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AoI Game System
See Also Credits
This article contains the complete overview of the AoI Game System at a simple glance so that you might know how everything ties into each other. Mostly it will link to further articles that go into more detail. This is, by necessity, a very long article, so use the interlinking to get where you need to be.
One Rule to Rule them All: Have Fun
The abridged version of our OOC rules. For further detail see our Terms of Service
- This is a game. The primary purpose of the game is to have fun. The Privy Council is here to ensure the game stays fun for all. There fore the following is forbidden:
- participating in such a way as to ruin the fun of others (e.g. flaming/ranting, trolling, harassment, inappropriate behaviour or remarks, lack of common courtesy or common sense etc.) The Privy Council may ultimately remove you from the game. We are the sole arbitrator of what is fun in this game.
- players younger than 18. This game has mature themes that may offend the young, or their parents. Dealing with offended players and parents ruins our fun.
- infringing copyrights can ruin our fun too, so when you borrow some image or content, get the permission of the owner and give credit. Do not hotlink images.
- whining about what happens to your content after you have left, or the copyrights of material you submit. Anything you contribute to the game becomes the property of the game. You have a right to use it elsewhere as well, but we will not delete your material simply because you want to leave the game, for example.
- whining/gossiping behind our backs about something you don't like. If you have a complaint about any aspect of the game or other players, send a PM to a member of the Privy Council or post it in your Player compendium. We will review it and get back to you with a reply.
- forgetting that moderators want to have fun too. They are human beings with real lives who deserve common courtesy and some patience. This includes abusing your moderator privileges in your compendium. If you are not sure you should post, edit or delete something, don't.
If you want to play, you need the permission of the Privy Council, which you gain by submitting an application. The same is true if you want to play a second character. There can be no "in character" posting by someone until that character is approved. Below you will find all the IC rules of the game.
To Build A Character
Creating a character may seem intimidating at first, but if you follow the step by step application it is not so hard to figure out and time well invested. Below we detail the main elements of our system dealing with character creation, as well as all the rules of the game. After you submit your application in email you should have a reply within 24 hours that we received it, and be accepted in the game after a further 48 hours.
Benefit,Challenge, Skills and Reputation
This system presents our main view on character creation. You will see it return during Recess as well. We are looking for realistic, rounded characters who face challenges in their life but also have some benefits to set that off. The system is simple enough. The benefits and challenges should balance to zero. Of each you can take one major and two minor ones (or 3 points). The articles give a table how much each is worth.
We think it prevents "perfect" characters and gives focus to creating plot opportunities for you in the game. During character creation the moderators will discuss with you in their initial feedback if in total the benefits and challenges measure up and how they work in the bigger balance of the current game. Remember that benefits and challenges are only a starting point, leaving it up to the player to make the most of it.
In addition to that, skills give further shape to your character. While your character may be able to do all the normal things that a gentleperson might have been taught, your character will only have 2 skills to be talented in (aka above average). In addition a truly gifted skill might be a benefit (see above).
Reputation is something to be gained during the game, though as a benefit (or challenge) you can start with something in place already. In a game of social intrigue, much depends on how others perceive your actions. You can have access to the best tailors, but your peers decide if they think you fashionable. A bad reputation can proceed you, or perhaps you have proven to be a villain in the game. Reputations are mentioned on your public profile so other players can claim prior knowledge, having heard the whispers. You can gain, or repair reputations depending on your own initiatives and how you display it in the game. It is in constant flux.
This is a game of courtly intrigue. Thus we create a background of people who are either titled, with an estate, or who are related to them in some way. You can take higher rank as a benefit. You can be a foreigner or merchant as a challenge.
Because we use an historic setting there are some technicalities regarding titles, current politics, the different religions and the state of the various nations. These are all opt-in articles that you do not need to read when creating a character, but provide more in depth information of the setting.
Most of the Day to Day expenses are in the background, assumed on the basis of your wealth level. The bigger sums are noted in your ledger and accounted for. This may be important for trade storylines, issues of debt etc. While this is not a game that concentrates on high finance, wealth and thus investments and expenditures do play a role in this game, especially for peers of the realm, using larger sums of money that they have gained through various estates, inheritances, gifts and return on previous investments. While we maintain a ledger in the Player Compendium for this, the focus is on the IC stories that come from it.
Most of the day to day expenses are not accounted for and simply assumed to be dealt with. Our system allows for several levels of wealth, that of course are comparatively speaking and aimed at those of gentle birth, ranging from Impoverished to Filthily Rich. The standard is Financially Secure, and going under or above that you use benefits/challenges. Based on your level of wealth you may assume a set of day to day expenses without constant accounting, while there is a ledger for those long term investments.
The great proof of rank and nobility is liberality. People want to be known for their excess and wealth of hospitality; wardrobes are exorbitant, consumerism is admired. Few noblemen have an accurate notion of their full income gross or net – Estate managers handle their ledgers. Spending money is also an excellent way of gaining Favour and thus ultimately gaining power. You can use it to take revenge, or to entice a lady to have more tender feelings. Or to increase your standing the world, especially among specific circles.
In your first season characters will live in one of the following options:
- The Red Lion Inn (wealthy and rich, male or accompanied females)
- Dorchester House (wealthy and rich, ladies only)
- St. Mark Hall (poor and average)
After your first season you may select housing in town based on your wealth level. If you are a peer you will also have an estate in England. Both these accommodations you can create a write up for, which will be posted on the forums after we discussed it in your Player Compendium. This means you can use the travel forum to go to and fro your estate if it pleases you. Estates outside of England can only be reached during Recess due to the time involved.
Upon starting you are given starting money to buy shiny new things with from our inventory list, as well as starter kits to give you a basis in clothing (depending on your level of wealth). You will be given extra clothing each season, and the level of wealth further gives you permission to select from the inventory what you need on a day to day basis. There is no charge for servants, housing, or day-to-day expenses.
Main Article: Circles
There is a set of informal circles, that slightly overlap in person. This is as it were the first impression circle. The first thing you see when you look at someone, just like in highschool you would immediately know in which group to place a person.
You might be added to a circle once you have gained IC recognition. It can be used for OOC plotting, Summary RP with getting into contact with NPC's of that circle, moderators giving out information particular to only that circle etc. Each circle will have a list of minor jobs available that a PC can try and gain.
To Play A Game
In Age of Intrigue we expect our players to co-write their stories by taking initiative and explore opportunities. Your character is offered plot hooks based on his or her background. That however is not all. Player characters move from thread to thread as they move through our world, and what they do influences other storylines, sometimes across the entire game.
Once you feel confident you are ready you can make your first post by joining an existing thread, or create your own using the descriptions of locations in the guide books that are sticky on the forums but can also be found in the wiki. Remember that this is your PC's introduction into the game, so consider making your first post a bit longer than usual to include background material. It is advised that you include in a logical writing style why your PC is in the area, with a description of how your PC looks. It also helps if there is a reason for others to interact with your PC. Maybe you can react to other characters, or ask them a question.
Players can use their Player compendium to its fullest effect by telling us what kind of themes they enjoy, what kind of stories they want to pursue and give feedback on how they think it is going.
Getting Involved in Scenes & Plot Direction
At first it may seem not much is going on. The first steps of your character will likely consist only of meeting, or trying to meet ,the right people. Under the surface however there is a lot going on (this is a game of intrigue after all) and it is up to you to get involved.
There is not a list of scenes available, though sometimes the moderators post currently running threads. You will have to read the threads out there and choose to join in. You can also create a thread of your own, using the location description in the Guidebook sticky on top of the forum (or here in the wiki). No permission is needed to enter a thread, but you need to have IC logic. You also need to post within a certain timeframe, always moving forward. Read more on Entering Threads & Timekeeping.
During your threads the mod will help you by pointing out ongoing events. Age of Intrigue believes in player interaction and weaving all plotlines together, so behind the scenes there is some active plotting going on. You can be part of that by asking questions or make suggestions in your Player Compendium. We encourage proactive play. You are a co-writer in this game! Now you have entered the game what are you going to do? It is entirely up to you! The whole world is at your disposal, and the only limits are your creativity and your imagination.
Your PC can pursue what plots that involve him or her in whatever fashion he or she wishes. That's your responsibility as a player. Plots in Age of Intrigue are living things that continue with or without player involvement, but they can be shifted, changed, adjusted, and even capitalized by a clever player character. If you're worried that your character is following content you don't want... then stop following it! If you are concerned your character is being rather inactive... go do something.
Moderators are not able to keep up with all your stories all the time. If you believe that some specific threads for your PC are necessary.. create them! Visit a NPC. Write a letter. Send gifts. Look for the specific NPC you want to find at the Ball. Make something happen. The most important thing within our game is that there is player initiative.
Things are never lost!
Just like an opportunity never becomes an advantage without some energy and success, it also doesn't become an immediate failure. If you hit a bump in the road, simply try again. Or seek another route to the same thing. Insulted some one? Apologize and see if it works. Or get your revenge in before he does.
Moderators are not trying to stop you, they are only trying to make things interesting to write about, offering you a platform to write the next chapter in your book.
Seeking Advancement in Society: The Great Game of Intrigue
This is a game of courtly intrigue. In many ways this means that your character seeks advancement in one circle or other. Politics are everywhere, whether it is the House of Lords, a drawing room, the Kings bedchamber, the theatre or the Royal Society. Even if your character does not seek advancement your PC will be faced with many who do.
What To Do In Your Spare Time
The peers and gentry at court had a lot of spare time. Often they were seeking ways to relieve themselves of boredom. A great variety of things exist out there to amuse your character. Please notice that this also includes keeping in touch with everybody not in London. Writing letters and sending gifts is a great way to stay in touch, though it may take considerable time. You may also want to consider hosting an event. Each character is allowed to host an event appropriate to wealth level during either each season, or each IC month (which ever is longer) when the season is in London, without extra cost. Seasons outside London might have different rules.
Your spare time is also an excellent way of showing what kind of circle you wish to be a member of.
Taking Time Into Account
In Age of Intrigue we place importance on time. It moves forward within a certain set time frame, that slowly rolls forward as old threads close and new ones open. You can be in more than one thread at the same time but there is a limit on how much you can fudge. We play seasons and then make a time jump between seasons using a Recess, allowing characters to do things outside London, get some important things in their private lives out of the way etc.
Your Servants & Your Household
All characters regardless of where they live or their station are allowed one NPC as their manservant or maid. In addition you are allowed to create a larger household if your background allows for it, for instance because you own one or more houses and/or estates.
You will control these NPC's unless under special circumstances the moderator chooses to override that by adding unanticipated detail for your pleasure/drama. Your NPC's may run short errands such as delivering letters, speak to your character in your rooms and open the door of your quarters, even when your character is absent. You may give colour and detail to your household, just like you may manage your estate, as you see fit and are considered in full control of it. It can be fun to mention the mundane things that happen around your character's household as an aside in threads, or even in character development threads. You do not need a mods intervention for it.
There are but a few rules:
- The NPC's can't be perfect and solve all weaknesses of their masters. If they gain a life of their own a short write up of the talents & limits of this NPC can be necessary.
- The NPC's should be defined in number and regular duty (i.e. a guard, the cook, a butler, a steward) and listed in your ledger
- These NPC's are not replacement PC's with a life of their own. They have a minor support role only.
Spouses, siblings and patrons are NPC's that will regularly feature in your story and may be part of your household (for instance because you took them as a benefit). They are under the control of the moderator, who will play them in individual threads. However in group threads or player to player interaction threads that is not always possible, even though it is logical for such a NPC to have a presence.
On a case by case basis you may be granted permission to make mention of what the NPC is doing (such as escorting your character to a party, assuming your spouse is generally being pleasant and well behaved during a party, taking a nap upstairs, made small requests etc.). It is likely you will have a dedicated thread in your Player Compendium listing what you can safely assume and what you know of the background, personality and preferences of the NPC. A moderator may also advice you of actions the NPCs has taken that your character may use/mention in other threads.
Veterans at Court
We hope that as our characters are about to become veterans of court in the new season you will make note of how much your character has already progressed in the desired direction. Your Character Development thread is an excellent way of keeping track of such issues.
It will also mean that as we enter the new season there will be more differentiation in power and success between our characters, adding new levels of intrigue to our game as goals change. Of these veterans of court we will expect more to balance this power.They should start developing their own plots and be less reliant upon mods adventure hooks to have interesting lives.
Clever characters will have consolidated their relationships they have formed this season, lest this seasons belle become next seasons faded rose. Relationships do not stay the same, either grow stronger or fade away, and our PC's are the ones that shall need to work to keep the magic alive!
There are various tools available to work on characterdevelopment of your character. We find it one of the more enjoyable aspects of any long running game.. to see your character grow and change, discovering new things and very old things you never knew.
Playing in a Play by Post game is mostly intuitive, closely resembling Creative Writing. However, it is still a game and while we have tried to keep rules to a bare minimum there are some classic mistakes as detailed in the main articles that can be easily avoided if you see the logic behind our reasoning, keeping everything pleasant for everybody.
To Run A Game
In AoI we do not exclusively run Event orientated modding or Storyboard Modding. Instead we do a combination of both. We don't want our moderators burning out regularly, so we do not adopt a storyboard method. Likewise, a pure event driven model can limit the amount of plotting and intrigues afoot. So, we create a variation on threads (see below) and on the moderator side of things we also keep plotting threads per player, to allow individual plotting to be integrated with the whole.
Rules of Realism
Main article: Rules of Realism
There are three basic assumptions in the way we run the game:
- Historical Fantasy not Fairy Tale - this is a realistic adult game offering us drama and challenges
- IC actions have IC consequences - We don't mix IC and OOC, but every IC action will have an impact in the form of IC consequences that may be both positive and negative. Players impact the setting.
- Fun before Realism - This is still a game of heroes and player fun should be central to the storytelling. While adversity is good player fun, so is gaining accomplishments from time to time.
Plotting, Moderating and Co-Writing
Moderating means determining the game reality (based on what was done previously, the general setting, NPC character notes etc.) and presenting that. The players then post their actions, responsible as co-writer to push the story further.
The moderator is charged with responding by determining the game reality again, assigning consequences to both the actions of PC's and NPC's, thus how PC's interact with the setting, using logic and realism and presenting that in a visible way (consequences that happen behind the scene are neither seen nor felt by PCs and so are useless unless they resurface later. They should be logged in mod forums if that is the case). While this process is one of creative writing there is thus a system underneath that makes this a game, where players can try and reach goals.
Consequences to be determined can be positive or negative, small or big. They can be considered success, failure or something neutral that has less meaning to the PC concerned, but it is clear at least that the player is able to influence them or has caused them. Consequences should be proportional to the effort put in by role playing and reward initiative so as to stimulate players to be proactive.
This doesn't mean giving away success, advancement or other things. However nor is it creating difficulties or barriers at every turn, an uphill struggle, as the ultimate in modding. It simply means following up actions with logical reactions, serving every possible IC consequence, positive and negative.
This is not intended as a solely reactive approach. Moderators plan for situations by having their NPC's react and setting things in motion (which might be behind the scenes and unknown to PCs till they stumble upon it) that lead to events .. a situation in crisis that requires resolution. However, the moment the situation arrives.. a mod sits back and waits for players to react, assigning consequences of PCs and NPCs again and again, till a new situation has been created that was influenced by players. Naturally sometimes PC's need a clue, or a break, for the situation to find resolution, lest it drags on endlessly and thus causing frustration. An important part of moderating is following up with consequences, even after the scene has ended. It sets the stage for new events.
Follow Ups for Consequences
Apart from in the scenes, there are a couple of ways to serve consequences afterwards.
- Gifts - Ladies who are wooed, organizers of events, people who introduced others to important contacts, or.. those that are sought for a favour or two, for instance by lower level NPCs or foreign envoys. This also goes a step higher in that the monetary worth of a gift could be higher the more important the giver (status!) or the receiver. It could include grants to monopolies, stipends, titles, license for a lottery.
- Letters - correspondence of every day things by familymembers, a thank you note for past events, acknowledgement of a feat with some congratulations, requests that lead into new events, sharing information with a fellow peer, love letters, threats, business offers
- NPC's taking action behind the scene - A NPC might take behind the scenes actions like recommending a PC for a post, or spreading malicious rumours, informing a family member, paying for the repair of a situation caused by the PC. The most gratifying is if other PCs stumble upon a consequence like that.
- Adjusting Reputation and Status - Making note if single NPC's or a group of NPC's should treat the PC differently. Party we use the circles for this. Partly we also reflect this in letters send. The important part here: acknowledgement of the current status quo.
- Rumours- using circles for that. They need not always be true. Sometimes a vigilante proper NPC might go totally off the bat in writing to a familymember. Sometimes a rumour need not be negative. For instance a PC might be commended for his luck and connections and named in whispers as a person you'd want to associate with.
- Favour - people offering a favour, people asking for a favour. People offering bribes, people asking for bribes. It creates a situation where NPCs and PC's are beholden to each other.
The Mod's use of dice
To add the element of chance, and thus enhance realism, but also freeing moderators from always having to defend their deeper motivation behind every move, we use dice on occasion. Such is the case with pregnancy, races and other sports, cards and other chance games etc. To prevent rules lawyering and a fixation on numbers this will happen completely behind the screens and you will only be informed of the results.
- Adventure Plothook
- Multi Player Threads
- Side Thread
- Continuation Threads
- Entering Threads
- Ending Threads
Adventure hooks have an immediate tie to a certain plot. They are usually available at the furthest point in the time frame. You can join no more than one per IC day, and no more than three at a time in an effort to give everybody a chance to join in.
In addition we highly encourage PCs to create their own thread. Player initiative is very important in this game. Threads started by yourself are never limited.
We create events or Multi Player Threads like balls, church, feasts, and the like. There are usually one or more sub-plots going on in these big events, but the primary purpose of these threads is to allow PCs to make new acquaintances, especially of NPCs. If a church thread, for example, is boring and nothing ever seems to happen, it is because the PC did not take advantage of the situation. There is nothing wrong with going to church (or a banquet) and praying/eating and then going home. This makes for a boring thread, but many people live boring lives, so that could be okay. But, if you are a person that is bored and doesn't want to be, then consider whether you should either avoid these threads completely ... or take advantage of them. Sometimes an NPC has a story attached to them (not unlike an adventure hook). If you meet them, and you impress them with some action, you get drawn into their story. Again it is Player initiative we are waiting for. Don't be shy!
We share and discuss NPCs as moderators, determining their actions often a team decision, so that there is not a complete difference in the way they act under different moderation. Each offer opportunities for your lady or lord to develop further into the creature you want ... or (as often happens) surprise you and develop in a different direction.
Player Control of NPC's
See Also Your Servants & Your Household
In an effort to keep threads moving on and reducing the moderator load, players are allowed to create minor NPC's for colour and background purposes, just like they do for their own household.
- When players want to enter a room in the palace, they can create a maid or servant to send after a drink or such.
- When in the gardens, you can describe other couples, how they are dressed and what they are doing, but not if you plan to meet them. As long as they are a background character only.
- When ladies go strolling looking for shops to purchase mundane things (where the shops are a backdrop merely to purchases they could make in their private areas, they could invent a store and an clerk to wait on them and show them wares.
- When at a coffee house or inn, a player could invent a servant to take their orders and bring the necessary food and drink.
You may also gain permission to have control over a more significant NPC in your Player Compendium.
Opportunity Vs Advantage
It is useful for the purpose of this game to offer opportunities to new and old players alike, where possible reusing plotlines and NPC's so that we create that famous web of tales. However an opportunity means nothing if the player doesn't turn it into an advantage, which requires hard work and initiative. No passive leaning back. You will not be handed an advantage on a silver platter. This is our No Risk No Reward policy (see elsewhere in this article).
No where is this more evident than in gaining favor with important NPC's, whether this is a Colonel, a Duke or even the King. People need to work at it and seem to be witty, useful, entertaining, or trustworthy to work their way up. This goes just as much for a lady struggling to gain or keep the attentions of a suitor as for a gentleman expanding his political network. The strongest friendships are built like a brick wall -- one brick at a time. That is the advantage of having seasons and recesses. PCs and NPCs can interact over weeks, months, and years to build a strong network of friends and rivals
Naturally opportunities will be made available, but once again they can only be turned into advantage successfully by earning it. Only those that are bold, clever, witty, resourceful, and inspiring shall find shortcuts to reward good play. The moderators will also apply a small measure of chance to reflect realism.
Big Risk Big Reward
If you do not take a risk, very little will happen. If you take a big risk, quite a lot will happen for good or for bad. We admire things like character development, clever use of material we've offered and player initiated plotlines.
The No Risk, No Reward policy is also the basis of our benefit and challenge system and you can apply that to your recess and what you may gain in the game. Any huge advantage might carry its own flaw or challenge.
New Challenges: Retiring or 2nd PC's
Perhaps your character is not what you anticipated him to be, or since you have joined the game your understanding of the setting has grown. Your character may have died. Or perhaps you simply want to add to your challenge. You can request another character by contacting the moderators in your Player Compendium.
We are here to help you with any technical details. The Privy Council will create your Player Compendium, and give you a set of titles that reflect the form of address of your character, and some notable skills or reputation that give a bit of detail for other PCs. In addition your public information part of your sheet will be added to the wiki.
While in principle all mods cover all of AoI, each mod has its own style and area of preference. Each of the mods has a few favourite themes and genres that inspire them. In practice there are about 2 mods for every NPC so that mod PC's to can interact with the NPC's. Should both mods be unavailable other mods will be able to cover but they will be hesitant to do so in the first few days.
If at any stage you come to feel that the game isn't working for you, maybe the solution is as simple as hitting a different mods threads, than who you have been working with to date.
To Determine A Setting
Main Article: Premise
The setting of Age of Intrigue is historical, currently playing in 1676, in England's Restoration at the Court of the Merry Monarch Charles II. We have diverted from history in many ways, and our fudge rule is that we try to compress the period of 1650 - 1750 in a far smaller time period, to give the era zest. Most of the seasons are played in London, but we have in the past moved Court if it suited us.
We urge you to accept the setting of Age of Intrigue as its own reality and be creative with the opportunities that offers. Historical accuracy is not our goal. It requires a suspense of disbelief.
Main Article: Themes
This game focuses more on politics, society and intrigue, but other themes like swashbuckling, arts, horror, mystery, romance and science are part of the whole. It is a game of subtlety, manoeuvre, rumormongering, manipulation, decadence, and adventure. There will be mysteries to solve, enemies to ruin, powerful persons to placate, and high society to conquer. It is a court rife with hedonism and ambition.
Gender & Equality Issues
In playing a historical game there will be things that anybody from the 21st century might object to. Such as the difference between classes, or between man and women. Inequality is rife. Slavery is not yet abolished. Women are reduced to the domestic sphere. Things that we do not blink an eye about might cause scandal. Honour is an important motive for behaviour. All these things are part of our game reality.
Libertinism and Adult Issues
It is very difficult to grasp the morals of the Restoration Court. Some of the reactions we've been getting from portraying some historical material of the time is that elements are plainly shocking, possibly suggesting that ladies are whoring around. The contrast towards what we are used to in the 21st century, what we know from the Victorian Age and what we are used to in other historical games dealing with other areas, most notably France, may fill our hearts with concepts that are difficult to equate with historical material of late 17th century England.
It is entirely possible to be part of proper society and not write libertine content. Perhaps you, in contrast, enjoy writing such content. There is room for both positions in the game. It is however part of our game reality.
Since the Magna Carta dating back to the 13th century England has been a democracy with a Parliament consisting of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. That does not mean however that the Kings have given up on their right to rule, also known as the divine right of Kings. Charles II especially is bent on protecting his rights, taking Louis XIV, the absolute monarch, as his example. He doesn't want to end up as his father, who was beheaded by his own people. Those that believe in the divine rights of Kings tend to call themselves royalist and sometimes as the country party. Those that take the far more modern sight that even Kings are limited in their rights and rule only because they are allowed to by the people, setting the first steps towards a movement that among other things led to the French Revolution and the American Independence, tend to call themselves Whigs, later becoming the Tory party.
Religion is still very important in 17th century, the Age of Reason, with people expected in Church every Sunday. The state religion is Anglicanism but other religions are tolerated. There is however a great fear of Catholics that dates back to the Reign of Terror under Queen Mary and the Gunpowder Plot under James I. It is said that Catholics can't be trusted because they are in the employ of Rome and the French King Louis XIV. As a result the Whigs have passed legislation that excludes Catholics from holding office. Mobs frequently riot and target Catholics.