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Thread: PBEM Rules!

  1. #1
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    PBEM Rules!

    I don't know if a thread like this has been started, but I think it's high time a discussion occurred and was continually refined.

    BRCS set up a pretty good 3.5e conversion standard for tabletop games, though of course many believe it needs improvement. I think, however, that we ought to turn our collective intelligence to streamlining the system for optimal PBEM play.

    Ultimately, I'd love to see the PBEM community take off, routinely break the curse of game lifespans limited to 1d4-1 turns, and provide a major means of expanding and enlivening the BR community and fan base.

    To make these goals possible, I think PBEMs need to be streamlined to be as manageable as possible. I'm soliciting your input on how to make that happen.

    1. At the macro level, what are some of the best ways we can imagine to run and keep a PBEM alive? DM tools, Access databases for tracking Domains and processing Domain Turns, a manageable game mastering system with multiple DMs, or with a lead DM and less omniscient assistant DMs, etc?

    2. At the micro level, what rules changes can make PBEMs easier to play and run (reducing bookkeeping, decreasing rules questions, speeding up play, etc)? Note that some things may be sacrificed in detail but should be able to be made up by story-level abstraction to enhance gameplay.


    Here are some rules changes I've seen used frequently or have added minor tweaks to myself to streamline the system:

    A. Law Holdings make .5GB income; Guild and Temple make 1GB income
    B. Roads are created as singular assets in a province, much like castles, notated next to the province and assumed to connect to any other adjacent roads
    C. Ley lines work like roads, as above, and can be created across multiple provinces at once and accessible in each via a realm action with the appropriate number of court actions dedicated
    D. Sources provide Court actions usable only for mebhaigl-related activities (ruling and contesting Sources, creating Ley Lines) as if the Source holder had a Court equal to the highest level Source holding; these actions are in addition to any other Court
    E. Province Fortifications cost 1GB to maintain; Holding Fortifications cost 0.5GB to maintain; these are flat fees, regardless of the fortification level
    F. Roads have no maintenance cost
    G. Palaces cost 1GB to maintain regardless of level
    H. Units costing 1-3GB cost 1GB to maintain; units valued at 4+GB cost 2GB to maintain; I would further allow free garrisoning in own or allied realm at half cost; likewise ships cost 1GB/15GB cost to maintain
    I. Troop movement has no GB cost (assumed in the full mobilized cost and terrain-point movement cost slowing down their overland progress)
    J. Provide Alchemy free to wizards, reduce the RP cost to 3RP per GB produced, set no limit on GB produced
    K. Reduce Realm Spell research time to 1 month for levels 1-3, 2months for 4-6, 3months for 7-9; reduce Warding and perhaps other realm spells to 3rd level or so

    Credit for many of these rules goes to Fearless_Leader, Thelandrin, Wanderer, and ErictheCleric, though I have bastardized some of their ideas into my own form a little bit.

    There are other rules, including some additional rules, but I'll put it to the community to suggest what you think are helpful or necessary rules that will either cover important gaps in the system or streamline it and make it easier to play. In particular, I'd like to see improvements in these areas:

    I. Warfare, including PBEM-friendly battle resolution, realistic battle factors, logistical issues
    II. Much-reduced PC character creation--brought down to core mechanics necessary for realm rule and some adventuring or dueling/competing in tournaments
    III. Better character play--Adventure/tournament/dueling resolution methods and systems
    IV. Blood Abilities more relevant to realm-level play and PBEM character play
    V. Streamline Courts somehow; it's a fair amount of bookkeeping and still has deficiencies
    VI. Better economic simulations if possible without cluttering the system much
    VII. Empowerment of non-landed regents (PBEMs are particularly sensitive, I think, to the power differences between landed and non-landed players)
    VIII. A good quick resolution method for the DM to apply to NPC realms
    IX. A method of handling player requests to create new vassals to more efficiently run large realms--hopefully without denying that opportunity and without doubling the DM's work for that player

    I have some ideas on each of these areas, but I don't have time to address them tonight (and I'll be away for four nights) and I want to see some community's opinions first. Once this gets started, I'll create a new BrWiki page/section to compile PBEM rules.

    Any ideas/interest in this?

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Some thoughts - apologies for the length, I'd note that these are often not so much PBEM rules as generic realm rules though. Similarly some gripe about interpretations or house rules as opposed to BRCS.

    1. Unstable players.
    Player turnover is a swine, particularly for 'central' realms. Realm a attacks realm B say in turn 2, realm B repels and rebuilds planning a revenge assault, then player A wanders off and their replacement wonders what the heck realm B is doing with their invasion when their realms are historic allies! For the DM it must be even worse continually updating people and plans.

    Losing a major realm like Avanil, Halskapa, Ariya etc can cripple a game in a few turns (as of course can a regent of one of these realms who sees the game as a board game not a role playing game)

    I have no idea how to fix this - beyond recruiting 'known' players to these realms and only risking lesser realms with newbies.


    2. The BR world map.

    2.1. If the DM is going to put non-humans in play, particularly humanoids and awnies, they can struggle to be allowed to speak in RP terms. Playing a realm which cannot trade, speak, etc to anyone is possibly many things but not a RPG.

    In RW for example one idea floated to allow the White Witch to interact was that rather than everyone 'knowing' that the White Witch was a CE awnie bent on world domination, this was something suspected by some, considered political slurs by others allowing the Witch to be judged by her actions (leading to some interesting misjudgments as the witch manipulated regents who had seen proof of Gandvick's fidelity...) Similar ideas would work for other human looking awnies, for more twisted being a front (like Yurre in the Manticore’s realm) would be needed.

    Bringing in the goblins and elves is harder, but some sort of historical ties could be usefully planted (say Boeruine has a historical alliance with Thurazor for example) to give them at least one realm to talk to. For elves I'd see the main route as 'young' elves bent on trying a new way (the older elves know it won't last more than a few decades, but children must make their own mistakes) to excuse trade, etc. Dwarves are easier to bring into play, but orogs seem harder even than goblins.

    2.2. Depth of realms. The Rjurik Highlands and Brechtur are effectively a line of realms, not a 2-dimensional map. Each realm has loosely speaking a neighbour in each side with few areas having 'depth'. Of course adding realms is always troublesome, although a 'bandit isle' can be placed off most coasts.

    Adding a 'depth' dimension to these realms does however cause a geometric increase in potential interactions of regents and reduces the likelihood of major wars (more borders to defend).

    3. Websites
    3.1. Forums. A website with forums is a bonus - although it can no doubt eat up DM time immensely. Forums work well for grand festivals, and nations with large central debating sites of power - I don't know how well they would work in Vosgaard or Rjurik.

    3.2. Maps. As a player a online map is very handy - particularly when away from home and trying to remember province names!

    3.3. Is there a 'standard package' for PBEM websites? I'd guess not but RW and HotFE both had/have great websites. Other games probably also have other online tools and I don't know if there is anyway of putting these together for would-be GM's to use as stocks.

    4. The crown's power must not be absolute.

    Unless only realm rulers will be regents the ‘little guys’ need to be able to defy realm regents and still find ways of prospering. Yes a DM can use role-play to rein-in would be god-king's (he opposed me with 4 RP against my rule law action? Traitor! Send troops to destroy his guilds!) or all-holding dominator-types but some sort of stated rules penalty would avoid cries of DM bias is needed – for occupation (the key non-realm regent killer) the *2 bloodline loss in BRCS is one method, automatic morale losses another, but any house-rule to eliminate penalties also likely eliminates troublesome non-realm regents barring exceptional roleplaying from the realm regent’s.

    5. Adventures: Rjurik Winds has an online tabletop site for adventures - maps, dice and a PM forum all in one. We haven't got VOIP working yet but they tend to work surprisingly well most of the time despite time-zone issues. (Don’t mix aussie and UK players in one adventure….)

    Heirs of the Fallen Empire IV used a descriptive method - say what you want to do and how and the DM will make the call on outcome. This also worked reasonably well but was more work for the DM and missed out a lot of the interaction.

    6. War: A tough one. DM judgment is one way but unsatisfying for the players, RW uses the tabletop and a simplified warcard battle system, ideally a proper online war-game system would be designed but that's certainly beyond me. Does anyone know a good way to play out wars online?

    7. Manor holdings sound fun, but risks being simply another holding type for a power-grabber to take. Generally however another holding type adds to complexity, gives more scope for interaction, and escalates game income. All of which have both good and bad points of course.

    8. Wizard gripes (OK, so I'm bitter ):
    8.1. Sources should be divorced from other holding types - they don't interact with law/guild/temple holdings and vice versa. A mage has half the income of any other regent (i.e. RP only, no GB), may well have far fewer actions (hmm, 2 Gb income this turn, I wonder how many actions I'll take) and further has to undertake all actions personally. Divorcing the holding types gives them a slim amount of protection (which of course goes both ways) and can easily imho be justified in role-play terms.

    8.2. Mages need more spells that are useful to other regents to give the wizard something to trade with other regents. Realm spells should be able to be cast up to one province from the wizards source - otherwise the wizard can only ever 'defend/investigate' what they already hold.

    8.3. I'd say that rather than having to physically go to various locations to create/rule a source the wizard merely needs a proximate source/leyline - otherwise the wizard will routinely have to go into personal danger - the law holder can send sheriffs into a new province without risking themselves, similarly priests and guilders can send minions, wizards however generally have to do everything themselves.

    8.4. I'd limit alchemy to making source/spell related 'GB' - if you make gold then the elves are ridiculously wealthy. I made an alchemy variant on the wiki with this in mind.

    8.5. I'd give sources, say, 1/3 Gb per level - not much income but enough to give all source holders something. It puts more gold in the elves hands but without temples they should still be balanced.

    9. Action rules:
    9.1. Rule province. This can rapidly lead to escalation of power in a game - the wiki has several methods for reigning it in, the alternative of 'easy pillaging' to keep population levels roughly stable is in my view unstable.

    9.2. I'd make an 'event' action - any regent can turn GB into RP at 1:4 via festivities, works of art, etc. Even non-scion regents could do this although they'd lose unspent RP at the end of the season as per usual. I'd note that alchemy costs and troop maintenance rules need to be reviewed if changed to stop money fountain issues - all 'transfers' between RP and GB should be depreciated whichever way they go.

    This means that a non scion (for example in an Adurian campaign, or a small domain regent) can still spend RP if need be, gives gold-rich regents another thing to spend money on, etc. I'd allow RP collection and retention to be based on bloodline plus a stat modifier to allow some lower-score regents a chance.

  3. #3
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    1. Unstable players.
    Player turnover is a swine, particularly for 'central' realms. Realm a attacks realm B say in turn 2, realm B repels and rebuilds planning a revenge assault, then player A wanders off and their replacement wonders what the heck realm B is doing with their invasion when their realms are historic allies! For the DM it must be even worse continually updating people and plans.

    I have no idea how to fix this - beyond recruiting 'known' players to these realms and only risking lesser realms with newbies.
    Having played really, really good on-line games with turns, random players, and so on, but never, ever having played a BR PBeM that was the least bit sensible, I think its mostly in the approach of those running the PBeM's.

    1st, use team building. Think seriously about how you want teams to operate, because this is probabaly the most important part of any multi-player game. I would recommend:
    • The DM recruits only the team leaders, and the team leaders reruit their own teams.
    • The team leaders don't have to be the obvious landed regents, picking different team leaders changes the game and can make it fresh.

      For example, imagine an Anuire game in which the team leaders are: Avanil, Boeruine, Ghoere, Mhoried, and everyone else is picked by those team leaders, and a game where the team leaders are Arien Borthein, Parnien Anuvier Iniere, Kalien, Mheallie Bireon, and Moerele Lannaman.

      Team Kalien includes Ghoere, Diemed, and Alamie, not to mention Medoere and Endier. Its unlikely you get that configuration of teams by looking at Ghoere and building a team.

      Team Moerele includes Coeranys. Would team Mhoried?
    • Not every domain needs to be on a team, but 2/3s of the map should be on one of the teams. You can add enough teams that everyone gets on a team, but its not neccesary. People like to play outside realms that can tip the balance by playing both sides or joining the highest bidder.
    • Teams have their own victory conditions. Both minor and major. Minor victory conditions help keep people interested once it becomes clear that the major victory is probabaly out of reach. Make the conditions such that you probabaly end up a major victor, a minor victor, a minor loser, and a major loser. People will actually spend time jockying to improve their current position. Its hard to keep a team together that is likely going to be the major loser, unless they team has been playing a while as a team, and they think with some good play they can pull out a minor loss, instead of a major one.
    • Teams can include unconventional groups that are otherwise hard to play, like having a team that playes several elf domains near the play area. In an Anuire game, Sielwode, Dhoesone, and Tuarhievel can be a team, including both the Dhoesone wizards for five players.

      Teams might also include such things as a Team Gorgon, or building unconventional teams around other abominations. Little abomination realms could be random events or could be players on a larger abomination team. The Spider could easily be run either way.
    • DM's need to explain the world to players and not just assume that everyone is on the same page because the have the materials for the table top. Victory conditions help to do that, by providing clear goals, but stuff that explains who you are and what you are doing is useful. Are Anuirean wizards normal rulers or despised? If a player playing a wizard posts, will rivals take it like any other team communication or scoff and insult the character. Everyone needs a heads up about what to expect. Either one is OK, as long as everyone knows ahead of time.
    • War should be slow and indecisive. Like it is real life. Especially like medieval war was. Battlefield victories should be much easier than capitalizing on them. Occupation should be common, but annexation rare.
    • Most actions should be pretty open and well know to everyone. Secret actions should be harder to perform and word should leak out at least some of the time. Players should not be operating in the dark.
    • There should be lots of things to do, not just armies ro raise and command. Managing loyalty at home, Espionage, and magical actions should all be normal parts of the game.

  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    4. The crown's power must not be absolute.

    Unless only realm rulers will be regents the ‘little guys’ need to be able to defy realm regents and still find ways of prospering. Yes a DM can use role-play to rein-in would be god-king's (he opposed me with 4 RP against my rule law action? Traitor! Send troops to destroy his guilds!) or all-holding dominator-types but some sort of stated rules penalty would avoid cries of DM bias is needed – for occupation (the key non-realm regent killer) the *2 bloodline loss in BRCS is one method, automatic morale losses another, but any house-rule to eliminate penalties also likely eliminates troublesome non-realm regents barring exceptional roleplaying from the realm regent’s.
    I have a game design principle I am really fond of. There is a small core of real damage potential, and a larger sphere of rechargeable damage absorption. To win, I need to reduce your rechargeable defenses, and get through and break your actual thing. I prefer this mechanic where ever I find it. I need to reduce a unit's "organization" before I can inflict real casualties to it, I need to reduce a star ship's shields before I can damage the hull, and in D&D, I need to whittle away at the Vitality until I can get to the Wounds. In Holdings, this means I need to spend away all of your regency before I can really do any damage to your holdings.

    Now, depending on the system, reducing the rechargeable defenses might be impossible on a one to one fight. The best you can do is pin your opponent (max out their spending so all they can do is defend, but they can't perform other actions). That's still something important, but its quite different from just rolling over an opponent. This requires that you have a spending limit which prevents you from just spending your whole treasury at once. Both overall and locally.

    The situation then is one where its easy to pin your opponent, but hard to kill them. Over a long contest its going to favor both the richer power (more resources) as well as the more skilled character (better rolls). But not overnight. Contests should be long enough that wars to the death of one power is almost always impractical.

    While this means that games must last longer, it also means players won't feel like they need to drop out as soon as the tide shifts against them. Currently, its often possible for a player to spend every last dime they have on an army (or whatever) and then lose it and their realm is gone in the next move phase.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    8. Wizard gripes (OK, so I'm bitter ):
    8.2. Mages need more spells that are useful to other regents to give the wizard something to trade with other regents. Realm spells should be able to be cast up to one province from the wizards source - otherwise the wizard can only ever 'defend/investigate' what they already hold.
    I don't know that spells are the answer (though I'm not opposed to any new well balanced spell), but rather actions. Source holders need some cool actions that can be useful. The distinction between spells and actions may ultimately only be one of terminology and maybe mechanics.

    8.3. I'd say that rather than having to physically go to various locations to create/rule a source the wizard merely needs a proximate source/leyline - otherwise the wizard will routinely have to go into personal danger - the law holder can send sheriffs into a new province without risking themselves, similarly priests and guilders can send minions, wizards however generally have to do everything themselves.
    I don't think its dangerous for any spell caster to go anywhere unless very specific conditions are met. Spells like invisibility and sanctuary are just to available for spellcasters to have problems. Now there is a general principle with these spells that is worth keeping in mind. Attacks prevent the protection. Wizards who go on the attack should be vulnerable, but that only means that before a wizard attacks they need to build sources.

    But this is only natural. Any attack should have some long and obvious build up.

    8.4. I'd limit alchemy to making source/spell related 'GB' - if you make gold then the elves are ridiculously wealthy. I made an alchemy variant on the wiki with this in mind.
    Unless there is something to buy, this isn't really a problem. Generally I think the problem in most games is that there is unlimited availability of what should be scarce resources.

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    Junior Member Capricia's Avatar
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    The curse of 1d4 +1 is one I have experienced over and over again as a player in other games. The same mistakes seem to lead to the same outcome. (but hey, this is just my view point, I"m sure there are many, many others.)

    1) GM power abuse. The GM who feels the need to control every element of the game, down to the minutia. I've experienced games where GM's have actually lied to their players, both in and out of character, in order to "force" the storyline. This kills games fast, and makes for lasting distrust.

    2) So many rumours, so little time. One of my friends (and a fine GM) once told me that it isn't necessary to give the players a large number of rumours or plot hooks. Give them a turn or two and they will have made their own. As a GM, the job is to let the players weave the story.

    3) GM burnout. This might be the prime reason for game death. If there is only one GM, attempting to process turns, keep up on email, run the NPC's and make rulings, then its only a matter of time. There are only so many hours in a day, and GM'ing a PBEM is a full time hobby. The group I game with has a prime GM, and three other full time members of the team. The work is split, from running the NPC's and at least some of the "major" realms to the running and maintaining of a forum and supporting website as well as online support programming to assist the GM. (It never hurts to have a programmer around! *grin*)

    4) A clash of styles. If a GM is visualizing a more pastoral Anuire, full of long story arcs and diplomatic overtures, then bringing on board players who cherish the "War by Turn 2" approach is going to produce unhappiness for all.
    No matter what the GM's vision is, they need to communicate this, and try to find players that can work in harmony with this vision. Not all players should play in all games.

    5) The mixed bag that is Instant Messaging. Players join up, they get into contact, and the next thing you know, they're chatting away to each other. Which is great, to a point. But sometimes chatting turns to gossip, gossip turns to complaining, and the next thing the GM knows there are players armed with ooc info and a grudge that have nothing to do with what's going on in game. When players seem to be turning on each other, a GM who doesn't jump in and ask "what the hades" is going to watch their game go boom.

    Five thoughts on why most games to make it past Turn five. If there was a simple fix or formula, then it could be packaged and sent out to new GM's. I think that most of this can only be learned by experience, and gaining the battle scars. If nothing else, GM'ing a game should make anyone into a nicer, more appreciative player.

  7. #7

    teams: That might be something

    Hello there;

    To reply to the first post: I too do wish for an updated (Birmail-like) app to run PBeMs. I run "Rjurik Winds" (RW) with Birmail and we are on turn 12 (Game turned 1 year old last Jan) -- so we've encountered just about all the problems you listed. We are even changing rules every so often: mostly to gett rid of house-rules actualy and my three ingreedients tothe "secret sauce" so far have been:

    1. Stick as closely to Core rules as you can
    Otherwise players end up needing to be "re-trained". I originally made Mustering a full domain action (not free): to limit the DM work associated with new units. You cannot imagine the number of times I had to get players to revise their orders and RE-EXPLAIN that they needed a full action. Custom rules are sometimes great, but GM's work then becomes more of rules-explanations; players love to discuss them; they counter argue; you waste (precious) time, but if you "stick to core", that tends to help get past the action negotiation;

    2. Don't force the player's hands:GM should have secondary role.
    I smiled when I saw "Capricia's" Post about GM power-abuse: This one is tough andI tryas hard as I can NOT to interfere: quite often I have players askme if I'm OK with them "destroying" another player;my answer is usually: "This is your game, you can play it as you want to play it;I'monly the DM, so that means I'm here only to make sure that your actions obey the rules-and that they are not out-of-setting." -- Let me explain that last one;and perhaps I'd love some feedback on it. Dargal the goblin King of Urga-Zai starts out with no guilds in his realm; he COULD create one;but given that it's not like goblins to have guilds (out-of-setting) I forbid it. Now in the Rjurik setting we have several other particularities; Wizards are "shunned" but the mechanics are not in place to enable non-wizards to drive them out. Two large temples of Erik dominate; and often Player regents felt that a more "national" church could serve their interests -- I forebade new temples not of Erik; but I did allow for them to spring-up. Most have shriveled against large temples, but still one could ask if a newer third temple would "break" with setting or not. so "out-of-setting" is still a judgement call. Oh and I also note that quite often DMs is forced to intervene when a player is feeling unhappy: And evidently wars and conflict will have loosers. It's always hard to manage players expectations in those situations and it has been tough resisting some players who asked for "favors" (justiice) when they are down: It goes both way in that DM involvement may make some people unsatisfied, and similarly lack of involvement may make other players unhappy!

    3. Adventures.
    Ok, I know it's extra time; but there is NOTHING as important for player as getting together for a group chat; Emails are a strange medium; you sometimes say things in emails that get mis-understood. I've seen this OVER AND OVER. I've had to apologize profuciously several times for having been read for something I totally did not write; and it happens to players to, especialy when they are writing IC, and find their character's voice:They might sound overly proud, overly demanding;and if you have amix of english as second language you are in for a mess! So that's why I hold adventures dear: When you bring in a second medium like chat this allows more camaraderie to build: you are no longer a neighbor of Rjuvik; you actualy were on adventure with him! You caught some of his quirky sayings on the chat, and on next email you actually have rapport, not just dictates with which to use in your IC communication.

    Overall I'll say that what I enjoy most about DM'ing games is writing and reading IC: yes, even the DM writes some: If three people were in a biding situation on an Espionage action I might write a little piece IC to give them the result: Exchanges of letters only becomes quickly cold; but if you give it color, and ask your players to write more like "fiction" and less like "letters"...

    The bard arrived at the "Black Mark" Tavern and lent an ear to a conversation at the bar.
    "Barman! Do you think Erik and the gods actually care for us at all? Do they in fact come to Cerillia or in any way influence our kings?"
    "You take me for a druid? How should I know! What you should really ask me is for another pint of ale!"
    "Ney, ney oh I've had four so far; and my question is for you -- for I think you might have visits from the shadows; how else would your establishment be so reputed for knowing news of the highlands almost a month from when they happen?"
    "Haha! You want my trade-secret and I'll tell you I have none; Sigrun the bard here is the rumor mill; So how then Sigrun, how then tell us some news of the highlands!?"
    The bard approached, and swung his luth around to pluck a few notes
    "Well then merry wonderers, know then that Erik and Karesha, Vani and Narjika, Haelyn and Sera all look upon you with favor: Obey their ancient established rules, but wish not for them to intervene; and lastly make sure you take up sword and axe when opportunity calls to find glory: for the cold northern winds calls for the name of champions; And those champions may be any of you!"

    Game on.
    Last edited by cyrano24100; 03-10-2008 at 04:25 AM.

  8. #8
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    In RW for example one idea floated to allow the White Witch to interact was that rather than everyone 'knowing' that the White Witch was a CE awnie bent on world domination, this was something suspected by some, considered political slurs by others allowing the Witch to be judged by her actions (leading to some interesting misjudgments as the witch manipulated regents who had seen proof of Gandvick's fidelity...) Similar ideas would work for other human looking awnies, for more twisted being a front (like Yurre in the Manticore’s realm) would be needed.
    As I think about this, the best solution is probably to introduce a new character. Include some description of the change and create as much ambiguity as you want about the new guy. If you join a game and Jurgen Bjornsson is the ruler of the realm of Snealand where you expected the White Witch, its a lot easier to handle the issue of character knowledge vs player knowledge, because you've put a question in the mind of the player. Jurgen could be the new regent, a front man for the White Witch, or a genuine new Rjurik hero. Who knows for sure?

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    As I think about this, the best solution is probably to introduce a new character. Include some description of the change and create as much ambiguity as you want about the new guy. If you join a game and Jurgen Bjornsson is the ruler of the realm of Snealand where you expected the White Witch, its a lot easier to handle the issue of character knowledge vs player knowledge, because you've put a question in the mind of the player. Jurgen could be the new regent, a front man for the White Witch, or a genuine new Rjurik hero. Who knows for sure?
    Agreed, although there is more planning up-front for the poor GM - unless players can write their own histories for their realms and regents which are then treated (once approved) as 'the known history'. There will however always be issues with new players this way as they will miss much of the 'back story' on joining. Changing the name is probably a necessity to make players think twice before assuming that the 'standard' back story is known/correct.

    So, anyone got good names for the siren, white witch, raven, banshegh, etc that don't scream awnsheghlien engine of destruction? What about their realms?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    So, anyone got good names for the siren, white witch, raven, banshegh, etc that don't scream awnsheghlien engine of destruction? What about their realms?
    If you want a name for a PC that doesn't "scream awnsheghlien engine of destruction" then I would go with a person's name. The awnsheghlien have real names, but no one will be tricked by using them. But a new name is an unknown quantity, players have to figure out whether this is old wine in new bottles or something entirely new.

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