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Let's Play... the Muriad! (4X Grand Strategy)

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by The Barbarian, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Messages:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    ‘The first of the peoples poured into Muria from the Great East. Most likely, along the northern reaches, where there is plenty of big game to hunt and good fishing to live on. These early Men were fierce and savage heathens, and knew naught of law or civilization. Bands and hunting parties would range farther and farther in search for food and shelter, and their families would follow closely behind. Mile by mile, they slowly encroached upon the virgin land of Muria, previously untouched by the hand of Man. This long migration would consume centuries. Eventually, they found themselves in its verdant interior, wherefrom they spread rapidly, feasting upon the natural abundance of our storied home. It was not long before the first tribes arose – family groups bound by blood, marriage and necessity. From such humble beginnings did mighty realms come into being; great and terrible alike. This is their chronicle. This is the Chronicle of Muria; the Muriad.’
    - Moloteo the Younger, Chronicler and Master Steward


    [​IMG]


    0. Current Players

    JagreenLern - Amalechites
    Azira - Costalians
    anus_pounder - Emphythines
    Johnny the Mule - Inui
    DamnedRegistrations - Mobians
    treave - Panoplites

    1. Introduction

    Welcome to the Murian Chronicle!

    Your friendly neighborhood Barbarian has taken it upon himself to make a return (as if he was the Mack) to glorious Codexia by today announcing a new circlejerk for his brothers in arms, comrades and fellow citizens of this hallowed board. The Redsea Saga, sadly cut down in its prime, remains on hold, as the Barbarian tries to make something real of it in his paltry spare time. While that process takes shape over the coming weeks and months, Conan chooses not to sit idle – figuratively speaking. To that effect, he has prepared a treat for his brothers.

    The Codexian Saga, for all its joyous glory, was more like a text adventure than the 4X game Conan originally envisioned it to be. Assuredly, it had elements typical to the 4X strategy genre. But it was never all that it could be, in that sense. The Barbarian wishes to remedy this. Enter, the Murian Chronicle. The premise of this humble endeavor is as follows:

    Conan requires six intrepid brothers (not including reserves) to undertake a journey into the history of the make-believe continent of Muria. Each will, in the first instance, design a tribe/state and will then guide that state through at least a thousand years of recorded history. How will they do so? Imagine, if you will, a game of Civilization. Any in the series will do. You pick a tribe. You build a city. You select the technology you wish to research and the unit or structure you want to build. At the end, you press ‘End Turn’, the world spins, and things happen.

    The Muriad will run much the same – in an overarching sense. The circlejerk is turn-based (hallelujah?), with each early turn representing fifty years of Murian history. Later, the period of time covered by each turn will shrink, as your various states become more and more developed. For those of you reared during the tumultuous 1990s, you may notice how similar this concept seems to many of the PBEM and PBW games of that day. This is no coincidence, as Conan was a big fan.

    Now, while the previous comparison to the Civilization series remains apt, some careful distinctions need to be made and some other preliminary matters noted:

    1) If you imagine the Civilization series giving you a bird’s eye view of building a civilization, then the Muriad will afford you a view from an orbiting satellite. That is to say, you will be influencing the meta-development of your states, rather than dictating how many troops to raise in Province X, or what your tax rate will be, for example. The scope of the game will be made apparent by the range and nature of actions you can take during any given turn, as outlined in the Rules.

    2) There is no transparent system at play. This is a two-sided coin. On the one side, you may become frustrated with how matters develop as a result of your choices. You may wish to rage, and call Conan names, because you feel personally slighted that your master plan is not working out how you had hoped. If you feel that this may become an issue, please do not join the fun. The Barbarian has nothing but the warmest feelings for his brothers. Whatever happens in the game is a direct result of Conan’s system of logic in action. In other words, your orders will bring about a result that he believes makes sense, given the contextual framework involved. The goal, here, is to build a world and to have a good time in doing so. Not to have your mastery of strategic concerns enshrined in Codexian lore.

    3) Though Civilization takes players from 4000BC to 2000AD+, the Muriad will never move past – at the very, very latest – Muria’s equivalent to the Renaissance period. In other words: no machine guns, no radio, no space-ships and no World War Two Part Deux. This is a fantasy world, with no supernatural elements (at least, none that you need to be aware of at this stage).

    So, we have now established that Conan is running a TBS play-by-web (i.e. the Codex Playground board) game for six players, set in a fictional world of Conan’s making. But how is it actually going to run? The following step-by-step procedure is instructive:

    Step 1.

    Each prospective player will, after consulting the rules and the map, design a tribe and send it to Conan by e-mail. The address is: conanism@hotmail.com. No designs will be posted to the game thread. The Chronicle itself will tell you all that you must know about the opposition. Details regarding this step can be found in the posts that follow.

    Step 2.

    After Conan selects the six players, they will be sent their Player Sheets by e-mail. Much like the CIA Factbook, the Player Sheet concisely outlines the specifics of the player’s faction. For example: population, territory controlled, military, cultural traits, political structures etc. etc.

    Step 3.

    Each player thereafter sends Conan a set of orders for the following turn – once again, by e-mail. All orders are due in at least two days before the next turn is to be processed. This necessitates a commitment to check your e-mail and respond within five days of each previous turn being processed.

    Step 4.

    Conan will then do several things:

    1) Update the map, as required.
    2) Update each Player Sheet and e-mail them to the players.
    3) Compile the portion of the Chronicle covering this period, noting all significant events and developments. The Chronicle will be posted to the game thread with every passing turn, so that the entire board may partake in our splendourific mental masturbation and follow along.

    Step 5.

    Repeat Steps 3 and 4 until the game ends.

    And that’s it. Simple! ‘Yes,’ the Barbarian hears you say, ‘but what about the rules? How do we actually play?’

    Conan is very glad you asked. Please consult the post below.
     
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  2. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    The Rules

    2. The Rules of the Game

    Conan has already mentioned the ‘no transparent system’ principle. But that is not to say that the game is without rules. Rather, that the rules exist merely to conduct what should be an intuitive experience for all. Causality and consequence, in Muria, are more often than not a matter of common sense. Yes, there is some referral to a Random Number Generator, but that is very much so behind the scenes. You, the prospective player, will never see numerical modifiers. Nor will ‘the right thing to do’ ever be spelled out in new-age hand-holding fashion. All that the rules describe, therefore, is the procedure involved in ruling your domain. And now, without further ado…

    ***

    The Muriad runs according to one simple tenet:

    Each turn, a player chooses three actions from the list below. These actions are e-mailed to the Barbarian, and form the bulk of your ‘Orders’ for the turn. When the Barbarian processes each turn, the actions represent the ‘choices’ a player makes for their faction during that turn. These actions are then executed, taking into account contextual matters (i.e. the present state of things in your domain, issues of the day, random events, other players’ actions etc.). The result of those three actions forms the basis for the consequences that follow, and the treatment they receive in the Chronicle, which reads somewhat like a history book..

    For every action chosen, a point is allocated to its category listing. These points determine the shape of your faction, as it develops over the centuries. In terms of the game, you may consider them akin to ‘attribute points’.

    For example: Choosing ‘Evolve society… nomadic’ for the first time will result in a ‘1’ being placed next to it, on your Player Sheet. This notes the fact that this action was chosen once for your faction, and informs the developments that follow.

    Each possible order is described below:

    2.1 Orders:

    Expand into… (province name/number) – this order denotes your attempt to peacefully expand into territory that is either unclaimed, or that you believe is unclaimed. Early on in the game, this is a viable action, as the various tribes slowly coalesce into something more politically significant. For the most part, even in the event that the territory you want is inhabited by Non-Player Tribes, they are too weak or disorganized to respond. Expansion involves migration, colonization and subjugation, in equal measure. A successful execution of this order brings potentially vast rewards, as well as some serious risks. Essentially, it will incorporate the province into your domain. Carefully consider how polities in our own world experienced growth in this manner and some of the possible outcomes.

    Evolve government… – ‘evolving’ a government means nudging your current method of governance toward another system thereof. The changes are incremental, and will be described in the Chronicle. For example, if your faction’s current system of government is ‘Autocratic’ and you use an ‘Evolve government… Democratic’ order, the result will not be an instantaneous transition. It may take several such orders to achieve an outcome – especially if you have points allocated to diametrically opposed systems of governance. Carefully consider the implications of governance, systemic changes thereto and how these implications are experienced by a society, when making your choices. Please note: none of the orders below are mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible to pick both ‘Plutocratic’ and ‘Democratic’, in turn, for example. The resulting system of government will reflect elements of both, until you emphasize one over the other significantly.
    - Autocratic – rule by one man; examples include despots, tyrants, emperors, absolute monarchs, dictators etc.
    - Aristocratic – rule by the noble class; the feudal system is an example thereof
    - Democratic – representative government; the tyranny of the majority; examples include Athens in the 5th century BC, the Roman Republican model (for the purposes of the game) etc.
    - Plutocratic – rule by the wealthy; examples include merchant republics, trading leagues etc.
    - Tribal – kinship rule; essentially, this model of government is best suited to a tribal state, as it revolves around managing a complex web of kinship to maintain constancy in leadership. This is usually the leadership of one central figure, but it can also be a council of elders or the like.
    - Theocratic – the rule of theism; the state is governed by the priesthood, or a religious caste or a messianic figure

    Evolve society… – ‘evolving a society’ means changing the social fabric of your faction and its overarching structure to something else, or solidifying the existing model. It is of fundamental importance to any burgeoning state.
    - Nomadic – a nomadic society lives on the move. It is often able to escape from its enemies en masse, or to invade enemy lands overwhelmingly. Generally, this type of society subsists on its domesticated animals and is best suited to open spaces, where those animals tend to pasture. Examples include the various Central Asian and Eurasian hordes that cut a swathe across Europe from 400-1250AD.
    - Agricultural – an agricultural society is settled and fixated on sedentary existence. Generally, it revolves around farming arable land and keeping livestock, and tends to be conducive to often steady and sometimes explosive population increases.
    - Warlike - a warlike society is better suited to competition and armed conflict as an extension of politics, if not the first option. Warlike societies tend to view conquest as worthwhile and the summer months as an opportunity to collect the spoils of war. They are more inured to losses and battlefield reverses.
    - Mercantile – a mercantile society is framed around the accumulation of wealth through trade, commerce and the crafts. Its people are generally more inclined to pursue prosperity than war, and value enterprise highly.
    - Urban – an urban society is better suited to concentrating its population in large settlements such as towns and cities. Such places, of course, tend to be teeming, fertile grounds for the production of wealth and for increasingly specialised economies – but they also carry significant risks.

    Promote…
    - Order – promoting the value of order means instilling in your society the idea that private and public order is not only desirable, but also right and proper. This sense of propriety and righteousness tends to produce relatively stable, disciplined and conservative societies. However, it can also result in stagnation, backward thinking and recidivism.
    - Liberty – promoting the value of liberty means instilling in your society the idea that freedom is of utmost importance to Man, and that a good life is one that is lived freely. At its best, liberty promotes free and progressive thought, tolerance and social cohesion. At its worst, liberty can mean anarchism, instability, social conflict and societal disruption.

    Develop military…
    - Equipment – developing military equipment means introducing new weapons, armour or other necessities of warfare into your armed forces. It is most easily conceptualised as a measure of the technical sophistication of your military forces.
    - Manpower – developing military manpower is actually chiefly concerned with raising overall population growth and thereby making a larger number of young men available to take part in armed conflict on your side. Strictly speaking, this is not a purely military concern, but its primary implication for game purposes is, indeed, military. Of course, it will also significantly affect other aspects of your faction.
    - Organisation – developing the organisation of your armed forces, essentially, means modifying the tactical, operational or strategic doctrines thereof to achieve favourable military outcomes. For example: the Marian Reforms. Or Philip’s Macedonian Phalanx. Etc.

    Develop economy…
    - Commerce & Trade – developing commerce and trade involves giving impetus to commercial and mercantile pursuits within your faction. This might eventually involve the development of banks, credit facilities and usury, for example. Earlier, it might lead to the use of currency or a particular type of currency, or a system of scales and measures.
    - Craftsmanship – developing craftsmanship means investing in the ability of your society to produce finished goods. Cottage industries, manufactories, smithing, clock-making etc. are all derived from this action.
    - Mining – developing mining concerns the extraction of materials and resources for sale or use in construction or crafting. ‘Mining’, in this case, may actually refer to any method of resource extraction and use thereof. For example: mineral mining, or wood cutting.
    - Agriculture – developing agriculture, essentially, means developing the ability of your state to produce food for its citizens. This, in turn, spurs population growth.
    - Infrastructure – developing infrastructure might mean building roads, or bridges, or manufactories, or towns/cities.

    Nurture thought…
    - Cultural – cultural thought relates to the ability of the citizenry to produce works of art, of literature, of music etc. It may even enhance the prestige of a faction and benefit its sovereign dominion. A people without culture is poor, indeed.
    - Practical – practical thought relates to every-day problem solving. Incremental technological improvements lie here.
    - Theoretical – theoretical thought, on the other hand, is more about thinking that is outside of the box. Thinking that might result in revolutionary advances. It lays the groundwork for real advancement.
    - Religious – atheism, polytheism, monotheism; every form of religion requires a developed background thereof, and an established philosophical landscape. Religious thought might have very little impact on a society, or it might have the greatest impact of all, depending on its circumstances.

    Pursue conflict with… – pursuing conflict entails utilising political and military force in order to extend one’s dominion and to lessen that of another. This order is primarily used if a province is already occupied by another faction, and you covet it. It might result in aggressive diplomacy, or a skirmish, or a war, or a series of wars over a single turn. The outcome will depend on a great number of factors.

    2.2 General Notes on Orders

    - During any given turn, you are not allowed to pick the same order multiple times, with the exception of the following: Expand into… and Pursue conflict with… That aside, any combination of orders are permissible. Even directly contradictory choices, though the result might be uncertain or counterproductive.
    - If you should so choose, you may provide corollary details with a particular order. For example, if you put a point into Develop military… equipment, you might state the preferred (as opposed to the actual) outcome: i.e. “Develop military… equipment; my forces should now be equipped with large bronze shields”. As previously mentioned, this will only inform the Barbarian’s turn processing, rather than dictate it. Please, keep in mind that every turn – initially – covers a period of fifty years. If you include a description to personalize your faction further, it should be relatively general and based on trends, rather than individual developments.
    - Seeing how the various attributes interact is one of the most interesting aspects of this circlejerk. Feel free to experiment!
     
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  3. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    3. Setting up your tribe

    In order to get started, you must fill out the following and send it to conanism@hotmail.com:

    RPG Codex Username:

    E-mail address:

    Culture: (i.e. the Examplites or the Examplii, not the Empire of Examples - also, please, no lulz-based names; no Dickriders or Dickriderisii, this is a Chronicle and is therefore very serious. So, so serious. So very serious. Conan cannot adequately describe just how serious it is. Very. :obviously: )

    Starting position: (choose a numbered province on the map – see below for details)

    Initial Attributes:

    In this section, you must allocate seven (7) points to the Order Categories. This will individualise your tribe, initially. You may view it as the ‘character creation’ aspect of the circlejerk.

    Example:

    Evolve society… nomadic (3)
    Evolve society… warlike (1)
    Develop military… equipment (1)
    Develop military… organisation (1)
    Develop economy… craftsmanship (1)

    This example will produce a highly militant, nomadic tribe that has managed to attain an expertise in the crafting of certain goods and quality weapons. Instead of bronze, these Examplites might use iron weapons. Or perhaps they are expert woodcarvers and their horses are well-bred and adapted to the needs of these people. Though the structure of their nomadic society is quite developed, their leadership remains uncertain (no points in government) and their thinking relatively backward (no points in thought).

    This is the only opportunity you have to allocate several points to a single attribute/order.

    Place Names: (here you should provide a list of place names for the Barbarian to work with – around five is sufficient)

    Personal Names: (if you wish to personalise your faction, providing some first/last names will allow Conan to see the linguistic patterns you want to use with your tribe – once again, five or so should be sufficient)

    Additional Notes: (anything you wish to note regarding your tribe should go here; special traditions and/or customs, superstitions, particular details etc. all belong in this section and serve to further personalise your faction. Essentially, the less you want to leave to Conan’s imagination, the more you want to put here. Just keep in mind that all the factions are starting, essentially, as Bronze Age tribes.)


    4. The Map

    Presenting, the map of Muria:

    [​IMG]

    Notes:

    - The light green regions represent grassland and light brush
    - The dark green regions represent forests and heavily wooded areas
    - The grey regions represent mountainous terrain
    - The light yellow regions represent desert
    - The dark yellow regions represent steppe or plains
    - The light blue lines represent rivers

    When choosing where to place your faction, initially, give some thought to the strategic advantages/disadvantages and possibilities offered by the region. Also note the scale involved.
     
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  4. Peter Arcane

    Peter
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    1,570
    :bounce:

    Not signing up myself, but I can see this being really good. :salute:
     
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  5. Damned Registrations Prestigious Gentleman Furry Weeaboo Nazi Nihilist

    Damned Registrations
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    14,112
    Sent in my plan. Looking forward to this.
     
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  6. JagreenLern Erudite Patron

    JagreenLern
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Messages:
    1,061
    Location:
    Compton, California
    MCA Project: Eternity
    This looks like it could turn out to be pretty awesome. I'll definitely sign up. Also, Barbarian, compliments on your email address.
     
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  7. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    DamnedRegistrations makes one - Conan awaits JagreenLern's submission for confirmation!

    Please note: expansion during the placement turn is not possible. Conan should have mentioned this in the rules section.

    EDIT: The Barbarian thanks you, JagreenLern! Conan barely believes it was available!
     
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  8. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    Very impressive! I have also forwarded a plan. :thumbsup: :love: :bro:
     
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  9. JagreenLern Erudite Patron

    JagreenLern
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    MCA Project: Eternity
    I just sent in my player sheet.
     
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  10. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Azira, JagreenLern and Damned Registrations make three.

    Only three spots remain! How quickly the wheel turns...
     
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  11. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
    Joined:
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    :yeah:

    I'll take the dive and sign up. :oops:

    EDIT : Sent you the initial post. Didn't know we had to send the first turn info as well, I'll send that now. :salute:
     
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  12. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
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    Location:
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    Conan can confirm that the players' time investment is very low, and consists of three choices per turn. The e-mailing of those choices should be within five days of the Player Sheet being sent out, allowing Conan two days to compile the orders and write the next part of the Chronicle. In reality, that means e-mailing Conan once a week.
     
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  13. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
    Joined:
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    11,296
    Codex 2012
    I'm in, and have sent in my tribe.
     
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  14. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
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    Location:
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    And that makes six!

    Conan will be putting together the Player Sheets over the next day. No orders are required for Turn 0, but Conan appreciates that some have already submitted orders for Turn 1. We will begin this circlejerk as soon as the first entry in the Chronicle goes up.

    EDIT:

    Some very interesting data from the initial attribute spread! One attribute, in particular, was invested in by five of six cultures. No need to reveal which one, or to speculate thereon - it should become apparent relatively quickly. If Conan was a psychologist, he would have a field day interpreting the results! ;) Also, the placement of the tribes is already making for some wonderful storylines...

    More to come.
     
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  15. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    16,620
    Location:
    Australia
    Aw missed my chance to create a tribe of murderous mountain men :(
     
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  16. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

    Self-Ejected
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    DiNMRK
    Argh! Curse you, long bus ride, for denying me a place! Signing up as a reserve!
     
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  17. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    I understand The Barbarian's decision to only include 6 players so far, but depending on how things go, who are we to say more players will not be able to join the fray later? Possibly as splinter-groups or a faction in a rebellion?

    We'll have to see how things pan out. Right now though, I have to admit to feeling a bit :smug: about leading one of the cultures. :love:
     
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  18. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
    Joined:
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    1,868,514
    Location:
    Searching for my kidnapped sister
    Curse you Barracuda 500GB, CURSE YOU! I lost two days of Codex attendance and the chance slip out of my grasp!

    Ah well, let's see how things go.
     
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  19. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
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    Codex 2012
    ...you bastards better not be all warlike barbarian nomads.

    What happens if two tribes pick the same starting area, mighty Barbarian?
     
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  20. anus_pounder Arcane

    anus_pounder
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    Conan, this may sound funny, but I lost my starting info. Could you resend the mail I sent so I can save it ? :oops:

    EDIT: Nevermind, I found the information in the quoted text. :salute: Time for conan to :incline: the LPDex.
     
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  21. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

    Self-Ejected
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    20,233
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    DiNMRK
    Well, I sent in a reserve sheet in case there's player dropout.
     
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  22. Ulminati Kamelåså! Patron

    Self-Ejected
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    This is Codexia. You're either going to be warlike, or the bitch of someone more warlike than you.
     
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  23. The Barbarian Liturgist

    The Barbarian
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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    The Player Sheets and update will be making an appearance much later today - it is 7:30am in Conan's wondrous land, and he has a beach to go to!

    Azira, the only issue with including more players, as far as Conan is concerned, is the amount of work involved with the updates - chiefly as every major culture needs to be covered in every Chronicle entry. That said, Conan will make one qualification:

    If the prestigious individuals of the Codex send in reserve sheets, Conan will place their cultures on the map and use them at his discretion. If another player drops out, or if the workload is lighter than envisaged, then Conan will invite the player who came up with a culture that the Barbarian has included to take it over formally.

    treave, so far that has not been an issue, although we do have cultures sitting right next to each other. In any case, when two spheres of influence intersect like that, there's a few different potential outcomes.

    Yes, it is entirely possible that a culture may be destroyed through conflict. If that happens, Conan will inform the first reserve player of the option to join. In this case, that's Ulminati.
     
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