SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-21 12:16pm

It would be interesting to see what people think the redrawn map would look like, as an exercise...

Again, what I'm getting at is that if we change this by changing the map, with the implication that things have always been this way, we change the context of international actions to the point where it would also be a good time to start SDNW5, break with any events in SDNW4's past that we don't want in our history (like the MEH war), revise the rules, and start fresh.


And I do want to at least float one idea about rules revisions past you guys.

One thing we might want to do, in that case, is create... something to act as a dynamo driving character interaction. As a practical matter our nations are autonomous and evenly matched, so unless you contrive ideological reasons for them to fight or negotiate with each other*... why bother? The desire for expanded influence can mostly be achieved without actually invading anyone or trying to reduce them to a colony- plenty of black space on the map, and there's likely to remain some. So even nations whose borders physically abut have very little reason to fight.

It shows, when you look at our nations' history, in that very few people actually write their nation fighting a war with another PC within living** memory. The Koprulu Zone and the orks may be the only exceptions to this rule, in fact.

It wouldn't have to be complicated; it would just have to be important enough to create a sensible reason for nations to cooperate, or glare suspiciously, or fight, depending on matters of policy. One idea I've heard would be some kind of very abstract trade route mechanic, so that some of your NCPs go into trade routes with other nations which can potentially be cut or strained, which gives you 'toes' that a foreign power can accidentally or deliberately step on. Another would be to have some kind of exotic handwavium resource valuable to all nations, which exists in some places but not in others: he who controls spice controls the galaxy, although preferably not reduced to having the resource exist on only one planet.

I know you probably won't like this, Siege, but I want to hear what you think. I also want to hear what others think, since you've been pretty successful at creating ideological and similar IC motives for conflict and interaction for your own nation, while others have been less successful.
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*Like "Communards hate capitalism and monarchy" or "Karlacks want to eat everything."
**Well, living memory for people with normalish life expectancies. I'm sure a lot more PC nations have fought wars in Sidney Hank's living memory.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby OmegaChief » 2011-12-21 12:25pm

Hey, long time watcher and reader of this, just had an idea that could help for a reasonable IC excuse for being able to reboot the game while at the same time keeping as much or as little existing history from individual nations as each player would like.

Ahem, I mean, if you want to listen to a spectator that is, anyway my idea was thus; the game as already established that people arriving from other universes or timelines or fleeing ungodly powerful 'gods' and what not, so what about some kind of galactic scale 'Reality Crash' sort of thing?

So you've got the universe suddenly snapping for a breif period and then pulling back together, only slightly different, suddenly nations are in new places or having experianced certian events differently, not only do you get a map condensation you've also suddenly got a whole host of new plot threads you could work on, how you cope with your new neighbours, if your old alliances can hold with all teh changes or even poking science teams into what made all that happen.

Well uh, that's just an idea I had that I thought I'd share, shame the rules for this keep kicking my arse.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Fingolfin_Noldor » 2011-12-21 12:42pm

Look. We are making things excessively complicated, and quite frankly, the more we think about this, the less enthusiasm there will be for anything.

Let's just surgically remove nations belonging to players who don't bother playing any more, like the Commune, or whatever. I like Stas and his writing but quite frankly, when it comes to the cut, he is not playing. So off he goes. I don't care if that means we have to "pretend" things away, without any proper rationalizing, because it again makes things complicated for no substantial reason.

Just compress the map down, leave some things there, like where the MEH is because otherwise, there will be very little story play to do. Let's then deal with whatever else that we think we must do, and just get back to writing and everyone will be happy.

Otherwise, this pointless hand wringing will get us no where, and it has been a page over already as it is. Less TALK more ACTION.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2011-12-21 12:47pm

Heh, we could even relate it to the Eye.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-21 12:51pm

Fingolfin_Noldor wrote:Look. We are making things excessively complicated, and quite frankly, the more we think about this, the less enthusiasm there will be for anything.

Let's just surgically remove nations belonging to players who don't bother playing any more, like the Commune, or whatever. I like Stas and his writing but quite frankly, when it comes to the cut, he is not playing. So off he goes. I don't care if that means we have to "pretend" things away, without any proper rationalizing, because it again makes things complicated for no substantial reason.

Just compress the map down, leave some things there, like where the MEH is because otherwise, there will be very little story play to do. Let's then deal with whatever else that we think we must do, and just get back to writing and everyone will be happy.

Otherwise, this pointless hand wringing will get us no where, and it has been a page over already as it is. Less TALK more ACTION.
Okay, Fin. What do you think the map should look like? Would you care to draw an example?
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2011-12-21 01:23pm

Simon_Jester wrote:It wouldn't have to be complicated; it would just have to be important enough to create a sensible reason for nations to cooperate, or glare suspiciously, or fight, depending on matters of policy.

I don't think there's any way to reasonably accomplish this outside of a terrestrial setting that isn't going to be painfully contrived.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Siege » 2011-12-21 01:41pm

At this point I sense little interest in continuing the game from several of the people I believe it needs to continue succesfully, and it won't take at all much for those people to simply shrug and walk away. So whatever we do to attempt to resucitate the game, I am absolutely convinced that its chances of succes are inversely proportional to its complexity. In-universe reality shake-ups or sudden complicated trade mechanisms are far more involved than simply redrawing a map and pretending it's always been like that, and I do not favor the former two for that reason.

I support the idea of nudging the game toward character-driven clashes, but I don't believe any mechanical interventions are needed to make this happen. Instead it just needs people to focus on characters instead of warfleets. This hasn't been any different in preceding games. The more players focus on personal interactions (be it in the shape of world summits or character-driven stories), the better the game becomes. Conversely the more they focus on hardware or game mechanics, the worse it gets.

It really is as simple as that, and I don't think it's anything I haven't said before. People need to focus on their stories, and their stories are only as interesting as the people in them. Make up a few characters, dream up their motivations and throw them together with other people's characters and chances are you have a story on your hands. So stop fussing about trivial details. We don't need rules, we don't need mechanics, we don't need trade routes unless we happen to want to write a story about trade routes. What we need is more activity, more opportunities for interaction, and a lot fewer empty-suit states that nobody knows the ideals, hopes, dreams and motivations of.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-21 01:48pm

If people want to redraw the map and pretend it's always been that way, I'm open to suggestions on what the map would look like. As in, actual pictures, not just "well, remove all the players who aren't playing and shove everyone closer together."

That sounds like something we can try- now, how is it going to look?
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Agent Sorchus » 2011-12-21 04:07pm

Simon we can't draw a map without knowing if players are willing to come back or at what level we are willing to cut nations. Some are pretty obvious, while others are kinda iffy. If we have a good idea of who wants this to remain active we could redraw the map. The simplest possible fix is to just move everybody who is even remotely interested more to the center of the map (cutting down on the UN territory since they are basically useless), while push the lesser out to the fringe, while keeping every other relative position in mind.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Siege » 2011-12-21 04:49pm

Fine. How about this here ten minute impressionistic effort:

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Now granted some nations are less than ideally placed (Chamarran Hierarchy) and I've been massively benevolent by not cutting some of these nations out (Eoghans, Shepistan, Idurans, etc.) but you nonetheless get the idea.

Also: fuck Earth. I've come to believe a modhammer state is a bad idea, because it's effectively a non-actor that people still have to take into account when plotting, thus constraining their actions and limiting creativity for no gain that couldn't otherwise have been gotten by simply telling dickwads off in the OOC thread.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby RogueIce » 2011-12-21 05:23pm

Siege wrote:Also: fuck Earth. I've come to believe a modhammer state is a bad idea, because it's effectively a non-actor that people still have to take into account when plotting, thus constraining their actions and limiting creativity for no gain that couldn't otherwise have been gotten by simply telling dickwads off in the OOC thread.

Well, at least as a singular sector to give the location of actual Earth and Nova Terra, as it does implicitly lie in the background of any number of nations, as well as the metaplot.

Perhaps with some kind of generalized agreement/understanding that said sector is effectively Neutral Ground and Not To Be Messed with, due to the (again, implicit) threat that a chunk of the human nations would take exception to their "Cradle" being screwed with. I say implicit threat because I don't want to make it official, and it's probably not unreasonable to suppose that nobody's really felt like testing that theory.

With a gentlemen/ladies' agreement (OOC) that nobody does, in fact, mess with it because it would pretty much be little more than an act of trolling unless you came up with a very good reason for it. And that standard would have to be pretty high to be met, IMO.

Alternately, we just agree that those two planets "exist" but they're off-map for whatever reason and none of the various stellar nations lay any claim to them and those two planets are mostly ignored except in background or some kind of "just passing through" thing (like Vincent Arrowny in his search for Sidney Hank, etc).

You know, kind of like the current state of affairs...

In fact, thinking it over as I type it out, I am more in favor with the second suggestion (off-map, mostly just left alone) instead of the former. Because really, the only purpose I can see for an "on-map" E&NT Sector is for the 'neutral meeting ground' like what FL proposed; or similar to what Atlantis was back in SDNW1. But since those two systems are essentially the Cradle of Humanity (TM) that might be a little exclusionary to the non-human powers, so TBH we're better off finding some semi-inhabitable rock in the middle of space, building a suitable facility and declaring that as the Space UN for purposes of Interstellar Meetings and Useless Debate Clubs.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Siege » 2011-12-21 05:39pm

Of course Earth and Nova Terra exist somewhere in the background; it's essential to the weave of the game that they do (or did). What I meant to say was, they have no place hogging up space in the center of the map, just like none of the multitude of planets, moons and settlements we've introduced over the space of the game for narrative reasons do. "Out there somewhere" works for me, as long as it's understood that means out of the way,and irrelevant politically and militarily.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Zor » 2011-12-21 06:05pm

I oppose getting rid of earth, that will mean a major re-write to a whole lot of fluff.

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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Agent Sorchus » 2011-12-21 06:18pm

Earth is somewhat important for the history of some nations like zor and forcelord, so why not give them some space right next to the holy empire and south of the zorians. It doesn't even need to be earth proper so much as a outpost of their space as far as I am concerned.

The important thing is to get Earth and that mess out of the center of space.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-21 06:23pm

I still think we might do better to at least accompany the map reshuffle with a period of 'open enrollment' for inviting in any new players we think might be contributors and non-ADHD cases. Because the reshuffle and retcon are large enough that we can reasonably say "you don't need to care about the backstory" to them, which is good, because at this point the backstory is the biggest single deterrent to anyone seeking to join the game, since it makes War and Peace look pretty concise by now.



[modhat on]

Sorchus, "south of the Zorians and Centrality and next to the Holy Empire" would leave them pretty close to the center of the revised map, assuming what we intend to do is cut large patches out of the map and reassemble the remaining nations jigsaw-fashion, without shifting too many entire countries from one edge of the map to the opposite edge of the reduced map. They wouldn't have to be a giant modhammer state that blocks off a 7x7 chunk of the center, though; more on that later.


Anyway, I have a few points of disagreement with Siege's specific map, but it at least gets the idea across in a satisfactory way. Thank you, Siege.

One thing I might do, if it were me, is to have something like Siege's map be at the center and leave some of the less-involved states in the game, but on the periphery where they aren't doing any harm to the game dynamic. The compressed core would contain the active players.

I think Siege did a pretty fair job of identifying most of the states we want to keep while removing most of the ones we could cut- or, if it's up to me, merely settle for casting into the outer darkness where there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

How does that sound?

RogueIce wrote:Well, at least as a singular sector to give the location of actual Earth and Nova Terra, as it does implicitly lie in the background of any number of nations, as well as the metaplot.

Perhaps with some kind of generalized agreement/understanding that said sector is effectively Neutral Ground and Not To Be Messed with, due to the (again, implicit) threat that a chunk of the human nations would take exception to their "Cradle" being screwed with. I say implicit threat because I don't want to make it official, and it's probably not unreasonable to suppose that nobody's really felt like testing that theory.

With a gentlemen/ladies' agreement (OOC) that nobody does, in fact, mess with it because it would pretty much be little more than an act of trolling unless you came up with a very good reason for it. And that standard would have to be pretty high to be met, IMO.
I would support this interpretation, actually, if we're going to do this. If we can come up with an agreed-upon list of who stays and who goes, then I will be willing to rearrange the map... but I'd draw that map with one count 'em one sector devoted to Earth and Nova Terra.

And yes, I'd kind of want to put it somewhere near the center of the map, because it gives me fewer headaches when I try to imagine how the process of colonization and outward spread went. But it would not be large, it would not be in the way, and it would not be a modhammer state- it would just be another interesting "oh my, a small NPC polity," like the Feelipeens but not so defenseless.

They'd be highly developed and no one would want to mess with them for the reasons Rogue describes, but they'd no longer be a modhammer state. Any colonies near the Twin Homeworlds would have long since splintered off and assumed to have gained independence; if there is a "UN" it is so fractious as to be practically unable to govern anything beyond about a fifty light year radius of the Twin Homeworlds.

How's that, as a compromise? They're there, so their absence doesn't get in anyone's way, but they're small, so their presence doesn't get in anyone's way.

[modhat off]
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby White Haven » 2011-12-22 09:42am

Well, from a writer's perspective I really enjoy cataclysms and apocalypses and such. That said, a proper IC World-Shaking Cataclysmic Event would take so much mod-writing (which, these days, means Simon-writing) that it'd probably never get done, so I'd agree on forgoing that. Retaining the feel of the K-Zone might take some tinkering; if it were close to everyone else and surrounded on all sides by assorted and sundry nations, it'd lose something of the Outer Yark feel it presently has. All that said, I'm onboard for either SDNW4 as it stands, a rejiggered SDNW4, SDNW5, or whatever. I am, I admit, somewhat peeved that all this is brewing up just as I finally have obstacles out of the way for NORTHWEST PASSAGE, but such is life, and far be it from me to stand in the way of the game's overall health and future.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-22 11:50am

We might be able to kick off the war at the beginning of a rebooted/modified/whatever game, White Haven. Or we may be able to reshuffle so the war becomes an actual PvP conflict, though that would involve more distortion of the map so I'm not very enthusiastic about that.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2011-12-22 11:55am

On the subject of the map, I'm happy to draw up a finished version whenever you guys are satisfied.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-22 01:48pm

I think I'm going to have to take responsibility for that myself. I should be able to get to it some time in the next few days.

Though if you want to do a rough draft, Ryan, I'll be happy to take it under consideration as I have the drafts RogueIce and Siege have shown me.

Again, the basic features of the map would be:
-General contraction of distances.
-Nonparticipating nations either removed, or relocated to the edges of the map where they don't cause any harm and are out of the way.
-As few moves of nations from the left to the right side, or from the top to the bottom, of the map as possible.
-Earth and Nova Terra located in a much more compact state, somewhere near the center of the map, but not blocking off such a huge volume as they do in the present map.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2011-12-22 01:55pm

I just meant a cleaned up version, once you guys have decided on an acceptable layout.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-22 02:07pm

Ryan Thunder wrote:I just meant a cleaned up version, once you guys have decided on an acceptable layout.
Ah. Well, I may take you up on that then, though by my nature I'll be trying to keep the layout pretty clean.

One reason I want to shift nations to the periphery rather than remove them entirely is to avoid debate. For example, some can argue that the Hiigarans haven't done all that much in the game to justify their presence- but in my opinion, they have done enough that blotting them off the map entirely would be grossly unfair. I feel much the same about a number of other states on the board- like the Ascendancy or the Atlanteans.

If we want to consolidate the map we have to get those nations out of the way, but we don't have to erase them, just push them aside.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Akhlut » 2011-12-22 06:47pm

Simon_Jester wrote:We might be able to kick off the war at the beginning of a rebooted/modified/whatever game, White Haven. Or we may be able to reshuffle so the war becomes an actual PvP conflict, though that would involve more distortion of the map so I'm not very enthusiastic about that.


If we do a reboot, I'd be happy to rejoin. I've been dismissed from my master's program (rather not go into details) so, suffice to say, freetime has just shot up immensely, and even when I get a job again, I should have a lot more time on my hands.

Although, I do have to say, unless everyone's super-attached to the setting, might I suggest an alternate setting with basically the same rules? I rather like the general lack of Spreadsheets of Iron that SDNW3 had and it hasn't seemed to cause any issues among players in this game (Chaotic Neutral notwithstanding).
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-22 08:39pm

EDIT: I just started a poll thread on all this.

Akhlut wrote:If we do a reboot, I'd be happy to rejoin. I've been dismissed from my master's program (rather not go into details) so, suffice to say, freetime has just shot up immensely, and even when I get a job again, I should have a lot more time on my hands.
Ah man, that sucketh. Well, I literally know how you feel... good to have you back, though I wish it hadn't been like this.

Although, I do have to say, unless everyone's super-attached to the setting, might I suggest an alternate setting with basically the same rules? I rather like the general lack of Spreadsheets of Iron that SDNW3 had and it hasn't seemed to cause any issues among players in this game (Chaotic Neutral notwithstanding).
Frankly, I'd be all in favor of using essentially the same rules for SDNW5- space setting, points-based military. I'd like a couple tweaks to the nation creation rules, but nothing that would require endless Spreadsheets of Iron crap over the long run- just a change to the system for rolling up NCP to introduce a little more variability, plus a mechanism for having rather abstract "trade routes" that give you some actual in-game economic incentive to care what's going on outside your borders.

Those would be optional, though- it would be rewarding but far from necessary to get them.

Heck, you can even play the GODDAMN DINOSAUR guys again. I'd invite and even encourage people to do that if they feel like it, play rebooted versions of their old countries and continue SDNW4 plots that were ongoing (say, like the 'metaplot' stuff the old SDNW1/2/3 hands have cooking, or White Haven's war, or some of my stuff).

If we're doing a serious reboot and not just a map resize, I'd probably leave out the whole MEH/Eye of Terror thing for the new continuity, but aside from that, I see no reason not to consider other stuff 'in.' So yeah, I'm OK with everything you're suggesting.
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Akhlut » 2011-12-22 08:56pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Akhlut wrote:If we do a reboot, I'd be happy to rejoin. I've been dismissed from my master's program (rather not go into details) so, suffice to say, freetime has just shot up immensely, and even when I get a job again, I should have a lot more time on my hands.
Ah man, that sucketh. Well, I literally know how you feel... good to have you back, though I wish it hadn't been like this.


Ah, dismissed from a graduate program yourself? Well, misery enjoys company, right? :P PM me if you want to talk about it.

Frankly, I'd be all in favor of using essentially the same rules for SDNW5- space setting, points-based military. I'd like a couple tweaks to the nation creation rules, but nothing that would require endless Spreadsheets of Iron crap over the long run- just a change to the system for rolling up NCP to introduce a little more variability, plus a mechanism for having rather abstract "trade routes" that give you some actual in-game economic incentive to care what's going on outside your borders.


I'll repeat in the poll thread, but I'm of the mind that it should be as minimalist as possible. I suppose we can hash out a consensus if people want another STGOD instead of just continuing this one, though. I suppose I can slowly get myself back in if I need to.

Heck, you can even play the GODDAMN DINOSAUR guys again. I'd invite and even encourage people to do that if they feel like it, play rebooted versions of their old countries and continue SDNW4 plots that were ongoing (say, like the 'metaplot' stuff the old SDNW1/2/3 hands have cooking, or White Haven's war, or some of my stuff).


Yeah, I think I'd redo them a bit and possibly include some human colonists or something. Have actual full sectors this time, too.

If we're doing a serious reboot and not just a map resize, I'd probably leave out the whole MEH/Eye of Terror thing for the new continuity, but aside from that, I see no reason not to consider other stuff 'in.' So yeah, I'm OK with everything you're suggesting.


Hey! The Fatties were good plot fodder! :P
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Simon_Jester
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Re: SDN Worlds 4 Commentary Thread VII

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-12-22 11:40pm

Akhlut wrote:
Frankly, I'd be all in favor of using essentially the same rules for SDNW5- space setting, points-based military. I'd like a couple tweaks to the nation creation rules, but nothing that would require endless Spreadsheets of Iron crap over the long run- just a change to the system for rolling up NCP to introduce a little more variability, plus a mechanism for having rather abstract "trade routes" that give you some actual in-game economic incentive to care what's going on outside your borders.
I'll repeat in the poll thread, but I'm of the mind that it should be as minimalist as possible. I suppose we can hash out a consensus if people want another STGOD instead of just continuing this one, though. I suppose I can slowly get myself back in if I need to.
My idea for the "trade route" is basically:

"With another nation's consent, spend 1 NCP. You get a trade route with that nation. It is worth X thousand $ to GDP!"

The catch being that, in theory, some third party could screw around with your trade routes without actually invading your territory, and that this might in some real sense harm you if it went on long enough.

X would be, oh, 2.5 or 3.

That is all. It wouldn't actually entail any more bookkeeping than the stuff we have already; it's just another option for nation creation. You wouldn't really be supposed to have too many of them, but it's an option for small concentrated polities (instead of the GDP boost mechanic, which the way Steve set up penalizes people who take four very rich sectors instead of ten poor ones). And, again, it provides another dimension for interaction because events in another place might close off your trade route.

Maybe this is a bad idea, but I doubt it would actually make the game worse or drastically more complicated. We'd still be a hell of a long way from Spreadsheets of Iron.

See what I'm getting at?

If we're doing a serious reboot and not just a map resize, I'd probably leave out the whole MEH/Eye of Terror thing for the new continuity, but aside from that, I see no reason not to consider other stuff 'in.' So yeah, I'm OK with everything you're suggesting.
Hey! The Fatties were good plot fodder! :P
They were, but their time has come and gone... ;)

Plus, explaining them to the new guys might be more trouble than it's worth. Unless there's strong demand for an "Eye of Terror" anomaly, in which case we can make the occupied MEH part of the backstory in some distant quadrant of the map.
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