Friday, November 8, 2013

Scaled Continent: Intended Structure of Play

Here's how I see things working out:

The playerbase as a whole agrees on a Base of Operations.  This base is initially Salvation on Voltager.  The relocation of the base is a fairly major to-do, involving the transport of all adventurers, almost-all henchmen, and most portable resources, and requires unanimous consent.  For players of last campaign, think the move from Deal to Opportunity.  It may be possible further into the game to construct forward operating bases in the jungle, but for now only friendly settlements may be used as bases.  I expect that a coastal continental settlement will be chosen as a base fairly early in the game, but I leave the scouting and decision-making to y'all.

Each session, one or more expeditions from the base of operations are undertaken by the players present for the session. Under ideal circumstances, all PCs return to the base of operations at the end of the session.  PCs stuck in the dungeon or wilderness at the end of a session may suffer calamitous fates.  I would like to keep track of time records, and permit the characters of players not present to experience elapsed time, which may be used for hijinks, recruiting, magic research, congregation-building, recovery from mortal wounds or RL&L side effects, awaiting commissioned goods, or other ends.  As much as I harped on our Standard of Living Costs piledriver previously, I don't really see a good way to employ it here without some people getting screwed over, so those will probably not apply (if SoL costs come out of individual pockets, infrequent players get shafted.  If they come out of a common party treasury, then the group will experience large gold losses because it will be paying out 10 people's worth of SoL costs but only earning money with 5 adventurers at a time).  I'm also loathe to intermingle time between sessions and parties (which would fix "5 supporting 10"), because that creates huge headaches and inconsistencies for everyone involved.  Better to have strictly linear time and accept standard of living as a casualty.  I suppose henchman monthly pay will only be owed for sessions in which their players participate, or over time periods where they were undertaking non-adventuring work (hijinks, crafting, &c).  This actually creates a possible compromise position on SoL costs too - one could charge SoL costs for when a PC is doing something, including non-adventuring things.  But that disincentivizes non-adventuring work, which runs counter to the interesting parts of ACKS.  So I think I'm just going to leave SoL costs out, if that's all right with the lot of you.

I expect this whole time structure will react either wonderfully or catactrophically to the shift to domain play, if and when it occurs.  But that can be worried about later.

Given current player base size, I expect two sessions a week may be necessary to maintain interest.  Given the diversity in timezones, I think probably a friday or weekday night (for PST and EST night-owls) and a sunday late-morning-to-afternoon (for London, EST early risers) session might work.  There is only so much DMing I can reasonably do, so 3-4 hour sessions are likely going to be more common than 6-8 hour ones; should still be plenty of time for an expedition, possibly two.  I would prefer to maintain some degree of cohesion across the player pool rather than division into two distinct parties, but if that happens then it happens.  I expect this will mostly depend on how players in the EST zone end up operating.  I will also do my best to not burn out like I did last time I ran two games a week, but I have better tools now for content generation and am more willing to constrain player action for the sake of sanity (see: the first half of this post) so I think this is significantly less likely than last time.

Obsidian Portal coming soon.  Honest.  At this point my list of things to do for prep is:
  • Build ObsPort
  • Begin mapping of Guano Cave dungeon
  • Start generating notable treasures for maps and rumors (scriptable)
  • Drop initial hook
  • Build some dynamic lairs
  • Demographic maths on the lizard realms
  • Market modifiers for coastal settlements (scriptable)
Possibility of first session is really only blocking on ObsPort and hook-drop, since I have that dungeon (sewers of Voltager) ready to run, but I'm going to be travelling all of next week and working unpredictable hours, so expect games to be starting the week after that.  At that time most of those bullets should be complete.  This weekend is juggling car repair, emptying my fridge, packing, and other travel preparations.

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