Overview

This page collects a number of short essays about Empire, usually from the game team. The tone is usually quite informal, and the posts tend to be taken from various places around Facebook. There's also a page of articles from the crew about what they do during events which you can find here.

Crime and Criminality

A design page talking about crime and criminals, written by Matt, can be found here.

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Creating a new part of the setting is almost never done at the last moment.

The Making of Tsark

So, Andy’s asked me to write a little bit of a “behind the scenes” on the big piece of plot writing I did for the last event, which was the final development work and writing up of Tsark - or, as players previously knew it, the Mountains of the Moon.

Behind the scenes, we have most of the continent on which the Empire lies mapped out at least in abstract - and as such we’ve known for some time that there was a territory between Axos and the Empire, north of Skoura. We thought they were independent orcs of some kind - clearly not warlike because otherwise they’d have attacked the Empire at some time. At some point, the idea of there being a big lake there became attached.

That’s mostly what we had for a while - and I say we, certainly before I started plot writing in 2015. But - as we started to do more stuff with the Axos in plot, and it became clearer that they’d be interested in a trade route with the Empire - the question as to exactly what was going on with “Ind Orcs? Peaceful? Lake??” raised its head. That’s more or less where I came in - I think we first started talking about this perhaps mid-2016, when I was doing a lot of work on religions outside the Way’s doctrine, and I started seriously thinking about what was going on there. The first piece of plot relating to them went out later that year… but I don’t think anybody knows it’s connected yet.

We do a lot of that sort of thing - plots within plots, things relating to other things. I’m not the specialist in it - that’s Kat Quatermass, who is, in my opinion, the undisputed master of threading lots of little bits together for ages which all relates to an underlying narrative. But I was doing it a little here. Over the winter of 2016 we defined a few more bits about Tsark - not named yet, that would come later - and then further on into 2017 and 2018 there were a few more plots relating to Axos which touched upon it - articulating clearly “we want to explore this territory” from some NPCs is a great way of telegraphing to PCs that “you should care about this”.

You’ll notice the big gap there - we basically can’t get much in the way of plot development done over a season! - so as we headed into 2018 Tsark was quite well sketched out in lots of fragments, but nothing was pinned down. I had quite a bad E1, personally - I can’t actually remember why now, I suspect it was just stressy and I didn’t feel that useful - and in the end I ended up missing E2… after which we had been expecting to have to write the report. The spy network was delayed, however - the Empire had lost the necessary territories - and so we had another season. Obviously we didn’t actually get anything written until after E3…

So it’s now a few weeks until E4. It’s crunch time. I need to get this written. So I sit down and draw, properly, a sketch of the map - and suddenly it comes alive. There’s something about actually defining a place that means the people come out of it.All these places you can now see on the spy report, they all just sort of flowed. In terms of look and feel of the geography and how they dress, a lot of inspiration came from the Andes. I was pretty clear that the lake is exactly like one of the beautiful caldera lakes that exist there. Having decided that, I couldn’t resist putting llamas in - they’re beautiful creatures - and so they must have wool… and then it made sense to have colorful woven wools, which are both common in that part of the world in real life, and also distinguishes them from the Skourans. The Andes is also where the terrace farms come from - trying to think “so how do people with this geography grow their food”? I think this is at my core what I aim for - trying to make things feel like they have internal integrity, real. So - where do the names come from? Tsark is quite subtle.There’s a little easter egg there, that I’m sure keen people will find… Most of the rest of the names come from Macedonian - mainly because it roughly fits some of the etymology we’ve used in this part of the world, and it had the right “feel”. I didn’t want to just make up “fantasy names” - I’m really bad at that and I think it can often up sounding not so good. Picking mostly homogeneous names was much better. The only exception was kabaddi - we went back and forth on this and in the end felt that taking somebody’s national game was all very well, but arbitrarily renaming it left a bad taste in our mouth - so we left it. I think - I hope - it still fits.

I knew there was a lake, and the regions around it, and Skoura and Axos and the Empire both had forts on passes… but what form would those forts take? At some point I thought of the maze. We’d talked about having lots of traps and so forth, but the idea of a maze, a movable maze, that was seriously cool. It was inspired, I think, by something from Trials of Death by Darren Shan - an awful pulp series from my childhood, although that was far more lethal. Then we had the disc of mithril - designed to show the degree of wealth of the territory, but also how much they don’t use mithril for the things the Empire does.

We knew they had a sport of some kind; that, because they were mostly orcs (they’d become orcs and humans at some point in development when we were mapping out parts of their histories) they likely had a way of boiling off the natural orc inclination towards aggression, so a contact sport made sense… and I liked kabbadi in my childhood. It doesn’t need much equipment, you could imagine people playing it in mountains… sorted! What else did they do in their leisure time - well, I’ll be a little quiet about exactly how their culture works - but we knew they valued thought, discussion, compassion. A lot of the religion that the Empire’s seen so far looks in my mind a lot like Quaker meetings - or at least my experiences of them - and that sort of meaningful stillness is something I tried to capture.

Then there was the Wall of the Luge and the Lake. These features dominate the territory; I had to have the look really tightly down. The Wall is really quite important for the culture of Tsark, clearly, but again I’ll keep silent about why some people might want to build a mural that dominates the skyline. I’ve been re-watching Game of Thrones recently, and the visual of the Wall there definitely informed my thinking when finalising it. The lake ended up full of algae when we were trying to work out how they got more of their food, and how likely - or not - the lake was going to be swimmable. I vaguely remembered that in lakes with metal contamination algae can bloom… and suddenly I had a way for the lake to shine in the moonlight! Which justified the original name.

So I hope that’s given a bit of a taste of how we write a place - sometimes last minute to get it all in a scramble, but all the time trying to make it make sense, try to give it a clear sense of fitting, of being real. I think - I hope - we’ve mostly succeeded. I’ll be interested to see what - if anything - the Empire choose to do with Tsark next; they have a lot of other things on their plate right now! But it is not in the nature of this game to stop providing new opportunities for people to make profound decisions...

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Empire is a game with a distinct style.

Taking No Prisoners

  • Matt writing in response to some of the discussions around the Druj invasion of Morrow, dealing with broader topics around the design of Empire (23/08/2018)

Empire is a game that has a distinctive style. We've always tried very hard to be honest about what that style is - it's a low fantasy game of politics and war - one where victory is not guaranteed and where loss can be awful. Crucially it is not a game that takes prisoners - if your actions and the actions of other PCs leaves you in the lurch then you pay a terrible price for that - on the battlefield or in the campaign.

That style of game doesn't suit everyone. Some people just don't enjoy it - and that's totally cool. We've never tried to build a game that suits everyone - the only thing everyone drinks is water.

But the nature of fest LRP events like Empire is that people come to the game for very different reasons. Some enjoy the exciting uptime battles, some people prefer the vibrant camp life. Some people like doing rituals or giving speeches in Conclave. Some people like to chase the plot or try to develop new rituals. There are a lot of different games you can play and enjoy.

But that does mean that it's possible to play Empire for a long time - years potentially - without realising that it includes elements that you really don't enjoy. And with the best will in the world - people rarely actively enjoy the bit where your side is losing. That's rarely the most fun part of any game. So I think it's attendant on everyone to appreciate that people can definitely react to the Winds of War in a way that is "This fucking sucks" and it's completely legitimate to say "This - this bit where we get screwed because of actions taken in game - that's the bit of Empire I really don't enjoy".

Those are perfectly reasonable responses and they're a legitimate criticism of the game - "this game includes elements I don't personally like - I wish it didn't". For years I've spoken with people who didn't enjoy Empire who told me variants of "It's boring - it needs a sense of threat - I want to feel in danger when I'm walking round the field at night". That's a perfectly legitimate criticism of a game - we're not changing the game - but people are not "wrong" for not liking things they don't like. Taste... is a matter of taste.

So it's fair enough for people to not like it when an element of the game that they don't like gets foregrounded. Telling people to leave or complaining that they are criticizing the game organizers for not liking something they don't like is not a helpful response. Some people will quit when they discover Empire has parts they don't enjoy and some people will hang on until the pendulum swings and those elements recede and they can resume participating in the bits of the game they do enjoy. It would be nice if everyone gave those players the room to play the parts of the game they enjoy - rather than demanding they sign up for it all or bugger off.

Likewise - people who have discovered elements of Empire that they don't like should also appreciate that those parts were always there, that plenty of players can take joy in being pounded by their enemies and that people can take joy from playing a game where decisions have consequences. Just as it's not very helpful to tell people that they're wrong for not enjoying something, it's not very helpful to rain on the parade of everyone who is chomping at the bit to do something about the latest developments.

Crucially if you do want those bits of the game where the Druj burn all your stuff to go away - then you really need those players who are fired up to go and do something about that to go to the event and do something about that. Encourage them to play their game - and if they succeed - then the bits of the game where the military campaign has major consequences for Urizen will likely go away again. What you don't want to do is bring those people down - otherwise it just carries on getting worse.

So yeah - live and let live. Empire is a big game - lots of parts people can enjoy - and some room for people not to enjoy all the elements of it. Respect people's choices and respect their right to enjoy the bits they like and the bits they don't like - but try to post in ways that don't bring the mood down for everyone excited to go to the event and take revenge on the Druj and the other people responsible please!

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Only actions are virtuous.

Victory and Loss

  • This was written on Facebook by Matt in response to some discussion about the Druj invasion of Morrow. (22/08/2018)

One of the key things to understand about the military campaigns in Empire is that they run on military and mathematical rules.

What that means is that the outcomes are determined by a set of mathematical rules. We just add up all the points on one side, compare them to the points on the other side and the spreadsheet does the rest. Then Andy Raff writes the flavour text.

The inputs are determined by military rules. The Empire - I assume - makes strategic and military decisions on where to put its armies. And we - as the commanders of the barbarians do the same. We look at the intelligence we're given and put our armies where our best stab (pun intended) says we should go.

Crucially what that means is that we don't go where the narrative says we should. In most *stories*, the outcomes are determined by what makes the best drama. Things happen according to the inexorable laws of maximum dramatic tension. Elan from Order of the Stick is a great example of a character who knowingly lives in just such a world.

It would have been stupendously easy for us to maximise the dramatic tension here. As will become clear later today there are other campaign theatres where we could have sent the Druj armies where arguably they would have created a better dramatic narrative. The Highborn armies could have fought the Druj to a standstill - while other conflicts played out for drama.

We didn't do that for a while bunch of reasons - lack of military intelligence to justify those military decisions were the IC reasons. But the OOC reasons was because we're not running for drama... we're running on maths and strategy.

That's pretty gutting when you take a huge loss like this one. And this is as Gerard Kurth eloquently describes it a "Holy shit" moment. It's pretty darn brutal. Is it more brutal than when the players fuck up on a battle and 50+ of them die? It's kinda the campaign equivalent I think.

But it does mean that when you get victories - you can be 100% confident that they happened because you outsmarted your opponents - you outplayed them.

That's because victory in Empire is not guaranteed. That's absolutely crucial to playing the game - if we run the numbers and rocks fall and everyone dies... then we'll publish a wind of war in which rocks fall and everyone dies. We'll find a way to run it out to the end of the year - and then next year we'll run a different game. (I have form).

But if the Empire triumphs and packs the Druj off to the history books it will be because they genuinely triumphed. You will know to the bottom of your hearts that it was *real* in every meaningful sense. The risk with any game in which you run for drama is that it can hollow out the sense of victory. If victory is the inevitable outcome - then what does it really mean to triumph? If the military campaign outcome was going to be written to produce a nail-biting stand-off... regardless of how many armies the Empire committed to that theatre... then why bother sending anyone?

I've seen a few times the players be surprised when their players actions don't equate to success. But Empire is absolutely founded on the idea that it isn't enough to just do something - you have to actually *win* to win. There are no victories for just turning up - this is not a story being told in which the heroes triumph. While the odds faced by the Urizen seem impossible - that's simply a consequence of the collective decisions made by the players - they most certainly could have been different.

We genuinely don't know how the story plays out. We literally have no more clue than you do. It's part of what makes running Empire fun. But it does mean that sometimes you get fantastic awesome results - and sometimes you get a whole sequence of gut punches that seem relentlessly brutal.

tl:dr; What Ed Rolison said. (To be fair, Ed has been playing LRPs run by me and my friends for 14 years!).

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Winds of War is an involved process involving a lot of notes.

Writing Winds of War

  • A post from Raff about the process of writing Winds of War (May 2018)

Given we've got nothing better to do I thought I'd write a short (for a given value) piece about how Winds of War get written, which touches on the way we work through the whole downtime military campaign. You might find it interesting.

The orcs plan their moves
Before every event, we talk about what the orcs are doing. "We" in this case means me, Matt, and Graeme but may include other people on a case-by-case basis. We sketch out the broad plan for each of the orc nations, with reference to the quests, skirmishes, battles, and delegations for the next event. We nail down where their armies are going and what they are doing, although we sometimes leave the exact order they're taking until later. There'll often be a variable in the mix - the players will often have the chance to do things on the field that will effect what one orc nation or another will do.

This bit often involves heated arguments, all sorts of logical fallacies, accusations of now knowing the brief, and arguments about what *might* happen and how much a given orc nation cares about mithril. It can go on for sometime.

We lock in our strategy, especially with regard to enchantments or curses the orc magicians are using.

The Event Happens
The event happens. Everything catches fire and falls into a swamp. The players choose which battles to take and they succeed or fail or partially succeed or what have you. This may or may not adjust the orders the orcs are taking in a given campaign. Sometimes an enchantment or curse goes off because of a quest failing; sometimes an orc army shifts its allegiance due to the result of a battle. Things like that.

On Sunday the generals submit their orders, usually to Graeme Jamieson. The Quartermaster announces who will be getting the guerdon.

At least one of us - ideally two of us - is careful to make sure they have no idea what the players are doing. It's tricky sometimes but we do our best.

We then review the orc strategy, and lock in specific orders if that's still needed.

We Analyse the Situation in Theory
Once we're properly committed, Graeme tells us what the Imperial players are doing. Sometimes we kick ourselves because if we'd just done *something else* things would have been different. We're often surprised. We discuss in broad terms the likely outcomes of the various campaigns, and how much additional force will need to be applied to change outcomes and the like. This bit doesn't usually achieve much beyond being a lot of fun.

Then we open downtime.

Downtime Happens
Downtime happens. Players assign their military units to support armies and fortifications and what have you.

Then we close downtime.

Campaign Processing
Once downtime is closed, Matt presses the red button and processes it. This takes a few hours. We twiddle our thumbs and I have a nice hot cup of coffee.

Once downtime is processed, we know where all the military units are and what strength they are. Graeme factors these into his spreadsheet. He adds in all the variables - enchantments, curses, special plot opportunities or levies, weird shit I've convinced people to let me do because of giant pieces of scenery, that kind of thing.

Then he presses his red button and it's time for the exciting bit.

We Go Through the Battles
We go through each camaign in turn, double-triple-checking numbers at every stage. We now know the outcome - its simply numbers. Someone won, someone lost, or its a double-defend. Regions change hands, or not. Thousands of imaginary soldiers are killed.

We're also at this stage starting to build a picture of the battle. "This would have been worse if they had done X" or "They have squeaked through because of Y and Z" or "If there had been b, then c would/wouldn't have happened".

I make a load of notes about this sort of stuff. We're usually left with a broad sketch of each wind of war at this stage.

More Notes
More notes. I spend a day or so looking at the orders from each player general, at the notes we made way back when we locked in the orc strategies, at the descriptions of the various effects especially the rituals and plot opportunities/levies, and most importantly at the territory that's being fought over. I review previous winds of war. Notes are made. By this stage each campaign will be a string of bullet points.

Write Winds of War
I write winds of war, one at a time, based on inspiration. In each case I try to find a "hook" that will turn the story from "we bashed two numbers together and the highest won" to something players can build their own stories about. The narratives can be long and complex - I try as much as possible to give each army a little spotlight time, and to mention significant magical effects, as well as calling out anything that happened during the main events that adds to the story - especially battle outcomes. Not everything makes the cut, of course, but everything contributes to making "two numbers highest wins" into something people can get excited about (or angry, or sad, or fired up about).

One of the challenging things when writing Winds of War is that we have to remember that we're not writing about a single battle but about three months of maneuvering, fighting, recuperating, and the like. Matt compares the downtime battles to the military campaigns of Wellington across Spain, while the PCs on the field engage in uptime activities take the role of Sharpe. Broad strokes, and a feeling of scale are what's needed for the Winds of War - leaving some wiggle room for the players to create their own personal narrative of what they did on their (bloodsoaked) holidays.

There's a few metarules here - we never mention individual characters or military units. We try hard to make sure that the coolest write-ups are given to the battles where the Empire suffers the most setbacks. As much as possible we try to bring out the individual characters of the orc nations, the territories where the fighting is happening, and the personalities of the armies and the orders given.

The writeups also contain a little setting building as often as not, and there will often be nods to or foreshadowing of things that are happening at the next event or in the wider campaign. For example, the fact the Jotun have sent a delegation to talk to the Thule, or the new ettercap strategies in Liathaven, or the hints of Yaw'nagrah influencing the vallorn, and so on.

The last part is the game information section which lays out clearly as possible the outcome not only of the campaign but of any significant impacts of the territory. This is also when we finalise any opportunities or special roleplaying effects or what have you.

Once I'm happy with one, it gets thrown at Matt to check over. He makes a load of pointy-haired-boss-changes to my deathless prose. Not a single Winds of War writing cycle goes by without an hour long argument over the tone of a single paragraph or in particularly intense cases, a single sentence.

At this stage we also finalize the order they'll be announced in - usually the order that will create the most drama and (hopefully) drum up the most enthusiasm.

Easter Eggs!
We decide on a naming theme for each of the Winds. We congratulate ourselves on how clever we are and how hard it will be for players to guess it. Mostly because I was not hugged enough as a child and we don't get out often enough.

Pictures!
I go and enlist the aid of some photodroids to find me some pictures. They get a bullet point list vaguely outlining what I want "Highguard looking grim" or "Sad Marchers" or "Something with the League or the Brass Coast ideally with trees" or what have you. Beth, Tim, Oliver and occasionally sundry others help me out and I narrow down the pictures.

Last Check
We do a last check through. By this stage Tom is well into creating the battle opportunities for the next event and we make sure that where possible the Winds of War foreshadow or support these so as to make the game world more coherent.

Then we start putting them live on Facebook, and the forum ninjas import them to the forums, and we update the wiki page in the aforementioned "maximum drama/impact" order. This is the really fun bit most of the time.

I add the hashtags, which keep me happy. There's a flurry of discussion and reactions. At least one comment gets deleted by someone.

If there's a particularly complicated WoW (it's usually the last one), it might still be unfinished, but there's plenty of time to work on it while putting the finished ones live. Normally.

At some point during this someone guesses the naming theme.

Added Value
We've added a few new steps in the last couple of events. We put up a last Wind of War that is about the upcoming major conjunctions - battles and skirmishes - with a variable amount of information. This helps people speculate about what the opportunities are, as well as hopefully letting people other than generals feel invested in the decisions that will be made during Friday night's muster.

As of last event, volunteers working with Ian record the Winds of War as sound files so that people who don't enjoy or have time to read reams and reams of glorified fanfiction can enjoy them.

Back to the Start
Then we go back to the start; we sketch out the broad strategies for the orcs, and lock in the locations of their armies and the like.

The rest of our writers start finalising the quests, battles, skirmishes, and field plots for the coming event. While everyone else works on that, Matt and I turn our attention to our next writing job - Winds of Fortune.

Epilogue
That was a lot longer than I expected when I started. I'm hoping that means the PD internet is now back up again and I can get Spiral finished and posted. If you've read this far, I salute you.

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Downtime is straightforward, and there's no requirement for you to actually do anything if you don't want to.

Worrying About Downtime?

  • Andy Raff on Downtime, modified from an original post to the Empire Facebook page (November 2017)

With an eye to the fact this may be some of your first events, I thought I'd do a quick guide to Downtime and whether you need to worry about it.

First of all, the actual wiki page for downtime is here.

How to do it
Go to the Profound Decisions website and log in. On the drop down at the top, go to Your Account -> Characters and click on your character name. From there, you can spend xp, manage your inventory, and submit your downtime by following the helpful wizard. For now I'm going to concentrate on "Downtime".

The Interlude Page
When we open downtime, we put together an "interlude" page that contains a bunch of reminders and explanations about special effects that are in play. You can find it from anywhere on the main wiki by going to The Empire at the top of the page, selecting "Recent History" from the drop down, and going to the Winds of Fortune page for the next event.

Your Personal Resource
Some personal resources let you make choices about what they do in downtime.

  • Mine, forest, herb garden, farm, business, mana site - these straightforward resources just produce whatever they produce. You don't even need to log in - the only reason to do so would be to check your projected income for the next event, and to double check that any enchantment you had cast on them has worked (but see Overclocking below).
  • Congregation - you can choose to sell some of the liao you produce. You can automatically sell liao for (currently) 18 rings a dose if you want some cash for some reason. If you want all your tasty, tasty liao you don't need to worry about downtime.
  • Fleet - If you leave your fleet to its own devices, it will engage in privateering and produce you a chunk of resources of a random type. However, you have another option - you can send your fleet to trade with a foreign port. Each foreign port provides different income; selecting ports from the drop down automatically calculates what your income will be.
  • Military unit - If you leave a military unit to its own devices it will engage inpaid work, producing a chunk of resources of a random type. As with a fleet though you have more options - you can choose to assign your military unit to support an Imperial army, defend a fortification, or assist a special project such as a spy network. By assigning a military unit to an Imperial army, you can browse the orders the general has issued, Depending on what you support, you may or may not get shares of the Imperial Guerdon - only some armies provide an income when supported by military units as determined by the Quartermaster General of the Imperial Armies each event.

Overclocking
If you own a mine, forest, or herb garden you can choose to "overclock" them. This costs you 6 crowns which needs to be in your inventory, and produces an extra 5 ingots, 5 measures, or 7 herbs respectively. Characters with a mana site have also recently gained the ability to "overclock" their resources using the "white seed" - a unique alchemical product from the Principalities of Jarm. Unlike the other resources, you can choose to spend more money to gain more crystal mana rather than simply paying 6 crowns.

In both cases, the money to pay for overclocking must be in your inventory - that is you should hand it in in to GOD in your event baggy after the event

Upgrading and diversifying
Any personal resource can be upgraded. Depending on the resource, it requires either white granite, mithril, or weirwood. The number of wains you need is equal to the new rank, and you can upgrade a resource a maximum of one rank each downtime.

To upgrade, just select the option in downtime after making sure you have the appropriate number of wains in your inventory. Diversification works the same way, but changes some of your basic production to something else - mines, forests, farms, and businesses all have diversification options.

Ministries
A particular subset of Imperial Titles come with a "ministry" - the ability to swap something for something else in Downtime. For example, ambassadors can purchase trade goods while the Overseer of the Gloaming Road can trade iridescent gloaming for mithril with the Faraden. Obviously, you only need to worry about this if you have a ministry. If in doubt, check the page for your title on the wiki.

Artisans
If you have the artisan skill, you also log in to Downtime to make your magic items. You need to make sure you have the materials you need in your inventory, and pick the items you want from the dropdown. Because of the way the game is designed, everyone with the artisan skill has the ability to make at least one item - a two-month item that requires no materials.

Arcane Projections
You also use the downtime system to prepare an arcane projection. You need to make sure you have 10 mana crystals in your inventory, then follow the instructions on the screen. Arcane Projections are documents that allow ritual magicians to perform spontaneous magic. You must submit your arcane projection before the event, but there is usually a short window after Winds of Fortune are published to allow last-minute submissions.

That's about it
In summary then. You don't need to do anything with your personal resource, or log in to do anything during downtime. Your resource will produce something automatically, and there's not a lot more to worry about with our downtime system. We keep the downtime system as streamlined and straightforward and devoid of extraneous clicking as we possibly can! If you're having any problems, you can ask for assistance from a fellow player or e-mail matt@profounddecisions.co.uk with as many details of your problem as possible.

Winds of Fortune

  • This post was shared on Facebook to the Empire group, and deals with the purpose of Winds of Fortune. It was originally in response to a player feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Winds of Fortune material before every event. Matt is not what you might call a natural football fan... (18/7/2018)
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I like to try and read the news most days. And the Grauniad is my paper of choice for English news because it's free and it fits my bias.

But I pick and choose the bits I'm interested in - I assume nobody actually reads all that stuff about football or sports and stuff... I mean there was a thing... and like some people played football and... someone won. Or something. Germany I assume - I mean they usually win everything. Or Brazil? I mean I could care less....

The Winds are just "Empire News" - they are there so people whose characters are well informed can be well informed and to create stuff people can choose to roleplay about in the field. But it's perfectly fine for it to be just "more articles about football". Nobody should read articles about football unless they want to and they enjoy reading them.

If I could find a way to say "This content is a supplement to your game - it is optional - you don't need to read any of it - you can just go into play and roleplay finding out the news" then we would.

But there is literally no way that I can think of to say that that works. I don't know what words would communicate that in a way that would make any difference at all to people. We've tried really hard - but nothing works.

Personally I suspect the game is probably more fun if you don't read them. I think I'd enjoy turning up and being wide-eyed and knowing nothing and be like "What? The Columbians have won! That can't possibly have happened. Why weren't the Belgians using the 4-7-5 formation". I don't really understand football so I think the analogy has probably gone too far now... but basically I'd find it more fun to play in the field than read online.

Now obviously the fun of that relies on the fact that *some* people do want to read it online and get super-excited about it. And it seems a bit rude to make them do all the work and do none of the heavy-lifting yourself. But statistically - there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people mad keen to read the winds. So I don't think I'd lose any sleep over the work they put in to make your game better so they can portray well-briefed NPCs who know whats happening when you turn up in-character.

But... it just doesn't make a difference. Its mere existence seems to act as a psychic anchor for some players and I genuinely cannot work out what on earth we can do to help other than to just say over and over (largely ineffectively) "Just don't read/worry about it."

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Using Social Media

  • This post was originally made by Matt on Facebook, on the Wintermark group, as part of a discussion about advertising In Character services, and talking about your group and such on Facebook. in it he talks a bit about our approach to Social Media and its positive impact on the game. (7/4/2018)

My view has always been that players advertising services on Facebook does give an advantage to players who are active on Facebook and reading the group regularly over those players who aren't.

But an advantage at what? At getting involved, at finding game, at knowing about places to go, help seeking out characters to talk to. Basically help having fun at the event?

I think it's hard to convincingly critique much of that. Our goal is to get as many people involved and enjoying the game as possible. I'd give that advantage to everybody if I could. It doesn't matter to me if one player finds it easier to enjoy the event than another - equality in enjoyment is not the goal - the goal is to get *everybody* more involved - to make it easier for everyone to have fun. If a rising tide lifts some boats more than others... I'll accept that.

For the most part roleplaying games are fundamentally cooperative out-of-character. They're not like sports - it's not just about winning and losing and competing. The more fun you are having... in a game in which much of the roleplaying is cooperative player-with-player - then it's likely that I'm having more fun. A busy bustling field full of characters going about their business is a cooler game setting for *everyone* - even if you personally are less informed on what is happening.

It's easy to think of these things in terms of competitive advantages - because some of the game is competitive in-character. Players compete against each to become senators, cardinals, grandmasters - and so on. Now clearly it would damage enjoyment to turn up and find everything like this had been stitched up in advance on Facebook - that would spoil the fun - not just for the person losing out but for everyone coming out on top as well.

But that's why we limit the scope of what people can post - IC adverts of services are fine - organizing meetings is fine - pushing agendas and discussing issues... is over the line. It's fine to find out what is going on on Facebook - but play out your response to that when you're live in the field.

I welcome any discussion of these things (provided it stays civil!) but PD have a pretty well developed sense of where we think the line is these days and generally speaking we're pretty happy with that. We're not going back to the bad old days of "FOIP" - that is not happening.

What I would say is this - posting adverts on Facebook and having signs at the event is not an either/or. You can do both... You can post adverts for stuff on Facebook... AND you can make Anvil a much cooler place by building beautiful signs...