Unfinished Story: Qual and Votenkath

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Post by Lundar » Tue May 16, 2006 2:17 pm

The Book of Demarkarth? That's an interesting piece of history I never caught before. Thanks for posting the transcript, Yor.

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Post by Garr » Tue May 16, 2006 6:22 pm

The Separ is still around. I don't know if the person who has it wants it to be known, so I'm not going to mention any names.

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Post by Althea » Wed May 17, 2006 5:52 am

Babajaga wasn't just dewed... she was double dewed.

The first dew shoved down the throat prepared the way for the second -- the one implanted in the neck. It prepared your body for the second phase of transformation. The players who were double dewed met in secret with Qual to receive his orders and do his bidding -- "The Family" Althea called it (in a mocking tone.) That group included Babajaga, Caddrel, Sleipnir, Althea, & Malkor. There were others but they pretty much opted out or played it close enough to the vest I'm not sure they'd want to be outted or ever felt comfortable being evil. (I'm assuming the others are fine with my disclosure... ) Opting out was kind of hard to do since we were told when we got the neck dew, we became Qual's -- we had no choice. But some opted out anyway.

I think when Votenkath in the conversation above referred to the "touched ones" he referred to the double-dewed. You might recall that a few players spit up larger meaner dews when cured. Those were the double-dewed, I believe (if it was done consistently)

Getting doubled dewed involved being set up: it went like this... someone in the group who was friends or friendly with you would lure you to an isolated spot, somehow get your ss from you, then Qual would show, freeze you so you couldn't move, mock you in that special Qualian way, and slam the dew into your neck. So first you were betrayed and then you were dewed. Caddrel betrayed Baba. Baba betrayed me. I brought Malkor to the Master's attention. Baba, of course, betrayed Sleipnir.

Incidentally, I believe thats why Sleipnir & Baba renewed their vows. Since that kind of attachment ran counter to the Master's purpose, or maybe just because we were disgusted (I'm losing my sense of timing on that in relation to the Qual tale) Malkor and I blew up their wedding. (any gm effects like amulets shuddering were GMs participating in our "counter event" without our knowledge or consent. )

But I digress.

The storyline was very intense at first. We met in secret with Qual right in town, right under everyone's noses. Various huts. Healer library. Repeatedly. There was always the risk of being found out. We were queried by Qual as to who Qual might "turn...", we were charged with destroying Puddleby and everything good in it. But we were also not to get caught - not to get found out. We were to be devious. We were also charged with finding the Separ and reporting to Qual on the efforts of others. We were spies in your midst. We vyed for his attention like jealous children, each trying to bring their Father a better prize, a better morsel of information, a better exile to serve the Dark Bubbling.

We were promised that we would become Noths... our characters desired it and desired pleasing our Master. More importantly we would become One with the Dark Bubbling. Kinda like Noth Nirvana (the Buddhist kind, not the Cobain kind)

Its been stated before that rping an evil character is an incredibly difficult thing to do... I don't know how you'd do it well without completely destroying your character and ooc friendships with other players. If I'd done it right and completely IC, I would have betrayed PM as well as RC. After doing the latter as part of this tale, (my fault, not the gm's) and seeing the ooc upset it created, I didn't have the stomach to do it again.

Anyway, that period of time was really hard. It went on, I think, for like 18 months or two years. Seemed like a really really long time. And it was just dragging towards the end. After a very long period and really no resolution in sight, I wanted out. I know some others of Qual's, if not all of us, wanted it to end as well. We never thought it would go on as long as it did and it just got to be too hard to sustain.

As you all know, we have a volunteer crew of GMs... things happen in life and sometimes you can't always devote large chunks of your free time to creating a game. At least, that's what I assume creates the lapses in storylines in cl. I can't speak for Qual GM. But its too easy to just "blame the lazy GM" for a dying storyline. I think that's really unfair. With all due respect to DT who I've been giving my money to for so many years, and will til the lights go out, its their system of unpaid GM labor that creates the storyline lapses.

My point in going into such detail about how I felt about my involvement (and in spite of it, Im grateful for the experience) is that I believe pressure from the players with double dewed characters brought about an end to the tale. It had to resolve in some way because for some, playing their characters as permanently evil didn't work. Cure the players, let them return to normal life.

The event itself was pretty anticlimatic for me as well. While I can understand the resentment of the players who searched for the Separ (Qual's Family did also) Tessa was actually very into the story for a very long time. If it was to be simply handed to anyone, she had as good a claim as any. If memory serves, her or Yor would have seemed right. I personally had more fun playing Althea torturing Yor than Althea dodging Tessa's biopsy needle, so I might have picked Yor. But it wasn't my choice.

I don't know that the other option would have been better -- to let it drag on and become a dead tale? I don't know if there was energy to make it happen in a way that would give everyone an equal shot at the Separ either... and if it had, Qual's family would have been right there trying to get it for Qual. Though at that point, we might have intentionally failed. Hard to say.

It was a really ambitious undertaking on several levels and I have to applaud the GM for its creation -- the complexity of the tale, the length of time, the involvement of player characters... While the ending wasn't what people wanted, I've seen that happen with many stories (Rowl is a recent example that comes to mind. )

Anyway...

Sorry for the rambling nature of the post. I just wanted to share some information from my perspective.

Cheers

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Post by Delirium » Wed May 17, 2006 9:24 am

Thanks for that Althea!

One question: was Malkor double dewed when the conversation with Votenkath took place? Because I note that he was at the meeting. I do remember that there was an issue when it came time to de-dew him because the silly bunny had put his lump in storage.

Also, thinking over the reaction to Tessa getting the Separ, it did seem like it was more the people on the outside, who were never really involved that much in this plot, than the people who were centrally involved who got really upset. The sort of people who sit in TC and complain because the GMs don't do enough to make the game interesting.

As for the whole blaming the GM thing goes - I can understand running out of time for something. I have an idea of how much time it takes to run a good story and I might be able to do a good job of it, but there is no way that I'd have the time to do so. Maybe if the game is still going after I retire in a couple of decades or so....

Finally, to help Spiel, does anyone have suggestions on how to do a story-line like this one better? It seems that many people did enjoy this story, so I think something similar might be enjoyable.

On the resolution of this story, for example, I think it would have been better if the NPC who gave the Separ to Tessa had instead gathered a group of the non-dewed and given them a quest. Or perhaps given Tessa the Separ, but in an inactive state, and given her a quest that she would need the help of others to complete to activate it.

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Post by Yor » Wed May 17, 2006 9:34 am

Wow, interesting piece of history. Thanks Althea. :D
Althea wrote:The storyline was very intense at first. We
met in secret with Qual right in town, right under everyone's noses. Various huts. Healer library. Repeatedly. There was always the risk of being found out. We were queried by Qual as to who Qual might "turn...", we were charged with destroying Puddleby and everything good in it. But we were also not to get caught - not to get found out. We were to bedevious. We were also charged with finding the Separ and reporting to Qual on the efforts of others. We were spies in your midst. We vyed for his attention like jealous children, each trying to bring their Father a better prize, a better morsel of information, a better exile to serve the Dark Bubbling.
LOL! Meeting right in town? I would have never guessed! That's hilarious!

Hmm, so you were encouraged to find the Separ as well. I'd still like to know if it was actually possible to find it or not.
Althea wrote:Its been stated before that rping an evil character is an incredibly difficult thing to do... I don't know how you'd do it well without completely destroying your character and ooc friendships with other players. If I'd done it right and completely IC, I would have betrayed PM as well as RC. After doing the latter as part of this tale, (my fault, not the gm's) and seeing the ooc upset it created, I didn't have the stomach to do it again.
I can see the dilemma. I don't know how you all managed to keep it up so long but you did a helluva job. Your performances helped make that such an exciting and engrossing storyline.
Althea wrote:As you all know, we have a volunteer crew of GMs... things happen in life and sometimes you can't always devote large chunks of your free time to creating a game. At least, that's what I assume creates the lapses in storylines in cl. I can't speak for Qual GM. But its too easy to just "blame the lazy GM" for a dying storyline. I think that's really unfair. With all due respect to DT who I've been giving my money to for so many years, and will til the lights go out, its their system of unpaid GM labor that creates the storyline lapses.
I couldn't agree more with one exception. I think GMs, volunteer or not, could have been more communicative with players in some situations. Leaving (or going on a long hiatus) before your project is completed and not saying anything about it to players is not appropriate. It's almost like the show "Lost" where the castaways have been lead to believe that inputing that code every two hours is worthwhile and beneficial to them in some way. So they've modeled their existence around making certain that code gets inputed in a timely manner, day after day. However, in reality inputing that code every two hours means absolutely nothing. But they don't know that.

We were "inputing a code" on Noth for several months after Noth GM apparently had left by searching for the "Dark Bubbling" and "Landew Breeding Grounds" that didn't even exist because they weren't ever implemented. We had no way of knowing. I feel we should have been told the projected was suspended indefinitely.

The Noth example is unfortunately not the only example of this. This too is a product of the system, but unlike GMs leaving or going on long hiatuses, I think this kind of thing is preventable.
Althea wrote:The event itself was pretty anticlimatic for me as well. While I can understand the resentment of the players who searched for the Separ (Qual's Family did also) Tessa was actually very into the story for a very long time. If it was to be simply handed to anyone, she had as good a claim as any. If memory serves, her or Yor would have seemed right. I personally had more fun playing Althea torturing Yor than Althea dodging Tessa's biopsy needle, so I might have picked Yor. But it wasn't my choice.
Getting tortured by you was a blast! You were really creepy back in those days. :D
Althea wrote:It was a really ambitious undertaking on several levels and I have to applaud the GM for its creation -- the complexity of the tale, the length of time, the involvement of player characters... While the ending wasn't what people wanted, I've seen that happen with many stories (Rowl is a recent example that comes to mind. )


Despite all their imperfections and unrealized potential (due to the DT system) I've never had as much fun with storylines and quests in other games as I've had with most of the major ones in CL, Noth included. We've certainly had some very creative GMs with great visions (and still do) and I feel lucky to have been part if it for all these years. :D

Yor

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Post by Cinnamon » Wed May 17, 2006 10:02 am

Delirium wrote: Finally, to help Spiel, does anyone have suggestions on how to do a story-line like this one better? It seems that many people did enjoy this story, so I think something similar might be enjoyable.
Only a small portion of players was actually involved. No offence to anyone, but also a bit of a clique to begin with. It seems like it was set up to be friends of whomever the GM first chose to infect.

Thanks for the history lesson. I'd heard about the whole deal, but never really knew what it was about until now. How's that for a testamonial about the effectiveness of the story?
Yor wrote:We had no way of knowing.
Except that DT could require areas and items to exist and be attainable before mentioning them in game. Or perhaps they could have released the truth about it after the volunteer was no longer available.
I think this kind of thing is preventable.
Completely and easily.
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Post by Spiel » Wed May 17, 2006 11:18 am

My gratitude goes to SWC Althea for the history of the double-dewed from a player perspective, and to all who have spent time recalling their own experiences. Thanks, also, for the discussion of OOC experiences of the story, both positive and negative. I look forward to additional information and suggestions.

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Post by Valtrim » Wed May 17, 2006 3:54 pm

Another thank you to Althea for her post; I wasn't aware of the double-dewing, either. I only have a few comments.

Most people won't care about this, but there's a distinction between a GM declaring something to be true and player declaring the same via the same methods (\action, for instance). This is another of my assumptions that carries over from… well, every other form of roleplaying game that I've encountered. Players have a primary interest and investment in their characters. Therefore, players have rules about what their characters can and cannot do so that they don't tear apart the rest of the game world in order to make their own characters more influential/powerful. Gamemasters, on the other hand, have a primary interest and investment in the game and game world (or should; a GM who cares more about his/her NPCs than about the game as a whole is a bad GM). For this reason, GMs are allowed to declare pretty much whatever they wish in pursuance of making a more interesting and cohesive game world. It's because of this assumption that I find it funny that some players somehow chose to "opt-out" of being controlled by Qual after they were dewed. In any other game I'm familiar with, deciding to directly contradict a/the GM pretty much means that you've decided to stop playing the game.

Which leads to my second point: GMs introducing powerful magics/artifacts should be prepared to deal with the consequences of their existence. What would have been most fun, in my opinion, is if both the "touched" and normal exiles had a chance to find the Separ with two primary sets of consequences prepared depending on whether Yor/Tessa and friends found and used it or Qual and friends found and destroyed it. In the case of what actually happened, I'm guessing that Qual-GM never intended for there to be the possibility of Althea/Malkor/Baba/Sleipnir/Caddrel turning into 'Noths (and, from the sound of it, at least one of the players didn't want that to happen to her character). As both the "really bad things don't happen to player characters" and "no PvP without consent" tenets of Clan Lord would've been suspended/broken in the latter case, perhaps it would be best to devise plotlines for which the consequences of the bad guys winning are still acceptable.

Finally, the entire plotline sounds well-executed (if not entirely well-conceived) apart from the very end. It was good to hear more about it. :)

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Post by Paramedic » Wed May 17, 2006 6:52 pm

Thanks to everyone (especially Althea) for posting about this.

Even though I wasn't among the "Dewed Crew," I'd put together a lot of the storyline myself mainly from editing all those long transcripts I used to publish in Fishwrap Magazine back in those days. At the time, I remember thinking that the "double-dewed" distinction was not something most exiles were picking up on. There were some hints in old Fishwraps. Check out Tessa's Medical Journal Entry from issue 34 (March 13, 2001):
Further research:

Independent research and advice of others pointed me toward research
into the Neodew situation frequently discussed in town. Samples from a
variety of species of Neodews bear genetic resemblance to the sample
taken from PATIENT X's neck. PATIENT X herself claims to have been
"dewed" but the method of insertion of this agent is commonly oral, and
not subdermal. I suspect that PATIENT X's case is unusual in this
regard.
http://gamesource.groups.yahoo.com/grou ... message/33

I was always torn about highlighting things like this too much for fear of giving too much away, but I also remember being frustrated that it seemed the nuances of the story were being missed by many.

Also, to be honest, an ongoing problem for me with publishing Dew-related stories back then was that I was concerned at times that Tessa might be getting out in front of the story or going some places where the GMs were not going. I didn't know one way or another. I had no reason to distrust Tessa, but also had no reason to believe that she should be treated as credible either. That's all fine IC, I suppose, but OOC there were more than a few times I remember thinking, "Is this just Tessa's clicker driving this story in this direction?"

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Post by Eldon » Wed May 17, 2006 7:05 pm

Valtrim wrote: ... As both the "really bad things don't happen to player characters" and "no PvP without consent" tenets of Clan Lord would've been suspended/broken in the latter case, perhaps it would be best to devise plotlines for which the consequences of the bad guys winning are still acceptable.
Other than creating two builders, one for the Good Guys™ and one for the Bad Guys™, to see which should win, this is easier in theory than practice. It's not impossible, of course, but it's not easy. Then, when you throw in a 7x24 world where other time zones want to meaningfully participate AND then throw in that characters of all levels should be able to participate, you can start to see how no one story line will please even the majority of people.

The solution is two-fold, I think:
- Encourage more player-run stories where they figure out how to solve the above themselves. Provide GM support where warranted. Allow player actions to affect the world.
- Run more stories with a larger variety so that, eventually, there'll be something for everyone.

So far, I think we're 0 for 2. But, we're working on both.
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Post by Althea » Thu May 18, 2006 1:30 am

Delirium wrote:
One question: was Malkor double dewed when the conversation with Votenkath took place? Because I note that he was at the meeting. I do remember that there was an issue when it came time to de-dew him because the silly bunny had put his lump in storage.


Sorry Delirium, I couldn't really say. I don't have a clear timeline in my head for a lot of what happened.
Delirium wrote:
Also, thinking over the reaction to Tessa getting the Separ, it did seem like it was more the people on the outside, who were never really involved that much in this plot, than the people who were centrally involved who got really upset. The sort of people who sit in TC and complain because the GMs don't do enough to make the game interesting.


With all due respect, I don't think that's a fair or accurate assessment. There were plenty of people involved on all different sorts of levels who were unhappy with the windup of the tale. I don't think you can dismiss dissenting opinions with that kind of generalization.

regards,

SWC
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Post by Althea » Thu May 18, 2006 1:44 am

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Very thoughtful analysis, Valtrim. Thank you for that post.
Paramedic wrote:
I was always torn about highlighting things like this too much for fear of giving too much away, but I also remember being frustrated that it seemed the nuances of the story were being missed by many.


As players, there had been lots of ooc discussion among us on how to communicate what was going on and stay IC. Baba was quite ingenious at that indirect communication -- the constant neck scratching, for example - but it was hard for other players to know where to take it. I mean, we were stabbing you in your back, not in your face. (well, there were a few exiles Althea stabbed in the face... )
Paramedic wrote:
Also, to be honest, an ongoing problem for me with publishing Dew-related stories back then was that I was concerned at times that Tessa might be getting out in front of the story or going some places where the GMs were not going. I didn't know one way or another. I had no reason to distrust Tessa, but also had no reason to believe that she should be treated as credible either. That's all fine IC, I suppose, but OOC there were more than a few times I remember thinking, "Is this just Tessa's clicker driving this story in this direction?"
Tessa's character (with all due respect ) was difficult because her rp was very otherworldly, invoking technology and ideas that were never before present in the game world. It was tight and all that, but it was so non-clanlord world that it was hard to know how to interact with it. So as a player, how could your character respond to her except as a crackpot? At least that was the way my character dealt with her. Althea just couldn't absorb her reality.

For those reasons she made a difficult "white hat" for other players to follow imo. With that said, she did step up in a big way and dive into the tale so...

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Post by Delirium » Thu May 18, 2006 9:37 am

Althea wrote:
Delirium wrote:
Also, thinking over the reaction to Tessa getting the Separ, it did seem like it was more the people on the outside, who were never really involved that much in this plot, than the people who were centrally involved who got really upset. The sort of people who sit in TC and complain because the GMs don't do enough to make the game interesting.


With all due respect, I don't think that's a fair or accurate assessment. There were plenty of people involved on all different sorts of levels who were unhappy with the windup of the tale. I don't think you can dismiss dissenting opinions with that kind of generalization.

regards,

SWC
Sorry, I was not clear. I know lots of people had reservations about how the story ended, myself included. What I ment was that those who directed their anger at Tessa were, from what I can tell, not centrally involved.

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Post by Babajaga » Sun May 28, 2006 4:52 am

Since a large portion of my playingtime in CL was spent documenting stories and history, I of course couldn`t stay away from this one. :) Just a few additions in what Althea has written:

Cinnamon wrote:
Only a small portion of players was actually involved. No offence to anyone, but also a bit of a clique to begin with. It seems like it was set up to be friends of whomever the GM first chose to infect.
The intention as I remember was from the start to involve a much larger playerbase. Like a reverted pyramid where you start off with a few, then those in turn betrays others who in turn betrays even more etc. Imagine a Puddleby where you wouldn`t know who was under control or not, where you had to maneuever between exiles you trusted and those you didn`t. Where you had to compete against time to save those under control, but had to struggle cause those under control would in any way possible try to make you fail. The scope of the thing was awesome, and I do believe that if succeeded it would have been on the level of the ripture war.

We faced a few problems on the way. One was that many opted out. After the second dewing players got an email explaining ooc the consequence on the character, and they could then say either yes or no. If they said no, the second dewing would not have been successfull IC. It was in the cards from the start that it wasn`t a full proof method of control, to leave players a choice. Another was that we lost the active GM. Since the second dewing required Qual, the development of it was halted then.
The third problem we faced was that we didn`t have an antagonist, one that was outside of our control and that could drive the opposite part. Paradox is that when Baba betrayed Sleipnir, we lost our main foe and didn`t get another until Tessa picked up on it and drove it further.


A small note: The "rewedding" of Sleipnir and Babajaga happened after the story had come to an end.

I wrote some IC stories on Babajaga`s diary back in 2001 - 2002 , where I explained the whole process and what had happened. I know the site is sadly a bit hard to navigate, but those accounts were public during that time.

http://red-quill.org/babajaga/diary/46-49-01.html#free

http://red-quill.org/babajaga/diary/46- ... l#betrayal

And here is the transcript of Kala Sahar`s talk with Tessa:

Kala Sahar says, "I need a sample of the fluid to make ready the separ.
Kala Sahar shows her wood and crystal tool to everyone.
Well there is only one, passed from keeper to keeper to hunt the beast,
but now it is time to pass it to a new keeper.
Yes IT the dark Bubbling. When it arrives one of my order will try to go and give the Separ.
In most cases the arrival of the separ drives off the dark bubbling...
but I fear here things may be different. The dark bubbling seems to have learned that it can
save and use the minds of some of those it infects. IT is no smarter then the myrm queen
... But this talk of Qual...The separ can cure those infected but not fully changed.So exiles with
lumps and growths can be saved. Those who have changed in apperance can not be saved... i.e. 'Noth.
Qual seems to be trapped IN MID-CHANGE. I'm not sure if he can be cured. When folks change to the
new form they go crazy and become mindless. Qual is not mindless, so he must not be fully changed.
Once you cure the exiles you may well wish to try to cut him off from the dark bubbling.
What we need now is to stop the spread. If it spreads the dark Bubbling will feel safe and stay
When those infected are near the separ their disease will act up as the dew screem in fear.
The Separ is not a weapon, it is a tool of healing. If the dark bubbling move on you must
follow it and give the separ to the locals whom it starts to attack, just as i come to give it to you.
You are the 267 holder. If the dark Bubbling does not flee keep the separ and battle its dark ways.
You may pass the separ to any you feel worthy to carry it.

And to Delirium: I am not sure if Malkor was under control then or not,I would think he was, but others in the group with Votenkath were, so the touched ones knew what was being said.

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Post by Drablak » Sun May 28, 2006 3:32 pm

Well this has been an interesting thread, thanks to those who shared their experience with us.

I wasn't part of that storyline and I'm sad about that. I came in after the initial part and probably after the GM left. I saw Tessa in tc inspect poeple but I thought it was made-up RP, not anything deeper than that. It's only much later that I realized there was a storyline behind all that. No blame on anyone of course.

One thing that strikes me, and concurent threads may be influencing me here, is that the information-class was not put into a position to help one way or another. I know many mystics were unhappy with the fact that our tools couldn't tell who was dewed or not, and the finding of the Separ could have been orchestrated in a way to use our supposed-information-class abilities. When the quest to find the Separ wasn't working well enough, some information could have been found by a mystic. Same with the conspiracy of the double-dewed, or to help nudge that storyline in a positive direction. If these storylines were more common, and mystics were involved in some way, the mystics would fullfil a meaningful role in Puddleby as an information class.

I'm saying this mostly because Spiel asked our feedback and I think it's important to note that in these interactions, there is usually a way to make use of the 'mystical' aspect of the 3rd class that is overlooked by GMs. I gave the exemple of the intoduction of Peacetown in another board as something that could have been made to involve mystics, the Qual storyline is another example.
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