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Top Tips for the Middle Game
One of the challenges I find to games like this are what I will call the "middle game." In the beginning, you have a new character arriving in a wondrous setting. There is not much to think about. You simply go everywhere and meet plenty of people, hoping to find some interesting friendships, love interests, and paths to ambition.
After the novelty of the game wears off and you find your character maturing, there is almost an inevitable period in which every player encounters uncertainty of what to do next. They have met most of the players and a fair sampling of NPCs. Suddenly, the idea of attending more balls, teas, and parties starts to lose its allure. You wonder whether it is you or the game.
First, welcome to the aristocracy. This was known as the leisure class for a reason. They had little to do each day except to look desperately for any amusement. The world of court became tedious eventually when there was nothing to do but go to the same old parties with the same old people and do the same old thing. That is why gossip or novelty of any kind was so popular. It gave bored people something to do.
As players, you are not immune to the same boredom. Just as ladies and gents of the 17th Century wondered what to do with themselves, so too will you find yourself in a bit of soul searching. We try to plan different events (e.g. auctions, hunts, regatta, etc) to keep the social scene a bit more diverse and interesting, but we cannot make it fun for you alone. It has to be a collaborative effort. If you aren't having fun, your days are limited in this game, as it is natural for someone to want to invest their free game time in a game that is the most fun for them. We don't want you to leave, so we want to discuss this awkward period now.
Designing a new character is great fun. Evolving an existing one is far more challenging.
Admittedly, it is much easier for a male character to find purpose in this world, as much is closed to ladies. Ladies are sometimes forced to gain things vicariously through males.
The following tips might help you develop some ideas for your character to get ahead.
If you are a member of the House of Lords, find a cause to interest your character. Lobby other members, join a club, introduce legislation, become an orator, try and influence English policy in favour of certain nations and causes. This can be a full time job.
If you are not a peer, that does not mean politics is irrelevant. No one in this game (to my knowledge) is a policy-making member of their government; yet, that does not mean that we have no interest in the subject. You do not need to be a peer to seek a government position. You can also influence policy without the need to make speeches on the floor of Lords.
Lobbyists of today use money to sway legislation. The same was even more true then. Money could buy you anything then. Officials were commonly corrupt and MPs were often in need of money and did not feel strongly on all issues.
Currently issues between Royalists and Whigs, as well as Protestants and Catholics are dominating politics, with foreign policy focusing on France and the United Provinces, but do not neglect the upcoming colonies.
Money makes the world go round. It can grease things that you want. You get a fair amount in allowance and inheritance, but that will not last you forever. You should be thinking of ways to increase wealth. Here are a few:
- marry and get a nice dowry
- invest in some investment scheme like the East India Company
- create your own company (theatre, newspaper, trading company, etc.)
- find a government position that will give you access to bribes
- do favors for rich people (find a rich man/lady and find out what they want. Help them secure it ... for a price)
- blackmail (need I say more?)
- steal it (cheat at cards, learn burglary, hire thieves)
- support an invention
- look to buy some property or commodity at an artificially low price so that you can resell it at a higher one.
- become a lover to a wealthy and appreciative lady ( a Gigolo)
- use one of your skills to enter competitions (horseracing is good, but all skills offer something. Medicine and Painting are obvious revenue builders)
- extortion. You are gifted at a weapon. You go around and threaten unskilled wealthy men to pay you. For example, you challenge them to a duel and then they pay to get out of it.
There is of course the aspect of romance. Seeking out a lady (or a gent) and falling in love. That does not mean it needs to be a boring Happily Ever After. Already married or betrothed? Why not cause trouble by having your character fall in love with another? Love one woman or man? Why not love two as something to further develop a character that seems bored socially? Perhaps you fall out of love, or cheat on an existing one.
Few circumstances are more fun to write as a writer than strong emotions (e.g. love, jealousy, betrayal, passion, hunger, despair, bliss, adultery).
Find a patron
You have already made some good acquaintances, now is the time to find one or two of the most powerful connections. Become beholden to them. Buy them gifts. Do them favours. Get in their good graces. They will do favours in return for you. Be careful which ones you choose, for some do not have the power you may hope. They may also have enemies that will become your enemies. But, it is worth it. Everyone needs a patron.
Some men have an inexplicable hunger to save damsels, fight bad guys, and the like. We will usually create some adventure hooks in this regard, but you can post in your private area if you would like more of this and we'll see what can be done. London is a city full of corruption, crime, and spying nations. One just needs to know where to look.
Perhaps the most valuable commodity in the game. Consider a way for your PC to gain the favourable attention of the King or other royals. Do not expect that the King will approach you. It is better to find out something that he wants and help him achieve it .... repeatedly. Think of a clever way to gain him money, mistresses, the votes in Parliament he desires, and then approach him discreetly.
Getting nowhere with the King? Then join the Opposition. The Whigs do not enjoy royal favour but they are very popular because they enjoy popular support. The nation is tired of corruption whereby royal mistresses are swimming in royal jewels while the sailors go unpaid for months. Mankind is adverse to the notion of caprice by a small circle of corrupt and spoiled individuals. The intellectuals yearn for a more Republican form of government that spreads power and eliminates corruption. The Whigs also play the antipathy against Catholics to their advantage.
Not all plotting is political. There is a religious war set to explode in England. How do you want your character to be seen? Will they be the stoker of intolerance, or will they be the moderates that seek understanding? The Catholics are losing popular support, but they have lots of money and the need to find Englishmen that would stand up for them. In contrast, the Anglicans are looking to rid England of the last vestiges of Roman influence. That also means to be wary of Catholic kingdoms as well, for they all bend their knees to Rome too. There are many plots you can get into with your PC that can make for interesting writing.
Read the above for men. Some of my advice for men might give you some ideas for what to do with your ladies. Yet, ladies are not taken as seriously in the 17th Century. They have no vote, of course, have few legal rights, are given a truncated education, are expected to be little more than housekeepers and mothers. They cannot hold office or titles except derivatively from husbands.
This may seem a huge disadvantage. In a sense, it is. Ladies need to be more clever if they wish to get things the way they want. In a sense, intrigue is more necessary for them than men, for they must seem to be traditional women on the surface. That does not preclude ladies from being conniving to get what they want.
Before making suggestions, you need to decide what you want for your lady. Are you content with her being demure and doing what is expected of her? If so, there are fewer challenges for you. You will likely be relegated into the background as a supporting character unless you can chart a course to make her a social elite. To be a leader in fashion and planning the best parties is something that will make a lady rise in social circles.
If your lady is stronger and wants to get her way in things, then the field is open for development.
Just like a man, every lady would benefit from the advice of a social matron. She will help your lady stay free from evil gossip.
Just because you are a lady does not mean you cannot have a male patron. You just need to be more careful to avoid wagging tongues. For example, note how Darlene has tried to cultivate the Thomas Hobbes and the Duke of Newcastle.
Just as necessary. You need friends and confidantes to be part of your schemes. Find a few to cultivate close friendships.
Love and Sex
Do not underestimate this power. History is full of examples that even the noblest of men would lie, cheat, steal, and murder for a woman they loved or desired. (Of course women would do the same for a man they loved, but men seem to be ever more the pawn of a lady, rather than the other way around). It is the lady's most potent weapon. She can achieve most anything with it, or by withholding it.
Yet, it can backfire if a scandal ensues, or a lady gains the reputation of a whore. This is why it is critical to gain patrons and allies.
Just as a man can love two women, so too could a woman love two or more men. It causes all sorts of challenges, but promises to be fun writing.
Develop as many admirers as you can among the old and young. They are likely to do your bidding.
For a lady that has any ambition, securing a good match is the most important aspect of the game. It is easier to achieve your ends when your husband is rich and powerful. An ambitious lady does not marry for looks or love. If, however, you prefer to play an unambitious lady, then marry who you will.
Women can have a great deal of effect on gossip, though few players have tried it. For the more mature PC, think of ways to punish your enemies or advance your friends through the use of gossip. It can take many threads of meeting the right people to gain your status as a gossipmonger. A good gossipmonger can destroy the mighty or lift the undeserving.
While beauty is important in gaining attention, it is wit that keeps men coming back for more. With wit you can place ideas in the minds of men (e.g. challenges, faint praise) that will cause them to act as you wish.
Develop your musical or artistic skills to stand out at parties. Attention is a good thing if you would advance at court.
Not Accepting Your Lot
There are a growing number of ladies that want to be well-read and participate in the sport of men. Some are taking up fencing even. Could this be an opportunity for your character? Be careful, men will likely ridicule you for it.
Don't underestimate the power you might gain as a governess for the children of the powerful.
Ladies in Waiting
The same is true for becoming a lady in waiting to a member of royalty. It has been known to propel many a minor lady to a station of greatness. (For example, the Duchess of Portsmouth was but a penniless minor French lady, but was a lady to King Charles' sister and he became smitten with her).
Ladies were known to write things under a pseudonym. Might this appeal to your lady? Of course you will need to find a way to get published, either using your own wealth or finding a patron with plenty of it.
Much power attaches to the lady that sets what is fashionable. Usually this is reserved to the older ladies, but a young lady might be able to size control with a good group of lady friends to back her.