Policies

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You and your opponent possess unique policies in form of off-map Characters and Ideas that can heavily affect the running of your state.
Visual of what Policies look like and where they appear in Terminal Conflict
Example: The US has four Policies active, two Ideas and two Characters. Out of the idea, the NORAD policy that does not fulfill its prerequisites for activations and is darkened while Consumer Of Last Resort is ready to be enacted. To learn more about a policy Press + Hold 2 sec over a policy icon for a printout of its effects as demonstrated here.

Characters

Characters are a type of an off-map historical or historically plausible persona and should not be confused with on-map Leaders (see Chapter 7.2) of a foreign nation. Despite sharing similarities, such as having a power value, which must be kept above 0 to keep them from being lost, characters are 'behind the curtains' personalities that lack direct abilities and instead alter narratives, decisions and the course of chains of events when their theater is in focus.
Visual of what Characters look like and where they appear in Terminal Conflict
Example: The two Characters, Harry Anslinger and Curtis LeMay in North America both provide different narratives that can play out. Anslinger has a large part to play in investigating the Mafia in the US, while LeMay works for the establishment of the Strategic Air Command among other things.

Ideas

Unlike Characters, Ideas are policies with direct effects when used in the right circumstance and sometimes also require a cost to be paid.
Visual of what Policies (in this instance, 'Consumer of Last Resort') look like and where they appear in Terminal Conflict
Example: Selecting an Idea policy will allow for you to enact it and displays any domestic interest costs as shown here for Consumer Of Last Resort and its expense of 3 Finance. As this policy provides the USA with a 2% Influence in North America at each timeline end, it is very beneficial to enact it as early in the game as possible and provides less and less of an advantage the longer the game progresses. It can also be entirely useless if you already have 100% influence in the local theater so weigh careful each policy enactment.