From the @Alvetta post and down, this thread grew shockingly interesting. I think every single post since then has been at least a little constructive. I will say that Alvetta specifically has given me the most rational argument opposed to my mindset and I think the true concern of the anti-entity crowd reveals itself in that post, at least in my eyes:
Players view cults as their mark on the world. Players view their positions of authority as hard earned and deserving of protection against entity meddling.
Now, the above is an interesting stance, in my mind. I think it is a valid concern if they don't want an entity coming to ruin the hard work of a leader, especially the cult's original writer or current writer. A cult is an engine for, as @Lartus just got at, player storytelling. This summer, I said much the same as he just did.. cults are the opportunity for a player or group of players to influence Imperian's narrative. Leechtree is a great example of this power in action: the leaders utilized the cult to launder greater narrative advancement for Khandava due to how closely linked the cult was with the core aspect of the Council. It was genius. I did much the same with Hunt and Storms, in smaller ways.
However, all this being said? I think there's a better way to handle this issue than restricting and abusing the people who willingly volunteer to be an RP entity. Here's my thoughts:
1. Bar Entities from entering houses. It is clear that houses are a sore subject and continue to be Imperian's safest space. I think they should keep their ability to pop in anywhere else. The caveat I would make to this? Entities can enter the houses of people that have them allied. This goes back to my experience with Xuli and Isra; they had it set up so I could see them online even if they were 'invisible' because we're mutual allies. The support exists.
2. Encourage greater communication between the entity and the sect or cult they want to join. This goes back, once more, to my experiences from older entities. Some of them didn't know what they were getting themselves in to. It creates a situation of buyer's remorse on either or both ends if there's low communication. This should be on an IC and OOC level. A sect and entity form a partnership and that partnership is strengthened by pre-planning. Everybody has different expectations and being able to air those should make a happier pairing every time one happens.
3. Define the power dynamic behind a sect or cult with an entity. Is it something every sect picks themselves (I prefer this)? Are there hard and fast rules (this is dumb)? For example, Isra kicked me out of Hunt after I spent ages working on it, writing stories, building it, paying for it, even bashing for it. She had that power. I took it to the forums. I got no real reply or results, aside from a rare time when everybody actually agreed I got screwed. I shrugged and made Storms. In retrospect, was it OK for that to have happened?
That's it. That's all I'd do based on the feedback given in the last 13 posts. I would not go out of my way to make entities more ignorable. I would not go out of my way to neuter them. I disagree with the notion of not making cities depend on them. People want to crow about IC consequences and it is amusing that the city with the memory most notorious for enforcing those consequences is the one where anti-entity culture is centered. There should be consequences for rejecting a being of divine nature that is often times intended to help you. Before any of you claim entities aren't divine, the label of God is strictly semantics. Semantics are terrible way to get your point across. Some consequence should come from the fact that you miss out on event hints (like the Legion event earlier) and the other cool stuff they can support.
I'd like to give everybody my metaphor that I have taken to using lately: a sect is a movie. The player is:
The director. The producer. The writing staff, either 99% to 1%
The entity is:
The special effects The writing staff, from 1% to 99%
Look at the division of labor. The rest of this metaphor should be clear once you do that. The opposition to this system smacks of projection and, as I said, beggars being choosers. I see the fears for the worst being based on exaggeration and worries of cheating. Are we truly going to ask the son for pay for the crimes of his father?
I would hate that because it ignores the real issue, which is that newbies aren't going to want to play a class that costs all their gold. Nor are older players, really. That's part of why I won't buy the class.
It is low hanging fruit though, so I expect it by Monday.
The truth is we should never be in a position where retirement is the only option. It also no coincidence that most retirees are PKers.. PKers are the only ones that truly ever feel backed into a corner on retirement. Culture and poor design are the reasons we lost so many players to the Retirement Syntax. To underline this, I am currently considering retirement of Sarrius because I'm out of interesting options. I am only out of interesting options because it is not in my power if I am allowed to pursue the options I truly think might compel me to stay. I am also powerless to enact the proper change on Imperian at a satisfactory pace.
More generally..? Retirement is a commitment to give up half your character's value to go play a new game. IREtirement never means quitting playing IRE games. You don't retire a character to quit the game, so to speak. You retire a character because another game appeals to you or the current one is played out. Often, it is the former.. and often, it has to do with the kind of people running the game you are moving to, as well as the people playing it.
We should never have reached the point where any of our big names felt that the only way to continue deriving enjoyment from IRE games was to go play one that wasn't named Imperian. A combination of factors led to this and they are indicative of the underlying issues in Imperian. Our player population is small and ruled by toxic, grudge-based mindsets that not only avoid conflict or forward progress, but also actively shut out players. This makes it difficult to break the absolute deathgrip a given circle has on the game.
The simple truth is that Imperian's players are as much responsible for ruining Imperian as design decisions or admin are. It's just that, much like watching anything fail in IRE, nobody is interested in taking blame. Nobody is capable of enough introspection (or retrospective consideration even) to realize how they might be contributing to the death of the game.
For proof of this, look at Khizan's retirement post: his character became Too Big. He could no longer pick a side that was not AM, and it was by no true fault of his own. Players held him accountable in the wrong way, forever shutting him out of the other 2 sides in the game.