Thursday, January 10, 2019

EHC Spotlight: Interview with Alex Groom

Interview conducted by Ryan Welch

What is your motivation for writing proposals?

The scalping overhauls I wrote up shortly after the scalping proposal failed at last year's EHC. It seemed like a good change to me; I was rather disappointed when it failed to pass, and didn't want to see that change die there.

The death overhaul was the result of a discussion about how Realms treats character death very nonchalantly, and thinking that it might make sense to move to a down/dying/dead system (or, at the very least, have a discussion about it).

The enchant weapon/assassin's blade proposal was the result of considering taking assassin's blade. While reading up on the spells, I noticed that as written enchant weapon can't be used on an assassin's blade arrow.

Unlike last year's effort, your scalping proposals go beyond just changing the name of the condition. For people who aren't familiar with the changes you've put forward, would you mind pitching a short summary?

Scalping Overhaul A changes the mechanic to be time based, and the exact action to remove a soul from a body up to the player. It could still be dismembering a body, but no longer would have to be under this proposal. It also changes the language to be more accurate; the word scalp is removed altogether, and a lot of the language replaced with more accurate terminology, such as soul, soul loss, soulessness, etc.

Scalping Overhaul B has similar language changes, but leaves the mechanic intact. The mechanic in this proposal is talked about in terms of destroying a body to sever a soul from the body.

Scalping Overhaul A exists due to specific objections with requiring players to dismember a body; Scalping Overhaul B exists so that if A fails, we can at least still clean up the language.

How did you come up with the time-based mechanic in the first option?

The time based mechanic was derived from the current 200 scalping blow based mechanic. I wanted something similar, but that wasn't tied to a specific action. Making it time based (with multiple people causing the timer to go faster) seemed like the obvious way to go; it allows for the current action (destroying a body), while also opening up new roleplay options for people who want to more permanently kill a foe but don't want to destroy a body.

In general, what is your process for coming up with proposals?

Generally, it starts with me noticing a problem. Sometimes this problem is an oversight - as was the case with the enchant weapon/armor piercing case - and the solution is simple.

Proposals like the scalping proposals or death overhaul start similarly - I notice some sort of problem, and try to fix it. In those cases though, it's much more complicated than simply making a spell work as intended. A good chunk of both of those proposals came from talking to others, and seeing how they felt about them. At an even more basic level, a lot of my initial discussions are making sure others feel that there even is a problem to solve. Sometimes, something that looks like a problem is actually a solution to a very specific problem that previously existed; other times, it can arise from misinterpretation of the rules. Ruling either of these out is an important early step.

Next, I write a first draft, including edits to the omnibus. This can be a bit tedious, but also ensures that I go through the omnibus and better understand how my proposal would affect the game.

After that, I'll make any edits I think are necessary to the draft and put it up on Realmsnet to get more feedback. This has been especially useful for the scalping overhauls; I've already made improvements to both based on feedback I've gotten from others.

Are there any other proposals this year that are particularly interesting to you?

I tend to find proposals that create discussions about how we want the game to work to be the most interesting. There's a couple of proposals like that this year.
The "breaking restriction is cheating" proposal started a discussion about whether or not breaking restriction leads to dramatic moments or is cheesing the system. There's another proposal to remove a number of spells from the game on a variety of reasons that looks like it might start a discussion about how we feel about PvP right now.

Even some that just look like mechanical tweaks can cause interesting discussions. For example, there's a proposal to make it so that masterwork hammer repairs all armor; this has launched discussions about the place of armor in the game, whether or not repairing it should be something that can be done unlimitedly (like healing), and how such a change could effect the flow of events.

Proposals like these are great because whether or not they pass or fail, we usually learn something about the game that we may not have even considered before.

If you had the power to change, add, or remove anything from the Omnibus, what would you do?

I am going to apologize in advance for giving an underwhelming answer.

I'd probably add a section about NPC'ing. We have sections about attending events and throwing events, and the expectations on anyone who does those things, but nothing about what NPC'ing entails and the expectations of that are. Also, the omnibus never actually explains what an NPC is; this may seem obvious, but we do explain what a PC is (and that seems to be just as obvious to me).

I like that idea! Before we wrap up, is there anything else related to proposals that you'd like to talk about?

To anyone out there who is thinking of proposing something: you should do it. The worst case scenario is the idea will be shot down, and you'll leave with a better understanding of why the proposal wasn't a good fit for the game. You may just spark an important discussion that we didn't even know we needed to have. And you never know; your proposal could very well be a positive change for the game no one had thought of before.



Alex Groom is an Event Holder and the author of three proposals to change the way death and scalping work in the Realms. To view his and other proposals, visit https://www.realmsnet.net/proposals.

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