The First Dynasty of Sphinx
May 22, 2017 - July 11, 2017
Into the Unknown
The crimson clouds disperse and leave behind unnaturally twinkling stars. Somewhere below the people are celebrating the return to normalcy.
Unseen by the revellers, a big, hairy creature wearing a top hat and sunglasses sneaks to a big machine with whirring bits and spinning pieces.
In his hand, a yellowed photograph of two young cubs, playing together on a sunny glade. The bear steps into the machine with an intent look on his face as he disappears. The only thing left behind are a few golden coins that fell out of his suitcase.
Many years earlier.
The Miskatonic University has sent an expedition to Antarctica. In light of what happened the last time, this seems hardly reasonable, but some very influential top hat wearing patron is determined to make it happen. And really, what could possibly lurk beneath these endless white glaciers or beyond these Mountains of Madness?
Replace “Manager” with “Explorer” and “Commissioner” with “Expedition Leader”. Keep the “Combos” Rule and the “Tags” Rule.
The following players were active at the start of this dynasty:
card*, Cpt_Koen, Cuddlebeam, orkboi, pokes*, Sphinx^
And at the end of this dynasty:
Axemabaro, card*, Cpt_Koen, Cuddlebeam, Dewaldo, Kevan*, pokes*, Publius Scribonius Scholasticus, Sinq, Sphinx^, Thunder
- denotes admins, ^ denotes Expedition Leader
Posts of Interest
A large amount of proposals resulted in "stubs" - mechanics which weren't further connected or expanded to the rest of the game to be relevant, or just outright removed (Insanity, Charting, Temperature Play, Carrying Rules, Abominations, Cultist Group Victory), with a few proposals having disproportionately more importance than others (although, also very fun). Midgame there was a large loss of enthusiasm, but later the dynasty recovered.
- Blank Cards Mafia - Created a mechanic which would be later be a central theme to the Dynasty - each Explorer had two secret "Backgrounds".
- No Free Lunch - Included an attempt to inherit the popular "Merit" mechanic from last dynasty (in the form of "Debt" for the would-be denominator). Conflict between players from that last dynasty and new players resulted in "Debt" never meaning anything.
- Cthulu Victory - A thematic to have Cultists work as a Mega-Explorer and a single team (which won as a group) was very popular, gaining momentum in proposals like these (which would later inspire co-victor and multi-Emperor mechanics). The concept was cut later into the dynasty, superseded by Artefact play which had only a single winner (even for cultists).
- Expedition Leader's Expedition Leading Added "Missions", enabling "Bounty Hunting", a key Mission in the dynasty's endgame.
- The Silver Key - Oh there's where that silver key went Added the Artefact mechanics. Important to note that while both Cultist and non-Cultists needed an amount of Artefacts to win - only Cultists were granted Artefacts (one each). The only way a non-Cultist could gain an Artefact was if someone gave one to them. Which the only possessors at the time - Cultists, had no reason to.
- Tekeli-li Kevan's DoV, based on having an amount of Artefacts and being a Cultist.
- Bounty Hunting: A Mission which granted a large amount of Artefacts to the playerbase (both cultists and non-cultists).
- A different set of cracks Pokes's DoV, based on Kevan's same method.
- Cuddlebeam... SMASH Cuddlebeam's successful DoV, achieved after the massive influx of Artefacts.
Three crucial DoVs, secret deals and plain luck characterized the Ascension process:
Kevan's DoV: (July 4-5, 2017) Kevan claimed victory, via the Artefact rules he proposed himself, gambling on that he had a Cultist Quorum amount of Artefacts as a Cultist (these Artefacts had been gained presumably by secret agreements, because Cultists initially only had 1 Artefact each). It would've worked with 100% success rate had it been made sooner, however Axembaro and Thunder joined at the 2nd and 3rd of July, lowering that probability to 48.22% due to that one of them could be a new Cultist and raise Cultist Quorum, making his Artefact amounts insufficient. Unfortunately that was the case, as revealed by Sphinx's AGAINST vote, causing a vote chain-reaction to fail his DoV, as he couldn't have been able to win.
Dogpiling against Kevan: (July 5-9, 2017): After his failed DoV, several proposals dog-piled against Kevan, One aiming to remove Artefacts altogether, another Creating a mission with a goal to put Kevan "At Gunpoint" and cluster around him, with an Artefact Reward - which would later be extremely important, and another aiming to get more Guns around to pin Kevan with.
During this time (July 6th), Dewaldo, yet another new player, joined, adding even more entropy to the Cultist quorum.
Mission Hand-in (July 9, 2017): "Bounty Hunting", the important mission mentioned earlier, got handed in because it has been completed, however it's reward would come later, once stamped by the Expedition Leader.
pokes's DoV (July 9, 2017): pokes claimed victory by using Kevan's same method, soon after orkboi idled (who had already been confirmed to be a Cultist), gambling on what the cultist-quorum would be and having been entrusted with other people's artefacts. Miraculously, this also failed.
Mission Hand-in gets Stamped (July 10, 2017): "Bounty Hunting" gets stamped, granting two Artefacts instead of the one it mentioned, to all of its Participants (Thunder, pokes, Cuddlebeam, card, Cpt_Koen, and Kevan), due to an overlooked rule that Missions had a 1-in-3 chance to secretly be a Double Reward mission.
Cuddlebeam's DoV (July 10, 2017): Cuddlebeam, now with 2 Artefacts (from the mission), makes a deal with pokes (in secret, and later revealed post-dynasty). They would flip a coin (a GNDT roll): If "heads", pokes would give Cuddlebeam two Artefacts. If "tails", pokes would give Cuddlebeam two Artefacts anyway and Cuddlebeam, once victorious, would pass the mantle to pokes (which pokes would later cointoss again to grant to a benefactor/s in another deal). Cuddlebeam won the cointoss, and declared Victory, having obtained (then destroyed) 4 of the 3 Artefacts a non-cultist needed to win.
This is my commentary before Sphinx posts the final reveal of everything:
I mentioned to PSS that one of the concepts I would like to try if I win (during last dynasty iirc, right before we were going to win - but didn't) is a "blank cards mafia", and among the other dynasty ideas I mentioned to him, that was what he mentioned he particularly liked. So I proposed it, it got a lot traction (became the central axis of gameplay), so I'm really happy about that. In the beginning of the game, I got involved in the "Agora Dog Team" (Gaelan, PSS, me). There weren't many mechanics, just stubs everywhere, such as the Dog Teams. And at that moment I started to conspire about how to win the game. But it felt really bad to do. The game wasn't 'anything', yet. Would it be right to use our coordination to try to make a game that seems winnable for everyone else, but actually isn't, then win it ourselves? It would feel a bit like minting our own medals and then give it to ourselves, based on a competition we've made which was rigged to benefit ourselves. It didn't feel right. Plus, I felt a lot of affection for my Blank Cards Mafia thing (as a sort of "mini-Emperor" myself) and I really wanted to see it grow, so I started to altruistically make proposals to get it going about stuff that didn't necessarily benefit my position directly, but I felt would add more entropy and intertwinement to the game.
Then, I also wanted to play as a total scrapegoat and act as Gaelans/PSS meatpuppet/white knight, because I wanted to try out how PSS's style of play was last dynasty (which was later screwed by Gaelan leaving, but admittedly I didn't fully coordinate that with them, I kinda just mentioned it to them and just went for it regardless).
Then, I saw a few instawin opportunities but I was that it was pretty cool but that I should go it for myself. And I didn't want to actually win, but I didn't want the potential instawin to go to waste either, that would be worse! So I changed plan yet again and tried to snipe those wins.
So I didn't have much of a clear aim at all, really, and the direction of my efforts were all over the place. And I didn't like that at all.
Eventually the game eventually DID gain some 'worth' (we had been pretty nihilistic before, even proposing a dice-roll win among all of the players: https://blognomic.com/archive/frozen_by_inaction#comments), fortunately, via Kevan and his proactive playing. I also noticed that my Proposals (which were just willy-nilly at the time) all started to fail. I checked back why exactly, and apparently it was Kevan who was redcrossing every single one and then people seemed to follow that. My proposal history in the dynasty went exactly like this (E for enacted, F for failed):
E*, F, E, E, F, E, E, E, E, |K| F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, E**, F, F, F, E***, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, F, |KV| F, E, F, F, E, F.
K: Kevan Unidles https://blognomic.com/archive/expedition_delivering_supplies_to_boot_camp#comments
KV: Kevan's DoV (which failed)
* My first proposal: "It's cold out here!"
** My first enactment in a long time. Also the first time Kevan greenticked a proposal of mine in the dynasty.
*** Proposal "Two Poles", which extended the range of influence of "It's cold out here"'s Hexproofing.
As you can see, right after he unidled and started to consistently vote against my proposals, all of my proposals started to fail. So obviously, I became very scared of Kevan lol. Given his comments in Slack, I understand why though: he was man-marking me, due to my fame of often basing my play heavily on scams - Any proposal could be an outlet to a scam (from his perspective, although I later revealed that I actually don't make scam-outlet proposals myself, I've already learned to use proxies for that. But I understand his manmarking intent). He lost a lot of social traction after having that failed DoV though, further evidenced by that there was a lot of dogpiling against him at the time, which made trying to win a bit easier for me.
Kevan had significant social power over the game, managing to consistently get my proposals failed and get his (self-benefitting) proposals passed. That social power, combined with that I suspected that he was a cultist, made me pay a lot more attention to him (coordinated Cultists were designed to be dangerous! If Kevan was the ringleader, with that power, I was screwed!). I knew that I wouldn't be able to topple him in "public" social power, so I knew that my only way to win, if there was one, would be to make secret deals outside of his view. (Which is how I eventually did win, but with a good deal of luck too)
Card drove me crazy in regards to him being a cultist or not. I suspected him to be a Cultist so much because he sent me pms so early - which I later realized was a way to try to feed the creed to people without it being public, but he did so many weird things. Running around camps, making camps when that worked totally in your disadvantage at the time, apparently going against those who I was already very convinced were cultists, etc. I even Spy'd him, but I unfortunately got his already-revealed Background: Adventurer. Kevan was fairly obvious, because of the Conspiracy Proposal being ever so subtly massively in favor of Cultists. I'm fairly sure that normal players wouldn't notice it - it seemed symmetric, right? I'm pretty sure that was his intent, and if he was trying to hide stuff like that in his proposals, he had to be a cultist. I was absolutely sure once the Artefact rules came out, which were very Cultist-biased, again in subtle ways which, given Kevan's experience, I was sure he had to be aware of (so it wasn't just unintentional bad design or something). I suspected pokes as well because he seemed to follow Kevan very closely in votes (the times were so close together! I don't know if this is intentional or not, but thats one of things that made me suspect pokes, outside of it simply being bandwagoning on the waves initiated by Kevan), as well as provide "fixes" to the Artefact rules which removed more ways for non-Cultists to win with them. (I later caught them both in Inspection, but it eventually didn't become instrumental to my win).
Edit (12 July 2017): For additional reference, here are the other proposal histories of the other 3 players who were active throughout.
Card: E, E, E, E, E, F, F, E, E, E, E, E, F, E, E, E, E, F, F, E, F, E, F, F, F, E, E, E, F
Koen: F, E, E, E, E, E, F, E, F, E, E
pokes: E, E, E, E, E, E, E, E, F, E, F, E, E, F, E, E, F
--Cuddlebeam (talk) 07:29, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Not sure the social power narrative was really there; I was voting early, and as a Cultist I'd naturally vote against any anti-Cultist proposals, to be backed up silently (and with no coordination required) by other Cultists. Early in the dynasty, everyone's usually happy to vote even a mediocre proposal through, but become warier once players start to differentiate themselves and there's more at stake.
An important lesson from this dynasty: don't make a victory condition directly dependent on secret information known only to the Emperor. We had three DoVs where regular players didn't know how to vote because they didn't know if the victory condition had actually been met (and even in the third one, it took a while for the Emperor to clarify what exactly had and hadn't been met). --Kevan (talk) 08:12, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Call me dumb. I wasn't aware that Kevan was a Cultist until the arrangement at the end to gather an Artefact quorum, and was thoroughly duped by the conversion mechanic - at the time I was a Scholar, and hence proposed the Annals of Eldritch Studies to identify other Scholars and balance out the conversion by giving them any private information they could use to confirm they're Scholars and not Cultists pretending to forget 4 of the words. As Cuddlebeam was, I was puzzled by Card, who I couldn't pin down as Scholar vs. Cultist; otherwise, there's nobody I could even begin to suspect as a Scholar.
Once I was a Cultist, while DoAs were still active and I had no leads on getting rescued by a pair of Scholars, straight-ticket voting for Cultist power was a no-brainer.
Pokes (talk) 00:51, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
WIP Scraper output: The First Dynasty of Sphinx Condensed Vote History
I was a cultist from the start and messaged everyone posing as a scholar. Somehow a mechanic for converting people back and forth was proposed before one that would prevent cultists from winning. I conspired with Cpt_Koen and orkboi to change pokes into a cultist. However before that me and orkboi conspired on Cpt_Koen which resulted in a few conspiracies that had no effect on people's status.
Also me Cuddlebeam and Thunder had a deal where we flipped a coin and we would have given all of our artifacts to the winner of the filp, which I obviously would have not done if I lost. Since it was a Double Reward that deal didn't really matter.
This Dynasty saw 5 players join Blognomic: Duck, Sinq, Thunder, Dewaldo and Axemabaro