The Case for Mortal Storytellers

LinLin BlackbirdThe MoongladeMember Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭✭✭
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!

Shells

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.).

Tools

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.

Incentive

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?

Pros: 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.

RasaniSibattiAlelaEscelikaTetchtaIesidXeniaTeaniNonateaIaphia

Comments

  • RasaniRasani Member Posts: 219 ✭✭✭✭
    Needless to say, I think this is a FANTASTIC idea. I think it would allow us as a community to craft more stories with each other that feel a little weightier. Guilds could work together on interguild plotlines, maybe even impact the lore/history of their guild and if we have an idea that is a little lore heavy, we can have a system for it to get approved or corrected by admin.
    Lin
  • IesidIesid Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭
    Imperian had this. It was called the Docent system.

    It worked well until it didn't and IRE stopped supporting it.

    All that aside, I think it is an amazing idea.
  • ZeheiaZeheia Member, Immortal Posts: 108 Immortal
    Iesid said:

    Imperian had this. It was called the Docent system.

    It worked well until it didn't and IRE stopped supporting it.

    All that aside, I think it is an amazing idea.

    I was asking around the Pools if anyone remembered what went wrong with the docent system, but most of them didn't know it existed. Fair, since the last post about it that I can find on Imperian was in 2011.
    If in doubt, please refer to the Forum Rules! If in more doubt, please reach out to a moderator.

    Act as you would wish to be treated.

    "It costs you nothing to assume that we are acting in good faith."
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    This idea rules and my only real note is that, since the person is still playing the game, they'd need to be periodically monitored or audited, both in their shell and mains, to make sure they're not metagaming or abusing their go abilities to spy or do things unsavory. Obviously a lot of this should be front loaded in the interview/application process, but a mortal storyteller should never have free reign or feel like they're unsupervised (even if they mostly are).

    If this were given even a small incentive of bound credits I would honestly apply for this the instant it became a thing. It pretty much has everything I'd ever want out of being a Celani and none of the negatives.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    Gotta double post sorry. What I like about this most is that it also provides a ton of fodder for celani et al to pick up if they want. If RPing your drunken sailor suddenly creates bigger potential that has lore implications, there's no reason it can't be spun off by someone more qualified.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
  • IesidIesid Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭
    edited April 22
    Zeheia said:
    Imperian had this. It was called the Docent system.

    It worked well until it didn't and IRE stopped supporting it.

    All that aside, I think it is an amazing idea.
    I was asking around the Pools if anyone remembered what went wrong with the docent system, but most of them didn't know it existed. Fair, since the last post about it that I can find on Imperian was in 2011.
    The failings were largely based in not vetting the candidates properly, which led to very self-serving interactions or interactions and stories that only served one's friend or perception of the narrative. There were also Docents that used it to interfere in political situations, I think?

    It became an extension of other complaints of the time.

    To frame this properly, Docents could make mobs and specify the attacks for those mobiles. This did not go over very well when you include in the mix that the game had a class capable of making copies of mobs for PvP purposes.

    There's a lot more to it, but that was the very first answer I could think to provide you. I wish it were another way because I think docent would be a brilliant stepping stone for Celani stuff - i.e a shallow end of the Pools before you dive in and give everything else up.
  • LinLin Blackbird The MoongladeMember Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I understand Imperian might not have had luck with it, but it's also not really germane here - we couldn't be a more different game from Imperian. What I'm suggesting here also wouldn't have nearly so much in the way of combat implications, you probably couldn't make a puzzle with it. Really just a way for someone to goof off and possess your favorite mugyik, or have a postman deliver you a mysterious letter.

    IesidTetchtaNonatea
  • BenedictoBenedicto Tentacles Errywhere! Member Posts: 852 ✭✭✭✭✭
    To be honest, I could see it as something I would enjoy applying for as a bit of a break away from the relatively rigid personality of Benedicto, but without having to sacrifice all of my time playing him. Get myself into a broad range of characters, personalities and situations.
    (Leaders): Tiur says, "I'll remember not to delete you when the time comes, Bene. Good people."



    SibattiTetchtaNonatea
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    I do see this as a thing that, if it were ever implemented, would have some growing pains that all of us would need to be aware of. Like being careful with org mobs for one comes to mind. But it'd be worth it imo to see a little more vibrance in our game.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
  • IesidIesid Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭
    Easy fix: just don't allow control of org loyals until they've got some experience and temperance under their belt.

    Make them make their own characters for the storylines, that way we don't have any weird loose ends like six years down the line where Rhulin said he really liked green tea ice cream but we find out in a future apocalyptic event that he's lactose intolerant.
    TetchtaLinBenedicto
  • RhyotRhyot BloodlochMember Posts: 609 ✭✭✭✭
    I am on the fence about agreeing outright with this, but I do see how it could have a sort of beneficial response.... in any case, I will elaborate.

    The only issue I see with your idea of mortal storytellers is the ability to abuse it against players they don't like at all or using it to only inherently help their own org/people. For example, Person A only ever using their mortal storyteller because they're bored on a Tuesday night and decides to give the their own org/guild a little bit more spice just because. Alternatively, Person B wanting to pick a bone with Player 1 because they don't like them and they want to make them suffer. While there could be oversight by the Admin/Celani team of mortal storytellers, unlike a Celani though there is no NDA or anything that would stop them from doing what they are doing so long as they could give some precise reason as to why they did what they did.

    Sure, this runs the presumptuous thought process of the playerbase being inherently cliquish, but that's because it is. Now, it also runs along the thought process that players don't know how to make wholesome content for everyone instead of just "their people", which is where the difference between a Celani and a mortal storyteller would be, at least in my eyes.

    Perhaps it's just me, but I wouldn't trust the playerbase with this kind of power and not abuse it to some degree. I do think it's a good idea, but if it were me in the Paid admin staff, I'd be VERY cautious about its implementation. Far too often the meme of "this is why we can't have nice things" is played out in Aetolia.


  • StineStine Member Posts: 220 ✭✭✭
    edited April 22
    If they abuse it, shrub their main character. Don't pussyfoot around with consequences and you won't run into that problem. If they do abuse it, enjoy your trip to the banhamas.
    TetchtaBenedictoSeurimasNonatea
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 22
    I mean I def think it should be a sliding scale thing to account for people who may not know they're breaking rules, but yeah, stripping them of the privilege all the way up to consequences like shrubbing sound good to me. This combined with good vetting and occasional audits would do wonders for keeping people behaving. The damage you could do with these sorts of privileges is inherently limited. You might get tempted to spy on Mudsex in a Haven once (just make havens unvisitable, as well as privacy rooms), but the instant you do it it's bye bye to that job forever. I wouldn't risk it, and the actual damage is just a bit of embarassment. The real damage that can be done is pretty capped.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
    Stine
  • ZeheiaZeheia Member, Immortal Posts: 108 Immortal
    edited April 22
    Iesid said:


    Zeheia said:

    Imperian had this. It was called the Docent system.

    It worked well until it didn't and IRE stopped supporting it.

    All that aside, I think it is an amazing idea.
    I was asking around the Pools if anyone remembered what went wrong with the docent system, but most of them didn't know it existed. Fair, since the last post about it that I can find on Imperian was in 2011.

    The failings were largely based in not vetting the candidates properly, which led to very self-serving interactions or interactions and stories that only served one's friend or perception of the narrative. There were also Docents that used it to interfere in political situations, I think?

    It became an extension of other complaints of the time.

    To frame this properly, Docents could make mobs and specify the attacks for those mobiles. This did not go over very well when you include in the mix that the game had a class capable of making copies of mobs for PvP purposes.

    There's a lot more to it, but that was the very first answer I could think to provide you. I wish it were another way because I think docent would be a brilliant stepping stone for Celani stuff - i.e a shallow end of the Pools before you dive in and give everything else up.

    ------ Quoting broke so here's my actual comment ------

    I did find a more recent post on Imperian's forums, re docents. The link is this: Would you apply to be a Docent? Sounds like there was some strong discontent to the rules of the program too, especially because it did block you from affecting a lot of the characters people felt they would be more likely to want to possess (aka, characters who are likely to have a history/theme present already).

    I'm not saying we're not a different game, but there's definitely some crossover for playerbase, and it's something worth keeping in mind.
    If in doubt, please refer to the Forum Rules! If in more doubt, please reach out to a moderator.

    Act as you would wish to be treated.

    "It costs you nothing to assume that we are acting in good faith."
    LinTetchtaIesid
  • LinLin Blackbird The MoongladeMember Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If I were to pull a hierarchy system out of my unicorns to address these concerns, it'd look like this:

    Storyteller - You start as this rank.
    - Most restricted rank.

    People in this rank will probably screw up. They'll probably run cute stories for their friends. That's fine, it's of little consequence.



    Senior Storyteller - You get here after... I don't know, 3 months, with very few negative reports.
    - Allowed to create special, temporary generic objects to be customized as props.
    - Can add GRAFFITI to the room to reflect temporary special conditions (the room is flooded, etc.)
    - Can mobpos loyal mobs, as long as they're not loyal to a player, guild, city, or order.

    You get here because you're trusted. You have either received very few reports, or the reports against you were dismissed. Your actions have more freedom, freedom gives them more mechanical weight, and overall your ability to tell a story is increased.



    Master Storyteller - 8-12 months, low negative reports.
    - Can temporarily alter rooms, changing name, description, environment, even flags such as indoors or watery (all changes made disappear when logging out of the shell).
    - Can create permanent GRAFFITI in rooms.
    - Wider range of generic objects that require more trust (weaponry, books/letters/scrolls with custom writing, food and drink, etc.)
    - Can mobpos loyal mobs like a Senior Storyteller, but can also possess mobs loyal to their own city/guild.
    - Can see the incoming/outgoing tells of players in the room.
    - Can use the ACTION verb to deliver damage, afflictions, etc.

    The highest rank and implies the most trust. These players have been Storytelling for quite a while and almost never get it wrong. Because of this, they're also permitted to puppet mobiles that belong to their personal orgs, because they're much more likely to know the lore (we leave out Orders because that'd step on the toes of God players).

    TetchtaNonatea
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm still having a Very Bad Brain Day so I'm just skimming the thread and came across this
    The major problem with docents is that the interactions generally end up feeling pretty toothless because you're explicitly forbidden from pursuing anything of substance and you can't help out with most of the stuff that people want help with in guilds/sects/cities, so what's the point really? Wooo, you can become the bartender?
    Maybe this is just me but I'd love being a random nobody NPC like that drunk dude in the Bloodloch bar. That said I do think, Like @Lin suggested, some sort of "earn your stripes" system would probably go far to allowing people who aspire to having more impactful interactions of more significance.
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
    Lin
  • LinLin Blackbird The MoongladeMember Posts: 1,826 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Damn Imperian players really are different

    TetchtaIesidValorie
  • IesidIesid Member Posts: 170 ✭✭✭
    Lin said:

    Damn Imperian players really are different

    Forums were just less of a place for RPers, but we had them!
    Tetchta said:

    Wooo, you can become the bartender?

    Maybe this is just me but I'd love being a random nobody NPC like that drunk dude in the Bloodloch bar. That said I do think, Like @Lin suggested, some sort of "earn your stripes" system would probably go far to allowing people who aspire to having more impactful interactions of more significance.
    Agreed on all accounts. Some of the best interactions don't need to be worldshaking or possess characters of grave import. Just getting a quick chat with the barkeep who is usually silent as a graveyard at midnight is probably enough to make you feel like anything could happen.
    Lin said:

    Impressive progression idea

    This seems awesome and I know we have some slick tech for the prop items.
  • NonateaNonatea Member Posts: 37 ✭✭
    I remember a time in Ashtan when me and my buddies ran into a drunk imp at the tavern and he was flirting with my friend in front of her husband. So there was a brawl and the imp accidentally died, so we had to explain things to the guards and then there was the whole burial and trying to find the imps family. Good times.. So yeah, something like that could be done!! It didn't add anything to the story of the world, but the three of us had a blast! That sort of thing would be perfect for a mortal Storyteller.
    TetchtaLinBenedicto
  • TetchtaTetchta Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭
    I think whether you think this idea is a good or bad one, I think the responses to this thread are incredibly valuable because they illustrate the kind of content our community is most hungry for--I hope someone upstairs is taking notes!
    "We're taught Lord Acton's axiom: all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believed that when I started these books, but I don't believe it's always true any more. Power doesn't always corrupt. What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, then you see what the guy always wanted to do."
    -Robert Caro
    NonateaLinArchelausTeani
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