Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Quieting of the Maelstrom | The Rise of an Empire

So I've returned from Maelstrom (No Refunds!) torn and heartbroken by what we have been told.

Maelstrom is ending! 

It took me this long to find a way into larp and now my favourite system is being taken away from me. However, PD (Profound Decisions) is offering us something brand-spanking new: Empire.

Maelstrom has been the major feature of my brief larping life and I, like many other faithfuls, am deeply saddened at the prospect of its ending. Eight years of love and effort have gone into developing the world into a rich, intense roleplay experience. The interaction between races, nations and religions gives space for anyone to create a successful character.

Yet, regardless of my love for the world, for my character, for the people around her; I am happy Maelstrom is ending. Here are some of my reasons:

Character Disparities

The nature of growth and development has meant that there are many early or 'day 1' characters are wildly overpowered compared to newer creations. Not necessarily new players, but characters under two years in the making. There is no way for this gap to be rectified and it is only getting bigger. 
I have no intention of bitching and whining about my lot, my preference lies in roleplay opportunities rather than points level, but if I wanted to play a character competent in a skilled chosen field then there is no chance to catch up with the big boys. Furthermore many early characters had the chance to exploit holes in the system; the use of retainers for example. Something later removed by PD but which gave a further advantage to day 1 players.
Therefore I believe a clean sweep is needed; everyone back on day one with new characters and a fresh enthusiasm for experiencing a new system.
I'm looking at you Kamakura

Precious/Expendable Characters

With this high mastery level comes a great deal of 'player preciousness'. These players have dedicated years of their life into forming a master craftsman or talismancer and would do anything to escape death. This is an understandable situation, but has lead to a culture of characters who remain in their tents, avoiding conflict and plot. Whether or not they chose this path, higher level players have become locked into a cycle of progress and evasion. These people need a clean slate and a fresh challenge.
On the flip-side, Maelstrom has made life cheap. Players who choose a combat focus can only fight against fellow players, and will invariably end up murdered by someone at a much higher level. People on their ninth or tenth fighter have no interest in staying alive; simply after a cheap thrill and a night in the pleasure house. While they have no chance of breaking into the slower, crafting game for the same reason as anyone else - there is no way to reach the same level of attainment as the masters.
When placed alongside the 'precious masters' there is bound to be a grating of player ethos, especially at such a late stage of the game. I am aware that this problem could spring up in any long running game, but it is markedly visible in Maelstrom and so the new system should give everyone a chance to get out of their rut.
Dryads are cool, especially ones with axes

The Increasing Pace of the Plot

For some time now PD have been pushing a main plot thread of the oncoming 'Time of Destruction'. It has lead to lots of interaction, conflict and progress; but (obviously) the imminent end of the world can't go on forever. More and more undead have been arriving to each event, key movers-and-shakers dying and still the 'Time of Destruction' draws nearer.
There would be no real way of pulling back from this pace of frenetic activity. Mr Dandy is defeated/befriended, all the fluctuations in the maelstrom end, life goes back to normal… it couldn't happen, not after all the energy put into such a powerful, apocalyptic plot. To rewind from that point would be a betrayal to the Maelstrom player base. If the world is going to end, let it end! And let it end in style.

The sun is setting on Maelstrom.... lamest pun ever.

In my opinion PD has made absolutely the right decision. Bringing in an entirely new system, letting everyone know a year in advance, and letting the players decide how Maelstrom is going to go.
I personally couldn't be more excited about Empire; bring on that new horizon or something like that…

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