|Imperium Offtopicum IV|
Political landscape before the June 29 update
|Created by||Thorvald of Lym|
|Formal run||16 May–27 September 2010|
|Notable events||Sino–Japanese War, World War III|
Imperium Offtopicum IV: Third's the Charm? (abbrivated IOT IV or IOT4) was the third instalment of Imperium Offtopicum, hosted by Thorvald of Lym, following Mad Man's Imperium Offtopicum III. It ran from May 16-17 to August 26-27, 2010, with a temporary GM-enforced break from June 20-29. It officially concluded September 26-27 with the first of what would become a tradition of epilogues. It is considered the best iteration of the "original" IOT format, and spawned a sequel, Imperium Offtopicum: The Aftermath.
IOT IV was the first game to feature a codified claims system in an effort to structure what had previously been largely-unregulated land grabs. Each turn, a player could claim up to 5 contiguous territories; "microstates" (single-pixel regions) were worth half a point, and "large" territories cost three. Non-contiguous regions had a cost increase of 1 that was waived when a "colony" of 12 territories was established.
The game also introduced the concept of non-distinct non-player countries that slowly grew out of unclaimed regions. Diplomatic options were limited to war or peace; they were passive if left alone, and generally only fought to reclaim land lost to invaders.
In an effort to offer players some strategic input in battles, Thorvald devised a combat simulation using the computer game Operation Flashpoint. Players could conduct up to three (separate) attacks per turn. For each invasion, he provided a topographical map of the battlefield and arbitrarily-defined, though roughly-balanced armies for each side. Players could then use a blank map to dictate orders, which were then carried out in the simulation. The combat results were published as episodic after-action reports entitled "Get Your War On".
While well-received, time constraints on Thorvald's end and a rapidly-expanding number of belligerents put the simulations on hold in early June. The formula shifted to dice combat from the board game Axis & Allies, with different units given different attack and defence strengths. Even this proved too slow to handle the world war that erupted, and combat was ultimately reduced to a coin-toss by the end of the month.
IOT IV was the first game to feature nuclear weapons since their ban after OT Poster Empires. On June 29, Thorvald abruptly armed all participants with eight warheads in an effort to both end the game quickly and determine a potential "winner" by pegging their use to national reputation. As was expected, the world quickly descended into atomic holocaust, although some players sold off their stockpiles in an effort to achieve a winning reputation. Future games would incorporate atomics almost as a given, although this is the subject of continued debate as practically no game save one has "properly" accounted for their full consequences.
As with previous instalments, diplomacy was conducted entirely player-to-player, with treaties and relations tracked on the front page. IOT IV reused the UN thread from past games, but notably did not pass binding resolutions based on majority vote: the Secretary-General could only arbitrate if disputing parties assented.
Epilogue and sequelEdit
One month after the game had effectively finished, Thorvald posted a two-part epilogue detailing the aftermath of the world war. The first half outlined the political conclusions, including the disbandment of GUN and the respective courses of the surviving nations. The second half expounded the effects of the nuclear exchange, including the ecological fallout and the emergence of the mutant Kaetif and Abhorrents.
One player, Reiser, voiced earlier interest in presiding over a "story-driven" sequel, but disappeared from the forums some time after the thread's conclusion. Thorvald took it upon himself months later to realize Reiser's post-apocalyptic vision in Imperium Offtopicum: The Aftermath, set twenty years after the epilogue.
IOT IV served as the blueprint for virtually every game that immediately followed. It has become legendary both for its longevity and the sheer number of updates, and more than one GM has sought to replicate its success, with Imperium Offtopicum X and XIV claiming themselves its spiritual successor.