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The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

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The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby krelm » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:43 pm

So, I have no idea where the game is headed post-ALPHA, or what the staff's plans are, but I wanted to throw this out there out of boredom.

The Orkish sphere has, historically, always sort of struggled when it was just orcs-- for example, there was late TE when all the orcs moved out of the city, and the Mines of Moria, both of which had fairly small playerbases, and now there's Vadok Mal, which, from what I've seen, similarly has a pretty small (if fairly talented and entertaining) PB.

Further, every so often (usually after everyone's geared up, and no one's hurting on supplies) it feels like there's nothing to do in Vadok Mal, on a player-driven scale. (Sidenote: I understand two new orkish RPAs were hired, and that there'll likely be stuff to do soon, I was just mentioning that to underline the point I'm building towards.)

Primarily, I think this is because some players, while they're fine with playing badguys, don't want to play orcs, for whatever reason, and I suppose that's understandable-- RPing an orc has an entertainment value to a fairly small niche.

With that in mind, what's everyone's thoughts on a multi-race evil sphere? Evil human races and evil orkish races all crammed together into one place, for whatever reason, working towards the same goal but hating the hell out of each other? I love it, personally; I feel like TE and MM, back in the day, didn't need as much admin attention because humans and orcs were always coming up with creative ways to kill each other or work together. There was as much inter-sphere conflict as there was working together.

If dreams did come true, SoI post-ALPHA would have some sort of run-down city that housed evil human races and orkish races together, but that's just me, and I wanted to see how everyone else thought.

TL;DR: You got evil humans in my orkish town! You got orcs in my evil human town! Y/N?
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Songweaver » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:56 pm

I'm all about it, honestly. Diversity is good. It makes the game more replayable, inspires more unique characters, and creates more interesting interactions. Here are some options that I see:

- Playable: Easterlings. I don't think there's any reason to see Mordorian Men or BNs at this time and place. They are pretty much beaten into the ground. You're not going to see Corsairs up this far north. Easterlings are your best option. The trick is inventing a reason why they would not only ally with the orcs, but actually live with them. One important thing to note about Easterlings is that part of their power is in sheer numbers. The pop'em like bunnies over there. That's not really a good hook for an orcish alliance, though, so it seems to me that it'd be more likely that a specific tribe has come under the indirect/direct influence of the Necromancer somehow.

- Playable: Wargs/Spiders. Every bit as cunning as orcs, so far as we can tell, but with their own unique cultures and draw. While these races would feel less accessible to your average player, maybe, they would also fit into the canon of Mirkwood at this time quite well.

I think part of the difficulty in playing an orc isn't that they are villainous, like you said, but something more inherent. Orcs are, basically, all psychopaths. There's really no pathos for them. I do think that having variety would probably make the sphere be more of a draw. I don't know how lopsided the numbers are, really.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby MrT2G » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:58 pm

If there were to be evil humans introduced, I'd prefer to see them get their own outpost in close proximity to the Vadok. Separate but inter-changeable clanning so both sides could access the other's areas. The only humans I believe would make sense would be those barbarian sorts. I am not a LOTR buff.

However, I don't think this is necessary. It seems to me that humans are getting the majority of staff attention and development currently. My hope is that this will shift eventually and the Orkish sphere will be brought to par with the human side.

I would love to see wargs and trolls playable.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Throttle » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:39 pm

I think it would be a challenge to fit this into the current design since it's all set up to be exclusively for orcs and takes place in an area that has little canonical basis for evil humans. Human slaves might be possible, something akin to that thrall clan in Angost (name escapes me), but that would be kind of limiting and unappealing as well. It's bad enough being the bottom snaga, I can't imagine being a human slave to orcs would attract many players.

If anything, it would probably have to be something akin to the Dunlendings who swore allegiance to Saruman during the War of the Ring, only they would have to be from somewhere like the Dimrill Dale. The area is now overrun by orcs after their invasion of Khazad-dûm, so it's feasible that humans there would have found a way to co-exist somewhat with blackbloods and come to Vadok for a reason that isn't too outlandish. This could work, but it would add yet another element of pure fan fiction to a setting that already has precious little canon content.

That said, I kind of like that the enemy is orcs. The hybrid evil spheres always felt weird to me, sort of fake and unrealistic. My interpretation of orcs in Middle-Earth is that it would be virtually impossible for them to work together with humans -- it would require the direct influence of some truly historical power, such as Saruman or an uncovered Sauron. Striza or an undercover Sauron in the form of the Necromancer, whose influence is still very indirect at this point in time, doesn't strike me as sufficient. To me, incroducing humans to Vadok Mal would reduce its aesthetics and purity as a sphere, so it would have to add more in playability and player retention than it takes away from the sphere's integrity. It might, but it also might not.

I think it would at least be worthwhile to first try and make it work with orcs. That was clearly the original vision and what the game has been designed around. One thing I've been proposing to staff and mentally theorycrafting is an orkish sphere model that is heavily backed by active NPCs whose purpose is to present a more consistent but manageable threat to Utterby. Instead of all PvP taking the form of ganks, and which the Guard usually doesn't hear about until after the fact and thus has little chance to participate in, there could be actual battles and a more lasting orkish presence in Mirkwood.

I'm not talking about having a bunch of NPC warriors that orkish PCs can order around and bring along for PvP at will, but imagine if, say, a sizeable contingent of NPC orcs set up a warcamp half-way between the two spheres. PC orcs could then choose to help these, either by scouting or by being present at skirmishes, but these events would not depend wholly on the presence and activity of PCs the way they do now and thus rarely happen. IC events can then determine which direction this develops -- maybe the warcamp is wiped out, maybe it grows and becomes an increasingly constant threat to Utterby.

Obviously the burden is kind of on the orkish sphere to provide the aggression. It's hard for humans to justify seeking out orcs to fight, and it's in the nature of the setting for orcs to be the antagonists. What an NPC-supported orkish sphere would do is allow the orkish presence in Mirkwood to be a more consistent and immediate threat to the inevitably much more numerous human playerbase, which should result in the following:

- Orcs being able to feel like they're dangerous to humans even if they only have a small number of active PCs for periods of time. Humans being able to feel threatened even when the orc playerbase is small.

- Combat can evolve beyond just meaningless ganking and gate-camping and doesn't always have to cost people their PCs. I really think this game needs actual battles, not more surprise-jumping-out-of-bushes ambushing.

- Conflict that actually involves Utterby as a whole and its military clan rather than repeatedly being "claimed" by the same handful of players who have cut in front of the proverbial line and thus render the Guard a largely pointless bystander that usually only hears about fights after they've happened.

- A wealth of opportunities for war effort type projects and mini-RPTs to occupy players during downtime.

- Orc RPAs wouldn't have to depend on and wait for orc PCs to make the moves.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby krelm » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:52 pm

I was mainly asking what people felt about mixing orcs and evil humans in the future. I agree that humans wouldn't work in Vadok Mal, it too orky for any human to want to live there, willingly or otherwise.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Songweaver » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:01 pm

How does one claim conflict? PvP happens when two opposing forces enter into the same room, see each other, and decide that it's clobbering time.

I think gate camping tends to happen as a result of smaller, scoutier groups going out together. You see more of those small-scale skirmishes, but they're not all that you see. For instance, there was a large fight a few days ago that was a straight-up charge, and it ended up being probably the most dynamic/interesting PVP fight that I've seen so far, with a lot of group splintering and a lot of action.

That's not to say that your idea for a camp in the middle somewhere is a bad idea for a plot. It would just require some thoughtful design to ensure that it wasn't abused. But, you don't really need a camp to design that there's going to be a large-scale attack on the town with a bunch of NPCs on both sides and the PCs filling in the holes. I like that PVP is sort of building up slowly over time, though.

All of that said, it's somewhat off-topic from Krelm's post. I do think that, if more comparable player-bases between orcs and Utterby is a priority, adding another race to the evil side could help draw over folks that aren't really excited to play an orc.

As MrT2G said, if evil humans were to be introduced (Dunlendings, Easterlings, however you wanted to roll them), it'd probably be better if they had their own little area and free travel between theirs and Vadok Mal for interaction, rather than forcing them to live in the orc warrens.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Canawa » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:03 pm

Throttle wrote:I think it would be a challenge to fit this into the current design since it's all set up to be exclusively for orcs and takes place in an area that has little canonical basis for evil humans. Human slaves might be possible, something akin to that thrall clan in Angost (name escapes me), but that would be kind of limiting and unappealing as well. It's bad enough being the bottom snaga, I can't imagine being a human slave to orcs would attract many players.


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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Throttle » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:14 pm

How does one claim conflict?


By setting up a camp in a location that more or less guarantees that anyone going to Utterby is first going past that camp. Like I said, sort of cutting to the front of the line.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Songweaver » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:18 pm

Ahh. But you can see the front gates of both places from each other via scan. And PVP right in front of Utterby is pretty rare. I don't know that this is relevant at all; you're talking about the difference of three rooms, and it isn't like anyone forms a literal line for PVP.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Throttle » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:25 pm

Say what you want, the same handful of players is consistently first arrivals to most of the PvP encounters, and usually the rest of town doesn't hear about it until after the fact. It's not because nobody else is making an effort, it's simply a matter of this camp being closer to the bottleneck, its location clearly chosen for that purpose.

Currently, because all PvP takes the form of small-scale skirmishes or solo gank attempts, the Guard's job is being done for them and they have no role to play as a clan. City-bound soldiers can't finecomb the forest at will the way independents can, so guardsmen have no real way of getting to the front of the aforementioned proverbial line. Actual battles are needed, but this isn't possible without the aid of NPCs.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Matt » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:34 pm

Throttle wrote:Say what you want, the same handful of players is consistently first arrivals to most of the PvP encounters, and usually the rest of town doesn't hear about it until after the fact. It's not because nobody else is making an effort, it's simply a matter of this camp being closer to the bottleneck, its location clearly chosen for that purpose.

Currently, because all PvP takes the form of small-scale skirmishes or solo gank attempts, the Guard's job is being done for them and they have no role to play as a clan. City-bound soldiers can't finecomb the forest at will the way independents can, so guardsmen have no real way of getting to the front of the aforementioned proverbial line. Actual battles are needed, but this isn't possible without the aid of NPCs.


So... why can't the Guard send out patrols to watch the immediate area/watch for orcs? It's pretty easy to guess when orcs are going to show up. This is pretty off topic at this point though, sorry.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Throttle » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:44 pm

Because weeks of having their job done for them by others before they had a chance to, and generally having nothing to work with plot-wise and no particular purpose as a clan, has left the Guard with so few proactive players with a desire to show up for patrols that it's almost never a possibility.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Matt » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:47 pm

Are you being serious right now? Like for real? Or are you trolling?
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Hawkwind » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:00 pm

TE and MM were the most action packed spheres of the game.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Icarus » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:02 pm

Back on topic.

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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Pallando » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:57 pm

This crossed my mind not long ago as well. Like Krelm says there's a certain charm to playing an orc, but it's not for everyone.

I don't think the game's ready for PC wargs and spiders yet, but I think humans would be fun. That said multi-racial evil spheres usually work best when there's a big enough area for them all to interact in one place. We had 5 races back in Minas Morgul if you count half-orcs and the color and diversity of the races really added to the game experience in my view.

I'd like to see a larger multi-racial outpost for the evil side when the game moves to Laketown.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Zargen » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:17 pm

If I have the option for a "evil" dwarf im all in. Bring on Dol Guldur.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Manarath » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:30 pm

Wargs, trolls, spiders. I'm game for them all.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby krelm » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:37 pm

I'd also like to see the 'abomination' race again, from the latter days of SoI, with some tweaks.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby MrT2G » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:59 pm

krelm wrote:I'd also like to see the 'abomination' race again, from the latter days of SoI, with some tweaks.


Arg. The RP behind them was great but it always felt like Zombies forced into the atmosphere to me...

Playable Wights could be interesting. Of course those are zombies too.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby krelm » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:16 am

Well, not zombies, really, so much as like botched science experiments by the Necromancer. I'm thinking some effed-up mix between like, a spider, an octopus, and a crab, or something.

Like I said, tweaks!
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Oblivion » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:05 am

Meh. Plain and simple, as soon as a non orkish 'race' is introduced to the 'bad guy' side of things, the bad guys end up imploding upon one another. There's too much cultural difference and social 'instability' to keep things focus where they should be.

Bad guy orcs have it hard enough not killing one another as bad guy orcs, let alone the racial differences that might/will/could be introduced through other humanoid bad guy races.

From my rather extensive experience, I'd say that nothing beneficial has come from introducing non orkish 'evil' races to the playabilty range.

Harads, Black Numenorians, Dunlendings, turned Westroners... All of these have done nothing but cause inter sphere conflict which is plenty prevalent through the orc race as it is. And in the short and long term has done nothing but hinder growth as a sphere.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Fulgrim » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:13 am

The main boon isn't exactly "how to make the bad guy sphere stronger" as much as "how to make the bad guy sphere more fun" and some people who would like to play villains don't tend towards tribal/brutal/savage RP that orcs tend towards.

The draw here is, orcs are niche. They have always been niche. I think they're enough for Alpha, maybe coupled with wargs and spiders, but evil humans hold a certain romanticism that has always drawn another crowd.

Though I'll acknowledge it might detract from the Good vs Evil bent that would foster growth in the entire sphere, so maybe humans in the evil sphere should be higher tier RPP locked, to make them limited and special*.

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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby krelm » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:14 am

Oblivion wrote:snip


Valid points. However, I don't feel like the sphere is exactly growing, as is, or has ever grown when it was purely orc. Between me, you, MrT2G, and a few others, there aren't really any players who consistently roll up orcs-- most people will roll them as throw-aways, or do it as a shtick, but as far as making a legitimate character to actually try to make the evil sphere work, really the only people who are going to do that are the ones that are playing orcs at the moment, some 8-12 people, tops, and I don't feel like that'll change when/if more orkish races (see: wargs, trolls, spiders, etc) are opened to play.
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Re: The Badguy Sphere, Mixing Races?

Postby Erythil » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:21 am

I for one would be much more likely to consider a 'bad guy' character if I was able to play a human of some kind.

Black Numenorean always seemed like a cool role to me, but I don't know if they make sense in our setting.
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