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It has been an amazing two weeks since the start of Early Enrollment and we have been watching with amazement as the politics and economics of the game have begun to develop at incredible speed. We can't capture everything that is happening since much of the action is taking place on private forums and channels. We are able to see a lot of activity and we thought we'd highlight some of the developments for a larger audience.
We seeded 33 Player-Run Settlements into the game through the Land Rush promotion. Those Settlements are the first peristent features of the game driven by player choice - the players named them, and the players selected from an ala carte list of options what functionality they would support.
Settlements are (currently) run by Companies. Companies are persistent groups of characters that are created in-game by the players. Each Settlement is (currently) managed by a Company. Companies, in addition to being a useful social organizational structure also have an important role to play in the mechanics of character power.
We have built a feature for the start of Early Enrollment called War of Towers. Eventually this feature will be replaced by a more cohesive and interconnected feature of player-built structures and economic interrelationships but we wanted to have a meaningful reason to engage in PvP and territorial control before that future feature is implemented. The War of Towers provides that mechanism. Companies capture Towers. The more Towers that are controlled by Companies that are allied with a Settlement, the higher the level of training that Settlement's members (all the characters in all the Companies allied with that Settlement) can attain.
There are 6 Towers in the Hexes immediately surrounding each Settlement. Control of 6 Towers gives the Settlements a higher level of Feat trainers than the NPC Settlements. There are lots of other Towers scattered throughout the wilderness. Controlling more increases the degree of training available above that offered by NPC Settlements.
The Settlements have created multi-Settlement alliances even in advance of our adding functionality to the game to promote those kinds of agreements. These Alliances have declared various role playing objectives, standards of behavior they expect from their members, and long term objectives. They've positioned themselves on the classic alignment grid of Law/Chaos & Good/Evil as a way of simplifying thier ethics.
Most of these large alliances have in turn entered into a Non-Agression Pact where they have agreed not to attempt to take the 6 Towers adjacent to other participating Settlements. It remains to be seen how strong the NAP will be and how well players will abide by its terms.
This map created by Duffy of Hope's End shows the rough outlines of the political landscape in the game at the 2 week point of Early Enrollment. Several major power blocs have emerged. Diplomats and ambassadors of the various Settlements are engaged in managing these relationships. Propaganda has begun to circulate to raise interest and sow doubts in various coalitions. Players are actively recruiting for new members to aid in the War of Towers and in gathering and crafting resources to aid the war efforts.
We got the following report from a player (names redacted to protect the innocent and the guilty!)
Now, I send this with a little trepidation but I've had problems with the player [redacted]
seeming to chase and attempt to kill me multiple times with little reason behind his
actions. I did attempt to get his attention through Roleplay but didn't get a responce
either in or out of character. I'm cautious of reporting him because I didn't have the
chance to give him an out-of-character warning that I would be reporting him him if
he continued to harass me. Take it easy on him please.
It is impossible to know for sure what the motivations are of the agressive character. There are lots of legit reasons that someone might be attacking another character in the wilderness like trying to keep outsiders from harvesting valuable resources, or scouting enemy strength, or just as a way of saying "no tresspassing". Aggressive characters do take risks. On the first hit, they are flagged for a minute with a PvP flag that lets anyone attack them without consequence, and on the second hit, or if their target dies while flagged from the first hit, the agressor will get a PvP flag that last substantially longer and takes a Reputation penalty. Bbelow a certain level of Reputation Thornguards will attack on sight and Feat Trainers and Crafting Facilities will be closed to that character. So random character killing is not risk-free even at this point of Early Enrollment and of course there will be lots of additional development on these features to come.
If this had been happening inside a Settlement (especially an NPC Settlement) or if the attacks had been made with harassing whispers or posts in chat, we'd want to take action to tell the agressor not to engage in that kind of behavior and take more severe action if the behavior continued.
Here's another interesting report:
Kind of a bug and a player making a nuisance of himself in one ticket. A player with
no settlement affiliation claimed two of [redacted] towers this morning, when
WoT went live. The player, [redacted] was booted from our company during
Alpha, so now apparently there's bad blood. My question is how can a player representing
no settlement claim a tower? There's obviously no benefit to them, and it creates a
hardship on the settlement.
The second case is really the game working as intended. Players need to work out their differences with regard to who will manage the Companies and Settlements they create(*). There's enough diversity of Settlements that people can, if they wish, pick up and relocate to an environment that is a better fit for their goals and objectives. But if one of those goals is "lead a Settlement", they'll need to convince an existing Settlement to give them a leadership role. In the report cited above, a player is attempting to use the War of Towers mechanic to put pressure on an existing Settlement to relinquish control. It is hard to imagine one player being successful in such a crusade but it is possible that player could rally others to the cause and form the nucleus of a community with a clearly defined, self-chosen goal of wearing down the opposition and getting them to conceed.
(*) The design plan for Settlements is to provide a wide range of leadership and control options and mechanisms for that leadership and control to change. In our "minimum viable product" we only have a simple "one character is in charge" system, but it will be iterated extensively into a more feature-rich system.
All of this emergent, interesting activity is happening because the world of Pathfinder Online has become meaningful to the players already in the game and the new players who are joining every day. We believe that "this is the game you've been waiting for" - a persistent fantasy sandbox with a great community where there is real risk & reward and an incredibly detailed world rich with potential.
This is a really imporant month to begin play. We are backdating XP to the start of Early Enrollment for the first character created by accounts with Early Enrollment (or Platinum) access. These characters will have more XP than every character created in the future. That doesn't mean these characters will be forever overpowered but it will be a mark of distinction to have the depth and breadth of training that max XP will represent.
The Settlements are finding their way and making big plans. Getting in on the ground floor of being a Settlement member will give you a chance to have a voice in those discussions. As the power of the various blocs waxes and wanes they'll be working really hard to find and recruit new members so this is an ideal time to find a group that is right for you!
If you have an Early Enrollment account from the Kickstarter, you can play right now. You can purchase Early Enrollment from our store. Or you can upgrade an Explorer or Open Enrollment package to Early Enrollment. Early Enrollment packages include 3 months of game time plus some additional perks as well as backdated XP and the ability to play in the first month.