I’ve written at some length about the role, in the game-world of Strategic Primer, of the players (and of “AI players”), of independent towns, of villages, of non-human races, and so on. What I haven’t talked about before is the intelligent beings in the game-world other than people.
There are many different kinds of such beings. Most, in this campaign at least, should be recognizable to anyone who has a fair knowledge of mythology (though there are a couple that are fairly obscure.) And for the players’ sake, since in this campaign they started out really small and the game progresses somewhat slowly, all but one or two are essentially benign, not (initially) inclined to hostilities.
In addition to mythology, I have also drawn some inspiration (for creatures to choose and especially for how to portray them) from mythopoeic fantasy books I have read. (Players, don’t worry if you haven’t read the same books I have; if you aren’t prepared for something, your explorers have a cultural heritage including stories about these creatures; trust their judgment, at least at first.)
But perhaps the most obvious thing I borrowed is in the title of this post, above: what to call these beings, as a category. Neither “creatures” nor “monsters” will do, since they really aren’t the latter and the former doesn’t distinguish them from animals (both ordinary and fantastical). So for lack of a better term, I eventually settled on the word “immortals.” Even it isn’t quite correct, since some of these beings may be able to die of old age, unlike any of the creatures in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series, but it’s far better than anything else I’ve been able to come up with.
A lone immortal, or a group of them, can be thought of as in some ways like a village or an independent city. Certainly they have their own wishes and agendas. Like villages, once a treaty is made with one group, others are likely to accept those terms rather than negotiating their own. But immortal are much rarer than villages, and most are of far greater consequence—a single dragon, for example, could probably destroy a fortress at this stage of the game in no more than two turns, though fortunately no dragon would be inclined to do any such thing—so they won’t simply swear fealty.
Because of their significance, immortals are listed individually in a separate section of any summary report generated from a map, such as the abbreviated report displayed by the worker-management app. If you know where one is, or has its lair, that doesn’t mean you should avoid that area—as I said, nearly all are generally benign unless provoked‐but it also doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to find the being again with no trouble. They generally keep to out-of-the-way places, unless of course they want to be found.
I should also mention that while most immortals will be able to make themselves understood if a player’s emissary comes to be attempting diplomacy with them, there may be one or two (or so) kinds of immortals that, while able to understand human speech, won’t be able to talk. It’ll take either a particular kind of mage (be patient, players, until someone with the right potential shows up) or some very advanced technology to establish direct communication with such a being. If you have other immortal allies, they may be able to help translate, so to speak—but immortals are, I think, sufficiently rare that having a “mute” and a “speaking” immortal anywhere near each other and both known to the same player, is going to be unlikely.