The amazing thing about a beta test is the flexibility to make adjustments in response to feedback and critical evaluation. We've had big plans for this game from the beginning and it has been difficult to bring those ideas to a fully-realized place while also running the active parts of the game at the same time and trying to go through player feedback. It's a lot, especially for such a small team who are by and large volunteering time on top of life obligations.
After our staff took a break for the December holidays and the New Year, we came together to talk about our experiences as game designers and GMs thus far with an eye for what players have been submitting here as well. The one thing that kept coming up for all of us was an overwhelming desire for more time to focus and finish the things we've had on the back burner for some time in order to keep up with other aspects of the game. We agreed that we need the time that a beta period was supposed to afford to build an amazing game focused on the letters and implement the feedback and insight offered by our players.
This update is going to be a long one, so we've broken it up into fancy sections for each game adjustment and for an easier read.
1. Events & Mail
The London Chronicle and the eight Topic Sheets / mini publications each month are a huge task for staff. We love them and know players do too, we just need a pause on these until March 1st to focus the writing energy on finishing and rounding out things like world history, culture, guides, rules and mechanics, scandals and monthly happenings, and NPC content.
To be clear THE LETTERS & MAIL FLOW AND FEBRUARY EVENT WILL BE UNCHANGED, as will monthly and major event forms for characters. Write to PCs both new and established, get caught up on letters not yet replied to, engage in story and the oodles of information and activities that are already happening in-world through previous events, Chronicles, topic sheets, Seen in London, and small chat discord posts. There are so many amazing threads to pull and follow and connections to be made.
March 1st will be the release of the next edition of The London Chronicle and revised Topic Sheets.
2. The 1813 Marriage Mart & Season
Courtship and Marriage have been a major storyline for many players and are a staple for the Regency era in and of itself. We love the drama and romance, the flirtation, and strict expectations of behaviour.
Remember the very first publication we put out as a game in August (a lifetime ago now) for the Season Summary? With no Chronicle for a month, we're keeping that spirit alive with the publication of Pleasing Eligibles as our special book for the Season being released on February 14th, a lovely day for finding a (smart) love match.
If you plan to have your character on the 1813 Marriage Mart, either as a debutante or entering another season, fill in THIS FORM by January 24th so you can be included in this featured publication. (Character info in the database or on a discord poll that lists 'yes' for the marriage mart but that character has not filled in this form may have things added about their character by the Goblins!)
3. The (Game) World Beyond Courtship
Romance and marriage are only a small part of the world, and we want to encourage engaging with other in-world plots and subjects like Politics, Religion, Technological advancement, and more. Characters are, after all, more than their eligibility for potential spouse(s).
This was the idea for the function of the topic sheets, and so we're working to revamp them to fit more with the 'slow burn' of a letter LARP. When the topic sheets return in March, we'll be streamlining and focusing on two each month: set A: Scandal & Tabloid, and set B: Fashion & Culture (which is a combined Arts & Literature). Players will have their choice from each set and can still purchase the second one either as a one-time or as a subscription each month as of March. It will be a monthly alternation between acceptable Societal publications and those of a more scandalous nature.
As a result, The London Chronicle will get more robust Politics and Sporting sections, and the homes of the Ton will receive more single page pamphlets for ongoing plots from various factions and NPC persons of interest.
4. Mechanics & Logistics
Virtues and Vices have played a role in the World's response to characters over the last six months (perceptive characters getting additional event token secrets and information, the tone of write-up based on notoriety and standing in the game publications, etc.), but we're working on more robust and obvious ways players could use the mechanics of their characters to their advantage, or their struggle.
Scandal has become a popular path for characters as well - of all levels of scandal - and we are working on ways for characters to have both a reputation redemption arc in Society or a pathway to retirement when a character simply becomes too scandalous for the Ton.
Revisiting mechanics also includes streamlining and easing the character creation process, and enforcing and clarifying what the roles and rules around household NPCs are for. Household NPCs are not secondary characters, they are for supporting PC stories and history. (Not to be confused with character aliases and secret identities, we love some mystery). Secondary characters will, however, be open for creation in March, once we've released the world and guides we're shifting focus to complete.
4. Retconning, Rewrites, Connections & Relationships
We're six months into this beta and realize that some people might want to tweak their character when the full guides, final rules and updates, and feedback integration is released. That's common among any type of LARP, and when a 2.0 or another version of a ruleset is released, it's a good time to reflect and reevaluate how (or if) a character would react and thrive in an updated system.
When the full rulebook is released in March, we want players to have that opportunity if they choose. Game will be open to character tweaks to backstory, relationships (with OOC negotiation), interests, story direction, GM involvement, anything that would make a character fun and engaging for the player in a Regency setting, up to and including retirement of that character and creating a new one (or a secondary as mentioned). Players can also keep their current character as-is if that's what's bringing enjoyment.
We're really excited about the next phase of Yours, Etc. Beta 2.0 and are feeling a resurgence of energy and excitement. As an epistolary LARP, our focus as a game is on supporting letter-written stories between players and from an engaging world, and these steps will do just that.
The Letter Ink. Staff
For any questions about any of these updates, please email or open a discord help ticket.