Adventure RPGs: The Quest for Power

tarpen necromancy iron realms

By Ben Gorlick & Christina Roper

History that dates back to the times of the Rosetta Stone contains a constant ebb and flow of powerful leaders. The number 1 television series from HBO, “Game of Thrones”, paints a portrait of the interplay and exchange of power that takes place in the blink of an eye in the world as we know it. Text-based rpg games have a very similar interplay, with players competing for political control over a city, putting their faith and devotion to the test to become the leader of a Religious Order, hunters trying to reach the top of their experience rankings, and warriors competing to become the deadliest and most fearsome of foes. Now, how does one shoot meteorically to the top of the charts, and carve out their niche in a world where so many want to be on top? Regardless of personal ambitions, the quest for power exists in text-based roleplay gaming much as it does in our world. However, getting to the top of the ladder is no easy task. It takes having an attitude aimed at being successful by out-thinking your competition, taking actions based on goals, and staying focused.

One of the beauties of IRE text-based roleplay games that I have found is that in order to reach the top in one area, many times I have to sacrifice other ambitions in the process. To reach the top spot in experience, I have to hunt long hours away from most people, keeping to myself. I have sat on a city’s council and I spent a lot of my time dealing with issues of city and state. My experience left me with a better understanding of what it meant to have power and how to carve out my niche based on my personal interests. I have laid out some of the ways a person can determine their niche in text-based games:

  • Influence and control of the public (people) through mass-communication and political roles.
  • Create the ability to influence great events in the world, by jurisdiction and control over large amounts of people. For example, this can be done by working to become an Orderhead of a religion.
  • Maintain the ability to affect the lives of many through a moral example. This could be a Priest of the Light, fighting the Knights of Evil, or vice versa. As long as you take a side, and focus on developing it then you’re good.

Emerging into Iron Realms games, I find myself meeting requirements for a Guild (now known as Houses in Achaea), working to get acknowledged by my text game city mates and learning a vast array of skills to better myself as a combatant and survive the world and its citizens. Around me, I see cities with leaders, Gods with followers and sects, and arenas to display my skill. My ambitions have grown like wildfire. Fast-forward a few real life years and I have now reached the top spot in experience, won numerous combat tournaments, sat on the council of a city for several in game years and dabbled in several religious orders.

To carve your niche and obtain power, the quest is a lifelong journey. To be at the top of your text game you must have the right attitude. How and what you think about affects the outcome in everything you do. It is not “what you do” that is important, but “how you do what you do” that makes the difference. Also, stay focused and persistent and decide honestly with yourself if the end justifies the means; the actions you take will require sacrifices. Next, be creative and never stop learning from the world around you, others, and from yourself. Do something new and different every day. Learn to communicate clearly, effectively and with the openness to improve yourself. The most successful people listen to the feedback of others and the criticisms and adjust. Always develop your character by testing your resolve against the systems that be and the players that be. Don’t let challenges that might strengthen you go without an answer. Be bold and let yourself fail, if failing means that you will become stronger. Lastly, always have a backup plan. Good strategies don’t always unfold as we want them to. Have a backup plan, and when the first one fails, execute the second one. You will carve out your niche this way and the world will remember your name.


Ben Gorlick & Christina Roper are online RPG enthusiasts who play text games at Iron Realms!


I find politics to be the most enjoyable part of Achaea. It's a shame Bleak doesn't live in Hashan anymore!

The key thing to advancement and success in these games is the same as it is everywhere else - hard work and embodying the ideals of your organization.  People will be watching and paying attention.  Don't worry about making mistakes, worry about how you react after the mistake has been made, and never lose the drive or the focus.

100% this. It's not if you make a mistake, it's how you deal with the aftermath. People want to know if you'll lose your head in a tight situation, or if you'll suddenly turn drama-llama.


I do humbly agree with this


And everybodys happy, the fundamental ideal of hard work and determination almost always pays off in the end.

True, once you start treating a carreer in a text gamer as you would a real life, you're really roleplaying

Now.. if only that paid in real money hehe.

Then I would have become WarChieftain SOONER.



I concur

Just getting involved in a religion, and the realization that you can help shape the course of events wasn't one I'd had.  That could be fun!

The people I really really admire in the game are people like Flair and Zulah who created their own organisations and drew people to them through charismatic leadership.

But there are plenty of org leaders who don't have such flashy achievements who also do an amazing job!


.. Is certainly an aspect of the game I enjoy the most. It really allows you to be involved in actions that will affect the enjoyment of others, so I guess it is both a boon and a curse.

No doubt that you have the power to shape things the way you want them, but remember that politics is a shaky platform. You may be CL for one moment, but not the next.

To me, being a successful politician requires you to be eloquent in speech, writing and easy to approach. You also need to be able to withstand the nonsense of others, be an example to others and have good problem solving skills. Having your org Patron backing you and helping you is also a good advantage. <3 Twilight.

So if it is one thing that keeps me playing IRE, it's the politics. Yes, even though it is Hashan's politics. Kek.

Maybe I should move to Hashan, politics is really one of my least favorite parts because there are so many power hungry people out there that will do and say whatever it takes to get their way.  Don't get me wrong I love helping people and all of that, but unless you walk one eggshells for the entirety of any political career the amount of people willing to hassle you for having an opinion is ridiculous.


Yep, that's definitely Cyrene.

Agreed, it's ridiculous sometimes.

It is a small amount of people, but then you run into the problem that the other people just don't care...

the feeling. Trust me. The position I held in the Warlocks house was only Council member and head of a sect, but it was so hard to work my way any further because of power hungry people in the house demanding that they'd do a better job. Its why I left the Warlocks in the long run. I love helping people too, if you ever see me IG you'll notice I'm usually giving so many herbs or refills out it isn'teven funny. But you can only do so much before you want to tell people to go shove it. 

Everytime I come back to Aetolia after a long hiatus, I promise myself 'Okay, this time you're playing just for you. No politicking, no positions of power. Just do what you want to do.' And everytime, I end up either GM or CL or some variant. The draw of authority, especially on the internet, is strong.

Individuals who become so downright unbeatable in combat also become something that shapes the world. By demoralizing an entire cities population of fighters and lording over them. Just as people shape the world for the better, if in the wrong hands it can also make it much worse..


But for the rest, it really is amazing to see people fall into those catagories and lead with charisma. 


Djett for Duke!

Radakail would be an example of someone who shaped the world and was really good at combat. He would walk into Krondor and randomly massacre citizens, very much lording his power over Krondor.


As you pour work and time into achaea your rewarded with power in some shape. It could be reaching dragon or maybe your a house leader or high up in your city.

There are so many aspects of text-based games that cannot be easily replicated in games like WoW. The reason, I think, is because for one we have the ability to lose experience. This causes huge amounts of competition to keep and maintain levels and also provides a character based penalty. Because these penalties exist for "dying" as a player we have the obligation to then try to regain level.

The same is present with the political system. You can't just spout your mouth off on CT and expect to get a political position. Instead, you have to hold a variety of social positions before your city (or deity) sees you as competant enough to lead a city.

One thing that I really have enjoyed about Achaea, especially, is that if you can dream it and you have the will and drive to achieve it, it can more or less be done. If you're a strong RPer and go the extra mile you can actually chart your own destiny.

And that is what seperates muds from visual realms like WoW. With text we are allowed to create vast worlds of imagination and to work out our own RP situations.

Personally, I'm not really into the whole politics things, at least at this stage in the game. I'd rather just play and have fun without having to worry about other people. I'm still young though, so I have plenty of time to fulfull any political goals I may have in the future.

I don't enjoy politics or rather I don't enjoy getting involved in politics but I must say politics makes it a whole lot interesting.

I find I don't have enough time to dedicate myself to politics beyond a minor role. The time I  do have I wish to spend adventuring, helping others and enjoying my free will.

I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Time is pretty much the limiting factor for me as well.  I love House politics.  But between staying on my game in combat, trying to hunt a bit, and making sure I'm doing a good job in my role in the House politics,   I don't see myself every venturing into city politics.


I do wish I could make extra time in the day though.

I agree that politics make the games worth playing.  There's just so much to do with it and makes for an awesome experience.

I agree that they can be a strong RPing draw, but when it gets to certain levels, it's just ridiculous.  No to stab everyone in the back that you can.

I'm worried that family honour in Lusternia is encouraging political nepotism.

Given the enforced democracy of all player organizations, I don't see this being too much of a problem. If anything it make politics more interesting.

What's wrong with that? Nepotism is an important part of politics, especially in a fantasy setting. Think of the Medici family, in Rome. But the way Lusternia works, people in important families are in positions of power already, regardless of their family name. The same qualities that make someone a good leader make them desirable family members. So it's not so much a case of one causing the other, as it is both things occurring at the same time.

Politics here is a headache, just like RL

And people use cheap ways to win, just like in real life. irrelevant. People will complain no matter what happens!

I don't care for politics... there is enough Drama without all that too

Keep 'em coming

I love these articles! Keep it up!

Interesting subject for sure, keep it up!

The best way to make it to the top in any area is to do what you commited through words. People follow leaders that accomplish things and get the job done. Be responsible and you get the power...



Power is fun, but it's nothing without the hard work put into it. Getting a position or title isn't the only reward though. Even if you end up losing that, I see the people who are really succesful who through their actions make it so that they are remembered for generations to come.


Elvandar politics.... Someting to try and break into.

Sorta have broken into them, even if it's just my character influencing IthilCelu in his own way.

But I definitely have to deal with the aftermath that playing politics has on her. Elvandar politics SUCK. :(

I told her it would, but I guess being a CL isn't all it's cracked upto be. There seems to me to be two nieches in Elvandar who seem to be bouncing off each other. I personally like the way it is going there now.

At the moment I am working on getting upto speed on combat as a Pyro priest as part of the guardian branch to help with protecting the city. Then I will be doing what I can to get Elvandar back to how it used to be in the Niala/Vasilisa days when there were regular balls and events and celebrations and general city comraderie. How I will do this I haven't decided yet, maybe I will start by finding two loved up Eledhel and marrying them off as an excuse to plan a massive sermon, ceremony and ball within Elvandar.

Just like the good 'ole days 

Nice read.

Thanks for the advice, very helpful.

When I played Achaea (99-02\03ish) there was a great generation of players already there (Covenent being the largest influence on me),  and the one thing they instilled in me is that leadership in the game isn't just about 'I win the internets' it's about trying to make the game as fun as possible for those in the organizations you lead. That's something that's been forgotten as time has gone on.

I agree, leadership should be trying to help make the game fun for everyone else, not just themselves.

I could not put this better myself.

Everyone should remember that those games are played -with- everyone else, and that they are not "pieces", so to say. Not something easy to always remember, I guess.

I have the most fun when I'm helping other people have fun, whatever that might be for them.

Politics and intrigue in these MUDs is like a training-ground for RL. Most, if not all, the techniques you employ here can be employed in life in general.


Makes you really hope that people's view of politics and the world are just in character, some things would be quite crazy if they emerged into the real world.

Personally I try and keep any management or political decisions as close to possible as I would make in RL within the bounds of my characters RP. 


At the end of the day while RP is important and that bad situations for a character can turn into interesting character development people still need to remember that there is another person behind that character and they may well have spent hundreds of hours getting to where they are now.


don't forget connections. After all, Faustine doesn't get involved in politics herself, but she knows people who do

I think its the dynamic political landscape and its effect on the long term course of the game that makes Achaea hold my interest when other games haven't.

Love love the political side of IREs.... sometimes. Sometimes it  just gets out of hand, and everyone ends up getting upset.

I find the political front to be helpful but moreso the economic standpoint seems a bit more uniquie and intriguing to me.

Dragons are respected by all if only it is for their immense power! I am one who strives for this status more than any other power.

They may be respected, or feared... but they are not game-changers.  Those are the type of people that play the game and heed the rules, wait for someone to come around that changes how it is played or what is done. 

two highly key factors

Interesting article.

I can't get enough of the olitical side of stuff. Never held any type of office in game, but it still intrgiues me greatly.


I think the high point of power was when winning the Staff of Ascension in Lusternia made you into an Elder God. Of course, that didn't really work well and so now we just have True Ascendants which are just glorified Demigods, but still, I think that was the highest power moment. I guess aside from signing up for Ephemerals, and doing all that.


I find Politics to be less trivial and more corrupt in certain games as opposed to real life. Power is understandable but I guess it all depends on what you think power is. I have seen too many people (who are unemployed and single) that sit down, play an IRE game, and get put into a position of power. Then, all the turmoil from their life is put into the game as they are given the power to discipline, change laws, and obtain stature. If it is done for RP reasons, it's all well. However, I've only met a few people who take the RP side of getting into power seriously. The rest do it because it makes them feel good as people in the real world.

However, I'm not TRULY complaining, because I suppose SOMEBODY has to run things and it sure as hell will never be me...


...but I tend to stop once I have write essays and shit. That's when a fun game becomes more work.I play this game to get away from that mess.

Never really cared much for them

Although influencing a bunch of people through words and watching your work grow is some pretty neat result to look back on. But too much drama usually comes out of it for my tastes.

I've seen a lot of players attain power and then suddenly disappear or get toppled by other competition. The most difficult person to remove from power is that hard-working one who was slowly given more and more responsibilities that are necessary for the organization's functionality until he or she rose to the top ranks. Those kind of individuals are tough to compete against.

When you have such an established character with influence over whole organisations, makes me wonder if it becomes a job instead of playing a game. :O

You should try running 4 shops for your House.  Then it becomes a job!  I wish I got paid by the hour for it.

hehe I noticed that too. My friend runs a few shops, a guild and several other things IG. He has no life for 3 hours of everyday from it.

I actually always enjoyed running House/Guild shops, guess that's the merchant in me.

Politics is something I have little interest in for my character but I greatly admire many who take the responsibility, put in the long hours listening to others gripe and complain and do the paperwork! I am always impressed with the intelligence and thought behind the power even in Mhaldor.

Yes, it's a special type of person to do that kind of thing.

One of the nice things in Lusternia is the many ways someone can get into a leadership position: there are the basic organizations (cities/communes) and guilds, and of course, orders. But Lusternia also has cults (sub-orders), and families. The addition of the last (family honour and politics) was a really excellent move for Lusternia - a new front for conflict/roleplay.


Nice post.

I wish I could figure out how to get higher in the city hierarchy. It sounds like fun, but I'm never sure how to approach people on it.

I've seen a few friends often seek out a seat of power, but it never interested me until recently when my brain started thrust kicking ideas at me.

I agree with most of the above

Out of the various cities, I still think Hashan feels the most real to me. So go Hashani politcs go.

The most power you can have over someone is the power of love... corny, sure, but I get a real buzz out of being admired.


Heh nothing better than the admiration of leaving for a long time and coming back and getting all the praise for things you did a year ago before you left, and people welcoming you back and you jumping right back into the thick of things...

Mages are going to take over the whole world!


Real life interferes with my plans to take over the basin!

To be able to shape the game world you don't necessarily require a position in a formal guild or city. It is all about hitting to correct spot of political and military machine.

With power comes great responsibility.

My character really dislikes politics, but she keeps getting reluctantly pulled in because I love it. So she tries to be really subtle about it, because she doesn't want anyone to notice and think she actually cares about politics. It's very interesting to be a behind the scenes person, who's friends and family are the ones in power.

I'd like to add that I've found having two or more characters in a game at once really diminishes your chances of 'reaching the top.' Perhaps it is possible, but if it is so, it would be extremely difficult. I think limiting how many characters you play with will increase their individual success; otherwise they'll be lost in the translation of it all. Thoughts?


I agree with you, but most people love to have tons of alts. Although considering for the most part you can only reach the top if your part of the inner circle / clique tho... I guess it doesn't matter if you have 1 or 20 characters. It isn't what you know, but who you know, at least I noticed that in Aetolia.


There are two ways to see this.

1, if you have more then one character, stay In Character with them. Dont Go OOC.. Dont let people know who you play.. That way it stays IC and there is no discrimination or bias about you having more then one char because no one knows.  Isnt that the point of the game, honestly? To roleplay how you want without people acting differently towards your char because they know who runs it?


2, It is fun to try different classes/races/mixtures/cities/guilds.. So it's totally normal to make different characters to do that with.  Not all of them are going to be the 'main' character.  And again if you do choose to do this, see above.


I have more then one character, I wanted to try different classes, plus.. I have one character who is my 'strictly roleplaying' character, stays IC, has some intense RP going on, then I have my 'relaxed RP' character who is in OOC societies/clans, who isnt so much RP'd as just a 'muck around' char.   Some people know which chars I play, and that does spoil it to a degree.  How did That char that no one's met before get in that OOC society? Wellllllll... yeah.   But regardless, I stand by the fact that if you want to make more then one/two characters, dont tell -anyone- who you play. That way nothing anyone does can be biased.


My ten cents, cause they stopped making two cents in this stupid country.

I love it... It's so shiny and bright... When's it is off I feel like I am in the dark

Politics are pretty fun IG. People get so angsty.

are just a lot of drama most of the time.

Game of Thrones is an awesome book

Politics are awful

Wholeheartedly. Unlike some other games, you can't "beat" Achaea. There's always something more you can do, or some different path to try and master.


Glad you can't really beat it, it is a better invesetment than a 50 dollar retail game.

On the topics of houses, cities, and other places of political power:

I sincerely hate the amount of arbitrary essays that one must do for houses. When it stops being fun and turns into work, that's when you know that it's gone too far. Just remember, Achaea is a game. Making people do essays is not fun. I play Achaea to relax, not to have the strain of additional work put upon me, which is what I'm trying to escape when I play Achaea.