Jail, Crime, Orgs and Influence
(Tried posting this before and the forums ate it. If it ends up double posting, would someone mind deleting one of them?)
After hearing a few people’s ideas and suggestions over the past few months, I wrote up some changes I thought of and brainstormed with a few other players that might help with the criminal character experience. As a note, the only criminal character I have knows the skillsets solely for the purpose of testing them and understanding them mechanically, so I can assist newer players with starting out. I am by no means a Subtlety Skill expert, A crime org expert or anything. So constructive feedback would be most welcomed.
One of the key things I have heard a lot as a complaint is the way the jail system currently works. Nowhere is and has always been the player time-out area. But for Jail, it seems more like Nowhere-lite. My suggestion is to change it from a 1 room cell with really, nothing to do but sit and wait into something more akin or a work-release area.
The area would be as large or as small as needed, I am imagining a 4 by 4 (or bigger) square of small rooms with a 1 room “gate” that is the exit. An NPC guard stands at the exit. Inside of the 4x4 squares are different jobs or crafting things associated with an NPC there. There should be both a job for each non-com skillset (even the subtely ones) as well as general jobs that anyone could do, regardless of skills, and 1 or 2 combat focused jobs (like sparring new constable’s similar to ludus slaves). Each of these jobs would then produce a ticket upon completion (as well as provide normal SP gain for the skills used). There should be a named NPC in each job square who works like a shopkeeper. You do the jobs, can ask “Balance” to see how many tickets you earned and then “Change” to get the tickets. Each ticket counts off a set amount of time of the overall sentence. Collect enough tickets and you are let out early.
The NPC would be a gatekeeper who you hand the tickets into. They take them, and then tell you how much time is left on your sentence when you ask them. If sentence is up, you are released. This room would also be where a constable could come and retrieve you if they wanted to interview/interrogate you. But they could not keep you past the time left on your sentence.
Now, lets take examples. Let’s say you rob and NPC, get caught and the time for jail is 2 IRL hours. You have the option to logout and play another character, and after 2 hours your character will be released from jail when they speak to the gatekeeper. Or, you can do the jobs and use the tickets to cut off time from the sentence. It would need balance, but let’s say each ticket marks off 1 minute of jail time. You decide to do jobs and earn 30 tickets. Earning those tickets cost you 60 minutes of time. So when you hand in, you have already burned 60 minutes of time and now they tick off 30 more minutes from the tickets. So overall that 2 hour sentence is now 1.5 hours. And you have not lost character progression because you are using skills to earn tickets and those skills are generating normal SP.
Once you finish a sentence and leave, all tickets and balances are wiped to 0. So you can’t bank up tickets ahead of time, commit a big crime with a large jailtime, then cash-out and be out immediately.
I think is helpful because it provides something to do in jail, it still allows constables to talk to and observe the criminals (maybe from a platform overlooking the area similar to how the colosseum works), and it does not punish the player with lost time. Its just giving them something to do, if they choose to offset the incarceration.
Jobs available just as suggestions. All jobs requiring materials have them provided:
General – Baking bread, Mining rocks, and Printing coins.
Locksmithing – Same as Apula’s with jamming and unlocking. Lockpick provided. No tumblers
Tailoring – Sewing garments or making bandages (new recipe) to turn in. All basic undyed homespun wool or something.
Healing – Similar to Hospice. Stitches, wound cleaning, bandaging.
Hunting – Small pond for fishing, craft basic weapons, or skin animals NPCs bring in for hides/meat/whatever they want
Outdoor – Cook food at a preexisting fire, forage around a little garden area or weave/whittle items
Pickpocketing – Use your skills against a constable recruit as a “training” for them to avoid it. Successfully grabbing items or coin from them generates tickets.
Setups – Would need help coming up with a “job” to do for this skillset
Street Smarts - Would need help coming up with a “job” to do for this skillset
Combat – Fight constable recruits as training for them. Recruits would function similar to Ludus slaves. NPC keeps count of how many you down. Each one is a ticket. Mobs scale like Colosseum gladiators.
I could not find the “Law” page on the wiki to look up crimes and punishments. But I do think crimes against NPCs that are a result of using subtlety skills sets should not carry the same weight as crimes against PCs. I am not saying to eliminate crime against PCs at all. I am thinking more, whatever the current punishments are for crimes, if that same crime is committed against a NPC it should be halved, or a quarter taken off. But pick pocketing a faceless citizen because that’s what your skillset does should not result in the same punishment as pickpocketing a PC and being caught. Something like murder, where your person kills Septima…..okay, now I see a bigger punishment because it is a named NPC. Maybe crimes against PC and Named NPCs have same weight, crimes against general NPCs have a diminished sentence.
I also don’t think NPC crimes should be progressive in their punishments. Whether this is the 1st or 100th time sword-lifting an NPC, it should not mater and the sentence should be the same. Now, 5th time assaulting a PC, that I can see where the games progressive, tier-based punishment occurs. 1st offense is jail time and fine, 2nd offense, higher jail time and fine, etc.
Crime Orgs, Locations, and Spheres of Influence
So what does a crime org have to do? I have heard a lot of the people who play members of the orgs saying that they feel sort of left out and I think they are valid concerns. There really isn’t much to in terms of storylines or ambitions because it just isn’t supported in the game (unless I am missing a whole wide storyarc I know nothing about). My suggestions is to use the already existing “holdings” mechanic with a slight adjustment. Copy the basic premise but change it to Sphere of Influence as the name.
First, assign sections of Iridine and each town its own Sphere. Every named town (Vetallun, Seld, Blackvine, Monlon, Rock Valley and yes, even Franilus) have a sphere. Iridine is huge, so either break it up into each section having its own Sphere, or combining a few Districts* into the same sphere. I would suggestion the breakdown for Iridine itself be:
Northern District (Tranisvexium, Bronze Lane and Riverside)
Central District – (Harbor, Forums, Sandbar and Gardens&Hospice)
Southern District – (Quartz Heights)
*Signal Tower Island should not have anything to do with all this. Leave it for the new arrivals as it was designed.
Now, all those sections in which a group has influence will be listed in the newly added “sphere” command. What you would see is the following items next to the District or “Sphere” in which you have committed enough crime or used enough skills in the area. Basic use of PP skills to commit crimes in an area, as well as quests/missions that will be developed for the area should influence reputation. Think of it like the armband model, where doing something earns a “thing” and that thing is handed in for rep. But in this case, there is no thing, it just is earned by select actions and then adjusted automatically, no vendor or person to hand things in (or code a thing and an NPC vendor to collect them, I don't care). Missions and NPC quest givers could be things like “Pick pocket 3 patricians and report back to me.” Or “Retrieve this item stash from (approximate location) and return it to me.” The quests should encompass all types of criminals. Not every criminal uses the subtlety skills. Some are the muscle (have combat quests/missions), some are the crafters (have non-comm missions), some are thieves (Subtlety skills), and some should be general ones anyone could do regardless of skill-sets. I don’t believe it is a pre-requisite for criminal orgs to ONLY allow folks with the Crime-3 (PP, SU, SS) membership, so the missions should be open to any member of the org and they should be able to do something to benefit the organization.
The following is what the “Sphere of Influence” menu might look like:
Spheres of Influence for <Organization>
District Org Modifier Influence Income Rep Adj.
Northern Steps +7 +24 +2,000 denar +1%
Eastern Steps +0 +1 +2 denar 0%
Franilus +1 +30 +800 denar +1%
Blackvine +4 +0 -200 denar 0%
Income : 2,602d
The Org Modifier is assigned to the organization and is really an unchanging thing (except through maybe petitioning a GM to adjust it based on storyline outcome or repetitive high influence amounts. Should not be easy to raise or lower, but not impossible either. Like Bonus Points to individuals). Parts of the gameworld historically "owned" by that org would have a higher modifier. Areas owned by others would have a lower or negative modifier. This is there to keep groups from just railroading over another. So take the Harbor Rats for instance, they are going to have a bigger modifier for the Central Iridine area, but will have a lower or negative modifier for Steps regions. Areas where no one has a historical claim would just be zero across the board for orgs.
This modifier applies to influence gains in the area. Its easy for the Rats to gain and keep influence in the Central district, but if they wanted to move into UA territory, they are at a negative modifier and would have to do a LOT more work to have an influence.
The Influence number shows you where you stand. This is going to probably be a base 100 number and your number is basically a percentage of the influence owned. So in the above example, that org has 30% of the total influence in Franilus. They won’t know what the other org numbers are, they should not. They just know they have, for instance, 30% of the market there so to speak.
The Income is just what it says, you are gaining income based on the influence you have in that area for the organization. The higher your influence, the more income you gain from that area. Now, a place like Blackvine will not have the same amount of income as say. Central Iridine. So lets say Blackvine’s total income is 4,000d. And you own 25% influence. Congrats, you are earning 1,000d for that month/year/whatever the timetable is. Move influence up to 50% and you get 2,000d. But now Central Iridine is worth say 10,000d. Own 25% and you are making 2,500d for your org. So sometimes it may be a balance of where to exert your influence.
The Rep adjustment block is something I think would make it more dynamic. That adjustment would be an overall lowering of purchase power in the area. My idea is 0-25% = 1% rep adjustment. 26-50% is 1%, 51-75% is 2%, 76-99% is 3% and 100% is 5%. Bonus % point for being the sole influencer in an area. So lets say you own 50% of the influence in Vetallun. Your rep modifier is 1%. When you purchase something in that sphere, you basically get a 1% discount on top of ANY brokering advantages your character has. Consider this the perk of being park of an organization.
How do you determine what zones an organization has? That is based on what actions they have taken. I think there should be a required threshold of Rep to be earned prior to the district or town appearing on the Sphere list. So if the Rats only worry about the Harbor and all their efforts are there, they would only see “Central Iridine” on their list. But if, say, the UA Spreads out and reaches the threshold in 5 different areas, they would have 5 areas on their Sphere List. This is similar to Prestis. He won't teach you anything until you hit a certain threshold of eggs turned in. Same here, you have to earn a set amount of Rep to begin with to "unlock" the area for you to then increase rep and have it appear on your list.
I also think each IRL month the list should reset (open to negotiation with the time table here). When this happens, all influence is reset to 0. This keeps the orgs grinding out the rep to maintain control of their areas. The influence technically does not go back to 0, I would say the hidden org of “Republic” just reclaims it. This prevents the first group to hit the threshold in the area automatically getting 100% influence. They have to keep prying it back from the “Republic” (Who does not earn or gain influence ever, its just there as a convenient way for the coders to have influence moved back to 0 without having to do weird logarithms. Its just a fraction of 100 that gets reset). I would also be okay with maybe some threshold you fall down to each month., Maybe not a hard 0 reset, maybe if you are over 50% influence you will retain 5% at reset. Over 75%, you start at 10%. Not wiping everything away, but there is still work to do. All these numbers would need play tested and balanced, but this really just gives the Orgs something to keep driving towards and using their influence to gain money in their coffers without being game breaking. It basically gives them something to strive towards each month or quarter or whatever. It creates a system of strategic conflict, which could devolve into low level conflict (“Hey Rat, get out of the UA area”).
At first, I think the only orgs that should get this are criminal orgs and the districts should be confined to Iridine City alone. Let the crime orgs be the testers for it and help balance it. Maybe later add other orgs such as the TM, MVG, SoE, even Constables and Legio, so those Orgs in that area can work on their own turf and maintaining influence. I don’t know, just spit balling ideas. But give the criminal orgs what they have been asking for, for many years now. Something to do focused on them. I think it would provide plenty of RP avenues for characters that are not solely focused on the Crime-3 skills. It makes their org mean something to the game world by having them control influence in certain areas. It also helps push the staff to develop missions and quests that go beyond the “take this package to <NPC>”. I get those missions are there to teach new players the layout of the city. But we could benefit from more quests and missions which reward players for completion. Doesn’t have a to be a big reward, but it provides a mechanical avenue for people to do something in the game when maybe they are just bored. They don’t feel like hunting or waiting for work at Apula’s, maybe go see the NPC’s that hand out quests and do a few “dailies” while you wait for things to pop off. Multiple people doing "dailies" at the same time encourages interaction and thus, helps facilitate RP in game.
There are ways this basic concept could be expanded. Perhaps Franilus becomes its own zone where "Cinera" and "Republic" are co-owners and this helps expand the struggle of the warzone. Maybe not turning in enough armbands one month means they lock off the Docks for the next month (they put up a strong front). Now you have to unlock it by earning back rep. You really can use the basic concept and expand it into multiple ways to make the game world or sections of it feel more dynamic and ever changing. it also allows characters to have affects on the game world, which makes it feel more alive and less like a sandbox.
Anyway, thanks for reading a very long post. I appreciate and welcome any constructive feedback you all might have!
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There is alot of thought and effort put into the jail sentence reducing you have. I thought your ideas were a take on ArcheAge, where you can do jobs like you suggested to get out or do tasks like digging to escape out. The way they balance it is you can't really do nothing but be out in the gameworld and talk to people. All skills are locked till the actual sentence is up and that's a good middle ground. However, the situation wouldn't work in TEC because they're not wanting you to get out. The last three times I have been jailed, instead of a reduced sentence, I got double. I just went to jail for public aggression. However, during my stay, I earned resisting arrest, assault of official, Jailtime Outstanding x 6 as a reward a day after I was initially booked. The time before that? Yeah I initially had assault on official. During my stay it turned into Assault on official, Assault on official, Assault on official, Assault on official, Assault on official, resisting arrest, resisting arrest, resisting arrest, resisting arrest, Major Assault, Major Assault. If you really wanna get down to it. Within 1 hour of being released, I had logged on cause it was a 2 real life stay, I logged on to go to an event an hour before release, and the charges got reinstated (the same exact ones by legion this time instead of constables). 1 hour charges an hour before release could be considered griefing by some, but I have been raped so many times I don't get butthurt anymore. Take it out on the constables in game? Sure, the ticket said: You cannot escalate violence for a constable doing their job. So yeah, it was a double stay. I was taken out of the game for almost a real life month. It was an added warrant for every "npc constable that got pulled from the crowd". I don't think that's trying to lesser the severity for the players.
Auburn to the CWS! War damn eagle.