The Stranglehold of the Holy Order

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Kinaed
Posts: 1892
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:54 pm
Discord Handle: ParaVox3#7579

Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:45 pm

Greetings,

Thematically, the Holy Order is supposed to be a powerful, broadly oppressive regime. It's been raised to me by members both inside and outside of the Holy Order that this sense is missing ICly. Is this true? Why is this the case? Is there more that we can/should do to fix this up?

WARNING: Please be careful about how we respond to this post to avoid personal attacks or judging other people's RP. This is intended to be a high level discussion to see if we need to do more to promote Order theme.

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Taunya
Posts: 423
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:45 pm

I'm not sure. I don't see it as weak personally.

I think if it does seem weak ICly, it's mostly due to the numbers. We've got a single non-knight Orderite at the moment, and that's a pretty heavy burden with the importance of the Order in the game. The Order in general has a pretty high turnover rate. I suppose most guilds do, come to think of it, but the order seems particularly high.

We've discussed a lot, trying to find solutions, but thus far nothing's really solved it. What measures do you have in mind as options?

DeadHandsome
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri May 11, 2018 4:55 pm

Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:04 pm

To be honest, I think almost the exact opposite thing. I think that the Order is undermined a lot knowing that the amount of IC recourse for the actions is severely hampered by the numbers. Insofar as I think there needs to be more priests I think that the Order does need more of a presence on the grid than is currently being represented. While I can understand and appreciate to some extent that some people I have talked to do not like to RP religion the religious aspect of TI:L hardly ever, if ever comes up. Apart from. Yes Mages are bad. To me, that's an absolute bare bones interpretation of the theme that really sells short a well thought out and deeply considered IC religion.

That being said, I think that a lot of this could be solved by some active IC characters on the clergy side of things who run masses and tak confessions and all that good stuff. But that's a thing that would have to come up, opening applications to priests and inquisitors. I don't know why the Order has such a high turnover. I think that everyone in it is a really cool person OOCly and ICly I've never had any trouble finding people to play with when people are around.

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Werewolf
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:56 pm

The Order seems low turnover at the top, and high turnover at the bottom. Maybe it's only fun to play if you're a boss? GLs can probably fix that with minimal effort.

Order members, particularly Inquisitors, aren't threatening for a few reasons. First, there are so few of them, so they aren't visible. When they are, there's not much they can do that anyone else can't. That might be a good or bad thing, 'cause other Order members are just players too. Getting super power characters that cannot be dislodged gets crappy.

I don't get the fixation on priests in the OOC log. Never had much to do with my character, not inclined to do confession, and low interest in RPing either side of it. Priests only do confession and mass. If Inquisitors are also priests, they should just do that stuff too.

Maybe there should be more Order members can do to be scary day to day though? Like, if an Inquisitor puts out a warrant, maybe Knights should be able to summon a squad and flat arrest? That'd be scary, but limited enough to at least require someone going through the effort to make a warrant.

LonelyNeptune
Posts: 73
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:11 pm

Farra was an excellent Orderite who empowered the Holy Order and made it feel like an organisation to be feared. I was sad to see her go.

While I understand that there were personal conflicts that made it difficult to collaborate, it's worth examining why this happens and how to prevent relations from deteriorating in the future. On more than one occasion, the leadership of the Holy Order has been removed or encouraged to leave. I'm curious as to why. Historically, the Holy Order has taken a while to recover after such events, and it discourages people from getting involved in the leadership of the guild.

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The_Last_Good_Dragon
Posts: 254
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:08 am

Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:12 pm

I'm going to preface this input by just saying that none of what I talk about is meant to insult Staff. Given the recentish-still sour-tastes that led to me choosing to liquidate Farra and some of the drama around that, I expect that some people will take some of this as trying to talk shit. You can believe that if you want, but none of what I'm going to mention touches on the things that led me to stepping down as Grand Inquisitor.

But I do definitely agree with the 'Thematically, the Holy Order is supposed to be a powerful, broadly oppressive regime. It's been raised to me by members both inside and outside of the Holy Order that this sense is missing ICly.' This is an issue that I've seen for a very long time, however, and I don't think is necessarily a new problem. I'll try to be brief as everyone by now probably knows I can accidentally make an Alexander Hamilton at the Constitutitonal Convention cosplay. The tl;dr is that I don't know if there's a solution to this other than us as players making a concentrated effort to do that. I'm just going to try to list some symptoms of this and see if other's can't input some suggestions.

  • Players are not a final authority on the Order. A few years ago the Cardinal role was taken out of the hands of the players. When there is a more-or-less all-power NPC hovering over the Order's head making sure they 'play nice' (more or less) there is a feeling of restriction in place on Orderites, especially Orderites who might want to play the 'less than super good' aspect of the Order (the 'powerful, broadly oppressive' parts of it). There was an instance during the time I was GI that players apparently wrote to the NPC Cardinal demanding recourse against Farra stretching the authority of her position a little bit that was persuasive enough to earn a 'If this is true it needs to stop now' response from the Cardinal. (For context, without revealing IC info, this was over a situation where, by all evidence, what actually happened got mis-represented to the Cardinal). In a few other instances players made either IC or OOC comments about how if they didn't get their way with Farra that they would pressure the Cardinal to have Farra removed as Grand Inquisitor. When Grand Inquisitor is a popularity contest, it hamstring's the Order's ability to be aggressive. I remain resolute, even after giving the position up, that the Grand Inquisitor should not be a gambit-able position. It, uniquely amongst GLs, opens up a player to huge risk if they are doing their job well -- as Grand Inquisitor I tended to see Farra's sharpest disapproval ratings come immediately after pyring a mage.
  • Most players don't take risks. This ranges all across the board for me, but what it comes down to is that people often seem intent on being as 'troublesome' as current company calls for. Most players do not take risks with their characters. They do not share heretical thoughts as casual conversation. All of this compounds to create a scenario where there just isn't a lot for an Inquisitor to do. This sort of echoes the problems with Reeves: people just don't commit a lot of crimes. Mages don't 'flip out' and try to sacrafice people. Most magic is done behind locked doors, or by people who want to see their chracter die off. From my experience, when people are caught they want to put in a minimum amount of effort to continue their character to the end. There are various reasons for a lot of these things, and I'm not saying that wanting to play a careful mage is somehow 'bad' or 'wrong' — mages, I'm not attacking you with this, I promise! But I would love to see there be more reward / encouragement for mages to be actively causing trouble of some type with their magic. Doing so will draw people to want to play 'the other side' of things, I think. (I might suggest that the means for mages to spam their magical skills up without interacting with others be removed. As it stands the most effective way (slash the only reliable way outside of teaching.. and even still solo-spamming is the most effective!) to raise magic skills is through non-interaction with others. Give magic the fighting treatment: force mages to find other mages to train them in order to GM their skills, or find a way to better incentivize magical casts with others in the room!
  • The Order isn't given chances to be terrible. The Holy Order of Dav is, by and large, an extremely humanitarian, objectively 'good' organization that values those who help those less fortunate than themselves and stresses healthy community to an extreme. It is by no means an evil organization. However, I don't believe that such broadly powerful organizations as the Holy Order is supposed to be would ever exist without rampant corruption. Such is life, such are humans. While, for both thematic and gameplay reasons, the on-grid Order shouldn't ever be more defined as a 'corrupt' organization, there should be more instances in Lore of the bad side of giving people such extensive authority. Make more Lore about where the Order goes bad. About Priests who hoard tithe money and keep it away from those they are divinely called to help. About Inquisitors who accept favors from nobles to accuse the innocent of being mages. Of that time the church burned an entire town because they found two mages in its population. About that Cardinal who was really just a sloven pig. Allow PC Orderites to exist within the Oppressive Theme, OR otherwise be the shining stars of the organization. It seems like people only invoke the Holy Order when they are interested in pointing out how every vNPC priest is better than the PC Priest who drinks a lot. Again, there's obvious reasons why this information wouldn't be, like, put up on a billboard: the Order WANTS to be seen as a very good organization (and, again, it certainly is as a whole), but providing more context of times that the Order actively Oppressed civilization's advancement or fair-use might be healthy. Maybe one year they banned the ownership of all the books that weren't specifically approved by the Holy Order! Have the Order make clear mistakes that aren't tied to active players. It is by mistakes that conflict happens!
  • And, finally .. People don't like the idea of the Order being bad. People don't like the idea of a Priest breaking confession. People don't like the idea of the Order being able to string up their PC and burn them because they scowled at an Inquisitor. People don't like the idea of having to pay 30% of all their earnings to an organization they don't see tangible rewards for. The Order represents a force that, thematically, can make their character's life a living hell and doesn't have the same "defined laws" as the Reeves (though even Reeves aren't given a lot of the player-support to be as terrible as they very well could be, within theme). Typically the Order is seen as a 'no fun zone'. A lot of people seem unable to seperate Davism from Christianity (or, specifically, Catholocism). People don't want to confess things to other players. People don't want to go through with penances if they don't think it's 'fair'. People don't want to RP with a Priest or confront Inquisitors. Quite possibly a lot of this is stemmed from times where the Order was run by brazen heretics, by people who got caught as Mages, or Inquisitors who walked around in armor, or even Inquisitors like Farra who often tried to leverage people to certain directions. As a note, it's fair to not like these things ICly, but I see people make a lot of snide comments here and there about how they think the Order should be played. People will resort to OOC methods to try to hobble the Order's effectiveness. I've seen people 'innocently' admit that they want nothing to do with the Holy Order ICly or OOCly, as if by pretending it doesn't exist will make everything better. They don't like the conflict the Order thrives in. Those players should take a breath and consider what the best elements about TI:L are: that it's an RPI which enables non-consensual conflict is it's draw, but many players seem interested only in making their characters be the biggest D&D-style bad-asses that are always the best and never have any set-backs and those players tend to suck the air out of enjoying one's self as an Orderite.
~~ Team Farra'n'Stuff. ~~

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The_Last_Good_Dragon
Posts: 254
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:08 am

Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:24 pm

Werewolf wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:56 pm
The Order seems low turnover at the top, and high turnover at the bottom. Maybe it's only fun to play if you're a boss? GLs can probably fix that with minimal effort.
We're on our 5th Grand Inquisitor since I returned in Novembrish, which includes about a month of staff using an old character to hold down the position. I wouldn't say that is 'low turnover', unfortunately. We've also seen 3 Earl Marshals in that time, though Knight turnover tends to be lower in general than Clergy.
Order members, particularly Inquisitors, aren't threatening for a few reasons. First, there are so few of them, so they aren't visible. When they are, there's not much they can do that anyone else can't. That might be a good or bad thing, 'cause other Order members are just players too. Getting super power characters that cannot be dislodged gets crappy.

I don't get the fixation on priests in the OOC log. Never had much to do with my character, not inclined to do confession, and low interest in RPing either side of it. Priests only do confession and mass. If Inquisitors are also priests, they should just do that stuff too.
In my experience, Inquisitors tend to not be threatening because they are either comically bad or terribly good. That is to say, we've seen Inquisitors who are just flatly terribly at the Inquisitioning part that they don't create a valid IC Aura around their capabilities, or the Inquisitors try to be honest-to-god good guys (which is fine!) that players see them as friends. Neither is "wrong", but it contributes to this idea that an Inquisitor who is bad can just be reigned in by either the Earl Marshal or other Orderites. Thematically, I think about the worst thing a Davite should fear, outside of a mage licking them, is getting a visit from an Inquisitor. Reviews of Faith should be incredibly gut-wrenching, panic'd things akin to the FBI raiding your home. Even if you've not done anything wrong, having the highest authority of the land show up and start questioning you should be TERRIFYING for most people, yet players often tend to just bat an eye at such events and play their characters as hyper-composed.
Maybe there should be more Order members can do to be scary day to day though? Like, if an Inquisitor puts out a warrant, maybe Knights should be able to summon a squad and flat arrest? That'd be scary, but limited enough to at least require someone going through the effort to make a warrant.
Knights cannot arrest people without a warrant written from an Inquisitor unless the Knight witnessed a magical action being done — yes, all those mages who get arrested and burned tend to have warrants out for them.
~~ Team Farra'n'Stuff. ~~

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Kinaed
Posts: 1892
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:54 pm
Discord Handle: ParaVox3#7579

Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:51 pm

LonelyNeptune wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:11 pm
Farra was an excellent Orderite who empowered the Holy Order and made it feel like an organisation to be feared. I was sad to see her go.

While I understand that there were personal conflicts that made it difficult to collaborate, it's worth examining why this happens and how to prevent relations from deteriorating in the future. On more than one occasion, the leadership of the Holy Order has been removed or encouraged to leave. I'm curious as to why. Historically, the Holy Order has taken a while to recover after such events, and it discourages people from getting involved in the leadership of the guild.
From the staff perspective, Staff have (barring for extreme inactivity) only once removed a GI in the entire 15 years history of running TI, and that was after multiple player complaints and IC warnings. To my knowledge we have never otherwise requested or encouraged the removal of an Order GL.

I personally did have a PC in the Order who got grumpy with her superiors several years back, but that was played out ICly, and had nothing to do with staff.

In my experience, telling a player "no" to something they want our help doing has been taken as "encouraging people to leave." Staff are generally extremely hands off, and I cannot personally recall a single time the Cardinal has raised a finger without a player raising a plot or writing him to seek arbitration.

I think it is very appropriate and necessary for Staff to maintain the NPC layer and higher authority.

LonelyNeptune
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:02 pm

Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:01 pm

It's troubling to hear your experiences, Farra. I don't think that any Grand Inquisitor should have to fear the NPC Cardinal pulling on their leash every time a player complains that they didn't get their way. It undermines the authority of player leadership, and sounds like it contributes a lot to the lack of power exuded by the Holy Order.

On a side note, perhaps Grand Inquisitors should get an approval boost for a couple of weeks after a pyring. It would make them less vulnerable to subversion because they did their job, but still able to be gambited if they're absent or just plain bad.

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The_Last_Good_Dragon
Posts: 254
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:08 am

Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:04 pm

Kinaed wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:51 pm
I cannot personally recall a single time the Cardinal has raised a finger without a player raising a plot or writing him to seek arbitration.

I think it is very appropriate and necessary for Staff to maintain the NPC layer and higher authority.
This is probably a lot of the answer then, isn't it? If Staff is wondering why players don't view the Holy Order as "a powerful, largely oppressive regime" and yet Staff hold the most significant power of the organization, then any effort to make the Holy Order more thematic needs to come from there. When the Cardinal entreats being told of possible oppressive behavior by GLs, maybe not sending letters that say "stop oppressing people if you are, or else" would encourage those Guild Leaders to flex their faux authority more.
~~ Team Farra'n'Stuff. ~~

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