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Soyaman

Expectaction vs Reality

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Greetings, old time player who quit after some time.
I'll try my best to outline why I personally feel disconnected from the server and what really keeps me from returning.

My biggest issue is that what you'd expect from the world set up by roleplay is entirely different from the actual reality and while "IC" and "OOC" should be kept seperate, the reality has bled into expectaction and warped what people now expect.

I'll use some references of old characters and scenario (for my own sake) I hope the new players can follow, I'll try my best to outline what is what, but most of the remnants are still found on the Forum.

 

Emyisia - A high ranking spellcaster of Silvermoon. Leader of her own blood elven band of warriors.  - Expectaction : Powerful

Frederick - An excellent warrior that runs his own company (Ironbound) of grizzly battle hardened combatants. - Expectaction : Much stronger than average.

Relivanth - A Kirin Tor Reject and Aspirant Spellbreaker - Expectaction : Average

Iniine - An ancient druid in a deep slumber recently awoken without no real experience outside the Emerald Dream - Expectaction : Below Average.

Mel - Kitchen waifu. - Expectaction : Weak.

 

Much of early days of US had an air of roleplay and expectactions set up by that. The Ironbound of which both Relivanth and Frederick was part of would march the streets and tout how they'd protect the weaker citizens (See : Mel) 

This illusion was quickly shattered..
Reality: Frederick was seen as somewhat more dangerous due to OOC min-max. Relivanth and Mel both formed as a backline.

While this isn't that big a blow the troubles grew higher when player conflict emerged.

When Relivanth switched to join Emyisia and the two big guilds of blood elves and ironbound was facing off each other, the two most capable, experienced and trained warriors ultimately was turned off of fighting each other for one reason.. The presence of weaker characters.


Expectaction : The two guilds fighting over control of the neutral civilian group.
Reality : The civilians became the great unequaliser, not only by sheer number as both guilds had a relatively similar number, the experience of these characters were not represented in any way. What realistically would've been a slaughter (if the civilians chose a side) instead became the winning side.
Status Quo was upheld.

While the roleplay ended fantastically (thanks to all participants!) I and many others were sadly turned a little off by this.

Earlier before this happened, a tournament was ongoing and several "warrior" players lost to civilian players due to mechanic restrictions.
In other words. Their strength wasn't represented.

 

This however goes both ways.

 

I don't personally feel like characters are allowed to be represented the way they should be. The system in built in the game is excellent and is no way a hinderence by design. It is simply too rigid. 
In terms of "exp" I do not see why characters such as Emiysia, Frederick and Relivanth couldn't have started on Veteran, Veteran & Trained for example whilst letting for example Mel take the 0 exp route. 

Progression doesn't have to apply to all. I personally often create characters as a support cast, my character would've started relatively powerful but ultimately would only be a vessel for the "Adventurer" whose potential might grow even higher than mine, say Iniine, who could be trained by and protected until she grew more powerful (again, even exceeding my own). 

This dynamic would allow players to create the characters that they want to actually play.
Pre-made powerful characters are only a problem insofar that the players of said characters expect the same level of progression and attention as everyone else.
People roleplaying often give attention to the characters that facilitate the best roleplay and the "power progression" should in my opinion be a lot more rapid and loose (Read, less rigid) to allow the adventurer characters with lofty ambitions, a lot of focus or just sheer (un)luck to attain great status.

By allowing rapid growth of characters and a quick entry you also allow player characters to tell and finish their own stories much more dynamically. Instead of worrying about "progressing" so you can reach where you feel your character would be IC or trying to find IC justifiable reasons why your character suddenly became one of the most powerful people in the Doldrums.
These two situations doesn't lead to very interesting RP IMO and I think keepers could be a lot more liberal about handing out EXP and let players spend it as they wish (if they even want to)

Like a game of dungeons and dragons. If the rules or game mechanics are in the way of telling a good story, a good dungeon master will disregard the rules & mechanics to make a good experience for their mate.

I think we should try to have a server by that same line of thinking..

 

I hope I made a level of sense. 
I'd be especially interested in hearing from some of the older characters on the server but also the new ones! 

Do you feel like a loosening of the system would undermine your current several month progression?
Do you think you ever progressed too fast for your story?
Is progression too slow?
Would you be more comfortable creating a new character if you could choose your own starting level?
Do you want a bigger divide in power and crafting capabilities between player characters?

Answer below!

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To keep this short:

  • I'd love a clear divide between crafters and adventurers. I like the idea of each character filling a specific role, be it a woodcutter, blacksmith, adventurerer, salvager or a mix of some of those. Instead of the way it currently is, where each character can fill every role given enough time.
  • I like loosening of the system. I think it would be best if you allow a new character to reach a veteran-level quickly, but then slowing it down and leave much room to grow past that for the long-term.
  • I'd not mind character death at all if I could just roll a new character afterwards with a higher starting level or profession level and not having to start from 0 again as a usless scrub.

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So, the thing about Mel (hi, I'm Mel) is that while I had a narrative concept for her in mind, I also made her in such a way where the expectation of power would probably mesh with the mechanical progression as it unfolded. I've butted heads with staff members a couple of times through the course of that evolution while figuring it out, but largely, I'm actually very much okay with how things have gone. I didn't envision Mel as a low-power character, I envisioned her as a character agnostic of power, and then adapted to the reality of how power played out and changed with regard to the character and the larger community and story. I don't see her as a 'high-power' character now, nor do I try to play her as one, despite being one of the oldest and highest XP characters currently on the server, because her mechanical power doesn't constitute the most important things about her, to me. She's a community-oriented character, a socially-oriented character, and I think for the most part, a lot of her 'sway' in things now doesn't come from her mechanical ability; it comes from her social and community position. She has very much evolved from a character who was essentially afraid of anything remotely dangerous, to someone who will do everything they can to walk beside someone who would otherwise be going into danger alone. She knows things, remembers things, and has developed skills and abilities very much based on a "we're all in this together" mentality, so in or out of combat, she strives to help others, and demands the best of people. While I play her as not believing it, she has gone from someone who needed to be protected, to someone who is very much a leader. It's come from her experiences with other characters, and I've tried to justify everything about who she is now by her experiences 'growing up' in the Doldrums, around all the other past and present characters. That's a character who's going to end up with ties to a lot of people, and relationships with a lot of people, and thus a lot of pull with a lot of people. But mechanically, she's maxed out in two professions--Architect (which has near-zero pure mechanical impact), and Provisioner (which is kind of a second-tier profession at best)--and would lose in a straight fight against any serious combat-focused character at almost any XP level. So she's both powerful and weak at the same time, and it's all come through an evolutionary narrative process. She's been a scared nobody, apprentice healer, caretaker, local leader, diplomat, negotiator, pseudo-crusader, entrepreneur, experienced healer, innkeeper, veteran survivor, local loremaster, and so on and so on, and almost none of that was what I originally had in mind, and I like the way it turned out way, way better. It's made her a much richer, fuller character in the long run.

Wall of text aside, I think starting from zero like anyone else gave me the chance to mold a very compelling character for me to play over time in collaboration with the setting and system, instead of trying to force my concept onto the setting and system. But to achieve that, I saw what I was getting into, and committed to it as-is, and I'm honestly happy with the overall result from a narrative standpoint. I certainly think there's plenty of room for the systems to be made smoother and better designed, so I don't disagree with there needing to be improvements made to the systems and mechanics. But I think lifting the enforced baseline might damage what makes the server such a unique experience. It's not something everyone is going to enjoy, but it's also not meant for everyone to enjoy. There's a specific vision in play here (while it might not be extremely clearly conveyed), and I think this would dilute that vision. I think a better play would be to find specific targeted failings of the system to effectively onboard new players with that vision, and work on those aspects in order to make it easier for a player to bring their roleplay to the server, instead of demand that the server cater to their roleplay.

In terms of GMing style, there are ultimately two primary types; the type which is highly concept-permissive, where the GM flexes the setting to accommodate whatever their players want to play; and the type which is more setting-first, where the GM has the setting and world, and there are firm, fixed boundaries within which players can create their concept. Shores is clearly the latter. There are going to be players who love that, and players who hate that, and players who have mixed feelings; I just think that's the nature of the beast.

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