News from the Other Side of the Hedge (14/05/14)

Crossposted from Facebook

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I blame Graeme Jamieson. You’ll see why later.

It’s been a while. How time flies. Genuinely. It’s like a week before the next event, all of a sudden. The gap between E1 and E2 has been way to short and I am panicking just a little bit. I was going to talk about E1 a little but instead I’ve decided to say “good game, well played” and move on.

This update is mostly about campaign battles.

Last night we processed the downtime campaign, and while it was a bit of hassle (someone, naming no names*, had lost all their notes from before E1 so the first hour was spent trying to recreate that information from someone elses much better maintained notes**) compared to the incredible torment that was processing Maelstrom battles it was a breezy walk in the park followed by a nice dinner and a night of vigorous and satisfying love-making. Seriously. I cannot stress enough how much easier this shit is when you’re not tracking every single man at arms and what type of shoes he has on. People who complain about the downtime focus of Empire do not know they are born.

At event one we had two-and-a-half “theatres of war” plus some outliers. This event has a very different feel - the generals are making use of the tactical orders although if there’s a downside it’s that they appear to have focused more on getting the hang of the orders and less on the narrative of what their orders are IC. I don’t doubt that we’ll be seeing more “invade Grozny!” and “fight of evil with the power of soap while digging trenches under the walls of Isengard” style stuff next event. I still have a bit of a mental block - I still keep thinking in terms of “battles” rather than “campaigns” - it’s easy to forget that what we’re trying to simulate here is the broad sweep of military campaigns. It’s Sharpe or Wellington in Spain, not Gimli at Helm’s Deep.

I’m planning a proper write-up IC of the “State of the Empire’s Campaigns” in the next couple of days, unless the boss gets there first. The last one went over well. Unlike the battle reports for Maelstrom which were a twelve person job mostly done by the one person who could bear the horror and took weeks, this one-fat-man job takes an hour, maybe ninety minutes if I really go overboard with the adjectives.

“Is the Empire winning?” I hear you ask. “Yes, except where it isn’t.” I reply enigmatically. And giggle. What it is doing is suggesting all sorts of cool stuff that people can roleplay around, with real effects on the game, and with plenty of potential for plot. I still remain in awe of what the battle team manage to do with the barely coherent “battle plans” we put together and then brief them on poorly at the last minute.

Aaaaanyway. Given the entire process of sorting the battle took three hours this event, down from three separate meetings of three hours last event, I’m hoping that by next event (especially with the longer gap between events) it will be a) quicker still and b) done more than a week before the event. We shall see. Having downtime open early and close early is a bit like my holy grail but I doubt we’ll ever see it as early as I’d like.

That was Tuesday.

Tonight’s meeting revolved around a particular elephant with tiny stars glued all over it and a pointy hat with “wizzard” written on it. We’ve known for a while that the “Warfare” rituals were borked, we just weren’t sure what to do about it. Mostly the problem lies in that they were written before we had a downtime campaign properly worked out and for some reason we tried to do it without mentioning any numbers***. The recent excitement with Bound By Common Cause, which I believe the Boss has touched on, solidified our concerns and made it clear we couldn’t wait until Winter to sort things out. Luckily, someone (Hint: It wasn’t the boss or me) had a good grasp of how to pitch the changes and now I’m a lot happier where we are.

One of the things we wanted to do was make the high-end Campaign Army enchantments feel distinct while still maintaining utility. We also wanted to try and make which rituals are cast on who a strategic choice that reflected what the players involved were trying to achieve.

  • Knights of Glory gets a solid buff and I think is a great one for those moments where you need power at a point.
  • Quickening Cold Meat changes only a little bit but I think the change is interesting and it is more suited to a situation where an army expects to be in theater for an extended period - and where none of the neighbours start waving pitchforks about the way their beloved family members are shambling around giggling and eating people;
  • Clarity of the Master Strategist has had a buff that makes it a solid choice rather than the poor man, and it’s the only one you can technically just pour power into until you run out of Day magicians;
  • Thunderous Tread of the Trees is more reliable in terms of what it will do - previously it just exploded pretty quickly and was very underwhelming; now it has the potential for clever and durable use.
  • Bound By Common Cause … is kind of doing the same but not quite. The real advantage to BBCC from my point of view is the way it provides a specific army that people can go “support this army! It’s great!” while pointing at it. I’m surprised where we ended up, but it fulfils my main two criteria. It’s now comparable to other imperial army enchantments rather than off the freaking scale; and it still rewards people for encouraging lots of folk to support the campaign army it is performed on.

Tomorrow we’re going back to try and finish Frozen Citadel, Dripping Fen and Wooden Fastness. These three actually turned out much harder to work out than the others, to my surprise, but I should have seen it coming. Between writing these three effects and E3 last year how we thought fortifications, regions and indeed campaign battles worked changed entirely. We bodged a quick fix onto them but it wasn’t satisfying and in many cases made little sense. We had nearly an hour arguing (about the same time as it took us to do three of the other rituals from start to finish) about whether we wanted people to cast three Frozen Citadels on the same territory or not. then decided we’d probably better call it a night.

I’ll let you know how it turns out later. The precise changes will all be implemented by Sunday and the wiki updated. Normally we’d leave it to Winter to make a big change like this but we have to look at how these rituals change before E2 because people will want to cast them.

Oh I have no idea what the “IC explanation” will be. I’m currently favouring “a comet has changed the laws of magic” or “the ritual descriptions were written by someone who had never seen them cast based on hear-say from a roman bestiary writer.”

Mostly because my original explanation “A Scotsman did it and then ran away” is apparently racist.

#newsfromtheothersideofthehedge, #seriouslynoemailsplease, #itllallcomeoutinthewashaskingjohnsaid

PS) Please don’t send angry e-mails to the boss based on what I have spoilered here, there’s no point and it will just distract him from doing important stuff like sorting senate motions, programming the rest of RefNet and organising toilets.

PPS) Oh and I totally caught up with my Eternals job. Apart from bloody Ephisis. Damn her eyes. Assuming she has any.

PPPS) Photograph was grabbed from random internet search from this site: m100group.com/2014/01/10/the-dec … r-council/ I know it’s lazy, but it is quite late and I am quite tired. (EDIT) Apparently it is a still from “Once Upon A Time” I am informed.

  • It was totally the Boss.
    ** Graeme. My notes are in crayon and say things like “Find excuse to kill Tim Baker!” and “Battle Opportunity Idea: Thule dispatch winged monkeys to kidnap all the Urizen generals and hold them hostage atop the tallest tree in the forest.”
    *** Hint: the man writing them had no idea what any of the numbers were, and nor did anyone else. Wheeee!