Backstabbing and other moral issues


Twice now, People have become angry at me for Backstabbing, making a deal and then not upholding my end and other such things. I always believed this was how Jay intended this game to be played, and that that was the kind of people that this game appeals to. But since some people get real angry at me for it, I wanted to throw this out for some public discussion.

Is Backstabbing and lying acceptable and fun parts of the game for you?


Since the game openly bases itself on trickery, honesty and trust are the ultimate weapons against it. It’s better to work with others than against them.

There is also a balance to be had. Keeping stronger neighbors as friends is good. But weaker players in an alliance are probably better left consumed. Issue is, an angry or vengeful foe, and they have a right to be so, can really, really cause more damage than ultimate good.

The key issue is speed. NP is an infrastructural race. If the concept of Terra were somehow altered so that smaller empires could prosper off larger empire expansion, it might alter this, a little. But frankly, so long as “He who has the most of X thing” , be it stars or infrastructure or anything, it is in fact a race.

Speed and momentum will always favor the aggressor. To counter this, I believe Jay made a mistake in giving defenders a significant advantage. This actually doesn’t favor a more defensive strategy, it actually REWARDS offensive tactics. If you blitz your enemy, you win their star. You win their star, YOU are defender during the counter-attack. If you happen to set up just right, especially in the early game, it’s game over for your enemy, period. They can squirm, but your hold is essentially absolute.

From there, you’re catapulted to a new tier of momentum. You become feared by your neighbors, opening alliance doors and possibly closing others, which is fine, because you fear less and less. Do this twice in a row, and you can get such momentum going that you are effectively an avalanche. Add in at least two allies you can trust to stay in line, and the game is essentially over, barring some kind of upset.

So, considering this speed factor, the key is find close allies in the beginning nearby, and then utterly destroy someone else equally close by. If you build a reputation for betrayal at the start of games, you paint a giant target on your back: “I am a lying germ, kill me first!”. Not what you want. instead you want “I am a great player and I will turn your world into the Spice Mines of Kessel if you don’t make peace with me, you tentacled freak”.

As such, honesty, integrity, virtue, competence. Those alone ensure you’re too dangerous to cross, but trustworthy enough to hug close to the alliance bosom.

What’s sad is… this makes very undynamic games. It gets boring after a while to realize that the defining factor of a game is who gets a starting position with whom.

Consider my recent 64 game. I have been surrounded by two worthless newbs. They have ruined their own chances to live. I have neighbors who are friends. My friends will be sorry to see me gone. They will kill my enemies out of revenge and pragmatic need to expand somewhere. Atop this, there’s the diplomatic smear of me warning everyone “these guyz betrayeded meeee! KILLL! NO TRUST!” And that is often listened to, to a certain extent, even by strangers.

There is also the fact that these new players hurt themselves. Fighting at level 1 is never wise. It hurts. Even if they beat me, they will have lost momentum. But for me, it’s worse. My momentum is ruined. I’ve stopped expanding. NP DEMANDS that you Expand or Die. I have stopped growing, and been set back economically. That means I am dead. ruined. Gone. There is no hope now of growth. There is no point to fighting on, even if I have a chance to come back. In regards to the greater galactic conquest, I am as good as dead and buried.

So people hate it when they get betrayed. They fume, because likely they had a chance for success until that untimely slip of the knife.

It’s a shame that there is no way to make games for frantic. But that simply won’t ever happen until Jay implements technological research in a way that ensures each empire is self-sufficient. Once everyone doesn’t NEED another empire… well… then things are much different!


In my opinion, many people have some degree of expectation to desire trustworthiness. Sometimes for this reason, there are players who will not backstab an ally.

But remember real wars and real life can sometimes bring encounters with unscrupulous characters. Obi-Wan Kenobi gave a warning to Luke Skywalker : “Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

I agree with Smulm about racing for supremacy. If you do not keep up your end of the alliance, sometimes it could be more profitable to drop you, and switch to stronger ally.

If you demonstrate untrustworthiness, then karma can turn against you also.

Jay designed NP to have this diplomacy component based on another board game of the same name, Diplomacy. It must have been emotionally intense. Read this thread, and the linked article.

I think NP really brings out the good and bad sides of REAL human nature for fun space conflict.

Search for more diplomacy threads.


Greetings @LiFireblade, thanks for your post!

Backstabbing is a big part of the game, and hey, thanks for making the game more fun for everybody. Every game needs both heroes and villains, and not entirely trusting your allies makes the game much more exciting!

Thanks for making the game more fun for everybody!

Many of the game veterans however are wary of backstabbing, fearing reprisals in future games.

I’ve also been in a few games where there were no firm alliances at all, and everybody always just attacked the biggest player. The problem with these games is that they basically never end. As soon as somebody gets ahead, the other players tear them down.

I’m in a game now that flopped because one player came out of their starting position very strong, surrounded by very strong allies, but when it was clear that they would win, many of the smaller players would not join us in a counter attack because they had pledged allegiance to the already winning side.

I think the game is more exciting when alliances are not completely fixed, and players are at least open to switching sides if they think it will give them a better chance of winning.

I’m thinking of making some changes to Proteus might encourage players to shift alliances a little easier.
Let me know what you think of these?

  • Make Proteus like Tritons extra anonymous. Hide badges, and even assign players a random name when they join. There will be no fear of reprisals in future games. Every game is a fresh start!

  • To prevent games just going around forever as alliances shift against the winner, reduce the number of stars required to win by 1 every 12 hours.

  • Discourage players from making full game alliances, instead encourage NAP’s for a fixed time or until another player is defeated.

  • Fun Bonus: How about the server choose some players in every game can ask them to play unscrupulously. This might help people feel better about backstabbing, because the game itself asked them to do it.

Any other ideas?


Hey y’all. Just got home and it’s late but I’ll hash out some thoughts real quick. Didn’t edit any of this, so it may not flow great. Anyways…

The first half of my time playing NP I backstabbed players left and right, and had a blast doing so. After several wins in a row using these techniques my name started to get a bad reputation. Due to the relatively small player base, I would see many of the same players from game to game. Eventually not a single player would ally with me, and I would be mass targeted by groups of players in every game I played. Since I had won so many games I had a giant target on my back and the game became unfun. I took a few month break and cane back with a different name and haven’t betrayed anyone since, and people were much more willing to work with me. Since then I’ve held fast to allies and not betrayed them once I gave my word, and it worked for me.

That said, the game has become very formulaic. There is always the right situation to pump tech in the same order, always strike first and get 2 close allies to guard your back. If you get ahead you’ll win unless you are betrayed. Some of the most memorable games I ever played were over two years ago and I remember them play by play because of the double triple and quadruple crossings that took place in a 900 Star galaxy. Super tense and exciting. I haven’t felt that in a game recently, except in 64 players, if I can make it to the 50+ Star range and be competitive.

I think making the game anonymous would help a ton with removing the negative stigma behind betrayals. Changing your name between games means people won’t remember you for good or bad between games. A major con is the community like aspect of NP. I’ve build friendships with players over several games and that would be impossible if we are all changing names between games. This would encourage communication outside of the game to see who is playing under what name, which defeats the purpose. Not sure what the solution here is, but these are just some thoughts

Feature request: If we are looking more and more at anonymity in games, I think it is high time a leaderboard is implemented on the main menu. It shows the top 50 people and can be sorted by rank, victories, and renown. Each player may decide what name is represented here, but cannot change it after the fact. For example, my username is blackbird77, but I would choose to make my leaderboard name The Last Hero. Would love to have this implemented as a way of recognizing players who have gone all out collecting renown points or winning tons of games (looking at you brand).

The leaderboard could be updated weekly to prevent using renown points to find a players identity. Also, if we could add renown points to proteus at the end of the game that would be neat.

Anyways, ranbeling over. I’ll touch base tomorrow to clarify/ discuss more ideas.


Thank you @JayKyburz You writing that makes me feel a lot better about what I’ve been doing :wink: I should probably mention that I only have played NP2 “triton”. Now, some feedback on your ideas:

Anonymity Is always a good idea imho, but if you force it, you will make some of your veterans angry, since they have spent 100+ games building there reputation. I like the current system, were you can play under an alias, but your real name is revealed at the end.

I am cautious of lowering the winning conditions every x hours, because the game is such a race for expansion already. Also, I feel this might cause situations, were several small empires have allied, and would have been perfectly able to win the game, but the limit ran to low, and someone who just held on to a lot of stars won. It might be an interesting option though, but It would be a big change for standard games.

While I certainly enjoy the option of backstabbing, having a faithfull ally can also be a really rewarding feeling. Disencouraging this might lower your player basis.

Fun bonus: I like the idea. Although I always enter a game with an idea of what kind of role I want to play, other players might be encouraged by this to roleplay a little more, instead of playing to win. I am attending a LARP campaign were new players have the option to draw a (basic) role rather then making there own. Could such a thing be implemented in NP too? so that all players can draw a role, and then decide if they want to play on it or not?

At any rate, thanks for your reply :slight_smile:

@TheLastHero: Good to hear that you won a few games with backstabbing, Many veteran players have insisted upon that that never works. As for anonymity, you must be playing a different gamemode than I, for in standard triton games, you can choose an alias.

I agree with you that games seem to be very formulaic. It would be nice if you could opt to specialise in something, and then sell that to the other players, instead of everyone doing the same things (build infrastructure and expand, while researching the lowest tire of tech available). I certainly can see an idea in a leaderbord, though maybe more in the style of blight. so something like “standard games won in the last year” ect.


I think anonymity would be a bad thing, unless it’s an option rather than mandatory.
Some of us who’ve been around since NP1 or at least for a long time, have long standing relationships. I definitely wouldn’t be so keen to jump in if I didn’t know who I was playing with or against. Maybe that’s just me, but those relationships are half the fun…

Backstabbing… well it’s part of them game, but don’t expect to build any trust. I think it’s okay as long as you’re not always at it. That said don’t expect any Christmas cards from your victims :laughing:


Says it all. Jay, stop mucking about with the damned game. You overlook the fact that noobs taught to stab early, die quickly, think wtf and never play again. (rant warning: The cheaty AI is a real annoyance: magic weaps upgrades, attacks beyond the scan, hell, MOVES way beyond their Hyper Range… sigh.) ATM diplomacy is a balance between trust and betrayal; favouring much greater betrayal will turn it into an unrewarding, inferior, simplistic wargame.


Lol, but Proteus is my game to muck around with. That why I forked it, so it would not mess with you guys enjoying Triton.


Personally I have had fun dealing with this issue by making team games with set teams before the game starts. I find the fun part of the game is working with other players, not backstabbing them. I find the diplomatic part of the game to be intriguing but ultimately unfulfilling. Fighting a close intense battle is the best part of the game. That being said one thing that does encourage backstabbing in Twilight Imperium a similar board game is to have secrete objectives that force you to do not so nice things to your friends. Such objectives include controlling a system next to 2 neighbours home system, or destroying a players last space-dock etc. When I have been “backstabbed” for these types of reasons, it’s more understandable for some reason and doesn’t cause hate like it does in this game. Something to consider anyway.


I started to play less once I realized there were agreements/deals/debts/grudges between my opponents from game to game. I would love it if your rank/stats/name were revealed after a game ended, but hate that people bring their baggage from one game into the next.


I think Jay can do what he wants as hes the one developing the game.

Although i do have some basic ideas for Information on player profiles that would help make people aware of other players tendency’s

  1. Instead of being able to award renown to a player create a system called “Player Traits”
  2. Much like with renown give every player x amount of points per game to distribute 8-10
  3. They can then place these on other players profiles as they see fit as reward or to help inform the community of how a player behaves.

Have sections like

  1. Loyal
  2. Treacherous
  3. Team player
  4. Scheamer
  5. Ambitious
  6. Determined
  7. Dishonest
  8. Selfish

You get the idea. Any number of basic traits could be used.

Players could then vote on other players behaviors each game which would follow them thought all their games.

Giving everyone a basic idea of how the player they are dealing with operates. If someone has 35 points in Treacherous people know to watch out for this player, ECT

Then Tally the good traits vs the bad traits and give an overall rating of a player REPUTATION ( Replaces Rank)

Scum of the universe (worst of the worst)
Malicious Overlord (Ruthless does anything to win)
Opportunistic Pirate ( Trust-able as long as its good for them or a better offer isnt on the table)
True Diplomat (Neutral)
Elite Soldier ( Goes with the flow works well with others)
Courageous Hero ( Will fight to the death for others)
White Knight ( For the GOOD of ALL and everything Just)

These are just basic ideas but i think a system of this sort would go a long way to help inform the community of who they are playing with as well as more depth to the game through player interactions.

I dont think this would really effect the badge system as those are more of a Bragging rights type of thing and a system like this i think would even Make the badges you have more valuable.

Keep up the good work Jay


Suggestion to spice things up a bit:

Giving all homeworlds in the game a special ability which applies to the entire empire.
Then change the objective of the game to: “have all (different) special abilities to win”

Abilities could be:
a 5% research bonus to Scanning (7 abilities: one for every type of research)
a 1% economy bonus (3 abilities: one for ec, ind and science)
a 10% speed bonus to space travel (2 abilities: one for normal and one for warp travel)
a +1 in range (2 abilities: one for hyper and one for scanning)

Having two homeworlds with the same ability should be cumulative.


I tried to make special abilities which are interesting, but not too strong.

And in this idea the homeworlds only reveal their special ability when in scanning range.


This is in the wrong thread as it has nothing to do with backstabbing or moral issue.

Additionally what your talking about has already been added to Proteus in the form of Character strength and weakness.

A bonus the takes effect over all your stars its just on the character rather then a star.


No it isn’t on the character. As everyone can conquer multiple homeworlds.

And getting a certain homeworld with a certain ability can be the reason to backstab an ally.
And it is an explainable one, so it shouldn’t have large effects from game-to-game.

So it is in the right thread.


Okay i wont argue with you. But factually,

it is in the wrong thread. it should be under its own thread.

On top of that if the OBJECTIVE to WIN the game in your proposed mode is to collect all of these bonus from home worlds, Which means its common sense you would have to attack every player if you want to win and there would never be any real alliance or backstabbing because it has to be done to win. At that point it just is the game mode itself.

Interesting idea for a mode though, You should put it in its on thread and see what people think.


No you don’t need to attack any player because there are multiple versions of each ability in the game (e.g. these 14 abilities in a 32 or 64 player game). You just have to select your allies more carefully,


Ah backstabbing, what game is compleat without a hissy fit and rage quit? Personally I’m too honest for my own good and that’s reflected in lots of points but not enough wins!

When looking to ally I always looked for high renown to points ratio, does that still work?

The thing about backstabbing is some people will call you names and quit but others will just make it their mission to keep you out the points and that can be difficult to counter. It’s a risk to do all the time but a well placed one is a thing of beauty. This thread is making me want to play an anonymous game :smiley: but yeah I don’t think all games should be an on as it’s nice to build up a reputation and get to know other players. I think it would ruin that social aspect.


I see there has been a lot more talk on this topic since i was here last, so i’d like to give a short response.

Personally, I really like that you can choose a new alias from game to game. It gives you the ability to roleplay (something I do a lot in this game because it improves the fun for ALL player).

For the same reason though, I dont like the idea of a reputation system (as proposed by @YOUSOBAD ) . My reputation might simply not apply to the alias I am currently playing.

I also understand that some people have build relationships, or an alias with a reputation that they carry from game to game. While that is fun, it does make it harder for new players to join in.

I think all (standard) games should be started with a clean slate, so that everyone always needs to figure out who they can trust. If you then want to have a private game with pre-made teams, thats totally up to you, but let those who play the way Jay intended play it that way. Because if your worried that backstabbing scares away new players, imagine how a new player would feel when a veteran tells him that he’s playing the game wrong (and makes it clear that he means that OOC)

…and I said short response…