734 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, Yitzi2 said:

Firstly, I actually felt that, at least early on, the unaligned Alethi were in favor of the peace route.  Clearly one of us was misreading the sentiment.

Not really sure how you missed the Parshendi outrage when the Alethi were clearly targeting Parshendi (even if the Parshendi targeted ended up being Voidbringers).... Or, you know, the fact that Orlok was promoting the Sons win con really hard. Or Joe in your own doc saying how frustrated he was that all the Alethi were supporting the Sons win con.... But yeah sure, maybe I was misreading the sentiment. Who knows?

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You are absolutely right about the difference between balance and robustness; however, I would argue that a lack of robustness is even worse for everybody having fun than a lack of balance is...and having kingmakers right from the start of the game is worse than either.

Yes, because GMs are clearly supposed to see every single possible issue and find some resolution before the game starts and also before it's ever been run before. That's absolutely reasonable to expect of GMs. Yep.

Also, a kingmaker from the start? There weren't any kingmakers in the start of the game. The possibility of someone becoming a kingmaker didn't happen until the end. If you're referring to a group of neutrals, well. There weren't actually any neutrals in this game. There were multiple factions. The unaligned Parshendi and Alethi weren't neutrals. They were more similar to a village faction, that was split between two different sides. They could win with the eliminator team on their side, or they could win with the village faction on the other side. That doesn't make them neutral. I can assure you that the Voidbringers did not view the unaligned Alethi as neutral and I'm pretty sure that your teammates in the Son probably didn't view the unaligned Parshendi as neutral.

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The fact that Striker would have made the Blade transferrable if Striker had been lynched early wasn't much help, since we didn't know that. 

Did you ever bother to ask? Pretty sure Seonid would've said something if he'd been asked. Just saying.

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IMO, after-the-fact balances decrease fun, since if players don't know they're in store they'll still feel that things are prone to becoming stacked against them, and once they do know (either because it happens, or they're told ahead of time), it makes them feel like what they do doesn't really matter.  Sometimes after-the-fact balances are necessary, but setting them up to be reasonably likely to be necessary just makes things less enjoyable for at least a certain type of player.

Ha. You think GMs want to do last-second balances in the middle of a game? I assure you, we never do. Sometimes, it becomes absolutely necessary to ensure that the majority of players have fun. Had Seonid not made the changes he made, the entire Parshendi team would've been destroyed, and I'd put 90-10 odds that none of them would've had really any fun. I'd put 70-30 odds that most of the Alethi wouldn't have considered that fun either.

 

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You also misunderstand; we were not convinced that we would lose.  We were, however, convinced that a scan of Striker would cause us to lose, and had to play around that.

Hm. Perhaps "convinced" is the wrong word, but the point is the same, as is evidenced by you comparing your very advantaged faction to that of the extremely disadvantaged unaligned Parshendi. They had no reason to hope they could garner a win by themselves (without Seonid's intervention). The Sons, however, had a large faction that was mostly on their side, a kill ability, another role that was practically a second kill ability, plus two protection roles (since the Highprince counts as both kill and protection), and a vote manip. Yet you insist that you were not given a fair chance of pulling off a win. What did you want? The Highprincess to be able to protect all 4 of you? Lynch protection? Did you wish to be immune to everything? I can't really see what else you could've been given to make things fairer for the Sons. You guys were overpowered as it was. Oh, but you just didn't have a fair chance. Nope.

 

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The Highprince role was indeed fairly powerful.

Scanners are also a fairly powerful role (doubly so when they have extra lives, and triply so when they also have a secure doc to reveal their results without their identities).

The main weakness of the Highprince is that they can still only protect one person at a time, so being less predictable is a good defense against them.  (Unless they team up with a "chain" of Warforms; that would have been a dangerous combo.)

I completely disagree with this, and completely agree with Drake. The Highprincess was absurdly powerful. Even just a single role that can protect and kill once is powerful and worrisome to a team of eliminators. The Sons benefited entirely from the Highprincess role though, because they never really had to fear hitting it, since it's an Alethi-only role. Nope, it was just the Parshendi and Ghostbloods that fell to the Highprincesses.

 

Yitzi, how about you don't talk about game balance or running games until you run one of your own. Your comments are insulting to every GM we have.

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@little wilson

Yitzi did bring up the lack of robustness in a PM with me shortly after I made the adjustments.

I told him that I had accounted for it by giving a highprince and a guardsman to protect against other faction kills, and an ambassador to influence the lynch.

My retrospective is coming,  but I wanted to clarify things before this conversation gets even more heated than it currently is.

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I had fun regardless of losing lol

Thanks @Seonid for running my first Roshar game! :D

It was fun being a "dishonorable" daughter of honor :P

GG everyone and well done to my fellow SoH...we put up a good fight lol

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Just now, BrightnessRadiant said:

I had fun regardless of losing lol

Thanks @Seonid for running my first Roshar game! :D

It was fun being a "dishonorable" daughter of honor :P

GG everyone and well done to my fellow SoH...we put up a good fight lol

Oh I saw how much you were making fun of the PM thing, where I had no idea that Joe was a son. 

I also find it funny that you guys thought I was really passionate about being a normal alethi, because I was more like bored with my role. Sorry I caused you so much confusion. Even if i never did get that protection. Ahem. :D

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Also, @little wilson please be aware that I did ask Seonid (in the dead doc) for permission to post my theories regarding these matters, and he agreed.

Edited by Yitzi2
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Alright, time for a retrospective.

First of all, thanks for playing! I enjoyed this game quite a bit, and I hope that - for the most part - you did too. For all except the last cycle of the game, I felt like there were meaningful decisions to be made. So that's a good thing.

And now for the first big section of my commentary:

Broken Mechanics and Other Issues:

First, let's talk faction distribution.

There were 15 Alethi and 8 Parshendi. In theory, that should be reasonably equal. 8 players is a large enough voting block to have significant influence on the lynch unless the Alethi make a unanimous, concerted effort to overcome it. In terms of lives, the Alethi have 15 plus protection roles (3 Guardsmen, 2 Highprinces, and 2 Shardplate) and the Parshendi in theory had 19 lives. Although the Alethi had extra protection, this was supposed to be balanced out by a lack of good information on how best to use it, so at least some of the protections should not get triggered. In contrast, the Parshendi can use warform to make sure that every single one of their key roles is prevented from dying until all the Parshendi are dead.

My largest concern in this game, balance wise, was the possibility of an anti-peace Parshendi-Voidbringer alliance from D1. With Warform protects/redirects, it could take up to 3 rounds of lynching before the first voidbringer died, assuming all kills got pushed off onto unaligned Parshendi ablative armor. And with 3 kills per round, that's a lot of power to be throwing around.

3 Voidbringers was the reason I added a Highprince to the SoH team. The less-reliable but still useful backup kill, plus the powerful protect ability and the second life, was supposed to balance out the 3 kills/round.

Now obviously, in my worry about balancing the optimal Voidbringer situation, I made some errors that are particularly glaring in hindsight. Foremost among these is the fact that, even with a unique faction doc, the Parshendi were unlikely to find the exact set of defenses in order to maximize the use of their extra lives (I'll refrain from using the word optimal here, because that has turned out to reference an ongoing meta discussion to which I do not intend to refer at the moment. It gets its place later in the retrospective). In fact, 2 Voidbringers died with extra lives remaining - one without having used up any of them. A side effect of tying the extra lives to the forms that I didn't fully think through before game start. This edit would have needed to happen regardless of the game state. This rule will show back up when I rerun this game in 6 months or a year.

Hence the first of my 2 mid-game edits.

The second faction distribution issue was this: I failed to notice that the Parshendi could easily end up as a ganged-up-on minority who lacked the ability to respond in kind. In this game, that possibility was realized. Two Voidbringers died early, leaving the Parshendi nearly completely at the mercy of the Alethi. In addition, the most vocal and influential of the unaligned Alethi were quite publicly on the side of the Sons of Honor, and had been from the beginning.

That created a situation where the Parshendi faction's ability to have fun was significantly compromised, hence the second of my mid-game edits. This edit was not an edit forced on me by imbalances in the rules - a different game state might have meant that the situation it dealt with didn't come up. But, it is still a failure mode of the rules, and I will probably give the Parshendi a Shardbearer in the rerun.

Other, less serious, issues in the faction distribution included:

1. The fact that the Sons of Honor's kill ability was tied to a single role - the shardwielder. This will probably be rectified in a rerun by giving the Sons of Honor a faction kill or by making Shardblades transferrable between players, so a Shardblade never leaves play. It is worth noting that this really didn't come into play - the Sons lost their Shardblader late in the game, and at a point where public opinion had turned against them. Keeping their kill would not likely have significantly altered the final game state. But, had the lynch hit Striker early in the game and the SoH lost their kill, I would have made a different set of balance adjustments, likely making the Shardblade transferable between members of the faction.

2. The small size and inexperience of the Ghostblood faction. The inexperience I blame entirely on the RNG. I did no adjustments anywhere to the random results this game - a departure from my standard practice, in which I treat the RNG as sort of a starting point, and make edits from there towards a game state I think will be fun to play.

The small size was also a problem. I was trying to go for a serial killer vibe with the faction, but it didn't turn out well. Next time, I think the Ghostblood faction will be a single serial killer, with a Shardblade and Shardplate, or something like that.

Now on to role issues.

The most significant broken piece of the game was the Highprince. Especially the fact that there were two of them. Mutual protects that kill the attacker is a thing that should not have been allowed to happen. But I didn't catch it in time. So the Ghostbloods killed themselves on the blades of a Highprince protection gauntlet. There's an easy fix to it, luckily. In fact, there's a number of easy fixes. The one I'm going with for the rerun is this: the Highprince does not block the attack. They only strike back at the attacker. However, they can self-protect in compensation. That plus the Shardplate will still make them a powerful role, but they won't be overpowered like they were here.

The other broken roles were the scanners. With public factions the way they were, there was a 50/50 chance for any given Alethi artifabrian to catch a Voidbringer or the Ghostblood. And with 2 scanners that detect both role and faction, it was only a very limited time before everything was known.

Similarly, once the Parshendi all shifted into scholarform, it was only a matter of time before they found all of the Alethi roles and factions.

I don't know for sure yet what I want to do about that, but I'm thinking of changing the Artifabrian to scanning role/form only, but not alignment. If they caught a Voidbringer in Decayform, they have essentially successfully caught the Voidbringer anyways. And maybe change the Parshendi scholarform to the PM role and make nimbleform an Action Scanner role instead. I think that that would tone down the ridiculous levels of scanning we saw in this game while still leaving the scanning roles/forms enough utility to be useful.

And now the last section of this retrospective, and possibly the most contentious. Faction play.

I intended for the unaligned party win conditions to be a choice, with advantages and disadvantages on either side, with no clear dominant strategy.

As evidenced by the conclusions of most of the players in the game, I failed at that. The unaligned who wanted a peace treaty victory chose it because of aesthetic preferences or because they thought it would be more fun. Anybody who seriously considered the matter came to the conclusion that the easiest way to complete their win con was to align with the secret faction among their own ranks.

I don't want to drag this thread into a discussion on what ought to have been done, and whether a player ought to always take the easiest road to their win condition or not. That's a better conversation to have in the Meta Discussion thread. But I'll comment briefly on how the evolving meta discussion (often quite heated) affected this game, because it was significant.

Mostly, this showed up in the form of the assertion that, because the joint unaligned victory was more difficult, it therefore wasn't worth going for. Frequent use of terms like "optimal play" and the like gave a sense of superiority to the argument. I didn't mind players choosing the secret faction win con over the joint win con. The point of the game was that both should be available as choices. I didn't mind the debate about which path to follow - that's an important piece of the game.

I did have strong issues with the implication - whether intended or not - that players who wanted to go for the joint unaligned win condition were somehow inferior players, or were playing poorly, or that the choice of the joint win somehow showed a deficiency of intelligence or skill, as if any sane and rational player looking at the game would automatically come to the conclusion that the faction as a whole ought to pick the secret faction win condition. Whether conveying that message was intended by the proponents of the argument or not, it was what was I picked up.

I can't do much about the larger meta argument other than lodge my protests, but I can tweak things in the future so that the choice doesn't feel so one-sided.

A future rerun of this game will feature the Highprince as a role that can only win with the joint unaligned win condition. The Parshendi will have a Shardbearer role that can likewise only win that way. In addition, the Parshendi will have a unique role that can change into any of the normal Parshendi forms, but has a role + alignment scan ability that can be used instead of the form action. This unique Parshendi role (placeholder name: Ambassador, not to be confused with the Alethi Ambassador vote manip role). would also only be able to win with the unaligned faction joint win. I might make them immune to the lynch, but that might be a little bit much. We'll see how things shake out.

For either secret faction to win, all of the "can only win with the joint Parshendi/Alethi victory condition" players would have to be killed as well. This would make the Sons of Honor need to target at least one and possibly more Alethi players to meet their win condition. And likewise, the Voidbringers have at least one Parshendi and possibly more that they have to kill.

Anyways, this concludes my retrospective on this game. Thanks for playing it, and I hope to see all y'all around in future games I GM.

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Thank you for the game Seonid. :D

I enjoyed it a lot and will definitely join the second if I'm around.

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13 hours ago, Seonid said:

Alright, time for a retrospective.

First of all, thanks for playing! I enjoyed this game quite a bit, and I hope that - for the most part - you did too. For all except the last cycle of the game, I felt like there were meaningful decisions to be made. So that's a good thing.

And now for the first big section of my commentary:

Broken Mechanics and Other Issues:

First, let's talk faction distribution.

There were 15 Alethi and 8 Parshendi. In theory, that should be reasonably equal. 8 players is a large enough voting block to have significant influence on the lynch unless the Alethi make a unanimous, concerted effort to overcome it. In terms of lives, the Alethi have 15 plus protection roles (3 Guardsmen, 2 Highprinces, and 2 Shardplate) and the Parshendi in theory had 19 lives. Although the Alethi had extra protection, this was supposed to be balanced out by a lack of good information on how best to use it, so at least some of the protections should not get triggered. In contrast, the Parshendi can use warform to make sure that every single one of their key roles is prevented from dying until all the Parshendi are dead.

My largest concern in this game, balance wise, was the possibility of an anti-peace Parshendi-Voidbringer alliance from D1. With Warform protects/redirects, it could take up to 3 rounds of lynching before the first voidbringer died, assuming all kills got pushed off onto unaligned Parshendi ablative armor. And with 3 kills per round, that's a lot of power to be throwing around.

3 Voidbringers was the reason I added a Highprince to the SoH team. The less-reliable but still useful backup kill, plus the powerful protect ability and the second life, was supposed to balance out the 3 kills/round.

Now obviously, in my worry about balancing the optimal Voidbringer situation, I made some errors that are particularly glaring in hindsight. Foremost among these is the fact that, even with a unique faction doc, the Parshendi were unlikely to find the exact set of defenses in order to maximize the use of their extra lives (I'll refrain from using the word optimal here, because that has turned out to reference an ongoing meta discussion to which I do not intend to refer at the moment. It gets its place later in the retrospective). In fact, 2 Voidbringers died with extra lives remaining - one without having used up any of them. A side effect of tying the extra lives to the forms that I didn't fully think through before game start. This edit would have needed to happen regardless of the game state. This rule will show back up when I rerun this game in 6 months or a year.

Hence the first of my 2 mid-game edits.

The second faction distribution issue was this: I failed to notice that the Parshendi could easily end up as a ganged-up-on minority who lacked the ability to respond in kind. In this game, that possibility was realized. Two Voidbringers died early, leaving the Parshendi nearly completely at the mercy of the Alethi. In addition, the most vocal and influential of the unaligned Alethi were quite publicly on the side of the Sons of Honor, and had been from the beginning.

That created a situation where the Parshendi faction's ability to have fun was significantly compromised, hence the second of my mid-game edits. This edit was not an edit forced on me by imbalances in the rules - a different game state might have meant that the situation it dealt with didn't come up. But, it is still a failure mode of the rules, and I will probably give the Parshendi a Shardbearer in the rerun.

Other, less serious, issues in the faction distribution included:

1. The fact that the Sons of Honor's kill ability was tied to a single role - the shardwielder. This will probably be rectified in a rerun by giving the Sons of Honor a faction kill or by making Shardblades transferrable between players, so a Shardblade never leaves play. It is worth noting that this really didn't come into play - the Sons lost their Shardblader late in the game, and at a point where public opinion had turned against them. Keeping their kill would not likely have significantly altered the final game state. But, had the lynch hit Striker early in the game and the SoH lost their kill, I would have made a different set of balance adjustments, likely making the Shardblade transferable between members of the faction.

2. The small size and inexperience of the Ghostblood faction. The inexperience I blame entirely on the RNG. I did no adjustments anywhere to the random results this game - a departure from my standard practice, in which I treat the RNG as sort of a starting point, and make edits from there towards a game state I think will be fun to play.

The small size was also a problem. I was trying to go for a serial killer vibe with the faction, but it didn't turn out well. Next time, I think the Ghostblood faction will be a single serial killer, with a Shardblade and Shardplate, or something like that.

Now on to role issues.

The most significant broken piece of the game was the Highprince. Especially the fact that there were two of them. Mutual protects that kill the attacker is a thing that should not have been allowed to happen. But I didn't catch it in time. So the Ghostbloods killed themselves on the blades of a Highprince protection gauntlet. There's an easy fix to it, luckily. In fact, there's a number of easy fixes. The one I'm going with for the rerun is this: the Highprince does not block the attack. They only strike back at the attacker. However, they can self-protect in compensation. That plus the Shardplate will still make them a powerful role, but they won't be overpowered like they were here.

The other broken roles were the scanners. With public factions the way they were, there was a 50/50 chance for any given Alethi artifabrian to catch a Voidbringer or the Ghostblood. And with 2 scanners that detect both role and faction, it was only a very limited time before everything was known.

Similarly, once the Parshendi all shifted into scholarform, it was only a matter of time before they found all of the Alethi roles and factions.

I don't know for sure yet what I want to do about that, but I'm thinking of changing the Artifabrian to scanning role/form only, but not alignment. If they caught a Voidbringer in Decayform, they have essentially successfully caught the Voidbringer anyways. And maybe change the Parshendi scholarform to the PM role and make nimbleform an Action Scanner role instead. I think that that would tone down the ridiculous levels of scanning we saw in this game while still leaving the scanning roles/forms enough utility to be useful.

And now the last section of this retrospective, and possibly the most contentious. Faction play.

I intended for the unaligned party win conditions to be a choice, with advantages and disadvantages on either side, with no clear dominant strategy.

As evidenced by the conclusions of most of the players in the game, I failed at that. The unaligned who wanted a peace treaty victory chose it because of aesthetic preferences or because they thought it would be more fun. Anybody who seriously considered the matter came to the conclusion that the easiest way to complete their win con was to align with the secret faction among their own ranks.

I don't want to drag this thread into a discussion on what ought to have been done, and whether a player ought to always take the easiest road to their win condition or not. That's a better conversation to have in the Meta Discussion thread. But I'll comment briefly on how the evolving meta discussion (often quite heated) affected this game, because it was significant.

Mostly, this showed up in the form of the assertion that, because the joint unaligned victory was more difficult, it therefore wasn't worth going for. Frequent use of terms like "optimal play" and the like gave a sense of superiority to the argument. I didn't mind players choosing the secret faction win con over the joint win con. The point of the game was that both should be available as choices. I didn't mind the debate about which path to follow - that's an important piece of the game.

I did have strong issues with the implication - whether intended or not - that players who wanted to go for the joint unaligned win condition were somehow inferior players, or were playing poorly, or that the choice of the joint win somehow showed a deficiency of intelligence or skill, as if any sane and rational player looking at the game would automatically come to the conclusion that the faction as a whole ought to pick the secret faction win condition. Whether conveying that message was intended by the proponents of the argument or not, it was what was I picked up.

I can't do much about the larger meta argument other than lodge my protests, but I can tweak things in the future so that the choice doesn't feel so one-sided.

A future rerun of this game will feature the Highprince as a role that can only win with the joint unaligned win condition. The Parshendi will have a Shardbearer role that can likewise only win that way. In addition, the Parshendi will have a unique role that can change into any of the normal Parshendi forms, but has a role + alignment scan ability that can be used instead of the form action. This unique Parshendi role (placeholder name: Ambassador, not to be confused with the Alethi Ambassador vote manip role). would also only be able to win with the unaligned faction joint win. I might make them immune to the lynch, but that might be a little bit much. We'll see how things shake out.

For either secret faction to win, all of the "can only win with the joint Parshendi/Alethi victory condition" players would have to be killed as well. This would make the Sons of Honor need to target at least one and possibly more Alethi players to meet their win condition. And likewise, the Voidbringers have at least one Parshendi and possibly more that they have to kill.

Anyways, this concludes my retrospective on this game. Thanks for playing it, and I hope to see all y'all around in future games I GM.

My thoughts on your retrospective:

A. The issue of Parshendi being unable to optimally use their extra lives is an issue, but the solution of making those extra lives available all the time feels like it both breaks the theme of the roles and removes one of the more interesting decisions for players to make.  (It also requires rebalancing in a way that keeps the Parshendi from having any actual scanners.)  Here is a suggestion for an alternate approach:

-The first ("Warform") extra life is available in any form except for Decayform (dealt with below) and Scholarform (needs protection from a Warform).  However, in Nimbleform or Smokeform, it reveals your form if used to survive the lynch (everybody can see why you're hard to catch).

-If you are attacked in Decayform, you automatically (unless you specifically instruct otherwise) use your action to roleblock whoever attacked you instead of whatever you planned to use your action for.  This does not protect against the lynch, and of course may give a clue as to your form (and thus alignment).  This may be used once per round.

-If you lose the Stormform extra life, you must stay in Stormform (you are too injured to survive in any other form).  Naturally, faction balance would need to be adjusted accordingly.

B. Instead of giving the Parshendi a Shardbearer, consider giving them a Shardblade that can be used by anyone in Warform (perhaps even in addition to their protect action).  It'll be more robust, give more reason to stay in Warform despite the extra life being available in Nimbleform.

C. The idea of a SoH faction kill or transferable shardblade seems like a good solution.

D. Regarding the Ghostbloods: Their main issues seem to have arisen from role issues you noted elsewhere (scanners and Highprinces).  I don't know if a separate faction fix is needed, though increasing the number might not be a bad idea.

E. An alternative fix for Highprince is that instead of blocking the attack, they redirect it to themselves (as well as strike back).  Good thing they have Shardplate, too bad it's only good once.

F. Another idea for the Artifabrians (the solution to Scholarform, IMO, is to make it so they can't use the extra life and therefore need protection) is to make it so that they scan for a specific two roles and a specific alignment (unaligned is not a possible alignment to scan for).  So they can find Voidbringers, or find Ghostbloods, but not both at once.

G. Having roles that can only win with the unaligned win is definitely going to help, but I still feel that it's impossible to balance it perfectly between the two win conditions, and therefore you'll get a bias among those who have a choice toward one of them.

Here's an idea (either instead of, or in addition to, yours): Each unaligned player is secretly assigned a "preferred" win condition.  If that condition happens, they win.  If the other win condition for their faction happens, it's considered a tie for them (neither a win nor a loss).  So even the "prefer neutral win" unaligned Alethi would go for the Sons win if they had to (at least it's not a loss), but there wouldn't be room for persuasion like this game.

It's all up to whoever runs it, of course, but hopefully some of these ideas are good ones.

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Look at that, it's time to close this thread too. Seems like this game was only a moment ago.

As faction games go, I quite enjoyed running this one.  It had some balance issues, but some good, productive discussion came out of it that moved the meta conversation forward.

And I hope folks had fun with it. Props to the unaligned Alethi and Parshendi who, against all odds, got the joint victory win condition. Well done!

If anyone would like to try their hand at running a game, please get a hold of Wilson, Orlok Tsubodai, Alvron or myself. Not only will we get you added to the list, but we'd also be more than willing to help out in any way we can.

You can also ask questions and get some hints and feedback from everyone over here in our 
Art of Game Creation thread as well. With all the games that we've run so far, we have plenty of experienced GMs that can help you refine any game you're thinking about!

If you would like to play, LG38: In the Beginning is open for sign ups but will be closing soon so sign up and start killing your fellow Sharders.


Thanks again to everyone that played and we look forward to killing seeing you in future games! :ph34r:

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