It's honestly a lot of opinion to read.
I think clearly accusing me of intentionally skewing my efforts and using them to support my own opinions is a hard thing to wave away as "a lot of opinion to read". Certainly you seem to have a very assertive opinion about it. I would still encourage you to evaluate and comment on my data collection, which I readily admit could be improved. But please comment in the appropriate thread
where I actually use that data.
My general feelings are: Conflict scale needs to be reduced. I think this is systemic with having a large city-state in which only a few aspects are played by PCs, and strata above them is occupied exclusively by NPCs/vNPCs. As the latter bit is in the realm of Staff, it can often feel like Leader PCs butt heads with Staff, not NPCs, and it just gets murky. Everyone tries to be as linear and copacetic as possible, but the heirarchy is basically:
Leader PC < Staff NPC above Leader PC < Staff NPC above that NPC, and so on.
The power arrangements in Allanak are extremely top-heavy and geared towards NPCs. This is part of the reason why I think taking the whole city's power level down wouldn't be a bad thing for players. With less top-heaviness and less power in the hands of NPCs, it would give more power and more responsibility to PCs. It would provide more room for upwards mobility. I think that could be a really good thing.
Rather than raising the glass ceiling, i'd rather the game in general have a lower glass ceiling. I'd be a major proponent for smaller-scale outposts and villages rather than the bureaucratic complexity of a city-state. While I loved the complexity of Tuluk, and in part I like the complexity of Allanaki politics, it also seems at odds with the theme of the world most of the time. It's often difficult to find that gritty harsh world I first was exposed to when I began playing ArmageddonMUD.
Honestly, I'm glad we don't have lots of small-scale villages. It sounds like Red Storm x20. Storm is very harsh and gritty, but it's also very empty. There's not a lot to do there and there's limited opportunities. One of the great things about a larger city is that there are a lot of different opportunities, and different groups all in one space. In theory, this helps to creat conflict.
However, I also think we're too squished together right now. I think that having only/mainly internal conflict as an option is making things too stifeling. There was a lot more conflict and plot going on before Tuluk closed, even though the playerbase was more spread out.
It does feel like minor conflict gets squished out as quickly as possible, which in turn makes it seem that major conflict will either be fabricated by Staff, or fabricated by Leader PCs with a modicum of control and room for nemesis.
Yes, it does feel like most conflict is immediately and aggressively killed. There's an overwhelming idea in the playerbase that if you kill off all the PCs in a given clan, the threat will go away. This may not be true, virtually speaking, but it does lead to a very powerful set of old PCs who can repeatedly kill off any new PCs who dare cross them.
I think the solution is something similar to what you suggest. Essentially, you could have two leaders who were set up with the intention of making scaling conflict. People who weren't afraid to go at each other, but also tried for outdoing or sabotoge instead of straight out death. In other words, Allanak needs its own version of Raleris and Dragean.
As I don't see Allanak disappearing anytime soon, and I don't imagine the game will suddenly shift to smaller Outposts and Villages, we have what we have. I don't think your suggestions are bad, I think they are astute. However I feel like the onus continually rests on Staff rather than Players, and I find that many PCs I interact with are either unwilling to take a chance on a new plot thread, or are content just being dramatic relationship-heavy PCs focused on very mundane, day-to-day soap opera plots. Obviously there can be IC reasons for this, but when we complain of stagnation, I feel the onus is on us as players to drive forward a sort of momentum. If we don't, how can we expect Staff to do it for us?
Well, there's a few reasons why I think larger-scale or more complex plots with PCs are exceedingly difficult:
1. Plots can easily be halted by staff/NPCs (sometimes it can be hard to tell if it's an obstacle or a "NO")
2. Plots can easily be halted by other players (perhaps they are too busy with their own relationship dramas)
3. Plots can easily be halted by a lack of dependable minions (you have to wait for the right people to be able to do it)
If there are leader PCs who are pursuing no plots and not involving minions, what is to be done? Many underling PCs are not willing to assassinate their superiors, due to clan loyalty. I have said it before, but I will say it again: It is oftentimes better not to attempt plots at all, because plots require risk, effort, and have a high chance of failure. Doing nothing means you can outlive everyone and watch your enemies fail.
This needs to change. There need to be more rewards for pursuing plots and conflict. There needs to be more downside to doing nothing. How do we change this? Staff control the NPC leadership of clans. They can encourage appropriately. Staff also control many of the events in the world, which can lead them to introduce more rewarding conflict. Staff decide when PCs get promoted to the next level, and how a House thinks a PC is doing.
Basically, what we need is more opportunities and encouragement for PCs to pursue plots. If we make conflict something that is desirable and something to be gained from, if we have situations where the reward is worth the risk, then we may see more players taking chances.
Your examples for Noble House conflict sounds good on paper, but having seen it play out in game, it tends to be a very 'top heavy' sort of conflict. It takes place in the request tool, and you don't typically see a lot of that conflict on the ground level. So to expand on your idea (Say of the plot of land):
The plot of land is in the Desert. The Templarate grants holdings of the land to both Borsail and Oash. It also leaves them to their own devices to figure out who keeps the land, or if the land will remain split, by any means necessary. This opens up the ability to politic (For the Nobles). It also opens up the possibility of combat encounters, declaring part of the land 'No Man's Land' for either side. (Hiring the Byn to patrol the land, both sides hire different units). This creates a pseudo 'Copper War' sort of engagement, where sides may have to get approval from Staff before going across enemy lines, but allows for bloody conflict as well as bloody politics.
I'm not really seeing the drawback to any of this.
I would just rather see unilateral plots that involve the Plebs and the Highborn, rather than it being one or the other as I often see. High-end Politics really only affect the players of that game, and the trickle is felt by the lower-downs. But I can think of nothing more boring than a Senate meeting, for example. It's a bunch of NPCs talking with a bunch of PCs in a closed environment, where 'big change' happens.
Well, we obviously differ a lot, because I think Senate meetings sound fascinating. You have all of the political manuvering ahead of time from the PCs to try and make sure that they push their side through. You have the possibility, as a House or GMH affilitated commoner, of being in attendance. If staff wanted to, they could even allow for crazy things such as PCs making speeches to try and sway either side from the senate floor itself! That sounds wonderful to me.
Sure, there's no combat-related conflict in that portion of a senate plot... That doesn't mean it couldn't come later. Of course, not all conflict needs combat, either. Some people just love political and economic plots.
Anyways, I can go point by point later when I get home, if you prefer, Taven.
I am always happy to evaluate and address any thoughtful points people bring to the table.