A Post-Mortem for Kingsmouth



  • I wanted to organize my thoughts on this game before it's all forgotten. It also feels that people who haven't played don't actually know the draws of the game. It might also explain the cultural differences that the former players of RfK will bring to the games they go to.

    In no particular order, there were various layers of the game that you could explore. You could almost view them as code-supported minigames, except they had setting-wide impact and allowed a character to exert control over the ingame world.

    Use of boons/prestation was encouraged sphere-wide. It was worded on the wiki, if someone holds prestation over you, they have an interest in seeing you succeed. I thought it was a kinda hammy and obvious "encouragement," but in practice - players actually used them. Firstly, they were a great tool to resolve conflict. You accidentally poached in someone's territory, or kissed someone's ghoul? Pay prestation, and it's fine. Secondly, they were a tool for establishing power dynamics, so powerful because one could use them to influence votes. You have a status raise which you want to pass without trouble, whether it's in your clan, covenant or even Praxis-wide to be Prince? You start trading and collecting prestation over the important movers. Yes, prestation could be traded by players in the coded system.

    Harpies had access to more boons code, oversight of all prestation in the Praxis and the ability to arbitrate it, or even deny it.There was a system with two Harpies, one of the current government regime and another opposed to it, to serve as each other's check and balance. The position of Harpy entailed a lot of work but also wielded a lot of practical power. For example, I wish I could've started charging trivial boons to reveal who holds prestation over who! (There was so little time, so much to do.) Status was the Harpies' other job, with 'laurels' also coded into the system. So with every Harpy report, the status positions on the Characters main page would shift and change. Status had bearing on other background aspects, Primacy I think. The Prince also had laurels to give, so he could greatly influence status.

    I'm probably the worst person to write about this, as I'm not savvy with game mechanics, so I will only cover the aspects I found significant. The Territories system was something I enjoyed playing with. It was like a Risk-type minigame which actually affected where you could hunt for blood (among other things). This was the first time in my mushing history that I found the Socialize skill useful! It was used for finessing territories when acquiring them. You had to know which skills and stats you could game, and it was very exciting knowing that someone else was probably also doing it, and your rolls would be compared to see who wins.

    Once you had a territory, you could improve its various stats over time, you could make it hold more blood for the +hunt code that let you feed (it was also possible to overhunt a territory). A territory also had Sites which had bonuses, for instance the Speakeasy would give you a +5 to Socialize, which you could use while rolling in jobs. The Regent of the territory could decide who to let feed there, or allow to use sites, or whether to charge prestation for that. You could also cause crises in your rival's territories, to mess with them.

    Where this system completely broke down was, when covenants put their entire weight into gaining a particular territory. If I remember well, it almost led to an outright war between the Invictus and the Carthians. It also created these huge jobs where everyone from the covenant spammed all their dice so that a territory is won. I was not a fan of the feudal system staff changed to from this. I would've preferred if they'd corrected the former system in some way. It felt nice to roll your dice and use your sheet stats to gain a territory.

    In the new system, the Prince chose the Governors, who chose the Stewards, who chose their Regents for particular territories and charged them rent. It was a boon-trading pyramid, where Stewards paid a major boon to the Governors to get Stewardship, and the Regents paid a minor to Stewards to stay in their territory. There was a possibility of monthly rent charging, as well as rumors of extortion. It would've been interesting to see how this system played out, and what long-term flaws or consequences it would've brought. Also, in the old system a character could hold a number of territories equal to their Status + some other stuff (Primacy?). In the new system, a character could only hold one. I'm guessing this was to stop territory-hoarding and I approve of that, because it would let more players get a stab at holding one.

    Cants. This was seriously such a tiny addition to the game, requiring so little staff-work, yet it immensely simplified many aspects of vampire interaction. See a cant on a person? You're instantly aware they're a ghoul, who they belong to and who they're working for.

    I love the way this game did rumors. I liked that you got beats for posting rumors on someone's wiki, that you could cover up who posted it, and that the rumor could be investigated to learn who posted it. I liked that rumors on the Cacophony board could also be squashed until they disappeared.

    Beatsheets in general were awesome. You could claim a limited number of beats each week, for scenes, for theme, for aspirations, for frenzy, for +squees which were basically +reccs. I think maybe they should've lowered the number of +squees you could give per week. I disliked how they turned into something commonplace and reciprocative; I don't want to write congratulatory praise for normal RP. Still, maybe it encouraged people to be nice to each other, even if the motive is to get a +squee in return?

    I know that beats were looked over by Shava before approving them, and it added to the workload. I think it should've been auto-approved, with an option for staff to look at them later. So when there's time, there'd still be a way to get to that juicy info, but it wouldn't be a workload requirement every week. With beats capped, what damage could it do anyway?

    There were other systems I don't know much about, like Primacy and the various Influence tiers. There was not enough time to explore all the aspects of the game, at least to me. I wonder if the complexity is what made the better players come out on top? Make it hard and only those who can do it, will thrive? It also encouraged cooperation, because one person could not keep up with everything. I also loved that Resources mattered more than just for buying equipment, you could actually use them to get bonus dice on rolls. Bribe and buy your way to success! Many stats feel like sheet fluff, outside of RfK.

    Ghouls being useful, that's already been mentioned elsewhere. Vampires didn't have as much +dt to do stuff in the system. Ghouls had much more, so a vampire would be smart with their downtime and delegate to the ghoul. Of course, this drove in the theme that vampires only have the short hours of the night to accomplish anything. Just the monthly upkeep for your retainers already took some of your downtime and blood.

    Whatever you might say about Shavalyoth as a staffer, one thing stood out for me - she was unfailingly nice and kind to her players, and made an effort to be helpful. This is a standard that should be an example to anyone who wishes to staff. I know that some of the new staffers did their best to follow in these footsteps because I experienced it in brief interactions. It bridges the usual rift between staff and players, and makes mushing a much more pleasant experience.

    Now, I have to be honest. It was obvious that the game was a source of ego-boost for Shava, a certain kind of personality cult which brought her an endless stream of praise and love from the players. It can't hurt to connect to a game where people send you adoring messages. Of course, nobody is that perfect. However, with how much work she was putting into the game, I guess that's a fair quid-pro-quo?

    I won't go into the attempts to scale the game and bring in more staff, and how that failed. I just want to outline the constructive elements. However, while praising one good aspect of Shava's behavior, I have to keep perspective. The kindness in her approach to players is a good thing, the personality cult is a bit iffy.

    The underlying plot of the game was possible to explore, and it's funny but to me it seemed something that ghoul and mortal players latched on more than vampires. It seemed that vampires were too busy. I know there was a God-Machine clock, and the Green Flame, and… something about a sleeping force that should be kept buried and asleep. I also loved that the Strix, VII and the Hunters were threats that felt real, from their occasional appearance through plots.

    In my time on the game, I witnessed the fall and rise of two governments. Almost? I came in to a stabile Invictus rule and hear about the failed Carthian experiment. As Carthian underdogs, I witnessed and aided their climb to power, and then the beginnings of transition to yet another rule. I loved this knowledge that no government would last forever, and there was always something to scheme and plot towards.

    To summarize, all of these background systems enabled a constructive game of vampire politics to take place. With so many ways that promoted subtle conflict, the more obvious and crude combat-conflict rarely happened. If a game had even just one of these systems implemented, for instance coded boons, it would already have better support for political play. If you want politics to work, you need to give your players tools for it. RfK's systems were too convoluted and complex, but I can see a pared-down, skeleton version of them working really well.

    The difference between those of us who played on RfK and others, is that we know politics can work on a vampire game. It can work really well. I have my own horror stories of politics on other games, and how quickly it turned into a thoroughly unpleasant experience for everyone involved. For that reason, I completely understand why games would try to avoid it.

    It's a culture shock to come down to. I suspect staff on other games will see former RfK players trying to grasp for political play even if there aren't any underlying systems to promote it. It's a huge difference in mindsets. The rest of you have the memories of horrors, we have the fresh experience of how engaging and constructive it can be. I'm not sure politics can work out on games that don't have the background build for it. It will inevitably boil down to the same shit that soured political play for many. This is a warning to former RfK players to be cautious with their enthusiasm. Otherwise you'll just make the rift deeper.

    After playing on a game which offered so much, going elsewhere feels like stepping into a wasteland. What is there to do? Sandbox and TS, do the occasional plot…? One could argue that Requiem for Kingsmouth offered too much, leaving its players spoiled and ruined for other games.



  • I realize this is a super long effort post, but I thought there might be people wondering what kind of Kool-aid we were all drinking on RfK to think it was such an amazing game. I explained the things I enjoyed from a player's perspective, and it's only one person's view so it will not encompass everything or be completely objective. I just wanted to bring something constructive to the mushing community as a whole.

    Feel free to chime in with other aspects of the game you feel worked well. I intended this as a primer on what an awesome vampire game could be, and what can work, so that future games might be inspired by it. It's not so much a praise for Kingsmouth as it's an attempt to figure out what made it work and what lessons from it could be used.


  • Politics

    Thanks for elucidating. I know a lot of people were curious.

    I think, though, that it's important (and you touch on this) for people froming in from Requiem for Kingsmouth to other games not to try to push that model on the games they come to. If this model is what they want to play, I think the best course of action is to make a new game that follows it. While quite a few people seem to want to play this sort of game, it doesn't mean a lot of people want to run it. I, for example, if I had the time, would love to play in it. I wouldn't really like to run it, though, and I won't. So, yeah, I think it's important for people who come from RfK to other games like Reno and Eldritch and Fallcoast to manage their expectations, because games can be and are very very very different. I wish RfK hadn't closed, because it provided a niche that we're sorely needing in this hobby--that of intense, political Vampire play. Maybe someone will pick up that type of game slack. We can hope.


  • Coder

    @Sundown said:

    Now, I have to be honest. It was obvious that the game was a source of ego-boost for Shava, a certain kind of personality cult which brought her an endless stream of praise and love from the players. It can't hurt to connect to a game where people send you adoring messages. Of course, nobody is that perfect. However, with how much work she was putting into the game, I guess that's a fair quid-pro-quo?

    I won't go into the attempts to scale the game and bring in more staff, and how that failed. I just want to outline the constructive elements. However, while praising one good aspect of Shava's behavior, I have to keep perspective. The kindness in her approach to players is a good thing, the personality cult is a bit iffy.

    I am so confused by this. So, you're saying she shouldn't be happy that her game succeeded? That anyone that finds joy in the fact that their game succeeded is engaging in the construction of a personality cult? That is a narrow view. One you've probably engaged in.


  • Politics

    @Alzie said:

    I am so confused by this. So, you're saying she shouldn't be happy that her game succeeded? That anyone that finds joy in the fact that their game succeeded is engaging in the construction of a personality cult? That is a narrow view. One you've probably engaged in.

    This seems overly and unnecessarily defensive.

    Connecting one's sense of self-worth with the following created from one's works can be problematic. I can understand how someone would get the impression that Shav was a little too connected with her game, i.e., how she would state, clearly, that she was very emotional about it, that she sometimes could not sleep because of it, etc. I don't think that's healthy.

    "Cult of personality" is probably the wrong term for this.



  • @Alzie said:

    I am so confused by this. So, you're saying she shouldn't be happy that her game succeeded? That anyone that finds joy in the fact that their game succeeded is engaging in the construction of a personality cult? That is a narrow view. One you've probably engaged in.

    That's not what I said at all. Being unable to accept even the most vague criticism of a person is a sign of a personality cult. My observation is that it took some brand of crazy to manage such an engaging, busy, incredible kind of game. This was Shava's, I think. Wanting to be loved and admired; it's an entirely too human trait. We all have it and express it in various more or less dysfunctional ways. Please, chill. :) If I wasn't positively impressed by her game and her work, would I have written 4 .doc pages of text about it?

    I'd really prefer for a constructive discussion to form here, rather than devolve into blame-slinging. But yes, I understand this is an internet forum and manage my expectations accordingly.


  • Admin

    @Ganymede Everything else aside, ego management is an essential skill for all levels of MU*ing. I can see taking pride in your own work (whatever that may be - staffing, RPing, plot-running) but this sounds even more than unhealthy (which of course it is), it's unsustainable.

    Something had to give - and of course, it did.



  • @Arkandel said:

    @Ganymede Everything else aside, ego management is an essential skill for all levels of MU*ing. I can see taking pride in your own work (whatever that may be - staffing, RPing, plot-running) but this sounds even more than unhealthy (which of course it is), it's unsustainable.

    Something had to give - and of course, it did.

    The reasons why RfK failed are complex, I would call that one a fairly minor contribution. I'd rather focus on the positives and see how they can be implemented in future games.


  • Politics

    I would honestly encourage people who like this model to try their hand at making a game that follows it. The only way this hobby is going to stay alive and (somewhat) relevant (within context) is if people make and host games that cater to different types of play and niches. Some people only like one kind of play, other people would like to play several different types of play, but have an easier time separating how they play between games. I'm one of those. I can do all sorts of different types of playing, but I don't want to do highly political vampire in the same game as laissez-faire mage and resources-heavy Hunter and plot-driven werewolf. All games I would play. But not in a MU where they coexisted.


  • Coder

    @sundown Not that I particularly care, but you wrote 4 pages that discussed how the game failed and succeeded at various tasks. So getting mad at people for wanting to talk about the parts of your review that discuss how it failed seems odd.

    @Arkandel The time investment was okay for the most part. However, it did become unsustainable when Becca started working and I had to deal with things beyond my normal in my life. Not to say it wasn't a massive time sink, it was, but it wasn't that it couldn't be done with enough staff.

    In general, the biggest thing that stopped us from getting staff was the refusal to allow staff to play PCs outright with all the abilities that regular PCs enjoy. That was also the feature that got us the most kudos from the actual players however. It was also the thing that fostered a staff-PC trust relationship. So it was a double edged sword, one that both benefited and hurt us.

    If someone wanted to do all that we did, the code is freely available and could be paired down sure. However, the biggest thing this type of game requires is a staff that sticks with it. You need staff.


  • Admin

    Fair enough. Let me put ask this, then; one of the criticisms I've heard about RfK players coming into games is that they're intent on essentially recreating the same thing to the point of expecting those games to function the same way and pushing to 'convert' them.

    Although hardcoded elements could be borrowed to improve specific aspects of such games, would you say if you guys are looking for essentially a re-enactment of RfK or if you'd be satisfied with certain elements you enjoyed being incorporated in MU* you end up playing as may be appropriate for how they are already set up and ran?


  • Politics

    @Arkandel said:

    Fair enough. Let me put ask this, then; one of the criticisms I've heard about RfK players coming into games is that they're intent on essentially recreating the same thing to the point of expecting those games to function the same way and pushing to 'convert' them.

    This is what I was referring to in my original post on this thread. This is a really bad attitude to take coming to a new game.



  • @Arkandel said:

    Fair enough. Let me put ask this, then; one of the criticisms I've heard about RfK players coming into games is that they're intent on essentially recreating the same thing to the point of expecting those games to function the same way and pushing to 'convert' them.

    Although hardcoded elements could be borrowed to improve specific aspects of such games, would you say if you guys are looking for essentially a re-enactment of RfK or if you'd be satisfied with certain elements you enjoyed being incorporated in MU* you end up playing as may be appropriate for how they are already set up and ran?

    I honestly feel bad for those players who come into other games hoping to see a 'conversion' or 'recreation' of what they found on RFK. They simply won't and it will hurt them in the long run for their own aspirations to try it.

    Incorporating some of the elements might work - but the thing that RfK did was create the mindset of political play at the outset with the source of conflict being resolvable in manners other than hardcore combat PKing. As it stands right now and from what I understand the current crop of games doesn't encourage this mind set - I mean hell you pretty much have same ol same ol from TR to Fallcoast - where vampire combat kings are dominant. I cannot say the same for Eldritch and Reno but from what I've heard so far that too is the case. Will incorporating some of the political play aspects change those mindsets? Probably not, but one could hope.



  • @Coin @Arkandel That's the problem I observed and why I devoted a large part of my post to it, including a huge bold warning. Because I predict this will erupt into drama, building even more resentment and creating a rift in the nWoD playerbase. When really, it's not necessary - all that's needed is more understanding on all sides.


  • Pitcrew

    I think that's a good point. One of the things that made RfK successful was that it was a highly focused game. It had a single sphere, and only allowed one alt per player. The game may have had a plot, but it was about Political Interplay, and the game was focused around making that work.

    Many of the games that I see out there now seem to be less focused. They have multiple spheres and don't seem to have systems in place to foster the type of RP that they're looking for. To be fair, I have little hands-on experience at the moment other than Fallcoast and RfK.


  • Coder

    @Coin said:

    I can do all sorts of different types of playing, but I don't want to do highly political vampire in the same game as laissez-faire mage and resources-heavy Hunter and plot-driven werewolf. All games I would play. But not in a MU where they coexisted.

    That's not a question of want, those elements are to a non-trivial extent mutually incompatible. If you want to create a game that's more then just a sandbox then you have to decide what your game is about and everything about your game has to work towards that goal.

    In highly political vampire, you want resource scarcity, you want enforced social systems, you want mortal politics. Having laissez-faire mage present in that setting would undermine everything because suddenly nothing is actually scarce anymore.


  • Admin

    @Lisse24 said:

    I think that's a good point. One of the things that made RfK successful was that it was a highly focused game. It had a single sphere, and only allowed one alt per player. The game may have had a plot, but it was about Political Interplay, and the game was focused around making that work.

    Right! A political sphere isn't necessarily a bad thing in Vampire (in fact it's great, it makes me feel perhaps I missed out not playing on RfK in its hayday) but the same paradigm simply won't work in a multisphere game for starters. At all. Offering a boon in exchange for things might work between Kindred in perfectly thematic ways but my Rahu will probably scowl at the bloodsucker who goes "hey! I screwed with your buddy - sorry! Let's say I owe you one OKAY?'. :)



  • @Arkandel said:

    Although hardcoded elements could be borrowed to improve specific aspects of such games, would you say if you guys are looking for essentially a re-enactment of RfK or if you'd be satisfied with certain elements you enjoyed being incorporated in MU* you end up playing as may be appropriate for how they are already set up and ran?

    That's a good question. Personally, I'd be thrilled if even just boons were coded into a vampire game and players left to run wild with it. However, Coin made a very good point earlier, and that's - you'd have to have staffers willing to deal with this kind of RP focus.

    Realistically, there were too many complex systems on RfK to recreate it on any preexisting game. Sooner or later, trying to behave as if this isn't true, is going to devolve into drama. Conflict is going to get solved by the most crude methods available to players, and it will all go back to the old shit.


  • Politics

    @Jaded said:

    @Arkandel said:

    Fair enough. Let me put ask this, then; one of the criticisms I've heard about RfK players coming into games is that they're intent on essentially recreating the same thing to the point of expecting those games to function the same way and pushing to 'convert' them.

    Although hardcoded elements could be borrowed to improve specific aspects of such games, would you say if you guys are looking for essentially a re-enactment of RfK or if you'd be satisfied with certain elements you enjoyed being incorporated in MU* you end up playing as may be appropriate for how they are already set up and ran?

    I honestly feel bad for those players who come into other games hoping to see a 'conversion' or 'recreation' of what they found on RFK. They simply won't and it will hurt them in the long run for their own aspirations to try it.

    Incorporating some of the elements might work - but the thing that RfK did was create the mindset of political play at the outset with the source of conflict being resolvable in manners other than hardcore combat PKing. As it stands right now and from what I understand the current crop of games doesn't encourage this mind set - I mean hell you pretty much have same ol same ol from TR to Fallcoast - where vampire combat kings are dominant. I cannot say the same for Eldritch and Reno but from what I've heard so far that too is the case. Will incorporating some of the political play aspects change those mindsets? Probably not, but one could hope.

    I can't speak for Reno, but Eldritch is a more narrative-focused game. We're not so interested in players competing against each other unless they want to do so, and if they do, they should be doing so by creating plot for each other, not relying on other systems. It's not better or worse; it's just different.

    But this is why I said that it's in the benefit of people who liked RfK's model to make a game like that. Not because I want them to go away and play in their corner or anything; but because if you really enjoy something, you should invest in it beyond participating should someone provide it for you.


  • Pitcrew

    One of the things that I think Kingsmouth really did well, the thing that also fed into the creation of these systems, was that that it knew what kind of game it wanted to be, and made it very clear in everything it did. The backstory of the game fed into it being a highly political game where change was expected. The territory system, the boon system, influences, /every/ system was built from that focused premise. It was a politics-focused Vampire game, and every member of staff was on board with that. It didn't support other kinds of play, and didn't try...and that was okay!

    Too often, WoD games try to be everything to everyone in order to garner the most butts in chargen, and I think that leads to the Anywhere By Night feel, and many of the tensions between players that want fundamentally different experiences. Kingsmouth was a game that succeeded by doing the opposite - instead of doing a whole bunch of things poorly-to-mediocre, it chose one thing that staff were passionate about, and did it /very well/. And that brought people. People who were new to MU*s, to Vampire, or to WoD, in a number of cases. Hell, it got me to play Vampire for a while, and that's a thing that I thought would never, ever happen.



  • I will say the game was thoroughly enjoyable for me. I had fun being the creepiest creepster that ever did creep. They played politics. I stole Humanity.


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