Author Topic: Grittiness and Harshness  (Read 18930 times)

Xygax

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Grittiness and Harshness
« 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

John

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Re: Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #1 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?
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Gaare

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #2 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.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. -MT

Anonymous

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #3 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.

moab

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #4 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.
quote="Hymwen"]
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Cindrak

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Re: Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #5 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
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amoeba

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #6 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]
quote="Morgenes"]
Quote from: "The Philosopher Jagger"
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[/quote]

Xygax

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #7 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

wizturbo

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #8 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.

Xygax

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #9 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

Linedel

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #10 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...

wizturbo

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #11 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.

wizturbo

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Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #12 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.

John

  • Posts: 3961
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #13 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 ;)
Quote from: RogueGunslinger
On Zalanthas most sweat would evaporate instantly and cool you easier, because there is no humidity. The extra air-flow of a kilt would also keep things dry.

House Rising Sun

  • Posts: 519
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #14 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.
Dig?

ale six

  • Posts: 1219
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #15 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.

Ghost

  • Posts: 6626
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #16 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.
some of my posts are serious stuff

Nidhogg

  • Legend
  • Posts: 291
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #17 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
idhogg

Ask me if I'm a tree

proxie

  • Posts: 196
    • Moose and Squirrel
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #18 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
For those who knew him, my husband Jay, known as Becklee from time to time on Arm, died August 17th, 2008, from complications of muscular dystrophy.

Nidhogg

  • Legend
  • Posts: 291
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #19 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.
idhogg

Ask me if I'm a tree

Elgiva

  • Posts: 512
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #20 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.

Nidhogg

  • Legend
  • Posts: 291
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #21 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.
idhogg

Ask me if I'm a tree

Rhyden

  • Posts: 4922
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #22 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.
Quote from: Malifaxis
One thing I'd like to see in arm is more people focusing on how to make the game intriguing, by filling
it with murder, betrayal, and corruption, instead of arguing about how combat isn't powerful enough.

wizturbo

  • Posts: 2467
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #23 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.

Gaare

  • Posts: 959
Grittiness and Harshness
« Reply #24 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.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. -MT