Author Topic: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls  (Read 2536 times)

X-D

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A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« on: July 22, 2014, 10:50:11 AM »
So hey, Nyr...though I know this is still derail, I was wondering, since you mentioned it...When one gets accepted to a secret role call, does staff go "alright, here is the plot outline...make it happen."?
A gaunt, yellow-skinned gith shrieks in fear, and hauls ass.
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James de Monet

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Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2014, 01:22:19 PM »
Don't mind me. Just reverting the last post title to prevent confusion.
You know I think if James simply retitled his thread "Cheese" and apologized for his first post being off-topic, all problems would be solved.

Nyr

  • Posts: 9029
Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2014, 01:35:01 PM »
Regular sponsored roles: typically, we put up calls for sponsored roles with the expectation that those filling the roles are fleshing out a general niche in the game.  We need an Oash noble, a Kuraci family member, maybe a templar.  You bring that to life and play it to a certain set of guidelines, with the rest up to you.  How you play the role and make it awesome makes the game awesome.  You do have some rules to follow, yes, but the rules give that role and the game the structure that it has had for quite a while.

Not-so-regular sponsored roles:  sometimes we ask for weird stuff.  Gladiator roles are a good example.  Sometimes we hold Arena games in Allanak and we'll even let people from the other city watch the action if they want, via an OOC room.  It's like the World Cup, but for Zalanthas (and entirely OOC).  When these are called for, we don't ask that you store your PC--you play the gladiator in addition to your PC until it dies or wins or the events are over.

Secret roles:  We've done this a grand total of three times.  A secret role call is one in which staff announces that they need someone to fill a role that is not the norm.  The PC is in a situation that is unusual, or will eventually be unusual, or otherwise not normal due to the game's documentation.  Instead of looking for someone interested in filling a specified role that everyone knows about (as in regular sponsored roles), we are interested in preserving the secrecy of the role.  Hence, we announce the call but not what it is for, then select the most appropriate candidates in our view and confirm they're ok with the initial parameters/secrecy, then we give them full details.   

Two cases we can discuss below.

The spies -- all of the spies were part of a secret role call.  This one, in particular.  What did they do?  This is referred to in a couple of places.

Here:

Quote from: Chronology
1627 (Year 10 Age 22)

    Rumors emerge from Allanak that a team of spies in deep cover were successful in plotting sabotage against Tuluki forces during the lead up to the battle at Tyn Dashra, with whispers that the destruction of Isar's Tree might have been one of their prime targets.

And here:

Quote from: Chronology
1628 (Year 11 Age 22)

    In a ruthless act of suppression, the newly ascendant order of Lirathu casts the Hlum nobility as traitors and collaborators. The Templarate proceeds to erase the Grey Hunt from Tuluki society and eradicates the Hlum Nobility, burning the estate to the ground. Those found to "remember" or mention the Hlum or Grey Hunt are dealt with quietly and efficiently by the Templarate.

When we brought the roles on board, we set them up to be spies--basically, we did all of the work that would have happened if they'd become spies in-game, organically...except in advance.  Once they were set up and dropped in-game, it was then left up to them.  Each one was given similar instructions but they were staggered for entry into the game, so none of them knew each other or even that the others were spies.  That all developed over time (though with some staff assistance).  It was touch and go several times.  Each one joined clans or what-not in Tuluk so as to infiltrate better (this was at staff suggestion initially).  One of them even became a Hlum Consort.  They all really brought the roles to life and became part of the local society.  At the very end of things, just before the HRPT, they were given specific tasks all related to the HRPT, and we let 'em fly.  At no point did they know this was leading to an HRPT (at least til the last week or two leading up to the HRPT).  I'd love to get some logs from you spy folks and get them put in the original submission forum (in lieu of the tool being busted).

We also did a call for a Legion Sergeant.  Given some unfortunate circumstances, we were absent a Legion Sergeant only about a month prior to the HRPT.  We needed one--what's a war without someone to lead the PCs onwards to victory in front of everyone?--but more than likely, the player in the role would die in the HRPT (there were close to 30 deaths during the HRPT, if not more afterwards, so this wasn't an unreasonable guess on our part).  That'd be a real bummer, jumping into a role, then seeing HRPT come up, and knowing...regardless of any skill boosts...you were probably going to die, having spent the last month expecting to play a lot longer than that.  We had an idea:  why not bring on someone to play a role to its hilt and then die horribly...on purpose?  We'd have to let the player in on it, but that'd be fine.  So that's what we did, and one of the most noteworthy starter deaths of the HRPT was a splattered Legion Sergeant.  RIP Sergeant.  You served well!

So that's the kind of stuff we have done.  By necessity, these role calls couldn't be publicized in advance (we're looking for people to play spies / we're looking for a sponsored military role to die!). 

In all cases so far, the roles have been:

  • temporary -- they serve a specific plot function or are filling a temporary need in the game, at least as far as staff sees it.  The only way out of the role is storage or death, but the role is expected to store or die by a certain time.
  • limited -- the role will be one in which your PC is serving a larger purpose, whether by living (and how he or she lives, usually within rules--mentioned below) or by dying (and how he or she dies).  That introduces more restrictions and expectations than a typical sponsored role.
  • unusual in terms of sponsored roles -- they aren't quite sponsored, but they are filling a role similar to one, therefore they need to report and coordinate with staff.  They are held to some guidelines for documentation and sometimes have more strict adherence to that documentation than usual, but at times, they may face the opposite scenario, where what is traditional for a sponsored role just isn't the intention for this role at all.
  • informed, but not omniscient -- they'll have more to go on based on background or just plain out information granted in order for them to see the role to completion, but they are not given the whole structure of the plot.
  • not too far removed from the norm -- in that a normal PC, with enough time in a role, investment into roleplay, and communication with staff...could more than likely achieve the same results.  The reason we did a secret role in any case was because no existing PC could have done it as they weren't at that point, and even a brand new PC started in a normal role would not have been able to do it.
  • rare -- they will be few and far between.

So if you see a call in the future for a secret role call, that may give you a bit more detail on what to expect.  To answer the specific question:

So hey, Nyr...though I know this is still derail, I was wondering, since you mentioned it...When one gets accepted to a secret role call, does staff go "alright, here is the plot outline...make it happen."?

We don't give a plot outline.  We give a synopsis of what the role itself will be doing and how we expect it to be brought to life, but we have not given out specific details related to the end goal of the plot itself.  In each case, as plot in-game has developed, more information has been revealed, and at times, it results in a "so...now we're at the point where what you do is up to you.  We're cutting the strings.  Just know that by X time, you will be stored if you aren't dead.  Make the most of the time between now and then; you are in control of your own PC's fate, and what you do may well end you faster than you expect!"

One area we needed to improve on with this was with player expectation versus staff information provided.  Hopefully this post goes a ways towards that end.
Paint on a mustache and be a dude for a day. Stuff some melons down my shirt, cinch up a corset and pass as a girl.

With appropriate roleplay of course.

BadSkeelz

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Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 01:59:55 PM »
How likely are staff to intervene when someone figures out a Secret Plot Character is a Secret Plot Character, and begins taking steps to defeat them (or just flat out PKs them)?
janeshephard: You really think BadSkeelz understands the concept of Wine In Front of me? This guy shot me as a townie when he felt threatened. The man's a neandrathal.

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Nyr

  • Posts: 9029
Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 02:15:04 PM »
How likely are staff to intervene when someone figures out a Secret Plot Character is a Secret Plot Character, and begins taking steps to defeat them (or just flat out PKs them)?

I think in every case so far, people had the opportunity to figure it out.  In more recent cases, one significant possibility was that a certain secret plot character was going to get PK'd, which was a possibility we on staff expected and planned for.  Let's look at these two cases that we can talk about a bit more freely, though.

The spies:  if someone had figured out who they were in advance and burned them, awesome.  We had backup plans in case that were to happen, one being "well, maybe this part of the plot won't exist and we'll just do without" and another being the usual "you defeated the boss, but the princess was in another tower" deus ex machina kind of thing in which you score a Pyrrhic victory.  (Most Zalanthan victories are Pyrrhic anyway.)  Luckily (for the PCs at least) that didn't happen, though an NPC got caught.  It's also really easy to say what you would've done when it didn't ever happen and didn't need to happen.  Looking back on it, I imagine we'd go more towards the former than the latter.  Our plans expected it to be more likely that one or more spies would be caught, but not all of them (which is why the PC redundancy, anyway).

The sergeant:  if by chance the PC had died sooner than that, oh well.  We're back to where we started...

I would say it is unlikely that we would intervene in such cases.  Thus far, anyone in a secret role position had either the skills or the resources to back up their role, plus (we hoped) the RP chops to deal with the very real possibility that people could well screw them over.
Paint on a mustache and be a dude for a day. Stuff some melons down my shirt, cinch up a corset and pass as a girl.

With appropriate roleplay of course.

Riev

  • Posts: 6149
Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 02:56:03 PM »
As a fan of SOMETIMES-RAILROADED plots, I actually enjoy the recent idea of the staff "secret" role calls, if only because its kind of a way for there to be the staff-run plots that we used to have, but give the Players the chance to influence them. I imagine they take a lot of work and effort, like all plots do, but its kind of neat to have that going on.

If only it didn't take a massively public OOC announcement that "Hey, within the next few months, we might be releasing a player playing as THE DRAGON OF DRAGONS. Just be on the lookout for lizardy people." But hey, damn if that isn't fun.
Masks are the Armageddon equivalent of Ed Hardy shirts.

number13

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Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 06:56:19 PM »
Appreciate the insight into how this stuff works.

Barsook

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Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2014, 09:41:35 PM »
Appreciate the insight into how this stuff works.
Fredd-
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Kol

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Re: A Brief Overview of Secret Role Calls
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2014, 09:43:02 PM »
Quote from: BleakOne
Dammit Kol you made me laugh too.
Quote
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