The Rules.   Posted by Shan Yu.Group: 0
Shan Yu
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Wed 12 May 2010
at 05:48
The Rules


     “INFINITE MISCHIEF” is played primarily using the Serenity RPG rules, by Margaret Weis Productions.  You really should have the RPG manual in order to play the game, and although you can probably get by without it, especially if you are already familiar with the Firefly/Serenity universe, you will be at a minor disadvantage.  Possession of any other resource books is not necessary.  It also REALLY helps if you’ve seen the movie “Serenity” and/or the series “Firefly”.  I’ll be using modified rules for some areas, especially for combat, but players will probably not even notice.  The following rules/guidelines will help make the gaming experience an exciting and enjoyable one for everyone involved.
     Players need to be able to post about 3 times a week.  It’s understood that your character may have little or nothing to do at times, and therefore may not have any real reason to post.  I’ll be trying my best to keep such times to a minimum.  But if it happens, you aren’t necessarily off the hook.  Be proactive…be imaginative…be creative.
     Some players have a nasty habit of just quitting the game without telling anyone…which brings us to the following rule.  During normal play, if you do not post for 5 consecutive calendar days (excluding weekends…3 days if the game is specifically awaiting a response from your character), the GM will drop you a PM as a reminder and may take over control of your character until you post again.  If another 5 consecutive calendar days elapse with no response from you, you will be dropped from the game.  However, if you provide advance notice of your inability to post (such as going on vacation or studying for final exams), no action will be taken against you…we can work something out.  Players experiencing computer problems will likewise be allowed to be absent for an extended period, but you need to find some way to notify the GM during the first 5 days, or the previously mentioned actions will be taken.  This may sound like a tough, merciless rule, but in the interest of the game and the other players, it is necessary.  I’ve seen too many games die because the GM postponed play while waiting for absent (and inconsiderate) players.  I dropped players in my past game for lack of posting, and I usually have no shortage of replacement players.  The Big Damn Game must go on!
     Players are expected to spend a little attention to the quality of their postings.  This is a story, and the players are all co-authors.  It will greatly enhance everyone’s enjoyment if you will take the time to write interesting, fairly literate postings.  This is especially relevant when you are posting about activities related to your specialty area, such as pilot.  You could write, “Wash flipped a switch and they took off.”  Boring.  Or you could write, “Wash settled into the tattered pilot’s chair, perfectly fitting into the buttock-shaped indentations permanently pressed into the cushion by thousands of hours of sitting.  He snapped his seatbelt over his lap and tugged the free end to tighten it, and with a final exhalation of breath, began the launch sequence.  He muttered under his breath as he completed each step…‘Fuel pump, on…grav dampeners, activated’…toggling switches, turning knobs, and tapping various screen controls almost without thinking.  After all, he’d done this hundreds of times.  Finally, he shoved the throttle forward while pulling back on the control yoke, and with a shudder, the ship began its ascent.”  In this example, as the pilot, you are the ONLY player who will be performing these actions, and by going into a little detail, the other players are better able to share in the experience, and you are able to show off your imagination and writing ability.  Just describe the images you see in your mind.
     That doesn’t mean that every posting needs to be a novel.  But…one-liners are discouraged (unless obviously appropriate, such as die roll results).  Also, if I’m lucky enough to get players who post often enough to engage in dialogs with each other, one-liners or short postings are quite welcome.  In this case, the short postings would reflect the back and forth nature of real life conversations and encourage a lively flow for the game.  Unfortunately, situations such as this are rare, in that they usually require players to post daily, or even several times a day.
     Frequent or multiple misspelled words or repeated gross grammatical errors are just unacceptable…unless it’s done on purpose to reflect a character’s accent, education level, or something similar.   I’m not saying that you need to have a college degree in English literature.  I sure don’t.  After all, an important part of the Firefly/Serenity universe is the Old West/countrified manner of speakin’.  Most players should have no problem…just write like you speak, use common sense, and the occasional accidental misspelled word or mistake is not a problem.  People who speak English as a second language (and Canadians) are asked to please try your best.   However, if you are unwilling (or too lazy) to spend a minute to proofread, spell check, and correct your postings, you need to find another game.  Sorry…pet peeve of mine.

Dice, plot points, and when to use them:

    Dice rolling will be minimized for the players so they can focus on playing their characters.  The GM will do most of it offline (you…must…trust…the…GM).  Of course, some players may want to do some rolls themselves (such as skill/ability rolls), rolling their own dice using the online dice roller.  Just mention what you are rolling (or want the GM to roll), and why.  If you have any questions about dice rolling, just ask.  Flexibility is the key here.
     Players should feel free to make use of plot points and not hoard them for a rainy day.  I plan to award plot points for good play, clever postings, smart ideas, and dedicated effort.  Don’t expect plot points if you seldom post, if your postings consistently contain misspelled words and bad grammar, or are illiterately written.  While I may publicly praise players for exemplary play, for the most part I’ll award plot points confidentially.  I REALLY appreciate a well written, clever, imaginative posting.  A word of warning…there may be times that it seems the only way to survive is to “modify” events by using plot points, so it’s a good idea to earn as many as possible.  But remember, players can only have a maximum of 12 plot points at any given time.   Periodically, players will lose all plot points over 6, which will then be converted to advancement points.  When this will happen, only the GM knows (MWA-HA-HA…mine is an evil laugh).

Can I do that?:

      Do not describe or control anyone’s actions other than your own.  The GM is the only one who possesses such power, and he can ALWAYS be trusted…emphasis on ALWAYS.
     Likewise, players should describe their actions and intentions, but not the outcome.  That means…you SHOULD describe how your pilot character tightly grips the control yoke of the ship and swoops down toward the ground, trying to scoop up his comrades in the hover mule using a “barn swallow” maneuver.  You SHOULD NOT state that he gracefully brings the big, ungainly metal monster to within a few feet of the ground and expertly maneuvers the ship toward the speeding hover mule, successfully retrieving the vehicle and pulling away with seconds to spare.  You SHOULD describe how you spin around and swing the chair to hit the thug up side his pointy little head.  You SHOULD NOT describe how the chair smashes into the thug’s ear, knocking him across the room, and in the process, knocking over three other thugs.  You describe your actions/attempted actions, I describe the outcome.

Let’s be real:

     There are no werewolves, vampires, or zombies in this game.  Characters cannot shoot laser beams out of their eyes, and nobody has blue skin.  Fifteen year old girls that weigh 80 pounds cannot beat up 300 pound professional fighters, and people do not learn how to fly spaceships in 5 minutes.  Keep things real.  Exceptions may be considered for anyone named River Tam.
     Do not invent things or make things up for the sake of convenience.  If you decide you want a shotgun, don’t just say that you open the door to a wall panel and grab one, unless it has already been established that the wall panel exists and a shotgun has been placed therein.  Don’t exceed the technology level of the RPG, the movie, or the series without prior approval.  That means you can’t have transporters or warp engines or phaser pistols like on Star Trek.  If you have any doubt or question about something, ask first.
     The bottom line is that a certain realism level must be maintained.  One of the big attractions of the Firefly/Serenity franchise is its real-world feel.  The ship is dirty, the food is bad, there are no aliens, things break, and crews actually have to worry about things like buying fuel and food.
     I ask that you please keep your language at the same maturity level as the Firefly TV series/Serenity movie.  Fortunately, anyone feeling an irresistible urge to express themselves using colorful language need not fear having their heads explode…you can always use language that is an accepted (and encouraged) part of the ‘Verse.  The RPG manual provides ample Chinese phrases, and there are always the original Firefly/Serenity words, such as “gorram”.
     The game will also probably touch on some adult themes.  Such themes will also be treated at the same maturity level as the material in the series/movie.  There will be no excessive gore and no depictions of sex.  Such things are better left to the imagination, or so I’ve been told.  The jury’s still out on that one.

Death and destruction:

     One thing needs to be specifically mentioned.  In this game, unlike many RPGs, it is quite possible that characters may die and ships may be destroyed.  If a character single-handedly attacks a room full of hungry Reavers using only a rusty spoon, the character can probably expect to be on the menu for lunch.  Rest assured, the GM will try his best to keep characters alive, but some players insist on doing ridiculously stupid things.  So….don’t do ridiculously stupid things.  Unfortunately, there is always the chance that a freak die roll will result in the elimination of a character as well.  Players can also maximize their chances of survival by judicious plot point expenditure, or a well written response to the threat (if an asteroid is speeding toward the ship, it’s better to respond with more than, “I turn the wheel to avoid the asteroid”).  Regardless, if a character dies, make another character and I’ll get you back into the game at the earliest opportunity.  If something happens to your ship, there are always other ships.  And most importantly, don’t take it personal…it’s just a game (I can’t believe I said that).

Law of the land:

     I believe that the busiest person in a game should be the GM.  I have seen a lot of games in which the GM does virtually nothing and the players are expected to do EVERYTHING.  While some players prefer that type of game, I find them to be disorganized and pointless, and they usually don’t last long.  In my games, there is a definite plot/story line, and the GM is the storyteller, the referee, and the shepherd.  The GM describes the outside world to the players so that they can better visualize it and interact with it.  The GM interprets rules and lays down the law which creates a common framework for all players.  And finally, the GM keeps control of his “flock”, ensuring that they don’t stray far from the basic plot or the realities of the game environment.  Some players find this to be too structured, restricting or limiting, and feel that GMs in such games are nothing but control freaks.  For those players, this may not be the game for you.  As the GM, I expect to post at least daily, quite likely more than once a day, and if necessary, several times a day, every day.  I will promptly respond to ANY question or request, and I will maintain a dialog with the players outside of the game play (OOC).  Don’t feel bad if I question something you say or do…it’s all in the interest of the game.  The final product will hopefully be a smooth, fun game for all.  The prequel to this game, HARD BURN, lasted for 3 years with over 6,700 posts.  Three of the original players stayed with the game for the entire period, as well.  Apparently, something was working pretty well.
     Well, that’s about it.  There will probably be a few times when rules are clarified or even changed in the course of the game, but that’s okay, mainly because I say it’s okay, and I AM the GM.  We’ll just adapt.  So…any questions?