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General => Archives => Topic started by: Xygax on May 02, 2005, 01:15:35 AM

Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 02, 2005, 01:15:35 AM
A bit of bad planning caused me to miss out on the player-staff meeting, so I wasn't able to respond there on this subject.  What I'd like to discuss more thoroughly here is what I mean by "grittiness," and by contrast what meaning I'd like to have associated with the term "harshness."

Lately, when I've been using the term "grittiness," I'm really talking about the less tangible elements of the game.  I'm referring to subtle nuances of the decisions each player makes...  your choice of phrasing, your presentation of yourself, your attitude about your position in the world.  The MUD needs more of this, and generally it needs to come from you, as players.  You can do it by crafting less polished PCs and by reviewing the choices you've made with respect to the things I mentioned above.  We can do the same with our representation of NPCs, but the majority of this push can be done better and more effectively by you guys, as players.  I can elaborate more on this if there are questions not answered by my other posts.

Harshness is something different...  harshness is more about the tangible world, how hard it pushes back when you test a boundary, how dangerous mistakes are, how brutal society is, and how volatile nature is.  This primarily comes from the staff (though, to some degree powerful PCs can dictate harshness in how they deal with the other players over whom they have control), and is affected by code, NPC- and monster-design, class and economy balancing, and so on.  Harshness should, however, be an IC thing, not an OOC one.  We want the game to be challenging but not frustrating.  We want the world to be brutal but not uninhabitable.  There are a lot of things that need tuning and tweaking, things that could be more harsh (like wages and benefits for clan members, perhaps?), and things that could be less (like making it easier -- not easy! -- for non-rangers to follow the north road in a sandstorm).

A lot of players, interestingly enough, embody harshness and/or brutality, without really achieving grittiness, and I know that I myself have made this mistake in my role as a staffer.  If we can find a good balance between harshness and grittiness as both staff and players, we should be able to bring our environment that much more alive.

Please contribute to this thread...  let's talk about grittiness and harshness, things you guys think are good ways to tune one or the other, and some ideas or examples of how to bring in more grit.

Because I want a focused discussion on this, and because I think it's one of the best topics to discuss in an effort to improve our game, I'm going to try an experiment with moderating....  posts that stray too far will probably be removed, so please try to keep the core focus on this discussion, and please try to avoid descending into complaints or flames.  Some things that fall out here will probably make great fodder for other threads, so feel free to start those.

-- X
Title: Re: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 02, 2005, 02:24:55 AM
How can we be more gritty?

There's a problem with gradations. How is a noble going to show grittiness (will s/he?). How is an aide going to show grittiness? How is a commoner going to show grittiness? An aide has everything a commoner could want (from the commoner's perspective). An aide has a roof, food, water, clothing and 'sid. A commoner can contribute to the grittiness by:
* Not speaking well
* Knowing they're dirt and can be trampled over by anyone above them, such as a Templar and showing fear of this.
* A commoner can present themself to a superior in a degrading manner. They can also present themselves to fellow unaffiliated commoners by wearing stained clothes.
* Commoners can back-stab people for a coupla 'sid (not killing them, but betraying them to someone more important).
* Buy bad food (not travel cakes! But food that's a little old)

An aide however:
* Has to speak well
* Knows that a Templar won't harrass them too much, lest they embarrass the House.
* Can present themselves in a degrading manner (but not as much as a dirty commoner). However they can't wear dirty clothes. They can only wear non-silk clothing.
* Will back-stab for stuff.
* Buys food somwhere between a dirty commoner and a noble.

An aide has a lot less ways to show grittiness. They're not starving. They're doing pretty well in the eyes of a commoner. How can they show grittiness to a commoner?

A couple of points:

Stained Clothes
Only unafilliated hunters (excluding tribes and the guild) can wear stained clothing. House employees can't, and independant merchants also can't, because their potential buyers (nobles (although they probably shouldn't be potential buyers for most), house servants, etc) will be turned off. Perhaps this shouldn't be the case?

Harrassing Templars
If anyone harrasses a House employee, the entier weight of the PCs for that House will very quickly get involved and get pissy. If another noble house does so or a templar (even if they do so quietly) the House will get get pissed even quicker. I've seen it a few times, perhaps this shouldn't be the case?
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Gaare on May 02, 2005, 03:00:23 AM
The Zalanthas is a world consist of creatures and humanoids who manage to survive from the many ages of conflict between power sources, fearsome magick and unforgiven landscape. As a result the people living on the desert planet (like powerful beasts), are the ones that won the conflict and manage to live. Almost all traditions and systems (cities or tribal alike) are based on the fact "survival of the fittest."  In other words, people are demanding and ready to fight for their life and more power (VERY pragmatic). If we, players would play accordingly.. There would not be many sissy fella around, and PCs' zalanthas would be more like the virtual one.

My favourite and recent post that explains Harshness and grittiness is from Vanth.

Quote from: "Vanth"
You're one among hundreds (or at least dozens) in the same position. Be ambitious: you've got a long way to go.


Vanth wrote that for fancy pant roles, but I believe that's true for anyone.
In a world of struggle of course citizens are ambitious. They probably know, a weakness may cause with their end or lose many they have.

PCs usually do not prefer to use what they have in their hands; Coins and power. Maybe there was one out there, but I never heard a Byn trooper try to bribe or manipulate a Templar, House Aide, noble, militia, etc.. to  say some bad words or kill a Byn sergeant to take place of him.

I guess many of us like having powerful PCs like militia, nobles, templars. Why not behave like one even not playing one of them? I mean Zalanthas people would have much more desires then us. They know the hunger, fear, fight etc.. They know they are nothing in eyes of militia and templarate-s-, they are nothing. So they probably would do many things to have power.  Just giving a few smalls to your friendly militia may save your neck and/or that may give you -power- to treat someone you do not like. My point is you can behave like a militia even for a while. Same for nobles, family merchants.. giving some thousands time to time, may make some decisions and let you to have rights of a templar for a while.
Just with enough ambition of PCs; both grittiness and harshness would be added to atmosphere.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Anonymous on May 02, 2005, 08:20:11 AM
I think changes in code and in our approach to roleplay are needed. One supports the other, and without one, the other drops. It goes in both directions. Some things we players can do to help are when commoners remember their place in the world. Even if we play really important commoners, we're still inferior beings compared to nobility. It's hard to get that, because some nobles are played as silly or stupid or ignorant people. They make mistakes and sometimes they're player mistakes and not character mistakes. It's hard to overlook that. But we have to try as players of commoner characters. So like when a noble makes a mistake instead of our character thinking "He's wrong" some of us might think "I explained it wrong, I wasn't clear, he was given wrong information." We shouldn't all do that, but maybe more of us should. Especially the ones who play commoners who cower when a noble walks in, the ones who have a background that really shows the commoner is a seperate thing from a noble and would never be able to talk to one in casual conversation.

I also notice there's sometimes a trend that some people forget that half-elves are loathed abominations of two different races. Okay so your character is blind and insane and actually fell in love with a breed. You need to understand and accept that the rest of the world -will- think that you're blind and insane and that bragging about your newborn abomination is probably a stupid thing to do. People aren't GLAD that they had a baby breed. They're ashamed. They hide it, or kill it, or abandon it to die somewhere, or sell it to someone for 50 sids. If your character doesn't do this, you really really really need to expect other people to look at you funny and avoid hanging out with you.

I think it's true on the other side as well. People need to treat these kinds of situations for what they are. I've seen a lot of people befriend people who are "different" and be all cheerful when their friend tells them they just fell in love with a breed (or when their breed friend says they fell in love with a human..or an elf). Why is your character happy about this? He should be disgusted. It's a disgusting thing. If he isn't disgusted, then you should expect that other people will start avoiding your character too.

Then there's the whole money issue. My characters never have any problem making money. Maybe I'm lucky, maybe I'm smart. I don't know which but it doesn't really matter. Point is, often I have nothing to spend my money on so it just piles up in the bank. Sometimes it's appropriate for my character to be a wealthy commoner. Sometimes it makes no sense. But that's the way it goes. I think something said in the meeting last night rings true: If it makes no sense for your character to walk around in silks, don't buy silks just because you have the money. Keep it in the bank and don't brag about it ICly, if the money just refuses to stop pouring in. Live humbly, even if you manage to amass a small fortune.

I can't agree that bribing is the way to go for everyone. Not everyone has any reason to bribe a templar, or hire an assassin. Some of us who play(ed) independent characters were truly independent. We didn't need to hire an assassin because we didn't know of any enemies who needed to be killed. We didn't need to bribe a templar because we didn't do anything to catch a templar's negative attention, or we didn't want something that only a templar could provide. We can't bribe a soldier if he has nothing we need to pay him for. So sometimes, the money just piles up. We aren't trying to get rich, but really - sometimes it just happens without trying.

I'd like to see more players allow their characters to take interest in more crafted items, and look for the crafter PCs to make them instead of buying them from shops. Remember it's cheaper that way ICly, and you're promoting RP also. I'd like to see the code support this idea more by rewriting the shop codes so that the game resets no longer have any affect on who's selling how much of what and making how much sids.

I want to see the storm code have a definite impact but not so much that it ruins playability. There are parts of the game world where the -only- people who can survive are rangers. That's fine, but if that's the case, then maybe the hall of kings should be changed so that if you aren't a ranger, then you can't pick that location. Either that, or lighten up on the frequency of those impossible storms.

That's what I think people can do (staff and players) to help promote the harshness and grittiness and still keep it fun for everyone.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: moab on May 02, 2005, 09:23:15 AM
Grit:
Salaries need to drop a few hundred sid.

Food prices need to go up in Tuluk.

Houses should learn to accept that their lower employees are going to made of commoners.  The average guard in Borsail is going to be a commoner and should look and act like one (wearing Borsail colors).  You would expect better from an officer.

Nobles should expect  commoners to act like commoners.  A pc of mine was in a fancy bar once and a noble was sitting at the bar along with a few other commoners.  My PC used a swear and noble commented on the swear.
The effect:
PC/Player thinks - if I don't want to get my PC killed, don't swear in front of a noble.  Don't wear stained clothes in front of a noble, don't fart in front of a noble.
 
What should happen (to increase the grit) is that the noble should _expect_ the dumb-kank of a commoner to not know any better and while being offended by the mere presence of the commoner, should know it is impossible to teach them anything about being _proper_ without a great deal of training.
 
The mingling of commoner and noble is really hurting the grit idea.  Lords and Ladies hire aides so they don't have to mingle and don't have to be offended. After all, you can't kill off all the unwashed masses.

Templars should be the rare exception of silk wearing upper class that does hang with the lower classes - and then only because its their job to have a finger on the pulse of the city.

The idea that things are free needs to go.  No free anything.  And when giving out anything, hold that person accountable for that item.
 
Your House provides kanks and water to your employees?  What if your employees keep loosing their kanks and getting their water stolen?  Can your House really afford that?
 
Just some ideas.  Playing in the Byn has really opened my eyes to how Zalanthas could be - even more so than playing in the very gritty Kurac clan.
Title: Re: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Cindrak on May 02, 2005, 03:26:39 PM
Quote from: "John"
An aide has a lot less ways to show grittiness. They're not starving. They're doing pretty well in the eyes of a commoner. How can they show grittiness to a commoner?

This is the crux of the problem. The higher up you go in society, the more polished you're expected to be, even if it's a world in which nobody should be polished. So if an aide sets a certain standard for "polish", everyone above them needs to be at least that polished, or they look like they're undeserving of their station. This leads to a kind of arms race, the end result of which is that nobles are as polished as their player can possibly manage. And frequently, everyone beneath that noble is as polished as they can be too, because they're trying to emulate their patrons. Individual nobles are unlikely to increase their "grit factor" because both their underlings and their peers would then be more polished by comparison.

Maybe a solution would be to make it a contemptible trait to act above one's station. Nobles would need to be responsible for setting their own standard for grittiness, and then everyone below them would have to adjust to that. If a noble's aide is talking fancier than they are, that should be grounds for a reprimand. After all, what noble is going to suffer some commoner putting on airs in their presence?

Quote

Stained Clothes
Only unafilliated hunters (excluding tribes and the guild) can wear stained clothing. House employees can't, and independant merchants also can't, because their potential buyers (nobles (although they probably shouldn't be potential buyers for most), house servants, etc) will be turned off. Perhaps this shouldn't be the case?

Agreed. I really think the standards for cleanliness are way too high, and that soap should be an incredible luxury, all but unavailable to your average commoner. Expecting mere guards to have crisp, unstained uniforms for some big ceremony is not unreasonable, perhaps, but for everyday duty? I wouldn't think so. Also, perhaps water should be required in order to use soap. This would be both realistic and would drive home the point that being clean is a luxury, not a basic necessity.

-Cindrak
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: amoeba on May 02, 2005, 04:17:46 PM
First a dictionary definition of "grittiness":

From Merriam-Webster:

1 : containing or resembling grit
2 : courageously persistent : PLUCKY
3 : having strong qualities of tough uncompromising realism <a gritty novel>

IMO definition three sums it up fairly well.   tough uncompromising realism.  An unflinching view of the world about them.    Grittiness is not about how dirty or crude a person is or isn't.  It is more about bringing to life the harshness and inequalites of everyday life, and displaying it for all to see.  For making it obvious and tangible.  

A noble may be polished, but the world beheath him isn't.   He should reflect that as he goes about interacting with it.   It would be in most cases less than realistic for a noble to be comfortable in "commoner"  surroundings, but he does not need to be less polished.   If anything, it should highlight the inequalities and basic unfairness of everyday life.  

A breed can be of the personality that the player wants him to be,  he can be noble of heart, or nasty, vicious to the bone, but the player must take into account the realities of the life and situation thrust opon him.   The breed would have had self doubt and self loathing  beat into him at every turn in his life.  His personality may try to overcome, or he may sucomb to it, but it can not be ignored.  A good player will breathe life into the conflicts and show his struggle with a world out to do him in, and his own inevitable self loathings.

The players should breathe life into the world, taking the background they know, and the area's description as a starting point.   Into this they take thier own particular slant on things  and place themselves firmly in it.   Just as a polished noble shows one extreme of the scale,  a shit covered, foul mouthed bynner should show the other.   Show the inequalites, the base meanness of the world,  but remember, this is not a black and white world, or just a black one.  Grey abounds,  right and wrong blend here.   And even in the darkest of worlds bright spots do exist, and must exist.  IMO it is not a competion of dirtier than thou that matters, as much as it is making the world seem real, in the context presented.

[/soapbox]
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 02, 2005, 08:31:44 PM
Guard uniforms is something that has been discussed a lot, and mentioned a few times on this thread.  I'm personally of the opinion that rank and file members of house guard units (and merchant family guard/hunter units) should have minimal uniform/marking, if any.  Perhaps a tassle on the shoulder or some other small, inexpensive alternative.  Fancier gear should either be awarded in response to performance (or percieved performance, at least -- ie., can you fool your boss into thinking you're good at your job?), or tied to rank/tenure (or some combination of both).  You shouldn't get a full uniform as the result of a couple of months of service (especially when some of these uniforms are themselves worth several thousand coins), and certainly not as a "sign-on bonus" on day one.  Higher ranking personnel might have more obvious markings, but I don't think even they -- yes, not even a lieutenant -- would have, for example, a full suit of silt-horror plate.

I'd similarly like to see the standard for noble attire drop somewhat.  Instead of being swaddled head-to-toe in silks, perhaps a proud junior noble has one particularly clean, fancy -- if slightly threadbare, -- silk shirt that everyone oggles enviously.  That may be going to far, I know a lot of people enjoy the "fancy dress" aspects of the game, but even a few shades futher in that direction would give me the warm-fuzzies.

Of amoeba's Webster's definitions, I like #3, but I also think it's worth adding #2 to the mix.  Also, yes, there's a piece of this whole thing that has to do with seeing the -world- as grittier and more real, but I think even the nobility and the wealthy should lose some of their shine and polish.

Cindrak's "arms race" analogy is interesting and perhaps apt.  There is definitely a viscious cycle competition amongst nobles to dress the best, look the best, etc., and that is a prevalent enough aspect of Allanaki society to be included in their documentation.  The hope here is that we can all evolve our expectations down a little, and also be less perfect at meeting the expectations that are placed upon us.  Maybe you don't remember EVERY time you step into a tavern to dust yourself off from head to toe, noble or otherwise...  It is a desert world, after all, and if you  spent the time required to really remain wholly dust-free, you'd have absolutely no time for mudsex or world domination.

Attaching stigma to "upstaging" people beyond your rank is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how playable it is.  I would hate to see people forced to use accents that don't necessarily suit their own personal style, or impose poor grammar on themselves, simply because of a barrier like this (IC though it may be).  Certainly more people SHOULD be trying to find "lower" personae, but it is challenging...  and it can also be challenging trying to read and understand some of the accents and poor grammar-styles people invent (which can be fun or just plain frustrating, sometimes).  I can definitely see a stigma like this forming around clothing, though.  It's always bad form to out-dress your superiors...  you make them look bad.  ;)

Some people have mentioned salaries.  My current thinking on the salary situation is that we (those of us running clans that pay/feed/water PCs) are too quick to give ourselves unlimited resources ("Sure, hire as many guys for the guard unit as you can!")...  I think a good solution to this would be to give PC nobles more control and responsibility for the wages and benefits they provide.  Perhaps a larger stipend (or the same stipend) for a noble comes with this burden of having to really think about how you're going to manage it.  Can you really afford to give free food and water to everyone you employ?  Would you rather pay consistent salaries, or buy that fancy new silk shirt you saw Lord Fancypants eyeing the other day, before he can get his hands on it?  Do you really need a 10-man guard unit, or would an aide or two, plus some less visible back-alley style "thugs" to get things done?  What about spies?  And do you really trust these filthy commoners to actually guard your person?  Maybe you should be saving up for one of those trained slave bodyguards, I've heard they NEVER turn on their masters (yeah, I know a lot of PC nobles and merchants get NPC bodyguards for "free" right now...  maybe that should be rethought?).  Maybe Lord Fancypants should really be trying to work out ways to turn his small stipend into MORE, instead of just spending like a madman?

Quote
The mingling of commoner and noble is really hurting the grit idea. Lords and Ladies hire aides so they don't have to mingle and don't have to be offended. After all, you can't kill off all the unwashed masses.

I somewhat disagree with this...  if the divide between noble and commoner were somewhat narrower, this inconsistency wouldn't happen.  Yes, of course nobles are better than commoners, but that doesn't mean they actually ACT any better...  in fact, why not let nobles be MORE vulgar than commoners.  They're nobles, after all, they can do whatever they please.

Another poster here mentioned racism.  I definitely think we don't play out the ingrained racism of our various breeds often enough....  sometimes, this lined becomes blurred for OOC playability purposes, and sometimes people are "sweetness and light" because they really are trying to exploit their target, and this comes off as being too friendly.  But more often than not, people are just trying to be nice, and other people have an expectation of being treated kindly.  It would be neat to see more people expecting cruelty, and being surprised or paranoid (or even offended) by others' niceties.

Money is a big issue.  And yeah, if you know how to tweak the right systems, it can be easy to amass a small (or even a large) fortune.  That doesn't mean that you should be socking away every cent, and you certainly shouldn't be dressing in silks.  One good way to spend a healthy chunk of your money is to get an apartment.  Another good way is to fill your apartment with junk (not nice stuff, just stuff people need to live... or stuff you think suits your character for some reason.), and don't be angry (well, at least not OOCly) when it all gets stolen!  Another really great thing to do with your money is to try to find ways to get a hold of spice, even if its illegal where you are.  Way more people should be way more addicted to spice.  You should probably try to find ways to be drunk more, also.  Would your character drink himself into a coma?  Maybe you should give that a go a few times.  You won't have much 'sid left after a few black-outs, and I guarantee you, you'll be having a great time OOCly.  Maybe you should help support your virtual family (buy food, etc., and junk it after RPing out whatever steps you like)....

Those are my thoughts for now...  thanks for pushing this thread along, I'm seeing some really solid ideas here.

-- X
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 02, 2005, 09:17:31 PM
Regarding clothing, I firmly believe that the standard "wear the same thing everyday" amongst the nobility and upper-crest of society in Allanak is one reason people are so wealthy.  If you try and stay with Kadian fashions, believe me, it takes a small fortune to continue, and it creates a wonderful atmosphere of greed.  A noble that tries to stay decked out in fashion, is bound to be more ambitious in their undertakings to afford such luxury and get "props" from all their noble buddies for looking so fancy.

Of course, if you shmooze with the kadians your going to get a better deal on the stuff, which creates plots, etc.  The same would go for Salarr and Kurac.  The -need- to get a discount so you can equip your thugs, would create opportunity for plots to win/lose favor with the merchant houses.  Right now, everyone can afford the gear, its just a matter of getting someone to actually take the damn order.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 02, 2005, 09:21:19 PM
The problem there, wizturbo, is that the neverending lust for newer, better, cooler clothes broadens the gap between the game and the grit it should have, at least in my perception.

I'd really like to see nobles spend less of their funds on silky clothes....  That said, I agree that it is a great money-drain...  I'd just like to see more drains elsewhere, perhaps.

-- X
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Linedel on May 02, 2005, 10:24:35 PM
Quote

Some people have mentioned salaries. My current thinking on the salary situation is that we (those of us running clans that pay/feed/water PCs) are too quick to give ourselves unlimited resources ("Sure, hire as many guys for the guard unit as you can!")... I think a good solution to this would be to give PC nobles more control and responsibility for the wages and benefits they provide.


Ideally, yes, but..

Advice to newbies from many threads suggests that they gain experience in a clan.  Forcing noble/merchant houses to be stingier with their cash is going to cause more character profiling (in or out of character, it doesn't matter, the result is the same), until they employ a few very effective characters (generally, veterans of the game, because they know more about the game mechanics).

This would make things more difficult for new players, which probably isn't a good thing for the long term health of the game.

If this were to occur, I'd say sort the houses out, and pick some to lose funding.  This may sound backwards, but I'd give the most funding to the houses lower on the totem.  If you want the political swagger of the top few noble houses, and maybe the different play experience of Kurac/Nenyuk, you're going to deal with more "harshness" or whatever one wants to call it.  Designate lesser houses (lesser noble houses and Salarr/Kadius) to be decently funded, as a catch for players that don't know as much or for whatever reasons aren't comfortable with setting the game on "hard".

This could be rationalized by having PCs in the "lesser" clans start at a higher relative rank in their house than those joining "greater" houses.  After all, House Crapper only has 20 family members compared to the 140 in House Uberleet.  (Names and numbers changed due to ignorance.)

And of course, if the noble in the lesser house overdresses instead of using his funding for hiring, the greater house member can be offended and remind him of his place in society...
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 02, 2005, 11:44:08 PM
Quote from: "Xygax"
The problem there, wizturbo, is that the neverending lust for newer, better, cooler clothes broadens the gap between the game and the grit it should have, at least in my perception.

I'd really like to see nobles spend less of their funds on silky clothes....  That said, I agree that it is a great money-drain...  I'd just like to see more drains elsewhere, perhaps.

-- X


I agree, but its quite a drastic change you want to make.  Even non-noble house commoners are dressed from head to toe in silks.  With diamond earrings, slaves, and a bunch of other luxuries...  Just seems like its too late to roll back the wealth.

My view on this entire issue, is the nobles are setting a reasonable example.  They should be competing amongst themselves when it comes to silks and fine things, to attempt to appear important.  They're playing the rich-kids pretty well.  Its the common, poor populace, that seems to be lacking proper role models.  Everyone seems to be some noble's aide, or merchant house agent, or great soldier with a uniform that costs 20,000 sid.  And after all those "non-noble, but wealthy" commoner roles that leaves basically no "normal" people to set an example.

In short, I think there needs to be a widening of the gap between social classes to create that "gritty" atmosphere.  Stop elevating commoners with fancy equipment and silks.  Do not attempt to put them on even near the same level as a noble or great merchant house member.  I see Borsail sergaents and Corporals dressed in uniforms that I think Lieutenauts and Captians should be in.  I see freshly made aides dressed with more flippery than the noble's they serve.  Its these "commoner" examples that are removing the grit from the game, in my opinion.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 02, 2005, 11:58:21 PM
To elaborate a bit further, basically, if you want to create this atmosphere of greed and grit, where commoners are really struggling, the economic "loopholes" need to be closed.

You would need to make the noble and merchant houses the SOURCE of cash flows for the game's population.  Right now, I believe shops are the source.  Merchant houses collect money, and rarely dish it back out.  Noble houses dish out money, but not enough to really compare to the "independent" sources of coin.

There seems to be economic means of getting rich for basically every class.  A burglar can steal from apartments that have poor locks, and make a bundle selling to shops.  A warrior can go beat down a tough creature, and sell the stuff to shops.  Anyone can buy and sell items from various geographic regions to shops, and make a fortune.  Magickers have their own ways of making heaps of sid (but perhaps they should be making heaps of sid?  Magick ain't cheap).  Merchants, well, I won't even go there....

You get the idea.  Either these methods need to be tightened considerably, or players need to just decide not to take advantage of independent sources of funds, and they need to decide it as a whole.  Because in the competitive environment that is Zalanthas, the guy who refuses to use these loopholes ends up being way behind the curve.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 03, 2005, 12:17:13 AM
Quote from: "Anonymous"
I can't agree that bribing is the way to go for everyone. Not everyone has any reason to bribe a templar, or hire an assassin. Some of us who play(ed) independent characters were truly independent. We didn't need to hire an assassin because we didn't know of any enemies who needed to be killed.
How about any enemies that needed a lesson taught to them with a big bone club in a dark alley? How about an enemy that needed to have their reputation tarnered a bit. How about an enemy that needed to be roughed up a bit by the militia/templar? If you've never had an enemy that ever needed any of those things, have you ever had an enemy (when playing an independant)? If not that should be your next goal ;)

Quote from: "Anonymous"
I'd like to see more players allow their characters to take interest in more crafted items, and look for the crafter PCs to make them instead of buying them from shops.
I agree with this. This would definitely be cool :)

Quote from: "Cindrak"
If a noble's aide is talking fancier than they are, that should be grounds for a reprimand. After all, what noble is going to suffer some commoner putting on airs in their presence?
None ;) And I'm pretty sure there have been in-game instances of such a thing happening :) (unfortunately sometimes the aide's employer doesn't see it).

Quote from: "Xygax"
Some people have mentioned salaries.  My current thinking on the salary situation is that we (those of us running clans that pay/feed/water PCs) are too quick to give ourselves unlimited resources ("Sure, hire as many guys for the guard unit as you can!")...
Actually, from what I've seen you Imms tend to be pretty good about that. Imposing limits once you've got too many players in your clan.

Quote from: "Xygax"
And do you really trust these filthy commoners to actually guard your person?  Maybe you should be saving up for one of those trained slave bodyguards, I've heard they NEVER turn on their masters
I don't know if I'd want to cut out PC commoner guards completely. Lots of people enjoy playing the role, yet dislike playing commoners. However perhaps Borsail and Winrothol could develop a paranoia (if one doesn't already exist) and stop hiring commoner guards and move to slave ones only. This would cut down on the amount of guard roles (while still leaving at least one house for them).


Quote from: "Xygax"
Yes, of course nobles are better than commoners, but that doesn't mean they actually ACT any better...  in fact, why not let nobles be MORE vulgar than commoners.  They're nobles, after all, they can do whatever they please.
Good idea. When I think of an olden times English noble-man. I don't think of an honorable man. I think of a dirty, smelly, unshaven person that orders all newly-wed wives to his castle to get raped. I think of a Noble that has a wench dragged to an alley so he can go and screw her while his guards make sure no-one hurts him. I don't know if I'd want to take it THAT far (and I'd probably get rid of the pre-occupation with sex). But having nobles act less... well noble certainly wouldn't be too unrealistic.

Quote from: "Xygax"
I definitely think we don't play out the ingrained racism of our various breeds often enough....
Racism takes many forms:
* not asking a breed to do a difficult job because they'd just screw it up
* anything that's life-threatening get a breed to do.
* make sure everyone is taken care of before the breed is.

But what do you do with breeds in positions higher then your own?

Quote from: "wizturbo"
I agree, but its quite a drastic change you want to make.  Even non-noble house commoners are dressed from head to toe in silks.  With diamond earrings, slaves, and a bunch of other luxuries...  Just seems like its too late to roll back the wealth.
When this mud started out, from what I heard it was closer to an RP-encouraged. Now it's an RPI. It started out with anyone playing anything they want, then it became karma-restricted. Nothing is too late to change, you just have to start (and roll with the bumps and complaints, remember, anyone use to be able to submit items for their crafter to make, now only masters can). Having said that, if I were a noble I'd have a friendly word with my local-thugs/templar about commoner X being so well-dressed. They must be trading in illegal goods and want to upstage the nobles.

I haven't played a commoner wearing all silk in quite some time :) I just refuse to wear it. As for jewellry and whatnot, nobles can sometimes be responsible for handing out the things as gifts. I'm pretty sure I read in the docs concubines keep these gifts locked away so they can sell them when they're retired. Perhaps PCs could do that. If you're given something as a gift, keep one or two of the less-good stuff and sell/give the rest away in return for stuff. Although don't try this and less your imms have said it's normal behavior for employees of your house ;)
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: House Rising Sun on May 03, 2005, 02:54:26 AM
This can be very simple in theory, to me. A character's grit is going to stem from how he deals with the adversities of Zalanthan life. Those adversities are going to be mere cakewalks without serious 'harshness' coming out of every corner. So, everything from the total coin object count in the game world to the virtual economy to the established culture and law are going to direct the grit. Even though a player can play gritty despite being truly capable of guiding his pc through an easy life, that certainly wouldn't have nearly the same effect as logging in to a world that's genuinely ready to make you its bitch in every coded way. So it has to start with the staff.

I think the way to do this is to present a bigger threat of danger, rather than actual danger. Just enough to scare us into being 'gritty'. You see, PCs shouldn't necessarily starve, but even working hard they'll barely make ends meet and will be driven to desperate measures in order to get ahead. It's too hard to become desperate when you're paid well for something everybody and his mother seems to do, and you can't find something to spend all that money on.

The desert doesn't have to be instantly deadly to frighten the experienced traveller, but knowing that certain random events could screw you if you end up in an unexpected jam (out of food or water, low on stamina, lost, being chased by something you can't handle) would work much better towards cooking up some grits than letting us be able to memorize spawn areas and quick routes to usually safe places. Are random, area-based events possible, like in the oldschool encounter tables? Storms are already a pretty big pain in the ass if you're staring the Grim Mantis in the head, so that's taken care of, but how about scripted things like small, mostly crappy raider bands, or a sudden stampede of... uh... tregil? Give them a one in a lot chance of happening at any given time, or just leave them up to the storytellers who happen to be looking. To me, there's little more gritty than fearing what could happen (but usually won't) in the place in which you make your living, and doing it anyway because you have few other choices. Plus, it'd be a neat feature.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: ale six on May 03, 2005, 05:28:49 AM
I think the best way to make the game 'grittier' is to make the necessities characters need harder to get and the luxuries harder still, rather than impose artificial limitations on what characters can or can't do.

I personally don't see a problem with aides or merchants or wealthy commoners running around in silks or acting polished, because the way the society is structured, they're expected to be. A noble who demanded his or her aide's etiquette was anything but perfect would be ridiculed and snickered at by other nobles for tolerating the aide to act that way. A merchant who presented herself poorly would lose business. And there's nothing wrong with this. If a character is able to amass themselves a fortune, and wants to display it, I say let them. They've worked to earn that money, and they should get to determine how to spend it and face whatever IC consequences they might face. I don't see the difference between a commoner spending their money on silks and on a brick of spice... both are expensive goals that have consequences, and some people would choose one or the other. Some commoners may want to dress in silks to emulate their betters, or to be seen as wealthy and powerful, so if they get the means do to it, more power to them.

The trick is to make it so it's harder for people to be less gritty, just from how the system works. I like the idea of making soap cost more. I think that on a planet like Zalanthas, running for even a block or two in such heat should be enough to stain your clothes. Zalanthas has evil sandstorms of doom, the clothes or cloaks people wear in the storms should get sandblasted and become threadbare just from the elements. The sun is horrible, too, colors should fade out of clothes unless they're kept in the shade. Make those fancy armors and weapons break more often and need repair. Get rid of the unlimited food cooks that clans have, and instead make the clans spend money to keep food around. For that matter give clans and noble house a set stipend per week instead of just unlimited money. If House Valika's people only have 10k per week to cover all their salaries/food/water/equipment/bribes/extra expenses, I bet we'd see a lot less money thrown away to excess. Likewise, if the nobles and wealthy commoners have to use their resources to maintain their appearance, they won't be buying a new silk pair of underpants every week or amassing fifty million coins in the bank.

I actually think the game doesn't need to be any more gritty than it is, but those are my ideas on how to do it. Emphasize the cost of everything and the limit of resources more through the systems, and people will be forced to go along with or struggle against it.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Ghost on May 03, 2005, 08:54:28 AM
A good thread to read.

In my opinion, as I always see that, the biggest trouble against the grit is the economy of the independents.  In my opinion, joining and working for a noble house, or a merchant house, in a Zalanthan's mindset should be something they would kill someone to get it.  But the way things work is not that way.  A noble house, or a merchant house, is sometimes -trying hard- to get people recruited.  This might have some ooc reasons like, the player might not enjoy that specific house, or something like it.. But often times, the reason people not join clans is that, it is easy to make more coins independently.

So one thing, that is an obstacle in a world like Zalanthas is coins.  And if people are making more coins than they are supposed to, then a change there is in order.

 :arrow: What I suggest is, drop the price of salt/herbs/plants/skins that NPCs buy.
 :arrow: Each NPC merchant buys five of one item.. Make it so they buy one specific item from the same PC for a considerable time.  OR make it so they buy one given item, and then they don't buy it again for lets say, an IC week.  While this might seem too harsh to hunters, it is not.  Because hunters in wilderness are not supposed to have too much coins.  They will always be able to feed themselves from the goods they skin.  This might be harsh for independent merchants, but it will be encouraging for them to sell their goods to the PCs, more than NPCs.
 :arrow: The food/water price can be raised.
 
These will give independents more of a reason to seek a shelter in clans.  While those not joining, will have a hard time keeping themselves with coin.

For clans:  I like Xygax's idea on uniforms given out to those that make good work for the clan.  There is at least one clan working that way.  That is, you start with no clan gear, and you slowly gain, piece by piece as you do significant works and show your worth in clan.  This way, the other members recognize, who works more for the clan, and who is favored more.. Kind of building social status within the clan itself.

Quote from: "Xygax"
Some people have mentioned salaries. My current thinking on the salary situation is that we (those of us running clans that pay/feed/water PCs) are too quick to give ourselves unlimited resources ("Sure, hire as many guys for the guard unit as you can!")... I think a good solution to this would be to give PC nobles more control and responsibility for the wages and benefits they provide. Perhaps a larger stipend (or the same stipend) for a noble comes with this burden of having to really think about how you're going to manage it. Can you really afford to give free food and water to everyone you employ? Would you rather pay consistent salaries, or buy that fancy new silk shirt you saw Lord Fancypants eyeing the other day, before he can get his hands on it? Do you really need a 10-man guard unit, or would an aide or two, plus some less visible back-alley style "thugs" to get things done? What about spies? And do you really trust these filthy commoners to actually guard your person? Maybe you should be saving up for one of those trained slave bodyguards, I've heard they NEVER turn on their masters (yeah, I know a lot of PC nobles and merchants get NPC bodyguards for "free" right now... maybe that should be rethought?). Maybe Lord Fancypants should really be trying to work out ways to turn his small stipend into MORE, instead of just spending like a madman?


This is an excellent point.. Giving the responsibilties of those the leader recruits to the leader itself.  There is at least a couple of clans where the leader pays his underlings.  One of these clans, the leader is supposed to supply food/water of the underlings as well.
Or take the Byn:  Byn gives you just food and water (not water maybe but a substitude) and you get paid -if- you do work (take part in a contract)  There is one other clan, that you get paid, if you do work, and leader himself pays it.

These are just examples of some clans that might add to the grittiness.  I am not telling all the clans should be like this.  A noble house guard should be paid monthly, but maybe if the noble might be paying from his own pocket, and if he pays the uniforms and the food from his own pocket (maybe the noble stipend need to be raised a little for certain clans, that hire more) this way, the noble will think twice on hiring just "anyone".  He will be more picky in who he is recruiting, he will be more picky in who he is promoting, and he will be more picky in giving "gifts" to his subordinates.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Nidhogg on May 03, 2005, 09:03:48 AM
Tangetial aside

There ARE too many commoners in silks (opinion, not immortal consensus though it might be, I haven't taken a poll.) Maybe we could take all the silks out of the shoops, or ban silk, or pass lawa, or throw paint on commoners in silks, but the really really best idea is this:

If you're a commoner, a low level aide, a noble outfitting a low level commoner, control yourself, and buy more realistic clothing.

If you're a commoner with a reason to wear silk, you don't have to wear silk from head to two. You could wear a silk garment with other non-silk garments.
/tangent
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: proxie on May 03, 2005, 10:40:14 AM
Some of what is in game is there for a playability standpoint. I remember when the cooks were added. Before that, you had your leader pc's, in clans where food supposedly provided, spending almost an hour, two or three times a week going and buying kalan fruits and travel rations and tossing them into the shelves in the kitchen. Then, if this pc was unlucky enough to do this and then have the game crash, they're out the sid and there's no food in the barracks.  Plus, if I remember right, it was ridiculous for a clan like Oash or Borsail, who are high ranking and have oodles of money, to NOT have underlings that go and fetch and carry this stuff, thus freeing up the PC's for roleplay.

However, I notice every clan and their mother now has one of those ladle wielding cooks. (Don't get me wrong. I love them. I want to see them in game, I think they are definitely better than the old system.) Maybe clan imms need to look at their clan and say "Hmm. Does my clan have the resources to have one of these and a refillable cistern o'doom?"  By resources, I mean hunters, gatherers, slaves, traders, and a quartermaster to handle the day to day purchasing in addition to the wealth.  

If getting rid of the cook is the popular idea of what needs to be done, perhaps then maybe for clans that do have the resources, put the cook in the estate for example, and make the leader/aide pc's responsible for trucking back and forth with baskets of bread and meats to the barracks kitchen. Still quasi-unlimited, but not nearly the choices as before, and there's the potential to not have a square meal if you pissed off the Aide to your House and he hasn't 'had time' to get to the kitchen to pick up the day's tray of food.   Or put a rank flag on the cook and have the leaders be responsible for loading up the shelves once a week with chow instead of every recruit hauled in off the street able to ask cook steak a dozen times.

Right now you get what, 10 uses from a bar of soap at about 50 'sid a bar? That puts it at 5 'sid a use if my figures are right. So yeah, not unreasonable to bump that price up a bit. However, can we see more lumps of craftable material to make our own soap from? And can crafted soap be at least as good as bought soap?

Faded clothing is harder to do unless the colors are rewritten so that there aren't as many true hues in the stores. Or like someone said about silks, make true 'new' clothes special order and have it be presumed that that new ebony cloak you bought isn't really ebony, it's kindof a really dark grey, and it's probably had three owners before you came to own it. Cleaning could also be coded to fade/weather clothing, but no clue how hard that is to actually do.

Just some ideas.

Proxie
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Nidhogg on May 03, 2005, 10:43:00 AM
Quote from: "moab"
Easy - make silk a special order item from Kadius.  Hold them accountable who they sell it to.  Punish commoners for wearing it.

Add that to upping the price of soap / cleaning brushes and requiring the use of water and we've certainly got a dirtier Zalanthas.


Actually, my point is that I'd like to trust you, the players to make thoughtful, well reasoned decisions. If you have a reason to buy an item, then buy it. If it's a knee jerk, ooo pretty, I want, then give it more thought.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Elgiva on May 03, 2005, 11:08:18 AM
I agree with Ghost. In my opinion, current trouble is in independants. I believe that an average noble guards should be richer than an average independant hunter. As long as an average independant hunter can buy silt-shell armor, exclusive weapons and even silks, something is wrong.

I think Houses should give food and water to employees. Maybe not that good food, maybe somehow rationed supply of water. But if you want your guard to work for you from dawn to dusk, you have to feed him.  Indeed, we -could- give coins to employee and let him to buy his water and food himself. But it will have to be good amount of coins, because we still restict him from leaving the city and hunt/search for water. And we will have to give him time to buy this food and water. Time he'd spend doing his work (double if shop is closed during the night).

I think clans have enough troubles with recruiting people. Usual problem is not "ten-men guard-unit". Usual trouble is: "If we only had three men, we could...". Yes, it is getting a bit better now, but IMO are independants still living too easily  :twisted: .



And the last thing: I like PC commoner guards and I loved playing one. I hate nobles who are trusting NPCs more just because these are NPCs. The role of a noble guard is restricted enough without paranoid nobles who do not trust anyone else than this one certain slave (NPC) bodyguard.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Nidhogg on May 03, 2005, 11:54:21 AM
Quote from: "Elgiva"
I agree with Ghost. In my opinion, current trouble is in independants. I believe that an average noble guards should be richer than an average independant hunter.


I don't know if that's true. A noble guard is given nice armor (often, hopefully after proving themselves to be worth it.)

They're given food, and shelter. They get to eat EVERY DAY.

Templars and nobility are less likely to pick on them.

When they're too old to work, the noble house will probably take care of them in some way or another.

Independants might make more sid, (if lucky and successful) but there's no guarantee they'll live long enough to enjoy it, that it will last etc. No  one gives them anything, and when they're too old or injured to work, they're just screwed. And just cause they have the sid to buy silk doesn't mean they have a good chance to stay alive to wear it.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Rhyden on May 03, 2005, 12:12:26 PM
There's a good thread contrasting independants and house members here: http://www.zalanthas.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13146.

I agree with Nidhogg. At first, I believed that some independants were being extremely twinkish reeling in house member's salaries in a day. But on second thought, I realised the independats doing that are risking their character's lives every time they leave the gates (sometimes by staying in as well). So you have a choice. You can be that overly rich independant and probably die off at an early age or you can be that house member who will gain their riches elsewhere and live longer to reap their rewards.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 03, 2005, 12:20:09 PM
I'm in agreement that your average commoner should not be strutting around in silks.  Silks should be making a clear statement.  One, or all of these things should apply in my opinion.

1.  I'm personally wealthy.
2.  My friends/customers are powerful and wealthy.
3.  My house/patron is powerful, wealthy, and greatly values me.
4.  I am personally powerful.

If you do not fit into that criteria, and your trying to get away with wearing silks, you should experience some painful reminders of how lowly you really are in life.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Gaare on May 03, 2005, 01:15:51 PM
Quote from: "Ghost"
A good thread to read.

 :arrow: What I suggest is, drop the price of salt/herbs/plants/skins that NPCs buy.
 :arrow: Each NPC merchant buys five of one item.. Make it so they buy one specific item from the same PC for a considerable time.  OR make it so they buy one given item, and then they don't buy it again for lets say, an IC week.  While this might seem too harsh to hunters, it is not.  Because hunters in wilderness are not supposed to have too much coins.  They will always be able to feed themselves from the goods they skin.  This might be harsh for independent merchants, but it will be encouraging for them to sell their goods to the PCs, more than NPCs.
 :arrow: The food/water price can be raised.
 
These will give independents more of a reason to seek a shelter in clans.  While those not joining, will have a hard time keeping themselves with coin.


They are very good ideas for increase of harshness by code.. And here there are some additions:

 :arrow: In Tuluk, let the forest be more dangerous, or quality logs may be cut deeper in the Grey.

 :arrow: Obsidian deposits may be located a several move rooms away from safe locations.

 :arrow: Salt can be much hard to collect.. or value much less.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Angela Christine on May 03, 2005, 01:31:23 PM
Inflation is not the answer.  

Yes, an experience player can run an independant that lives fast, dies young, and leaves a well-dressed corpse.  Newbies can end up selling their clothes to buy water because they can't figure out how to make enough money to stave off death.

Not that long ago the price of silk clothing was drasticly increased.  The price of water in some parts of the world has gone up dramatically.  The rate of thirst was increased.  Those were good changes, but making things more expensive isn't the only or the best answer.

If there is still a problem with silks, and I'm not sure there is, there are less drastic ways of nudging the problem.  



The idea that there are a bunch of rich independents and commoners running around is mistaken.  How many PCs own any real property, something of enduring value like a house, shop, farm, factory or wagon?    Very, very few.  (Due to their roots as nomads and OOC rarity, I consider a wagon to be in the same class as land).  If you don't own any property, not so much as a aged shack to call your own, then you aren't actually wealthy no matter what you are wearing.  Oprah isn't considered rich because she owns nice clothing, she's rich because of all the other stuff she owns.  Unlanded commoners running around in silk and acting fancy are possers and hangers-on.  Because this is a MUD, a game, it is easy to mistake gear for status.  The guy who wears a complete set of silt-horror plate armor is successful (and a bit daft) but he is not RICH.  People who are really rich own more than the clothes on their backs.


Angela Christine
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: amoeba on May 03, 2005, 02:32:47 PM
Quote from: "Angela Christine"
Inflation is not the answer.

-Let the nobles dress like peacocks.  Nobles pouring money into absurd cloathing and water parks while the masses starve is part of the harsh.  Jade and ivory codpieces for everyone!


Every authoritarian regime has exhibited this behavior.  On Zalanthas this should be expected.  IMO it is silly to have to look at a nobles hand to see if they have the signet ring to tell if they are indeed a noble.  It should be blatently -obvious- that they are.  Think of RL parallels, how often do you have to look at a piece of jewelry to know a persons status? You don't.  In some cultures, wearing particular attire was punishable, sometimes even by death.  I may be wrong, but I believe this was true in some of the older chinese dynasties.   You would think that a noble would be pissed and threatend if someone tried to look like them.  

In earth history there have been many applications of "Sumptury" laws.  A good resource for this is http://podiatry.curtin.edu.au/sump.html.  One example from there:

Quote
Colour and material were very important in Roman times, as a means of depicting rank. Laws were passed restricting peasants to one colour; officers to two colours; commanders to three; and members of the royal household to seven colours. The colour purple was always reserved for the royal family. Scarlet could be worn only by royal family members and high noblemen


My base point is this, emphasise the disparities, don't dumb down the ruling classes.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Supreme Allah on May 03, 2005, 05:13:44 PM
As it stands, I for one feel that far too much of the PC population is centered upon noble houses already. The player population is stacked heavily in places that the world population simply isn't. It feels like we're all contradicting Zalanthas itself.

Though I can certainly appreciate the RP opportunities these centers create, I personally dislike the way it's currently working as a whole, and in my opinion, making independent life harder would only worsen what I see as a problem.

I'm tired of seeing players able to just "make a guard for House X" and be at the start of such a prestigious career from day 1. These positions shouldn't be taken for granted, because simply they shouldn't be granted so freely as they are now. In my opinion, clan recruiters for the social elite (Noble Houses and the like) should have to be very, very selective even for the lowliest of starts. In my opinion, your average Noble-guarding soldier should actually be paid considerably more than what I've recently seen thrown around - the crux is that there should be far, far less people placed into such a trusted, elite class of soldier.

When word gets around in the Gaj, the Barrel or the Sun King's Sanctuary that the rich and powerful Lord Ellington Fancypants is looking for guards, I want to see mercenaries and farmboys and drunkards and maybe even nomads from all over leaping from their stools at the chance to get that position. Let's see some competition! As it currently stands it these supposedly elite collectives of men serving Noble House X just don't seem so elite. In fact, they just seem like everybody else.

Wise independents flourish because there's just so little competition for them to succeed against. All the other players if they so choose (and it really is that easy), are heaped into allegedly small, elite groups of soldiers on the limitless payrolls of wealthy merchants and the nobility instead of out there scavenging in the desert, chopping lumber, mugging people, begging, scraping, hunting, or picking pockets like most hard-up self-employed non-PC Zalanthans are forced to do.

To touch on the crime code a bit, I might note that it's simply impossible to be a "common criminal" and live past day two in either major city. If you ask me, letting NPC/VNPC soldiers overlook or just plain give less of a care about some guy roughing up children and halfbreeds in the common quarter in order to barely scrape by wouldn't hurt anybody. I don't want to see the crime code gone or even anywhere near it, obviously, but I don't like the currently omniscient-or-blind, black-or-white nature of it right now. Not every pocket that fails to be picked should result in death or jail time, and nor should every worthless longneck clubbed in the street.

Ease up on the crime code to create some more viable options in cities. Create less desirable, but still workable options outside of clans. Make guarding important people an important, well-paid and sought-after position. As Xygax suggested, give nobles and merchants a real budget to work around so that they must limit their number of underlings and underling fancy dress. Place some vicious beasts in the wild that live on and protect their precious water sources. Limit the number of trees in each section of forest.

Force more people to survive on them and we'll start seeing some real competition for resources in this barren world of ours.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: ale six on May 03, 2005, 06:05:46 PM
Is less commoners in silk going to make the game more 'gritty'?

I say no. Again, the commoners who are getting silks have earned the resources to get them. Not every scrubhopper can do that, at least from what I've seen. The commoners who can get that wealth and status should be able to show it. If they can't protect those silks, they know they might run the risk of losing them - either to a robbery or to a noble or templar who decides he wants Joe Blow's fancy silk shirt and 'asks' Joe for it as a 'gift'.

Commoners should be seen as toys to the nobles. Dressing up your aide or your concubine in silks should be a statement nobles can make - it says, "Look at how powerful and rich I am, even my servants are dressed in silk." Spending the money to do that can be a powerful statement to whoever that servant interacts with. On the same token, I don't think any noble would be threatened by a well-dressed, well-mannered commoner. Nobles simply know they're better. They might say "How cute, the little commoner wants to look like us", but I don't think they'd be threatened by it. If the commoner ever -did- start openly making airs of being as good as (or better than) the nobility, I'd expect them to be killed in short order. But, since nobles are raised taught that their blood simply makes them better people, I don't think they'd be insecure of a commoner, no matter how rich or well dressed.

Again, if exposure to the elements turned your 'pair of fancy silk pants' into 'a sandblasted pair of fancy silk pants' (or some other sort of tag as getting bloody or dusty or stained, just something to reflect wear), then both the commoners and nobles that do have silks will protect them more, and the nobles who have more money to keep buying new silks will have the nice ones, while most commoners will be stuck with silk outfits that are worn and faded, but they can't afford to replace. That, I think, is a much better approach to making fashion more 'gritty' than simply telling commoners "Don't wear silk."
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 03, 2005, 06:08:02 PM
Problem with making things harder is, to newer players (or to me :P) it's pretty hard at the moment, so it'll become even worse. And to older players, it'll be harder for a moment, but it'll eventually become old-hat. Beefing stuff up, makes things harder in the short-term, but old players can still wrought the system.

Quote from: "Ghost"
the biggest trouble against the grit is the economy of the independents.........But often times, the reason people not join clans is that, it is easy to make more coins independently......Each NPC merchant buys five of one item.. Make it so they buy one specific item from the same PC for a considerable time.
I just realised why I'm having so much more trouble then your average independant. For quite some time now, I've refused to sell stuff to NPCs (excluding when I come across the odd item or two that has nothing to do with my business) unless I'm desperate for 'sid. Just that small limit to myself has made it very difficult to play an independant.

That small limit makes all the difference. And to help independants out, I recommend trying to buy from them before you go to the store.

These will give independents more of a reason to seek a shelter in clans.  While those not joining, will have a hard time keeping themselves with coin.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Cuusardo on May 03, 2005, 08:26:12 PM
I've found that there are PCs who recruit for the noble houses who are far less picky than they should be.  Some of the people I've seen who were being offered and given employment by some of these recruiters just boggled my mind!  It does not matter if you feel the clan needs more PCs.  Quality is what matters, not quantity.

Furthermore, I think that people are not seeing employment by the nobility (and templars!) as the honor that it really is.  These people are better than commoners, and it seems a lot of the common PCs take the jobs for granted because they are so easy to get.  (That goes back to recruiter PCs not being selective enough.)  Nobility and templarate should have nothing but the best when it comes to employees.  (That also means that if one of their employees is doing a horrible job, that employee should be gotten rid of if no methods to improve are effective.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Angela Christine on May 03, 2005, 08:56:09 PM
I think the key to making clan jobs more valued it is to make it harder to get those clan jobs, not make it harder to stay independant.  You don't want people thinking "I'm not good enough to make it as an independant,  so I guess I'll have to work for Borsail.  It's a dirty job, but it's probably better than starving," "I'll work for Salaar for a few months, until I'm skilled enough to make it on my own," or "For the good of the MUD I'll bite the bullet and play a Kadian, somebody has to do it."  The more you try to force people into certain roles, the less attractive those roles become to some people.  Instead of being fun it can become a chore, an obligation.  They take a job not because they want it, but because they can't think of a good IC excuse to turn it down.  That's a recipie for disaster.

Then you get pre-emptive strikes, where players play "undesirable" characters just so that it becomes a challenge to get a good position.  A mutant, elf, halfbreed, dwarf, or 'rinther doesn't have to worry about a clan recruiter sneaking up behind him, sapping him unconcious and then dragging him off to the barracks to be fitted for a uniform before he wakes up.   :P  An undesirable PC will have to prove himself -before- he can get hired.  He has to prove that he is useful, trustworthy, and isn't going to be an embarassment to the uniform.  It seems like all a basic human has to do to get most jobs is avoid drooling, passing out, or soiling his pants durring the "interview" . . . not exactly the best of the best.

Clan jobs should be desireable and sought after, something you work for, not something you run away from.  In order to be valuable a thing has to be rare and hard to get.  If diamonds were as common as gravel, then nobody would want them.


Angela Christine
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 03, 2005, 09:23:17 PM
In reply to all these posts I keep seeing regarding independents/commoners who just live a long time being decked out in silks, I'm sorry, but I scoff at you.

Getting the wealth to spend on that -can- be a hassle, but the reason why people are still doing it, and consistently, is because they're -safe- doing it.

What I've got to say on the matter is this:  Yes, Allanak and Tuluk are very efficient with their law.  However, these are enormous cities, with areas very akin to slums/the lowest standard of living.  Make mugging more -practical- to do.  Make it -safer- for the thug who's doing what he can to make a living (That's the true grit, I think.  People doing the 'unthinkable' because the payoff is too much to ignore.)  Everyone see that big dude and his skinny friend beating the shit out of that other guy who's decked out in silks?  Hell, those boots would feed my family for a couple weeks, let's join in!

Blammo, those independents who, currently, are ruthlessly defended with the very -lives- of these soldiers who work for sometimes very corrupt templars, are no longer so safe doing such.  They're a target.  They don't have backup, they don't have political ties.

Now, that noble aide over there, who's been working for Lord Fancypants for six or seven years, steadily, given rewards of jewelry and some nice looking clothing.  Going to mug -that- chap?  Fuck no.  You'll have noble guards and militia breaking through your door to stomp on you and eat your firstborn.

To make things grittier, don't make things so -safe- for everyone.  Security is a privelege of very few, generally those -lucky- enough to get in with some noble house who can and will exact retribution for fucking with it's loyal servants.

If you want silk to be a rarer occurrence, make it rarer.  Right now, it's just as available as linen to people with money, and once you have it, it's safe as long as you don't do something stupid.  It's lines of logic...people who -can- afford better -will- afford better.

Edited to add:  Sorry, I derailed from the original post by Xygax.  But the frequency of this particular subdiscussion made me want to comment.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Bardex on May 03, 2005, 09:48:07 PM
Armaddict brings up a good point. Each city should have a lawless area.. where the NPCs won't chase silk wearers down, or interfere if a PC local guy decides he wants that silk. That's pretty much the law of the land outside the city and muggings and others happen there enough to keep the sids moving. Inside the cities I don't know of any such places accessable to anyone who is dumb (or brave or strong) enough to wander in.

Everyone knows the rinth would be lawless except they have a law of their own and enforcers as well. But maybe a place that has no NPCs to get in the way of all that fun mugging. Where there are npcs, but they aren't coded to protect locals or chase after outsiders unless they're attacked directly.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: nameless on May 04, 2005, 12:50:31 AM
Quote from: "Bardex"

Everyone knows the rinth would be lawless except they have a law of their own and enforcers as well. But maybe a place that has no NPCs to get in the way of all that fun mugging. Where there are npcs, but they aren't coded to protect locals or chase after outsiders unless they're attacked directly.


My current character is a rinther, being first character in the rinth I can tell you I haven't had more fun or felt more gritty.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Akaramu on May 04, 2005, 03:29:34 AM
Quote from: "Angela Christine"
I think the key to making clan jobs more valued it is to make it harder to get those clan jobs, not make it harder to stay independant.  You don't want people thinking "I'm not good enough to make it as an independant,  so I guess I'll have to work for Borsail.

Clan jobs should be desireable and sought after, something you work for, not something you run away from.  In order to be valuable a thing has to be rare and hard to get.


Quote from: "Cuusardo"
I've found that there are PCs who recruit for the noble houses who are far less picky than they should be. Some of the people I've seen who were being offered and given employment by some of these recruiters just boggled my mind! It does not matter if you feel the clan needs more PCs. Quality is what matters, not quantity.


I agree. So much. It has been awhile since I agreed with anyone so strongly.

Certain jobs just should not be open for nearly anyone if they just walk up to the recruiter and say "Hi.... I need a job." I would like to see less insta-recruiting and instead more tasks given out for evaluation before doing the coded clanning.

Instead, I see an attitude like... "We dont yet have 8 pit fighters in our team, lets get 3 more - I dont care if the Byn is suffering from lack of PCs".

What I find worse is the fact that some players seem to get extremely offended and feel personally attacked on an OOC level when some PCs try to cut down on the undemanding mass recruiting for 'elite' jobs with IC means. Recruiter positions are not so much about recruiting as many people as possible, it is more about picking a few and taking care of them as well as keeping them entertained.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Linedel on May 04, 2005, 09:23:38 AM
I hate to post almost the same thing again... but the discussion is going even more heavily into "make recruiters more selective" directions..

If all recruiters are more selective, players will begin to create characters based on knowledge that recruiters will use the contents of that class-detecting thread... "House X only accepts fairy sorcerers for Y role."  Now you've not only promoted some form of class detection (either IC or OOC, the result is the same), but you've affected some people's character creation.  It will also force selection of people with peak playtime, and some minimum number of hours per week (not that this is necessarily a bad thing.)

If this is done, "recruiters" must be more carefully policed, or given to more trusted players than currently.

I strongly recommend only applying this to high prestige roles (and thus only applying the additional staff monitoring required to those), and letting Kadius (and some set of other "less prestigious" houses) hire as many hunters, crafters, people that play off-peak and other assorted trash as they want.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: JollyGreenGiant on May 04, 2005, 11:54:18 AM
I started a post on this subject yesterday.  It was a simple suggestion, but I realized that it affected another part of the game as well, and that area would benefit from some changes... before I knew it, the idea had mutated into a monstrosity, each area daisy-chaining into some other related change.  I came to a conclusion: no single change would suffice to orient the game in a more gritty direction, and that even seemingly small, simple changes could have far-reaching consequences (or no effect at all.)  It's difficult to predict exactly how a change will affect the game world, because of some hard limits that you run up against and the occasional contradiction between what you need and what resources are available.  I think the game could benefit from a bit more grit in the works, though, so I'll try to organize my suggestions a bit.  I really only talk about noble Houses, since that's where I have most of my experience, but I'm sure some of these things would be applicable to other areas.

Going with the theme of keeping things organized, let's list out a few things we know about nobles and noble Houses.
- Nobles need guards.  They don't (generally) do their own fighting, nor should they.
- Every noble House has a similar military.  Not in theory, mind you, but in practice.
- There's a lot of "keeping up with the Joneses" when it comes to the number of PCs in a clan.  If House X has 10 PCs in it and House Y has 4, House Y will either complain bitterly (ICly or OOCly), go on a hiring spree and cram themselves full of people, or both.
- Guards get free food, water, storage, and usually gear as well - in addition to a decent salary, which generally ends up spent on armor, weapons, apartments, and so on.
- The structure of most House Guard/military units is identical.
- Nobles have a tendency to overuse (and overtrust) NPC guards, and underuse (and distrust) PC guards.
- PC guards aren't to be used for "dirty" work.

There's a place for noble militia organizations, but not every House needs to be the same.  If we're going to tweak one thing, we might as well tweak them all.  First, let's separate out the Houses that have formal militaries from those that don't, and talk about them separately - they're two different types of organizations after all.  

Second, let's look at a tradeoff between power (or degree of control) and responsibility.  Simply put, who pays the salary calls the shots.  If we rest the responsibility for paying and equipping a guard on the House, the House gets to call the shots for how the guard is used.  If we put that responsibility on the noble instead, then the noble calls the shots and answers for the shots called, both of which I believe promote a grittier feel to the game.

Common changes to both

Let's strip out the idea that guards aren't to be used for "dirty" work.  These are the minions of the evil empire - they're JACK-BOOTED THUGS in uniform with a get out of jail free card courtesy of the House name, as long as they're not too extreme.  At least, that's how I'd like to see them :)

Reduce access to the NPCs by making them accessible only to ranking nobles, nobles on official House business, and other necessary uses.  How does this make the world more gritty?  Well, it acknowledges that Houses don't have unlimited manpower.  In fact, junior nobles might have to go out without additional protection!  It also puts nobles in a position to interact more with their own House PCs, which is always a good thing.

Non-military personnel (such as aides) would be paid from the noble's stipend - provided that they worked for an individual noble and not the House as a whole.  Aside from some form of identifying garb (such as a cloak, coat, etc), it would be up to the nobles to provide their aides with equipment.  House personnel would of course be outfitted by the House as appropriate.  

Non-military Houses

These Houses get something of a makeover.  Most Houses have a use for their own internal military to protect their assets, but there's no reason that these forces should be anything but virtual or NPC.  The military houses are going to provide the coverage for playing that type of PC, if you want to.  So let's scrap the idea of a coherent "House Guard", and let nobles hire their own bodyguards, out of their own stipend.  Instead of having formal arrangements for rank, bodyguard rank could be dependent on the noble they work for.  Aside from identifying garb (cloak, etc), the nobles would be responsible for outfitting their guards - and if they so chose, could order uniforms from Salarr, etc.

This might require bumping noble's stipends up a bit - or perhaps just offering more opportunities for them to "earn" more.  In my opinion, that's more of a feature than an obstacle.  There's also a balance here - nobles no longer have a "pool" of guards to draw from whenever they're on, but on the other hand, with their newfound flexibility on hiring, they should be able to pick people whose playing times fit their own.  House rules would still apply to the guards (going outside, etc.) but the "training schedule" would be more like a guideline for when training was taking place, since PC guards would (in theory) now be more focused on the nobles who hired them.

Oh, and I see no reason that a noble couldn't purchase a bodyguard slave (PC or NPC).  This would be a reasonable alternate for those who absolutely refuse to use anything but NPC guards, as well as adding some business interaction to the slaving Houses.

Military Houses

There aren't really any changes specific just to the military Houses.  Because of the size of the playerbase, we don't really have enough people to split out both a military in the House and have nobles hiring their own bodyguards.  Therefore, these organizations would continue to exist in essentially their current form with only the changes common to both types of noble House implemented.

That's about all I've got.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 04, 2005, 02:21:32 PM
Glad to see this thread is still going strong.  Some thought for focus:

I think the "guard vs. independent" situation is relatively well-covered.  A lot of good suggestions have been made here with respect to both staff-handling of these roles, and player management of their own clans' recruiting.  Let's go ahead and close off that line, for now.

Silks.  Some good ideas have emerged from this, and yes, I DO think the amount of silk worn inappropriately in the game has been worth discussion.  Yeah, silk is only part of the problem, but it DOES change the feel of things to look at "the scarred rinth-rat" (yes, that's not a possible sdesc) and see that he's wearing a lovely black-silk blouse.  We probably need to do a better job of providing lower-end non-silk alternatives, and I am in agreement with others who have mentioned being more cautious about how you choose your own clothing:  does silk really fit your idiom?  Let's go ahead and move away from this line of discussion for now, as well.

One thing that I think hasn't been touched on enough is roleplay techniques for making your own character's life more difficult and more real.  I know some of the obvious ones, spice, alcohol, etc., and I think they're awesome.  What other ideas do you guys have for this?  How can we codedly or otherwise make vices like this more interesting?  One thing we've talked about amongst ourselves in the last couple of days is making intoxication last for a briefer period of time (and also causing people to stumble and fall less), but also adding some of the other effects of alcohol poisoning, like say vomiting (which would maybe have all sorts of interesting consequences, but would also result in you sobering up faster).  What are some other ideas of purely RP-based lifestyle choices we could be making as RPers along these lines?  And what are some code-supported (or data-supported) features that would make getting drunk, spiced-up, buying a whore, etc., more interesting?

I like the idea of implementing a more full-featured disease/disorder system, and I don't think it's necessary to expound on that here, but other, similar, ideas may also be worth exploring.

-- X

ps-  I have, as promised earlier, ruthlessly moderated a few short posts which were either "I agree" style posts, or were slightly off-topic...  Please, don't take offense if you were hit by that.  :)
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Cuusardo on May 04, 2005, 02:38:20 PM
I like the idea of implementing the effects of alcohol poisoning.  Getting drunk enough should make people vomit, and they should suffer the effects of it (dehydration in particular.)  I also think that it should be possible to die of alcohol poisoning if one drinks enough.

Also, perhaps the coded withdrawl effects of spice could be intensified, or perhaps too much spice.  (I once witnessed a PC roleplay out vomiting because of having too much spice, which I thought was a pretty cool addition to the scene) Since there is also coded alcohol tolerance, why not add coded spice tolerance?  That would make spice addicts have to buy more and more, because they need more and more to get the same effects.  That, in turn, would cause more money to be spent on spice and give a more realistic addiction.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: amoeba on May 04, 2005, 02:57:18 PM
Quote from: "Xygax"

One thing that I think hasn't been touched on enough is roleplay techniques for making your own character's life more difficult and more real.  I know some of the obvious ones, spice, alcohol, etc., and I think they're awesome.


In terms of spice, one is that some need to be much more addictive.  And in the same vein something I have not seen are 'pushers'.   in RL society these people do a hell of a lot of damage, give away product for free and get the people hooked.  Also the recrational ones should be more entertaining, and pervasive. Yes there is the inital 'you feel yada yada..." ,  then the signoff later on, but I think it would be helpful to have pervasive messages popup periodically, both on the why are you taking it side, and the why is this a bad thing side.  I think there should be some variablity between one user and another as to the intensity and duration of said effect.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: JollyGreenGiant on May 04, 2005, 03:04:04 PM
Along the lines of disease, how about coded heat exhaustion?  I'm not talking about just dehydration, but the fact that at some point, your body just can't shed heat fast enough.  Stand around in the sun for too long, end up Krath-struck.  That might be interesting.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Akaramu on May 04, 2005, 04:19:35 PM
Zalanthan life is easily made difficult. :wink:

Just keep playing when you are too sleepy to make any sense, and watch other PCs freak out over all the nonsense you produce.

Or try and ignore some OOC knowledge. Make an assassin who believes he is a hunter, and is afraid of leaving the city unless he finds someone to teach him and show him around.

Focus less on skills. Keep your skills at a crappy level for 10 days played. Dont branch any spells until 5 - 10 days played.

Piss some people off. Dont be the friendly person who always perfectly controls themselves and has dozens of loving friends. Be arrogant for no reason. Be vain, and greedy, and dont always hide it so well that no one will ever notice.

Get drunk and be rude. Forget to put your coin into your pack. Or your apartment keys. Be ugly. Have missing teeth instead of a perfect f-me figure.

Stop playing such perfect PCs, and life will all of a sudden be much harsher.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Angela Christine on May 04, 2005, 05:54:28 PM
I think spice would be more popular if there was more feedback about it from the MUD.  

Right now all you get is:



Telling me I'm affected by spice doesn't tell me much, and I may not remember what the latest effect echo said, especially if I'm still spiced from last time I logged in.   I sometimes miss the secondary effect message if there is a lot of scroll, so I might be mistakenly still roleplaying the primary effect.  Telling me which spices I'm affected by would help.


I would like another line in addition to the "affected by" line, either as part of the normal Stat or Score messages, or perhaps a new command.  Something like; "You feel: elated, numb and anxious" or whatever the appropriate current effects from the spices affecting you are.  Possibly with modifiers like the hunger and thirst message, depending on how much spice you took and how long ago you took it.  "You feel: a little elated, numb, and very anxious."   That way I could have a reminder about what I'm affected by at anytime, just like I do for food, water, and alchohol.

To me that would make the effects of Spice seem more important than they do now.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: jmordetsky on May 04, 2005, 08:28:49 PM
My take:

1)   Fix the economy
a.   Give Nobles more money
b.   Make Silks MUCH more expensive, so that only nobles can buy them.
c.   Inflation is good.


2)   Add more Tembos, Bahaments, Silt Worms, Raptors, Silt Horrors and other things you don’t want to run into.
a.   I know people think that it’s better make it harder to get into clans, but
   clans suck till you have people, which is something you’ll never get past.

b.   People will never be extra selective, and even if they were it will bring us full circle where everyone is a well mannered, well groomed aide or house guard just to get in a clan. Which bites….

c.   Life on Zalanthas is hard, if you’re not holding it down with a group, your probably going to die and the world should reflect that. Solo-miners, solo-hunters, and solo-foragers should be ”Lunch”, not “Rich”.

d.   Not until Zalanthas is a world that is so gritty that everyone is desperate to be in a noble or merchant house, will being an employee of a noble house be a position that is raised to the status it should be. Why should I lick a nobles nuts while that rinthi half-elf make 1k a day on mining and carru hides?

3)   Make it harder to get in a clan. (yea, I know, I’m a big ball of contradictions)
a.   I’m thinking, make an OC cap on who can be in a noble or miltia clan.
b.   When I say OC cap, I mean like all players in noble clan X must be X days old before being considered for the clan.

4)   Make it easier to be a mugger
a.   This is a big deal…See a indy guy in the commoners quarter wearing silks? Think he should be turning a few heads? That sort of thing doesn’t go down in the rinth….Because people in the rinth will kill you and your mother for a nice silk shirt.

b.   Things really shouldn’t be *that* different in the commoner’s quarters. Sure you’re better off then Rinthi’s but that silk suit on guardless indy’s back still represents a chunk of change. When someone walks into the Bard’s barrel wearing silks and doesn’t have a hulking killer guard next to him, people in there should be thinking the same thing that a silt horror thinks about the solo hunter…Lunch.

c.   There should definitely be more “lawless” areas in Allanak and Tuluk where criminal can duck out and hide and where people would be seriously afraid to wear silks. More shadowy back alleys and the like.

5)   Don’t trust in the players to make the “right” choice.
a.   I’m glad you have such faith in me, but if I’m playing the game, I want to play seamlessly, I tend to get that far into my characters. The last thing I want to do is say, “Would my character realistically buy that?” or “Would my character realistically make this much money?”. I don’t want to think that way…When I’m playing I am my character, with all of it’s neurosis

b.   If you were a starving rinth rat would you figured out that Kadius was going to give you one hunrdred sid for a shiny rock that you can find 2 leagues from the gate, would you realistically do it? Fuck yes. Don’t make me come out of character to think that through. That’s not cool.

c.   To keep players from doing unrealistic things that take away from the grittiness of the game, asking players to self regulate imho is cop out. For the world to feel grittier, it needs to be harsher. Plain and simple. Things that have been mentioned about are awesome ideas...coded heat exhaustion, food that rots away, food that is salted and doesn't rot away causing you to need more water....great ideas.

my 2 dimes.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 04, 2005, 08:42:18 PM
Quote from: "Xygax"
I know some of the obvious ones, spice, alcohol, etc., and I think they're awesome.  What other ideas do you guys have for this?  How can we codedly or otherwise make vices like this more interesting?
Make the spice-messages more detailed. I guess they're vague at the moment to allow for roleplay, but I know I have no idea how to roleplay spice properly, so I avoid this vice. At the moment I take some spice and get a vague message like "you feel at one with the elements" or something like that. Now what the feck does that mean? All I do is make my character act more mellow. He doesn't suddenly feel happier, or sadder, he doesn't burst out laughing or crying. He doesn't become paranoid. He just acts mellow, sits there with a dazed look on his face. For me, that's boring with a capital B ;)

Some ideas to make spice more interesting:
* Does it make your current mood more forceful? If so, echo something to that effect. So if I'm happy when I take the spice, I can roleplay being ecstatic. If I'm a bit scared, I become paranoid.
* What are long-term spice effects? Does different spice have different effects? Document these a little bit. Perhaps if I take spice X a lot, I become paranoid. I don't know if this is the case, and unless I get echoes to this effect I won't know ;)

Another great vice is gambling. This doesn't happen enough in-game. I've seen a couple of players do it, and I think us players should gamble more. To do this, make the tools cheaper. At the moment there are two types of dice, both of them cost the same (and at a price new characters aren't likely to afford), I've yet to find a pack of cards in-game from an easy to access place (in Allanak anyway). Dart boards tend to have no darts (I think because people were stealing the darts  :roll:). Perhaps have an NPC that is willing to play a game of cards or dice or darts.

I'd suggest having NPC-run arena games every now and then, but it seems to me players don't enjoy arena RPTs too much. Probably because they don't gamble ;)
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 04, 2005, 08:58:51 PM
jmordetsky:  Your post is pretty terse, so it's hard to address your points specifically, but I think I disagree with some of them, so I'll try:


Quote from: "jmordetsky"
My take:
1)   Fix the economy
a.   Give Nobles more money
b.   Make Silks MUCH more expensive, so that only nobles can buy them.
c.   Inflation is good.


I don't think the economy is that broken -- yes, there are ways to abuse it, and yes those individual items should be fixed, but tuning the economy too far will make the game significantly less playable, especially for newbies, but also for players who aren't abusing the economy as it is.  This touches on your trust statement(s) which I'll get to further on.

I am also hesitant to give nobles more money without some idea of what they'll do with it.  If more money came with a lot more responsibility (like actually managing pay, food, and water, benefits, etc., for their clans), then it might be more compelling.

Quote from: "jmordetsky"
2)   Add more Tembos, Bahaments, Silt Worms, Raptors, Silt Horrors and other things you don’t want to run into.
a.   I know people think that it’s better make it harder to get into clans, but clans suck till you have people, which is something you’ll never get past.
b.   People will never be extra selective, and even if they were it will bring us full circle where everyone is a well mannered, well groomed aide or house guard just to get in a clan. Which bites….
c.   Life on Zalanthas is hard, if you’re not holding it down with a group, your probably going to die and the world should reflect that. Solo-miners, solo-hunters, and solo-foragers should be ”Lunch”, not “Rich”.
d.   Not until Zalanthas is a world that is so gritty that everyone is desperate to be in a noble or merchant house, will being an employee of a noble house be a position that is raised to the status it should be. Why should I lick a nobles nuts while that rinthi half-elf make 1k a day on mining and carru hides?


Again, if we go too far with adding tembos, bahamets, etc., we'll make the desert areas of the MUD, which are already very inhospitable, imho, much more difficult to explore.  And we put them there for a reason -- if we didn't want you to travel the deserts, we'd have made them death-flag rooms.  :)

Not sure how a) and b) here are related to silt horrors, but....  I'm not sure I agree with you on the remark that "clans suck till you have people"...  there are a few clans in the game which manage to be very playable (and even downright fun) without enormous populations.  How can we make more clans be more fun with fewer players?  Are there restrictions in place (in code or documentation) that prevent players in disparate clans, or unclanned players from interacting with one another?  Perhaps those should be reviewed.

I would like to our clan recruiters to be selective (ICly) about whom they hire, personally.  They shouldn't be avoiding people because they're newbies, but they should certainly be avoiding people who don't suit the roles they're trying to fill.  If you need a human with massive muscles for a bodyguard, don't hire a half-elven tailor.  Hiring people for jobs they don't fit ICly is a recipe for boredom.

With respect to your point c), maybe.  I think solo-ers die significantly more often than clanned PCs, but I don't currently have data to back up that remark.

As to your last point, I think it's poorly considered.  A lot!  A lot of the PCs in the game currently HAVE indeed chosen noble nut-licking over the alternatives.  Why?


Quote from: "jmordetsky"
3)   Make it harder to get in a clan. (yea, I know, I’m a big ball of contradictions)
a.   I’m thinking, make an OC cap on who can be in a noble or miltia clan.
b.   When I say OC cap, I mean like all players in noble clan X must be X days old before being considered for the clan.


I utterly loathe the idea of imposing OOC caps.  The game shouldn't be driving by OOC mechanics, it should be driven by IC ones.  This is why I like the idea of giving nobles/merchant-family-members more personal, direct responsibility for who gets paid for what, and what benefits their house provides.

Yes, maybe your average clan recruiter should wait until they've seen someone around for a few weeks IC before finally deciding to hire them, and place an enormous amount of trust in them, and yes perhaps that accomplishes one of your OOC goals, but it's really stemming from an IC consideration -- or it should be.

Quote from: "jmordetsky"
4)   Make it easier to be a mugger
a.   This is a big deal…See a indy guy in the commoners quarter wearing silks? Think he should be turning a few heads? That sort of thing doesn’t go down in the rinth….Because people in the rinth will kill you and your mother for a nice silk shirt.
b.   Things really shouldn’t be *that* different in the commoner’s quarters. Sure you’re better off then Rinthi’s but that silk suit on guardless indy’s back still represents a chunk of change. When someone walks into the Bard’s barrel wearing silks and doesn’t have a hulking killer guard next to him, people in there should be thinking the same thing that a silt horror thinks about the solo hunter…Lunch.
c.   There should definitely be more “lawless” areas in Allanak and Tuluk where criminal can duck out and hide and where people would be seriously afraid to wear silks. More shadowy back alleys and the like.


Allanak in the old days had a fairly extensive rooftop system, where a cunning thief could hide out and eventually make an escape, if they planned well enough.  Perhaps this is something we should consider restoring.  I think efforts in this direction should be made with baby-steps, however, because being robbed blind can be very OOCly frustrating, especially for new players.  Remember, we're aiming for more grittiness here, not necessarily more harshness, and especially not more OOC harshness.

Quote from: "jmordetsky"
5)   Don’t trust in the players to make the “right” choice.
a.   I’m glad you have such faith in me, but if I’m playing the game, I want to play seamlessly, I tend to get that far into my characters. The last thing I want to do is say, “Would my character realistically buy that?” or “Would my character realistically make this much money?”. I don’t want to think that way…When I’m playing I am my character, with all of it’s neurosis
b.   If you were a starving rinth rat would you figured out that Kadius was going to give you one hunrdred sid for a shiny rock that you can find 2 leagues from the gate, would you realistically do it? Fuck yes. Don’t make me come out of character to think that through. That’s not cool.
c.   To keep players from doing unrealistic things that take away from the grittiness of the game, asking players to self regulate imho is cop out. For the world to feel grittier, it needs to be harsher. Plain and simple. Things that have been mentioned about are awesome ideas...coded heat exhaustion, food that rots away, food that is salted and doesn't rot away causing you to need more water....great ideas.


We simply don't have enough time to police or codedly control every aspect of your life.  You HAVE to be trustworthy enough to make the choices that are appropriate for your character, his position in life, and his overall attitude.  I think a lot of the process of crafting a believable character takes place OOC...  you're ALWAYS going to be making OOC decisions about whether your character would do this or that.  Even thinking to type "time" is an OOC decision, and you should probably be typing "time" and "weather" a lot, even though your PC would never have to consciously ponder the time or the weather, since those things are all around him.  Deciding that it's IC night-time and your PC would probably want to take a rest from a long day of mining at this point is, frankly, a fully OOC decision.  YOU'RE responsible for playing that realistically, even though you the player aren't as tired/hungry/dehydrated as your alter-ego must be, and yes that requires OOC thought.

That's the same OOC thought you should be engaging in when you direct your ranger on a trip through Welen's Fineries....  really, would a dusty old ranger even _think_ of going in there???

In many ways, this game is built on a mutual trust between the staff and the players; and largely you are left to your own devices, and we trust you to try to play within the guidelines of your character, her race, the city-state she lives in, etc.  I think it would be a sad thing indeed for that situation to change.

-- X
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Maybe42or54 on May 04, 2005, 10:45:30 PM
The gambling system could be redone in my opinion.
So far I've seen only that you can bet on darts, ar-wrestle, or find a pc and play a card game that is really hard to do IC.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: jmordetsky on May 04, 2005, 11:15:39 PM
Quote from: "Xygax"
jmordetsky:  Your post is pretty terse, so it's hard to address your points specifically, but I think I disagree with some of them, so I'll try:


Terse as in short...Yes. Terse as in rude...Didn't mean it like that, but thats not the first time I've gotten that...so...understood... apologies.

Quote from: "Xygax"

I don't think the economy is that broken -- yes, there are ways to abuse it, and yes those individual items should be fixed, but tuning the economy too far will make the game significantly less playable, especially for newbies, but also for players who aren't abusing the economy as it is.  


I actually don't think it's that broken either...A better header for that item would have been: "The economy" or "On fixing the economy". The header was aimed at, my feelings that the theme of the post seems to be semi-focused on non-nobles in silks. My point is basically that increasing the noble stipend and increasing the costs of silks takes care of non-nobles in silks. It seems really simple to me...Silks are non-essential, the majority of players won't be hurt by making them more rare and more expensive.

Quote from: "Xygax"

I am also hesitant to give nobles more money without some idea of what they'll do with it.  If more money came with a lot more responsibility (like actually managing pay, food, and water, benefits, etc., for their clans), then it might be more compelling.


I dig, but it'll be a tough change. Considering the virtual nature of clans and the currentl position and status of junior nobles in the houses. I'm all for having high profile players forced to manage day to day operations of the houses or having tangible period based goals that have failure consequences attached to them. I posted something touching on it a while ago.


Quote from: "Xygax"

Again, if we go too far with adding tembos, bahamets, etc., we'll make the desert areas of the MUD, which are already very inhospitable, imho, much more difficult to explore.  And we put them there for a reason -- if we didn't want you to travel the deserts, we'd have made them death-flag rooms.


Well to an extent. I disagree that the desert is inhospitable. Bahaments and Silt Horrors may be going to far in that these are animals that can kill in a hit. But raptos...pairs of raptors...Things that would pose a problem to a n00b on foot but not a group of trained fighters I think would help force more people into clans and keep them out of the very rich solo hunter roles. (with an emphasis on certain areas...)

Quote from: "Xygax"

Not sure how a) and b) here are related to silt horrors, but....  I'm not sure I agree with you on the remark that "clans suck till you have people"...  there are a few clans in the game which manage to be very playable (and even downright fun) without enormous populations.  How can we make more clans be more fun with fewer players?  Are there restrictions in place (in code or documentation) that prevent players in disparate clans, or unclanned players from interacting with one another?  Perhaps those should be reviewed.


A+B are notions which would push more indies into clans. As for small clans being fun...sure they can be. If you all login at the same time and you're not managing to miss one another. I've played an Indy character with a buddy that was one of my favorite roles of all time. However, in a formal clan leadership position you tend to get people whose login time doesn't match yours, or one anothers etc and similar issues. Here having more people in the clan tends to lead to more people to RP with, more mini-plots conflicts etc. It's nice to be in a big clan.

Quote from: "Xygax"

I would like to our clan recruiters to be selective (ICly) about whom they hire, personally.  They shouldn't be avoiding people because they're newbies, but they should certainly be avoiding people who don't suit the roles they're trying to fill.  If you need a human with massive muscles for a bodyguard, don't hire a half-elven tailor.  Hiring people for jobs they don't fit ICly is a recipe for boredom.


I think this problem really stems from the number of players that you have available to choose from for clan life. I don't think telling clan leaders to be more selective is going to help. I think thats like telling a one-legged dog to run faster. :D

Quote from: "Xygax"

With respect to your point c), maybe.  I think solo-ers die significantly more often than clanned PCs, but I don't currently have data to back up that remark.


I'm sure indies die more the clannies. But there are still uber rich indies. I guess what it comes down to is what is right ratio of dead indies to rich indies. I feel like it's probably now a 70/30 shot of making it as an indy to ending up as raptor bait. I think it should really push 30/70. Maybe even 20/80. In general I would like (personally) to say to myself when I create a character "Well, I could risk the indy hunter path but if I do I'll probably be dead pretty quick." I don't have that level of fear of losing an indy hunter right now. I don't think a good deal of people do.

Quote from: "Xygax"

As to your last point, I think it's poorly considered.  A lot!  A lot of the PCs in the game currently HAVE indeed chosen noble nut-licking over the alternatives.  Why?


True, there's plenty that might attract one to a ball licking role :D... But how many characters who ICly didn't want to lick a nobles nuts chose to do so because they were ICly or OCly afraid of the desert? The psycology of a Zalanthan should be, "I would give my left nut, to lick that nobles balls...because to do so, would mean a great long life."

Quote from: "Xygax"

I utterly loathe the idea of imposing OOC caps.  


Yea, I kinda just threw that out there...

Quote from: "Xygax"

Allanak in the old days had a fairly extensive rooftop system, where a cunning thief could hide out and eventually make an escape, if they planned well enough.  Perhaps this is something we should consider restoring.  I think efforts in this direction should be made with baby-steps, however, because being robbed blind can be very OOCly frustrating, especially for new players.  Remember, we're aiming for more grittiness here, not necessarily more harshness, and especially not more OOC harshness.


I think grittiness can only be achieved through harshness. If you've rped in the rinth...It's pretty gritty. Though, it's also OOCly *very* difficult to survive, so I hear you. I'm not sure where the balance should be struck, but I definately think the commoners quarter could use a dose of some of the mugging scenes that get played out in the rinth. And it would definately cut down on the number of peeps strutting around with 10k worth of gear on.

Quote from: "Xygax"

We simply don't have enough time to police or codedly control every aspect of your life.  You HAVE to be trustworthy enough to make the choices that are appropriate for your character, his position in life, and his overall attitude.....


I cut that quote short to save length...and again, I hear you, but it needs to be a balance. For example, your example of the miner getting tired after a long day of mining returning at night to pub being an OOC decision. In my opinion, thats a great example of something that really could be coded and shouldn't be an OOC decision. If I'm mining all day, I should get tired. Mining should make you lose stamina, maybe it (or other phsyical activities) should increase your need for water etc.

I'm not saying we'll ever achieve a level where you won't have to make any OOC decisions, but I think as a general rule of thumb you won't curb the issues by asking the players to reduce the behavior. You'll acheive some level of success that way, but you can drastically reduce the behaviors by making said behavior codedly unrealistic and thus reflecting that this behavior is unrealistic on zalanthas through the "physical" rules that govern the world.

Of course thats a difficult task in some cases, especially when you consider the scope of some of the tasks, the coding resources available, etc. I think we all understand that some responsibility is the only way to accomplish certain goals, but in response to mass player outcry over an issue been around for a while, I think a code change should definately be considered.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Angela Christine on May 05, 2005, 12:14:54 AM
Quote from: "jmordetsky"


A+B are notions which would push more indies into clans.


"Pushing" people into anything makes them resentful and unhappy, which isn't a good thing for a game.  When is the last time you felt good about someone forcing you to do something "for your own good" or even "for the common good?"  It is just a bad idea.

Groups of indies are better than individuals, but you have to be able to survive long enough to make friends -- and making friends you trust enough to be at your back with weapons in a lawless area takes time.  Yes, I DO feel safer digging salt alone and running from anything remotely dangerous than I do when going out with PCs I've just met.  ICly you have virtual friends you've known all your life, and other PCs are people you've just met.

Joining clans is good, but personally I like to survive for a couple-three play days before I join a clan, so that my character has some "real" history outside the clan.  I want to have some non-virtual accomplishments to brag about.  Since indies, at least in the south, often don't make it to three days played, It can be months before I get a character who lives long enough to start trying to join a clan.  

More insta-death isn't going to be helpful for independants.  It isn't going to be helpful for clannies either, because an insta-death trap can usually take out one person before the rest of the group gets organized.  Insta-death sucks for everyone.



Quote
True, there's plenty that might attract one to a ball licking role :D... But how many characters who ICly didn't want to lick a nobles nuts chose to do so because they were ICly or OCly afraid of the desert? The psycology of a Zalanthan should be, "I would give my left nut, to lick that nobles balls...because to do so, would mean a great long life."


Isn't getting a great life the opposite of gritty?  If people enjoy roles that involve them with the upper crust of society (nobles, templars, and major merchant houses) than those roles should be available to them.  But roles on the ass-end of society should be available too.

Some people have more cash than they should, but I've met very few uber-rich people.  Consider that a small home will usually cost more than 50,000 sid in most cities.  A multi-room or multi-floor house will be at least double that.  A property big enough to have a staff and a place to store your own mounts (ie a place big enough to house a minor merchant house) would be more money than anyone I've ever met.  A person who doesn't own anything but the gear they are wearing and a few trinkets in a rented room is NOT rich, not even if they have 20,000 in the bank.

I can get a nice cushy bank balance playing in the 'rinth, without ever getting in a fight or commiting a crime.  All it takes is a little patience.

A 'rinther has almost no expenses.  You can't blow money on equipment because people will kill you for it.  You are in the city or indoors all the time, so your thirst rate is pretty low, and you can get/make crappy food pretty cheap.  Before you know it you will have too much money to justify staying in the 'rinth.   :P  A 'rinther PC can -survive- just by finding and selling used dark hooded cloaks, which is not hard at all as long as there are a few homocidal people running around.

My point isn't that it should be harder to be a 'rinther, but that people can find an "easy" way to make a living no matter where they are or how hard you make it to live there.  But, and this is the important part, money doesn't matter.


Angela Christine
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Ghost on May 05, 2005, 05:16:33 AM
Quote from: "AC"
Some people have more cash than they should, but I've met very few uber-rich people. Consider that a small home will usually cost more than 50,000 sid in most cities. A multi-room or multi-floor house will be at least double that. A property big enough to have a staff and a place to store your own mounts (ie a place big enough to house a minor merchant house) would be more money than anyone I've ever met. A person who doesn't own anything but the gear they are wearing and a few trinkets in a rented room is NOT rich, not even if they have 20,000 in the bank.


Lets say, relatively rich then?

If an indy having 20k is not rich, then what is a clanned who, with all his gathered coins made 1k in four IC years?  He has slim to nil chance making anything -close- to that much, through out all his life.

So to avoid confusion:  We are referring to indies that are -relatively- rich.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: jmordetsky on May 05, 2005, 01:24:29 PM
I'd like to see more of an environment that encouraged accidental spice addiction. Where because life is such a struggle, spice is a neccessary aide that when used could lead to addiction.

In RL there are alot of complicated things that stimulate drug addiction some of which have very little to do with the pleasure of acutally doing the drug. Sometimes it's acceptance, self esteem, culture, nuerosis etc. I don't see a good deal of this going on on zalanthas. I see chars trying spice out of curiousity and people who play "spice" users.  

What if the lure of spice was less to do with pleasure and more to do with tangible effects. Like a heightened awareness that temporarily allowed you to navigate a storm. The more spice you did, the longer the awareness would last, until it finally became permanent along with a spice addiction.

This would give players an IC and an in some cases an OOC reason to purchase spices which would help them achieve certain short term goals. You could make the length of time it took to get addicted variable so that a character never knew how far they could push it.

It also creates an interesting trap for twinky instincts...maybe spice could be used after time to gain more mana, or permanent stat boosts, but only at the expense of the addiction.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: jhunter (not logged in) on May 05, 2005, 02:45:15 PM
Quote
Allanak in the old days had a fairly extensive rooftop system, where a cunning thief could hide out and eventually make an escape, if they planned well enough. Perhaps this is something we should consider restoring.


Definitely, I think as someone had mentioned some time back that an entire rooftop layer should be added to both cities. It would make for more options for criminal types when planning escapes and such. And perhaps some fun rp for pc militia trying to capture these criminals.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: moab on May 05, 2005, 02:58:19 PM
All of this talk about making indy life nigh impossible raises a question in my mind...what about that those of us who enjoy playing loners?

Right now, indies can and do die with regular frequency.

I'll say straight up that if the only way for me to survive as a PC longer than a week would be to join a clan, I wouldn't be interested in playing all that much.  Clan play should be a preference choice, - a choice to RP within a structured group.  It shouldn't be the only legit path to "success" in the game world.

Not everyone in the known world belongs to a House. There are many - thousands - perhaps millions of VNPC spice grebbers, hunters, hangerson that live out reasonably long if somehwhat impoverished lives.

Rather than making the word more difficult for indies by threatening to kill them (making the desert more difficult) make their equipment wear out so they have to spend coin to replace their gear.  Weapons need to break more frequently, armor needs to fall apart, cloaks need to tear, and boots need to get holes.
 
When we have those kind of expenses, then indies will have to spend thier  hard earned coins to find a tailor (pc prefferably) to fix their gear or walk around with a pair of dusty, holey, raggedy carru hide boots.
 
The next time someone  comes across a a pair of Gith leg armor, maybe they'll save that leather to patch up their own armor rather than buy new, don'tcha think?

Guard income (across the board) should be dropped by about three hundred obsidian.  Only the upper crust of the House guards should look spit-polished.  Then it's something to achieve.  Otherwise you're just a guard - someone who was rifling through a trashpile a week prior and lucked into paying work.

Lower income along with cheaper repair bills may result in more people wearing beatup used armor and clothing because they can't afford better.

At the same time the price of ale is broken.  PCs have a hard time already buying much to drink (unless its a special occasion or they have plenty of coin) so drop the cost of the basement-brand brews to less than ten sids a mug.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: amoeba on May 05, 2005, 03:04:58 PM
Quote from: "jmordetsky"

What if the lure of spice was less to do with pleasure and more to do with tangible effects. Like a heightened awareness that temporarily allowed you to navigate a storm. The more spice you did, the longer the awareness would last, until it finally became permanent along with a spice addiction.


This speaks to one of the current issues with spice. I would think that which spices did what, and what effects they give, would be much more widely known than it currently is.  To keep this entirely in the find out IC arena limits it's appeal.  Now if you knew x spice gave you y effect, but perhaps Kurac hushed up the negative effects, then people would be more likly to try it, with all sorts of interesting results later on.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Cindrak on May 05, 2005, 05:40:43 PM
Quote from: "moab"
At the same time the price of ale is broken.  PCs have a hard time already buying much to drink (unless its a special occasion or they have plenty of coin) so drop the cost of the basement-brand brews to less than ten sids a mug.

I agree, and I don't understand why people are calling to raise ale prices. Ale should be the poor man's water, and alcoholism should be a big problem in the lower classes. Right now though none of the lower classes can afford to get drunk, or at least it seems that way to me.

-Cindrak
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 05:57:45 PM
I disagree that House employees should look just as shabby as everyone else.  Dusty, yes.  Sweaty, yes.  Shabby?  Hell no.

There's a reason why noble guards are prestigious (whether it's reflected in the attitudes of the players or not.  People should be scrambling to join the noble guards, not noble guards scrambling to get people to join.)  Even in appearance, they are above the norm.  Most don't make it when they try to join.  Most get turned down, and turn to groups such as the T'zai Byn or other smaller groups, even merchant houses.

Noble houses are servants of the most powerful people in the city, and they look like it.  This doesn't remove grittiness from the game, it adds to it with a social aspect that is completely ignored at this moment.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 05, 2005, 06:08:48 PM
Actually, there's a difference between "prestigious" and "coveted."  Yeah, you might covet that position as a noble-guard, since it might mean a pretty good salary, decent food and maybe even water, but that doesn't mean that upon attaining the position you're suddenly the bee's knees.  You're still just a commoner.  A commoner with a good job, maybe, but still a lowly commoner.

I too would like to see house guards generally dressed and acting more like commoners.  And yes, that probably means shabby.  You've spent a major portion of your life being dusty and rough and low, why would the lucky acquisition of a good job suddenly make you a different person?

Noble house guards are -not- the servants of the most powerful people in the city by -any- stretch.  Most likely, if you're a noble-house guard, you're the lackey of some low-level, obscure noble who's jockeying for position amongst his own house members, in addition to struggling for fame, recognition and power in the eyes of the rest of the populace.

Most PCs have never met the most powerful people in either city-state, and this is even true OOCly of many players.  A lot happens behind the closed doors (or gates) of areas very few people have access to; the most that tumbles down to the lowly commoner is rumor and suspicion.

This is just the sort of assumption I'm trying to kill with this thread (and with other posts along the same lines):  you are probably at least one full rung lower on the totem poll than you think you are (not you specifically, Armaddict, everyone :))

-- X.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 06:20:22 PM
I still wholeheartedly disagree, particularly when you take into account the average numbers that are actually -in- each house's guard.

To hire someone to represent your house says a lot.  There's a reason there are institutions that specialize in teaching you how to act around nobles, how to be polite...you -are- exposed to it more than the average commoner.

Now, you -are- still the average commoner.  You still go out to the bar with your noble house buddies, still talk about whatever...however...you're in a uniform that denotes you as an -acknowledged- representative of your noble house.  Yes, you're a lowly, perhaps undervalued representative, but a representative.

In this political game where appearances of your house account for so much, you don't want your representatives being seen as people just dragged in off the street.  What sort of reputation does -that- give you?

While I respect the hopes to move towards a 'grittier' zalanthas...trying to do so through saying 'everyone should just look a lot dirtier' seems somewhat shallow to me.  I'd much rather see dangers put out for those who try to appear above their station than try to shove them back down into that place through immortal decisions.

Once again...my long-standing gripe, the one I'm heavily biased towards, I admit, is brought up again.  There needs to be revisions to and/or a new criminal code if you want to actually see people take a turn 'downwards' in the social standings.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 05, 2005, 07:12:13 PM
Again, you've started with a couple of misconceptions, here:

The uniform you wear as a member of a house guard is less meant to mark you as a representative of that house than to brand you as off-limits to other houses, and to shield you from persecution.  A templar may, for example, let you slide because he likes your boss.  But you aren't, strictly, a representative of that house, no moreso than an employee at McDonald's reflects the wealth and stature of the owner of a chain of McDonald's restaurants.  The abundance of uniforms is another thing I'd like to see tuned back: fewer people wearing less-garish uniforms, less-carefully presented will lead to less of the misconception under which you're laboring.

My overarching goal here isn't as shallow as simply "dress more shabbily", but this is definitely part of the issue, and it is precisely because you think what you think!  The fact that nearly every house guard is shiny, and lantern-jawed, and stands erect with a perfect, pectoral-displaying posture, and struts about "representing their house" absolutely turns my stomach!  The average house-guard isn't that guy at all, even the average Lieutenant isn't necessarily going to be that guy!  In the movie "Dragonslayer" (and yes, I realize I'm dating myself amazingly), the character Tyrian (played by John Hallam) is something like a captain of the king's Men-at-Arms...  but his attire is essentially functional armor and perhaps a brooch indicating his rank and position.  He isn't shiny and polished and clean-shaven, and he's hardly an upstanding representative of his house.  He isn't, in other words, a great hero.  And you shouldn't aspire to be a great hero in portraying your roles...  the best portrayals (even the best portrayals of heros) start with deeply flawed individuals.  Admittedly, Tyrian is a villain (in a sense), but he also provides an interesting model for the sort of flavor I'm talking about for a house-guard or a militiaman.

Finally, you suggest that "appearances count for so much", but I think that this really stems from a modern, western notion of personal presentation in business.  On Zalanthas, only fools will take you at face-value...  how you dress has little or nothing to do with how easily you may be able to ruin (or take) their life, and only slightly more to do with your stature in the grand scheme of things.  Among commoners, appearance should be rarely considered, if at all -- you should be worrying about other things (even if you're employed), and your employers shouldn't necessarily be seeking appearance when they hire you.  More interesting to them should be "how much gear can he be loaded down with, while standing on his feet for a 12-hour gate-patrol?" and "will he show up to work at least mostly-sober?" or "will his spice-addiction make him too easy to bribe/control by my enemies?", not "how will he look in a silk blouse?" or  "will he use his best grammar when he speaks in public?" (Oh, and since this is Zalanthas, you can substitute "she" for "he" in any of those preceeding sentences with equal relevance.)

-- X
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 05, 2005, 07:35:33 PM
Quote from: "Xygax"
The uniform you wear as a member of a house guard is less meant to mark you as a representative of that house than to brand you as off-limits to other houses, and to shield you from persecution.
That's good to know, because nobles (player ones in the past anyway) tend to insist you always act proper, never get drunk in public, etc.

What would be proper behavior for a guard? If we make guards more "gritty" then what's the difference between a guard and an unemployed commoner, besides the fact the guard doesn't have to worry as much about 'sid? What's to seperate a bynner from a noble guard? Is there a difference?
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 07:55:12 PM
Quote
The uniform you wear as a member of a house guard is less meant to mark you as a representative of that house than to brand you as off-limits to other houses, and to shield you from persecution. A templar may, for example, let you slide because he likes your boss.


So, that uniform -does- set you apart from other, unaffiliated commoners.  It's going to shield you from any persecution from them, as well...maybe.  If they still do it, they know to expect consequences.  Thus, that uniform is a sort of protection, something easily seen and more easily displayed, because it is a mark of recognition.

Quote
But you aren't, strictly, a representative of that house, no moreso than an employee at McDonald's reflects the wealth and stature of the owner of a chain of McDonald's restaurants.


I'm sorry, but I think McDonald's would be a merchant house, if not lower.  A noble house would be a firm working for the government.  And there are plenty of firms working for governments or corporations where even the lowliest member screwing up and making a big, bad public scene would have them terminated from their jobs.

Quote
The abundance of uniforms is another thing I'd like to see tuned back: fewer people wearing less-garish uniforms, less-carefully presented will lead to less of the misconception under which you're laboring.


I agree, but to a lesser extent.  I say don't do away with uniforms, but cut it back in just how high class it is.  Too many privates are wearing platemail with wrist wraps and other incredibly expensive pieces of gear.  I'd still like to see uniforms, but tone it down to a cloak, perhaps some sleeves, maybe a breastplate...some main portions, all made out of -simple- materials that bear the insignia.  This allows some variety in armor, particularly in less noticed areas like boots, wrists, gloves, helms, whatever...I'd much rather see high-end, expensive equipment given to ranking officers and as rewards, like medals in our military.

Quote
The fact that nearly every house guard is shiny, and lantern-jawed, and stands erect with a perfect, pectoral-displaying posture, and struts about "representing their house" absolutely turns my stomach!


John's questions made me think about it, and I think that -is- what a noble guard is about.  These guys interact with nobility, are -expected- to have proper etiquette, and are -expected- to be more professional than that bynner who you could hire on just as easily.  These guys are still average joe commoner, but with the intelligence, ambition, and perserverance to go above what the average joe does, and get into a noble house.

We've discussed making it -harder- to get into noble houses, since they grant so many benefits to the employees.  But yet at the same time, you want the standards to drop.  It doesn't make much sense for the fifty guys on the noble house's payroll to be dimwitted, ill-mannered, ill-tempered, troublesome drunks just like all the independent and affiliated mercenaries that are readily available.

Quote
n the movie "Dragonslayer" (and yes, I realize I'm dating myself amazingly), the character Tyrian (played by John Hallam) is something like a captain of the king's Men-at-Arms... but his attire is essentially functional armor and perhaps a brooch indicating his rank and position. He isn't shiny and polished and clean-shaven, and he's hardly an upstanding representative of his house. He isn't, in other words, a great hero.


I don't even need to say it, but this isn't dragonland, and it's not the movie dragonslayer, and it's not hollywood.  That lieutenant played a character in his movie, one that you obviously liked, but that is what we are trying to play as well.  Not every noble guard player is trying to play the 'hero' as you put it, but they are playing a role, one where, on the average, the disposition of a character will be different.  Quite simply, if a noble guard isn't dedicated to his work, to 'being a hero' as it was put, they aren't going to excel, get promoted, or accomplish anything.  And progress is what all of those noble guards are working for, so acting in a manner standing in a way of progress is breaking character.

Quote
On Zalanthas, only fools will take you at face-value... how you dress has little or nothing to do with how easily you may be able to ruin (or take) their life, and only slightly more to do with your stature in the grand scheme of things.


On Zalanthas, only a fool or someone with a good amount of backing will directly oppose the wishes of a noble house.  These guys dress in their insignia to let people know they are acting on those wishes.  Sometimes they may not be, but the other commoners don't know that.  Saying they won't dress appropriate to their work just because no one takes them at face-value anyway would be illogical and counterproductive.

Quote
More interesting to them should be "how much gear can he be loaded down with, while standing on his feet for a 12-hour gate-patrol?" and "will he show up to work at least mostly-sober?" or "will his spice-addiction make him too easy to bribe/control by my enemies?"

1.  You mean the gear you're saying he now has to buy on his own?  He won't have much until he's on sergeant's wages anyway, he can stand gate watch all day.
2.  He's showing up to work somewhat drunk?  This guy is supposed to be protecting me, we give him free food and water, give him higher than average wages, and he's still risking -my- life so he could have an extra drink this morning?  I can easily find a replacement for -that- guy.
3.  He's shown a proneness to smoking spice even when he shouldn't, and is pliable with it.  That's a security risk, there's no way I'm taking it.

Quote
"how will he look in a silk blouse?" or "will he use his best grammar when he speaks in public?"

1.  He might look better in a silk blouse, or without it in my bedchambers.   (*snicker* Okay, that was a joke.  But we don't hire according to how good they look in the uniform, the uniform is just part of the job.)
2.  He damn well better not fuck up and irritate Senior Lord so and so in my meeting with him.  That could botch up the entire arrangement if the Senior Lord gets insulted.

And finally....
Quote
Again, you've started with a couple of misconceptions,


Apologies, they've been supplanted in me by players and staff alike over the past seven years.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: John on May 05, 2005, 08:07:50 PM
Quote from: "Armaddict"
As John noted...that -is- what a noble guard is, and generally always has been.
I didn't mean to say that's how I want it to be, merely how players have played up until now in my experience ;)

Quote from: "Armaddict"
On Zalanthas, only a fool or someone with a good amount of backing will directly oppose the wishes of a noble house.
I'd like to stop seeing nobles get all angry and righteous whenever a PC guard gets in a bit of a fight, and not put the entire PC force into screwing over the commoner that dared look at your guard in a funny way. Too often superiors get involved whenever their employees get in a bit of trouble (in my opinion).
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 08:11:45 PM
Quote
I'd like to stop seeing nobles get all angry and righteous whenever a PC guard gets in a bit of a fight, and not put the entire PC force into screwing over the commoner that dared look at your guard in a funny way. Too often superiors get involved whenever their employees get in a bit of trouble (in my opinion).


I agree.  However, with things the way they are right now, even a fist fight is a big deal because weapons are confiscated, jail time is served, people get -way- too angry over the ordeal, etc.

I'm speaking on terms of more major things.

I'm completely in support of noble guards, in off duty times, being just as common as the rest of the people they are around, since they, themselves, are commoners.

I'm merely stating...they -are- different.  Not better, but different.  The same way an NSA field agent and an NSA bodyguard to the president are the same, but different.

And yes, I'm sorry...I kind of misquoted you on that, John.  I'll edit it.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Ayashah on May 05, 2005, 08:27:21 PM
Quote from: "John"
I'd like to stop seeing nobles get all angry and righteous whenever a PC guard gets in a bit of a fight, and not put the entire PC force into screwing over the commoner that dared look at your guard in a funny way. Too often superiors get involved whenever their employees get in a bit of trouble (in my opinion).


I think the superiors would get involved. Just like in RL, if someone's underlings are doing something the superior feels will somehow reflect bad on himself or his employer, they will take steps to squash it. Houses fluxuate in status. Some would be VERY paranoid of losing status and if a guard pisses off someone important, then that can hurt a House. I have seen whole Houses held in contempt by templars, nobles, power figures for IC years over the actions of one guard.

Jobs would be very competitive. Especially GOOD paying jobs and status that comes with being in a House or organization. Joe Schmoe wouldnt earn a job and has to eek out his own existance, neither would Janet Schmoe. They have to be SPECIAL to get a good job. That doesnt mean they have to be Ms or Mr Perfect body/temperment/etc, but that would mean they had the smarts to present themselves well and not screw up.

*shrugs*
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Rich_Bastard on May 05, 2005, 10:07:19 PM
In my clan, just about everything that's been suggested is already in place.

Oh, and I don't give a damn what my guards do or what happens to them.

Of course, they aren't really guards, so to speak.  Not in my clan.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Nidhogg on May 05, 2005, 10:24:14 PM
Armaddict said above that house employees should be better dressed than the average commoner. I don't disagree. But there are various stages of well dressed and they don't have to be silk. And they don't have to be silk from head to two. About a year ago Ashyom and I spent a lot of time on commoner clothing. I specifically wrote up a good deal of silk -trimmed - clothing, with mid and upper level house employees in mind.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 10:45:34 PM
In my opinion...silks are something that should be gifts from above.  And a guard wearing silks should be unheard of, even cloaks...their line of work would just ruin it anyway.

An aide decked out in silks should be far more recognized as a long time, trusted servant to a house than it is.  New aides aren't going to have the time to be rewarded with such.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Linedel on May 05, 2005, 11:02:33 PM
Thinking about this while driving home... I realized the game was far "grittier" back in the day, and started thinking about what changed.

Back in the day, there were no significant PC nobles (or at least, not many).  There were minimal highly influential merchant house characters (pre Khann).  Yeah, there were a few of each, but the game wasn't built around them.

The game is now heavily skewed towards supporting the upper/middle classes, whereas before, it was all about the best of the "adventuring" (high grit) class.

(Some of) The grit left when the game changed.  Politics between houses became a larger deal, accounting for a good percentage of the player population, where it was smaller before.  If you're going to play in politics, or around the people that play in politics, you're going to be "less gritty," or you're going to find yourself skewered.

It is unreasonable to expect all people to play grittiness that will get their characters killed by their employers on a daily basis.  This is a game, not a job, and while it's all well and good to post that people should do it here, there are not many people that are going to repeatedly roll suicidal characters, which being realistically "gritty" as a "house guard" would be in the present environment.  They're either going to play something else (possible grit), or play a partially clean, washed suck-up that doesn't get killed immediately (no grit there).  (Note the partially.  There are some that go halfway.)

Knocking down the standard of living of PC nobility might help; the difference in apparent education and um.. polish maybe, is somewhat excessive for a barely bronze age environment.  If they don't expect a high polish level from their guards, then players won't fear dropping to that level.  I've seen more "grit" from supposedly professional guard/soldiers in major industrialized countries than I've seen exhibited in Armageddon guards, and I speculate that this is entirely due to the "IC" consequences (due to unrealistic OOC expectations from nobility) of playing properly gritty.

I'm not sure I see any way to significantly increase the grit without strategically placing anakore in upper class dwellings, since that upper class is likely what removed it.

It may not necessarily be a bad thing that the grit dissipates.  Campaign worlds are supposed to change due to actions in the world, it may just be that that was the logical step for the direction Armageddon moved.
Title: McDonald's Rules!
Post by: Xygax on May 05, 2005, 11:48:43 PM
I'm sticking by my McDonald's analogy.  Here's why:

I'm not trying to relate McDonald's to a noble house, but instead the owners of a McDonald's franchise to the senior Lords and Ladies of a noble house.  The distinction is critical to seeing the analogy; I don't care what the function of the organization is, in this case, I only care about the relation of this peon employee to the nameless, faceless wealth and power that employs them.  The peon employee's actions will bear little or NO reflection on the reputation of the Senior Lords and Ladies, or even on the house as a whole.  Yeah, if he's caught peeing in the grease, people might get turned off to that particular McDonalds (the Jr. noble employing them), but more likely than not, the Jr. noble will cover it up and ignore it as much as possible.  This works identically for "firms working for the government", by the way.  I challenge you to find one example of a peon employee's activities reflecting on, say, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin.

Armaddict: We seem to be somewhat in agreement with respect to the uniforms issue, though I would take it further.  In the absense of full-uniforms, PCs would have much more liberty to define their own "look", which I think is both a good thing overall, and good for my "grits" campaign.

The answer to John's remark is this:  Right.  Nobles are being too demanding in what they expect from their employees.  You might well expect some polish, style, subtlety, or whatever, from your Atrium-trained aide.  But your bodyguard's job is to stand around looking rough and ready (no, BEING rough and ready), not to impress people (beyond impressing them with the belief that he can and will crush their skull), and they shouldn't be expected to behave otherwise.  Yes, they're professionals, but they are professional grunts, mercenaries, or soldiers, at best.  And none of those are roles requiring skills in ettiquette!  Nobles:  stop demanding perfect behavior from your guards, _expect_ them to be bullying, crude, socially clumsy, downright mean, whatever.  No question, they are probably smarter (read: more cunning), more ambitious (read: more bloodthirsty), and possess more perseverance (read: brass balls), than many other commoners, that's why you hired them.  But you didn't hire them to dress well, speak well, or be pleasant company.

This is obviously a huge sticking-point, but please ask yourself seriously which role is more restrictive?  Which role is more fun to play, long-term?  Which role better suits the environment of the mud?  Which role is more in-sync with every other aspect of lilfe on Zalanthas?  Zalanthas is a place where EVERYTHING is covered with a layer of dust, sand or salt, nothing is soft or easy or tame....  why would we expect noble-house guards to be any different?  (I'd like the nobles _themselves_ to be rougher, as I've mentioned previously on this thread)

You may have discussed making it harder to get into noble houses, Armaddict, I have not.  I _have_ mentioned that I'd like our leaders to be more selective, but I meant that in terms of finding people to fill specific roles and judging them on their merits in those roles, I didn't mean it in terms of raising the bar for entry.

I realize that "this isn't dragonland, and it's not the movie dragonslayer, and it's not hollywood," and the intent of mentioning that particular character wasn't to invoke any of those things; I'm sorry if my remarks were so misleading as to have guided you there.  I'm trying to offer a broader interpretation of something you (and this time I do mean you specifically, Armaddict, though I'm sure others agree with you) seem very strongly inclined to define narrowly.  You say that

  a) noble guard roles have a different disposition than any other commoner
  b) if a noble guard isn't trying to be a hero, he won't advance.
  c) all noble guards are working to progress in their careers as noble guards.

...  and these assumptions are all _wrong_.  There is no documentation that specifies that noble guards must be played this way, and all of these assumptions are at odds with the nature of our game, and constriict and confine and constrain what should otherwise be a very broad role.
  a) you grant that noble guards are still "just commoners".  Why would their disposition be different than any other commoner, inherently?
  b) a lot of organizations in the game specifically go out of their way to dull this "hero" instinct...  usually heros think for themselves too much, for one thing.  For another thing, the "hero" role you're talking about, the guy you think is "what a noble guard is about" seems to me to be just the sort of fellow who will act above his station, acting like a well-trusted aid, when really he is hired muscle and nothing else.
  c) this certainly can't possibly be the case.  Many people are satisfied with their lot in life and either aren't cut out for leadership, or don't care to be put into positions of responsibility
....  what I don't understand is why you think the role should be so narrowly defined.  This sort of over-achiever, in my opinion, would be a relatively rare thing on Zalanthas altogether, and downright one-in-a-million for a muscle-bound thug.

Quote from: "Armaddict"
On Zalanthas, only a fool or someone with a good amount of backing will directly oppose the wishes of a noble house. These guys dress in their insignia to let people know they are acting on those wishes. Sometimes they may not be, but the other commoners don't know that. Saying they won't dress appropriate to their work just because no one takes them at face-value anyway would be illogical and counterproductive.

Your overall sense of scope is broken.  If I act out against Joe the Borsail Wyvern, I am not necessarily taking on all of Borsail.  More likely than not, Joe is going to be on his own, or his Jr-level Borsail boss might even fire him (or eliminate him in some other way) for being more trouble than he's worth.  Yeah, wearing that Borsail insignia might buy you some leeway from time to time, but it's hardly a set of red templar's robes.  You're still just a punk employee of a punk noble.  Wearing Borsail insignia does NOT mean that you are weilding the might of House Borsail, and people suffering from this misconception must stop it!

And yes, I agree with you:  people should dress appropriately for their work.  If you're a bodyguard in Allanak, the appropriate dress for you isn't in silks; it's not even in polished ceremonial armor.  Your job is to be dressed comfortably and functionally.  Your job might even be to NOT look too much like a Borsail guard, so that people focused on injuring your ward are less likely to notice you and take countermeasures against you.  That's situation-specific, of course, and most of the time a noble will want there bodyguard to be visible -- but the look they should be going for is "tough as hell," not "fresh out of the Atrium."

Lastly:  yeah, abuse of alcohol isn't going to be considered a problem on Zalanthas, unless it means your new hire can't drag himself to work.  You're applying a modern western stigma to drunkeness which simply isn't applicable to Zalanthas.  Everyone drinks like a fish, it's the tee totalers who are weirdos.  And no, you can't necessarily replace him that easily (assuming the PC population are not all playing goodie-two-shoes :)  And the guy who can be controlled with spice?  It would be a huge mistake not to hire THAT guy!  Unless you have trouble getting hold of spice......

Why would you (I assume you're the Jr. Noble, in this case) bring your thug bodyguard to meet a Senior Lord?  He's certainly not necessary (or if he is, you're probably in too much trouble for one bodyguard to get you out of), and yeah, he's probably going to do something crude or embarassing.

Quote from: "Armaddict"
Apologies, they've been supplanted in me by players and staff alike over the past seven years.


Accepted.  That's why I'm trying to set the record straight  :)
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 05, 2005, 11:57:46 PM
Alright, I can see my opinions on this matter are wrong.  That was the point of this discussion...to put ideas in the pool, and pull out of whatever you wanted.  At least, that's what I assume the discussion was for.

In order to get rid of these things, the way it has been...how are we planning on doing it, exactly?  Is there a plan in place with the clan immortals on shifting things to this way?

I just really think it would be...odd...if all the players suddenly, drastically, changed their characters to fit this.  It's got to be gradual, methinks.

Any ideas on how we can do this?
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Cindrak on May 06, 2005, 12:08:36 AM
Quote from: "Armaddict"
Alright, I can see my opinions on this matter are wrong.  That was the point of this discussion...to put ideas in the pool, and pull out of whatever you wanted.  At least, that's what I assume the discussion was for.

In order to get rid of these things, the way it has been...how are we planning on doing it, exactly?  Is there a plan in place with the clan immortals on shifting things to this way?

I just really think it would be...odd...if all the players suddenly, drastically, changed their characters to fit this.  It's got to be gradual, methinks.

Any ideas on how we can do this?

Um... holy crap. Did somebody on the internet just acknowledge they were wrong? Am I in a weird parallel universe? Seriously, that was awesome :D

Armaddict++

-Cindrak
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 06, 2005, 12:20:38 AM
Amen to what Xygax is saying, though, I strongly feel a Borsail Wyvern, or an Oashi guard, or some thug that works for a noble house...etc...should be better mannered than say a Byn Mercenary or a militia member.

They deal with nobles, and if they were too offensive, they wouldn't cut it.  But I COMPLETELY agree that there shouldn't be a dozen guards who're as proper as aides, and strut around in ceremonial armor like their officers when they're sergaents at best.

It just devalues the importance of a leadership PC or NPC, by looking and acting the same as their subordinates.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 06, 2005, 12:21:56 AM
Quote from: "Armaddict"
Alright, I can see my opinions on this matter are wrong.  That was the point of this discussion...to put ideas in the pool, and pull out of whatever you wanted.  At least, that's what I assume the discussion was for.

In order to get rid of these things, the way it has been...how are we planning on doing it, exactly?  Is there a plan in place with the clan immortals on shifting things to this way?

I just really think it would be...odd...if all the players suddenly, drastically, changed their characters to fit this.  It's got to be gradual, methinks.

Any ideas on how we can do this?


It's definitely going to be a gradual change, yeah.  It will be a challenge for the staff and the players alike to start breaking the molds we're in....

For players, it'll be hard to shift while still in the skin of the current PC.  I understand that, that makes sense, don't change yourself unless it can be done to make IC sense.  What I really want is to see people navigating their play along these lines with future PCs, and especially with leadership PCs (since, in many ways, they drive expectations).

For the staff, it's going to be a gradual effort to tune the world, tweak clan docs, repair the economy, twiddle code etc., and it will probably take years, and we'll probably lose our focus, or our sense of purpose repeatedly.  :)

What I'm hoping to get out of this thread (and one which parallels it on the staff discussion board) is more general knowledge of what is meant by "gritty" and "harsh", and how the average PC fits into the grand scheme of things, and also to solicit ideas about how we can begin to tune the world (code, data, docs, etc.) to fit that vision.  "Grit" has been on my mind since I mentioned it at a staff meeting a year or so ago, and recently I have come to believe that one of the main components we're missing in really fostering the textured, gritty environment I think we'd all like to see more of is a general consensus of what that means, as well as a general notion of scope with respect to the roles most players wind up in.  This thread seeks to find that consensus (and yeah, I'm hoping to provide some direction, as well).

Secondarily, I want to pull ideas from this thread about what we as staff can do, specifically, to start tackling the tuning we need to do.  Of equal importance in this discussion, though, is the roleplay itself (which is why I chose this forum and not "world discussion") -- I think the way we all portray ourselves will go far further, far faster, in defining the gritty environment that ArmageddonMUD really should have (and has had, in varying degrees, throughout its history).  As someone else noted, recent evolutions of the game have altered or diminished that grittiness (even as the world has grown more harsh, imho!!  *boggle*), and I hope we can start to swing the pendulum back without losing ground our efforts to make the game more newbie-friendly and appealing for new players.

-- X
Title: Re: McDonald's Rules!
Post by: ale six on May 06, 2005, 12:26:48 AM
Quote from: "Xygax"
Quote from: "Armaddict"
On Zalanthas, only a fool or someone with a good amount of backing will directly oppose the wishes of a noble house. These guys dress in their insignia to let people know they are acting on those wishes. Sometimes they may not be, but the other commoners don't know that. Saying they won't dress appropriate to their work just because no one takes them at face-value anyway would be illogical and counterproductive.

Your overall sense of scope is broken.  If I act out against Joe the Borsail Wyvern, I am not necessarily taking on all of Borsail.  More likely than not, Joe is going to be on his own, or his Jr-level Borsail boss might even fire him (or eliminate him in some other way) for being more trouble than he's worth.  Yeah, wearing that Borsail insignia might buy you some leeway from time to time, but it's hardly a set of red templar's robes.  You're still just a punk employee of a punk noble.  Wearing Borsail insignia does NOT mean that you are weilding the might of House Borsail, and people suffering from this misconception must stop it!


I don't know if I agree with this. If I'm an unaffiliated commoner acting out against Joe the House Guard, I think I'm being pretty stupid. I know if I piss Joe off enough, Joe is going to go get his buddy guards Jim, John, George and Bosco and come settle things with me. I also know that if Joe's liked by the nobles he serves, and asks for a favor, all it takes is one bribe from Joe's punk junior noble to some punk blue robe templar who wants to be friends with that noble, and I disappear. Joe doesn't NEED to wield the might of House Borsail against me, because the position he's in already makes it far, far easier for him to screw me over.

One of the best benefits to getting that coozy guard job (besides the food and water and pay and whatnot) is the measure of safety it provides from the common populace. I don't think that should be taken away, or that taking it away makes the game any more gritty.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 06, 2005, 12:35:18 AM
ale six:  Yes, obviously there is some sort of "umbrella" of protection provided by the position.  But it isn't the might of a noble house...  it's more like having a few well-placed friends (maybe).  Your examples are good ones and very realistic...  but remember, in messing with -any- commoner, you might be messing with someone who's got dangerous friends.  That has nothing to do with being a house guard, except that you might have more clues from the house-guard.

And house guards have the added burdens, expectations and pressures exerted by their employer (the Jr. Noble), who may or may not back them up in the ways you suggest, depending on lots of factors (political climate, cost, his own value to the Jr. Noble, etc.)

I'm not saying there is no value to being a house guard.  I'm not saying there is no responsibility for your behavior as a house guard.  You're definitely representing Lord Jr. Noble who hired you, and he'll definitely care about how good you are at your job, and whether or not some random commoner is interfering with your duties.  I'm just cautioning you that the scope (on both sides) is smaller than "all of Borsail will back me up" or "if I mess up, all of Borsail will crumble into ruins forever."

-- X
Title: U
Post by: John on May 06, 2005, 12:36:49 AM
Quote from: "Xygax"
You might well expect some polish, style, subtlety, or whatever, from your Atrium-trained aide.  But your bodyguard's job is to stand around looking rough and ready (no, BEING rough and ready), not to impress people (beyond impressing them with the belief that he can and will crush their skull), and they shouldn't be expected to behave otherwise.  Yes, they're professionals, but they are professional grunts, mercenaries, or soldiers, at best.  And none of those are roles requiring skills in ettiquette!
Great :D I've been avoiding playing a guard for this very reason. It's got all the limitations of an aide, but none of the duties ;) Might not be the truth of the role, but it's been what it looks like. Although having said that, I think there have been problems in the past with nobles using PC guards as aides ;)

Quote from: "Xygax"
Nobles:  stop demanding perfect behavior from your guards, _expect_ them to be bullying, crude, socially clumsy, downright mean, whatever.
This is a great point :D I think somewhere before someone complained that guards are unbribable. They'll never do anything bad towards their noble they have to guard (or at least, will very rarely do so). However if they're not all prim and proper, I can see a guard being bribable. Now he aint going to kill his lord. But for the right price, he might let slip some unimportant stuff "oh I had to guard Lord Fancypants while he met with Lady Noshirt. They were talking for hours."

Quote from: "Xygax"
No question, they are probably smarter (read: more cunning), more ambitious (read: more bloodthirsty), and possess more perseverance (read: brass balls), than many other commoners, that's why you hired them.
Is this how they differ from Bynners? Bynners aren't as cunning, as bloodthirsty and their balls are decidedly smaller? They aren't as strong as house guards?

Quote from: "Xygax"
This sort of over-achiever, in my opinion, would be a relatively rare thing on Zalanthas altogether, and downright one-in-a-million for a muscle-bound thug.
I think the clan docs themselves say something to effect "You must be on your best behavior if you're a guard. You're the best of the best, act like it" for Borsail and Winrothol at the very least. That should probably be changed ;)

Quote from: "Xygax"
More likely than not, Joe is going to be on his own, or his Jr-level Borsail boss might even fire him (or eliminate him in some other way) for being more trouble than he's worth.
Actually, this option isn't available unless you're in your first month/year. Once you're in Borsail, you're in for life. No leaving. Ever (not for PCs anyway). If someone ever did leave, it would be very noteworthy. There's various options open to your superiors to try to make you into a worthwhile guard, but if they fail in this, firing isn't an option. Ever. Only killing. This probably has a lot to do with why guards do act on their best behavior, no-one wants to die. Armaddict touched on that point in his last couple of posts. How are us players going to change our behavior without our employers getting pissed off while the mud becomes grittier?
Title: Re: McDonald's Rules!
Post by: wizturbo on May 06, 2005, 12:37:37 AM
Quote from: "ale six"


I don't know if I agree with this. If I'm an unaffiliated commoner acting out against Joe the House Guard, I think I'm being pretty stupid. I know if I piss Joe off enough, Joe is going to go get his buddy guards Jim, John, George and Bosco and come settle things with me. I also know that if Joe's liked by the nobles he serves, and asks for a favor, all it takes is one bribe from Joe's punk junior noble to some punk blue robe templar who wants to be friends with that noble, and I disappear. Joe doesn't NEED to wield the might of House Borsail against me, because the position he's in already makes it far, far easier for him to screw me over.

One of the best benefits to getting that coozy guard job (besides the food and water and pay and whatnot) is the measure of safety it provides from the common populace. I don't think that should be taken away, or that taking it away makes the game any more gritty.



Some problem with this logic.  First off, no junior noble is immortal.  Why would a noble "do a favor" for some lowly guard that might turn around to bite them in the ass when the person they have knocked off happens to be a Guild agent.  Or, more likely, when the Templar then turns around and asks them for a favor in return which will cost them time, influence, coin, or a number of valuable things.  

Now, Guard Joe calling his buddies for help is definitely possible.  No doubt about it.  One advantage of being in a clan, is you've got some friends to back you up in some cases.  But you shouldn't assume that nobles will go out of their way for some commoner grunt.
Title: Re: U
Post by: Xygax on May 06, 2005, 12:47:08 AM
Quote from: "John"
Quote from: "Xygax"
No question, they are probably smarter (read: more cunning), more ambitious (read: more bloodthirsty), and possess more perseverance (read: brass balls), than many other commoners, that's why you hired them.
Is this how they differ from Bynners? Bynners aren't as cunning, as bloodthirsty and their balls are decidedly smaller?


Definitely smaller balls.  No, in practice there probably won't be that much difference between the two outside of particular lifestyle preferences.  House-guards will be less irritated by hanging around with dainty, silky, noble-house types.  :)

Quote from: "John"
Quote from: "Xygax"
This sort of over-achiever, in my opinion, would be a relatively rare thing on Zalanthas altogether, and downright one-in-a-million for a muscle-bound thug.
I think the clan docs themselves say something to effect "You must be on your best behavior if you're a guard. You're the best of the best, act like it" for Borsail and Winrothol at the very least. That should probably be changed ;)


Not really.  Remember, we're dropping everyone down at least one full rung.  You're still the best of the best; it's just that the best isn't all that good.  I know this sounds trite, but it's really the whole point here.

Quote from: "John"
Actually, this option isn't available unless you're in your first month/year. Once you're in Borsail, you're in for life. No leaving....


Again, the goal is to lower both the level of polish, AND the amount of polish expected.  If one lowers before the other, there may be a few more arena matches, for a while.  ;)  Also, most clans' "life oath" is a pledge by the employee which prevents them deserting at anything other than the House's convenience.  That doesn't mean you can't be dismissed upon outliving your usefulness or as a result of one-to-many-embarassments (for houses where this is specifically contradicted by the documentation, that may need to change, or perhaps those houses will remain exceptions)....  but the idea is that the House, by paying what they pay, expects permanence.  You, as the employee, don't really get to "expect" anything along those lines.  You can absolutely be fired from most clans, noble or otherwise.

-- X
Title: Re: U
Post by: Angela Christine on May 06, 2005, 03:01:25 AM
Quote from: "Xygax"

Definitely smaller balls.  No, in practice there probably won't be that much difference between the two outside of particular lifestyle preferences.  House-guards will be less irritated by hanging around with dainty, silky, noble-house types.  :)


Quote from: "Xygax"

You're still the best of the best; it's just that the best isn't all that good.  


Hee!  

I remember reading that when Krxx first redesigned the Byn he intended for them to be a very sharp, elite mercenary company.  The best of the best.  But the Zalathan Marine corps was not to be, in implimentation they were taken down a few notches and grittyfied to fit in with the world better (my appologies if I'm mis-remembering).  Long-term success in the Byn means complying with one of the most restrictive sets of rules of all the clans, yet despite that compliance the people who are successful and make Sergeant or above that I've seen usually maintain a good level of grittiness.  A Sarge or Lt. may have to interact with Jr. Nobles, Blue-robed templars, and wealthy commoners about contracts, so he has to have reasonably respectful manners when dealing with those potential customers -- yet he doesn't become a silk-clad candy-ass.  So it is possible to show proper respect for your betters without becoming a highly polished diamond.

There is a difference between mercenary hired thugs and your own personal highed thugs that are a long-term part of your House: if all goes according to plan your house guards (hired thugs) are going to work for you for their entire useful lives, but next week that Byn unit could be working for a rival, or even an enemy.  So while you trust the Byn to do -this- job right now because betraying you durring a contract would ruin their reputation as mercenaries, you aren't going to trust them with information that could be tactically important to your enemies later.  You might have something like a non-disclosure clause in your contract, but you really don't expect much discretion from the rank and file.  Your own trusted guards at their best are furniture, tools, part of the landscape -- you wouldn't share every aspect of your plans with them (after all, some of your rivals are within your own House) but you trust that they aren't going to do anything to seriously harm the House (a certain amount of corruption is expected and even useful).  The most important qualities of a House Guard are competence, trustworthiness, and loyalty.  Polish is a nice bonus, but hardly a necessity.  If a particular guard is too crude, simply forbid him from ever speaking in your exalted presence.   :wink:


Angela Christine
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Armaddict on May 06, 2005, 07:10:19 AM
Heh, was thinking about this tonight and came across a mental scene.

Junior noble A from house A is meeting with Senior noble B of house B.  Junior noble A's guard, the grizzled, sharp eyed guard, has been silent as hoped for the entire time while Junior noble A and Senior Noble B discuss important matters.

The grizzled, sharp eyed guard makes a blank expression, then breaks into grating chuckles as he farts loudly, and a stench permeates the surrounding air before he bustles forward with a warning scowl to intercept a commoner approaching the table, who quickly nods and backs away upon realizing he was interrupting.

Senior noble B glances up with a perturbed expression to the grizzled, sharp eyed guard, then exhales deeply before looking to Junior noble A and saying flatly, in sirihish:
   "Our guards are finest lowborn around.  Commoners.  Can't live with them, and without them, we're doing all the menial tasks I'd really rather not deal with."

Junior noble A nods sagely.


Is that more along the lines of what you mean by don't expect so much out of your guards? :P
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Elgiva on May 06, 2005, 08:03:10 AM
I still disagree.

The Noble Guards are polished and with manners and all this because that is what clan-docs say they should be. If you want to play less polished, less mannered guy, find a some other work then "the Guard". Or join the Byn. Or be a hunter of some Merchant House. Or stay independant.

If Noble Houses train slaves for such work, will these slaves be rough and without manners as well?
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: moab on May 06, 2005, 08:13:55 AM
I have to agree with Lindel - the nobles drive a lot of our behavior and as I posted before have to take a lot of credit / blame for the way the world works.

1. Nobles shouldn't be hanging out in the Barrel - the Trader's is the fancy place.  Hanging out in a commoner's tavern requires all the commoners to present themselves appropriately to the nobility (no swearing, fighting, wearing bloody gear and getting into bar fights).  Nobles shouldn't be openly enjoying the music of a bunch of elvish bards / thieves.  It's not proper (re: everything I've read in the docs about nobility / elves.

I don't know if the situation is the same in Tuluk, but after I raze it to the ground, there will be little problem with the RP there.  ;-)

2. Nobles (and other higher class folk) shouldn't be surprised when (should they decide to slum it) that commoners fart, belch, swear, puke or get into scuffles.

3. Expecting everyong to up their presentation to for a noble (who typically will make a PC's life hell if they don't) means that everyone is afraid to act dirty, gritting and, well, common.  

4. I have to agree with Xygax that the whole armor thing is over the top.  Isn't it enough to have a cloak / patch? Do you need a full suit of spiffy gear for your typical house guard?  To me, that should be left for the Captain or Lieutenants only.

5. Finally, almost _ALL_ houses should get rid of their life commitment thing.

6. The reason life for the militia and Byn is gritty is directly related to the way they are paid.  I don't want to get into anything IC here - but those that play those roles know. You _work_ for your coin.  No one hands you a fat bag of coins without you needing and working for it.  Not to mention that the uniforms for the Byn and Militia are pretty oocly lame (aba/patch/seeves or just a cloak) and ICcly awesome.

Other clans can achieve this level of gritty RP by changing the way their pay is handled, the way their uniforms are worn, and having the nobility lower their expectations about how their men/women should act.  Heck, you send aides to training for reason.  You don't expect your guards to be house servants in that sense!
 
:-D

Ok, I'm done ranting, gotta get to work!
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Koala on May 06, 2005, 09:21:14 AM
Economy – Grittiness & Harshness

I would like to drag the discussion a little away from the guard business to our rather problematic economy, which I believe -if improved- will add more "grit" to Zalanthas. Here is my suggestion to solve earning unrealistic sums of money that might worth considering it:

SHOPS AND INDEPENDENT MERCHANTS

- Every shop and independent npc merchant should save their items and available money after each transaction takes place and their list should remain as it is regardless of crashes or regular reboots.

- Each item (or combination of items, or a special type e.g. bone weapons and armors) has to have a demand & supply equation (determines the current price level), which will change according to vnpc (a predetermined number, but adjustable if needed) and pc (adjusting continuously) buying & selling decisions (inflation & deflation).

An example:

For simplicity, lets assume that this example bothers only a shopkeeper who is selling weapons (not capable of crafting), a pc weapons crafter (this will represent the player effect on the economy), a group of vnpc weapons crafter (this will represent the predetermined supply for the economy), and the rest of the world who are demanding weapons.

At the initial moment (time=0): According to the supply & demand equation for weapons the market price sellers (shopkeeper) is 100 sids and for buyers (customers) is 200. The shopkeeper has 0 units of weapons but 1000 sids to invest on new weapons (this will change at each period - if he doesn't buy new weapons he won't be able to meet with customer demand and lose some possible profits). The pc weapons crafter arrives and sells 2 units weapons to the shopkeeper and earns 200 - 2X, X= (unit cost of material, time spent, and skill). The group of vnpc weapons crafter arrives and sells 8 units. First realized supply is 10 units of weapons.

- Note that at t=0 there is only two slots available for pc crafters, the remaining open slots were filled by the rest of the crafter population (controlled by AI).

Second moment (time=1): Now the shopkeeper has 10 units of weapons. At this moment the shopkeeper won't be willingly to buy new weapons for 100 sids, he would rather prefer to pay 50 sids (calculated by the supply & demand equation) for each new item brought by the independent weapons crafter. At t=1 virtual customers arrive and buy 6 weapons and pc customers arrive and buy 2 weapons. At total they spend 1600 sids on that transaction. First realized demand is 6 (predetermined) + 2 (pc determined) = 8. The shopkeeper's inventory (value 100*2=200, possible gain 200*2=400) started to accumulate by 2 units of weapons

Third moment (time=2): The pc crafter arrives with two more weapons (he was able to sell two units at t=0 so he expects the same). The shopkeeper wishes to pay 80 sids for each of the 6 weapons he is going to buy, because he already have 2 units of weapons and knows from t=1 that the demand was 8 units. Plus he has usual 1000 sids for new investment accumulated from t=1 (1600 - 1000 = 600, wage earned at t=1, for the shopkeeper). Now there is a 40% fall in shopkeeper's demand for buying new weapons. He used to demand 2 units from pc crafter and 8 units from vnpc crafters and now will demand 1.2 (=1) unit and 4.8 (=5) units correspondingly (assume that the demand & supply equation always round up or down the ratio if exists). As a result of this the shopkeeper will spend 480 sids on buying 6 units of weapons. His new inventory will value 200+480=680 with 85 sids/per unit cost.

To continue the shopkeeper has to decide on his next step:

=> He can still choose to sell for 200 sids.
=> He can decrease the price and generate new demand.
=> He can increase the price at the cost of losing some customers.

We can solve this problem with different methods; one is by assigning probabilities to each option and let AI (the shopkeeper) to decide what is going to happen next. To maintain such huge information might seem a little difficult but it is not, especially not for Zalanthas. Not much information is worth for keeping the track of it. The theory of expectations in economy suggests that people mostly care about past two periods. With that simplifying assumption we can get rid of the data concerning the very last periods and base our decisions by looking at just few periods.

What are the possible benefits of such a model?

- Out there, in the economy, there are items that can be sold at high prices to shops. Most of those items have less or no demand at all but still you can sell 5 units at a time. This creates unrealistic high sums of money supply in the economy (IRL this creates high inflation and we can also implement this if it is going to worth to do). This absurd money in the economy breaks all the balances and helps some people to earn more then they should. The model I discussed above may help to stop circulation of that absurd money by lowering the number of such units that a shopkeeper demands from players within the limits of the reasonable and player & AI driven economy.

- Also, in the economy, there are items that are highly demanded but still we can only sell 5 units at a time. Generally this type of items has lower prices (because of high demand). Thus implementing the model may move the economy to a place where people craft more of highly demanded items, which should be the normal case.

- In the long run, the items that are not demanded at all will disappear from the economy; the items that are highly demanded will open new crafting and supply options.

P.S: This is just a very simple model that may solve some of our problems and it obviously needs much more study and brainwork. I would like to hear from you on how we can enhance the model and create a suitable one for both code restrictions and playability.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: The7DeadlyVenomz on May 06, 2005, 12:33:30 PM
I have been following this discussion for some time now, watching the responses, and I think I'll weigh in now.

Grit is a relative term, honestly. Nobles do not experience grit when it comes to living conditions, and they should truely not have to. They are nobles, and their life should be that pristine thing that all dream of.

You can not truely expect players to dumb down their characters to be more dirty and gritty. This is something that has to be supported by code and Imm interaction and action. Raising the price of food and water, or reducing the amount of coin that one can make from hunting or crafting or whatever, making more places law-relaxed, or lawless in some cases, reducing or erradicating the types of commoner-unusual clothing in NPC run shops, making heavy, ornate armor do what it actually should do, IE: Sapping endurance, agility, etc, introducing things that threaten but do not in themselves kill players, such as better dehydration code, exhaustion, bleeding, packs of point-a-bite creatures, intoduction of better documentation in some cases regarding guidelines concerning standards, weather that tears down your clothing and maybe your hit-points but doesn't blind you, and of course the current lose-your-way weather we have now. I could go on, but that was one really long run on sentence.

Points that others brought up are things that I would have suggested, but it's pointless now, because they are already in the fore.

As to what we players can do, it really boils down to this, I think. We can easily promote the harshness of the world in our actions and attitudes, but the grit of the world is something that we do not control nearly as well as you Immortals. Grit is the quality of hardness, not harshness. If we hunt and begin to accumulate a lot of coin, are we realistically supposed to stop hunting and start barflying? No. We should have to hunt to survive, and the easiest way to acheive that is simply to say that that item will not be purchased for as much as it once was. Life should be work first, play second.

One suggestion that I might have is this. Right now, eatting is absolutely annoying, and that is because it takes like four eats to consume a bowl of soup and you have to eat like 5 to even be full. That's unrealistic. So, make food fill you up depending on your body weight, and make them larger portions when you use the eat command. So, instead of the four eats and 5 bowls, you have 2 eats, and 2 bowls. Then, make hunger occur more rapidly. Make it so that you need to eat every day. Then, instead of taking HP damage for the next four days, make it stat damage, until every single one of the physical stats are poor. At that point you can kick into hp damage, decreasing the max and current equally, as opposed to simply the current. Water is good right now, actually, besides for the fact that you should get thirsty more often.

One flaw with the above suggestion is that the messages concerning your hunger and thirst are limited. Let's get messages for getting thirsty and hungry as well.

*shrug*

This thread is absolutely great.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: JollyGreenGiant on May 06, 2005, 01:06:50 PM
Just a couple of quick notes.  As I stated before, I'm all in favor of making guards a lot more thuggish and common.  This is a definite change in mentality not only for the players, however, but the immortals as well.  I may still have a copy of the email I received from my clan immortals during my tenure as a noble telling me that House guards were not to be used for common thuggery.  This "added grittiness" is something that's going to have to start from the top and trickle down, because I believe the spit-and-polish image of the noble Houses is something that has been perpetuated by the immortals.  I'd like to believe that most players, especially of special app roles, are willing to be compliant with whatever guidelines the clan imms lay down, so if the top brass tells the nobles to ease off on the shiny image, the nobles will ease off on the guards, and we'll get the grit we're all looking for.

I once had a guard that -was- brutish, common, and a glorified thug.  I truly enjoyed the character, and OOCly, I thought the number of complaints I got about his behaviour (particularly from members of another noble House) were silly.  Complaints about breaking orders were one thing, but again, the majority of those wouldn't have come into play if officers -expected- that the men they're working with are largely a group of drunken sots whose only real redeeming quality is that they're pretty handy with a weapon.  Yes, sometimes this type of character is more of a pain to deal with, but you can't complain about that and then turn around and whine about the lack of conflict in the game ;)
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: wizturbo on May 06, 2005, 01:07:37 PM
I don't think having you be hungry every IC day is very convenient.  It would be so annoying to have to stop and eat every hour of play time.  When a meal could take an hour, if your interacting with people while you eat.

I do think that you should get full faster though.  Its insane to eat 5 loafs of breads before you're full.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Twilight on May 06, 2005, 01:54:03 PM
I thought I would weigh in on the guard's discussion.  Where we are now has been an evolution.  I'm going to give a specific example, to highlight that this was in fact what happened.  Fortunately it was 7 or 8 years ago RL, and should not be too IC.

My character at the time was lucky enough to join Tor.  It was pretty clear at that time that I worked for the two junior nobles who were around at the time.  It was also clear that perhaps their understanding of the House was, hmmm, in development.  At that time, seemed like a lot of the previous history had been forgotten, from an OOC standpoint (could be wrong, that was just my perception).  Things were a bit..different, then.  My noble shot arrows at my character (I am guessing it was too see how brave he was, not twink his archery skill, right?) at one point early on, but my character survived and became a full Scorpion.

It was pretty damn cool when my noble gave my character a greatcloak, when he joined up.  It was red.  That was about the extent of the affliation that particular item had with the House.  Other people could get that item, easy enough.  But it still had significance.  After he became a full Scorpion, he still didn't have jack from the House to wear.  When he was first promoted I think it was, he got a spiked bracer, that was in one of the House storerooms at the time.  God damn cool.  At some point my character found another spiked and some anakore gloves by himself, and was pretty decked out, for those days.

Around that time, my nobles had hired an aid, and started coming up with a uniform.  Slowly, my character was equipped.  Some leather leggings and sleeves at first.  Then some armor for the chest.  Eventually I was able to trade my spiked bracers for some that were emblazoned with the House crest.  At that point I was pretty damn decked, as far as I was concerned.  A few custom House armor items, a few obscure or hard to get items I had gotten myself (at that time, sheathes and such!), some custom weapons.  Of course, by that time my rank was freakin' Commander.

My point is that it took my character a lot of time to get decked out in full (and hell, it wasn't even full by today's standards) House regalia.  And it progressed with the promotions he had.  He started out a dirty little nomad, and slowly as he gained rank learned about politics, became more polished, and gained House gear.  Seemed and still seems pretty reasonable.

Now, at that particular time, we were in a player mindset of "being powerful is bad".  My particular character, being a guard, and being combat oriented, was one of like 5 Noble House guards in all of Allanak (2 or 3 of which at any particular time were in our House), there were essentially no Merchant House guards as all of them were normally in other cities, and the Byn was closed.  My character was also fairly visible.  So my character dies.

Next generation of guards comes along.  Mindset changes to using skills is okay, so more people play guards.  I see a lot that seemed like copies of my character at his end game.  They always bow or salute a noble or templar (something I started doing 100% of the time only late in the career of the character for a specific reason).  They are polished.  Their clan imms have already created all this great custom House guard gear, so they are given it right away.  Next generation after this copies what they have seen before.  And it totally changes.

I saw this happen.  Things were grittier, but there were only really a few examples of guards around.  And as items were built, obviously more of a bias towards giving them out.  Taking examples from guards that had been around awhile (when I died, I think every guard in Tor was at least a sergeant) to create the perception of what a guard should be...I saw that clan change drastically in its perception.  Part of that is that history started getting developed afterwards I think, but the skew had already happened.

This illustrates the problem with grittiness at its core.  The documents only give so much information.  At some point, we do have to take certain cues from other player behavior (especially true of social situation, again especially before a year or two ago).  In situations with limited examples especially, we may see a character, as perhaps happened above, at the apex of their career/influence/development, that had gotten away from the normal for IC situations, and develop the perception of them as the norm.  I think this is extremely relevant to forming perceptions about nobles, merchants, militia and guards.  If we form our perception from an exeption, rather than the normal (a noble/merchant with more influence, or more perception of influence than he has, a guard officer rather than grunt, the well connected psychotic militia grunt), our own play in the future can be warped by what we mistakenly took as being the norm.

The process of returning grittiness is really about resetting what our (the players) perceptions of normal is.  Only by doing this, and perhaps on a fairly detailed level, can we avoid simply building on and carrying forward those generated by a PC culture that has evolved over many generations of PC characters played by players who may or may not have had the right idea in the first place.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: path on May 07, 2005, 12:18:15 PM
I would like to see silk made -extremely- difficult to come by. Those worms or plants or whatever can't be that easy to foster.

In my opinion noble houses should have a number of hand-me-downs from their mothers and their mother's mothers and fathers, where applicable. These can be kept in a storeroom and shared by whomever resides in the house at that time. I'm talking completely out of date and it would be cool if items from 5 or 6 years ago could be found which would reflect how styles have changed. Some of the finer things would be threadbare.

But what would kadius do? As a merchant house, I would suggest that there is more to sell in the world than clothing.

In regards to welan's and pretty much every other clothing shop, I'd like to see a lot more items obviously used and with a past. Read: used clothing stores. Once I had a vest that came with stains which were apparently blood. I loved it. It had a past, and thus, in some way a soul, and was more real to me than most any item I've come across.

I'm not just talking about the tags that get hooked on when you run too much or get in a bad fight. I'm speaking of items that have descriptions based around the fact that they're well made and servicable and therefore have lived a long life.

There are those of us who feel that the high fashion outlet of being part of the nobility adds a lot of drama and color to the world by way of contrast. I think this contrast should be mainly restricted to longer-lived nobility. Junior nobles should have fairly new clothes and that should be enough. Newish, clean. Cotton, linen, embroidery. Sometimes beadwork. That's certainly quite fancy.

We've just hit this stage of opulence in dress that can't possibly reflect the starved, drought-ridden, hard knocks world we so love.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 07, 2005, 12:31:18 PM
Just sliced out another chunk of posts, sorry if one of them was yours.  Some posts are being removed not necessarily because they're wrong or even off-topic, but simply because they don't contribute beyond what's already here; again, my apologies.

I'd say we've been thoroughly over the silks discussion, and I think "indy vs. noble-guard" and "noble-guard attitude and attire" have been covered pretty well.  Obviously there are some documents that have some misleading phrasing in them, please e-mail me privately to point these out (docs that directly contradict the general overview I laid out a few posts back, or that would make a life like Twilight's Tor guard impossible).  Also, some interesting questions have emerged that still need to be addressed, and there is a lot of work to be done by the staff.

I'll probably go ahead and shut this thread down for archiving in the next couple of days, so if you have some final thoughts, please feel free to contribute, but try to stay away from things that have already been covered (especially the ones I mentioned just now)

Thanks,
   Xygax
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Bestatte on May 07, 2005, 01:58:45 PM
My last thoughts in general:

Overall, Armageddon's "harshness" is awesome. It's what keeps me coming back when I lose a character. To me, "winning" the game is if I can get my character to survive long enough to become involved in really neato things. I haven't had that many characters; in fact I believe my current count is 14. But that's over around 3 years of playing. With the exception of the one character I stored within the first RL week of playing her, all my characters have experienced, witnessed, or learned of some pretty awesome stuff.

The frustrations with code quirks aside, I think the staff and other players do a bang-up job, and I look forward to each opportunity that comes my way, and each "new neato thing" that gets implemented, and each new moment when I see "Halaster the Fluffy Cuddle-Bunny of Death" on the WHO list and wonder if I'm next.
Title: A few thoughts
Post by: Swordsman on May 07, 2005, 02:26:03 PM
I started playing Arm several years ago and this thread has caused me to think back, and compare what we had then with what we have now.

Back then, the level of RP was pretty horrible compared to what we have now, IMO. There was also a lot more dying (PCs) and a lot more physical conflict. It was a struggle to survive as an independent, not because of a shortage of coin, but because it was very likely your (PC's) life would end at the hand of some other PC before too long. To live a long time was a remarkable IC and OOC feat. From memory, there was still a bit of metal stuff around, but a lot less silk and other luxury-type stuff. I can only remember one PC templar from my first several PCs, and no militia PCs ... the law in the cities was virtually all in the imms' hands.

Nowadays, the level of RP is good and the IC realism has improved a lot, but the game seems to have changed somehow. There seems to be a lot less dying and a lot less obvious conflict ... and I don't know if this is related, but there seems to be a lot more political manoeuvring and scheming. There are wagon loads more templar, noble, and militia PCs than there used to be. A lot more PCs seem to be in clans than there used to be, and it seems like people (PCs) are living a lot longer--and with less apparent trouble in doing so. There are a lot more luxury items around (silk clothing, jewellery, etc.).

Not in any particular order, but a few thoughts ...

(1) It's become a lot easier to survive and live a long time. Join a clan, don't be an idiot (i.e., don't get fired), and you're more or less set. Living a long time feels like a lot less of an achievement than it used to. Now, I'm not advocating that the imms load up a few thousand gith NPCs and set them loose, but a higher PC turnover would IMO help the game feel a lot more gritty (not sure if that overlaps with harsh, but if it does, so be it). One basic goal might be to make the independent life more attractive, not less attractive. Still make clan jobs attractive (IC realism), but keep restrictions (e.g., loyalty or death, and make it easier for clans to hunt down deserters unless said deserters truly live away from civilisation). The more people playing independents, the more people taking risks to get ahead in life, thus the more people possibly dying. That's not a completely thought-out line, just a brief idea.

(2) As a few other people have suggested, anyone in a job should be working to earn things, whether it be money, social recognition, cool equipment, or whatever. Maybe a noble House might issue more than one uniform item upon joining, but for every other clan, I think a cloak or some other obvious uniform item is enough. No one, unless they're nobles, templars, or other very high up ranks, should be walking around in a complete set of matching, logo-emblazoned gear. But I digress. IC work should have an IC effect ... at the moment, it feels (from what people are saying) like most PCs' work basically has little net effect on their clan's prosperity. When this happens, people (OOCly) start thinking "what's the point?" People (PCs) need to be working to earn what they get, to get that sense of achievement. At the moment, it seems like all you have to do is live (not do anything plain stupid), turn up to socially RP, and hold out your hand for the coins to flow in. But I have to stress, this is just the impression I get.

(3) Conflict. It's one of the basic tenets of the game, and yet it feels like it's decreased. It's more PC versus NPC now, than PC versus PC. Maybe one idea would be to decrease the number of hostile NPCs in the wilderness. This makes it safer for any PC to go out. This encourages PCs to become raiders. This leads to more PC versus PC conflict. Let the PCs enact the dangers, more than the NPCs. I've only just thought about this, but I like the sound of it, if I do say so myself. ;)

(4) Last point: I think we should remember that PCs represent a spectrum of both IC and OOC (player) personalities and goals. We shouldn't restrict all noble House guards to a certain 'more gritty' form, just as we shouldn't restrict them to all being elite troopers. And I'd say the same for Byn-type mercenaries and most other groups. I think that the higher (socially) you go, the more homogeneous form should be, and the lower, the more heterogeneous (nobles are pretty much like each other, at least on the surface; independent mercenaries can span everything from the drunken slob who knows how to wield a sword to the serious soldier who just missed the cut on getting into a House).

So, to summarise:

(1) Make it harder to live longer, with the aim that more PC deaths makes the world feel grittier. To do this, encourage more PCs to be independent of clans, or at least make it a more viable/attractive option, without losing the desirability of joining a clan (for which there should be decent competition to get in, but it's not total utopia when you do get in--you still have to work for your living).

(2) Give players a sense of achievement in their IC work. What PCs have to do shouldn't be easy (though still feasible), so that the players feel like they've achieved something when their PCs finish some work. At the moment, it feels to me like PCs are largely unnecessary in the IC world.

(3) Encourage more PC to PC conflict (helping point 1 along) by actually decreasing the danger/hostility of a lot of the wilderness. This would encourage and make it easier for PCs to themselves take up the 'antagonist' roles currently filled almost completely by the gith and friends. (Quick aside: what happened to all the raider clans? No need for them any more, maybe that's why.)

Just a few quick thoughts, and I freely admit I haven't read every other post in this thread carefully, so apologies if I've repeated something. Also, I should stress that a lot of what I'm saying is based on my personal 'feel' from reading posts and observation of general trends. I could well be completely out with some of what I'm thinking. :)

As always, all IMHO.

Swordsman
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: The7DeadlyVenomz on May 07, 2005, 09:32:07 PM
I'd like to bring up a point that perhaps nobody has thought of, but Swordsman's post on PC on PC interaction brought it to my mind. I felt that the game had so much more grit and hardness to it when the War was going on. I felt that the open hostility enhanced the feel of oppression and detriment. Why did everyone start getting along? I remember when the Northern Templars told us to stop bugging the Southeners, and when Northern folk began to be invited as bards to the South.

I most certianly did not approve, and I still don't. I remember when two Northern Houses had conflict, and while I can understand the subtleness required for that, it seemed to be a great thing in concept, as far as establishing grit. Everyone are not buddies.

So, why did the Southern/Northern goverments start accepting the other side? I understand and truely agree that the Merchant Houses need to be excluded from the violence and open discrimination of conflict, but I most certianly did not like it when folks began just meandering around the world again, city-hopping if you will.

The two cultures are decidedly different. In one goverment's sight, the other goverment rebelled, throwing off the yoke, while in the other culture's eyes, the opposing goverment oppressed and repressed for fourty years, at the cost of many noble lives. Bring that back, and this time, do not tone it down and dumb it down. If you start in Allanak, you should not parlay in Tuluk, unless you have a good reason. Luir's should be the neutral meeting grounds, or Red Storm, or some other little place controlled by neither the North or the South.

That old conflict brought so much to the game, in terms of PC-PC interaction and roleplay.

I do not think the desert needs to be toned down at all. I still can not seem to run into anything to kill, and beleive it or not, I like killing NPCs for an IC reason. It's fun. But I digress.

Bring my conflict back.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Player99 on May 07, 2005, 11:50:59 PM
I entirely agree. All the buildup to battle was awesome. The battle itself was usually a letdown if you were the one auto-targeted by a million npc's, but it was still cool. As for raiders, I seem to remember the imms obliterating the Blackmoon because they raided too much. Being an indy raider -IS- impossible unless you one-hit kill someone, due to the look command. I don't want to hear about this 'I saw a guy once rp it' because you know that is one pc out of 500 who did it, but props to him at least.

I see no reason the south isn't attacking the north again. I see no reason the south doesn't crush Luir's once and for all for all the dead militia in the past. I see no reason the northerners don't come down and start raiding caravans or something.
Except.. mostly everything needs an imm behind it.

I think the turnover rate is a good suggestion as well. I personally think that having a character for much longer then six months (Thats half a year people, think about it) is pretty bloody long. If you're a merchant who likes to sit and talk, and love your character, all well and good. But for clanners who are guards and hunters, the character can only get taken so far before their imm should take them out, lest they feel the urge to go lone-ankeg hunting.
-That last thing would entirely be opinion of the player, but there should still be the option of going out in glory, instead of wishing for a heart attack.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Linedel on May 08, 2005, 02:40:59 AM
Quote

(3) Encourage more PC to PC conflict (helping point 1 along) by actually decreasing the danger/hostility of a lot of the wilderness. This would encourage and make it easier for PCs to themselves take up the 'antagonist' roles currently filled almost completely by the gith and friends. (Quick aside: what happened to all the raider clans? No need for them any more, maybe that's why.)


Hm.. interesting..

One of my early characters met a notorious half-giant defiler.  Everyone wanted to put him down.  Fortunately, he caught me using 'gather', and after a bit of "you will be my apprentice/spy, or else" type "roleplay," he left me alone instead of killing me like he did everyone else...  I didn't tell anyone for a good many years.  And it added character to his history - survived an encounter with X beefy guy.

Yeah, players can add a good amount of 'danger' or 'harshness'.  And buzz.  Definately more buzz than 'oh, we ran into a couple gith bunched together'.  That's a good thing.  Makes the game much more personal, memorable.

But, on the other hand, if you make the wilderness easier, it becomes much less difficult to go out and powergame your melee character.  Becomes much easier to skill your caster.  The average skill level of the 'twink' will be greater.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  It may add 'harshness' for people playing the way the game has evolved, but it may not be the right ''harshness.'

It should also be pointed out that the game is a multi-user game.  If the wilderness becomes trivial to explore in single-player mode, you lose something.  I think this tips my opinion to mild disagreement.

It's probably worth considering what the intent of the wilderness is.  The staff wouldn't build 20k rooms if they weren't meant to be explored, so the difficulty should be at some median point between easy and hard, which most posters seem to think is currently about right.


Regarding raider clans (or raiders in general), my experience is that they tend to attract griefers with minimal intent to roleplay.  This statement is from the point of view of having played with Black Moon a long time ago, and may or may not be accurate now...
Title: Brief clarification
Post by: Swordsman on May 08, 2005, 05:19:19 AM
I, too, would disagree with making the wilderness easy or trivial to explore. What I was trying to raise was something against the current trend, which has been for the desert to become harsher and harsher as time passes (as far as I can see). The harshness is good, but maybe it's gone a step too far by 'cutting into' the niche of the PC antagonist? I don't say yes or no, I merely raise this point for consideration. Certainly, we don't want to encourage reverting to the old, twinkish days. Balance, as always, would be the key, and I leave that in the hands of our trusty imms. :)

Swordsman
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Dracul on May 08, 2005, 11:38:11 AM
Oh...we just have to try harder as PC antagonists now.

And not to cut too much of a joke (although I am serious) I'll add a little.

It's -hard- I think...to roleplay some grit and harshness that we could do better. I struggle with the question of...if my character can survive better...isn't in -his- best intrest to acheive the best that he can? Although the example of the rinther foraging for salt is on the extreme...along more minor lines...I want it enforced on me.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Dakurus on May 08, 2005, 02:50:21 PM
I do realize that it's a game. But it's a game that fills different needs for different players. Not everybody likes conflict, but they deal with it when their character has to deal with it. I see a minor but general trend among players as they gain experience with armageddon to start to play characters who live in a life style fitting to that character, and to enjoy doing just that. If that character doesn't stir the shit, that's fine. There is absolutely nothing that says everyone has to die within 5 IC years of starting their character, or under 25 days playing time. People do live long, and with game time as it is today, long IC can be very LONG RL. And then there's the people that still play characters who live on the edge, the trouble makers, pushing the envelope constantly and often dying before too long has elapsed. There's a place for these characters too, and some players tend to enjoy them more.
(PS. I do wonder how these characters ever made it past childhood, but they must have just been lucky.)

Death and conflict isn't the only thing that makes a character struggle in the world.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Revelations on May 08, 2005, 03:41:55 PM
Examining another line of thought, although briefly, is the issue with the wilderness. It's great as it is, IMO, but if there ever was going to be a change, I think it should actually be much rougher in terms of terrain and weather. Think about how much different Zalanthas is compared to Earth; even the Sahara would be almost impossible to live in for a long time alone, and even in a tribe, it would still be a daily lifethreatening challenge. The weather alone should be enough to give people plenty of trouble, not to mention the presence of dangerous animals. (Maybe a topic for a different thread would be the flucuations in temperature that occur in Earth's desert; a problem that could kill people who aren't prepared, though I don't see much of that in Zalanthas...)

I'm not saying you should make the desert impossible for new hunters to travel in (it should be if they are alone), simply that if there were going to be any changes, the desert should have a more rugged feeling to it, and more dangers that could potentially injure, but not necessarily kill the wary such as the temperature fluctuations mentioned above. NPC animals are good, but I'd like to see more of the dangers in the terrain, like sudden holes in the floor that were covered up in sand, or to have more movement lag when trudging through harsh sandstorms. More ups and downs, and huge dunes that you have climb to get across. Things like that, that will make an ordinary trek from Allanak to Liur's or Tuluk a -hell- more exciting, even if you don't meet a single PC or NPC along the way. That, I think, would make the game more gritty for alot of people, despite the frustrations that it could bring.

Change in the desert would effect people who travel, but wouldn't really effect thoughs based in cities, rather the rooftop level in cities would aid in solving that. Also wanted to bring out briefly the need for corruption in all levels of society.

One last point to address, it seems lately that alot of diseases were defined and added into the documents, but there needs to be more occurances of these sickness and a few instances of far-reaching plagues (like the Black Death of Europe). It doesn't necessarily need to kill people, but simply give the feel that PC's can be sick, in pain, and aren't all above the NPC population.  Considering the lack of hygene in much of society and the overcrowding, I'm surprised a large epidemic hasn't wiped out a quarter of a city-state's population yet. It would probably take abit for diseases to be coded as more frequent occurances for all I know, but the payoff would be well worth it, IMO.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Tuannon on May 08, 2005, 04:00:28 PM
On the disease matter, the diseases would have to be quite different to our own earth diseases, the desert climate and lack of large water supplies would destroy two of the main vectors of carrying disease.
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Angela Christine on May 08, 2005, 06:33:48 PM
Quote from: "Dracul"

It's -hard- I think...to roleplay some grit and harshness that we could do better. I struggle with the question of...if my character can survive better...isn't in -his- best intrest to acheive the best that he can? Although the example of the rinther foraging for salt is on the extreme...along more minor lines...I want it enforced on me.


Why wouldn't a 'rinther forage for salts?  Why is that extreme?  I've always thought that foraging for salts is the sort of thing the lowest of the low would do to make a living in the south.  You follow the salt road, it takes you directly to the salt flats, then you scratch around looking for interesting lumps of salt.  The road is broad and easy to follow, and even a non-elf can easily make the trip on foot.   It is unpleasant and dangerous, while at the same time requiring no particular skill and profit is uncertain -- in other words the perfect sort of work for untouchables.  A 'rinther on foot might be able to make 100 sid in a day from salt, which isn't as good as it sounds because he'll spend at least half of that on the water he lost out there, but at least he gets to eat that day.  I don't see the problem, even people from the 'rinth can become rangers (as long as they aren't c-elves).



Quote
I struggle with the question of...if my character can survive better...isn't in -his- best intrest to acheive the best that he can?


That one is easy.  Isn't it in everyone's best interests to achieve the best that they can, even in the real world?  Yes?  Ok, then why are any of us "wasting time" here?  If you have some spare time, why aren't you out selling encyclopedias door to door, making hand-made jewelry to sell a swap-meets, collecting discarded cans and other items that can be sold to recyclers, sewing your own clothes or growing your own food?  There are a virtually unlimited number of things you could be doing _right_now_ that would either make money or save you money.  You could work 18 hours a day, all day, every day, for the rest of your life . . . but you probably won't unless you absolutely have to, you won't do it unless your very survival or the survival of the people you love depends on it.  Why not?

People like leisure time.  People like procrastinating until the last minute.  People like wasting money.  Fictional people probably like doing those things too.


Angela Christine
Title: Grittiness and Harshness
Post by: Xygax on May 11, 2005, 07:59:07 PM
This has been pretty quite for a couple of days.  Thanks for your thoughts on this thread, folks, I'm going to go ahead and lock it.

-- X