Thursday, February 12, 2015

Do MMORPGs wish they were Larps?

This morning I found this promotional video for Sony's Everquest MMORPG. I played EQ many years ago so I was curious what had changed since I got that monkey off my back. It turns out the video was not actually made by Sony, but, according to the Sneaky Zebra's video description,
"The guys over at Sony Online Entertainment challenged us to make a video celebrating EverQuest, so we thought, what better way than to take the characters and place them "In Real Life"

I don't know who Sneaky Zebra is, but it looks like they make a lot of cosplay videos which makes sense watching the EQ promo. What strikes me is how they turned the characters into players, real normal people who might play the game, and not sexualized exaggerations, which make is seem much more approachable to me. Even more so, I'm struck how Sneaky Zebra thought this was a good way to promote this MMO. The truth is the game doesn't really look like this. I had to check the web just to make sure it hadn't changed completely since I'd played. So I jump to the conclusion that, at least for the fans who made the video, this is an idealized vision of the game. This is how they want to see themselves inside the EQ universe. Hell! So do I!
I don't think Sneaky Zebra is alone in this ideal vision. Look at the cosplay community and you'll find along with anime and super hero characters, a lot of people are dressing up as their favorite League of Legends or World of Warcraft characters. How many Master Chiefs are there out there? Clearly they love their games, but they're also striving to be a part of the game that extends well past their controller and screen. They want to see themselves inside the exciting game world thats displayed through that electric window.
I, as a larper, want that same thing when I dress up and go out with my friends to make up stories in the park. Just like those MMOs, the reality doesn't look like the ideal I'm hoping for or imagining. The costumes aren't as impressive; the world isn't as immersive and big budget. I'm stunned to see how similar my vision is to this promo.
Maybe we are all looking for the same thing? Maybe those scads of computer players could become larpers if it was as easy as running a computer game? I don't really know if companies like Sony want their MMOs to be larps, but players like Sneaky Zebra might. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Bards Guild, the Goldsmiths Guild

When I started this last some months back, I saw this as a great way to keep myself motivated to write, and that has been a success. I haven't written a book or anything, but I keep pushing out something. I need the push. I just didn't consider that I have seven races and nine guilds, so I'm here with two loose ends. Derp. So, today I'm just gonna throw these up on their own and call it complete. I still want to put illustrations and layout into new player brochures, illustrations that I have permissions for and not just the great work that I've found online, but that's for later. The writing, the hard part, is complete!

Anywhoo, I give you the Bards Guild and the Goldsmiths Guild.

The Bards Guild

You are a bard, an entertainer, a comic, a musician, a dancer, a cook, a barkeeper, a therapist. You're the social lubricant that keeps the night's festivities going and the patrons happily forgetting their troubled lives. You manage the social hub of the entire town, where tradesmen and blacksmiths, magisters and merchants can converse freely. Without your work and efforts people would probably be murdering each other in the streets. Your guild hall, or local tavern, is the church for forlorn souls before they stumble into the Church of Saints. Just don't say that out loud. That's heresy.
The Bards Guild has a tenuous relationship with the Church of Saints. It is common for clerics to stop anyone appearing to perform for tips to confirm that they're good standing guild members. They often use this reason to harass troubadours and ask further incriminating questions. Being arrested by zealous clerics is not an uncommon occurrence requiring the guildmaster of bards to bail members out.
Brawls and fights are not unusual among revelers and patrons, so it's good to have a strong arm in your employ, but that doesn't mean the Military College is a welcome sight. Half the time they're the problem, and the other half their the guard breathing down your neck. Whether or not there's illicit business in your tavern, and there probably is, guards make people nervous and disrupt business.

The Goldsmiths Guild

You are a Goldsmiths, providing secure management for the wealth of the Noble Court and anyone who has great treasure they need protecting. Goldsmiths lend from those accounts at a fee from which they take their commission. New members of the Guild seek to ingratiate themselves to a lower noble, a successful merchant, to earn their confidence in opening a new account. Usually they offer to find and make purchases on behalf of the person who might not have the time or interest in dealing with the common market of traders. After an account is awarded, the Goldsmith commonly becomes their benefactor's personal shopper. It is good to know all the local tradesmen and what they offer. 
Not only do guild members manage secure accounts for the wealthy, the Goldsmiths Guild is also responsible for minting the currency for the whole city. Because they hold minting rights, the Goldsmiths hold to an ethical standard beyond reproach. The value of the currency the guild makes hinges on the city's trust in the honesty of your guild and its members. If there was fear that the Guild might flood the city with coin, the value would plummet, and accounts would become worthless. Any implication of theft is punished severely by the Guild and the Noble Court, including years of imprisonment or execution.
Since the day to day tasks of a Goldsmith can be fairly simple, you may also study of jewelry making. Working precious metals and quality gems into artistic pieces can be a good business all of its own. Gems set in rings and broaches are often sought out by nobles, merchants and magisters alike.

Monday, December 16, 2013

the Hithus Blacksmith

Continuing the new player introduction to races and guilds, here is the Hithus Blacksmith. This has been interesting because each race and guild can be swapped with every other, but Hithus have an especially colorful character that require some creativity to play in the civilized world in any guild...

Hithus is you. Strong, sleek, quick. Love the hunt. You proud Hithus.
Hithus come from suffering and struggle. Sturthis pick out soft and bad; take away to dark places, make sorcery on them. Twisted and crushed, hardened and stretched. Chewed up and cast out. What left pushed into jungle of death. Jungle of death filled with hungry mouths, bad water, sickness and rot. Many die, but Hithus stronger, smarter. Hithus survivors. Hungry mouths become meat for Hithus, become skins to protect Hithus, become trophies of great hunt. Hithus learn ways to turn bad water into powerful drink for great health. Hithus make tools, weapons, take from jungle what needed. Hithus stronger than Sturthis. Hithus overcome! Hithus conquerors of jungle of death!
Hithus now strong nation! Cities across jungle with good roads, safe. We sojourn out of jungle and find strange lands! Find humans, but they are too salty. Some sell to Sturthis, but also take back as slaves. Learn human talk. Learn many things from humans.
Also find Alfar, taste much better, but they hard to catch and very angry. No good slaves. Have strange powers make Hithus act crazy. Best stay away.
Dwarfs look tasty but very smart. Stay in groups, very hard shiney hides, hard to catch. Also very hairy.

The Blacksmith's Guild

You are a blacksmith, having been apprenticed as soon as you could wield a hammer. You proved you were not afraid to sweat and work hard, and your aching arms became strong, your strikes to the steel keen and precise. You now enjoy a great demand for your work from soldier to hunter to adventurer alike. The great demand for blades makes the Blacksmith's Guild one of the most powerful and influential of all guilds. Any shortage of weapons to young adventurers means you can name your price for your work. Those that complain about your costs don't appreciate the hard work that it takes for every blade.

  • The Tradesmen's Guild may resent your success while their work is not demanded as highly. 
  • The Military College may resent your prices but they're funded by Nobles and Merchants, so they can afford it.
  • The Merchants want to undercut you with cheap imported junk from the foundries of big city-states. Success can be such a burden.
  • The Church of Saints does not often require weapons, but they have enforcement duties to see to. Strength sometimes calls for steel.
  • Magisters are also uncommon customers, but when they are, they always demand the highest quality. 
  • Goldsmiths are good to know. When a Noble needs a weapon only the finest will do. A Goldsmith buyer who comes to you first, is a good friend indeed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Dwarven Cleric

Continuing the new player introduction to races and guilds, here is the Dwarven Cleric.

In ancient times the Dwarves were formed on the World Anvil a the center of the world, by calloused hands of the Maker, and imbued with the Maker's gifts, the sacred talents of creativity. Your people have built and explored the world from within, taking the very stone around them and made it into glorious temples. You're fore-fathers pulled the metal from the stone to make their tools, coal for heating, gems for their beauty, particular soils for pigment.

You are a Dwarf. You were raised in the comfort and safety under the mountain. In your protective helmet which you wear at all times, you learned what all young dwarves learn, the basics of tunneling, identifying different kind of rock, where its usually found, its properties and uses, basic smelting or steel and firing and vitrifying of clay. You are familiar with the animals that make their home in the earth, and the useful roots found closer to the surface. The length of your beard shows your age and knowledge of these things.

You are a Dwarf, one of the true people of this world. Your people have ventured into the Space, where they are no longer held safely in the womb of the world, and found strange people of many kinds. The soft humans with their simplistic crafts and uninspired art, they are focused on pursuing personal riches rather than creating works of epic beauty that will remain when they are gone. Alfar have a strange sense of art, but it is fragile and can not last the eons. Sturthis are find their art in esoteric study, which has its beauty, if it wasn't focused on attaining power alone. Dwarves are surely the most enlightened of peoples.

the Church of Saints

You are a cleric of the Church of Saints, supporting the spiritual needs of the community with your council of moderation, good work, and accepting your place in the world. You teach that each guild has a role to play in the social order, and to stop outside of that roll though greed and ambition has led to the downfall of men, unrest within families, blight and ruin. You bring mercy and healing to the sick and wounded with blessings and miracles from the saints and protection from spiritual and supernatural sources. It is proper to ask for donations to the Church among those who are having success or are wealthy.
By sacred law, none outside of a guild may pursue business reserved for that guild, and it falls to the Church to judge and enforce that holy order. Most guilds appreciate the work of the Church of Saints that assures their protected livelihood, but there are often questions of law and challenges by arrogant ambition.
The Noble Court is often the biggest challenge to Church authority, given their broad powers to establish city laws, and influence over others. You must not allow yourself to be swayed by their money and power.
It may come to pass that martial strength is demanded to enforce Guild Law. The employ of military officers and soldiers may be required and is acceptable to bring ambitions back to proper place.

Monday, October 21, 2013

the Sturthus Magister

Continuing the new player introduction to races and guilds, here is the Sturthus Magister.

You are one of the proud tribes of the Sturthis, decedents of the Sorcerer Sovereigns of old! Your people are desert dwellers, originating as family groups in the great desert of the east. You are adapted for the dry climate with your  scaled skin, low body temperature, and long layered tunics and turbans.

Your ancestors were the first to establish the tenants of Alchemy, and through intense study and experiment, became the legendary sovereigns of the Sturthis. Ultimately they're unyielding commitment to learning transformed them wholly into the great dragons that flew across the world and destroyed  each other in rage. Some legends are just strange.

Since those times of legend, the tribes of Sturthis grew into the mighty tribal city-states of today. All the tribes kept long established cultural traditions that included ownership of slaves that were taken from vanquished foes. Your own family probably kept them, possibly many, maintaining a slave culture with rules on marriage and children. Generations of young were born into slavery and lived with their families, forgetting the destroyed tribes they once came from.

Only since the end of the Western War has the practice of slavery been abolished, and your grandparents suffered greatly at the loss. The change in social order was difficult, and the tribes have struggled to recover. Yours is the first generation to find success in the new Guild order. Your parents still speak of the new order is bitter tones.
Your grandparents may have told you of humans and what good servants they made. It makes for awkward conversation when you are trying to make human friends and business associates. Alfar were known but seldom slaves, prized highly by the sorcerer caste for study. They were also said to be very dangerous. Dwarves were unknown to Sturthis.
There is also stories of the Hithus, the unclean, living in the feted swamps to the south. They are savage and wild, and should not be spoken to if at all possible.

the Magister's Guild

You are a student in the college of Magisters. You were the second, third, or fourth child of a noble or wealthy merchant family, with little interest in inheriting title or business. Instead you were drawn into the arcane arts of Alchemy, a practice of the Sturthus Magi of the east. Using your family coin for the cost of training and components, you are learning to bend elemental forces for your defense and benefit, and to the service of those who might commission you. However, your new command of the elements is misunderstood and feared by a city that may no longer trust you. Never the less, they all need you.
  • The Noble Court can find use of you for their own political machinations, in court or on a battlefield. Their Goldsmith agents are often the ones to seek you out.
  • The Military may also want your support, but also distrust you as competition for noble commissions or other work for the wealthy.
  • The Church of Saints has a wary eye on you too, due to your potential dangerous and corrupting power.
  • Merchants may employ your service, or you may employ them to attain items of alchemical potential.
  • Blacksmiths and Tradesmen have a working relationship with Magisters, needing to enchant their crafts with your arcane secrets.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the Dineh'ih Merchant

Continuing the new player introduction to races and guilds, here is the Dineh'ih Merchant.

You are of the Dineh-ih tribes, plains nomads following the migrations of herd animals. Your tribe lived off the land, learning the ways of animals and wisdom your ancestors. Most tribes were wiped out in the Great War by foreign armies that were mad with blood thirst from killing each other. Those Dineh-ih tribes that survived have taken in refugees and released slaves that fled across their plains.
The Sturthis, lizard people of the eastern desert, were known for enslaving other cultures for centuries. Within the last 100 years, with the emergence of Guild Law, they dumped their enslaved people in the desert, homeless, with no memory of a culture outside the one within Sturthis city-states. There were very few Dineh-ih tribes left, but your elders welcomed strangers in who were also lost and afraid. The New
People of your tribe no longer remember where their origins, having been born into slavery, and their children are your friends and neighbors, all your tribe.
You were born to a tribe that had been decimated by other nations' wars. The tribe changed dramatically in your lifetime. Old ways were lost, new ones found. You are probably too young to have been owned yourself, but your parents or other's parents, the New People, may have told you about it. Taught you old songs and dances learned in the slave dens of the Sturthis lords, told you the stories of their escape and hard journey out of the desert.
The Celestine and Harkorian people all look the same to you. Both of them speak with great pride of their nations, but do nothing for the benefit of their people. They focus on their own gain at the cost of their neighbor as if they have no  connection. How are they even human beings?
Alfar are a strange spirit people with one foot in the world. They come from wisdom one moment, and foolishness the next. They are tricksters.
Dwarves are almost unknown to Dineh-ih, burrowers that shun the sky have little in common with us.

the Merchant's Guild

You are a merchant, a buyer and seller of goods in the market. You have your finger on the pulse of the economy, learning who is looking for that special product and who has excess goods to sell for the right price. You know the value of buying low and selling high, and what price the market demands. When you travel the trade routes to other kingdoms, you're able to sell the local wares and return with goods that are unavailable from local crafters. With good trade strategy, you can accumulate great wealth, enough to rival some nobles.

  • Blacksmiths and Tradesmen are important to keep good working relations with for the best trade deals. Importing products that compete with local carters can strain those relationships.
  • The Military College requires arms and equipment often, and there are always demands not supplied locally. Sometimes a trade of goods for military services can be an advantage.
  • The Magisters can produce magic items that demand a high price, but also require costly components. A good arrangement can create great rewards.
  • Bards and the Church can be good customers, but also need benefactors and donations. The value of coin is in the favors and good will it can buy with the under valued in town. 
  • The Noble Court has the most wealth, and require the highest quality. They, and their Goldsmith purses are the greatest customers for the best merchants.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Harkorian Military Officer

Continuing the new player introduction to races and guilds, here is the Harkorian Military College.

You are most fortunate to be born of the Harkorian Empire. You may not be a citizen, like the children of senators or high ranking military officers, but you still hold the distinction of birth to the greatest civilization in all of history. Harkor was the strongest of early cultures, that defeated and annexed their neighbors, cities and customs to build the most educated, richest, most powerful empire in the world.
All of the kingdoms of man would be under the fatherly embrace of Harkor, but for the Sturthis invaders, those soulless lizards, who's hordes threatened from the eastern deserts. Their powerful magic, that would have decimated the weaker kingdoms, required the full force of Harkor's advanced military might. Great walled keeps were erected along major roads, and advancements in siege machines and warfare were made to meet and throw back Sturthis might. Surely all humanity owes Harkor their thanks for holding back the murderous desert fiends. Although those days are behind, they are not forgotten. Sturthis may have given up their secrets to Alchemy, and ceased their attempts to wipe us out, they are cunning and should not be trusted.
The Celestines would have been Harkor's greatest conquest once, and are worthy and proud. It is a shame that they will never be able to call themselves Harkorian.
Dineh-ih are simple savages by comparison, unruly and dirty. They were small obstacles in the last war and barely adequate servants. Little has changed.
Dwarves are a strange new people with excellent weapon crafting knowledge. If such skills could be learned from them, we would be the stronger.
Alfar are the strangest of peoples, bizarre in their customs, with weird powers just at enigmatic. They should be treated with caution.

the Military College

You are a soldier. Not one of those front line peasants that join an army for the guaranteed food, clothes, and a chance to plunder. You are an officer in the Military College, studied in strategy and battlefield tactics, leadership and command. You train in various weapons to master as many as you can. You've learned from recounts of the greatest battles of the Great War. Now your hope is to be commissioned to train troops for a noble house, or better, to lead them into battle as part of an army like the old stories. In time you will earn your own awards and accolades.
Even without an ongoing war, Nobles require armed guards for their households or when traveling. A successful merchant house will need the same. It can't hurt to make sure they know you are competent and ready.
The Church of Saints also can bring work as they enforce Guild Law and may need force to bring down the heretics.
Blacksmiths and Tradesmen provide the tools of your trade at a price. Its good to have a friend among them, especially one that may be in need of defense in a dangerous world.
Magisters are a big problem. They are powerful forces in ways you can't be, and compete for noble favor and commissions that your work deserves. At the same time, a strong Magister is good to have at your side in a pitch battle. Also they can apply their arcane powers to equipment that would make you a greater threat to enemies. Politics is not so easy as battle strategy.