Flagpole Tokens


Broad-scope actions taken in support or opposition or complication of a flag are represented by tokens attached to the flagpole. In most cases, these tokens represent a scene. They are also opportunities for further play. While they are the result of a scene, they might not be the finished result of a story arc. A token is OOCly available information; it can be acted upon OOC by people wanting to find out more.

So if a token says that all the customer's in Bloody Bill's were poisoned recently, then there should have been a scene in which that happened, or in which it was definitely going to happen. Gossip and OOC advertising should be used to tell someone of a potential scene.

After the poisoning of Bloody Bill's, PCs may wish to investigate further, and putting a token up onto the flagpole is an OOC invitation to ask questions of the person running the plot or plotlet. Can the PCs find out what happened? Can they turn the poisoning to someone else's advantage? Can they make a power play to take advantage of the vacuum? These are all equally valid scenes, and can be tokened up after play.

The exception to this rule is turning a +gossip into a token, where players have already had their chance to take a crack at it in the +gossip system. Color tokens can either follow this rule or ignore it, as the result is purely color. For this reason, +gossip cannot be cashed out while it is active. PCs always have a chance to interact with gossip.

If you want to influence the outcome of a flag, you can write and attach a token to that flag.

Types of Token

Four types of tokens can be attached to a flag in this way:

  • Effort tokens. They are created with +token/effort and represent your personal effort.
  • Powered story tokens. They are created with +token/power and one or more gifts, at least one of which must have the story-token powerbit.
  • Resource tokens. They are created with +token/resource and represent a prop's assets.
  • Gossip tokens. They are created by cashing out gossip, and represent influence over NPCs.

The following should be kept in mind when writing a token for attachment:

  • Like all tokens, this token is subject to negotiation, consent, etc.
  • The token should always be related to one or more scenes you have played, unless the action described in the token would be uninteresting as a scene and not directly opposed.

If you attach multiple tokens to a single issue, there are diminishing returns in the effect you will have.

You don't have to be the author of a token that you attach. If you are not the author, though, you'll need to first write an amendment to the token (via +token/amend) to indicate how your character is ICly using this token. Attaching a token indicates IC responsibility. Thus, for instance, if someone else has given you a resource token representing an army, your amendment would likely explain what you're using that army to do. (It likely represents one or more scenes of your own.) To account for the effort necessary to use the assets you've been given, you'll pay 1 Focus to attach a non-color token that you didn't author.

Tips for Flagpole Token Creation:

  • If the token is a current effort, not something generated from scenes already played, use open language in the present tense, such as 'Several bands of men have sneaked into Arden and are waylaying travellers and supply carts. This is disrupting trade.' This establishes that it is a current event which may also be the result of past scenes already played) The person who posted the token is considered the contact for any plot. The token should include the effect the brigands are having (disruption of trade) unless it is a colour token. The effort expended in setting this up and any success to date is reflected in the focus (or resources or gifts) spent. Likewise, any scene that supports or counteracts this effort can result in a new token from another player, with focus (or resources or gifts) invested in that.
  • If the token is the result of one or more scenes, including a link to a log is encouraged, but not required. It has the benefits of spreading the story to a wider audience, as well as proof that you’ve really been doing something (because it’s not unheard of that some may believe you’re just making it up to leverage your points). There are perfectly valid reasons to not link a log in…doing so may reveal a plot point that would better be served not revealing even OOCly until later, or perhaps someone in the log does not wish it to be posted. But if there are no such reasons, please consider linking one in.
  • When deciding how much focus a token is worth, please look at the situation. Remember that RL examples may not apply here. (For instance: Gerard spreads the rumour that Queen Moire has a secret agenda to relocate all Minosans to Kitezh and take over Minos, and posts this as a 9 point token in opposition to Kitezh and Rebma trade relations, as the Kitezh don’t want all those Minosans around. If he wants to justify having such a huge effect, he will also have to make sure there are results from that rumour.
  • Make sure you understand the goal of the flag before you post a token…if you are opposing trade between Rebma and Kitezh, don’t post a travel brochure simply saying how beautiful Sukho is this time of year as a 3 point token. (If your goal is to lure Rebma to trade with Sukho instead, then you’ll need to explain that a bit more in the token. Do not be oblique.) Tokens need to be relevant to the flag they’re being posted to, as well as which side you’re posting to. The GMs will ask that people take down things that are not related to the flag.
  • Explain things. Don’t be cryptic, or oblique, or overly terse and expect everyone to understand. We have people playing Road to Amber from all over the globe. Your token should be an invitation to further play if people are interested; give them the chance to be interested by being clear.
  • Attitude is everything. Remember that this is not PvP (Player vrs Player), but character vrs character…players need to negotiate in good faith with an eye for the story and enhancing play for themselves or others, not to Win The MUSH.

Attaching a Color Token to the Flagpole

If you are undertaking a significant action related to a flag, but you are not influencing the outcome of the flag in any material way, you can write a color token for it.

Create a token in a usual way. It should have zero Focus, although you can use an appropriate gift for color if so desired. The description of the token should relate to one or more scenes you have played, unless the action described would really not make for an interesting scene. Note that this token is still subject to negotiation, consent, etc. — the mere fact that it's a flagpole issue (or a zero point token) does not negate prop control issues, etc.

Then, attach the token to a flag with:

+flag/color flag-ID with token-ID

Attaching the token to the flagpole will remove that token from your possession, but will not destroy it.

If at some point you change your mind about having the token attached, you can remove it with:

+flag/detach flag-ID from token-ID

Note that doing so is not a retcon or anything like that. You should only detach the token if you made an OOC mistake in the token's description or something similar, and need the token back so you can amend it and re-attach it, or it has otherwise proven to be problematic from an OOC perspective. Posting any token is a declaration that things have been done.

Tokens can be attached to a flag with:

+flag/action flag-ID with token-ID

where action is support or oppose

If there is an OOC problem with your token, you can detach it with:

+flag/detach token-ID from flag-ID

Note that token potency and longevity vs. an expiration time is calculated from the point that a token is attached, so if you take down a token and amend it and re-attach it, after a long time has passed, its mechanical impact on the flagpole may be lessened.

Alt Restrictions

You may only have one of your alts on a given side of the flagpole. That means that if you play characters A and B, A could support and B could oppose, or A could oppose and B could support, but A and B cannot both support, and A and B cannot both oppose. If you play characters A, B, and C, then at least one of those characters won't be able to post support or opposition tokens (since there are only two possible sides to the flag).

A given character can post as many tokens as he wants. For instance, if A controls props C and D, A can post resource tokens from both props, along with tokens from gifts, gossip, and so forth. The alt limitation applies if A controls prop C, and B controls prop D, though — if the player wants both props C and D to support the same side, then some other player's character will need to post the token. In other words, the player must delegate either C or D to someone else. (The limitation is on the player, and not on the prop.)

Mechanically requiring this kind of alt separation both encourages prop delegation, and prevents possible dogpiling from a small cadre of players who have a lot of alts.

Color tokens can be posted by anyone, without restriction, since they have no mechanical impact upon the resolution.

Flagpole Example: The Problem of Rebuilding the Navy

Flagpole issues which are problems are typically posed as a goal. If the flag is successful by its expiration time, the problem is considered solved. The difficulty is determined by the staff at the time the flag is proposed.

Gerard's Flag

As an example of this, consider recovering from the losses of war, specifically rebuilding Amber's naval power during the timeframe of Nine Princes in Amber. Gerard's player wants to run a flagpole-based storyline surrounding this. To create a proposal, he uses: +flag/propose Rebuilding the Navy

Next, he describes the the flag (with +flag/edit desc) and enters the following text:

The Amber Navy sustained significant losses fighting off Corwin and Bleys' fleet. After their unsuccessful assault fails, Eric set Gerard to the task of rebuilding the Navy — repairing damaged ships, reconstructing new ones, and getting them provisioned and crewed.

Then he describes what it means to support it (with +flag/edit support) and enters this text:

Supporting this flag means committing effort towards rebuilding and strengthening the Navy. This might mean the construction of new ships, assisting in the repair, providing raw materials such as cured timber, personally committing time or money towards the repair effort, or anything similarly useful.

Then he describes what it means to oppose it (with +flag/edit oppose) and enters this text:

Opposing this flag means actively hindering the attempt to rebuild the Navy. This might mean actively preventing the Navy from acquiring the raw materials or people it needs, sabotaging the fleet, or other similarly damaging approaches.

Gerard uses +flag/submit to submit his proposal to the staff. The staff reviews and approves it, and assigns it a certain difficulty. The new flag is flag ID 13.

Chantris's Supporting Resource Token

House Chantris is deeply involved in the ship-building business, and Lord Chantris decides that his House will offer to do the work for the Navy at cut-rate prices. Lord Chantris goes out and plays a number of scenes about this, and gets other members of his House to do the same. Then, representing drawing upon the Chantris resources, Lord Chantris writes a Resource token using the Chantris prop (prop ID 8). He uses this command:

+token/resource 8 in Discount Ships from Chantris = House Chantris is stepping up its production of ships, aggressively bidding on contracts for the Navy, and doing the work as quickly as its facilities permit.

The system gives Lord Chantris's newly-created token the ID number of 1014. Lord Chantris attaches the token in support of Gerard's flag (flag ID 13), with: +flag/support 13 with 1014

If there are questions asked, Lord Chantris can happily point to logs that show his scenes, and/or explain what steps have actually been taken, and perhaps even the name of the dockyard workers he's had to bribe.

Caine's Supporting Shadowfinding Token

Caine decides that he's going to help Gerard out by finding crew for these vessels. He goes out into shadow, and after some effort (and an adventure, which he plays out in scenes with some people he's taken along), he manages to persuade some vaguely frog-like men, expert sailors from a far-off shadow, that he is the god they have been long awaiting, and they are to sail in blessed vessels in a land he's leading them to. He brings these shadowfound sailors back to Amber.

Now, Caine writes a Focus-invested token; this is shadowfinding, which is an ability of his Pattern Walker (PAT-WA) gift. Thus, he creates the token using the gift, with the command:

+token/power PAT-WA spending 3 in Fanatical Frog Sailors = Caine went into shadow and managed to locate a small tribe of frog-man expert sailors, and has persuaded some of their menfolk to come to Amber as holy crusaders crewing supposedly blessed vessels. (Logs can be found at http://www.livejournal.com/Caine/bisle5d)

The system gives Caine's newly-created token the ID number of 1022. Caine attaches the token in support of Gerard's flag, with: +flag/support 13with 1022

Llewella's Opposing Effort Token

Llewella decides that she wants to hinder the rebuilding efforts, by sending in underwater saboteurs to damage ships in port, below the waterline. This is an action that might be noticed and can be opposed; it requires negotiation with the Navy's prop controller (Gerard) in order to determine if it succeeds, and should almost certainly involve PCs and be scened. Gerard and Llewella discuss the matter OOC, run a scene for some PCs that Llewella recruits, and determine that the sabotage is successful. The recruiting can be done directly in-scene or by gossiping (dangerous, but potentially worth it).

At that point, Llewella writes a Focus-invested token, representing the effort and resources that went into the sabotage attempt. Because this is a personal action of Llewella's, it doesn't use a prop. She uses the command:

+token/effort Sabotage! = Unbeknownst to anyone (contact Llewella OOC to discuss IC attempts to discover it), one dark night, several ships in Amber's Navy were attacked by underwater saboteurs, damaging them moderately.

The system gives Llewella's newly-created token the ID number of 1034. Llewella grants signing permissions to Gerard (using +token/allow Gerard to sign 1034), and Gerard signs the token (+token/sign Llewella's 1034) to indicate his acknowledgment and agreement to this as the Navy's prop controller. Llewella then attaches the token in opposition to Gerard's flag, with: +flag/oppose 13 with 1034

Note: The amount of focus she puts into it determines the amount of damage done with her own efforts, as agreed between her and Gerard, if the scene is never played out due to lack of people contacting Llewella. Any PCs getting involved to counteract her plans may post a token in support of a strong Amber Navy (as opposition to her), the point value of which is determined by agreement after the scene. (A log link would be welcome in that token.) Likewise, if a PC joins Llewella’s side, they can add their extra focus (determined post-scene) to a token in opposition to a strong Amber Navy, supporting Llewella.

Feldane's Color Token

House Feldane has decided that they'd like to profiteer from the war, rather than actually helping out the Navy. Feldane consequently decides that they're going to raise the prices on the provisions that the Navy normally buys from Feldane. Lord Feldane's player decides that Feldane's not actually going to slow down the Naval recovery effort, but that this is a complication that ought to be taken into account. After playing some scenes about it, he writes a token:

+token/write Feldane's Provision Prices = Feldane is bargaining hard when it sells provisions to the Navy, and has raised prices on a number of goods that the Navy normally purchases through Feldane's trading operations.

The system gives Feldane's newly-created token the ID number of 1026. Lord Feldane attaches the token in color to Gerard's flag, with: +flag/color 13 with 1026

This can be used as a springboard to more RP, which might result in Feldane supporting or opposing the flag.

Resolving the Rebuilding

Each token attached to the flagpole (with the exception of Feldane's color token), has an Impact. So far, the token has the supporting Impact of Chantris's Resource token plus Caine's shadowfinding token, and opposing Impact of Llewella's personal effort…

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