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Apieros

Winning the War by Playing the Game

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Pt. 1 - The War is Unwinnable. Period.

 

The War is unwinnable. Period.

 

Get a Glory. Hell, get three. I'll wait.

 

Plant seeds, one or two or three. Wait for them to mature.

 

Damn, the Realm has moved on. The triangle is now buried inside the enemy's territory.

 

But let's lie and say you got a border triangle. Or two. (What's another lie between friends, am I right?)

 

Then you find the stelae. And roll four Reality Skill checks, DN 60, in a row. And rip up one, count'em, one stelae. And collapse — at most — one or two triangles.

 

Yay! Only 20 triangles left to go!

 

For this High Lord. It's 25 or 30 more for each of the six others! Yay!

 

Better start rolling those 60's and playing those cards and...

 

The war is unwinnable. Period.

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pt. 2 - The Way To Win The War Is By Playing The Game

 

Screw that. Here's how we do it differently.

 

Lo, way back in the day, we on The List were discussing how to structure a campaign. One of our long-time members, Sam Frazier, said his group just liked playing the game. You know, fighting the bad guys, stopping villainous plots, being heroes.

 

Playing the goddamn game.

 

What if, and I'm just sort of speculating here, my friends, what if that sort of, I don't know, adventuring and heroics and goddamn fun at the goddamn gaming table *was* the way to fight the War? What if having fun (as players) while doing the right thing (as Storm Knights) didn't just contribute to the High Lords' defeat, but was the only way to defeat the High Lords?

 

Would that be worth something to ya, now?

 

Here's how I'd do it.

 

After a successful module is over, look at the following questions:

 

Scope — Was this a major module ("High Lord of Earth", "City of Demons")?

Significant Victory — Did the SK's significantly out-think and out-fight the opposition?

Heroism — Did the players act like true heroes?

Glory — Was there at least one Glory card played?

 

(Resemblance to the XP questions for "Storm Knights" are entirely coincidental, I assure you.)

 

For every "Yes", give them 1 Glory point. Each SK keeps a running tally of how many he's ever earned on his sheet. The GM keeps a running tally of GP for the entire group on a per-Reality basis. (Aysle, Cyberpapacy, Nile, etc.)

 

Glory points represent significant victories against the High Lords. In addition to the effects of winning a module, Glory points mean the group has begun winning the War.

 

Yes, you can do the storytelling thing, and that will net you a bonus Glory point. But that's not necessary. Just playing, just winning, just having goddamn fun at the goddamn gaming table will help you gain Glory.

 

I'll talk about what Glory does next post.

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pt. 3 - Stories of Hope and Glory

 

As parties win victories and gain Glory points, stories will begin to circulate, stories of their victories over the local High Lord (or whichever one they fought). These stories will spread and spread, and as they spread so will hope. So will PE. And the populace will be inoculated against ashing.

 

But wait, there's more. You will:

 

• Make planting stelae harder. (Slowing the Realm expansion.)

• Reduce local Supporters and Believers.

• Increase the chance High Lord troops or lieutenants will defect or rebel.

• Gain Group Powers, without needing an Eternity Shard first.

• Gain access to allies or support.

• Be awarded other good stuff I have yet to think up. (Sorry about that, it's only been a day or two.)

 

After enough Glory points, the Realm will stagnate. You've done so much good, the High Lord simply cannot advance any more. And then, if you're brave and lucky, you may even kill the High Lord or destroy his DD (possible in "Storm Knights"), and the Realm will be neutralized.

 

It will still be there, but it will never drain another PE from Core Earth. And the High Lord will never regain his position in this Invasion. That Invader will be defeated.

 

By you. And all because you...

 

Sat around the gaming table, with your friends, having fun and playing the game and being heroes.

 

I don't know about you, but that sounds like a game I'd like to play.

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pt. 4 - Play the Game. Win the War.

 

Here's the truth about Torg: not only can't you fight the War, *you don't want to*.

 

They wanted you to fight the War by ripping up stelae. Suppose you do so. Suppose you adventure in an area long enough to score three plantable Glories, then you plant them, then you wait for long enough to rip up the stelae. What happens then?

 

You lose a well-developed piece of your campaign. Avignon. Tokyo. Oxford. Cairo. Manhattan. LA.

 

You rip up the stelae, and the Realm is gone. The Reality is gone. The reason for adventuring there… is gone.

 

And all the campaign material, all the Dispatches and Rumors, the Queenswraths, the Cassandra Files, your contacts, your allies, the bridges you use to cross into the cosm, everything set in that triangle is invalidated. Fighting the War ruins the setting material.

 

And fighting the War is no goddamn fun. In fact, it's work: Glory planting, stelae mapping, ripping them up… Oh wait, you can't because you didn't wait long enough. Well, that's anti-climactic.

 

Given all that, how much fun can ripping up stelae be, really? The game mechanics mandate chores, in order to fight the Wars.

 

I suggest we chuck all that. Allow people to fight the Wars by doing what they want to do anyway: playing the goddamn game. Going on adventures to different Realities and being goddamn heroes and fighting the High Lords.

 

We play. We have fun. And our victories accumulate until the expansion stops, and then they accumulate even more until we defeat that Reality. And the High Lord is neutralized, but the Reality is still there (so we can still adventure) and all of our books and modules are still relevant.

 

Having fun (as players) wins the War (as Storm Knights). And winning the War (as Storm Knights) doesn't wreck our fun (as players).

 

Can someone tell me where I've got this wrong?

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And the High Lord is neutralized, but the Reality is still there (so we can still adventure) and all of our books and modules are still relevant.

 

I didn't make this as clear as I could have, but when I said that the Invading Realm stays after being defeated, I was thinking for the duration of a campaign. A defeated Invader's realm remains until the campaign is over, when it collapses.

 

Once the Invader is neutralized, the exterior triangles begin turning Mixed (local Reality/invading Reality), then the next set, and the next. After a while, the Mixed zones become Dominant for the local Reality, and the Invader is gone. Invader Pure zones likewise gradually flip to Dominant, then Mixed, then nothing.

 

So it's not "Invader stays here forever", it's "Invader is defeated, and their realm gradually fades away".

 

Again, that was my fault for not being clearer.

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Most of my players have been in that "we're just in this to kick bad guy butt" camp, they had very little interest in going through the process of uprooting stelae. One of them said that it was too strategic of a thing to worry about in a game of over the top heroic action. The only times they did think about stelae were in adventures I structured around them, like stopping a new one from being planted or uprooting one that had just been planted (one of my rewrites of High Lord of Earth ended with them uprooting the stelae that formed the first triangle of the Aztec Empire realm.)

 

Keeping track of Glory points might work as a substitute, though I think even that might be a level of strategic thinking my old players wouldn't have been interested in doing. I suppose it would all be left in the GM's hands and it becomes something invisible to the players, only noticed in things the GM might tell them about how the war is progressing.

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Keeping track of Glory points might work as a substitute, though I think even that might be a level of strategic thinking my old players wouldn't have been interested in doing. I suppose it would all be left in the GM's hands and it becomes something invisible to the players, only noticed in things the GM might tell them about how the war is progressing.

GM's can definitely keep track of it for the group. I'm hoping that the "accumulate Glory points, gain goodies" aspect will make players interested in earning and keeping track of their Glories. They become, in effect, another form of experience.

 

And, depending on how many they gain, the GM can then introduce new adventure opportunities: a Kurst defecting (PC's have to escort them out of Orrorsh), a squad of Church police going over to the Resistance (and the players have to extract them), etc.

 

There's a lot of potential adventure seeds in events like that. Which is what Glory points should be: not just "you're winning!" points, not just "here's another neat toy" points, but opportunities for further adventures.

 

That's the idea, anyway.

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So I've been considering this idea of yours. I like it very much, and I wonder if you have expanded on it.

 

I was thinking that the Story Seed Mechanic could still work well with this concept. While only one is needed to uproot a stelae, its is considered advisable to plant 3 story seeds to negate all three stelae. Translate this: After achieving 3 Glory Actions in the zone, the zone slips one step - from Pure to Dominant to Mixed to Dominant Core Earth.

As a corollary, High Lords can counter this - in order to keep the source material accurate. By spending High Lord Points, the HL can counteract the weakening of his realm. Say 10 points? (Compared to 9 for planting a stelae or 13 for dropping a new Bridge). I would suggest that Core Earth's Law (or Power - see my recent thread) of Glory - this its +2 to Story Seed planting should modify this rule on Earth. Making it cost 12 HLP (if 10 is considered the base cost) to keep the zone from slipping.

 

This results in the High Lords needing to spend their resources to hold on to what they have if the SKs are successful, and this can't spend those resources/HLPs on expansion.

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So I've been considering this idea of yours. I like it very much,

 

Thank you! :)

 

I was thinking that the Story Seed Mechanic could still work well with this concept.

 

You can still plant Glory Seeds. They add an extra Glory Point after an adventure. This means you are more effective against the High Lords, so gain quicker access to allies, Group Powers, etc.

 

After achieving 3 Glory Actions in the zone, the zone slips one step - from Pure to Dominant to Mixed to Dominant Core Earth.

 

The problem with this, is that it invalidates game material (just like ripping up stelae). The idea behind this is that the map stays basically the same until after the campaign is over. Defeating the High Lords doesn't affect the map, it hurts their organization, gives you chances to kill or turn lieutenants, and so forth.

 

Yes, your High Lord point idea counteracts this, but that's more work for something that either won't make a difference or does make a difference, but invalidates campaign material.

 

As for the HLP themselves, my current idea is that there is an optimum speed at which the High Lord can expand: plant stelae, bridges, etc. This takes into account NPC Storm Knight activity.

 

So, PC Storm Knight success — Glory Points — is the only thing that slows the High Lords down. The more Glory Points, the more that High Lord is slowed down. (The in-adventure goals Jim mentioned — destroying an emplaced, but not activated stelae — slow them down even further.)

 

This slowing of the invasion emulates the same thing HLPoints do, but you only have to keep track of Glory Points. (Not both.) Less work, same effects.

 

I still need to do some work on this, this is only the basic idea, but that's the goal: to make defeating the High Lords a natural consequence of things the players are doing anyway. And to make it simple to track their success in the War.

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Yeah, we were mainly into just "fighting the bad guys" too. We did gain a couple of Glory points while fighting in Norway as I recall.

 

I think the whole Infiniverse concept helped make it feel like we weren't alone in the war though. Even if our group could only achive some minor goals, there were plenty of other Storm Knights out there. I wonder what that would have looked like if the WWW had been widely available back then :)

 

-Havard

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