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Feedback Requested: The Code

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    Posted: 03 Sep 2019 at 06:41
The following is a draft of an idea I've had for some time, which I'm now releasing for public discussion and debate. In essence it is an optional set of gameplay rules, enforced by those in the community who adopt them, whose purpose is to improve the gaming experience for most if not all players.

These optional rules are intended to:
  1. Encourage "friendly" conflicts with limited outcomes to allow players to explore the military side of the game with limited risk, while minimizing the negative emotions that can accompany being attacked. Either party to a conflict can end it by paying the other a "tribute" of a fixed amount of gold based on their respective populations at the start of the conflict.
  2. Encourage "fair" conflicts, between opponents that are at least somewhat similar in population and resources.
  3. Allow the losers of a conflict the option of requiring the victor to protect them while they rebuild, and possibly for longer thereafter, by allowing them to claim the Right of Vassalage.
  4. Introduce a relationship structure for players based on medieval feudalism that goes beyond alliances, which can allow peaceful or weaker players to gain protection from military or stronger players in exchange for recognizing them as their military patrons (known as a liege/vassal relationship).
  5. Recognize and reward players who are successful at acquiring vassals with titles and honours.
It is quite simple to indicate acceptance of this style of gameplay, requiring only a single update to a player's profile to indicate that they have adopted them, as well as a single, one-time post on the forum to give that action a timestamp.

The implementation of the rules is also quite simple, requiring only that the initiators of a conflict capture the population of those involved in a forum post at the time the conflict begins.

Please post any constructive feedback you may have here, so others can add their thoughts as well. I intend to take all feedback and put forth a "final" version of the idea, which I myself will be adopting - and inviting others to adopt - on October 1st.

***

In a bid to increase the fun and variety of gameplay for the denizens of Illyria, I hereby proclaim my intent to adopt the following code of conduct, hereafter known as The Code. The purpose behind The Code is to encourage those interested in engaging in limited conflict, without fear of annihilation, to make themselves known to their fellows. Such others are invited to proclaim their intent to follow The Code as well, via the manner of doing so described herein.

Note, that each account is treated herein as a separate player. Thus, a single player is welcome to have one account that abides by The Code and another that does not.

The Code
1. Mutual Defence. I pledge not to attack any who follow The Code except as permitted by the rules of The Code, and to fight by the side of any who follow The Code against any aggressors who do not.
2. Friendly War. I may, at times, seek out friendly conflict with other players who abide by The Code, declaring my intent to initiate said conflict by the creation of a War Declaration thread on the forums. It shall be understood by all parties that such a declaration carries with it no emotions of anger, hostility, or ill will, and therefore such a conflict may be deemed a "friendly war".
3. Suitable Targets Only. This War Declaration will only be made against another player upon whose profile is written at the top "Follower of The Code: " followed by a link to this thread, who has a population that is no less than half my own population, whose growth charts show activity in the previous week, and who is currently not engaged in a similar war, it having been previously declared.
4. Public Declarations. Within the War Declaration, I will proclaim that this war is to be carried out under The Code and will link to this post. I will state my own population at the time of the war declaration as well as the population of the player against whom I am declaring said war.
5. Accepting Tribute & Surrender. I will cease all hostilities against an opponent if I am shown proof that a payment in gold equal to 100 times my opponent's starting population (as previously captured in the related War Declaration thread), hereafter known as tribute, has been sent towards one of my cities. This shall serve as an offer of surrender, which I will automatically accept, at which point I will post notice thereof on the War Declaration thread.
6. Peace & Right of Vassalage. Upon having accepted an opponent's surrender, I pledge not to attack them or join in a conflict against them for a period of no less than three months. Furthermore, I will accept their Right of Vassalage, should they choose to claim it, in which case I will pledge to protect them from any who would aggress against them for a period of no less than three months. During this time, they must add the phrase "Liege: " followed by my name near the top of their profile, and I will have the option of adding them to a "Vassals" section within my profile.
7. Joining Existing Conflicts. I will only join an existing conflict if my population plus those on whose side I would join would not be more than twice the population of the opposing side, and only upon receiving a written request by the original participant on whose side I would join. Furthermore, prior to taking any action related to the conflict, I will post notice of joining it within that conflict's War Declaration thread, including the written request to join it, along with the name of the requestor, and my current population.
8. Defining the Tribute Recipient. Regardless of other players joining an existing conflict, I accept that the execution of any and all surrender terms, including the delivery of tribute, must be carried out with the prime opponent against whom I am fighting. The prime opponent is the original enemy participant or, if they are no longer in the conflict, then the longest-serving opponent to have posted a notice of joining the conflict.
9. Ceasing Hostilities When Tribute Given to Another. In the event a player surrenders per the process described above, I will immediately cease hostilities towards them, even if I was not the one to receive their tribute. I accept that it is up to the recipient of the tribute as to whether or not it should be distributed among any participants who have subsequently joined.
10. Adoption by Alliances. I accept that this set of rules is not limited to players, but can be adopted by alliances. In the event an alliance adopts these rules, then the current member list along with their populations (as taken from the Alliance member page) is to be posted in the War Declaration thread and used for determining the suitability of a target (e.g. with no less than half their combined population) as well as the amount of tribute. If individual players leave an alliance during war, they are to be considered part of the conflict until they pay their individual tribute.
11. Ceasing Hostilities Without Tribute. I understand that I may release an agreeable opponent from conflict at any time, for any reason, and will post notice thereof on the War Declaration thread.
12. Titles of Honour: I shall recognize those who follow The Code and honour them by giving them a title related to their number of vassals, including in this number any and all sub-vassals:
Sir: no vassals
Lord/Lady: 1 vassal
Baron/Baroness: 3 vassals
Count/Countess: 7 vassals
Duke/Duchess: 15 vassals
Petty King/Petty Queen: 50 vassals
King/Queen: 100 vassals
High King/High Queen: 250 vassals

Becoming a Follower of The Code
Becoming a Follower of The Code means you make public your intent to follow The Code, are okay with limited conflict, will gain the protection of those who follow it against non-Followers, are willing to join in the defence of a fellow Follower against the same, may seek to become a vassal (for protection) or liege, and will put The Code above other obligations. This is a different way of playing Illyriad than has been seen in the past.

To become a Follower of The Code requires only two simple steps:
1. Make a post in this thread that states simply "I, too, proclaim my intent to be a Follower of The Code". This becomes a record of when you embraced The Code and prevents players who might seek to abuse The Code for immediate gain (e.g. having been attacked by an outsider, the suddenly adopt The Code and claim mutual defence).
2. Add and maintain a section like the following near the top of your player profile.

Example Follower of The Code Profile Section
Follower of The Code: <link here>
Liege: None

Vassals
Sir Larry
Lord Moe (2 vassals)
Sir Curly

Note that by following a specific pattern like the above it may be possible to programmatically scrape liege and vassal information to create charts showing feudal hierarchies, subject to the devs allowing that to take place.

More About Vassalage
Vassalage is a formal and public bond between two players, one the liege and the other the vassal. As it is sealed by an oath, it confers honour upon both parties, which is lost if the oath is broken. In short, it requires the two to support and protect each other against all outside threats, though the liege has the heavier duty as the liege is recognized as wielding the greater power. A player seeking a stronger ally may seek out a strong player nearby and petition to be their vassal. Likewise, a strong player may offer protection to those who are weaker by accepting them as vassals.

The liege/vassal relationship can be accompanied by other considerations and can be as custom or flexible as both parties wish it to be. These additional considerations can be included in the public announcement of the bond of vassalage or kept private between the two parties involved.

Alliances can also engage in liege/vassal relationships, with their respective leaders taking the necessary oaths on behalf of their members.

When considering the suitability of a target (per #3 above), the population of the potential target's liege and any vassals and sub-vassals are included (similar to how all members of an alliance are included), but treated as half their actual population (as they are likely to be less effective).

When considering the amount of tribute, only the target player's population is considered. The population of their liege and any vassals and sub-vassals are not included in what they must pay for peace.

If a vassal initiates a conflict with another player without the written consent of the liege, then for purposes of that conflict the liege is not considered a participant, unless they subsequently join it (assuming they can do so within the bounds of The Code, based on the size of the opposition).

While the exact oaths can be agreed upon by the participants, it typically mirrors the following (and can be assumed to essentially be such, by those who don't care about such details).

Afrovian Oath of Lordship (spoken by the liege, replace gender as appropriate): I, <insert liege's name>, do hereby take <insert vassal's name> as my sworn vassal and bannerman and in so doing do hereby swear to honour, protect, and love him as becomes a lord unto his vassal. His people will be as my people. His towns will be as my towns. Should he come under assault, I shall be the first to respond. Should he be slighted, I shall feel the sting. Should he have need of guidance, I shall offer it forthrightly. I shall honour him, treat him justly, and be a true lord and friend unto him in all times and under all conditions. To this I do swear.

Afrovian Oath of Fealty (spoken by the vassal, replace gender as appropriate): I, <insert vassal's name>, do hereby take <insert liege's name> as my sworn lord and liege and in so doing do hereby swear to honour, protect, and love him as becomes a vassal unto his lord. His wars will be my wars. His peace will be my peace. Where he leads, there will my strength follow. Where he shelters, there will my strength defend. Should he be slighted, I shall feel the sting. Should he have need of guidance, I shall offer it forthrightly. I shall honour him, treat him justly, and be a true servant and friend unto him in all times and under all conditions. To this I do swear.

Becoming a Vassal
To become a vassal requires only two simple steps:
1. Make a post in this thread indicating that you have sworn vassalage to the player to whom you have sworn. If this status changes, simply post against that you are no longer that player's vassal.
2. Add the name of your new liege lord to your public profile, in the section previously described. If this status changes, update your profile accordingly.

Ending Vassalage
Either liege or vassal may decide to end a state of vassalage at any time, except that the liege may not do for three months after a defeated opponent has claimed the Right of Vassalage.

For Military Players: Adopting The Code will allow you to engage in military fun without much of the negativity and drama that currently accompanies most conflicts. You'll be able to go after others and possibly win prizes in gold, as well as glory and reputation in the form of vassals. You may find your skills tested as your vassals come into conflict, and you will need to find solutions both military and otherwise to successfully grow your list of vassals and accompanying honourifics.

For Traders: Adopting The Code will protect you from the all-out wars that can currently be dropped at your doorstep. Furthermore, finding a powerful liege willing to offer you protection can further allow you to focus on the area of the game you find most fun. Finally, if you do find yourself in conflict, then you can simply buy your way out of it with a relatively small amount of gold, while requiring the aggressor to protect you for the next three months.

For Hunters & Crafters: With The Code encouraging limited conflict amongst like-minded players, we may find that the consumption of wartime resources increases. It's quite possible that this increased consumption may increase the value of crafted items and their materials, leading to a resurgence in prices.

For Group Players: By combining yourself into powerful alliances, you will -finally- get to act as the big kid on the block that you truly are without hurting feelings. You will also have a good chance of earning significant vassals from smaller alliances and solo players that are nearby, with minimal griping from the same. Your challenge may be to see how far you can extend your influence through these new feudal ties.

For Solo Players: You will have the ability to have "real" relationships with individuals (your liege, if you have one, or your vassals) without having to take part in the alliance drama.

Key Variables to Consider
There are a couple key variables within The Code whose values will greatly determine its impact on gameplay, including the tribute formula and the time of enforced peace (and, possibly, vassalage).

Tribute: If the amount of tribute is set too low, everyone will simply pay it and the friendly conflict this is intended to encourage may fail to appear. If the amount of tribute is set too high, then conflicts become less friendly, though this may encourage targeted players to seek out allies to join them after the war is declared. In short, there is likely a balance here that needs to be struck, and 100x Population may not be the right amount of gold.

Time of Peace: This is another interesting variable that will impact the success of The Code, and is closely tied to the amount of tribute. If it is too short, then targets won't have time to rebuild and aggressors will simply attack again as soon as it is up, which will require constant payments by the weak to the strong (or, more likely, a flight to vassalage, which could be interesting). If it is too long, then the conflict this is intended to encourage may peter out. In short, we need another balance here, and 3 months may not be the right amount of time.

The Last Word
Lastly, I invite those interested in following The Code to relocate to Jurgor, or more broadly the southeastern quarter of the Broken Lands. This will be especially important if The Code fails to garner sufficient support across the map. In that event it is my hope that those wishing to participate in this form of gameplay can create our own community of feudal adventure and mutual fun.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mr. Ubiquitous Feral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Sep 2019 at 06:56
like the UN. what could go wrong?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Sep 2019 at 00:20
Following a GC suggestion from Casper, how about players equip their kerberos medal when they want pvp by agreed upon rules? This saves on cost and organisation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bill_Cipher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Sep 2019 at 04:10
I like it.

Hope it goes well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mafro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Sep 2019 at 07:01
So, as it's been 24 hours since I started this thread and I thought I'd share some of the feedback I've been given privately and via other channels.

Before I do, however, I'd like to thank all those that have wished me luck in this endeavour or said they support what I'm attempting. It's literally been a couple dozen people already, including more than one of the movers-and-shakers in the community, and in my mind that bodes well for the number of people who might consider adopting The Code in the not-to-distant future.

Feedback
  1. Diplomats. The Code purposefully doesn't touch on diplomats, as by definition those actions can be hidden and thus its impossible to hold people to any standards on them. That said, if an Adherent to The Code has proof that another player is relentlessly thieving them, then I think it's safe to say that they could likely engage in retribution without their fellow adherents holding them to the terms of a "friendly war".
  2. A Protection Racket. One player suggested that The Code was simply a way to justify a protection racket. That's a pretty narrow and pessimistic view, in my opinion. Even if you adopt The Code you can obligate another, stronger willing player to protect you by pledging vassalage to them, which many will probably accept just for the prestige of having you as a vassal - no protection payment required. And, of course, if you don't want anything to do with The Code, then don't adopt it...just keep doing your own thing. Besides, with Adherents to The Code fighting friendly wars with each other, it'll likely be those aggressive non-Adherents that you'll have to watch out for. And such nice cities you have...be a shame if something happened to them...
  3. Taking Advantage of It. I've heard a couple players express concerns that maybe players who don't follow The Code might somehow use it against those that do. I'm not really sure how that might happen, and upon being pressed they weren't either. That said, as far as I can tell, there's no way for outsiders to use The Code against those that adopt it. The worst case scenario I can think of is that a player in a friendly war might be viewed as a target by an outsider and attacked...though according to the Mutual Defence clause of The Code, both sides in the friendly war would immediately turn on the aggressive outsider, putting their friendly war on hold until the real threat is dealt with.
  4. Don't Like Hierarchies. I've heard a player say they didn't like hierarchies, and so didn't care for The Code. In response, other players immediately responded, saying hierarchies are a part of life. To the dislike of hierarchies...I say, good luck with that.
  5. TLDR. One response has been: all...those...words. Yeah, it's long. I'll try to tighten up and simplify the final draft. The whole vassals thing might be able to be separated from the core of The Code, to either be treated as an optional add-on or ignored entirely. I kinda like it though.
  6. Followers of The Code. I've heard feedback that "The Code" is a cool name, and we may want to find an equally cool name for those that adopt it. Followers of The Code may not cut it. Another option might be Adherents to The Code. Of course, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme...people can use whatever words they prefer.
I will continue requesting feedback, until such time as I believe I've captured most of what others wish to share. At that point I'll create a new draft of The Code, likely using a poll to solicit feedback on that.

Cheers!

Mafro
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote rajput Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Sep 2019 at 20:01
The Code is very very generic name IMO... I would rather have a The <some-fancy-name> Code, e.g., The Miranda Code, or The Red Code... This will also leaves the door open for different/future codes that might experiment with metagame further.

Regarding immediate identification of the followers of the Code, it is challenging... Either we do a name change and add some initials or vassalage title, but it will require prestige... Medal was cool idea but again require prestige... Remaining option is too make banner and have followers of the Code put it on top of their profiles. URL enable this banner and link it to the final/recent version of the code transcript on the forum or the pledge or watever.

Vassalage/apprentice/allegiance thing is ok... Im not very knowledgeable about it or how it will play out... I dont care much about titles... Most of them I dont like may be because I not from English background. However, if this does took off, I foresee, that the vassalage thing will evolve into Alliances as it will be much easier to represent relationships and maintain them.

Btw, you may need to have Keepers of the Code, who will maintain it, enforce it and adjudicate disputes. 


Warning! Author of this post has weird sense of humor...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mafro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Sep 2019 at 06:11
Thanks for the great feedback, rajput.

As a result of it, I've updated the next draft of The Code (whose name might change) to clarify that titles may be taken from any culture as long as it is roughly equivalent to what is listed. That should allow individual players who prefer similar titles from another culture or source to simply use their profile to request that they be used.

Also, I'm forming a steering committee of those interested in guiding this to fruition over the next couple weeks. If you're interested in taking part, drop me a mail with your email address and I'll invite you to the Slack channel I'm setting up for it.

More soon!

Mafro
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lord Brakan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Sep 2019 at 16:24
This is a really interesting idea and I look forward to seeing what becomes of it. I for one will consider following the code.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mafro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2019 at 05:23
Thanks to all of you who provided feedback!

I have posted a 2nd draft of The Code that incorporates much of your responses to a new thread and would encourage further feedback if you have any: https://forum.illyriad.co.uk/the-code-2nd-draft_topic10676.html.

Yours,

Mafro
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