic of Sordland, a fictional country in the also fictional continent of Eastern Merkopa, that stands in the middle of a cold war between two opposing nuclear superpowers, Arcasia and United Contana.

The game was published by Fellow Traveler on 4 December 2020 and developed by the Berlin-based developer Torpor Games.

The country lies in a bad state, between regional rivalries, increasingly aggressive neighbors, an economic recession that is on the verge of becoming a full crisis, increasingly powerful separatist movements, politically motivated violence and widespread corruption. The objective is to shape the country as you see fit, possibly surviving the backlash that is going to form both internally and externally.


Suzerain contains examples of:

  • Achievement Mockery:
    • Every Vote Matters: To get this achievement you have to lose the vote on the Constitutional Amendment by only one vote.
    • Hail the Queen: Go to war with Rumburg and lose.
    • Just Another Funeral: You need to attend the funeral of Bernard Circas, Peter Vectern and Serge Volkner. You need to get Vectern and Volkner killed by your decisions.
  • Allohistorical Allusion:
    • In the Alliance of Nations meeting, Chancellor Hegel of Valgsland will bang his shoes on the table.
    • At the same Alliance of Nations meeting, United Contana (USSR stand-in) leader Leon Malenyev will say "Communism will bury you", a reference to Nikita Khrushchev's supposed speech towards western diplomats.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • President Patricio Alvarez of Lespia. Before a meeting with Prime Minister Hoorten he is so drunk that his plane is forced to circle for hours over Staalport. While meeting with President Rayne he first arrives late, then completely forget the trade deal they went to negotiate.
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    • Vice President Petr Vectern. Petr makes frequent references to drinking over the course of the game, and can be referred to as "perpetually pickled."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tarquin Soll can appear in parliament personally in order to stop the player from becoming a tyrant and, if they are not sufficiently prepared, will succeed. Granted, he will also do this to block a benevolent dictatorship or a more liberal constitution.
  • Chummy Commies:
    • The Worker's Party of Bludia and the Communist Party of Sordland are democratic socialist parties that fight to protect the rights of workers, minorities and women. A reformist, socialist Rayne will pursue policies close to these parties'.
    • Chancellor Hegel is a bit of a loon and a shoe-banger, but consistently fights for his worker-driven Valgslandian Socialism and for his people's standard of living.
    • An authoritarian socialist President Rayne can turn out to be a Good Is Not Soft version of this. Despite writing an authoritarian constitution, it's quite likely that Rayne will receive significant liberal support on this route, and executive-oriented constitutional reforms can be used to bring Soll to justice for his crimes, remove the military and the Old Guard's power over the Sordish state, and (ironically) establish a more democratic Sordland.
  • Cold War: The geopolitical situation in the world is dominated by the Cold War, with ICBM tests and satellites occurring in-game that roughly match the historical arms and space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Commie Land: United Contana is basically a in-game version of the Soviet Union, and is engaged in a Cold War with Arcasia, while spreading Malenyevism in Eastern Merkopa.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: In contrast to Valken's plan of pushing into Rumburg as soon as possible, Iosef's plan consist into luring the Kingdom's armies into a trap, faking the retreat of the 1st Army, then attack the advancing force with the 2nd and 6th from the back.
  • Dirty Commies:
    • A Malenyevist President Rayne can be a hardcore communist, crushing people's freedoms in the name of the socialist revolution and even allying with the nationalists to support the Sordish state. It's even possible to be labeled a National-Malenyevist.
    • Wiktor Smolak, dictator of Wehlen, is theoretically the head of a religious socialist party, and is moving toward an alliance with the Contanan Security Pact. In practice, he's more National Socialist than socialist.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A chilling example with Operation Bear Trap; as Wiktor is an Expy of Saddam Hussein, his massacre of Bludish communities is a direct reference to the Anfal Campaign in the 1980s.
  • Double Take: At a certain point of the game, Petr may suggest to Rayne that one way to ensure electoral victory is to start a war. One of Rayne's possible responses is to essentially go, "Wait, what?".
  • Downer Ending: The game has multiple, ranging from a Coup d'Etat, your Assassination or Impeachment, you being forced out of the party, losing the war with Rumburg or causing an all-out Nuclear War.
  • Eagle Land: Arcasia is basically a in-game version of the United States, being on the opposite side of the political spectrum compared to United Contana and fighting a fictional version of the Cold War against it.
  • Emergency Authority: If you agree to stop the constitutional reform, the Supreme Court will allow you to declare a state of emergency in Sordland instead, giving you expanded presidential and police powers to protect Sordland from internal and external threats.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Iosef Lancea and Valken Kruger could not dislike each other more, but if you annoy the military and take a path that radically diverges from Sollism, they will team up on you with a coup.
    • Nia is a committed reformist, but if you fully support the Justice Ministry on an authoritarian path, she'll set up the Anti-Corruption Police and help you fight the Old Guard or the Oligarchs, even if that means the Old Guard will back an authoritarian constitution.
    • It's possible for a planned-economy Sollist Rayne, or even a hard-line Malenyevist, to work with capitalist Oligarch Marcel Koronti. Koronti doesn't like corporate tax or workers' rights, but so long as his assets aren't touched, he can still be a powerful ally to a nationalizing President.
  • Every Man Has His Price: President Rayne can attempt to bribe multiple people within the political landscape to earn their support. These bribes can either be paid from Rayne's personal wealth or promises to make political decisions in favor of the bribe's target. Rayne can also be on the other end of this trope, taking bribes in exchange of political support.
  • Fallen Hero: Some reformers view Soll as the hero that saved the country from a ruinous civil war and created the foundations of their government. Then he gradually stopped helping the people and acted solely for the benefit of himself and his allies.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The game is filled with these. One example are the alliances, with on one side the capitalist and Western-aligned ATO, counterpart of NATO, and the communist and Eastern-aligned CSP, counterpart of the Warsaw Pact. Sordland itself is very strongly based on Turkey, complete with ethnic tensions with the Bluds (the Sordland equivalent off Kurds), but its non-aligned stance between the regional and global powers, at least at the beginning is also very reminiscent of Yugoslavia.
    • Two of the major blocs of the Cold War: ATO corresponds to North Atlantic Treaty Organization while CSP corresponds to Warsaw Pact.
    • United Contana and Arcasia that leads the CSP and ATO corresponds to the Soviet Union and the United States respectively.
  • Fictional Political Party: Sordland has five parties competing for the election (as well as a sixth banned party).
    • The United Sordland Party is the ruling party, and has been since the restoration of the Republic. As the governing party of a de-facto one-party state, they've developed into a big tent; the party core are Sollists (believing in nationalist values, a strong military, international nonalignment and a planned economy), while the reformist wing favor capitalism and managed democracy and have no position on foreign relations. Those two wings hold 70 of 150 seats USP holds in the national Assembly, while the rest are a mix of moderates, careerists, supporters of Rayne, and a small number of socialist leaning members. Another faction in the party are the Old Guard, a group of the most powerful and hardcore Sollists. They're too few in number to comprise a legislative faction, but they make up nearly half of the Supreme Court and include some of the most powerful people in Sordland, and will assist a President who agrees to declare a state of emergency.
    • The People's Freedom and Justice Party are the main opposition. They are a liberal democratic party and the spearhead of constitutional reform. They're traditionally social-democratic, but their current leader is strongly capitalist and pro-Arcasia. They'll work with a reformist President to pass the new constitution.
    • The National Front Party are a far-right opposition party. Their goal is a Sordish ethnostate run on Nurist religious principles, where women know their place and minorities don't exist. Unlike the Sollists, they have no position on free-market versus planned economics, and they aren't committed to Colonel Soll's cult of personality. They'll be willing to negotiate with a President who wants to set up an authoritarian constitution. They have close ties to the Young Sords militant group.
    • The Worker's Party of Bludia are a democratic socialist party representing the Bludish minority. They are firmly committed to equal rights for all ethnic groups (though they try not to talk about women's rights), as well as labor rights, unions and participatory democracy. They haven't made it into the Assembly due to the electoral threshold, but their leader Mansoun Leke has been elected as an independent, and they are planning a to form an electoral coalition called People's Front with the Communists, though should electoral threshold be lowered this will not happen. They can be banned by Rayne if he signs emergency degree.
    • The Communist Party of Sordland are a merger of the various non-Bludish left-wing parties. Their official platform is democratic socialist, but a significant minority of their membership are Malenyevist (authoritarian socialist). They aren't in Assembly due to the electoral threshold,but are planning to make it in in the next election under a electoral coalition called People's Front with the WPB, though should electoral threshold be lowered this will not happen.
    • The Bludish Freedom Party were a Bludish nationalist party until they were banned in 1933, due to alleged ties to the Bludish Freedom Front militants. The Worker's Party of Bludia are seen as their successors. They can be unbanned by Rayne.
    • Finally, if Rayne loses the USP leadership election, he has the option to start his own party. There'll be several possible party names, depending on his ideology.
  • Fictional United Nations: Alliance of Nations serves as a counterpart to United Nations.
  • The '50s: The game begins in 1953 and spans the length of a four-year presidential term.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the first turn in the media strategy discussion Lucian will mention the possible and high risk of scandals occurring. And then the new secretary, who is in fact a Rumburg spy and will cause a large national security scandal, will arrive. Petr, who causes the sex scandal to happen, will comment on the secretary's "assets" too.
  • Golden Ending: It's challenging without a guide or a lot of restarts but it's entirely possible to pass constitutional reforms, prevent a pandemic, end the recession, avoid war, protect the Bludish minority, expand the rights of women, arrest the corrupt and conspiratorial members of the government, win a second term, and have a happy family.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Old Guard and many other die-hard Sollists are part of this. Fiercely loyal to Tarquin Soll, they oppose the player's attempts at reform in favor of keeping the ideals that founded the Republic of Sordland. If the player forms the Anti-Corruption Police, it is further revealed that the assassination of Bernard Circas was deliberately planned by the Old Guard in an attempt to distract Rayne from going through with his reforms.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Rumberg's negotiations with Sordland, backed by its comparatively large army, are considerably aggressive, and escalate over the course of the game.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: There seems to be something going on between Ciara and Nia, but they deny it if you ask. (Of course, since it's The '50s, they can't safely come out.)
  • I Lied: You're a politician, so any promises or deals you make can be freely broken, often with no real consequences.
  • Inherent in the System: You came to power through the existing structures of a flawed democracy, and championing further democratization requires you to work with people who benefit from the current system. In particular, this leads to one potentially-ugly Morton's Fork: the only way to remove the military's influence over politics is to seize dictatorial powers for yourself.
  • Military Coup: Sordland already experienced 2 coups in rapid succession during the 1920's, one by nationalist General Luderin that overthrew the elected government of Artor S. Wisci and the counter-coup of the communist General Rikard, that kickstarted the Sordish Civil War. There is also the chance that, if the Army is left unhappy and the player moves toward a left-leaning path, Iosef Lancea or Valken Kruger can orchestrate a coup to depose President Rayne.
  • Motive Decay: Tarquin Soll, once the hero that saved Sordland from the civil war and created the new political establishment of the Republic, is now an old grumpy man which spirit still lives in the Old Guard of the USP, and will obstruct any reforms of the Constitution brought forwards by both the opposition and the reformists in his own party. Its' very possible he is also still moving the strings of the Old Guard and organized the fall of President Alphonso.
  • Nepotism: Rayne can get his son into his alma mater, even if Franc didn't earn the spot through his entrance exam.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's entirely possible that you will make things worse. Symon your minister of the economy will resign towards the end of your term if the economy is doing worse and blame himself.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: During turn 9 the Rumburgian military will shot down a Sordish warplane, which both Iosef and Valken assure that was in Sordish national airspace. You can response by issuing a diplomatic protest, shooting down one of their warplanes in retaliation, or outright declaring war on Rumburg.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The bordering country of Wehlen can be described as this. The country is nominally a Presidential Republic, but the leader Wiktor Smolak rule as a military despot. He is an isolationist, self-centered and militaristic leader, as we can see when we visit the country trying to organize a trade deal.
  • Pocket Protector: Should Rayne accept a lucky pocket watch from his driver Serge, it can block an assassin's bullet should he face it.
  • The Purge: You can conduct two of these.
    • If you form the Anti-Corruption Police and investigate the Old Guard, you discover Lileas Graf's conspiracy. You can either arrest her, or employ this trope and arrest anyone remotely tied to her.
    • If you give yourself expanded powers of decree, you can purge the General Staff, weakening the army but preventing any possibility of a coup.
  • Revenge: Both the Bluds, a large minority living in Sordland, and the Oligarchs will have revenge if you mistreated or attacked them, like openly discriminating in the Bluds communities or seizing all the assents of the two major Oligarchs, Walther Tusk and Marcel Koronti. These acts of revenge consists on taking over a dam for the Bluds or freezing very large investments for the Oligarchs, and they will both try to assassinate you
  • Ruritania: All the country in game are fictional, and the ones of Eastern Merkopa are provably modeled after Eastern Europe.
  • Secret Police: If you increase the security budget, then decide to spend it in the Ministry of Interior, Lileas Graf will propose the formation of the Secret State Police to "take care" of various problematic individuals and "silence" them. However, its effectiveness is notably dampened when going against the Old Guard due to its head being part of the Government Conspiracy to stop the player.
  • Shadow Dictator: Colonel Tarquin Soll is retired from politics. That doesn't stop him from still holding significant power under the Constitution and having influence over the Old Guard, who are doing their best to stop constitutional reforms.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Very prevalent in Sordish society. Girls are educated in homemaking curriculum. Gloria Tory, the speaker of the Assembly is noted for having her high ranking position because of her conservative values. Ciara Walda, the Minister of Education, and even Monica Rayne, Anton's wife work hard to change this attitude.
  • Story Branching: The main branching point, which occurs during Chapter 1, is about what you decide to do with the constitutional reforms and the Supreme Court.note 
    • The Reformist path has Rayne work with the reformists to enact their constitutional reforms. These reforms limit the power of the Supreme Court, but also the unrestricted power of the President, balancing his power with the Assembly's. On this path, Nia Morgana's faction in the Supreme Court will support you, and the PFJP are a potential ally, as are the Bludish independents.
    • The Dictator path has Rayne work to amend the Constitution in a different direction, strengthening the power of the executive. The new constitution will still remove the Supreme Court's veto over constitutional amendments, but also has options for strengthening executive authority and keeping the President's legislative veto. It also shares some options regarding elections and Tarquin Soll with the Reformist route. On the downside, the PFJP and the Court reformists will be adamantly opposed to this, though the NFP are open to a deal and the Bluds will support an authoritarian who protects their rights.
    • The Autocrat route is completely different from the other two. In a deal with Chief Justice Orso Hawker, you agree to cancel the constitutional reforms in exchange for the Supreme Court's agreement to grant you Emergency Authority. On this route, your Presidential powers are only limited by the Old Guard and a possible revocation of emergency power by the Assembly, and you can pass emergency decrees suspending the human rights guaranteed in the Constitution, particularly the rule against arrest without trial. Just remember to keep the Old Guard happy if you want to stay in power.
  • Strawman News Media: The game provides six newspapers that offer articles discussing decisions that Anton Rayne makes over the course of his presidency. All six are overtly slanted toward different ideological viewpoints.
    • The Holdsord Post is a conservative outlet, even Sollist at some points, supporting nationalization of companies, and generally against progressive minded reforms.
    • Sordland Today is part of the Heart of Sordland conglomerate, owned by Marcel Koronti. It supports whatever Koronti supports, which depends on how you deal with him as the President. It can be turned into an arm of the state media.
    • Radical is a left leaning outlet, with shades of Malenyevism, usually progressive minded and supportive of constitutional reforms. They often write stories about the Bluds, and are suspicious of President Rayne even when he does what they want.
    • Ekonomist is an outlet focused on economics. Their position is against nationalization, and supportive of Free Market economics.
    • Geopolitico is the only outlet that is not over-slanted towards an ideology, neither politically or economically. They focus on foreign affairs, avoiding to take sides most of the times.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: If you plan on attacking Rumburg, aligning yourself with a superpower seems like a safe bet, having the ability to access the industrial might and the manpower of Arcasia or United Contana to finally put an end the the ambitions of the Kingdom up north. If you enter a state of war with Rumburg while allied with a superpower, the rival power, seeing it as a threat to the balance of power in Merkopa, will side with Rumburg and declare war on you by extension. Now the two rival superpower are at war with each other, and both have nukes. Then Rumburg, that was able to start their own nuclear program, will nuke Holsord, kickstarting nuclear exchanges between the two rival blocks.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Lileas Graf, Minister of the Interior, is a die-hard Sollist that arranged the assassination of a communist MP to stoke violence between communists and nationalists. That was in order to derail the reforms that Rayne promised to get elected. She will even side with Rumburg should Rayne go to war with them while being an anti-Sollist, which will lead to Sordland's destruction if she isn't properly dealt with.
    • Downplayed with several other members of Rayne's cabinet in that they will turn on you should you go against them too hard or too often. The most shocking one comes from Lucian Galade, your chief strategist. Appearing as nothing but loyal throughout the entire game, should you spurn him one time too many, he will leak the details of your shady backroom dealings to the media just before the next term election.
      • Deals he arranged and encouraged you to make in the first place. One does wonder where his loyalties truly lie.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You potentially, should you for example make a lot of corrupt deals with oligarchy and then form Anti-Corruption Police to investigate oligarchy's corruption. Also to some extent Head of the Armed Forces Valken Kruger, who will want you to go to war with Rumburg without any allies, never mind the fact that Rumburg has much larger army which he even acknowledges.
  • We Have Reserves: In contrast of Iosef's idea, that consist of making the Sordish Armed Forces into a smaller and professional force, General Valken's idea consist of a massive army of well-enough soldiers, opposing the idea brought by Iosef of removing conscription.