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The Forces of the Sortarian Triangle Stir...

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  • The Forces of the Sortarian Triangle Stir...

    Hey all,

    So, as has likely been noticed by anyone logging in lately, things are starting to heat up in-game. After a good deal of preparation, Chapter 3 of The Alchemist and the Shadow, a plot focused on the Triangle and the Philosopher's Stone, has now finished preparations and is ready to be run. In fact, the early stages of the plot have already begun, with foreboding announcements and glimpses of some key plot characters including the Black Dame, Master Orson, and the titular Triangle characters Renart and Miyako. From here things are going to heat up fairly drastically and be comparable in content volume and intensity to the first two chapters of the plot, which we previously ran bit early during the release of Castle Marrach Freemium.


    To recap, Chapter 1 focused on the revelation of the Triangle, a group of powerful magi whose existence was first hinted at over 10 years ago during the original Black Knight plot (and even earlier if you were a Conclave player) and has been referenced time to time in several plots since. In the first chapter. two members of the Triangle emerged for the first time, assaulted Orson's lab (and the castle as a whole) and obtained ingredients vital to the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, a magical Alchemical artifact that can perform any kind of magic and even bend or break commonly accepted laws of magic. Chapter 2 then focused on several attacks by the Triangle's shadow wielder Miyako, meant to preoccupy the Marrachians as Renart proceeded with his Alchemical works in a secret laboratory in a burnt out village on the mountainside. Events in chapter 2 included the summoned hydra, the burning sickness inflicted by Renart's alchemy, and a series of attacks by the shadows and shadow marked PCs who had aligned themselves with the Triangle. The chapter then concluded with the raid of Renart's lab and the discovery of the mountainside village.


    Chapter 3 is big, and I'm fairly excited to be running it and progressing that main storyline. This chapter was largely delayed by the creation of multiple new game areas that were required to continue the story, as well as the completion of the MCombat 4.1 update which was released about a week ago now, but I think it will all prove to be well worth the effort. There is at least as much content prepared for this chapter's release as there was in the previous two chapters, which means between the Triangle and the Knight's Challenge, the next few months are going to be busy for Castle Marrach.


    Invasion Events have been added for this chapter of the plot. These are thematic 'attacks' on the Realm in which characters of various trades, skillsets and backgrounds have ways to contribute. We've been very particular that non-martial characters have things to do and ways to contribute during these events. An example of such an event is the Black Dame's hatred wisps, which we've demo'd a 'lite' version of a couple times leading towards the start of Chapter 3. Several different thematic invasion events have been put together and can be easily thrown together by staff to keep the atmosphere tense as the race to the Philosopher's Stone bends towards the final stretch.


    Staff is cognizant that sometimes not everyone who wants to participate in a plot scene or event is able to. This is particularly true during 'expeditions'; dungeon-delving-like journeys to far off parts of the mountain usually in search of something or someone. For practicality reasons, sometimes it just doesn't make sense for the whole of the realm to go wandering down the side of the mountain on a stealth mission. Staff has gone through extra effort, however, to make sure that there are Staff supported happenings in the Castle Proper when these quests are being undertaken, so that everyone has a little extra RP on those nights.

    Speaking of nights, nights also means days. Staff keeps a log of the dates and times of day when Plotter run events are being held, and attempts as best as our schedules permit, to ensure the love is spread to different times of day so players with different timezones or availabilty can participate. Although we also have to be a bit practical - a large scale invasion of the castle when there's 3 people online isn't quite prudent. If people want events to be held during certain times of day, we need enough people on to justify holding them.


    As we'll be kicking this off full throttle shortly, I wanted to discuss player proactivity and impact on plots.

    While there is a general planned direction for this plot, there isn't a specific mandatory ending, nor only one pathway to getting to that conclusion (and really a plot is about the journey moreso than the ending). The first two chapters of this plot saw a number of PC conceived actions not originally written into the plot, which Plotters provided for. This included things such as the trip to Future Marrach (resulting in the introduction of the VP Maeveen, who hadn't been planned), the investigation into Dame Keterin's room along with the tidbits that were unearthed about her background during that investigation, and the entire Ranger mission down the mountainside and resulting discovery of the abandoned village and laboratory, along with the PC decision to face the Black Dame on the mountain and take the skymetal shard - all of these were PC decisions not originally written into the story which have influenced where we are now.

    There were also PC actions which had negative consequences; for example an entire scene had been written up to take place between numerous VPs that could've been 'spied on' in the mountain village and would have revealed more of the Triangle's background and intentions, but PCs being caught by the sentries on their way into the village prevented that from happening.

    The moral of what I'm getting at here is that there is no predetermined course through this storyline, nor any predetermined heroes or central player characters. If a player character stands out during a plot scene, it's because they've put themself there through their actions. I don't view a plot as being a story about your character or anyone else's, but rather a medium for you to use to write a story for your character, using the events and characters the plot provides. Granted, some characters are in more of a position of authority to influence things, but they also got into those positions through their actions to begin with.

    There are certain events written into the story that, yes, need to happen to progress to the next stage, but how those things happen, the outcomes of them, and how we journey to that major event from the previous one is largely dictated by the actions taken by player characters. Deciding not to do anything and letting the story take its own course and see what happens is also a decision.


    If your story doesn't require Staff assistance, then just go out and do it. Do you gather your friends and train your sword arm to ready for the Triangle? Make defensive strategies to protect the keep? Hold ritual meditations to stave off shadows or hatred wisps? Or are you the sort that may even seek to aid the Triangle in their probably-nefarious plans? There are regular planned events for you to get involved in that don't require much more than logging on and reacting as your character would to the situations they face.

    If you do require staff assistance for something, the best route is to BOTH file an @assist (which is better than an @plot because they're more quickly seen) and send me an email (preferably using the email in my signature, not the one people keep using - the email server is very sketchy and a lot of emails don't get through). Examples of this would be things such as wanting to hold some kind of special dream seance or ritual or something needing a coded effect, or wanting to create something to assist with the 'war effort' which you possess both the skills and materials to do, or so on.

    And with that, I think we're ready to get rolling. I'll see you on the other side, those of you who make it.
    StoryHost Kurzon
    Castle Marrach Staff

    The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.

  • #2
    This is one of the best updates seen for a while. The recap especially, I hope this can be stickied to help both players coming back, joining new, can understand where we are at and why. Hopefully I'm not the only one who'd adore such for other plots just to understand the journey Castle has taken over the last few years. Few questions which, tbh, was anyone expecting anything else

    We've been very particular that non-martial characters have things to do and ways to contribute during these events. An example of such an event is the Black Dame's hatred wisps, which we've demo'd a 'lite' version of a couple times leading towards the start of Chapter 3.
    First sentence of this had me applaud. Never had a martial character in game before and, for a while, needed some love. Second part though, because of the example used - that isn't just as victims is it? Except healers (perhaps I'm odd and wrap them into the martial section of the game as where there's swords, there are bandages) it was still martial-focused... it seemed.

    Speaking of nights, nights also means days. Staff keeps a log of the dates and times of day when Plotter run events are being held, and attempts as best as our schedules permit, to ensure the love is spread to different times of day so players with different timezones or availabilty can participate.
    You happen to have a % or a raw number that's broken down when Plotter run events are taking place? If there's a log then it should exist. It's just as one of the few remaining non-US based players (and unapologetically not staying up late on a work day. Family etc) be good to know if there is a time/day to log in late for potential plotter run events.

    But this was a good update! Love the recap, did not know most names in that which put me of having characters involved. Fear/intimidation factor.
    "In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."

    "Although many of us consider ourselves forward-thinkers, we still cling tenaciously to the old values of the system."

    "Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force"


    • #3
      I am really excited about this. During the burning sickness, people went into the tunnels to retrieve flowers. I bet, at that time, not even half of us had used a trowel.

      I thought this was super amazing. I was new at that time, and aside from making sure the wall didn't move in the infirmary and helping where I could, all I was was a newly awakened. It was the moments during this time that helped mold me. It gave me experiences that I cherish today. I mean, how many people can say they wore a Lord's signet, or watched as people melted from the inside out and spit blood into a bucket.

      Given more experiences like this, as you say, could help mold others, as well. Give people a purpose, of sorts, instead of watching others take the glory because they've been here longer. Give everyone a feeling, no matter how new, that their character is important!

      My gears are already turning, and I'm already collecting odds and ends.

      What can I say? Taite likes to be prepared for anything and everything!