Breaking the Hidden City Bribery Mechanic

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(From Willow)

'So, this is an interesting mechanic. It's not really an integral part of the city, it's more that it's a shared convenience. It works because everyone wants it to work, not because it's part of the physics. You know, like the way you don't have to carry money around because you can get a letter of credit from the House of Judicious Increase - it's not that the letter has the same *chi* as a handful of li, but merchants and the House want them to be the same, because it's useful.'

'So the way you break it, is you make it not *popular*, and you make it not *work*, and then it stops working.'

Her mechanic:


1) Pick an important / significant group competitive Thing. Like a party, or a civil service exam, or something. Bribe all (well, lots of) the relevant people to not take bribes. (That is, if you pay them N, then someone will have to pay more than N to get them to be interested. Pick your N based on what bribes you think are likely. N must at least equal the success number for the district). If it's a party, pay off the bartender and the butler and the caterers and the people selling fancy party clothes... that sort of thing. Anyone who seems really likely to be a candidate for throwing money at for successes.

2) Get the person running it to declare it an "honest" affair.

3) Make sure that nobody who snuck a bribe by you wins. (No using bribes yourself here, obviously.)

Do this a bunch. You want coverage both in terms of type of thing, and in terms of where they take place. Your absolute minimum would be three quite significant events; one physical, one mental, one tao; one in the outer ring, one in the inner ring, one in the inner circle. Increasing the number can help counter failings in your coverage, but if all you do is rig the street brawls in Pewter, then it really won't matter how many you do.


1) Provoke an interesting and notable one-on-one confrontation, in which one party uses bribes, and the other one doesn't. Have the one that doesn't, win. (Successes must beat the success number for the district).

Again, do this a bunch, with similar coverage requirements as part A.

Ideally, you'd do all of this at about the same time, or in close succession, like during adjacent runs and putterings. You want to make it obvious that Things Have Changed. Don't throw a no-bribes party now and then wait two months before doing the civil service exam.


Done and pending

  • In Yang Shen-Ji and the Goblet of Fire, we de-bribified the Municipal Sorceror competition. I think this counts as a Tao competition, more in the Inner Ring than anywhere else.
  • In Traps Within Traps, we held a contest for a new Circus performers, in the Inner Ring. This was mostly a Body competition.
  • In Revelations, the Gold Duke's party was an honest affair, and he won without bribing. This was mostly a social competition, in the Inner Circle.
  • In Politics in Motion, Master Deng won a duel of honor in the Inner Circle, where his opponent was throwing bribes.
  • In Tortoise and Panda, we held a contest for new recruits for the Iron Keys, in the Outer Ring. This was mostly a body competition.
  • (pending) -- Some kind of Tao competition between Shingao and Shen-ji, in the Inner Circle, where Shen-ji throws bribes and loses
  • (pending) -- A social competition between the Beggar Lord and the Small Knife, in the Outer Ring, where he Small Knife throws bribes and loses


Things we can do:

  • Combat competition: The winner gets a contract as someone's bodyguard, or we'll teach them a shtick, or we'll give them a spiffy piece of gear. [Body; outer ring]
  • Hiring a squad of guards for the Trade Company [Body; outer ring]
  • Offer to fund "Patron of the Library" for a scholar [Mind]
  • Hold a fashion show, with some kind of publicity help as the prize [Mind]

Things in progress that might count:

  • Minister of Trade: The old one is retiring, the new one is being selected. I'm trying to find out if there is a mechanic beyond someone needing to win a vote on the Regency Council. [Mind; Inner circle. This is "interview plus politics". Without significant bashing, I don't think this one is likely to work.]
  • Civil Service Level 1 exams: Competitive, and bribery is rampant in this, but there is not a single winner, so it requires some work to make this count. [Mind; Inner ring or inner circle?]
  • It's generally possible to find parties, especially in Gold, but they don't tend to be single-winner affairs. (Sometimes, they are; we might find something by just poking around.)
  • Upcoming birthday parties in the Inner Circle: Strand Regent, and Minister of Judiciary. [Mind, Inner Circle. I am investigating the Minister of Judiciary to see if I could get him/her to declare a party "honest".]

Things others might do for us:

  • We could get an Inner Circle contact (Regent Ishii, Precious Jade, ???) to sponsor a party with the attributes we want.