Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Jim
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Joined: Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:06 am

Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Jim » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:39 pm

Hey all,

I was a little behind following the campaign and the boards. I just rewatched the second-to-the-last-chat and the most recent one to date. I wanted to talk about the Axiom stretch goal and I thought it really merited it's own thread. The topic sort of gets lost amid general discussion of the KS campaign.

If you've followed any of other posts, I can be pretty opinionated, but oddly I'm pretty flexible and calm about this stretch goal. I can see why people are really concerned about it, but I don't think the Team has had the chance to really sell it very well and I see a good amount of potential in it. I'm going to play Devil's Advocate, but if you still hate the idea, I'm not going to bicker with you for 10 pages of a thread over it. It's not like it's the GodNet or anything. :lol: (shakes fist at Darrell, jokingly)

1.) Pay to Play vs Hard Earned In-Game Victory: First, before someone pushes back really hard on this—I think this is a worthwhile complaint. I really do. I totally understand it. So rather try to minimize it, let me point out a few reasons why it's not totally garbage. Normally I would want something like this to take place as the result of surveys and a big adventure (i.e Infiniverse). I'm sure many of you would agree. That said, this is a pretty tricky topic for Alpha and starting Beta characters to deal with directly. Whatsmore, if Baruk Kaah has the power to do it in Year One, why would he wait? Is he being polite to the Delphi Council? Is he breaking the 4th Wall and being polite to the GMs? (I'm being light-hearted not sarcastic) My point is that he has in-game reasons for doing it and there's no good reason for him to delay in Year One. Especially when his overall conquest of North America shows mediocre progress. Remember, a lot of how Torg Eternity is structured (in a good way) is exploring certain things that really didn't make a whole of sense in oTorg, so says Darrell.

2.) Adventure or Not an Adventure— Even if we don't have an adventure where the PCs battle to stop this, that doesn't mean there can't be an adventure where the EVENT is a plot hook. Darrell said in his 4/19 live chat stated clearly that he wants to PCs to be able to react to a possible change, not just backspace over the Axiom Numbers in the Sourcebook. I mean, Baruk Kaah is going to simultaneously change the axiom everywhere in the Living Land and I think most storm knights are going to sense it if they're in the Living Land—even if it's on unrelated business. There is a lot of potential drama and tension you can create in a campaign when you realize big stuff is happening. Yeah, it WOULD be better if the PCs were in on it, no arguing that...But this is Year One. I think we need to look at this less as the result of an adventure and more like a timeline event. We're not complaining that Australia is getting attacked by giant mutant horrors, because we didn't really have a say in it and that's a big change from the Core Rulebooks.

I would recommend to the team that this stretch goal include at least a small adventure (PDF only if necessary) where the event takes place, so the GMs can roleplay it out. Or at the very very very least, some kind of narrative experience that the PCs can have a roleplaying reaction to. Deanna's tweets were a dramatic narrative of the first 90 days. I wouldn't suggest tweets, but if you can't do some kinda of adventure, at least have a dramatic event the heroes can internalize.

FINALLY, if the backers vote down any change at all, Baruk Kaah should CERTAINLY make the attempt and have that be part of the timeline, along with an adventure or narrative. Arguing that the stretch goal is wasted with a No Change vote is fair. So make it part of the timeline whether he succeeds or fails.

3.) The Timeline: You Chance to Eat Your Cake— If this event is placed on a specific date, GMs have the option of saying that Core Rules Axioms apply up until July 4th of Year One, and a new axiom level applies afterwards. I think this makes sense, so I'm not going to belabor it. Just explain that very clearly.

July 4th:
► Show Spoiler


4.) Baruk Kaah Doesn't Get an Axiom Wash: Just because he alters the axiom, doesn't mean that edeinos suddenly have city states and a military. It just means those things are now possible. He still have to do the legwork, which means uniting clans, appointing trustworthy secondary leaders, and a ton of organizing. Something he's not especially practiced in.

5.) Untapped Opportunities for Infiniverse Authors— If Baruk Kaah alters his axioms, consider that the main Living Land Sourcebook is already written. Darrell and Deanna have pledged that this change will appear in the final text, but they can't rewrite the whole book. Hell the Delphi Adventures have been assigned and are likely already written. (Smart money says they assumed they'd be funded, like they assumed the cards would be their own product)

Post Axiom Change Living Land would be a great opportunity for Infiniverse authors to write original material that the Developers can't get to until Year Two.
Adventure Hooks
  • Slaves need to be captured, where before they were killed. These stone cities won't build themselves. Rescuing and monkeywrenching construction is a new Storm Knight hobby in the Living Land.
  • Baruk Kaah needs Nile Empire Engineers because very few edeinos actually knows how to build a ziggurat, let alone a wall. Here's a plot that deserves to be thwarted.
  • Edeinos have a form of tribal politics right now. Just imagine how much more complicated it becomes when they can form city states? And it's not like they're instantly used to it. Who is? Everybody else. Storm Knights can broker deals with clan leaders who don't like Baruk Kaah and can offer meaningful support. Religious rifts can take a new meaning. Bad clan leaders can be 'undermined' to install more sympathetic ones. That's good ol' 'Murican politics right there! (Don't take that too seriously)
  • Edeinos infrastructure is infrastructure to be sabotaged.

I'm sure people could come up with better ideas, but my point is post-axion increase LL is a fertile topic that Infiniverse authors could explore long before USNA can, which creates new topics / new clans / new locations / new possible perks and edeinos archetypes for people to write and put on the market without much competition from USNA. (Though they might dip their toes into it with a Core Earth Supplement and LL cameos in other supplements, and of course Year Two, which is 2-3 years away).

PLUS, all Infiniverse authors would have to do is specify "before or after the axiom change" and they could write about either version, IF the axiom change even applies to their product. A good reason to put it on the timeline, if we end up doing it. Example "This is a Post July 4th LL adventure." Again, July 4th is just an example date, see spoiler above.

6.) Show Me, Don't Tell Me: This is an opportunity to demonstrate what a High Lord is capable of without it being a fait accompli disclosure from the Delphi Council. Core Earthers had to learn the hard way what happens when you don't prepare to yank a stellae. Rather than having Quinn say at some point, "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, they can do that," the powers of a High Lord can be demonstrated during an actual campaign. Not my strongest point here, but I thought I would lob it in with the others.

So, in conclusion, I think there is potential for actually voting yes to do it. Obviously I think Social would be better than Tech (because my whole post is structured around it).

I don't think it invalidates the Core Rules, and I'm not expecting the other cosms to do this as well.

Plus, I know they've said there won't be anything physical added to the box at this point, but if you vote yes.... You have a strong argument for a fresh table tent. There you go.

I'm going to vote Yes for increasing the Social Axiom. I won't be disappointed if the majority votes for no changes. I just enjoyed presenting a different perspective.

RamblingScribe
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby RamblingScribe » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:11 pm

I'm also going to weigh in and say that I don't think it's terrible idea, although I think it could have been introduced better.

I've been envisioning the Edeinos adopting their interpretation of Aztec culture in the southern living lands, and I kind of like it. I definitely like the social boost better than a tech boost.

With regards to the pay to play/pay to win argument, while I think it was a kind of lame stretch goal, there were many goals over the campaign that were just things US was always going to do, that's the nature of a Kickstarter. They wanted it as a milestone reveal, and I can see why they wanted that and also why some people weren't impressed, but:

No one is being charged for the privilege of voting.

No one is getting extra votes by paying more money.

No one is gaining a personal in-game advantage over anyone else by paying to vote.

It is reasonable to give Kickstarter contributors an extra way to affect the outcome of the wars.

I don't think anyone would have been upset if one of the benefits of supporting the Kickstarter at the outset was that everyone gets to vote on whether Barukh Kaah succeeds in increasing his social axiom. Or at least not about pay to win

And lastly, this is much less pay to win than that those who are able and willing to pay more can choose a city to be destroyed in the storyline. I mean, someone could choose Toronto, and that would have massive implications for my personal campaign. And I will have to roll with that, because it's the possibility wars and it's a living campaign. And I'm not actually upset about that, I just haven't heard anyone complain about it, and if pay to win is actually the problem, I would expect the destroyer pledges would be more upsetting than the axiom shift.

ZorValachan
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby ZorValachan » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:32 pm

I just think an axiom increase, while theoretically possible due to Infiniverse surveys, in actuality would never occur.

The same thing presented itself in OT's "Temple of Rec Stalek". Thrakmoss had the chance to gain the Darkness Device and the Tech axiom would have bumped up to 8.
But it didn't happen. Because there is a primary drive in RPGs that the party wins the big thing at the end of the adventure (otherwise everyone feels bad). Seriously, does anyone actually think whatever Baruk Kaah's big plot in the God Box is actually going to succeed in more campaigns to make it "official"?

The Signal Fire was lit, the Aztec Empire didn't form, The LL tech didn't get boosted, even the little adventure which the East and West LL would have united didn't happen. and even though the premise of Torg's infiniverse (the concept, not the magazine/metaplot) is that each GM has their own cosmverse, too many people want to remain "canon" to the main official plot. very few GMs are going to alter course, because future material might not be relevant to then anymore. Look at the Canada "White Zone" talk. GMs already afraid if they do something there and USNA puts something there, it will "ruin" their game. And if it's decided through an adventure that the axioms don't raise, it's even less likely to happen in the games of latecomers.

This gives the KS backers a moment to collectively tilt the rudder of the ship (or stay on course), without the pesky "heroes win at the end" defeating any theoretical changes.
- Leamon Crafton Jr.
Infiniverse Exchange author:

The Paraverse: An entire alternate Cosmverse
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237607/

The Knights of the Road: Archtypes designed as a Storm Knight group
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/228365/

utsukushi
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby utsukushi » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:39 pm

I just like the idea of Baruuk Kaah increasing an Axiom (either one, really), and the Edeinos just don't care. I mean, they've mostly been ignoring them for a while now, having seemingly decided that Social 5 and Tech 3 were good enough for them.

I can see why Kaah would want them to be able to organize better, but I'm hard pressed to see them actually doing it. And that - going back to oTorg - was always one of the things I just adore about the Edeinos. They're like unruly children. They want to make their Kaah happy, but, you know... to a point, and quite frankly, he's trying to line them up with concepts they just don't have. It's also one of the things I like about Baruuk Kaah: he's one of the oldest High Lords. He's clearly advanced his own effective Axioms quite a bit, interacting with many different worlds, and he uses that to subvert Lanala's teachings to awesome and subtle effect. But it means he has to work with the Edeinos as they are.

So frankly, that's both the most likely (to my mind) and the most amusing (also for me) scenario I see coming out of this -- but I'm afraid if it happened that way, there'd be a wash of complaints that we did this and then it didn't really affect anything, so it's totally impractical from US's viewpoint unless their actual goal is to make unhappy any of their fans who aren't now. Which I'm forced to admit is an unlikely goal at best.

Anyway. I haven't really decided how to vote yet, but based on this, I think I do lean towards No Change. But Jim has some really, really good points, especially just in the fact that Change is more interesting than No Change and gives all of us more things to think about and work with.

I'll let it all settle a little bit, but you might very well have changed at least one mind!

Mike McCall
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Mike McCall » Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:29 am

Between Jim and utsukushi, a possibility (heh!) occurs to me: Baruk Kaah changes the Social Axiom, starts engineering "city-states" (or the nomadic equivalent) around the clans...and gets a whole bunch of disgruntled rebels who think the Saar is overstepping his authority as a result. The tighter he grasps, the more tribes slip through his claws.

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Spatula
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Spatula » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:26 am

I don't really see what opportunity there is for the players to get involved with this change, within the game. Changing axioms is something the HL and DD just do, right? Spend a ton of energy, axiom changes. Even if there was a ritual or something and the SK stop it... how would they stop the bad guys from trying again?

I also dunno that anyone would necessarily notice the shift right away. "Hey, my head didn't feel funny when I thought about my taxes just now! Kaah must have increased the Social axiom!!!"

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Matthew Surridge
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Matthew Surridge » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:51 pm

I'm fairly neutral on the axiom increase, but there are some great ideas in this thread. I think Jim and Utsukushi are right about the story opportunities, particularly around the Social axiom (Jim, I really like those plots you suggest, too). Like Jim says, Kaah can increase the axiom, but not wave his hand and dictate how that change plays out. And like Mike McCall says, he could actually create more problems for himself than he's solving. If I understand Social 8, it allows for city-states and abstract nations, but also allows for the concept of civil war. The Edeinos already ignore a lot of they could potentially do under their Tech and Social axioms, which between them allow the early Bronze Age, as I read it (at a guess, Merretika and specifically the Pyrians would likely get more use out of them). So the story would be less "Kaah raises an axiom" than "Kaah raises an axiom and tries to change Edeinos society to take advantage before somebody else does."

I feel the idea of a Social increase is more immediately interesting than any other. I wonder what happens to the Law of Savagery with a higher social axiom? Anyway, a one-point Tech increase wouldn't seem to make much of a change, to my mind (though I suppose Rec Stalek worshippers would get a kick out of it), Magic going from 1 to 2 wouldn't do much that I can see, and a Spirit raise would be kind of coals to Newcastle. In each case, the basic idea of what the cosm looks like is pretty unchanged — "it's the place where guns don't work and iron things can just vanish, and there's no magic to speak of, but they can call powerful miracles." It's when you get to "it's inhabited by tribal lizardfolk" that the chance of a change occurs, that you can get "lizardfolk who're beginning to get the hang of cities." (It's interesting that this would play a bit into a narrative of Edeinos seeing the big American metropoli, being struck by the wonder of their size, and trying to build something like that for themselves. Or just taking over and reshaping the ruins.)

The more I think about this, the more intrigued I am by the idea of Kaah trying to enact the agricultural revolution in the middle of the war while he himself is much more a straight-ahead warrior-chief. Would he be abducting political operatives from the US to advise him? Would that be a career opportunity for transformed Core Earthers? And it just struck me: the core rules mention that Baruk Kaah has had "several lifetimes" thanks to Rec Pakken. Which means he's probably got a bunch of kids and grandkids running about. Raising Social to allow city-states probably means bringing in the idea of lineages, meaning we could get a lot of dissatisfied princelings … boy, the law of unintended consequences could be strong here.
Humankind cannot bear very much reality
— T.S. Eliot, who didn't know the half of it

My Torg Eternity review, part one and part two

chall
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby chall » Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:43 pm

So do we know how much the bump is supposed to be? one point? a small amount? a considerable amount?

Jim
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Jim » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:00 pm

Spatula wrote:I don't really see what opportunity there is for the players to get involved with this change, within the game. Changing axioms is something the HL and DD just do, right? Spend a ton of energy, axiom changes. Even if there was a ritual or something and the SK stop it... how would they stop the bad guys from trying again?

I also dunno that anyone would necessarily notice the shift right away. "Hey, my head didn't feel funny when I thought about my taxes just now! Kaah must have increased the Social axiom!!!"


Well, someone will have to get imaginative about getting the players involved. I see it as less of a problem than more of a challenge.

As for sensing the change, maybe I’m flat out wrong! :mrgreen:
Core Earthers got strange perks oriented towards reality. That was my only thought.

But those are two details, but don’t speak to the general premise. It’s cool to just not like and want nothing to do with it. There was just a loud contingent that was griping about it on general grognard principle, so I wanted to open it up a little.

And I freely grant that it’s a so-so stretch goal, because there’s no tangible or digital reward associated with it. I still think it’s worth unpacking and thinking about it. They’re not going to get rid of the stretch goal now that it’s announced. That would be really bad form, and I write that irrespective of my feelings on the subject. So engage, offer your own ideas, make the most of it-since we got it anyway.

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Spatula
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Re: Living Land Axiom Stretch Goal Discussion

Postby Spatula » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:12 pm

People can complain about the stretch goal being "a poll" but the reality is that it's an opportunity to decide the future of the game. I think that's noteworthy. I also don't mind the nature of the decision since, as I said above, I don't see how you wrap a player-oriented adventure around the idea. I like the theories of how the Social change, which is definitely the more interesting of the two, can lead to some good stories. I just don't think the change itself is much of a story - it's background material that sets other events in motion.
Last edited by Spatula on Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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