An invitation for dialogue.

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rapsam2003
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby rapsam2003 Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:58 pm

Coming back to this, since I apparently missed something...
TL;DR:

The Iron Ring is a boring faction nobody wants to play, and either the staff should add to its lore to make it more interesting, or add an entirely different evil faction that have more interesting motives than "profits4slavery".
I guess when I pointed out the Iron Ring is NOT just about slavery, you didn't really pay much attention... Of course, you're hardly the only one that seems unable to realize that there's way more to Ring than “muh slaves”. I don't know many times that myself, Rhicora, YMD, and others have stated the Iron Ring is NOT – I repeat, NOT - just about slavery. sigh But whatever.

The Iron Ring is a group of various gangs, all involved in various activities. Drugs, racketeering, threatening merchants, "protection fees", weapons sales - you name it, there's probably someone in the Ring, as per lore, who is doing it. Slavery is just an issue that all the Ring got together on, where they said "All of us will do it this way, so we all profit accordingly". In reality, the Iron Ring is a disparate group of gangs. That's why the focus is actually the Xanathar's Guild: https://skullport.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=55 , which while part of the Iron Ring, is also involved in many, many other activities besides slavery. Think of it like the Mafia or like street gangs.

Some examples:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_mafia
http://www.museumofthecity.org/project/ ... eet-gangs/
https://chicagoganghistory.com/#lp-boxes-2
https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/f ... 3455_1.pdf
So as a slave the majority of your roleplay is supposed to be along with your slavers - who if I were to roleplay this slaver, wouldn't even want to listen to their "possession", as that would be like talking to lifestock. - I'm not saying that everyone is going to play a slaver this way, but I can understand why it is't so viable to play a slave - you can get to grind your way to 15 and be really powerful, but even when you've slain hundreds of orcs, you are still going to bow down and accept that you are nothing more than someone else's posession.
People need to read up on this again: https://skullport.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=23

The job of the @Slavers players (see who they are on Discord) is not to sit there and hold most slaves forever. Our main purpose is to facilitate training (whatever form that training may take, which can depend a lot on the slave) and sales of slaves. Why? So the DMs don't have to do it. Slaves, ideally, are sold and their master/mistress works with them as far as grinding their way to 15 and becoming powerful. It's not the job of the Slavers to be residing over that process.
We currently have ONE slave who is only Iron Ring property (and is quite unlikely to be sold). The player desired that their character would not be sold, so the Slavers gave him a job (after a lot of RP proving his IC willingness to work with the Slavers) of being the Slave Overseer. He assists Slavers, mainly. But he never makes any sales or gets paid.
Well no. l think this limited idea of slavery is not historically accurate.

lf you look at the history of slavery in the ancient world its absolutely FULL of slaves who come to power in their societies. The best example is the Mamluk rulers of Egypt who were originally slave soldiers.
This is also an aspect people often forget. Several historical examples: http://www.abroadintheyard.com/slave-to ... eginnings/
Taegen
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Taegen Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:20 pm

To me the lack of "evil" leaders in the community is the main complication. The server started up with Mardak and the black bullets to form a crew of public "evil", stirring the "good" playerbase to band together and create a strong group.

Taegin pls, team gut too stronk!11
I think it's both stupid and ignorant to point fingers at the so called "Team Good" and call them out at fault. It is rather an issue of circumstance that anyone on the opposing side could step up to solve, should they be so inclined. All it takes is for someone on the "evil" side to start actively trying to either recruit or create a new faction. There's plenty of PCs out there that still stand unaligned, and even more rolling in every day.

The availability of items has already been debunked in the thread and on discord several times. If even me, as an EU player, can find several crafters available and willing to offer their services to a PC slaver, then I'm sure whatever kind of evil you are playing can manage to do the same.

The threat of the "Team Good" faction seems to me to be something fabricated out of OOC fear following the train of thought that they'll come beat you into the ground with lvl 15 characters and permakill your PC for just being known as "evil". From what I've seen they seem to be some of the more mature roleplayers on the server and have already several times declared that this is not their intention.

But Taegan, it's breaking mah immersion!
I agree, in part. From my point of view, being openly good-aligned in the naive sense should in a setting like Skullport entail in being viewed as an easy target for various lowlife trying to scam, steal, rob or enslave a free meal ticket.

This is however something I'd say is best left to players, rathers than DMs, to create. Currently there are PCs who are good-aligned an open about it, the issue here is that there is no evil faction who view them as said meal ticket (partly due to OOC fear, partly due to mechanical strength).

Teagan, they levels is higher than mine, I cannot be evil to lvl 15 paladonk of holy shoe shine
This will very soon pan out to most players being at equal footing. Lvl 15 is a lot closer than I'd imagined (I do not play all that much, and I'm already on my fair way there).

Taegun, you are dumbgai and wronk, there is no solution but to ban goodgais from server
I think it will solve itself naturally soon enough, once more evil factions gets properly established and the leveling curve starts to pan out. Don't worry be happy.
Draugir
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Draugir Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:01 pm

Sure there are a lot of different ways to play a slaver, probably better ones than what I came up with from my limited knowledge of history. My main point however was, that the guild's motives at least to me, seem pretty unappealing to a playerbase. You want to be an evil slaver for the sake of gaining power and prestige? Why exactly? What do you want to use that power for?

Compare that to the Promenade, whose main ambition is to fight evil and especially slavery.

If I were to start a new character, I would find it more appealing to play the hero, out to fight injustice, than the evil, selfish thugs.

I am not saying that the Iron Ring has to be that way, I haven't interacted enough with Maurik to judge his intentions. I am just saying that based on what description I have seen of the Iron Ring, it sounds like it has little drive in anything it really want to change about the setting - other than simply bring more of the same.
Khazrak
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Khazrak Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:08 am

Personally, I think this is largely a fault with the setting.

Evil here isn't organized. It's openly evil, but it's tearing at itself all the time. Nobody trusts each other, and it's split into several evil groups, and all their motivations just come down to "We want to be better than the other groups in town." I mean... There's not much motivation to the evil groups at a glance, to be honest. It's just "Let's get wealth, power, and prestige."

Then the only good group at least has the motivation of "LET'S KICK EVIL ASS YEAAAAH" and hey, that's better than... wealth and power, which you get by adventuring anyway.

Due to this, due to Skullport's nature, and due to the PvP rules, you get what I like to call Posturing vs. Posturing more than Player vs. Player. It's mostly different groups trying to *appear* bigger and badder than the other groups, with groups (either good or evil) occasionally reminding individuals unaligned with any actual group that, hey, being alone in this place is really dangerous, kid. This would work fine if there was a central authority around which intrigue could be focused... but the only thing close to a central authority is the possibility of magical skulls appearing and setting city districts on fire.

I think this creates a situation altogether too much like Sigil: City of Doors, setting-wise. Just like Sigil has the threat of The Lady and some ultrapowerful creatures that'll smack you down if you cause too much trouble, Skullport has The Skulls. And frankly, I think the end result makes a setting that *wants* to feel threatening, but in the end *can't* be. It's not very exciting, and the only times I've felt threatened is when I've gone into the sewers with people bearing "open to all PvP/ERP" as a low level character (because it's like permaflagging yourself for PvP on a WoW PvE server).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you want a setting that feels like Skullport but allows more intrigue, you draw inspiration from the warring Italian city-states of the medieval/Renaissance era. You need central figures of authority. You need Machiavellian politicking to be possible. As it is, that's *not* entirely possible. I mean, I've seen a few actions that could qualify as such - specifically among the Drow houses - but for the majority of the server, the most you'll see is posturing.

And posturing is what's causing feathers to be ruffled. People know that in PvE Team Good is doing pretty well, and Frenzied is right that it's because Team Good has a balanced team composition. Certain other groups just *don't.*

Also, consider this: people generally like to be heroes. Look at the NPC factions that are available to join: you can be in the Iron Ring, whose only joinable branch has an emphasis on slavers (the leader of the Xanathar is a slaver, dangit); you can join House Lysaen, where non-Drow can expect to be treated like dirt; and you can join The Promenade, which is open to most any race and is generally about doing good and fighting evil. Most people rolling up a character on the server for the first time will gravitate toward the Promenade because it's *the only faction for non-jerks.* Then, as far as player factions go, you have The Black Bullet Cartel (more slavery and drug dealing), the Sorcere (#wizardpower, and there's some Drow overtones to it), and the Iron Boars (who I hate to say are... kind of dead now, and I feel partly responsible for being an alt-rolling monster). Again, where do the goodies turn?

I guess I just feel like Skullport's themes are working against it. It makes a great adventure location for a campaign, but as an actual hub to meet and greet at on a Persistent World? It sort of falls apart, at least in my eyes. Most factions are either super evil or super scummy, and most people are going to want to be big damned heroes. If the focus factions were largely morally ambiguous, this wouldn't be a problem; but when I'm given the choice between "evil slaver," "Drow" (I don't play Drow myself), and "People who fight bad guys," I'm probably gonna fight bad guys.

EDIT: I do want to add... I love the DM team here. They've been pretty interactive with the community in and out of game, ask for us to submit event requests, etc. The team is great! The team is a BIG reason why I'm still here.

The setting itself, though? Frankly, I think Skullport as a setting is bland and boring. Call me a heretic if you will; it wants to be an intrigue setting, but I don't think it really can be.

And again, I will say this refrain: if the server keeps its black-and-white dichotomy between the factions, you'll probably just see more and more people want to hang with the Promenaders. People like playing heroes.
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rapsam2003
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby rapsam2003 Tue Oct 17, 2017 7:39 am

Sure there are a lot of different ways to play a slaver,
I don't think you understood, at all... if you're still saying this.

I am not saying that the Iron Ring has to be that way, I haven't interacted enough with Mauric to judge his intentions. I am just saying that based on what description I have seen of the Iron Ring, it sounds like it has little drive in anything it really want to change about the setting - other than simply bring more of the same.
And why exactly does the setting need changing?
Khazrak
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Khazrak Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:49 am

I don't know that the setting itself needs changing. I DO feel intrigue and gray alignment could be better served on a different platter, and I do find Skullport's setting bland. But really, what I think needs to be done is this:

1. The factions need to be more ambiguous than outright good and evil. Because at present, the Xanathar are pretty evil, Lysaen's pretty evil, and the Promenade might be extremist but it's still pretty darned good.

2. Make sure there's a place for neutral PCs. Yeah, Skullport is a scummy place, but a good chunk of the playerbase will be neutrals. Right now, the only place for neutrals that's still alive is the Sorcere, and even then it only appeals to specific character concepts. DMs or Players can see about making this a reality.

And 3. Make conflict more apparent! Right now it really does just come down to posturing between factions.

Beyond that, there is one thing players can do, and I think that's...

4. Be willing to play character concepts that compliment your buddies, and try to find players willing to play builds that compliment yours. This will decrease the disparity between Team Good and the other factions quickly if people are willing to work together.

Do those four things and I think the server will turn out a lot better.
Draugir
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Draugir Tue Oct 17, 2017 10:37 am

Sure there are a lot of different ways to play a slaver,
I don't think you understood, at all... if you're still saying this.
My point isn't that playing a slave has to be bad, just that I can see why people would not feel that eager to be part of such roleplay. If you could chose between playing a strong independent bastard, or a slave I think it's obvious what will be the most common choice.

And why exactly does the setting need changing?
I think Khazrak adressed this better than me. I am not saying that the setting itself needs changing, but I find a guild that seeks to influence the setting for the better or the worse far more interesting than a guild that pretty much seeks more of the same.

The character I have had most enjoyment playing on a PW, was a grumpy zhentarim. His growing religious extremism made him eager to instill a tyrannical rule, not because that was evil in his mind, but because order would result in an eternal peace.

And that ideology was strongly supported by the setting, because the Zhentarim was a major faction supported by staff.

Compare the Zhentarim and its ambitions with the Iron Ring. One seeks profits in a central trading city, the other one wants world domination and justifies this with the belief that eternal order is achieveable through strict tyranny.
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rapsam2003
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby rapsam2003 Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:16 pm

I don't think you understood, at all... if you're still saying this.
My point isn't that playing a slave has to be bad, just that I can see why people would not feel that eager to be part of such roleplay. If you could chose between playing a strong independent bastard, or a slave I think it's obvious what will be the most common choice.
Yes... but that's not even what I'm talking about. I didn't provide historical examples of famous street gangs and mafia to keep harping on slavery. I brought it up, because slavery is just ONE business that the Xanathar and the Iron Ring are involved in. This perception that slavery is all those groups do is demonstrably wrong, according to lore.
Compare the Zhentarim and its ambitions with the Iron Ring. One seeks profits in a central trading city, the other one wants world domination and justifies this with the belief that eternal order is achieveable through strict tyranny.
So, my response to would be, why would, for example, the ideal of seeking peace via brutal world domination be incompatible with a group like the Iron Ring?

Or, another example, say your character wanted to form a rather large Skulker gang which (tried to) rule the streets of Skullport? Since the Iron Ring is basically composed of many such groups, is it invalid to say that your character is forming a Skulker gang which will shake things up quite a bit and amass a reputation similar to the mafia, if you will?

The Iron Ring being the group that basically wants to maintain the current order DOES NOT mean that there is no room for power plays, politics, backstabbing, etc. All of that is just an accepted part of Iron Ring lore, frankly. Even in the thread here, which discusses the Iron Ring (see here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=156 *), this is fairly obvious. Now, unfortunately, because there is a limited number of DMs and a limited number of players, there was the (logical) decision made that we had to focus on certain factions. So, groups like Quinan Varnaed's crew, Zstulkk Ssarmn's Yuan-ti, Transtra's festhall (the Long Slow Kiss), OR Malakuth Tabuirr's Dark Dagger are not emphasized in plots and RP. (Do note that the Dark Dagger was previously a focus faction, but it was decided that three Drow focus factions was too many.)

However, we also have in place a system which allows players to start their own groups (or even maybe for several players to declare their intent to RP with a lore faction that is not a focus faction). viewtopic.php?f=11&t=130


*Thank you, Moonsaves, for the lore research! :D
Draugir
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby Draugir Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:04 pm

Sure, there are a lot of cool things that could happen if players just went ahead and formed the appropriate guilds for it. Notice that, if player initiative by itself was reliable, I doubt this thread would exist. My belief is that the staff would have to take on the active role on implementing and supporting such guilds - as I pointed out in my previous posts here.
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rapsam2003
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Re: An invitation for dialogue.

Postby rapsam2003 Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:43 pm

Sure, there are a lot of cool things that could happen if players just went ahead and formed the appropriate guilds for it. Notice that, if player initiative by itself was reliable, I doubt this thread would exist. My belief is that the staff would have to take on the active role on implementing and supporting such guilds - as I pointed out in my previous posts here.
And, again, you realize that you don't need to form your own groups to have cool stuff?

Not that there's anything wrong with player groups. (I'm all for them!) I'm just saying, there's a lot more room for doing stuff, within the lore-based factions, if we stop interpreting the lore-based factions as *Insert single line description here*.

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