Providence

Providence is a LARP game using Trent Yacuk's Kingdom Come system. It is a game of Fallen Angels and their struggle to survive against the forces of Heaven and Hell and some things in between.

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    A thought regarding the direction of the game

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    Mihr

    Number of posts : 10
    Registration date : 2009-04-02

    A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Mihr on Sun 30 May 2010 - 15:24

    For myself, if we're going to restart, I'd rather switch to a different system, and if we're going to stay in the KC system, I'd rather not restart.
    But if we are going to do a fresh start and still do KC, a thought occurrs. One of the complaints about this game has been that we don't have the player base to support the courts. Having 8 or 10 people in court positions directing the actions of 4 or 5 feels a little silly. Allan suggested we do a game set pre-codex so that we don't have courts positions to worry about filling.
    Another idea that occurred to me is that game could notionally be set in a large city with many fallen, and the player base could represent the fallen occupying some district or collection of neighborhoods within a larger civitas. We might or might not have representation on the courts, but most court positions could be filled by NPCs who don't necessarily need to make appearances, but orders might come down the pipe from them.
    Some other system of governance with more attention to detail at the bottom level might be necessary, like for instance the player region might be required to have a knight from either court to coordinate their martial efforts with the rest of the civitas. Or maybe not.
    There are disadvantages there in that it removes a lot of player control and creates a bunch of extra work for the storyteller, but if people really want to play Kingdom Come and really don't want to worry about filling the courts it might be something to consider.
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    Murmur

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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Murmur on Sun 30 May 2010 - 18:49

    On the court system, I have played games where the majority of the courts are cast as NPC's. Alan will remember the game 'Paradise Lost' in Edmonton, where the Kings were relatively uninvolved with the city for a good chunk of the chronicle unless something Particularly Interesting occurred. It made room for all the little people to do their stuff without the constant worrying about the state of the courts, and the constant changing of roles like we have seen from time to time in Providence.
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    Shamus

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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Shamus on Sun 30 May 2010 - 19:05

    I am not against the idea of having some of the court positions filled by NPCs but i think that some should also be given to players. that is, if there is only a few players. if the base expands then maybe some of the players would eventually take those positions from the NPCs. I think pre-Codex might be difficult simply due to the hatred of the factions toward each other, and it might be difficult to get everyone to play the same conviction or whatever.
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    Bal

    Number of posts : 102
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Bal on Sun 30 May 2010 - 19:31

    I have found, in general, with NPC authority figures that it tends to swing towards one of two problems: either a) the players feel powerless because they figure anything important just needs to be kicked up the ladder to more powerful NPCs, or b) the players feel the NPCs are useless because they never end up doing anything useful. If you have active, useful NPCs the PCs feel sidelined, if you don't then the PCs feel there is no point in having the NPCs around. It is certainly possible to avoid some of these pitfalls, but it is difficult.

    For myself, if there are going to be NPC authority figures, then it needs to means the important plots can't be at the same level as whatever level those authority figures operate on. If you've got NPC Courts ruling a Civitas, then you can't have your important plots be city-wide - they have to be much more narrowly focused.

    I was thinking of doing something pretty much like Mihr's neighbourhood suggestion for Vampire once, and I do think it would work very well in KC too. Say that the PCs are maybe 1/5th of the total population of the city, that most of the authority figures are NPCs(though some could be PCs), BUT that the PCs are the entirty of the Vampires/Fallen/whatever in one specific neighbourhood. Thus, they are theoretically part of a larger set-up, but all the plots are focused on the local stuff. There might be 80 Fallen in New York, but there are only 17 in Staten Island - ie: the population of Staten Island is entirely made up of the PCs. Thus, if there be issues on Staten Island, for the most part the Kings of New York will tell the PCs to deal with it. If PCs are all like "Why aren't all these other Fallen helping us with shit?", the answer is "Because there is also problematic shit happening in Queens, the Bronyx, etc, etc"(and that has to be true - this type of set-up doesn't work if for some reason Staten Island gets all the world-destroying plots, and every place else just whacks the occasional angel). In this type of setting, Prelates become the authority figures, really.

    On a similar note - the original KC concept I was going to run back in the day after my last Vampire game(and which I would have ran, had Trent actually gotten me the rules when he said he was going to Wink ) had the players taking the role of sort of an "expeditionary force" of different Choirs and Murders coming to a now-deserted city to figure out the weird supernatural shit going on there. They would all theoretically be loyal to their Kings back in their home cities - and different Congregations might come from different cities, so there would be not just a "Divine vs Infernal" split, but also a tension between "The boys from Edmonton vs those bastards from Winnipeg". Players would have the option of telling their masters back home to screw themselves and forming their own Hierarchy in their new city if they found they could work together, or they could just continue answering up the chain to their different Kings if they preferred. My aim with that concept was going to be that although individual characters might be inexperienced or new, the Congregations themselves would mostly be fairly old and experienced in the War - but at the same time, having problems back home that meant they were willing to take the risk in traveling somewhere dangerous. I sort of liked the idea of having more cagey veteran Fallen for the most part. Sort of a strange "Dirty Dozen" done Kingdom Come style.

    If I ever actually end up running KC, that is still probably what I'll do.

    Anyway, just throwing out different perspectives on how things can be done, even in the base KC setting.

    Mihr

    Number of posts : 10
    Registration date : 2009-04-02

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Mihr on Mon 31 May 2010 - 10:55

    Bal wrote:-snip-

    What I meant, but with better words.
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    Cole

    Number of posts : 49
    Registration date : 2010-02-08

    The Court

    Post by Cole on Mon 31 May 2010 - 16:47

    In Paradise Lost, the Queens were given full authority to deal with the piddlin' matters, as I recall. All that it really did was eliminate the role of Kings, who were always off hunting down the Angels and Devils. It worked out well, in my opinion. Then again, in that game players were proactive in dealing with one another both in celebration of cooperation and in retribution for slights real and imagined. I barely remember any of the position holders other than the Queens because it was never a big deal. Plot was shared within the factions no matter if you had a position or not, and the position only meant that you might get stuck spear-heading an action that month but you always had help. The real game in that chronicle was between the characters and most were not only willing but eager to dispense with the formality of positions in order to make things personal. There was a sense of inclusiveness in the Conviction, despite personal animosity, that made it feel to me as an Infernal that the whole Conviction was my Murder. I also don't think that the Court members, even Queens, truly left their Choirs and Murders.

    I think that we have had some of that in Providence; for instance, Arc, Gabe, and Jordan officially stopped being a Murder when they held Court positions but in reality they were still a congregation. Then again, maybe that is just an example of the Court as a congregation. I think what I am trying to say is that to some extent the Courts are what we make of them.

    I think that the biggest screw-over of the Court positions is that those people, to properly do their jobs, must devote an obscene amount of their downtime to the over-plot and actions of city-benefit. It takes them away from actions that drive forward coterie plot and personal plot. It can be a huge sacrifice. It might not be so bad if there was more help able to be solicited, but in my experience as Gabe asking for help yielded very little, except from my Murder. So maybe we don't need less Court so much as less for them to deal with, i.e., over-plot, so that they can stay more connected to and active in other happenings. That moves the onus from the Storyteller to the players for developing plots, rivalries, and alliances and we can't even avoid prolonged silences at games.


    There are players who are more comfortable in facing off against the storyteller than other players and Im sure they want more over-plot, e.g., demon infestations and epic puzzles to solve. So what happens if we replace the Courts with another Murder and Choir? Who bothers to investigate and organize hunts and the rest of it? Would not having anyone whose job it was to do those things make people more willing to look into them?

    I see the Courts as a detriment in down-time and so my argument against a Court-heavy game would be that I dont want to see the few saddled with taking actions for the many. I think that in the presence of more Court led actions whose burdens were shared, my objections would evaporate. Its not that our player base cant support the Court; its that our player base doesnt support the Court. Maybe my concerns are misplaced and it was just Gabe whom people didnt like to help I could see that.

    After thinking about it on the drive home, Im not sure that removing the Court from the game will change anything. I'm thinking that the Court is not my problem.

    Why do others feel that the Court is a problem?
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    Corral

    Number of posts : 359
    Location : Leaving myself behind...
    Registration date : 2008-06-25

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Corral on Mon 31 May 2010 - 18:24

    For me, it has to do with the fact that Court members can't be part of a congregation (with an exception or two) and we barely have enough players to form both Courts. Yes, that doesn't mean there isn't interaction, pseudo-congregations and general havoc, but it seems to cut into it somewhat. We spend an awful lot of time trying to fill positions and shifting things around. I dunno, maybe that's good - it creates plot that can be addressed at the game rather than backstory - but the main concern seemed to be small player-base + Courts, not just Courts.

    With respect to city-wide actions, we seem to be having more success with that recently. I think it's just the way things fell out, though, with only one active regent, who worked well with the knight on the opposite side for several critical months of demon-hunting, patrolling, and general scheming. We had lots of people willing to help. This might fall apart now that said knight hates said regent... but that will be part of the fun. Anyway. Ahem. My point was going to be that it's very hard to organize all those people, even when they've said they want to help, because in real life we've got things more important than devils and nephilim, and unless the plan is set in stone *at census*, things tend to fall apart. I don't really think it's a question of these players acting in a particular manner that doesn't support the system.

    Another thought that your comments spark is the number of actions we get. You're right: we can't do stuff for the courts *and* do stuff for ourselves. I would have been up to so much more evil if I didn't have to work so hard not *dying* every month... you know what I mean? If you're going to be part of the city-wide Hunt and you need to spend a few points on a rehabilitate, that's basically it. If we wanted more player-created action, perhaps a little more Effort each month would go a looong way.
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    Cole

    Number of posts : 49
    Registration date : 2010-02-08

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Cole on Mon 31 May 2010 - 19:04

    Real-life is important and trumps gaming, agreed.

    Saying that that is it hard to organise... I don't buy it. Put up a post saying what the action is and whom you need to be in on it -- both IC to describe it and OoC to spell it out so that everyone is on the same page. If forums aren't someone's thing then it isn't too hard to ask for email or facebook information. As a worse-and-all-other-things-have-been-exhausted last case, information might be able to be passed through Jill to an individual, as she has all the email addresses. I've had no problem coordinating actions when I've actually received interest from someone in being involved.

    I personally don't think that more Effort is a good thing. If you want to take actions that need more marks then do group actions and/or ask for aid. It's not just about creating more player driven plot but about people getting involved in the plot that is out there so that a few people aren't doing it all -- aren't forced into doing it all to the exclusion of personal actions. It's a matter of prioritizing what is important to you in a given month and normally 10 Effort is plenty -- unless you aren't getting help with things that are prioritized for you by your position and whose mark burden you must bear alone.
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    cenobyte
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by cenobyte on Mon 31 May 2010 - 19:05

    Erm. Are you suggesting creating a house rule that would allow players to spend more than 10 (Effort + SP) on their downtime actions? If so, you should suggest it in the Rules section.
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    Sephrian

    Number of posts : 5
    Registration date : 2010-04-02

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Sephrian on Mon 31 May 2010 - 21:09

    One thing about the court structure that was discussed an awful lot amongst the past Infernal administration was to merge positions; ie, a court could get along just fine with a King, a knight, and a bishop or whatever combination of figure heads that the character base can support. This may help with the notion that nearly everyone is in a position. But really, it does little to get others more involved in the game or in downtime. With respect to congregations and positions, I feel there is little that a formal congregation adds...a bishop can still live with the queen and they can still participate in side-scenes and downtime together, regardless that they cannot officially be in a murder together. In fact, it may work the opposite way - if everyone had a position it would provide something to do during downtime and provide some direction for interacting with plot.

    One of my pet peeves with group actions is that sometimes people will stand up in census, announce that there is a group action to do X, and then not follow through with that. More than once I've ended up being a 'wolf pack of one' on a supposed group action. It's not a huge deal, but it can be frustrating and disappointing. Especially for those in the court positions as their effort tends to get tossed towards actions that the position is responible for.

    With respect to the direction of the game...or LARPs in general, I think I prefer games to have one over-plot and a couple of minor plot threads. This set up gives people multiple opportunities to engage in various aspects of what is going on...if you don't like the over-plot, grab onto one of the other threads. Granted, there is a chance that certain elements of the plot will go unaddressed, but really this is bound to occur as not everyone will want to be involved in everything.


    Last edited by Sephrian on Tue 1 Jun 2010 - 0:07; edited 1 time in total
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    Corral

    Number of posts : 359
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Corral on Mon 31 May 2010 - 23:08

    Not really a formal suggestion, so much as throwing it out there and seeing whether anyone else feels the same way. It would probably require more than a house rule - it would unbalance other things - so unless there was overwhelming support, it's probably not worth considering.
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    Daniel

    Number of posts : 4
    Registration date : 2010-05-14

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Daniel on Tue 1 Jun 2010 - 9:57

    Why have a Court system at all? I've never understood where the need or desire for Court Positions come from, and have always assumed that it was a bad holdover from Vampire.

    Every decision could be made through direct democracy. Infernal able to screw over the Divine because they have more people? Give each Conviction a Veto. It's a system that would allow each person to participate as much or as little as they liked in the politics and decision-making of the game while still allowing plenty of room for drama in the creation of factions and in discussions over the resolution of important issues.
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    Sephrian

    Number of posts : 5
    Registration date : 2010-04-02

    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Sephrian on Tue 1 Jun 2010 - 10:17

    I agree that it can be frustrating to hold a court position, be responsible for certain downtime activities due to that position, and also find effort/SP to devote to your own projects. However, that also provides oportunity to become involved with other characters as you learn to delegate to your friends, congregation, or others interested in what you're undertaking. There are many ways to involve others in the downtime system, either through cooperation or collusion, in order to accomplish your goals.

    In fact, I think (with a couple glaring failings) that KC has one of the best LARP downtime systems going. Mostly because there a considerable degree of parity across the character base. To wax nostalgic for a moment, in V:tM it is incredibly difficult for a neonate or new character to go head to head with their promogen or the prince and get away with anything because, more often than not, the elder character had multiple influences maxed out. In KC it is possible for nearly any character to accomplish any given undertaking. Sure there are certain characters that are geared towards certain activities but, by and large, it is the most equitable system that I've played. And for that, I really enjoy the secular system (with the exception of machination, which is just plain stoopid and broken - but that's another rant).
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    Bal

    Number of posts : 102
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Bal on Tue 1 Jun 2010 - 10:51

    Daniel wrote:Why have a Court system at all? I've never understood where the need or desire for Court Positions come from, and have always assumed that it was a bad holdover from Vampire.

    I think the main purposes of Court positions are a) to provide positions of prestige to scheme over, and b) provide a manageable yet still accessible way to organize large numbers of players. If you have a Civitas with 8 Court members, 5 Deistical, and then 3 Choirs of 4 and 3 Murders of 4, all of a sudden having that structure makes a lot more sense. I think a lot of the idea behind having a fairly elaborate system and a large ruling body might have been to provide more access to the players - having 8-10(or more, depending on multiple Knights) people in the power clique provides a lot more ins for a play group of 40 as opposed to Vampire where there's really only going to be a core 3-5 positions that matter(and are usually quite locked into their power bases).
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    cenobyte
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by cenobyte on Tue 1 Jun 2010 - 12:14

    I don't think the court system is a holdover from Vampire.

    There are reasons why I think this, and I'm quite enjoying this discussion, so that's all I'll say right now and I'll just let y'all keep talking about it.
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    Cole

    Number of posts : 49
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    Role of the Court

    Post by Cole on Wed 2 Jun 2010 - 19:11

    No matter the game, there will always be a power hierarchy, be it informal or formal. KCs is formal and gives both duties and perks (sovereignty). The benefit of a formal hierarchy is that it puts into place a mechanism by which the shy, less vocal, and role-playingly hesitant can be thrust into a position where they have a say in things. Too often in informal hierarchies it is fait accompli for those who are more vocal, bullying, charismatic, etc, to manoeuvre their way into leadership positions.

    The Court also provides a focus of action. There are people whose job it is supposed to be to keep things running and who are about enforcing the peace. I think that sometimes it is hard to remember that for many Fallen this treaty is a cease-fire that rankles greatly it can take either a strong personality or a formalized position to keep that peace. The Court provides the latter. This might not be as apparent in Providence, because the player-player conflict is very much reduced compared to the other KC games Ive played in and heard about. You folks are just too nice. :)

    It should also be noted that the positions have individual duties; they are not just a general governing body. It gives characters a push into certain activities. A King can assign any position to any other character within their conviction and thus put them into an active roll in the city. While you generally might want to get characters in the roles whose abilities are predisposed toward said duties, you can also choose on whim or by spite. It is a great way to elevate characters into leadership roles that they might not otherwise have been able to attain. Nothing says that the individuals in positions have to meet any prerequisites except the Knight, I believe. It's not like in vampire where you had to be an elder to gain a say in things. If there is a failure of a position holder to perform the assigned duties then there is a point of contention and conflict generated in addition to the conflict to rise to said positions, whether or not they are vacant (as already noted by Wade). With the Courts in place there are people to blame if things go wrong. :)


    I also agree with Wade that the Court is a means not only of social influence but of organization. The Court is meant to give a unified direction to a faction that would otherwise fracture into small groups, and to some extent to the game as a whole. It also gives everyone a champion for when things go against them. You know that the King should always have your back even if they don't agree with you personally. ::cough::peopleeating::cough:: The Court also makes the drive to action faster, at least in many cases. One person has the power to say what is to be done and when. Democracy can take a bloody long time
    where everyone talks around in circles until nothing is decided or if a plan is decided upon it might be one of compromises and delay. In KC, the Knight or Queen can solicit input but they neednt; hell, they dont even have to listen to input that people volunteer. Again, if the person deciding what to do screws up then there is someone to blame.

    I don't think that either the Court or the Codex are meant to minimalize conflict. I think that they are both in place to ensure that there is conflict. Let's face it, the Codex is a bad cease-fire; if you wanted a real cease-fire then there would have been terms about how each side is allowed to interact with humans, at the least. The Court is no better. The Rook in an of itself is a position to give the King not only defense but plausible deniability which is only needed if something is being done that shouldn't be being done. The Queen and Knight are both war leaders, albeit with subtly difference focus, but really, why have two? But lets face it, without conflict the game would be really boring.
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    Bal

    Number of posts : 102
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    Re: A thought regarding the direction of the game

    Post by Bal on Wed 2 Jun 2010 - 19:17

    Political systems that work well and are put together for efficiency, IC, tend to make for poor political games OOC. The interesting parts are usually where the system breaks.

    (Sort of like in Nobilis, where the Windflower Law is Thou Shalt Not Love. From a game design perspective, the prohibition against Love isn't meant to exclude it from the game - it is meant to draw focus to Love in the game, make it important, make it the focus of plots and something worthy of conflict. So, too, a well-designed IC political system makes for ugly politics. Smile )

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