There’s been a lot of talk about improving Conclave. My Boss argues that any improvement just makes the situation worse (that is, that whenever Conclave improves, the number of people who want to attend it increases largely negating whatever improvement we have just made). I think he lacks Ambition.
With that in mind, here are my top twenty ways to make Conclave Better (while probably making it worse and thus smaller which is a win for everyone). You can probably think of some more yourself.
(Change One) Refine the Irregular Verb
It’s straightforward enough. I make insightful points. You contribute I guess. He/She/They take the piss and waste everyone’s time. So what we need to do to make Conclave better is stop he/she/they talking. This would work fine because surely nobody would think I am taking the piss and wasting everyone’s time? Identify magicians who nobody likes – perhaps through a black-ball process – and exclude them from Conclave. Or silence them at least. I mean, we still want them to vote right? We don’t want to be unmutual. Just make sure that only the right people participate. See also “Wizards should be rare and powerful, but I should definitely be allowed to play one.”
(Change Two) Grandmasters Only
Only the Grandmasters get to talk. This means that Conclave becomes a spectator sport except for the six people who win the Order elections. If 90s LARP has taught us nothing else its that people love watching other people do all the talking. Has the advantage that anyone who wants to feel like they matter will really, really want to be Grandmaster.
(Change Three) Limited Rounds
Instead of going round until every Grandmaster passes, only go round once. This is, unfortunately, likely to be indistinguishable from Point Two in practice. The difference would be that occasionally when they have nothing to say the Grandmaster would let someone they know quite well speak.
(Change Four) Absolute Silence
Nobody can speak in Conclave unless they have paid their mana. Everyone not currently speaking must be absolutely silent. Cough more than once and you’re thrown out. People would quickly learn sign-language so they could communicate to their Grandmaster that they wanted to speak. Little flags would become standard pieces of equipment – red ones for “Booooo!” and blue ones for “Hurrah!” perhaps. Has the slight downside that it will make Conclave feel like one of those awful detentions. Has the upside fewer people will come, meaning more seats.
(Change Five) Make Harry Run It
Senate works because the Speakers control the flow of debate with nuance, allowing discussions to go on long enough to be interesting but cutting people off when they are “me too”ing or when the outcome is looking pretty obvious. In Conclave this would regrettably mean that the control of the debate would shift from the Grandmasters to an NPC, but its better than having three hour Conclave meetings. You would not get your mana refunded if the Speaker decided you were waffling, unfortunately, but that’s the breaks.
(Change Six) Time Limit
Conclave lasts one hour. This means that on average it will sort out six things, perhaps twelve if you are lucky. Sadly, in the currently way of doing things, this means that the Conclave will not get through all its addresses, much less be able to appoint new Archmages or discuss whether Ira Harrah should have amity. Them’s the breaks. Has the unfortunate side effect that when the agenda opens there is a blood bath as people kill each other to get their thing on the agenda in one of the twelve available slots.
(Change Seven) Limit the Agenda to Orders
A variant of Change Six. The Agenda is limited to one item per Conclave Order. You need to convince the Grandmaster that the thing you want to do is more important than anything else anyone else in the Order and Conclave want to do. Means current titles never change and new titles are never elected – and stability is good! Also means that Friday session consists of six addresses from Archmages and nothing else, and Saturday session consists of three addresses from the most enthusiastic archmages, a declaration of amity/enmity against Ira Harrah (because that seems to be a once-an-event thing now), and two declarations of candidacy for Imperial Necromancer.
(Change Eight) Candidacy is Dumb
Nobody likes candidacy. It’s awful that people try and do politics to claim power. Stop candidacy being part of Conclave but also make sure everyone has a say and a chance to challenge for a title when he/she/they are doing it wrong. Perhaps more meetings is the answer, especially if the meetings are held in a dark cellar behind a locked filing cabinet in a room with a sign on the door saying “BEWARE OF THE PANTHER” so he/she/they can’t come along and ask stupid questions.
(Change Nine) All About the Grandmasters
Basically turn Conclave into the Council of Nine. Only Grandmasters raise agenda points, only Grandmasters talk, only Grandmasters vote. Everyone else can spend their time having a laugh at one of the in-character bars on the far side of site.
(Change Ten) People Can Participate Without Going
Every magician gets a big bag of individualised tokens, at least equal to the number of things that will be voted on by Conclave this event. They give that bag of tokens to either the sacrificial goat from their group (pick the least popular wizard), or to the person chosen to represent their nation in Conclave. That player then does all the voting. With the individualised tokens. The Conclave CS then check to make sure nobody has cheated before announcing the result of each vote. Alternatively, each wizard gets only one token and is only allowed to vote on the thing they most care about, to prevent people putting multiple tokens in the pot. Or the number of tokens you get is based on how many ranks of ritual lore plus additional spells you have and you ration them out over the course of the event. Or session! Adding a section at the end where people queue to get their tokens back is great.
(Change Eleven) It’s the Synod
No meetings at all, people just put a cross on the “yea” or “nay” side of a Declaration Paper that hangs in the Hall of Worlds. It works for the Synod!
(Change Twelve) More seats
Unfortunately, more seats means more people will be able to sit down and be comfortable which means Conclave will be longer. Also more people will turn up. Meaning Conclave will be longer. And unless we restrict participation to only people who get seats, Conclave will still be packed.
(Change Thirteen) Fewer seats
Counterpart to Twelve – tricky to do both at the same time but not impossible. I want solutions not problems! Anyway. Make Conclave even more uncomfortable means fewer people will turn up and those who do will be proper hardcore. Can create same effect by making them drink three pints of water before entering and prevent anyone who leaves coming back in.
(Change Fourteen) No Discussion
Don’t let people discuss things with the person raising the Declaration or Address. Now, this might mean that bad people say terrible, misinformed things and nobody can rebut them but that’s what happens in the real world more-or-less and its not done us any harm. I’m not a monster though – after every one minute declaration there is a one-minute free-for-all in which people can say whatever they like as loudly as they like. Then there’s a vote.
(Change Fifteen) More Discussion
People think Conclave is long now? Make it so that there everyone in the room has to spend a minute questioning the person who raises a declaration. No exceptions. We’ll show Senate, Military Council how long and tedious Conclave meetings can be.
(Change Sixteen) Fewer Declarations, More Titles
Make Sorcery, Interdiction, Imperial Lore, Amity/Enmity, Disemmination and Endowment powers of specific titles. No more declaration – discussion – vote rubbish. Title just stands up one a Conclave and tells everyone the decisions they have made vis a vis these former declarations. Eg “I have decided Ancél and Zephaniah are sorcerers”, “I’m interdicting Hands of Sacred Life because I hate the name” etc etc. Leaves much more time for Addresses and Candidacy. Although there’s no reason there couldn’t be a title who does all the Addresses (picked for their excellent and entertaining public speaking no doubt), and Candidacies (speeds everything up for everyone).
(Change Seventeen) Facebook
Hear me out! We know you can do polls on Facebook. Put the Agenda on Facebook in a group only people with the Magician skill can vote in. Everyone brings their phones to Conclave. Debate happens in comments section. At end of session, all polls are closed and the CS announce the results an hour later once they’ve run the numbers. Has the advantage that anyone can participate from anywhere in the field as long as they have WiFi. Biggest advantage is that even people who don’t come to the events can participate. Potentially, could move entire Conclave into post-event period, meaning longer to debate/vote with all results announced in Winds of Fortune. This plan has no drawbacks.
(Apart from one, apparently, which is that being connected to the WiFi will prevent the use of Facebook, as PD WiFi has no Internet connection. Or so Dave K tells me. Stupid technology)
(Change Eighteen) Rhyme
All statements in Conclave must rhyme. A/B/A/B or A/A/B/B rhyming only. Anyone who doesn’t rhyme loses a point of Blood Pool.
(This is an obscure reference. Suffice to say that I had more than one game of Vampire : The Eternal Struggle go sideways because it turned out I was playing with someone who did not appreciate the true genius of having a card that meant all table talk had to be in rhyming sentences. It wasn’t even that hard to get rid of. I digress.)
Debate still requires hard skill, but its not the hard skill you were expecting.
Sadly, gives unfair advantage to rap artists and beat poets.
(Change Nineteen) For the Love of God Stop!
Institute a simple voting system whereby if half the room are shouting “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LETS VOTE ALREADY!” the current discussion is curtailed and we move directly to the vote. Subject to tyranny of the majority, and to the need for some metric for working out if it is half the room or not that is shouting at any given moment.
(Change Twenty) Dance Off
All Conclave decisions made by dance-off moderated by an NPC. Bonus points if NPC has personal agenda based on what will “make the best story”. Has the advantage that Tim Baker will love it.
(Change Twenty-One) Spiders
Everyone says the Conclave where giant spiders attacked was the best ever. Yet at the same time two short interruptions in which eternals shout at people were the worst thing ever. As a compromise every Conclave will now be interrupted by a camp attack, but the creatures responsible will also engage in a spirited debate with an archmage while trying to murder all the wizards. In practice will be very similar to Change Twenty.
(Change Twenty-Two) Panther
Release a wild panther into the Hall of Worlds. Conclave becomes least of anyone’s problems.