The Second Night War is finally over and what a wild ride it was! The War for Sterion started all the way back in late June and we're now staring down the end of September having just come out the other side of what is one of the longest and most elaborate events in IRE history. The last few events posts are now up and as promised, the postmortem is here filled with trivia, anecdotes, insights into the decision making process, and a number of broader thoughts and opinions.
Before I get into all that though, I want to dole out some raves and give credit to people without whom this would never have been possible. First up is @Razmael
- the amount of time and energy Raz put into bringing all of our (mostly his) ideas to life is nothing less than astonishing. I couldn't possibly ask for a better partner in crime when it comes to story, event mechanics, mirror classes, and of course feature creep. So many parts of this event came about from his ideas and he put up with endless code requests from me and made the execution of the most elaborate parts as easy as giving me a command to type. The #1 hero of this event by far.@Keroc
was an absolute monster of boss creation and fight mechanics, he committed to a significant update to the ylem system, toiled away at war, fixed infinite bugs, and basically held the game together with his bare hands for weeks. @Tedrunai
gave us all a masterclass in progs, creating tons of mechanics including the incredible tower defence game, spiritsabres, bombs, the Arbothian heist dungeon, and more. One of the most difficult parts of running this event was the immense amount of different mechanics and features, and Ted picked up a huge amount of slack here. @Iseult
did the same, cleaning up endless bugs and problems as well as heavily customising the Papers, Please game. @Skog
made bosses and also helped a ton with prog work. @Brax
was always on hand to help with mirror design and to keep me going with hype and ideas. @Zeheia
spent an inordinate amount of time on proofreading and fixing errors. @Raah
singlehandedly came up with the Dictum duamvi terms and all of the Czjetijan phrases. @Doloris
did a large amount of work on the moon ritual, RPing with the Exarchs, concepted a big part of Ravager, and should be credited for the idea of the shadowbound-disconnection. @Izana
was instrumental in Spinesreach and also played an Exarch, as well as providing lots of input on the storyline as a whole. And of course @Haelra
, and @Xaspher
for a lot of the supporting RP throughout.
Now for some trivia! Unfortunately I don't have data on certain things, including the much-requested 'most shadowspawn killed', though I'm posthumously awarding that to Dejaani.
- First and most important: only one loyal follower sent an email to Mother, and it was @Markos
- Most of the team had no idea what was going to happen in the finale, and were just as shocked as you!
- The max number of people I saw online during the finale was 148. That is the highest I've ever seen in Aetolia.
- Saluria was only picked as the site of the first shard due to a bug very early on in the event that caused shadowspawn to appear there, which some people latched onto with speculation.
- The months frequently lining up with their Gods in the story was completely coincidental.
- At one point in August I woke up to absolute pandemonium and panic in the Pools because Google had locked us out of our docs (where most of the planning, including both mirrors, were stored)
- 1468 rooms were overtaken by shadowrot.
- Hippos were devoured by the rot on 73 occasions. 47 of these were Iesid's.
- 96 people became Shadowbound, as well as most NPCs across the game showing as shadowbound in their names.
- In total, 47 shadowbreaks were carried out (Lenoriel was present at 43 of them, the most by far!)
- Only one (1) reclusive mystic was harmed in the making of this event.
- 21648 corpses (Tetchta: 16178!), 6713 units of blood (Xarian 2440!), and 1008 ores (Kurak 731!) were used in the ritual to bind Ati.
- Ati cleared 70 rooms of rot (Sheryni cleared the most with Abhorash claiming the most chiav kills)
- Bloodloch raised 990 troops in their army of slaves for tower defence (credit goes to Gryph for raising 101 of them himself).
- 118 attempts were made by the Archivists before Linne succeeded in producing an artificial Shard of Truth.
- Enorian forged a total of 449 bells (props to Sryaen here for forging 166 of these himself!).
- The Illuminai forged a total of 670 dejanite to repair Ethne's bell (honourable mention to Annerissa for making 176 of them!).
- Enorian gathered a total of 12809 sand for Rhulin (Eliadon personally brought him 5929(!!!)) and made 276 glass (Damonicus wins this one with 152!)
- Spinesreach gathered a total of 7544 sand for Burkhart (Feirenz #1 with 2290!) and made 458 glass (Lenoriel wins with 214!)
- Duiran offered more than 5000 corpses to empower the Guardian Totems, which equated to 447698 totem essence. (Valorie wins both of these with 1295 and 149239 respectively!)
* The numbers are actually higher than this but the log cuts off at 5000 unfortunately.
- Spinesreach infected a total of 1152 eld (this was almost a tie between Aros, Legyn, and Lenoriel who did 698 between them!)
- Out of those 1152 infected eld, 425 of them were slain and absorbed into the pylons (Sheryni wins this with 67!).
- Spinesreach processed more than 5000 refugees. 3163 approved, 909 of which were shadowbound infiltrators. 1837 denied, 318 of which were shadowbound.
- Enorian processed a total of 2822 refugees. 2029 approved, 594 of which were shadowbound. 793 denied, 115 of which were shadowbound.
- Bloodloch processed a total of 2251 refugees. 852 approved, 235 of which were shadowbound. 1399 enslaved, 337 of which were shadowbound.
- The planning doc for this event is currently at 43482 words, and only includes about half of the actual event content since a LOT of the event was just us responding to things that happened.
- Raz informs me that the total event post length exceeds 60k.
- We decided to tie the Akkari and Ravager releases in before the event had even started, after only about 10 minutes persuasion from Raz.
And now the most important piece of data, who shouted the most out of over 5000 shouts during the event.
11th: Didi (119)
10th: Bulrok (125)
9th: Kalena (132)
8th: Kurak (140)
7th: Linne (161)
6th: Tetchta (183)
5th: Iesid (213)
4th: Rijetta (249)
3rd: Rasani (308)
2nd: Whirran (417)
1st: The Herald of Chaos (uncountable)High Points
I asked some of the team to weigh in on this and I've also created a poll with a bunch of options for you to vote on your high points.
Me: The emotions in the finale with Damariel ringing the bell; the insane defence of Kald; everything Chaos Court; the Moon Ritual; Iosyne's Order 66; the Archivist diagrammatics; the infamous botched bell heist; all things Org identity.
Keroc: Seeing 150 people online was pretty cool.
Razmael: Seeing all the orgs embrace their identity and Bloodloch's transformation from just a few short months ago.
Iseult: Dhar saving Ivoln's ass; Papers, Please: Spinesreach autodenying Mulariads.
Skog: The ylem heist arc.
Tedrunai: The Chaos Herald murdering Whirran with his trumpet.
Brax: The esteem explosion + insane player count for the finale.
Ra'ah: Showcasing the planar languages including Ael'mael's use of Dumavai.
Izana: Seeing all the cities get their own spotlight that really helped drive their direction, and also seeing them get REAL hype about it and running with them.
Doloris: Getting the opportunity to really re-engage Duiran with their Guardian lore and seeing it take on a whole new life (pun intended).
Zeheia: The city-wide Pit of Xa'azamit (may she live forever).
Everyone: Seeing the 1v1v1v1 becoming a viable option.Challenges
I'd say the biggest challenge was keeping up the momentum, especially after the initial flurry set such a fast pace. That, coupled with some struggles with ideas on how to achieve some of what we wanted to do meant there were some slow weeks here and there. On that same note we relied heavily on a lot of player ideas and this was one of the best parts (see below for my thoughts on this as a whole).
However, despite our best intentions, we simply couldn't physically respond to every outreach or request or idea. Given the scope of the story, I don't think the event necessarily went on too long, but the unplanned nature definitely meant it lacked the structure and cadence that a classically organised event would have.
Timezones are always a concern but I think there was enough content in this event that we did the best we could in that area, and made use of EVENTS a lot more to be accomodating."Just Do It": A Diatribe on Agency
Moreso than any other event I've ever witnessed or been part of, this one really shone a spotlight on the power that players have to both affect the world in ways big and small, to impact the narrative, to have ideas become reality, and to define the identity of their organisations in ways that are now, in my opinion, some of the best they've ever been.
I want to talk about this more because I think it's an often overlooked aspect of playing MUDs and while it obviously isn't going to be like this every time, and expectations should be realistic as a whole, I do think that there's a lesson here that everyone can learn: 'just do it' or 'just try it'.
As this story unfolded, we leaned heavily on player input and suggestions in order to figure out our way from A-Z, and we took every opportunity available to put important decisions into the hands of players as often as we could, and to react to things players were doing in order to guide the narrative. Off the top of my head, some of these include:
- Duiran's war starting the entire event to begin with, as well as Sibatti's idea with songlines emerging as one of the very first mechanics we made.
- Most of the city-specific event mechanics (spirit tech (Lenoriel), eld infections (Legyn), songlines (Sibatti), antirot paste (Bulrok), Ascendril shrouds (Kaiara), the entire process of shadowbreaking (Wjoltyr/Raynia), the trenches at the Keep (Mjoll), telepathy forewarning of incursions (Aisling), silvergrit empowerment (Mjoll/Whirran), shadowbane darts (Roux/Ardent)), and likely more I'm forgetting.
- Enorian's choice of Severn's fate, and their rebranding as the Hammer of Dawn.
- Spinesreach's pact with Tanixalthas and their rebranding as the Dragon of the North.
- Duiran desperately contacting Varian about Dendara, leading to the moon ritual and the creation of Dia'ruis
- Bloodloch choosing to stand alone no matter what, seriously reinforcing their themes to such an extent that they got to make a choice about the fate of their patron, resulting in the death of Iosyne.
- The defence of Kald which began with one person's (Reave's) lone vigil, transforming into one of the largest side-segments imaginable (Rasani, Kalena, Eaku, Mjoll, Iesid, Rijetta + others were so influential here).
- How to bring about the ylem theft/subsequent detonation was largely devised by Spinesreach solely with the mandate of 'steal all the ylem'.
- Negotiations with the Chaos Court were almost all decided by player input (Rijetta, Bulrok, Xenia, Sheryni all affected the way these went).
- Et al.
The point of me recanting all of this is to really emphasise the impact you can have on the game simply by adopting a 'just do it' mentality. Don't wait for an admin or a God to tell you that you can do something (within reasonable game rules and expectations, naturally, and without Godmoding or attempting to force outcomes
); don't be paralysed by feelings of helplessness or inability, because there's almost always SOMETHING you can do. There is no more surefire way of garnering admin support than by going out on a limb and just saying to hell with the consequences and trying it anyway.
Sometimes it won't work out. Sometimes you'll lose. Sometimes it might not go anywhere due to resources, lore, or some other reason. Sometimes it'll straight up backfire. But sometimes it might even start a global apocalypse.Closing Thoughts
This was an absolutely thrilling event to run and I couldn't be happier with how it went overall. As always, there are lessons for us to learn and take away from this, but on the whole I'm extremely proud of both the team and of the playerbase - the reactions, the drama, the highs and lows, the schemes, the plots, the fighting, the conflict, the gradual unwinding of diluted, tethered orgs, the shouting (I'd be remiss if I didn't at least make a passing mention here to Iesid, Rasani, Rijetta, Whirran, Linne, Tetchta, and others), the public news post wars, and the absolute rollercoaster of emotions that are, ultimately, why we are all here sharing this weird and wonderful corner of the internet.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions, your responses to the polls, and your questions, which I'll do my best to answer so long as they don't touch on what if scenarios, since I'd rather not go into that.