I meant this as a response to @Rasani
's thread at https://forums.aetolia.com/discussion/3941/there-have-been-no-events-and-lets-talk-about-that#latest
, but it kinda flew off the handle and I needed a new thread for it.
The culture was different when I was in the Pools. You spend a few months proving to Razmael or Oleis that you weren't a total goober, and didn't let your progs lag the game out too many times, and from then on you had a sort of Wild West impunity. Within reason, you could go mobpossess or rmote to your heart's desire, so long as what you were doing helped Make Aetolia Better in some way.
It was great! It worked really well! Some of the game's most lasting stories came out of this format.
I understand, even appreciate, that the culture of the game has shifted considerably since then. I don't need access to the Gods channel to know it - I get a glimpse of its shape every time I ask about event structure and storytelling freedom. It's the same each time: events beget hurt feelings, hurt feelings beget angry emails to Tiur, and more often, angry emails to Matt Mihaly or Jeremy Saunders. I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but the message seems to be clear: big events make players upset. We have to be exceedingly careful in running them now, or they'll cause more problems than they're worth.
I don't really buy it. I have a lot to say about methodology or approach, and originally that was going to be the meat of this next paragraph, but I decided it's ultimately unimportant, as it is neatly solved by my proposal:
Let's create a role for Mortal Storytellers!
I propose a system in which mortals apply for Storyteller status, are vetted, and approved for the role. From here, they'd establish a shell that is purely OOC and administrative, with restrictions and limited, specific access to certain god commands, such as GO or RMOTE.
We have a framework for this in place in the form of the Guide system. For the unaware, once approved as a Guide, a mortal is able to type BECOME HANSEL/GRETEL and move into one of the two as a shell, at which point they are given certain limited god permissions - the tools they need to do their job, of course. So not a huge paradigm shift!
Once logged into your Storyteller shell, you are not a Great Value God, nor even a Celani. Your name never appears on a WHO list in any way, shape, or form. You are permanently invisible. You should not even have a way to directly speak to a regular player. Your role is to convey spontaneous plots, through judicious use of mob possession, player/room/area-wide emotes, and perhaps even limited creation (for spawning one-off mobs like a stray dog, a vengeful spirit, etc.).
Storytellers wouldn't need the full suite of God tools to play this role effectively. If I were doing the role, off the top of my head, this is what I would want:
- GO - to get around. Naturally this'd probably be something you limit only to accessible areas in the continent of Sapience (proooobably not Albedos).
- SD - to put an object in a room or in a player's inventory. Would only work with objects marked as being owned by my shell, so I couldn't help you rob Seurimas.
- PMOTE/RMOTE/AMOTE - self-explanatory. I need to be able to write messages and set the scene!
- ACTION - perhaps with some kind of role-check so I can't instakill anybody or use the higher damage flags. This way, though, we can attack and create elements of danger, if need be.
- MOBPOS - I don't remember the syntax, don't laugh at me. But yeah, mob possession. Maybe make it ultra-restrictive, and allow Storytellers to only possess mobs with no loyalty. Wanna make the Spirean guard say stuff? Sorry, stay in your lane.
- CREATE - maybe, and this is a BIG maybe. I could see a few special OLC objects created and flagged as _storyteller - maybe a generic person, a generic animal, a generic key or macguffin - these being the only objects a Storyteller can create, with strict limits put on how often they can make them. They would be allowed to EDIT these, in case they want to make neat props for their event. All these objects should decay, and any mobs created should poof the instant the Storyteller leaves the shell.
This is pretty simple! I doubt I could float the idea of Storytellers being paid a credit stipend like Guides. But how about milestones? Add this:
- Run an event as a Storyteller (4 points).
How would this be enforced? Maybe you have to have 15+ minutes of actual activity as a Storyteller (no idling in the shell to get your milestone). 4 credits a day for getting to fool around and have a stray cat chase Didi sounds like a great use of my time.
Lore Implications and Promotions
I don't think I need to explain this, but Storytellers shouldn't be defining the lore. But.
Maybe after a term of distinguished activity, with no marks against you, you are promoted to a higher grade of Storyteller (call it Senior Storyteller or whatever). This could come with relaxed restrictions, a little more freedom in terms of command use, and perhaps even the ability to pursue consistent storylines that can occur in multiple parts.
Potential for Abuse
Maybe this is where I'll lose some of you, but I'm of the opinion that the Storyteller should be allowed to go wild and free - let the tools limit what they can do. Everything they do will, of course, be logged down to the last command.
I played another game with a similar system to this - when a storyteller was in the room, doing their thing, you saw a message at the end of the room, just beneath the exits, saying something like "Storyteller013 is presiding here." I don't love OOC messages like this, and maybe there's a more flavorful way to get it across, but the important thing is that players should
be able to see the shell's name, in case they need to report or issue the Storyteller!
- "What if a Storyteller tries to mudsex my alt?" Issue them.
- "What if a Storyteller gives their favorite player a cool powerful weapon?" They can't.
- "What if a Storyteller tells us something that flies in the face of established lore?" 1. They can't tell you anything, the mobs they possess can. Mobs don't have to be correct. 2. Report them if it's egregious. 3. If your buddies believe anything that Attican blacksmith says... well, congratulations, you're officially the smart one of the group.
Why do any of this?
Players are given the ability to take this aspect of the game into their own hands. The responsibility for making Aetolia a living, breathing world is passed on to the people who also live and breathe in that world. Some of us already love setting the stage and crafting a story for others - but we're bound to using our character as an anchor to do this. This would be a fun alternative; maybe I want to try to introduce Enorian to ritualism, but I don't wanna do it as Lin!
If an event isn't enjoyed, or even considered outright problematic, that's on the player themselves. They can be dealt with accordingly, even losing their Storytelling privileges if it comes to that. I think "fewer angry emails to the boss" is a pretty big pro.Cons:
The biggest one that comes to mind is a Storyteller trying to make Official Lore Claims that they have no right to. Again, hopefully with careful choice of which tools to allow and the scope by which they can make changes, this isn't an issue.
This system would, by necessity, engender lots of small one-off events that don't have much bearing on the story. Maybe that's not what's desired by the playerbase, and this solution ultimately accounts for nothing. I think that can be worked around.
Finally, I could absolutely see a system like this having a lasting psychological effect, in which Celani perhaps don't consider it "their place" any longer to run stories. That's pure conjecture and maybe it wouldn't even be an issue, but I guess it's worth throwing out there. Game culture has shifted in weirder ways.