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Family Roles & Shared BG Discussion Thread

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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Throttle » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:07 am

I hope those who roll in with pre-made families do it because they have some specific concept and goal in mind, not just because they want to fast-track their way to power. On ARPI and PRPI, half the shop/family groups were good and added to the roleplaying environment while the other half were clearly just powergaming crews created for the express purpose of hoarding and skillraising without the need to interact with the rest of the playerbase.

That would be particularly bad in Utterby where everybody who isn't part of a family has to start out as an absolute nobody without any kind of support. The absence of any clanned roles makes families comparatively much more impactful. Instead of a few crews starting out in a town where 70% of the playerbase gets the same kind of support from their clan of choice, it'd be crews starting in a town where everybody else has nothing at all.

The newer generation of RPIs has shifted the game model to a much smaller scope where it's possible for a small group of people to essentially win and rule the sphere if not stopped by staff, and that has in fact been close to happening a few times. This is why the initial power balance is important. Pre-made families and other such unofficial clans should be expected to show a willingness to be part of the game and not just use their privilege as a means to obtain the strongest and best equipped characters in the game so they can dictate everything and warp the game's intended setting.

That's not to say that growing in power is by definition bad, but the way some players went about it especially on ARPI was distasteful and clearly didn't come from a desire to enrich the game. The lack (I hope) of tangible benefits such as shops and houses at the game's opening will go a long way towards preventing this, but the staff still needs to keep an eye out for crews that look like they were put together solely out of an OOC desire for advantage.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Hawkwind » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:57 am

Second'd what Throttle said, it is a concern I have as well.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby hobbitboots » Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:44 am

And that's the very reason families are so strictly regulated on Arm. They've been abused as a way to gain an unfair advantage in the past.

I hope abuse doesn't become an issue, because then staff would need to step in and squash it, ruining it for people who want to participate in family roleplay.

For those worrying about abuse, I would say let's wait and see if it works in alpha. I think one nice thing about alpha is the game is free to try some risky things because people are aware that lots will be changing as the growing pains get worked out.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Meneldor » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:18 am

I will try to clear up a few things I see here.

Yes, Icarus did say he didn't have a problem with families in coming in (he did also use the word clans).

He also said in another thread that if you want to do something out of the ordinary or simple (a new clan would definitely fall into this category) that you needed to get with Frigga on the human side or Pallando on the orc side to get it cleared.

Frigga is not saying no families/special roles and such, she is saying unless you are sure it will be accepted right off, you best get it cleared with her on the human side or Pallando on the orc side.

Doing simple families with a shared background most likely doesn't need any special permission. You worked for somebody in a neighboring settlement you don't like, you heard Utterby is finally 'established' as a settlement and looking for workers and think maybe it is better, so you pack up the family and move. No problem.

If you feel you are going to come in and suddenly be running something, or have a peculiar background or idea/role, then I suggest you talk with Frigga on the human side or Pallando on the orc side.

Reading this one thread and determining what you can create isn't a good idea. Coming in with something you didn't have in your background or get approved that doesn't fit the area/idea of Utterby then you will probably get a polite smack on the back of the noggin and told no.

So if you aren't sure, and definitely if you want to have a new 'clan' then I suggest you talk with Frigga on the human side or Pallando on the orc side.

You are also welcome to PM 'elder staff' as a whole for other opinions on the matter. Email is acceptable as well.

Now, in case it was missed earlier - Frigga on the human side or Pallando on the orc side.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Letters » Tue Jun 03, 2014 7:49 am

Superfriends, ho!

Ahem. There was actually a point to that inane outburst. However entirely well-meaning they are or whatever plans players have for their characters, and even if everything that happens post-commencement is totally IC, and perhaps even if members of a family group are at each others' throats, they can still have an entirely disproportionate effect on the game.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby WorkerDrone » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:49 am

This might be hyperbole, but sue me, long hair don't care.

The presence of more than three people in a pre-commencement group of characters/players taking part in shared background and pre-conceived notions of familial binding and alliance with eachother, or even if not familial tied together by friendship or the workplace, will always, 100% shift the powerbase away from any individual person and towards them, and any power in the pie chart that's higher than them belongs to some other group like them with more members alone.

The individual players thus become the 99% (metaphorically) with the 1% being people that had the smart idea to come in with these big groups. Even if power or influence isn't that group's goal, being a group and having people or a person who can negotiate for the whole group gives that group power and convinces others that they're worth negotiating with. They immediately have the ability to become more influential than someone apping in alone.

The only real instance in which pre-commencement background materials and combined concepts don't send things off balance is when it's -3 players in concert, and even three people working together will have it extremely easy compared to most players, they just won't have a significant amount of bargaining power compared to four or five or six people. The sweet spot is in reality two players planning concepts together, they have very little bargaining power and can still enjoy the benefit of someone with a common background.

Maybe I'm only thinking in such an extreme manner for the sake of being extreme, but at least 75% of that is true. 25% may only be exaggerated.

EDIT:

You know what, why stop the extremeness there, WD? Is what you may be thinking. Its not? Well...

Uh...

Well. Its what I was thinking.

I think that backgrounds/concepts that involve two players sharing common backgrounds shouldn't be RPP restricted, as I said, because it results in having very little bargaining power. Concepts that involve three people with shared background require 2 RPP (all three must have 2 RPP) to pass go.

Concepts that involve more than 3 people sharing backgrounds must have at least one person with 4 RPP, everyone else should have 2 RPP. This represents someone who staff exceedingly trusts with the betterment of the game as a whole vouching for also qualified players.

Just my 2 Bits.

ETA 2: I should note that by "RPP" and requirement, I mean that a person must have had 2, or 4 or whatever RPP at one point or another. Maybe if Badges are introduced, there could be a badge to represent this once that amount of RPP is acquired, or some other staff-decided criteria is passed.

What I mean is, given how some complaints against this might be, "But it's such a basic thing! Why should I have to pay for it!" Well, I don't think you should, per se, I think you should just have to -work- for it.

In that case, having had the RPP at one point, maybe not everytime you do a co-concept, should suffice.
Last edited by WorkerDrone on Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Letters » Tue Jun 03, 2014 8:57 am

WorkerDrone has, unsurprisingly, hit the nail on the head there - I wouldn't call that hyperbole at all, unless multiple members of a family group are largely inactive or run off and die two days in.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby WorkerDrone » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:04 am

I've also expanded my post further, please read.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Throttle » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:19 am

Yeah, I think it's fairly apt. The existence of pre-made families (or private clans; let's just call it what it is), in a setting where nobody else can start out with any sort of support, diminishes the relative significance of everyone else unless that family deliberately refrains from trying to be influential or powerful.

There have been examples of the latter throughout ARPI and PRPI, usually healing-oriented endeavours where the players weren't in it for the advantage but rather to simply provide the sphere with a facility. That's the best way to do it, but we also saw some examples of the opposite.

The problem here will be that individual PCs can't use backgrounds like "has been a guardsman/merchant/guildsman for years" to brace themselves against families that roll in with what is often an unbreakable pledge to share everything and die for eachother without question.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Throttle » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:11 am

I think that backgrounds/concepts that involve two players sharing common backgrounds shouldn't be RPP restricted, as I said, because it results in having very little bargaining power. Concepts that involve three people with shared background require 2 RPP (all three must have 2 RPP) to pass go.

Concepts that involve more than 3 people sharing backgrounds must have at least one person with 4 RPP, everyone else should have 2 RPP. This represents someone who staff exceedingly trusts with the betterment of the game as a whole vouching for also qualified players.


I don't know if gating it behind RPP is the way to go. The backgrounds themselves aren't really what can cause problems as there's nothing stopping players from just agreeing over AIM to join up and effectively be a family without actually having connected backgrounds.

The reason for an RPP requirment would presumably be to ensure that untrustworthy people don't get to make asshole clans that break the game, but the RPP requirment wouldn't do anything more than prevent them from actually being relatives whereas it would prevent a lot of well-meaning players from playing relatives even if they had no intentions of doing anything that compromises the roleplaying environment.

I expect most of us agree that there's nothing wrong with families in and of themselves. It's the possibility of them coming in with plans and preparations that could potentially screw with a lot of things in ways that shouldn't be possible. Utterby, being a relatively established village with presumably at least one or two hundred inhabitants, shouldn't be overly affected by five guys working together; but when the reality is that the population will be something like 30 PCs all starting from nothing, a group of five can have a huge impact. It doesn't matter if they're a family, that just happens to be the most common scenario and the phenomenon is thus associated with pre-made families.

Instead of trying to OOCly restrict people playing together, which is frankly impossible, the village itself should be designed in a way that makes sure you can't easily become too influential without being part of something that justifies it, i.e. the Guard and other such central aspects of the setting. I touched upon this in the original discussions on economy, noting that the big moneymaking and trading venues should be geared towards the main clans. The game itself should ensure that the clans that are meant to be the biggest and most important groups in the sphere actually are.

This was hard to do on ARPI and PRPI because the games were largely lawless and had no real government, but Utterby can and should be a place that has safeguards against people who would challenge the established powers upon which the setting is based. This might be in place already, of course.

I don't really know exactly how this would apply to the orc sphere as I haven't examined its documentation very closely, but since it's orcs, they'll probably have much more freedom to deal with that sort of thing more effectively without it being horribly uncharacteristic and against the spirit of the sphere.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Songweaver » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:32 am

A story is worth telling, innately, because it is about the time something special or out-of-the-ordinary happened. A small time lumberjack's story wasn't interesting enough to play for his first 22 years, perhaps, but you have created an application for him and he is now in the game. What about now makes his story special right now?

For an RPI, the answer is that he has the ability to affect the gameworld, of course. His ability to affect the gameworld and overall story is greater than that of vNPCs and even NPCs; that's why he is now a playable character. What is my point?

I'm not going to speak towards the overall conversation on clans/families/power one way or the other, because the concerns don't really apply to me and what I'm trying to do. But, I did want to respond, just briefly, to an idea that Throttle suggested.

Instead of trying to OOCly restrict people playing together, which is frankly impossible, the village itself should be designed in a way that makes sure you can't easily become too influential without being part of something that justifies it, i.e. the Guard and other such central aspects of the setting.


I'm not opposed to this, but I did want to stipulate that I don't like the idea that a small group of people shouldn't be able to affect the gameworld. Player clans can have vNPCs, too.

In short, the suspension of disbelief and convention by which we must play is this: PCs can affect the gameworld in disproportionate ways compared to vNPCs (the average unknown population), because PCs are characters whose stories are special and are worth telling. If we don't play by this convention, then the story becomes restrictive in the telling, and PCs are encouraged to think small and not big. This is Shadows of Isildur, a game with an epic name and setting - not Small Town Idaho the RPI.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Throttle » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:48 am

It's not about affecting the game world, it's about the potential for a handful of players to be able to quickly and unrealistically become disproportionately rich/powerful/important/whatever. Preventing one doesn't rule out the other, and due to the unusual nature of Alpha's beginning state, I think it'll be an important subject.

If the game has no built-in measures to give the advantage to official clans then it's entirely possible for five or six code-savvy players working together for a RL month to out-muscle the sphere's military clan (judging by the state of these in the past) or overtake the village's merchant's guild (or whatever comparable thing might exist) in commerce and wealth. Staff would be able to interfere with NPCs, but that should generally be a last resort and usually doesn't go over well.

Besides, it's not a new concept. Past spheres have done things such as banning steel equiment or restricting trade for people who aren't part of trusted organizations. That didn't prevent players from making an impact, it just prevented groups from pseudo-usurping spheres.
Last edited by Throttle on Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby hobbitboots » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:51 am

I appreciate the idea of keeping characters on an egalitaran level when they commence. It's not right to disadvantage some characters out of the gate. Makes one feel 'left out' or 'second class.' Everyone should have equal opportunity to thrive or die by their own merits, not depending on whether or not you started off in a premade, ultra loyal clan (ie - a family :lol: ) or a superman body. In case you can't tell, I feel similarly about having RPP a requirment for playing a statistically strong race as we had in old SoI.

But, if we don't allow people to make families pre-commencement, we won't have families ever. I've long felt that was an aspect missing from MUDs in general. I'm pretty excited to finally be able to participate in that kind of role play.

I can accept some regulations on it to keep it from being abused, but I would be pretty disappointed if it were taken away completely.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:58 am

I want to say that the SOI forums have been the most mature RPI forums I've seen thus far or MUD for that matter. That maturity comes from the acknowledgement that things should be tried before they are restricted or changed. The staff thus far have been very open minded on the forums and encouraged players to go for RP concepts.

That being said, just like the character wiki page. Any abuse that can be achieved via family roles can be achieved via non-family roles. The only difference is a brief introduction period of RP.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby WorkerDrone » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:12 am

This is all good discussion, but more importantly it highlights something that's worth paying attention to, disputing my suggestions in putting a lock in the Family and Common background gate.

Putting a lock on the gate won't do shit. People will find ways to abuse the system by communicating over AIM and Skype, et al.

In such a case, the staff has to be aware that the main, NPC (staff animated) clans should hold the major sources of revenue/resources/commodities, perhaps not circum-ultra and entirely but in majority. People who really badly want to get a steel sword or helmet or whatever should probably be able to do so, but it should be really really aggravatingly hard.

As for the orc sphere, just make sure the NPCs in charge of the main clans openly encourage absorbing upstart factions in the warrens and the power struggle will eventually sort itself out. The "families" and "legitimate" player groups not trying to abuse the system will let themselves be absorbed or killed off in an IC manner, and the abusive sort will fight a ill-fated guerrilla war that can't last more than a week or two. Who remains? The main clans, in all likelihood.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby WildGiller » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:23 am

I'm sure that I have faith in Staff to know the difference between twinks/abusers who want to make a "family" for the purpose of unbalancing the game in their favor, versus a group of players who want to add layers of family drama and complexity to their RP.

To put a blanket over family roles as "Game Shifting Power Roles" is totally unfair.

There is a notable difference between:

Group A: Warrior/Militarized/Power Hungry relatives who happen to be all together at the gate with swords and goals of world conquer and vast fame or wealth

Group B: A couple of sheep herders who have and a grandfather and some daughters and a crippled son who are trying to get by and they all have their own problems and dreams.

To say group B can't exist because of the potential for group A to exist is just silly.

Furthermore, family roles are not the same, as say, starting a clan, where you can 'recruit' people or reroll a new PC into that group if someone dies. And as it has been said, there is nothing to stop people from OOC'ly getting together and 'happening to meet and team up' ICly either. It simply cannot be done.

Twinks and abusers exist, and it can be a hassle and a delicate balance to keep things from tipping the world on it's ear. But the more restrictions which are placed on the community as a whole will quickly begin to stifle the environment of the game.

RPP and other systems exist to allow staff to grade the trust level of players in order to ensure that people who are given extremely powerful positions and skills are handed to only those who are responsible enough to manage them and play them realistically, adding instead of taking away from the game.

As such, unless a family role is indicating that they are a caravan with horses and a wagon, or are a family of arcane traveling wizard alchemists, then there is no reason to require them to have RPP in order to have brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.

Requiring RPP also limits the people who can play in such roles, and the pool gets smaller as the number gets higher. Family roles are not always easy to fill, so if you had a sheep herder concept, whose to say you'd be able to get enough trusted players to join in on a mundane role when they have the freedom to play roles which shape the game directly with staff support and trust? It makes it less likely you'd be able to even put a mundane family together at all.

That was my first rant! ^.^ It is all IMHO.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby WorkerDrone » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:32 am

I read and comprehend all of this, and generally it ranges a good argument against restricting the playerbase and group-based roles, but puncturing one suggested avenue to mitigate abusers doesn't mean the abuse still isn't on the table for scrutiny and other suggestions during this discussion!

In that case, at anyrate, I'd love to hear other people's thoughts. There are plenty of compelling arguments -against- restrictive methods, but what non-restrictive ones-else can you think up?
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Letters » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:45 am

I guess this is aimed at WildGiller: if I were to, for example, go to Kory and ask if I could play his character's younger sister, or to WorkerDrone with a suggestion about a pair of men in their late twenties who met a year ago and have since not actually been physically able to stay more than a mile apart (okay, we've never actually planned that), the entire playerbase would, based on past experiences, suffer a collective aneurysm.

I heartily agree with the notion that the major NPC clans should have actual proper perks for their members. They really seriously haven't historically - it got flipped on its head to the point of the Vanguard being utterly gimped, for that matter - and that ought to change.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:02 pm

non-restrictive methods

1) A player may not rejoin a family role they have already participated in if their original character has died.

2) A family must either be directly blood related or the entire 'scope' of the family role must be revealed to staff at start. No cousins or No cousins added on for other players beyond the originally planned amount.

Example: Father, sibling, cousin (original group) no adding 2nd cousin or extra sibling or mother.

3) Families are not clans, no adopting anyone. Only way to join a family as a 'member' is to marry in. Married family members cannot expand the family via children unless staff approve.
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Songweaver » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:13 pm

I'm not opposed to this conversation taking place, even if I happen to fall onto the side of low regulations.

However, I feel strongly that the purpose of this thread has been derailed to the point where further conversation here will hinder the ability of people to use this thread as it was meant to be used -- to find other players to hook up with for the purposes of your characters' backgrounds.

Perhaps a thread split?
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Re: The Character Background Hookup Thread

Postby Brian » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:19 pm

The only concern I have is that often these groups are formed of the "best" players and then become an exclusive entity. There are a number of different bests that it can be; for instance it can be all of the combat savvy players playing a family of brothers who, because of their knowledge of the combat system, become the biggest badasses in the game, and because of their IG connection as family (and usually OOC friendships, because when people set these things up it's almost always with the players they know and want) they will advance each others interests in all ways.

It can also be a group of the "best" (using the term loosely, but it does seem that there tends to be consensus favorites at times) roleplayers who come together to play a family or group. This doesn't upset power balances so much as it leads to these roleplayers, because of their ties as friends/relatives etc. spending most of their time together, and one of their primary role play focuses being to interact with each other. When this happens, since there is only so much time and attention to go around, other players, fringe players, new players, etc. get less interaction with this group. It leads to a feeling of cliquishness in the game, and often resentment. SoI has definitely had problems with people feeling like there are IG and OOC cliques in the past and it can divide the playerbase.

People will usually play with the people they like playing with and there isn't (and shouldn't) be a way to limit or restrict that. When it's set up so clearly through family ties or what have you it just becomes more pronounced. For the start of a game, I think I would prefer that people come in with few associations and build all of those associations in game.

But then, I really miss those days when I didn't know who anybody played. Can people here even remember that time? The OOC communication was clamped down on hard; I know it still happened, but I didn't take part in it since it was against policy. I know now many of the people that I like playing with, but I came in with no associations and built those associations with these fantastic players from scratch. I think not getting together right away with the people you love leaves that opportunity more readily available, and also (for my selfishness) leaves you great players with more time for me (and everyone else...I guess) :P
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Family Roles & Shared BG Discussion Thread

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:26 pm

Further discussion to be had here. Please migrate forthwith from the other thread which we hath derailed so rudely and enjoy the vigor of debate in a wholesome clean environment.
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Re: Family Roles & Shared BG Discussion Thread

Postby Jeshin » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:31 pm

I believe the thing that we all need to consider, both supports and concerned observers of family roles and shared BG roles, is that story and roleplay come first in all things. I played SOI for a grand total of 5 hours in a previous incarnation. What I know of SOI is via word of mouth and story. What I know is that SOI has been committed to a forward moving narrative and that it was this commitment which lead to incarnations such as Atonement and Parallel which likewise committed to a story which evolved over time.

To put it simply, these RPIs put story above all. If a clan is fated to be annihilated in Tolkien's universe then even if all the staff and all their bestest friends and all the most codedly powerful players exist in this clan. That clan will be destroyed.

As long as people approach family roles with the same understanding that you cannot 'win' a story. You can only contribute to it and any attempt to do otherwise is simply a futile push against the wave. Things will be peachy.

PS - If you suspect abuse, twinkery, OOC collusion, or anything like that. I always suggest you report it to staff. Even if it's just to say you feel that way, it is something that often times gets discussed in back channels but never truly brought to light.
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Re: Family Roles & Shared BG Discussion Thread

Postby Brian » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:40 pm

It'd be better if an admin or someone with permissions could split the old topic so that all the derailing points are there for us to look over!
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Re: Family Roles & Shared BG Discussion Thread

Postby Tiamat » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:46 pm

Jeshin wrote:I believe the thing that we all need to consider, both supports and concerned observers of family roles and shared BG roles, is that story and roleplay come first in all things. I played SOI for a grand total of 5 hours in a previous incarnation. What I know of SOI is via word of mouth and story. What I know is that SOI has been committed to a forward moving narrative and that it was this commitment which lead to incarnations such as Atonement and Parallel which likewise committed to a story which evolved over time.

To put it simply, these RPIs put story above all. If a clan is fated to be annihilated in Tolkien's universe then even if all the staff and all their bestest friends and all the most codedly powerful players exist in this clan. That clan will be destroyed.

As long as people approach family roles with the same understanding that you cannot 'win' a story. You can only contribute to it and any attempt to do otherwise is simply a futile push against the wave. Things will be peachy.

PS - If you suspect abuse, twinkery, OOC collusion, or anything like that. I always suggest you report it to staff. Even if it's just to say you feel that way, it is something that often times gets discussed in back channels but never truly brought to light.


I second this. Thanks for putting it so well.
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Tiamat
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