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Messages - Matthew Runyon

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I've weighed in on my feeling that it's not large alliances that are the problem, as much as it is stagnation that is the problem, and I think there are some ideas about a new alliances system that will help fix that.

But I have to say that I share the concerns about the political/intrigue side of the game getting devalued, and let me illustrate that with an example.

Let us say that I am the Ruler of a realm, and I am planning on fighting another realm.  They are larger than my realm, and have more CS and an ally.  So I spend months wheeling and dealing, working out favour trades, building up relationships, and get several realms together that have promised to back my efforts.  This involves a great deal of engagement, and is all something the other realm could have been doing as well.  But either they did not, or tried and failed, or maybe I've got better Ambassadors, or a couple of key connections to Council members, who knows?  But when push comes to shove, all of my friends show up to the fight, and they and their ally are outclassed from the moment the first sword is drawn, and the war would be short and utterly one-sided.

Under the current rules, this would not be allowed.

However, let us say that instead, I keep my realm from fighting.  I build up gold.  The one ally I have also doesn't fight, and they build up gold.  We can build up a massive pile of gold, and expand all our recruitment centers, so we have enough and troops to fund a campaign of all of our nobles at max recruitment for a couple of months on end, while the realm I want to fight is instead constantly fighting.  Sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but they don't build up much of a gold reserve, and their nobles have to get by with just their estate income.  I carefully wait for them to finish their latest war, so that I'm not dogpiling, but their regions are not in a great place, they have no gold, and their army is scattered.  We recruit up using our massive gold hoard, declare war, and immediately seize the city on our border and stuff it full of militia because we don't actually need the gold from the city.  Without their largest gold producer, and exhausted from the last war, suddenly we're creaming a realm half again our size because of superior preparation.

Under the current rules, this would be allowed.

To me, the only difference I see here is what type of preparation was done, and how much fun it was for different playstyles.

I would vastly prefer a setup where two things happened:

First, the density rules were either not enforced, or much more stringently enforced.  If they weren't enforced, then people would have pretty strong incentives to keep expanding.  If they were more stringently enforced, then realms would end up losing regions over time if they could not create fun for their nobles or attract new characters, and would start going out of their way to make sure they kept or enticed characters.

Second, I would rather focus the rules or mechanics on preventing the same characters (or families) from being in the same positions.  It is difficult to work on new conflicts when the characters and people are all the same, and right now, in most continents there is no real way to end that.  Even if you could destroy a realm, the density rules mean that the people in charge of that realm could move to another realm, bide their time, and launch a colonization effort.  Realms can be reborn all the time, and since there are no longer any age penalties and no effective way to kill almost all nobles, very rarely does anyone ever get removed from the playing field except by the player getting bored to (the character's) death.  This, to me, is the biggest problem.

Feature Requests / Re: Approved: Additional Vote Counting Systems
« on: July 23, 2020, 03:57:44 AM »
Oh, man, definitely looking forward to this!

Feature Requests / Re: Non-combat Activities Overhaul
« on: July 15, 2020, 02:38:06 AM »
This all sounds pretty awesome, if it can be pulled off!

As a further elaboration on Delvin's idea (which I very much like, and helped discuss some of the ideas on), I want to talk about the hierarchy aspect of these proposed new Alliances.

What I was envisioning with this is reminders, from the game, that you should be behaving as inferiors/superiors.  Little bits of text in various places making it clear that if you're writing a letter or RPing with someone in a lower-ranked realm in the alliance, you should not be treating them as an equal.  If you're writing to someone from a higher-ranked realm, you would be reminded to be extra respectful to your social superior.

That kind of thing would certainly rankle with quite a few characters, and other characters would take full advantage of their superior status to be pains about it, leading to significant friction.

In addition, I think there should be mechanical benefits to being a character in the top realm in the alliance, possibly related to prestige gains, but the main thing is to mechanically incentivize people to want to be the top of an alliance.

Between those two things, I think having hierarchies would better simulate the petty politicking that led to so many low-level conflicts.  Right now, alliances are often "round table": All realms in them often are treated as equals, ostensibly, even when that's obviously not the case.  This would create a lot of potential bickering over who sits at the head of the table, and who gets to be closest to them.  If you have to publicly state that your realm is of lower status than three other realms to join an alliance, you may well think twice about doing that, and even if the Ruler doesn't, it provides an opening for a challenger who wants to see their realm restored to full status.

Feature Requests / Re: Everyone in this Realm - Message Option
« on: June 03, 2020, 09:36:29 PM »
I'm in favour of this, more possibility of connections being made is always a good thing, in my opinion, and limiting it to those within the physical borders of the realm prevents all, I think, of the problems I've seen brought up before about continent-wide groups.

BM General Discussion / Re: OOC power-gaming???
« on: May 18, 2020, 07:02:43 AM »
Hey John,

This thread is the first time I've heard about an OOC dialogue started with Tiberius' player, which I definitely think was a good step to take, but the fact that it hasn't come up in any of the other discussions I think speaks volumes.  Some if it about him, to be clear, but that goes back to what I see as the central point.  People who aren't involved on the OOC side of things are going to respond to the IC side, and if that starts causing OOC fun issues, then talking about it OOC is a good plan.

And if we're excluding OS from this, then what I'm hearing is that the issue was the Shattered Vales.  So we're down to talking about one realm joining that you weren't anticipating, who again was not in the loop on the OOC discussions.  Going back to Tim's comments that made me start talking on this forum thread, I'm failing to see how one realm jumping on outside of what was expected turns something from being a perfectly fine IC conflict to an OOC fun-killing conflict, which is again where I come back to having reservations about the entire approach on this.

I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who agrees we should have looked at the OOC side a little further, but even with hindsight I'm not clear where the line between the IC and OOC aspects of this starts.  And if I can't figure it out, in hindsight, with the kind of diplomatic experience I have, then I don't think it's likely we're going to have broad agreement on this, and we're going to end up with Titan intervention on all kinds of stuff, just because people have different interpretations of things.

BM General Discussion / Re: OOC power-gaming???
« on: May 18, 2020, 01:58:31 AM »
The quotation marks are disingenuous. This isn't speculation, there is one confirmed both IC and OOC.

I think a point that I and others take issue with here is the description of the coalition as an alliance bloc.  Our characters all had different reasons for wanting to fight Thalmarkin, the fact that everything lined up all at once does not, in any way, indicate that those realms would have ended up at peace with each other afterwards.  There is a substantial segment of Obia'Syela that wants to fight the Vales and Nova again, as soon as is practical.  Saoirse is very leery of the Sanguine Order, and conflict there is almost inevitable if she stays in power (which is by no means guaranteed).  And that's just the stuff that I personally know about that could cause the whole thing to come tumbling down.

The fact that Thalmarkin gave reasons to so many realms, in my view, renders the argument about the alliance limitations moot.  I think it would be extremely poor form to, for example, insult literally every other realm on the continent, and then go "nyah, only one alliance bloc gets to attack me!", which is obviously an extreme example but in this particular case, not all that far off from what happened.  I recognize there is an ongoing disagreement about how to handle the intersection of IC justifications and OOC fun considerations, however.

I made an active effort to balance things. Yes, I was surprised that the other realms on the continent, as players, chose to look at a realm that had administrated its own balance and see that as a weakness to be exploited. I don't expect everyone to care about everyone else's experience, as nice as that would be. But I do expect rulers too.

This, to me, is a really big problem.  Thalmarkins characters took actions, IC, that resulted in various situations.  We heard after the fact that this was all part of an OOC plan to help balance out the fun of the continent.  Which, even if true, was not discussed with people OOC.  I've talked to a few people who play in Thalmarkin who had never heard of this idea.  No one outside of Thalmarkin that I've ever talked to has indicated that they had any idea this was the plan.

So, some number of the players in Thalmarkin, which was not all the players, decided that for the good of the continent OOC they would take actions that impacted almost every other realm on the continent IC, never said why they were doing this except IC, and then were surprised when people did not respond their hidden OOC planning, and instead responded to the IC actions.  To the outside perspective, this all looked like Thalmarkin's leadership had gone mad with power.

If you're going to take actions OOC for the fun of others, it's a good plan to tell those others what you're doing.  As a for-instance, when Jenred was in charge of Arcaea after the Sunset Crusade finished, I similarly felt like we needed to stir some stuff up.  So I talked with people OOC, made it clear why I was making the decisions I made, and when Jenred declared war on Zonasa over an old insult to his wife, everyone understood what was happening, and responded accordingly.  I'm not the only one who has done this, to be clear, I've seen it happen before which is what inspired me to do it.

It's also a good plan to not go from handling everything in character to immediately attacking everyone OOC, insulting all of the players involved, and demanding that they take action.

The number one problem with all of this, as far as I can tell from beginning to end, was a lack of player-to-player communication.

BM General Discussion / Re: OOC power-gaming???
« on: May 14, 2020, 06:01:01 AM »
Again, since I apparently wasn't clear before: I would expect this to happen in the event you find yourself in a situation where you are among a large number of realms that is or will be declaring war on one or a very small number of realms, such that if they do not have realms join in to help them, they will be massively, hopelessly, demoralizingly outnumbered.

Yes, you may have had many contingency plans, but you made an assumption that led to your "initial projections" that had the war not being one-sided.

Those assumptions, not to put too fine a point on it, were wrong.

And, again, our characters did not assume anything.  We made plans based around multiple possibilities.  And starting from the presumption that the most powerful realm on the continent, with a historical ally and a newly formed colony, would be fighting alone seems, to me, problematic on the face of it.  That's not a sensible plan, and the characters making these plans are at least somewhat sensible.

That was one of the factors that led to where we are now. (Another of them was Zatirri rolling into rulership swinging, and yes, he deserved to get sucker-punched for his arrogance in this matter. That doesn't mean every player in his realm deserved to be put in a position where they were forced into a war they could not win, and had no way of knowing how they could end without destruction, for an indeterminate amount of time.)

They had several ways of knowing.  Their Ruler could have, but didn't, tell them.  They could have reached out, to literally anyone, and gotten the story, none of which ever involved destruction of the realm.  The "indeterminate amount of time" is completely related to failures of communication, which would have been rectified in several ways.  And had any of us known that any of the players in Thalmarkin were having issues, we would have happily talked OOC about it.

What I'm trying to do here—and I recognize that I'm flailing a bit at it, but please try to bear with me—is not to change everything to being pre-planned and risk-free, but to change the culture so that rulers, at the very least, start trying to take some responsibility for the fun of the whole continent rather than the every-realm-for-itself model we have operated under up to now. To stop and take stock every once in a while, question your assumptions, and check in with your fellow players, "Hey, how are things going? Are you having fun? If not, what can we as a continent do to make that better?" Never expecting to be turning relations and RPs around on a dime, but just starting to take into account the other people sitting at the table.

If John Read-Jones had had a relationship with Matthew Runyon, and the other players of BT rulers, such that they all not only already saw each other as players, but had corresponded OOC—not about what their realms were planning, but about the general mood and what they felt like they needed—then I think it extremely unlikely that the setup for this situation would ever have happened. And this is emphatically not me saying I think you're to blame for that lack—I think this is a lack in BattleMaster's culture that I myself have only started to really see within the last few months to a year.

I regularly talk with other players, both in game and on Discord.  I have pretty good relationships with several players in Thalmarkin.  Including a couple of people in the upper echelons.  And I have, in point of fact, talked about Obia'Syela, general ideas about it, how the realm is faring, etc.  Rea, Luitolf, and I have talked repeatedly about the Heralds religion.  Rogos and I talk all the time about Perdan and the problems the EC has faced.  You're right, I didn't have a particular relationship with John Read-Jones, but if your goal is to get everyone to have a relationship with everyone else, that's going to be a difficult task.

For me, the number one problem here is not talking, absolutely.  But putting that all on the Rulers is an issue, for the same reason that putting everything on the Devs and Titans is an issue.  If no one says anything, I don't think it's reasonable to expect us to know this.  I talked with all of these people, repeatedly, during the time when they were apparently feeling upset.  I will admit that I'm often oblivious to things, as Kel can attest, but at no point did I get the sense that there was anything more than the usual "oh crap, that didn't work" until Zat sent his message to the ruler/admin channel.

I completely agree that if we were all playing as friends around the table, this would have been avoided.  But I'm failing to see, in concrete terms, what we could have done differently.  Yes, at the point when Vordul Sanguinius and Ar Agyr didn't join the war, should we have stopped and thought for a moment, of course.  I've admitted that multiple times previously.  But I'm still not sure what I would have done differently.  And adding more burdens onto Ruler just makes me think, again, that settling down as a nice rich Duke is a better plan all around.

It's the same kind of disregard for other players' feelings as human beings that led Alexandros Stavrou to conduct his campaign of harassment and bullying. The same, frankly, that has led to every single major incident of OOC hostility and every single major controversial Titan case. I'm trying to attack that problem at its source and I do not claim to have a good idea of what I'm doing, but I'll be damned if I stop trying.

I hope you can see me in that light as you continue to bring critiques of my performance as I move through this effort.

I get that.  I really do.  And I'm trying to bring constructive criticism to this.  I'm trying to point out that I agree with the goal and idea, I just disagree with some points of the implementation of it.  And I'm trying really, really, really hard not to take this personally, but that's difficult when you and others are linking what I and others did with continued examples of some of the worst things that have happened in the game.

I am guilty of something in this.  I am guilty of sticking too much in character, and not stopping and thinking OOC when the war allies broke out differently.  Absolutely.  But the continued comparisons of negligence that could easily have been corrected with one conversation, with active, hostile, malignant, intentional behaviour makes it really difficult for me to remain calm about this.

BM General Discussion / Re: OOC power-gaming???
« on: May 13, 2020, 10:01:02 PM »
I think the key in a complex situation like this is communication. OOC communication.

Yes, you assumed that other realms would join in on Thalmarkin's side, which would have made it a more even conflict. Zatirri assumed that when he declared war on Irondale, he'd get Irondale and maybe one or two other realms involved in a war, and probably VS on his side.

Our characters didn't assume anything.  They planned for multiple possibilities, one of which included allies joining Thalmarkin.  Zat's character did not plan for any other eventualities, clearly.  When a character rolls into Rulership swinging, they often get sucker punched, and I think that is generally a good thing, because I as a player am not terribly interested in dealing with yet another megalomaniacal Ruler, and having the ones that do show up get sucker punched lowers the incidences of that.

What I would like to ask of "you" (in quotes because it's not "you, Matt" or even "you, the realms arrayed against Thalmarkin now", but "any rulers who are in the situation in the future of preparing to be one of several realms declaring war on one realm") in the future is that you first talk to the realm about to get its butt kicked, preferably on the Ruler/Admin OOC channel so that we can be present to help mediate, and make sure there's a good enough understanding on both sides of what you're all getting into that the players involved aren't faced with nasty surprises.

My problem with this has been and continues to be that I don't know where the line is.  Do we do that every time we think there's even a chance of a war becoming one-sided?  Because, again, initial projections on this didn't anticipate it being that one-sided.  Do we do that the moment we see it turning toward that path?  Even if that isn't obvious to everyone involved?

Do we do that with every war?

We're now talking about fundamentally changing the nature of the game, to something closer to some D&D games where all the character drama is discussed OOC first and arranged for fun, rather than the actual competitive nature that Battlemaster conflicts have frequently actually had.

I'm not necessarily opposed to that, to be clear.  But that is a change.  That's a big change.  And I think that's a change that needs to be discussed, not one that we can pretend was always how the game was and we just collectively forgot about for a while.

Because right now, the players of every single Ruler in the "Coalition" on Beluaterra have mentioned the possibility of abdicating or pausing or leaving, or have actually abdicated.  I was the only exception, and I'm saying now that I've been considering it.  Now it's possible Eugenica abdicating didn't have anything specifically to do with this, there was some other stuff going on there, but clearly a decision was made that playing a Duke was going to be better than playing a Ruler.  And that says a lot right there, because I, Matthew, thought Eugenica was doing some good stuff.

I won't speak for anyone else, but for me, I'm considering it because what I'm hearing now is concerning, and draining, and I don't know if I want to deal with it anymore.  I don't think I'm going to, but my reasons for that are a lot more of various obligations than they are anything to do with "fun".

So, let's see how this plays out.  But let's also be clear about what we're trying collectively to do here, and talk about it before we jump into major new changes, if at all possible.

BM General Discussion / Re: OOC power-gaming???
« on: May 13, 2020, 08:57:35 AM »
I think one of the big concerns I have with this whole situation is this:

The "Coalition" on Beluaterra had to plan for the possibility of Vordul Sanguinius and, potentially, Ar Agyr joining Thalmarkin.  And our characters did that.  The fact that neither of those realms joined was an unexpected diplomatic victory, at least from Saoirse's perspective.  So at what point does gathering five geographically dispersed and in two cases fairly weakened realms against three geographically tight realms, including the strongest realm on the continent, become unfair enough to warrant an intervention?  When one of those realms badly screws up their IC diplomacy, in ways that none of our characters predicted?  And particularly given that so much of this was related to one character's screwups, when do we decide that those two realms might not hop back in the war with a conciliatory Ruler in Thalmarkin?  I'm not trying to make this a slippery slope argument, I'm literally asking, in this specific situation, where the line is?  Because I'm not sure I see it, and when I can't see it on a specific situation that just happened, that concerns me, because I don't know how I'm going to see it next time.

When does it become an improper circumvention of the alliance bloc mechanics, when there were at least two, I would argue three, distinct sets of reasons the realms involved were fighting, that had some overlap but not a ton?  There were those who wanted Thalmarkin's size reduced so they would be less of a threat.  There were those that wanted the Cult of Mordok destroyed.  And there was Vordul Sanguinius, playing a Lawful Evil Tyranny of a realm, who had their territory violated and their Ruler blatantly insulted.  Any of those three reasons could have been dealt with, and at least one realm would have immediately dropped out of the war.  Obia'Syela certainly doesn't care about Nothoi's territorial concerns, much less Vordul Sanguinius's pique at being insulted.  Irondale was not overly concerned about the Cult of Mordok, and if Thalmarkin had backed off on the territory they almost certainly would have dropped fighting.  So where's the line on the alliance bloc circumvention?  Again, how are we going to know where that line is?

And I know this isn't germane to the larger discussion, but I also think it's, frankly, fairly offensive to say that the southern realms were sitting on their reasons and engaged opportunistically when there had been active work toward that fight before the northern war broke out.  Saoirse and others were working, IC, before Thalmarkin declared their surprise war, to arrange a Crusade.  This is after Ruler turnover in all three of the southern realms, which produced an entirely new diplomatic alignment, flipping Obia'Syela from seeking an alliance with Thalmarkin under Marcus to wanting to attack them under Saoirse.  The situation was complex, and predated the northern war.  Indeed, one of Saoirse's letters to Tiberius talking about the possibility of moving to Keffa specifically mentioned the idea of having Obia'Syela as a buffer between Irondale and Thalmarkin in case of this sort of attack.  I'm more than a little tired of the idea that just because people were being cautious and quiet about planning a war against the most powerful realm on the continent, that somehow means there was OOC or even IC opportunism at play.

I'm willing to see how this plays out, and maybe I will be able to see the lines on these things soon, but I'm concerned.

Feature Requests / Re: Prestige and Positions
« on: May 07, 2020, 08:55:00 AM »
I have no objection to it being a separate currency, to be clear, the original discussion was talking about the old prestige-based election mechanic and such and we riffed from there.  Possibly call it "Influence" then.

Feature Requests / Prestige and Positions
« on: May 07, 2020, 07:46:20 AM »
This came out of a voice discussion on Discord today, and it's a fairly significant rework, but the basic idea is to introduce two things.

First, have all nobles (supporter) able to choose a noble that they feel is helping them and making their life better (supportee).  This could be your lord, Duke, or Ruler, but it could also be that nice knight who greeted you when you started, helped explain things, and gave you a hand with that letter you had trouble writing.  This choice would amount to your noble talking positively about them to their hangers on, minor nobles on their estate, etc, and as a result that noble you choose gets the benefit of increased prestige.

The exact mechanic of this we'd have to model out with numbers a bit, but it would be a large (possibly the largest) source of prestige for characters.  And over time, it should permanently add (small) amounts to the supportee's prestige.

In addition, prestige from other sources would likely need to decay, or eventually this would become pointless.

This ties in to positions: In order to hold a particular position, you need to have enough prestige for it.  Not just the very minor requirements we have, but real amounts.  To the point where you would really need someone supporting you to be a lord.  And if you lost that support, and couldn't make it up with constant prestige gains from other sources, you would no longer be eligible for your position (with a warning, intermediate zone for low support, "The court officials are murmuring about the lack of legitimacy of the Lord of Keplerville").

This goes all the way up the chain.  Dukes would need significant support, say at least a third of the nobles in their duchy.  And Rulers would need even more, say at least a third of the nobles in the realm.  And if that character lost that support, they are not eligible, and they lose their position.

Probably setting this support would need to be protected in some fashion otherwise people would be ordered to support, for the obvious reasons.

I think this would solve a number of problems at the same time.

First, you need active support to keep your position, rather than the same Duke or Ruler being in charge for 5 RL years while they do nothing.

Second, it provides an incentive for people to actually interact, and help others out.

Third, it makes prestige more based on actual character reflection.  As opposed to right now, where the highest "prestige" characters are often characters that have been around forever, fought a lot of battles, and don't necessarily have any particular prestige from roleplay, and are not considered important by other characters.

Fourth, it gives important currency to non-titled characters, which gives them more power and agency, which I consider to be a very good thing.


Feature Requests / Re: Relics for Temples
« on: April 25, 2020, 08:17:42 AM »
Yep, that's the idea, encourage people to loot temples!  Cause religious incidents!  Fight over awesome holy relics and take them to your own temples!

Feature Requests / Re: Relics for Temples
« on: April 24, 2020, 07:31:23 AM »
I was thinking any Unique Item, yes, although possibly it should be any item with at least X prestige.  And I was definitely thinking either not degrading, or degrading much, much more slowly.

I like the idea of expanding the Forage feature to include this!  Then you could have fights between the people burning hours foraging, and the people scouting, about the division of the loot.

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