Townhall 05/02/15

This is a log of the discussion from the first Gift Redesign Townhall held on 5/2.

If you have comments, please +submit GM ingame and let us know what you wish to have posted in the Player Commentary Section. Thank you.


Logfile from RtA.

Setting: Please come prepared to share your thoughts on the following:

1) What do you love about the way gifts work and what do you dislike?

2) Do you feel that there are holes in the gift trees? If so, where?

3) The game has tried to give characters a feeling of growth and progression within each specialty. Are there gift families that do this well?
Are there gift families that fail here.

After the open houses, the logs of the discussion will be posted on the wiki for 2 weeks to collect commentary.

This particular process is focusing on gifts alone. We will not be discussing quests, packets, lores or TPs in these forums.

Please remember to be respectful in all venues.

Thank you.

[Public] Prism says, "Please read the setting in Stage 3 and keep it in mind as the discussion progresses. Thank you."

[Public] Prism says, "Last call for anyone wishing to attend the town hall on gifts before we start. We will be here until 1pm eastern time or until the discussion winds down. Please feel free to come and go as you wish. The discussion will be posted on the wiki for review and commentary for a 2 week period."

Prism starts. "So, the questions before you all are listed in the setting, but are:

1) What do you love about the way gifts work and what do you dislike?

2) Do you feel that there are holes in the gift trees? If so, where?

3) The game has tried to give characters a feeling of growth and progression within each specialty. Are there gift families that do this well? Are there gift families that fail here.

Brand ponders. For the first part, I love the diversity and flexibility of the gifts. I dislike how hard it is to get gifts sometimes, and I really, really dislike that there are hidden gifts and lore/gift requirements. As for the second and third parts, I lost the ability to think that straightly several hours ago. ^^

Ryika muses on her answers. I do enjoy the sense of building on previous gifts as one progresses. A sense of having something to work towards, and the accomplishment of getting there. I understand the orginal intent of hidden gifts, but at this point with such a small playerbase it feels like a kick in the shins of folks who dont have the connections/luck to find out about super awesome stuff that was once on game, has been lost to idle and now can't even be aspired to. It's very disheartening and gives a /huge/ boost to 'us vs them' in Old Guard vs Newer chars.

Brand adjusts part of his, he forgot a bit. Lore/gift requirements that are /hidden/ or unattainable.

Brand also agreess with Ry.

Ryika grins. There are holes one can drive trucks through in the gift trees. Some are pure flavour. Some are /amazing/ and powerful and flexible. Some you have to spend 40 pts to get to 'gosh, I finally dont suck!'.

Ryika muses. I think that answered 3, not 2, as I read the questions again.

Kynan says, "I think the bad thing about hidden descriptions is that you don't know whether it's something you want or not, and getting the prereqs first and then finding out it's not interesting is a waste of points. So you end up trying to find someone to +declare it to you."

Ryika holes in the gift trees.. currently there are SO MANY GIFTS, I couldnt tell you if theres holes, as generally I meet chars every week or so that have a whole gift tree I didn't notice had existed.

Carmichael says, "That actually makes me feel as if there ought to be a gift repository on the wiki, so that you can actually look at the blurb of the gifts. But that /does/ encourage min-maxing, which is discouraged on the game. So! Here goes: I tend to prefer the gifts that are straight-forward and simple in their scope — there are gifts in the trees that are overly complicated and require explaining about how they could ever work in the game. Tradecraft springs to mind there! Ideally for me, the smaller and more logical looking the gift tree is, the more I like it. LOOKING at those trees, it makes you think you could in fact, get good at them and still have a few points left over when you get to the end…"

Ryika /is/ sometimes oblivious (shush. Just someitmes) and honestly has neither the time nor patience to go through gifts with a fine tooth comb to see how and why on the connections and read through hundreds of gifts to find something that suits. Only to find out that I missed something. I spend a lot of time feeling like my characters (all of them) have absolutely useless char sheets.

Ryika says, "And crafting and recipes (and BEG) will be a long rant fest, so I'll just say 'I think crafting is bust' and eat breakfast."

Kynan says, "Overall gift design is probably a nightmare. It has to support a theme, mechanically has to be balanced for those things that play into the RPG rules, and lastly, there's the overall point costs to consider for a suite of gifts that support your concept."

Carmichael says, "As for holes, the elemental trees are woefully underdone and now getting more popular. To have any kind of elemental magic, requires Arcanis, which is not cost effective unless you're entirely focused on it. Earth, I believe has one visible gift. Fire and ice are quite nicely fleshed, wind could do with more and why is there no water? I also feel that there should be more of a balance to bonuses granted in the specific trees. Most bonuses seem to be in skl, phy, sty, ppl fgt — those common everyone can dip in pools."

Kynan knows how expensive that is, because he does have almost *all* of them :)

Carmichael says, "From my perspective, I've boggled at the DEA tree a few times, because it seems to be huge, whereas the feldane tree is rather small. SOME of the death tree gifts should not be ON the death tree, as they are locked to bld-fe and thus should be in the feldane tree, for example. Erm. I had more, I know I did. But eh."

Ryika thinks, other than some cryptic wordings, the mir gift list is pretty good. There's options, flexibility so that every mirror mage isn't a carbon copy of every other mirror mage (all like.. 4 of us XD) some that are actually useful, and some that are more flavourful.

Brand would really like it if arcanis gifts had more than 2 tokenable gifts. It would be nice to be able to make simple, color only 0 point tokens with arcanis create.

Brand says, "Oh! Yes. There should really be more Feldane gifts."

Prism nods, "Please feel free to go into what you feel those gifts should cover. You do not have to come up with what they should be exactly. The 0 point tokens for arcanis create is a good one! But, what should the missing gifts cover? Why are they missing? All of that discussion / thought is welcome."

Kynan says, "My biggest question about Arcanis is more around the color intended—Each element specifies more or less one effect with each command, but is that just an example, or is it restrictive? And if restrictive, I think that goes against the 'high magic' theme as it means
Arcanis only has 5-6 basic 'spells' per element. I'd like to it to be that 'control water' has some sort of guidelines about what 'control' means,
not that you can only do x with it."

Prism nods again, "Like that. Thank you, Kynan." :D

Ryika is also seriously not a fan of people writing up custom gifts. I know this is generally not a popular opinion, but the token sentiment of 'well anyoen can ask y'know!' doesnt make it feel any less like favourtism.

Brand says, "Also for arcanis, arcanis battlemaster is the only one that grants a bonus. The masteries should get /something/. Even elementalist and spellmaster don't have any bonuses."

Carmichael says, "Missing gifts! Thank you. Fgt tree. Ghenesh, Tanus could do with a style in there, one for mounted combat (which could be used in addition to caballero and war gifts) with Ghenesh, another with archery as a focus with Tanus, perhaps, or something of that ilk, possibly connected with the rivers. // The custom gifts is tricky, Ry. You can get them, only if there isn't something that is more or less what you were asking for, already out there."

Kynan says, "I think one of the trickiest things with an ability like magic is that color matters, a great deal. Being able to freeze a river to walk over it is not just a 'neat effect' to toss it, it has scene implications. Perhaps the gift system needs to allow for some way to differentiate these two uses. And as to what Brand said, I'll add that arcanis seems strange in that you need a gift to allow other gifts to be used in a conflict."

Kynan says, "BTW, it's also been a point of debate if arcanis water allows you to freeze it at al :)"

Ryika says, "Lesseee. Alhambra has two main paths, which are light side and dark side for lack of an easier metaphor. One has all the power. /all/ the power. the other gives you invisible ink and maps. In theory, the darkside power is 'rare'. In practice, every PC goes that route, cause
only I'm stupid enough to go lightside. It's hard to encourage theme with that dichotomy in power scale."

Brand nods to Kynan. Despite the fact that I'm a spellmaster and elementalist, I'm helpless to anybody with a fight gift that gives them a bonus.

Ryika says, "It takes 40 pts for a Begman to stop being forced into the 'tee hee hee tinkergnome GO BOOM!' stereotype. (Which is a whole different rant about forcing incompetancy on PCs), which is hugely frustrating for any PC who perhaps doesn't want to suck."

Brand nods agreement with Ry.

Kynan says, "I have 100pts in ARC gifts, and out of that, there's one a-1 bonus, and no bonus-token powerbits"

Ryika says, "After you buy into the crafter gift tree, if you're not paying super close attention to your lores and other gifts, you can (and I have) realize that 10 pts of crafter gift lets you craft /nothing/. Nada. Zip. Qualify for not a single recipe. None! That was crushingly disapointing."

Brand dislikes the fact that some gifts on the crafting tree require 'secrets of', and for most of those, there are ways non blood of those secrets can get them, but for others there's no way /other/ than to be a blood member to learn secrets.

Ryika says, "Ultimately my own fault for not having gone through the recipes and dug through all the pre-reqs and bought up lores and gifts appropriately, but oh /so/ disappointing."

Brand went through the same thing, Ry. :/

Brand Currently has 50 points of arcanis gifts, and am shooting for a 20 pointer that is one of the ones that grants tokens, but is /really/ hard to get.

Brand says, "And no bonuses or tokens in any of my arcanis gifts."

[Public] Prism says, "For those who have signed on in the last hour or so, we are holding the gift townhouse in Stage 3. Please come and join in the ongoing discussion. The questions are in the +setting in the room."

Ryika thinks my frustrations with gifts can be summed up pretty simply. I'd like my characters to be cool, competant when they want to be (and trusting me as their player to know when failure is a good story moment) and it feels like my gift choices generally make me suck. Finding the combos that make her as cool on paper as I can imagine is a full time job of combing through pages and pages and PAGES of gifts (many of which I can't see) and it just doesn't seem worth it.

Ryika says, "So I avoid challenges, ignore my +sheet have 50+ pts sitting on Ry for lack of somewhere to put them, and just go RP instead."

Carmichael supposes that could be considered horribly frustrating :S

Brand avoids challenges with Brand for that reason, Ry. Uber powerful elder….. I will lose at challenges because the only bonus I have is blood of oberon.

Ryika picked my gifts based on flavour for the char. I dont even /know/ which ones give bonuses. I'm pretty sure my fighty char is as likely to lop her own foot off based on her +sheet, immaterial of what RP she's done, or training she's gotten or how her character has developed.

Brand says, "You can find what gifts give bonuses by +gifts/search bonus"

Brand says, "Fair warning, the list is long."

Ryika has no urge or desire to dig through that spam.

Brand doesn't blame ya.

Ryika supposes I have now spammed everyone sufficiently with my frustrations, I should shush a while.

Brand says, "Your frustration isn't anything the rest of us don't feel, Ry."

Kynan says, "I think the challenge here is the 'meta-design'. How do you break down a suite of capabilities into 'gifts' that are general enough for players to share, but then have the flexibility to describe specialties that make each of us awesome in different ways? And as for coming out on top in an actual +challenge or +compare, how gifts play in to stats is hugely important, and requires a fair bit of understanding of the system"

Prism says, "No need to shush, Ryika. We need to hear the good with the bad, the awesome with the frustrating."

Kynan is a long-time RPer in multiple game systems, so has a passing interest in rulesets… and thus has lots of experience in min-maxing :)

Sullivan nods agreement with Kynan.

Kynan says, "I don't like min-maxing for just min-maxing's sake, but when it comes down to 'succeeding' in a task, if you one doesn't have an eye to the mechanical bits of that, your play can fall flat (i.e. a master swordsman that never seems to win)"

Ryika is sick of doing that. Sick of it. I know I should, but I just dont have the energy for it anymore.

Ryika has the experience, and doesn't have the stomach for doing it anymore. Nor time. So yeah, I probably shouldnt whine when my chars suck, cause I didn't min-max 'em not to.

Kynan says, "I'm not saying you should, and actually it is not easy to consider how likely you are going to be successful just from published info."

Sullivan nods to Kynan again. "I had that issue when I started my build. There's a point in my construction of the character, where I stopped building the god side up, because I realized it would ultimately fall flat as a pancake, if anyone actually tried to do something like attempt to eat me. Walking target, so I abandoned it entirely. Thus, you have a pathian custos that happens to be a god of life and death."

Sullivan has huge, huge, huge issues with the DIV tree.

Random says, "I have a character whose sheet makes GMs weep. Because he has a bit of this. A bit of that. There is no cohesion. Because I followed what he got interested in IC play. Really makes them weep. Thankfully he works as a character. Sheet wise? Heh. Heh heh."

Carmichael is kinda like that, Random.

Brand nods. That's how one of my alts is.

Ryika cannot say that 'successful' is likely in the chars i've been building. Interesting, flavourful characters, who are fascinating to RP, but their +sheets are tissue paper level functional. Ry bills herself as 'professional decorative' for a reason. She can't /do/ anything much that's not pure RP flavour.

Brand feels like that with Brand, Ry.

Random says, "Says the man who threw a fireball across my court!"

Kynan says, "I'll guess I'll add that committing to taking a gift is hard, because it chews up points that once you soft-cap out, are hard to get. So a failed gift is a huge liability."

Brand says, "Yes, but it wouldn't have done anything and you know it. :p"

Ryika would love to nuke the alt's sheet from orbit and start again. Same char, same concept, but omg failed gifts galore.

Brand says, "My arcanis gifts, even the fireballs, are pure colour. There's /nothing/ to back them up."

Ryika adds that social/spy gifts are wasted points. :)

Ryika says, "It's all done in actual RP, the gifts are there if anyone actually calls you on it (they never do)."

Brand says, "Plus, Random, it was pre-setup between Fiona and I and she deflected it just as she was supposed to. Besides, it got the insane one out of being Seneschal. ;)"

Random fffts!

Random says, "Chancellor. The other crazy one is seneschal."

Brand says, "Right. Chancellor. I never can remember the correct word. lol"

Sullivan says, "Same with many of the god gifts. In order to get some of the lesser powers, you have to build yourself a holy place, which by the system makes you incredibly vulnerable to attack. A shrine, which in essence, is a bad thing to build if you want anyone to worship in it, because if it's attacked, your whole base of power is destroyed. PC gods it won't usually kill and gives story, BUT… NPC followers is what you get as a god. So why do you have tokens of faith? so you can hand a communication device to a person that doesn't actually worship you, because PC's don't usually worship PC gods. Mnnrrr. Also, I think the basic Div-gd gift should have more to it than it does. Tough and immortal as long as you have a follower that's alive. Compare that to any of the bld gifts and it's pissy."

Kynan notes that by the letter of ARC-FI, fireballs aren't allowable :) I've done them too, btw. Which gets to inconsistency in play vs description….

Brand is an elementalist as well as a spellmaster, Ky. ^^

Ryika should add in all of this whining. I enjoy Rp, and my chars enough to still be here. Even with crappy +sheets, and feeling like everyone on the game is more useful than I am (apparently many of us are thinking the same thing and hoping other people dont notice).

Brand says, "My sheet is weird anyway. Despite having elementalist, I don't have /any/ of hte actual elemental gifts."

Sullivan says, "I think that was so that you actually had the power you were supposed to be able to do, without ending up running out of points, Brand :D"

Autumn says, "From a new person's perspective and having to help other new people whom I have asked to come to the game. The gift trees are confusing especially because of the blood gifts that need to happen first."

Brand reads arc-fi. Nowhere does it say that you cannot make a fireball in that gift.

Brand nods to Sulli. Yup, I think so. Still odd. ^^

[Public] Zephyr says, "Gift town hall in Stage 3 for any new arrivals. Setting in Stage 3 has the questions."

Autumn says, "The way it is set up in wiki and the way it is explained in cg is just confusing. There should be samples somewhere and a better explination of blood gifts. I got luckly because jack and Mat, let me page them a lot. :)"

Kynan says, "Right, but it doesn't say you can 'throw fire' and this gets to the 'are the ARC gifts restrictive or not' in that text. I'd like it to be not restrictive, but it's all in what other people think whether you can do it or not."

Brand says, "Oh, it kind of does. It says you can shape it and direct it."

Brand says, "That, coupled with using air was what I used to throw it."

Ryika grins. And then we get down to this stage of fighting with gifts. Where we're in a moment and someone goes 'hey, y'know that gift you thought did X? I read that differently, I think it does Y. Or doesnt apply here. Or or or.' which is totally within their rights, especially as an ST (plot runner, storyteller, whatever we're calling them today), but omg when gifts are vaguely worded, there's a lotta holes for people to be a wet blanket on your awesome parade. (provided, of course, you've managed to find some twist of awesome on your frustrating +sheet)

Ryika thinks that's a whole differnet issue, but it spang to mind. XD

Autumn says, "I have also noticed with the gifts you really cannot read what a gift does if you do not have it. That just adds to the confusion. You think you are working towards a gift that is really cool and once you get you learn wellthat it fall flat on its face."

Brand nods to Autumn and Ry both.

Zephyr is going to ask another question, if you all don't mind. I've heard a couple times "falls flat on its face." What do you all mean by that?

Brand says, "Oh, that's easy, Zeph. Build up build up build up OMG DISAPPOINTMENT."

Brand says, "Bouncy bouncy bouncy thisisgonnabesocool! Then: shoulderslump, o.o, really this is all it is? *whine*"

Brand says, "That sort of thing."

Zephyr chuckles. Let me clarify my question - why the disappointment?

Kynan says, "There's a section of the wiki that talks about birds of desire and the gift, and I think the gifts should be more written up with that concept in mind. To paraphrase, gifts should be more focused on the general effect it has on the scene, and not the specific description of it (it's the section about birds of desire and how you can't use one to drop a bomb)"

Brand says, "Great big let-down, not what was expected, not what one was aiming for."

Zephyr says, "as in, what are the sorts of things wrong with the gifts."

Brand says, "The biggest things wrong with the gifts, are that you /cannot/ see what they actually are until you're ready to buy them."

Random says, "So you are staking your chips on a blind bet."

Random pauses. stops channelling R.

Brand says, "You don't know what you're getting until /after/ you've spent time, focus, and possibly points on something that wasn't actually what you thought it was going to be."

*deleted disconnect / reconnect spam*

Prism says, "I missed anything after Brands about not knowing what you're getting until after you've spent time. I am logging, so if someone would please pemit anything after that to me, I would be grateful."

Brand says, "All that was said after that was this: What's actually wrong with a specific gift in that instance probably varies greatly person by person and gift by gift."

Prism says, "Thank you."

Ryika says, "And someone else might be 'omg that's PERFECT' about the same gift. But to the first person they uncover the gift that they were guessing based on the name and go '… oh. That.. is not what I'd of guessed from the name, well dammit. Now I still dont have anything that suits my char.'"

Brand says, "Welcome."

Brand has gone through that himself a few times, though he couldn't at this time tell you exactly what the gifts were or why he was disappointed.

Prism says, "Is it that the there is a disconnect between what the gift is called and what it does, do you think? Or is that only a part of the problem?"

Brand says, "That's only part of the problem."

Random says, "Part of the problem. I think because you can't see a gift until you can buy it that it leaves a while depth of just taking a blind chance on what it'll actually do once you have invested the points in getting to see it. I've walked away from gifts before at that stage, once I've been able to read them."

Prism nods.

Brand says, "The problem is that you don't know precisely what you're going to get until you can buy it. That really isn't fair to make players spend time, focus, and points to get something they don't actually want just because we dont' really know what's there."

Kynan says, "I'll add there's an unfairness factor not just in that, but in general to knowing what "hidden" gifts are if you either have lots of alts, or have friends willing to declare gifts to you."

Brand says, "It's also not really fair to have a gift that's supposedly 'available' to the average joe, but then have the prereqs necessary to buy it locked to one or two players."

Autumn says, "Also it would help new players as well. There are a lot of new players who get really confused about the gifts and especially the blood gifts. To be honest as I said before the need have acess to samples and or something that says step one, step two, step three."

Autumn says, "I have notice a lot of lock outs on the Magnus gifts."

Sullivan says, "The alchemy tree is like that, it has a glass ceiling. Getting to actually get the lores to go higher with Alchemy requires boggling things."

Brand says, "The prereqs do give a bit of steps. Sort of. But it's a bit convoluted and confusing if you're not used to how it works."

Autumn says, "Exactly they are not new person friendly. Especially if you are wading through everything and trying to figure out what is a blood gift. I was lucky. :)"

Kynan says, "I especially hate lore prereqs because they only differentiate between 'up to 5' and '5+'"

Autumn says, "I also agree with you Sullivan on the alchemy tree."

Brand says, "It would be nice if the lore prereqs told you /exactly/ what level they have to be instead of some vague notion of 'certain' or 'high'. :p"

Kynan says, "oops, meant 6+"

Autumn nods.

Autumn says, "Ya I hit that one and am trying to find a way to raise a lore."

Ryika wants to be able to plan. Secrets should be IC RP and not one's _sheet.

Ryika says, "The /options/ for one's +sheet."

Kynan says, "And hoefully, 'high' means 6 because a 7 is just… ugh"

<OOC> Brand agrees with Ryika whole-heartedly.

Brand says, "Whoops."

Zephyr grins. you did very well there, Brand. :)

Prism grins.

Brand nods to Kynan. Some of the requirements to get 6+ on lores are so astranomically high that I look at them, sigh, and don't even bother.

Brand grins at the staffies. Yep. I usually fail at that within 5 minutes. ;)

Kynan never got the desire to slog through the mystical/6 packet

Sullivan chuckles.

Ryika says, "There's some mirror gifts that are not currently possible to get, as there is no one on grid who can do the training. Period. Full stop."

Prism says, "So, let's refocus the discussion back to gifts, please. We will be having another set of discussions around packets, lores and quests another time."

Ryika says, "Yes. I know. One can ask for a personalized quest. Again with the favourtism perception thing."

Brand says, "I hope that's not going to be at the wednesday meeting, 'cause I'm working a 12 starting at 2pm eastern that day. :/"

Prism says, "Thank you, Ryika. That is another gift issue. :)"

Kynan says, "I think the main thing around those other things, Prism, is that they are relevant from the viewpoint of the prereqs you need. Agreed that details of them are another topic entirely"

Brand says, "Transparancy in our sheets really needs to happen. Being able to see what gifts and lores are /available/ needs to happen, even if the descriptions on the lore levels themselves remain hidden."

Sullivan says, "I really do wish there were not so many gifts that require a player to sign off on them to buy them. Their special thing. if it was a special thing just for them, it shouldn't be visible at all, like the features gifts. Considering that the stance is no player should be dependant on another player to open up a gift to them, that smacks like hypocracy."

Ryika says, "Which isn't a /huge/ problem in the mirror tree, cause its quite fleshed out (and I dont current want them, so y'know.. that makes that easy), but i'm sure the mirror tree is not unique in having some gifts only theoretically possible atm, due to attrition of the Old Guard (tm)."

Brand says, "Agreed, Sulli."

Ryika says, "Which is functionally the same as needing another player to sign off (seriously? Another player!? I've seen that in packets, not yet in gifts! DAMN! That's just WRONG!)"

Brand says, "And I know about the quests being available to be written, but the last time I asked for a quest to be written, it took six months to write and by that point I had no desire at all to play the character anymore, let alone go through a long quest-line."

Brand says, "That's in several of the weir gifts, Ry."

Ryika says, "/dude/."

Brand says, "And at least one of the crafting gifts."

Prism says, "So, back to the initial three questions. :) Since we have just over an hour left. Does anyone have any other comments on those?"

Ryika says, "As someone with somewhat odd times online (not as bad as the poor folks in Europe, but not awesome), and a lot of RL, trying to overlap with one specific other player is just nightmarish. (And that's if they deign to RP with me)."

Zephyr wants to thank you all for this input. It's giving us a LOT to think about.

Autumn nods.

[Public] Prism says, "For those who have signed on in the last hour or so, we are holding the gift townhouse in Stage 3. Please come and join in the ongoing discussion. The questions are in the +setting in the room. We will be here for another hour."

Random says, "I dislike the fact that there seems to be a 'if it's in one area then you can't have anything over lapping. Example: Storm gifts are Minosian. I get that. But no other area can possible have anything other that resembles anything stormy? Really? WHy?"

Brand adds a bit on the weir gifts. I want WEI-NW, but it has to be signed off by a player who has it already, but there's no way to find out /who/ has the gifts that are required for the signoffs.

Autumn says, ""Thank you for facilitating this meeting."

Brand says, "Likewise, Ry."

Kynan says, "FYI, Arcanis has weather control :)"

Sullivan says, "There's a div gift that is Thunderer. But that's a whole other kettle of fish for me."

Random says, "Yes there are holes in gift trees. From experience I have at least two characters who are stuck without anything to buy, or direction to go in currently."

Brand says, "Very much like-wise. Working nights, I'm often on around the same time as most europeans."

Random says, "Arcarnis is a closed off and expensive tree that is not available to most of the grid. Does not count. :P"

Prism says, "Glad to, Autumn. :)"

Sullivan says, "Yup, Random. I got discouraged out of trying to persue anything there, by Mercury, because of the cost."

Random says, "I have a character who wants lightning gifts. STuck."

Kynan says, "Just saying that if Arcanis has weather control, then by extension other gifts should be allowed weather control too, even if not Minosian"

Brand says, "I get discouraged a lot by all the secrets."

Ryika has one char with nothing to buy. And one char who can't see any of the gifts she hopes to buy (nor get replies when asking about them, but that' too, different kettle of fish).

Random says, "And? I like customs. I like being able to add your personal flavour. And as a feature? It's pretty much the ONLY thing we are allowed. Which is why I have 20 odd points sitting here. Coz I've not thought of a ruddy thing for R in that long."

Brand says, "Even if you think of something for R, you'll probably sit for a year before it gets either approved or denied. :p"

Sullivan says, "Which is -not- available easily to anyone else, outside of FC's"

Maggie says, "That just means you're perfect as is, Random. ;)"

Brand giggles at Maggie.

Random snorts at Maggie. "Hell no."

Maggie grins.

Ryika has fewer issues with customs for features than for the rest of us peons.

Brand also has issues with training methods and the restrictions on things because as a feature, I'm expected to train /everybody/, so if I need training in something, I can't get it because of alt cross over. :p Sorry, back on topic now.

Ryika says, "Custom gifts make /sense/ for features, IMO."

Prism says, "Just as a comment here briefly, if anyone has submitted a request for information that has not gotten a reply, please use +task/reply with a ping or query asking for an update. We take +submits seriously."

Brand says, "Mind, I actually /like/ training people, but it really sucks not being able to get any training because of it."

Brand tickles Merc. It started 2 hours ago, bud. ;)

Brand says, "Sorry for inserting a few other points off topic, guys, but I may not get to attend the other town halls. :/"

Prism is logging and will post it on the wiki so everyone can get caught up with the discussion so far and comment on it.

Mercury says, "Brand - we're always open to self training via +quest as we posted recently on the bboards."

Prism says, "No worries, Brand. Training for gifts is relevant."

Brand says, "Mercury, I don't /want/ to self train. I want to get IC training from someone that it makes sense for me to get training /from/."

Brand says, "And I'm leary, extremely leary, of submitting for quests."

Prism points to the setting. :D

Kynan says, "Prism, not sure if this is a topic for here, but the question about working out a new gift has been an issue for me in the past. I often want to ping ideas off of people at the concept stage, which seems ill-defined enough to put in a +submit for. And when I have tried a few things like that, it didn't really go anywhere"

Prism says, "Tried using +submit to talk about initial stage gift ideas, Kynan?"

Sullivan waves hand regarding training. "I could so very easily train Brand in Um-life so he can get Arc-Life, but I can't, because he's trained me. That one case is sort of one of those that makes my brain go … but… but… whuh?"

Brand nods to Sulli. It doesn't really make sense for Brand to go to anybody else or through other means to get training in that, when Sulli can train him, and has /offered/ to train him, but can't for OOC reasons.

Mercury says, "I'm confused."

Brand says, "About what?"

Mercury says, "Is there a coded blockage to Sullivan training Brand?"

Random says, "No, it says you shouldn't train someone who trained you on the wiki, Merc."

Sullivan says, "Yes. Alt collusion."

Random says, "Which is what they are abiding by."

Prism nods.

Mercury says, "Gimme the url."

Brand says, "It's not coded. It's alt collusion which is against policy."

Brand says, "http://wiki.roadtoamber.com/alts"

Brand says, "Last three paragraphs."

Prism says, "While they sort through that… Kynan? Are you saying that you have tried using +submit?"

Mercury says, "Okay, the way I read that applicable to Brand's situation, if Brand's alt trains Sullivan in UM-Life, Sullivan should not then train Brand in UM-Life."

Sullivan says, "It's the 'questionable behaviour' thing, alt collusion suggests very strngly that it should not be done."

Brand says, "If character X trains character Y, and there's an OOC agreement that in return, Y will train X's alt in something else, or Y will offer a token to X's alt, or the like, that is similarly against the spirit of our rules, and questionable behavior, but it's not something that we can readily prevent."

Kynan says, "My attempts to do various gift suggestions and discussion haven't met with all that much success throught +submit. Maybe we can talk later for specifics"

Prism nods, "Absolutely and thank you."

Ryika hasn't had a lot of success in +submit either.

Brand says, "For regular PCs, that might be fine. For Features, that is not fair because we train so many characters in so many things, that our alts training with them or US training with them can be viewed as alt collusion and against the spirit of the rules."

Brand says, "Likewise, on +submits."

Sullivan shakes his head. Also no, with the +submit. And that again, is sort of to do with the gifts being invisible until you meet the pre-reqs.

Kynan says, "For a general comment, brainstorming/discussion by email is not as effect as by chat, I think."

Sullivan says, "Agreed, Kynan."

Mercury says, "That's basically saying that the /following/ is not cool and against the spirit of things: Sullivan asks Brand to have an alt train her in some thing, in exchange for teaching Brand UM-Life."

Brand says, "Also agreed. :)"

Random has gift stuff in the ether too.

Ryika agrees. Chat is far more effective.

Prism says, "Any other comments, suggestions or discussion around gifts? The trees, areas where function is missing or trees that could be improved? Or any place where things really work well? The discussion is threatening to move into other areas. Though we can certainly talk about the other areas."

Mercury says, "IE, there is an explicit OOC agreement of "If I scratch your back, you scratch mine" on a purely OOC level."

Sullivan says, "Well, if you're saying I can train him in Um-life, I certainly shall, Merc :)"

Brand says, "Right. So if I as Brand train X in say trump. And then X's alt or X trains me in um-life, for example, what's to stop staff later from accusing us of making an OOC agreement ahead of time for just that?"

Sullivan says, "… so he can get ARC-LI when he has the points available, o'course. :D"

Ryika says, "There's also a point on training where the realities of a small player base smack you in the face. We often dont /have/ 4 different players with 9 different alts to choose from for training."

Ryika saves /that/ rant for the packet townhall. :)

Brand says, "That's why people are leary of alt collusion with training, Mercury. What's to stop us from being punished for the training even if there wasn't any OOC agreement beforehand? We can't prove that there wasn't."

Mercury says, "Let's get back to gifts. I'll be happy to discuss the issue of alt collusion and training after. :)"

Brand nods to Mercury. After this, I'm going to bed. It's been a long week.

Zephyr notes there's tomorrow, the day after. I expect there will be lots of discussions to come, thanks to all of your help.

Brand rather likes discussions. :)

Mercury says, "I'll post something for a rules issues discussion. Anyone have other questions, comments, etc about gifts?"

Brand says, "I have nothing that I haven't already said. :)"

Quina assumes someone's already said that it would be nice to see the text of the gifts before we've invested in all the pre-requisites, in case it isn't what we thought?

Brand says, "I guess my biggest issue with gifts are secrets. Gifts and their descriptions do /not/ need to be kept secret from the players. That makes it extremely frustrating trying to plan out your character."

Prism says, "We will be posting this on the Player wiki with instructions on how to add comments so the discussion can carry on. We will also have another meeting on Wednesday 5/6 for people who could not make this one."

Sullivan says, "Ditto, Ry!"

Brand says, "Several times, Q, yup. :)"

Quina cools. I guess that's just a 'Me, too!', then. :)

Ryika grins. It's kinda neat to see others who walk in and the first thing they think of echos strongly what's been brought up. It makes it feel more valid.

Sullivan's issue is that I don't feel that gods are appropriate to players, really. Trying to make one that's unique and interesting is fine and dandy, but the powertrees they have are not unique to gods. There are 'portfolio' gifts, but they are not easy to come by, nor are they necessarily easy to pin down. It's not at all, ever, that I want to be more powerful than anyone else, it's that I find that gods are by a long shot, far weaker than they ought to be and have nothing that makes them particularly special at all, in fact, they're hampered.

Brand says, "A lot of people feel the same way about a lot of things. :)"

Brand says, "Gods are horridly underpowered. They're weaker than any of the other blood trees."

Quina also never really saw the need for gods as PCs. Actually, I mostly just don't like that gods are gods *everywhere*. I think godhood should be kind of shadow/place specific.

Sullivan says, "There is no blood gift for gods, nor is DIV-GD comparable to any of the blood gifts really."

Sullivan says, "Gods don't have blood, apparently :D"

Brand snickers.

Quina says, "Hey, the divine stuff replaced Vik's Kite blood when he was deified."

Brand says, "I like the idea of gods as PCs. I don't like that the average blood gifted player can flatten most of them without really trying."

[Public] Prism says, "The Gift TownHall will be winding down in half an hour. If you have thoughts, please come and share them. The discussion will be posted for commentary and there will be another TownHall on 5/6 (+bbread/OOC 160 for times) for those who could not make it to this one. Thank you."

Autumn says, "Also gods is something I would be careful with they could in essance break the game."

Autumn says, "I am just tossing that out there."

Sullivan says, "The NPC gods are basically rather like that Autumn."

Quina says, "Especially in their own shadow/place of power. They should be very strong there, but I'm not sure why they would be elsewhere."

Sullivan says, "The PC gods are very not."

Quina says, "Except that there is no way to kill them for good, so long as they have the right gift."

Quina says, "They just reform back home."

Sullivan says, "I have a place of power. The power I have? Is that I can control the environment in my shrine. I cannot do anything special or spectacular outside of that shrine."

Mercury says, "Gods are essentially beings of magic. Their power is in the essence of their being, rather than carried in their bloodline. The ones we have now are /supposed/ to be roughly equivalent in power to everyone else, rather than the beings of old, because Oberon largely slaughtered them all or stuffed them away."

Sullivan says, "Merc, I have ability to toe-to-toe with people cos I went /off/ the godpath."

Brand says, "From what I've seen, PC gods aren't really even powerful in their places of power, and they should be, and they're not even remotely equivalent in power to everyone else."

Quina +1

Sullivan says, "Unless you buy one of the pre-made portfolio gifts, like Thunderer."

Autumn nods.

Quina says, "At the least in their places of power. Mind you, I don't care much about power level for Vik. As long as he can protect his people right there in New Kitezh and nowhere else, he's good."

Brand says, "It's the same sort of issues I have with arcanis. Big powerful magic, and anybody with a fight gift is going to clobber a mage, even if all the mage is trying to do is keep them away."

Mercury says, "There's a number of issues we're dealing with that has caused the gift revision project. There's a lot of crap gifts. There's a lot of gifts nobody ever bought (which we largely got rid of). There's actually limited space for gifts: +bbread/announce 52. Helix announced this back in 2011."

Quina says, "When I was first apping godhood for Vik, what I wanted was something very specific to the location of the bulk of his followers (first the sea and then the new land). Since my understanding was that they give a god his or her power. I didn't think he should have anything overwhelmingly special away from them/there."

Kynan says, "Personally, if I were to develop a system for a MUSH (thought about it), I would go more along the lines of using the Fate system (gifts become aspects, all bonus/etc are not tied to gifts, use a variant of Fate points for bonuses, etc.)"

Ryika has no thoughts on godhood. I'm not a god, I haven't spent much time looking at it.

Mercury says, "Gods were fairly rare, and largely neglected for a number of years, so they didn't get quite the treatment that bloodlines and
shadow types did."

Quina chuckles. "And, Fate is strangely appropriate given the people who built the game."

Sullivan says, "Vik has PC and NPC followers, there. It sort of makes a lot of sense. Also, attained godhood, which is a bit different, I think. Maybe not? I did that too, attained it, somehow."

Brand nods to Mercury. Now that makes sense.

Mercury says, "Thing about gods is, and why they are gods everywhere, is because NOBODY ELSE stops being who they are when they leave home. THeir power works everywhere, and so must gods. If you want special abilities at home only, shadow magics exist for that. The propco just has to define them."

Sullivan says, "That would be very, very good to have written down somewhere public and very obvious, Merc."

Brand says, "That also makes sense, MErc."

Mercury says, "All we can do is try to remedy the issues we have. There are things out of our power, such as revising the system and much of the code - Helix has to do that, and there reaches a point where you might as well just build an entirely new MUSH."

Mercury says, "Our methods are aimed at not building a new MUSH, but making what we have work better."

Mercury says, "We can totally mangle, delete, and remake gifts. Ergo, a revision. We want to make them 'bigger' in the sense that you don't have a lot of piddly 5 pointers sucking up space. We want to make them work better, and along lines that don't break people's minds. Some of the mindset that came early on - having narrow, tightly defined things that are not at all modular, for ex - isn't going to work to carry the game forward, so we have to rethink some of that with gifts."

Brand says, "Sounds good. And as has been repeated several times, transparancy with the gifts /please/."

Brand says, "It's really, really, really hard to decide what you want to do, where you want to aim, when you cannot see what is there to aim /for/."

Ryika says, "At the end of the day, to be perfectly honest, gifts are not why I stay on the game."

Mercury says, "The kind of transparency you want - gift descriptions and so forth - isn't something we GMs can really promise. We can promise that we'll tell Helix the players really really want it that way, but the decision is hers. ALSO, there are other reasons behind that."

Carmichael made note of that earlier, Merc. I prefer loose gifts, that are versatile and not overly complicated in their statements, so that they can be applied to use in new and interesting ways. Like Dramatic gusts, can billow cloaks and bluster hair, but can also slide under wings and help keep someone stable in adverse conditions if they can fly, for instance, because the definition of the gift is loose enough. Tradecraft, by contrast requires a lengthy explanation to wrap your head around.

Brand says, "I can understand why LORE descriptions are hidden. They're completely IC. The description on a gift being hidden is dumn. All that does is frustrate and limit players in their aims and provide great disappiontment when they spend time, focus, and points to get to where they see the gift isn't what they wanted at all."

Mercury says, "The original mindset was that the GMs/Staff didn't want to pidgeon hole people down specific paths. If Bob wants to do something one way, and Sally wants to do something another way, by golly they should be able to do it. So Bob and Sally each get a special gift that lets them."

Brand says, "They can still do that with visible gifts."

Ryika still hates custom gifts.

Brand says, "Without visible gifts, we are far more 'pigeon holed' than if we could see them."

Carmichael wants a custom gift, eventually Ry and I'm damnwell trying to work hard to be in a position where it makes sense!

Vosah says, "I will be curious to see how people focus on creation of play opportunity through power usage versus play through conflict as the gift structure is re-visited."

Ryika isn't sure I follow the difference Vosah, no matter that I really want to be all suave and nod knowingly to look smart.

Vosah says, "Challenge based gifts versus color or influence gifts."

Mercury says, "Well, I'd personally like to see entry/niche gifts - like something that defines a Karm Witch Hunter - explicitly provide agency to do what you're supposed to do."

Brand says, "That'd be nice."

Kynan says, "From my perspective, I took Arcanis Chaos because I wanted the character to become knowledgeable in what Chaos *is*, and get involved with play to develop that, not because ARC-CA has any neat powers (which one could argue, but they are really not very usable). But I get the impression that the original design of Chaos was more towards just supporting intercharacter conflict"

Carmichael says, "It'd be very nice."

Mercury says, "IE, if you're a Karm Witch Hunter, you have a gift that lets you actively seek out/shadowfind/dramatic timing your way into finding things to come into conflict with."

Autumn has connected.

Ryika creates play based on story. not on challenges, not on gifts. I don't know where I fit in your scale, Vosah.

Mercury says, "There's a level of assumption that, they, you get to do that. But a Karm witch hunter has no gift that explicitly lets him travel out into shadow or be pulled into situations where witches need fighting."

Mercury says, "To Ryika's point, gifts like that would help enable story."

Brand says, "I use gifts to colour my play, but I don't rely on them for challenges, for the most part."

Mercury says, "And that agency would be in addition to stuff that defines how this person is awesome in fighting witches, not only through personal effort but cool that they enable for others."

Carmichael says, "I play as I play. I like my plots and suchlike, to be accessable by people. Not by gifts, so much. But, it's very nice when gifts support that play. MOST of Carm is rather bog-standard really, so he doesn't bring most of his gifts into situations. Specifically though, he has a whack of'm for supporting wings, etc."

Brand mostly uses challenge rolls to decide how I'm going to handle one situation or another. One of my alts, for instance, almost /always/ fails at rolls when it's important he win at them. The result is always fun.

Brand says, "This alt, when it's to save himself, he fails every time. If it's to help someone else, he wins rolls. lol"

Ryika thinks I've managed to crystalize some of my rampaging hate for custom gifts. I like having to be creative within guidelines and its part of the appeal to work in a system to make what I want. When that system changes for anyone who wants a new shiny on a whim, it feels as if there's no reward for attempting to work within what's there. which perhaps there shouldnt be, but it feels like a never ending one upmandship of 'oooh look at what /I/ got new and you didn't!'

Vosah re: play without focus on challenge or heavy gift usage would fall more into the color scale but I'm just focusing on gift usage and structure at the moment. The custom vs stock gifts thing is also interesting because I'd find it fascinating to see how the request of gifts in relation to character age are. Vosah has no custom gifts, whereas Tristan created the OOT tree, which was custom for a bit but then got adopted by others. That does, however, tie into how that gets adopted or addressed if trees are secret.

Kynan says, "Way back when, I experimented with +challenge and built up stats to it's success/failure rates :)"

Vosah says, "Given that there is an equal setting of point progression, I like custom gifts as an alternate progression of character advancement since in the grand scheme there is little point disparity after X time."

Ryika says, "And that feels unfair, even if everyone can make their own, it just feels like the never ending splatbook Rifts fiasco of misery."

Ryika says, "And if I thought 5 pts got you anywhere /near/ the same power scale across the board, I might agree with you more Vosah."

Brand says, "It's really hard to get gifts that are hidden. +gifts oot. There are no gifts available. :p"

Sullivan says, "It doesn't, Ry. :)"

Ryika says, "But I am fond of colouring within the lines, and am a touch too lawful for my own good."

Brand has partially disconnected.

Carmichael says, "IIRC, Only three people have OOT gifts and two of them are features."

Myrddyn says, "I do dislike concealed gifts and hidden discriptions."

Ryika says, "And the answer to many of /my/ frustrations, I expect honestly, is 'Well Ry, go find the big girl panties and cope'. Which is not entirely unreasonable, but it /is/ frustrating."

Vosah says, "I am a fan of increasing exposure of gifts, though I am also a fan of discovering them through play. I get this is purely personal, but I still get a 'okay, that's neat' response when I see new ones."

Carmichael says, "That appears to be fairly unanimous, Myrddyn :D"

Quina unidles from customer, and catches up. I love the idea of custom gifts, especially in terms of a character having one really special, defining gift, but in practice there inevitably ends up being power-level balance issues.

Brand says, "It's hard to discover something through play when nobody ever /plays/ them becuase the players never log in anymore. :p"

Quina says, "Yeah, but idle PCs/Features is it's own long, long conversation."

Brand says, "Yep. Hard to discover something when it's not out there being played! ;)"

Carmichael says, "And that you can't see, because the tree is invisible to players! You can see it's there, but you can't see any of what's in it!"

Quina is kind of okay with there being gifts you can't see. Just with the descs for gifts you *can* see being hidden.

Kynan says, "There's a certain disconnect between the Amber theme and open play, in that most of the characters in the books weren't always honest with themselves, let along let secrets out to others, and heaven forbid training someone in your signature ability :)"

Brand is less than not okay with there being gifts you can't see. Hard to plan your character that way.

Brand says, "On the other hand, I have no issue at all with the descriptions of lores being hidden. It would be nice to be able to see the requirements for the lores, though."

Myrddyn says, "Alright, I'll put it this way, I am vehemently against hidden gift trees. It smacks of "I've got my OWN secret rulebook, you don't get to see unless I want you to, Nah Nayh Nah.""

Brand says, "I agree, Myrddyn. In addition to my other reasons. Heh."

Kynan says, "+reqs lore/level works fairly well, except with the caveat that lore levels are hidden as with gifts"

Mercury says, "Some of that is because there are gifts that are, in fact, IC secrets."

Prism says, "Thank you all for coming. This discussion has been very enlightening and helpful. I will post the log on the player wiki and announce where to find it. We are already almost 15 minutes over time, so I need to call for summary comments and close the log."

Prism says, "So, please refer back to the +setting for final comments. :)"

Brand stares at Mercury. It's a gift on a sheet. It might be an IC secret, but it should not be an OOC secret. It's highly discouraging.

Prism says, "Er. For topics."

Brand says, "I think my biggest issue with hidden gifts is that there are visible gifts that require hidden gifts to buy. If a hidden gift is a requirement, then the gift that requires it should also be hidden."

Kynan says, "True"

Mercury says, "I'm not entirely in agreement there, Brand. Spoilering the workings of something that's supposed to be secret just because it's a gift on a sheet doesn't feel quite right. But I do agree there should be the possibility of discovery, especially as a gift is used with frequency."

Brand says, "Pat-SL for example. One of the requirements listed is FGT-PP, which if you do reqs on, is permission denied."

Carmichael says, "Because it was Ben's special."

Carmichael says, "The curiosity factor gets me buuuuuuuuuuuuuuurning with desire to knooooooooooow XD"

Brand says, "If it's permission denied on the reqs, it should not be a req at all, or the gift requiring it should also be hidden."

Mercury says, "FGT-PP is not an absolute requirement. PICK+1:etc means it is one of many possible paths."

Brand says, "I know that, Mercury. But it's still listed on the requirements. It's still a valid point."

Carmichael says, "I think what he means is, when they pop up, it's frustrating to go "Huh? What's that?" and find it nowhere, cos it's a hidden one. :D"

Mercury says, "Usually that means it belongs to one specific PC/FC and nobody else has it. And it is simply /their/ way into the gift in question, not applicable to anyone else."

Brand says, "I can understand pinnacle of perfection. But why is military general be locked to one person? There is more than one general in the universe."

Carmichael does sort of wish that the trees that are locked to one person alone, were also invisible to the playerbase. That way you never get tempted. ehe

Mercury eyes SKL-MG. "Ahem. Then there /are/ those gifts that are simply hidden for no apparent reason.

Brand grins at MErc.

Carmichael chuckles.

Brand Is pretty sure that was a Special Shiny of Ben's too.

Prism says, "Hopefully, we will find them as we go through the gifts that exist."

Prism says, "7 minutes until I close the log."

Mercury says, "I don't think SKL-MG is Benedict's special snowflake."

Carmichael says, "Well, it was someone's! He had pinnacle of Perfection, fo'sure. Showed me it the once."

Brand says, "That may be one of Cel's, cause I believe she has extensive military background."

Mercury says, "It may have been made originally for him, or for someone else. But there are gifts that were hidden - possibly because it /was/ someone's special snowflake at one time, but they have reqs that suggest anyone can learn it. With effort."

Kynan says, "Ah, one other nit in ARC is the overlap between ARC-RT and the three WAR magic gifts. I tried unsuccessfully IIRC to petition
that ARC-RT could be used to satisfy at least the WAR-EM prereq"

Mercury says, "The possible cause there is nobody followed up on it to unhide it."

Ryika says, "it's hard to follow up on something you dont know exists."

Mercury says, "It's not the player's responsibility to do that."

Brand says, "I'd say arc-rt might be able to qualify for part of war-em, but not all of it, because it's ritual but there's nothign about war to it."

Mercury says, "It's ours."

Prism nods to Merc's point. "Part of why we are doing the gift redesign has to do with that lack of follow up."

Brand says, "It's a good thing."

Prism says, "2 minutes until I close the log."

Kynan says, "Was thinking at the time that the point of the WAR gifts is to make 'large-scale' effects. WAR-EM is story-tokien token-0 and ARC-RT is story-token token-3, and I think that from a concept PoV that ARC-RT > WAR-EM, so should be able to take its place for WAR-AM prereq. I think :)"

Brand casts magic on Prism, forces the log wide open. ^^

Kynan says, "This is like extra time in soccer :)"

Mercury says, "The leaning of the GMs now is that WAR is more about the large scale effects than it is about WAR."

Mercury says, "Back when I first played a character with it, it was distinctly about the WAR."

Carmichael says, "Not so many wars being fought any more. Least, not with war gifts."

Kynan has ARC-RT and WAR-EM/AM/BM so has covered all the bases

Kynan says, "At the cost of maybe 5 more points that I wanted, at least"

Prism says, "Last call for comments."

Prism says, "At least that will be included in this log. ;) Y'all can keep talking. I just have to head out."

Prism says, "Closed."


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