Autopsy of a Vampire

TiurTiur ProducerMember, Administrator, Immortal Posts: 1,113 admin
Okay, so this isn't really a log. But I dare a mod to move -my- thread.

So, for our latest chat of "Tiur talks producery things" let's look at how the event with the vampires being changed went. I'll try to hit the points where things went off the rails, expectations, and design.

First: Why?

Because of all that stuff in Vampire Theoretical. Also, because Admin was a bit sick of having to do micromanagement with Abhorash. Abhorash was cool, but playing him is a chore. It's cool to be that big jerk once or twice, but then even us sadistic Pools people get tired of it.

Second: Goals

The point of this? Change the vampire system without posting an announce that read "Hey, Vampires, here's your new system." Also, provide a few outlets for control in the Dominion that players have lacked. Lastly, make Abhorash not my problem.

Third: How it went down

I tried to let players know the changes were coming. Most Houseleaders were chatted with regarding what we were doing to Vampires, and that this event was open. I wasn't perfect on this, did you know that some of you live in odd timezones and I can't figure out when to find you? This step can be counted as "ineffective".

It did, however, at least convince some resistance people to start being active. I had no idea what form the resistance would take, but the point here is to go with the flow. There was discussion of secret meeting places, so hey, we made secret meeting places. Not everyone agreed on what was going on, so we made multiple. During this, we amped up the "Abhorash sure is mean and not helpful" bit. The goal here was to push that he wanted people to take care of things themselves (even when he literally had to do it for them, what unrealistic standards!) and try to get the resistance running.

Now the resistance exists, and is working. But how to give them a real tool to do things? A few NPCs were playing along, but that didin't really feel like people were DOING things, and we wanted to stop short of putting in a mechanic like 'SUPPORT REVOLUTION, SUPPORT LOYALIST" because that felt a little meta. A few in game ideas were floated, like talking to the Archivists.. but it felt very lame to have another group swoop in and do the Thing. Enter Datlotl.

Datlotl's job was to introduce an unknown and perturb the system. With him in play, at least one side could see a victory condition, and the other side saw a lose condition. From here the goal was to introduce something that players could intercept/modify/kill and change where we were going. A few phials of Abhorash blood were made, and a messenger was sent. Our thoughts here were that it would be intercepted, and then we'd RP with the rebellion about what they could do with that kind of MacGuffin. Was hoping you guys would be super creative. (My personal goal was to convince everyone to throw it in the Flame. I had mechanisms in place for what this would do. The phials being made of Cthalut's Tears was supposed to be a big clue that the Light side could help)

Of course the loyalists succeeded in getting the vial there. I had expected, ranked in probability: Datlotl dead, vial taken by rebels, vial held hostage. Loyalists were not on my map. I severely underestimated you guys. Quick, let's rewrite what we were doing!

From here it was more of a script. Since our main pivot point was over, we could just roll with things IC and let it go.

Fourth: Plans

It was a given the new vampire things would be input into the game. Either it would be expressed in a strengthening of the Blood by Abhorash, or a weakening of it by the Rebels. I wrote down two possibilities, and a few mechanisms for each, with their results.

Loyalists: Get the vial to Datlotl. Get Abhorash to Datlotl.
Results: Abhorash unstoppable, elimination of any House related to the Rebellion. New system put in place, and Abhorash sticks around just the same as normal. Dominion increased in powers, Houses reduced, due to less 'freedom'.

Rebels: Steal the Vial. Kill Abhorash.
Results: Abhorash is a couple organs underneath Bloodloch, kept 'alive' by tubes and mechanisms so that the Blood is maintained. Elimination of Houses, Dominion Council left in charge.

Fifth: Of course, why did I even bother planning

It did not go that way. The rebels unified, surprisingly well. Aecian posts huge eloquent calls to action revealing the rebels. Loyalists see the post and rally behind Abhorash in unexpected numbers. Somehow Durian and Enorian are brought in to help stop Abhorash. Things are officially off plan and we're ad-libbing.

Both sides are impressing everyone in the Pools. It feels wrong to steal a victory from the Loyalists, even though I had assumed that's what I would be doing. It also feels wrong to ignore how solid the Rebellion built up. At this point, we are just staring in wonder at our players.

Then, with a cry of unity, BOTH sides deliver Abhorash. Better slaves than ash, I think it was? Now we're all wiping tears of pride and figure.. screw the results, we compromise.

Abhorash frees the Blood. Houses are reduced, Dominion upgraded. Abhorash sticks around to watch 'His' vampires succeed without him screaming orders.

So that's the long and here's the short: Without superb Loyalists, Abhorash would have been dead. Without superb Rebels, I'd have deleted a couple Houses and not made a player Primus. Good job for all of you.

Six: Lessons Learned

Do not assume players believe you when you say something is open ended.

Do not assume players will make meta level choices and push their characters out of established background (BAD TIUR, you knew better!)

It's well and good to remove mechanics (side that turns in the most phials wins!) but by doing that, you lose control utterly. I just had to watch where the phial was every 10 seconds and hope it didn't end up in a shop stockroom.

Seven: Regrets

I apologize to everyone IC that we have not expressed that both sides mattered here. This was the compromise win condition.

I apologize to those who felt it should have a clear win/lose. This is entirely my failing, I felt everyone was so damn awesome that we couldn't just decide it all or none.

Eight: You

Tell me! Was it fun? Should we never do this loosie-goosey stuff again? Are there plot holes I missed? Did I utterly ruin anyone's fun with my nazi-biased-Admin fiats?


  • AecianAecian NCMember Posts: 2
    edited June 2017

    Thank you. I appreciate the explicit acknowledgement that the Rebels were the cause of the opening of the Primus position to players. There was significant question around this point. I look forward to what comes next!

  • AeteyrAeteyr Member Posts: 14 ✭✭

    This was a surprisingly fun and engaging way of introducing a new system. I was at first a bit confused how Abho would be in such a forgiving mood, and not utterly destroy the traitors, but "the compromise ending" kinda does explain it to me. It would be a very harsh punishment, if the system was to be implemented regardless. Now seeing how the system is intended, I get it, although I still question whether Datlotls experiments even made sense from a lore point of view, not to mention Abho's willingness to trust a random crazy conclavist over his Blooded loyalists, who continously warned him this might be a bad course of action. We were even planning rituals of our own to cleanse him, following the trail of Yrtez and her dealings in the Conclave.

    That said, I do believe most people have let go their conflicts somehow reunited because of this ending, if it is the Primus' will, how could a loyalist refuse?

    Thank you for a cool way of introducing something new, and I do hope "loosie-goosey" events are held in the future aswell. It kept both suspence and engagement high. It felt important.
  • TragerTrager Raiding your underwear drawer.Member Posts: 574 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for the really comprehensive breakdown on how things played out during the Vampire shenanigans! I've one big question, though!

    1. If the intention of the arc was to be a way to separate admin-controlled characters from the controlling force in the Dominion, as well as inject a better, comprehensive system for Vampires in general, how would have destroying a few Houses and giving Abhorash even more power accomplished that? From the outside look in, this looks as if the end-goal here was ultimately always the same, and it was merely the way we the players took the journey what was open for heavy interpretation.

    Admittedly, I've never been one to believe in the mentality, 'Everyone is a winner'. That idea in itself does not promote excellence, or winning, in the slightest. However, I do realise the necessity of it here. Had the Primus openly slapped down the rebellion, it would have quite literally ruined their characters in regards to Bloodloch. No one wants to see another person fun taken away. Because in the end, it is just that - fun, a game.
    Indoran'i is back baby. It's go-... Oh.

  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 575 ✭✭✭✭
    I enjoyed this event, (even though I only viewed it from the sidelines).

    It's kinda cool to get a peak behind the curtain too!

    And...other stuff which I'll add later.
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Cute-Kelli by @Sessizlik.
  • VashVash Member Posts: 118 ✭✭✭
    I love how open you are being with the player base, that takes a lot of guts.

    I have been on both sides of IRE events and I think they are one of the hardest things to actually pull off well.

    As a player when you are in the middle of an event you know that the "normal" rules don't really apply but at the same time you are not exactly sure how things can change. Are you supposed to kill that mob? If you do will it break something? Are the admins waiting for you to come up with something they can play off of or have you missed some major clue and have gone off the rails confusing everyone? Is this an event with a desired outcome and if you try to change it things will become frustrating for everyone involved or are you expected to influence the outcome? Etc.

    On the other side (only as a minor assistant) I found it was basically impossible to predict what players would do or what would be obvious or not to them. MUDs are like this odd mix of a real free form pen and paper RPG where the GM can react to anything and a computer game with fixed rules backed by code that is very hard to change on the fly. So at times your ability to react to something is very limited and you have to force some kind of pause before you can proceed which always feels artificial. At the same time you are trying to not break immersion and give OOC comments to the players.

    It is also very hard to design an event that can be influenced by players that does not just devolve into who is the best at PVP or who can get the biggest group together. You also want to involve lots of players in the action if possible while trying to keep things sane.

    I don't envy either group.
    Typically In Game: JST (GMT+9) 6AM-8AM and 6PM-10PM
  • TiurTiur Producer Member, Administrator, Immortal Posts: 1,113 admin
    @Aeteyr I made the disclaimer in the beginning that I won't be perfect in lore, I have a real lack of resources on that front. Though Datlotl was fully in lore for someone who found books on Yretz's notes.

    @Trager I was willing to accept that if a dominant percentage of Bloodloch loved Abhorash, I was stuck with the guy. I really, really wanted him gone... but I'm not going to be THAT much of a jerk to you guys. Luckily it was in canon for Abhorash to just be amused by a rebellion, and even encourage it. "Good, fight me! Be strong! TRY IT!". It's the only part of Abhorash I like. He berates the people who support him for being weak, respects the rebels, but still wants the rebels ded.

    @Vash Our next attempt will be to see if a long, consistent events can carry us over things like "Who has the biggest group today" and "Who stayed up 48 hours to make sure they got all the turn-ins". It's going to be super difficult.

    @Koda I actually love this now. I just was being cynical. You guys are great.

    I remember one of the first and biggest events I ever got to take part in was Death's Heart in Achaea. It was a HUGE deal for us. And the admin changed the game on us because we were winning too much, and the Dark win condition was basically "Kill the world". I know the Admin wanted to roll out SO MUCH new stuff, and the Darkies came out of nowhere to pull off this huge coup. But I always felt like they should have rolled with it more than they should have. We stayed up for multiple nights, fought massive pvp wars... and we lost :(
  • LinLin Blackbird The MoongladeMember Posts: 1,792 ✭✭✭✭✭
    @Tiur, I really love these "behind the scenes" style posts. I'd kill to see these every once in a while after a big event. Such fun reading.

  • ZailaZaila Pacific TimeMember Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I didn't take any participation in this event at all, so I can't offer any first-person account of how enjoyable it was to participate in; however, the description of how you guys all handled the event sounds exactly how I'd want to see events handled behind the scenes! Player decisions matter, there are some eventualities planned for, but willingness to break them if the players take an unplanned direction.

    More Loosey Goosey stuff, please?
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