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This is such a non-issue.

I've got 156 points at this point. I've used 106. And my character is still very awesome. I could app for a few things, but I'd be hard-pressed to find 30 points worth of things I really want.

Concentrate on wanting gifts that do a lot for your character and concept, and not with getting freebies. The only pricing issue that I have with the gift tree is that the blood-gift discount doesn't appear to apply universally. Which, all-in-all, is a minor gripe.

Outside of Recipes, Tatoos, and Pattern, there are about a dozen 0-point gifts, yes. Hardly the bounty described.

It sounds like proposing unique gifts is the way to go.

If you haven't found the 0 point gifts outside of the recipe tree, you haven't looked very hard.

Also, as a corollary to Helix's posts: You can propose your own gifts. Hence, you can propose your own 0 point gifts. So she did indirectly answer your question.

You didn't clarify your own statement about 'going deeper' into gift trees. From what I can see in the gift trees, there is no point at which specializing gets any cheaper than 5 points (or 4-5 months).

You're thinking of advancement from a very different perspective than this MUSH is intended to foster.

Gifts, as you see them listed, are simply things that other people have wanted. There are around 800 gifts in the game, so far. A little over 50% of those gifts are unique to individual players.

The right way to approach this is to think about the things that you want your character to be able to do, and the directions you want to grow in, and then ask about that. If those things are represented by gifts already in existence, the GMs will indicate that. If they don't exist, the abilities and their costs can be discussed, and the gifts can be created accordingly.

Re: Advancement and glass ceilings by lwllwl, 06 Sep 2009 06:24

There are 0-point gift add-ons when you go deeper into gift trees? The only 0-point gifts I'm aware of are the REC series for Crafters. How can I find out more about what's possible, so that I can plan character growth and advancement?

The game is designed around a fairly limited number of points, but is designed so that new players "catch up" on points very, very quickly.

We've always been up-front about advancement rates, and told people what to plan on in terms of total pointage. At high pointage, it's fairly easy to go deeper into gift trees (because going deep tends to get you to the 0-point gift add-ons or to abilities that are more powerful for their cost), but lower-pointage characters have their schticks slightly more protected.

The design intent is to let you go buy a bunch of different things at a basic level, but to specialize after that point.

Re: Advancement and glass ceilings by lwllwl, 05 Sep 2009 18:35

Judging from the lack of reply in so long, either this forum is no longer monitored or your concerns aren't perceived as being a problem.

I've been wondering about the advancement philosophy. While I understand the concept of a more rapid point accumulation for newer characters, tapering off to a more gradual rise with more time, there's something that still troubles me about it. Near the current top end of advancement points, characters gain 1 point roughly every 25-30 RL days. So in order to pick up even a 5 point Gift, it's a 4-5 month wait to accumulate the points. And that's without considering Lore prerequisites.

Essentially, this game approach is saying that the more experienced a person becomes, the more difficult it is for them to learn anything new. A side-effect is that the system funnels players into one-dimensional concepts, because developing skills and gifts outside of the initial core takes so long that the game becomes no longer interesting. What's wrong with increasing the rate of earning for more experienced characters and pro-rating the scale accordingly? There are plenty of Lore requirements and other prerequesites that will govern the pace of advancement without putting a 'glass ceiling' on advancement points.

Am I way off-base here, or am I missing something? If I am, then I welcome other thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Advancement and glass ceilings by Simone1Simone1, 04 Sep 2009 21:17

Either I'm very confused, or it seems like there are some mutually exclusive rules going on:

First, there is no ICA==ICC on this game.

Here, more formally, from the Consequences page:

Some MUSHes (and players) have a philosophy of "ICA = ICC" ("IC actions equal in IC consequences", used to describe a tenet that amounts to "if you did something IC that deserves punishment, you should suck up whatever punishment someone deems ICly logical"). We firmly reject that philosophy here. It's not about logic — it's about story, and consent always applies. There should certainly be consequences to one's actions — but those consequences should be fun and play-fostering. We feel it's the responsibility of all players to exercise the creativity necessary to make them so — and to exercise the good sportsmanship to ensure that other people can make consequences fun for them without having to twist their characters up in knots.

However, on the consent page, our actual right to consent is effectively limited to these four points:

  • Always retaining control over your own character's actions
  • Not playing with a certain other player
  • Refusing to agree to something dealing with an offensive matter (such as rape)
  • Refusing a particular RPG consequence (requiring negotiating an alternative consequence)

So why is refusing a consequence in order to negotiate something more fun to play…."whining"? And in the absence of an actual +compare, how do rules of consequences and consent apply anyway?

Some people will inform you bluntly that they don't believe in consent, and will slap you with whatever they feel they have the authority to do IC. When this happens, any appeal to the pre-existing conflict resolution structure is of very little use. And many situations don't lend themselves to a +compare regardless. Or perhaps, the player base does not know how to make use of that structure. Or doesn't think to use it.

I myself have never yet seen storybuilding used even once (although I've no doubt it has been, I've just never been privy to it.) I have never seen the +compare system used to take a non-combat conflict (such as two people arguing IC to the point they're becoming upset OOC) out of the realm of emotion, so it can be resolved without people just logging out, or damaging a playgroup. I would not know how to lodge a reasonable protest, as described on the protest page, to negotiate a more fun alternative consequence……without perhaps derailing an entire scene at the expense of multiple people, and looking like a whiner in the bargain.

One can of course always just walk away. And one can avoid other players or groups with which one is not compatible. Too much of that, and my mental picture is of hell, as described by C.S. Lewis (in The Great Divorce), people moving further and further apart from each other until each one lives quite alone). One can closet one's self up with those few players one trusts (smaller as time goes by, and playgroups fragment as they always do). The game structure is supposed to facilitate inter-group play, by taking conflict and putting it on things, not on people, to take it out of "I win, you lose" and into "We're having fun together."

I wonder if we need more examples of how to use the conflict system for non-combat conflicts. For example:

Character A wants a relationship, which would be fun to play and maybe even character-developing, etc. A's propco/boss/lord/whatever (B) has forbidden it. There are probably good reasons for it IC, but from A's point of view OOC this simply stifles his play without giving him anything in exchange - no *other* play, just limitations. Maybe there are arguments about it IC (or OOC), which result in bad feelings and avoidance after. Or maybe there are no arguments, just bad feelings and avoidance.

A can always defy 'B' and play what he is fun for him anyway, but then ICA==ICC seems to apply, and you're back to the question of 'just exactly what consequences are reasonable without even MORE play being stifled' and 'how much say does the A have in negotiating an enjoyable, yet true consequence'?

Is there ANY way to bring this into the realm of game-designed conflict-resolution, so that A has some possibility of pressing his case in a dispassionate way, maybe even changing B's mind? And so that if there are consequences, they are guided by the conflict system, and not left to trust and compatible ideas of fun?

So, I think I agree that wits is well-suited to indirect stuff. I could see the justification for grace. Resolve and Force seem hard to apply to these situations. I'm guessing most people wouldn't try. If so, though, you can always talk it over when you throw the compares at each other. I'm sure someone out there has a good justification for an indirect conflict involving force.

Remember that Force is not just physical strength. The gang boss who rules through pure furious intimidation is using Force to guide his indirect conflicts, just as the patient webspinner who waits for exactly the right set of circumstances to strike is using Resolve.

Re: Indirect conflicts by ectect, 13 May 2008 17:55

So, I think I agree that wits is well-suited to indirect stuff. I could see the justification for grace. Resolve and Force seem hard to apply to these situations. I'm guessing most people wouldn't try. If so, though, you can always talk it over when you throw the compares at each other. I'm sure someone out there has a good justification for an indirect conflict involving force.

I don't think resources should be used on the character-scale. I figure exceptionally shady people with mild means can probably hire some thugs and bravos for a quick job when the occasion calls for it, so long as they don't go overboard. Going overboard (siccing an army on someone) is another story altogether. 'Corwin sics Amber's populace, potency 5, focus 3 on someone' token used in an indirect conflict +compare is beyond overkill.

As far as challenges? Tuning a +challenge for optimal fun is tough. I can definitely see the case for a +compare for this sort of thing.

This is sort of how I imagine something with an indirect conflict might go:
Villain: I'd like to ambush you and your date. I won't be present, but I'll be coordinating.
Victim: OK. I don't mind mopping up a few goons and impressing my date, or taking some scrapes. I know and trust you, so let's just negotiate informally for a narrow, short-term result after the compare, ok?
Villain: Excellent. I'm not really interested in big +storybuilding myself, so if we can't agree on something afterwords, I'll be down a few goons, you'll be up some bruises? This would be an indirect combat.
Victim: Cool. Let's do the +compare.
Villain does: sty-in + wits.
Victim does: phy-st + skl-wm + skl-fm + grace
Villain: Classic ambush. Distraction, a few guys running interference to keep annoying interlopers away. A few thugs who mean business.
Victim: Makes sense. I'll just slice, run, and headbutt my way through them.

Both parties agree to compares. The result comes up: villain wins, 1 conseqence.
Victim: Curses.
Villain: Heh. Neat. Anyhow, all I want out of this is to drag you (blindfolded) back to my place where I can deliver a chilling monologue. You can escape unharmed.
Victim: Works for me.
<they pose it out>

alternately: victim wins, 1 consequence.
Villain: Curses
Victim: Conan was an amatuer. Anyhow, I want to interrogate a goon and learn who sent him.
Villain: Sounds great. They are goons though, so they won't know everything. Something about who sent them and where you can find him certainly, though. Maybe some of the why.
Victim: I can live with that.
<they pose it out>

Maybe it'd be far uglier in practice, though?

Re: Indirect conflicts by DogunDogun, 12 May 2008 20:55

I was reading over the new section on indirect contests, and it doesn't fully have the right "feel". It seems that, especially as a character's stat gets larger, it gets harder to justify that that some indirect, mundane "force" has the full effect of a character's stat. Of course, greater numbers can sometimes be the justification, but, for example, how many thugs do you need to have the effect of a Force/8? (This also brings up the question about what is considered a "normal" stat range for the average population.)

It also seems like it should be possible to use a resource to get a group of thugs who are better than you at a given stat. If I'm a typical Evil Weakling Mastermind (Wits-10, Force/Resolve-3, for example), one would think I could use my Evil Henchmen resource(TM) to get a group of Force-6 thugs to go beat someone up. (Thugs aren't known for their Wits.)

I think that indirect conflicts just take a lot of negotiation to figure out what model to use in any given situation. Sometimes a +compare, but other times a +challenge, or just plain negotiation and skip the mechanics. From a story point of view, these kinds of scenes are often more "set-up" than "culmination" anyways.

There's something I've been meaning to ask, and now seems a good time: Is there a way to "fake-down" a stat?

Indirect conflicts by KynanKynan, 12 May 2008 19:10

Heya, Seb -

There's something that can help with that, by the way: Giving people something to fight over. On one of my alternate sites right now, we have the problem of having 'conniving nobles' with nothing to.. er.. connive over. The part of the risk/reward equation that is utterly missing is.. well.. the reward.

For guys like you and me, abusing our characters is a reward in itself -it becomes wholly about the story. Even so, occasionally all of us like to 'win', to find some sort of tangible, character-advancing-changing reward on the far side. Carebear stagnation, I think, happens when your resources are too plentiful. When.. players pretty much get everything they want in whatever quantity, when they can't really lose what they have, or when there's no defined goals for them to chase.

I know it's a bit of argument-by-anecdote, but on the site I'm thinking of at the moment… the powers of the nobility are very ill-defined, as are their spheres of influence. The highest-ranking players aren't sure what they can actually do to affect the NPCs on the grid (or each other), and, because of that, have no reason to try. If you go to order in your troops against someone of equal rank, the backlash might be much, much more than you bargained for. There are no metrics, no guidelines for acceptable/unacceptable/grey behavior, no notion of what things can be done to mitigate the damage. So - political roleplay is stalled. What's the point of conflict, if there's nothing to gain and everything to lose?

I don't think it always has to do with character success - if expectations are set up front that everything you have can be lost, that everything you've earned can be taken from you by someone with the wherewithal and brain to do it, then most people are willing to play it through. All they really want is a level playing field and some idea of how what they do will affect the grid as a whole. When those things are missing, in whole or in part, then conflict stagnates.

Mind you, there are many people who do NOT enjoy PvP conflict regardless of source - I can't speak for that segment. I can only say that having a mechanic that facilitates PvP conflict and offers a tangible reward is a way of ensuring that it exists and is used well to further the story of everyone that comes in contact with it.

Re: MU*s and conflicts by JGrimmJGrimm, 16 Apr 2008 01:28
Re: More on Lores
lwllwl 12 Apr 2008 16:58
in discussion General / Game Design » More on Lores

This is actually already supported mechanically, via gossip system mechanics — certain gifts let you do things representing your greater reknown and connections, as they relate to your lore levels.

Re: More on Lores by lwllwl, 12 Apr 2008 16:58
Re: MU*s and conflicts
(account deleted) 08 Apr 2008 21:09
in discussion General / Game Design » MU*s and conflicts

I want to relate a conversation I had today with a player elseMUSH who was quite interested in the Amber genre (and who knows, maybe he'll show up). The subject of conflict came up, and here is what he said (name changed to protect the innocent):

X pages: Conflict is a wonderful thing, but it has to be done carefully. One of the games I'm playing is facing carebear stagnation.
X pages: I think you just have to reward people who are rabblerousers, and that rest will take care of itself.
You paged X with 'Hee hee hee. On April 1, everybody on RtA got Care Bear powers on their +sheets. It was fabulous.'
You paged X with 'Nobody used them of course. But we all giggled a lot.'
From afar, X laughs and almost cries.
X pages: CAREBEAR STARE!
You paged X with 'Yes. I had Care Bear Stare on my sheet.'
From afar, X laughs out loud.
X pages: One of the games that I'm playing has the dev asking me how to get something going, since most of the time, people seem to tend toward stagnation and stability. And why not? Most players are trying to be successful with their characters, and the risk of conflict is usually unwelcome. So much to lose, so little to gain. So I told him to just make a few obvious gestures to reward people who are ruthless, people who don't mind crossing the paths of others and gaining the advantage. People are naturally greedy, so the rest will take care of itself. Otherwise, the other thing that mods like to do is to just impose conflict on people. That always feels artificial and pointless.
X pages: All right, I'm off. Thanks for letting me know about Road to Amber.

….And that, you know, pretty much summed up my own experience with conflict. If the other player and I aren't working TOGETHER to create a conflict - if we have different goals, different expectations, different styles - the best we can hope for is a scene in which neither of us really has as much fun as we'd like, but which we dutifully carry out in the name of playing conflict. The worst that can happen is that after such a conflict, I may remember the experience as *so* negative that I don’t want to play with that character ever again. This reduces my RP in the end rather than enhancing it. If that happens, there is no ‘reward’ anybody can offer me to make me want to engage in conflict with that character again.

I will disagree with X to this extent: people who are ruthless can be right jerks in RP. Rewarding people for acting like jerks would be an error indeed. He left before I could clarify this point with him.

Re: MU*s and conflicts by (account deleted), 08 Apr 2008 21:09
Re: More on Lores
KynanKynan 08 Apr 2008 05:40
in discussion General / Game Design » More on Lores

Here's a thought I had about lores a while back, and maybe now's a good time to throw it out.

The connection between lores and gossip is explained not by "book knowledge" but personal connections, networks, and influence. So, might it not make sense that as you get higher in a lore, you become "renowned" in the field, and therefore become somewhat known in that circle? For example, take your RL career… isn't there a group of people at work and in your field that everyone knows are the experts?

Besides making sense ICly, perhaps it's a way of fostering more connections between characters.

How it could be done is up for discussion. Using a RL model, perhaps at levels 1 and 2 you don't know anyone in particular, at levels 3 and 4 you know everyone at 5 and above, at 5 and above you know everyone at level 4 and above.

Re: More on Lores by KynanKynan, 08 Apr 2008 05:40
Re: More on Lores
lwllwl 08 Apr 2008 04:42
in discussion General / Game Design » More on Lores

Lores serve two purposes — they indicate a broader level of knowledge about something in particular, and they open access to specific information.

When you buy a lore, you are not only buying whatever factoid(s) are currently directly in that lore, you are also buying the ability to access gifts where that lore is a prerequisite, open packet seals where it's a prerequisite, see and use certain secret exits, navigate shadowpaths, etc. — lots of different things.

The factoids are interesting, and sometimes important, but the factoids can be shared freely, and it is conceivable, and in quite a few cases, likely, that you will hear a secret factoid in a lore that you haven't bought.

Important singular factoids are covered by tokens, and packets that pay out significant pieces of knowledge for which proof of such knowledge is likely to be necessary, give out tokens. (Packets can also pay out lores, training towards lores, etc.)

Information exchange can and should be covered through play, with a minimum of paperwork, so to speak.

Re: More on Lores by lwllwl, 08 Apr 2008 04:42
More on Lores
(account deleted) 07 Apr 2008 23:10
in discussion General / Game Design » More on Lores

I'm hoping this doesn't sound too simplistic, but I'm trying to reconcile this inside my head:

If you handwave-handwave research that allows you to learn Lore level X…..then you not only have it, but you have it on your +sheet. In other words, you officially have it and can if necessary prove that you know it, just as you would do with any other sort of gift or token or other RPG-related ability, knowledge, or item.

If however you learn information IC from somebody else who has that lore….of course you *have* it, but its possession is not reflected in your +sheet. Some GMed plots and scenes are designed *specifically* to distribute information that would otherwise be acquired through the purchase of Lores. Is it possible or desirable for - at the end of such a plot or scene, for the GM to drop the staff a note saying something like:

In plot thus-and-such, on date blah, char1 char2 char3 and char4 learned Lore X to level Y, through RP.

Those lores might then even be added to those characters' sheets (with or without cost - I would think without cost, personally, as my understanding is that the expenditure of Focus represents time spent….and RP *is* actual time spent) to reflect this knowledge. And of course, that report of participating and learning would HAVE to come from a GM for a verifiable scene or plot, so you wouldn't have Joe Fulano claiming "Oh yeah, I taught my friend this, jack up his sheet please".

I bring this up because I recently spent…what was it, something like 12 Focus to buy up a level of a Lore, which upon reading….I discovered I already knew a month ago through RP. I felt those Focus points might have been better spent elsewhere, to learn something I didn't already know. Except that I didn't know I already knew that secret, because (of course) you can't read those secrets until you've paid for them.

Thoughts?

More on Lores by (account deleted), 07 Apr 2008 23:10
Re: MU*s and conflicts
(account deleted) 30 Mar 2008 04:02
in discussion General / Game Design » MU*s and conflicts

I would like to add further, after about a day of consideration, this: As a player, I enjoy conflict. I'm terrible to my characters. I put them through hell, and I take consequences beyond anything I'm asked to take, generally speaking, because adversity is interesting, and long-term ramifications, chosen carefully, can be *excellent* story fodder with months or years of residual color.

The difficulty arises in attempting to mesh "my idea of what is fun in a conflict scene" with "what is fun for someone else in a conflict scene". We all know there are people who *thrive* on playing fight scenes with every last detail of the professional fencer (sixte! riposte!); some glory in vicious catty snarky arguments, some who love vast sweeping battle scenes. Some love playing brutal psychopaths. BUT it's very important when you're encouraging cross-playgroup conflict RP, to ascertain that a RP partner enjoys these same things, and isn't (let's be honest) gritting their teeth and hoping the scene gets over soon, so they can not have to play with you again1. What Scaramouche said about OOC communication and trust? The OOC communication is the most critical point. And the one I find almost never comes up, especially once a scene has begun and conflict is in progress.

We’re all adults, and we all know we are expected to communicate. Yet communication skills – and ideas of what constitute adequate communication - vary widely from person to person. One can know they ought to speak up, and yet be reluctant when a scene shifts from ‘fun’ to ‘please, just let this get over because I’m not having fun anymore’ for any of a number of reasons. Try: not wanting to look like a whiny idiot by complaining at every little thing, not wanting to disrupt the scene, or not wanting to make your character do something out of character.

I want to suggest that people check in with new or unfamiliar conflict partners every so often, just to make sure they’re enjoying it as much as you are. Like “Hey, everything still okay? Having fun? Need to shift directions at all?”, especially if their poses become pale and flat compared to earlier….just in case they enjoy something a little different, and don’t want to upset things by asking.

1I remember very starkly, a few cases over the years of conflict scenes (generally of the nasty snarling insulting argument variety) I absolutely and totally hated, but which I did not feel it would be IC to leave. I gritted my teeth and bulled through the scenes, and when they were over I never, EVER wanted to play with those persons ever again, or even be in the same room with them. Yet after each scene was over, I was startled every one of those times to be thanked profusely in page for such a wonderful scene! And they wanted to play again! Talk about cognitive dissonance! And I mention these not to point out my personal difficulty with removing myself from unpleasant scenes - although I suppose one could use them as a classic example - but as a stark example of 'how two perfectly good players can have wildly disparate perceptions of the very same scene'.

Re: MU*s and conflicts by (account deleted), 30 Mar 2008 04:02
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