The End Of The World - Part Two

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The End of the World, Part 2

You may have noticed we have changed things up a little for the final day of the Twelfth Annual.

The focus for the final year of the game will not be on victory through territory - though make no mistake, the territorial gains you have made or failed to make across the eleven and a half Annuals to this point will be absolutely critical in the way you navigate a path to victory.

The Terms of Victory

At the Thirteenth Annual, the Age of Steel, where conflict settled through the Arena by decree of the Fates, and at the will of the gods, will come to an end. The Great Game comes to a climax and at last, the true nature of the battle for control of the Middle Sea reveals itself.

At the Thirteenth Annual, battle will be between the competing visions of the next Age; for the chance to define the successor to the Age of Steel. No more will the affairs of the nations be settled at the Arena – or will they? No more will the Gods speak directly with the priests – or will they? And what of philosophy and wonder? What of that?

The victors of the Great Game dictate what the rules of the Middle Sea will be for all – not just for themselves. And that great battle of ideas – and the territory where that idea holds sway – begins here.

As the Twelfth and Thirteenth Annuals progress, each of the competing visions will be winnowed away. Warbands and nations that supported visions which have fallen by the wayside will get the opportunity to transfer their allegiance either as an entire nation or perhaps individually to support other visions that perhaps may not match theirs precisely – but are close enough to be livable. And when those warbands move their flags, they move the cities that they command too.

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You can see the changes to the Great Game here The Sunday of the Twelfth Annual. It's complex so have a good read of it, and if you have any questions (of course you have questions) then we will be available to talk you through the ramifications on the Odyssey LRP page, on odyssey@profounddecisions.co.uk or in person at the event.


Why We Have Done This

It became clear to us around the Eighth or Ninth Annual that a territorial victory was unlikely in the Great Game. There are some fascinating game design lessons we took away from that which are worth another blog post all of their own in the "if I had this to do again I'd do it very differently" theme, but it started us thinking about the way the game has evolved and how we envisaged the end of the game, and it focussed our attention on two vital principles:

  • How do we keep the Arena game vital all the way to the end of the campaign if a grinding stalemate is likely?
  • How do we keep the Arena game vital all the way to the end of the campaign for groups whose nation looks like it's all over territorially?
  • How do we keep the non-Arena game engaging and relevant for groups whose nations may be losing?

You could see the beginning of our thinking about this in the PRIVILEGED and CONTESTED statuses - hopefully now with Sunday's rules you can see where we are going with the rest of it. Nations may fall but their people - their warbands -continue to be relevant - indeed, some might say become the most valuable and vital resource in the game - to the very death.

The responsibility falls on the Story Team to make those transitions, disintegrations, miraculous recoveries and profound betrayals as narratively powerful and great to play through for you as we possibly can and we are pulling out all the stops to try and do that. Trust me, no stone is left unthrown in this pursuit. Some of the things brewing - and not just for the three smaller nations - are, well, we are quite proud of our work, put it that way.

For me, the Great Game always been about small-p philosophies. Each nation has a very different approach to how they deal with their gods, with their views on fate and with the way they view the path from mortal to god to titan. It is, in the final analysis, not just about how much turf you control, but about the mindset you impose within that turf. So for the final Annuals we wanted the Great game to become a battle of ideas rather than just, necessarily of nations.

The other consideration is that losing can sometimes be, to be blunt, no fun. The Great Game is a zero-sum game; for someone to triumph others must fall. So engineering a series of victory conditions that revolved around competing visions of the future meant even if yourvision doesn't make it, you may be able to ally with another group, force or nation which might have a vision you can mostly get behind. And by bringing your warband and the territory you control, you may even be able to win concessions. Opportunities might arise at the Thirteenth Annual to consolidate or revise your visions.

And that brings us to the most important factor here - breaking the iron link between nations and warbands here at the end of the world. Mobility of force means the game becomes much more fluid in it's final stages. Those whose first choice of vision is defeated have other places they may go - for a price, as is right - or have options to disengage from the Great Game and decide if preserving their culture outside that charmed circle is worth the cost.

The battles of the Thirteenth Annual will, like the 12th, be a mixture of territorial and vision-led contests, but the end intention for the final day of the final annual is to have the three strongest visions competing for total dominance of the Middle Sea. The Arena sits at the core of the Great Game and sits at the core of Odyssey and to the very dying breath of the game the fate of the world will rest on the blood spilled on it's floor.

The changes we have made will, we hope, keep the Arena vitally important and critical to national strategy right up until the Drowned Dead speak for the final time. And we're pretty confident it is going to make for one hell of a Sunday.

What About Me, Say the Philosophers and the Priests

Did you think we had forgotten you? We have very much not forgotten you.

The Philosopher's game impacts on the Visions of the New Age just as much as the Great Game does. Over the course of the Twelfth Annual there will be things going on that will dictate the shape and nature of the Universe and the fate of philosophy itself, and this lies in your hands. For obvious reasons I don't want to say too much but things which are broken must eventually be either mended - or replaced.

Balancing things so that what happens in the Arena and what happens in the World Forge are both critical, but neither invalidates the other, is one of the biggest challenges facing us. We can't wait for you to find out how we plan to help you do it.

And as for the priests... well. You remain as ever the conduit between your nations and your gods. Do not imagine that your gods will face the onrushing eschaton quietly or idly, and managing that will fall into your capable hands. The will have strong views on the Visions for the New Age and depending on your nation, those views may vary from helpful drafting suggestions to smoking boots for those that dare to disagree. The gods of the Middle Sea have, as the end approaches, decided to adopt the signature philosophy of one of Odyssey's most loyal players; Always Escalate.

Maybe it's not just the Gods that have done that, thinking about it.

The Visions of the New Age

There is no "system" in place for the visions. Every character of every nation has an equal chance to impact and define what they are prepared to fight for. National leaderships need to juggle competing demands from gods and warbands, priests and philosophers to pull together a simple statement of principles that the nation can unite behind - or perhaps not. We will be putting "seed material" for the visions into play through documents, characters and god audiences - but the decision on what to give to King Sarpedon on Saturday night sits entirely with you.

Accept your fate - or choose your destiny.