At its core, communication can be boiled down to the transmission of information. In real life, we can communicate ideas, knowledge, memes, diseases, data, intention, desires, meaning, and more. In Elyria, we want much of the same!
Communication between players is at the core of any role-playing game, whether you're online or huddled around a table with dice. Table-top RPGs have always had ways for the players to separate their character's thoughts and intentions from the meta or mechanical parts of the cooperative story they were a part of.
Player: "My character runs up to the guard and shouts frantically, 'The orphanage is burning down and totally not on purpose!'"
At the dawn of online gaming, through newsgroups or teleconferences, players set rules about what was in-character versus out-of-character similarly to in-person gaming. It was simply stated along with the message.
When MUDs came along, they allowed players to actually "exist" in a game world beyond their own imaginations. The server dictated where they were and what they were doing. Commands like /say or /shout would communicate with other characters based on their proximity to yours, while private message commands such as /whisper or /tell could communicate directly with a player regardless of where they were.
Modern MMOs adopted these early chat commands and added even more: general channels for zones, trade, guilds, and so on. Enter the trolls, spammers, and gold farmers who made no effort to immerse in the Role-Playing part of the genre. As MMOs became more popular, hundreds and thousands of other players created a signal-to-noise ratio so intolerable that many players now choose to mute or ignore these channels - suppressing the Massively Multiplayer part out of the equation. We're left with just Online Game, these days, and even that is debatable.
Chronicles of Elyria aims to mitigate many of the pitfalls of contemporary MMORPGs and bring back some of the benefits (or side effects) of older games by enacting a few, relatively small changes to the way people communicate.
In order to help players immerse in Elyria, and to allow all-new play styles to emerge, we've added a number of communication-dependent mechanics to support the kind of in-game experiences we want to give players! Starting with...
Much like in real-life, when you say something, people know it was you who said it. People around you will see you and think of you as a person, not some puppet being controlled by space aliens or cosmic predetermination. Most communication in Elyria is the same. When your character speaks, other characters (PCs and NPCs both) will be able to react to what you say without needing to think about the player behind the curtain. All in-character chat will come from your character's name, not your player name. This creates opportunities for intrigue and dramatic storytelling that can enhance your character's personal story, and allows for things such as fake identities to be truly used. We're not saying you have to participate in Live Action Role Play or brush up on your archaic forsoothery, but we'd like to help players to immerse themselves in the world of Elyria and appreciate their character's journey as it unfolds. Having a conversation is the first step!
The most common form of character-based chat will be through Whispering, Speaking Discreetly, Talking Normally and Shouting. When you choose which chat command to use, you'll really be choosing how many people in your general proximity will hear you. Talking Normally, you'll be able to converse with other players and NPCs without calling attention to yourself. Speaking Discreetly will be more obvious, but you can converse with multiple people and has the chance to be overheard by a spy listening closely, so characters may want to seek some privacy before sharing secrets. Shouting, as expected, will allow you to communicate over farther distance but a lot more people can hear you. This means that you may want to coordinate a flanking sneak-attack on some bandits with your party before you move into position. If stealth is not your thing, your bold cries could embolden your allies or make you the liveliest person in the tavern. A Whisper is, effectively, you leaning over and cupping your hand to whisper directly in another character's ear. It's totally private and cannot be overheard by others, but is restricted to a single target.
This also provides a reason for Elyrians to create public and private spaces, to create meeting halls and schools and keeps, and to actually travel around the world in order to coordinate efforts or learn new information. In fact, the spread of information is exclusively done through character-based proximity chat! If you want people far and wide to hear of your accomplishments in order to increase your fame or reputation, you'll need to make sure it's said out loud and in-character. This simple system could be the single-most important brick in the foundation of a living and breathing world we are creating for Chronicles of Elyria.
One of the great advantages of family is their closeness. Love them or hate them, they are your family. Unlike Earthlings, Elyrians share a special bond with their families that allows them to communicate beyond physical limitation. Essentially, close family automatically shows up by their Character Name on your Friend's List, which allows you to coordinate from any location on Elyria. Great for getting a rescue party if you are trapped in an avalanche or getting someone to bring you more crafting supplies when you are running low. You don't need to break the Fourth Wall to reach your family!
Wards of the State (orphans) won't have family chat, which could be seen as a disadvantage or not depending on how you enjoy playing. Conversely, some tribes may have larger-than-normal family circles and have a unique way to communicate with their entire settlement.
A character and their identity are two separate things in Chronicles of Elyria. The character represents the physical body, while the identity represents the intangible parts such as the character's name, reputation, and persona. An Identity is a piece of knowledge that can be shared between characters through our communication mechanics.
When you approach a character you've never encountered before there's no floating nameplate above their head that identifies who they are, what "class" they are, or any other information. The same is true for you. When you first enter a new town, nobody around you will have the slightest idea who you are! Yet...
When you talk to another character you can either introduce yourself, or ask them to introduce themselves. Both of these can be done through the UI in a way similar to how you challenge someone to a duel in most MMOs. If you ask someone to introduce themselves and they accept, you'll be shown (for a short while) the information they were willing to share on your UI. If they decline, they'll continue to be a nameless stranger on your screen.
When introducing yourself, you determine whether you want to convey your first name, full name, full-name and title, or additional information such as the organization you're a part of. The more information you share the more comfortable a person may be with talking to you - and the more likely they are to remember you later.
Once you've talked to another character enough, or have done business with them a couple times, you'll eventually begin to recall who they are automatically. Once you know a character well enough, you'll perpetually see the floating nameplate above their head. It won't fade after they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind. If you know a great tailor, and someone asks you for a recommendation, you can trade to them the name and information of that tailor. It's all about who you know, right?
While characters are typically anonymous by default, there are times when you want to become anonymous. even among those who know you. Maybe you're a famous bard and you want to get from one side of town to the other without being accosted by fans. Maybe your boss plays CoE too and you called in sick and want to get through the guild hall without being caught. Or, maybe you're about to do something... deviant and you want the ability to say you were "nowhere near there."
Whatever the reason, characters can hide their identity by wearing a hooded cloak with the hood up. Of course, walking through town with your hood up may raise additional suspicion but, if it's your nameplate you want hidden, this'll do the trick. If someone doesn't recognize you because you're anonymous, they can't share that information with the authorities, now can they? It's probably for their own good...
Just like changing equipment, you will be able to change your identity (provided you've previously developed one). This controls several things such as which name you'll provide when you introduce yourself, which title - if any - you wish to use, and, most importantly, which disguise you want to use.
Before you can select between multiple identities you first have to create additional identities. Identities are created by forging the appropriate documents and having the appropriate disguise. This involves both the Forgery Skill, as well as the Disguise skill. Both are in the Deviant skill tree and both are typically illegal. If you're caught with forged documents, or your disguise is seen through, you could be on the hook for everything you did while under the guise of your alternate identity. And that's in addition to any jail time you face for creating false identities!
So what are the good, legal reasons to create a fake identity? Well, there aren't any...probably. At best, you may be using an alternate identity to commit corporate espionage and steal trade secrets from a reputable guild. At worst, you may be a famous assassin, bouncing between identities to avoid being caught. In either case, having multiple identities generally means you're up to no good. Similarly to being anonymous, having a fake identity can keep you from being identified by others and comes with the bonus of not looking like you're up...to...something...
Whenever you assume a fake identity there's a chance others will recognize it as a fake. The chance that someone can see through your identity is based on how familiar the two of you are. The more times you've encountered someone, the easier it is to recognize the lie. If you're not wearing a disguise, it may only take a couple times interacting with someone before the fake identity is discovered. Putting on a disguise will help with your charade but, even still, the more you interact with someone in different identities, the easier it will be for them to recognize that those identities belong to the same character.
It's possible for another character to steal your Identity using these mechanics. If they can dress up as you and provide enough evidence that they are you, it could be a problem. You'll want to be careful when revealing information to other characters. Just how paranoid you want to be is up to you!
It should be clear that you don't want someone stealing your identity and then committing a bunch of crimes. Not only could that end up in punishment if you can't clear your name, but there's a subtler, yet equally important reason why you want to keep your identity intact. Your reputation and fame.
Your Fame is a measure of how well your name or identity is known. The more famous you are, the more people (NPCs and PCs) will recognize you if mentioned in conversation. The more famous you are, the more likely your reputation is to spread.
Your reputation is the public information or opinion about you. Reputation and Fame work together but each one can be adjusted on its own. This creates four possible combinations:
In general, your reputation - good or bad - is a function of the things you do that people know about. It's important to emphasize that this is based on the information people know about you. It's entirely possible to have a dark affinity, but otherwise appear to the public as an upstanding citizen, and thus have a positive reputation. And of course, if someone you want to work with has a dark affinity, or is a criminal, having a bad reputation can actually be a GOOD thing!
Similar to your reputation, your fame changes over time as a result of the things you do that affect other people or the story. Completing achievements, finishing tasks, and even just crafting or selling items can all have an impact on your fame.
It should also be noted that your reputation and fame are not yours alone. When determining your final reputation and fame, groups you’re affiliated with, your family, and dynasty are also taken into consideration. The opposite is also true. Things you do can have an impact on the reputation and fame of your family or organizations!
All that talk about what characters know about you...but how? Information is a commodity in Chronicles of Elyria, you see. It acts very much like a physical item in your character's inventory, but in your character's memory. Events and people that are encountered are added to a character's chronicle - much like an RPG's quest log or in-game glossary - only these entries can be shared with other characters through the gossip system. Both players and NPCs will be able to trade information this way. Any time you interact with NPCs you have an opportunity to gossip with them. This gives you the chance to learn things about other characters in your area, and to share things that you've witnessed as well. Depending on the openness of the NPC you're talking to, they may turn around and pass the information along to other NPCs and PCs as well.
Actions you take and choices you make will reverberate throughout Elyria this same way. If you are notable or notorious, your deeds may become known far and wide if you make a big enough splash. Depending on how you feel about that, you may choose to silence those who know your dark secrets before the information can get out, or contract a traveling bard to sing your - or one of your fake identity's - praises throughout the realm. By binding your deeds to your identity, by giving players the opportunity to cloak their actions in anonymity, and by immortalizing your actions in the words and minds of other Elyrians, players can concretely answer questions about whether their in-game life has meaning in Elyria!
Gossip is great. Better than facts, in most cases! Not only do you get some juicy information, but it tends to be shared and shared without ever being fact-checked. Characters will be able to share information they've learned through the gossip system. When conversing, like during introductions, you can choose to share a bit of Information from your inventory. This could be something you witnessed, something you heard from someone else, something you misunderstood but think is true, or even an intentional lie. Information given to the right person at the right time can topple nations, break up a marriage, affect the market price of goods, or cause an innocent Mann to be arrested.
Not every piece of gossip is good enough to share though, so don't be surprised if your attempts to exaggerate your reputation never make it past the folks you tell.
Gossip isn't limited to just individual tidbits. The reputations of organizations, families, and governments can spread far and wide as well through the gossip system. When people talk, they're going to share information. It's up to you to try to manage what information you want to get out, and react when stuff you didn't want known eventually gets out! Just like in real life, you don't get to have total control, so prepare for some fun drama!
"Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." - Benjamin Franklin
There's a difference between facts and opinions in real life (no matter what they tell you!) and it just wouldn't be fair if it were impossible to tell them apart. In real life, we have many clues to gauge whether something we are hearing is a plausible fact or merely an opinion: familiarity with that person's personality and beliefs, tone of voice, how animated they get talking about something, eye contact, citing references, what they think of you, etc. Many of those just don't translate into a game. We've got two - count 'em, TWO - ways that we can convey information to you, the player: visual and audible. And even then, there are restrictions. For example, even though it is visual in nature, we're not going to animate every possible gesture or posture that a person can have and then provide a way for players to select them while conversing. Instead, we'll be providing other cues for you to learn things.
One such thing is an opinion indicator. When conversing, you'll have a way to get a sense for what another character feels about you. Along with your familiarity with that character, you will have a good sense of how to perceive the information they are sharing with you. Cultural, religious, and societal differences will cause this to be more challenging so don't expect to be able to cold read the first Waerd you ever meet. Unless you're Dras or To'resk whose tribal advantages make them more able to detect intention or deceit. There is a reason they are considered shrewd negotiators. This isn't just flavor text, folks!
Say someone broke the law. Obviously not you! Definitely not you...
Now say someone saw that person break the law. How can that person be brought to justice? Witness testimony and evidence!
Not all governments in Elyria will have the same laws, so there's some variability in how much weight these things might have but know that the Soulborn Engine is not the one identifying law breaking. Our game engine will be responsible for finding and punishing players who take advantage of exploits in the code, but not for doling out justice. Only our players can do that! So when a law is broken, we'll know, but it's up to players to do something about it and gather evidence enough to persecute the deviant player.
What kinds of evidence can you get? I'm glad you asked! There are two major categories: direct and indirect.
Direct evidence includes:
Indirect evidence includes:
Each of these things are like items that can be collected in-game. Put the evidence before a judiciary and you could get a bounty created. Arrest the culprit and you could get a verdict. Hopefully you got all the evidence. Hopefully you got the correct culprit...
This brings me to something else that characters can communicate: status! If you witness someone breaking the law, your testimony can become direct evidence. You can also incapacitate the criminal without needing a bounty first, depending on the region's laws. That way, if you see something bad happen, you can do something about it!
Also, when that information is shared through the Gossip system, the other characters that learn about it will change their opinion of that person. A good example is if Fleyt steals a loaf of bread from Prithieria's inn, and she tells Sephryana about it, Sephryana is probably not going to want Fleyt to be in her smithy unchaperoned and might even call the guards. Even if Fleyt is never arrested, his social standing has become that of a criminal. Consequently, that may open as many doors as it closes!
There are other pieces of information you can accumulate and share (or not) with other characters that is less subjective. Crafting recipes, combat techniques, flora and fauna information, and more are types of Information as well. Each can be learned from others or from written sources, in varying degrees. Libraries will have a very practical use - whether they are personal, public, or organization-only - as a way to store and share knowledge. Books are also quite portable and, while they can degrade over time, don't have a tendency to die and return to the Akashic Records (but I'll leave the option open!). Since characters need to acquire information in order to learn and grow, the written word has more power in Elyria than other RPGs where they're mostly just there to provide a couple quest hooks or world lore to those who take the time to look.
Again, your character needs to discover information in-character in order to make use of it. So finding a sweet crafting recipe on a wiki or FAQ site may provide you, the player, some insight on that item but it won't teach your character how to make it or be good at making it.
Contracts are agreements made between identities. A contract will include specific clauses and conjunctions that are possible through the game mechanics, what responsibilities people are agreeing to (including the timeframe, if applicable), what happens when the contract is completed, and any penalties if the contract is broken. This system is a core component of Chronicles of Elyria as the basis of player-run governments, player-run economies, player-generated quests, player-run laws, player-run organizations...you get the idea. Everything you've read about so far is a vital element in the contract system. Information, Identities, and In-Character Chat will fill in much of the content in a given contract. There are two types: Implicit and Explicit.
Implicit contracts are ones that don't need to be signed by both parties, such as laws, rules of succession, or bounties. They tend to work on a one-to-many scale and can affect anyone involved. It's possible to be unaware that you are being affected by an implicit contract, so learning about a region you intend to travel to is highly recommended! We see mistakes like this all the time on Earth: not knowing which side of the road to drive on in the UK, not knowing about harsh penalties for littering in Singapore, being unaware of modestly laws in Dubai, etc. Being unaware of the rule does not mean you are protected from punishment! It's up to the players to determine how lenient to be.
Explicit contracts need to be signed by all parties involved and include alliances between sovereignties, trade agreements, property leasing, or wills. This should go without saying but it's a really good idea to read the entire thing and make sure you understand it! While the contract system provides in-game mechanics to provide recourse from a broken contract, you'll still want to be careful about who you make agreements with. Characters sign the contract with their name when they explicitly agree to it and, if someone fails to uphold their end of the contract, it is the identity written on the contract that people will be looking for. If a player successfully dons a fake identity before entering into a contract with another player, they might be able to dodge responsibility, trick the law, or even frame another character! Seeking out the services of a contract underwriter or notary is a good idea.
If someone steals your identity, it's possible to become embroiled in a contract you didn't sign. If the contract is not upheld, the bounty would be for you! Now, a bounty does not mean "dead or alive" in most cases, and certainly where contracts are concerned. If you find yourself the victim of a stolen identity, you'll need to rely on witnesses and evidence that can clear your name. Because Information is a real in-game item, this will frequently be possible, but oh, what a story you'll have to share!
"And then they said someone claimed I was bragging about killing the King! Me! I wasn't even in the city that day. Luckily, Keveth, Armélus, and Rilehya saw me on the road to Silver Run and Baron Andry attested that he'd tasked me to deliver a missive that morning. I tell you, I was sweating like a pig when they questioned me, even though I knew I hadn't done it! If I ever find out who accused me...I'll...I don't know. Tell them I really did not appreciate it and to be more careful next time!" - Haelgror, after being accused of regicide.
Now all of this is interwoven with one more important thing: language! You can only learn information from in-character chat if you speak the language. It's much easier to understand and agree to a contract if you speak the language it's written in. The barrier to understanding local laws is much lower when you can read posted notices! Elyria has many languages and, depending on your family and starting location, you will start playing your character with knowledge of at least one.
There are nine languages that will be known throughout the starting continent in Elyria. The list below is in order of prevalence on the starting continent.
Neran - The language that is historically spoken by the Neran and has, through their prolific trading, become the language-of-choice for business and mercantilism beyond the borders of predominantly Neran settlements. This language's alphabet and phonology is effectively identical to English.
Croçais - The language of diplomacy, Croçais originated with the To'resk tribe but, like Neran, has come to be known far and wide. Sometimes called the "Neran of the South", it favors a softer, more flowing phonology. This language includes the characters ç and î, but not p.
Denhørt - Spoken predominantly in the frosty mountains of the north, it is usually dropped in favor of Neran when its speakers come to the lowlands because the subtle distinctions between many sounds are seen as overly complicated to non-native speakers. It includes the letters ä, ö, ü, ø, and ß.
Pyqsi - Coming from the same root language as Neran, this approachable and mellifluous language has evolved to be very contextual, which is ultimately why it didn't become the language of choice for commerce. It can be heard among the treetops of the great forests and in the great academies founded generations ago by Kypiq masters: the Kinothian and the Arkyn. It also includes the ß character, but not c or x as in Neran.
Lazu - A peculiar language found only in the freshwater swamps, this language is spoken predominantly by the Dras. Though speakers are more than happy to teach outsiders, it suffers from a similar fate as Denhørt and is dropped in favor of more dominant tongues in the southern regions. The Lazu alphabet includes ç, ó, and ÿ, but the letters b, c, f, and q do not feature in it.
Næroth - Gruff and grating, the traditional tongue of the Hrothi rarely makes it out of the mountain. Scholars hoping to study from illuminated manuscripts in the Great Libraries often learn to read, but not speak, the highly-embellished language. In addition to the letters of the Neran alphabet, it also includes the characters æ, à, è, ì, ò, and ù (which have a distinct pronunciation from their un-accented counterparts). The letter x has been omitted.
Jenu - Stubbornly against learning other languages, you'll encounter Jenu in the Janoan rainforests. Those wishing to negotiate or trade with the Janoa may pick up enough of the staccato vocabulary to get by, but most will seek the services of a translator, usually Drasean. The letters á, é, í, ó, and ú all indicate a stress when speaking but have the same vowel sound as their unaccented counterpart. The following letters don't feature in Jenu: c, f, q, or x.
Isshek - This language, like the Waerd, is mysterious and misunderstood. Considered to be hereditary, it's not taught to others. Beyond the Waerdic settlements of the semi-arid desert, it is rarely heard and, when it is, its susurrus vocalization tends to make others uncomfortable. The alphabet has no extra characters, but also further omits f, p, q, and x.
Forest Cant - Spoken only by Kypiq and never taught to outsiders, this special form of communication mimics the sounds of the forest and travels well under the forest canopy. There is no written alphabet.
"That's great, there are languages. So what? Who cares?"
Well, me, obviously. But you, too! You just don't know it yet. Your character will begin its career with at least one language; the one predominantly spoken in the settlement you are born into. Depending on the type of life you lead and your interests, that might be enough to live a long and full Elyrian life. As mentioned above, it is possible to hire a translator or insist on using a more common language when crossing paths with foreigners. There's no need to learn a new language if it never comes up. It will not be expected or required for characters to learn languages unless they find a need.
When settlements are at a crossroad between regions, are popular destinations for trade, or are a melting pot of cultures then you may have a stronger reason to learn another language. If that's you, then here's the gist of how that will work!
Whether you learn from a companion, family member, or school, the first step is to pick up some basic vocabulary. This is the easiest stage of language learning and, for the vast majority, will provide you the ability to communicate very basically in that language. If all you need to do is simple barter in the marketplace, this may be all you need! You may be able to add some information to your inventory at this stage, provided it's a word you know. You probably won't be considered a reliable witness in court but, with other evidence, could help out the case. You can also share your information as gossip.
The second step will take more focused effort and, as you learn, you will begin to understand more and more of the language. This will happen gradually but, at the end, you'll be able to read anything in that language and understand any in-character chat in that language. For some, this will be enough! You will be able to gather new information from chat you overhear and written things that you collect, which can be shared as mentioned above in the Information section. You can give reliable testimony, provided you have a translator, and you'll certainly feel a lot more comfortable about taking foreign contracts at this stage.
The last step is speaking and writing that language. Easier than step two, but harder than step one, you can either wait until your reading and "listening" comprehension is capped or learn it simultaneously. This represents your character's ability to form sentences, pronounce words correctly, and write legibly in that language. With all three parts complete, you'll be fluent! If you want to work as a translator, diplomat, or scribe this will be crucial.
Just like in real life, it'll be easier and more productive to learn a language when there is a need and an opportunity to use it. It will also be easier to learn languages in the same root as a language you already know.
There are some occasions where your words fail you or are unnecessary. Flailing your body around in (hopefully) recognizable motions is a great alternative! Emotes are a totally common inclusion in most online games and Chronicles of Elyria is no different, except in all the ways it is different. For instance...
Emotes won't always be targeted at a person. An exception is Paired Emotes, which will include things like partner dances and handshakes where both parties get a say in whether to participate. One person will initiate the emote, and it's up to the target to accept or deny the request. Nearby characters might see:
Keveth and Armélus shake hands.
Sometimes you won't need participation to perform a targeted emote on another character:
Keveth taps Rilehya on the shoulder.
Other emotes won't require a target because you're just gesturing, not doing anything to anyone. Nearby characters will see:
Keveth claps his hands.
If you were talking to Keveth, you might know why he chose to clap. If you weren't, some guy is clapping and you don't know why or to whom. That's how gestures work in real-life and, largely, what we'd like to have in Chronicles of Elyria. What better way to totally misunderstand a situation and cause drama?! Was that punk looking at you? Does he feel lucky? Well...does he?
In short, if it wasn't clear from all of the above, these communication mechanics will:
And more! As stated earlier, this is one of the most pervasive design pillars in the game and hopefully this journal begins to shape your understanding of its importance. As with all our mechanics, they are meant to enhance your experience, not be a total drag. You might be worried about how your fun will be affected by such a breadth of mechanics meant to constrain you. Here are some scenarios that might put you at ease.
Keveth points to the apple.
Keveth says: "Cost?"
The Waerd holds up two fingers.
(Remember, without an introduction, Keveth doesn't know the merchant's name.)
Haelgror says: "Salix where?"
The woman says: "Ail't het twe trait närd indayn thyu eroughddø herdä røtr. Vaen thyu rasch dä yrte ve dä erörstr taka dä deaerl erärs."
Haelgror says: "Salix where?"
The woman points north.
Baron Andry says: "I'd like you to take this decree to Silver Run's mayor, Haelgror."
Haelgror says: "I think I can do that. Can I see the contract?"
Looks over the contract.
Haelgror says: "I can do it by 2pm, but not noon."
An unknown man says: "I can deliver it by noon."
Baron Andry says: "I don't know you, stranger. Thanks for the offer, but I'll stick with Haelgror's services since I know him. Okay, Haelgror, I've updated the terms."
Haelgror accepts the contract and Baron Andry's payment is put into escrow.
Haelgror delivers the decree according to the terms and can receive his payment back in New Haven.
Pirthieria creates a contract for the bulletin board at her inn to bring her 2 barrels of mead and 5 chickens for 10 silver marks.
Lonz'ma, Schesden, and Mècheìr look at the board.
Schesden can't read the contract because he hasn't learned Neran writing, but can speak it so goes to the inn to try to negotiate in-person.
Lonz'ma and Mècheìr can read Neran and both try to take the contract. Mècheìr takes it first and it is now in her inventory. Lonz'ma misses out and moves on.
Schesden finds the inn and introduces himself to the innkeeper.
Pirthieria introduces herself in response.
Schesden says: "I saw a contract on the board but I can't read it. I am looking for work. What does it say?"
Pirthieria says: "I need 2 barrels of mead and 5 chickens. I'm paying 10 silver marks."
Schesden says: "I can get those for you. Yes?"
Pirthieria: "Sure, as long as no one else has taken it. Bring me the contract on the board and I will translate it for you."
Schesden goes to retrieve the contract from the board, but it's not there.
Meanwhile, Mècheìr gathers all the items from around town, spending 3 silver marks to do it quickly.
Schesden returns to the inn.
Schesden says: "Contract missing from board. Can I still take it?"
Pirthieria doesn't want to pay for things she doesn't need.
Pirthieria says: "No, but I can give you one for getting 2 hams from the butcher. I'll pay 5 silver marks, but they'll cost you 2 to pick up."
Schesden says: "I will do it for 6 silver marks."
Pirthieria agrees and writes a contract for Schesden in Næroth, a language they both read.
Mècheìr delivers the mead and chickens to the inn according to the contract. She receives 10 silver marks.
Schesden delivers the hams to the inn according to the contract. He receives 6 silver marks.
Lonz'ma waits for Mècheìr outside the inn and pick-pockets the 10 silver marks she carelessly put in her pocket.
Are you getting the idea? Whether it has to do with law and order, or war and peace, communication is a key gameplay feature that will allow players to manage their in-game affairs, build a reputation for a character or family dynasty, make money, and handle deviancy - all without needing to roll dice, create rules about what's in or out of character, involve a GM, or put oneself at the mercy of another player (as long as one takes certain precautions). Interactions can be long and dramatic, or fleeting and just-business. The depth of the interactions is up to you, we are merely providing the tools to make them meaningful and allow for a huge variety. So, what scenarios do you see taking place, given all of the above?