Where to begin really.
Over the last month the Letter Ink. Team has really dug into brainstorming, researching, collaborating, and writing. I've lost count of the full staff meetings, breakout meetings, and text discussions working on our Beta 2.0 updates. And all while the mail continues to flow and we produced a 36-page Guide to Pleasing Eligibles highlighting every active (and inactive!) member to-date.
We wanted to do an 'almost March' check in and give you a sneak peek at what we're in the midst of completing and things that are in-progress. This update is another long one, so once again we've broken it up into fancy sections for each game adjustment and for an easier read.
1. Publications: The London Chronicle & Topic Sheets
The London Chronicle is the major in-world publication that drops plot information, world and player events, and aids with setting immersion in many ways. We polled our player base and asked for feedback around when and in what format the paper gets read and enjoyed. It was a close call, but the majority of responses read The London Chronicle when it comes out it a digital format and didn't necessarily find the printed version as integral to their experience. With this feedback as well as our budget in mind, we're going to trial run with the newspaper being exclusively digital. We're reformatted the paper sizing so that it can be printed at home on standard 11x17 paper, and of course will keep the digital flipbook as well.
The eight Topic Sheets / mini publications are getting a streamline too. We took a look at which were getting the most interest and which we were using effectively for storytelling, and are consolidating the eight into four:
Set A: "the Tawdry Set" - Tabloid and Scandal Pages
Set B: "the Classy Set" - Culture (Arts & Literature) and Fashion
We realized that Sports and Natural Philosophy would be best as fuller sections in The London Chronicle, and Literature and Art could be combined into one publication. Politics as well is taking a more prominent role in the paper and may see more "regency spam" pamphlets on the way to the post boxes of the Ton. March will see a new cycle beginning with Set A, April will be Set B. The Topic Sheets will be created in both digital and print format.
note: with the consolidating of topic sheets and shifting of which periodical is in each set, players will need to choose which one mini-publication from each set they will be receiving by mid-March to align with the publications' restructuring.
2. NEW Mechanics: Reputation Markers
We've altered the Virtues and Vices a smidge, and are excited to shift Notorious and Esteemed from character Aspects to create a new mechanic centered around reputation, after all, reputation is everything in Society.
Here's how the REPUTATION MARKER will work: as characters navigate the Ton, their reputation can adjust publicly based on rumours, character actions, and public scandal. All new characters begin game play with a neutral, or Respectable marker. Characters engaging in activities which go against the expected norms or respectability for their class earn the Notorious marker, while characters who act as paragons of social respectability earn the Esteemed marker.
Esteemed characters are influential in Society and Politics, seemingly beyond reproach by reputable publications, and are more likely to garner invitations for exclusive and high society events (Royal events, even!). An esteemed reputation makes a character a clear choice for chaperone and is able to lift another’s reputation simply by their presence.
Respectable characters are the standard for Society, and viewed well overall. They are well-liked, welcome at events and spoken of - and written about - with more of an air of approval.
Notorious characters are a very different kind of influential; they are likely greater risk takers, and so opportunities to increase wealth and invitations to social events of less repute such as art salons and underground gambling are more likely. While Esteemed persons would want to steer clear of those with a Notorious reputation (for their own reputation’s sake), others may offer questionable friendship or to do discreet business.
To be clear, the reputation marker is not an indication of 'good/winning' or 'bad/losing' - this isn't that kind of game. It's a guide for how characters are viewed by the world (and potentially each other) and how they are interacted with both socially and mechanically. And to answer the burning question: this marker is adjustable, meaning it will change and can be purposefully altered by character actions. Full details on the various pathways reputation can take will be released in March.
We're really excited about this, and think notorious and esteemed were meant for just such a thing.
note: players who currently have notorious or esteemed will modify their aspects to align with the new 2.0 reputation mechanics and choose another virtue or vice.
3. World-Building, Guides & In-Progress Stuff
Yours, Etc. is focused primarily on the happenings in, around, and to, members of British Regency Society, but it is nice to know how our history unfolded to get towards our in-world current events and cultural norms. While we are a historically-based game, we're not a reenactment, so we've taken this "beta-break" to define and outline just where our version of history differs from real world events and culture. It's safe to say if something isn't in our finished Player's Guide, then it's likely the same as the real-world history in that case.
Also nearing completion are several guides and information on essential elements of (our) Regency Society:
A Full Etiquette Guide, some of which was teased in the recent '1813 Guide to Pleasing Eligibes of London'
A Guide to Regency Law & Inheritance
An updated Scandal Guide
Clearer and streamlined game rules & conflict resolution
Active World NPCs webpage: see who you can actively write to (not that there aren't others out there...)
Updated Character Creation Process and Form & Secondary Character logistics
A Guide to the Season (including NEW social clubs characters can join)
Mechanics for determining getting caught or getting away with Scandalous activities including how your aspects and reputation markers augment your chances
a series of smaller primers to be included later in the FULL PLAYER'S GUIDE, which is in the outline stages.
It's possible something has been left off this list, but the gist is, we're using our time wisely and are full to bursting with a re-igniting of excitement for continuing to build this world and game and create moments and story for incorporating into our letters.
More updates to come!
As an epistolary LARP, our focus as a game is on supporting letter-written stories between players and from an engaging world.
The Letter Ink. Staff
For any questions about any of these updates, please email or open a discord help ticket.