Sunday, May 31, 2009

RK origins - Clans and the RSA

When RK Scotland formed, the institutions of the RSA and the Clans came into existence at around the same time. They tended, therefore, to be strongly involved in each other's initial development. Moreso, indeed, than the territorial divisions of County and town, as the RSA and the Clans (existing only in the virtual virtual world of the forums) were not bound by a paradigm defined by ingame mechanics (although, of course, the ingame paradigm was very important in defining and functionalising the virtual organisations of clan and army).

Of the two institutions, the national army organisation was more bound to the potentialities of the ingame mechanism than the clans. This was because its reason for existence was to utilise certain of those mechanics for the good of the community - whether that be by patrols (travel, reports), civil order (defending the power), or, eventually, military force (ingame armies). Its Band and Regimental structures were designed around the practicalities of platoons and armies, its Band organisation facilitated the development of individiuals and teamwork which would allow them to contribute to any eventual county based armies (regiments).

The clans, on the other hand, found no direct ingame correlate for their social networking functions. While the RSA would organise itself on the forums but act it out ingame, the clans were far more a nebulous influence on ingame reality. They were more impactful on forum levels of RK reality, in the formation of governance, culture, interaction and group identity.

Being good scottish clans, however, they snavelled as much political power as the could in the important formative stages of the nation's development. Amongst the things they ensured was a ban on armed activity by any but the official national army and themselves. The right of a clan to raise an army was constitutionally guaranteed to the exclusion of all others except the national institution of the RSA.

RK Origins - Clans

It is also of importance that, in the initial flush of Scotland's founding, the importance of traditional scottish clans to the new nation was also high in people's minds. Arriving in Scotland, afterall, was usually accompanied by visions of cattleraids, braveheart, tartan, bagpipes, claymores and highland clans. The clans were as much a social organising aspect of early scotland as were the official ingame functions of town and county governments.

Most of the the original higher level colonisits were also founding members of the original clans, most of the most active newborns either joined these clans or started their own (at the time I recounted some of the experience of the formation of Clan MacTavish in this blog). Of the original twelve clans, three were formed by newborns to Scotland. It is with some pride that I claim having founded Clan MacTavish in this period, and that the other two indigenous clans (Wallace and Fraser) were formed in my home town of Whithorn also.

The clans became the obvious vehicle for developing a Scottish style of governance and institutions. It was from the clans that the committees which eventually put forth the National Consitution were drawn. It was from clan networks that most of the orginal RSA recruits were drawn.

Thus, in the beginning days, clans were involved in the writing of the laws and the maintenance of order, as well as providing the networks from which recruitment to civil and military organisations occurred. This was not just a product of the fact that many of the more experienced players were involved in clans, but also grew from a sense among the indigenous inhabitants that this was the way things were to be done in the new nation of Scotland.

RK - The Galloway Regiment - Origins

Galloway is one of the three present counties of RK Scotland. It was the original one, founded in August 2007, and has seen its original population disperse to the newer counties of Ayr and Glasgow, as well as the foreign counties of Ireland.

The RSA was, therefore, first formed in Galloway. For several months the history of Galloway and its Regiment was, effectively, the history of the RSA. Led by Scotland's prominent colonising citizens, mainly level 2 with a couple of level 3s, the original Regiment was of a size where everyone could know everyone, and the development path of soldiers was a broad continuum from 'just started' to 'been playing a year or more' of fairly equal distribution - albeit with a big 'lump' at the base ranks.

This last came about because, once a colony has reached a certain size, players from other places are no longer able to 'teleport' themselves and all their possessions in. After the initial colonisation period, in other words, it takes a lot of time and expense to move in. Therefore, after that moment, the new county will have to rely on newborns (people who are starting the game) for new population, and will have to wait for these indigenous inhabitants to level up and grow strong.

Thus, early Galloway was led by a bunch of expatriate colonists from elsewhere and it would be awhile before indigenous characters came to assume leadership or develop.

It was in this era that the orginal structure was devised and Charter risen. Much of the effort was spent in basic recruitment and transmitting the knowledge of how to travel, watch the roads, defend the power, etc.

There were no external borders to Scotland and hence no need to raise an ingame army for defence against conquest (luckily). Cumberland's roadlink from (English) Carlisle to (Scottish) Dumfries was not yet in existence, mainly because of a meta-game balancing requirement of preventing bandit armies plundering a defenceless colony of mainly newborns . In fact, now that I think of it, there were no ingame county capitals at either Carlisle or Dumfries (with attendant castles) until several months later.

The Bandit armies of England and elsewhere had not colonised into Galloway (perhaps because they were busy at the time) so the indigenous rebels and thieves were also starting from a low organisational and demographic base. In retrospect, quite fortunate.

RK - The Royal Scottish Army

Since its foundation, RK Scotland has had a single national army - the Royal Scottish Army. Known as the 'RSA', it has had a checkered organisational history. Despite this, it is developing a proud military heritage.

The RSA is governed by a formal Charter as granted by the King and amended over time. It is organised into (three) County based Regiments, each in turn composed of bands of troops from the towns of respective county. There is a High Command, composed of each Regiment's General and his or her Military Councillor. The whole entity is commanded by the Field Marshall who is, himself, subject to the Steward.

Soldiers within the RSA are all volunteers. Once sworn in, they are allocated to their town band. The bulk of their RSA activity will be based around the band, involving such things as patrolling the nearby roads, keeping an eye on travellers and new arrivals, defending the town hall from rebellions when necessary. Occasionally the bands will be asked to contribute to a muster of their County's RSA Regiment.

At times of national crisis the RSA has 'gone active' and formed up ingame armies, based on the Regiments. Prior to April this year, RSA Regiments have fought ingame battles at Muirkirk (putting down the Fury rebellion) and then again at Dumfries (the Caledonian Crisis).

Aztec update

There have been goings on the mesoamericas MMPORG Tribal Nations.

Agapanther and his friend, having had charges of robbery against them discharged by the courts, returned to their native province. Not without, however, a final sacrifice on the last node of the province in which they have had such happy hunting. Sad thing was that they hit the same character who they'd hit a week earlier (Chiefed) and so he didn't have much on him. He was, obviously, feeling a bit put out and paranoid at all the attention.


After spending about a week fishing in the local lake, some new provinces which have been opened for awhile were finally linked by road to the Aztec provinces. The new provinces are for people who speak other languages (French, German and some other). There are no accurate maps (yet) of the new provinces, so Agapanther and his friend have gone for a look.

Having found the new french provinces we travelled through the nearest and held a 'welcome sacrifice' in the furthest, retreating immediately back to the first of the two so that we are beyond the reach of any officious legal proceedings (we are banking that there have not yet been judicial treaties put in place between the new provinces). We are presently heading our way through the new french province, waiting until we find another border to it. When we do, we will probably hold another sacrifice before returning home to level up.

Will soon need to start locating others who are interested in following the path we are on. The days of easy pickings will surely be reaching their end.

Friday, May 29, 2009

RK - current banner

Before I start posting about the recent outbreak of fighting in the Scottish Civil War in RK I'll post here the banner I presently am using on the RK forums. I adopted this as my signature when I completed my term as Steward. It is relatively simple. The Coat of Arms is my own in my capacity of Chieftain of Clan MacTavish, the tartan is the clan's, the feathers are a sign of chieftainship, the crest and motto are the clan's. The picture is a slightly stretched photo across Loch Fyne.

RK IG Armies - network entities

From the foregoing you can see that a RK army takes about a week to form, requires the co-operation and co-ordination of upto nearly sixty players, march slowly around the countryside, cause some trepidation every time they are near the walls of a town, can have kill lists that mean if they bump into named indiviuals on the road (whether in an army or just travelling) that they will attack that person and their group, or that if they meet anyone they'll attack, or ignore, as the case may be. They are major elements within the landscape.

Each fully equipped soldier will have eaten meat for a hundred days, have sword and shield and hopefully supplies for the campaign. Ideally, there will be spare swords and shields - these things have a tendency to break in combat. When you think that a sword takes a blacksmith six days to produce and a shield requires a weaver, the complexity and expense of the whole operation becomes something to marvel at.

A fully functional army is not something to be undertaken lightly. Few organisations are upto the task. So far in Scotland the only armies successful in combat so far have been composed of regiments of the Royal Scottish Army (Muirkirk, Dumfries, Girvan) and the Clan Forbes army (raided over the border into England during the Caledonian Crisis). Other armies have had a strong impact on events. These include 'The Fury' (hodgepodge of the MacGregor Clan and Snow family, and associated criminal gangs), Campbells, 'Caledonians' (Campbells), Galloway Ducal Guard (mainly Campbells), Galloway Ducal Navy (mainly members of Fury), as well as Wallace clan army ('The Sleeping Giant'). Munro clan has also an army at present, though it remained in their hometown of Muirkirk during the recent crisis 'just in case'.

Under the Scottish Constitution, the Royal Scottish Army (under the Steward) is the only national army. Clans have a right to form their own armies (under regulation by the consitution regarding feuds, to serve under the Steward in time of war). All other armies are illegal unless given dispensation. This sets up a structural problem within the world as the Ingame functions of each County include forming a County army under the Captain (a member of the ingame elected county).

Thus, fully functional armies require functioning social organisations to operate meaningfully. They are subject to the machinations and power structures of political life in scotland as it is played out in forums, town halls, council chambers and pubs across the land.

RK ingame Army actions

Once formed up, armies can rally into movement formation and then move. They can move two nodes a day (as though on foot).

If they come to a town or city, they remain 'outside the walls' unless either allowed inside by a mayor or they fight their way in. Once inside a town, they are able to loot the treasury, topple the mayor and put in place their own if they wish. If they find themselves within the walls of a capital city an army can take an additional day to try and take the castle. If they succeed, they can loot the county treasury and replace the count and council. An army inside the walls can also choose to defend the walls against further attack.

Combat occurs if an army's settings (controlled by its leader) results in an attack. If it fights another army, a stationary army gains a defensive bonus against one that is attacking. If both armies are moving it gets technical. Town and castle walls give further bonuses. These bonuses affect the basic odds, a function of individual's fighting co-efficient (itself a combination of their strength, weaponry and whether they have a shield).

It can get complex if there is more than two armies involved at the same time.

RK Ingame Army formation

The term 'army' in RK Scotland can mean several things, sometimes at the same time.

An Ingame (IG) army is a specific function within the the browser game. It is formed by a level 3 [army way] player of at least one year's playing and a 'two coin noble' (the only function of the game that i have yet discovered which is limited to paying players is leadership of ingame armies, fair enough imho) who needs to have sufficient 'army points' to spend on the various stages of its formation, donated by other [level 3] players. Once enough points are spent, the player may then 'raise a flag'. This is represented by a graphic symbol on the 'groups and armies' screens in the player's location. The next step - recruiting - requires more time and further points, as well as other players.

These other players, leaders of travelling groups which are either brought to or formed in the location of the IG army's formation, may 'merge their platoons' as an action for the day. If they do this their travelling group becomes a 'platoon' within the IG army and sign of it vanishes from the 'groups and armies' screen. Whereas the membership of travelling groups are shown on this screen, that of platoons or the IG army are not.

Upto 7 platoons can be merged into an IG army, each of upto 8 players if led by a lord/noble or 5 if led by a commoner. If an army is merging platoons as its action for the day, notices appear on the groups and armies screen until it has merged platoons either to its maximum number (7) or used up its stock of Army Points.

Once it has platoons, many or all of which might not be at full strength, an IG army can choose to recruit individual soldiers as its action for a day. These soldiers will be posted into the platoons automatically until the platoons run out. An army can only recruit two soldiers per day, so it is much quicker to have an army form out of full platoons than to have to recruit individual soldiers.

Thus, an IG army is composed of a leader, platoons and soldiers. It takes days to raise a flag. It takes days to merge platoons. It takes days or weeks to recruit soldiers to fill out the merged platoons. All of of this requires the expenditure of points, which in turn must be generated by lvl3 supporters who are not the leader. A full army will be the result of the co-ordinated actions of the 56 individual players within it. There will need to be planning in advance and co-ordinated actions every day for extensive periods. It is a collective effort over time.

On top of all this, the IG army leader can hire a sergeant to manage recruitment and a logistics officer to handle supplies.

The soldiers are reliant on either their own individual supplies for food and cash or the army to supply these things. This is because, while in the army, soldiers will need not be able to work, fish, mine, etc for a daily action if they are to remain available for orders to move (of course, if an army is definitely going to be inactive its soldiers can retain their place in its ranks organisationally but do a daily activity as long as it doesn't involve them travelling outside of the location). The less well prepared individual soldiers, or the longer the army remains in the field, the more the soldiers will rely on the army leadership to provide their wherewithal.

RP thread - adventures of Raebert

Upon my return to Whithorn after serving out my commission as General of Galloway and then Steward of Scotland, followed by an Easter retreat in Drummore, I became involved for a number of days in a town forum RP thread entitled 'The Further Adventures of Raebert', where Ladyrobin and her adopted sons Raebert and Ragnar were returning to Whithorn on the road from Wigtown.

The storyline was simple but, like all good RP, it took place in a complex world.

They had been absent for a number of weeks due their need to hide from the Count's henchmen, who may or may not have been despatched on behalf of the Campbell 'Protector of the County' who had seized most of the reigns of power upon the sickness of the official Count. The stubborn and bloodyminded attitude of the Protector regarding the independence of Galloway from the rules and customary institutions of Scotland was leading to a major increase of tension within the land. Ladyrobin's husband had been a thorn in the Campbell protector's side for a long time, and it had been judged prudent to remove her to safety.

Eventually, in a deal between the Royal Scottish Army and the Ducal Guard under the Campbell Protector, Ladyrobin's husband had been posted to serve within the Ducal Guard as a sign of compomise between the factions. Fort this reason, it was now deemed safe for Lady Robin to return home.

Enough background, back to the RP itself...

Leaving the main path in a moment of juvenile adventuresness, Lady Robin fell from her horse and was knocked unconscious. Young Bert and his older brother Ragnar were doing their confused best to deal with the situation when, on the main path, Dracmuller's older assistant, Donald, came by. He and his master were themselves returning to Whithorn after having spent a period in retreat after working out the stresses of past months doing some gold mining near Drummore (scotland's most isolated town).

Donald was recognised by young Bert and soon Bert was busy comforting the Lady, while Drac and Ragnar had built a litter to be towed behind Drac's trusty donkey, splinted her broken leg. They headed on to Whithorn. Meanwhile, Donald had been sent off ahead of them to organise things for their arrival at either Lady Robin's home, or Drac's Forge if necessary (Ladyrobin's husband and Drac are neighbors on King Street). This had in turn brought Angus into play, for he had been minding Drac's King Street Forge and its attendant pig sties while Drac had been gone for the past few months.

The thread had reached the point where Ladyrobin is made comfortable in her own home and the younger lads are thinking what they'll get up to when Drac hear's the alarm bell ringing at the town Barracks. Little does he know it as he walks down the street to find out what is going on, but that alarm bell signals the arrival of news that the Ducal Guard of Galloway have crossed the border into the neighboring county of Ayr, setting in train events that would lead to the latest outbreak pf open fighting in what can be seen as RK Scotland's ongoing state of civil war.

Return to Whithorn & Local RP

I had returned to my home town of Whithorn (Galloway) hoping to spend a bit of time there, working in my forge and generally concentrating my RP efforts in the town forums.

All went well for a week. I produced another sword in the forge (takes six days to do this) building my stockpile up to four plus the clan sword which I keep for myself. I managed to sell a few pig carcasses on the overstocked market to keep myself in iron for the week, kitted myself out in a new grey hat and black collar (looking quite distinguished), spent evenings in the Frosty Tankard chatting with old friends.

On the town forum, besides kicking my forge site into gear with its apprentices and visitors, I found myself in a more general RP situation on a thread entitled 'The Further Adventures of Raebert' (Raebert is a NPC forum character run by a friend of mine. 'Bert', as he is known, is a 8 year old redheaded michevious lad who lives with his adopted mum and dad (MacTavish player characters) and kicks around with my own NPC apprentice, Angus, when the opportunity presents).

The storyline was fairly typical of the localised RP events which populate the RK town forums, . Because one must physically be in the town concerned to participate on that town's forums, most of these types of RP threads are about local places, personalities and happenings. Common themes include 'permanent' threads for places within the township, courtships, weddings, significant local events.

These local RPs often utilise other 'functional' local threads to help create a shared background. For example, in Whithorn there is a Town Map thread on which are located all of the ingame town 'functions' for those who are interested (eg. townhall, market, various taverns, the beach / forest / orchards, barracks, church, roads, workshops, cottages, hovels) as well as RP forum based locations (eg. local manors and castles, local landmark features (eg. 'The Box' in Whithorns Village Green where people have been coming to say their piece, amongst other things, for the past past year and a half) etc) - generally players contacting the thread's caretaker and asking to be allocated one of the already drawn sites on the map, which is then added in and linked to the relevant thread of the player.

Different towns in Scotland have quite distinct town forums which is hardly surprising considering the different histories and players of which the towns are constituted. Over time, activity on a town's forums can vary quite a deal.