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Author Topic: [PBP] Kingless Countries - WIP (Players wanted)  (Read 1906 times)
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2016, 12:20:31 PM »

I have a partial write-up prepared of explanations of government types and some proposed questions to the initial pool of players.  I'll be refining this evening and should have it up before 7:00 pm central time.

That said, I wanted to touch on Pym's questions real quick.

Point-by-point:

Magnus Pym

There is, perhaps, a way to balance each player's backgrounds so as not to elevate a specific player above the others. A system of kingdom generation, where you'd get to choose your own rare and more common resources, demographics and geographic features. Obviously, we would need a base on which to our creation must be founded. That would be climate and base geography. This whole region covered in your map; is it mountainous, desert, steppes, tundra? How's the weather, generally? Where are the big lakes and the rivers? What about the land that surrounds it, and the major powers that call these lands their home?

The geography will be added prior to formal character creation and territory selection.  A wishlist of features (geography, resources, etc.) will be considered when adding geography.  

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Concerning the government types offered and the stats attributed to them, I think that for a game which seems intent on allowing a lot of freedom when it comes to diplomacy and social/public policy, the choices now offered are thin and look set in stone. I think that instead of defining a type of government, you should merely stick to statistics and let the different players the freedom to call themselves and their peers whatever they want. They would of course supply their first background with details as to how the government machine works (i.e ruled by a strongman and his goons, ruled by some sort of council, ruled by a prominent priest of the faith, etc). It just seems to me that defining too much in whatever that implicates politics and power plays is a farce because power itself is in constant flux, shifting from one hand to another, from one place to the next, as circumstances dictates. There are tyrants (tyrannos) in history who've enjoyed immense popularity, either with a segment of the population or its entirely. Tyrant was merely a word, like king, to define a ruler. As history unfolded, the term became corrupted, especially by the Romans, even though they themselves plunged deep into the follies of tyranny during the Empire. (Caligula naming his horse Consul and ordering his troops to slash at the water in his war against Poseidon; Elagabalus having no care whatsoever for his people and instead indulging in orgies and a foreign worship; countless Roman emperors suppressing the senatorial class; the persecution of minorities like the Jews and the Christians; etc.)

Customizable traits are coming.  Stats and mechanics will be fleshed out and options will be available.  These are also all starting points, with the presumption being that - as you say - as history unfolds the polities will change.  Stay tuned.

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And the last point, Tyranny. In my mind, this comes as a worthless statistic

I'm going to pause right here to say constructive criticism is certainly welcome, and since there isn't a ton of information available folks are left to drawing conclusions rather than analyze hard stats.  I posted a very young idea and I am very open to hearing alternative points of view.

That said, "worthless" is a bit strong.

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because it can easily be represented by the mix of Authority, Popularity and Loyalty.

A tyrant will have an incredibly high Authority score, but his Popularity and Loyalty score are likely to be and remain low, if not decrease, even. A democratic type of government is likely to maintain a low or medium Authority score, but the Popularity and Loyalty scores of such a government would skyrocket, because the people have a stake and most people don't like to be wrong, so they'll keep supporting those they put in power unless something terrible happens. This brings me to link this point to that of government types.

I'll preface this by saying that tyrants might not have a high authority, in instances where they see their authority collapse.   The main purpose of the Tyranny mechanic is to calculate a percentage chance that people are plotting against you, with the idea being that when your Tyranny [exceeds your Authority, the risks that people will take to displace your ruler become much greater.  An authoritarian regime might be both unpopular and not particularly well-accepted among the moneyed class, but it might yet be able to hold onto power by not engaging in flagrantly tyrannical acts, for example.  

That said, I've certainly toyed with the idea of just making it an interplay of Authority, Loyalty, and Popularity, but frankly keeping those numbers balanced and meaningful in their other contexts without resorting to a separate statistic for my Tyranny mechanic idea might marry too many ideas to the same numbers.

In short, I see your point, but I'm still chewing it over.  I'm pretty attached to the Tyranny-as-a-discrete-stat mechanic for reasons I hope to justify in the longer-form writeup to be posted tonight.  If I can't, I might pitch it.    

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What I'm trying to explain with this is, as in the example, governments often change the workings of their machine to suit the leader's style. It makes a lot of sense, but that means you cannot define a government as you are trying to in this game. We could say, for instance, that X kingdom traditionally was ruled by a monarch, and that they repeatedly emptied the pockets of their subjects using force and other cruel means, but today that kingdom was inherited by the latter's son, and he has a gentle soul and has begun reforms to democratise the government in order to refuel the ruling machine with much needed popular support.
I hope I make sense?

Transitions between different government types will be a covered mechanic, along with the customizable traits!  The game is intended to allow evolution in government institutions.  But absent a straight-up point buy system (which, frankly, doesn't thrill me) or a hard starting point, it can be impossible to accommodate every conceivable difference between governments.  These are broad abstractions, and not every detail is going to substantively change the effectiveness of the government - many of them might just provide welcome color and flavor.

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Maybe I have another comment, this one is about succession. I've played countless hours of Crusader Kings 2. The succession mechanic in that game is pretty cool. Time advances much faster in Crusader Kings, however, so it's more pertinent, but still a lot of inspiration can be drawn from that game and could probably be used as a focal point for anything internal policy-related for individual provinces in this game.

The only problem with adopting CK2 style succession, and I think Sparkle had a valid point, is that when a lineage dies out, you "lose," and it really  works best in a hereditary monarchy.  The way succession was originally intended, which I'll be doing away with at least as a formal mechanic, is that the player could pick anyone as their successor, regardless of how that successor's government would look. A Francisco Franco could pick a Juan Carlos, for instance, transitioning an autocracy to a constitutional monarchy.

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Additionally, I understand I was first to voice my interest, but I'm not -necessarily- interested in having a first-come-first-serve type of favour as to when it comes to choose which territory I will take possession of.

Order will be determined randomly.  More to follow.

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My question is: how do you plan for us to make that choice? Will it be first-come-first-serve? We send you pictures and the most beautiful chooses first? We roll dice, aka exploit sparkbot, in IRC and send you a screenshot and then the highest number chooses first?

I'll probably just do it by a randomizer in excel or something and post the order.  Beautiful pictures are, however, always welcome.
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2016, 01:58:23 PM »

Apologies are in order then. My apologies.
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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2016, 02:10:02 PM »

Magnus Pym

Apologies are in order then. My apologies.

Not to fret, mon ami.  Just a friendly reminder words matter!

(I'm not offended!  The mechanic definitely needs some work before any final decision is made.)
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« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2016, 03:24:55 PM »

In thinking a bit more about the Tyranny mechanic myself, it occurred to me that, however tyranny is represented, a single one-dimensional across-the-board number does miss out on some of the nuances of how things work inside of a given territory. For example, a highly unequal state is itself a form of tyranny, but it may well be that the class of people that is favored by the state perceive themselves to be living in a much more free and open (and not tyrannical) society than the oppressed class, and this is a different sort of place than a state where everyone is more or less oppressed equally, or, at least, with far less difference between classes of people.

Relatedly, what are we doing regarding ethnicities? It seems like these territories are too small to all be nation-states in their own right, so instead there would be a certain degree of ethnic overlap between them. Territories that shared a common language and cultural background might share an affinity for one another, but there might also be tension between them as they both agree the "Homeland of the X's" should be unified but each one thinks that they should be the rightful leader of the larger territory. I also like the idea of some territories being a multi-ethnic stew-- think the Balkans, or post-colonial Africa-- and having to deal with having to govern this mess of different people.

At some point of trying to account for all this stuff, this game is probably going to become too complicated for its own good, but tensions between the ruling class and the underclass as well as ethnic tensions both internationally and within the same territory are important factors throughout history, so I feel like they should be accounted for somehow, if only the GM saying "yes, this will be a factor" and working it into the narrative sometimes.

A tangent

After playing a lot of Fate, something I've noticed is that it's sometimes easier to create metagame mechanics rather than try to account for absolutely everything with simulationist game mechanics. It drives some strict players up the wall, but I personally like it because it introduces a lot of flexibility, so I wanted to at least float the idea. Essentially, each player has a pool of "fate points" (or whatever you want to call them) which allow them to declare that cool stuff is happening, get bonuses to rolls, and essentially let narrative trump crunch when they feel like it. They get more periodically, but the best and most fun way to get more is by accepting the GM introducing complications-- which are also outside of the rules and inserted because they'd be cool stuff to have happen. This means that there's a lot less need for strict mechanics for every little thing, because there's essentially a fair way to be arbitrary, if that makes any sense.
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2016, 03:48:57 PM »

sparkletwist

In thinking a bit more about the Tyranny mechanic myself, it occurred to me that, however tyranny is represented, a single one-dimensional across-the-board number does miss out on some of the nuances of how things work inside of a given territory. For example, a highly unequal state is itself a form of tyranny, but it may well be that the class of people that is favored by the state perceive themselves to be living in a much more free and open (and not tyrannical) society than the oppressed class, and this is a different sort of place than a state where everyone is more or less oppressed equally, or, at least, with far less difference between classes of people.

Tyranny, if it survives, is intended to be viewed in conjunction with other stats.  The degree to which it outpaces, say, Popularity or Loyalty is meant to be demonstrative of the degree to which the government is divided.  From a liberation/proletarian view, the Loyalty mechanic is really representative of the state oppressors, those who control the means of economic production, while the Popularity mechanic represents the oppressed masses.

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Relatedly, what are we doing regarding ethnicities? It seems like these territories are too small to all be nation-states in their own right, so instead there would be a certain degree of ethnic overlap between them. Territories that shared a common language and cultural background might share an affinity for one another, but there might also be tension between them as they both agree the "Homeland of the X's" should be unified but each one thinks that they should be the rightful leader of the larger territory. I also like the idea of some territories being a multi-ethnic stew-- think the Balkans, or post-colonial Africa-- and having to deal with having to govern this mess of different people.

At some point of trying to account for all this stuff, this game is probably going to become too complicated for its own good, but tensions between the ruling class and the underclass as well as ethnic tensions both internationally and within the same territory are important factors throughout history, so I feel like they should be accounted for somehow, if only the GM saying "yes, this will be a factor" and working it into the narrative sometimes. 

I promise I have some ideas coming tonight on ethnicities. Short answer: Melting pot and graveyard of empires.  People can be anything from a Wuxia-style noble to a Melniboné clone to a Hindi caste system to a Frankish crusader state and I'll make it all work out.  To the extent that folks want their populations to differ from their ruling castes, which historically is extremely common, that's fine too and makes for great roleplaying fodder - but I'm not going to force a player to have a potentially hostile population to rule over.

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A tangent
After playing a lot of Fate, something I've noticed is that it's sometimes easier to create metagame mechanics rather than try to account for absolutely everything with simulationist game mechanics. It drives some strict players up the wall, but I personally like it because it introduces a lot of flexibility, so I wanted to at least float the idea. Essentially, each player has a pool of "fate points" (or whatever you want to call them) which allow them to declare that cool stuff is happening, get bonuses to rolls, and essentially let narrative trump crunch when they feel like it. They get more periodically, but the best and most fun way to get more is by accepting the GM introducing complications-- which are also outside of the rules and inserted because they'd be cool stuff to have happen. This means that there's a lot less need for strict mechanics for every little thing, because there's essentially a fair way to be arbitrary, if that makes any sense.

We're probably going to keep things fairly freeform in a similar manner to this.  I'm not making hard and fast rules for much - most of the mechanics are designed to be flexible and reward creative writing and thinking. 
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« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2016, 06:23:32 PM »

Questions, thoughts, and development

Geography
There have been questions about the map.  The map will be updated to include basic geography.  Resources will be released fairly early, and suggestions for types of resources (iron, timber, crops, livestock, gold, and silver are early thoughts; comprehensive lists are welcome).  The map itself is just a fragment of a larger world, those are just the eligible territories for players to choose from.    People are certainly welcome to voice their wishlists, and I can distribute geography and resources with that knowledge (though not necessarily in the precise manner people wish!).  

Note: The sample map that’s up only shows “claimable areas.”  There are major and minor nations beyond that map’s purview that could become major influences on the game.

Era
As to Mason’s question regarding the era, I had in mind a pseudo-Eurasian High Middle Ages theme, but I’m certainly open to other preferences.  The skeleton of the game is somewhat flexible as to technology and era, since this isn’t alt-history like RR.  I’ll place a hard limit that the era must be pre-industrial, however.  Do polls work?  I might make one.  Otherwise folks can sound off in the thread if they have a preference.

Another note: Players are welcome to draw from whatever inspirations they want.  As I said before, the Kingless Countries are a “Graveyard of Empires” and melting pot of sorts, so it would not be out of place to find, say, a society modeled on Chinese Wuxia films adjacent to one based on Carthage.  Perhaps faux-Carthage is adjacent to a Melniboné-themed “decaying” state.  Perhaps these are next to a Lankhmar, a Harrenhal, a Timbuktu.  Just keep in mind that the Kingless Countries are all fairly small in scope.

Once we settle on the era we're playing in, I've got about three major world powers that I'll detail, and we can shake out the local NPC powers together as the players come into closer alignment.

As for an unmentioned element of the game so far, the supernatural – I would like to include references to a Spirit World (think similar to Avatar: the Last Airbender), with potential interactions possible.  How do people feel about such an inclusion?  Especially initially, the contacts with the "Spirit World" would be somewhat limited, but players could explore connections with other side if it interests them.

About to drop in a descriptor for Constitutional Monarchy and Autocracy.  More to follow.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2016, 06:39:06 PM by Elven Doritos » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2016, 06:43:44 PM »

I'm not for or against the idea of a Spirit World.

As for resources, again, it depends on climate and geography.

Iron is to be prominent if we're into the High Middle Ages. Silver, Gold, Diamond and other luxurious minerals. Clay. Whatever the mix is for concrete. Fur. Wool. Leather. Ivory. Silk. Flax. Timber. Parchment (and the printing machine?). Meat. Grains. Fish. And nothing else comes to mind.
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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2016, 08:07:17 PM »

Elven Doritos

Tyranny, if it survives, is intended to be viewed in conjunction with other stats.  The degree to which it outpaces, say, Popularity or Loyalty is meant to be demonstrative of the degree to which the government is divided.
That makes sense. I'll probably have more to say once you've outlined how the stats actually function mechanically in more detail, but for now, I like that.

Elven Doritos

I promise I have some ideas coming tonight on ethnicities. Short answer: Melting pot and graveyard of empires.

Elven Doritos

Perhaps faux-Carthage is adjacent to a Melniboné-themed “decaying” state.  Perhaps these are next to a Lankhmar, a Harrenhal, a Timbuktu.
I'm all for melting pots and diversity, but I'd actually prefer if things weren't completely openended, because I feel like going totally nuts would just lead to crazy-kitchen-sink-land and that might not be so good either. I'm all for different forms of government and cultures and such, and I definitely agree with having diversity and creativity... but maybe we could decide on a few base ethnicities and a rough "feel" and stick to a few ground rules just so it feels plausible.

Elven Doritos

To the extent that folks want their populations to differ from their ruling castes, which historically is extremely common, that's fine too and makes for great roleplaying fodder - but I'm not going to force a player to have a potentially hostile population to rule over.
What this could do is serve as a balancing factor. Like, if someone wants to start off with a bigger and/or more materially rich state, that can work, but to keep things "balanced" so to speak it wouldn't be unreasonable to stipulate they got that nice territory through conquest of a couple of unruly neighbors who don't speak the same language.

Elven Doritos

We're probably going to keep things fairly freeform in a similar manner to this.  I'm not making hard and fast rules for much - most of the mechanics are designed to be flexible and reward creative writing and thinking.
I agree with the sentiment, but I was actually advocating some meta-points and meta-rules rather than just keeping things freeform. The problem with freeform is that it sometimes becomes unclear who gets to declare what and who is responsible for what decisions. How much of what goes on in a player's territory do they just get to make up, and how much is the purview of the GM? Will players who are more bold in their declarations be rewarded with more narrative truth, or punished for constantly overreaching their limits, and who's to say what's an overreach? Who ultimately decides if a player's creative thinking is successful thinking? How much latitude does the GM have to arbitrary make bad things happen to players? How much recourse do players have if there's a disagreement between their version of events and the GM's? Having meta-points allows these sorts of issues of "who has narrative control" in a lightweight game to be adjudicated fairly, even without specific rules for the things that players are actually doing, and that's why I like them so much.

Elven Doritos

I had in mind a pseudo-Eurasian High Middle Ages theme, but I’m certainly open to other preferences.
Works for me! I think the biggest question, technologically speaking, is whether or not we have gunpowder. I'd personally advocate for, I was kind of envisioning early firearms in my mental image of this place, but I'm not overly attached to the idea.

Elven Doritos

As for an unmentioned element of the game so far, the supernatural – I would like to include references to a Spirit World (think similar to Avatar: the Last Airbender), with potential interactions possible. 
I like this. I personally prefer low-magic rather than no-magic for "historical" feeling games because that actually more matches the views of people at the time. They didn't have the wealth of scientific knowledge generated during the 19th and 20th centuries to fall back on.
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« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2016, 03:18:07 PM »

Thinking about this game has inspired me to make some enhancements and updates to my old Statecraft system for Asura. The main currency is "influence," which is a sort-of-meta-point pool that abstractly represents power and as such drives the degree to which players get to say what happens in the story. It's still a bit up in the air, as it hasn't been playtested at all in its current form, so I can't be certain how well it actually works (though its basic structure is similar to the Asura RPG which has been played pretty extensively and works well) but I'll leave it here as a potential source of ideas.
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« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2017, 04:08:06 PM »

The yearlong lapse aside, I have the time to actually execute this now.  Currently gauging interest (for real this time) and polishing the mechanics - expect edits to the first few pages.
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« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2017, 09:37:50 AM »

This site looks dead, but if there's enough people willing to join I'd definitely want to play this.
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« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2017, 12:23:23 PM »

It looks as though it could be a fun game.
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« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2017, 03:32:41 PM »

Magnus Pym

This site looks dead, but if there's enough people willing to join I'd definitely want to play this.

Eh I think it's more of a cycle. The site sometimes has weeks were no one has anything, or sometime's it's just school finals.

PS: I need to re-read the rules again, but I can probably join in.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 03:38:59 PM by LoA » Logged


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