The West African-themed update for 1.3.2 was one of the largest ever for VIET, and focused on giving West Africans some features and mechanics since they received virtually nothing in TOG.
Function and Role Edit
Griots were historically, and even in modern times, one of the most important castes in West Africa. In VIET, they play a key role in West African realms. Griots are identified by the Griot trait, which is passed down from father to son, similarly to the Sayyid trait. In fact, a West African lord who doesn't have a Griot will suffer a major malus to various things such as army morale and general opinion. As such, the first priority of any West African lord is to have a Griot, who can be invited to court via a decision (available every few years) and give the Griot in question the "Court Griot" minor title.
Depending on the diplomacy and learning attributes of your Court Griot, you will get different bonuses to various things ranging from monthly prestige to army morale. Additionally, having Griots will allow access to a number of special decisions.
Special Decisions Edit
West African lords who have a Griot haave access to several special decisions.
Receive Iron WomanEdit
Once in his or her lifetime, a West African lord can ask a local blacksmith to forge a so-called "Iron Woman," a staff imdued with spiritual and magical energies representing this lord's authority and abilities as a leader. In this sense it is superficially similar to the Norse runestones.
Unlike the runestones, however, there are only three types of Iron Women to choose from, representing three different aspects of a leader: power and authority, wisdom and spirituality, and community and society. Each type of Iron Woman will give one of four possible bonuses, chosen randomly; that is to say, there is a total of twelve possible bonuses to choose from, divided among the three types.
These bonsues last for the ruler's entire lifetime. As such, it's a good idea to get the Iron Woman as soon as you can in order to take advantage of its bonuses to the fullest.
Hold Griot PeformanceEdit
Historically, besides acting as advisors and spokepersons for their elite patrons, Griots were also historians, storytellers, and praise-singers. In-game, this aspect is represented through the "Hold Griot Performance" decision. Every six years, you can hold a major performance featuring the talents of your Griot. It's a nice, heavily flavor-driven event chain filled with different stories and interactions your Griot can have with the audience, and gives you a nice prestige boost.
Lion Kings and West African Kingdoms/Empires Edit
If you’re the founder (as opposed to usurper or re-founder) of a West African kingdom or empire, you can claim descent from a famous figure via event. If you’re the first Muslim to do so, this famous figure will be Bilal, one of Prophet Muhammed’s companions (and from whom the Keita dynasty historically claimed descent). Otherwise - if you’re non-Muslim, or Muslim but too late - you’ll simply claim descent from a generic “noble stranger,” an archetype that historically appeared in many West African founding legends.
Living members of your dynasty including yourself will subsequently get a trait representing their descent either from Bilal or this noble stranger; like Sayyid, these are passed down. Also, if you’re Muslim and claim descent from Bilal, you get a cool nickname, the “Lion King.” Historically, Sundiata Keita - the founder of Mali and arguably the most famous of these West African founding figures - had the title or nickname of the “Lion King."
Miscellaneous Additions and Changes Edit
Being a West African king or Emperor also gives you one other small benefit if you control the right provinces. If you control Bambuk, Mali, Taghaza, and/or Idjil, you will get a small bonus to tax income - the first two for their gold mines, the second two for their salt mines. Gold mines are slightly more lucrative, and rulers with higher stewardship will get a little more profit than normal. Note that depending on the version of VIET - vanilla, PB, or PB+SWMH - these mines might be in slightly different provinces.
There are also a few new minor titles for the West Africans - all lords above count tier can give away the Court Griot title, while kings and emperors can give away the Farima-Soura and Sankar-Zouma titles.
Tips and Strategies Edit
The first priority for any West African lord is to get a Griot by inviting one to the court. While the Griot you get might not be the best in quality, you won't be able to invite another one for at least two years, so it'd probably be better to stick with the one you have rather than wait for another one. However, if you are fortunate to be able to choose between multiple griots, find the ones with the highest diplomacy and learning skills - these are the attributes that determine what passive, modifier bonuses you get from your Griots.
Aggressive expansion is necessary if you want to be the first to claim the Noble Stranger or Descendent of Bilal traits for your dynasty as there can be only one per kingdom or empire. Since the Descendent of Bilal Trait and the Lion King nickname carry with them slightly more prestige, but are only available to Muslims, consider converting to Islam if you are a West African pagan and aren't interested in reforming West African paganism. Even if you aren't interested in this race for these traits, try to seize the provinces containing gold or salt mines as soon as you can if you want a little bit of extra cash.