From Sanctuary Shard
This article is intended to serve as a detailed overview of how RPCSS is suppose to work in design for those who are trying to wrap their head around the concept. For those of you who prefer to listen, a pod cast of this article is available. Further details can be found in the RPCSS category on the Wiki, as well as on the RPCSS Manual page, also on the wiki.
RPCSS, which stands for Role-Play Conquest Simulation System began with the premise it is nearly impossible to create large scale armed conflict in games which have only individual players on each side.
While this design wasn't originally created for a Game of Thrones like story, it is a more familiar example than the fiction we started with. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, simply consider any medieval world war from any fiction or history you like, and you’ll be on page with me.
To begin, we must accept the general point that it is difficult to effectively, fairly and consistently create a player driven storyline involving armies and kingdoms using nothing but role-play and combat between players. Without a larger scripted storyline being managed by someone, the back and forth begins to feel like cowboys and indians, not the War of the Roses. “I shot you!”, “No I shot you!” becomes a common refrain.
However, most role-players are not interested in playing out a scripted story where who wins and who loses is pre-determined. They want a fair chance at winning.
Most of us who role-play have also played tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. Creating a set of rules is the next logical step for guild leaders and game masters when confronted with the challenge of creating any storyline that involves the use of armies.
The first set of rules includes making decisions such as; how big is each teams army, how much money do they have, what resources do they have access to, where do they get their money from, how much land do they have, and so on.
This can take weeks for a single game master to work out, and much longer if there are multiple guild leaders who all need to agree. It often gets more and more complicated, and someone is stuck with the nearly full time job of managing these numbers every week.
The first thing RPCSS does is manage this information for our guild/faction/noble house leaders using a base set of rules and the advantage of a programmed solution that doesn’t go on vacation or get bogged down at work.
RPCSS tracks and manages a teams treasury, taxes collected from controlled land, when and how often armies can be replenished, the cost of forts/castles, salaries to soldiers, the costs to implement new infrastructure, political influence and the size of spy networks. The design is not complicated, we kept it simple; but it is a lot of work for someone to manage by hand.
Once you have figured out all the basic accounting needed to stage conflict the next step is to figure out how battles will be resolved. Questions such as; how far can an army travel in a day, are all armies equally powerful, how do we know which army wins, what happens when an army looses, does the winning army get to keep the land, how big can the army under one leader get, how are supply lines managed, can spies infiltrate an army, etc, etc.
- Once again, RPCSS tracks all of this information.
- Where and how far an army can move is programmed into the web tool.
- Game logic to determine the winner and looser of each battle.
- Taking control of a map hex.
- How are supply lines managed.
- What happens to an army when it loses a battle.
- What information can NPC spies learn.
The next step is getting the information from the guild leaders/game masters into the hands of the players. In a table top game, where each person is the general of their own armies, a game master can write a note to each player or take them off to the side and give them the information. When you are dealing with dozen's of people you either need to write dozens of individual notes, make general statements, or expect the guild leader to hand out the information themselves. The more people you get, the more this process becomes its own headache.
RPCSS handles all information to the player characters itself. Guild Leaders, and their three assigned RPCSS roles, coin master, spy master and warlord, receive individualized information set directly to them via the post office in game. Other player characters will be able to glean information from what is happening in the system by visiting the town crier who provides "randomized but incompletely" information which is designed to "encourage players to go RP with others to fill in the picture."
This information, gleened by player characters and supported by RPCSS spies is crucial to any strategy planning, and is one of the reasons why running a noble house by yourself without allies is a challenge. RPCSS turns are once a week, allowing even those with time constrains plenty of time to role-play with others and make plans.
RPCSS connects with UO
Sending rumors is not the only way in which RPCSS is represented in game and many more ways that will be implemented.
- RPCSS roles are accessible on the guild master tab of the UO guild screen.
- Guild leaders will have control over the housing in areas their guild occupies.
- RPCSS Guards will "help" protect players from attacks in guild controlled areas of the map which are deemed populated (aka towns).
- RPCSS armies will show up in game as "army champ spawns" which can be fought and defended by groups of players.
- Guilds that are clearly at war in RPCSS will be flagged at war on the guild stones.
Much more is planned. Including resource nodes, customizable guards and armies, bulk order deeds to outfit and improve battle statistics, building small forts, damaging and repairing wall and castle gates, a religious and group magic system, and more I don't even want to mention before its even in design.
Where does PvE and PvP come in?
As you may have suspected, this question has come up a lot since we started, so lets just have a quick review.
PvP does not directly effect the outcome of a battle between two RPCSS armies. However, it can indirectly effect outcomes.
RPCSS Army spawns can be attacked and defended by players, not only will this create a PvP scenario, a large enough group of players can cause an RPCSS army to "route and regroup in another location". When this happens the RPCSS armies takes damage and leaves its location and heads in a random other direction. This can seriously disrupt plans, and other players will wish to defend their armies against such guerrilla tactics.
This scenario becomes most crucial when a RPCSS army has occupied another team's town, but before the order to Subjegate can be given in the next turn. Subjugate is the command given by a warlord to take ownership of a map hex they have successfully occupied.
All other ideas for player vs player conflict in a medieval war setting such as this includes, but is not limited to:
- Kidnapping/wounding a RPCSS role leader so they can't submit their actions.
- Intimidation tactics rather than diplomacy to create unwilling allies or vassals.
- Interrupting negotiation talks between enemy groups.
At this point, some people are still going to ask, "but can't someone just circumvent the role-play just to win in RPCSS". The answer is both yes and no, but ultimately no.
First, this game can not be won without creating allies. No single team can control more then ten hexes at once, players will HAVE to create relationships with other teams to even come close to winning.
Second, the creation of teams is controlled by staff, an application process, and minimum role-play requirements for guild leaders Running a Noble House.
Third, we have a Rules of Engagement established for the fair interaction between players and guilds. Staff will be part of making sure things stay in game and in role-play.