Disclaimer: This thread is NOT intended to be used to purely discuss the ongoing event. I will mention the ongoing event below in connection with several other events, but this is simply to make a point as to it being a continued symptom of a perceived problem, not to start a conflict over current events. If you don't have anything constructive and are intending to sling mud or hostility over current events, please don't derail the thread. Thank you!
As the title says, lets talk about tethers. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, trying to pinpoint my single greatest frustration with Aetolia, and I think tethers about sums it up. I'm going to try and explain why and how I believe this stunts game story as well as game mechanics, and offer a few examples of each.
Lets start with roleplay and the game story. One of the things I find the least compelling is that for every event, essentially, there is a "good" or an "evil" option, by necessity. With the game being split 50/50 the way it is, there's only a tiny amount of wiggle room for nuance here. Even if the organizations in question may slightly disagree, it forces that split regardless because of how the game is set up. Tethers, for all intents and purposes, basically subsume organizational identity, in my eyes. When it's 50% of the game against 50% of the game, there's not really an option or a desire to explore differences in org view and org direction, you need to sign along the dotted line to either fight for "good" or fight for "evil." If you don't support one or the other not only are you stepping outside the established norm that tethers have created, you're weakening whichever tether you're a part of, and breaking these long established ties and expectations.
I think this further weakens the narrative we're trying to tell, and makes the world overall less interesting. I'll try to pick on everyone equally here. I've gone out and asked Enorian and Duiran folks both why they help eachother, pointing out that Enorian is, for all claims of defending life and innocents and such, a blight upon the natural land. Shouldn't this be abhorrent to Duiran, being a fundamental violation of what they hold dear, regardless of what Enorian believes? Shouldn't Enorian, by contrast, be somewhat iffy about the more savage tendencies of the natural cycle and how it impacts innocents every day?
I've done something similar with Bloodloch and Spinesreach. This is another good example of two factions that IMO should NOT be friends. Bloodloch is the type of government Spinesreach essentially exists in opposition to. In any normal circumstance, I'd say Spinesreach is exactly the type of city Bloodloch would be eager to subjugate for their stance on freedom. That's what the empire wants, after all.
In each and every case regardless of the org, the answer is relatively similar. It boils down to this: we have to make do because the other side is aligned. That's really boring! I can't speak for everybody, but to me that is supremely not entertaining. It's essentially sweeping all these very neat, potentially interesting stories, all of these rp motivations and disagreements that could be explored, under the rug because well, the game's split. You're expected to fight the other half so why would you push these org differences when the tether difference is so prevalent? There's no guarantee the other side will, and it leaves everyone in this stalemate where lots of roleplay potential goes unexplored and the story ends up being very linear. I often hear again and again that this is the "RP game," but how can it really be that when org identity is so diluted to account for the necessity of splitting exactly half and half? How can it be when RP reasons are routinely shunted aside because it HAS to be two sides and not separate factions?
Alright, now lets break into the pk discussion. I expect this is where things may get somewhat hostile, so I'm going to try and be fair here and hope this can be a constructive conversation.
I think the half vs half aspect of the game really kills the pk scene. Now, I know not all fights are purely about numbers. It's about attitudes, it's about coordination, it's about a whole host of factors. But by splitting the game in half, it essentially limits diversity in such a way that it ends up being eminently clear which side has the weight of numbers at any given time. Instead of it being say, four warring factions each with a variable number, it's two lump sums. I've heard in the past shadow was the larger, and would stomp all over spirit. I can say currently spirit is the larger, often reaching anywhere from 15 to 20 people against shadow groups of 10 or less.
This isn't intending to point fingers or shame anyone for how they play. If I had that many people, I'd bring them all to an objective too! I think we all would, if push came to shove. But that's not really healthy for the game environment, IMO. The game is always going to be heavy on one side or the other, and that's a lot harder to compensate for when there's only two factions, period. The two faction system essentially seems to rely on people self regulating and moving to the other side if one side is too heavy, but I don't think it's fair, or realistic, to have people try to self-regulate in that way. Folks want to play with their friends or don't want to play with x or y, it's a game, that makes sense. But when all the weight congregates, it's a lot more telling in a two sided conflict than it would be in say, a four-sided conflict. I enjoy winning as much as the next person, and as stated above I would definitely bring all my people, but that doesn't mean that's fun or engaging in the current climate.
Certain pk mechanics also go so far as to enhance this issue I think. Numbers are the big tell in the current conflict and other such open world events, but there are also mechanics that force the issue and punish based on tether rather than on the org level. I'm talking about things like Twins, where you literally can't compete unless you have enough people from both orgs in your tether, or hunting grounds, where one person can enter from each org, but it essentially becomes a 2v2 scenario based on the tether divide. Whichever tether is larger can essentially ensure control over the hunting grounds items using this mechanic, because it's based on tether, not org.
It's also worth noting here that there's really no way to seek out or define the size of pk battles. Before someone says battlefields, yes these do exist, but I think it's clear they're intended for very specific scenarios. They're not here to be a complete substitute for open world pk. But you really can't start open world pk without it devolving into tether-based pk. Foci? Tether oriented. Shrines? All gods are tethered, and regardless of defile aura changes, defending the shrines of a god that is on your tether in the moment is still fair game. It's never just order vs order, defiling becomes tether pk as well. Story conflict? Tether vs tether. Raids, such as during the last war when Bloodloch raided Enorian/Duiran, or when spirit raided Bloodloch, it became a tether wide conflict in all instances. Even just a month or so ago when Sheryni raided Enorian with just the two of us, half the group that showed up was Duiran people. Spinesreach shows up to defend Bloodloch, and Bloodloch shows up to defend Spinesreach in this same vein. You can't ever tailor your group and say you know, we only have a few, Enorian only has a few, lets go fight Enorian, or lets go fight Spinesreach, because you're getting the whole tether no matter what.
I'd also like to say that on a broader scale, I think tethers just instill this sort of tribal atmosphere to the game that isn't healthy whatsoever. There is such a pervasive mentality of "them or us" based on the fact that the game is just split straight down the middle. It creates so much hostility and vitriol, and it's not diluted at all because there's only two sides. Us or them. I think this can be seen a lot in how quick people are to think the worst of the other side, and to assume that any and all pk is unjust without really investigating or considering. Further, it just makes the game a less pleasant experience for everyone playing it.
In short, I think tethers are one of the biggest issues Aetolia has, with story potential and with pk balance both being limited by the half and half split. It would be a much more interesting game on all sides if the story and the fights all had more sides. Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss!