Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH

Announcements

Updates

Planning our 10th Anniversary

On October 1st this year, Blood of Dragons will have been open for 10 years since its beta opening in 2006. Of course, the game was founded much, much earlier than that and the full opening followed after about a year of beta, but we still consider this to be our anniversary date as it was the start of IC time on the game (Year 158, Month 1, Day 1).

We would like to mark the occasion in some fashion and we thought that we’d start off by saying that we’d love to see suggestions from our player base for what it might involve. We can’t promise that we’ll be able to use any of them, but we will certainly give them consideration. If you would like to contribute, use +mail in-game addressed to Nymeria and Balerion and with the subject “Anniversary Suggestions”.

Stat Training Added

The +xp/train command has been completed, allowing players to increase their stats in the same way that they have been able to increase their skills. Please see +HELP ADVANCEMENT XP for details on the command and http://www.westeros.org/BoD/Helpfiles/Advancement_Stats/ for a breakdown of costs. We ask players to look at their stats and xp totals before using the command, to more easily be able to spot any potential issues. Please report any problems as soon as possible.

Stat Modifiers

We have just completed a modification to the CharGen which means that stat increases and stat decreases are no longer a one-off addition to or reduction from your stat pool. Instead, they are persistent percentages, just like skill increases and decreases. They also apply to single stats rather than stat groups.

To give an example, if a player used to have a Stat Decrease: Physique, they had their pool of Physique points reduced by 5% in CharGen. Now, the flaw will be modified so that their Physique pool is untouched in CharGen but instead they will have a permanent -10% to one of the stats in their Physique pool. This will display the same way on their sheet as skill modifiers do today.

We will start by changing over currently unplayed characters, then we will either approach active players who are affected or ask players to input +jobs with how they want these changes done on their characters.

This change is the first of a few planned CG changes which we hope may make it possible to implement Tier Advancement.

The Staff Situation

As you know from his post, Damphair will stepping back for the foreseeable future. He will remain on Staff, but his active involvement will be highly limited. This has raised the question among players whether we plan to recruit or open applications for new Staff. The short answer is no, we have no such plans at the moment. We’ve never entertained applications for Staff and we don’t feel that is the right way to go about things. We have always kept the possibility open of asking additional players if they are interested, but at the moment we do not have any such candidates in mind. We have a good number of experienced players, but we know from experience on other games that this is not the only important factor in putting together a functioning Staff team.

Now, the reality is that this will mean we are somewhat understaffed, in particular when it comes to GMing scenes, which was something Damphair has been doing a fabulous job of for years. It is an area which neither myself nor Balerion excel at; our MUSH backgrounds involve minimal exposure to GMing, as either players or staff. Given this, that is an area which will see less staff involvement for the moment. Instead, we will be focusing on trying to cut back on the +jobs queue as well as looking at some larger projects that we would like to finish in time for the 10-year anniversary of the beta opening this autumn. These projects include some CharGen changes (how ambitious these can be depends on whether we feel that we can leave existing CGed characters with a different setup than future CGs; not in terms of numbers, but in terms of some of the written parts), the reputation/renown system, further house expansions and maybe (a very big maybe) the combat system. As we are quite unlikely to do the same kind of coverage of Season 6 of Game of Thrones as for past seasons, we won’t be as swamped during the show period as previously, though keeping the website from going down with some regularity will undoubtedly still take extra work.

When it comes to plots, we are working on some long-term timelines for both areas, with the Dornish one being the furthest along so far. For King’s Landing, we have some canon events to build around, but we need to work on some more solid details. Considering the lack of a dedicated GM on Staff, we would certainly like to see more plot proposals from players willing to take the lead on such projects. However, we do have to stress that one reason we’ve been hesitant about this in the past is that we’ve often found that the requisite updates have been very hard to get out of players afterwards; any larger plots need submissions for Tidings and for the Chronicle, Events for any CDB NPCs that are used and so on. But players who are willing to step up and run plots with these requirements in mind are more than welcome to submit proposals.

We’d also like to ask players to help us with the process of getting the +jobs queue shortened; make sure to check your +jobs regularly to see if we’ve submitted notes asking for additional information or any other kind of feedback. Its much easier to get a particular +job finished up if once we start working on it the responses come in fairly quickly. And if you do have any outdated +jobs that should be closed, do add a note letting us know that this is the case.

If you have any questions or comments, do let us know. For example, is there anything really major we’ve missed in our list of potential projects for the year? And should we put out a guide/rulebook for GMing on the game and what should it contain?

The World of Ice and Fire “AMA”

Following the release of The World of Ice and Fire, we hosted an “AMA” on the game, allowing players to ask questions about the book. We have now posted the transcript of this session. And now that the book is out, we will be making some further updates to “Blood of Dragons 2.0”, for example to make a few more family tree additions that we felt were too spoilery to add in advance. We also hope that players will take the opportunity to dig through the book and come up with some plot hooks from the new material - we will of course do so ourselves as well, but sometimes you’re too close to your own material to see its potential.

The MUSH and the “Worldbook”

With this update we hope to clarify how The World of Ice and Fire will affect Blood of Dragons MUSH.

To start with the basics, The World of Ice and Fire, or the “Worldbook” as it often ends up being called, is a project that we have been working on together with George R.R. Martin and which is now nearing its completion after a very busy autumn and an only slightly less busy spring. The book is a companion volume to A Song of Ice and Fire which gathers previously established information about the Seven Kingdoms (and beyond) as well as fills out many of the gaps in our current knowledge with new information. There is, for example, a lot of new information about the history of Westeros, not the least about the reigns of the various Targaryen kings.

When we started Blood of Dragons MUSH, we based out storyline and our family trees on the existing canon information for our chosen time period as well as on some unpublished information from GRRM. We always knew that this unpublished information was subject to change and as such we have always maintained that if conflicting information was ever published, we would try to alter matters on the game to fit the new canon. However, we have also always said that some information may not be possible to work in as it would disrupt the game too much.

As you can guess, The World of Ice and Fire does contain new canon information that conflicts with some of our established game history and, in particular, our family trees. We will be able to work in much of this information quite smoothly—and the game will be enrichened by it as it fleshes out areas we have been hesitant to speculate on—but it is not the case for all the new details. Some will require compromises between the new canon information and what we have established as true for the game. What we have said so far is that we will be able to avoid invalidating any current PCs (this was very much a key priority for us), though some may require tweaks to their backgrounds.

However, for the time being we are left in a slightly problematic situation when it comes to new PCs. We cannot make all the necessary changes to family trees and game history at the moment; not only are we swamped with work during the airing of Game of Thrones, but naturally we are also unable to release formation from The World of Ice and Fire prior to its publication.

What this means is that the situation may be somewhat confusing for prospective players at the moment. Characters that are listed as Open may, unfortunately, be turned down because they belong to a House that will undergo extensive changes. Given this, prospective players are encouraged to check with myself (Nymeria) or Balerion before requesting a character; we are then able to provide guidance on whether their chosen character will be affected or not.

We understand that it is an added inconvenience for prospective players, but we think that everyone who is interested in this particular time period will agree that it would be a shame to not be able to work in some of the fascinating new history when the book comes out.

Idle Timeout Added

For a long while, we’ve had no idle timeout set on the game. However, we’re not sure this presents the game in the best light—some people are put off by seeing players idle for days on the WHO when they check out a game—so we have shifted to a 12 hour idle timeout. We have no problem with someone hanging out on the game while they work or keep busy with other things—a MUSH isn’t just for roleplay, the social aspects are important too—but we don’t quite see the point of someone leaving their character connected when they’re sleeping, for example. Given this, we ask that players do not use automated de-idlers to keep themselves permanently connected. If your router boots you if you don’t keep up regular activity, send the IDLE command (it will not de-idle you but will keep your connection alive) and/or use the KEEPALIVE flag.

CharGen Notes

We have had quite a lot of characters CGed lately and this has revealed certain trends in setup that we find troublesome. As such, there will be some changes in what needs to be Justified and also how we will be handling certain Assets and Flaws.

In terms of the Justify, we are changing what needs to be covered for Stats. Any stat below 35 or above 54 will have to be Justified. This allows characters to stay within the Average and the Above Average range without needing to explain how the unusual stat(s) have affected their character. We will be on particular lookout for female characters who go low on Mobility and Physique while boosting their Mental stats high and for male characters go low on their Mental stats and boost their Mobility and Physique. As an aside, we might note that should we ever get around to a full combat system, Mental stats will most definitely play a part.

In terms of Assets and Flaws, we are seeing overuse of the Fast Learner and Prodigy combination, especially from squires. We feel this is too heavily motivated by people wanting to play squires but then wanting to get out of it as fast as possible (before the age of 18). As such, we will be looking carefully at how well these things fit with the overall concept and the long-term viability of the character. We may also look at reducing the bonus from Fast Learner as it may have proven too unbalancing.

We are also seeing an overuse of Educated from female characters and we will be looking closely at how this is Justified; it starts becoming unthematic if we have to assume that every keep has a Maester willing to educate female students beyond what is common instead of them learning the things noblewomen ought to be learning.

For Flaws, we are going to give a heads-up that there are changes coming to give more Flaws system effects. For example, Phobias will be moved under Afflictions and will have to be publicly known so that it makes sense with a hit to Renown/Reputation.

Cap on SP

We have made a change to SP and added a cap on how many unused SP a player (this is across all alts) can have at any given time. Currently, that cap is 3. This may be tweaked up or down in the future if we feel it would be a benefit to how SP are used on the game.

For more information, see the helpfile on SP.

+cdb/all Added

We’ve added a +cdb/all <name> command which essentially is a shortcut for viewing all of the CDB information for a character in one go. As you can guess, this will be very spammy on a CGed character.

Video Intro to Blood of Dragons

While off on vacation, we decided to record a little video providing some basics about Blood of Dragons MUSH, the on-line, text-based roleplaying game we run on Westeros.org with GRRM’s approval. Now’s a pretty good time to give the game a try, as much of the court is off to the riverlands for a Tully wedding at Riverrun… and perhaps some trouble from the Brackens and Blackwoods. Here’s the video!

Important New +Prefs Option

We have added a new option to +Prefs called “Staff”. See +HELP +PREFS for how to set.

You can set it to either Yes or No and it indicates whether you are interested in having Staff develop surprise plots for your character based on your background, past roleplay, etc. No guarantees are made as to what these plots may contain, nor does setting this option to Yes guarantee that something will be developed for your character. But having a lot of information—such as Events, Notes (for example about goals) and Relations—definitely makes it more likely. If there are any questions, please let us know.

Addressing Some Common Misconceptions

Blood of Dragons opened for beta on October 1st, 2006, and opened fully about a year later. By the time the beta started we had had George R. R. Martin’s approval for the game since 1998 and been working on it on and off for several years. Initially, we had had the (foolish!) notion of not opening until everything was completed. It turned out that two people working alone in a vacuum wasn’t a good way of completing a game and once we did open we found ourselves reworking many of our initial ideas. The CharGen was tweaked, the application process was streamlined (it was a beast to start with!), and so on.

Of course, once you open a game, the on-going maintenance may make it hard to continue developing things at a good pace. Especially when you’ve setup the game to be pretty maintenance-heavy and made much of that maintenance too intricate to easily be delegated.

We haven’t accomplished everything we wanted with the game. Its not perfect and there are definitely things that could be better. But we now see it as a perpetual work in progress and are determined to keep developing it. During the last year, we vastly improved the documentation available on the website in order to help the many new players who’ve found the game thanks to the rising prominence of the series. This year, we’ve been reviewing policies and working on code to enhance the social and political roleplay that we see as the primary focus of the game.

In addition to various shortcomings that we want to and hope to be able to address, we’ve always been very upfront about the fact that we know that certain decisions we’ve made for the game aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t like consent games, you won’t like our game. If you don’t like a game that follows the canon history of the setting, you won’t like our game.

That said, there are some misconceptions about the game that we would like to address seeing as they were made public with the claim that they, in part, are based on information from current players. This would suggest that there are issues that need clarifying.

Conflict Webs

We have added a visual conflict web for King’s Landing to the Illustrations gallery on the website.

The conflict web illustrates, in broad strokes, the relationships between key individuals at court.

Upcoming Events

With the second season of Game of Thrones just around the corner, we have a lot of plans for things to happen on Blood of Dragons MUSH that we hope will interest current as well as potential players.

This week, expect some shocking news at the royal court in King’s Landing (as if it wasn’t enough that Baelor has already expelled all whores from the city). At the same time, trouble continues in the Boneway, as Lady Yronwood persists in defying Prince Marence.

In April, expect at least one and perhaps two tourneys as well as a wedding or two, one that includes a small trip to a large castle. Following that, in May and onwards, there will be some new faces at court. Finally, during the summer we will be heading to the Riverlands for more weddings and some surprises.