Rules of Play.   Posted by The Cloaked One.Group: 0
The Cloaked One
 GM, 8 posts
 We are the music makers
 & the dreamers of dreams
Tue 16 May 2017
at 01:28
Rules of Play
The Threads:

Game rules & OOC are in group 0.

Factbooks describing the player nations are in group 1.

In-character threads are in group 2.

Gameplay will take part in multiple threads. Other than the factbook threads you will individually maintain for describing your own nation (a kind of reference thread), any in-character thread will need at least 2 players. For now I'm going to avoid arbitrary posting requirements, length requirements, etc. and see how everyone does.

But I encourage you to WRITE. This nation-states style of game gives you a grand view of storytelling, so use it to your advantage. Posts that are 500-1000 words in length are what I'd like to see. Longer maybe if it is the opening/initial post in a thread and you are setting the stage for the story.

Yes, you read that correctly. YOU set the stage for the story. A given thread is typically owned by a single player, or multiple players. It is entirely up to you to come up with an idea, a thread title, create the opening post, and entice players into the thread. Usually discussing these thread ideas ahead of time and seeing if people would be interested is a good way to go.

As in the main description of the game, almost anything goes. You could have a thread centered around the Royal Leader of your nation, and their court. Participants could be the delegates and ambassadors from other nations watching a drama unfold on foreign soil.. or perhaps enacting their own nefarious schemes.

Another thread might be a border dispute between two nations, centered on some waystation or fortress between both kingdoms. The characters might be simple soldiers, or generals, or a traveling priest tending to the wounded and writing the history of the battles.

The world is your oyster. My only role here as GM is to resolve potential disputes, and enable you as the players to write the best story you can.

The Rule of Cool
This is fictional story-telling. The ultimate rule is that anything goes.. as long as it is really fucking cool, well thought out, and good for the story. Bear in mind that just because YOU think it's cool doesn't mean everyone else will.

Internal Consistency:
Live with what you write. Things and people change, but if in one thread you tell me that the Yellow River is 50 ft. at its widest point and in the next thread it's 500ft., there better be a good reason (like a monsoon or a dam break). Maintaining this rule is up to the player, and some players will be better at it than others. But I promise you, done right, this will help you write an awesome and interesting story, that builds and layers upon itself. Going back and ret-conning something without really having a good reason breaks the flow and immersion of writing. Though it happens, unforeseen corners being backed into and all that.

The Golden Rule: Respect
One player declares an action, and the target of that action declares the results. If you declare an action against a character, city, object, etc. owned by another player and also decide the results of that action, that's called god-moding and you will be shown the door.

"Legolas shoots an arrow at Saruman's head, and kills the old gnarly bastard in one shot!" Bad.

"Legolas shoots an arrow at Saruman's head, hoping that the wind helps his aim to be true and the wizard didn't have yet another wicked spell up his sleeve." Good.

Use respect. This is cooperative storytelling, we are here to build an awesome, entertaining world and have fun together, not to try and have a bigger e-Peen than some anonymous person sitting behind a monitor. Failure to have common sense in this regard will provide me with much entertainment and pleasure.

For unnamed characters, and actions/results that you can reasonably assume from another player, feel free to improvise and write for the sake of the story. Shooting an arrow at the King.. you damn well better wait for that player to decide what happens. Shooting at arrow at one of the King's faceless henchmen that has never spoken a single line or been described more than "fodder?" Splat him if you feel like it. Work with each player to establish these kinds of boundaries on your own and play nice.

The Silver Rule: Implied Reality & Deliberately Vague Writing
I give credit for this one to an old writing buddy of mine. Whenever it's useful, I encourage you to be vague. Don't tell me that your capital city has 178,413 smelly people living in it. Tell me that it is a large, bustling city full of tens of thousands.

Don't tell me that Jon Snow is exactly  16, 6'1" and 180 lbs.. tell me that he is tall and strong for a man his age.

Being vague like this leaves room for more creativity and interpretation farther down the line. Maybe Jon Snow is tall, but the Mountain is even taller! Avoiding numbers and explicit answers leaves that to the imagination of both the writer and the reader, instead of becoming a boring game of track the stats.

Magic & The Supernatural:
The initial group of players took a vote and aimed the setting for a "middle of the road" style of fantasy. This means fictional races and species of monsters, but very rare magic. Magic can still be quite powerful, but use good taste and common sense.

Refer to settings like Lord of the Rings (the books not the fucking movies), Game of Thrones, or Conan the Barbarian for a concept. A few rare souls here and there might wield devastating powers, but most of the world operates under the natural law, and violations of that law are dangerous, terrifying, awesome and RARE. You do not see True Magic every day, and most will go their entire lives without seeing it at all.

All manner of beasts, monsters and animals exist in this world. But the more powerful and magical they are, the rarer they are. Dragons may exist, or they may have gone extinct hundreds of years ago. Either way, they are exceedingly rare and very dangerous. Werewolves do not hang out in taverns and play-wrestle eachother in the streets.. they hide themselves away from their kin, forever alienated, forced to hunt and eat like animals with the waxing and waning of the moon.

Fictional canon bends to our will here, but respect the fact that alot of these pre-existing fictional creations have a perfectly good setup already. If you use a well-known concept from fiction instead of creating your own, be respectful to the source, while also adding your own spice and twist. Even better, come up with something truly of your own creation.

As for spells, wizards, sorcerers, witches.. the key rule is to keep them RARE and interesting. Charlatans and tricksters are all over this world, but the beings who wield True Magic are powerful indeed. The secrets of the arcane are not taught freely to all who come begging for it. There are no armies of wizards or colleges or schools where hundreds and thousands of magicians gather. Altering the natural laws of the world is a gift that only a very elite few can ever hope to achieve, provided they have access to the required knowledge, resources, proper training and sufficient time for study and practice.

I leave the exact nature of spells, mystical education, implements, etc. in your very capable hands. But a few rules remain true for all magic:

Favor subtlety & nuance over pomp and extravagance. When you have the power to change reality as you see fit, even a very small change can have massive consequences. And magic is NOT easy. Even the ones who do wield True Magic do not do so all nilly-willy. The greatest practitioners know they must calculate & plan each spell carefully to get the most out of it, and using magic wastefully or cheaply is a crime that has cost many a wizard their lives. Anonymity and the ability to blend in is also a great ally to those who wield True Magic, so that their enemies never know who they are, what they want, or what they can do.

Think of Melisandre glimpsing into the fire and whispering into her King's ear, changing the direction of his thoughts and his armies. Even when she summoned the Shadow, it was only to kill a single man, and then it disappeared - but that man's death changed the course of history.

It is a skill that must be learned, it requires great intelligence and a strong will, and it is arbitrarily present in some people and mysteriously absent in others.

Great warlocks and powerful sorceresses throughout history have tried to discern the mystery of who receives the gift of magic, and why, some trying to create mystic bloodlines, others attempting to imbue magical powers through profane rituals and experiments. A few have even met with some measure of success.. but a predictable solution evades them all.

The Flow of Time & References to Distance Lands & Lore:
All time is relative. Like the Silver rule, using explicit dates and units of time is necessary in some parts of the story, but can be embellished, avoided or flat out ignored in other parts. Use your head. If a given thread advances very far ahead in time, bear in mind that it's relationships to other threads may be limited. Keeping this relatively nebulous will assist everyone greatly in creating a cohesive and easy-to-write story.

Regarding distant lands, stories, and any information about things that are NOT part of a player-owned nation. Do it. Go for it. Write whatever you feel inspired to write. I have a present for you all that I consider to be quite clever. I will reveal it when I post the World & Setting thread to give us all some common ground to work on.

But suffice to say, if you have a character that is telling a story about some distant land named NeverBeenThereIstan, that's cool. Doesn't matter if noone else has ever fucking heard of it, or really what you say about it. Keep it within the general setting of the game, and if you're smart, continue using the Silver Rule to write a little and say alot..

But generally just go for it. If other people like it, we can all agree that it is a thing. Maybe NeverBeenThereIstan is a place we can all sort of write about in passing, or maybe one day we can host a thread about sending an exploratory expedition (or crusade) to investigate. Whatever. Go for it.

That's actually a key point. The threads do not have to be based INSIDE the territory of your own nation or another player's. It can be somewhere in between, or far away from either nation on some distant speck of mud across the world, but with characters from both of your empires participating. Don't limit yourselves here, think outside the box!

Index Thread / Nation Libraries

Once your RTJ is approved it will be moved to an index thread. Only you should post in that thread. Others posting under that thread will be deleted or removed, and I will lock down posting access if necessary.

Treat this index thread as your personal sandbox to describe your new nation-state. The RTJ was just the seed. As you play the game and create new information for IC threads, or if you are just feeling creative, use this thread to add new details, categories and information to your nation.

If you feel like writing information into this index that should be considered secret knowledge IC, make sure to wrap it in spoilers and notate accordingly.

These additions do not require approval, but keep it within the theme of the game and the nation you have created.

Adding descriptions & bios for significant characters

Adding more detail for cities, towns, and the land

Describing military units, pieces of technology, warbeasts

Describing various factions within your nation


Player-owned Territory & Neutral Territory

Unless otherwise expressly agreed by players, assume there is a good bit of neutral territory between all player nations. This can be empty wasteland, filled with minor factions, smaller, independent tribes and states, etc. Importantly, it is not your job to fill up and define all of this space. Instead, use this buffer space as a tool in your writing.

If the Baagu Remnants are wandering in between nations, maybe they encounter a small tribe and write about it. Then they leave. What happens to that tribe afterwards is very mutable and changeable - just because the Baagu wrote about them a little bit doesn't mean that's how they'll be the next time someone comes back. This is basically community properties.

Contrast that with Player-Owned territory. These are the formal territories of player nations, and as such, are under strict jurisdiction of the owning player. The owner defines everything about that territory, what the lands look like, the people in it and what they are doing, whether or not there is a storm brewing, etc.

If you are playing in a thread that occurs in someone else's territory, you are in that player's domain. Communication is key. If you want to say that there is a storm on the horizon, the owner of that territory needs to agree, and will let you know what KIND of storm frequents their nation. You won't be writing about a sandstorm occurring in a nation that has no major desert, for example.

As with anything else this is all cooperative. I'm defining this now not so that you go and seek permission for every little thing that happens in another player's territory.. be creative.. but also cooperate and communicate. Act within reason. If all else's fails, the thread owner / territory owner decides.

If communication itself fails, the GM will decide.

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:57, Tue 23 May 2017.