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Ran

DISCUSS: Influence

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After much pondering and work, we think we've come up with an influence allotment system that will get players set up with appropriate levels of influence when they are out of CG. Before we implement it, we'd like to bounce it off you guys for feedback, in case you find any significant problems with it. Here's how it works:

The player's familial status -- rated on a scale of 1-8, with the vast majority of players falling between 6-8 -- is multiplied by 100 to derive an amount of influence. The familial status is also used as a multiplier for the rest of the status modifiers -- things like Disowned, Illustrious Heritage, Wealthy, and so on. The _positive_ status modifiers are added together and multiplied by the familial status number. The _negative_ status modifiers are added together, multiplied by the familial status number, _and_ divided in half. The three figures are added together: Familial statusx100+(positive modifiers added together)*Familial status+(negative modifiers added together)*familial status/2

This will produce your initial influence allotment out of CG. Many players will find themselves in the 600-800 range, while some may be as much as twice that.

Now, there's one more wrinkle: the modifiers after the familial status are also going to act as a bonus in relation to influence, meaning that when they gain a certain amount of points, they'll get an extra percentage on top of that due to their modifiers (alternatievely, if their modifiers are overall negative, they may lose a percentage). It might be easiest to illustrate:

Take a wealthy knight from a lesser lordly house with an illustrious heritage but a disadvantageous marriage. Lesser Lordly House is 6. We have not yet settled on figures for the other status modifiers may be in increments of 25 with assets/flaws that cost a maximum of 1 being worth +/-25, a maximum of 2 +/-50, and so on to +/-100. So using this in our theoretical example: Knight is worth +25. Wealthy is worth +50. Illustrious Heritage is worth +25. Disadvantageous marriage, which aren't flaws or assets, will likely be considered a -25 (things like heir, consort, and lord will also be considered -- probably with heir and consort worth 50, lord worth 100). This character will have (6*100)+(25+50+25-25)*6=1050 influence points to begin with. But they also gain an influence modifier. First, add the non-familial status modifierstogether and divide by ten: 25+50+25-25=75/10=7.5. Then add in the familial status directly: 7.5+6=13.5. This character will have a 13.5% modifier when influence is alloted to them -- they will gain influence slightly faster than someone without those modifiers.

So, that's how we're thinking it will work. What we need from players is some thoughts on whether it really makes sense, and any suggestions to improve the formula.

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The effort you guys have gone into to craft this system is impressive and much appreciated. But for verbal types (or if you prefer, numerically challenged types) like myself, the Influence score itself is kind of meaningless in practical IC terms.

Is there any chance we could have some sort of scale with descriptors to give players an idea of where their character's influence actually falls? In other words, if your influence is from 0-100 you are considered of No or Marginal influence, 101-200 of Limited influence, 201-300 of Average influence, etc.? Any kind of reference point will help folks like me.

Also, how will this stat translate into IC situations? Say Ser Hotpie has an Influence of 600. Does this mean that he can command a certain number of troops, call in a certain number of favors, have a certain amount of pull at court, or what? And how do we ensure players use this correctly?

Thanks!

~Ace

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Hrm, can't really come up with what's an 'average' influence in the sense that it scales with the importance of the house. That said, I guess that the house status x 100 might give a fair idea of what's an average amount of influence to have in your influence pool -- if you're of lordly house, that means 800 is about average. This naturally will rise and fall as you spend, lose, and gain influence. Someone at '0' isn't exactly without _influence_ because, well, even if Lord Lannister were to spend _all_ his political capital on something, he's still Lord Lannister.

What we might say is that the pool of influence represents your _discretionary_ influence -- the stuff that you can spend on things outside of whatever your character does on a day to day basis. It won't really allow you to command more people, per say. It's there primarily for political and court activity -- planting nasty rumors about your opponents, fighting over royal offices and benefices that can grant certain (generally temporary) boosts to your influence and reputation (perhaps even to the extent of providing temporary assets, such as Wealthy, while you hold an office), and so on.

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Hrm, can't really come up with what's an 'average' influence in the sense that it scales with the importance of the house. That said, I guess that the house status x 100 might give a fair idea of what's an average amount of influence to have in your influence pool -- if you're of lordly house, that means 800 is about average. This naturally will rise and fall as you spend, lose, and gain influence. Someone at '0' isn't exactly without _influence_ because, well, even if Lord Lannister were to spend _all_ his political capital on something, he's still Lord Lannister.

What we might say is that the pool of influence represents your _discretionary_ influence -- the stuff that you can spend on things outside of whatever your character does on a day to day basis. It won't really allow you to command more people, per say. It's there primarily for political and court activity -- planting nasty rumors about your opponents, fighting over royal offices and benefices that can grant certain (generally temporary) boosts to your influence and reputation (perhaps even to the extent of providing temporary assets, such as Wealthy, while you hold an office), and so on.

Interesting. So would "spent" influence slowly regenerate naturally? Taking the example above, let's say Lord Lannister expends all his discretionary influence on discrediting Small Councillor X and getting him exiled to the Free Cities. Whether or not Councillor X gets exiled, Lord Lannister still has all the lands, titles, power and wealth from which his influence draws in the first place-- so one assumes these relatively static resources allow him to gradually rebuild that discretionary influence?

And following, a loss of those static resources would have a negative effect on one's ability to regenerate spent influence?

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Yes. Just to give a rough idea of how we think this would work:

Character has a base influence of 800. Between 400 and 800, he regains influence on a monthly basis of 80 points per month. Between 0 and 400, he regains it at 160 per month.

Similarly, between 800 and 1200 influence, he loses influence at a rate of 80 per month. Between 1200 and 1600, he loses itat 160 per month. 0 and 2xbase influence (in this case, 1600) are the caps for "discretionary influence" -- we don't want people hoarding it and getting into the millions. ;)

The former we're much surer about, as far as the regaining of influence goes. The latter, not so much -- could someone really gain at least a couple hundred a month to start hitting their cap? We don't know.

As for losing or gaining various static resources -- in game terms, the main "static" resource that could be factored in is something like winning or losing a royal office -- these would certainly have an impact in increasing or reducing someone's base influence in a semi-permanent way.

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As for losing or gaining various static resources -- in game terms, the main "static" resource that could be factored in is something like winning or losing a royal office -- these would certainly have an impact in increasing or reducing someone's base influence in a semi-permanent way.

I wish there was a less arbitrary way to get semi-permanent boosts or hits than lands, money, or offices. The former two are mostly out of a player's hands to alter; you get a good character and you're set, you don't and your fooked. The latter is mostly up to the game admins to grant or deny. Not that I doubt the fairness of our admin! I just think we could come up with other ways as well, that might be interesting.

What are the possibilities of a player earning/losing lands and wealth through IC events? Static is boring, as I've learned from other MUSHes with Tolkien themes that I will not name here. Wouldn't it invigorate things if we knew a Tyrell or a Lannister might actually go broke or landless, or a sellsword or Flea Bottom orphan might actually rise to Littlefinger-ish heights?

Also, there is influence, and then there is influence. I think of influence gained by throwing lavish parties or doing well in tourneys as 'rock star' type influence... it's useful, but perishable. In other words, there is a fleeting quality to it. Miss a few tourneys or social events, and pretty soon you're off the radar in the party circuit. How quickly the people forget...

More substantial influence might come from shared history and experience (such as being war buddies in Dorne), in shrewd business or property enterprises (such as Littlefinger or Tywin Lannister), or in having a network of spies and lackeys (Varys, Olenna). This type of influence would have staying power, and wouldn't expire as quickly, but it would be much harder to cultivate.

Sorry if this overcomplicates things. Thoughts welcome.

~Ace

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I wish there was a less arbitrary way to get semi-permanent boosts or hits than lands, money, or offices. The former two are mostly out of a player's hands to alter; you get a good character and you're set, you don't and your fooked. The latter is mostly up to the game admins to grant or deny. Not that I doubt the fairness of our admin! I just think we could come up with other ways as well, that might be interesting.

It's entirely possible that things like .... the wardship of an orphaned heir (which would end up giving you access to their lands and money while you act as "steward"), a marriage to a wealthy widow or widower, or even coming into some lands would all be part of the "auction" system we're hoping to institute. This holds true for the "offices" bit. The idea is that at set times, the admin would make certain things available, and people could work to put influence away into a "campaign pool" (to allow multiple people to contribute in support of one person) so that a player would win this whatever it is.

Whoever puts in the must influence trying to get it, wins. The admin would not be deciding things by fiat. It's true that we have given a few positions out already, but this is because we don't have the influence system in place. Those who would those positions may find that a few months from now their office will be up for grabs. ;)

Wouldn't it invigorate things if we knew a Tyrell or a Lannister might actually go broke or landless, or a sellsword or Flea Bottom orphan might actually rise to Littlefinger-ish heights?

The big rises are, I think, easier than the big falls. We can't have Lord Tyrell ending up attainted and living in Flea Bottom. There's theme to consider. That said, certainly, events could happen that could lead to, say, Lord Lannister having to give up a chunk of land to a vassal because said vassal has outmaneuvered him at court and gotten the crown involved in westerlands affairs on their behalf. We haven't really thought of any such plots

Also, there is influence, and then there is influence. I think of influence gained by throwing lavish parties or doing well in tourneys as 'rock star' type influence... it's useful, but perishable. In other words, there is a fleeting quality to it. Miss a few tourneys or social events, and pretty soon you're off the radar in the party circuit. How quickly the people forget...

Things like licenses to throw royal tourneys are one of the thing we'd consider as part of the auction system (and indeed, even things of a more OOC nature -- the right to throw any sort of feast at all where the crown would be in attendance). The whole thing is figuring out how to attach specific gains for a person who spends points to earn the right to host such an event. Do they gain a percentage of influence and/or renown in relation to all the PCs (and significant NPCs) who bother attending? Or maybe they gain a percentage of the renown/influence gained or loss doing the x number of days in which they hold this event?

Lots of questions, but we're certainly keeping our options open. We do want influence and renown to become a pervasive element of the game, something people are really thinking about when they play.

More substantial influence might come from shared history and experience (such as being war buddies in Dorne), in shrewd business or property enterprises (such as Littlefinger or Tywin Lannister), or in having a network of spies and lackeys (Varys, Olenna). This type of influence would have staying power, and wouldn't expire as quickly, but it would be much harder to cultivate.

One facet of the influence equation, of course, is the fact that as PCs come together, they may create alliances where they spend their influence together for specific causes -- say, two friends work together to quash negative rumors about one another. This would be just that sort of more permanent influence, and that one would depend on RP.

Business is going to be much tougher. We originally intended to make wealth as equally important and detailed a thing as house status, but decided we're just tossing too many variables into the pot. Still, things like winning extra lands beyond the norm ... possibly players could be assets, for example, to represent such gains.

Another system we hope to introduce is a basic sort of favor tracking system, in which you can note on yourself that so-and-so owes you/you owe so-and-so a favor of such and such magnitude, with a brief explanation as to why you them. This would probably be searchable. Players could trade favors for direct transfers of influence, or someone could say, 'Hey, if you plant this rumor for me, we'll call it even' or any number of other things...

Still something we're toying with.

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Should Influence necessarily go down if you don't use it? I understand the reasoning behind it - wanting to encourage the spending of Influence points and make 'stockpiling' points impossible, but actively penalising people for having 'too much' or not spending it seems a bit strange. Something that might be easier to implement could simply just be an influence 'cap'. Once you hit that cap, you stop gaining influence points. This method still stops stockpiling, and it still encourages someone to use their influence points since they won't be losing anything by spending influence that they are going to soon regain to get to their cap anyway.

Of course, this would then encourage the practice of getting to your cap, and then spending only a certain amount each day so that you stay more or less at your cap, but the same holds true if you had a decreasing influence formula - people would eventually figure out at what point the formula changes so that their influence doesn't decrease with time, and they'd use that as the basis for their optimal influence score that they would stay around.

The influence cap would be affected by class - for instance, Lords would obviously have a greater influence cap than a slum dweller from Flea Bottom. I don't know exactly how it's planning to be coded, but a cap seems like an easier scheme than a decreasing formula, both in terms of coding and in terms of players getting to grips with the system.

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The base status level -- 800 in the example above -- would be what you're looking for, I think. Someone at 800 will neither lose nor gain influence without outside factors or their own activities. If no one targets them for rumors, if they plant no rumors, etc. then they'll be at 800 indefinitely.

However, once outside factors push them above this "natural" level, we do think it's reasonable that they will start to lose it. The idea is that characters who are actively involved in politicking -- and are thereby gaining influence beyond their usual means -- are going to have to keep politicking to maintain this increased level. Once a person stops for whatever reason, their reputation will dwindle. A person with a base of 800 who hits the hard cap of 1600 and then stops dead, and no one else does anything aimed at their influence, would take approximately seven months to get back down to 800 using the above formula.

Similarly, someone who hits 0 has spent or lost discretionary influence far beyond what they would naturally accrue just from their position. Just by being who they are, related to they are, etc., influence begins to accurue again to its natural level over a span of time (again, I suppose it'd take roughly 7 months for someone with a base of 800 to get to there from 0 without doing anything else, which seems a reasonable span).

A smallfolk would have 100 influence points as their base (Smallfolk Family is a family status of 1), with a hard cap of 200. An Arryn without any modifiers (non-knight, non-lord, etc.) would have a base of 900 and a hard cap of 1800, by way of comparison. The idea here is to provide a mechanism to keep people around their "natural level", whether they're above or below that level.

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Regarding gaining and losing influence, aside from coded events such as rumors, how will gains or losses be handled for things that aren't coded, but that happen through RP and are posted on the board? Will there be a set number of points given out or will it be something that the admin handle on a case by case basis or is it that if you're active you'll get monthly boosts?

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We're unsure about how exactly it'll work with the coded systems. As mentioned above, one method of gain and loss will be the auctioning off of various offices and other perks that have an influence boost inherent in them, but you can't get them without "spending" influence (i.e., going about court trying to influence the right people). We're also considering some sort of favor-tracking system, where players can track favors they owe or are owed, with a brief explanation why, and a mechanism to discharge favors via a direct transfer of influence from one person to another (alternatively, one player might ask another player to use some of their influence to, say, plant a rumor on their behalf and call it quits).

Besides that, yes, we are hoping to keep an eye on actual RPed events, and perhaps we'll be able to come up with a mechanism by which players can bring events to light to us to make sure that it's considered for influence gain or loss.

We're certainly open to any ideas players might have along these lines. :)

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Will your importance within the family have an influence? In book terms, Lancel would not be as influencial as Jaime, despite both being knights of House Lannister Is this represented? Sometimes these formula systems slip by my head just a little.

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Apart from the head of the house, the head's spouse and the heir, we currently don't differentiate between members of a house, and we probably won't add that. It would be quite tricky to make the system more finegrained. We did consider trying to assign values based on closeness to the current head, but it seemed awkward.

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Apart from the head of the house, the head's spouse and the heir, we currently don't differentiate between members of a house, and we probably won't add that. It would be quite tricky to make the system more finegrained. We did consider trying to assign values based on closeness to the current head, but it seemed awkward.

With code already built in for holding offices as a boost to influence, "heir" could presumably be made an office that house heads have at their disposal. This would not only represent the (usually) greater influence held by the heir apparent over his siblings, but by being an assigned rather than hard-coded attribute it would also allow for someone to designate their heirs voluntarily (e.g. passing over the dwarf in favour of the golden child).

Of course, as an after-thought, family members bidding influence for a change to heir from the default might make sense: Tywin only gets away with it because of the combination of his iron control of the house and the appearance of his eldest son....

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As noted by Linda (or implied, anyways), the 'heir' status flag is already in play, as is 'Consort' and 'Head'. :)

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...family members bidding influence for a change to heir from the default might make sense: Tywin only gets away with it because of the combination of his iron control of the house and the appearance of his eldest son....

Not sure what you mean here, Marian. Tyrion was younger than both Cersei and Jaime and his claim to Casterly Rock, while legitimate, wasn't due to his birth but rather to Cersei's gender (unable to inherit) and Jaime defaulting on his own claim.

Jaime was Tywin's eldest son, but he forfeited his status as the heir when he joined the Kingsguard. Following that incident, Tywin never openly designated an heir that we know of-- and as we learn later on, he actually tried to circumvent tradition and get Jaime to resign from the KG (never done apart from death) in order to resume his place as heir to the Rock.

That said, I wonder if it's possible for ANY lord in Westeros to circumvent the natural birth order without starting some trouble among his heirs and a potential land/power/influence grab among ambitious "allies" of the spurned firstborn....

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That said, I wonder if it's possible for ANY lord in Westeros to circumvent the natural birth order without starting some trouble among his heirs and a potential land/power/influence grab among ambitious "allies" of the spurned firstborn....

This sounds like the seed of an outstanding plot, J. Hint hint. And didn't the Dance of the Dragons start for similar reasons? Gender-based, of course, but similar?

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I was thinking of Tywin's explicit refusal to countenance Tyrion ever inheriting Casterley Rock, stated in conversation with Tyrion at a time when Jaime was thought lost. True, he never came up with a formally-designated heir in place of Tyrion, but he's not the only noble father to opt to rearrange the inheritance to break primogeniture - that is, after all, why Samwell Tarly winds up on the Wall.

Particularly with the conquest of Dorne, inheritance could become a very significant issue - not only are there a lot of young heirs and potential collateral claims, the different role of women there might well come under severe challenge from the conquerors (or self-interested relatives)....

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I was thinking of Tywin's explicit refusal to countenance Tyrion ever inheriting Casterley Rock, stated in conversation with Tyrion at a time when Jaime was thought lost. True, he never came up with a formally-designated heir in place of Tyrion, but he's not the only noble father to opt to rearrange the inheritance to break primogeniture - that is, after all, why Samwell Tarly winds up on the Wall.

Particularly with the conquest of Dorne, inheritance could become a very significant issue - not only are there a lot of young heirs and potential collateral claims, the different role of women there might well come under severe challenge from the conquerors (or self-interested relatives)....

This is a cool point, Mar. And actually raises a question I have for Bal and Linda. When, or under what conditions, can a firstborn heir be put aside in favor of a younger sibling? We have the example of Tyrion that Marian cited; and I'm also thinking of Renly vs. Stannis, and the former's whole might makes right position.

If the elder is weaker or otherwise unsuitable, can the lord father designate the younger child? Or do we know enough from what GRRM has given us so far to even make an educated guess?

~Ace

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I'd think the whole thing with Sam would imply to me that it's not easy to get a younger sibling approved as heir over an older sibling. Sam makes it look like the eldest child basically has to either die, or perform the social equivalent of dying (like taking the black) if a younger sibling is going to inherit. The Stannis/Renly thing was different because Dragonstone was a gift of conquest. And Tyrion's situation makes it look like removing the white and leaving the Kingsguard might actually be more socially acceptable than a younger sibling inheriting. All in all, it looks like younger siblings inheriting when there's an elder sibling available would be pretty messed up, from what I see.

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