Disclaimer: not currently playing any evil characters. Used to play a major one.
TL DR: Evil MUST have stronger mechanics than Good. Or at least unique/gated cookies. The death penalty update is really a nail in the coffin of open evil playthroughs.
We (might) have a problem! Just please please please read the whole post, it's a tad chaotic and disorganized but you will get my point eventually before you reach the end. It might sensibilize you to a problem with Arelith global design philosophy that was rarely touched or debated. If you are already aware of it and its repercussions, so be it, but if you were not aware of it, at least it's going to be food for thought.
See, Arelith is a DND setting, which thrive on good vs evil conflict (not only, but it's a staple that will always be fun and SHOULD be core to the game).
However I always have felt that the Team (as a whole), has often overlooked social stygma of open evil characters, when taking design decisions. Social stygma is hard to measure, almost invisible, it's an IC/RP thing so why bother to take it in consideration when doing mechanical stuff. Well...
Two examples to illustrate:
1) I play a blackguard. If I play him truly open evil, summoning devils and demons left and right, I WILL be shun from every/most adventuring groups, I WILL get pvped, and I MIGHT get exiled from Brog, myon, Bendir, sometimes Wharft or even Cordor. So, what do I do with my super cool summons? I don't summon them, the social stygma is too strong. And if i power through that and still summon them, I'm about to enter a crapstorm that will be cool rpwise but in the end... you will quickly get really lonely unless you have an evil tagteam to hang out with (not that comon, trust me). So sure, it's cool when you do have your tiny conflict rp bits (those that go well without pvp cheese), but eventually: you can't partake in dm events, you can't "just join an adventure", you don't get speedied to hang around and adventure, you just roam around, solo, 'cause you're the bad guy.
2) Don't get me started on undeads. Same story, except, way, way, worse. It's borderline KoS material.
Social stygma is A SUPER FREAKING GOOD THING in terms of immersion and conflict! The very meaning of the setting depends on it! BUT for the one being shun, it can be really really make the game harder. Basically playing Arelith Open evil is playing Arelith on Nightmare difficulty. Grinding is extremely hard because you mostly solo, then you have exiles banishing you from settlements, then you have ganksquads scrying and hunting you, and finally when you have reached the hall of fame of super epic coolkid vilain, you eventually get treated like a boss-mob: your head is a trophy for bored epics to show off to other epics. And fights against you are never fair: you are always way outnumbered. [Sidenote: And yes despite all that, it's still fun to rp open evil... but those deterrents are real and should NOT EVER be underestimated]
The thing is, when a player plays an open evil character, the PLAYER should not be punished for having an evil character, he should be bolstered because he is the one creating conflict left and right, drama, heroes... there's no heroes on arelith without vilains to make them so. But right now the social stygma is not compensated by other mechanics. This has always been the case and "we managed" (aka: there's hardly any big vilains on arelith, one every once in a while. We mostly have secret-evil and a whole lot of mild-neutrals). But that issue remained a tolerable one.
But with the recent death penalty change, you are putting even MORE weight on the shoulders of the already overburdened open evil guys. Yes sure when a vilain is defeated, he should go back to his lair and leave arelith alone for a while. Your update achieves that. But there should be much greater incentives to be open evil... because as it is you're just being masochistic if you play one, given all the ooc and ic stuff that will oppose you.
New mechanics are needed to alleviate some of the burden that open evil vilains must go through just to create stories.
1) Unique and powerful mechanics. Philacteries? Death timer reductions via pacts, etc The kind of mechanics that NO NEUTRAL nor GOOD characters could ever fathom taking.
2) Just make the classes tied with social stygmas, stronger, mechanically. A palemaster with his undeads out is never gonna 1v1, it's always gonna be 1v3 1v2 1v4... it's how it is, and it's fine that way in "stories", but in a game, we must remember that the palemaster is also a player, with no mechanical advantage... (i say palemaster but evil domain clerics are the same, blackguards and warlocks (except feylocks) too)
3) Unique craft/loot items with prohibitive UMDs, evil only, and significantly mechanically superior to what goodies can hope for. Maybe weapons with red glows that are a social giveaways that your soul is rotten... (red glow items that are GOOD, not the crap ones like diplomacy's end). Or an armor that has a script tied to it which periodically sends an emote to nearby people about how evil the aura of the wearer, is. Stuff that shifts you toward Evil every "tick" for wearing them, Etc...
4) I don't have ideas really. The suggestion is about taking social stygmas of open evil classes/playthrough in consideration in the future, and giving those guys BIG FAT COOKIES. THEY drive the server forward and should not oocly suffer from doing all our dirty work.
Cheers, keep up the good work.
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