Gaining a noble title

Wraith

Newbie
It would be awesome. But at the same time it would require a lot more standardization of values across the Alliance.

We don't all play the game for the same reasons, after all, and I can't expect the owners and staff teams to all be in it to run the same game as well.
 
I think part of what you’re saying is true, but I think we all have more in common than we realize.

We can move towards a more collaborative standard, and that would not necessarily mean we would have to homogenize our values or standards. The key is working together. If more chapters made greater efforts to write and run cross chapter plot I have no doubt we would begin to influence each other’s values and standards in positive ways.

We often learn tricks of the trade, logistics folks and rules marshals are collaborating all of the time, on these boards, over email, on the phone. But our plot teams, who shape the moods, atmospheres and values of each chapter, don’t do nearly enough to share their work with one another, and it's some damn good work.

A chapter’s strengths should be shared and grown across the entire Alliance. In particular, that happens when we work together in writing plot. At the same time that we see great ideas from other plot teams, our drive towards competition compels us to make those concepts better.

For instance, we have CT to thank for our “Legion of the Vigil,” modeled after their “Scarred Legion,” but we are making it into something unique to the Deadlands, driven and strengthened by the best aspects of our game. Likewise, we came up with a bunch of nifty gimmicks in our tournament last year, and I am certain CT will take at least one of the competitions (Blind Archery for the win!) and make it better. I know they’ll do this because, as a staff team, they are excellent tacticians, always coming up with innovative ideas for challenging battles and monsters. I think we learn most from each other when we work together though, and the whole of the Alliance is better for it.

We are very fortunate to have a national game in which many many players chapter hop all over the country. Some can only hit up one or two chapters with any regularity. Others play 4 or 5 (or more) on a regular basis. So the chance for plot teams to collaborate, not just as the exception, but as the rule, is already there. We should all be writing cross chapter plot and picking up all the best aspects of each other’s standards and skills. We should each be constantly (politely) stealing each other’s good ideas, reshaping them in ways that reflect our own chapter’s uniqueness and strong points, and then striving to deliver a better product than the original to our players (and yes, EVERY chapter has strong points, if you disagree, go smoke another filterless cigarette).

On the whole, we have no problem writing fifteen pages on a message board about whether or not flame bolt should be a fourth level spell, but we shy away from asking other chapters what the hell they’ve been writing plot about for the last six years? I refuse to believe that’s the extent of our ability to collaborate, and I know that our regard for each chapter outside of our own would be greater if we redirected our focus away from just playing each other’s games, and towards improving, learning from, and working with each other’s games.

Avidly npcing and donating of course rocks (if you’ve done this for me I’m at this very moment sending you a big mental wet one). Those are absolutely essential contributions, and with genuine effort and a desire to help out, it’s remarkable how much we already do that for each other. But we got to share ideas and get over the desire to avoid critique from others.

I know that there are enough sincere and talented people in the Alliance to build a vibrant network of cross chapter plot writing; we simply get blocked by inertia and doubt. But this is where it would have to start. If no game is an island, then no system of standards would be either, not so long as the intent is a humble desire to learn, and a selfish desire to kick ***.

If that is how we operate someday, then no game in the Alliance would go long without enjoying a decent level of respect from all the others, because we would be pooling our resources and ideas and helping each other to improve each game, and we, ideally, would be taking some credit when a game is struggling, so long as that chapter is legitimately doing what it can to be solid.

If we pulled this off the likelihood of characters, across chapters, being noticed, admired, respected or feared for their accomplishments would dramatically improve. Imagine a game where the drama of other games, the deeds and reputations of pcs from other chapters, weren’t just known, but were actually relevant across a thousand miles in the real world? You show up and plot is waiting for you. We know you’re an unassuming thief with a thing against bugbears, or a paladin who spent ten years fighting to reclaim his homeland from undead, and the pcs might be feeling a little too lazy or cool to respond, but the rogue selling maps to Bugbear Dungeon might not be, and the ogre shaman who kneels in reverence or in need of help might not be either.

We could do this, and even if I’m wrong, and we can’t, it would still be a hell of a lot of fun to try.
 

Wraith

Newbie
I've always gotten the impression that plot doesn't get discussed here the way rules do simply because of a combination of the "FOIG" stigma and a tendency of players to keep things that may be used against them or to their advantage as quiet as possible.

Unfortunately, that really makes it hard for plot to know what they're doing that is getting good reactions out of the players. I'm sure it's hell on trying to decide if a PC might be noble quality, simply because their deeds may be relatively unknown if they've been following the ever more common practice of modding exclusively with a group for anything that isn't a town battle.
 
Certainly a valid point. One of the things that seems to be working for pcs is having hidden/invite-only boards through which to share ideas and coordinate efforts.

With specific plots, that can work between chapters too.

For larger themes, like "Hey guys, we've been doing this, anyone interested in doing this with us," kind of conversations, the public boards could be ok.

But let me give you an example of this disparity in emphasis. Our National Staff Plot board hasn’t had a post since September of 2010, and our Plot Network board hasn’t had a purely plot related or cross chapter plot post since September of 2010 as well. Total posts: 71, total topics: 9, and MANY of them are about things like treasure policy. Don’t get me wrong, talking about treasure policy is dandy. But the logistics board has 30 topics and 253 posts, and it is used on a regular basis. Again, not a bad thing that logistics is being talked about, but as my friend Dan Beshers said on those very boards, “Philosophically, it really should be the other way around.”

That's not to say cross chapter plot hasn't been happening. We had a joint closer with CT in November, and we've been working on things with both CT and Crossroads, for examples. I just don't see our emphasis and efforts, as a national organization, being focused enough on tying the games together through plot, much more so through an emphasis on shared rules and transferrable stuff. I wish it was at least equally divided.
 

Mobius

Squire
Deadlands said:
On the whole, we have no problem writing fifteen pages on a message board about whether or not flame bolt should be a fourth level spell, but we shy away from asking other chapters what the hell they’ve been writing plot about for the last six years? ...
Egads, man - stop plucking the thoughts from my head. Though I don't agree with everything you say, I bloody well agree with everyway your mind works and how you envision 'the way it should be'. It's a rotten shame that I live 3k miles from your game, 'cuz I think it would be a blast to roll with you kats.

I'm gonna talk with the plot teams I work for and see if I can drum up support for more cross-chapter plot. ¿Is there interest in your camp for some shenanigans with Oregon and possibly Minnesota or Chicago?

From what I understand, Deadlands is a fairly isolated campaign, due to geography and those pesky Mists. ¿What kind of external interface could you envision?
 

jpariury

Duke
Personally, I'd rather not know the behind-the-scenes descriptions of what other plot teams are doing, mainly because I play in the one chapter near me, and if I visit another chapter, I want to experience the surprise and wonder at their local plot from fresh eyes, and not feel the need to impose a certain level of ignorance on myself. Knowing what's going on in my own chapter and having to keep secrets is a burden I chose for myself. Having to do that for other chapters is a burden I didn't really sign up for.
 

Avaran

Baron
jpariury said:
Personally, I'd rather not know the behind-the-scenes descriptions of what other plot teams are doing, mainly because I play in the one chapter near me, and if I visit another chapter, I want to experience the surprise and wonder at their local plot from fresh eyes, and not feel the need to impose a certain level of ignorance on myself. Knowing what's going on in my own chapter and having to keep secrets is a burden I chose for myself. Having to do that for other chapters is a burden I didn't really sign up for.
I gotta agree with this. It would probably be different if there were more chapters readily available for me to play in, but as it is now, I help out with plot for Oregon and I PC in Seattle. I would like to keep the two separate since they are very different experiences for me.
 
Yes, we would definitely be interested. We tend to get a steady supply of folks from CT, NY, HQ and NJ, and we've done a little cross chapter stuff with all of those guys. Even if we just had some of our folks teaming up with write ups, and brought the combined efforts to fruition at a national event, I think that would be a great.

Email mail me a player's guide of something, and I'll send you some of our stuff. That would probably be a good place to start, ya?

alliancedeadlandsnh@gmail.com
 

Polare

Count
Alliance Rules
Moderator
Seattle Staff
jpariury said:
Cross-chapter traffic confuses the issue a bit more - Gregor, back in his early days, loved using it to his advantage. Again, he was a gypsy given a noble title, and he used it some very (oog) abusive ways. For example, when a magistrate tried to arrest him, G sent him packing under the guise of "You're only a Magistrate, not a Lord Magistrate, you have no authority, go away". When some gypsies had been arrested, G walked and said "Okay, thanks for capturing them, I'm a knight, I'll take them into custody, shoo shoo." and then letting them go. Those are cool in terms of a single character's story - gypsy gets authority and wreaks a bit of havoc. From an out-of-game "players should respect what it took to get the title" kind of way, it's probably not a shining example of what anyone would want advertised as "this is how you become a knight".

Part of it, of course, is that neither the NPCs nor the plot team were quite ready for these sorts of things - they never had to deal with it before, and had no standard "how to deal with this" in place. Add to that the social support the character had in establishing his title, and it becomes more problematic from the standpoint of the plot team to deal with it in a way that is rewarding to the player, expanding on the story, supportive of what the local plot team wants to tell as a tale, and constructive to the overall player community. I.E. do you really want to lay down the hammer on such a character if it subverts your awesome story about the nobles representing truth and justice and turns the weekend into an adventurers' civil war?

(...)

There needs to also exist a certain greater degree of plot support. For Oregon, we make sure our "townfolk" NPCs are aware of who the local ranked nobles are and try and make sure they treat them with deference. It helps make a clear distinction between "fluff title" and "rank title", which in turn helps prevent dilution of the importance of those titles. It also makes sure that the local titles are given preference over the visitors.
I think this is where I see the biggest problem with the proliferation of "fluff" titles (and I've definitely witnessed it over time; without question it's a huge, marked difference from the first few years that I played). There are players who will take advantage of the "sound" of a title, esp. with NPCs who don't know better. I have seen many, many new or new-ish NPCs get bamboozled in *extremely* unrealistic (for the IG world) ways by more experienced players who used these "fluff" titles to abusive advantage. There's a lot of people in this thread saying "so what if Joe says he's a Lord of Such-and-where or a Chief of the Something Tribe or a Squire of Nothingville? Why does it matter?" - this is why it matters.

We have a lot of new NPCs. It's pretty constant (and good for the chapter!). But they really don't have the time or the ability (since many might be having their first roleplaying experience ever) to have them learn to differentiate the "fluff" titles from the "real" titles. This makes the "fluff" titles gain far more weight than they should, and makes it so people who aren't good players as discussed earlier to have earned the real titles can abuse their "fluff" titles.

When Joe strides up to a new-ish NPC and says "I'm Lord Joe of Such-and-where, I'm going to punish you unless you bow down to me!", the NPC might not be able to know that this is just Joe from the Hobling lands who bought his Lordship, or Joe from another chapter who has no real rights here in-game, or Joe with a Lordship from some other land in the area, or Joe just calling himself Lord, instead of Joe who really is a Lord from nearby. But here's the key: It should be expected that most NPCs would know immediately who they should give fealty to as a real Noble and who they shouldn't - but that's very, very difficult for the NPCs to pull off.

To me, that's the biggest problem with "fluff" titles being given out willy-nilly. More experienced players will learn to differentiate who deserves their respect from who doesn't, but the newer players can easily be turned off by being confronted with a dozen Lords and Squires and Ambassadors and Chiefs and ... you get the picture. It *does* devalue the experience for new players much more than the experienced ones - and with very few exceptions, everyone commenting on this board is a more experienced player themselves. I think that's really skewing this discussion, IMO - those dozens of new players who come in, see a bunch of (IG) worthless titles, and don't have the training or experience to figure out what's what for a while simply don't have much of a voice on this board. It messes with the IG atmosphere for them and makes it harder for them to value the titles - and that means that as they grow into more experienced players, they *start* with a more cynical view of titles. That's no good for the game world, no good at all. I can point pretty directly to a big difference in attitude and expectations due mostly to these "fluff" titles from myself or Scott to someone who has started playing in the last couple of years - and frankly I think that's a serious loss to the game.

-Bryan
 
So, for the most part, people who do earn their titles don't act like a******s, and people who don't do?

And the predominate worth of a title has devolved to one's capacity to make another kneel?

If so, sounds like the problem is having too many a******s, AND too many titles.

EDIT: I just want to make it clear that I'm not trying to be cheeky. I was thinking that people would probably still respect relatively easily gained titles if the people who earned them were worthy of them, that is, respectful and worthy of respect. But I don't care how earned a title is, if the guy who earned it treats people like dirt, few will respect him, even if he's the king, and conquered the continent for his crown.
 

Polare

Count
Alliance Rules
Moderator
Seattle Staff
Deadlands said:
So, for the most part, people who do earn their titles don't act like a******s, and people who don't do?

And the predominate worth of a title has devolved to one's capacity to make another kneel?

If so, sounds like the problem is having too many a******s, AND too many titles.

EDIT: I just want to make it clear that I'm not trying to be cheeky. I was thinking that people would probably still respect relatively easily gained titles if the people who earned them were worthy of them, that is, respectful and worthy of respect. But I don't care how earned a title is, if the guy who earned it treats people like dirt, few will respect him, even if he's the king, and conquered the continent for his crown.
I'd put it a little differently - people who earn their titles over years of roleplay and effort are more likely to value them and not treat the *title* like dirt, while people who gain their titles through little conscious effort on their part (the aforementioned card games, "surprise, here you go!" titles, buying them outright, or being given an off-stage title) treat their *title* like a joke - which makes them seem like jerks for the position they are claiming.

Look, if Bob is your average adventurer willing to help out the town here and there but also out for himself and not really leading people, and he gets a title and starts using it, that title is devalued compared to Ann, an above-average adventurer who has pulled out all the stops to take a leadership position and be a great gal for everyone, who has the same title. Sure, over time the more experienced players will treat Bob and Ann differently as they get to know them, but to newer players who see both of them being called the same thing, the title itself becomes less worthwhile to go after and becomes more of a joke.

My personal preference is that titles *should* automatically mean something. If I go to a new place and someone walks up with a circlet claiming they are the local Lord, I want to feel like there should be some instant respect and fear for that title. I *don't* want to feel like "eh, it's Lord/Chief/Ambassador/Squire #25 who has greeted me today, why bother caring?" - and there are events I've been to in the last five years where I am getting to feel that way. That's no good!

Here's my suggestion to plot teams out there. Merely an idea, take it or leave it as you will (but I know I would personally appreciate it as a player, no matter what character I'm playing): In your in-game area, make it so that claiming a title unrecognized by that (kingdom/empire/what-have-you) is a crime. If you're a Lord of Nowheresville, and you go around introducing yourself as Lord Whosewhatsits when the kingdom doesn't recognize nobility from Nowheresville, make it punishable as a crime (though post it somewhere obvious online, of course)! If my Baron from Andar walks in wearing his circlet and greets someone as Baron Polare, he darn well deserves getting slapped down there for not knowing the law. Not only does that mean that people will again pay attention to any claimed rank, it means that there's good reason to add strong cross-chapter roleplay as visitors scramble to work with the kingdom to get their ranks recognized at least in a minor sense!

-Bryan
 

Wraith

Newbie
Bryan, I think a lot of that simply comes from the fact that there are a -lot- of non-titled adventurers who could quite calmly cut the local lords down in cold blood, and feel confident they could hold off anything sent after them in retribution.

When you're used to killing high-power town mod mobs, politics aren't terribly scary unless someone -makes- them scary. Unfortunately, that would mean having to kill PC's to make the threat meaningful, and that is rarely a solution that comes easily to plot teams.
 

Jevedor

Fighter
Asheville Staff
You wouldnt necessarily have to kill them immediately.. it would follow any form of crime punishment... start with a fine. If they dont pay the fine, increase the fine. If they dont pay that then they would be arrested.. If they resist arrest then they would have to be met with force but at that point plot is pretty much obligated to follow the laws that they have created. If plot is unwilling to have their NPC nobles dish out and follow the laws, how can they expect PCs ever too. Its not even an issue of having silly titles at that point.

I think a heavy fine is all you really need.

Also if you were to have a noble title for another land and you wanted it recognized in one other than where the title was granted perhaps you could get some sort of permit, badge, emblem or something from the nobles of the different land that allowed you to use the title, once you proved yourself.
 
Yea I agree with Jevedor there are a lot of other options to pursue other than just death. I play with and as a high level PC with a good deal of treasure from time to time. I'm still totally cowed and respectful of nobility, particularly NPC nobility that could be 'loaded' with NPC magic items and basically take the town.

If you think that local Dukes/Lords of the land couldn't bring in the necessary forces to take on 'whatever' adventuring power there is in town that might just be a mistaken assumption about what plot will stat to throw at players. But I would fully expect any 'royal army' or even fraction of such a force to be able to roll all the PC's if the players did things to warrant that action.
 

Jevedor

Fighter
Asheville Staff
jpariury said:
I would remain worried about derailing your plot line in favor of running a weekend of "smash the visiting noble!".
I dont think plot should ever be so focused on having a specific outcome that they loose site of responding to player actions. I agree it would be unfortunate if that one random noble became the focus of something that they shouldnt, but if they are creating a situation for themselves or the town, it should be responded to. Ignoring the choices players make in order to keep a story on track will only lead to very linear story telling.

I'm not sure if you meant to suggest that a responding to players actions should be second to the over all story of the weekend, but I would think it should be the exact opposite.
 

jpariury

Duke
Jevedor said:
I dont think plot should ever be so focused on having a specific outcome that they loose site of responding to player actions. I agree it would be unfortunate if that one random noble became the focus of something that they shouldnt, but if they are creating a situation for themselves or the town, it should be responded to. Ignoring the choices players make in order to keep a story on track will only lead to very linear story telling.
I suspect you're reading something into what I said that I didn't intend.

Plot only has so many NPCs at their disposal. If they're planning on having an event in which the town is under assault by an army of goblins, they need those NPCs to be available to support that plotline. The suggestion has been made that if a visiting noble comes in and starts throwing their weight around, under the auspices of ensuring that titles have value, plot should address it through fines or punishment. That requires assigning NPCs to those duties. If the visiting noble then dispatches those NPCs, plot is somewhat beholden then to respond with greater effort (as fits the environment they created - i.e. no suddenly having every town guardsman sporting 40 rits and 30 levels of build if prior to now they had maybe 100 build amongst the lot of them). And if the local PC nobles decide to take issue with it, I feel that they should have the support of the plot team in the form of NPC soldiers loyal to them or the crown they represent. Either way, every time you support the title by force of arms through NPC resources, you subvert the plotline of the weekend: invading goblin army.

From the perspective of the story, you should be able to do both: invading goblin army, and a localized civil war of sorts. I dig it. But your OOG resources restrict that. So now you have to pick and choose: which is more important? The story as it was set up to be, or supporting your local nobles? Could you split the difference? Sure, but I think that cheapens both endeavors at that point. An invading army has no teeth if it's repped by four guys, and supporting your locals with three out of the supposed fifty local soldiers that should be on-hand. You simply don't have the number of NPCs to do both.

It also creates unintended resolutions: about to get invaded by the ravening hordes of critters statted with stuff you don't want to take on? Kill the sheriff; now you won't get invaded because plot has to send in NPCs to handle the murder.
 

Dr_Chill

Fighter
jpariury said:
Kill the sheriff; now you won't get invaded because plot has to send in NPCs to handle the murder.
I nuked the sheriff...but I did not nuke no deputy!
 

Jevedor

Fighter
Asheville Staff
jpariury said:
From the perspective of the story, you should be able to do both: invading goblin army, and a localized civil war of sorts. I dig it. But your OOG resources restrict that. So now you have to pick and choose: which is more important? The story as it was set up to be, or supporting your local nobles? Could you split the difference? Sure, but I think that cheapens both endeavors at that point. An invading army has no teeth if it's repped by four guys, and supporting your locals with three out of the supposed fifty local soldiers that should be on-hand. You simply don't have the number of NPCs to do both.

It also creates unintended resolutions: about to get invaded by the ravening hordes of critters statted with stuff you don't want to take on? Kill the sheriff; now you won't get invaded because plot has to send in NPCs to handle the murder.
Actually dont think i miss read you at all. I think I perhaps didnt explain myself well... I do agree that having to split NPCs would be unfortunate, and I think it could be even detrimental to the weekend story arch... but i think the difference is (or at least what i am reading) I feel in regards to your question "which is more important?" that responding to player actions is almost always more important, where as perhaps you feel it might be the other way around. If i am incorrect in this do please correct me.

Also I feel that you would not need to send in an entire army of NPCs to take down said outside noble who isnt cooperating with the law... I think the majority of the time you wouldnt need to send any... however if it did come down to that, it is more than justifiable to send in 2 or 3 of the "elite gaurd" having quite ridiculous stating... its not that unbelievable that there are exceptional soldiers that the crown uses only in extreme circumstances. This might put the main event story on hold for a few... but I also think it creates great IG story of its own that other players are more than at rights to jump into. At the end of the weekend I feel what matters more is that players felt there actions had impact. I am far less concerned with the rewritten ending to the weekend.

That is of course my opinion on the matter. I am in no way saying that my opinion is right, and completely understand why someone else might put more precedence on the written plot for the weekend. I think it just boils back to how you prefer the game to flow.
 
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